Sunday, December 16, 2018

Wacky Wrestling VHS Boxes #11

So, I meant to post this the day of Survivor Series back in November, however, I was stuck in my blog "doldrum" so to speak during that time. So instead, this will be a month late and tonight is the annual "WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs" event (and honestly one of my favorites of the year). What better way to talk about that, than talking about some old wrestling tapes.

Survivor Series 1988
Scan credit: Canadian Collection

The Survivor Series started off in 1987 as a new pay-per-view event designed to piggyback off the success of WrestleMania III and the Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan match that headlined it. It was also run in opposition to the first NWA/JCP pay-per-view event, Starrcade 1987. The 1988 version of the event featured the Mega Powers co-captaining a team against a team co-captained by the Big Boss Man and Akeem, collectively known as the Twin Towers. The most notable thing to come out of this show was the big tag team double turn of the Powers of Pain and Demolition, with Mr. Fuji turning on Demolition and joining up with the Powers of Pain to be their new manager. This led into a match at WrestleMania V between the two with Fuji teaming with the Powers of Pain to challenge Demolition for the tag titles.

I recently watched this event all the way through for the first time and it was an ok show, nothing too insane but provided a good base for some of the event going into WrestleMania 5 the upcoming spring. The VHS covers for the early Survivor Series shows weren't all that impressive either, with this one just showing Hogan and Savage on the front. One other thing I always found interesting was that Coliseum Video labeled the Survivor Series starting with this one as the "2nd Annual" Survivor Series. That would get confusing a bit down the line in the early 90s when it was the "5th Annual" and "6th Annual" on the spine.

WWF Terminators (1996)

Scan credit: Canadian Collection

In the mid-90s, WWF compilation tapes like this seemed to be really hard to find. The only tapes that seemed to be found in video stores and retail stores were the pay-per-view tapes from the "big five". If memory serves me right, tapes like theseThis particular tape is a whole lot of matches from early 1996 and includes the infamous football themed "Raw Bowl" match where wrestlers fought in football jerseys. 

While I always liked the tapes of the pay-per-view events, getting to see some of these more rare compilation tapes is a treat for me. I was able to acquire a DVD copy of this tape via someone on a wrestling message board about ten years ago. The first half of the tape is lots of stuff from Raw tapings in early 1996 but my favorite part was the second half with random matches taped before Superstars tapings and a couple really odd matches with Ringmaster (aka Steve Austin) against Fatu and Jake "The Snake" Roberts against Tatanka. This is something I would try to recommend to watch if you can find it.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1995

Scan credit: The Canadian Collection

WCW always had their hits and misses but one thing they always knew how to do right was Halloween. Take for example this box for the 1995 edition of Halloween Havoc. This box just screams "halloween". You've got Hulk Hogan smashing a jack-o-lantern with his bare hands and a funky looking background to boot. On the back The Giant is striking his best "mummy" pose and the match listing is bordered in some type of mystery ooze. 

The event itself wasn't really anything to write home about and is known for the infamous Monster Truck Match between Hulk Hogan and The Giant which culminated in Hogan throwing Giant off the roof of the arena. The actual match between the two occurred shortly thereafter and featured the debut of the Yeti, who proceeded to accomplish absolutely nothing. It's really no stretch to say that the box of this tape may actually be better than the event itself. 

WWF Survivor Series 1991

Scan credit: The Canadian Collection

Whenever I see this cover, I always think it has to do with Halloween but it doesn't. The 1991 Survivor Series tagline was "The Gravest Challenge" as the main event featured Hulk Hogan defending the WWF Title against the Undertaker. The box just has a spooky feel to it with the tombstone in the background, the dark leaves, etc. It's one of those boxes where the artwork just absolutely grabs you and that was the case for a number of VHS boxes during this time. Whoever was in charge of the artwork was on the top of their game!

This event holds the distinction of being the first Survivor Series to have a WWF Championship match. The match itself set off a chain reaction of things, starting with Ric Flair interference in the match which lead to a Hogan/Undertaker rematch a week later at a special Tuesday night pay-per-view. That match, and the chaos in it, led to the title being vacated and being given to the winner of the 1992 Royal Rumble match (which is a classic). That was such a fun time period and probably the peak of that whole early 90s era.

So theres another batch of old wrestling video tape boxes. I'm going to try to get another round of these out for Royal Rumble but since that's only about six weeks away, I may just hold off until WrestleMania weekend.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Around the Horn: Baltimore Orioles

Time for another entry in the "Around the Horn" series .... up now the Baltimore Orioles.

This team presented me with a conundrum I've yet to face so far in this series, teams that moved cities and changed their identities completely. I considered doing a separate entry on those teams themselves but there wasn't enough content to warrant that.

I mentioned that because through the first half of the 20th century, the Orioles were actually the St. Louis Browns, a team that was at or near the bottom of the American League for most of their existence. I didn't realize until I was digging out Browns cards that Eddie Plank spent the last two years of his career with the team after being jettisoned by the A's in 1914 and spending 1915 in the Federal League.

The Browns only made one appearance ever in the World Series, 1944, where they lost in six games to their National League brethren the Cardinals. Rick Ferrell spent a total of 8 years on and off with the Browns. Ned Garver was an All-Star pitched for the team in their waning years, going 20-12 with a 3.73 ERA for a 1951 Browns team that finished dead last.

Speaking of the 1951 Browns, that's the year that Satchel Paige debuted with the team. It's nice to see Topps producing modern cards of Paige and chronicling his run with the Browns.

This is by far my favorite St. Louis Browns card. It just so happens to also be the first 1952 Topps card I ever bought. I was at one of the local card shops thumbing through the discount vintage box when I came across this for the low, low price of only $4. I couldn't resist the urge so I grabbed it up. I'm slowly adding as many decent 52 Topps cards to my collection as I can. There's no way I'll ever be able to afford the star cards or even some of the "name" players but if I see commons like this at a decent price, I'll gladly snap them up.

Some of you may remember seeing this card during my recap of my most recent card show visit. I figured it was appropriate to show it again here, considering it's now the oldest Orioles card in my collection. The Browns relocated to Baltimore and were rechristened the Orioles after the 1953 season. From what I've been told by fellow bloggers on the card show post, this Preacher Roe card is one of the earliest examples of a "zero year" card out there as Roe never appeared for a single game for Baltimore.

For the longest time, this was my oldest Orioles card, a 1962 Topps Boog Powell rookie card. I remember buying this card from a 3 for $5 vintage bin at a card show a number of years ago. I forgot the other cards that I got from that deal but I just think this is a super cool looking card.

The Orioles have a had a number of great players over the years but perhaps there was none greater that Cal Ripken Jr. Much like Ken Griffey Jr. with the Mariners, if someone mentions the Orioles, I guarantee the first thought goes to Cal Ripken.

Like I did with Griffey, I decided to show off all the Ripken cards in my collection. If my counting was correct, I have 42 different Ripken cards. I guess you could say I have a decent collection of his cards. If I had to pick some favorites, I'd say the Topps Big League card, the Highlight of the Year card, and the Gold Standard card right below it. 

My most interesting card by far is the Leaf "Slideshow" card from 1995. The deal with these is that there's a second card that goes with it and by putting the cards together, you'll get a cool slideshow of the player. For the 90s, it's a pretty interesting concept although 1995 was the last time Leaf would do it with baseball.

Jim Palmer is another Orioles player I tend to collect and I can usually find his cards for a decent price. Photography was not the strong suit of early Fleer cards but I really do like the one of him getting ready to throw.

The Orioles made out like bandits when they got Frank Robinson in the now infamous December 1965 trade with the Reds. The Reds, who thought Robby was over the hill, sent him east for three players, the most notable being Milt Pappas, who did next to nothing in a Reds uniform. Robinson proved the Reds wrong, winning AL MVP in his first season in orange and finishing in the top twelve of MVP voting in all but one season in Baltimore. 

The "other" Robinson on the Orioles was Brooks Robinson, who spent his entire 23-year career manning third. I'm not a super big Brooks Robinson collector but I'll pick up a card of his here and there, especially if it's a neat looking card like the two Stadium Club cards.

One of the most notable "short term stops" in history is Reggie Jackson with Orioles. Everyone remembers his time with the A's and Yankees, but most forget he had a quick stop off in Baltimore during the 1976 season. 

Eddie Murray is more of an unintentional player collection. I've got cards of his from nearly every team he's been with. I guess I should probably add him to the official PC list as I always tend to keep cards of his when I find them in repacks, yard sale purchases, card shows, etc.

Who doesn't love 1971 Topps? The team card I got in one of my best community yard sales hauls of all time a few years ago. My goal for 1971 Topps is just like 1952 Topps, acquire as many of the cards in the set as I can without breaking the bank.

Here's a bunch of random 80s cards. It's really hard to pick a favorite from this batch. Rick Dempsey and Mike Flanagan on mid-80s cards, a fresh-faced Pete Harnisch on an 89 Donruss card, the pop of the orange on Lee May's 1980 Topps card. There's a whole lot to like here.

Fred Lynn as an Oriole is just strange to me. 

I find it a bit strange that Davey Johnson is listed as both "2nd base" and "Manager" on this card. He wouldn't manage the Orioles until 1996 and this card was issued in 1990. Oh well, still, it's the lone oddball card I have in my Orioles cards.

Here's a whole slew of random 90s cards. I'd forgotten Rick Sutcliffe pitched for Baltimore. As a kid, I always thought Mike Mussina would be with the Orioles forever as he was their star pitcher throughout the 90s. Also, how can you not love Brady Anderson climbing the outfield wall?

Chris Sabo spent the 1994 season with the Orioles as a DH/outfielder. His stints with different teams such as the Orioles and White Sox are what led me to be a collector of "short term stops" cards.

Eric Davis had the last great season of his career in 1998 as a member of an O's squad that finished near the bottom of the AL East. He hit .327 with 28 HRs and 89 RBIs and finished in the top 20 of MVP voting.

Joe Carter played the majority of his final season with that same 1998 team and appeared in 85 games before being traded to the Giants for minor leaguer Darin Blood.

I always thought this was a neat card with both Manny Machado and Cal Ripken on it. I really felt like the so-called "pundits" went crazy last summer with the Machado trade stuff and interviewing him about it in the dugout at the All-Star Game was ridiculous.

I like this card mainly because of the old school style uniforms. 

Finally, some newer cards with a random Nick Markakis card thrown in just because of the picture on it. Last season, the Orioles had a horrible record at 47-115, the second worst record since 2000, only behind the 2003 Detroit Tigers who posted a 43-119 record.

Well, that's it for the Orioles/Browns edition of "Around the Horn". Next up will be another team with two identies ... the Texas Rangers/Washington Senators.

Monday, December 3, 2018

My Favorite First Card of 2018

I'm going to kill two birds with one stone here.

I had planned on doing an end of year post about my favorite "first card" I pulled from various 2018 packs. Then, P-Town Tom announced his annual "favorite card" post. I figure why not wrap them together into one post?

I opened packs from seven different baseball products in 2018 ... Flagship (including Series 1 and 2), Heritage, Opening Day, Donruss, Gypsy Queen, Big League, and Archives. As I mentioned earlier, each card you see here is the first card I pulled out of the first pack of each product and I'll have a brief summary of my thoughts of each product as well.

2018 Topps Flagship (Series 1 and 2)

I went crazy back in February when Series 1 was released and bought a ton of packs and hanger boxes. I have a feeling I'll probably do the same thing this coming February when 2019 Topps hits the shelves. I really liked this years design with the "waterslide" design. The photos on some of the cards were definitely inspired too and a few even had a Stadium Club feel to them with the photography. It's definitely a lot better than when they started the borderless base cards in 2016.

2018 Heritage

Heritage this year played host to one of my favorite vintage designs, the 1969 Topps set. While it was hard to find at first, once I did find it, I really enjoyed it. Plus the initial two hanger boxes I bought produced a Giancarlo Stanton relic card. I ended up going back for more ... well, lots more ... when Target ran a big Easter sale. 

2018 Opening Day

Sure, this is pretty much the same thing as Flagship but it being Opening Day, it had a number of fun inserts and was decidedly cheaper. I imagine I was looking for something cheap to rip into so that's why I bought a blaster of it. Of course, Aaron Judge had to be the first card I pulled from the first pack but the main thing I like about this particular card is the return of the Topps Rookie Cup!

2018 Panini Donruss

I've been a big supporter of Donruss since Panini revived the line about four years ago. I really, really liked the base card throwback design of 2017 but this year, I felt the base cards left a lot to be desired. The design was very busy, the photography was not good, and the airbrushed out logos and team nicknames were patently obvious. However, when I opened my first pack of Donruss this Nolan Ryan card was the card on top. I like it because Donruss did a really good job of throwing back to the 1984 design, the airbrushing is barely noticeable (except for the cap), and I can tell it's from a game at old Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati because of the blue seats in the background. I'm hoping Donruss can step up their game next year.

2018 Gypsy Queen

I've been a Gypsy Queen fan since the 2015 design. I've yet to see a GQ design that can top that one, I really did like this years effort. I was only able to get my hands on some retail packs as part of the aforementioned Target Easter sale but from what I was able to sample, I really enjoyed it. The only thing I wasn't a big fan of were the variations and parallels (because who really needs a parallel of a card where the back plate is missing) but other than that I really liked it.

2018 Big League

My aunt treated me to a box of this back in the summer when she came to visit from Tulsa. I'll admit, I wasn't sure what to expect with these cards. I'd heard they were more of the set builders variety and were low on inserts and hits but were more on the "fun" side of collecting. I really liked the design on them and honestly, that design could've probably worked as a flagship design too. A few complaints I had about it though is that there was one gold parallel card per pack, which I felt was a bit too much, and there weren't all that many "inserts" as well, the main one I even remember are those obtuse and goofy looking caricature cards. 

2018 Archives

I was so excited for Archives to come out that when I finally found a Target that had some, I stopped in at 10:45 at night to stock up. What I found was a bit of a let down. The cards themselves I felt were a bit thin and the designs weren't all that great this year. It was nice to see 1977 and 1981 in the set but I think maybe the 1961 or 1962 designs could've been used or maybe even 1993 to continue the theme of 1991 and 1992 in the previous two Archives releases. The inserts weren't even that great. Sure there were the Sandlot cards (which I promptly mailed to Dimebox Nick) but there were also the Rookie Reprints cards which I personally didn't care much for.

So that's the seven baseball products I opened in 2018. As for my favorite "first" card?

The winner is ....

Nolan Ryan from 2018 Donruss!

As I mentioned, I thought the 1984 throwback design cards were the best part of Donruss this year. That coupled with it being Nolan Ryan throwing in Riverfront Stadium, just makes it stand out for me.

I appreciate Tom running the contest for another year in a row and if all else fails and I don't win a prize, at least I got a blog post out of the deal. That should count for something I hope.