Thursday, September 21, 2017

Be Prepared (to Miss the Card Show)

The semi-annual card show in my valley will be held this weekend, but I won't be attending.  As a Boy Scout leader in our community, I'll be taking the boys on an overnight merit badge encampment on Friday night.  I should be there all day on Saturday, wiping out any chance I may have to attend the card show.  Luckily I've had this campout marked on my calendar for a few months and I knew this was going to happen.  The Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared" and I'll be the leader and example setter here.  Knowing that I would miss the card show, I sought out another opportunity to pick up a stack of cards on the cheap.

Labor Day in my wife's hometown means Onion Days, the the annual town celebration.  I suppose Onion Days is my hometown celebration, too, since my family has attended the festivities every year since I was born.  My true hometown is too small to have much by way of annual celebration.  Years of attending the parade, carnival, and vendor booths at Onion Days has taught me that I can rely on one particular vendor being at the park: Tom, a older gentleman who used to own a card shop.  Tom is a regular vendor at the card show, too, so I'm familiar with his wares.  When Labor Day rolled around, I came prepared to pick up some new cardboard goodies from the park because I knew I would miss the upcoming show.  Tom's booth usually features complete sets from the 90s, usually priced to sell.  I had my sites set on a set or two.  Even though they were marked "Buy One, Get One Free," I had to pass.  The sets that I had enough cash for didn't interest me all that much, and the sets I did want, I couldn't buy at the time. 

So I dug through his dime box instead.  I don't know if I got there late or what, but the pickings seemed a little sparse.  He had everything divided by sport, put in penny sleeves, and tossed into big boxes about 8 inches deep.  There couldn't have been more than 150 cards in each box, though, despite the size.  It was pretty easy to root through everything he had for 10 cents.  Ultimately, I chose 50, and that will have to suffice as my card show haul.

Throughout this post, I've been taking you through a selection of these cards chronologically, starting with that 1977 Minnie.  Oh yeah, and it's OPC.  Will I take that for a dime?  Yes, I will.  We followed that up with some early 80s NFL stars.  For a Hall of Fame lineman who played in my lifetime, Dierdorf is wholly underrepresented in my collection.  I'll try to remedy that.  We'll skip ahead to the early 90s, represented here by players whose heydays never really overlapped.  Dickerson was a star of the 80s, Sharpe was an early 90s rising star who fell victim to injury, and Bagwell picked up about the time Sharpe left off.  The mid-90s are represented by bright color and gold foil, not to mention three Hall of Fame players.

Shiny is the name of the game at the the end of the 90s.  It spills over a little into the 2000s, but I don't know how to generalize those years.  I suppose part of it is because I don't have as much familiarity with those years.

What's this?  Are we going backwards in time now?  No, it's just the beginning of retro-looking cards that happened in the mid-2000s.  The trend continues today, with A&G and Panini Classics. 

Finally, we have 3 fully modern card designs from the past couple of years.

I may be missing the card show this weekend, but my Boy Scout training taught me to plan ahead, so I was still able to hit up one of the vendors who will most likely be there on Saturday.  Stay tuned next dime as I count down my Top 10 dime box pickups from Labor Day.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

My First Football Set of 2017

I haven't been too active collecting football this year, mostly because of tight financial circumstances and partly because I've not had too many current sets calling out to me.  I have decided to put together the Prestige set again this year, so almost everything I have from 2017 is Prestige.  I used some Target gift cards to pick up 8 fat packs for a total out-of-pocket cost of $15.  No, I haven't completed the set yet--I'm still about 50% complete--but here are a few of the highlights of my pulls so far.  The configuration for each pack is 30 cards, with 4 inserts, 4 rookies, 2 Xtra Points parallels, and 22 veteran base cards.  I'll the 4 best veterans and the rookies and inserts from each pack.

Pack 1

The base design is simple and clean.  I like the borderless photo and the unobtrusive banner on the bottom.  I don't love the color scheme of the team color and white for each card; I'd like to see primary and secondary team colors on the banner.  For the rookies, I think Panini played to its biggest strength, ie. licenses for both NFL and NCAA.  I like the full college picture with the drafting team's logo.  The Xtra Points parallels are xtra shiny, and mine are red because they are Target exclusive.  WalMart has its own blue parallels.

I like the look of the Alma Maters insert, but the checklist wasn't too enticing for me.  Good players, to be sure, but overall I didn't care to collect the set.  I also like Banner Season insert, but I ultimately chose to chase the Phenomenal Athletes set.  It was an economical decision, really, as I ended up with one in every pack and therefore am closer to finishing it than the Banner Season.

Pack 2

I only intended to show 4 base cards per pack, but this was quite the pack for veteran base stars.  For me, personally, this was a great pack in general.  Two Packer base cards, new addition Martellus Bennett as a parallel, and an insert of Green Bay draft pick Malachi Dupre (since cut).  Throw in three of the hottest rookie cards available in Fournette, Cook, and Kizer, a Phenomenal Athlete to go to my set build, and a Banner Season of Kellen Winslow that will go in my All 1980s collection, and I love this pack. 

Pack 3

My best base cards in this pack were some good pass catchers, although three of them are often injured.  Tyreek Hill is one of the most exciting players in the game, and this is my first card of him since the sets I collected last year didn't include his rookie.  I can see Hill and Peppers being solid players.  The highlight in this pack is two Heisman winners for my parallels, both from Auburn.  What are the odds?  Both of these cards fit nicely with my Heisman collection.  From the inserts, I pulled another Phenomenal Athletes card.  The NFL Passport inserts make their yearly appearance, and DeShaun Watson is about the best player I could hope to pull.  However, the design doesn't do much for me.  The font is way too small and there is too much dead space.  I'm not a fan.  I'm also not a fan of the Hardwear set.  It's in Prestige every year as well, and I don't understand it.  The checklist is never great (seriously, why is Jeremy Langford representing the Bears after losing his job to Jordan Howard last year), it's always horizontal, and why produce a card called Hardwear without any memorabilia?  I know there is a helmet relic version of this set, but without the helmet, it doesn't make sense.

Pack 4

Interesting veteran base cards here.  The counterparts of the infamous Manning-Rivers 2004 draft trade appear side-by-side.  Now that their careers are starting to wind down, it's hard to say there was a definite winner.  Both quarterbacks have been solid in their careers.  Both have been turnover machines at times.  I think that Rivers is the better of the two, but Eli has two Super Bowl Rings.  Could the Giants have won those two Super Bowls with Rivers?  I don't know, but I'm sure they don't regret making the trade.  I kind of doubt that the Chargers regret it, either.  Then we have the Packers' two new tight ends in Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks.  It's interesting to me that Panini chose to Photoshop the Bennett card, but the not the Kendricks.  The rookies and Xtra Points are ho-hum, but I like the inserts.  Another Banner Season card that fits into a mini-collection, a Fournette insert that I will hang onto, a Connections insert featuring a Heisman player for my collection, and one card closer to completing the Phenomenal Athletes set.

I'll wrap up this post for now.  You'll get to see the rest of my Target Gift Card Prestige Haul later.  Thanks for reading!


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Football is Here!

I love baseball.  I really do.  I check scores and boxscores daily and my family gets tired of me dragging them to minor league games in the summer.  I follow the blogs and collect baseball cards in the summer.  But my passion is football.  Now that the NFL season officially starts tonight, I need to break my back-to-school induced blog hibernation for some football card celebration.

This year I got tired of playing in public fantasy leagues that fizzled out before season's end, so I got a group of my colleagues together at school, hoping that we could keep each other on track.  We had our draft last week, and I have to say it was the strangest draft I've ever been a part of.  First of all, I drafted second, which hate.  I had to wait 21 picks between my own picks and I just watched players that I was targeting fly off the board.  Second, there was little to no "conventional" draft strategy, so the mock drafts I did to test out my rankings and ensure the players I wanted would be available turned out to be useless.  For example, there was a run on quarterbacks in the 4th round, so much so that after I picked second in the 3rd round, by the time my next turn rolled around, I was the only team without a quarterback.  Eleven quarterbacks gone before pick #45.  I'm not very pleased with my roster, but we'll see how the season shakes out.  Here is my 2017 fantasy football team, the Myopic Chihuahuas.

QB: Andrew Luck

Yes, I figured he would be out for Week 1.  But I didn't have much choice at QB by the time I selected one.  I tried to pick up a Andy Dalton as a stopgap backup, but he went to the team right in front of me.  So I ended up with Tyrod Taylor for the time being.  What hadn't been released at the time of our draft last week was that Luck could miss multiple games.  At any rate, I drafted him to be my starter and all I can do now is hope that he returns soon and stays healthy.

RB: Le'Veon Bell and Doug Martin

Drafting #2, I was fortunate enough to land a player like Bell.  I'm anticipating a big year for him.  Martin is suspended for the first three games, but I drafted him to be my RB2 in the 9th round, so I think I got some good value for him.  While the rest of my league was stocking up on QBs in the early rounds, I was filling out my roster with other players, and I picked up Kareem Hunt to fill in while Martin is out.  I don't own a Hunt card that I can show yet, though.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins, T.Y. Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders

Receiver turned out to be the strength of my roster.  All the time I was waiting to pick, quarterback and running backs were disappearing from the board.  Some of the second tier running backs are guys that I don't trust, so I passed on them when I had almost back-to-back picks in Rounds 2 and 3. I opted for Hopkins and Hilton in those slots instead.  I picked up Sanders in Round 5 (after Hunt in the 4th), and then added Brandon Marshall later.  I took a flyer on rookie Corey Davis in the late rounds, and I think he could step up and have a big year.  I'm happy with my receiving corps.

TE: Tyler Eifert

I'm excited for Eifert.  I'll think he'll have a big year and be one of those tight ends who produces week in and week out.  I usually get frustrated with the position, but this year I think I have a player who I can just plug in and not worry about.

Defense: Cincinnati

Going back to the Bengals here, but not for long.  I selected Cincinnati because I thought they had the best Week 1 matchup of all available defenses.  I usually stream my defenses week-to-week, so who knows who will fill this slot by season's end.

K: Steven Hauschka

My kicker is Steven Hauschka, who is usually pretty reliable.  Except he's no longer a Seahawk; he calls Buffalo home now.  I don't stream my kickers as much because I usually don't find enough point difference between available kickers for me spend my time trying to prognosticate who will end up with one more extra point than the other guy.  I just hope Hauschka works out for me.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills
Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs
James White, RB, Patriots
Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots
Corey Davis, WR, Titans
Brandon Marshall, WR, Giants

I'm not super happy with my team, but I should be okay.  Right now, I'm projected to make the playoffs, but just barely. That unexpected early run on quarterbacks may really hurt me unless I can pull off a trade.  At least I'm not my boss, who joined our league and drafted a team projected to finish 1-13.  Ouch.  Let the fun begin!