Thursday, May 26, 2011

On This Day - May 26th

OTD - 1959 - In another of Bill Veeck's stunts, 3-feet 7 inch Eddie Gaedel returns to a major league field along with three other midgets. Arriving by helicopter and dressed as Martians, the quartet shakes hands with Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio near second base on Comiskey Park's infield and gives them toy ray guns as the PA announcer informs fans the crowd the ETs have arrived to help the somewhat short keystone combo in their struggle with giant earthlings.

OTD - 1964 - In front of a meager crowd of 2,503 fans at Wrigley Field, the visiting Mets pummel the Cubs, 19-1. New York's 25-year old first baseman Dick Smith, batting leadoff, becomes the first player in franchise history to collect five hits in a game.

OTD - 1993 - Jose Canseco can't be accused of not using his head by anyone in Cleveland. The Texas right fielder drifts back to line up a long drive by Carlos Martinez and, when he turns his head to take a look at the wall, the ball skims off his glove, hits his head and bounces over the fence for a home run.

OTD - 1997 - Two inside-the-park home runs are hit in a span of five minutes on Memorial Day in Pittsburgh. First, Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa touches them all in the top of the sixth inning, then Tony Womack flies around the bases in 13 seconds in the bottom of the inning. The Cubs hold off the Bucs, 2-1, but it is the first time in 21 years that two N.L. players hit inside-the-parkers in the same game.

OTD - 2004 - In the second game of a twin bill at US Cellular Field, Frank Catalanotto becomes the first Blue Jay in franchise history to collect six hits in one game. The left fielder’s double and five singles contribute to Toronto’s 10-6 victory over the White Sox.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On This Day - May 25th

OTD - 1923 - Crossing the plate for the 1,741 time, Ty Cobb surpasses Honus Wagner's for most runs score in a career. The 'Georgia Peach' will tally 2,245 runs during his 24-year tenure in the major leagues, a mark which will not be equaled until 2001 when Rickey Henderson breaks the record.

OTD - 1941 - Ted Williams raises his batting average over .400 for the first time during the season. His run to be the first since Bill Terry in 1930 to exceed the magic number will be marked in newspapers throughout the season, although it will often give way to the batting streak by Joe DiMaggio.

OTD - 1951 - The much-heralded Giants rookie Willie Mays makes his major league debut against the Phillies at Shibe Park. The 20-year old outfielder, who hit .477 in the minor leagues with the Minneapolis Millers in 35 games before being called up, goes hitless in five trips to the plate, but makes two outstanding defensive plays to contribute to New York’s 8-5 victory

OTD - 1981 - Carl Yastrzemski plays in his 3,000th major league game, scoring the winning run in Boston's 8-7 triumph over Cleveland. Yaz joins Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, and Hank Aaron as the only major leaguers to appear in 3,000 games.

OTD - 2006 - At Tokyo's Jingu Stadium, Californian-borned Rick Guttormson becomes the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in interleague play in Japan. The former Padres minor league pitcher of the year holds the Golden Eagles hitless as the Yakult Swallows beat Rakuten, 6-0.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Box Break - 2010 Panini Threads Football

Quite a long time ago I was lucky enough to score a box of 2010 Panini Threads Football from the always too generous folks over at Card Corner Club Radio. Simply listening to their show and lazing back with the laptop got me a free box. How can that not make for a great Friday night spent? I promised them that I would post the break on my blog. I expected to be doing this much sooner than now, but, better late than never I suppose.

With the current state of my card collecting table it was an impossibility to do a video break. So, this will have to suffice. First things first though.

Soundtrack - The Sheepdogs - Learn and Burn

2010 Panini Threads Football

Box Breakdown - 24 packs per box
Pack Breakdown - 8 cards per pack

Right off the bat I like this product simply for the weight of the box, it "feels" like a healthy purchase. Lately boxes of cards have not been giving the impression that they are money well spent. Delivering 192 cards this product definitely changes that perception. As with a number of Panini releases this set is broken into 3 parts with varying degrees of difficulty to pull one. Cards 1 through 150 constitute the "base" set and are labelled "Commons" on the checklist. Cards 151 through 200 are the 'Rookie Class' autographed manu-patch cards and cards 201 to 300 are, I am assuming here, Rookies that did not warrant a manu-patch, they are simply called 'Rookies' on the checklist.

Base Set cards - 150/150 (100%) (Always a great thing!!!!)
Doubles - 21

The common theme that seems to permeate every conversation when it comes to critiquing a card design is that collectors want "something different". Well, Panini Threads definitely does that with its base cards. All 150 base cards feature a landscape layout for the photo with the player name and team running vertically up the left side of the card. The disappointment for me with this set is the lack of colour on the front of the card that would distinguish, at a quick glance, the team represented. Also missing on the front is a team logo.

I have never considered myself a fan of football cards or sets and after looking throughout this set I think I have discovered why. With Baseball and Hockey the action of the game seems to be captured in the photographs used on cards. Football, for some reason unknown to me, does not seem to be able to capture what makes it exciting and translate that to cardboard. Out of 150 cards there were really only 3 that even remotely looked like a "great shot" or captured the essence of the game, even with that said the Manning card looks like every other Manning card.

Far too many cards in this set featured photos from practices or scrimmages. The LaDanian Tomlinson card is especially weak featuring his own teammate trying to "tackle" him. Altogether I counted 10 cards featuring these types of photos. It may not seem much but photography should be the number one concern for ANY set.

Like I mentioned earlier there are plenty of Rookie cards in this set with varying degrees of difficulty to acquire. Base Rookies (read as non-autographed, non-manu-patch cards) appear to fall 1 every 4 packs and total 100 cards. These are Rookies beyond the much sought after names that appear in the autographed manu-patch collection of 50. This is where the set tends to bloat a little. Here are the six I pulled.

Card #206 - Anthony Dixon, card #222 - David Gettis, card #233 - Garrett Graham

Card #248 - Joique Bell, card #264 - Mike Neal, card #290 - Timothy Toone

Parallels as with any Panini issue are plentiful in this release, there are 6 in total for the Base Set,

Silver Century Proofs - #/250
Gold Century Proofs - #/100
Platinum Century Proofs - #/25
Autographed Parallels - #/499 and lower
Jersey Parallels - #/299 and lower
Prime Jersey Parallels - #/50 and lower

I pulled 3 Silver parallels and 1 Gold, sadly none were Bengals. However, one was from the SP Rookie cards and the other 3 were QBs. Not bad in the end.

Silver Parallel Serial #116/250 card #246 - Joe Webb

Silver Parallel Serial #161/250 card #45 - Kyle Orton

Silver Parallel Serial #037/250 card #76 - Chad Henne

Gold Parallel Serial #032/100 card #48 - Matthew Stafford

When it comes to insert cards there are plenty to choose from in Panini Threads and one especially that I really, REALLY like. There are 6 insert sets that have a non-relic or non-signature base along with plenty of parallels.

'Century Legends' features 15 of the greatest players in NFL history and has 3 parallels;
Century Legends Proof - #/100
Century Legends Materials - #/299 and lower
Century Legends Prime Materials - #50/ and lower

'Century Stars' features 25 of today's current NFL stars and has 3 parallels;
Century Stars Proof - #/100
Century Stars Materials - #/299 and lower
Century Stars Prime Materials - #/ and lower

'Triple Threat' focuses on the best 1-2-3-punch of 10 NFL teams with 3 parallels;
Triple Threat Proof - #/100
Triple Threat Materials - #/299 and lower
Triple Threat Prime Materials - #50/ and lower

'Generations' is a 15-card set that takes a current player and matches him up with a player from the franchise's past. this set has 3 parallels as well;
Generations Proof - #/100
Generations Materials - #/299 and lower
Generations Prime Materials - #50/ and lower

'All Rookie Team' is a 5-card set showcasing the Top 5 rookies of 2009 with 4 parallels;
All Rookie Team Threads #/299 and lower
All Rookie Team Threads Prime #/50 and lower
All Rookie Team Threads Signatures #/50 and lower
All Rookie Team Threads Prime Signatures #/25 and lower

'Pro Gridiron Kings' covers 50 of the NFL's greatest players and features a total of 9 parallels. 4 are different coloured frame variations and 5 are a mixture of jerseys, patches and signatures;
Red Frame #/100
Blue Frame #/50
Green Frame #/25
Black Frame #/10
Jersey #/299 and lower
Prime Patch #/50 and lower
Autograph #/299 and lower
Autograph Jersey #/25 and lower
Autograph Prime Patch #/10 and lower

By far my favorite insert is the 'Pro Gridiron Kings', as it is printed on a canvas card stock best described as reminiscent to the Upper Deck Masterpieces collection set, except more glossy. Of course the one insert set I choose to like has the greatest number of parallels. I pulled one from this box and it was a base that features Daryle Lamonica.

I also pulled 4 cards from the 'Century Stars' set, 3 base and 1 Proof parallel. This is a set I could take or leave (probably leave) when it comes to design. My first impression is, too dark. I like the use of team colours in the bottom left corner and the banner. However, nothing really grabs me about this set. Even the 25 card checklist could have been parred down to 20 or 15. Disappointing that this is the insert set I pulled the most cards from.

'Century Stars' card #7 - Drew Brees

'Century Stars' card #8 - Eli Manning

'Century Stars' card #9 - Frank Gore

'Century Stars' Proof Parallel card #18 - Michael Turner (Serial #088/100)

The 'Generations' set reminds me too much of the Topps 'Legendary Lineage' cards. I get what manufacturers are trying to do here but the design and layout needs to be revisited by someone. I pulled 2 cards from this set that San Diego fans or Minnesota fans would be happy with.

'Generations' card #4 - Cris Carter/Sidney Rice

'Generations' card #5 - Junior Seau/Shawne Merriman

The other insert set I might try and build is 'Century Legends'. It is small enough at 15 cards and the checklist is worthy of a set. The design is much better than the 'Century Stars' card with the only thing missing being a team logo on the white space on the right side of the card. I managed to pull two big-time Quarterbacks from this box.

'Century Legends' card #14 - Terry Bradshaw

'Century Legends' card #15 - Dan Fouts

Lastly, I pulled 1 base insert of the 'Triple Threat' insert set. This card is one that did not need to happen. This set feels like Panini just needed to fill out the release roster by packing out a base card version. This set would be much more desirable as a Prime Patch release ONLY. The card appears designed for just that, which is not a problem, it makes an amazing looking patch card. Unfortunately it does not work as a base insert.

Now we come to the guaranteed hits in the box. According to the sell sheet you will pull 4 autographed or game-used cards per box. Looking at the checklist there are plenty of different cards to fit this bill. Some of the inserts and parallels have already been covered, here are the rest of the jersey/patch/autographed cards available to be hit in 2010 Panini Threads;

Game Day Jerseys 25-card set with 3 parallels;
Signatures #/50 and lower
Prime Patch #/50 and lower
Prime Patch Signatures #/25 and lower

Rookie Collection Materials is a 35-card set featuring, you guessed it, Rookies. This set also has 3 parallels;
Signatures #/50 and lower
Prime Patch #/25 and lower
Prime Patch Signatures #/25 and lower

Rookie Collection also comes in Combo versions, the Dual is a 15-card set with a parallel and the Quad is a 5-card set with a parallel;
Rookie Collection Dual Prime #/25 and lower
Rookie Collection Quad Prime #/25 and lower

Franchise Fabrics features mostly Quarterbacks but is essentially a 20-card set dedicated to some of the NFL's top tier players. This set has 5 parallels;
Franchise Fabrics Patch #/50 and lower
Franchise Fabrics Signatures #/25 and lower
Franchise Fabrics Patch Signatures #/10 and lower
Franchise Tags #/10 and lower
Franchise Tags Signatures #/5 and lower

The Rookie Signatures insert set comes in three tiers. The Combos feature dual signatures and is a 10-card set. The Triple Signatures set is also a 10-card set and the Rookie Signature Quads is a 5-card set.

So, without any further stalling, here are the 4 guaranteed hits from the box I broke.

Autographed Parallel #299/499 Bryan Bulaga 'Rookie'

Rookie Collection Jersey #270/299 Card#21 Jonathan Dwyer

Rookie Collection Quad-Jersey #022/299 Card#3
Demaryus Thomas/Dez Bryant/Dexter McCluster/Arrelious Benn

Rookie Class Autographed/Manu-patch #180/280 C.J.Spiller

There are a few too many non-essential rookies making up this set and the checklist could probably have been trimmed to 250 cards, either that or the Base Set could have included more current players. The inclusion of all the rookies with a healthy dose of current players makes it difficult to give this set an identity. Is it for everyday collectors or is it for speculators?

Overall I enjoyed 2010 Panini Threads but it did nothing to peak my interest in Football releases. There seems to be something lacking in this Football card release that keeps it from capturing the excitement of Hockey or Baseball. While the box more than delivered on expectations with a complete base set and some well designed inserts and I would definitely recommend it to Football card collectors.

Thanks to the kind and generous folks at Card Corner Club Radio for the prize and make sure to tune in every Friday night for one of the most entertaining and informative shows concerning our Hobby.

Thanks for taking the time to check out this latest Box Break and keep checking back for more. We end it here as usual with the "music-to-rip-by" for this edition, good ol' Canadian boys The Sheepdogs.


On This Day - May 24th

OTD - 1909 - After beating the Cardinals a record 24 consecutive times, Giants' legend Christy Mathewson finally loses to the Redbirds, 3-1. The winning streak spanned five years starting in May of 1904.

OTD - 1935 - The Cincinnati Reds host the Philadelphia Phillies in the first major league night game, winning 2-1. On the initiative of Larry MacPhail, President Franklin D. Roosevelt throws the switch at the White House to turn on the lights. The Reds will play seven night games, one each against the other N.L. teams. Ben Chapman is on base seven times in the game, a major league record, on two doubles and five walks.

OTD - 1964 - Harmon Killebrew tags the longest homer ever hit in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. The Twins left fielder's 471-foot shot, which clears the hedge in left center field, is hit off Milt Pappas in the eighth inning of 7-6 loss to the Orioles.

OTD - 1995 - Tossing a scoreless ninth inning in the A's 5-2 win over Baltimore, Dennis Eckersley records his 300th career save. The Oakland right-hander becomes the sixth reliever in major league history to reach the milestone.

OTD - 2006 - Swinging on the first pitch in his first major league at-bat, Adam Wainwright homers in the fifth inning of the Cardinals 10-4 win over San Francisco at AT&T Park. The 24-year old right-hander also tosses three innings in relief to record his second career victory.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

On This Day - May 22nd

OTD - 1962 - Roger Maris is intentionally walked four times to establish a major league record. The quartet of free passes is issued are by four different Halo hurlers in New York's' 2-1 victory over the Angels in 12 innings at Yankee Stadium.

OTD - 1963 - Mickey Mantle hit a pitch from Kansas City's Bill Fischer off the right-field facade at Yankee Stadium in an 8-7 victory over the A's.

OTD - 1982 - In his last major league at bat, Mario Mendoza, who will become a minor league hitting instructor, reaches first on a fielder’s choice ending his nine-year career with a .215 batting average. The Ranger infielder’s name will become infamous as players struggling at the plate will be described as performing below the ‘Mendoza Line’

OTD - 1990 - During the Cubs 2-1 victory against the Reds in a 16-inning contest at Wrigley Field, Andre Dawson is walked five time intentionally to set a major league record. The previous mark of four free passes in a game was established by Yankees outfielder Roger Maris in 1962 and then equaled by Padres shortstop Gerry Templeton in 1985.

OTD - 2002 - Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura approves a financing framework for a $330 million open-air stadium. The bill is the result a seven-year effort by the Twins to secure help from the state, but the plan has only tepid support from the club because team officials are unsure if they'll be able to find $120 million for a required down payment and get a guarantee from major league baseball that a team will play in Minnesota for at least 30 years.