Friday, February 26, 2010

No Country For Old Men ...

I cannot remember when I got so much use out of my cable tv. With all that is turning the sports world, I have not time for writing this blog. NBC, MSNBC, USA, CNBC, Fox Soccer Channel, GOLTV and ESPN ... and now Fox Soccer Plus is introduced this week ... what the hell do I have time for ?

American international Landon Donovan has been voted Everton F.C.'s player of the month. There is even a facebook site dedcated to keeping at Everton - which means not returning to MLS before the World Cup this summer. 

The other hottest player has to be Manchester United's Wayne Rooney - with superelatives like "greatest" and "legend" being tossed around. One thing is for sure, the USA defense will have one hell of a time trying to neutralize the Englishman at the World Cup on June 12th.

And while I'm interupting my Uefa Champions League, English Premier League with spring training of the MLS clubs here in Florida, along comes the US National Team to play in Tampa. It was a great match to watch in the pouring rain. The US fans were fantastic !

so all this and then the Olympics get even more interesting. Missed turns, wipeouts, wiped tears, torn limbs and limber athletes ...

Canada rebounds with Roberto Luongo (I told you so) and will meet the USA in a rematch for GOLD on Sunday.

It is lucky I can get any sleep. At least I can carry my laptop to the "can" or eat in front of the TV. But  no time for proper blogging ... so until then ... this will have to do.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Falcons, Crowns, Maple Leafs and U-S-A

After last night's North American battle of the ice, the USA came out on top again over Canada. This makes the host's climb to the medal podium somewhat harder.
The Americans have gone with one goalie - RYAN MILLER.
Canada started strong with Vancouver netminder ROBERTO LUONGO, but changed to Martin Brodeur. The question begs, why ?
Sweden have Rangers' HENRIK LUNDQVIST wearing the blue and yellow crowns and look good for a repeat gold.
The Americans changed their jerseys from the "roller derby" logo to the classic 1960 / 1980 "U-S-A". It may have just been the inspiration ... 
... or HERB BROOKS looking down from hockey heaven.
The Russians hit the speed bump with Slovakia, but will still be in for a medal - this is ALEX OVECHKIN - spelled in Russian. It still means G-O-A-L-S.

The amazing fact that this Olympic hockey tournament is really the NHL on speed. A look at the 12 team rosters of goalies shows only 14 of 36 not in the NHL (3 that once were in the NHL). It includes at least half a dozen who could be Hall of Famers. And all but two teams had NHLs starting between the posts. 

Henrik Lundqvist - Rangers
Jonas Gustavsson - Maple Leafs
Stefan Liv - Jonkoping
Ryan Miller - Sabers
Tim Thomas - Bruins
Jonathan Quick - Kings
Roberto Luongo -Canucks
Martin Brodeur - Devils
Marc-Andre Fleury - Penguins
Evgeni Nabkov - Sharks
Semyon Varlamov - Capitols
Ilya Brygalov - Coyotes
Peter Budaj - Avalanche
Jaroslav Halak - Canadiens
Rastislav Stana - Severstal Cherepovets
Tomas Vukon - Panthers
Ondrej Pavelec - Thrashers
Jakub Stepanek - Vitkovice Ostava
Jonas Hiller - Ducks
Ronnie Rueger - Kloten Flyers
Tobias Stephen - Geneva Servette
Thomas Geiss - Sharks
Dennis Endras - Augsberger
Dimitri Patzold - ERC Ingolstadt
Vitali Koval - Dynamo Minsk
Andrei Mezin - Dynamo Minsk
Maksim Maliutn - HK Vitebsk
Mikka Kiprusoff - Flames
Niklas Backstrom - Wild
Antero Nittimaki - Lightning  
3 goalies with Dinamo Riga

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Pepsi Generation ... Argentina

What is great about some current international MLS players is finding some of their soccer cards before they came to America. One of these stars is the Columbus Crew's Guillermo Barros Schelotto - 2008 League MVP.

An icon and idol of Argentina soccer, he was a hero of the terraces at fan-crazed Boca Juniors. In a recent trade with my friend Michel from Texas, I recieved these 1996-97 Pepsi Futbol cards.

They included Argentinian national team players dressed in Pepsi jerseys. Each player appears in a portrait and action pose. I believe there are 50 players in the 100 card set.  Obviously with international players, it is star loaded - including Enzo Francescoli, and Hernan Crespo.

In addition, the trade also featured these 2000 Pepsi 3-D cards. Although scans never do justice to these, the 2 second flicker of action records some spectacular highlight of the player on the card. While there are some nice goals, the one card that I think is exceptional is a save by Paraguay's World Cup goalkeeper - Jose Luis Chilavert - of Velez Sarfield.

The commercializaion of trading cards has come a long way from the cigarette cards of our grandfathers. It definitely makes for some interesting trading and collecting.

If you have any unusual soccer cards you want to trade, let me know.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Flags, Curling and the Danish ... Go Denmark !

One of my favorite reasons (if as if I needed one) to collect cigarette cards, is that they are an abundance of information. In days of old, one could probably get a P.h.D from reading these before the cancer from using the tobacco set into the body.

When I entered JDs Wild Cardz Olympic contest, I knew the random draw would pull me in as a new fan of some country - unless I was lucky enough to draw the USA.

I did not. The lot for number 77 was DENMARK. I could have done worse for the winter games - as Cardboard Junkie's pick turned out to be Jamaica. He had an Allen & Ginter mini card of a Denmark flag which I though about stealing for this blog.

But that would have been a dishonor to my new found country. Besides, I prefer the vintage to the new. So, I found some of these turn-of-the-century issues - including the Queen of Denmark (with a small coat of arms) ...

... and Turkish Trophy  card of a Danish women carrying Danish flags ...
... and more Danish flags, and a Danish coat of arms ...

... and the King of Denmark, with and flag (with a coat of arms) AND a coat of arms (and ice skaters) ...

... and the Danish Capitol building (Copenhagen), with a Danish flag ...

After finding all these, I went to see who the Olympic team of Denmark brought to the 2010 games in Vancouver. It revealed that the team had 18 athletes competing in 6 different events - of which more than half were in the sport of CURLING ...

... sticks and stones ... broom sticks and push stones.

Well, I'll be tuning in to some major Danish superstars in the push and sweep.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

For Club and Country ... The Ultimate Sacrifice

He was not the first, he probably will not be the last - Nodar Kumaritashvili, from the Republic of Georgia, died from his injuries at the Olympics yesterday.

Making a practice run on what is being described as the fastest track in the world, Nodar lost control of his luge sled and crashed into a pillar.

In last night's Opening Ceremony, one of the four pillars to the Olympic Tourch did not rise to meet the others. Despite the malfunction, organizers carried on with the remaining three. I found this eerily symbolic.


As we continue to honor Black history month, the heroics of one Walter Tull must be retold. Although he was not the first black player in professional soccer (football), he was the second. Having signed for Tottenham Hotspur in 1909 he was later transferred to Northampton Town F.C.,  where he played more than 100 matches.

He appears on the very scarce 1912 Lees' Cigarettes  card (above). When the First World War erupted in 1914 he joined the army and was one of the first blacks to serve.

However, what separated him from every soldier aftrwards was that he was admitted to officer training school at a time when it was specifically prohibited by law to allow persons of color as officers in the British military. He became the very first black officer reaching the commissioned rank of Second Lieutenant.

He saw combat in France and Italy and was commended for his coolness and gallantry. After almost four years of war, he was shot and killed instantly in battle so heavy that his body was never recovered.

All accounts report that he was a talented footballer who may have been purchased by Glasgow Rangers after the war. His legacy has been recounted in books and in film.

Walter Tull (1888-1918)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Let The Games Begin ... 2010 VANCOUVER

I'll be a bit busy for the next few weeks - as the world watches the 2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver, Canada.

May your team succeed, may you win the hearts of every spectator and may the spirit of the olympics carry you.

Let the games begin ... enjoy !

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2010 Topps Match Attax - kicks off new sets

Although the packs have been available for a few months now, I finally got around to opening the pack of 2009-10 Topps Match Attax soccer cards. The trade with my fellow blogger Jack at Pursuit of 80's is always great.

The first pack I opened revealed the online craze of playing football with trading cards. I immediately pulled an icard - with a code that gets you extra points plus more online cards for your team.

Here was the breakdown of 4 packs:

Pack 1:
Christian Benitez - Birmingham City
Hugo Rodallega - Wigan Athletic (icard)

Marc Wilson - Portsmouth
Julien Faubert - West Ham United
Hermann Hreidarsson - Portsmouth
David Edgar - Burnley

Nice start with the shiney insert card, but the others are all from the bottom clubs.

 Pack 2:
James McFadden - Birmingham City
Emannuel Eboude - Arsenal
Ayegbeni Yakubu - Everton
Jonathan Woodgate - Tottenham
Benni McCarthy - Blackburn Rovers
Liam Lawrence - Stoke City

Much better with a few international players in the mix.

Pack 3:
Gary Megson - Bolton Wonderers - Manager
Tomas Rosicky - Arsenal
Steve Finnan - Portsmouth
Emile Heskey - Aston Villa
Steve Sidwell - Aston Villa
Roy Hodgeson - Fulham United - Manager

More Portsmouth (last place team) and two manager cards. Oh well - a bit better.

Pack 4:
John Utaka - Portsmouth (blimey !)
Sir Alex Ferguson - Manchester United - Manager (a real Knight !)

Mark Hughes - Manchester City - Manager (former Man. Utd star)

Ryan Nelson - Blackburn Rovers (former DC United player)
Carlos Tevez - Manchester City (icard)

Karl Henry - Woverhampton

A very nice finish. Although now Hughes has been unceramoniously fired, Tevez to me is the player to watch in the upcoming World Cup. While many will be folloiwing Lionel Messi, Argentina's ace might just be Carlos Tevez.

Speaking of international sporting events - JD's Wild Cardz is having an Olympics contest with cool giveaways. So get there quick, check out his blog and take a flag (or a number) !

The Vancouver Winter Olympics begins this Friday.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

All In The Family ... Actors On Cards

Every generation has its stars - in sports, in music and in film. Thr strongest link to these are relative ... or rather relatives.

This fact holds true with card collectors as well. The hobby is often passed from father to son, from Uncle to niece and so on and so forth.

We often see today's well known TV stars are offspring of movie stars - like father Donald (M*A*S*H) and son Kiefer Sutherland (24).
One of our favorite examples is Robert Mongomery of the silver screen ... related to

... his daughter who went kept us BEWITCHED on television as the lovable Samantha Stevens.
not related ... is Agnes Moorehead who played her mother.
Also not related is SABRINA the teenage witch. (but we like her)
The grim looking, gravel voiced, famed horror star John Carradine  ... is related to ...
actors Keith Carradine, Robert Carradine, Bruce Carradine and ...
David Carradine - better known for his role as a KUNG FU master.

The galaxy is as relative as STAR WARS' Carrie Fisher  who is the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress ...

Debbie Reynolds. If you require further proof ...

(it says "Princess Leia's Mom")

The longest and probably most fabled lineage is the Barrymore Family ...
begininning with stage actor Maurice Barrymore ...

His actress daughter Ethel Barrymore ...

... sons John Barrymore, ...

and Lionel Barrymore ...

and beautiful Granddaughter Drew Barrymore ...

... who is the maternal Granddaughter of Maurice Costello ...

... all related.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Card To Be Made Later ... and Black History Month

I really hate falling behind. I have made the trades, sent and recieved - yet I have not got around to scanning the wonderful cards I now have in my collection. I've also fallen behind in exhibiting some of the cards that readers have been wanting to see.

So .... I've finally finished two of the cards for fellow bloggers - Shane over at SHOEBOX LEGENDS - is a die-heart Hartford Whalers fans.

I love retro-historical cards, players and teams. Therefore his prize is a Ron Francis all-star card in the design of 1971-72 O-Pee-Chee hockey. (ONE OF MY FAVS)

Subsequent to my posts on the never-made fantasy cards of 1979 Topps NASL soccer - there was a hue and cry for Chicago's representation. Therefore I created this card for the former NASL Champions - CHICAGO STING  - in the style of the 1981 Donruss baseball set.
Karl-Heinz Granitza was the scoring wizard for the Soccer Bowl '81 winners. I hope  this satisfies Sal over at PUCK JUNK and my fellow traveller at JOHNGY'S BEAT.

It often amazes me that when I travel abroad, foreign peoples' awareness to the prejudices that kept black American athletes from particpating in major sports leagues.

This collusion was rampant among many team owners - notably Washington Redskins' owner George Preston Marshall - who conceeded to finally sign a black player through pressures of the Kennedy Administration.

The player he eventually signed was Bobby Mitchell. You can read more about the NFL, Marshall, Mitchell and Black football players here.

PS - Happy Birthday Hank Aaron !

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Are You A Tough Guy ?

Remember school days when it seemed important to be a tough guy ? The thing about trading cards is that if your sport requires it, a tough guy picture is a hit on the playground.

So who looks ike a tough guy ? Wrestler Theo Bauer (above) looks quite the intimidater a hundred years before WWF guys were posing as such. This 1887 Allen & Ginter is a true sample of artwork.

1909 Player's Cigarettes Arms & Armor and the 1905 Player's Riders of The World are two sets that displayed superior illustration of men ready for battle. Three sword welding mad-men were probably ancient all-stars.

What's different about the card below ? Could it be the fact that the offensive skater is wearing a helmet and face cage ? Meanwhile, the goalie - Lorne Worsley - has no mask.
Lorne, better known as "Gump" was one of the last NHL goalkeepers to don the face mask.

Worsley was a part of the Montreal Canadiens 1960's dynasty. He experienced a nervous breakdown and suffered from a fear of flying.  He was lured out of retirement for the expansion Minnesota North Stars. This great moment of battle was only available in the 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee hockey set.