Sunday, January 19, 2020

Championship Sunday

The Packers are going to win tonight. I'm not just saying this because they're my team. I've done the research. I've cracked the code. Allow me to demonstrate...

I re-watched each of the Packers' last four trips to the NFC title game, going back to 2008:

After the 2007 season the Packers (#2 seed) hosted Eli Manning and the Giants (#5 seed). The winner would face the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. It was cold.

That should have been an advantage for the Packers, but Big Blue was no warm-weather team. It was a back-and-forth game that came down to special teams. Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes missed two field goals in regulation, giving Green Bay another chance in OT.

The Packers won the toss. Brett Favre went to work, in what would be his last game for Green Bay.

He threw an interception. 

Now it was up to the Packers' D to keep young Eli Manning and the Giants out of the end zone. Plaxico Burress (whom I share a birthday with) had a monster night, but he was no hero.

 It was that Tynes guy again. Third Tynes the charm, blah blah blah... Giants win.

You know the rest. They went on to defeat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, something I'm not sure the ol' Gunslinger could have done. Could you imagine if Brady and Belichick had seven rings? ::shudder::

Back to the Pack...their first trip to the NFC Championship game with Aaron Rodgers under center was in 2011, after the 2010 season. Green Bay (#6 seed) traveled to Soldier Field to face the #2 seeded Bears. The winner would face the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

This was another cold game against a cold-weather opponent.

Rodgers scored the game's first touchdown on a bootleg. He did not throw a touchdown pass in this game. Neither did Bears starter Jay Cutler, who left the game in the third quarter.

Did Cutler quit on his team? Possibly. But his team didn't quit. Third-stringer Caleb Hanie led the Bears to two scores, but he threw a costly pick-six to B.J. Raji that proved to be the difference.

Chicago's D was no joke. But could you imagine Jay Cutler in a Super Bowl? No.

After the 2014 season, Green Bay had another NFC title trip to make, this time to Seattle. The Packers and Seahawks were both 12-4 but the defending champion Seahawks won the tiebreaker and the #1 seed. The winner would face the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

This game was not cold. It was 51F with a light, misting rain at kickoff. 

Seattle's defense was legendary. The Legion Of Boom wasted no time frustrating Rodgers. Richard Sherman beat Davante Adams (in his rookie year) and snatched an interception on the Packers' first possession. [They're sure to see plenty of each other tonight.]

Green Bay returned the favor, as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix picked off Seahawks' quarterback Russell Wilson

The Packers advanced the ball to about the half-yard line. Head coach Mike McCarthy settled for a field goal. The Seahawks turned the ball over again. Again Green Bay had the ball at the Seattle one-yard line. And again McCarthy settled for a field goal.

This is the face of a man who left eight potential points on the board. Hold that thought.

Wilson and the Seahawks' offense couldn't get anything going. The young QB threw three picks in the first half, and the Packers led 16-0.

Seattle scored on a fake punt, and Marshawn Lynch activated Beast Mode, but Wilson was still shaky [unlike last week when a more polished Russ exploded in the second half.] His fourth interception with five minutes to go in the game put the Seahawks' win probablility at less than 1%. 

Sherman and Seattle stormed back, scoring 15 points in 44 seconds. Green Bay managed a field goal to send it to overtime. Wilson threw the game-winning TD to Jermaine Kearse, who was the targeted receiver on all four of his interceptions.

Yeah, that's pretty much how I felt. Thanks for leaving those eight points on the board, Mike. Hope you share that wisdom with your new team.

The Seahawks returned to the Super Bowl. The one where Wilson threw an interception at the goal line instead of feeding Lynch for the winning score. Yeah, that one. Ugh.

Two years later Rodgers and the Packers returned to the NFC title game, as the #4 seed. They traveled to the Georgia Dome to face the Falcons (#2 seed.) The winner would face the Patriots in the Super Bowl. No weather.

This game was ass. I couldn't even bring myself to hate-watch it this weekend. I asked my wife to buy bratwurst for the game, and I was going to eat one for every Packers touchdown. The Pack didn't score in the first half. I ate three brats and they were the best part of the night.

Matt Ryan embarrassed the Packers for 392 years and four TDs. Atlanta would go on to the Super Bowl, where they would be responsible for the greatest choke job in history. Ha! Now you know how it feels! what I would have said if they didn't lose to the damn Patriots.

So..have you figured out why I'm certain the Pack will prevail tonight? Is it the weather in Santa Clara? The playoff seeding? The number four? Nah, it's because the winner will not play the Patriots in the Super Bowl. 

See you in Miami, Patrick.

Then again...last week I watched the Houston Texans come out swinging against Kansas City. When Houston went up 21-0 in the first quarter I went up to my computer.

DeShaun Watson is putting on a show, I thought to myself. They've got a clear path to the Super Bowl. Tennessee isn't going to stop them. Watson's rookie cards will soar. I'd better get one now.  Like, right now.

I snatched this up with a Buy It Now, paid for it, and went for a walk with my daughter. It was an unseasonably warm weekend and I didn't need to watch this game. I knew what was going to happen. The Chiefs would straighten out and score a couple TDs but Houston would hang on and win. 


This is why I don't gamble. If I'd placed a bet with a sports book I'd have lost my money. Instead I walk away with something of value - a nice DeShaun Watson card that still has some investment potential. I would have loved to pick up a Patrick Mahomes RC but his Prizms are way out of my budget.

Who are you cheering for on this Championship Sunday?

Thanks for reading, and GO PACK GO!!


Friday, January 17, 2020

Sox, Rox, and a Box

A couple weeks ago I saw a post on the TCDB forums called Please claim a baseball team. It was posted by Terry, a Dodgers collector who offered to send cards of every (other) team to anyone who wants them. I didn't partake at first. My goal is to reach 100,000 cards but I want to get there organically, not through a large lot purchase. And I definitely didn't want to take on a whole box of cards without sending something in return.

But by this time last week Terry still had a couple of teams available, including the Colorado Rockies. 

I decided to help him out and take this unwanted team off his hands, mostly for the '90s guys who passed through New Haven. Terry sent about 500 Rockies cards, which I've spent the past three days sorting, cataloging, and repackaging as a pay it forward to the only Colorado collector I know. Here are some of the keepers:

We'll see if Cooperstown is calling Larry Walker in just a few days. My fingers are crossed for him.

The cards were almost all from 1992-2006, so there was a handful of Walker but no Nolan Arenado. It didn't bother me any, since I was claiming this lot for former Ravens:

Pitchers and Petrick. Jamey Wright had a nice long career in the bigs.

Q! Gibby! Neifi! The Chrome card at the top left also counts as a Red Sox single. Bonus! :)

Todd Helton was the big draw here. The Finest and 40 Man inserts are awesome. (I snuck Garrett Atkins in at the bottom right to fill space.) Everyone keeps sending me mins; I should probably pick up some protective pages for them.

Some cool Colorado cards here, especially the top three. The Bryn Smith Leaf is missing foil on the front. But you know the rules...

Some short-term stops here (I didn't even know Gant and Relaford were Rockies) along with another Atkins and my second card of Mr. Laura Rutledge. 

We've got Todd Helton and Larry Walker.. now here's Todd Walker. I know nothing of Chris Martin the pitcher but I'm a fan of Chris Martin the singer

Some cool parallels/inserts from Donruss and Topps were also included. Many thanks to Terry for all the great Rockies cards!

When I updated my wantlist tabs at the beginning of the year, I was immediately contacted by two readers who offered to send me cards. Nick had some set fillers for me:

The Dime Box king did some serious damage to my 2019 Topps set. These are just the highlights.

I was very pleasantly surprised to see this Fernando Tatis Jr. RC in the stack!

Nick also included a nice stack of Red Sox cards: 

Legendary left fielders and horizontal heroes.

Some Holiday cards featuring Benintendi and Sale. 


A new Dustin Pedroia relic, a very cool Mookie Betts Wall Climbers insert, and some chromey cards.

Big Papi was well represented in the mailer from Nick. I now have 254 different David Ortiz cards, more than any other baseball player in my collection.

But that wasn't all the Ortiz. Let's check the back of that Johnny Damon stack...

Ohh! These are neat. They look like 2002 Topps but they are actually a 2003 Japanese release called Kanebo. TCDB lists this as a 54-card set, but Damon is obviously card #55. Shea Hillenbrand is #14.

Perhaps the gem of the group was this Buster Posey bat relic #d/99. It's fitting that Nick sent a pair of Posey cards (in addition to Koufax and Bryant) because he's one guy I often look for when I'm sifting through dime boxes. Nick, thanks again for the great cards! I'll get something out to you soon!

A couple other things came in the mail this week. After I used up most of my eBay bucks on the Warren Spahn auto I decided to spend the remainder on a box of basketball cards:

This sealed box of 1992-93 Fleer Ultra ended up costing me less than a blaster after the eBay bucks were deducted. I'm going to save this for a post about 1992-93 Fleer Ultra sets, since they all look the same. 

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!



Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A different kind of Hall of Fame post

The Baseball Hall of Fame voting is always a hot topic among fans and bloggers, and I usually enjoy sharing my thoughts on the eligible players. However this year's candidates don't appeal to me at all. I'll be glad to see Ted Simmons get his due, but his career was before my time (and I would have preferred Lou Whitaker and/or Dwight Evans). Marvin Miller is undoubtedly an iconic figure in the game's history and a deserving inductee. 

Derek Jeter is the headliner. He'll obviously be voted in, probably unanimously now that the "100%" seal has been broken. I never liked Jeter but you have to respect what he did on the field. Then there's the PED guys, Curt Schilling, and about a dozen borderline candidates. I've already shared my thoughts on these players in comments, so instead I want to celebrate another Hall of Fame class:

The 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees were announced today, and Depeche Mode is (are?) among them. Many of my favorite bands from the 1980s were ignored by the Rock hall, until The Cure were elected last year. This year Dave Gahan, Martin Gore & co. get the call. Finally!

I've seen Depeche Mode in concert three times, twice on the Exciter tour and once for Playing The Angel. They are an absolutely amazing live band. It would be impossible for me to choose my favorite DM track; it changes based on my mood. The first one I heard, and the one they're perhaps best know for, is "Enjoy The Silence". Lately I've been playing the Black Celebration album and song. 


Nine Inch Nails were also elected. I'm less of a NIN fan but they (and by "they" I mean Trent Reznor) spawned a lot of great tracks. I remember when "Head Like A Hole" got regular airplay on MTV. The Downward Spiral was a masterpiece, and With Teeth had "Every Day Is Exactly The Same" and "The Collector", either one of which could be my personal theme song.

Trent Reznor introduced The Cure at last year's HOF ceremony, and I'll be interested to see who introduces him this year. 

My favorite NIN track might be the instrumental "A Warm Place", which feels like a perfect song for the ending credits of earth.

The Notorious B.I.G. was also part of this years Hall class. I was never much of a hip-hop fan but I did get down to some Biggie once in a while.

Bringing this back to sports.. the Pro Football Hall of Fame revealed their latest list of inductees including Bill Cowher, Jimmy Johnson, and Paul Tagliabue. The centennial class includes many great players from before I was born. I know of Harold Carmichael, Donnie Shell, and Alex Karras but I never saw them play. Actually, I did see Alex Karras play Webster's dad. Does that count?

My knowledge of pre-1980s football players isn't nearly on par with my knowledge of baseball history. I spent the first eleven days of this month trying to find the best way to spend $41 in eBay bucks and almost all of my searches were for vintage baseball cards.

I strongly considered these two pre-war singles. Neither are HOFers but I could tell you more about them than about Bobby Dillon (and he was a Packer.)  These cards are still available, because I chose to spend my free money on an autograph of a Hall of Famer:

This Warren Spahn autographed 8 x 10 arrived today. I was able to negotiate the price down a bit, to $27.50 + tax. I've wanted a Spahn auto for quite a while, but his on-card signatures are shaky (understandably so) and most of the cards I've seen were from the end of his career when he started to resemble Max Patkin.

I chose this classic image of a young Spahn mostly because of the Boston Braves hat. There was one from his Milwaukee days that I considered but I liked this pose a bit better. That one came with a COA from PSA, while this one was guaranteed by a shop in Las Vegas called Play Ball - which is no longer in business. (Hopefully not due to fraud!) I did compare this signature to other Spahn autos and it looks legit. I'm not an autograph expert though-and I probably wouldn't have purchased this were it not for the cash back bucks.

I've got a couple more maildays to share before the big game on Sunday. Some are purchases and some are very generous care packages. Stay tuned ;)

Thanks for reading!



Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Completed Set - 1992-93 Upper Deck McDonald's Basketball

I've completed my first basketball card set, thanks to some recent TCDB trades. I'm getting really annoyed with the whole scene at TCDB and I'm probably done trading there for a while. McDonald's has done plenty of sports card promotions over the years. The first (and only) one that I collected was the 1992-93 NBA set.

These were 3-card packs that came with a purchase of.. I don't know. A happy meal? I doubt I was still buying Happy Meals when I was 12. Anyway, it's a 50 card set and each NBA team is represented. Here are cards 1-9:

This might be my favorite UD design of the early 1990s. I love the team colored stripe leading to the logo on basketball. If this were a flagship set I definitely would have bought a box or two. The extra LJ is available - though one card is scratched and the other is dinged. (Yay TCDB!)

Cards #10-18 feature some of my all-time favorite players. Getting the Dumars was a struggle; I traded for it but the user sent me a Fleer Drake's Dumars instead (he let me keep both.) Let's note the teams that have only one card in this set: Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver...

Cards #19-27 include a pair of Nets. Ron Harper was the last card I needed. It has a bum corner and some slight water damage. I'll have to replace at least a handful of these. Milwaukee is the only one-card team here.

Cards #28-36. Charles Barkley must have been in between teams, he's not featured on Philly or Phoenix (and I know he has no issues with McDonald's.)

The Knicks, Magic, Sixers, and Kings have only one card. Here are the rest of the veterans:

Cards #43-50 are "Future Force" rookies:

This is why I wanted to note which teams had just one card in the set. Nearly every team has two cards including a rookie except for the Hawks, Mavericks, Knicks, and Timberwolves. Until counting these I didn't realize the T-Wolves had no veteran in this set.

Unlike the McDonald's hockey sets of today there aren't a bunch of rare inserts/relics that fall 1:100,000 packs. There was only one card to chase, and I somehow held on to it:

TCDB pricing has this MJ hologram listed at $11.50, and I watched a box break video on YouTube where the breaker kept hyping the possibility of pulling this card. It's not that rare, or valuable, but it must have been fun to chase back in the day. Apparently there were some ten-card team sets for the Celtics, Bulls, Cavaliers, Lakers, and Magic. I might try to grab a few of those singles, too.

Have you collected any McDonald's cards, or other food issues?

Thanks for reading!