Monday, March 28, 2022

First Draft

I've started another writing project at the behest of my mother and others who insist that I have talent for such a thing. It's exciting in a way, but the problem I've had is that the ideas come to me at all hours. Doesn't matter if I'm trying to work or trying to sleep - if I get an idea I have to jot it down or I'll lose it.

As a result I'm trying to wrap up my TCDB trades and hit 'pause' on that site for a while. Unfortunately none of my pending PWEs arrived over the weekend. Fortunately I did get one PWE of note. Kevin, the Diamond King, recently hosted a Card Draft. This was the first time I participated in such an event and it was a lot of fun.

Each of the eight participants sent in a PWE of nine cards and TDK randomized the order of selection. We were asked to submit a pick list to rank the cards in order of preference (in case we could not attend) and I landed six of my top eight targets.


In the first round I had the 6th pick. There was one card that I was certain would be a top three pick and if it had dropped to me at six I might have claimed it. Laurens grabbed it at #4 so I stuck with my top priority, this Ke'Bryan Hayes Topps Chrome refractor RC. 

Hayes might end up being a superstar in the coming years. Or maybe his ceiling is as a decent player who earns a couple All-Star Game appearances because the Pirates don't have anyone better. Either way, it's a sharp looking rookie card of a young player with some upside.

The second round snaked around and I picked third, giving me two picks in the top nine. With my second choice long gone I claimed my third priority, this color-matching Skip Schumaker autograph:

The third round required some forward thinking. The snake-style draft order didn't come back to me until pick #20. There was another autograph on my want list but I claimed a card that probably wouldn't have been around much longer:

Mike Piazza isn't one of my favorite people but I can't resist a Prizm parallel. Plus catcher cards always hide the lack of licensing.

In between my third and fourth picks one of the cards I offered up got claimed by gcrl - which made me happy. I was starting to worry that my contributions were subpar.

At pick #24 I landed the second auto on my draft board: a 1996 Leaf Signature Reggie Jefferson card.

There didn't appear to be any other Red Sox fans in the draft but I could not risk letting that one go until the fifth round. Especially because I didn't pick again until the 35th selection. By then Laurens had claimed another card I had my eye on.

My fourth-highest priority was still available, but it was not a baseball card and I made the assumption that everyone else was focusing on baseball. My sixth-highest priority was a card that I knew wouldn't last long (similar to my #2 want) and so I selected the "best player available", Ken Griffey Jr.:

I had a hunch that this went unclaimed because it appears to be a 1994 Fleer base card. However the lack of gold lettering will indicate that it is a Sunoco oddball.

Two of the next four cards claimed were from the PWE I supplied, which helped me land my fourth priority:

I finally have an Ice Trae NBA single; the only Young single in my collection was a Panini Contenders college card.

With the sixth pick in the seventh round I selected this color-matching Alex Cobb Fire parallel:

I could have got more 'value' picking a Steve Carlton or Derek Jeter base card but I liked this one better. Both of those singles were gone by the time my eighth-round pick came up. I threw out my "big board" and picked Paul DeJong.

This is a short print, and the Cardinals are a popular team. Perhaps I'll add it to my TCDB trade list.

As the end of the draft approached I had a tough decision to make. Two of my wants were still on the board, along with a nice numbered parallel that looked interesting. One pick ahead of me Nick claimed the Jose Abreu Topps Chrome so I quickly grabbed this Shaun Alexander Prism single:


Nick saved me a lot of time I would have wasted trying to decide between two similarly-valued cards.

I was very happy with my draft, and Elliptical Man gave me a great draft grade as well. Most importantly I had fun, and I think everyone went home with some nice new cards for their collection.

If I get to participate again I will certainly try to contribute better cards. One-third of my PWE went unclaimed.

Kevin, thanks again for hosting the Card Draft!


Sunday, March 20, 2022

Set Building Progress Report - Football

I've hinted at it before but I am fully preparing to wrap up my sports card collection as much as possible. It will be hard to know exactly when my collection will be "done" but the most obvious way to see the finish line would be to complete sets. As a result I've become more of a set builder than ever.

This is the first in a short series (probably five parts) focusing on my set building progress. I'd planned to start with basketball, until Greg of The Collective Mind contacted me about some 2015 Panini Prizm football cards he had for trade. I sent him a PWE full of cards for his set building projects and received these:

 Eddie Lacy was the only Packer of the bunch. He was not the only running back.


Not by a longhsot, lol. For some reason I always assumed Bishop Sankey was a tight end.

Mostly wide receivers here, headlined by HOFer Cris Carter.

2015 Prizm is a 300-card set, and the last 100 cards are rookies. Hunter is the best of the bunch here.

Moar rookeiz. I've got to clean my scanner before the next post. There's no gunk on the Carden card. I'm just too lazy to re-scan it right now. 

Greg, thanks for the nice boost to my set build!

My latest COMC order arrived yesterday. I'd planned to visit my mom in Connecticut but my daughter got sick on Thursday and still isnt feeling 100%. So I guess it was a good thing I was home to bring in the box. These six rookies were included in the 61-card shipment. Gordon was the most expensive at 70 cents while Peters was 65 cents. The rest cost 33-40 cents each.
The rest of my new football purchases. Nothing over a dollar here - Higgins was 85 cents, while the Za'Darius parallel was 75 cents and the Chargers sticker cost 52 cents. Mosaic parallels are pretty cheap on the site, and I was happy to snag a color-matching HOFer for 41 cents. Steve Smith doesn't color match but I'm not complaining about adding a blue parallel to my cart for 40 cents. The Rice base was 49 cents.

I started this set from fat packs I purchased on Blowout Cards for the pre-pandemic price of ... $5 each? Really?!? (This is why I note the price I paid for things in each blog post. Sometimes I don't believe it myself!)

They're now $39.95. Which is a shame because these fat packs came with a pack of exclusive Red White & Blue parallels. Plucking singles off COMC is better for my budget, but it's less fun. 
Also I have no idea why Blowout is charging $40 for these particular packs. Most Prizm sets have a 'hot rookie' to chase, and I get that. It's crazy what those newer boxes sell for but at least the ceiling of possible pulls are higher. This set's best rookie card is... Stefon Diggs? Jameis Winston? Amari Cooper? Probably Diggs - though I may be biased because I actually have that one. I also have the Tom Brady base card - which is the most expensive 2015 Prizm single on COMC.

2015 Panini Prizm

205/300 cards (68.3% complete)

key cards (needs in red)

#12 Tom Brady
#34 Walter Payton
#201 Amari Cooper RC

#218 Danielle Hunter RC
#221 Darren Waller RC
#228 DeVante Parker RC
#244 Jameis Winston RC
#264 Marcus Mariota RC

#285 Stefon Diggs RC
#288 Taylor Heinicke RC
#298 Tyler Lockett RC

This is the only football card set I'm currently building. I don't have every needed card number listed on my blog just yet - because I still need 96 singles - but you can check them out on my TCDB wantlist.

I have been working on upgrading some singles from 1986 and 1987 Topps. '86 in particular is a very condition-sensitive set. Some of my '87s are off-center, gum stained, and have black ink lines dripping on the white border. '86s have major centering issues, and a number of mine have fuzzy corners.

 Future Projects

If I decided to pursue another football set build it would probably be either 1990 Pro Set or 1985 Topps. I could be temped to buy back my childhood with a couple cheap boxes of Pro Set. '85 Topps is growing on me slightly, and it was the first football card set I ever saw. (I was five.) But that would be another very condition-sensitive set and I'm not sure my OCD could handle that, lol.

Are you working on any football card sets? What was your favorite football card set as a kid? Or now?

Thanks for reading!


Monday, March 14, 2022

How Can I Miss You (If You Won't Go Away)?

Baseball's hot stove league has caught fire, speeding through the second half of the off-season with plenty of trades and free agent signings. Everyone is thrilled that no games were missed, but earlier today I was reminded of what I don't miss about baseball: small-market teams willingly making themselves worse.

Without any real incentive to compete (and without a modern ballpark) the Oakland Athletics continue to do what they've been doing for over two decades: trade their top players for a basket o' prospects.

My local newspaper was very disappointed in this development:

They just sat there and watched, you guys. Matt Olson got traded to another team and the Yanks did nothing.

I'm wondering if the Boston Globe published a headline in their sports section like "Red Sox wanted player another team got" .. checking .. Nope, the Globe is paywalled but I can see they're honest about Boston's inactivity. Although, to be fair, they did sign a baseball card breaker for the bullpen.

In NFL news, just as I published a post mentioning Tom Brady as "recently retired" the M-Fer pulled a Brett Favre.

I swear he only did it because someone just spent 500k on his "last touchdown". Tom loves deflating balls. Or..

Okay, so.. I had to Google the word "baddie" because Office Girl wore a white sweatshirt with "baddie" written across the top and my mind immediately went to this:

Because I am old and uncool. It turns out that a "baddie" is .. a perfect word to describe that woman:

That pretty much ruined my week. Get out of my head!! At least I'll never see her again, unlike that fancy dog Tom Brady. And the Yankees. And... can you believe that the (second) leading scorer in the NBA is LeBron James?!? Not Giannis, not Luka, not any other 20-something star. Not even Steph Curry.

The man is already planning to play pro ball with his son.. and no one can stop him. I knew Alex Ovechkin was still dominating the NHL deep into his thirties, but this is ridiculous.

Ovi is about to pass Jaromir Jagr for third on the NHL's all-time goal-scoring list...


...have I mentioned Jagr is still an active player in his homeland - at age 50?!?

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, March 13, 2022

A Hall of Fame candidiate no one talks about

Here's another Hall of Fame topic I meant to discuss months ago when I first learned of this. It got pushed aside because I was busy or writing other things, until last night when I was doing some COMC challenges and a card of the player in question popped up. I'd planned to write about a basketball set build but I'm going to push that aside and discuss some players who should be enshrined in Canton - including one who will never be honored and whose candidacy is never discussed despite being a top-ten player at his position.

When I came across this player I was researching something on Pro Football Reference. Similar to Baseball Reference, they've got a way of calculating a player's chances at making the Hall of Fame based solely on their on-field accomplishments:

The Pro Football Reference Hall of Fame Monitor (HOFm) is a metric designed to estimate a player's chances of making the Pro Football Hall of Fame using AV, Pro Bowls, All-Pros, championships, and various stat milestones. A score of 100 is around the average modern-era inductee.

So let's start with quarterbacks. At the top of the list there's the recently-retired (are you effing kidding me?) Tom Brady, followed by Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas, and Joe Montana. Drew Brees is next, and he will certainly be enshrined in Canton as soon as he's eligible. John Elway, Dan Marino, and Fran Tarkenton are all certified legends and HOFers.

Unless you want to dispute the Canton case for Matt Ryan or Phillip Rivers, there's not much to argue with until you get below the 100-line, and in fact below the 90-line (Hall of Famers in bold):

I've mentioned Ken Anderson on this blog before. Once Eli gets in it will be hard to keep arguing that the Bengals signal-caller shouldn't be enshrined.

We're moving on to wide receivers now. Jerry Rice is unquestionably the greatest, followed by Randy Moss and Marvin Harrison. Is he really the third-greatest pass-catcher of all-time? Debatable. But he is undoubtedly a Hall of Famer. Larry Fitzgerald will join him when he's eligible, and Terrell Owens would have had his day much sooner if it weren't for his immature antics.

Four eligible receivers are right above or right below that "average inductee" score: Reggie Wayne, Torry Holt, Steve Smith, and Andre Johnson. All but Holt are recently eligible and will likely get greater consideration once the crowded ballot thins out a bit.

There's nothing significant keeping Torry Holt out of the Hall. He had a relatively short career and he was never the Rams' best offensive weapon. I'm not seeing any off-the-field issues in his bio, and I've never heard anything negative about Torry since his pro career began in 1999. I have to believe he'll get a bust in Canton someday soon.

Let's check out the running backs, shall we? (Sorry, I'm skipping tight ends.) Walter Payton tops the list, followed by Jim Brown and Barry Sanders. Makes sense to me. Emmitt Smith is the fourth-greatest rusher in NFL history, despite what his inflated yardage totals might tell you. Two of my favorites - LaDainian Tomlinson and Eric Dickerson - bookend a player who had a Hall of Fame career by all statistical measure and earned his gold jacket without any backlash whatsoever.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has no character clause. And it isn't possible to rescind enshrinement
once it is given. Which makes the story of one of O.J.'s contemporaries all the more fascinating to me. 

It's easy to compare statistics for the NFL's skill-position stars. It's a little harder - but still very possible - to compare the accomplishments of defensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs. Offensive linemen don't have many measurables: things like number of starts, Pro Bowls, and All-Pro teams apply to all players. The only stat I can think of that might separate great offensive linemen from good or average blockers would be sacks allowed. Luckily Pro Football Reference has that handy formula.

I'm going to start with the centers. Four of them are above that magical '100' line, and everyone over 90 is in Canton. In between HOFers Jim Langer and Mick Tinglehoff you'll find recent stars Maurkice Pouncey and Jeff Saturday. I'm not sure if one or both will get in. Saturday has been waiting a while, and Pouncey isn't yet eligible.

Taking a look at the guards you'll see eight players with a Hall Monitor score of over 100 - and all eight are Hall of Famers (but it sure took them forever to induct Jerry Kramer.) Every eligible guard with a score of 80 or higher is inducted, and Jahri Evans will be eligible next year. I'm surprised Steve Wisniewski isn't a Hall of Famer, I heard about him all the time when I was young, and he's a close comp of Oilers great Mike Munchak - who is enshrined.

This just proves that I don't know a whole lot about offensive linemen, and even less about blockers who played before 1990.

Finally, we'll tackle the tackles. Anthony Munoz is arguably the greatest Cincinnati Bengal of all-time, and statistically the greatest offensive tackle of all time. Forrest Gregg, Jim Parker, and Willie Roaf are next on the list. They've all got busts in Canton. Joe Thomas will join Jahri Evans on the 2023 ballot. Viking blockers Ron Yary and Gary Zimmerman are in, as are Bob Brown and Jonathan Ogden.

But wait.. who's that guy just below Zimmerman?

Jim Tyrer is the eighth-ranked tackle in NFL history, according to the Pro Football Reference formula. He's not in the Hall of Fame. For comparison, Tony Boselli was just elected to Canton and he's 17th on the list. Tyrer ranks higher than the average HOFer at his position. So.. why doesn't he have a bust?

1980.. the year I was born. No wonder I've never heard this story. Please, tell me more.

Oh. That's horrible.

This tragic act likely was a result of head trauma we now know as CTE. It may have been the first murder-suicide involving an NFL player but sadly, it would not be the last. Sigh... I hate that I love this game.


Friday, March 11, 2022

Opening day

By now you've all heard the news about the MLB lockout ending and a 162-game season set to start April 7. I was hoping to celebrate this by picking up some packs of 2022 Topps at my local Target but the trading card section is still stuck in the pandemic, covered in non-sports kid stuff. 

I'd considered asking the cashier if they kept any baseball (or football) cards at the customer service center.. but his register froze while ringing up the customer ahead of us. I was going to wander up to customer service when my daughter found these for me:

There was a small section of the trading card aisle that was barren, except for five fat packs of 2021-22 O-Pee-Chee and an open box of 2021-22 Upper Deck MVP. Flippers don't want this stuff, and I wouldn't either if there were any other options (like the new 2021-22 Upper Deck flagship perhaps?)

Beggars can't be choosers, amirite? This was the first time I'd been able to pick packs off the shelf since late 2019! I have no idea what they cost, or if anything decent could be found in these packs (no Wander Franco for sure) And to be honest, I don't have room in my hockey card boxes for new stuff. I'll have to be selective about what I keep, and add the rest to my TCDB tradelist. I'll worry about that later. It's opening time!

Pack one:

Meh. Nothing grabs me out of this pack. I just met a guy at work today who saw my New Jersey Devils jacket and said "I'm from just outside of Philadelphia. Can we still be friends?" I told him "Why not? Both our teams suck this season."

Pack two (or three in the scan):

Canucks hot pack. I'll probably keep the Pettersson and offer up the other two on TCDB. Getting a new Nico Hischier is nice. I'd still like to see some more production from the former #1 overall pick, but at least he's healthy. Foolish flippers missed out on a chance to pull this fantastic Jan Jenik RC! Ka-ching!

Now for the O-Pee-Chee pack:

Two Connors and a Crosby! This is actually the second time I pulled a retro parallel of Sid the Kid in a single fat pack. A few weeks ago I went walking at the "pond" park down the street. The pond was frozen and a group of guys were playing hockey. I watched them for a few minutes and stepped away far enough to take a couple pictures.

Pond hockey might be a common sight where you live but I'd never seen a game in my area. From far away it looked like one of the guys was wearing a Pat LaFontaine Islanders jersey. I couldn't think of anyone else with a navy blue #16. Then I got closer.

Sasha Barkov? In this area? Cool!

By the time I was ready to leave the park a police officer had parked her car on the walking path and calmly told the boys that they couldn't play hockey here. I couldn't blame her; at one point the puck slid away from the thicker ice in the background toward the thin ice in the foreground. The guy retrieved it safely, but it was close to falling in water. And if the ice started to crack under his weight...

Anyway, back to the pack:

Decent selection here. The Talbot is my fave, I love that Wild jersey in North Stars colors. Bernier was signed by the Devils in July but is still pictured as a Red Wing because Upper Deck is way behind on updating their checklist. Flagship Series 1 wasn't released until March and somehow they still couldn't manage to fit any Seattle Kraken cards in the set. Also, David Krejci retired from the NHL and is playing in his native Czech Republic this season. And Jordan Staal looks to be playing in front of maybe 500 people. Can we move the Hurricanes to a market that will actually support them - like, I dunno... Hartford? 😜

Best of the rest. I liked Braden Holtby in Washington; he's now a backup in Dallas. I did get a Kraken player (if not a Kraken card) in Ryan Donato. Joe Shlabotnik has made nearly an entire team set in far less time than it takes for Upper Deck to produce one packed-out Kraken card. Jason Spezza is closing in on 1,000 career points. And by "closing in on" I mean "crawling toward". Aaron Ekblad is having a career year; if he played for a media darling like Detroit or New York he'd be the front-runner for the Norris trophy. 

I had planned to visit my mom in Connecticut tomorrow but since I said those plans out loud there is a bomb cyclone expected to hit the northeast. Which means I'll have to postpone my visit at least another week. It also means I'll have time for another post this weekend. Stay tuned for that.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!