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Monday, April 28, 2008

Card Of the Week 4/28/08

AKA "Hawks Playoff Game 4" This week's card(s) of the week is/are:

A whole SHEET of Niques!

C'mon Dominique, you helped 'em win game 3, let's take it back to Boston all tied up! YOU CAN DO IT!

And yes, if the Hawks win tonight, you're going to see a FLOOD of Niques for the next game. I'll give ya a baseball type card next week. Playoffs in this town are rare.

YESSSSSSSSS Two for Two with the Nique Mystique! Goin' back to Beantown all tied up!

Rainy Day Box Break - 1991 Bowman

A couple of months ago I bought up most of a box of 1991 Bowman. I ripped a few packs and saved the rest for a rainy day. Well, this weekend was about as rainy as you can get metaphorically speaking so the box came out and plastic wrappers got shredded.

1991 Bowman is a really underrated set. Ok, it's not the greatest looking set out there. Blue, orange and purple isn't the greatest color combination around and this is the set that ushered in foil stamping on Topps products. The backs are a little unorthodox too, with split stats for each team instead of career stats. Of course a quarter of the set doesn't have any stats, just a "so and so made his professional debut" blurb. The photography isn't the finest around either, most of the pictures are cheesy posted mug shots from Spring Training. So why do I like this set so much? A) it's cheap B) it's just stuffed full of rookie cards.

Check out just the guys who Beckett deems worthy to list: Thome, Mussina, Everett, Bagwell, Salmon, Boone, I-Rod, Wickman, Sanders, Gonzalez, Lofton, Lopez, Karros and some dude named Chipper. It's also got a ton of other minor rookies, all the big names from the early nineties, a Rod Carew tribute subset, some foil stamped minor leaguers who didn't do squat in the big leagues, and a card of Colin Powell all in a decent sized 704 card set. Did I mention it's cheap as all get out? I like cheap underrated boxes. Stuff like '87 Donruss, '89 Fleer (everyone live chasing the Ripken), '93 Topps Series 1 and '93 UD series two. Cheap, decent looking cards with something to chase equals fun.

This wasn't a full box when I bought it, as I had already picked out a few packs to rip, but it's about three-quarters of one. The box is already open, but it's quicker to rip than to type, so I'll post it a few packs at a time. I dug out my half-completed set too so I'll note cards that actually end up sticking in my collection (numbers in bold are ones I needed). And of course, I'll be chasing that Chipper! Here's the first three packs:

Pack 1:
350 Sammy Sosa
656 Benny Santiago
353 Bob Wickman
190 Floyd Bannister
25 Rene Gonzalez
624 Mark Leonard
441 Stan Spencer
7 John Olerud
376 Eddie Murray foil
65 Charles Nagy
62 Tom Candiotti
169 Jesse Barfield
41 Greg Brock
216 Terry Steinbach

Future Hall of Famer Slammin' Sammy in a Sox uni is a nice way to start off. Just as Hall of Fame voters are slowly starting to realize that the deflated stats of the 70's and 80's were a product of the times and should be judged accordingly, the inflated stats of the 90's and 00's will also be judged for what they were. No, the juicers weren't trying to ruin the game and desecrate hot dogs apple pie and chevrolet and sell your momma to the communists. They were trying to get an edge at playing baseball. It may take thirty or forty years, but it'll happen.

Three cards in and I get the first Beckett 'hit' a Bob Wickman Rookie card. I didn't remember he was drafted by the Sox. The foil card in the pack is an Eddie Murray card commemorating his Silver Slugger award from his fantastic 1990 campaign. I'd list all his feats but it would take too long. I'll scan the back instead. I like Barfield's card, Jesse is stylin down in Tampa.

Pack two:
46 Willie Randolph
366 Frank Thomas
442 Larry Walker
363 Brian Drahman
208 Ruben Amaro
391 Jamie Moyer
160 Willie Smith
267 Jeff Russell
378 Matt Williams foil
101 Bob Milacki
658 Jerald Clark
173 Bernie Williams
192 Scott Lewis
479 Kevin McReynolds

A nice threesome to start the pack, Willie, Big Hurt and Larry. Then we get Brian Drahman looking like a toad with a mullet. Jamie Moyer is pitching for the Cardinals back when he was only 38 years old. Jeff Russel has a big black splotch embedded in the cardboard that shows up on the front as a big bump. You don't get cards like that anymore. Matt Williams gets a foil card for his silver slugger award. Best card in the pack is Bernie Williams and his amazing glasses.

Pack 3:
646 Jim Presley
261 Brett Boone
571 Otis Nixon
249 Dave Fleming
329 Paul Abbot
138 Mark Leiter
220 Curt Young
423 Jesse Hollins
4 Rod Carew Tribute
614 Eddie Murray
224 Don Peters
603 Jay Howell
41 Greg Brock
216 Terry Steinbach

Second rookie hit pops up in Brett Boone. The two cards that book so far are for players I don't like, but I don't mind 'cause I got OTIS MY MAN! This card of Otis Nixon probably came out the same time he got suspended for the booger sugar but even that can't bring me down off my early 90's high. After a few forgettable players we get Jessie Hollins giving me the same look a Tennesee prison guard tried to spook me with one time. He gave me this spiel "How does it FEEL goin' through a door where you go IN but you don't come OUT" which was ridiculous because I was only there to fix the Cisco router. Oh, that was a fun day I'll tell ya. ON a happier note, we get our first Rod Carew and another Eddie Murray card. Unfortunately we end up with another Jay Howell and his shit eating grin. Every single old set I've ripped a pack from lately nets me a Jay Howell card and I'm sick of it. Go 'way Jay! Terry Steinbach and Greg Brock are the first two doubles pulled which is slightly disconcerting. All told, 23 needed and 19 doubles in the first three packs.

I'll have the next four packs up soon unless Jesse locks me away for good.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hawks Playoff Game 3

Well this one's the big one. Win and we can salvage some dignity from this playoff experience, lose and it's pretty much all over. I'm pulling out the big guns tonight.


It worked!!!

Sticky Saturday - My Heart's Not In It Edition

I should have posted this sticker this morning. Back where there was still hope and light and laughter in the world. Back before the cold cruel hand of reality reached right into my chest, ripped out my heart and squeezed it until it was hard and black and dry as a bone. Here's a sticker from my ex-team the Falcons.


Sorry. You're just here for the stickers. This is a sticker. It's red. Red as the blood that are my tears. There's a bird on it. A bird with a sharp beak. Just like the beak of the vulture who pecks out and devours the liver of Promethius each and every day. This bird too pecks at my very soul. Black as death, it casts a shadow upon my existence. A shadow that smothers and crushes me. Here's the back of the card.

It's a puzzle. Just like I puzzle over why I've put up with a team that consistently ignores the foundations of a successful football team in favor of flashy players they can market. Who would have thought that winning a coin flip would be just another calamity in a long list of disasters that have befallen this team? Ugh. Welcome to the Matt Ryan era, exactly the same as all the other loser eras this team has gone through.

No more falcon stickers thankfully. We'll be back to Braves next week. They may have lost 8 games by one run this year, but at least they know how to draft.

I'm Done

If the Falcons choose to sell jerseys instead of improve their team, then that's their choice and they have every right to do it.

I choose not to support their team any longer.

Friday, April 25, 2008

NFL Draft Trading Card Buying Guide

I'm one of those geeks who is compelled to watch every damn round of the NFL draft. I like to know who is going to disappoint me in the fall. The past few years I've bought a pack or two of the NFL Draft cards that show up this time of year so I can follow along and see where the players I pull get drafted. This year, the manufacturers have bumped up their production schedule in order to get the packs on the shelves well before the draft. For the first time I can remember, they have actually hit retail shelves before the draft. I picked up a pack of each product that's out to compare.

2008 Press Pass

Retail - 4 cards for $2.99

105 cards, 101-105 are short printed Power Picks (1:14)

Primetime Players - 15 cards 1:4
Autographs (Bronze, Silver #d to 199, Gold #d to 99) 1:56
Gridiron Gamers (jersey cards) 1:280

Blue foil parallel 1:1
Reflectors (numbered to 500)
Power Pick Autographs (numbered to 250 or less)

My Pack:
53 Trophy Club Glenn Dorsey
95 Teammates - John David Booty & Chauncey Washington
80 Chris Long All American blue foil
16 Mike Hart

Press Pass is the dean of College Football Draft Pick sets and it on the high end of the products reviewed here. The design of the base cards is very simple and attractive and doesn't take away from the photo at all. The action photography is generally very good on the base cards too. Press Pass used to have about a 55 card set with a 36 card one per pack insert set die cut or on foilboard or both, but this year it's 100 cards. The higher numbers are taken up with subsets that focus on the bigger players in the draft, as a result you have some players in the set three or four times. The last five cards in the set are short printed "Power Picks" an insert they've used for a while now. There is a one per pack parallel with blue foil instead of silver foil. With only 4 cards in a pack this makes building a set that much tougher unless you're willing to ignore the foil color. The card I pulled is in blue foil but also says reflectors even though it is not serial numbered. this might be a retail only thing, while hobby reflectors get serial numbered. Hobby boxes have 5 autos per box, but expect to drop about a Franklin on a box.

Press Pass is the nicest draft set I've seen by far, but building a set is going to be very tough. With all the subsets you're more likely to pull a star player, but the repeats in the checklist will get tedious after a while. It's a nice product if you just want to pick up a few packs or a blaster though. My pack was pretty good even though I didn't get an insert. Chris Long and Glenn Dorsey are two players I'd love to see in a Falcons uniform this fall.

Verdict - If you want a really nice looking draft set and aren't worried about the cost, this is the set for you. Hobby packs are about 2 bucks a pack more expensive, but yield more autographs.

2008 Sa-Ge HIT

Retail - 6 cards for $1.99

50 cards (low series)

Autographs (1 per blaster)

Glossy 1:1

My Pack:
9 Early Doucet
32 Andre Callender
15 Sam Baker
44 Jordon Dizon
7 Chad Henne
38 Marcus Howard Glossy

Hit's retail product is a very stripped down version of the set, Hobby packs have more inserts and jersey cards. There is an autograph per blaster though, and autos definitely drive these Draft sets. The design is quite frankly not great. It looks like a bad minor league set and the photos are marred by the weird splotchy borders. The glossy parallel is another useless card wasting one out of the pack. I would have preferred some sort of insert instead if there had to be a 1:1 special card in each pack. The Glossies look identical to the base cards just more plasticy. The backs are inferior to Press Pass as well as it has only one year of college stats and a third of the card is eaten up by an explanation of referee signals. Hit also split their set up in two this year, there will be another "high" series coming out after the draft with 50 more prospects including Darren McFadden. Like Press Pass, Hobby packs are more than twice the price, but have way more autographs and inserts.

Verdict - It's not a great looking set and it doesn't have all the hot prospects in it. If you want a cheap product to rip, a guaranteed autograph card, and a legitimate shot at a complete set in one $20 blaster, this is the one to get.

2008 Upper Deck NFL Draft Edition

Retail - 6 cards for $1.99

1-100 draft picks
101-200 NFL veterans

Stars of the Draft, some autographs and other than that who knows?

No Clue. Upper Deck doesn't want its customers making informed decisions.

My Pack:
93 Tashard Choice
70 Mario Urrutia
10 Brian Brohm
SOD7 Keith Rivers Stars of the Draft
103 Larry Fitzgerald
184 Patrick Willis

Upper Deck jumps into the fray with a set that is half rookies and half veterans. Normally these kind of sets from the companies with NFL licenses are a five card pack with one rookie per pack, but UD refreshingly give us a set where the rookies are not only in their college uniforms but aren't short printed all to heck. It's got the official NFL Draft logo right on the front of the pack so they got some kind of synergy thing going on with the NFL marketers. The cards themselves are kind of pedestrian. The foil logos are unnecessary (and why do the veterans have a "Rookie Card" stamp on them??) and the goofy borders with unnecessary spot UV coating are not that attractive. The college logos are nice though and there are complete college stats on the back. Upper Deck jealously guards any kind on insert ratios for their cards and I can't easily find a breakdown of what is in this set so I'm not going to bother. I did nab an insert though and it's a pretty good looking card.

Verdict - Upper Deck does a good hybrid set here by not shortprinting the rookie cards. If you're only interested in the draft half a pack full of NFL stars will put you off, but it's got more different college players than Press Pass and Hit combined. It doesn't look as good as Press Pass but it's not a bad set by any means.

The other two sets featuring draft picks are Topps Rookie Progression and Playoff Prestige, but they aren't out yet and will both be one rookie a pack sets. I'm not impressed at all with either to be perfectly honest. If you like cards with college players on them, these three sets are your best bets. While none are perfect by any means each have their good points. Press pass looks great, Hit is cheap and UD Draft is a good all around NFL set. Depending on what you are looking for in a draft pick set any one of these would be a fun rip while watching the picks come off the board tomorrow.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Chipper!

We don't need candles for your cake, cause you are ON FIRE!!!

This is awesome

The Atlanta Journal Constitution's Braves beat writer, David O'Brien, just wrote a blog post about the 3000th strikeout for Smoltzie. His blog is usually a good read for Braves fans, but a co-worker at the AJC was able to track down the first article in the paper about Smoltz and the Doyle Alexander trade and he included it in this blog post. Check this out, it's really fantastic:

The Braves, who defeated the San Diego Padres 2-1 Wednesday night, acquired John Smoltz, a 19-year-old righthander with Glens Falls, N.Y. (Eastern) from the Tigers. To replace Alexander, the Braves recalled lefthander Tom Glavine from Richmond, Va. (International).

Glavine, who is 6-12 with a 3.40 ERA at Richmond, will make his major-league debut Monday at Houston. Smoltz, known for throwing hard but not always accurately, will go to Richmond.

“We want to keep adding arms and build for the future,” general manager Bobby Cox said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t want to win now. Trading Doyle doesn’t affect that.

How's that for three kick ass paragraphs! That's a future Hall of Famer per paragraph, folks. I had no clue that Glavine was Doyle's replacement! Alexander needs to be inducted into the Braves' Hall of Fame just for getting run out of town.

Hawks Playoff Game 2

I totally forgot the playoff game was last night, but no worries. So did the Hawks. Here's that team set I promised you. This is 1976-77 Topps Basketball, AKA those freakishly large cards that don't fit in any top loader or plastic sheet known to man. Let's compare a '76 card to a standard sized '71 card.

I told ya they were big! Topps treated their basketball sets like mad scientist experiments a lot of times. The three in one cards, the regional sets in '81 and these huge cards were almost like test issues. It's never been used again but this size card actually works pretty well, at least for a basketball set. The portraits are kind of creepy looking but the action shots look really good on these cards. Mike Sojourner shooting over Truck Robinson looks especially good. The funky block letters and the plummeting basketball design is pretty awesome as well. I think all the crazy lettering used by Topps in the '70s is the root of my lifelong love of oddball fonts. The backs are spectacular. Full pro and college stats, lots of room for a bio and a basketball rules cartoon at the bottom. good stuff and you don't have to squint to read it.

Here's the Hawks team set. At least I think it's a complete team set. Team checklists are hard to find for old basketball sets. You've got a full starting five and a bench player at least.

Tom Henderson was the Hawks' first pick in 1974. He played on the '72 Olympic team that got screwed by the refs.

Joe Meriweather only played one year for the Hawks and all he got was this crummy airbrushed jersey.

John Drew scored a ton of points for the Hawks, but they traded him in 1982 for some French guy.

The Hawks picked Mike Sojourner #10 overall in the 1974 draft, ahead of Jamaal Wilkes and Mo Lucas. Oops.
You already know about Lou. At least he's out of those horrible green uniforms.

Ken Charles is bored or stoned or both. He's from Trinidad and Tobego, isn't that interesting? He also has a painted uniform just like Joe.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Annual Late April Panic Attack, AKA The NFL Draft

The Falcons' draft history has been, shall we say, less than stellar. A lot like their entire history, really. The funny thing is last year the face of the franchise got thrown in a federal pen, the coach ran away in the dead of night and the entire team collapsed, and it might not even be the worst season in franchise history. I've been purposefully avoiding talking about the Falcons' moves this offseason because until we see what happens in the draft there's no way to evaluate them. Overall, I like the direction. New coach, new GM, and the general purging of the roster is probably what needs to happen at this point even though the Dunn and Crumpler cuts hurt bad.

The Turner signing was a good one. He's a solid running back without too much mileage on him and he complements Jerious Norwood well. The Deangelo Hall trade was also good. D-Hall is a top corner, but he's too expensive for a team building from the ground up. I'll take the pick. I would prefer if Joey Harrington is not on the opening day roster. The Jason Elam signing bewilders me. I know the kicking position has been a disaster since we let Jay Feely walk but... why sign Elam? He's not that much younger than Morton Andersen! Everything really hinges on the draft though. The Falcons have been drafting fairly badly for a few years now and the trend has to be reversed.

I got a big disappointment when the Dolphins signed Jake Long this week. I was hoping that somehow he would end up falling to #3. It wasn't likely, but hey, you never know. The Falcons have completely ignored their offensive line for a decade and now it is a complete disaster. Michael Vick made it look better than it was with his Houdini act, but with a normal QB it's just terrible. That dream is dead, so now I'm focused on the other side of the line. Glenn Dorsey is a beast on defense and our defenseive line is only a little bit better than the offensive line. Put Glenn in the middle of John Abraham and Jamaal Anderson and they could do some damage. Unfortunately, the Rams started putting the squeeze to Atlanta before the ink on Long's contract was dry. Want Dorsey? Move up in the draft. As much as I want Dorsey, I do not want them to spend more than one pick on him. There are too many holes at too many positions and I'd rather have two starters instead of one. Moving down and stockpiling picks would be great, if anyone out there wanted to move up. No one seriously thinks we'll pick McFadden anymore now that we signed Turner and Matt Ryan isn't a 'must have' franchise quarterback. Actually Matt Ryan is what this post is all about.

If the Falcons take Matt Ryan #3 I'm done with them. This team has ignored their foundations for years now and picking a quarterback with the third pick is the absolute last thing they need right now. The defense is a wreck, the offensive line is non existent so why in the world would you pick a player who won't even start and give him a massive signing bonus to boot? You don't buy a new souped up engine for your car when the CHASSIS is missing! Get a lineman with that first pick or trade back with anyone who will give you a pick or two. The Falcons have three second round picks and Brohm, Flacco and Henne will be waiting there. The Falcons can get a good quarterback, they don't need to do it with their #1 pick.

Matt Ryan might be a great quarterback in the NFL. He will not be a great quarterback with the Falcons. It just won't happen. Here's what will go down. Falcons pick Ryan. Atlanta rejoices. We have our savior! Lots of jerseys and tickets are sold. Game 1: Harrington is starting. Harrington stinks. Around game three the fans are frothing at the mouth for Ryan. Eventually, he's put in there and he gets massacred. No line, remember? Two years from now his development is somewhere in between Akili Smith and Jay Cutler. Guess who's out of jail? Guess what quarterback controversy we have now? I can't handle that shit and I'm not going to suffer through it all AGAIN. The Falcons pick Ryan, I'm a die-hard Titans fan until the Falcons prove that they have their act together and go to the playoffs two years in a row. I've had almost 30 years of torment from this team and there's a team one state north with a winning program, a great coach and #83, my favorite player. I don't need the heartbreak anymore and Matt Ryan will not change this franchise's fortunes.

SP Rookie Weirdness

I just ripped a pack of this stuff at A Pack A Day and I don't want to repeat myself, but this pack is too strange to ignore. 2007 Upper Deck SP Rookie Edition is a somewhat mediocre product from last year, but the new stuff that's out now is all pretty overpriced so it looks better in comparison. Would you rather pay $5 for a pack of SP with 4 rookies in it or $8 for a pack of spectrum and get a drummer's autograph? I know I shouldn't buy either but I was bored and killing time in the shop so why not buy a pack for the entertainment value of window shopping for over a half hour.

The breakdown of the set is 4 base veterans per pack, two base rookie logo cards and two retro rookie cards. The base cards are your typical boring 100 more or less star cards you see in every set. The rookie base cards are foil nightmare versions of the base cards and the retro cards copy the 1993-1996 set designs. I got a Dice-K rookie in the first pack so I gambled on a second. Here's what I got:

Base cards:
Gil Meche
Mariano Rivera
Johnny Damon
Stephen Drew

All together now: YAWN. These are as useless as Bowman red bordered cards. Now to the rookies.

Gustavo Molina rookie base card
A rookie catcher for the White Sox. I'll probably end up sending this to Steve at some point. Now for the other three:

Josh Hamilton rookie base card

Josh Hamilton '95 retro card

Josh Hamilton '96 retro card

What are the odds of that? None of them are short printed, but come on. Maybe all these Reds cards will bring Joe out of hiding. That's not the really spooky part though...

When I bought the pack.....

I paid for it with..........

a TEN dollar bill........................

and on the ten dollar bill......................................



that's some serious Twilight Zone stuff going on right there! Baseball cards aren't supposed to weird me out like this, man! I need to stick to nice boring Heritage.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Three Thousand

Seventeen Pitchers. Who'll be next?