Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm Back...and a Thank You to Justin G

If you're a regular reader (I think there are at least one or two of you out there), you've probably noticed that my posting has declined over the past few weeks. In my day to day life I work in IT for a law firm, and I decided recently that I needed to dust off the books and go for my 3rd Microsoft Certification. As a result, the last month or two of my life has been completed consumed by DHCP, DNS, IPSec and a whole host of other acronyms that mean absolutely nothing to the average person and would probably put you to sleep. I'm proud to say that I took the exam earlier today and passed with flying colors! For the first time in a long time I find myself with SportsCenter on the TV, a cold Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout in my hand, and a stack a cards in front of me. So now, with the NHL about to drop the puck to kick off the regular season tomorrow night, it's time to play catch-up...

Recently, reader Justin G of Is This a Wasteland - No It's Tampa Bay Sports commented on my pack rip of 2009-10 Fleer Ultra hockey indicating that he'd be happy to send a David Krejci base card my way. Since I wasn't impressed with the set and don't plan on buying any more of these cards, I gladly accepted the offer to add another Krejci card to my growing collection.

2009-10 Fleer Ultra - #13 - David Krejci - I've already gone on about how I find this set boring, so I don't have a whole lot to add here. Justin also threw in 2 bonus Bruins cards...

2008-09 Upper Deck Artifacts - #91 - Bobby Orr - What a fantastic looking card! I typically stay away from Artifacts, both baseball and hockey, so this is the first 08-09 Artifacts card in my collection. Does anyone know if the base set looks like this or if this is a gold parallel? If this is the base set I may seriously have to consider a box...

2008-09 Upper Deck Collector's Choice - #269 - Blake Wheeler (Choice Rookies) - Justin also threw in this Blake Wheeler rookie card from last year's Collector's Choice hockey set. Blake is one of the big question marks for the Bruins heading into this season. After an impressive start in his rookie campaign, the grind of the 82 game schedule really seemed to get to Wheeler and his play plummeted badly enough that he was benched for the B's final 3 games last season.

Justin, thank you so much for the cards. All 3 of these are keepers. Best of all, I can now search out the Gold Medallion and Ice Medallion variations of the Krejci card, and your base card has prevented me from spending any more money on a product I don't have much interest in. I'm heading into my card closet as soon as this is posted to track down a Lecavalier card or two to send back in return. Thanks again!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Classic Cards - 1991-92 Upper Deck Pavel Bure

I'd like to update my blog a bit more frequently, but some days I just don't have a whole lot to say. What I do have are thousands and thousands of scans of cards from my collection. On days when there isn't much going on, or I don't have a whole lot of time, I will post a "classic card" from my collection. I'll post cards for a variety of reasons but generally they will be cards that I think just stand out from the rest. You know, the ones where you stop and pause as you're flipping through a stack...

1991-92 Upper Deck - #54 - Pavel Bure - Vancouver Canucks - First up we have Pavel Bure's card from the 1991-92 Upper Deck hockey set. This card is so cheesy, but I remember being thrilled when I got it back in the day. The Russian Rocket was one of the most exciting players in the NHL to watch in his heyday. I guess this is how he trained...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hobby Shop Run Part 3 - 2009-10 Fleer Ultra Hockey

You didn't think I was going to make a trip to the hobby shop and come back without any hockey, did you? While I spent my first $10 on some vintage baseball and a pack of Goodwin Champions, I spent the next $10 on 3 packs of 2009-10 Fleer Ultra hockey. This is the second 09-10 product to be released, following on the heels of Victory. 8 cards per pack, although this one had only 6. I opened two of the packs and put the third away for a rainy day. The first one was a dud, the second gave a nice sampling of the set...

#178 - Saku Koivu - Montreal Canadiens - Good start with a horizontal card. The photography is the same boring stuff that seems to be featured in Ultra every year. It's a bit aggravating that Saku is pictured and listed as a Canadien, considering he signed with the Ducks on July 8th and I believe this set was released August 15th...

#36 - Patrick Sharp - Chicago Blackhawks - While I applaud Upper Deck for changing the design up a bit (it was virtually identical the last two years), I'm not sure I care for these cards very much. I think it would look nicer if they just left the large banner with the player's last name and did away with the grey fade...

#86 - Pekka Rinne - Nashville Predators - Rinne is coming off a solid season during which he went 29-15 with a 2.38 Goals Against Average and set a franchise record with 7 shutouts.

#164 - Steven Reinprecht - Phoenix Coyotes - Gold Medallion - Just like every other year, we have a Gold Medallion parallel. These are seeded one per pack and simply replace the silver border with a gold one. Is anyone else sick of these? They're essentially useless. Sure, you get an extra card if you're a player collector but for the average pack ripper they just make completing your set that much more difficult and annoying...

#30 - Rod Brind-Amour - Carolina Hurricanes - Ice Medallion (#35/100) - This parallel is new to the 2009-10 set. Same idea as the Gold Medallion cards except these are scarcer (not sure what the odds are) and are serial numbered to 100. You can't tell in the scan, but the serial number is on a sticker rather than on-card, which is kind of cheesy...

#UU-RD - Rick DiPietro - New York Islanders - Ultra Uniformity - In my opinion DiPietro was probably the single biggest bust in the NHL last year. He's had constant injury problems and after signing a monstrous 15-year 67.5 million dollar contract he played in just a handful of games for New York last year. Believe it or not, this is actually the second time I've pulled a DiPietro jersey card out of a pack!

Well, there you have it. Pretty boring cards if you ask me. I will probably seek out the Krejci singles but won't pursue the whole set. You never know though, I decided not to collect last year's set and ended up with it anyway. What do you think? Am I the only one snoozing after the first couple hockey releases of 2009-10?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hobby Shop Run Part 2 - Goodwin Champions Pack

Since the first few cards I picked out were from the 70's, I decided to get some modern baseball cards as well, so I grabbed a pack of 2009 Goodwin Champions. When I first saw the previews for this set a while back, I thought the cards looked outstanding and was planning to pick up a hobby box or two. I even went so far as to sell some cards on eBay so I'd be prepared, and I have more than enough in my PayPal account to cover a hobby box, but I just haven't been able to pull the trigger. I would've picked up a couple of packs, but I was on a budget and at $5 for a pack of 5 cards I decided to just grab one. Here's what I got...

#86 - Brooks Robinson - Baltimore Orioles - Pretty cool that Brooks was the first card out of the pack on the same day when I bought his 1974 Topps card. I may have to start collecting Brooks. This is my favorite card in the pack and probably the only one I won't eventually trade away. I think the painting is great and I love the Gold Glove symbol.

Mini #72 - David Wright - New York Mets - Nothing spectacular with this mini, but I do love the Mr. Met in the lower left.

#GCM-CH - Cole Hamels - Philadelphia Phillies - Memorabilia Series - I guess it's cool to pull a memorabilia card in my first and only pack. I seem to have pretty good luck with pulling game-used cards from packs at this guy's shop, which gives me a good feeling that he doesn't pack search. A couple of drawbacks here though. First and foremost, you can't tell from the scan, but this card is off-centered about 75/25 to the left. There's just no excuse for this in a modern card set, and the fact that it's one of the hits makes it that much more frustrating. Sure I only spent $5 on the pack, but had this been one of the hits in my $75 hobby box I'd be pretty disappointed. Not only that, but the hit results in one less card in the pack, so I ended up with only 4 cards instead of 5...

#5 - Albert Pujols - St. Louis Cardinals - This card isn't doing a whole lot for me.

These cards are alright. I could see myself picking up another pack or two if I could find them a bit cheaper, maybe even picking up a hobby box once the initial cool factor wears off and the price comes down a bit. For now I'm happy with my 4 card sampling...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hobby Shop Run Part 1 - Vintage Baseball

The events of Friday night left me a few beers deep with $35 in my pocket and about an hour left before the hobby shop in my area closed. I spent the first few bucks on 3 singles from the glass case full of 60's and 70's baseball cards.
1972 Topps Ted Simmons - 1972 Topps is one of my all time favorite set designs, which seems to be the case for a lot of collectors out there. I usually try to grab at least one or two singles whenever I run across them. When I saw this absolutely mint Ted Simmons card for 75 cents I snatched it up. Ted is one of the most under-rated players out there in my opinion. He played for 21 seasons and finished an 8-time All-Star with more career hits than notable backstops like Carlton Fisk or Yogi Berra. Will he someday be elected to the Hall-of-Fame by the Veterans Committee?
1972 Topps A.L. Home Run Leaders - Like I said, I had to grab a couple of 1972 Topps cards, but I chose this one primarily because until this pick-up my meager collection did not consist of a single card of Reggie Jackson from his time with the A's. While his 1969 Topps rookie may not be in my budget any time soon, this home run leaders card fit the bill for $1.50.
1974 Topps Brooks Robinson - The Orioles have always been my second favorite team behind the Red Sox. They've got a great history, a beautiful ballpark, and Cal Ripken Jr. was one of my 3 favorite players growing up. With the Red Sox playing 3 at Camden Yards over the weekend it seemed appropriate to pick up this Brooks Robinson for $2.75.

3 pretty good cards for $5 if you ask me. Check in tomorrow for part 2!

Kessel Off To Toronto

Well, the rumors turned out to be true. Phil Kessel was dealt yesterday to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who subsequently signed him to a 5-year, 27 million dollar contract extension. I think this was actually a great trade for both parties involved. Kessel proved himself to be one of the league's top young scorers last year, netting a team-leading 36 goals for the B's, despite missing some action. It was clear that the Bruins did not have the cap room to sign him, and Kessel had grown frustrated with the situation in recent weeks.

In return for Kessel, the Bruins received the Leafs' first round pick for the next 2 drafts, as well as a second round pick. It became apparent as last season progressed that the Bruins would be unable to sign both Kessel and David Krejci in the off-season, and I'm glad the Bruins decided to keep Krejci. While Kessel is a natural scorer, the knock on him is that he doesn't always do the right thing without the puck. David Krejci, on the other hand, is one of the best all around players in the league (led the league in +/- last year) and makes everyone on the ice with him a better player.

I'm happy Kessel got his payday, it must be nice to rake in 27 million dollars before you turn 22 years old. In the end though, I have to think that two first round draft picks could yield more talent than they lost in Kessel and will allow the team to stay competitive for years to come. If nothing else, it will certainly add some appeal to the Leafs/Bruins games this year. Who do you think got the better deal here?

By the way, for those of you who don't care about hockey, there will be a baseball related post going up tonight.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Completed Set - 2008-09 Upper Deck Hockey

Wow, that last week really flew by. I haven't had much to say and I've been spending my time populating my collection on Zistle. I did receive an envelope the other day containing the very last card I needed to complete my 2008-09 Upper Deck hockey base set, number 321, Dan Cleary. Just to be clear, I've finished the 400 card base set. I don't plan on collecting the short printed Young Guns rookies, although I've accumulated a dozen or so and if some more came my way I'd gladly accept them!

I have to say that this is probably my favorite hockey set of 2008-09. The design is minimal and so the focus is really on Upper Deck's absolutely outstanding photography. The full bleed photos in this set are fantastic. The puck is visible in nearly every single action shot, and as you'll see in a minute they got some really creative action shots. As I went through my scans to pick the cards to show in this post, I must've said "this has gotta be the best one in the set" more than a dozen times. This is the kind of set I would collect even if I weren't a hockey fan. Is there a football set out there with minimal design and great photography like this? I don't collect football, but I would collect that. OK, I've gone on long enough here. To summarize, if you collect hockey, or even if you don't, you won't be disappointed with these cards. Let's look at some of my favorites...

#25 - Mike Smith - Tampa Bay Lightning - When I first saw this card, the camera angle instantly made me think of Mario Gosselin's card from Upper Deck's first hockey release:

#62 - Daniel Alfredsson - Ottawa Senators - A whole lotta Senators jersey in this card. While some people get aggravated by "non-action" cards like this, I actually think they provide great value to a set if they're done nicely. On a side note, I think Alfredsson's caterpillar stache would have to be nominated for worst facial hair in professional sports, wouldn't it?

#93 - Saku Koivu - Montreal Canadiens - Right now the goal judge's brain is sending an electrical impulse down his arm to his thumb, which rests on the button, saying "push!!!"

#96 - Tomas Plekanec - Montreal Canadiens - It pains me to show two Canadiens in a row, but I couldn't pass this one up. Another good example of how they seem to get the puck in every action photo. I think the only two parts of Plekanec touching the ice at this moment are the tip of his skate and the blade of his stick.

#142 - Jared Boll - Columbus Blue Jackets - Ouch. Once again we have the puck pictured, although it's a bit difficult to see as it's on his backhand and he's got some white tape on his stick.

#170 - Dion Phaneuf - Calgary Flames - This was one of two cards that were in the running for my favorite card in the set. I think this one wins, and here's why. In case you couldn't tell from the crumpled heap on the ice just how badly Phaneuf leveled his opponent, take a look in the crowd behind the glass:
This lady is absolutely disgusted. She got all dressed up in her Wild jersey and Mardis Gras beads (shudder) to witness this?
This guy's face just says it all.

#176 - Derek Roy - Buffalo Sabres - Here's the card that Phaneuf's beat out as my favorite in the set. A spectacular shot.

#296 - Cristobal Huet - Chicago Blackhawks - Cool mask, weird face.

#319 - Chris Chelios - Detroit Red Wings - Is the grizzled veteran throwing or catching? I say catching...

#330 - Sam Gagner - Edmonton Oilers - Another "just before a goal" moment...

#348 - Niklas Backstrom - Minnesota Wild - I like that this card is cropped in a little closer. The fact that you can see Backstrom's facial expression through the mask makes what otherwise would've been a pretty boring card pretty cool.

#397 - Scott Hartnell - Philadelphia Flyers - I've shown this one before but I had to include it. The photographer captured the moment right after impact, and Pandolfo is actually suspended in mid-air here.

#403 - Derek Morris - Phoenix Coyotes - This is how you cross check kids.

#407 - Evgeni Malkin - Pittsburgh Penguins - This one makes the cut just because Evgeni left the Lightning players in his dust. I guess it would be ice shavings actually.

#424 - Vincent LeCavalier - Tampa Bay Lightning - Last but not least we have the biggest name to not go at the trade deadline last year, Vinny LeCavalier. If you think scoring a goal in the NHL is easy, I'm arguing against you and I present this card as evidence.

Well, that about does it. There are some inserts as well, and if you're interested in seeing them just check out my hockey card collection which is linked at the top of the blog. For me it's all about the base set though. I liked this enough that I'll check out Upper Deck's 09-10 release for sure, although I'm a bit disappointed that it seems to be this year's baseball design recycled...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Collecting Whalers - 1988-89 O-Pee-Chee Joel Quenneville (Autographed)

Today's Whalers card is another prime example of the generosity of card collectors out there. Back in July, Sal from Puck Junk emailed me because he was heading to the Blackhawks convention and wanted to know if there was anyone I might like an autograph from. I immediately thought of head coach Joel Quenneville, who served 6+ years on the Whalers' roster in the 1980's. There were no guarantees obviously, but I dug up Joel's 1988-89 O-Pee-Chee card and threw it in with a small package of cards I was sending to Sal.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I received this autographed beauty back! Best of all, Sal let me know that Quenneville was excited to see two Whalers cards in a row (Sal's girlfriend also got a Whalers card signed) and said "Alright, another Whalers card! The Whale lives on!"

Sal, your generosity is really appreciated. This card is priceless as far as I'm concerned, and will always be one of my favorite Whalers cards. Thanks again! If you missed Sal's writeup on the convention, check it out. He's got everything from cards to photos to paintings to videos, and a sweet Stan Mikita 8" x 10".
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