Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Break: Dec. 21st - Dec 28th

Hope everyone has been enjoying their holiday season so far, I know I am. As I did last year, I'm taking a bit of a break over Christmas to just relax, enjoy everything, and recharge my blogging batteries.

These last few days before Christmas are always hectic with planning holiday get togethers, wrapping last minute presents, and working right up to Christmas itself. As usual, we're hosting a Christmas Eve gathering of friends and family and and gift exchange with my family at our house and that should be lots of fun. On Christmas itself, it'll be pretty quiet with my wife, my son, and I doing our presents and then just relaxing for the rest of the day.

I hope everyone gets lots of cardboard goodies under their tree (or for Hanukkah if you're into that). I'll be back after Christmas with something new!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Happy Birthday to Me (2016 Edition)

I'm late putting this up as last night was pretty crazy and I didn't have any time to write. However, yesterday was my birthday. Since it was on a Monday, we spread the celebration out throughout the weekend, starting on Saturday. 

First off, we made a quick stop at the local pasty shop to pick up my cake and then headed out to the card shop. I grabbed a box of 1993 Donruss for myself off the discount shelf and my son picked out a pack of Pokemon cards. As a present from my aunt who lives out of state, she had given my mom some money to buy me a box of cards with. After much deliberation, I settled on a box of Donruss Optic. After the card shop, we headed over to Walmart to pick up a few groceries and lucky me, they had a nice stash of the Topps Holiday boxes on hand so I grabbed one of those as well. Finally, we finished up with a birthday lunch at Red Robin and headed home. After all was said and done on Saturday, here's what I ended up with, including the two repacks I'd grabbed from Walgreens last weekend.

Sunday was a pretty relaxing day. I busted open the Holiday Box during the afternoon (more on that to come in a future post) and then settled in with some pizza and the WWE Roadblock special on the WWE Network. Monday, though, was my birthday proper. I wasn't able to get the day off work unfortunately so all the fun was saved for when I got home.

For dinner, my wife made her specialty, chicken fajita quesadillas. It's simple but amazing with chicken, bell peppers, onions, a shredded four cheese blend, and fajita seasoning. After I took the picture, I added some sour cream and chipotle sauce to both quesadillas.

After dinner and clean up, I got down to business and opened my presents. Sure there were a few practical things but once I got those out of the way, I opened the fun stuff. The shirts above were from my wife. Shinsuke Nakamura is by far one of my favorite wrestlers in NXT. He's had an amazing debut match against Sami Zayn and had a great series with Samoa Joe throughout the summer and fall. Plus, if you haven't seen his ring entrance with the violinists, look it up. The other shirt is from my favorite podcast currently, the 6:05 Superpodcast, which is a good mix of wrestling history, some goofy comedy, and general fun. 

I also opened up some mail that I had been sitting on for a while. Picture above are the contents of some PWEs I received from fellow bloggers that I'll show in detail in a future post. I also opened up my Secret Santa package and it was awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I don't want to spoil it until I do a blog post on it. All in all, it was another fun birthday weekend.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

1993-94 Donruss Hockey Box Break

You may recall that back in October, my family and I ventured up to Akron for a weekend. While everyone went out to the mall, my uncle and I went out to the local card shops to kill some time before lunch. He's not really a mall person and neither am I and our excursion took us to first to Medina then over to Cuyahoga Falls to a place called All-Pro Sports Cards. I spotted this lonely box of 1993-94 Donruss hockey in a pile of junk wax boxes that were hidden behind a cardboard cutout of Harrison Ford as Hans Solo. Being a sucker for cheap wax, I gladly dropped a ten spot on the counter and brought it back home. Let's see what treasures, if any, this 22-year old box will offer.

Baseball fans may recognize the design, it's exactly like the 1994 Donruss design. I always like the way the team logos were presented on the cards, with a 3D-ish look to it. The photos are full bleed but the one issue I have is, like most sets from the 90s, there is foil to be had. Unlike some of the sets from 1995 (looking at you Leaf baseball), there isn't really enough of that to distract me but it can definitely make it a pain to read player names. Also, because of said foil, when I opened the packs, most of the cards were stuck together. I was able to detach them though without any major damage.

In the group above, you'll find a bunch of stars from the era (Messier, Gretzky, etc.) but I really like the Joe Sakic card of him as a member of the Nordiques. They would not be long for the world as the 1994-95 season would be their last in Quebec.

Everyone likes some goalies and there are five of the top goalies of the time. I was pretty happy to get both a Martin Brodeur and a Patrick Roy card from the box since they are my top two goalie PCs. The bottom two cards of Grant Fuhr and Ron Hextall are interesting to me as I don't recall them being on either team. 

Here's where the basic stuff ends and the fun stuff begins. Since the 1993-94 season was the first season for both the Panthers and the Ducks, their inaugural opening nights were commemorated in the base set with these cards. 

There are four types of insert cards to be found ... Special Print, Ice Kings, Rated Rookies, and Elite. Judging by the odds I found, it's reasonable to expect one Elite card per box. I'll start with the special print cards, which are nothing more than the base cards with fancy writing on the bottom and a giant foil stamp on the right. Also, each card says "special print 1 of 20,000" on the top so you don't know if you've got card 1 or card 15,542.

Next up, the Ice Kings. I really like these as they are done exactly like the Diamond Kings cards. This must be a Gretzky hot box as not only have I pulled the base card of him, I pulled the special print and an Ice Kings insert.

The Rated Rookies insert. To be honest, I've never heard of either of these guys but thanks to Hockey Reference, I was able to drum up some basic info on them. Mironov hung around the league for 10 years playing with Winnipeg in his rookie year before he was traded off to Edmonton. He also spent time with the Rangers and the Blackhawks. Daigle hung around for 12 years, the first 5 of which was spent with Ottawa. After that, he bounced around to the Flyers, Lightning, Rangers, Penguins, and finished up with the Wild during the 2005-06 season.

I guess this could be considered my "hit" of the box, a really sparkly Elite Series Eric Lindros card. I'm not exactly the biggest Lindros collector but I'm all for cool cards like this so it will definitely find a place in the hockey binder. 

For ten dollars, I was more than satisfied with this. I got a good batch of cards to add to my hockey collection, some good inserts, and about 30 minutes of fun. I'll be on the lookout for some more bargain hockey stuff on the discount racks, just as long as it's not Pro Set.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

You've Got Mail #56: Bob Walk the Plank

When I see certain packages or PWEs in my mailbox from certain people, I've come to know what to expect, so when I saw a small bubble mailer from Matt at BWTP I knew exactly what it would be, quality over quantity. 

Tony Cingrani has probably one of the most illegible signatures in all of baseball. I'm pretty sure that my doctor's signature is more legible. Regardless, he proved to be a rather helpful warm body, mostly in the bullpen, in the Springfield tire fire that was Cincinnati pitching last year. The though is for next season that he might be in the mix for the closers role along with Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias. If not, he'll be a good left-handed set up guy.

Look out, it's a giant floating head! Mesoraco has had two lost seasons in a row with hip and shoulder ailments and I'm really hoping that he can make it through a full season without suffering some sort of injury. In his absence, Tucker Barnhart proved he was more than capable of being an everyday catcher and if Mesoraco continues to show that he's made of glass as a catcher, I'm not sure what the Reds will do. Will they try him in the outfield? At third base? Who knows.

Thanks to Matt for these two great cards, they'll go nicely in my box of good stuff.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

You've Got Mail #55: Waiting 'Til Next Year

Everyone's favorite blogger from P-Town, Tom, was doing a cardboard clearance of sorts recently. I happened to be the beneficiary of some his unwanted cardboard of both Reds and Indians, to which I was elated. While I won't show everything that was included, because if I did, you'd be here until next Tuesday reading this, I'll hit the highlights.

Here are some cards from the early 2000s in the form of 2002 Diamond Kings and 2000 UD Ionix. The number of sets that were out back then was mind boggling and most, if not all of the sets like these, I'd forgotten about. The Diamond Kings cards are everything you expect them to be with the artistic look and the white border. The most interesting thing that I noticed on these is that the artist is not Dick Perez, it's someone named Tano, which I couldn't find any information on after a quick search. Perhaps someone out there knows about this mysterious Tano?

UD Ionix is a set I barely remember as it showed up at the tail end of my initial collecting barrage. Come the late 90s/early 2000s I wasn't into cards as much as I had been before as I was in high school and I started working so cards sort of fell to the background. These cards are pretty cool though with the filmstrip deal at the bottom. The backgrounds seem very busy though with weird designs behind the players and being red on one half and white on the other. Regardless, I'm very happy to add these to my collection, especially considering they're of two of my favorite players from the era, Aaron Boone and Sean Casey.

These horizontals are really nice, the Larkin card especially with the big MLB logo in the background and the All-Star Game stamp on the front. However, the card I really want to talk about there is the managers card with Buck Rodgers and Tony Perez. One of these two didn't make it through the 1993 season. I'll give you a hint, it wasn't Buck Rodgers. Perez was hired to replace Lou Piniella who departed for Seattle after the 1992 season. After 44 games and a respectable 20-24 record, Perez was given the boot and replaced with Davey Johnson. To this day, no one is really quite sure what happened to cause Perez to be unceremoniously canned but as far as I know, this might be the only card that shows Perez as the Reds manager. In 2001, he got a second chance as manager of the Marlins going 54-60 in 114 games at the helm.

Since word has gotten out that I collect the Indians as well as the Reds, people have been more than happy to dump off their unwanted Indians cards to me and I've been more than happy to accept them. Everything from 1980s Sportflics cards to 2016 Heritage minors was included. With the Ramirez Donruss rookie, I think I now have every Manny rookie card there is to be had from the 90s. 

Now the three really, really cool things that were in this package. First, this from the 1981 Perma-Graphics credit card line. At first, I though it was some sort of membership card to a fan club or something. It's definitely a really cool oddball from a season where the Reds missed the playoffs despite having the best overall record in the National League.

Finally, my two favorite cards of the package. First up this Tony Perez card from the 1992 Kellogg's All-Star line. These would come out of boxes of Corn Flakes and I clearly remember having the Willie Stargell and the Mike Schmidt from this set as well. Sure, it didn't scan all that great but you'll just have to take my word for it that it's an awesome cards. Seeing this card (still in it's wrapper by the way), has inspired me to eventually chase down the other nine cards from the set, especially the two I had way back when. Oh, the times I wish I still had my childhood collection. 

Then there was this, a Nap Lajoie card from the 2014 Panini Hall of Fame 75th Anniversary set. The Crusade cards were an insert set in the product and came in many different colors and some, in fact, were die cut. The blue cards were just the basic cards of that insert set and I'm just happy to have it. I don't care that its not one of the colored parallels, it's just a nice card of a turn of the century star that you definitely don't come across every day. I might actually take this card and stick it in a penny sleeve and top loader and drop it in my box of "good stuff".

A big thanks to Tom for clearing out his closet and sending these my way. These were some great additions to my collection.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Time is Here (2016 Edition)

This time last year I was struggling for some blog content so I decided to write up a nice entry on the town Christmas parade and other assorted holiday stuff. That post did way better than I expected as apparently people really enjoyed my commentary on what happens in a small town out in the middle of nowhere in southwest Ohio. So, going off last years post, I felt it appropriate to show off what we did yesterday for a Christmas outing.

This year, there was no town parade as the budget didn't allow for it. So instead we headed down the road to West Chester to a place called Entertrainment Junction which has the largest miniature train display in the world and was doing all kinds of Christmas stuff. For 12 bucks per person, we got an all access ticket which allowed us to visit the train display, the seasonal display, and the North Pole Adventure.

When you first walk in to the train display, it can be a bit overwhelming as there are literally trains everywhere. It starts off in the Civil War with very true to life displays from each era and explains how trains helped America build and their importance in each era. Here's a picture of my son at the beginning of the Civil War section.

I can't remember which time period this is from but I think its the 40s and 50s era America display. As you can tell from the picture, it looks like night. That's because there is a really cool effect that happens as the lights dim down and all the lights in the displays come on.

About halfway through the display, there's an overlook where you can go upstairs and see the nearly the entire train display. It's really an amazing sight. On the overlook as well, there is a display and an interactive history of Coney Island, a local amusement park.

Here's one last picture from the main display, this time towards the end featuring a typical big city downtown and trains running through it along with a functional subway. It's worth going here just through the train display alone and I would have been content with just that but there was tons more.

The next thing on our list was the holiday train display which was a giant room with nothing but Christmas stuff everywhere.

Here's a picture me, my wife and my son that my mom took at the holiday train display entrance, along with a picture of one of the cool displays they had. I took a bunch of other pictures of the displays but this was the best one I could find.

Next thing up was the North Pole adventure. The one thing about this was that it was a little hard to find as you had to go in through the funhouse portion to get to it. The line for Santa was long but was pretty cool as you walked in through a reindeer stable, the elves workshop and into the kitchen where Mrs. Claus was serving fresh sugar cookies. After that, each family got a private audience with Santa.

These were the best pictures from our son's visit with Santa. He told Santa he wanted a GS ball (something from Pokemon), a backpack, and WWE. 

After we were all finished at Entertrainment Junction, we headed over to Jack in the Box for some lunch and then over to the store for a few quick pickups. We got home, I cleaned up the last of the leaves that fell from our trees, and by the time I was done with that, it was time for us to head over and see the Christmas lights at Smith Park in Middletown.

The pictures aren't the best but they're the best my wife could manage as we were driving through the display. My phone ran out of memory halfway through the display but I'm happy we were able to get a picture of the epic Santa's Workshop that was set up. 

This was another fun-filled Christmas themed day. Next Saturday, we're all going out again to celebrate my birthday so expect a full report on that. Hope everyone has a great Christmas and a great holiday season if you don't celebrate Christmas. To close out, as I did last year, here's a song that I think really sets the mood for the season:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

You've Got Mail #54: Sportscards From the Dollar Store and Dawg Day Cards

Ok, sure, that's not the most clever title to come up with when I get mail from Canada (or near it), but it's late when I'm writing and scheduling this post so forgive me. Anyway, let's see what arrived from the most recent round of mail from the cardsphere's two favorite Canadians.

Anytime I see something in my mailbox from Canada, I immediately know its from Douglas at Sportscards from the Dollar Store. As usual, it hit all the major collections, but mostly hockey and football. The top row of the scan is all Bengals and are definitely nice additions to the Bengals binder but the Donruss cards are just top notch. It's not often that Ickey Woods shows up in modern products  so seeing this included was really cool. Woods once did an autograph signing at the card shop I worked way back in 2002 but unfortunately I wasn't able to make it as I was working two jobs at the time and was stuck at my second job that day. Nowadays, you've probably know him from the Geico commercial:

Douglas also threw in some more Blue Jackets cards for my new team collection I've started of them. The Brandon Saad card is from last year's Upper Deck ICE release. I've always liked those cards but packs and boxes just don't fit my budget so I'll just opt for singles via discount bins and trades. Another neat card that was included was the card of Seth Jones from the most recent Upper Deck Champs set, which is basically their version of Allen & Ginter. The Rick Nash and Steve Mason cards were just icing on the top. Also, I had no idea Steve Mason played for Columbus.

A few weeks later I saw a small envelope had arrived from New York and that could only mean one thing, mail from everyone's favorite Browns blogger, Angus. Anytime I get a package from Angus I know to expect the unexpected and that's just what was included, the unexpected. First, four awesome old Stingers WHA cards from the 70s. I need double check to make sure that none of these are dupes although I think off hand the Robbie Ftorek card might be. If they are dupes, that's fine with me as eventually I'm going to start building the WHA sets.

Moving on, there was this seven card oddball Wayne Gretzky set that took me forever to find info on.  Turns out it's part of the 1999-00 Kraft/Post Collection. If you bought a boxed Kraft dinner (spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, etc.) at the store during this time, then you probably got one of these cards as a bonus. If I'm wrong on that, someone please correct me. This is the second Kraft Gretzky set that Angus has sent me as last year he sent an oversized four card set. I love oddball sets be it baseball or hockey so this will have a prominent place in the hockey binder.

Finally, there were these mini cards still in the wrapper. A little bit of research found these to be 1992-93 Humpty Dumpty cards. These were issued in two 26-card sets from the Humpty Dumpty snack food company, which is Canadian based company that makes potato chips and other varieties of bagged snacks. From left to right is Joe Sakic, Owen Nolan, Valeri Kaminsky, and Patrick Roy. These are completely wonderful with the full bleed photos and the small logos on the bottom right. I love getting cards of the Nordiques so I was really happy when these fell out of the package. I was even happier when I realized one of them was Joe Sakic not in an Avalanche uniform. I'm planning on leaving them in their little cellophane wrappers as that just adds to the charm.

A big thanks to Douglas and Angus for bolstering my collection with some really fun stuff. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

You've Got Mail #53: Three Surprise PWEs

I'll admit, I'm way behind on these. Three different people have sent me PWEs over the past month or so (in some cases longer) so in the interest of time and space, I'm covering all three of these in one giant post.

First up, an envelope from Greg over at Night Owl Cards. I'd commented about the Kayla Harrison card back when he tore into some Olympic and Paralympic cards so he was gracious enough to include it. It doesn't hurt either that she's a local athlete, literally from the next town over. While I think the picture could have been a little better, it's still a nice card that will reside in my miscellaneous cards section.

Greg was also nice enough to throw in some Reds cards. Not pictured are the Topps Bunt cards of which I already had thanks to a previous package. However, everything else was new to the collection. I am all for anything Hal Morris since he was one of my favorite players growing up. Heck, anything from the mid-to-late 90s Reds is good! Case in point, the 1997 Stadium Club card of John Smiley. 

Rounding out the PWE from Greg were some newer cards of Reds prospects Jesse Winker and Robert Stephenson. Both of them should be competing for a roster spot come spring training. Of the two, I think that Stephenson has the best shot at making the club as he could round out the fifth spot in the rotation. Winker might need a bit more seasoning at Triple-A Louisville before coming up to the big club, especially with the outfield spots pretty well sorted right now.

For Exhibit B, we have a pretty football-centric PWE from Trevor at Bump and Run Cards, who sent me these cards along with his updated address. The Bengals have been nothing short of disappointing and awful this year, which means I've watched hardly any football. However, getting new Bengals cards in the mail makes up for the slog it's been watching them stumble and bumble this year.

Panini Prestige always has a pretty cool design. I bought a few retail fat packs last year but barely got anyone I liked so most of them ended up getting traded away. Since then, I've sworn off buying football packs. Anyway, the middle row is made up of cards from the 2013 Prestige issue and features BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who was comedically nicknamed "The Law Firm" when he played here. Everything else was a nice mishmash of recent cards of Gio Bernard and Vontaze Burfict and a card of Rudi Johnson from 2007 Score. 

Trevor also threw in two Reds cards to fill out the envelope. Joe Oliver was the primary catcher for the 1990 World Series squad and hung around until after the 1994 season when he was released after only appearing in six games. He came back for the 1996 and 1997 seasons after which he bounced around for a few more years. LaValley seems like he's been in the farm system forever, but he's only been playing since 2014 and projects to either High-A Daytona or Double-A Pensacola next season.

Continuing on with the Bengals theme and wrapping up this post is an envelope I received from AJ at the Lost Collector blog with players made up of a few players I've heard of and others I've mostly forgotten. Most of these cards were numbered in some form or fashion as well, including the Jon Kitna card which is out of 3216 (side note, that's a random number, must be his passing yards or something). The only thing I remember Kitna for is backing up Carson Palmer is the ill-fated playoff game years ago against the Steelers after Palmer got his knee torn to shreds.

Speaking of quarterbacks, my absolute favorite card from the envelope is the Andy Dalton Topps Valor card. Valor was one of those sets that Topps issued rather hurriedly at the end of last season before their football license ran out. I really, really like the design on it with the big logo in the background and the artsy look of it. I don't go after many football cards these days but I might have to track down some of the legends cards from the set. 

That puts the bow on these fun PWEs. I got a good amount of cards to add to my Bengals binder, one for the miscellaneous collection, and a few more Reds cards. I'm nearly caught up on all the trade packages, only a few more to go.