Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Hate the Sport of Baseball Right Now...

I'm not one of those fans who is so die-hard that they deny the problems with steriods in baseball have existed on the team they follow. I'm realistic enough to acknowledge that I'm sure there have been (and probably still are) players on EVERY team who have cheated and will continue to cheat.

That doesn't mean that it hurts any less when you find out the truth. I tried to stay positive and tell myself that Ortiz's slump at the beginning of the season had nothing to do with performance enhancers, but in the back of my mind there was that nagging feeling, which appears to have now been confirmed. I won't lie, that miraculous 2004 World Series Championship seems a little less magical in light of this.

I'm really getting sick of baseball...

Collecting Whalers - 1989 Topps Team Sticker

Topps included team stickers with a few of their hockey releases in the 80's, but since 1989-90 Topps was the set I collected most this particular sticker is the one that's most familiar to me. The 1989 stickers were actually a few separate stickers on one card. One featuring the team logo, another featuring a number, and then a few puck stickers. I can't remember if different stickers had different numbers or if each team's sticker always had the same number, but this particular card has #6, which would've been worn in 1989 by defenseman Adam Burt if I'm not mistaken.

Any time I scored a goal playing youth hockey, I would arrive home, retrieve my 1989 Topps album, pull a puck sticker off of one of these cards and affix it to the back of my helmet. I think adorning my helmet with the stickers was just as exciting as actually scoring a goal for me. Since my original Whalers sticker was missing the pucks, I picked this one up in a lot a while back on SportsBuy as a replacement.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Completed Set - 2008-09 Upper Deck Legends Masterpieces Hockey

When I recently completed my 2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces baseball set, I had to decide what to chase next. It seemed only logical to go after the 2008-09 Upper Deck Legends Masterpieces hockey set. Like the '07 Masterpieces baseball set, this one clocked in at under 100 cards (87 to be exact) and no short prints. I'll give a brief review here while showing some of my favorite cards. I had accumulated roughly 35 cards from the base set through a couple of retail packs, a trade and a random lot of hockey cards from SportsBuy before I decided to go for a set. I mulled over the thought of getting a hobby box for a week or two but I just couldn't justify spending over $60 (despite some GREAT auto and relic cards) when what I truly wanted was the base set. Eventually I stumbled across a 24-pack retail box on eBay and I went for it, figuring it would yield at least one minor hit and hopefully complete my base set. Let's look at some of the cards...
#25 - Lanny McDonald - Calgary Flames

The base cards are what you've come to expect from Upper Deck after the two Masterpieces baseball releases. The hockey release has the same canvas-like feel to the front of the cards with a small blurb on the back along with the artist's signature. I always appreciate a chance to add a Lanny McDonald card to my collection. After opening the retail box I still needed 3 cards, and Lanny was one of them.

#34 - Bobby Orr - Boston Bruins

One major improvement from the baseball set in my opinion is that the hockey release is Legends Masterpieces, as opposed to just regular old Masterpieces like the baseball sets. What this basically means is that the entire 87 card set is comprised of notable players, most of them Hall of Famers, from the NHL's past. There are no rookie cards of the hottest young player, cards with presidents on them, or any of that nonsense. One of my favorites from the set shows Bobby Orr's infamous goal.

#38 - Wayne Gretzky - Edmonton Oilers

There are a few Gretzky cards on the checklist, but this one depicting the young Oilers' captain hoisting the cup has to be my favorite.
#70 - Rogie Vachon - Los Angeles Kings

The checklist features a couple of great goalie cards. Everything about this card is great, the brown pads, the old school Kings jersey, and the mask. Runner up goes to Richard Brodeur's card featuring the Canuck's V jersey.

#73 - Willie O'Ree - Boston Bruins

Willie O'Ree earns a card as the first African American to play in the National Hockey League. I'm pretty sure this is the only O'Ree card in my collection. I'm going to have to look around to see what other cards he has out there...

#31 - Tony Esposito - Chicago Blackhawks - Brown Border

The retail box yielded 3 of these brown border parallels, but Tony O was definitely the best. This card looks so good I probably would've tracked it down individually had I not pulled it. I'd like to pick up some more of these some day, but my card buying ban is at 9 days and counting, so it'll have to wait. And now, some random hits that I picked up to supplement my retail box...

#CC-GA2 - Glenn Anderson - Edmonton Oilers - Canvas Clippings
My instant response in the dozen or so times I've pulled a game-used or relic card has been to yawn. It's typically a card of a player I don't care for or have never heard of. The selection of players on the relic and signature cards in this set is pretty impressive though. Glenn was a staple of the Oilers' championship teams of the 80's and at less than $2 I couldn't pass it up.
CC-SG - Borje Salming - Toronto Maple Leafs - Canvas Clippings

I picked up the Glenn Anderson above, this Borje Salming card, and the Luc Robitaille I showed off a while back from the same seller for $1.75 each. Borje is one of the most under-rated players of the 70's and early 80's and is a member of the hockey Hall of Fame.

#CC-WC1 - Wendel Clark - Toronto Maple Leafs - Canvas Clippings

Here is the one hit I pulled from my retail box. I don't think Clark will ever be considered Hall of Fame material, but I do remember him being one of the most exciting players to watch in the early 90's.

#MB-BD - Bill Dineen - Detroit Red Wings - Brushstrokes

After finishing the retail box, I still wanted one thing. The Brushstrokes auto inserts from this set are maybe the best looking cards out of any of them. They are on-card autos, which I absolutely love, and there are signatures of some pretty impressive players to be had. Since I was on a budget though, I settled on this Bill Dineen card. Although I don't know much about Dineen, it only set me back a couple of bucks and Bill is the father of one of my favorite Whalers players, Kevin Dineen. Speaking of the Whalers, my one gripe about the set is that there is no Ron Francis card. I guess 4th all-time in NHL points and 2 Stanley Cups isn't enough to be considered a Legends Masterpiece? Where's the love Upper Deck?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

One Week, No Cards...

It's been a busy week which has resulted in a total lack of posting. I've reached sort of a lull in collecting here. My Allen & Ginter set arrived (I've added scans of all 50 short prints to the Zistle library) and there really aren't any other baseball releases so far this year that I'm interested in chasing. Last Friday I placed my first-ever order on SportsLots to help me get closer to completing some of my outstanding 08-09 hockey sets. The 09-10 hockey sets aren't hitting shelves for a month or so still. Aside from the upcoming hockey releases I'm really looking forward to Upper Deck's Goodwin Champions set, but we're a ways out on that as well. What does this all mean for me?

Well, I haven't purchased any cards since my SportsLots order last Friday, and it got me to thinking. What's the longest I've gone without any type of card purchase whatsoever since I got back into the hobby over 2 years ago? I doubt I've gone an entire month in that time span without at least picking up a stray pack. I've decided that I'm going to try not to make one singe card purchase for at least 30 days, maybe even longer. In a hobby that revolves around the newest releases where something seems to be coming out just about every week, I'm going to buck the trend and instead spend the next month further organizing my collection and enjoying the cards I do have. Furthermore I'm going to try to sell some unwanted items on eBay during this stretch, simultaneously freeing up room in my card closet and stocking my PayPal account for when the releases I am looking forward to hit the shelves in September. I will still be trading but I'm going to try not spending so much as a dime on cards for 30 days. Will I make it? Today is day 7, we'll see.

I'm interested to know, what's the longest any of you have gone without purchasing cards during a time when you were still "actively collecting"?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Buchholz to Start vs. Jays

At long last the waste of time that is the MLB All-Star break is over and we can all move on to watching real baseball again. Unfortunately for me last night was an off night for the Red Sox so no action until tonight when the Sox play the first of three in Toronto against the Jays. On the mound for the visiting team will be young pitching phenom Clay Buchholz.

Everyone is familiar with the no-hitter Buchholz threw in just his second career start late in 2007 against the Orioles. 2008 was a rocky year for Clay though, and he was optioned back to AA Portland in the Red Sox organization. He's been battling his way back through the minor leagues and has been absolutely dominating at AAA Pawtucket so far this year. If he were on any other club in the majors he would've been called up weeks if not months ago, but the wealth of starting pitching this year has left him without an opening until now.

Some theorize that Clay is getting the start in Toronto to showcase him to the Blue Jays organization and fans, as he is one of the names that has come up in the Roy Halladay trade rumors. The club named Clay the starter days ago, claiming they wanted a definite starter for Friday night, and this prevented the pitching staff to have to adapt to whether or not Tim Wakefield and Josh Beckett ended up pitching in the All-Star game (neither did).

In any event, I'm glad real baseball is back and I'm looking forward to tonight's game!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pack Rip - 2008-09 Upper Deck Ice

Here's another random pack I picked up on a trip to the hobby shop probably 3 or 4 months ago and let sit on the shelf for a rainy day. I've never been a big fan of the Ice sets and have no intention of collecting this one, but I guess I just wanted to satisfy my curiosity and see what the 08-09 release looked like. 5 cards in the pack...
#67 - Olli Jokinen - Phoenix Coyotes - You can tell this set came out a while back as Jokinen is featured with the Coyotes, the team that dealt him to Calgary at the trading deadline.

#54 - Marty Turco - Dallas Stars - I don't mind the look of these cards. At first I thought they were ugly but they're kind of growing on me...

#68 - Patrice Bergeron - Boston Bruins - Nice to pull a card of Bergeron. He's been reliable since coming back from the concussion but just seems to have lost a little edge or maybe confidence.

#64 - Nicklas Backstrom - Washington Capitals - One of the Capitals young stars who along with Ovechkin have made the team feared once again.

#17 - Cristobal Huet - Chicago Blackhawks - Probably the best looking card in the pack. I would've sent this one off to Sal at Puck Junk had I not mailed out his package earlier this week.

Well this was pretty much what I expected. Nice looking cards but nothing too exciting and definitely overpriced at 5 cards for $3. I believe there are numbered rookie cards that are the big hit in this set. It seems more geared towards the box buster or prospector than the average set collector.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pack Rip - 2008 Allen & Ginter Retail

I took a trip out to Target and the local hobby shop today. I stuck to a budget of $35 total for both stops, which didn't leave me much considering I needed quite a bit of boxes and shipping supplies at the hobby shop. When I saw these 2008 Allen & Ginter packs in the $1.59 bargain bin at Target I grabbed all 6 of them. I still have a ton of holes in my 2008 A & G set, and they NEVER have anything half way decent in the bargain bin, so it was a pleasant surprise. Here's the best pack of the 6.
#189 - "Rampage" Jackson - Not a great start to the pack, but it gets better from here. While the odd non-baseball subjects are one of the things I like most about Allen & Ginter, I'm not an MMA fan whatsoever. In fact, I didn't even know who "Rampage" was until I googled it just now.
#13 - Mike Lowell - Boston Red Sox - Fitting that I pulled a Lowell card on the cusp of his return from the DL. Will he be back in the Red Sox lineup this weekend against Toronto, and if so will he be able to put up numbers like he did so far this year before getting hurt? If he can come back and be just as healthy as he was before he will add another good bat to an already better-than-decent lineup.
#325 - Stephen Drew - Arizona Diamondbacks (SP) - I don't know much about J.D.'s brother, given that he plays in the National League. I do know this is a short print though, and one I didn't have to boot.
#29 - Empire State Building - Now here's an oddball card I can appreciate! Although I detest the Yankees, I think New York is a beautiful city, and I've been to the top of the Empire State Building 5 or 6 times at least.
#US41 - Mark Ellis - Oakland Athletics - Don't know much about Mark Ellis at all, but again I needed this insert. And now for the coolest card out of all 6 packs that I opened...
#WDS3 - Bull Shark - Mini - This is an absolutely awesome card. I've wanted one of these Deadliest Shark mini cards since this product first came out and this is my first. I don't think the odds of pulling one are astronomical or anything, but this is the coolest thing I've pulled in a while, especially from a retail pack. I'd love to track down the other 4 to complete the mini set sometime.
A Red Sox player, a short print, an insert I needed and two oddball cards for $1.59. Can't beat that!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Vacation Project - 1991 Conlon Collection

I've got the week off from work, and I've decided to spend some time organizing my collection and completing some projects that I can never seem to find the time for. First on the list is completing my 1991 Sporting News Conlon Collection set. I had a couple of packs of this stuff when I was a kid, but I didn't really appreciate the cards for what they were until I received one in a package from John a few months back. I bid on a box of the stuff on eBay a few days later and to my surprise won it for a whopping 99 cents! I opened the first few packs but never sorted them or finished the box. The picture above is what was waiting for me this morning, a couple hundred random cards and between 20 and 30 unopened packs.

At 18 cards a pack it took a while to slug through the rest of the box, but I'm proud to say I stuck with my guns and just a couple of hours later have a nice sorted set and a gigantic stack of doubles, both of which I will be adding to Zistle later this week. I'll save the full breakdown of the set for my Completed Set post once it's finished. In the meantime, there's only one problem...

I AM MISSING CARD NUMBER 7! If anyone out there happens to have a spare Mel Ott #7 card hanging around that they'd like to send, I can send you a whole bunch of Conlon in return, or anything else you might be interested in for that matter. Yes, I can pick the card up for about 10-20 cents online, but I figured I would reach out to other collectors first to see if I could get a 2-way trade going rather than pay shipping for a single common. Anyone have it?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pack Rip - 1999 Upper Deck McDonald's Gretzky

Not a ton of time for a post today, but I did want to show the other pack of 1999 McDonald's Gretzky cards, as my last post inspired me to finally open it.
Puzzle Piece 1 of 9
#7 - New York Rangers
#5 - New York Rangers
#12 - New York Rangers
No Oilers cards in this pack, but at least I didn't get any doubles. I'll have to track down the 9 other base cards sometime...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

2009 Allen & Ginter - I Cheated (Plus a Bonus Pack Rip)

I apologize for the lack of posts lately, I've been off work since before the 4th of July holiday and have been enjoying some time away from the computer as well, but it's about time I got around to a post here (I haven't totally been slacking as I've added a good deal of cards and scans to the Zistle library).

The sports card blogosphere is in a total frenzy over the release of '09 Allen & Ginter baseball, which officially hit shelves yesterday. Like most collectors I absolutely LOVE the Allen & Ginter line of cards, but there were a few problems facing me with this latest release. First and foremost, I'm trying to be a bit stricter with my card budget these past few months, and I just can't justify the $150+ I'd have to spend on two hobby boxes just to get a start on completing my set. That money will go towards the 3rd of 4 weddings that I'll be attending this summer, ugh. Not only that but I can't deal with the prospect of trying to hand collate another set right now. I'm behind on trades to begin with (packages for Captain Canuck, Sal, Slette and hopefully one or two other people will be going out early next week). I don't have the time or energy to spend scouring eBay for short prints or those last few inserts I need. I still haven't completed my 08-09 O-Pee-Chee and Upper Deck hockey sets, and the 09-10 releases are just around the corner. Even my 2008 Allen & Ginter set is in terrible shape, for some reason I didn't pick up a lot of those last year. So, how did I solve my problem? I cheated... I don't usually buy sets like this, but in this case how could I resist? For the exact price of a single hobby box of Allen & Ginter, I picked up the entire base set, all 50 SPs, the entire 75-card National Pride insert set, and the 25-card baseball highlight sketch insert set (which I am particularly excited about).

Yes, this is disappointing in some ways. I don't get to experience the excitement of ripping a wax box, something I haven't done in quite some time actually. Maybe that hobby box I actually had in my cart at one point on (thanks Dayf!) contained a 1/1 pubic hair of some historic figure that I could've sold and paid off my car with, I'll never know. Here's what I do know; I've got a binder loaded with fresh Ultra Pro pages and ready to go, and I couldn't be more excited that this entire 450 card set is going to be a part of my collection. I don't have to spend the next 6 months trying to finish this thing. I had $15 left in my PayPal account that I had forgotten about as well, so I was only hit for $58 in the end. If I feel like it, I can always pick up some packs at the hobby shop for a shot at inserts and to give me some trading bait. What do you think? Is this set collector sacrilege or have you bought completed sets like this?

I've rambled on long enough. Remember that pack of cards at the beginning of this post? While I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Allen & Ginter set, here's a pack of 1999-2000 Upper Deck cards that McDonald's apparently gave away to commemorate the career of the Great One, Wayne Gretzky. The pack contains only 3 cards, and I'm sure I paid too much for it at $2, but I had never heard of this set so it piqued my interest.

Puzzle Piece 5 of 9 - If anyone out there has the other 8 of these, you know how to get a hold of me!

#10 - New York Rangers - These cards actually look really nice. They have a bit of Collector's Choice and a bit of the 95-96 Upper Deck style in them. I like the top and two sides being borderless, and the photography is excellent as usual.

#1 - New York Rangers - This is just a great photo of Gretzky in celebration. The fans are clapping and you can even see the ref signaling the goal in the background.

#4 - Edmonton Oilers - Definitely my favorite card in the pack. I will always think of the Oilers most when I think of Wayne Gretzky, and this is another great shot.

This is actually a really nice little set of cards. There are only 15 in the set (plus the 9 puzzle pieces). I bought another pack at the same time which I've yet to open. Once I do I'm chasing down the others I need for sure.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Puck Junk Contest!

I wanted to point out for anyone that may not have seen it that one of my all-time favorite blogs, Puck Junk, is giving away free Panini stickers! What collector doesn't like getting free stuff in the mail? All you have to do is become a follower of the blog and post a quick comment listing your top 3 favorite teams, and you'll receive a package containing a team sticker and a few individual player stickers as well.

While you're there I would highly recommend reading through the backlog of posts if you've never been on the site. It's an absolutely awesome site focusing on all things hockey. The posts run the gamut from vintage cards to video games and other oddball items. There is a ton of great stuff there, whether you're a die-hard NHL fan or someone who couldn't even name 5 teams, I'm sure there is something that will interest you. Sal, who runs the site, is as nice a guy as you'll meet in the blogging community and has become one of my favorite trading partners as well.

Since Sal is a Blackhawks fan, this post is also the perfect chance for me to show off this gem, a 1962-63 Topps Murray Balfour I recently picked up. Murray's been battered, creased and stained over the years, but it's the oldest hockey card I own and a welcome piece in my collection.
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