Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Best Of The Best

With the Giants and Royals battling down to the final out of the final game it got me thinking about who is considered the best all-time player to come out of each club’s history. I don't own any of these cards, they were courtesy of the Google machine.
The Royals have been around for 45 years, established in 1969, and there have been a number of solid players who wore the powder blue over the years but I think no matter how you slice it George Brett will always be considered the Saint of Kansas City.
During his 20 years in KC he batted .305 with 3,154 hits, 317 HR and 1596 RBIs. Toss in 13 All-Star appearances, an AL MVP in 1980, ALCS MVP in 1985, World Championship in 1985 to go with his Gold Glove and 3 Batting Titles. Since his retirement he had his number retired and been elected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot selection.
The Giants have been around since 1883, 129 years, initially as the New York Gothams before changing to the New York Giants in 1886. The team moved to San Francisco in 1958. The team has always been considered a contender making an appearance in the World Series 23 times and winning 7 titles.
This definitely made it more difficult to come down to a single “best” player. Looking at the all-time best Giants and you can build an All-Star team just from the Orange and Black. Barry Bonds*, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry, Will Clark, Monte Irvin and even someone modern like Tim Lincecum could make an argument for being one of the best on the team.
I decided to go with Co-Greatest Giants and I am guessing most people will agree with me. First I decided to drop Mr. “*” for obvious reasons, some day steroids/HGH may be accepted in to the sports world and when that day comes he can bask in his achievements but until then I think the only way he should be allowed in to the Hall of Fame is if he purchases a ticket like Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson.


I selected Willie Mays and Christy Matthewson as my Co-Greatest Giants.

Willie Mays spent 21 years with the Giants between New York and San Francisco, during that time he was a 24x All-Star, he won a World Series Championship in 1954, he won 2 MVP Awards, NL ROY and he won 12 Gold Glove Awards. His number has since been retired by the Giants and he was a first ballot Hall of Fame selection in 1979. The “Say Hey Kid’ deserves to be on anyone’s “Greatest” lists, Giants or otherwise.
Christy Matthewson played his first game with the New York Giants in 1900 and over the next 17 years he won 373 games with an amazing 2.12 ERA. During his time in NY he won a World Series (1905) and later another one as the Giants pitching coach in 1921, he was the Pitching Triple Crown winner twice, he also was a 4x NL Wins Champion, 5x NL ERA Champion and 5x NL Strikeout Champion and he also threw 2 no-hitters. His jersey was retired (As “NY” because they didn’t have number) by the Giants and he was a first ballot Hall of Fame selection during the inaugural Hall of Fame selection in 1936 along with Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth  and Walter Johnson.

And as I post this Salvador Perez pops up to the 3rd Base foul line and Pablo Sandoval grabs it for the final out and the World Series Championship goes to the San Francisco Giants.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Good Guys Boston Bruins

Too often the public hears about the negative elements connected to sports, either the athletes themselves committing crimes or the teams/management screwing over the players and fans. The public rarely hears about the positive decisions that are made daily.
Each year the Boston Bruins make a trip to Boston’s Children’s Hospital to visit kids and bring a little cheer to their lives. People may not realize but events like this brighten the day of the children as well as their parents. To add some cheer the Bruins players dressed up as characters from Disney’s Frozen, though quite peculiar versions of the characters. They even sung "Let It Go" at times.
I know what these families are going through, when my son was young he spent weeks at a time in Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma and when he was 7 months old the Seattle Seahawks cheerleaders came to visit for Halloween. It is these types of visits that help families, some may even say it is therapeutic, at least to ease the mind.

The players; Kevin Miller (Kristoff), Dougie Hamilton (Elsa), Matt Fraser (Anna), Seth Griffith (Hans), Matt Bartkowski (Sven) and Torrey Krug (Olaf)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Can You Be Elite Without Proving It?

Apparently Jay Cutler is an elite QB, well at least according to Bears’ GM Phil Emery, something that does not sit very well with the legendary Bears’ linebacker Brian Urlacher. In January the Bears signed Cutler to a 7-year $126.7 million contract making him the highest paid QB this season for which he has responded with a 3-5 record. The other day Urlacher stated that Cutler is "Elite in salary only".
Emery responded by pointing out that Cutler is 59-53 lifetime (60-54 counting playoff games) and that alone should put him on the list of “Elite” quarterbacks. While his 60 wins puts him at the #14 rank of wins by active QBs, which is a nice position, it also puts him in the neighborhood of players like Carson Palmer, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, Alex Smith and Matt Schaub. This particular neighborhood is a nice place to be but none of these guys own a Super Bowl Champion ring and I think that most people will agree that at least one Super Bowl Championship is required to be considered a top flight quarterback.
Personally I am with Urlacher on this one, Cutler is a decent quarterback who excels when he has solid producers around him but he can also loss a game on his own and he is nowhere near guys like Payton Manning, Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger or Rodgers. He is 31 years old and with a 7-year contract extension he has time to prove his worth but normally elite QBs show their ability early and get better with age where Cutler has not shown this type of growth and some may even say his best years are behind him.
This is a case where a GM and coach are trying to convince people (and themselves) that they didn't make a mistake with the contract extension in January. They can take to the media and say all they want but with this much money tied up, including $54 million guaranteed, over the next few years the team is going to have trouble bringing in talent and keep under the salary cap.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chase Away The Bad Luck

Today the Seahawks travel to Charlotte to take on the 3-3-1 Panthers and look to end the current 2 game losing streak. The last time Seattle lost three games in a row was 2011. So to do my part I am offering up a Simpsonized version of Marshawn Lynch in hopes of making the football gods laugh and remove the bad juju that has funked the team over the past two weeks.

The artist is Adrien Noterdaem, a Belgian illustrator who has a wonderful style and has recently begun Simpsonizing athletes and actors (including some NFL players),

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bazooka Griffey

In my continued effort to build up my Ken Griffey Jr. collection occasionally I find myself in the occasional dilemma when it comes to price. With Griffey being one of the most popular baseball players of the past 25 years it is no wonder that even now after his retirement his cards still demand a premium over other cards in the set. From time to time I hunt down a card that is teetering on the edge of my self-imposed max price so I continue to watch and wait for a deal to appear.
The wait and see attitude has helped me not only pick up the Griffey card but sometimes even an additional bonus. A couple of times I have added a complete subset/insert set for roughly the same price. Which is how I ended up with the 22-card 1990 Bazooka set.
The set was made up of a collection of established players like Robin Yount, Rickey Henderson and Tony Gwynn plus younger prospects like Griffey, Jim Abbott and Gary Sheffield as well as some “Never were” players who filled out the checklist.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Two-Fisted Shamrock

One of my favorite early MMA fighters is Ken Shamrock. He fought between 1993 and 2010 and made appearances in Pancrase, Pride and UFC with a couple of late career fights in local venues like King of the Ring, Impact and Cage Rage. He was UFC’s first Superfight Champion, a title that has since been replaced with UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Sadly he spent a couple of years at the end of the 1990s wasting his talent wrestling in the WWF, years that he later tried to make up when he returned to MMA in 2000 and fought well past his prime. When he left for the WWF in 1997 he was 23-5-2 but after he came back in 2000 he went 5-10-0 over the next 10 years. It was during this time that he got cut by UFC and tested positive for steroids following a fight with Wargods. When he finally retired in 2010 he ended his career with an overall 28-15-2 record spanning 17 years.
The card comes from the 2014 TCSP Finest MMA release and the relic is from a warm up t-shirt. Like other Tri City Sports PL cards it is a heavy plastic, almost credit card like, so it holds up well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Who Takes It All?

Tonight begins the 110th World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants. The underdog Royals are back to the Fall Classic after a 29 year absence while the Giants are looking to add another championship banner to the rafters, which would be their 3rd title in five years.

I have never been a collector of either team and the best card I have ever pulled between the two teams has been a 2007 Ultra Alex Gordon Lucky 13 autograph so I am not pulling either way but just watching for the entertainment of the top two teams clashing for the title.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Art Gallery: 2013 Island Dreams Batman

This month’s Art Gallery comes the 2013 Island Dreams release. I am a big fan of Island Dreams, besides the large variety of sketch cards the money raised from selling the sets goes to the Family Assistance Fund for the Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. I do not have a connection with this hospital but I do know the hardships that families face when a child requires extended treatment. My son was very sick as an infant, nearly dying three times before the age of two. My wife and I spent many trying months at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, Washington while our son was hospitalized and we met parents who were having difficulty due to their child’s illness. We now make annual donations to local children's hospitals (I usually include sports and comic cards too) so any charity that donates to children’s hospitals will always get my attention as a collector.
When Island Dreams was created by Marty Kuklinski in 2011 his intent was for the sets to be island themed. The sets have includes a small base set in the past, 2012 had 15 cards and 2013 had 6 cards, though the focus is the sketch cards. Most sketches are island or water related but the artists are able to go with what interests them and that would be the case here.
Tom Kelly is a comic book artist so logically his interest is super heroes and that is what his cards reflect. The main focus is the Batman silhouette over a blacked out moon. The trailing cape and the bat logo on his chest stand out beautifully. What is not obvious is the Batman outline in the background. This was such a cool addition. Some of the other cards that Kelly submitted for the 2013 Island Dreams set include Catwoman, Punisher and Superman.
I don't remember what I paid but it was on the lower end in comparison to other Batman sketch cards, though not "officially" licensed it still is a wonderful addition to my superheroes sketch card collection.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Vintage Card Of The Month: 1948 Leaf Pirates Captain Augur

This month’s VCoM is my second card from the 1948 Leaf Pirates release. These cards are beautifully illustrated using extensive detailing and bright colors. Because Leaf used Ben-Day dot printing you can see the small colored dots that were used in the coloring process giving the cards a comic book like appearance.
When it comes to Captain Auger there is not a whole lot of information, he was a British pirate in the early 1700s. In 1718 the Bahamas Governor Woodes Rogers tried to clear the area of pirates so he offered a pardon to any pirates who “gave up their ways” and Captain Auger accepted the pardon and became a merchant/trader. Auger eventually returned to his evil ways and was captured in New Providence, Bahamas. He was tried and hung in December 1718.

The card is your typical “filler” card, there is a crease and some paper loss on the front of the card. The worst offender is some sort of substance on the front that looks like maybe glue or liquid was spilled, at least it isn’t sticky.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

It's Gotta Be The Shoes!

There have been shoe relics inserted in to cards before but they were far a few between, definitely not enough to change the market and because the relics were often smaller in size it is possible that some collectors may not have even realized they were included in sets.
Panini has caught the attention of the collector’s with the inclusion of Sneak Peek jumbo shoe relics in the 2013-14 Panini Immaculate Basketball release. Low end cards are selling for $500, if you can call that low end pricing, but most are selling for thousands. When Immaculate was first released there were some Sneak Peek cards topping $10,000 but that has seemed to level out as more hit the market. With each card being either 1/1 or #/2 every single card is unique and no two are the same.
Next month we will see 2013-14 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Basketball hitting shelves and with a similar price point and pack out as Immaculate there will be some competition for Panini. Upper Deck is kicking back at Panini (pun intended) with their version of a jumbo shoe relic called Signature Kicks.
To add some additional value to their cards UD will be adding an on-card autograph to each shoe card and with a checklist that includes Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Julius Erving you know that every card will be a winner.
I am not putting down Panini’s Sneak Peek cards, they are original and a well-designed card. The thing here is that the Panini shoe cards and Upper Deck shoe cards are similar but I wouldn’t say it is a straight apple to apple comparison but more of a Honeycrisp apple to a Gala apple, they are both great in their own ways.


Now on to today’s question;

Which shoe relic card do you choose?

A) Panini Immaculate Sneak Peek

B) Upper Deck Exquisite Signature Kicks