Friday, March 30, 2018

Sports Card Tour 2018 - Denver

Good Friday to you! The Collector's Sports Card Tour has reached a Rocky Mountain high. Today we're in Denver.

Denver has four pro sports teams - the Rockies, the Broncos, the Nuggets, and the Avalanche.

The Broncos have hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy three times. The Avalanche have won the Stanley Cup twice. The Rockies were champions of the National League in 2007, when they were swept by the Red Sox in the World Series. The Nuggets are 0-3 in conference finals as an NBA franchise; they reached the ABA finals in 1976.

John Elway is the Broncos' Vice President/General Manager and the city's greatest athlete. When Elway led Denver to Super Bowl XXXII I invited all my friends over to watch the game. They were all neutral fans so they wanted to see Elway finally win one. I was a huge Packer backer, and after the game ended I was so disappointed that they lost (and upset that my friends were all celebrating) I stormed off to my room. Not sure what hurt more at the time, but it annoys the hell out of me that poor old John Elway has three rings and Brett Favre only has one.

I never liked Elway, even before that Super Bowl, but I have to admit he's got some cool cards. Playoff X's and O's are one of my favorite insert sets of the 1990's. I bought a lot of Prime boxes from K-Mart to chase those.

Is it me, or does it seem like the Broncos could just plug in anyone at running back and watch him gain 1,000 yards? I don't think it's me. Fourteen different Broncos backs have had 1,000-yard rushing seasons. I have ten of them in my collection. 

Terrell Davis wasn't any old back; he rushed for over 2,000 yards in his MVP season of 1998 and won two Super Bowl rings. Injuries limited "TD" to just four full seasons, nevertheless he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year.

Some strong safeties here. Brian Dawkins is part of this year's Hall of Fame class. Steve Atwater and John Lynch could soon follow him to Canton.

The rest of my Broncos hits. Like Elway, Peyton Manning finished his incredible career on top. I didn't like Shannon Sharpe as much as his brother Sterling, but his trash talk was legendary.

Equally as upsetting to me as Elway's Super Bowl win was Ray Bourque finally raising the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche. The Devils had a 3-2 lead in the 2001 Final, but destiny was not on their side. My wife and in-laws still grumble about that series; I used to tell my father-in-law that if Bourque hadn't won that year he'd still be playing.

It also gave Patrick Roy four Stanley Cup rings and a head-to-head victory over Martin Brodeur, who "only" has three Cups. I liked Roy a lot more when he was in Montreal.

Let's get the rest of the inserts out of the way so that I can show you my all-time favorite Av...

Chris Drury won a Little League World Series, an NCAA hockey championship, and a Stanley Cup. My family and I pulled both the John-Michael Liles base auto and gold parallel #d/10 out of 2005-06 Be A Player. Of all the one-auto-per-pack BAP issues, this was my favorite. Black Diamond Game Gear was the first set I saw that contained pieces of goalie pads.

Nathan MacKinnon is a top contender for the Hart Trophy as league MVP. If history is any indication, he'll beat my guy (Taylor Hall) and win. I'm really starting to dislike Denver...

...then again they've got some solid Connecticut connections, besides Chris Drury.

Here's a small sampling of my Peter Worrell super collection. Pete was a fan favorite in New Haven, when he played two years with the AHL's Beast. After his one season with the Avs, the NHL phased out fourth-line enforcers and Worrell's career was essentially over. Because he's not a big star and only has about 130 NHL cards I surmised that I'd have a much better chance of completing his card run than any of my other favorites like Favre or Brodeur.

The Colorado Rockies had a minor-league affiliate in New Haven for over a decade, starting in 1994. A good chunk of my early Rockies cards are former Ravens, such as slugger Derrick Gibson.

Gibson ended his career in pro ball with another New Haven franchise, the independent (and short-lived) Cutters. I recently told Rockies fan Rosenort of the blog Condition Sensitive that I had more cards of Gibson than Nolan Arenado. Didn't know just how true that was until now...

For the record, it's 11-2 Gibson - and that's after I bought the 2018 Topps Arenado at the card show.

You may have heard of this former Raven..

Todd Helton was Colorado's first home-grown superstar, and the first Rockie to have his number retired by the team. I absolutely would have wanted him to with the 2007 World Series - if his Rox weren't facing my Sox. He'll be on next year's Hall of Fame ballot; I wonder if he'll fare better than Larry Walker.

I had a Helton bat relic but I traded it to another Rockies blogger, Adam K. of Infield Fly Rule. Thus, the Tulo patch is the only thing resembling a "hit" in my Rox collection. I'm pessimistic about Walker's HOF chances, though some day the Hall voters will have to get over themselves and enshrine a Rockie

Actually, there is one former Rockies player in the Hall of Fame...

the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile the Denver Nuggets have had a handful of HOFers, including Dikembe Mutombo.

I'll never forget that 1994 first-round series when the 8th-seeded Nuggets shocked the top-seeded Sonics. 

I think of Carmelo Anthony more as a Knick than a Nugget, but he had some sensational seasons in the Mile High city. I honestly didn't know Melo led the Nuggets to a Conference finals appearance in 2009. For a guy with an NCAA championship and three Olympic gold medals, I still get this impression that most basketball people don't think he's a winner.

Alex English was nearing the end of his fantastic career when I started collecting basketball cards. I don't think I ever saw him play, but his scoring stats were mind-boggling to me as a ten year-old. And that colorful cityscape jersey was fantastic. 

Here's another look at it because it is awesome and this post isn't long enough:

The rest of my notable Nuggets:

I almost bought an Immaculate Kenneth Faried card on COMC but cheaped out for some dumb reason. The McDyess Black Diamond is my favorite here. Don't Google Evan Fournier. He said not to I didn't.

Rockies card I'd like to own: A Todd Helton auto, or more affordably a 2002 Topps Pristine refractor.
Broncos card I'd like to own: Ten year-old me really wants a Jake Butt card. Huh huh.  
Nuggets card I'd like to own: An early 90's logo card. Or an Allen Iverson card. Or that Immaculate Faried I should have bought for 85 cents when I had the chance.
Avalanche card I'd like to own: Believe it or not, I'm missing the pewter Peter Worrell autograph parallel to complete the Auto-facts rainbow. It's #d to 10 and I doubt I'll ever find one.

Favorite Rockies player: Nolan Arenado or Carlos Gonzalez
Favorite Broncos player: Von Miller
Favorite Nuggets player: Don't have one yet. I hadn't even heard of Gary Harris until about a month ago.
Favorite Avalanche player: It might be MacKinnon. But that doesn't mean I want him to win the MVP.

Next tour stop: Detroit

Thanks for reading this very long post. Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sports Card Tour 2018 - Dallas

Howdy, y'all! The Collector's Sports Card Tour is making its first stop in the Lone Star state. Today we're in Dallas.

Dallas has two pro sports teams - the Mavericks and Stars. The Dallas Cowboys don't actually play in Dallas, and haven't done so since 1970(!) Their stadium is adjacent to the Texas Rangers' Ballpark in Arlington. 

The Mavericks were the last Dallas-based team to win a title, when they beat the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. The Rangers were one strike away from winning their first World Series that same year; they are the only area team without a championship.

Dirk Nowitzki is nearing the end of a legendary career. He's played 20 years with only one franchise, matching Kobe Bryant's NBA record. If Dirk returns for a 21st season, he could pass Wilt Chamberlain for 5th on the all-time scoring list.

I have a decent amount of Dirk cards, as he's one of a handful of players I collect. Steve Nash is another.

You'll see some more Vince Carter cards when we get to Toronto. I'm not a fan of the current Mavs logo - whatever it is. I prefer the classic cowboy hat on basketball.

In fact I bought a logo magnet back in the day. Not sure if I showed this last year, when Jon sent me so many of these great hoops cards, but here it is again:

Wish I could remember exactly when I bought it. Must have been after 1990, because I also have an Orlando Magic magnet.

I was intrigued by the possibility of Mavs owner Mark Cuban running for president - until recently. We've already seen one Texas-based team owner become leader of the free world. Perhaps Cuban would be the fiscally responsible/socially progressive centrist this country needs. Or perhaps President Cuban is a concept we should save for Sharknado movies.

Enough political talk..let's stick to sports, shall we?

It always amazed me that Nolan Ryan could still pitch No-Hitters well into his 40's. I remember seeing his Advil commercial a lot as a kid.

What do these players all have in common? Leave your answer in comments. (I should do more trivia questions or contests within these posts.)

The rest of my Rangers round-up. I once had a Nomar Mazara Bowman Chrome prospect auto, but I sold it to fund my '56 Topps set. My collection is dramatically shifting from recent high-value RCs to vintage and lower-priced shiny stuff.

How 'bout 'dem Cowboys?

Personally, I couldn't stand 'em. The Texas-sized swagger of the self-proclaimed "America's Team" always aggravated me. And it didn't help that my Packers couldn't get past them in the playoffs. Back in the 90's, I thought Troy Aikman was overrated, Michael Irvin was an obnoxious coke head, and Emmitt Smith only cared about his own stats.


And yet the best Dallas card in my collection is this Emmitt Smith Score card, which I acquired a few years ago when I was hoarding Hall of Famer rookie cards. I might have bought the Aikman too, but 1989 Score is so boring!

It was a lot more fun watching T.O. spike the ball on the star than anything he did for Dallas. My sister had a Tony Dorsett jersey in the 70's or early 80's. I saw it hanging on a clothesline in my mom's basement a few years ago. Don't know what she did with it.

I pulled a Tony Romo RC out of a 2003 Ultra pack I bought at Toys R Us...but I sold or traded it before he became a big deal in big D.

The Stars will never outshine the Cowboys in the DFW area, but they won the social media battle and a more recent championship.

Mike Modano wasn't captain of the 1999 Stanley Cup champions, but he is the all-time leading scorer among American born players (and he had a cameo in the Mighty Ducks movie.)

Pacific made some of the coolest insert cards ever, including Glove-Side Die Cuts. Brett Hull's controversial goal clinched the Cup for Dallas. Hall of Famer Joe Nieuwendyk won three Cups with three different teams (Flames, Stars, and Devils.) Marty Turco is a Michigan alum; I've sent a few of his cards to Dennis of Too Many Verlanders/Manninghams.

Current and future Stars. Jamie Benn led the NHL in scoring in 2014-15; the Full Force base card above came from a free gift pack at Dave & Adam's. Gurianov was pulled from a pack of MVP my mom bought me as a Christmas gift.

The Stars lost to New Jersey in the 2000 Stanley Cup final. Jason Arnott scored the cup-clinching goal for the Devils..then was traded to Dallas less than two years later.

Of course that was far from the biggest trade in Dallas sports history....

Do you remember where you were when you heard the Cowboys traded Herschel Walker? I was in the back parking lot of my elementary school, waiting for the doors to open on a cold and overcast morning. One of the boys standing in line informed the rest of us about the trade, and it seemed like he was telling a tall tale. "He got traded for five players. No, players. And a draft pick. No...five draft picks!"

He didn't get all the details right, but it was true. The Cowboys built their dynasty on that deal.

Rangers card I'd like to own: This SSPC Ted Williams card is the only issue I've seen from his one year of managing the Rangers. 

Cowboys card I'd like to own: Maybe an Aikman Score rookie card. Maybe.

Mavericks card I'd like to own: I stumbled across this Dennis Smith Jr. Contenders card while doing some COMC challenges. 

Stars card I'd like to own: A Jaromir Jagr card that pictures him in a Dallas sweater.

Favorite Rangers player: Nomar Mazara for now.. until Tim Lincecum makes the team 
Favorite Cowboys player: It's hard not to like a guy named Taco.. but I'll go with Jason Witten
Favorite Mavericks player: Dirk Nowitzki

Favorite Stars player: Uh..I dunno..Radek Faksa

Next tour stop: Denver

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sports Card Tour 2018 - Cleveland

Welcome to the second half of Ohio the tour bus pulls into Cleveland.

Cleveland has three pro sports teams - the Indians, the Browns, and the Cavaliers.

The Indians were one run away from winning the World Series in 1997 and 2016. The Browns are one of only four NFL franchises never to have played in a Super Bowl.

In 2016 the Cavaliers defeated Golden State in the NBA Finals, bringing the first championship to "Believeland" since Jim Brown carried the Browns to the 1964 NFL title.

The Cavs and Warriors have faced off in each of the last three Finals, and both teams are powerful but vulnerable this season.

Billy Kingsley's cousin Kevin Love has recently gone public about his battle with anxiety. Head coach Tyronn Lue just took a leave of absence from the team, and the whole city is on edge over the pending free agency of the biggest star in the game, Akron's own LeBron James.

This is something you might not see again on the Sports Card Tour: my best card representing a city (with more than one team) is a basketball card. I bought this on eBay after LeBron won his second championship in Miami; it was the only Cavs card of King James in my collection - until Billy hooked me up with some of these:

The Franchise insert was actually pulled from a basketball repack I bought at Target, at the beginning of my basketball card collecting renaissance. I think I got the Topps '58 insert on COMC. 

During the 2015 NBA Finals, Matthew Dellavedova cards were red-hot on COMC (and other places, I'm assuming?) I loved the way Delly played 'D' so I waited for his cards to cool off a bit and then plucked a few off the site. The Hot Signatures auto was $2.65. 

I had a Cleveland Browns autographed card in my collection - but it was recently sent to Angus in exchange for the Brett Favre Prilosec set and a sparkly Dustin Pedroia. This Cameron Erving card should be arriving in Canada soon.

It's actually sort of amazing that I had a Browns card that a Browns super collector didn't have. I really don't have any other Browns cards worth mentioning.

The QB class of '99 rears its ugly head again. Tim Couch couldn't even crack the Packers roster as a backup to Brett Favre. If I ever collect another football card set it will be 1986 Topps; that set is highly underrated IMO.

I actually had a bit of a Bernie Kosar collection for a while..only base cards though.

When I was a kid I had a Kosar Starting Lineup figure; I must have taken it into the bath tub or something because part of the paint chipped off and before long I had a "Kosap" figure. 

I'll be honest...this is probably my best Browns card:

This guy owes us money. I've added him to my Debtor Hall of Shame.

My Indians cards are much more interesting.

This Al Rosen was the first '56 Topps card I upgraded. Bob Lemon isn't the only Hall of Fame pitcher named Bob in my Tribe...

This Feller auto/relic was part of my first official COMC order. It's a stickergraph and a pants swatch, and this set had a lot of low numbered relic variations - which might explain why this was only $40.27 (that and Feller lived to be 92 so he signed a lot of cards.)

More modern Fellers. "Bullet Bob" is a perfect subject for Archives. Grady Sizemore was another player I used to collect. Still have a bunch of his base cards in my binders.

Some more vintage COMC finds. I had no problem paying $3.65 for the Bobby Avila. At $2.85 I was on the fence about Brodowksi but eventually pulled the trigger. I'm glad I did; the print spots nearly scared me away but they're minuscule in-hand.

Remnants of my prospect pool. Frazier and Sheffield were traded to the Yankees in the Andrew Miller deal. Boooo!

Jim Thome is part of this year's super-sized class of Hall Of Fame inductees. Yesterday it was announced that his plaque will not have the Chief Wahoo logo, per Thome's request. If I were still doing "Final Thoughts" essays I'd address the logo controversy. Maybe. It's a goofy ass logo in need of an update but I can't say I'm offended by it. I'm a proud progressive but I'm not a Native American; let them decide what the new logo should look like.

Indians card I'd like to own: I want a Terry Francona manager card, but I need the Francisco Lindor SP for my 2017 Topps Heritage set build (photo variation preferred.)

Browns card I'd like to own: A Joe Thomas card. I stopped collecting football cards before his HOF-worthy career began, but I really should pick up a card or two of the trail-blazing Brown.

Cavaliers card I'd like to own:This swirly, whirly Kyrie Irving rookie:

Favorite Indians player: Does Edwin Encarnacion's imaginary parrot Edwing count?

Favorite Browns player: Don't have one. Let's see who they draft with their #1 overall pick.

Favorite Cavaliers player: Love or LeBron

Next tour stop: Dallas

p.s. The winner of the Cincinnati contest is...Collecting Cutch. Tony Perez is the Reds legend missing from my collection. Congrats, Brian! I'll try to find something to send your way soon. 

Thanks for reading!