Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Spooky Additions, Courtesy of the Database

I've been sitting on this trade for a while now, waiting to do a Halloween post.  Way back in the summer, or maybe even the spring, I completed a TCDB trade with user herkojerko.  This was my second trade with him, and in my dealings with him, I have found him not to be a jerko at all.  Sorry, that one was awful.

He hooked me up with some oddballs from a set that I have decided to collect, one that has fascinated me for almost 25 years.

These oddballs come from 1994--The Coca-Cola Monsters of the Gridiron.  I remembered these coming one per 12-pack of Coke products when I was a kid.  I thought they were kind of cool, and I actually collected quite a few of them back then.  I'm not entirely sure how; my mom is most decidedly a Pepsi gal and I don't recall ever having much Coke in the house.  Maybe it was Sprite we bought?  I don't know.

But the cards came out around Halloween-time for a couple of years.  Each team was represented by one player who was put into a costume and given a photo shoot.  The player names were sometimes based on actual player nicknames (like John "Jumbo" Elliott) or was a player name base pun (Shane Conlan "The Barbarian").  Some made sense with the player's skillset (Randall "Rocket Man" Cunningham), and some I have no idea (why is Sean Jones "Ghost"?).

Some more of these cards came my way in a trade with jlcre, another TCDB user.  As 1994 was the first year for the expansion Panthers and Jaguars, they got a simple cartoon to represent them.  You can see from this scan that some photos are better than others.  Steve Atwater and Eric Swann look pretty good, but what is that thing on Hardy Nickerson's card?

I only need a few more cards for the set.
Emmitt Smith
Pat Swilling
Marshall Faulk
Reynaldo Turnbull
Junior Seau
Tom Rathman

I saw that Kerry from Cards on Cards had a couple of those in his goodwill pickup trade stash.  Kerry, if you're reading this, expect an email shortly about some of the football goodies you have for trade.  That would leave me with really just the big names remaining.

Happy Halloween, everyone!  I'll end my post with my Halloween-winning costume today:

A proud papa moment happened when my son asked, "Is that a baseball card?  I thought it was just something you were putting on your head, but then I saw it said 'Topps.'"  Raising 'em up right!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Crewniverse Contest Winnings

It's high time I posted this mail day, now that it's almost a month late.  At the end of September, I watched the Cubs slowly collapse and the Brewers turn on the jets and tie everything up on the final day of the season.  October 1st became Game 163 to decide the National League Central title.  The game came on just after my final class for the day, so I turned on the TV in my classroom to watch the game while I graded papers.  It was crushing to watch the Cubbies fall at home to the Crew and drop to the Wild Card after boasting the best record in the NL just two days earlier.

I had been expecting a package from noted Brewers fan Matt Prigge, from the Summer of '74 blog because I put out an almost miraculous guess of how many Brewers cards in his "Crewniverse" collection.  When I got home, I found that very package in my mailbox.  Frankly, I was a little nervous that I was going to open up the envelope and find a bunch of Matt's Brewers doubles greeting me.  That would have been pretty awful timing.  Luckily, Matt had sent me some random goodness that helped ease the pain.

Here are some serial-numbered football cards.  Two of them (McCown and Henry) are numbered below 100, and the McCown even goes as low as 25.  I wasn't expecting anything like that.

Some football inserts from recent years.  I like what Panini has done with Playoff since it revived the name a couple of years ago, and these inserts look pretty nice.  The highlight is the Rookie Roundup of James Conner who has been pretty big this season in Le'Veon Bell's absence.

How about some mid-to-late 90s shiny Bowman's Best?  These are pretty cool cards that I just don't have many of.  Drew Bledsoe was one of my under the radar favorites back in the day.

Of course, a package coming from Wisconsin to a Packers fan will probably contain some Green and Gold.  The highlights are two Brett Favres that I've never seen before.  One is an oddball, and the other is an ODDball.  I love the all character in the Pro Line card.  And look, another serial number!  Eddie Lacy may have fizzled out in Green Bay, but he is still one of my favorites to collect.

Here are some pretty cool cards.  These are both Promos from SAGE.  I don't think I ever would have seen these cards before, and they happen to fit perfectly in my collection.  I collect Heisman winners, and it's always a bonus for those cards to feature the player in their college uniform.  I know, Reggie Bush technically is no longer a Heisman winner, but come on.  The guy won the Heisman.  We all know he did.  They can take the trophy away, but in my binder, the 2005 page will still show the guy who actually won.  Really, though, it's kind of a shame that things shook out the way they did because another kid (Vince Young) really had a pretty good claim to the trophy that year, too.

Let's end the football portion with some Hall of Famers.  The top left card is one of those trippy Time Warp inserts from Collector's Edge in the 90s.  I have several of these, but this is the first one featuring two HOFers: Ronnie Lott chasing down Gale Sayers.  Dan Fouts makes another serial number.  The gem here is the Buck Buchanan all the way from 1968.  Yes, my friends, Matt sent me a 50-year-old card of a Hall of Fame defender.  And the condition isn't too bad, either. I've definitely seen worse.

We're getting to the highlights now.  When I saw this card in the package, the back was facing me.  I saw the gold of the Padres and I my thought was that it was a Gold parallel Topps card.  I didn't imagine that it would be an actual Anthony Rizzo rookie card!  That is sweet.  That alone could have been the prize, but there was more.

Ta-da!  A Tom Selleck Mr. Baseball insert from 1992 Upper Deck . . . with an auto.  At first I wasn't sure if an autographed version of this was inserted into packs back in the day.  As it turns out, this is either an IP or TTM auto of Mr. Selleck.  I'd be interested in hearing from Matt the provenance of this card.  How did you get it, Matt?  Either way, I'm stoked about it because it had only been a week or two earlier when I sat with my dad and watched a western (Monte Walsh) starring Mr. Selleck and I remarked to my wife how awesome I thought the guy was.  And then this shows up!  It was the best part of a great package for me.

When all was said and done, it was truly deflating to watch the Cubs go down in Game 163.  This package came just at the right time to ease the pain a little.  It was like the Brewers giving back to this disappointed Cubs fan, in a way, since this package came because of a Brew Crew centered contest.  Thanks a ton, Matt.  It was well-appreciated and very generous.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Franchise 9: Atlanta Falcons

Next up in our Franchise 9 are the Atlanta Falcons.  They fit my Super Bowl criterion perfectly because they came into the NFL as an expansion team in 1966, which just so happened to be the year of the first AFL/NFL Championship Game.  This list reflects the entire history of the franchise.  Throughout most of its history, though, Atlanta has muddled through mediocrity.  They had some good teams in the 90s, and have had quite a bit of success in recent years.  They looked like they had their first Super Bowl victory in hand a few years ago, but then watched it slip away in the second half.  The upshot of recent success is that this is the first team I've done to have more than one current player already considered one of the team's all-time greatest.  A third is just recently retired.  This list may have some of the more recent players on it, but don't expect to see a ton of household names.  This franchise just doesn't have a whole lot of those in its history.

1. Matt Ryan, QB (2013 Topps Strata)

Quite simply, he’s the best QB the Falcons have ever had.  He’s had the helm of the offense for over a decade now, and he’s performed remarkably well.  He’s the franchise leader in pretty much all passing categories.  And he’s the only Falcon to ever win an MVP.  Whether he will go to Canton is to be determined, but he is bar-none the best field general Atlanta has ever seen.

2. William Andrews, RB (1983 Topps)

In the 80s, the Falcons actually had two solid running backs in Gerald Riggs and William Andrews.  At the end of the decade, they were sitting 1-2 as the franchise’s career rushing leaders.  To this day, they are still #1 (Riggs) and #3 (Andrews).  For this team, Andrews gets the nod because of his added value as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.  Andrews’s receiving yards almost doubles Riggs’s, and Andrews added 11 TDs through the air.  As an all-around back, Andrews made four Pro Bowls and gets the nod for this team.

3. Julio Jones, WR (2016 Score Franchise)

In just 100 career games, Jones has moved into 2nd place on the team’s receiving yardage list.  In those 100 games, he’s averaged an eye-popping 96 yards per game.  He’s found paydirt 43 times.  In short, Julio Jones has been nigh unstoppable throughout his career.  And he has yet to turn 30.  He’ll probably be productive for a few more years to come.

4. Roddy White, WR (2012 Absolute)

Only White ranks ahead of Jones on the Falcons’ receiving ranks.  His 808 catches, 10,863 yards, and 63 touchdowns are all Falcon records.  He was a four-time Pro Bowler and one-time All Pro.  The Falcons took him with a 1st round pick in 2005; he spent 11 years in the NFL, all with the Falcons.   I think the investment was worthwhile. 

5. Mike Kenn, T (1992 Score)

Mike Kenn spent 17 years in the NFL and missed only seven games.  In those 17 seasons protecting his QB’s blindside at left tackle, Kenn was one of the best in the game.  From 1980-1984, Kenn was named to five consecutive Pro Bowls and received All Pro honors in 1980.  In 1991, at the age of 35, Kenn received his second All Pro nomination.  Though it seems his career has been largely forgotten, Pro Football Reference lists Hall of Famers like Jackie Slater, Art Shell, and Ron Yary as having comparable careers.

6. Claude Humphrey, DE (1978 Topps)
In 1968, the fledgling Falcons began their third season by selecting Claude Humphrey with the third overall pick in the draft.  He won Defensive Rookie of the Year and proceeded to make the Pro Bowl in six of the next eight years after that.  No Falcon has ever spent more time in the opponents’ backfield.  Unofficially, he had 94.5 sacks for Atlanta, and that would be the franchise record.  It took a while, but Humphrey entered the Hall of Fame in 2014.

7. Tommy Nobis, LB (1973 Topps)

Two years before Humphrey joined the team, the expansion Falcons made Tommy Nobis the first pick in the draft—and in franchise history.  Like Humphrey, Nobis got right to work.  He was named to the Pro Bowl as rookie and 1st-Team All Pro the following year.  Nobis anchored the defense from his middle linebacker position for 11 years, and retired as a career Falcon.  Heck, he even earned the nickname “Mr. Falcon” and had his number 60 retired by the team before his election to the Hall of Fame.
8. Jessie Tuggle, LB (1993 Upper Deck)

Like Nobis, Jessie Tuggle spent his entire career quarterbacking the defense in Atlanta.  Tuggle was true Georgia, too, having been born and raised in the state and then spending his entire playing career with the hometown team.  In 14 years, he racked up almost 1700 solo tackles, including a five-year span (1988-1992) in which he averaged 194 solo stops per season.  Amazingly, he was only named to one Pro Bowl during that span.  It was the first of five career Pro Bowls for Tuggle.  He never received much recognition, but he was Atlanta’s most consistent performer during the 90s.

9. Deion Sanders, CB (1992 Upper Deck)
Deion is quite simply one of the best corners to ever play.  He’s the very model of a shutdown corner, with speed to burn and a knack for big plays.  Though he only spent the first 5 years of his career in Atlanta, that was all he needed to establish himself among the best.  For the Falcons, Deion picked off 24 passes and took three of them to the house.  He also returned kicks and punts for the Falcons, leading the league in kickoff return yardage in 1992 and scoring on 5 kicks.  Prime Time was always exciting whenever he was on the field.

The Falcons Franchise 9 were a tough team to put together.  There have been some good players in team history who excelled for a short time.  Guys like Mike Vick, Andre Rison, or Tony Gonzalez were incredible in the time they played, but they just didn’t play long enough in Atlanta to pass some of these players on this list.  Other players, like Bill Fralic or Jeff Van Note, mirrored some of the players on this list who were solid, but never stars.  I feel less certain about this team than others.  I’m open to feedback, especially if anybody considers themselves a knowledgeable Dirty Birds fan.  Any disagreements out there?  Let me know!