Monday, June 18, 2018

Sports Card Tour 2018 - Philadelphia

Two-thirds of the Collector's Sports Card Tour is in the books. Today we're starting the third period in Philadelphia

The city of brotherly love is home to four pro sports teams - the Phillies, the Eagles, the 76ers, and the Flyers. The Eagles are defending Super Bowl Champions. The Phillies have won two World Series, in 1980 and 2007. The Sixers last title came in 1983, while the "Broad Street Bullies" won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975.

"I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out."

The greatest player in Phillies history - and the greatest third baseman in baseball history - is Michael Jack Schmidt. 

I have ten Schmidt cards in my collection, none of them older than 1984. I've had a Schmidt bat relic card on my COMC watch list for 2 1/2 years. I like the card but the price is unreasonable -even on sale- and at this point I'm just leaving it there to see if it ever sells. That said, it would fill a huge hole in my collection: I don't have a single relic or autographed card of any Philadelphia-based team.

There were a few relics in my collection at various times-including a Nick Foles jumbo relic from Topps Museum Collection. I bought it on COMC for $1-2, brought it home, and sold it with some other football cards before he returned to the Eagles.

I also had a few John LeClair memorabilia cards, including a Black Diamond dual stick relic. LeClair was one of my favorite players in the mid-late 1990s. Here's a picture of me sporting his jersey in high school:

LeClair's "Legion of Doom" linemate Eric Lindros was one of my favorites as well. He entered the NHL with as much hype as Shaq did in the NBA. Both were larger-than-life superstars who attracted casual fans from all over North America. I bought an Eric Lindros poster at a school book fair (along with an Hakeem Olajuwon poster) and spent way too much money chasing his cards. 

The owner of my LCS offered me a huge box of hockey cards-including RCs of Brett Hull and other HOFers-for $300. I convinced my mom to help me pay for it largely because there were so many Lindros 'hits.' Most of them are long gone from my collection, but I've held on to a few of them:

When the Flyers won the Eastern Conference title in 1997 it was the first time a hockey team I cared about had won anything. Unfortunately for me the Flyers lost to Detroit in the Cup final. There were more than a few Red Wings fans in my high school - including one who signed my yearbook "Remember the Legion of Broom. Sweep Sweep!"

One of the first people I ever met online was a girl with the AOL screen name "Zubrusbabe" because she was a fan of Flyers rookie Dainius Zubrus. I had forgotten all about that until he played for the Devils a decade later. 

I was still somewhat of a Flyers fan when Scott Stevens laid out Lindros in the 2000 Eastern Conference Final but Eric's act was already wearing thin. I met my wife a year later and eventually adopted her Devils as my favorite team. 

The Devils and Flyers had back-to-back 1st round picks in the 2015 and 2017 NHL Drafts and area fans have been keeping a close watch on who will "win" each pick.

The Flyers are winning this one. Provorov is a top-pair defenseman and Zacha is tradebait.

Jersey's got the early lead here - Hischier had a better rookie season than Patrick.

Randall Cunningham is of my all-time favorite Philadelphia stars. The Eagles QB (who was listed as "QB Eagles" in Tecmo Super Bowl) could throw, run, and even punt when called upon. 

When I was in 6th grade some punk Cowboys fan was talking smack about his team, challenging my sports knowledge, and generally pissing me off. He goaded me into betting $10 on a Monday Night Football game between the Cowboys and Eagles. Everyone in my class thought I was going to lose. And just to show off, the kid (or one of his cronies) told me that for every day that I don't pay up the bet doubles.

The Eagles won big. That Tuesday morning I felt ten feet tall. All the kids who were certain that I was going to lose knew that I had won. John and his boys at the back of the class knew that they lost. 

I held out my hand "Ten dollars please." He slumped down in his chair and mumbled "I don't have it."

"OH?" I said, loud enough for the whole class to hear. "You know it's double for every day you don't pay." The next day he handed me a $20 bill. He said he stole it from his mom. (I don't doubt it.) $20 was a lot of money to me back then - but it wasn't about the money so much as it was the arrogance of that kid, trying to humiliate me and having it backfire in front of everyone. 

Thank you, Randall. Thank you, Reggie.

I rounded up my 1986 Topps Football cards to prepare for a potential set build. There are 17 in my collection - including the Reggie White RC:

 Randall and Reggie never got the Eagles to a Super Bowl - but Donovan McNabb did.

Base cards of Cunningham and McNabb are in my star player box despite neither being HOF-worthy. Terrell Owens will be inducted into Canton this summer - even if he doesn't show up for his own ceremony.

The rest of my Eagles hits. I only have five current Eagles in my collection-and they're all from 2016 Donruss/Optic. My basketball card collection has been rebuilt over the past 18 months. It's time to do the same for football.

 I'm always ending these posts with basketball, so let's change that up. 

Wilt Chamberlain put up some video game numbers in Philadelphia - with the Warriors. When he returned to the city as a Sixer his stats were less mind-blowing, but still legendary. Maurice Cheeks will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this summer.

Back when Craig Kilborn hosted The Daily Show he used to ask his guests 5 of his guests was Snoop Dogg, and the question Craiggers asked was "Who is the greatest small forward in NBA history?"

The Answer is...

Larry Bird. But Snoop was adamant that it was Dr. J. 

Kilborn told Snoop that was incorrect but the Dogg wouldn't hear it and eventually 'Kilby' relented. I don't know how or why I remember that..but neither answer is valid now.

There's been some talk of King James joining Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in Philly, to speed up the "process." Personally I think LeBron should sign with Houston..but I'm getting off-topic. I don't have any cards of current 76ers. The most recent Sixer in my collection is this Immaculate bronze parallel of Nerlens Noel..who was dumped off to Dallas a year and a half ago.

I'm always fascinated when a city's most successful franchise (in terms of winning championships) is long gone from that city. Such is the case with the Philadelphia Athletics.

Connie Mack managed the A's for 50 years and won five World Series with such legends as Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, and Al Simmons.

The Philadelphia Phillies have been in business for 136 seasons and have a grand total of two championships.

Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, and Pete Rose led the Phils to their first title in my birth year of 1980.

Ryan Howard and Chase Utley powered Philly's offense to the 2008 title. The Phils repeated as pennant winners but lost the 2009 World Series to those Damn Yankees.

The final two appearances of Pedro Martinez' career were World Series losses in the new Yankee Stadium. I picked up this eTopps card on COMC to memorialize Pedro's "short-term stop."

The "Whiz Kids" suffered the same fate in 1950 - losing the World Series to the Yankees. I don't have any 1950 Phils, but I have six from 1956:

Yet another former Philly start will be immortalized this summer:

Jim Thome's Hall of Fame induction will come before that of Owens and Cheeks. Former Phillies Curt Schilling and the late Roy Halladay could soon follow Thome into Cooperstown.

The rest of my Phillies hits, including an out of this world insert, a Blue Wave refractor, and a Jackie Robinson Day photo variation. You won't find any of those cards in this book:

This was given to me by my father in law. He passed away one year ago today. We miss you, Pop.

Favorite Phillies player: Rhys Hoskins

Favorite Eagles player: I'm pretty pleased with all of them at the moment

Favorite 76ers player: J.J. Redick

Favorite Flyers player: Wayne Simmonds

Next tour stop: Phoenix

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sports Card Tour 2018 - Ottawa

The Collector's Sports Card tour is doing our patriotic duty and invading the capital city of America's most dangerous global rival. Today we're in Ottawa.

Ottawa is home to two pro sports teams: the CFL's RedBlacks and the NHL's Senators (who wear red and black.) The RedBlacks won the Grey Cup in 2016.

Ottawa's previous CFL franchise was called the Rough Riders. I only know that because of South Park (who had the idea of fighting with Canada waaaay before Trump.)

The Senators were champions of the Eastern Conference in 2006-07, losing to Anaheim in the Stanley Cup Final.

Daniel Alfredsson is the Senators' all-time leading scorer and served as Sens captain for 13 seasons.

"Alfie" was a universally-respected superstar...or so I thought. When he retired in 2014 a lot of fans - particularly in Anaheim - trashed him for shooting the puck at Scott Niedermayer in the SCF. First of all, Scotty wasn't exactly a saint himself. And second, the Ducks were gooning it up all series. I don't blame Daniel - or any Senator - for being frustrated.

I have 17 Alfredsson cards - including a relic and an auto. I had his 1995-96 Finest RC on my want list forever, but I gave up on that set once the cards started turning yellow. Such a shame.. I loved that set.

Erik Karlsson is the Sens' current captain. The two-time Norris Trophy winner is the NHL's best offensive defenseman. His 66 assists in 2015-16 led all NHL players and he finished tied for 4th in total points with 82. I only have one EK RC - the Ultra you see above. I was lucky to get it as the Karlsson craze was well underway when I snatched it up for $1.25 on COMC.

Karlsson has been in the news off the ice - initially due to his impending free agency, and more recently because his wife has been the target of cyberbullying by teammate Mike Hoffman's fiancee. That's not going to help efforts to keep Erik in Ottawa. 

Hoffman is one of a handful of NHL regulars who did not have a rookie card in Upper Deck's flagship set. I once had an idea to make a Puck Junk-type post of the top players who do not have a Young Guns RC. I scrapped the idea because I didn't want to write it without providing a "what-if" custom card of each player..and I don't know PhotoShop. 

Birthday boy Jason Spezza averaged a point a game over his eleven seasons with the Senators. He was the draft pick the Sens received from the Islanders in the Alexei Yashin deal.

I've often discussed my star player base card box on this blog, and how I decide on which players to put in or take out. These Jason Spezza cards are in the box - but I haven't thought of him as a star in years. (A star player that is..there's no denying he's a Star.)

Ottawa also received Zdeno Chara in the Yashin trade. Another classic "Mad Mike" move.

Martin Havlat cards kept popping out of my packs in the 2000s. I got the Game Dated Moments card from a pack I bought at a memorabilia store in a Washington D.C. mall.

The current Senators have never won the Stanley Cup, but the original Ottawa Senators won three championships in the early days of the NHL.

Frank Finnigan's #8 is retired by the current franchise. Daniel Alfredsson is the only other Senator to receive this honor.

Last but least, no mention of the Ottawa Senators franchise and their hockey cards would be complete without the infamous #1 overall pick Alexandre Daigle.

Those of us who just witnessed the Vegas Golden Knights competing for a Stanley Cup in their first season might find it hard to remember when expansion teams were terrible. Ottawa won ten games in their initial campaign..and lost 70. When Alexandre "The Great" arrived in 1993 he was seen as the Sens' savior.

Score offered Daigle's rookie card as a mail-in redemption, which was a tough pull at the time. My father in law wrote a complaint letter to Score after buying boxes of '93-94 Score that didn't contain a Daigle redemption. The company did send him a Daigle, to their credit.

Alex is a cautionary tale of what happens when a struggling franchise hands the keys to an overhyped 18 year-old. Daigle was a decent player on a team completely bereft of supporting talent - which made him an absolute bust in the eyes of many hockey fans. Perhaps he bought into his own hype. Or perhaps a better team with stronger leadership would have kept him in line and brought out the best in him.

Favorite Senators player (current): Erik Karlsson

Favorite Senators player (all-time): Daniel Alfredsson, Radek Bonk

Next tour stop: Philadelphia

Thanks for reading!