Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Morning Quarterback #17 2010 Topps Platinum Tim Tebow

In this ongoing series of posts I am going to feature cards from my fantasy football player collection, specifically the 117 quarterbacks I've had on my team's roster since 1980. I have one selected card for each player in my All-Time Flyers binder. Through the years I've tried to use as many different card varieties as possible while holding on to my preference which is: a card issued in a year I owned the player showing him in the proper team uni in a vertical format. Card availability and my whims have had a big impact on that standard as we will see. 
NFL Info: As this card alludes to, Tim Tebow was one of the discussed players in recent memory. He was a controversial pick by the Broncos in 2010 (actually he was part of a deal with the Ravens that got him to Denver during the draft). He had a strong college resume coming out of Florida including a Heisman Trophy but many doubted his ability to play in the pros. That, and a propensity to rub people the wrong way all added up to headlines and his appearance as a topic on every ESPN talking head segments for months.

He started three games his rookie season in relief of Kyle Orton and nine games in 2011 as the Broncos made a wild card appearance with an 8-8 record. He threw a game winning OT touchdown to beat the Steelers in the WC game than the Broncos were dismantled by the Patriots. He played with the Jets in 2012, listed as a TE/FB and was with the Pats last year but was cut before the season started.

ESPN(!) has hired Tebow as a football analyst for 2014.

Fantasy Impact: I picked up Tebow on waivers during the 2011 season to back up Ben Roethlisberger and fill in during Big Ben's Week 11 bye. That week Tebow played on a Thursday night game against the Jets and I was with my wife at a Sting concert. I'm sure I was the only knucklehead in the place checking NFL updates on his phone while Sting played Every Breath You Take. Tebow had a respectable 17 points and I won my game by 10. I made the playoffs with an 8-5 record but was bounced out in the first round by my long time rival. And so it goes. I took some crap for picking up Tebow (just like the Broncos did) but I've said many times, I'd use a North Korean dictator if I thought he'd get me some points.

The Card: It's chrome-afied, so it doesn't scan well. I'm far from an authority on Topps modern football issues so I have no idea how the Platinum set was issued but it's a cool enough card. I like the rookie 'shield' on the front. The picture and design are fine, too. One quibble with the back. They list only one season of Tebow's college stats. Why bother if you are not going to list them all?

And thus ends what is likely the one and only Tim Tebow post you'll see on this blog.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

This and that, Billy Pierce Style

Seemed like a good day to try to clear out some of the backlog of scanned cards I've been saving. Let's start with these. 

Top card is a Bill Pierce Topps Archives from 2001. I didn't really know Topps was doing these 'throwback' cards 13 years ago. Anyway it's obviously just a reprinted '64 with a gold stamp. I like the original '64 card, love that the color compliments the Giants' colors. But having said that I rally don't pursue these 'modern' Pierce cards wholeheartedly. I keep a list of the ones I have but I'm not tracking down a 'wantlist'. There are so many variations of these sorts of things I'm not sure a wantlist is even possible. 

There is a Heritage Pierce card on COMC that is signed. It is supposedly a 2013 card and it has a number of 18/64. I can't tell if its a 'signed through the mail' card of if it was issued like that. Either way for $25 the guy can keep it. I made him an offer of about half the asking price since the card has been there f-o-r-e-v-e-r but, just as I figured, it was rejected.

Next is another 99 cent Pierce card, this one is a variation of something I already had. It's an Upper Deck All Time Heroes card from 1994. I posted my original one awhile back but this one is "special"... it has a gold stamp reading 'Major League Baseball 125th Anniversary' along the right side. Why? I don't know. And I wouldn't have bothered with it had it cost more than a dollar or so. 

But along with the Pierce Upper Deck the seller included an extra card (don't you love it when sellers do that?). He stuck an '89 Fleer Tony Gwynn into the same case. I'm sure I have this card someplace and, yes, the '89 Fleer set isn't anything to be excited about but a Gwynn is a Gwynn. If nothing else it gave me the chance to flip over a card and be astounded at some player's stats.

I blew up the scan of the back, just because. Here are a couple of things I found out when this card prompted me to look at TG's Baseball Reference page: he was second in the NL in triples three times. Triples!  

In 1994 he won the batting title with a just plain silly .394 average but he also led the league by grounding into 20 double plays. He was in the top four in putouts by a rightfielder eight times and top five in fielding eight times. 

Mr. Padre, indeed.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Topps Never Stops.....

....figuring ways to separate collectors from their cash. Latest example is this five card 'set' that I was given as a late Father's Day gift.

This is a 'wax' wrapper that contained five Orioles 5x7 cards of their current stars done more of less in the style of the 1955 set.

A word here about Topps in general and the set in particular.. the '55 set isn't my favorite of the decade, not by a long shot. But it does have it's charms. And these are certainly attractive cards. I understand there are larger individual prints of these also being sold. I got on the Topps mailing list and if I paid any attention to their frequent emails I'd probably know more.

I suppose asking if there is a point to these types of things other than to make a few dollars would be stupid. Making dollars IS the point. And they sold at least one set of the Orioles.

Here are the cards, and looking at them again brings up something else. Haven't we seen all these photos before. I have very little 'contact' with current sets but these all look very familiar.

Anyway, here they are:

Just for the sake of comparing and contrasting here is an original '55, Orioles lefty Billy O'Dell.

And finally, if you use Google to store your images maybe you've found something like this in your folders:

I had scanned a whole pile of the '68 Topps game inserts and this set and when I did a mass upload weird stuff was happening. I thought my scanner had flipped out on me. But I poked around and found that Google somehow makes these animated gifs out of multiple pictures whether you ask it to or not. Google is starting to take over the world and it's scaring me.

Friday, June 27, 2014

('68 Topps) Game (Inserts) On!

I got a couple of '68 Topps Game inserts from Jim in Downington a few weeks back (look here for the Robinson boys, Brooks and Frank) and then I got to poking around eBay and COMC just to see what the other cards in the set were going for.

What I found was that of the 33 cards in the set about three quarters of them could be had ungraded but in nice condition for between .69 cents and a buck. Well, hell that's all I needed to see.

I went on a little spree and snatched up 24 or so from COMC including most of the 'common' players and some of the stars. If you exclude the Mays which cost $3.50 the average cost was about .75 cents apiece. That's pretty neat for a set with plenty of late '60s star power.

Granted these cards are inserts, and probably are not for everybody but they are a cool and cheap way to pick up some big names at bargain prices. If they were popular they would not be that cheap. There is a lot of 21 including 14 different and some dupes up on eBay for $10 and change.

I like the Mays card as it appears that whoever did the cut'n'paste-ing for the sets' proofs was more careful with Willie than they were for some of the others.

As I mentioned in that earlier post the pitchers included in the set are a notch (or two or three) below the hitters included. There are 14 Hall of Famers included, none of which are pitchers.

I have bids in on the rest of the set and once I have them in hand I'll post them and the others I have scanned.

One thing I never realized was that the set was available as a boxed set! I saw these cards when they were included as Third Series pack inserts in '68 but never saw the box. I recently found a scan of the box through Google.

I may have a new "white whale"!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Oisk, ain't he grand?

I can't remember where I saw this '52 Carl Erskine card. So if you are reading this and you posted it, thanks! When I saw it I knew right away that I wanted a copy.

Erskine had a card in the 1959 Topps set and of course I posted it over there. It's a nice one, I love the pink framed cards, but this '52 Topps is much better. On the '59 he's a Los Angeles Dodger, nothing wrong with that, but to me he's a BROOKLYN Dodger as he is here on the '52. I usually don't flip out over portrait cards (that's one reason I thought my '14 Heritage pack sucked.... almost all portraits). But this one is a definite exception. Erskine appears to be having the time of his life. And why not. He's pitching in the majors, he's a Dodger, in Brooklyn and the Brooklyn-ites love him. Heck, he even has black hair, it says so right there on the back of the card!

Maybe the card could have been better with a different background. A glimpse of Ebbets Field, or a sky shot with some puffy clouds, but I'm fine with it the way it is.

'Oisk' is still alive and kicking at the age of 87. He has a website and from that site I'm posting a list of "Did You Know?" facts.

• Earned his nickname “Oisk” from Brooklyn fans who called him “Cal Oyskin” in their “Brooklynese” accents; last name eventually shortened to “Oisk” when yelled from the stands of Ebbets Field, the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
• Elected into Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.
• Wrote two books, “Tales from the Dodger Dugout” and “What I learned from Jackie Robinson.”
• Featured in “The Boys of Summer,” a book written by Roger Kahn recounting the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team up to their victory in the 1955 World Series.
• Holds Honorary Doctorate degrees from Anderson University and Marian College.
• Recipient of the 1956 National Jaycee's Ten Outstanding Young Men of America Award in.
• Charter member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes
• Served in the U.S. Navy
• A national and state representative for Indiana Special Olympics.
• President of the First National Bank in Anderson, Indiana from 1982-1993
• Coached the Anderson College baseball team for 12 seasons, winning four championships.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I just can't let it go

Flipping through the cable channels and I keep coming across Fox LA's (or whatever the channel is) "Kings Stanley Cup Parade" show. Ugh.

So to counterbalance the negative vibes I'm shuffling through more of Chris' vintage Rangers cards that came last week. Behold the magic:

Now THAT is a 'well loved' card. But kind of like with my first college girlfriend, I don't really mind. This is a '54-'55 Nick Mickoski. He played for the Rangers from 1947 through 1955. During his career he played for the Blackhawks, Bruins and Wings in addition to the Blueshirts, all four of the U.S. based NHL teams. Ironically the '54 Topps set contained players from only those four teams. Parkhust issued a (equally sweet) set of nothing but Leafs and Habs. I love the cartoon and the reference to Mickoski as "Tricky Nick".

This 1961 Topps Albert 'Junior' Langlois is the card that Chris promised to send me in the first place. He said he'd add a friend of two. Boy, did he ever. Langlois played for the Rangers and several other clubs during a career that lasted into the late '60s. 

And here is something I hadn't noticed until now. Look at the background photo Topps used. The Wings player seen on the right hand side is wearing one of those rudimentary 'helmets'. Hockey players have worn helmets since the 1930s in one form of another but that leather one doesn't show up much. 

These next cards are of players that I'm very familiar with. Harry Howell play f-o-r-e-v-e-r! 24 seasons overall, 17 with the Rangers. I remember seeing him play for New Jersey during the WHA's days here in Houston (I actually spoke to him once!) and wondering how the hell he could still skate.

Every team, since the dawn of hockey time, has had a guy the fans love to, well, maybe not hate, but wish he was traded or cut. Rod Seiling was that guy on my Rangers teams in the late 60s. I don't know why everyone wanted him gone. He was a solid defensive blueliner.

Gilles Villemure was Eddie Giacomin's back-up for awhile and commentators always pulled out the 'he could start for most teams' business. And it was probably true. He got more and more playing time as Giacomin aged and he shared the Vezina Trophy with Eddie G. in 1971. But when the Rangers traded Giacomin (that hurts me even to think about it today) Villemure got the job and he wasn't quite as good as he had been as a platoon goalie.

Oh, and he looks like my ex-uncle Ralph.

Al MacNeil played for the Rangers and the Houston Apollos and I'm sure I saw him play for both teams I really don't remember him except as the coach who was canned by the Canadiens after winning a Cup in the early '70s.

So there's another handful of the great vintage hockey cardboard I got from Chris.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I missed at Target, but Night Owl saved me

I was in Target last week and decided to pick up a pack of Heritage. I see hundreds of posts on these things and I like the '65 design so I went ahead and sprung for one. My first and only purchase of 2014 cards. The ones I own are ones that generous bloggers have sent me. I figured I'd get at least one Orioles out of twenty cards. Maybe I'd get lucky and get two.

Nope. I got nothing. A Strasburg, a Don Mattingly, a bunch of other guys I don't care about. I did get one card that wasn't bad:

Jose Altuve may be very small (from the stands he looks like the batboy) but he's a real player. I wish the O's had him. And the orange and gray color scheme is the same as the Orioles '65 Topps cards so it's a pretty good card.

Bottom line: No Orioles, waste of three or four bucks or whatever it was. But luckily when I got the mail delivery I found an envelope from Night Owl and he more than made up for the crappy pack of cards.

First card is ORBIT! He's been the best thing going at Astros games up until the recent glimmer of non-crappiness. The 'Stros are giving away Orbit Antenna next Sunday. That may be just enough reason to go.

Mascots usually just piss me off. Orbit makes me laugh.

Chromey Bowman Adam Jones. Neat card, I like the Earl Weaver patch. I have one of those but I can't figure out what to do with it.

Oh, look it's Cal Jr.!!

A Donruss Ripken. Until you notice the black number and letters on the back of Cal's shirt you don't really figure this to be an 'outside the lines' card set.

Green Chromey Bowman Wei-Yin Chen. He's already matched his win total from last season (7) and may just better his 2012 total (12).

And then..Bingo, one of the very cards I'd hoped to get in the Heritage pack! A Heritage AJ!  He doesn't look too happy to be posing. I think that's the same look he has when Buck Showalter tells him to 'work the count'. 

BTW... here are what the Orbit Antenna look like. The fact that I found this picture proves that if you drill down far enough into Google, you can change the world.

Thanks, Night Owl. You made me forget about that wasted cash.

Monday Morning Quarterback #16 1997 Upper Deck Legends Ken Anderson

In this ongoing series of posts I am going to feature cards from my fantasy football player collection, specifically the 117 quarterbacks I've had on my team's roster since 1980. I have one selected card for each player in my All-Time Flyers binder. Through the years I've tried to use as many different card varieties as possible while holding on to my preference which is: a card issued in a year I owned the player showing him in the proper team uni in a vertical format. Card availability and my whims have had a big impact on that standard as we will see. 
NFL Info: Anderson was drafted 67th overall in the 1971 NFL Draft by the Bengals out of Augustana College (Illinois). He earned the starting job in 1972. He played his entire 16 year career with Cincy.

Anderson's best season was in 1981 when completed 62.6% of his passes for 3,754 yards and 29 touchdowns, with only 10 interceptions. He lead the NFL with a career-high 98.4 passer rating. He also was also know as a pretty good running quarterback and in '81 he gained 320 yards and 1 touchdown on the ground.

In his career Anderson completed 2,654 of 4,475 passes (59.3%) for 32,838 yards and 197 touchdowns and 160 interceptions. He also gained 2,220 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 397 carries. His completions, passing yards, and touchdown passes are all Bengals records. Anderson led the NFL  in passing yards twice (1974, 1975). He was selected to 4 Pro-Bowls (1975-76 & 1981-82). Anderson was voted All-Pro in 1981, 2nd Team All-Pro in 1975 and 2nd Team All-AFC in 1974 & 1982.

After his playing days he worked as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in a couple of NFL organizations, the Jags and Steelers in addition to the Bengals. He also was a Bengals radio broadcaster for several years.

Fantasy Angle: The first trade I ever made in my league, pulled off a week into the 1980 season, was the one that brought me Anderson along with running backs Mike Pruitt and Arthur Whittington in exchange for Joe Theismann. Only Pruitt among the trio of players I picked up saw any action and he didn't do much. Anderson had a lousy year in 1980 but the next season, when he was on someone else's team, he was the NFL's MVP. Figures.

The Card: This card breaks my self-imposed guidelines for inclusion in my fantasy football frankenset. It comes from a set issued well after Anderson's career. I used to have a contemporary card of his in this slot but I really liked the 1997 Upper Deck Legends and picked this one to represent it. I think the photo used really conveys how I remember Anderson, in the Bengals' white unis and the original helmet. You could really see Paul Brown's Cleveland Browns roots in that outfit. When it comes to card designs, no matter the sport, Upper Deck more than holds its own. The back has a lot going for it. Full career stats, A brief write-up and a career highlights section. The only minus is the fact that they repeat the same photo used on the front. But overall this is a great set. I have the complete base set. During the football season I may just put it in a binder.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Another Park Another Sunday

I coached soccer for many years and I still have a love for the game. But I don't follow much of the comings and goings. I'm a Manchester United fan and watch their English Premier League games regularly (Thanks, NBC!) but the rest of the machinations of international soccer make my head swim. I can't get my head around teams playing for several different championships simultaneously. But I am interested in the World Cup. And I'll remain interested as long as one of my four rooting interests remain alive....Germany, Portugal, Italy and the USA. Those three European clubs represent (most of) my blood, the USA is, well, America!

And today the US takes on Portugal. Looks like a crucial game for both teams. They both are looking for that second spot in their group behind Germany. I'll be watching at a park in downtown Houston probably. Watching in a group, with a couple of brews, is a lot of fun.

Anyway, that's a drawn out intro to these fabulous Manchester United cards from the Topps English football set of 1975/76 sent by Chris of Diamond Cuts and Wax Stains. Obviously they are based on the colorful 1975 Topps baseball design. Even the various color schemes match, at least in the cards I've seen.

These cards came out in the wake of Man U's season of relegation to Division 2 of English football. The club spent one season mired in the lower echelon as they struggled to recover following the end the 'glory days' of Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law.

I'm showing the back of one of the cards to point out a unique aspect of the set. The stat line for the previous season (74-75) is blank and below the totals is an instruction to 'fill in season's record'. Kind of a do-it-yourself card edit. I don't know if the fact that this is Topps' first foray into English football has anything to do with that little quirk (they took over the work of A&BC Footballers).

I know next to nothing about English soccer cards but I do know where to go to find info...this neat little site has all the background you'd ever want. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Last piece of a Giant puzzle

Willie Mays' 1964 Topps Giant card is the last one I needed to complete the set. Not surprisingly it was the most expensive (it's a short print as well as being, well, Willie Mays). It didn't quite cost me as much as the rest of the set combined but it was close.

Well worth it though. Love the card. It's obviously a spring training facility behind Willie. If Mays was wearing a home uni I'd know it was Phoenix since the Giants trained there for many years until they switched to Scottsdale in the early 1980s. So it could be any of the Cactus League stadiums of the era.

As for Willie Mays himself.... I'll steal Bum Phillips' line about Earl Campbell: "He may not be in a class all by himself, but it don't take long to call the roll."

Here is a list of Willie Mays' notable achievements that was published on his Baseball Reference Bullpen page:

  • 1951 NL Rookie of the Year Award
  • 20-time NL All-Star (1954-1973)
  • 2-time NL MVP (1954 & 1965)
  • 1963 All-Star Game MVP
  • 1968 All-Star Game MVP
  • 12-time Gold Glove Winner (1957/ML-CF, 1958-1960/NL-CF & 1961-1968/NL-OF)
  • NL Batting Average Leader (1954)
  • 2-time NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1965 & 1971)
  • 5-time NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1954, 1955, 1957, 1964 & 1965)
  • 5-time NL OPS Leader (1954, 1955, 1958, 1964 & 1965)
  • 2-time NL Runs Scored Leader (1958-1961)
  • NL Hits Leader (1960)
  • 3-time NL Total Bases Leader (1955, 1962 & 1965)
  • 3-time NL Triples Leader (1954, 1955 & 1957)
  • 4-time NL Home Runs Leader (1955, 1962, 1964 & 1965)
  • NL Bases on Balls Leader (1971)
  • 4-time NL Stolen Bases Leader (1956-1959)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 17 (1951, 1954-1968 & 1970)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 11 (1954-1957, 1959 & 1961-1966)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 6 (1954, 1955, 1961, 1962, 1964 & 1965)
  • 50-Home Run Seasons: 2 (1955 & 1965)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 10 (1954, 1955 & 1959-1966)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 12 (1954-1965)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1958)
  • Won a World Series with the New York Giants in 1954
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1979

 There is simply nothing Mays couldn't do on a baseball field. Is he the best player I've ever seen? I dunno, maybe. And I say that despite the fact that his batting averages were slipping a bit during the times I was watching. I wouldn't argue with anyone who said he was the most talented, or the most exciting.  I'll tell you one thing, there was a real 'buzz' in the air when I went to Shea to watch the Giants with my buddy and his father, both huge fans of Mays and the Giants.The closest player I've seen to Mays skills-wise was Ken Griffey Jr. during his Seattle days. Mickey Mantle could do everything as well but he lost so much time to injuries.

As many times as I saw Mays I can't recall any one special moment about his play. He was just Willie Mays, hitting homers and stealing bases and tracking down every fly. That's probably enough.