Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pigskin & Pucks

A delivery from North of the Border recently signaled the influx of new football and hockey cards to my collection. Fellow Buffalo Bills fan, Douglas of Buck Store Cards, hooked me up with a heaping pile of 2015 cards featuring players from our favorite NFL team.  Additionally, a hearty serving of New York Rangers cards!  Between Douglas and Shane's generous contributions of late, my hockey collection is taking shape in a hurry!

But, let's begin with the football cards from my Canadian pal.

I couldn't even tell you the last time I purchased a pack of football cards.  Back when I was 11 and 12 years old, I was obsessed with them.  Nowadays, I'm not very impressed with the output from Topps. Way, way too much photoshopping and the designs are generally uninspired, in my opinion.

However, a Bills card is still a Bills card.  Thus, I'm anxious to receive them and subsequently catalog them into the on-the-verge-of-being-overloaded Buffalo Bills binder.

I will give Topps credit for trying a lil' something different with this year's design.  I'm much more open to base card experimentation when it comes to football than I am with baseball.  Therefore, I'm all for the lack of white border on these cards.

And even though he's no longer a Bill, I still have to admire Fred Jackson's horizontal beauty.

Here's a sampling of some of the other '15 Topps base cards that I got from Douglas.  The Harvin is the best photo of the lot, despite that fact that it's a photoshop job.  Not a fan of the image they used of Sammy in his card, on the other hand.

Panini, meanwhile, has managed to split the uprights, so to speak, with their '15 Prestige offering.  Boy are these handsome!  How fantastic is this card of Sammy?!

A very classy design is complimented by solid photography and appropriately framed images.  They also employ some digital air-brushing, but have managed to do a much better, neater job than Topps somehow. A couple of random Panini cards from the past couple years (slots 8 and 9) complete this page.

Call me crazy, or feel free to disagree, but Panini is crushing Topps with the look and quality of their football products.

Okay, onto the pucks.  After all, the regular season drops next week!

Ya gotta start things off with a card of King Henrik.  Nice to see Upper Deck upkeepingn the SPx brand.

I think Kreids is primed for a breakout campaign this year.  One of the fastest skaters in the league and a guy who is a real star on the power play.

Rick Nash wearing the alternate home jersey in this Panini Contenders card.  Nasher is coming off a tremendous 2014-15 campaign in terms of goal scoring.  Although, he tapered off dramatically over the season's final month and once again (unfortunately) was conspicuously quiet in the playoffs.

Like your favorite hits FM radio station, this page features a great assortment of '80, '90s and today.  I especially dig the Nemchinov Donruss card in the top left.

Thanks a million for keeping me in mind, Douglas!  Really enjoyed all these great cards!

May our Bills keep on winning!  And may the hockey season be frosty and full of Rangers (and Leafs) victories!


Friday, September 25, 2015

Honor thy Heritage

Certainly, I'm a fan of Topps Heritage cards.  No secret about that (at least if you've ever stumbled upon my ramblings previously).  I officially caught that bug back in 2012 and have been on-board ever since.

But, another Heritage rendition mustn't go unnoticed or under-discussed.  And that is Bowman Heritage.  This brand was around during my 'dark years' or, if you'd like, the years when I wasn't collecting.  Thus, many/most of these cards were M.I.A. from my collection--specifically my Mets collection.

Helping to remedy this situation is--you guessed it--my buddy Shane from Shoebox Legends.  The most recent PWE from my Rhode Island compatriot was chock full of Bowman Heritage base cards.  And I couldn't have been happier about that!

First up, 2004 Bowman Heritage.  These are the ones that pay homage to the original '55 Bowman cards.  You know, the horizontal cards that take on the appearance of an old television set.  Therefore, these are frickin' awesome!

Above, you see Cliff Floyd.  Uncle Cliffy had 18 homers in each of his first two seasons as a Met (2003 & '04) before blowing up with a 34-homer campaign in '05.  Cliff was a good Met, for sure.

Mike Cameron patrolled center field in Flushing for all of 2004 and then took a back seat when New York acquired Carlos Beltran prior to the 2005 campaign.  He was dealt to the Padres in exchange for Xavier Nady following the '05 season.

The key piece in the infamous Scott Kazmir-to-Tampa trade.  Then-pitching coach Rick Peterson (in)famously claimed in could iron out Zambrano's flaws in "10 minutes."  It's been a long 10 minutes.

In December of 2005, the Mets sent a pair of minor leaguers to the Marlins in exchange for veteran catcher Paul Lo Duca.  One of those minor leaguers was a guy named Gaby Hernandez.  And, while Hernandez never made it to The Show, his baseball career has been a long and colorful one.  In addition to countless minor league outposts, Gaby has played internationally in Australia and was last on the roster of the 2015 Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League.

Yusmeiro Petit was originally signed by the Mets as an amateur out of Venezuela in 2001 and was later included in the trade that netted the Amazins Carlos Delgado.  Though he's just a footnote in Mets history, he's carved out a nice big league career that includes a well-earned World Series ring with the Giants in 2014.

Also included in this latest shipment from Shane were foursome of Bowman Heritage cards from 2007.

And what a foursome!

Before his name became synonymous with spinal stenosis and prolonged trips to the disabled list, David Wright was a commodity hotter than a griddle sitting in the Georgia sun on an August afternoon.  Do you remember those days?  I'll put DW's numbers from 2005-2008 against any modern day ball player.

By the way, 2007 Bowman Heritage pays tribute to 1952 Bowman cards (I think I've got that right, anyhow). Nice-looking cards, really.  Hi, Pedro!

Are there still Mets fans out there who begrudge Carlos Beltran?  I don't get it.  I love the guy and think he's right up there in the pantheon of greatest Mets of all-time.  He heard a good amount of boos from the Citi Field faithful in last weekend's Subway Series against the Yanks.  Again, I don't get it.

In three starts during the 2006 postseason, John Maine posted a 1-0 record with an ERA of 2.63.  He didn't necessarily go deep into any of his starts, but he managed 13 Ks in just 13.2 innings for the Mets.  Boy oh boy, if only the '06 Mets had a stronger rotation.

Okay, great, great, GREAT cards, all.  Love Bowman Heritage!

But, let's move on to the final two cards of the envelope.  These are neither Heritage nor Mets.  But, both are still sick-good.

Yes, it has O'Henry's butt front and center, but I dare you to find me a better, more exciting base card of Vlad Guerrero than this one from '98 Stadium Club.  What a photo!

Finally, a little taste of the NHL since, ya know, preseason hockey is already upon us!

I heard of this Lundqvist guy.  Pretty good player, even better hair.  Let's Go Rangers!

Another grand slam effort, Shane!  One of your best PWEs yet...and that's tough to do since they all kick major arse!  Thanks again, m'man!


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Keepin' On

My infrequent blogging of late has coincided with the fact that I haven't busted any new packs or been to any local card shows in nearly two months.  I don't know which has effected the other more; I guess it's a chicken or the egg type of thing.  Regardless, my blogging slump continues and it's not getting any better with the arrival of football season.

But, I'm not giving up.  And helping the cause to keep me engaged are the consistent envelopes I receive from Shane at Shoebox Legends.  Lately he's mixed in a good helping of vintage Mets to fill some glaring holes in my team checklist.

Exhibit A: see above scan.  This, of course, is a beautiful '68 Tug McGraw.  It's his third stand-alone Topps card and certainly one of his best.

From the same set...

This is Danny Frisella's rookie.  In six years with the Mets, Frisella won 24 games and saved 24, crafting a 3.08 ERA along the way.

Here is yet another example of the greatness of '71 Topps.  Out of the box, head down, hard charging.  Grote was always known as a gritty defensive catcher, so it's cool to see a baserunning photo of the long-time Met.

While not truly a "vintage" card, this Koosman is every bit as good.  This one hails from TCMA's 1987 tribute set to baseball's greatest teams, which of course includes the 1969 Miracle Mets.  My favorite aspect of this card? Gotta be the shadow.

In addition to the old-school scores, a few Mets from the Chrome age...

As annoying as black-bordered cards can be sometimes--specifically in terms of keeping the corners and edges looking pristine--nothing looks better than black-bordered chrome cards.  I love the chromes and especially the chrome refractors from 2007.  Blue refractors from '07?  Oh baby, don't get me started!

A pair of not-ready-for-primetime prospects...

A former fourth-round pick out of Stanford, Ratliff never ascended higher than Double-A Binghamton.  He only played four seasons of pro ball, but during one of those seasons (2010) he cracked 21 homers over 130 games.

Havens was another high draft choice that didn't pan out.  He was snagged with the 22nd overall pick in 2008 out of the University of South Carolina.  After bouncing between the lower rungs of the organization for his first five years, Havens finally made it as high as Triple-A Las Vegas in 2013.  However, at age 27, Havens retired soon thereafter after battling a series of injuries.

Okay, now to the non-Mets portion of the post.  Shane always hits a home run in this area.

For instance...

This sweet "Long Ball Leaders" insert from 1995 Donruss.  The scan makes it look somewhat drab, but trust me it's an absolute sparkler in real time.

And... New Vlads!

The Vlad counter is now up to 360 thanks to this sharp-looking pair.  The '97 Stadium Club is a personal favorite since that is one of my all-time favorite sets.

Last but not least, another super entry into my embryonic hockey collection.

Oh man, this is so good.  Stadium Club Finest?  When premium brands collide!  Awesome card of one of my childhood heroes.  Do hockey cards get much better than this??

Shane, you're a magician when it comes to crafting these PWEs.  Really enjoyed this one from top to bottom. Looking forward to the next round already!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Patches and Pucks

So, my buddy Shane from Shoebox Legends has been steadily sending me good vibrations from Rhode Island for some time now.  You know this if you've ever seen my blog or his.  We've got this pretty solid Mets-Red Sox exchange going on.

But, Shane ventured outside the box with the most recent delivery to Delaware.  Rather than the standard PWE I've become accustomed to, it was a padded mailer!

There were a couple of reasons for the deviation.  Number one, there were a few patch cards in varying thickness from various brands.  For instance, the really cool 2001 Topps HD jersey card of Grant Roberts you see up top.

A plain white swatch of jersey on this 2014 Panini/Donruss "Game Gear" card.  Yes the patch isn't exactly exciting, but the overall design of the card really saves the whole production.

God only knows what the thinking was behind these "Rookie Innovation" cards from '03 UD Patch Collection. This thing is as thick as a stack of credit cards.  It is unique, I'll give it that.

A framed buyback mini from this year's Ginter.  I like the idea of the framed mini.  It lessens the mayhem that results from trying to store or display a card that is way smaller than a standard baseball card.  Plus, the frames are always so interesting.

Not a Met, no, but it's a Vlad for my collection!  A beautiful card, numbered to 100.  Very shiny with a very sharp red jersey swatch.  I like this one a lot!

Aside from the jersey/patch cards, there was some of the usual--and terrific--fare that is standard for a shipment from Shane.

A couple of standard-sized buybacks from 2015 Ginter.  Topps really let the A&G brand run wild with all the 10th anniversary chotchkies.  Whether it's buybacks or limited-run 10th Anniversary cards or autos or minis or framed minis... You name it, they got it.  If you're a Ginter guy or gal, you have to be thrilled with this year's output, I would assume.

One of the best and busiest cards from 1971 Topps -- a must!  I didn't realize how much I wanted this card til I got a chance to admire it in person.  This is certainly a treasured addition to my vintage Mets collection.

Another neat Vlad insert, this one from 2001 Fleer Futures.  My 357th unique card of the future HOFer.

Well, as the title of this post suggests, there were patches AND pucks in this latest envelope from Shane. Pucks, as in hockey cards, of course.  I've never been much of a hockey card guy, but as I've mentioned on the blog before, I'm on board with gathering up cards of my New York Rangers.

And Shane unloaded a big stack of NYR cards on me!  There were dozens included, but I picked just a handful of my favorites to highlight...

Gartner was my favorite Ranger as a kid.  I was really bummed when he was dealt at the deadline of the '93-94 season.

The Beezer!  He was the Blueshirts' primary goalie when I first began following hockey.

Everyone loves Messier--and rightly so--but I was an Adam Graves guy.  I still am.  Probably my favorite Rangers player of all-time.  He was the heart and soul of the team.

Of course, I always get goosebumps when I watch my Mark Messier DVD.  The guy is a freakin' legend, what more can you say?

This was back when half the league wasn't from Russia or a former Soviet satellite.

Great horizontal action shot of Henrik redirecting a shot to the corner boards.

Along with Nemchinov, Karpovtsev and Zubov, Alex became the first Russian player to have his name on the Stanley Cup when the Rangers won it in 1994.

Boy I hated him when he was a Penguin. And oh how I loved him when he put on the red, white and blue!

Another legendary Ranger, Mike Richter.  One of the greatest American goalies ever.

Lots of Rangers fans were heartbroken when Callahan was swapped for Martin St. Louis a couple seasons ago. He was our captain and, like Graves, a real heart and soul guy.

You could ask a hundred people about Sean Avery, and perhaps one or two might have something nice or positive to say about him.  Another guy, like Ulfie, who you love when he's on your side.

And to finish up, a vintage card of Walt Tkaczuk!  One of the great Rangers of all-time.  In fourteen seasons on Broadway, Walt collected 678 points--7th in team annals.  A great looking card!!  Totally digging the plain brick wall background.

As always, Shane, thanks for going above and beyond with the card selections.  Of course the great assortment of Mets, but certainly the hockey cards, too.  I mean, you more than doubled my NY Rangers collection in one fell swoop!