Saturday, March 31, 2012

Box Break: 2011 Topps UFC Finest

After sitting on the box I finally got the chance to bust it with my son and came away with mixed feelings. I really like the base set and pulled a good portion of the base checklist with no duplicates. An area of concern with Finest products, besides the bend, is the chipping along the edges and scratches from the sorting machine and fortunately none of my cards were damaged so a positive there. The hits I pulled were a bit disappointing but that is the chance you take and I cannot complain because I paid less than $70 shipped (boxes are now running around $85 plus shipping).

Some of my favorite base cards that I pulled include this duo that fought in February for the Interim Welterweight Championship belt. Ignoring the failed drug test by Diaz after the fight it was a decent fight with Condit winning by decision.
A nice collection of big hits with Silva pushing Michael Bisping out of frame by his face and Big Nog putting Randy Couture down.

I pulled 8 Refractors, and at 1:4 packs I did better than expected. Some of the notable pulls include Kid Yamamoto, who used to be such a dominant fighter but since 2009 has gone 1-5 dropping his record to 18-6 overall. Weidman has caught a lot of attention; he is currently 8-0 having fought 4 times in the UFC in the last year. I had to include Ryan Bader, beside Randy Couture he is my favorite fighter. He is from Nevada but has spent a good portion of his life here in Arizona. Sadly he went to ASU (Boo!) but he lives in Scottsdale and now trains in a gym about 5 miles from my house. After his losses to Jones and Ortiz (who was fighting to remain in the UFC)  there was rumor that if Bader lost again he would be cut loose but he took things in stride and has won two straight including a win against Rampage Jackson last month.

I pulled 3 X-Fractors and again I beat the odds (1:5 packs) but there was nothing to really write home about. Carwin has a solid 12-2 record, having lost his last 2 fights, but it was revealed last October that he needed back surgery. This is Carwin’s second major surgery in a year after having neck surgery in November 2010. Grispi seemed like a lock at 14-1 when the UFC took in the WEC but he lost his first 2 UFC fights and was pulled from a third and his career now seems to be in jeopardy. Big Country, what can be said about the guy? I read a story about him about 3 years ago in Sports Illustrated and he made it completely clear that he hates to work out; he wants to just get in the ring, fight and then go eat. Even though he is 3-3 (16-7 overall) in his UFC career Dana White must love this guy because Nelson is expected to fight Antonio Silva in his UFC debut in May.
I am having de-ja vu with my Gold Refractor, at one per master box you would think that the chance to pull a Grispi X-Fractor and Gold Refractor would be minimal but I guess I “beat” the odds again. Not really a win though.
Finest Moments is a nice insert, they cover a specific moment in the fighter’s career. Anderson Silva’s moment was at UFC 117 when he was down versus Chael Sonnen in the first 4 rounds and about to lose the Middleweight belt but came back in the 5th Round to submit Sonnen. They are scheduled for a rematch in June with Silva going for his 10th title defense.

The Gold Finest Moment Matt Hamill covers his rise in The Ultimate Fighter under Tito Ortiz and then 4 years later took on Ortiz beating him by a decision.

To be continued…

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Nice Follow Up

This is a follow up to my "Best Break Ever" post a couple of days ago. I actually thought I hit the Publish button to post it the other day but I must have hit the Save button instead so I am posting it now.

Upper Deck decided to continue building on the popularity of the 2001 SP Legendary Cuts release and came on strong with the 2002 version but with some slight changes. The price was increase a bit, the pack count dropped from 18 packs to 12 packs a box (still 4 cards a pack) and the biggest change was the hits. Now boxes were only guaranteed one, SP Legendary Bat but two different jersey cards were seeded in 1:24 packs so most boxes contained two hits, a bat relic and one of the two jersey cards. The hits were:

SP Legendary Bat (1:8 packs)
SP Legendary Game Jersey (1:24 packs)
SP Legendary Swatches (1:24 packs)
SP Legendary Cuts Cards (1:128 packs)

Plus redemptions for Bat Barrels and McGwire autographs

I was not as big a fan of the 2002 base cards, gone were the sweet designs and in their place was a sepia player image surrounded by mist. The backs used a similar sepia design but like 2001 included the player's name, team logo, short bio, a player write up and career stats. I no longer have any of the base cards, having traded some and donated the rest so I used images from Check Out My Cards and eBay.
When the product was released I had my wife pick out the box hoping that her luck from the previous year would carry over. When we got home we split the packs and started opening. In my stack I pulled a Pee Wee Reese Legendary Bat card, a card that I traded to Greg from Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle last year, along with another Reese bat relic I pulled from a 2006 SP Legendary Cuts box. A Dodger relic needs to be in the hands of a true Dodger fan like Greg.

My wife proved to have the magic once again when she pulled a jersey relic from another Yankee legend...

In two years I (my wife actually) pulled relics from 3 Yankee greats and a Dodger legend from 2 boxes purchased at the same shop. Over 7 years, until I moved back to Arizona, I pulled a nice collection of cards from boxes all bought as this shop. I miss not having a local card shop to visit now.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Just Sitting There

I ordered this awhile back and it has been sitting on my desk since I received it. I think it is about time I finally bust it and see what I got here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Preview: 2012 SPx Football

Schedule Release Date: June 19, 2012
Box Configuration:  4 cards per pack/18 packs per box
SRP: $120/box

Box Break:
4 Autograph or Memorabilia cards
2 SPx Finite Rookie cards
3 SPx Shadow Slot acetate cards
1 SPx Shadow Box card per case (1:14 boxes)

My Thoughts:
SPx football has always been a solid product from Upper Deck and this year is no different. This year the set is made up of a 205 card checklist and is broken down in to Retired Stars (50 cards), SPx Rookie Auto Jersey cards (#/399) (35 cards), SPx Rookies (#/750) (60 cards) and SPx Rookie Signatures (#/225) (60 cards). There are also a couple of different inserts including Winning Big Materials (#/199), SPx Shadow Box, SPx Shadow Slots, Super Script and SPx Finite Rookies (#/499, 299 or 99 plus a 1/1 Spectrum version).

A new addition to the product is the ability to build your own Shadow Box cards by changing out the acetate slot cards. Each box will include 3 slot cards and the Shadow Box cards are found at 1 per case. The slot cards will have different levels of rarity including autographed versions. The Shadow Box cards have always been popular so the ability to build your own should add to this popularity, I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing custom versions where people create cards showing the player in their pro uniform.

4 Hits per box

Shadow Box cards (1:14 boxes)

Build Your Own Shadow Box card

Plenty of Big Named Players (Retired and Current College/Draft Picks)

Mid-Upper End Price ($120/box)

College Uniforms

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Best Break Ever

Have you ever had a pull or a box break that you can easily list as your “Greatest”?

My all-time greatest box break goes back 11 years ago, I had just started a new job and to save on driving an hour each way to work every day we moved to the other side of Puget Sound to a town called Silverdale in early 2001. I was fortunate enough to find a small card shop down the street from work and quickly became friends with the owners and a handful of their regulars. It was nice having a true local card shop, something I hadn’t had since 1993.
 A couple of times a month I would stop by to talk sports and see what was out or coming out soon and I was told that the release of 2001 SP Legendary Cuts was turning out to be a solid product that was selling well so I decided to grab a box.

 At the time I believe the boxes were running around $90-100 and each box contained 18 packs with 4 cards per pack. Each box promised three hits, a Debut Bat Card, a Legendary Bat Card and a Legendary Jersey Card with Legendary Cuts (1:252 packs) and Legendary Cut Combo Cards (#/25) as long shots.

When I bought the box I opened a pack in the shop and was pretty happy with the base design. We had an appointment and hopped in the car and as we drove my wife asked if she could open a pack. When my wife, who does not care for sports, opened a pack and her jaw drops I knew it was big…


I told her to keep opening and after a few more packs she stops again and looks at me with a smile and then shows me this card…

She decided to stop to let me open the other half of the box after we got home and I knew that the box still was supposed to contain a Debut Bat Card and a Legendary Jersey Card and after seeing Ruth and DiMaggio I was hoping that my box was a super-hot box and would include the Joe Jackson Debut Bat Card and/or a Nolan Ryan Legendary Jersey Card.

After 13 years of marriage I can tell you that my wife has the lucky touch when she picks out packs and on the other side my luck just plain sucks. Needless to say I should have let her finish opening the rest of the box because I pulled a Gaylord Perry Legendary Jersey Card (which I have since sold) and a Bill Buckner Debut Bat Card. I will never complain about those two hits especially when they came in a box with a short-print Ruth Bat card and a #/275 DiMaggio Cut Signature.

But, when I pulled my two hits compared to my wife's two hits I could not help but hear...

Plain and simple…Best Box Break Ever!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Preview: 2012 Sportkings Series E

Henderson Base
Sport King is finishing up the final stages of Sportkings Series E and is set to hit shelves on May 3, 2012. The price for each 5 card box is $100 and you will pull 3 Base cards (with the possibility of pulling a mini version) one Base card Premium Back and one insert (Game Used Memorabilia card or on-card Autograph card). Cases include 48-box/packs and are actually broken up in to 3 separate 16-box inner cases. Each 16-box inner case will include a Cut Signature card, a Spectacular Patch card or a 1/1 Art card painted by Jared Kelley.
Thomas Mini
The set includes a 48-card checklist and each base card has a mini parallel (1:2 boxes) and there are also Silver (#/7) and Gold (#/3) mini parallels. The Premium Back base cards will include a letter on the back, collect all the letters to spell “Sportkings” and you can win a Quad Game-Used Memorabilia card, a 1/1 Sketch card or a 1/1 Art Card.
Navratilova Mini Gold

Sport Kings may not have licensing, so all of the athletes included are retired, but Dr. Price has worked serious magic and got some of the greatest sports stars every to sign for this product. Some of the people who signed (on-card autographs) for Series E include Ken Griffey Jr., Bill Walton and Kyle Petty.
Griffey Gold Auto
I have seen a handful of the 1/1 painting cards that Jared Kelley has done for the release, so far the Magic Johnson, Ivan Lendl, Rocky Marciano Seabiscuit and Angelo Dundee preview images have been released.

 The rest of these cards are Case Hits, along with the Kelley Painted cards above, include Cut Signatures and Spectacular Patches.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Now What Could Go Wrong With This Situation?

Before I go in to my personal reflection of this situation I have to ask…

Is there any way that this scenario does not end in someone losing their job at the end of next season due directly to this trade?

This afternoon, after a couple days of guessing and rumors, the NY Jets have pulled the trigger on a trade with the Denver Broncos for celebrity RB QB Tim Tebow. The Jets are giving the Broncos their 4th and 6th Round picks in the 2012 NFL Draft and in return get Tebow and the Broncos 7th Round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Looking from the outside in on this trade you have to admit it is a circus plain and simple. The Jets are a team that is dysfunctional that is going to get significantly more dysfunctional.

Mr. Sanchez is a player looking to get paid and laid and came off of his worst season yet and to show their lack of support the Jets went after Peyton Manning. When that fell through, to appease the thin-skinned QB, they offered up an extension on his contract, which he still had two years left remaining.

The locker room is split and possibly shattered and when back-up (possibly out of a job now) QB Greg McElroy talked about it on the radio after the season the team tried to play it off like McElroy was just talking to make a name for himself, but all anyone had to do was watch the Twitter spat between Sanchez and Holmes and you know something is seriously wrong in the land of Oz.

Now toss in a Head Coach who tried to re-invigorate the team late last season with the Wildcat offense and a new Offensive Coordinator in Tony Sparano, who made the Wildcat work wonders in Miami, and suddenly it appears that the game plan is going to be altered to use the abilities of Tebow.

So here we have a broken team, a QB with no support or confidence, an incoming QB who’s abilities favors the potentially new offense and things are going to get F*&%#D quickly. To add to the fracture, Tebow was a starting QB and you can be assured he is coming in to New York expecting to have a fair chance at earning the Jets starting job while the team's management knows they have to avoid any QB conflict or they will completely loose Sanchez, whose confidence will be wavering.

While John Elway may have feigned support for Tebow in Denver (proving his true feelings the minute Manning showed up in town) another Hall of Fame QB is not sharing the same sentiment. Broadway Joe, speaking to ESPN NY 1050 today, stated his feelings about the potential trade. He said that he felt that this was an entire publicity stunt by the Jets and that bringing in Tebow could hurt the team and would add serious pressure on Mark Sanchez especially coming on the heels of the team signing QB Drew Stanton the other day.

Does anyone else find it funny that the Jets now have two QBs who could not be any more morally different with one who is a Party Boy and another who has solid Christian values?

Photo credit: AP

Monday, March 19, 2012

Prime Cuts Notable Nicknames, A Pretty Cool Insert

In less than 2 weeks Panini is releasing the 2011 Prime Cuts baseball set. This high-end product, which runs $270/box, will contain 1 pack of 5 cards per box (all hits) and guarantee at least 2 autographs.

My favorite insert in the product has to be the Notable Nicknames autograph set. The checklist contains current and retired stars and is supposed to include both Ken Griffey Jr. and Nolan Ryan autographs. Panini has released a handful of the signed cards and they are looking pretty nice. The players signed, on-card and using a blue-ink, both their name and their nickname on top of a marble surface. It actually reminds me a bit of a certificate the way it is designed.
I don’t understand why Ortiz would sign his nickname with a “BP” instead of Big Papi. The whole point of the set was to have the players use their nickname in the signature. I am a bit disappointed by this, while other player collectors will be getting cool nickname cards of their favorite player Ortiz collectors get just two letters. Panini even sent their Acquisition Manager to personally get the players signatures you would think he would have explained the directions to each player or stopped Ortiz and explained what they wanted him to sign.