Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Hitting Some Collection Targets

I have never sat down and made out official collecting goals for myself. As the weeks of a year pass by, however, I find myself leaning into certain targets that become quasi-goals for me. Putting all of my for sale/trade cards on TCDB. Making sure that every trade or purchase I make includes at least one card for a set-build. Polishing off Set X. These are just a few unofficial goals I've noticed myself pushing toward in recent years. At the beginning of this year, I had no clear target for the year. But now we're a quarter into this year, I think I've discovered my latent collecting goal for 2022.

I have several main facets of my collection that I've approached as projects. For example, I collect NFL All-Decade Team players. I will always add cards of these players to my collection. Same with baseball All-Star MVPs and Rookies of the Year. Even though these collections will never be complete because I will always add them, there is a project component, as well. I want to have a full page (double-bagged, 18 cards) of each one of these players in a binder. The project side will be completed when my binder is full. Well, this year I noticed that I'm getting really close to finishing these binders. I need a pair of Walter Paytons, or one single Don Schwall, or a few Troy Polamalus to wrap up the page. My All-1990s football binder is done. I need fewer than 50 each for my 1980s, 2000s, Rookie of the Year, or All-Star MVPs to have full binders. Without even making the conscious decision, I started targeting the end of these projects this year.
My most recent Sportslot order helped me fill some gaps.

This trio of Hall of Fame cardboard goes toward the NFL All-1980s team. As it stands right now, I need two more Paytons and three more Lamberts to finish their respective pages.

Seven cards from a pair of All-2000s defenders helps out that project. Joey Porter is best remembered for his sack dance, and card companies apparently wanted to make sure of that.

My Heisman project is a little smaller, but the same thing applies. For modern winners (post-1975ish), I have almost what I need. These all brought me a little closer to completion.

Former BYU players have become the major focal point of my collecting over the last three years, but I have no projects here. Just accumulation. I didn't plan to pick up two parallel versions of each card here; it just turned out that way.


 Likewise, my goal to collect every unique Brad Sorensen I can find continues.

Last year I created a new project for myself, to collect at least one card of every player who was ever an MLB All-Star. I haven't really focused on this one, but it is really easy to knock off a few cards here or there, and I did so in this order.

Even though my goals are less about sets this year than in the past couple of years, that doesn't mean I'm not working on them. Last year I picked up a lot of 2010 Topps 206 and decided to finish the last cards needed for the set. This isn't my favorite set. The lack of headgear on most of the players feels odd to me, as does the apocalyptic horizon background for some of them. The strangest background here is Clayton Kershaw. Is that Downton Abbey or Pemberley behind him there?

The retired legends look more at home on this set than the modern players. The older the better.

Another set featuring art and legends that I'm building is the 2020 Diamond Kings All-Time Diamond Kings insert set. I'm not just six cards shy of this one.

In keeping with the legends theme, 1997 Upper Deck Legends is another set build I'm working on. After this order, I'm missing six from this set, too.

I'm hoping by year's end, I'll have every spot filled in at least two more of my collection binders. Right now, it looks like my MLB ROY and ASG MVP binders are the closest, but finishing the All-1980s NFL team would be nice, too. I've already unintentionally focused my attention on those binders, so I'll make it intentional now and chip away at it more.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Card Madness 2022: Pt. 7 (The Elite Eight Round)

It's the quarterfinal round. We have eight teams still alive for the Bump and Run Card Madness title. After this post, we will know the 2022 Final Four. Here is the progress of our bracket up to this point.

Round 3: Los Angeles Rams vs. Buffalo Bills

1997 Finest #306 Orlando Pace vs. 2019 Absolute Green #9 Tre'Davious White

I like the 2019 Absolute design with football laces on the side. You can't see it in the scan, but the green foil looks pretty good in-hand. Tre'Davious White has been a shut-down corner for the Bills for a few years now. But none of that matches up with a stunning late-90s Finest card featuring a rare #1 overall draft pick that went on to a dominant, Hall of Fame career. Even the back of the Finest is better, with a good picture of Pace and some interesting tidbits.

Winner: Rams

Round 3: Minnesota Vikings vs. Cleveland Browns

1999 Upper Deck HoloGrFX #31 Randy Moss vs. 2019 Donruss #69 David Njoku

It's crazy to think that this Randy Moss is not an insert. No, it's the base set of Upper Deck's short-lived HoloGrFX line. It's pretty cool set, and I have already completed it along with one of the insert sets it included. It beats 2019 Donruss. Moss beats Njoku too. Minnesota advances.

Winner: Vikings

Round 3: Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks

2019 Prizm #276 Calvin Johnson vs. 2017 Absolute #83 Doug Baldwin

Once again, we have a matchup of a better player on a better-looking card advancing easily. I actually really like 2017 Absolute and it's shiny, colored background. It's unique to me. But on this particular Prizm card, Megatron looks like he's about to pop off the card.

Winner: Lions

Round 3: Washington Commanders vs. Philadelphia Eagles

2016 Donruss #47 Josh Norman vs. 1997 Upper Deck #152 Charlie Garner

I like the team color borders on 2016 Donruss, but not much else. I like the the foil square on 1997 Upper Deck, the full-bleed photography, and the well-put-together backs with a large photo, stats, a write-up, and season highlights. The picture on this particular Upper Deck card is pretty great. Charlie Garner is busting through a whole you could drive a truck through. Nothing against Ted Washington, but I think his being pancaked in the background is a nice detail. This card just works.

Winner: Eagles

So there we have it, our Final Four:
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Detroit Lions
  • Philadelphia Eagles
If this weren't based on cards, these teams wouldn't approach my top four. But they've had the right stuff in the card face-offs so far. We'll see which of these Cinderellas can outlast the rest.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Card Madness 2022: Pt. 6 (Down to Eight)

Halfway through our Sweet 16 round, we're going to finish the round today to find our Elite 8 NFL teams by cards in my collection.

Here is the current bracket:

Round 2: Detroit Lions vs. Miami Dolphins

2016 Donruss Production Line Hits #7 Ezekial Ansah vs. 1992 Ultra #223 Vestee Jackson


I like 1992 Ultra primarily because of the bright, crisp photography in the set. However, this card is not a great example of either of those traits. The photo of Ziggy Ansah sacking Carson Palmer is a great shot, on the other hand.  Ansah had a better overall career than Jackson, too. We have a winner.

Winner: Lions

Round 2: Chicago Bears vs. Seattle Seahawks

2016 Panini Prestige #223 Jordan Howard vs. 1995 SP #196 Rick Mirer


I love how apparently college the stadium in the Jordan Howard card is. A brick wall and greenery is classic. I can't pinpoint the stadium, though. Is anybody more familiar with Big 10 stadiums who can recognize it. As much as I like that photo, it's up against an all-time beautiful set design in 1995 SP. Both of these players had good rookie seasons--Howard was a Pro Bowler and Mirer won Rookie of they Year--but didn't fully live up to that promise in subsequent years. In this battle, SP is the deciding factor.

Winner: Seahawks

Round 2: Carolina Panthers vs. Washington Commanders

2019 Donruss #47 Curtis Samuel vs. 1992 Score #536 John Riggins


This one is a pretty simple decision for me. John Riggins > Curtis Samuel. 1992 Score subset design  > 2019 Donruss. 

Winner: Commanders

Round 2: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Houston Texans

1989 Topps #189 Terry Hoage vs. 2013 Panini Prizm #29 Arian Foster


This one is definitely more difficult than the previous one. Based on the player, Foster had a much better career than Hoage. Foster had an All-Pro season, but Hoage only started 65 games in his career. I was surprised to learn that despite multiple seasons without a start, Hoage managed to stick around in the NFL for 13 years. A bonus here: the most recent year of stats (1988) on Hoage's card records his 8 interceptions on the year. That's a lot of picks! What's interesting is that he never started a game. He was a nickel/dime back in the days when they wouldn't have been on the field all the time. The Foster photo is more interesting, but I've really grown to love 1989 Topps football over the years. In a close matchup . . .

Winner: Eagles

We're headed to the quarterfinals with eight teams still in the hunt. This weekend will reveal the Final Four in the college hoops tourney, but we'll wait until Monday to find out our Final Four semifinal matchups in Card Madness.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Card Madness 2022: Pt. 5 (The Sweet Sixteen Kickoff)

Now that the first round is done, we are down to the Sweet 16 NFL teams. Half of the teams are already gone; who will survive to move on to the quarterfinals? Let's have a quick reminder of where we stand before we move start this round.

Round 2: Los Angeles Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts

2013 Panini Prizm Decade Dominance #10 Eric Dickerson vs. 2008 Upper Deck #82 Reggie Wayne


This is a matchup between two great offensive players. Eric Dickerson is in the Hall of Fame. Reggie Wayne should be (and probably will be someday). Dickerson has the edge, though, because he was a bigger superstar than Wayne in their respective playing days. As I've mentioned in one of the earlier matchups, I like the clean design and excellent photography on 2008 Upper Deck, but Decade Dominance is an insert set that I love. I think it's a great concept. I like the write-ups on the back. And it is pulled off well. Overall, the Rams take this matchup.
Winner: Rams

Round 2: Buffalo Bills vs. Denver Broncos


1991 Pro Set #52 Thurman Thomas vs. 2016 Donruss #86 C.J. Anderson


Two running backs from two different eras, but one is far greater than the other. Player-wise, Thurman Thomas crushes Anderson. Card-wise, I like 1991 Pro Set's look with the no-border, double-color banner at the bottom. 2016 Donruss is play on an old Donruss set that I can't stand--the red, paint-spattered script of 1990 Donruss baseball. With the team color borders, the 2016 iteration is a marked improvement. Both cards feature the running back carrying the ball, but I like the how the Thomas card shows a pack of Giants chasing hopelessly. Thomas loses a point because it highlights a Super Bowl that his team actually lost, but gains the point back because it shows a photograph and a blurb about a specific play.
Winner: Bills

Round 2: Minnesota Vikings vs. New York Giants


1989 Pro Set #561 Herschel Walker vs. 2019 Donruss #183 Alec Ogletree


This one is intriguing. At first glance, I would say the Giants win on the strength of an outstanding picture of a defender celebrating in the end zone with the ball. Did he score, or run to end zone after coming up with a turnover? (He did not score in this game against the Titans, but he did come away with one pick.) However, a closer examination of these two cards tilts back toward the Vikings. Herschel Walker was a quality player. But that's not why this card is interesting. It's the "Trade" banner that draws attention to quite possibly the most important trade in NFL history: the 1989 Dallas fleecing of Minnesota, acquiring 8 draft picks and some players from the Vikings for Walker. The draft picks were used to launch the Cowboys dynasty of the 1990s. And here is a card commemorating the deal from the Vikings side. They lost the trade, but they won this matchup of two good cards.


Winner: Vikings


Round 2: San Francisco 49ers vs. Cleveland Browns


1998 UD Choice #459 Ty Detmer vs. 1984 Topps #58 Ozzie Newsome


Last round, the Browns got past the Steelers on the strength of a Ty Detmer card. This time they face-off against his representation of the 49ers. Detmer is a strong card; 1998 UD Choice (no longer Collector's Choice) has a bright design, but it's not by favorite of the brand. I enjoy the three trivia questions on the backs, though. Newsome is a good challenger, however. 1984 Topps has a bright, bold design of its own, especially considering its era and its predecessors. Both cards have unusual photos--training camp for Detmer and a bench for Newsome--that make them interesting. Going by looks alone, this is about a draw. I love Ty Detmer, but I can't claim he is as legendary as Ozzie Newsome. Detmer goes down to great Newsome card this time around.

Winner: Browns

That gets us through half of the Elite 8. Tomorrow we'll finish this round and narrow the field down to eight.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Playoff Time

It's an off-day for the tournament, so we'll take a break from our Card Madness on this blog. Thanks to all those who have been reading and commenting. It's fun to see which cards other people would choose if they were in charge of the madness.

Basketball may be in the forefront of everybody's minds, and Spring Training is finally underway, but I have more football for today. In past couple of weeks, I've come across some 2021 Playoff football retail. I picked up a hanger box and a fat pack.

The base design is so-so. There is a lot space taken out by the border, leaving a smallish picture. These are base cards from the hanger box. I have to say that the Green and Gold looks good on these cards.

Each team has a legend in the checklist. It's weird to me that Philip Rivers was active last year for one team, but has already sneaked in as the Chargers' legend.

The hanger box came with nine Goal Line parallels. In my particular box, I pulled three base vets, three legends, and three rookies. I don't know if that's always the distribution, but it was nice and even for me.

The hanger box also came with six rookies. College backfield mates Javonte Williams and Michael Carter are the headliners here.

When I got around to scanning the fat pack, I didn't divide up the vets, legends, and rookies. I just had them in order of card number when I scanned, so that is the order you see.

Luckily, there weren't a ton of dupes, although I have decided not to try to build this set. I already completed one set for this season, and this one doesn't interest me enough to keep buying more.

As you can see, the rookies come at the end of the checklist. The fat pack yielded five rookies. A Jet is the best rookie pull here, but it's not the one I was hoping for.

The parallel you can find in the fat packs is Kickoff. Just so we're clear: hanger=Goal Line, fat pack=Kickoff. There isn't much difference between the two.

The base set is okay. The parallels are inane. Where 2021 Playoff really shines, however, is the inserts. Literally, these are shiny inserts! And I like every single one that I pulled. I decided to chase the Thunder & Lightning set. I would be more interested in the Behind the Numbers set if the back had blurbs that actually went behind the numbers, but it just talks about statistical milestones. Still, DeMarcus Ware fits nicely into my collection.

These three cards go back to the hanger box. I love the Rookie Wave and will chase it, too. This particular Thunder & Lightning with the incomparable duo of Montana and Rice is beautiful in-hand. Tutu Atwell is a purple parallel. It's pretty, but I'm not interested in a parallel, so it is on my tradelist.

The major takeaway is that every insert was shiny and beautiful. I liked all of them that I pulled and have a pair of insert sets to chase from this release.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Card Madness 2022: Pt. 4 (The Sweet Sixteen is Set)

Today is the last day of the first round. When we finish today, 16 teams will remain in the quest for the Bump and Run football card title. Let's recap the first round results up to this point:

Round 1: Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1997 Pinnacle Zenith #9 Kerry Collins vs. 2016 Score Reflections Gold #20 Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans

This is interesting. We have a late-90s premium brand pitted against a parallel of an insert. I like the black and gold color scheme of Zenith. I don't like the busy mishmash of the Reflections set. Two pictures in one box and two names in separate boxes make it difficult to put a name to face on this card. Why is Mike Evans's name bigger, but Vincent Jackson's picture bigger? Collectively, Evans and Jackson probably outweigh Collins as a player, but I like the overall card of Collins much more.

Winner: Panthers

Round 1: Washington Commanders vs. Las Vegas Raiders

1990 Pro Set #660 Jeff Bostic vs. 1995 Collector's Choice #258 Raghib Ismail

For the record, this is first usage of the name "Washington Commanders" on this blog.  I don't hate the new name, but the uniforms sure seem unimaginative to me. But I digress. Back to this apparent maritime battle between the Navy and some pirates. Neither player had standout careers, but Rocket Ismail had some star power and name recognition. 1990 Pro Set is a classic design that I know is popular, but I don't know if I like it more than 1995 Collector's Choice. The font and the back with a full action photo, along with the gleam of the sun off Ismail's helmet make strong arguments for the Raiders. The major point in favor of the Commanders is the photo of a center with his hand on the ball pre-snap. I'll pick those cards up any time. It's made even better as he is caught mid-yell, calling out protection signals. It's one of my favorite photos. When I go to the back, I learn that Bostic was one of the league's smallest offensive linemen. That hits home for me because I was the smallest starting offensive lineman in my region in high school. If I didn't have either card in my collection, I would be seeking them out--Bostic because there just aren't enough cards like this and Ismail because I would need it for the set. This has been so evenly matched that I've had to dive deep into my decision here, but in the end. . . 

Winner: Commanders

Round 1: Baltimore Ravens vs. Philadelphia Eagles

1996 Upper Deck #63 Leroy Hoard vs. 1998 Upper Deck Black Diamond #64 Ty Detmer

Unlike the last matchup, the winner of this one is clear. While I love the football texture on the left side of 1996 Upper Deck, my favorite feature of the set isn't even on this card. Many cards from this set had a game date on the front and the blurb on the back described the game portrayed in the photo, but not Hoard. I also don't like that this particular Ravens card shows the team as the Browns. I know, they didn't have any photos of the actual Ravens at that time, but I don't like the cards of the transition. Moving on to the other card, I love the look of Black Diamond. And it's Ty Detmer, for the second time this round.

Winner: Eagles

Round 1: Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs

2016 Prestige Stars of the NFL #21 J.J. Watt vs. 1990 Score #24 Kevin Ross

Hey, it's the old Dallas Texans against the new Houston Texans! This is another easy winner. J.J. Watt is a better player than Kevin Ross. This Stars of the NFL set may not be the best, but it beats 1990 Score. The photography and colors on the Watt card are better too.

Winner: Texans

So there we have our Sweet 16 NFL teams. Next week we'll continue the madness and whittle it down to eight.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Card Madness 2022: Pt. 3 (Almost Through the 1st Round)

As of right now, we have completed half of the matchups in Round 1. One quarter of the NFL teams have been eliminated, while one quarter have moved one step closer to card glory and immortality. Today we have eight more teams who will learn their first round fate. Here is our bracket as it currently stands:

Round 1: Detroit Lions vs. Cincinnati Bengals

2019 Absolute #137 T.J. Hockenson vs. 1990 Score #32 Leon White

This matchup is fairly easy for me. It's a card design that I liked versus my least favorite of 1990. T.J. Hockenson was first-round pick who has started almost as many games in the first three seasons of his career as Leon White did in his entire eight-year career. Hockensen already has one Pro Bowl under his belt, but his best season did come in with a lower Approximate Value rating than White's best. White does have the advantage of being a BYU player, but his time at BYU was a little too early for me to remember and he didn't have a standout NFL career for me to latch onto, so I don't have quite the same love for him as I do other former Cougs. But just looking at the two cards side by side, I have decided.

Winner: Lions

Round 1: Miami Dolphins vs. New Orleans Saints

2013 Bowman #109 Brian Hartline vs. 2019 Panini Prizm #185 Jared Cook

Look past the shine and there are some similarities between these two cards. First, you have the photograph of a player looking back to make the grab of a ball at about the left shoulder. Both have a picture inside of a border made up of different angles. The Prizm design is interesting to me because of the circles that make it look like somebody scuffed up the metal surface with a grinder (I saw those marks a lot when I worked my way through college at a metal shop). I think I prefer the white border and team colors on the Bowman design. On the back, each card of this Bowman set has a blurb comparing the featured player to another player, past or present. I've always liked reading those. Interstingly, the players were drafted a round apart in 2009, but Jared Cook went on to a much more distinguished career than Brian Hartline. My first inclination was to take Cook over Hartline, but I think the design and the back of the Bowman is just enough to lift Miami to the upset win here.

Winner: Dolphins

Round 1: Chicago Bears vs. Tennessee Titans

2002 Playoff Honors #17 Brian Urlacher vs. 1993 Fleer #60 Al Smith

These are two card designs that I like. They're both simple, but well-done. I like the elegant look of 2002 Playoff Honors and the bold last name only on 1993 Fleer. Both players are middle linebackers, but obviously Urlacher trumps Al Smith.

Winner: Bears

Round 1: Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals

2016 Absolute Xtreme Team #5 Richard Sherman vs. 2014 Panini Prizm #33 Kurt Warner

Here we have two Hall of Fame players going toe-to-toe. Warner is already there and Sherman is almost certain to join him someday. If the card sets and players were reversed, this would be really easy for me. As it is, I really like the Xtreme Team insert, but I've never cared for Richard Sherman. On the other hand, I'm not too enthralled with 2014 Prizm, but I've always been a big Kurt Warner fan. In the end, if I had to choose just one of these cards to add to my collection, the overall effect of Sherman outweighs Warner.

Winner: Seahawks

Just one more day to go and we'll have our Sweet 16 set!

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Card Madness: Part 2 (Round 1.2)

My own March Madness tournament started yesterday, pitting cards from NFL teams against each other to determine this year's football card champion. Four teams advanced yesterday and four teams went home. Let's pit eight more teams against each other in four more matchups today.

Here's our current bracket:

Round 1: New England Patriots vs. Minnesota Vikings

2012 Topps Gold #171 Vince Wilfork vs. 1977 Topps #105 Jim Marshall

We'll start the day's entertainment with a battle between two dominant defensive linemen of their day. I would say the card design on both is above average. The gold version of 2012 is less attractive to me than the base white border, but it is also serial-numbered (467/2012, in this case). On the other hand, the team name in some kind of pennant or banner was standard Topps issue in the 1970s. Neither card has an outstanding photo to distinguish it from the other. In end, this is a solid match-up of pretty good cards, but vintage of a Hall of Fame player will push Minnesota to the victory.
Winner: Vikings

Round 1: New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers 

 1991 Topps #19 Carl Banks vs. 1991 Topps #452 Tony Bennett 

Like the previous matchup, this a clash of similar cards. In this case, card design is a perfect wash because the random card generator selected two cards of 1991 Topps. The football edition resembles the baseball edition, but just doesn't quite ring the same. Here we have a couple of pretty good outside linebackers to choose from. However, Carl Banks was the better player and he has a great photo on his card. Tony Bennett has a pretty good photo himself--looking like he is getting ready to pin his ears back and get after the quarterback--and gets a little bonus point for teaching me there is a place called Alligator, Mississippi on the card back, but Banks is the superior card. My Packers go down in the first round.

Winner: Giants

Round 1: New York Jets vs. San Francsico 49ers

1995 Classic NFL Experience #73 vs. 2018 Panini Playoff #295 Fred Warner

Ooh, here's another great defensive battle. Ronnie Lott's resume speaks for itself. Fred Warner has been an elite All-Pro linebacker for the past few years. Both have 49er allegiances. 2018 Playoff has a cleaner and bolder design. I'm not a fan of the white stripe and the font with the team name on 1995 NFL Experience. Minus one point for Ronnie Lott looking weird as a Jet and plus one for Fred Warner's rookie card.

Winner: 49ers

Round 1: Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

1999 Donruss #29 Ty Detmer vs. 2006 Leaf Rookies and Stars #82 Ben Roethlisberger

The first offensive players of the day make an appearance, and both are quarterbacks. Between Detmer and Roethlisberger, I would only trust Big Ben against the defensive players we've seen so far. That's the only advantage Roethlisberger has in this competition, though. He may be a better quarterback, but I have always been one of world's biggest Ty Detmer fans. And though both cards are easily dated, 1999 Donruss is cleaner and much more attractive than whatever Leaf was trying to do with R&S in 2006.

Winner: Browns

The first half of our bracket has made it through Round 1. We'll see how the rest plays out in the next couple of days.