Friday, February 23, 2018

2007 Topps Football

The parade through complete sets purchased with Christmas money continues.  Next up is the 2007 Topps football set.  This one came in the factory box, but had been opened.  All the cards were there.  It's got the same design as the baseball and basketball sets that year.  The silver text doesn't scan well, so I apologize.

Let's get the best super glue card of the set out of the way first.  How about the guy on the sidelines with the football glued to his face?  By his dress he appears to be an official, and I'm sure that had to affect his ability to see the game and make good calls.  Or possibly the ball is glued to the ear of the security guy, but it's hard to tell for sure.  Meanwhile on the field, Lendale White mimes catching a football.

Cards in the set like Mike Williams and Warrick Dunn look really sharp because they have black in their teams' uniform color scheme.  Williams looks especially sharp in the silver and black which matches the silver text and black border perfectly.  I wish the scan reflected that better.

My first experience with black bordered cards was 1986 Topps baseball.  I thought then that black borders showed corner dings a lot more, so I didn't like them.  I had seen some 1971 Topps baseball and those older cards proved my point.  But now that cards are made out of an indestructible plastic/cardboard hybrid, that's no longer an issue.  Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning were the most recent Super Bowl winning quarterbacks that year.  That's a great photo of Big Ben.

Any of you who are experienced ebayers know that you need to be regular and patient.  When you are, sometimes things slip through the cracks, and there you are waiting for the catch.  That's what happened with this set.  I picked it up for $1.75.  Here are two of football's best running backs in the late 2000's, Adrian Peterson and LaDainian Tomlinson. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Odd Man Out

Something had to give to make room for J.D. Martinez on the Red Sox 40-man roster.  Unfortunately, what gave was Bryce Brentz.  He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash.  Brentz was one of my favorite minor league players.  He had been in the Red Sox farm system since 2010, mainly at AAA Pawtucket since the end of  2012.  He got two cracks at the big leagues, but didn't stick.  All three of the current Red Sox starting outfielders are younger than he is, and all three started in the minors after he did and passed him up.

After an incredible performance with the U.S. national team in 2009, Brentz was drafted in the first round by the Boston Red Sox in 2010.  He played the whole season for the Low A Lowell Spinners.  His stats were unspectacular.

In 2011, Brentz starting moving up the charts.  He played about the first two-thirds of the season for the A-level Greenville Drive, then got promoted to the High A Salem Red Sox.  He combined for 30 home runs, 94 runs batted in, and had a .306/.365/.574 slash line.  Although he didn't crack the Top 20 Red Sox Prospects list, he was footnoted as a "prospect of note."

In 2012, Brentz was on the move again.  He played most of the season at AA with the Portland Sea Dogs.  At the end of the season, he was promoted to AAA Pawtucket.  He combined for 17 home runs, 76 runs batted in, and had a .290/.349/.465 slash line.  He was ranked the Red Sox #9 top prospect.

In 2013, Brentz played most of the season at AAA Pawtucket.  He hit 19 home runs, but his other stats were down slightly; 64 RBIs, .262/.313/.487.  He was ranked the Red Sox #7 top prospect.  This is the year fellow outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. passed him.  Teammates for most of the season, JBJ was called up to Boston and Brentz was not.

In 2014, Brentz played almost the whole season in AAA Pawtucket again.  He did get a September call-up to Boston and got into seven games.  He stats were down across the board; twelve home runs, 53 RBIs, .227/.326/.430.  His Red Sox top prospect ranking fell to #16.  This was the year Mookie Betts passed him.  Fellow outfielders for the first half of the season, Betts was called up to Boston in late June and Brentz was not.

In 2015, Brentz's number declined yet again, and he spent the whole season in AAA Pawtucket.  His slash line was .232/.308/.382 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs.  That year Brentz became too old to be ranked as a prospect any more.

In 2016, Brentz spent time at three different levels; twelve games with AA Portland, 54 games with AAA Pawtucket, and 25 games in the bigs with Boston.  It was his longest big league stint.  This is the year Andrew Benintendi passed him.  Benintendi leapt directly from AA to Boston, overlapping Brentz's time on the major league roster for eight days.  That's when Brentz was moved back down to Pawtucket and Benintendi stayed.

In 2017, Brentz got his mojo back.  He played all year in Pawtucket.  He cranked 31 home runs, had 85 RBIs, and his slash line improved to .271/.334/.529.  Plus, he won the AAA home run derby.

Goodbye, Bryce Brentz.  I hope you get major league opportunities with the Pirates that you weren't going to get in Boston.  Best of luck!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The New Red Sox Guy Is Lacking

In my card collection, that is.

The Boston Red Sox and J.D. Martinez finally came to terms the other day. Today I looked through my Astros, Tigers, and Diamondbacks cards to see what kind of PC I had of him. It's pretty sparse. I only have four. That's right, 1...2...3...4.  And they're all from Topps flagship sets, so nothing too special.

So where will Mr. Martinez and his big bat fit into the Red Sox lineup? He's been an outfielder his whole career so far. But the Sox are loaded in the outfield with Betts, Bradley, and Benintendi. Designated hitter sounds like the most likely place for him.  That will push out Hanley Ramirez, who's talking that he's ready for an All-Star caliber season.  To keep Ramirez's bat in the lineup, he could play first base (his shoulders are supposed to be better now).  But that in turn pushes out newly resigned Mitch Moreland, the current first baseman.

New manager Joey Cora said a couple of days ago that players don't play 162 games any more these days.  I think what he meant is that the Red Sox players should expect more games off this season than before.  With all these bats to fit into the batting order, that sounds like a good idea.  If everybody gets significant games off over the season, that presents lots of defensive shifting, but keeps everyone's bat fresh.  When Ramirez is off, Moreland can play first.  When Martinez is off, Ramirez can DH and Moreland can play first.  When Betts, Benintendi or Bradley are off, Martinez can switch to outfield, Ramirez can DH, and Moreland can play first.  There's no doubt that Moreland and Ramirez will be most affected by the presence of Martinez.  They'll likely platoon at first and pinch hit for each other depending on which paw the opposing pitcher is later in games.

As for the deal itself, it's kind of a mixed blessing. If you're the Red Sox what's the best outcome? Do you want Martinez to play incredible ball, putting up video game stats for two years, then opting to leave for a bigger contract elsewhere? Or do you want him not to put up good numbers so that there is no better money after two years and he sticks around?  Or is there a third possibility, that he plays out of this world for two years, then the Red Sox renegotiate the contract?  I hope that's what happens.

I can't wait to get my hands on some of his first Red Sox cards! I'm hoping it's not too late to get him into the Bowman and Finest Refractors sets. (Maybe even Topps Series 2)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Score Takes Over

With Topps out of the football picture in 2016, I had to pick another brand. The choices were Donruss, Panini, and Score, and I went with Score.  Score had been doing football cards for a while already. They were my #2.  After completing the Topps Steelers team set, I'd look to Score to see if they had any additional players. And they almost always did.

Here's a look at the 2016 Score set which I got last month.  They're much more colorful and cheerful than 2015 Topps, which to me is a good thing.

Another thing I like is the way the rookie cards are done. They are mostly game photos from their college teams, instead of random shots from their early pro practices. Carson Wentz here played crazy good for North Dakota State.  We have enough transplanted North Dakotans here in South Dakota that we heard about his college successes a lot, especially when they were at the expense of South Dakota State.

Score has a lot more defensive players in its set. I like how the colors change to match the team in the card.

Here's this year's Super Bowl MVP with his previous team. And here's Peyton Manning's final flagship card from his playing days.  Score only shows the stats from the previous season, so that's not cool.

In my post on the 2015 set I forgot to mention that it was hand colated and missing a card.  It was missing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of the Packers, and there's nothing funny at all about that. It's now on my want list.

There were a couple good candidates for best super glue shot, but I'm going with this one.  A drop each on the pinkie and ring finger gets you this.  He looks like he's showing someone and motioning what do I do?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Norway Rules

My favorite events in the Olympics tonight were the Super G and skeleton.  Both had nice story lines and endings, but no Americans were in contention.  I can't believe the winter games juggernaut that Norway has put together.  I guess it makes sense since the whole country is snow capped mountains.  I went to college with over a hundred Norwegians.  In the two years preceding the 1994 Lillehammer games, they all regularly wore Lillehammer '94 shirts.  I think someone or another was wearing one every day.  I've yet to meet an American fan group as passionate about their team as the Norwegians were about their Olympic team!

Once figure skating started I thought I'd get a quick post in showing off another set I received last month.  This one is the 2015 Topps flagship set, the last one that Topps did.  I was kind of sad about that.  Topps had a very long continuous run of football cards.

Antonio Brown is one of my favorite couple of players.  I really think he had a chance to be the first wide receiver league MVP this year, had he not missed the last three games of the season.

Topps didn't display the entire career stats on the back of the cards this year, only the past two seasons.  I'd much prefer, especially for guys like the Manning brothers, to have the whole career laid out to soak in.

Here are a couple of defensive studs.  J.J. Watt was just becoming the best in the league at this time.  Polamalu was sunsetting a hall of fame (I hope) career.  I wish I had a nickel for every different pronunciation I heard of his last name, especially early in his career.

I can't think of any team off the top of my head that had consecutive hall of fame quarterbacks for healthy lengths of time each.  But that's my prediction for the Packers and Favre-Rodgers.
Drew Brees is 1400 passing yards from taking over 2nd all-time from Favre.  And he's only 1500 yards from becoming the all-time leader over Peyton Manning.  He should do that after 6-7 games next season.  Not bad for a guy whose first couple of years in San Diego weren't exactly superb statistically.  Tom Brady is next, 4000 yards behind him.  That's one season at the rate these guys go.  But Brees is a year and half younger than Brady, so should he stay healthy, I think Brees won't be caught by Brady.  There's nobody else on the horizon who's on pace.

And finally, here's the best super glue shot in the set.  It probably took a couple drops to stick the point of the ball to his neck like this.  Look ma, no hands!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Winter Olympian in 2006 Topps Football

I've been watching the prime time coverage of the Winter Olympics in Korea every night. Pretty much if it's not figure skating, I like to watch it. I just can't get into figure skating, even though it dominates the TV time.

Here's a trivia question for you. Which former Winter Olympian went on to play in the National Football League (albeit pre-season only)?  Here's the answer.

Unfortunately, the scan doesn't make the answer clear. It's Jeremy Bloom, moguls skier in the 2006 Games in Torino, and kick and punt returner for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007.  Bloom was an incredible athlete. He won gold, silver, and bronze medals in skiing world championships.  And he's in the skiing hall of fame. Look him up sometime here on Wikipedia.  I was (still am I guess) a Colorado Buffaloes fan and remember he made a lot of big yardage plays in college.

This Bloom card is from the 2006 Topps flagship set.  I got this set really cheap on eBay last month. Some of the recently elected football Hall of Fame class are in the set.

Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher
As a Steelers fan, I wasn't a fan of Lewis at all, but I had tremendous respect for him. He would have made a great Steeler.
My favorite Urlacher memory is the time Jerome Bettis and he collided head on in the snow. Bettis knocked him over backwards and scored the touchdown.  Here it is.

Randy Moss and Terrell Owens
When Moss's name was announced, it reminded me I have an eTopps card I've never claimed. I logged into the eTopps site to make sure it was still in their vault after over 10 years, and it is. I don't know if I'll ever have it sent to me because the shipping is four times what it's worth.
Remember Drew Rosenhaus giving the press conference at the end of TO's driveway while TO did a workout in his lawn?  "Next question!"

Peyton Manning and Brett Favre
One's a hall of famer and the other will be in his first year of eligibility.  I was watching the Tennessee game Manning's freshman year when he made his first appearance.  I was sitting in a hotel room in Bloomington, MN.  It was like the third or fourth game of the year.  The 1st and 2nd string quarterbacks (one was future Colorado Rocky Todd Helton) were either hurt and/or underperforming, so in came Peyton.  And the rest is history.

As I was doing this blog, Shaun White won the Olympic gold medal in the halfpipe.  Now that was high drama entertainment!  And then they went to figure skating...

Friday, February 9, 2018

I Now Know ARP

The blog post title "Want a Stack of Cards from Your Favorite Team?" got my attention.  The thing was, I was reading it a couple of days after it was posted.  Still, I clicked in.  Adam of ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession fame had recently purchased a large collection and was giving away team lots to make room for sorting.  Much to my surprise the Red Sox were not spoken for yet.  So I made my claim.  The box arrived last week and felt like a brick, packed corner to corner to corner with cards.  Here's a picture of the stack.

That big card is a 1998 Zenith Jumbo of Nomar Garciaparra.  There were some chips with Red Sox players on them, as you can see on the top.  The Red Sox cup was not in the package.  It's just something I often have filled with a beverage and sitting next to me.  As for the big stack in the middle, here's just a sample of what was in there.

The three best players in Red Sox history were each represented.  Probably my favorite card of the whole package is the 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites of Carl Yastrzemski.  Made in the likeness of his original rookie card, it now has a special place in my Yaz PC.

Nomar Garciaparra had the most cards in the lot, including plenty of 90's bling.  Here are my favorite 9.  As mainly a flagship set collector back then, I didn't have any of these yet in my Red Sox collection.

There were also a bunch of Roger Clemens cards.  I especially like the 1986 O-Pee-Chee.  I have almost no O-Pee-Chee cards in my collection.  This is the era of Roger that I like to remember.

Manny Ramirez probably had the second most cards in the stack.  Again, nothing here that I had yet!

Boston's best two pitchers from the magical 2004 season also had some cards.

And of course good old Wade Boggs was there.  Most of his were oddball cards that I didn't have yet.  The only non-Red Sox card in the package was the 1993 O-Pee-Chee Yankees card in the upper right.  He's in a Red Sox uniform though, so I didn't catch it until it was already scanned.  Good thing my new years collecting resolution wasn't "no Yankees in any blog posts"!

Jim Rice was one of the best players from my childhood.  I didn't have very many of the oddballs that were included.  The Jason Varitek 2000 Pacific Prizm in the lower right is as shiny as they come.

And here are a couple of guys who only showed up once, but are Red Sox favorites of mine from years long gone.

Thanks so much, Adam!  I'm glad I could "help".

Oh, by the way, the Mariners, Indians, and Marlins are still not claimed!