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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hockey Group Break Announcement Coming Monday

It's been over a year and a half since I last did a group break, and I'm itching to do another. I'm putting together a product line-up of (mostly) this year's products, and I'm pretty excited about what's to come. There are plenty of affordable products out that provide some serious bang for your buck, with the potential for some pretty amazing cards.

I won't be taking any teams until I post the announcement Monday morning. I just wanted to let you all know to keep an eye open for it.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Six Packs of 2014 Gypsy Queen

A few weeks back, I was at my LCS with a little money to spend, and I picked up six packs of 2014 Gypsy Queen. I've noticed over the past year that my baseball purchasing has seen a sharp decline, as I no longer feel the need to pick up one of everything, and try build the set in the process. I'm still on the fence about Gypsy Queen this year. I may go after it, if for no other reason, than to continue building the sets, as I have been going after these since it debuted in 2011. I guess time will tell.

Anyway, here's a quick look at what I was able to pull:

Mike Kickham Autograh Red Parallel 22/49

Minis: Jayson Werth Sepia 39/50, Pablo Sandoval, Carlos Santana, Trevor Rosenthal, James Paxton, Christian Yelich

Inserts: N-174: Yasiel Puig, Glove Stories: Derek Jeter & Carlos Gomez, Dealing Aces: Clayton Kershaw & Chris Sale

SPs: Zack Wheeler & Matt Moore

Cubs: Jeff Samardzija, Junior Lake

That's it for these packs. It is nice to pull an auto, even though he's such a low-tier player that he isn't even included in the base set. If I decide to go in on any more, I'll be sure to post what I find.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Upper Deck Redemption Redeemed: 2013-14 Artifacts Elias Lindholm Rookie Auto

Now that the NHL season is over, I suppose it's now time for Upper Deck to begin sending out their rookie redemptions from Artifacts, one of their first products of the year. Artifacts was released before the season started, which prevented them from producing cards of rookies who would debut in the regular season. To make up for that, they included redemptions, which would be good for cards of those players. I pulled four regular rookie cards and one autographed rookie card. The autographed one came in the mail last week, and turned out to be Carolina Hurricanes center Elias Lindholm, numbered 45/99

Lindholm was drafted by the Hurricanes with the fifth-overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and made an immediate jump to the NHL. It only took him four games to score his first NHL goal, and in the process became the youngest Swedish-born NHLer to score his first goal. (His 18 years and 311 days beat Gabriel Landeskog's 18 years and 324 days). He finished his rookie year with 9 goals and 12 assists in 58 games.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nic Jackson Cracked Bat

With the hockey season over, (on the local level, at least) I was getting pretty anxious for baseball to begin. The Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks are an independent league team with the American Association of Professional Baseball, and although their season actually began May 15, an opening-season 11-game road trip kept them away from the Newman Outdoor Field until their May 25 home opener against the Sioux Falls Canaries.

It was worth the wait, though, as the sellout crowd of 4,526 witnessed a back-and-forth game filled with great plays and bad mistakes, with the home team coming out on top in the end. After jumping out to an early 2-1 lead, some costly errors gave up the lead, and they found themselves down 4-3 going into the bottom of the ninth. With two outs to go, and no runners on base, the home team made some key hits and capitalized on the Canaries' only error to rally for two more runs, and the win.

After the game, I stopped by the Team Shop, just to check out some of what they have. There were some game-used jerseys for a very reasonable price of $99. I didn't get one, but I will at some point. Right next to that rack, almost tucked away in a corner was a basket, containing three bats. The ssign next to it identified them as "cracked bats," and were available for only $15. I thought that was pretty reasonable, and was more excited when I discovered that one of those bats was for centerfielder Nic Jackson.

It's a big deal for me as a Chicago Cubs fan, because Jackson, who has been with the Redhawks since 2009, used to be with the Cubs organization. He was drafted by the team in the third round of the 2000 MLB June Amateur Draft. He never made it up to the pro club for a regular season game, but spent two years with the AAA Iowa Cubs, hitting .255, with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs. He signed minor league contracts with the Philadelphia Philies  and New York Mets in 2007, but never quite caught on with either team. He has been playing indempendent-league ball since 2008.

Anyway, here are a few photos of the bat itself, and of course, I am definitely going to get this autographed at some point this year. Now, I'm not sure if this was game-used or batting-practice-used, but either way, it's a really cool item to add to my collection.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Panini Redemption Redeemed: 2013-14 Dominion Ryan Miller Frozen Moments Autographed Booklet

Even though I am not particularly a Buffalo Sabres, or St. Louis Blues fan, I am a huge Ryan Miller fan.  I've been a big fan of his ever since the 2010 Olympics, when he was a MAJOR piece in not only getting U.S.A. to the gold medal game, but bringing them to within one goal away from the first U.S. men's hockey gold since 1980.

While I am nowhere close to being a major collector of his, I do like to pick up the occasional item, if I come across the right one at the right price. The most recent one I got my hands on was from 2013-14 Dominion. It is actually a booklet card from the Frozen Moments insert set, which spotlights his performance at the 2008 Winter Classic and is autographed. The booklet is numbered 15/99 and here are a few scans of it.

Panini Redemption Redeemed: 2013-14 Totally Certified Anthony Peluso Rookie Auto/Jersey

A few months back, I picked up a couple packs of 2013-14 Totally Certified, and while I pulled my two promised hits, I only had one in hand, as the other was a redemption. Well, after playing the waiting game, I finally have the card in hand.

This is the Rookie Autographed Jersey card of Winnipeg Jets right winger Anthony Peluso. A sixth-round 2007 pick of the St. Louis Blues, Peluso finally made it to the NHL after the Jets claimed him off waivers before the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. He only played in 5 NHL games that year, but was a mainstay on the pro roster for the 2013-14 season, where he picked up 2 goals and 3 assists.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sidney Crosby Dominion Jesey Number Patch

I've bought up a few Dominion packs over the past couple of years, but I never opened up any from their initial 2010-11 release. I have, however, made up for that with the amount of Sidney Crosby cards I have bought from that set, including this one that I picked up last week. 

From the 2010-11 set, this card features a patch piece and is numbered 11/25. The cool thing here, is that not only does the card feature a patch, but it also identifies the patch as coming from Crosby's jersey number. It may not be a big deal to some, but to me, it is nice knowing that extra bit of information.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

2013-14 ITG Lord Stanley's Mug Tom Barrasso Auto

I opened a box of 2013-14 In the Game Lord Stanley's Mug last week, and was really impressed with the product. All of the base cards, memorabilia cards, and autographs were of really good players, and of course, all Stanley Cup winners. My box was heavy on the Red Wings, which will always give you some great players, but the one thing I didn't get out of the box was a Penguin card.

Well, I decided to remedy that by picking up this on e off of Ebay:

It's an autographed card of Tom Barrasso, who was the Penguins' goaltender during their 1991 & 1992 Stanley Cup runs. This one specifically recognizes the win for the 1991-92 season, and features an on-card autograph on top of the Cup. Barrasso is one of seven Penguins alongside Bryan Trottier, Jaromir Jagr, Larry Murphy, Marc-Andre Fleury, Mario Lemieux, and Mark Recchi, who all have a different card for each of their Cup wins.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ryne Sandberg Autographed Baseball

After being a Chicago Cubs fan for close to 25 years, I finally got my hands on an autogaphed baseball of my all-time favorite north-sider, Ryne Sandberg. I know that there are other Cubs like Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, or Ron Santo that people will name as their favorite Cub, but for me, Sandberg was a big reason why I became a baseball fan in the first place.

I started following the Cubs that year for a few reasons. For one, my family moved around quite often due to my dad's job, so I was never really able to establish a home base. Two, the Cubs were really good that year, and won their division. And three, we had WGN, which meant if I was watching a game on TV, it was usually the Cubs.

Of course, I was only nine when I started following the game, so despite playing Little League, I really didn't understand the nuances of the game, but I knew Sandberg was the best player on the team, so that was good enough for me.

Fast forward 25 years later, and there really hasn't been anyone to take that title away from him. Sure, we had guys like Sammy Sosa, Derrek Lee, and Alfonso Soriano, but their stays in Chicago were temporary, and in Sosa's case, his reputation was temporary. Today, we have Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo who show potential, but who knows if they'll live up to that.

So, without anyone to take that crown away, Ryno is still my guy.

So, a few weeks ago, Sam from The Daily Dimwit sent me a text message to let me know that he had recently gotten his hands on a Sandberg ball, and wanted to see if I was interested. Apparently, he got one of those packs, or boxes, or whatever you call them that contain a mystery autographed baseball, and pulled a ball of my all-time favorite Cub.

Interested? Um.....yeah!

So, after sending him some Paypal, and waiting a few days, I finally had an item for my colelction that I have been without for WAY too long:

There is a crisp, clear version of Sandberg's scribbled signature, which really stands out. Whatever pen they used seemed to work pretty well, too, as there is no fading or bleeding of the ink whatsoever. The ball is signed on the sweet spot, as most baseball autographs tend to be, and there's also an inscription that reads "84 NL MVP."

I also like that this is signed on an "official" MLB baseball, which works out well for signatures. Most cheaper balls have a certain degree of gloss to them, which can sometimes lead to the ink either bleeding through the leather, or across the surface. There's also the hologram, which matches up with the certificate of authenticity included in the box it came in.

The product it came from was 2012 Onyx AmerIcons, which is a baseball re-pack set. The only difference here than other re-packs, is that I think Onyx actually acquired the autographs themselves to be used in their various products, instead of purchasing their products on the secondary market.

Here's a look at the certificate of authenticity, which gives all of the fine print, and even has a photo of the player signing. It also gives the date that the ball was signed (Dec. 13, 2008), and informs that the ball's signing was witnessed by an Onyx representative. Apart from that, the certificate is hand-signed by the company president, and contains a matching hologram to the accompanying baseball.

There was also one peculiar thing I noticed when looking at the COA. As it turns out, on the COA (twice) and on the COA verification website (also twice) the name was misspelled as "RYAN" Sandberg. Oh well, at least if a mistake was made, at least it was on the COA, and not on the item itself.

When all is said and done, I was thrilled to add this item to my collection. I have been looking for the right one for some time, and when you combine the quality of the product, along with a clean signature and a cool inscription, it was the perfect one to get my hands on.

Thanks for looking out for me, Sam!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2013-14 ITG Lord Stanley's Mug Box Break

I, for one, am a massive fan of In the Game's high-end releases. What I really love about ITG in general, is how smart they are with what they are able to produce, despite the lack of licensing. Instead of just doing different types of general hockey card releases, each product of ITG focuses on a specific area. Now, while the lack of licensing may limit what they are able to do with current players, they are able to produce cards featuring retired players (and present-day goaltenders, for some reason), and the company really capitalizes on that.

Lord Stanley's Mug is ITG's most recent release, and as I'm sure you can imagine from the title, this product focuses specifically on Stanley Cup winners. The nice thing with this, is that no matter what, you will be pulling a card of a winner. Now, the way card companies usually do it, in order to keep prices low, you may get hits of superstar players, but you also get hits of the fourth liners that only play a couple games. In the Game took the high road with this one. Pretty much every autograph and every memorabilia card is of a big-time player, and yes, that is reflected in the cost. It is a bit more expensive, but like anything, you get what you pay for.

So, let's get to it. Here's the video of my box break, with scans to follow:

Each box of Lord Stanley's Mug contains six base cards, and I must say, these are all some pretty awesome cards. The cards are all done with a Chrome-type material, and feature a player photo right next to the Cup. There's also a good mix of Stanley Cup eras, as my players were both recent (Chris Osgood, Corey Crawford, Glenn Anderson) and old (Art Ross, Newsy Lalonde, Charlie Gardiner).

The only non-hit insert is History of Lord Stanley's Mug, which is inserted one per pack. The card features a black-and-white close-up of the player on the front, with a description of the player's Stanley Cup run on the back. I know that this is the insert, but the base cards are actually much cooler than these, and really, just accomplish the same thing.

My first memorabilia hit was a Hoisting the Cup jersey card of Chris Osgood. These are limited to 60 copies and are similar to a lot of the Enforcers cards, in that they feature a painted image of the players. All of these, however, feature the player lifting up the Stanley Cup at the post-game Cup ceremony.

There are also plenty of multi-player jersey cards, such as this dual jersey card of Chris Chelios and Guy Carbonneau. It comes from the Cup Holders memorabilia set and is limited to 80 copies. Apart from being a great card with jersey pieces of two great players, I also like how it identifies the year they won the Cup. It may seem trivial, and I'm sure the jerseys themselves weren't from that actual year, but it is nice for these cards to actually identify which particular Stanley Cup win they are making reference to.

ITG doesn't stamp any serial numbers on even their rarest cards, which can lead to a few surprises, like with this one. It's a Legendary Moments jersey card of Brett Hull, which recognizes his "controversial" Cup-winning overtime goal in 1999. While it may just look like a normal, everyday jersey card, a little bit of research on the product's print run (which can be found at the company's website) reveals that there are only 10 COPIES of each of the Legendary Cup Moments cards produced!

My first of two autographs was of Detroit Red Wings center Igor Larionov. These cards are printed on a foil card stock, which is a bit different from the Chrome that the base cards are printed on. There is a great deal of shine coming from the cards, especially from the silver of the Cup itself. They are amazing cards to see in person, and scans really don't do them justice. At all.

The hit of the break, for me, was this Nicklas Lidstrom autograph. I had not gotten my hands on one up to this point, and I was really hoping acquire one somehow. I am by no means a Detroit Red Wings fan, but he is known as one of the greatest defenseman of all time, so I wanted to find one somewhere. Each player's autographed card also contains a cup year, which is notable, because a player has cards for each year they won the Cup, with a different photo for each one.

As usual, In the Game did a great job with this product. It's always nice when a company will tell you what you get with the product, and you get exactly that. It's a bit pricy compared to some other ITG releases, but they really give you a value with these cards. For example, for the six players featured in my "hits," three are Hall-of-Famers (Hull, Chelios, Larionov), one is sure to be inducted then he is eligible in 2015 (Lidstrom), and the other two are Carbonneau and Osgood. If those two players are the worst that you pull, I'd say you've done pretty good.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Few Random Ebay Cards

A couple weeks back, I picked up a 5-card lot from an Ebay seller. I was really going to just get the first card, but after looking at his other items for sale, I added a few more to my cart. Here's what I got:

2013-14 Crown Royale Sidney Crosby Lords of the NHL Jersey

2012-13 In the Game Superlative 3 Denis Potvin Jersey

2013-14 SPX Valeri Nichushkin Jersey

2013-14 Totally Certified Beau Bennett/Stefan Matteau Certified Competitors Dual Prime Jersey 50/50

2012-13 Prime "1998" Vincent Lecavalier & David Legwand 47/50

So, that gives me one card for my Sidney Crosby Collection, one card for my Pittsburgh Penguins Collection, one card for my Dallas Stars Collection, one card for my Hockey HOF Relic Project, and one card that doesn't really fit in anywhere, but is still pretty cool.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Colton Gillies Game Used Stick

I recently got the chance to acquire an item for my collection that I had nothing of up to this point: a game-used hockey stick. While I do have a couple of cards with stick pieces on them, this is actually the first full piece that I have gotten my hands on.

This stick, at one time, belonged to former Minnesota Wild left winger Colton Gillies. The seller I purchased it from acquired it from Gillies during the 2009-10 season, when he was playing for the Wild's AHL affiliate, Houston Aeros. Being a former Houston resident, and current Minnesota resident, this was a perfect item to pick up, as it represents both of my "home bases" from the past 20 years.

Here's a few photos I snapped of the stick, just to show off to you all:

The signature and inscription on the blade reads "To Jack 04/26/10 Colton Gilles." Having the inscription isn't necessary, but cool, and it doesn't really bother me that it has another person's name on it. I just think it's an extra nice touch to even have the signature, as not all game-used items carry one.

Apart from the autographed blade of the stick, the other really cool part is the customized nameplate toward the top of the stick. Each stick will have this element, as it allows a particular player's stick to be easily identified on the stick rack among those of his teammates.

The butt end of the stick is wrapped in red tape, with a coil of some kind wrapped around underneath the tape, to give a better grip on the end. It is also done in red, which along with some green on the stick itself, matches the red and green colors of the Aeros, which the team adopted for the 2009-10 season and beyond, to match up with the colors of their parent club.

Here's a better look at the stick-maker's logo, which gives a really good view of the green element along the stick. This is taken from the reverse side of what is pictured on the full stick photo, but it gives a better look at the stick design, plus there's much more wear across this part of the stick.

I now have the stick mounted on the wall of my home office/guest bedroom/man cave. It's one of those things where it may not be of a major player, but that doesn't really matter, as it's always good to have anything extra to bring you that much closer to the game, plus it just looks really cool.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Trade with Marc B.

After receiving an e-mail from Marc B., we were able to hammer out a deal for an autograph I was looking for, and a couple memorabilia cards of Penguins that I didn't have any of yet.

2002-03 Trilogy Brooks Orpik
I already have one Orpik auto, but this is the first on-card autograph of his. It comes from 2002-03 Titanium, and like most of Orpik's autos, they come from his rookie year. I suppose that while he may be a big deal in Pittsburgh, he may not be quite as big of a deal across the  rest of the hockey world. Either that, or Penguins autographs go to Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Letang, or Neal, before they get to him.

2001 Titanium Darius Kasparaitis Jersey
Kasparaitis was a heavy hitter on the Penguins' blue line from 1996-2002. Most notably, he is known for a 1998 hit that knocked Eric Lindros out of action for 18 games, as well as for scoring the game-winning goal in overtime vs. the Buffalo Sabres in game 7 of the 2001 Eastern Conference Semi-finals..

2002 Private Stock Wayne Primeau Jersey
Primeau played 14 NHL seasons with 7 NHL teams, including parts of three seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  He was traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning to Pittsburgh in 2001 for Matthew Barnaby and from Pittsburgh to the San Jose Sharks in 2003 for Matt Bradley, but the biggest trade he was a part of was his next one, which saw him go from San Jose to the Boston Bruins with Brad Stuart and Marco Sturm for Joe Thornton.

Those were three cards that were part of the Deal, but Marc also included a few Mario Lemieux cards, including two cards from the over-sized 1993-94 Fleer Power Play set, as well as a 2000-01 Topps Reprint and a 1995-96 Upper Deck 5th Anniversary Reprint.

Thanks for the trade!