Saturday, September 21, 2019

2019 Michigan Gameday #3: at Wisconsin

After a much-needed bye the Wolverines head west to Madison this afternoon for their Big Ten opener against the #13 Badgers at noon EST.  Coming into this game the Wolverines own a 51-15-1 series advantage that's hard to fathom since Wisconsin has been so good lately.  The teams have split the last 10 games but Michigan hasn't won in Madison since my freshman year of 2001.

It would appear that last weekend's bye came at an ideal time as most of Michigan's walking wounded appear to be healthy enough to try to erase the mistakes that caused a scary double-OT win over Army.  Hopefully a team that's more or less at full strength on offense can finally show off the promise of its new "speed in space" scheme against a relatively undersized Wisconsin front.  Meanwhile, the defense will have to contend with yet another stud Badgers RB in Jonathan Taylor plus a typically beefy OL.  The wild card is QB Jack Coan, who's yet to face a defense as good as Michigan's.

This will be a very difficult early road test, and after the results of the first two games I'm looking for Michigan to right the ship and come out firing on all cylinders.  Leave the old school, Big Ten-style football to the Badgers and light up the scoreboard early and often!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

2019 trade package #27: Scribbled Ink

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Altered?  What do you mean altered?  BGS gives this a 10

It was a bye week for Michigan this weekend, freeing up a few hours from my usual fall Saturday schedule.  What did I do with that time?  Watch more football!  But I also put some effort into getting this trade post ready, one that covers the medium-sized enveloped I received in this month's small/medium/large trio.

That one came from buddy of the blog Paul, writer of Scribbled Ink.  He clearly put a generous amount of effort into coming up with some nice stuff for me at this year's National, as you'll be able to see here:
The less said about this year's Tigers, the better, so it's probably a good thing that Boyd--a rare highlight from the not-Mike-Illitch Illitch family/Alex Avila reign of error--was the only one represented here in the form of a Topps Chrome base.  I hope to see him carry over the progress he made into next year so we don't run into another Michael Fulmer "We could have had who in a trade?!" situation.
Here comes a super nice run of baseball PC guys.  Jimmy Abbott is a good way to start a September post since two weeks ago he was celebrating the 26th anniversary of his amazing no-hitter.  Former blog namesake Granderson makes a fun cameo on an X-Fractor from 2010.  Griffey is one of the top stars of the package with four cool new cards:  '99 Fleer's Vintage '61 insert, a 2000 Fleer Tradition Glossy base of card #1, the extremely bad-ass 2019 Leather & Lumber die-cut insert called "W.A.R.", and a 2019 Topps Gallery preview that was found in packs of Bowman Platinum.  That's 888 cards of one of my two favorite Juniors!  Finally, Mr. Padre joins his fellow '90s star with a trio of late 90s base cards:  '96 Ultra and '98 SkyBox Dugout Axcess.  It's always nice to see Tony.
The card I was most excited for this time leads off this scan:  Rich Hill's 2006 Topps Opening Day Red Foil parallel (#0776/2006).  I'd been after it for a long, long time without being able to find a good price, so this one is as good as gold to me!  It's also Hill #300 in my collection, which is a very exciting milestone to hit as I continue one of my favorite PCs.

HOF SS Barry Larkin comprises most of this scan with a mix of cards from 1994-2017.  Of particular interest to me are the two numbered Panini parallels:   2013 USA Baseball Champions Legends Certified Die-Cuts Mirror Green (#097/199) and 2017 USA Baseball Stars and Stripes Longevity Ruby (#002/249).  Each depicts Barry as a member of the '84 US olympic team when baseball was a demonstration sport, and they both look terrific, especially the die-cut card!

Finally, Putz represents the third of four former Michigan pitcher today, on a 2013 Topps Wal-Mart Blue Border.  While this one's a dupe for me I already have a new trading partner that I can flip it to, so it's just as useful as a new card for me.
Clayton Richard is the fourth and final UM pitcher in this post, and Paul was nice enough to let me know that he'd landed the second of Richard's two base cards from this year's Heritage (High Numbers, in this case).  He appeared with the Padres for some reason in the lower numbers, then got an appearance with the Jays, to whom he was traded last December.

Speaking of pitchers, Paul made sure to hit my current blog namesake, the one with three no-hitters to his name, Justin Verlander.  This is one of those Topps National Baseball Card Day issues, the type I likely wouldn't get myself, so I appreciate him including it here.

Last up on the baseball side is a horizontal offering:  Chris Sabo's 1994 UD Electric Diamond parallel.  I have a decent number of his cards from his time as an Oriole, but it's still relatively strange to see him in a uniform other than the Reds'.
As if all of that wasn't enough on its own, Paul flipped me a couple Michigan Football cards--both in Michigan uniform!--as well.  #1 is Amara Darboh's 2017 Panini Father's Day offering, #d 455/499.  Like National Baseball Card Day, I'm not usually privy to these so I love getting them indirectly like this.  It's a great example of Panini's combo of college unis, foil, and numbering, and I'm excited to land it as my 39th Darboh.

Last up is another highlight:  a hit of my favorite football PC guy, Chad Henne.  While flipping through the cards in this package I got to this one, 2008 Press Pass SE Game Day Gear Jerseys Holofoil jersey (#24/99), and thought, "Oh well, I already have this, but thanks anyway, I'm sure I can trade it."  And then I finally realized I didn't have it, or any of the other versions of this card for that matter.  At almost 300 cards overall, with a crazy 125 of them of the hit variety, I think you'll excuse me for assuming I already had it.  I'm ecstatic that I didn't and get to add another excellent card to that collection.

Paul, thanks again for thinking of me at the big show and sending me so many useful cards for my PCs!  I'm glad you enjoyed your end, and I'm looking forward to our next trade, and maybe getting to another show together in the future.  Michigan bloggers rule!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

2019 trade package #26: Sport Card Collectors

Sport Card Collectors
Before I get back to posting anything else I'm giving the highest priority to trade packages because I think the effort and generosity that go into them call for that.  So far this month I've received three of those, conveniently fitting into a small/medium/large configuration.  I'll be starting with the smallest because it's the least amount of work!

That would be yet another surprise PWE from Matt who runs Sport Card Collectors.  Since April he's sent me seven of his signature mailings, showing off his PWE skills by getting every card to my mailbox safely and securely.

This time I enjoyed another group of his Griffey dupes, which have really filled out my Junior collection nicely.  It was a six-pack, and here's the goods:
The baseball card breakdown (sorry, Gavin) here is interesting to me as we've got four products represented, three of which featured a ton of Kenny Griff.  First up is a trio of examples of the Griffey Gallery subset from Upper Deck's 2002 flagship product.  There's 10 of these, each with a different theme, and I now have four.

The other vertical card is my 12th from the Griffey-centric 2016 Topps Tribute to the Kid insert.  The 30-card set includes 18 cards with George Jr. on the Mariners, 10 from his time with the Reds, and two covering his brief stint with--barf--the White Sox.  It was very cool of Matt to flip me another one I needed as I've been slowly building this one on the cheap, mostly thanks to shows and trades.

The first of two horizontals is from an earlier UD product's subset that was all Griffey, all the time.  2000 low-end product Victory included a 50(!)-card run called "Junior Circuit" in its base set of 466.  Add a regular base issue and one other subset appearance and you've got one player accounting for 11% of the set!  This one is my 4th so it's gonna be a while before I can call it done.

Today's final card, another X-axis edition, is a bit lonely by comparison; Ken appears once in 2008 Upper Deck X's Xponential insert (though there are two other versions, "2" and "3", so at least there's that!).  X wasn't ever really on my radar but the foil and Reds team colors make for a pretty good insert here.

Adding these cards to my collection gives me a new count of 884 Juniors (TCDB link), getting him that much closer to the 900 mark, though he's not exactly nipping at the heels of collection leader Cal Ripken Jr., whom he trails by almost 50 items right now.

Thanks again, Matt!  I picked up a few things for you at a recent show that you can enjoy while your Giants Giants away another season under Eli!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

2019 Michigan Gameday #2: vs. Army

After last week's somewhat uneven but otherwise convincing win, the Wolverines are back for a noon kickoff (the best!) with the visiting Army Black Knights.

Michigan showed some flashes last week while dealing with a few injuries, and today should be another chance for the offense to show its progress in learning a new system against an overmatched Army defense (about the only time you can say that!).  The real gotcha for today's game is Army's triple option offense, which is designed to attack the knees of the opposition's DL and grind out three yards per play, not to mention the clock.

With a bye week coming up to get healthy I'm looking for Michigan to try to get out of this game unscathed in another victory where they don't cover a pretty large spread.  This is the only time you'll see me rooting against our country's army, but today I respectfully root for them to go home defeated.

Friday, September 6, 2019

9/6/19 card show report: hooky haul

I've got a ton of cards in-hand and on the way so I've got lots to cover, but what you're getting today is a same-day recap from this weekend's card show at the usual spot in Taylor.  Because tomorrow's Michigan game kicks off at noon (a.k.a. best kickoff time) I doubted I'd be able to get over there with enough time to look around, so I took the day off today instead!

I ended up spending around an hour sifting through my dude's $1/six-for-$5 and $2/three-for-$5 boxes and that ended up being the limit of my patience for the afternoon, so no dime box stuff today, but maybe next time.  In the end I took home 18 of the former and 15 of the latter, totaling 33 cards for a nice even $40.

After sorting out stuff intended for specific trade packages I came up with two extra trade bait cards:
The Dustin Keller auto/manupatch/RC is from '08 Leaf R&S Longevity, and I didn't mind including it in my $2 box pile because of this:
eBay 1/1!  I figure between the card looking pretty cool, the numbering, and the player or team, I'll find somebody that wants it.

The other card up for grabs is a 2000 Pacific jersey of former Chargers RB Natrone Means.  I was thinking one or more of you who follow me might collect Chargers, and otherwise it's a reasonable trade card to have for just a buck.

My personal haul was just as minuscule, which is totally fine given the avalanche of cards descending upon me lately.
Up first is a new autograph of Michigan basketballer GRIII from Panini's 2014-15 Paramount product.  The set's called Penmanship Rookie Autographs and the card's numbered on the back (#25/99).  Robinson has a pretty cool signature if you don't mind initials, which I think works just fine here and lives up to the name of the set.  I now own five hits of the former Wolverine/Piston who's now playing for the Warriors.
And then I was even more excited to come up with this David Harris autograph (which also came from the $2 box, I believe).  You just don't get many defensive guys on hits, so you have to grab them when you can!  This Harris, my 29th of the tackling machine of a LB, hails from 2011 Topps Rising Rookies, a product that had multiple versions of an insert called "Playmaker" that could include relics, autos, and both (such as the one I already own, which is five copiers easier to find for some reason).  It's numbered (#04/20) up front so its relative scarcity is immediately on display.  I now have 81 different cards of the former Wolverine great, and I hope his alma mater comes away with a victory tomorrow afternoon against Army and its goofy offense.

With these covered, you can look forward to cards from three(!) trade packages, COMC, eBay, and Sportlots over the next few weeks as I try to catch up with a cavalcade of cardboard.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

2019 Michigan Gameday #1: vs. Middle Tennessee State

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Whoooooa Nelly, fans, college football is back!  It's late summer in Ann Arbor as the weather begins to transition to fall temperatures (before an inevitable random heat wave) and the students have returned to campus for some fun before the semester gets back into full swing after Labor Day, and fun they'll have on this cloudy Saturday evening.  That's right, Michigan is kicking off its season not at noon, 1, or 3:30, but under the bright Big House lights at 7:30 p.m.  Word is the electricity will be provided entirely by late coach Bo Schembechler spinning in his grave at nearby Forest Hill Cemetery!
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Legendary announcer Bob Ufer, known to the world for his impartiality and laid back demeanor (HA!) is surely looking down on Football Valhalla, ready as any fellow Meeeechigan fan for another exciting year of the sport that continues to put the No Fun League to shame.
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The Wolverines' opponent tonight is Middle Tennessee State.  Known primarily as a basketball school since their not-at-all surprising March first-round elimination of Michigan State in 2016--the Blue Raiders indeed hail from smack dab in the middle of that state, a city called Murfreesboro that's not too far from Nashville.  That's about as much as I know about them, and hopefully that's all I'll need to know.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh remains at the forefront of most related stories these days, but the new hotness this year is brand new OC Josh Gattis, most recently of Alabama, who's bringing experience with some explosive and, dare I say, modern, offenses, to the program.  His slogan is #speedinspace and the transition to an up-tempo, spread, no-huddle look could finally be the key to consistency and production that Harbaugh's been looking for.  He certainly has some intriguing weapons in returning QB Shea Patterson and a talented group of WRs.
Naturally I'm thrilled by the return of my favorite team in all of sports and am eagerly anticipating kickoff in under an hour (as I'm writing this).  Here's hoping for some early chances to work out the bugs on both sides of the ball, lots of PT deep into the roster, and an easy win for the boys in Maize and Blue.  Do it for Bo, Bob, and the rest of the Meechigan faithful.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

2019 trade package #25: Nachos Grande

Fellow Barry Larkin enthusiast and awesome trader Chris of the somewhat recently redesigned Nachos Grande put in some quality time updating his trade lists by set not too long ago.  That's a move that I think will pay off handsomely both for his collection and those of many other collectors.  In my case I had plenty of interest in some of his trade fodder from his Fleer Sports Illustrated breaks, so I claimed a few cards, for which I'll be rewarding Chris pretty soon:
Everything here is from SI's debut collaboration with Fleer, and what a product it was!  Great photography (naturally) on vibrant, glossy cards printed on thick stock.  Best of all, a number of those cards were reprints of classic magazine covers.

The top three cards above are the Tigers I claimed--a pair of Tony Clarks and one Travis Fryman.  Two of the better players from some of Detroit's lean years, they manned the infield corners in Motown for a bit of '95 (Tony's first season), then 1996-97, until Fryman was traded. They combined for 121 HR, 483 RBI, and 13.4 bWAR as teammates and rare bright spots on some rough squads.  Thanks to TCDB I've become more open to adding cards of non-PC guys because I get stats on how many items I have of every player, so I was happy to add these, putting me at 107 of Clark and 117 of Fryman.

The other base card I absolutely had to have was one of the cover reprints I just mentioned, starring PC guy Ken Griffey Jr. and fellow 90s badass/HOFer Frank Thomas.  The two graced the front of the August 8, 1994 issue, one that came out during that year's strike-shortened season, which was one to remember for a number of reasons.

And speaking of covers, Kenny's fellow Junior Cal came along for the ride on an Extra Edition parallel (#273/500) of another one, the biggest get of the package for me.  This was somewhat early on in numbered inserts so it's a terrific piece, with the July 29, 1991-dated mag highlighting the Iron Man nearing streak game #1500 while "enjoying the best season of his illustrious career."  Baseball-Reference would tend to agree, noting a career-high 11.5 bWAR and personal bests in HR (34), RBI (114), AVG (.323, in a full season, so not including 1999), and OPS (.940).  Oh yeah, and he won his second AL MVP.
Fleer was always a manufacturer that remembered to think about the kids in the hobby, so they included these Great Shots mini posters as a fun insert.  Naturally I grabbed Cal's version along with one of perennial Gold Glover Greg Maddux.  They don't hold up to well after being unfolded and folded again numerous times but they look great and feature more of that interesting photography.

Chris didn't stop there, though, sending me a nice pile of Tigers while he was at it:
Plenty of interesting guys here.  Alvarez never panned out, but Anderson looked like he might provide some value (if not #1 overall pick value) before injuries derailed his career.  Blair was a bit like Edwin Jackson, coming to Detroit by way of five other teams and enjoying a pretty nice season (16-8) in '97, bouncing around a fit, then returning toward the end of his career.  As for Fister, the Tigers fleeced the Mariners for a very effective pitcher, then did the opposite in getting Robbie Ray (and others) from the Nats while having no idea how to use him and getting relatively little value when they flipped him for Shane Greene in a three-team deal.
Exavier Logan has one of the more disappointing nicknames in the game's history when you learn that it's meant to rhyme with "book" instead of sounding like the explosive weapon.  Iglesias, Infante, and Peralta were all decent-to-above average middle infielders for the team.  And card-collecting aficionado Dmitri Young gets paired with his much younger (12 years!) brother below.
Yep, there's Delmon, who had a few big hits over a couple seasons with the Tigers.  Appropriately enough, former speedster Brian Hunter leads off, and he's probably already stolen second, too, after he went off for a career high 74 swipes in '97.  Lastly, it's a bit sad to see former ace Scherzer on a card with Big Sexy Bartolo Colon (who shares my birthday!) and future Tigers IL in residence pitcher Matt Moore.

Chris, thanks again for making those SI cards available and getting them to me along with some great Detroit stuff so quickly!  I'm gonna take a little bit to get back to you while I await next month's show, but I'm also putting together a Sportlots haul that will be of great interest to you.