Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tribecards Colorblind Gift

Sometimes we just don't realize how good we have it - until we realize how good we have it. I was on the receiving end of a package from Dave over at TRIBECARDS.
I have been receiving lots of mail lately and most of it are through trades. I don't remember trading Dave or even contacting Dave, yet he sent me a package. Unusually, I tell people that they can send me Yankees or RED SOX cards. I don't ever remember asking for WHITE SOX cards.

But Dave chocked a package full of White Hosers and they were some very nice ones including these high lights:
6 Ozzie Guillens - with 1997 Stadium Club
10 Frank Thomas' - with 1995 Bowman's Best Chrome (see above)
4 Joe Credes - with Allen & Ginter
5 Charlie Houghs
8 Carlton Fisks - with tattoo decal (see above)

And surprisingly, for all the soccer cards I own (well over 10,000) I did not have this card of Scottish hero Duncan Ferguson. "Big Dunc's" career was hampered by jail time due to his temperament both on and off the playing field. This 1996 card with Everton FC was one of his best seasons.
In addition, there was some hockey stuff - highlight record card of "The Great One"
A ProSet Mark Messier - but wait ! - it is a French version which I did not have.
and a baby faced Mike Modano - who is now a grizzled veteran of the NHL seen here with the Minnesota North Stars - Franchise player indeed !
Many thanks to Tribecards for this kind gift - I intend to visit him at Indians Baseball Cards to send a personal thanks.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

PANINI to the Rescue !

The news that Topps and Upper Deck are out of the basketball card business is making the rounds. As I have adopted the enlightened thinking for my new year - I look at the possibilities, not the negative.

PANINI of Modena, Italy have been producing soccer cards and stickers since 1962. They have been involved with the making of NFL football, MLB baseball and NHL hockey issues in the 1980's and 1990's.

The European based company has also made products for Disney and Star Wars. Their annual soccer sets are made for no less than 30 countries around the globe. So it is a safe bet they know what they are doing when it comes to collectibles.

This brings me to the void that this will leave in the sports market in the USA. Since most of North American leagues are becoming global, it seems a given that soccer will take its rightful role in the American sports scene. It begs to ask what the card makers could conger if they used the designs to make MLS cards ...

Former EPL ironman Brian McBride sports a 1984 topps design in Chicago's colors.

Los Angeles' David Beckham is seen here in the 1981 Fleer style - that is if he retruns from AC Milan.

New Captain and all-time great Kasey Keller is sporting the 1991 topps for the expansion Seattle Sounders.

If only ... Upper Deck would be given a run for their money in this league.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Card Show - Return to Collecting

It had been at least a decade maybe more that I had attended a real card show. But in this economic climate and unemployed indifference a bonified offer of free is still free. So when I heard that there would be a sports card show less than an hour drive from my home I put it on the calender.

Free parking, free admission and a chance to obtain cards was enticing - all without the wait or cost of the postage nor an auction to end. I also knew that in this age of game-useded, refractornated, autofied, shortprint-a-numbered cards (makes ya think of the ole Prezident, huh?) - I thought there may be a chance to get some raw, genuine cardboard products.

In addition, I needed to shop for Red Sox as my new trading pal in England collects them. This can be vexing. Should I buy and give up the cards or send them in trade ? I finally decided I'd split the "goods" as evenly as possible.

First, I found some 3 Allen & Ginter - 1 base and a pair of minis to go into my Red Sox collection. Then I found three Topps Herritage to send over the pond.

Love those minis ... makes you want to take up tobacco (just kidding kids).

Found a Brandy Chastain (with her jersey ON) ... to go into my Ladies collection.

Then I picked up a few of these Topps Masterpiece hockey - just because hockey is art ...

and art should depict hockey. Anyone who has these in hand knows that photos do not do these cards any justice. The canvas look and feel make them special. Picked up two Gretzkys, two Roys, a Mario and Mr. Hockey - Gordie Howe. (if anyone wants my extras - mail me)

I realize the 1990's had a lot of gimmick cards, especially the hockey sets. But Pacific hockey had some of the nicest and most regal products the NHL collectors have ever seen. I've seen most of them - that is until this show. In Florida, where very few dealers have hockey, I was surprised to see so many tables that actually HAD hockey - boxes, singles, sets and high end merchandise. (if things werent going so well for the dealers I might have had a big trade)

I found this little gem in a giveaway box ! This 1997-98 Pacific Card Supial is a minaiture no bigger than you see here - and a sure Hall of Famer - Martin Brodeur.

I was very pleased at to the turnout at this diminutive card show - 30 tables worth. So were the dealers who saw brisk action with 40 to 50 buyers and traders inside at any time. A refreshing change of message boards, online auctions and even mail exchanges. It reminded me of the days of card shows past.

Being a bit nostalgic, I found a modern card that can only be described as vintage looking - a 2008 Goudey. This was a gold numbered mini card of Hall of Famer Eddie Matthews in a Milwaukee Braves uniform.

It was a nice return visit to a card show. The dialog and banter that only happens when collectors are side by side was enjoyable. I saw and learned more about what was new and ongoing in card collection in an hour of browsing than I could have in 5 hours on a computer.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Montreal Celebrates 100 - PART 4 (1930-1939)

The Great Depression was more than just an economic era. It was a tragedy that perpetuated within itself. The success of the last decade flowed strongly into the next. Les Canadiens won their second Stanley Cup in a row in the 1930-31 season.

Howie Morenz who had continually led the team in scoring, finally became the league's top scorer as well.

But things changed very quickly with the depression. Three-time Vezina winner George Hainsworth was traded away for Lorne Chabot. Chabot did well in winning the Vezina in his first year with Montreal. However, he was soon traded along with Morenz to Chicago the following year. The Canadiens would not win another title in this decade and lost many of their stars in efforts to keep finanacially sound. Morenz returned for the 1937 season only for tragedy to strike. He broke his leg in an on ice collision and was hospitalized. Unfortunately, he died through complications. A memorial game was played for his benefit, much like the one he played in for Ace Bailey.

One of the young stars that was added to the roster just before Morenz's death was a Hector "Toe" Blake. Blake would be the only other Canadiens player to be top scorer in this decade - toping the league in 1938-39.

Another Montreal star and MVP of the 1935-36 season was Albert "Babe" Siebert. When Siebert hung up his skates at the end of 1939 he was named as Head Coach of Montreal. Tragedy struck yet a gain as he drowned in August of that year having never recorded a win, a loss or a tie as coach.

This was the hardest decade for the Habitants who began with glory and struggled through the 1930's. But greater things were to come.

Friday, January 23, 2009

All-Star Game; All-Star Cards

It was not written that way but the NHL All-Star Game began on December 12, 1933 when Boston's Eddie Shore hit a player from behind.
That player was Toronto's "Ace" Bailey, who fractured his skull and nearly died. His playing career was over.
The following year the the league held a benefit game for Bailey to help finance his medical bills and supplement his income. Thirteen years later it would become an annual event in the NHL.
One of the few good things about the glut of hockey cards in the 1990's was that cards needed some different looks and a variety of player photos.
Players depicted in an All-Star jersey was a great alternative. In fact, hockey is the only major sports cards that regularly show the players in their All-Star gear. The NHL Shield is the most prominent logo in the all-star sweater designs although the the shield itself has changed in size and moved around the kit. The colors that were once black and white soon became blues and reds and even a few colors in between. The two opposing sides used to be the All-Stars versus the Stanley Cup Champions. That evolved to the EAST vs. WEST once expansion clubs had swelled the numbers.

One of the most unusual All-Star jerseys appeared in 1992 with what I call the "Pippi Long-Stockings" design (as worn by Wayne Gretzky below). It is no wonder they never used it again.

This year's All-Star Game and activities will be hosted by Montreal - as part of their Centary season celebrations. The festivities begin on Friday and culminate with the actual game on Sunday - January 25th. (check your local listings)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mail Day: Not Heartbreaking nor Staggering ...

After sending a bunch of Kasas City Royals to Matt over at Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius, I recieved a return package of agreed soccer cards. But wait ! - that speedster is wearing skates ! Matt was good enough to include this insert of Alexander Ovechkin with all the soccer cards. The Russian marksman is currently leading the NHL in goals just as he did all of last year.
The bunch of Upper Deck MLS cards included some of my favorites and a few up and coming rookies "De Ro" - two time MVP Dwayne DeRosario is features striding his way to another magical goal. Unfortunately for Houston Dynamo he has gone home to Canada and will be suiting up for Toronto FC next season.
Ever since he gifted me his MVP jersey from the 1997 Cup Final, Jamie Moreno has been my of my favorite MLS players. He is the All-Time Goal Scoring King of Major League Soccer with over 120 tallies.
One of the young guns that has already left MLS to play in Europe is former Red Bull New York forward - Jozy Altidore. He set a record amount for an American transfer when Valencia FC of Spain paid $8 Million dollars for him last season. This is his rookie card.
Many thanks to Matt for not a genius, but rather a generous trade.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You've Been Served: BURN NOTICE

Sometimes information comes too late. Sometimes it's meant that way. But the life of a spy is never predictable. That's what contemporary TV is not.

There used to be a network season - it started in the fall - took a holiday around Christmas - and finished around the time most school classes did. Then you had the summer off for re-runs.

Now the networks show a few episodes - show some re-runs - take a hiatus - show a few episodes - move to a different night - and end the season with a cliff hanger. And maybe come back in 3 or 8 months.

For the purposes of this blog I am remembering the trading cards that used to feature our favorite regular television programing. I used to collect some of these cards as a kid (before baseball cards took over). Hit shows like M*A*S*H, Magnum PI, Partridge Family, Charlie's Angels and The Waltons all had card sets.

Well, most of those card collectors have grown up. And its time to accept that TOPPS and other companies are targeting a more mature audience. With that in mind, I present my version of promotional cards for one of my favorite hit TV shows - BURN NOTICE.
Any show that has spies, girls and explosions (not necessarily in that order) - all in the sunshine of Florida is "ok" in my book. A discharged former spy, a crazy female ex-spy (wonderfully portrayed by Gabrielle Anwar) and a beer swilling side kick (Bruce Campbell) can only lead to trouble and excitement. It does.

Campbell, who is a cult favorite of anyone who loved EVIL DEAD, adds a great supporting role as does Sharon Gless (Cagney & Lacey) who plays Micheal Weston's (Jeffrey Donovan) chain smoking, tough-ass mother. But then again that describes almost all the characters.

It's a card set I would love to see. No need for autographs (as Campbell's is one of the worst) or used memorabilia (a bikini swatch from Fiona ?). Just some action shots and maybe some trivia.
This is a fun show and if you have not caught it yet - you can on Thursday nights on the USA Network at 10 PM. (Warning: This show may be additive)

You've been notified.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kurt & Goudey: Oldies But Newbies ...

Growing up in the 1960's when television and NFL football were a marriage made in heaven, life was pretty cool. A broadcaster that epitomized the smooth and generic was a guy named Curt Gowdy. He did all the big sports from the Super Bowl to the World Series and even the Olympics.

He later hosted a TV show called The American Sportsman - where he took celebrated athletes to hunt and fish.

I get this nostalgic as I look at the Arizona CARDINALS - a franchise that has long been absent from the spotlight. So it is fitting that a veteran player - KURT WARNER - has taken them back to the limelight. Here's looking at you old dude !
Another whiff of nostalgia comes from a recent pack I finally got around to opening - 2008 Goudey baseball. I really like this set. I like it for its design and also for the bright colors which remind me of the 1970's. No glossy, no gold print, no hologram or refraction - just plain ole good poses of players.

Got two Yankees and a Red Sox ...
There is a nice mixture of new players and many retired ones in the set. In addition to the baseball stars there are athletes from other sports as well. Unfortunately, I did not pull any of those in this pack. However, I did manage a Sports Royalty card of Andre Dawson.
I also happen to get one of the Game-Used cards which is as thick as a stuffed crust pizza. I had to search for an extra wide sleeve to fit the card.

I know there is a few Cubs, Rangers, Padres, Marlins and Brewers fans out there. So, if you need these for your sets - just shoot me a mail. I'll take Red Sox, Yankees or some of the other sports I need. (Olympians and soccer players preferred.

EPILOGUE: Today the 44th President of the United States was sworn into office. After witnessing the outpouring of energy during this event - I can honestly say, I was proud to be an American today. No matter who has taken residence in our Capitol, we have done it without bloodshed and with hope and glory since 1789.

Monday, January 19, 2009

3rd Blog Bat Around: CARD WARS

The 3rd Blog Bat Around, hosted on this occasion by Fielder's Choice , is to expound upon the future of card collecting. Well, in a phrase ... in a collecting galaxy far, far away ...

I hope to impart some sensibility by seeking a person of wisdom ...

While it would be ideal that the card collecting universe be a peaceful and harmonious place, the reality is that there is and always will be an evil empire ...Er, um ... no, not that EMPIRE ...
ahhh, yes ... the very topp EMPIRE and the one in the upper deck of the chancellery ...
... and the one we count on for other aspects of the hobby - like the Perenial Systematic Active grading companies who decide the value of some cards ...

... yes, to rule the EMPIRE that produces the cards and want to ... produce ALL the cards -

and make us prisoners of the hobby ...

We need a Champions who will look out for us ... we, the collectors ...

... some one to help us ... guide us ... rescue us ...

... someone to strike back ... with a bat ... or a blog ... an all around saviour ...
... after all, if there is no future ... what good is the past ... ?

As a historian I have seen many phenomena come full circle. Card collecting is not different. It began with tobacco cards - surely not meant for children (although with the tobacco companies you never know). The product was first marketed toward adults - primarily men.

And so it seems it has progressed toward a return to using tobacco brand and style - back to the men (no offense ladies) who spend money on this hobby ... cum business ... cum fiasco.

If I could dictate a doctrine to govern the next ten years of card collecting - I would suggest the following draconian laws:

1. Limit all companies to two (2) sets per sport each year.

2. Limit the gimmicks - autographs, game-used, or any other inserts to one per set. - One of the sets may contain either parallels, autograph, numbered or memorabilia, but only one.

3. If a company makes two sets of the sport, one can be a full size set, the other must be less than 200 cards in total number.

4. Only two companies - maximum - can produce any one sport. So, there would be only 4 baseball sets per years - 4 football sets, 4 hockey, etc. - period !

5. No player should have more than 4 cards made in a year - unless there is a historic or monumental record to feature.

6. Card sets may have subsets - ones that inform, educate and entertain - (examples in the recent Allen & Ginter series may serve as nice templates.) These may reflect trends, either historical or manufacturing.

I hope that these ideas from ALL the bloggers will have some sort of influence over the future of card collecting. Thus the piles of cards remain intrinsically more than three peas in a pod ...