Friday, April 29, 2016

Better Decisions To Be Made

It was announced this morning that Miami Marlins Dee Gordon, the reigning NL batting champion, was suspended 80 games following a positive test for testosterone and clostebol. Gordon has responded like every other athlete that has been nabbed on ped tests with the standard "I don't know how this could have happened".

Gordon hasn't been a player that was highly collected but like Ryan Braun his card prices are now going to take a hit. Hopefully he takes this time, which he has accepted his punishment, to reconsider his choices.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Two Failures Failing

With the NFL Draft two days away two former First Round draft picks, who both wore #2, are in the news.

The failure that is JaMarcuss Russell, the 2007 #1 pick, has announced in a recent SI interview that he is willing to play one season in the NFL for free. He even sent a letter to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones saying that he will start from the bottom working with the practice team to learn the playbook. Jones is a big proponent of giving questionable players a second chance but Russell has not played a down since 2009 and has only had to one workout with a team since, in 2013 with the Bears.

Also in the news in Johnny Manziel who was indicted today in Texas on assault charges on his ex-girlfriend. Normally I wouldn't give Manziel and space on my blog but his life has been in free fall since January and he is flirting with jail time now, the assault charge is a misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and fines. America loves to watch a train wreck but when the person is destroying their body with drugs and alcohol he is beyond a train wreck and his family is fearing he may not live to his next birthday. In this case jail may be the best option to help Manziel. I am willing to bet that he won't see any jail time and a minimum fine because affluence seems to be a viable defense in Texas.

Personally I hope they both just move on and stop trying to add more of a media circus to the NFL.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Thrill Of The Chase

I was watching a recent episode of Comic Book Men, a television show based on Kevin Smith’s podcast and his comic book shop Jay And Silent Bob’s Secret Stash in Red Bank, New Jersey. During the cast Kevin talks with the staff about customers and anecdotes and one story that was brought up was about a customer looking for a specific book and how he talked about wanting to come in to the shop instead of buying it online because of the thrill of the chase and it got me thinking about how our hobby has changed greatly with the advent of the internet.

When I got back in to collecting in 1992 I was living in an area where there were 7 card shops within a 15-minute drive in Mesa alone. On top of that there was a monthly cards shows at the local community rec center along with the random card shows that would come around every couple of months at the malls or a church. We had our choice of where to go and who to buy from but nearly 25 years later and there is only one of those 7 shops that were in Mesa that is still open additionally, there is one more shop in Tempe and two in Scottsdale. This means there are a total of four shops in the East Valley, which has a population of 1,350,488 (this includes Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler and Gilbert) or one shop per 337,622 people.

As a card collector many of us have lost the ability of chasing cards at brick and mortar shops. I am about halfway between the shop in Mesa and the shop in Tempe, each being about a 30-minute drive in good traffic. I would love to head to the LCS to pull singles from a dime box or pick up the newest release but that option is just not as viable any more outside of the occasional planned trip.
I have come to the acceptance that my chase will almost completely be limited to online.

Friday, April 22, 2016

And Now Back To Conor...

As expected Conor McGregor has rebounded from his retirement talk and is now saying he is not retired and still plans on fighting Diaz at UFC 200 in July. His explanation, posted on both his Facebook account and Twitter account, states that his issue was regarding the rigorous promotional appearances connected to the upcoming pay-per-view. He feels that the requirements for promotional events cuts in to his training time and that is frustrating him, he is asking that the UFC decrease the push for the fight, which they denied.

The UFC has not responded but Dana White is scheduled for a press conference today in Las Vegas and is expected to clear things up.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R.I.P. Prince

This morning after I read about the passing of Chyna I was a bit bummed but before long that was replaced with pure sadness when I found out that Prince, real name Prince Rogers Nelson, had passed away this morning at the age of 57-years old in his home in Minneapolis. He has been sick recently and was in the hospital last week but nothing has been announced as to what illness he was dealing with and how it is connected to his passing.

I grew up when Prince was just making it big, when Purple Rain controlled the charts I was 12-years old and the music was basically my Junior High years. Every dance Let’s Go Crazy and When Doves Cry had to be played and I am pretty sure that MTV had these videos on 24-hour rotation. Out of respect for Prince and his music MTV is actually playing his videos non-stop currently.

When it comes to music Prince’s death sits along with the passing of Michael Jackson and Kurt Cobain as deaths that have affected me the most. His music wasn’t just something you listened to, you actually are able to tie it to a time in your life so I now feel like I have lost a portion of my childhood.

Prior to the past decade it was rather rare for a musician to appear on cardboard. Unlike now when Americana, Pop Century, Goodwin Champions and Allen & Ginter’s include music stars on the checklist you just didn’t collect cards of your favorites, you collected their discography on CDs, tapes, albums or 8-tracks. The only official set I could find where Prince made an appearance is the 1991 ProSet Super Stars MusiCards. I also found some very unique cards from Europe, like this one, on eBay (I don’t own this card).

R.I.P. Chyna (Joan Marie Laurer)

This morning the wrestling world was rocked with the announcement that former WWF/E star Chyna, real name Joan Marie Laurer, had passed away. The time of her death is still undetermined because she posted on Instagram on Sunday but nobody has heard from her since until a friend got worried and went to her apartment last night and found her already deceased, she was 45 years old.

In the late 1990s she made her way in to the WWF during the Attitude age and was one of the early WWF/E Divas. She is probably best known for her time with Degeneration X alongside Triple H and Shawn Michaels. She made an appearance in TNA in 2011 but that was short lived and she left wrestling for good.

After she left wrestling her personal life has been in an upheaval and included drugs and adult videos and it has been rumored that her death is due to an overdose.

For as big of a star as Chyna was in wrestling in the late 90s and early 2000s she has almost no base cards beyond some 1998 and 1999 Comic Images and 2001 Fleer. She does have two official autographs, one in 1998 Comic Images and one in 2011 TNA Signature Impact.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Art Gallery: 2010 Breygent Golden Age Of Comics Heroes & Villains Cosmo Cat

This month’s Art Gallery display comes from Breygent’s 2010 Golden Age Of Comics Heroes & Villains. The artist is Travis Walton, a comic book illustrator, who has sketch cards in many of the major sets from Cryptozoic, Breygent and Upper Deck.

The release was built around 40 base cards and covered Golden Age comic book heroes and villains that have long disappeared in to Pop Culture lore. You won’t find Superman, Batman or Captain America here. The sets selling point though was the sketch cards and with nearly 100 artists producing 20+ sketch cards each there are plenty from which to choose.

I went with this Cosmo Cat because the card is well drawn, the character himself was never a big “hero” and only appeared in 10 of his own comic books and then another 16 comic books under different titles like All Top Comics and Woatlife Comics. But he did live on the moon in his lab and saved Little Red Riding Hood so he has to be pretty cool.

The seller accepted my bid of $5.50 and tossed in free shipping so I am quite happy with this pick up. I do like some of the other sketch cards from this set and if I can get a deal I will pick up a couple more.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Say It Isn't So Joe...err Conor

In a completely unexpected announcement, my second favorite UFC fighter Conor McGregor announced his retirement from MMA through Twitter early this morning. Some people believe this is just Conor being Conor and trying to make headlines, pulling everyone’s leg before coming back and saying he decided to un-retire and I hope this is the case.

It is odd because McGregor was to be the main event in a rematch against Nate Diaz at UFC 200 in July and he had made no hint of considering even to retire. McGregor has officially been removed from UFC 200 due to failing to take part of promotional events tied to UFC 200, and some have brought up that his retirement may be connected to his disagreement with Dana White over the promotional events.

If the retirement is the end of his fighting career McGregor walks away as the UFC Featherweight Champion with a 19-3 professional record.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Some Times You Just Figure Why Not?

Over the past year I have seen a number of bloggers post up cards from collections like Benchwarmers and a couple of Japanese sets and I will admit that it peaked my interest. I honestly paid very little attention to these sets but I wanted to see what was out there so I looked through sets listed on eBay and I came across one lady who I found that is a redhead and of Irish decent (both are my Kryptonite).

Her name is Scarlett Keegan and I added a couple of cards to my watch list and made some very low bids eventually winning these two cards (Under $8 for both cards shipped). I figured since I won the cards I might as well find out who she is and turns out she was a Playboy Playmate.  

The Benchwarmer sets are quite interesting because they are not regular sets, though there are base cards. Each set is usually made up of a small base set and quite a few inserts and then each of these inserts have multiple parallels based on background color and autograph ink color. There are also some cards that are rereleased from a previous set but listed as “Archive” cards and numbered.

Both cards are from the 2015 Pink Archives release but the second card is a Holiday Autograph from a 2014 set but was reissued in the 2015 Pink Archives set and is #2/3. You may also notice the signatures are different, in some sets she signs just initials while in other sets she signs her entire name.
I am torn on whether I should add any more Scarlett Keegan cards to my collection, most of her cards are autographs and they are quite cheap so it gives me the opportunity to add a unique personality to my collection and relatively inexpensive.

One of the sellers included a 2012 Breygent World Of Fantasy Z-Card, which was unexpected. The Z-Cards from Breygent are posters, some are sketch posters and some are basic posters like this one, that are sandwiched between two cards. The artist signs one of the cards and you can unfold the cards for an 8x10 poster, the artist who designed this poster is Gary Kezele. It is a neat idea and I found a very cool sketch Z-Card where the entire 8x10 poster was a sketch but I thought about how to display it and in the end I decided not to bid.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Pimping A Contest For P-Town Tom

P-Town Tom is running a contest on his blog Waiting 'til Next Year for his 5-Year Blogiversary, if you are interested in wining some cool prizes take a look at "Contest Link"

Friday, April 15, 2016

Jackie Robinson Day!

It has been 69 years since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in MLB and he is still showing us today what is important in life.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

So Long Black Mamba

The NBA regular season ended yesterday with a passing of an era with the retirement of Kobe Bryant. While most fans were focused on the Warriors-Grizzlies game watching to see if the Warriors would hit 73-wins, they did, plenty were watching the Lakers-Jazz game to see Kobe play one last time and he left on a high note scoring 60 points after what seemed like he was taking every shot for the Lakers. I am not joking either, he took 50 shots while the rest of the team took 35 shots.  

Percentage wise this wasn’t his best game, it wasn’t his highest scoring game and the win didn’t put the Lakers in the playoffs, actually it knocked the Jazz out of the playoffs, but it will be memorable none the less. After 20 seasons, 5 NBA Championships and 18 All-Star selections he has decided to call it a career, and a Hall of Fame career to boot.

I am not a Kobe fan, as a Suns fan I am programmed to automatically dislike anyone wearing purple and gold but I will acknowledge he had amazing talent. Now had he been drafted by the Suns with the 15th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, as was initially predicted in mock drafts, I would be telling a different story today.  
Happy trails Kobe, enjoy your earned it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Vintage Card Of The Month: 1933-34 National Chicle Skybirds Manfred von Richthofen

This month’s VCoM comes straight from my Top 10 Want list. A 1933-34 National Chicle Skybirds Baron Manfred von Richthofen, who was also known as the Red Baron. This set is a bit of a pain because half of the cards were released in 1933 and the other half in 1934 yet all of the cards are listed with a copyright of 1933 so some people tend to get confused about their issue date.

Ever since I watched Snoopy take on the Red Baron when I was a kid I have been interested in Richthofen. Manfred was the top ace of WWI with 80 victories, doubling up his brother Lothar, and was the #1 target of Allied flyers. What most people don’t know is that he actually started as a cavalry officer but became enamored with aeroplanes and realized that the cavalry was a dying occupation so he requested a transfer to the Air Service in mid-1915.

The write-up on the back is interesting, it makes it seem as if Richthofen was a mindless killer saying that he killed 100 men by shooting them, burning them and crushing them. He wasn’t a sociopath, he was actually quite brilliant and a great tactician.

The back also errantly lists that Canadian pilot Captain Roy Brown was the person who downed the Red Baron when in fact it is now believed that he was actually shot by one of three machine gunners (Sgt. Cedric Popkin, Gunner W.J. Evans or Gunner Robert Buie) with the Royal Australian Artillery. He was also alive when he landed the plane behind the Australian lines and remained alive long enough to talk before succumbing to a chest wound. Though I guess the truth of being shot down by an anonymous gunner and landing safely isn’t as glorified as National Chicle’s version.

The card is in beautiful condition, still solid cardboard that has held its shape. The colors have muted a bit, the corners are rounded and there are two thumbtack holes (top left and bottom right) but condition-wise it is my best card of the three National Chicle Skybird cards that I have in my collection. I would love to eventually add a better graded copy with brighter colors to my collection to replace this one. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Second Unpolitical Political Post

Brian Wallos, the creator of Decision 2016 and Benchwarmers, wanted to make sure to get the word out about his upcoming Decision 2016 set so with Leaf’s help (Leaf is distributing the set) promo packs of his product were handed out at the Hawaii Industry Summit a few weeks back.

The promo set includes 18 cards from the base set, numbered P1-P18 (Card #13 is missing the P), and while they are not numbered each card is limited to #/100.

Once the cards started showing up I have been grabbing them as I can. Prices for the cards released at the Hawaii Industry Summit are really fluctuating from a couple of dollars up in to the twenties, I have been pretty fortunate and found some deals. I have eleven cards, plus two dupes, so far and hopefully I will be able to complete the entire promo set. Now that the set has been released you can find the regular cards at a pretty reasonable price.

At $69.99 shipped I even gave in and ordered a hobby box through pre-sell, which shipped today so watch for the box break next week.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Tearing It Up

We are a week in to the baseball season and there are already some winners and losers but I think the biggest news is coming out of Colorado and their rookie shortstop Trevor Story. After hitting a homerun in his first four games he now has seven homers in six games. He will cool off but his play has made his cards white hot and out of the 12 Topps Now cards released he has been on three of them.

His cards are not selling at super nova prices like Stephan Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout’s early cards did but his limited numbered base cards and autographs are still selling at a significant price with his 2011 Bowman Chrome cards leading the way. He really came out of no where, not even rated in the Top 10 of the Rockies prospects (he was listed as the #11 prospect), it is time to go back and check my cards to see if I am sitting on any of his cards, this image was taken from eBay.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Some Steve Largent Pickups

I have received a number of packages recently from other bloggers and readers and I am very thankful that the cardsphere community is so friendly, it makes working out trades and deals so easy.

Mike, a reader and fellow Steve Largent collector, contacted me about some Largent cards that he had available if I was interested. When he emailed me originally I was in between trips and wasn’t always able to respond so I am very appreciative that he is patient with me and we were able to work out a deal. In all 20 cards were sent my way and with his help I made some nice headway in my Steve Largent collection.

Here are some of the highlights ranging from 1979 Topps through 1990 Score.