Friday, January 30, 2009

Bruins vs. Devils

I've posted quite a few times about the Boston Bruins and their rise to the top spot in the Eastern Conference this season. It's been great watching the Bruins' young talent develop and the team mature as a whole at the end of last season and during this season.

Last night my job afforded me the opportunity to catch the B's in action for the first time this season. The seats were in a luxury suite which made the experience even better. Here's a great shot my co-worker took before the game. Food and drink were free, so as you can tell we showed up quite a while before the opening face off:

The game itself was a nail-biter. The Bruins quite frankly looked flat and uninspired for the first two periods and it looked like it was going to be a terrible game to see. New Jersey had jumped out to a 2-0 lead by the time the 3rd period had started, and were settling in for a period of defensive play and protecting the lead.

The Bruins came alive in the final period though, netting 3 unanswered goals and taking the lead on Dennis Wideman's one timer with 6:30 to go. Luckily, I was seated behind the goal that the Bruins were shooting at in the 1st and 3rd periods so I had a great view of comeback. The Fleet Center was packed and the crowd was going wild as the Bruins mounted their attack in the 3rd. This was the first Bruins game that I'd gone to since last season, and the difference between that last game and this one was incredible. The arena was actually full last night, pretty amazing when you think that just a couple of years ago they painted every other seat black so the empty stands wouldn't look so bad!

In the end, the Bruins choked away the lead allowing the Devils to tie the game with 1:45 left. Even worse the Devils netted the game-winner just over a minute into overtime. At least the Bruins were able to get 1 point, which is better than I expected after the first 2 dismal periods. It was a great experience all around, hopefully I can make it to another game before season is over.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lanny'll Take a Molson

In my last post I decided to feature a Lanny McDonald Legends card simply because my brothers and I used to get a kick out of his cards when we were younger. Aside from his mustache, I think our immature young minds couldn't help but make the comparison to Ronald McDonald just because of the last name and the large red disaster on top of his head.

In reality, McDonald was actually a very skilled player who scored over 1,000 points in his 18-year NHL career and is a member of the NHL Hall of Fame. Lanny's 1983-84 O-Pee-Chee card (pictured above), which I recently picked up for a whopping 10 cents, has quickly become one of my favorites. I think it's the blatant advertising for Molson on the front of Lanny's jersey. This kind of thing would never fly in the NHL these days. It just seems fitting though, Lanny strikes me as the kind of guy who would enjoy a nice cold Molson. This obviously looks like it's just a practice jersey, which is supported by the fact that the stands behind Lanny are completely devoid of fans. This Bill Masterson Trophy Winner card from the very same O-Pee-Chee set shows Lanny in what is clearly real game action, sans Molson advertisement:

Monday, January 26, 2009

2008 O-Pee-Chee Hobby Box

I bought a rack pack of 2008 O-Pee-Chee hockey a while back and it instantly became my favorite hockey set of 2008 (with Upper Deck's base and Masterpieces sets not far behind). After picking up another rack pack, a blaster, and about a half dozen hobby packs, I decided I was going to build the set and ponied up for a wax box. I paid $63.00 for the box, which contains 36 packs, 6 cards per pack.

This is the largest hockey set of the year to my knowledge (as O-Pee-Chee generally is). The base set consists of 500 cards. There are an extra 100 short prints (#'s 501 - 600) consisting of 60 Marquee Rookies cards and 40 Legends cards. The Marquee Rookies cards have been a staple of the O-Pee-Chee set for at least the last couple of years. The Legends however are a new, and in my opinion welcome, addition to the set. I got 8 Marquee Rookies cards in my box, seven of which I needed. My only gripe is the selection of rookie players. I seemed to get quite a few scrubs, like Jordan LaVallee (pictured above) who as far as I can tell has not suited up for a single game so far this year. I understand that card companies have to take a gamble as they don't have a crystal ball to tell them which rookies will see playing time, but they seem to have missed on some big names, like Blake Wheeler of the Boston Bruins. Upper Deck may rectify this before all is said and done though, as I have already seen advertising for a 2008 O-Pee-Chee update set (just in case I didn't have enough sets to collect!).

I really like the design of the base cards. For the past couple of years O-Pee-Chee has had sort of a bland brown and/or black bordered card with a small inset photo. This year I think they did a much better job, with a larger photo that often overlaps the border (as it does with the Backstrom card pictured here) and team colors integrated into the base set design. The O-Pee-Chee logo itself could've been smaller in my humble opinion, but other than that there is very little I would change about the base cards. I pulled 146 base cards when all was said and done, 70 of which I already had. Collation was alright, as I did not pull any doubles within the box itself, I think I just got unlucky and happened to get a box where I already had a good portion of the base cards. I still pulled 76 base cards that I needed though, and I'm already working on a trade to unload most of my doubles. This set has a relatively high value so far on the secondary market as well, so unloading extra cards on eBay won't be a problem either.

The highlight of this product for me though is the Retro parallel cards. Inserted at one per pack, these cards are actually a parallel to the base set on a 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee design. Normally I absolutely detest parallel cards. As a set builder, I generally complain that they simply take up space in a pack that could've been occupied by a base card, and quite simply cause you to bust more wax in order to hand collate your set. 2008 O-Pee-Chee is different though, and in this case the parallels were one of the main things that drew me to purchase this box. These cards have been in very high demand with hockey collectors. I've seen some individual parallels sell for more than $10 a piece on eBay. Topps and Upper Deck should learn something here, if they have to include parallels in a set it would do them a lot of good to model them after a vintage design.

OK, down to the nitty gritty, here's a breakdown of exactly what I received in this box:

Base Cards: 146 (70 doubles)

Marquee Rookies: 8 (1 double)

Legends: 6 (4 doubles)

Team Checklists: 2

Season Highlights Inserts: 2

Retro: 36 (12 base, 13 Marquee Rookies, 11 Legends)

Gold Parallels (of course Upper Deck had to screw it up and include another worthless parallel): 9

Award Winners Inserts: 2

Stat Leaders Inserts: 3

Second Team All-Star Inserts: 1

Winter Classic Inserts: 1 (as expected, they fall 1:box)

Retro Rainbow Inserts (same as the Retro parallel but shiny and #'d to 100): 2

O-Pee-Chee Materials 3 Player Jersey Card: 1

Not a bad box at all. The guarantee of 36 Retro parallel cards, the great design of the base set, the inclusion of Legends cards, and the myriad of subsets made this a great box. In fact, I liked this box so much (and was still so far from completing a set) that I purchased another wax box (which I'm about half-way through ripping). And now, here are 5 cards from the box that I especially liked:

#593 - Tony Esposito - Chicago Blackhawks (Retro Parallel) - Here's a meeting of my two favorite parts of the set, a retro parallel and a Legends card. How beautiful is this card?

#490 - Manny Fernandez - Boston Bruins - I chose this card simply because I think it effectively illustrates how great the base cards look with the team color integrated into the border.

#595 - Lanny McDonald - Calgary Flames (Legends) - Here's one of the Legends short print cards. I chose Lanny because his fabulous mustache always cracked me and my brothers up when we were younger. Strangely, Lanny's is the only Legends card I've obtained so far with a black and white photo. I'm not sure why they chose black and white for a player who played so recently and has so many color photos available.

3M-PRB - Brian Rolston/Pierre-Marc Bouchard/Mark Parrish - Minnesota Wild - I think these triple jersey cards fall one per box. I didn't pull the best card possible, but I've watched quite a few Wild games this year and I think their defensive-minded playing style (behind coach Jacques Lemaire) is going to get them into the playoffs again in the weak Western Conference.

#584 - Wayne Gretzky - Edmonton Oilers (Retro Parallel) - Booyah! I'd seen this card go for as much as $15 on eBay, and it was the single card that I wanted to pull more than any other when I purchased the box. There was a huge smile on my face when I ripped open a pack and saw this card at the back.

This box was worth the $63 without a doubt, I can't wait to finish ripping my second one and then chasing down some of the cards I'm missing!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Krejci Card from Sweden!

Recent changes in eBay's policies and fees have driven a lot of card collectors from the site and forced them to look elsewhere for their online purchases. While I agree that some of these changes have negatively impacted card sales on eBay, especially when it comes to picking up single commons, etc., there are still plenty of great deals to be found.

I received one such great deal in the mail just the other day. This package contained a David Krejci card that I purchased a couple of months back. Krejci is my favorite player, and I picked up a few of his high-end cards a while ago. He's quickly risen to become one of the elite young players in the NHL though, and as a result I've been priced out of becoming a Krejci super-collector.

For now I'll just enjoy the cards I was able to pick up before he gained notoriety. I grabbed this 2007 O-Pee-Chee Premier card which is autographed, contains 4 jersey swatches, and is serial numbered to 299. Even though this was shipped all the way from Sweden, the seller charged a mere $3.00 for shipping costs, and I got the card with shipping included for about the price of a blaster.

Not a bad looking card, huh? I think it's safe to say this is the only card in my collection that has been in Sweden!

While I'm on the subject, I find it absolutely ridiculous that Krejci was not invited to participate in the NHL's Youngstars game. The NHL All-Star game is a joke to me as it is, an event that I think is put together mainly to provide a fun weekend for large corporate sponsors. I wish someone could justify why Krejci was left off of the sophomore roster. As far as I know, the players for the Youngstars game are chosen by the NHL, not fan voting. At age 22, this guy is 11th in the league in scoring, with 52 points in just 47 games, more points than anyone else who is participating in the Youngstars game. I heard a statistic recently that he has more points than anyone in the league since November 19th. Let me state that again. Nobody has tallied more points (not Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, or Sidney Crosby) since November 19th than David Krejci. He's been the single hottest player in the league for over 2 months now, yet has been left out of the Youngstars game! Not only that but his playing style and puck-handling is very exciting to watch, he's the exact type of player I would think the NHL would want to showcase over the All-Star weekend. What a joke.

I'd be interested in knowing what anyone who's reading this thinks of the NHL All-Star game? I am alone in thinking that the whole thing is pretty pointless?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

John from the UK Strikes Again!

I was having a tough day at work the other day, when out of the blue someone dropped a bubble mailer on my desk. A quick glance at the address, and suddenly my day got a whole lot better. John had struck again, sending along a great stack of cards. Best of all, we hadn't discussed a trade or anything recently, so the package came as a total surprise. I don't have time to show off everything, but here are my favorites from the package:

1985 Topps Collectors' Series - #44 - Cy Young
John is a fellow Red Sox fan, so just like last time, a good chunk of the cards he sent along were Red Sox cards, which are greatly appreciated. I had never heard of this Collectors' Series set before. As far as I can tell, Topps released this set (depicting retired players) in 1985. I'm not sure if these were released any other years, or if they were sold through retail only. Anyone have any more info on this set?
2004 Topps Cracker Jack - #12 - Connie Mack
John knows I like vintage cards, so vintage is the other theme of this package. I wasn't collecting cards in 2004, so this is actually the first of these Cracker Jack cards that I've acquired. I really like the look of this set, I'm sure there are short prints but I'll have to see if I can pick up some of the Red Sox players on the cheap.
2002 Topps Archives Reserve - #7 - Fred Lynn
You can't tell from the scan, but this is one shiny card! I did have a couple of 2002 Topps Archives cards, but this is my first Topps Archives Reserve card. That's 3 straight cards where the sets themselves were entirely new to me, not bad!

John sent a bunch of newer Sox cards as well, mostly from 2007 and 2008. I didn't waste a dime on Upper Deck X, and only bought a single pack of Spectrum so these cards are much appreciated.
And now, for my favorite part of the package, a dozen or so 1970 Topps cards!
Once again a couple of Red Sox cards and a gently loved checklist.

The majority of the cards were Washington Senators and Seattle Pilots cards. These are great, I was just commenting in my last post that I love cards depicting teams that are no longer in existence! There were 2 of the Marty Pattin cards included, so I've added one to my Available for Trade list.
Thanks once again for another great package John! These cards really brightened my day. I've got a stack of cards started to send back your way, hopefully very soon. On an unrelated note, I've gotten pretty tired of looking at the 1986 Topps League Leaders set, so for the short-term I'll be switching the slideshow back to cards featured on this blog.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Card of the Month - January 2009

1971 Topps - #83 - Doug Roberts - California Golden Seals

This card is special to me for a number of reasons. For starters, 1971 Topps/O-Pee-Chee hockey is one of my favorite hockey card designs of all time, a set that I would love to complete someday. There's just something about the circular frame-type border and the bubble letters that are used for the team's name that strikes a chord with me.

This particular card earns extra points in my book because the California Golden Seals no longer exist as an NHL franchise, and haven't since 1976. Any card, baseball or hockey, depicting a team that's no longer in existence has an extra level of appeal in my eyes. The California Golden seals didn't last long in the NHL, they were only around from 1967 - 1976. They had a pretty cool logo though. I wish the NHL would've revived this franchise in the early to mid-90s, rather than expanding into areas where hockey just hasn't caught on (cough, cough, Florida Panthers, cough, cough).

The real reason I spent $5 on a graded version of this card though is because Doug Roberts is someone whom I met and even talked hockey with numerous times growing up. Every summer my brothers and I would load up my mom's huge Chevy Astro van with our hockey gear and head off to hockey camp at Connecticut College down in New London, Connecticut. This basically consisted of a solid week of just playing ice hockey and street hockey, swimming and hanging out with other kids my age who were also into hockey. It was one of the highlights of my summer each year.

Doug was the hockey coach at Connecticut College from 1980 - 2000 and was always a presence at the camp, along with his brother Gordie (who also had some NHL experience), giving on-ice advice to all of us. It's been quite a few years since I stopped playing hockey, but I have a lot of fond memories of playing while growing up, and going through practice under the watchful eye of Doug Roberts is one that I'll never forget.

Monday, January 12, 2009

1953 Topps Project - Post #34

#12 - Howie Judson - Cincinnati Reds

I'm still torn between sticking with the original goal of a graded set or selling off a bunch of my graded 1953 Topps and picking up a few "gently loved" cards instead. In the meantime, I'm going to keep plugging away with the first 1953 Topps card of 2009, Howie Judson.

Howie had a fairly boring career, pitching a grand total of just over 600 innings across 7 seasons. Howie's pictured here in the twilight of his career, in the first of what would be his final 2 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. He played for the Chicago White Sox in his first 5 seasons before going to Cincinnati. It seems that Judson worked primarily out of the bull-pen, although he did start a career high 14 games for Chicago in 1951.

Howie's career 17-37 record and 4.29 ERA make him easily forgettable, but his concerned look combined with the cloudy sky and scoreboard in the background make for a pretty nice looking card.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Show & Tell - Luc Robitaille

The 2008 Legends Masterpieces hockey set is one of my favorite hockey sets so far this year, so when I saw this Robitaille Canvas Clippings card for $1.75 I had to go for it. I love the look of these cards. The card itself is actually set back inside the darker frame. You can't go wrong with a jersey card of a sure fire Hall of Famer for under $2. Robitaille had an impressive career, recording 4 100 point seasons. He retired with the most career goals (668) and points (1,394) for a left winger. The only thing that would've made this card better would be if they had pictured him in the older 90's style Kings uniform.

On a side note, if anyone can help me with completing this set I'd love to trade. If you've got any of the cards on my Want List please get in touch with me and maybe we can work something out.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Organizing My Collection

I spent quite a while looking around online for a database that I could use to keep track of my cards, but ultimately just couldn't find one that fit what I was looking for. I had a couple of hours free today, so I installed Microsoft Access and started to play around. So far what I've come up with is pictured above.

I never had much Access experience except for a crappy data entry job I had in college, so I'm sure I butchered this thing and any developer who knows anything about Access or Visual Basic programming would probably laugh their ass off, but this works for me. Just a simple logo, a few fields that I care to track, and a place for a scan of each card. What's nice is that these fields will now all be totally searchable.

If anyone out there has knowledge of Microsoft Access and would like to try to improve upon this I'd love to pass it along to be cleaned up and made better...

Monday, January 5, 2009

1986 Topps League Leaders

For at least a few years there in the 80s, Topps released League Leaders sets. These were mini, glossy cards that showcased some of the statistical leaders from the previous season. I snagged a wax box of the 1986 cards a while back for literally a few dollars. I opened up just enough packs to complete my set, and have been sending them out in trades since.

The 1986 version has little to no similarity to regular 1986 Topps cards, and instead features a very simple plain white background with a small photo of the player. This is far from the world's greatest set of baseball cards, but they have some nostalgic value to me, and I think it's a decent oddball set. For your viewing pleasure, you will now find the entire 66 card set being displayed in the slide show at right.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Trade with jackplumstead

Here's another trade from a couple of months back. This one came to be when John Arnold (aka jackplumstead) contacted me from the UK. I ended up sending him some 2008 Goudey that he needed as well as a chunk of 1980 Topps. It turns out John is a fellow Red Sox fan, so I sent some Sox cards along as well.

John sent a really great package in return. Included were 3 of the remaining 2007 Goudey cards that I needed (2 of them short prints). Strangely enough, John sent along the Alex Rodriguez Heads Up short print pictured above just days after I had received the plain background variation in the trade with Dan from Saints of the Cheap Seats.

Also included were 2 2007 Topps Heritage short prints. Hopefully I'll complete this one some day...

John threw in what must be close to a 2008 Allen & Ginter Red Sox team set. Believe it or not I needed all 8 of these when I received his package.

This Conlon Collection card was probably my favorite in the whole package. I really love this set, and since most of my original cards were lost, this is the lone Conlon card in my collection.

A small assortment of 70s cards were thrown in as well. Really digging the old school Braves uniform on this Norm Miller card.

Belated thanks for the great trade John! Your package contained some really nice surprises and helped me on 2 baseball sets that I'm dying to complete. Plus, these are probably some of the only cards in my collection that have been overseas. Hopefully we can trade again some day!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Trade with Saints of the Cheap Seats

Like just about every other blogger out there, I'm notoriously bad about posting trades. It's been quiet on the trading front lately (probably because I've been on a hockey card kick which severely limits potential trading partners), so it's a good time to catch up on the last round of trades from a couple of months ago.

I sent some cards over to Danny at Saints of the Cheap Seats, and in return he sent me some stuff off of my want list. Included in his package were 3 2007 Goudey cards (2 of them short prints, including the A-Rod card pictured above), a handful of Topps Heritage cards that I needed, and about a dozen 2008 Upper Deck cards, including the Vlad below. Thanks for the great cards Danny, this really helped with the 2 baseball sets that I want to complete most!

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