Thursday, April 29, 2010

Topps Has Officially Returned To Football

After days of rumors and speculation, Topps has officially announced today that they have worked out a multi-year deal with the NFL. The first release, Topps Football, should be on the shelves just prior to the start of the NFL season, followed by Topps Platinum football, Topps Finest football and Triple Threads.

This is a happy day for football fans. I look forward to more information over the next few weeks and months. You can see the official press release here

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Your Momma Is A What?

In recent years the NFL has addressed a number of indiscretions by players, from Adam “Pacman” Jones’ many criminal activities to the most recent actions by Steeler’s QB Ben Roethlisberger, the NFL has tried to be swift with justice and either fine or suspend the players involved. Now is the time for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to show that he will not only react to players who make poor choices but also react to the teams and their management and hold them accountable for stupid moves.

It has now been reported that during a pre-Draft interview, Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland asked Dez Bryant if his mother was a prostitute. You have to be shitting me? How the fuck can someone seriously look another man in the eye and ask if his mom is a hooker? I understand that Bryant’s mother has done prison time for multiple charges and I realize you need to understand the upbringing of a player before drafting them, but I think there is a line where the questions begin to border on stupidity.

To add to the whole situation, Yahoo! Sports had to publicly break the story before Ireland even apologized, a week after the NFL Draft. Now Dolphins owner Stephan Ross said he will “look in to the situation”. Goodell made an example of players and has laid down the law with the most recent suspension of Roethlisberger, now it is time to show he holds teams to the same standard as the players.

Does anyone expect a fining or suspension of a team executive? I am not holding my breath on this one; I hope I am wrong though.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stephen Strasburg Is On Fire!

Originally uploaded by Jumper48
After being drafted #1 by the Washington Nationals, I predicted that Stephen Strasburg would be in the starting rotation for the Nats on Opening Day. Yes I was wrong, but you have to expect him to be in the Majors before the September Call-up.

In Strasburg’s fourth professional start for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators he pitched 5 innings of No-hit ball. The only batter that made it to base during Strasburg’s 5 innings actually struck out but made it to First Base on a pass ball. He is now 3-0 with a 0.52 ERA and has struck out 23 in 17.1 innings. He is even producing on the offensive side of the ball hitting 2 for 6 with 2 RBIs.

Collectors are keeping up with the #1 Draft Pick; many of his top cards are going for hundreds of dollars. His 2008 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Auto and his 2008 USA Baseball Auto are leading the pack and can be found selling over $200 each. His 2008-09 UD USA rookie card is even topping $50 each. Now the question is whether to hold on to his cards or wait until he makes it to the show?

Monday, April 26, 2010

2010 Razor Sports Icons

Not long ago I sent an email to Razor Collectibles inquiring about any upcoming releases, checklists, etc. Their website has not been updated since November 2009 and it got me wondering if the company was still in business.

I received an email back and Razor Collectibles is still thriving and has an upcoming release, the 2010 Razor Sports Icons set scheduled to be released in June.

Scheduled Release Date: June 2010
Box Configuration: 1 card per pack, 1 pack per box
SRP: $79.99/per pack at pre-sell

Box Break:
1 Cut Signature per pack

Normally I am not a fan of cut signatures, but in a situation where a player has passed away or is no longer capable of signing autographs cut signatures can make a wonderful alternative as long as it is done well.

Razor has put together an amazing checklist of over 600 current, retired and deceased players from a number of different sports including baseball, basketball, boxing, football, golf, hockey, MMA/UFC, softball and racing. Each player is limited with many signatures limited to only 1 with the highest numbered to #/48. With only 299 cases produced, there are 12 boxes per case and that means there are only 3,588 total cards in the seriously limited set.

The checklist reads like a “Who’s Who” of sports history. You have the chance to pull baseball inventor Alexander Cartwright (above left), Bart Starr, Buck O’Neal, Gordie Howe, Jack Dempsey, Muhammad Ali (above right) and Roy Campanella. There are even Dual Cut Signatures, how cool would it be to pull a Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig or Buck Leonard/Judy Johnson dual card?

My Thoughts:
I love the idea of cut signatures when the checklist includes some of the best players to ever play their sport and are no longer with us. I am not a fan of using cut signatures of athletes that are still in the game or still signing regularly like Ken Griffey Jr, John McEnroe or Michael Jordan but I can forgive that if I were to pull one of the other cards.

I am torn on whether I will pick up a box, the price is not the obstacle it is just with my luck I would probably pull a Bud Selig cut signature, probably the worst MLB Commissioner ever.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

2010 Panini Absolute Memorabilia Basketball

The first round of the NBA Playoffs have begun and the final shots of the NBA releases are gearing up from Panini. Over the next 2 months we will see 4 releases; Timeless Treasures Basketball (4/28), Absolute Memorabilia Basketball (5/19), Court Kings (6/02) and Platinum NBA (7/7).

The next release in Panini’s NBA schedule is Absolute Memorabilia Basketball. I have always been drawn to the Playoff Absolute Memorabilia sets, the cards may have been a little shiny and flashy as far as base cards go but I loved them nonetheless. When I found out about this release I have to admit I am a bit excited.

Scheduled Release Date: May 5, 2010
Box Configuration: 4 cards per pack, 4 packs per box
SRP: $40/per pack

Box Break:
4 (2) Autographs and (2) Memorabilia Cards
1 Parallel
1 Rookie
1 Retired
1 Other

The base set contains 150 cards and has a pretty amazing checklist made up of rookies, common players, stars and retired stars. The expected players like Kobe, LeBron, Durant, Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry are all included and retired players like Bird and Magic also made the checklist. One name popped out when I was reviewing the checklist, Shawn Bradley, he fits in the “retired” category only.

Along with the base set, there are parallels for the base set, Gold, Platinum, Gold Signature, Platinum Signature and Materials Prime all numbered under 250.

There are quite a variety of inserts including the return of the ever-popular Tools of the Trade set, Rookie Premiere Materials (Including NBA Shields), Spectrum, Team Tandems/Trios and Quads Materials and Icons.

Starting off with the Tools of the Trade insert, it has change greatly from its previous inception. The set now has 8 different parallels, which can contain a jumbo patch, letter or number, multiple swatches and autographs. I liked the original design but I am willing to see how this works out. Some of the cards are now vertical instead of horizontal, which I preferred, but this set up allows for multiple swatches and autographs to be included.

The Team Tandems/Trios/Quads Materials are another decent insert, the card is designed well and fits multiple player images and patches nicely without looking over crowded or jammed together. I am a little saddened that the Denver, Dallas, Portland, Cleveland and Toronto all have multiple cards in the Team insert set but the Suns, Spurs and Lakers do not have any. Do we really need a Chris Anderson/Nene tandem card and a Carmelo Anthony/Chris Anderson/ Nene/J.R. Smith quad card? Why not drop the Anderson/Nene card and add an Amare Stoudamire/Steve Nash card or Kobe/(Any other Laker) card?

My favorite insert set is the Spectrum Platinum Signature set, again there are multiple parallels, but the card is a sweet artistic card with an autograph. This card alone, though very limited, makes me want to pick up a box or two in hopes of finding one.

There are some inserts that I personally do not care for, the Stargazing set is to busy for me. There is too much color, and I realize it is replicating a star cluster, but the hierarchy is messed up due to the color overpowering the player. Add to that a dime-sized swatch was added to the design making for more clutter.

I am not a fan of the Frequent Flyer insert either; it just does not work for me. The Hoopla set would be better without either the autograph of jersey swatch. It is a decent card design but add too much and all aspects are fighting for attention

On a side note, there are letter patches in the Jumbo Prime Spectrum set. I am not sure if they are game-used or manufactured letters. I do kind of like the card though, minus the upper left die-cut window being angled. I understand was designed this way to work with the flow of the angles of the design on the card but it ends up blocking part of the jumbo swatch and is glaringly obvious. On the Panini sell sheet the patch card is mistakenly listed as Tools of the Trade, but Danny Granger is not included in the TotT checklist but he is included in the Absolute Patches Jumbo Prime Spectrum checklist.

My Thoughts:
At $40 a pack, it would not be the most expensive pack I bought and with the odds set that you will pull a Auto or Memorabilia card per pack plus either a Rookie, Parallel or Retired card you have a decent chance of pulling some nice cards not to mention it looks to be a pretty cool base set. In each 18-box case there will also be a NBA Logoman card or an autograph of Kobe, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bird, Magic or one of the top rookies.

I will give this a try, at least a box or two to see what the set is all about and to give a first hand review of the product.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

2010 Panini Timeless Treasures

The first round of the NBA Playoffs have begun and the final shots of the NBA releases are gearing up from Panini. Over the next 2 months we will see 4 releases; Timeless Treasures Basketball (4/28), Absolute Memorabilia Basketball (5/19), Court Kings (6/02) and Platinum NBA (7/7).

Timeless Treasures is up first coming out within the next couple of days.

Scheduled Release Date: April 28, 2010
Box Configuration: 5 cards per pack, 1 pack per tin
SRP: $100.00

Box Break:
3 Autographs or Memorabilia cards per pack
2 Commons or parallels

In true Panini form, the set contains some major pulls. The set contains 100 base cards with 8 different parallels including Silver, Gold and Platinum parallels which are numbered to 25, 10 and 1, respectively. Then there are Autographed Silver, Gold and Platinum parallels and then there are also Material Jerseys and Material Jersey Prime parallels that include jersey swatches.

With parallels, there are well over 50 relic inserts including jerseys, laundry tags and logos and there are almost as many that contain signatures with some containing both a signature and an autograph.

The base cards are just that, simple base cards with the player’s image with a pleasant background. It is nice to see a basic base card, this allows you to focus on the player and appreciate them in their element. I do not care for those over-designed backgrounds that take away from the focus of the player.

A couple of the inserts interest me like the Statistical Champions Materials, MVP Materials and Material Ink. The cards have a nice appeal and are not overly designed. The elements are thought out and placed in a balanced way to give a pleasing appearance. There is a balance between the player’s image, the relic and the autograph, which are still unfortunately sticker autographs.

On the other side there are some inserts that are perfect examples of what not to do when designing a card. Dime sized relics, too many colors used or overly designed and poor selection of font/color. Inserts like Rookie Year Materials, Hall of Fame Materials and the NBA Apprentice Materials inserts.

My Thoughts:
With a checklist that includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings you have to like the chances that you are going to pull something awesome with each pack, but paying $100 for a 5 card pack containing 2 commons and a dime sized plain red jersey swatch of Rick Berry doesn’t seem to justify the cost versus reward with me.

There are definitely draws to this release, but I think I would be better off looking to pick up singles on eBay. The cost would be lower and I would be getting exactly what I want instead of taking a crapshoot.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Steelers Trading Big Ben?

It has been rumored that Pittsburgh has decided to offer Ben Roethlisberger for a Top 10 draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Apparently the Steelers really want Jimmy Clausen as their next QB. Is this the Steelers way of showing Big Ben the door after his second rape allegation in 3 years? You have to wonder why else a team would trade away a young two-time Super Bowl winning QB for the chance to draft an unproven college kid.

If the rumor is true, I expect to see this deal take place by the time the draft begins tomorrow night. The Redskins just picked up McNabb and the Chiefs have Cassel but the rest of the Top 10 teams could all use a franchise QB even though he is suspended 4-6 games next season. Hopefully my Seahawks, with the #6 & #14 picks, will not make the trade. I am not a Roethlisberger fan since he (make that the referees) beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.

For now it seems that Roethlisberger’s personal life is affecting his card prices, you can pick up his autographs for under $50 and his jersey cards and rookie cards are a dime a dozen. He has the talent and with the right team around him he can return to the Super Bowl, but will his Frat Boy image haunt him for the rest of his career?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lou Gehrig Sports Figure

Originally uploaded by Jumper48
Last night we were out and about and my wife needed to stop by Wal-Mart for some things. Normally I will hit the card racks and grab up a pack or two to keep me satisfied for a while, but the kids wanted to look at toys first. As I wandered the aisles I noticed a McFarlane’s Sportspick Babe Ruth Cooperstown Collection figure on a peg. I am not a collector of the sports action figures but I like to see what is out there so I started to take a look.

Regular readers will know that I am a fan of Lou Gehrig and I was surprised to see a Gehrig figure sitting on the back of the peg behind a bunch of Babe Ruth, Joe Morgan and Thurman Munson figures. I tossed it in the cart and my daughter played with it as we went through the store. When we got home I noticed that the coloring seemed odd and pointed it out to my wife. Turns out I grabbed a limited edition Sepia Tone paint job piece limited to 1500 total pieces. When did they start creating inserts for action figures?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ryan Leaf, Bust Or Busted?

Originally uploaded by Jumper48
Go back in time to April 17, 1998, the day before the NFL Draft was to begin. The Colts held the first pick and the Cardinals held the #2 pick with the Chargers at the #3 pick. Two Quarterbacks stood out among the draft and every NFL executive wondered how the draft was going to play out. Some evaluators had Leaf as the #1 pick, but in the end the Colts selected Peyton Manning with the first pick, which has panned out to an amazing career and an almost certain lock on the Hall of Fame.

My story follows the second pick, Ryan Leaf. The Chargers were so certain of Leaf’s greatness that they actually traded two First Round picks, a Second Round pick, a back-up Linebacker and Running Back Eric Metcalf, who had just played in the Pro-Bowl. How many collectors stocked up on Leaf rookie cards? Bought up Leaf autographs and stored them away for a rainy day? Sought out and paid big bucks for a dime sized jersey swatch jammed in to a horribly designed card.

April 14, 2010, almost 12 years to the day since Leaf was drafted with the #2 pick by the San Diego Chargers. He is not sitting at home in an easy chair remembering his heyday in the NFL, he is not sitting in a gym working out in anticipation for his 12th NFL season, instead he is sitting in a court room in Amarillo, Texas. Leaf just pleaded guilty to 8 felony drug charges and is waiting for his punishment to be decided. In the end he is sentenced to 10 years of probation and a $20,000 fine, a pretty big hit for someone who now sells time-shares and vacation packages.

You can find a couple of hundred Ryan Leaf cards up for auction, roughly 300 at the time that I am writing this, ranging from 1 penny to $73.50 and there are a only 2 bids for a grand total of $1.00 out of all of those auctions. What could have been a decent career has turned in to a blooper reel of immaturity and poor decisions.

As a Post Script, Brian Griese was selected in the 3rd Round and Matt Hasselbeck was selected in the 6th Round both would have given a better return for the Chargers.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Will The Real Kenny Powers Please Stand Up?

Is Milton Bradley the real Kenny Powers? If you recognize the name then you have most likely seen the hilarious HBO sports comedy “Eastbound & Down” where Danny McBride plays a washed up, and seriously vulgar, ex-pitcher trying to make it back to the majors. The funny thing is that in the show Kenny Powers finished his career in Seattle, the same city where Mr. Bad Boy of Baseball is currently residing.

So here we are 7 games in to the 2010 MLB season and Milton Bradley has more immature outbursts then he has hits (2 outbursts, 1 hit) and you have to wonder if the 31-year old traveler has hit rock bottom. He is currently 1-for-22 (.045 BA) with 2 RBIs and a SLG of .182 for a Mariners team that is already in the AL West cellar.

It is heartbreaking enough to see my Mariners starting off so bad, do I need to read stories about bats being shattered and fans being flipped off? I guess this is more of a rant then a card related story, but I needed to get it off my chest.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

2009-10 Upper Deck Greats of the Game Basketball

I am an Upper Deck fan and the most recent news of the loss of the NFL Properties license has made me pretty sad and this follows on the heels of loosing the MLB license and the recent court case regarding unlicensed baseball cards.

So now is the time for Upper Deck to step up, as a number of bloggers have posted about over the last few days, and really bring their “A” game. The results? The 2010 Greats of the Game Basketball set, a NCAA based card set containing some of the best players to ever play college roundball. While Upper Deck claims the set “…delivers nothing but net…” it actually looks like the designers may have actually just phoned this one in.

When you look at some of the inserts like the Old School Swatches cards you can see that the die-cut window was forced in to the base card's design and the rest of the elements were just shifted and jumbled with little concern for aesthetics. The basketball logo on the lower left corner is actually more pixelated then the base card's logo, the font used is just ugly and designers should know not to use a 12-pt white font over a red background, it causes distortion.

Box Configuration: 8 cards per pack, 16 packs per box
SRP: $62.99 at Blowout Cards

Box Break:
Get 2 Autographs in each box (they do appear to be on-card)
Get 1 Memorabilia in each box
At least 1 insert, numbered parallel or autograph in every pack

Case Break:
Find 2 foil numbered, themed autograph inserts per case!

I know that the cards have already started to hit eBay and some of the autographs are selling for a couple of hundred, but this set is a serious disappointment and I hope not a sign of the future from Upper Deck.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Upper Deck Loses Their NFL-Properties License

Is this the beginning of the end for Upper Deck? A few hours ago, UD announced on their Twitter page that they would not be producing anymore NFL properties licensed cards and that Exquisite would be the final NFL release for the immediate future.

This just in: UD was unable to come to terms with NFL Properties. No NFL Properties-licensed football cards from UD in 2010. Bummer. –TM

The terminology does seem to leave some possibilities for the future because they said “…from UD in 2010”. Lets hope that this is just a temporary loss of license and UD can take the year to work on a contract for 2011.

Can Upper Deck survive on NHL and NCAA? The NCAA is new contract and I guess the release of Sweet Spot in June could give us a sign of the future for the company. The NHL used to do well but I do not know if hockey still sells like it used to during the 1990s and earlier this decade.

This is truly a sad day for Upper Deck.