Monday, August 30, 2021

The Final Four - COMC Comes Through

With all of the recent changes in the sports card industry (and my dwindling interest in baseball) it seems like a good time for me to announce my retirement from baseball card collecting and blogging at the ripe old age of 41. I'm not going to stop collecting cards forever but I do plan to complete as many card sets as I can by the end of 2021 and then I'll stop actively buying trading cards. I might continue passively collecting - but the days of spending multiple hours per day on this "hobby" are coming to an end. 

I've published 496 posts here at The Collector so I'll squeeze out four more and stop at 500. I've also got one more post planned at The 1993 which will be my 45th published post at my sister blog I'm ashamed of myself for not even getting close to 93 posts. After that I'm probably going to wrap it up. 

Again, if the mood strikes I might post a little more here and there. But it wouldn't be about cards - and I doubt anyone wants to read random musings about my everyday life, like how my co-worker has had several "dentist appointments" this month which are secretly job interviews and only a couple of people in the office know this. And tomorrow I have an actual dentist appointment - which I have to leave early for. Can't wait to tell 'em why.

Also I've been listening to a lot of Chvrches lately and I'm really bummed because they are playing a show in my hometown of New Haven!! Good bands never come to New Haven anymore!! And tickets are only $40 or so. Problem is, the show is on a Thursday. In December. :/

While I'm on the subject I've been having this dream of hearing them play "Death Stranding" outdoors at like 4 in the morning, and Office Girl is with me and we're like Nick and Norah at the Where's Fluffy? show and it just feels like bliss. I bought two Chvrches CDs this summer and "Death Stranding" isn't on either of them and this is a huge oversight on my part. I must download this song immediately.

See, I'm much more interested in discussing music, but every time I do I get the same "that band/artist/song sucks" response so I'm not going to do that. This is a sports card blog, after all.

At the beginning of April I requested COMC ship 32 cards to me. And they did so - four months later.

These two legendary 49ers quarterbacks were the last cards I needed to complete the 1987 Topps set. Joe Montana cost 85 cents and Steve Young set me back $0.69. There are a handful of singles in this set that I wouldn't mind upgrading, though not as many as the condition-sensitive '86 set. It's another reason why I won't be able to completely stop collecting cards on December 31, but I'm going to do as much as a I can to tidy up my set builds - even if they're complete.

2015-16 Donruss basketball is finally complete, thanks to these two rookies. Kelly Oubre cost $3.75 I'm still amazed that I was able to get the Nikola Jokic RC for less than that while Martin was a more manageable 60 cents.

I have now completed nine basketball sets, though only six of them have enough cards to qualify - and this is the only one released after 1993. 1992-93 Topps Archives will soon be the tenth completed set, and then I guess I'll try working on those starter sets Bo sent me.

One more set filler for today. I'm still trying to collect all of the 2017 Topps Heritage inserts though I will probably have to give up the Game. Aside from those, I only need four more:

Three to go. 

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, August 12, 2021

What a time to be alive

I've often pondered the ways in which life in the 2020s is far worse that it was in the 1990s (and probably before that?) It's a symptom of getting old, I suppose. That said, I don't want to sound like a certain negative Nancy so I'll just keep this sports-centric.

Below is a list of the four major North American pro sports leagues and every event that caused a cancellation of scheduled games. This does not count any weather or world events that caused games to be rescheduled. I'm only listing games that were not played due to the extenuating circumstances listed below.

We'll start with the 41 years prior to my birth:

NFL - Schedule was shortened from 11 games to 10 during World War II. One game lost per season from 1943-45. (MLB and NHL did not lose any games during the war)

MLB - A players' strike interrupted the start of the 1972 season, causing teams to lose between 6 and 9 games. (It also caused the Red Sox to lose the A.L. East by 1/2 game.)

And.. that's it. Every NBA and NHL season played the expected amount of games, and no other NFL or MLB seasons were interrupted. Full seasons were a thing. Consistency was a thing. Reliability was a thing.

In the 41 years I've been on this planet, cancellations have been a constant:

1981 - MLB players' strike literally cuts the season in half. 51 to 59 games per team were cancelled.
1982 - NFL players' strike reduced the 16-game schedule to 9 games (there were previous labor disputes between NFL players and owners but none had occurred during the season until '82.)
1987 - Another NFL players' strike results in one lost game per team and three weeks of games using replacement players. Those games counted in the standings, and some teams were less union-friendly than others.

1992 - NHL players went on strike just prior to the start of the playoffs. No games were lost during the ten-day work stoppage; I mention this because one of the issues players and owners negotiated was.. trading cards. This brief strike also set the stage for a longer work stoppage two years later.

1994 - 27 years ago today the longest players' strike in MLB history officially began. You know the rest.

1994 - The NHL schedule was cut from 84 games to 48 after owners locked out the players over revenue sharing. Despite the fact that the season didn't start until January 11, 1995 the history books still refer to this as the 1994-95 NHL season. Also of note: the failure to implement a salary cap resulted in three franchises relocating in the following three seasons.

1995 - The MLB players' strike officially ends on April 2. A 144-game schedule results in 18 games lost per team in addition to the 45-50 regular season games (and entire postseason) lost from the 1994 season. A key figure in ending the strike was Yankees fan and current Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor.

1998 - NBA players were locked out over skyrocketing salaries, resulting in the first work stoppage in league history. A 50-game season began in January 1999. 32 games were lost per team.

2001 - Terrorist attacks on September 11 interrupted all facets of American life for more than a week.

Technically no games were lost - though Week 2 of the NFL schedule was rescheduled to the end of the season, and the MLB playoffs extended into November for the first time.

2002 - Major League Baseball players and owners appeared to be headed for another lengthy labor dispute. However this was avoided at the 11th hour and an agreement was reached without any interruption in play. This is notable because a) labor peace! and 2) it was less than a year after 9/11. Americans were not in the mood to hear millionaires argue over how to split billions of dollars in revenue.

2004 - The NHL, clearly the weakest of the four North American pro sports leagues, wiped out an entire 82-game season with a 310-day lockout. This was the first time the Stanley Cup was not awarded since the Influenza pandemic of 1919. Losing a whole season was unprecedented in pro sports and the NHL became the butt of several jokes, specifically in the United States. However the end result was a true salary cap which strengthened the league in the long run.

2011 - NBA owners locked out the players a second time, resulting in a shortened 66-game season. 16 games were lost per team.

2012 - Hockey's back.. on the lockout list. Once again the season did not start until January, and once again the schedule was reduced to 48 intra-conference games.

2020 - Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert deliberately touched a few microphones...

...then tested positive for Covid-19 two days later. Utah's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was suspended minutes before tip-off on March 11. The sports world quickly shut down for months.

The NBA season eventually resumed, abbreviated from 82 games to 63-67 for non-contending teams and up to 75 games for playoff teams. 10 more games per team were cut from the 2020-21 NBA season as a result of the 2020 NBA Finals being played in October -- when the '20-21 season would have started. Major League Baseball managed to squeeze in a 60-game season in 2020 (without fans), the shortest schedule since the 1870s. The 2020 NFL season continued as scheduled.

NHL teams lost 11 to 13 games in '19-20 as a result of the pandemic, and their 2020 postseason concluded at the end of September. The 2020-21 season was reduced to 56 games (take that, NBA.)

So, to recap: I can count on two hands the number of total games lost in all of pro sports in the 41 years before I was born. I'm not even going to bother counting all of these cancellations since 1980. Whatever happened to predictability...?

I said I wasn't going to be a negative Nancy, so here's a neat fact about the current sports climate:

The Tampa Bay Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021, which isn't common but certainly not unprecedented. However, as a result of the chaotic schedules caused by Covid, Tampa's Victor Hedman scored a goal in an NHL game in every calendar month.

That's cool, right? 
Let's hope it never happens again.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, August 5, 2021

Set chunks and one more PWE

This will be my last blog post at The Collector for a while, and my last basketball post for a long while.

I'm still working on fitting all of the cards from Bo into my basketball monster box.. and now Fuji has checked in with a two-team PWE:

This Electric Currents insert is my 59th Reggie Miller card. He has claimed the top spot in my collection from fellow HOFer Hakeem Olajuwon. For a second I wondered why the scan looked so fuzzy, before realizing it's designed to look electric. This is why I shouldn't write before 10am lol.

Reggie is joined by some more Pacer stars including a pair of "Foreign Exchange" inserts I don't remember seeing as a kid. I scanned the back of the Schrempf hologram because the front probably won't scan well.

Same for the Hakeem Olajuwon hologram from a year earlier. With these two inserts of "Dream", he ties Miller at the top of my PC list with 59 cards. The Flair Othella Harrington didn't scan great but it's very nice in hand. Fuji, thanks for the awesome PWE - it was well worth the wait!

Now back to the box from Bo. I received five starter sets (six if you count the 1993 Upper deck baseball chunk.) They are:

1990-91 Hoops
204 new cards
now: 310/440 (70.5%)

Some of my favorites include the Sam Vincent sans MJ (I do have the Jordan cameo) and the smiling Rick Mahorn with Larry Bird guarding him. I will probably attempt to complete this set because it's cheap, and it was a significant part of my early collecting years. Still need the Michael Jordan base card though.

These team checklist art cards were part of a series 2 update. Compare them to the checklists from...

1991-92 Upper Deck
200 new cards
now: 292/500 (58.4%)

This is my favorite of the five starter sets in this box/blog post. However it's also the biggest, and I'm not close to completing it. I have most of the key rookie cards but I still need all five Michael Jordan singles.

Before the term 'three-peat' existed, Detroit was trying to become "Champions X Three!" Didn't happen.

1993-94 Fleer

185 new cards (plus 2 inserts)
now: 218/400 (54.5%)

I'm leaning toward breaking up this half-set and using it to complete some others, though there are a lot of cool cards in this chunk, including Drazen Petrovic chasing down Hersey Hawkins. (Petro did not have his own card in the set, as he passed away in June of 1993.)

Let's fast forward a decade for the last two set chunks, including the smallest (base) set:

2003-04 SP Authentic

66 new cards (plus one SN #d SP)
now: 69/90 base set (73.3%)

There are 189 cards in the complete set; I'm only counting the 90-card base veteran portion. I don't have to worry about Michael Jordan here (he appears in the serial numbered subset) but I would need Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and Tim Duncan among others just to complete this base set. Hmm..

2003-04 Upper Deck MVP
147 new cards
(plus 13 parallels, 5 inserts)
now: 147/230 (63.9%)

Hey, it's my first Michael Jordan Wizards card. And it's... a Bullets card!

Lots of big names in this set chunk. And some names I was not at all familiar with:

Will I be pursuing this set build? No way! I still need the Kobe Bryant base card, two Michael Jordans...

...and all of the key rookie cards including LeBron James, which recently sold on eBay for $125.

Bo, thanks again for the big box of basketball cards!

I will be taking a bit of a break here because I have a "Run to 500" series planned and I need my COMC order to show up before that can begin. Regularly-scheduled posts will continue at The 1993.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Big Box O' BasketBo

I'm finally finished sorting the box(es) of cards Bo sent me in the NBA Week "PWE swap"

I'll discuss the set chunks in another post, and I wrote about the baseball cards at The 1993.

There's one big stack of random stuff among all these starter sets. Here are some of my favorites:

Bucks and Grizzlies:

I noticed a fair amount of Greg Anthony in the box. I never liked him, but the Vancouver uniform makes these cards much cooler.

Speaking of cool '90s cards, how about this Mark Price:

The Tsakalidis RC is numbered to 499. I like the Super Teams Celtics and Finest singles, too. And I'm always happy to receive Ray Allen Sonics cards.

Some notable rookie cards here. Not the 'right' Laker SP but I'll take it!


Some of these might end up going to blogger buddies one day. But I'll be happy to hold on to the rest.

Bo, thanks again for all the great cards!