Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone

I have to be completely honest, this has not been the best Christmas season for the Budget Collector. My personal hobby purchases have dwindled down to less than a drip from a leaky faucet. That is to say, I'll purchase a pack here and there of well, Updates and Highlights mostly, and mostly because it's two bucks a pack. Since the 09 products haven't quite hit yet, and the budget is tighter than a dolphin's rear-end, there isn't much keeping me interested in the hobby at the moment.

That isn't to say there isn't interesting things going on. I've been watching more than a few box-breaks on the intraweb tunnels, some a bit more interesting than others. The Topps Sterling Baseball double box break where the guy pulled a Honus Wagner foldout, then pulled a Reggie Jackson auto-jersey was sweet. The Football break from Chris Cooley featuring Clinton Portis was so much fun it actually made me laugh out loud. However, the best video I've seen recently was the one featured on Wax Heaven yesterday. This quite literally, is the best box-break video I've ever seen. Beats out the one from the guy using a light saber to open a box of Razor. I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen it, but it's just fantastic, stay to the end, it's worth it.

I'm going to kill two birds with one stone here and post my Christmas and New Year's Entry together. I'll be leaving for Utah tomorrow for the remainder of the calendar year. I'll be back in Los Angeles on the 31st, but we'll be driving to Las Vegas the next day for the weekend. While I don't have any specific plans for card posting over that time, I can't imagine that I'll come up with anything earth-shatteringly important, so the blog will probably be a bit more quiet than normal.

As to the future of this blog, I'd like to think that in 2009 I'll become more focused on the "Budget" aspect of the blog title, my whole raison d'etre. This blog will never be similar to many other blogs, in that my budget basically doesn't give much leeway for trading card purchasing, so I won't be busting boxes of product on Youtube, nor will I ever do a "pack a day" or "card of the day." I may feature a specific card from time to time, and I'll always continue to show off recently purchased/pulled cards, but I'm really going to try to focus on the deals, steals and specials of the industry.

Here's my obligatory Budget portion of the blog then:

Tomorrow is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, I don't need to point that out I'm sure. While I certainly don't recommend the returns line at any major store, and I realize that shopping on "Boxing" day isn't probably one of your must-dos, if you're looking for card bargains, you just might find some. Many stores will stock up on gift oriented items, Topps Complete Sets, Autoed Balls and other more mainstream hobby items might be clearanced the day after Christmas.

Especially in places that don't typically carry sports cards. So think about your holiday shopping recently. Did you happen to see, maybe a Topps Baseball Card set for $50 at your local Marshalls, Ross or somewhere else that wouldn't normally carry cards other than during Christmas? Well, you should think about checking out those places starting tomorrow, chances are they'll be blowing out their inventory with cuts of 50% or more. Obviously with my other passion in life, toys, this paradigm is much greater, as mass-merchants like TRU, Wal-mart and Target will make just as much money over this weekend as they did last weekend just from gift-card redemptions. I already noticed this morning that there's a Lego Star Wars set on sale at TRU for 30% off it's normal price. That's LEGO, I don't know how much you know about toys, but Lego sets almost NEVER go on sale or clearance, and if they do go on sale, it's usually not more than 10 or 20% off.

I really wish I had more concrete examples to post, but sadly, I haven't found anything truly awesome. If I do come up with something, I'll be sure to post.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pinnacle Mint

Today's entry in Cardboard Junkie's Twelve Days of Cardmas jogged my memory of Pinnacle Mint Coins/Cards. I actually thought this was a pretty nifty ideal, and I recall buying plenty of the Football product. I don't recall getting ANYTHING good out of it though, maybe a Barry Sanders regular card, but I do recall the packs being pretty expensive.

Anyway, I won't go into the details here since Thing Done to Cards already did a nice entry on this series. I will say this though, if there WERE any Angels in the set, which I'm not at all sure there were, I'd love to trade for them. I know there's a Vlad Guerrero, but he's on the Expos.

Today's post was created because I hadn't updated in a week...sigh.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Stay with me here, this entry doesn't have a whole lot to do with sports or cards, though there is a TENUOUS link which I'll share at the very end.

I live in Los Angeles and have now for more than half my life. I think we Angelinos tend to get a bit jaded living in the entertainment capital of the world; I don't care what Las Vegas thinks, more people actually see the entertainment that's created here than in their gambling burg. I think we get jaded because we tend to see the entertainment industry actually at work. A week doesn't go by where I don't see a crew filming a movie, tv show or commercial.

I've run into actors and actresses all over town, so many that I kind of forget who I've seen in public and who I haven't. A couple of weeks ago I stood in line behind Victoria Beckham at Toys 'R Us - she was buying a cart load of toys for her three kids (who were incredibly cute) and I was buying a single pack of basketball cards. The bodyguard tipped me off. In the past I've actually even worked as a filming liasion for a property management company. I managed to get quite a few things filmed on our property (and therefore lucrative location fees for my bosses), including a Coke commercial, the feature film Town & Country with Warren Beatty and Natassja Kinski (both of whom I got to talk to) and an episode of MTV's "Senseless Acts of Video" where Tony Hawk did a skate jump from the roof of one of our buildings to the other. That was a fun day, and maybe some day I'll tell that story.

You also run into people who are either currently working in the "biz" or have worked in the "biz". Hell, my WIFE worked in the industry for about a year as a costume maker for a costume house. She worked on Magneto's coat for X-Men 2 and on costumes for the first season of "Star Trek: Enterprise". Sometimes you meet former-actors, as my wife's first landlord was. Sometimes you meet current actors or comedians: I just met Max Perlich last week, and I've met several comedians from "Last Comic Standing".

Today I got to meet Jay Leno.

My downstairs neighbor and friend used to work as the receptionist for "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", and she loves The Cure. When she found out that they were playing on the show TONIGHT, she made a call and got some tix.

We just got back from the taping, and it was freaking awesome. The other two guests were these nobodies, guys you've probably never heard of.

Frank Caliendo

and Tom Cruise

Oh and since we went with a former employee, we got the VIP treatment. We didn't have to wait in line, in fact, we were escorted back-stage to the Green Room since we were on "Jay's List." I did get a brief glimpse of Mr. Caliendo in his dressing room, but we were told very firmly "Do not speak to the guests, especially Mr. Cruise." Which was fine with me. I wouldn't have really have anything to say to him, since I really don't think he's that good of an actor, and there are very few of his films that I personally like. But that's me, there's no accounting for my taste.

On the way to the Green Room we were given a signed 8x10 of Jay, which I scanned below. Pretty damn cool if you ask me. My wife actually has met his wife Mavis through her job: Ms. Leno had a gown made by my wife's company for an event that the Leno's give every year, and as she has dealt with a few other celebs (Jeff Probst from "Survivor" is actually my wife's boss's next door neighbor and when he goes to awards shows he wears a tux that they made) I've begged her to get signed photos of anyone famous and she ALWAYS says no.

We waited in the green room until a page came and got us and showed us to our seats, which were VERY, VERY good. The studio itself is actually quite small, it seats 350 I'm told, which is a very small audience, but larger than most talk shows. It looks a LOT larger on television, and I'm sure when I get around to watching the show tomorrow I'll have an even better perspective.

The show was great. Jay still does his own warmups, so he came out about fifteen minutes before the show. He takes polaroids with a few audience members and chats with them about where they're from and makes them feel special. From what I've gathered, what you see with Jay is what you get, he's an incredibly nice guy who doesn't have a mean bone in his body. He really makes everyone feel welcome too.

The former "Stuttering" John Melendez is the show announcer and after Jay warms up the crowd he does a shtick where he reads the rules (no cell phones, no cameras, don't rush the stage, etc.) and he threw caps, towels and footballs in the crowd. Then they have a miniature talent show where people from the audience get up and do something to get free swag. We got to see a guy tell a very bad joke, a woman sing a Cure song and a guy do the opening of HIS former TV Show in Japan.

Then the show starts and it's all done in real-time, they call it "Live to Tape". If you've seen one show, you've probably know what I'm talking about: Monologue, "comedy segment", Guest #1, Guest #2 and Band. The monologue was good tonight, lots of stuff about the Governor of Illinois, and quite a few chortles. There's also a couple of groaners, and if you watch, you'll know exactly which ones I'm talking about. The comedy segment was "Pumpcasting" where they go to a real gas station (the Costco down the street in Burbank) and they set up a two-way broadcast in the form of fake news. The anchor (who was Timothy Stack, a frequent guest start on "My Name is Earl") asked questions of the befuddled gas pumpers who couldn't figure out why the television on top of the gas pump was talking to them. There's actually a very funny moment at the end of the segment with another gas pumper.

Tom Cruise came out, and boy is he a LOT shorter than I thought, and I'm pretty sure he was wearing lifts too. Jay is a BIG guy, 5'11" which is what I usually tell people I am (though actually I'm barely over 5'10"), and Tom was several inches shorter. He's also very skinny, but I'll tell you, I know why he's a movie star now, that damn smile of his is certainly charismatic. You see that in person, and see how personable he really is, and you wanna like the guy.

In between segments with Tom he came up into the crowd and shook peoples' hands and briefly chatted. He had an extended conversation with the folks behind me one of whom was a pilot like Tom, so that was very cool, because he was about three feet away from me. Tell you what, Movie Stars dress well too.

I thought Tom was short, Frank Caliendo is TINY in comparison, he's only 5'7", which is what the IMDB has Tom listed at, so I'm sure he was wearing lifts now. Caliendo does a great Leno, and did so on the show several times. He did Madden a couple times and was basically funny as hell. In fact I wish Jay had spent more time with him, because he was cracking me up. It was so loud that I missed several lines too.

We were there to see Robert Smith and The Cure play live, which was fantastic. They did "Perfect Boy" off their new album and it rocked. I've never actually seen them live before, so if I don't ever get the chance, this was good enough for me.

After the show was over we were brought on stage and got to meet Jay, and he took a picture with the three of us, that we'll get signed in the mail in a few weeks. Again, Jay was incredibly kind and chatted with both my wife and our friend Lani, since you know she used to work for him. We were then whisked upstairs for a tour of the offices and so that Lani could catch up with some of her former co-workers. Didn't see anything spectacularly cool, though I do love the freedom that the show-workers have with the decoration of their cubicles. As cool as I think it might be to work in the television industry, I've had bigger cubicles before, theirs were TINY. I did get a look at the "Big Board" of upcoming shows, but I can't say that anything really stood out as memorable. I heard some interesting gossip about Jay's upcoming move to the 10 O'clock timeslot, but I was sworn to secrecy, so I cannot spill. Besides, it's not really that exciting.

So that was my afternoon. Pretty nifty I think. Just for shits and giggles, here's the only Jay Leno trading card that I've ever had in my possession, a WCW card from when he and DDP wrestled Hulk Hogan and Dennis Rodman. Unfortunately I no longer own the card, since it was in a set I sold on eBay a short while ago. Had I the forethought I might have bought another one to get signed, and I probably could have too, but I've already got one auto, and another on the way.

This one is on eBay right now, for WAY too high a bid I might add. ESPECIALLY for a cut signature of a LIVING person.

Oh, and the sports link? There were a couple of Pittsburgh Pirates players in the Green Room. I'm not sure which ones, since I didn't want to bother them, and let's face it, I don't follow the Pirates, so I wouldn't know who they were, and I don't think asking people who they are is appropriate or respectful. Not in the Green Room of "The Tonight Show", I want to be invited back.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sports "Action" Figures

Just got this in my email:

Begin Quotes:

Upper Deck Authenticated, Upper Deck’s memorabilia and collectibles division, has just put together an informative, up-close video chronicling the making of one of its most popular lines: All-Star Vinyl Figures. The four-and-a-half-minute-minute video shows various iterations of the product line with interesting quotes from many of members of UDA’s Collectibles team.

Click on the link below and learn some things you didn’t know about Upper Deck’s All-Star Vinyl Figures.

End Quote

Begin Commentary

I'm a toy collector as well as a comic and trading card fanatic, this means that my funds are always split between my three loves, though comics have been getting the short end of the stick since my daughter was born. I find that I can no longer justify $25 weekly visits to the comic store, especially these days when that won't even get me more than 6 comics with standard issues going for $2.99 a pop and soon-to-be $3.99. I find that I just get more value out of cards at $1.99 to $2.99 a pack (remember this is the BUDGET card collector) or Action Figures which have a much easier re-sale ability. I state all of this because over the last decade the vinyl art figure market has exploded as one of the few profitable and collectible areas of toy collecting. So much so that Upper Deck has entered the market. Not once, but twice already.

Upper Deck first flirted with vinyl designer toys a couple of years ago, to middling success. Their figures of Bret Favre and others followed the exaggerated designs that urban vinyl artists have been using for years, and I dare say that Upper Deck's attempts have a much greater print run than any of the vinyl figures you can find at say Kid Robot or Giant Robot, which to me pretty much ruins the entire point of collecting these things in the first place.

You see, one of the big attractions to urban vinyl is that the print runs on each figure is usually incredibly tiny. Some of the "colorways" which is a fancy term for different colors and designs on the same basic figure, can run in the single digits, though runs of a couple thousand are more the norm. Designer toys originated in Asia during the 70's and originally focused on Kaiju and other anime/live-action characters. During the late 90's DJ's and underground graffiti artists co-opted the style of toys being able to produce small numbers of toys for a reasonable amount of money, and customizing them to their own artistic specifications. The field also includes "blind boxed" trading figures, which are reasonably priced (under $10 typically) small figurines or action figures which are all packaged in generic boxes. Much like trading cards you do not know what you will get in each box. Of course each case of trading figures has some pieces more common and some more rare.

I'm not a huge fan of designer toys to be honest. It's not that I don't see the appeal, I just don't really get it. I think some of them are cute, but I have enough small items cluttering up my apartment as it is. I really do not see the appeal of cartoonish looking sports figures that don't have any articulation either. When it comes to action figures I'm an articulation junkie, which means that I like my dudes to be able to hold any pose. These days the choices in sports figures are as wide as they've ever been. There are the McFarlane SportsPix, the Re-Play MLB and NFL figures, the new NFL Robot Figures and now these Upper Deck Vinyl guys. I'm sure I'm even missing a couple.

I wasn't a big fan of the old Kenner Starting Lineups, though I owned more than my fair share; it helped that they came with trading cards and had some moderate articulation. I could never stand the McFarlane plastic statues, especially since Todd seemed to have a bias against the L.A. Kings (seriously look up the number of Kings figures versus oh, say the Canadiens. A few years back Smiti produced a series of NHL figures that were a big larger than LEGO mini-figs, but in a similar style. The Kings actually did a cool promotion where they gave away one figure during 5 regular season games, and a box to hold them all in. I managed to get the box and 4 out of the 5 figures. I still need the Ian Lapperiere figure.
Here's a review from Michael Crawford, the king of toy reviews.

Going back even further than Starting Lineups were NFL Action Team-Mates, that were sold during the 70's and early 80's at places like JC Penny and Sears. Here's a trade ad for them:

Now those were bad-arsed figures, with just as much articulation as an old Mego Worlds' Greatest Heroes figure, but with better plastic. I'd love to get one of these guys now, I wouldn't really care which team (though the Rams or Chargers would be my preference). A carded Dallas figure went for well over $50. This auction sold for $76+ and two of the four figures needed serious help.

Here's the pic from that auction for posterity:

Going back even FURTHER than the 70's Marx and other companies would produce small 2" static generic sports figurines, and those can be quite desirable these days. Hartland Statues are also still in high demand from collectors as they have been reproduced a few times so that even budget collectors can afford a repro.

There are other brands of figures that I'm leaving out, have to have something for another blog entry.

So, does anyone have a nifty collection of sports figures they'd like to show off? Send me pics and I'll post 'em up here.

Oh and anyone with a Chargers or Rams NFL Team-Mate for sale or trade at a reasonable price, contact me.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Custom Cards are IN!

Way back in October I told you that I ordered some custom cards to be made of my daughter from Topps through a promotion with Nestlé Drumsticks Ice Cream. They arrived last week and I couldn't be happier with them. OK that's not ENTIRELY true, I would have preferred that the name be done in foil just like the standard issue cards, but that's not a deal-breaker here.

Check them out:

A person could take one of these cards, mix it in with other '08 Topps baseball cards, and you probably wouldn't notice the difference. In fact, that's what I wanted to do to tease my mother on Thanksgiving, but the only place that was open where I could buy a pack of cards didn't have any '08 base, I had to buy a pack of Co-Signers, which SUCKED. Still it was a Topps Pack, so I mixed in the card and handed the pack to my Mom and said "Hey Mom, check out this pack of cards I got, it's really interesting." She looked through a couple and said "Yeah, that's nice." She didn't get it at first. I had to tell her to keep looking. Of course, I had pre-ruined the surprise by telling her that I had ordered them. BUT you could easily fool a loved one with these cards, they're that close to the real deal.

My plan is to actually take older pics of my baby and have a 2006 and 2007 version made up, and then have one card made up for every year of her life. Of course, that might get expensive, but she's my baby, she's worth it.

Mail Day part 2

Sorry for the delay, life got into the way.

Last time I left off I was going to look at a few more vintage cards that I got in the mail from Eric S who is sending off packages left and right. I saw a couple of other blog entries indicating they also got packages from him, so if you want a fantastic trade partner, drop me a comment with your email and I'll hook you up with him.

I showed off some of the more modern Angels he sent already, today I want to look at a few of the 20th century cards that I found to be the most interesting. Not that there weren't a TON of interesting cards in that 800 count box, but if I highlighted each and every one I'd be writing posts for WEEKS I tell ya.

Here's a nice 1993 Score card of our current pitching coach Mike Butcher, who had a completely undistinguished career as a relief pitcher. It kind of makes me wonder how many coaches in the bigs had pretty much pedestrian MLB careers. Still, because pitching coaches don't typically get cards, this one is a bit more special to me and will go in my "current" Angels binder, rather than the "former" Angels binder. Yes, I have separate ones.

Lance Parrish looked like he might make it to the HOF at one point in his career, after all he played for 19 seasons, the first 10 for Detroit. Something happened though and his stock fell big time. Might have been the three plus years he spent with the Halos after they jettisoned Bob Boone. In any case, this isn't a spectacular card by any stretch, but it IS a 1992 Leaf card, which I thought had one of the nicest and cleanest designs out of all the sets in the 90's, and it was highly collectable at the time as well.

Nothing special here, a Donruss Triple Play card that most collectors wouldn't look at twice. Check out the back though:

That has got to be the most trivial piece of information that I've seen in quite some time. I also want to know how they knew it was exactly 12 pitches.

I bought a TON of 1993 Leaf, but not Baseball, nope, I bought a ton of Leaf HOCKEY in 1993 and beyond. I always liked the backgrounds on the flip-side, and this one is the epitome of what most people think about when they think about California. I mean, look at that sunset! Makes me want to drive to the beach right now. Alas, it's a bit chilly today, it's only 70 degrees and sunny November.

I love cards that link two or more players on the same card. I especially love them when the link isn't tenuous such as the "player of the year in 1960 and 2008". Here we have the Pater-familias of the Boone family, Grandfather Ray and Father Bob. I think there should be an updated subset of all the second and third generation ballplayers in the bigs today, Prince and Cecil on the same card? Heck yeah (it's probably the only time the two of them would be on the same page...heh) The two Tony Gwynns? Bring it on. It'd be even better as a relic issue. I can dream right?

Now, HERE was a quandry, I had never actually seen any 1990 Donruss Blue borders, so I had to look them up. At first I thought this might be one of the fabled "Aqueos" Test issues, but the back didn't have the "Test Issue" stamp. A quick Google search turned out that these were from the "Baseball's Best" boxed set. I really like the blue border versus the red border, and the fact that the backs list entire career stats (I'm a sucker for that). Now I did more than my fair share of buying on 1990 Donruss, for whatever reason that I cannot remember 18 years later. Probably looking for that Juan Gonzalez Reverse Negative. If the standard set had been blue rather than red, I'd probably have bought more.

Wow, look at the porn 'stache on Frankie there. Rockin' it son. Seriously, Tanana doesn't get NEARLY the recognition that he deserves. He was a great Angel.

Which card do you think was produced first? These are both Fleer card from the early 80's, one from 80 and the other from 81, both of utility-man extraordinare Bert Campenaris. If you guessed the one on the left, you'd be wrong. That's actually his 81 card, the one on the right is from 80. I can't be the only one who ever noticed that Fleer's pics from 1981 were much, much worse than the ones from 1980. This scan is actually better than the card itself! Early 80's sets weren't without their own quirkiness were they?

I saved the best for last, a 1963 Topps Los Angeles Angels Team Card. Just look at that beauty, they just don't make cards like this anymore. Oh wait, they kind of do, they just call them "Heritage".

Once again, big thanks to Eric S for the box of Halos, now I need to find about 100 more binder pages, and I have a LOT of sorting to do.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Budget Mail Day?

I don't normally do mail-days unlike other blogs, mostly because I really don't have the time or patience to scan the cards that I get in the mail, and I haven't been very active in trading lately. I know I WANT to trade, it's just that with a 2-year old daredevil running around the Budget Apartment all of the time, it's difficult to sort cards without her try to eat them. I've tried giving her some cards of her own, you know; Topps checklists/David Wright garbage, Upper Deck pack fillers, etc., but she just wants Daddy's cards.

Be that as it may, I felt that I had to share the package that I got yesterday from the fantastic Eric Slette in Minnesota, who sent me without any expectations, an 800 count box FULL of Angels cards, one dating back to 1963! Needless to say, Christmas came a bit early for the Budget Sports Card Collector. In the paragraphs below I'll detail some of my favorite and some of the odder cards that came out of this box. I'm sure I'll find more, since the box contained just about EVERY Angels team set from 1984 to 1995 from ALL of the major brands, plus a very nice selection of older AND newer cards. I really owe Eric a nice box of Yankees, which is what he collects, but he's also a collector of Jeter, Posada and Rivera, so if you guys have any of those to trade to me, I can get those off to Eric. OR if you want to trade directly with him, email me at wmnoe at yahoo dot com and I'll forward you his email. He also collects

Speaking of trading, I know that I owe a package of Red Sox to the wonderful John Arnold in England, and I'll get that off as soon as I can, but the budget is very, very tight at the moment. Strangely enough, as I was working on this entry Mr. Arnold sent me ANOTHER package of Angels, including a cool Troy Glaus jersey from Fleer Authentix! John collects Red Sox if I'm not mistaken, with an emphasis on Mo Vaughn.

I also owe emails to a number of people who asked about their favorite teams, and I really want to trade for even MORE Angels, though I'm going to have to start getting picky, since I now have about five copies of EVERY Angel from '06, 07 and 08 Topps, and perhaps a dozen or more of some Angels from '08 Upper Deck Base. At this point, I'll only take base from those brands as throw ins, meaning I REALLY don't want any more at this point. I have 9 copies of the '07 Topps Vlad Guerrero, and while I'm actually tempted to keep going after them just to see how many I can amass, that kind of seems silly for someone who's trying to keep his collection at a reasonable level.

So, let's get on with the mail day cards shall we?

First up is a Nick Adenhart '08 Stadium Club 1st Day Issue numbered 509/599. I'm guessing that this is the "decoy" card in the SC packs, since it's double thick. I'm pretty sure this is my first Adenhart, as he wasn't the "RC" of choice for the Halos in the early '08 sets. Since I don't HAVE any SC from this year and at what, $25 per hobby pack I'm not about to buy some anytime soon, this is a great card for me. TONS of people have decried Stadium Club this year with it's outrageous pricing and Topps attempt to move reinvent the brand as a high-Mid-Level set, but I kind of like these. They remind me a lot of 1993 SC, which I thought was the best design since the first year.

Here we have two Angels RCs from this year's Upper Deck Timeline, both are the 2005 SP Rookie Short Prints which are 3 per box. Wilson appeared in a whopping SEVEN games this season with a big 6 ABs and a stellar .167 average. I'm not even sure that he's still signed to the Angels. For as many cards as Thompson had in this year's baseball products, he sure hasn't done a thing to earn them. He appeared in two games in April giving up 4 hits, 5 runs in TWO innings worth of work. No wonder they sent him back down. Oh and here's the really strange part about these two cards, the Thompson is die-cut, but it's not punched out. I think I'll leave it that way.

Being the Budget collector, there are certain brands that I just won't touch pack-wise, Upper Deck X was one of those this season. I usually will try to get SOME example of pretty much every set, but this one really didn't thrill me at all, despite the fact that packs were only two bucks at Target. I think I made the right decision after seeing this insert of Torii Hunter. Sure, it's a great LOOKING card at first glance, and it's all bumpy (I know, it's called 'embossed'). I simply cannot STAND having way too many parallels in the same set, and X seemed to me to be pretty much nothing BUT parallels. I'd like to think the photo on this card (same photo front and back, lame) is Torii watching a long homer sail out of the park, but who knows, he could have simply flied to left.

Here we have the obligatory Vladdy card, and as you can see, it's a bit different than your standard "insert", it's die-cut to seem like a beer bottle label if I'm not mistaken. According to Badwax there were something like 32 different insert sets in this release, which I think is a bit much, don't you? This design was also used for the relics, and I have to say, I'd much rather see a swatch where the Authentix logo is placed. I've actually seen and purchased retail packs of this product in the mark-down section of my Target's card aisle, so I'm not that unfamiliar with this product which was one of Fleer's last before becoming yet another UD brand. Besides, I kind of like the subversive nature of the card itself, though I'm also kind of wondering if the label is supposed to be a hot-sauce bottle instead, I mean who actually drinks only 2.7 oz. of a beverage?

That's it for the "modern" section of this blog post, now we'll be blasting back to the past, all the way from 2005 back to 1993, a year where the Halos finished the season an appalling 20 games under .500. Of course 1993 cards commemorate the 1992 season, when the Angels were actually one game worse than their 93 brethren. Yes, this was the era of Halo Ball that we fans would just as soon forget. Still, there were some highlights. OK not many, but a few. I chose these cards to feature not because they were memorable players (though they were pretty good players), but for their aesthetics or quirkyness.

BUT that's going to have to wait for another post, as I'm already way behind on errands and chores. So until then...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Blog Bat Around - WildWill's Version

My good buddy Gellman over at Sports Cards Uncensored proposed this unique "Bat Around" and while I wanted to partcipate right away, life suddenly got busy and I found myself with a job interview to prep for. So my entry is a bit late, but better late than never right?

What type of collector am I? Hard to define really. I collect many things, sports cards are merely one type of collectible that I hoard. I also collect comic books, various toys, original art, movies, music and books. I am passionate about a few things, the comic character "Grendel" by Matt Wagner, the UCLA Men's Basketball team, the novels of John Irving, the music of The Barenaked Ladies (among others) and all things Pirates of the Carribean (and Pirates in general). I have love/hate relationships with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Kings, and I have a general affinity for the San Diego Chargers and Padres. I've collected various mementos and pieces of all of the above, and have fairly nice collections to boot. For example, I have every John Irving book written, all of them since "Garp" are in Hardcover first editions. No autographed though, I just haven't gotten a chance to go to one of his signings. However, I do have a TON of autographed books because I will go out of my way to go to a public signing if I can.

So - to sum up the last very long paragraph - I collect a LOT of different things.

I have a storage unit full of crap that I need to sell on eBay. That's my major problem in life, I cannot pick one thing to focus on because my particular version of OCD is fairly mild. I flit back and forth between obsessions.

In terms of sports cards, my collections are focused on Angels, Bruins and Kings. My problem is that I love opening up packs, and I do consider that trading is a part of the hobby. I'm dismayed that I don't get the chance to trade in person anymore, but trading via the internet is pretty fun. The opening up packs part is the real issue, I'll never give up opening up packs, it's too darn fun.

And now it's too expensive.

Ah well, all things get expensive. Fortunately I've stopped buying comic books for the most part, and action figures are out for the most part (with the exception of the odd GI Joe here and there).

Yankee Stadium Legacy Set Complete - UD Press Release

Here's the Presser that I just got via Email:

Tommy Baxter of Little Rock , Arkansas , Completes

Upper Deck’s Yankee Stadium Legacy Collection!

Baseball card collector puts together entire set of more than 6,600 cards; wins the opportunity to meet Yankees Team Captain Derek Jeter!

North Las Vegas, NV (November 21, 2008) – Tommy Baxter, a 36-year-old precast concrete specialist from Little Rock, Arkansas, has just accomplished something no one else in the world has been able to do: put together Upper Deck’s gigantic 6,600-plus card Yankee Stadium Legacy (YSL) Collection! Baxter, an avid Cubs fan, seized the opportunity to become the first collector to piece together Upper Deck’s enormous insert set, which pays tribute to every single Yankees home game ever played at the historic venue since its doors opened on April 18, 1923.

“I’ve put together plenty of Upper Deck sets in the past, so I figured this was just one more to complete,” said Baxter, whose 11-year-old daughter, Madeleine, helped him sort and collate the thousands of cards. “I really didn’t take it seriously at first, but once I got through that first series of inserts, I knew I had to finish it.”

That first series of insert cards appeared in Upper Deck’s 2008 Series One Baseball set, which released on February 5. That’s when Baxter got started. The cards fell at a ratio, on average, of one in every four packs. Within two weeks he had collected 200 of the YSL cards; he only had 6,461 to go! Nine more Upper Deck baseball trading card products were released over the course of 2008 that have each contained various YSL cards from the overall set. Baxter’s feat, therefore, is a study in patience, persistence and stick-to-itiveness. It also proved to an expensive pursuit.

“I would estimate I spent a little more than $15,000 putting this set together,” said Baxter, who mentioned he finished the set the night before Halloween. “I remember it was a Thursday, since those were the days we’d collate the cards. Madeleine would go through and sort the cards every week. That night we knew we had this thing licked.”

It would have been sooner, but despite his best efforts with buying and trading the cards with collectors from as far away as Taiwan , there was one single card that eluded him: No. 4,272. “It had Ron Guidry on the front. I couldn’t find that card anywhere. Nobody had it,” said Baxter.

He was recording each of the YSL cards online at a special website Upper Deck debuted earlier this year entitled He was watching his numbers climb almost every day, but No. 4,272 was nowhere to be found. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Inside of October’s final week, Baxter received the card from collectors in New Jersey and Florida . “I couldn’t find that card for seven months and then I got four of them within a week,” he said.

Once he had the complete set in hand, he quickly packaged up his work and shipped it off to Upper Deck headquarters in Carlsbad , California , for verification. Yesterday Upper Deck staffers Chris Carlin, Terry Melia and Carrie Peterson certified the contents of Baxter’s shipment.

“All the cards are in,” said Carlin, Upper Deck’s hobby marketing manager. “Tommy’s accomplishment is incredible. He’s the first person to complete the set, so we’re ecstatic and very happy for Tommy and Madeleine.”

Baxter’s prize for completing the entire set of insert cards is multi-tiered. He and his daughter will receive an all-expense-paid trip to New York City in the spring at which time they will take in a Yankees game at the new venue and meet Yankees Team Captain Derek Jeter. In addition, since 2008 marked the final MLB season in the old stadium, Baxter will receive 81 additional YSL cards chronicling the Yankees’ last campaign which brings the grand total of games played (and cards produced) to 6,742. And, of course, he will get all of his cards back to display proudly at home.

“You know, I was never really a big Yankees fan, but I did always admire Don Mattingly,” said Baxter. “I liked his work ethic and I guess I always had a penchant for guys who could hit over .300 every year.”

Upper Deck still has four prize openings left for any other collectors who are able to piece together the entire Yankee Stadium Legacy Collection. The word is there are a few people who are just single digits away.


Hmm...I don't think I have much to say via commentary - he's not much of a Yankee fan, why doesn't that surprise me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obama Cards!!!!

Sports Collector's Daily is reporting on a new release from Topps, yes, the final Political Trading Card product of the season - President Barack Obama trading cards.

$1.99 for 6 cards, and I don't see any insert sets listed, and there's no information other than the press-release that I can find.

Pretty good for a guy who hasn't actually DONE much as President yet.

and yes, I'll buy a couple packs.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

UCLA - Game On!

Tonight is the official opener for the UCLA Men's Basketball program. I should have written this up earlier today but I've been fairly busy the last couple of days. Busy for me anyway.

At the half it's 38 to 19 Bruins over Prairie View A&M. To say this game is over would be an understatement. However, it's a good opening contest to get the youngsters some quality game minutes.

I missed the entire first half due to a television scheduling snafu at Casa WildWill, but I should have some thoughts after the game.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Presidential Victor Card

Oh boy, Upper Deck has chosen to end it's Presidential Predictor program with a single card of our newly elected President Barack Obama, and they're GIVING it away. Yes, that's right, it's free, but you have to go to one of a handful of card stores in your area and buy something. I suppose that's OK, you have to support a brick and mortar store to get the card. In my area there's two stores that will have it, so I'll try one then the other, because I wouldn't mind having more than one copy of this bad-boy.

Read the back of the card though, there's a phrase in there that to me seems like a back-handed compliment, or at least an inappropriate one. See if you can guess which phrase I'm talking about.

Oh and here's the press release from UD.

Change Has Come! Upper Deck Releases
‘Presidential Victor’ Card of Barack Obama

Limited-edition trading card shows the nation’s new Commander-in-Chief being doused with Gatorade. Available in select hobby shops nationwide

North Las Vegas, NV (November 5, 2008) – Maybe it wasn’t quite as lopsided as Ronald Reagan’s 49-state thumping of Walter Mondale in 1984, but it was almost as convincing. On Tuesday, Democratic nominee Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States after defeating Republican John McCain in their hard-fought race to the White House. And once again, Upper Deck is recording history by producing a single “Presidential Victor” card of Obama, bringing the trading card company’s year-long crusade of chronicling the 2008 Presidential race to a dramatic close.

Unlike the previously released caricature cards of many of this year’s candidates, the final card from Upper Deck will not be included in any of the trading card company’s releases. Instead, it will be shared through select hobby shops across the country. Each of the participating stores will receive no more than 100 cards, keeping demand for the sought-after trading card high.

“The best way for us to bring our ‘Presidential Predictor’ series come to a logical end was to release a ‘Presidential Victor’ card showing the winner,” said Chris Carlin, Upper Deck’s hobby marketing manager. “We are happy to work with our most supportive hobby shops to provide them with these unique cards, which they can share with their customers. No matter which party you supported, this was a historic election, and this card represents a great way for Upper Deck to commemorate the 2008 Presidential race.”

The latest card (PV-1) is appropriately entitled “President Barack Obama.” Its cardfront illustration is based on the postgame Gatorade dousing of Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy after his team defeated the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in Super Bowl 41. Upper Deck changed the participants in the celebratory scene to represent Vice President-Elect Joe Biden, President-Elect Obama and future First Lady Michelle Obama. Timely with a sports theme, the cardback text reads:

With his resounding victory in this year’s U.S. presidential election, Barack Obama made history in more ways than one. Not only was he the first African-American to be nominated by either party as a candidate, but he is now the first of his race to be sworn in as Commander-in-Chief. Just like Tony Dungy’s accomplishment in 2007 when he became the first African-American head coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl, Obama did the same for White House politics in 2008. “Change We Can Believe In” was his campaign slogan throughout the year. Now it’s time to start believing.

The Barack Obama Presidential Victor card will be available in mid-November as a gift with purchase of any Upper Deck products at hundreds of hobby shops nationwide. Please visit for a list of shops that will be sporting these special cards.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Get Ready to VOTE!

I will digress from my normal pastiche posts about whatever flits into my mind that's sports related for a moment and beg, plead, and implore you to get yourselves to the polls tomorrow and VOTE! Democracy only works when citizens participate, and this is the lowest level of participation. If you don't vote, then you have no voice. Good men and women have died to give you the right to vote, don't let those sacrifices go to waste. I've already marked up my ballot and after I drop the wife off at work tomorrow morning, I'm voting, I want to get it done so that I can come home and watch returns all day. In years past I've been stuck at jobs watching the numbers roll in, not this year. I can camp in front of CNN and MSNBC all day long.

Which reminds me, I'm in LOVE with Rachel Maddow. Yes, I know she's a lesbian, which makes her that much more attractive to me. When I say LOVE I really mean that she's the latest person who I actually WANT to listen to speak. She's just so damn smart (she's got a Doctorate in Philosophy for Pete's sake), and eloquent. I love her MSNBC show, for all the reasons that I love Air America as well. Seriously though, you can learn a lot from watching her show which is on at 9 pm EST/6 PM PST.

Some Sports Content

The UCLA Men's Basketball Team has their first exhibition game tonight against...err...Cal Baptist, which is the #5 ranked team in NAIA Division I. It's not on TV or radio, but it's supposed to be streaming on CBS All Access. If you want to pony up the $60 for CSTV's season long web coverage you get the game for free, but since I'll be watching as many games as possible on television, it isn't worth it to me to buy the package as well, though if I lived anywhere else other than Southern California I'd buy the package.

Starting Point Guard and returning Senior Darren Collison was just voted onto his SECOND straight Pre-Season AP All-America team. The Bruins are just looking awesome as we head into the 08/09 season, with THREE returning Seniors in the lineup and FOUR incoming Freshmen who are the cream of the crop when it comes to recruiting. Seriously, I've been following Jrue Holliday, Malcolm Lee, Jerime Anderson, and Drew Gordon since before Kevin Love took his first shot at UCLA. We also managed to get J'Mision Morgan (just call him 'Bobo') to forgo his plans to attend LSU and come to UCLA instead! Five freshmen, two seniors (Collison and Josh Shipp) who have been to the Final Four in each of their college seasons and now want to cap their careers with a National Championship, and a healthy underclass featuring Alfred Aboya, Michael Roll, James Keefe and Nikola Dragovic give the Bruins ELEVEN scholarship players, each of which will get game time. Yes, I was excited about the Bruins last season, even knowing that K-Love was one-and-done, but this year I'm QUINTUPLY excited. FIVE FREAKING FRESHMEN!

Trading Update

OK I admit it, I SUCK when it comes to checking lists and prepping trades. I always have. I'm slow. I often forget to check lists as well. It's not that I don't WANT to trade, I definitely do, it's just that my time, such as it is, is limited. When you have a toddler that you're taking care of all day you have to go by her schedule, and pulling out cards to check want lists is a recipe for disaster around a two-year old, and it's not like you can just point her at the TV and tell her to watch Dora for two hours. So I know that I owe people the courtesy of checking their lists and putting together trades, I'm just a bit slow.

The good thing is that I only have one package to send out at the moment to the U.K. for a great trade that I was offered. The bad thing is that I also sold some non-sports and wrestling card on eBay over the weekend and I have to ship those out too, and I need to get boxes. Darn it. Nice thing is that I've got a decent amount in my Paypal account, that I'll probably have to put towards house bills. I'll be lucky if I get to buy a few singles this go-around.

I'm also about half-way done with an UD Baseball Heroes set, so as I get closer to that I'll post a want-list because I've decided that will be my second set I'm going to put together this year (the first was 2008 Upper Deck Base). I'm still not sure about 2008 Topps, since even though I'm almost complete with Series 2, I still need about half of Series 1, and I just bought my first four packs of the Highlights.

Topps Town

Hey I've got about five or so Baseball codes that I won't use because I've already completed my baseball set that I'd like to trade for basketball or football codes. We DO NOT have to trade the actual cards, I'll trade code for code.

Fantasy Football

I'm going 1 - 1 this weekend, winning in my league by about 10 points, and losing in Gellman's lead. I think I've lost 3 out of the last 4 in his league dammit. Fortunately I'm still in the playoff hunt in both leagues. Yeay! I'm doing horribly in my pick 'em pools though. Bah.


I'm still off of Hockey, and the Kings don't seem to be doing much to bring me back. They have been at .500 twice this season, and are now under 500 by something like three games. They need to start WINNING games, they're skating well, but not winning, just like the last three seasons.

Celebrity Sightings

This last week was a very strange one for me. Living in the capital of the entertainment industry I do often see celebrities in public, so many that I forget about them half the time. Last week was a feast for the eyes though. I saw Scott Ian of Anthrax leaving my local Target (with wife I guess), and he acknowledged me when I asked him about Battlestar Galactica, so that was cool. I saw Thom Christopher (soap opera actor and he played "Hawk" on the old Buck Rogers in the 25th Century TV show in my local post-office. I see b-movie actor Tracey Walter all the time in Beverly Hills now, I think he lives there.

The sighting of the week though HAS to be when I was at Toys R Us on Friday picking up a couple packs of Topps Basketball, I noticed that there was a tall good looking lady with seemed like a dozen kids checking out a HUGE basket of toys. I could hear the English accent lilt across the room, but I didn't think much of it, because she was with a HUGE blonde American guy. I got in line next to him, and noticed he had a Secret-Service type earpiece in and was talking to someone else outside. Hmm...then there was the HUGE SUV outside, not sure what type, but it was massive and brand new. Then I realized who it was I was standing next to, Mrs. Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice. I asked the bodyguard very slyly if it was indeed her, but he just shrugged as they all do. It was her, I recognized some of the tats on her back. You know what, not as attractive in person to be honest. Her kids were really cool though, my daughter was being rambunctious so I was really paying more attention to her than Posh. But it was something.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Your 2008 World Series Champions - The Philadelphia Phillies

In what will have to go down as the worst rated series and the matchup that no body outside of Tampa or Philadelphia wanted to see, the Phillies won their second WS title in 126 years. Good for them.

Actually it's kind of cool, they played good ball when it counted, and that means a lot. I was happy for the Rays to even get there, they played their hearts out, but came up short in the end. Cinderella made it to the ball, she just didn't get the glass slipper.

And so it ends. For two lovely days all four major sports in the United States were going at the same time. That doesn't happen very often, or at least, it SHOULDN'T happen very often.

Now the less interesting part of baseball will begin, the business. It used to disgust me how Baseball would dole out it's post-season awards one per day for about two weeks, but I now see why they do; Baseball is at a cross-roads. It is the game of the 19th Century, changing little since the adoption of the foul-strike rule in 1903. When it boils down to it, mechanically they're still playing the same game. Of course the athletes and equipment are technologically advanced, but the game itself is still the same.

As much as those of us who like baseball still do so, we have to realize that our past-time has certainly seen it's time pass. Still, MLB is doing some things right, their internet business outpaced the other sports by leaps and bounds, and continues to lead the pack in terms of embracing new technologies. The move to instant-replay is a good one, and while I don't want to see the human element of umpiring removed, replays can certainly enhance the game by getting calls CORRECT.

Of course the real business of the off-season is in player movement, who's going to sign with whom, what trades are there going to be, what rookies are coming up, etc. That stuff is already begininning and there will be a rash of it as soon as Free Agency begins. The "Where Will Manny Sign?" quest is going to begin shortly. I'm as intrigued as the next guy, but ultimately it won't be my number one sports interest this Winter. That will be the UCLA Bruins Men's Basketball team.

Go Bruins.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Adventures in eBay - Part of an Ongoing Saga

Howdy all, I'd like to call your attention to some items I'm currently selling on eBay. I need to get rid of some older sets of cards that I no longer have a passion for, namely wrestling cards.

Yes, I know wrestling isn't real, it's scripted. I've known for years and years, but it doesn't bother me. The entire "sport" and what it's become bothers me, but for sheer entertainment value, you couldn't get more bang for your buck than wrestling in the 80's and 90's. I've collected a LOT of sets in my past, from all sorts of subjects besides sports, and wrestling cards were always a favorite. My wife is very glad that I haven't delved into the recent Topps Heritage WWE cards. ESPECIALLY since 95% of my favorite wrestlers are now retired.

So on the Bay you'll find an odd assortment of wrestling cards that I no longer want or need. Some are complete sets, others are just short. I hope you might find something you like and will buy it from me, and if you do, and as an added incentive, if you inform me that you read about my latest auctions on my blog, I'll give you a 10% discount on your final purchase price as a rebate (meaning I'll refund you 10% of your final purchase price when you pay).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Custom Cards on a Budget

Readers, have you ever want to make your own custom trading cards? Well, you can on the web in a number of places. Both Topps and Upper Deck have programs on their sites that let you upload your own images and create your own text. Problem is that they tend to be not on the cheap side. Upper Deck's program "My Own Trading Cards" program is currently being updated, which is good because the previous iteration of the program had only a few uninspiring designs, none of which were actually based on real Upper Deck cards.

Topps actually offers quite a few designs, including classic set designs like '59, '72, '74, '75, '76, '77, '87, '07 and '08, as well as a couple of nifty insert types AND Wacky Packages templates. Not only do they have nicer templates, but they also offer a number of different color selections within each template so you can really customize your cards. You also get to include as much information as you can fit on the back of a card, if you have a little-leaguer you can put his or her actual stats, or you can make up your own. The pricing is not great though, the most expensive package is the 5 cards for $10 deal, and the cheapest is 1000 cards for $420, so it ranges from 42 cents to $2 per card depending on your quantity. The cards are supposed to be printed on the same presses as their retail cards. At some point I'd love to order cards of my daughter once a year so that I have a complete set!

There are, of course, many many other companies that will do pretty much the same thing, and most of them have really nice templates, though you can only get official designs from Topps and UD. The nice thing about third-party presses is that the pricing won't be quite as steep, you're looking at between 25 cents and $1.00 per card depending on quantity.

BUT this is the BUDGET Sports Card Collector, I wouldn't be doing my job very well if I didn't have a deal to tell you about. Nestle's Drumstick Ice Cream has been running a promotion all Summer, and it's still going on now that gets you 16 Custom Topps cards for the bargain price of $4.19 in shipping plus two product codes from Drumstick packages. Here's the real secret, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BUY THE ICE CREAM - simply copy down the codes off of two packages in the store, and go to this site to start off your cards.

You don't get the same selection of cards, only the last three years' worth of designs, which actually has one design that's not available on their mainstream site (the 2006 design). The text options on the back isn't quite as good either, and you don't get to put on a card number like you do with the paid versions, but hey, they're a lot cheaper. I just ordered a set of cards of my daughter today, and here's the pics:

Personally I love custom trading cards, and I already have two of them of myself. One I made in 1992 at the All-Star Fantasy-Fest when the Baseball All-Star game was held at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. They had a booth set up where you took a picture in front of a backdrop in your favorite team's uniform and they printed it on a trading card. These aren't the same stock as normal cards, and the photo isn't near the quality of a retail card, but they're still nice, and they were free. I got a second one done at the Hockey fan-fest when the Hockey All-Star game was held at Staples Center, and that's pictured below. I also got to touch and take a picture with the Stanley Cup that day, so it was all good. My biggest complaint is the back of the card, the stats are nowhere NEAR realistic, but again, it was free.

I love the fact that I played in 76 out of 80 games, but that 3.2 Goals Against has GOT to come down if my team is going anywhere...

So has anyone else ever had custom cards done? Got pics?

Monday, October 20, 2008

2008 Upper Deck Baseball Wants

Right now I'm only going to list regular cards (by number, I didn't look up the names to be honest). If you can help me complete this set, I'd be much obliged. I have a TON of doubles for this set, and of course, I've got the team-trading thing set up. Just let me know what you want and I'll see what I can do.

Here we go:

Star Quest (Can be any rarity)

Base Cards

As you can see it's a lot of Series 1 cards, and not much from Series 2. I busted quite a bit more of Series 2 than Series 1, dunno why, just did.

The other sets that I'm considering putting together from 2008 products are Allen & Ginter (currently about half complete), Topps Base (maybe 60% complete) and UD Baseball Heroes. I'm giving up on Topps Heritage, because even though I love the cards, I cannot possibly put a set together. Next year I'm going to pick one set outside of the base brands (call me crazy, but I'm a sucker for base brands, must come from the fact that when I started collecting cards, that's all you could get) and that's going to be my set for the season.

Weekend Sports Wrap-Up & This and That

World Serious?

I completely underestimated the tenacity of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, losing game six only to come from behind to win game 7 and a trip to the Big Dance. I honestly don't really care who wins the World Series, though if I had to pick I'd say I'm rooting for the Rays. I love it when teams who have never won a championship win their first one, it's always a special moment. I also don't particularly care for the Phillies, though I don't hate them either.

I would think that several executives at Fox are shitting bricks right about now, estimating that they'll get the lowest ratings of any World Series that they've shown. Ratings have been pretty low for the World Series since the 2004 edition (featuring the BoSox vs. the Cards) which got a 15.8 average with about 25 million viewers. The last several years the ratings have been just above a 10 average with about 15 million viewers. Think about that number for a second, if there's about 305 million people in the U.S., 15 million viewers is less than 5% of the population. If you compare the numbers to the Superbowl, you get a HUGE disparity because of the 40+ ratings that the big game gets year in and year out. What that translates to is that almost HALF of the U.S. population tunes into the Superbowl at some point during the game.

Now the World Series does get better ratings than both the NHL and the NBA finals. The NBA finals routinely draw under 10 ratings, and in fact haven't scored higher than last year's 9.2 since 2004! The NHL finals aren't really even in the same ballpark in reality, they aren't on broadcast TV and they don't even draw more than a couple of points each season. I could go on for days on television ratings as they fascinate me to no end, however, I would just be flogging the same dead animal. Football is America's #1 sport and everything else pales in comparison.

Adjusted for Inflation

Wasn't like that when I was a kid, but then again gas was under $1.00 a gallon when I was a kid too. Heck the year I was born (1971) the average price for a gallon of gas was just over 35 cents. Adjusted for inflation that would be about 1.77 now. Then again, my first packs of trading cards were $0.25 in 1977, and today they're at least $2.00 or more. It gets worse though. Comic books were $0.35 when I started collecting, now you're LUCKY if you can find a comic with under a $2.99 cover price, and more likely they're $3.99 or higher. In fact in the last two weeks I've bought two, count 'em TWO comic books both with the $3.99 cover price (The Barack Obama comic and the new Ghostbusters comic both from IDW).

Inflation only covers some of the increase in prices. That 35 cent comic according to the inflation caluclator should cost 85 cents now, BUT they don't make comics like they did in 1977. For one, the paper and printing process are all very high tech now, that old newsprint that will distintigrate over time is long-gone, replaced with fancy glossy stock. The old hand coloring and hand lettering processes have joined the dodo in extinction with most everything being done by computer. Same thing goes with trading cards. What you bought for a quarter back in 1977 (any set of Topps really) doesn't exist anymore. For that price you got 10 cards, one of which was always screwed up by the wax wrapper, and another of which might be screwed up by the gum, which was bloody awful. Now I respect both Topps and UD for having entry level card sets that approximate the old days in both tone and set content, but the card stock and photography are all technologically advanced. When you think about it though, for a dollar you do get about the same contents as you would in 1977. Then again, I didn't have the opportunity to pull an autogamer or a piece of a dead Presidents hair in 1977 either. I could pull a C-3PO card with a stiffy so it's all good.

Fantasy Football Update

I lost BOTH games this weekend, second time in two weeks. UGH. My players just had awful days in both leagues, and I didn't pay much attention to my lineups on Sunday, which meant that I ended up starting Chris Chambers when he didn't even play. In my league my top four performers all scored in double digits, but the remaining guys didn't break 7 and that was for my defense. In Gellman's league, where I WAS tied for first place, I did horribly scoring my worst performance of the year. Thankfully it's only week 7 and there are 7 more weeks to go in both leagues. In my league I'm 3-4, tied for 5th place. I'd still be in the playoffs though because top 6 go in my league. In Gellman's league I'm now 5-2 and there is currently a five way tie for first. Talk about parity. The three teams that WERE tied for first last week at 5-1 all lost, and the two teams that were 4-2 both won, leaving a HUGE log-jam at the top. I believe that I still have the number one seed though, like it means much since there's only 4 teams in that league that make the playoffs. I need a few of my guys to get healthy really quickly, just like the UCLA Bruins Football squad.

This or That

I'm working on a piece about the difference between retail and hobby, when to buy what and why. Seems like this is always a sore subject with hobby bloggers, and I think that my take will be a little different than most. Here's a quick preview: I like retail, but I'd prefer to shop hobby, even though currently I buy more at retail. There.

My next post will be my list of needs to complete a 2008 Upper Deck Baseball set. You might remember that I was able to get a box of both series gratis from Upper Deck, not to review or anything like that, though DAMN I wish that I could get free product like Chris and Mario (kudos to both of you too), but because I enrolled my child into the Upper Deck Kids Points Club, and amassed a huge number of points in a short amount of time. If anyone's interested I'll do a post on the club in the future and other freebies that you can get from the hobby.

The "Free" Controversy

Speaking of freebies, I'd like to weigh in on the current blogger controversy between Mario of Wax Heaven, Chris of Stale Gum and JV of Treasure Never Buried. If you don't know what's going on, in a nutshell, Mario announced with pride that he had been contacted by Upper Deck to start receiving free product that he can review on his blog. Pretty standard stuff to be honest, this goes on in pretty much every industry. As soon as the announcement was made other bloggers started to weigh in, JV being the most vocal. Mario was accused not of being less than objective, but rather lying to his readers about the origins of a couple of boxes he broke earlier in the year. Whoop-de-doo. Later Chris also announced that he had entered a similar agreement with UD and would also be getting free product. Both Mario and Chris are also sharing much of that product with readers through free contests.

Here's my take:

WHO THE HELL CARES if they get free product. AS I said earlier, free product is RAMPANT in pretty much every industry. DO you think that movie reviewers pay for their movies? No way no how. For every 100 movie reviews that a reviewer writes he or she will have paid for MAYBE one or two of those films. Why? Because the movie industry has set up a process where they screen films for critics for free, at least in major cities they do. I know this for a fact, I have family in the movie industry. I've been to COUNTLESS press screenings in Los Angeles dating back to the early 80's when my Uncle edited one of the oldest trade publications in Hollywood. It's been my privilege to see some great films days or weeks in advance, including a rough cut of Back to the Future in 1985 and two out of the three Star Wars prequels.

The same thing goes for DVD reviewers, they get FREE copies of the DVDs they review. If they didn't they wouldn't review them, plain and simple. Book reviewers get advanced copies, they show up on eBay all the time (seriously do a search in the books section for ARC or Advance Reader Copies). Plays aren't any different, critics are given passes to early performances or full dress rehersals. This is the way of the industry my friends. Television critics often get cool advance DVDs with episodes on them way before they hit the airwaves.

It doesn't just go for the media either, I worked for Price Club for several years in their buying office. Samples would just show up at work, and though we had a strict no "graft" policy, most of the samples would end up in some employee's hands. Hell I had a Hasbro Millenium Falcon that they gave us as a sample for the toy department on my desk for YEARS in the 90's, and when I left the company they let me take it home. Wasn't just toys either, jewelry, watches, cameras, food, clothing, gifts - you name it, it got sampled.

Did I mention that I haven't paid to get into a major convention since the early 90's either? I went to two or three Wizard World Los Angeles cons, a couple of GenCon Anaheim cons, and I stopped paying for San Diego Comic Con in 1988. Granted I haven't been to one since 1997, but from 1989 to 1996 I didn't pay a thing to get in.

Does this have anything to do with objectivity? Absolutely not. Whether you pay for something or not, as a reviewer you are OBLIGED (get it) to be objective in your opinion. Those who question other's objectivity have issues with their own. As I learned in journalism class, your integrity is the most important thing you can have, you have to be objective to be a journalist. Now, I don't really consider blogging to be professional journalism, it's more of an amateurish kind of thing, that said, bloggers should STILL conform to the rules of professional journalism. They should be fact-checking their articles and confirming their sources. Both Chris and Mario have their own domains, meaning they've paid someone some money to host their site. The don't get any income as far as I know for doing what they do, they do it out of love. Surely they're entitled to some perks along the way.

Now, having said all that, if you have some stuff you'd like ME to review, go ahead and shoot me an email to wmnoe at yahoo dot com, and I'll be happy to review it for you, no matter what it is. I promise to give an unbiased objective opinion as well. Even if it's McFarlane Sports Picks toys. Really.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Good Sports Weekend So Far

It's only Saturday night, and thus far, my favorite teams have done pretty well this weekend. Last night the Los Angeles Kings won a tight game against the Hurricanes in OT on a great shot by Micheal Handzus with an assist by Alexander Frolov. The Kings won their second in a row and got back to .500, and they did it coming from behind. I've been slagging on the Kings now for several seasons because it just didn't seem like they had what it takes to be a contender, and they still might not this season, BUT they looked an awful lot better last night than against the Sharks those first two games of the season.

Might be time to dig out my Hockey card collection from storage. Yes, I used to collect Hockey cards as well, from about 1999 to roughly 2002 I was fairly hardcore with Hockey being my only sports collectable. At the time I was also collecting UDE's Versus game and WizKids Heroclix, as well as toys, so my collecting dollar was being spent all over the place. I've got a couple of 3200 count boxes in storage, that I'm thinking I should go grab one of these days, if nothing else to check my Kings collection and then get rid of everything else. I'm sure I've got some nice RCs in there, though I stopped collecting before Sid the Kid hit the sport.

Because DAMN, I really like that OPC card design, reminds me of some great 80's hockey cards.

UCLA squeaks out victory against the Cardinal 23-20

I started off listening to this game on the radio while I was coming back from the grocery store with my daughter. One thing I knew was going to happen did during the first quarter, Stanford broke their scoreless streak in the Rose Bowl which had been going since 2002. What I didn't know was going to happen was that Kevin Craft would play a phenomenal game yet again.

This was pretty much a "must-win" game for the Bruins, though honestly I think they're all must-wins at this point if they're going to make a bowl game, and even then, that's iffy. I had the chance to actually go to this game, and I turned down tickets because I couldn't convince the wife that sitting in the hot Pasadena sun for four hours on one of her two days off was a good use of her time. She spent the time making a Halloween costume for our daughter instead, and I can't really complain about that. (Click the link to see it).

At one point in the 2nd quarter the Bruins were down 14-3, but they never gave up and never lost sight of a victory. The half ended at 14-6 after Forbath's second field goal. Stanford opened the 3rd quarter with a long drive that ended with UCLA's Ward picking off a Pritchard pass on the Bruins 42. Craft took over on offense but went three plays for -11 yards and the Bruins punted. Fortunately the Cardinal fumbled and the Bruins took over at the Stanford 30. Six plays later the Bruins scored and the game was 14-13.

Forbath kicked a third FG at the start of the 4th quarter and the Bruins led 16-14. Stanford kicked FGs on consecutive possessions and it was 20-16 with about 2:23 remaining and the Bruins started on their own 13 yard line.

On the final series of the game the third-string QB went 6-8 for 60 yards and a TD, but get this, he had completions to FIVE different receivers. Oh and he rushed for a couple of yards too. In the end he was 23 out of 41 for 284 yards, 2 TDs and 1 pick. He did get sacked 7 times though for 44 yards lost, and that's never good, but with UCLA's offensive line being what it is, at least Craft is still healthy.

A little rain must always fall somewhere, sometime

Unfortunately the Red Sox are leading the Rays 2-1 in the top of the 4th at the moment. This does not make me happy at all, because I feel like if the Sox win tonight they'll take the series tomorrow, and then who knows in the World Series. It scares me because IF the Sox make it to the Series, they'll probably go back-to-back, and I would just hate that. Yes, I hate the Sox officially, they've been added to my list of hated teams.

Just because I can, here's that list:

WildWill's Hated Sports Teams

IN order of level of despisedness


  1. New York Yankees
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers (though not NEARLY as much as #1 and #2)


  1. Boston Celtics
  2. New York Knicks


  1. San Francsico 49ers
  2. Denver Broncos
  3. Washington Redskins
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers


  1. Colorado Rockies
  2. Detroit Red Wings
  3. Montreal Canadians
  4. Toronto Maple Leafs
  5. New York Rangers


  1. Univer$ity of $poiled Children
  2. Notre Dame
  3. BYU

Yeah, that's about it. I can't stand any of those teams. In fantasy sports I won't have anyone from those teams on my team. Seriously. Unless I'm collecting a full set, I'll trade those teams away faster than any other.


It's odd, I really want to see a Philadelphia/Tampa Bay World Series just because it would really, really upset Fox Sports. Here they were champing at the bit to air a Boston/Los Angeles matchup and piggyback on the ratings of the last NBA Championships, but NOOOOOOOO....the Phillies had to kill that dream. I'd also like to see the Rays win it all to be honest, I like Joe Maddon (ex-Angel) and they play just like the Halos should be playing.

UCLA Basketball Practice Starts!

The Bruins started practice yesterday, coach Howland choosing to eschew a "midnight madness" type of event, rather he made it a point of having a locked and serious practice saying this in the LA TImes: "There's not much time until the first game, I don't want to waste a practice." Okay, we getcha coach, you're serious about this stuff. Good, we are too. See in Westwood NOTHING is acceptable for our Men's BBall program except a National Championship. Sucks doesn't it? It's especially bad now that Howland has taken the Bruins to three straight final-fours and has three starters returning AND four freshmen pheonoms coming in. As much fun as I had last season following Kevin Love's one and done year, this year could be even better. Though improving on a 35-4 season is going to be difficult, I have no doubt that this is the year we hang #12

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chris Mims - Former San Diego Charger - Dead at age 38

From the Los Angeles Times:
by Sam Farmer

Chris Mims, a starting defensive end on San Diego's only Super Bowl team, was found dead Wednesday in his downtown Los Angeles apartment.

Mims, 38, was discovered by police around 9:30 a.m. at his residence in the 600 block of S. Flower Street.

Police said there was no evidence of foul play. The coroner's office did not give an immediate cause of death, pending an autopsy and toxicology report.

A first-round draft pick of the Chargers in 1992, Mims was a standout at Dorsey High and in junior college at Pierce, Harbor and Southwest before transferring to Tennessee.

He showed a lot of promise early in his career, collecting 11 sacks in the 1994 season when San Diego won the AFC championship and played San Francisco in the Super Bowl. He had just two sacks the next season, however, and ran afoul of coaches when he missed meetings and had several off-the-field problems. Among his legal troubles over the years were charges of assault, vandalism, and driving under the influence.

But some former San Diego players say Mims, who played at 300 pounds or heavier, was a well-liked member of the team.

"He was never a problem for the team," former Chargers linebacker Gary Plummer said. "He was just a happy-go-lucky guy. Coaches don't always like a defensive player who's jovial and laughing all the time. They want somebody who's going to go out and rip someone's head off. That wasn't Chris."

Mims spent five seasons with San Diego, then played one season for the Washington Redskins before returning to the Chargers for the 1998 and '99 seasons. His career ended in 2000, when he was cut in training camp by Chicago after missing a practice because he overslept.

"When I first got [to San Diego] I was good for the situation. When I came back [in 1998] I wasn't good for the situation," he told the Chicago Tribune in 2000. "I don't think the coaching staff was comfortable with me and I wasn't with them. I wasn't mad; I was relieved. I was just sitting on the fence and waiting for something to knock me off."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


It's odd when someone famous dies, at first one's reaction is shock and of course a lament that you'll never get to see that person perform again. However, when the famous person is someone that you have a personal connection to, it's a whole other story. Example: when Paul Newman died a few weeks ago I was shocked and sad that America had lost one of her best actors and a great humanitarian. That said, I never met Mr. Newman, I only followed his career from the time I could remember who he was (which let's face it, was probably only in the late 70's). Don't get me wrong, I love his films, especially The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke and Nobody's Fool, but the impact of his passing on my life is pretty small.

NOW, this afternoon as I'm feeding my daughter lunch I'm reading the Sports section of the L.A. Times and I'm actually jolted by the headline. Mims wasn't a good friend of mine, no, but he was someone that I had met on a number of occasions at training camp and he was one of the nicest players one could meet. Over the course of a couple years he signed no less than five trading cards of mine (four of which are scanned below) and we spoke about practice and how the Chargers were going to do that year. Mims was a stand up individual who had a stellar first couple of seasons and as the article above stated, got himself into some trouble and cut short his career after 8 years, but I'll remember those glorious early years when he was terrorizing the opposing quarterbacks.

So today let's mourn his passing and remember his play on the field. RIP Chris.