Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Little Love for my 7-0 Carolina Panthers

Going into the 2015 NFL Season if someone had told me that the Carolina Panthers would be 7-0 entering week 9 of the season...without Kelvin Benjamin I would have laughed. It's not that I doubted my team, but to be undefeated without our number 1 wide receiver? If I'm being honest, and I am, I didn't see this coming.

All season long I've heard the critics say that Cam Newton isn't a franchise quarterback. He can't win without real "weapons" and the wide receivers on our team are horrible. I've heard that the Panthers haven't beaten anyone. Basically I've had to sit all season thus far and listen to the nation say the Panthers suck.

I've been a fan of the team since 1995 when the team played their first game. I'm not a bandwagon fan so all this criticism eventually gets to you. I'm so proud that this time has come together and strung together the wins they have. They have a big hurdle in their way today in the form of the Green Bay Packers. If the Panthers are going to go 8-0 they will need to play their A game as today's match up won't be an easy one.

2014 Panini Rookies & Stars Crusade #39
The success of this team all begins with Cam. While his stats over the last handful of games aren't anywhere near the realm of Brady, Manning or Brees, he is still 7-0 and last time I checked that's what matters. Cam has taken huge strides since even last year. Of course it helps that this is the first time in a while that he has been completely healthy...and it shows in his play. I also think that in a weird way, Kelvin Benjamin going down in the pre-season has only made Cam a better QB. It's forcing him to spread the ball around more. He's also doing a fantastic job controlling the running game in the back field w/ a healthy Jonathan Stewart. If Cam can continue to spread the ball around and play smart, I think he has a good chance of shutting up even more of the national critics with his play today.

2015 Topps Valor Shield of Honor autograph patch 05/50
2015 Topps Inception Rookie patch 002/125
2015 Panini The National glove swatch #7
2015 Panini The National 317/499
2015 Panini Rookie & Stars #RSR6
Devin Funchess hasn't panned out to be the wide receiver a lot of fans were hoping him to be. He's dealt with a few dropped passes in his limited playing time he's gotten, but it's still early. Plus I think Kelvin spoiled us fans last year bursting onto the NFL scene with the rookie season he had. I have high hopes still for Funchess and I think he'll play a crucial role in the passing game in years to come.

2015 Panini Spectra auto 67/99
A little known WR from Ohio State University, Philly Brown has been hot and cold with the Panthers. He made some good plays last year w/ his speed, but in the pre-season this year he was known for all the wrong reasons - dropped passes. Philly has recently turned things around and has been a big part of this offense at times w/ his incredible speed. He also has turned around the whole dropping the ball thing and has been awarded with more playing time. He may not be a household name or have the receiving numbers as other NFL WRs, but that doesn't mean he can't burn the Packers later today.

2015 Topps Valor Gridiron Warriors
It's no surprise that Greg Olsen has been Cam's #1 target for most of the season. A great blocking tight end too, Greg has been an invaluable part of this offense. I swear of the last few games though the refs have hit him with a few phantom calls that have resulted in touchdowns he scored being waived off or a big penalty costing the team yardage. However Greg is a great example of the heart this team has and how this team has come together to play as one.

2015 Bowman Rookie Chrome Refractor auto
2015 Topps Inception auto
Cameron Artis-Payne hasn't gotten on the field much this season due to the stellar efforts of Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert, but like with Funchess I think he'll play a big part of this offense in years to come.

2015 Panini Certified auto 83/99
The saying is that defense wins Championships and Carolina has plenty of horses on defense. Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Kwann Short, Josh Norman and others have been in the spotlight, however Shaq Thompson has really burst onto the scene and is putting together a really nice rookie campaign for himself. Shaq missed the Monday night game last week against the Colts, but is back and ready to wreck some havoc against the Packers offense today.

There are of course many, many other players that have factored into the teams 7-0 record to this point, but I don't have any new cards of those players to share! This has been an incredibly fun ride so far and I look forward to today's tough match up. Even if the Panthers come out of today w/ a 7-1 record, I'll still be just as proud of the team as if they come out 8-0. I think one of the things that sets this team apart from the a lot of the other teams is that they believe in one another and play as a team. I know that may sound cliche, but it's true. This team has one another's backs at all times. The Panthers may not be the flashiest team or win the prettiest, but they are finding a way to get things done each and every week and I don't think today will really be any different.

Go Panthers!! #KeepPounding

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pack Break: 2015 Topps Valor Football Value Pack

I mentioned in my last post that I would be making the transition from baseball to football and what better way to do so than breaking a new pack of NFL football cards? 

I think I've made that transition back to more of a casual trading card fan when compared to myself just a few years ago. While I'm not totally oblivious to the trading card release calendar, I have to be honest when I say that I knew very little of Topps' newer set of NFL cards, Valor. Most sets have a theme or gimmick and Valor fits the bill, but what do the cards look like? I hadn't a clue so I grabbed a value pack for $6 bucks from Target the other day...and let me say that I'm very impressed!

The first card out of the pack was a keeper for me, Carolina Panthers rookie linebacker Shaq Thompson. Now while I don't care for images of the players in their practice gear, the design and look of the card make up for the short comings of the picture.

I love how the photo has been given that "ginter" or "magic" treatment. It has that artistic canvas like look. The background has a painted feel and when mixed with the art it makes a beautiful card. The Valor logo is the only foil stamping, done in bronze, which is a fresh change of pace from most card releases full of foil stamping. The image is done in a glossy manner, while the card background has a matte feel.

Overall I'm very impressed with the overall look of the cards, even the base and rookie cards.

A few more cards into the pack yielded me the next Panthers card. Luke Kuechly is the beast in the middle of the field for the team. He missed games 2-4 with a concussion, but re-joined the team last week and caused all sorts of trouble for Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. This Gridiron Warriors card appears to be an insert, however the pack didn't list any odds for these. It's another beautiful card as it shares some of the same designs as the base/rookie cards have. Another keeper for me.

Isn't this guy supposed to be pretty good? Sorry, my team is 5-0 going into Sunday night against the Eagles so I haven't paid much attention to the rest of the league.

I love sets that mix in a few cards of older, retired players. I can't say I was watching many NFL games back with Bo played, but I know he was a force to be reckoned with on the field.

There are a ton of serially numbered parallels. I ended up w/ this Glory parallel numbered to 99 of Ameer Abdullah. Pack odds show these come at 1:17 Value packs.

I can see myself grabbing a few more of these packs as I really like the look. Not sure at this time how many cards are in the set, but this was a fun pack to open and much nicer than Topps flagship football offering in my opinion.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Last Baseball Post

The baseball season is over...well at least for my Braves. Even though I'll be tuning in this evening for the one game playoff between the Cubs and Pirates, and possibly watching the Cardinals some...I'm done with baseball for 2015.

What a sad season it was for Braves fans too. I guess I should have known it was going to be a tough year with a lot of players being shipped off during the off season and even the day before the season started (the bullpen misses you Kimbrel!).

From a baseball card perspective by buying dropped off tremendously. Not sure if it's a combination of being burnt out a little, busy work schedule or a combination of both. I only bought 2 hobby boxes all year long. While I did buy a handful of packs here and there of various Topps products, I was only actively going after building two sets, Gypsy Queen and Allen & Ginter. Even that mission has kinda fallen to the wayside.

All is not lost though. I still have a few random packs to share and Football season is upon us my as of this post my Carolina Panthers are 4-0! Going forward I anticipate most of my posts to be football oriented. While I know that means I'll alienate some readers, it's what I'm passionate about right now...well that and toys of course (see my other blog, Random Toy Reviews).

Before I make that transition to the pigskin, here are a few cards that I picked up that I don't think I ever got around to sharing.

I miss hosting group breaks, yet I know I have way too little time now to try to do that again. Also because of my lack of time to blog like I used to, I find myself reading other blogs and getting in on group breaks like in the past. However a month or so ago I jumped on one of those group breaks by bidding on the Braves on eBay. I grabbed my team in a 2015 Topps Chrome half case break. Didn't wind up with anything too exciting, but I'm glad to add these cards of Folty to the collection.

The Donruss Elite cards really do nothing for me, but I ran across this RC of Folty for $.50 shipped so I figured, why not?

This Chrome Refractor came from the aforementioned group break. The GQ Mini Relic was a early cheap score off eBay. Usually I buy a lot of Freddie's cards, but with my dwindling buying and his stint on the DL this season I guess I just lost some of my Freddie mojo.

Ah, Evan Gattis. I usually don't buy a lot of cards of former Braves players, but how could I not pick up this card? I really miss "El Olso Blanco", though AJ Pierzynski made the loss of Evan a little easier to swallow. One of the best things about this card was it's cost, just under $5 shipped!

Long time readers know that Tim Hudson is my guy and I've got a pretty decent collection of his cards. This makes finding non-super premium cards of his hard to find, yet someone I had missed picking up this 2004 Leather & Lumber game used spikes card. 

I think this card of Minor is an Xfractor, but Topps quite putting the parallel name on the back of Chrome cards so I really have no idea. I think I got the auto in a trade with a reader here, but then again I'm so unorganized right now I can't recall if it was a trade or an outright purchase. I do know that the Braves could have used Minor's arm in the lineup this season.

The lone new Simba card is another Refractor from the group break I participated in. Maybe I should have rotated this image horizontal?

Freedie Freeman spent a good bit of time on the DL this season, unusual for him, however that created opportunities for others to step up. Long time AAA Gwinnett player, Joey Terdoslavich, got a chance to show the fans in Atlanta what he is capable of doing. I picked up this nice wooden RC of his from Panini's surprisingly nice set, America's Pastime. 

And finally we're to Alex Wood. My hometown guy who was traded away to the Dodgers earlier this season in a trade that would bring Hector Olivera to Atlanta. I gotta admit, this one hurt. I can see wy the team made the trade, but it doesn't soften the blow any. This is about the time I think I hung it all up. I haven't looked for any new Alex Wood cards. I've only seen him in a Dodgers uniform once. He's a guy I'll probably continue to collect, but man does it suck that he sports the LA blue now.

Well that's about it. I think I have a pack or two of baseball cards I may spotlight on a Pack Break post, or I may see if A Pack To Be Named Later is in need. It wasn't a horrible baseball season for me, but it wasn't the most ideal for me either. However I'm a true Braves fan and I'm not giving up...on the team, on collecting or on the blog. It's just time for me to move the spotlight over to the Carolina Panthers and root them on to their 2nd Super Bowl appearance!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Tuff Stuff - Uncut Promo Sheets

Growing up collecting cards in the early 90's and in an area without a card shop, I didn't have access to the Beckett Baseball Card Monthly magazine very often. What I did have access to was Tuff Stuff. I was just thinking the other day while driving around town how much I miss that magazine. Even back then I found myself buying more than just baseball cards so I enjoyed the opportunity to read about more than just baseball cards. The multi-sport price guide was also a nice treat. However the real treat a lot of the times were the freebies that came inside the polybagged issues. Sometimes you were treated to single cards, while other times you could find uncut sheets of promo cards. Yes, those were the good ole' days.

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In the mid to late 90's when the Charlotte Hornets were fun to watch on the court, I found myself interested in basketball cards. Before you had all of these premium card sets you had NBA Hoops. Starting with the 95-96 set Skybox upped their game w/ the Hoops brand. Now I realize today these cards may seem tame or even goofy, but back then I was mesmerized.

When I see that card of Larry Johnson and the large foil time clock "counting down", all I can think of is his stupid "Dallas" play where Larry would take the ball to center court and just dribble it while time ticked away. Then with just a few seconds left he would drive to the basket. I'm sure this play led to many exciting wins at the buzzer, but for some reason I don't remember the outcome being positive. Well at least it makes for a interesting card design.

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Series 2 also came with a page of perforated cards and yet another Charlotte Hornet! Man I miss watching Alonzo play in the purple and teal. Some of these card designs weren't bad, but man what were the people at Skybox thinking when they came up w/ the Gold Mine subset? Those are some seriously gaudy looking cards.

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Around the same time you could find those NBA Hoops promo pages inside Tuff Stuff magazines, Fleer also teased collectors with 1995 Fleer Extra football. Never cared for the base design or any of the subsets. By today's standards these are very forgettable.

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Hockey cards anyone? Nah, I didn't think so!

Seriously though, if anyone wants any of these sheets of cards I still have them intact as shown and I'd be glad to trade them away for just about any single card or a few cards from my want list.

Who else misses the days of Tuff Stuff or card magazines in general that came loaded with freebies such as promo cards?

Friday, August 21, 2015

New A&G Trade Bait

I'm ready to deal some 2015 Allen & Ginter cards...who's with me? All of the cards in this post are available for trade. Looking for base cards to complete the set, including SPs. Also working on all of the insert sets, both full size and the minis. Check out my 2015 A&G want list or just browse all my want lists if I have something you want!


10th Anniversary Buy Backs

full size inserts

Regular minis

SP minis

A&G Back minis

SP A&G Back minis

Black Bordered minis

No # mini

Hand Numbered mini