Thursday, January 31, 2013


Randy Moss & Albert Haynesworth are two NFL players synonymous with a couple things.  Both of them were once supremely talented.  Moss was considered the best wide receiver in football.  Haynesworth was also regarded as the best defensive tackle in the game.  Moss earned himself an 8 year $75 million contract in 2001, while Haynesworth got 7 years $100 million in 2009.  Subsequently, both players became disinterested in the game that paid them so handsomely. 

Randy Moss was on pace to possibly becoming the greatest receiver ever.  Through 7 seasons he'd amassed nearly 8,000 yards receiving and caught 90 TDs.  Moss always had a reputation as a guy who'd act the fool, but he backed up his shenanigans with amazing play.  In 2004 Moss suffered some nagging hamstring injuries that hampered his production.  He also had an incident in Green Bay where he mimicked mooning the crowd after scoring a TD.  Minnesota apparently had enough of Moss so they traded him to Oakland the following season for the 7th pick in the Draft and a LB.

In 2008, Albert Haynesworth was coming into his own as the best defender in the league.  He'd earned the hundred million dollar contract from the Redskins and was looking to solidify their defense to make them NFC East contenders for years to come. 

Right after Haynesworth got paid his big contract and Moss got shipped to Oakland, both players found an alternate style of play.  Randy discovered his inner bitch and became a part-time player.  Albert took a very similar approach and just stopped trying altogether because he didn't like the system the Redskins ran.  Moss even bragged publicly that he didn't care about playing hard.  Some plays he would give %100, and then some plays he'd sandbag, Moss stated.  Haynesworth wasn't as brash in his public commentary, but his play on the field was so blatantly lax the Redskins just benched him.  Fathom that.  You're making over 14 million a year and your team decides they're better off with you on the bench.

After Randy played two seasons in Oakland completely half-ass, they traded him to New England where he and Tom Brady re-wrote the record books for a single season.  I'm not even going to acknowledge any more Moss stats because he doesn't deserve the recognition.  Randy Moss & Albert Haynesworth are basically the two biggest bitches in NFL History.  All the talent and money in the world, and not an ounce of heart.  If these guys had any guts they'd both be 1st ballot Hall of Famers.  Moss will get in, but I guarantee not on the 1st ballot.  Haynesworth and Jamarcus Russell are one in the same; got paid then just gave up.  I will give Moss some credit for his statistics.  He had to play hard some times to achieve those numbers.  But if he had any stones or any respect for the game he would've accomplished much more. 

I wrote this in my head about 4 years ago, but now that Randy has decided to go public with his displeasure of the 49er offense, the harsh thoughts have crept back into my conscience.  I know these guys don't owe people anything for being talented.  They have the right to choose how they want to play football.  And if Randy Moss wants to believe he's the greatest receiver ever, he can go on being delusional for all I care.  Funny thing is if Moss actually wanted to be the best ever, he could have done so.  And if Albert Haynesworth wanted to be a football player and not just FAT Albert, he could do so.  Randy & Albert, you both win the Award for Most Talented Player with the Least Heart/Smallest Balls.  Congrats!!!

Sorry I don't have any of their cards so I'll just post THE REAL GREATEST RECEIVER OF ALL TIME.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Letter to the President: NFL Reckoning

From time to time I like to tackle the topics currently being discussed in the media.  I believe this one is clearly solvable and shouldn't take years of litigation.  Although its plainly obvious when millions of dollars are at stake and the pocket books of NFL Owners are at risk of becoming smaller, Judges and Arbitrators must be called in to decide what is right when greed has taken over the minds of Executives & CEOs.

The NFL needs to take a page from the United States Military.  The NFL needs a Program like Veterans have where they can receive insured rehabilitation services and support groups, funded by the NFL.  Ex-Players like Jim McMahon and Leroy Hoard walk around and can't remember where they were 5 minutes ago.  Hoard walks around with a note pad and constantly writes down the names of Dave Duerson, Junior Seau and Andre Waters just so he doesn't kill himself like they did.

I saw the report on the ESPN show Outside the Lines, detailing the lives of ex NFL players and the post trauma they experience every day.  All I could think was the NFL should be ashamed.  They are making Billions of dollars off the backs of these players and they don't have the Morals or Ethics to take care or support the ones they've become so rich off of. 

The Owners are the main culprits in this predicament.  The NFL Players Association and a host of former players are suing the NFL for this exact kind of neglect and misinformation.  The NFL had researched the effects of the repeated head trauma it's players were experiencing.  They knew about the brain damage ex players were living with and yet they did not release any information regarding their findings until recently when Concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy became mainstream terminology.

This Case is going to spend years in the Courts before any resolution is reached.  The NFL and the Players Association should immediately collectively bargain a program that all NFL players and former players get eligibility for.  This is the kind of Self-Evaluation and Self-Reckoning the NFL needs.  They are a flourishing business only due to the sacrifices of their former and current players.  The fact they don't take care of their own is a GLARING OMISSION.  This is why former players like Mike Ditka have gone before Congress to plea with the US Government for leverage.  This is in no way a handout.  It is a Moral & Ethical Obligation....  The Players give their physical and mental faculties.  Now the NFL needs to pay their dues for what they take from these men.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bird & Magic Rookie

Jordan vs Bird vs Magic.  The NBA in the 80s and 90s featured three of the greatest ballers to ever step on the court.  Michael Jordan almost single-handedly denied a generation of his peers an NBA Championship.  Think about players like Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley and Shawn Kemp.  Yeah the 'Reign-Man' would've gotten 1 in '96 if it weren't for MJ.  If Jordan wouldn't have taken 2 years off from '93 to 95, greats Olajuwon & Drexler would not have won their NBA titles for the Rockets, although the match-up of Bulls, Rockets certainly would've made for a superb series.

Bird & Magic are the two guys responsible for the NBA's exponential growth when the 80s began.  They of course played against each other in the 1979 NCAA Championship game, Magic for Michigan State and Bird for Indiana State.  Then for the next 10 consecutive years either the Celtics or Lakers would play in the NBA Finals, 3 times head-to-head with the Lakers winning two of three.  The Greatest Rivalry in NBA History, which began in the early 60s when Russell's Celtics defeated Jerry West's Lakers 6 times, was renewed a generation later when the Celtics defeated the Lakers with Bird the MVP of the 83-84 Finals.  Of the four times they went against each other in a championship setting, that would be the lone victory for Larry Bird against Earvin Magic Johnson.

The two formed a lasting friendship as their rivalry on the court became respect and admiration off it (McDonalds helped too, seriously).  Magic and Bird dominated the NBA in the 80s until the Bad Boys from Detroit took back-to-back titles in 89 & 90, also defeating future champions along the way; Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.  Jordan and the Bulls were actually defeated by Bird and
the Celtics in the 86 and 87 playoffs before Phil Jackson came along.  Phil took over in 89.  The Bulls proceeded to win 6 titles in 8 years from 91 to 98, Jordan the MVP every single Finals.  Jordan averaged about 33 points per game in that time span shooting about 49%.  Jordan never appeared friendly the way Magic and Bird did, except in his shoe commercials and interviews.

This little Gem has become one of the Jewels of my Collection.  The card itself is only a 7-grade of Near-Mint, but with the Autographs of Larry Legend & Magic, it becomes a Relic and nearly a 1-of-a-kind item.  I've seen one autographed by all three players so my bucket list and my OCD now require meeting Dr. J to complete the Trifecta Autographed Rookie Card of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Getting your photo taken is a simple action with a noble cause.  You or someone who cares about you is documenting a moment in time with you being the main subject material.  Sports photographs and cards are the same idea but they also serve a commericial purpose.  Teams and their organizations buy and sell product advertising.  The players and the pictures serve as marketing tools for the teams to sell tickets and promote their brand.  And parents have been photographing their kids in their little league uniforms since the early 1900s when Kodak introduced the first mass produced cameras.

Some people love having their photograph taken; artists, models, hams, ego-maniacs, nostalgaholics.  Many people however do not appreciate the "cheeeeeeeeeeese" idea.  They worry about how they look, their hair, their make-up, teeth, skin, their clothes etc.  I broach this subject because of my appreciation of photography.  I love taking photos and enjoy being photographed with loved ones.  I also love the idea of capturing a great shot, a funny scene or an everlasting image that will touch generations of people.

I found a few sweet pictures that qualify as less than flattering.  You ever have your picture taken after waking up first thing in the morning?  Or put on a pair of shorts you wore when you were a kid?  How bout trying on some ladies lingerie?  Well enough about my personal life.  These classic pics are prime examples of what can go wrong in front of the camera.  One of the most feared defenders in NFL history & a NY Jet-fan-favorite in all their glory;p  Jack Tatum was probably the most feared hitter on a football field next to Ronnie Lott.  And Al Toon is one of the first, but most forgotten NFL players to retire early due to concussions( he retired after 8 seasons at the age of 29 after suffering 9 concussions).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The 12th player in NBA History to score 20,000 points & dish 5000 assists, Lebron James in his 10th season is still getting better.  And he actually hit those milestones in the same game.  That's just Crazy.  Go to this site and check out the ridiculosity of Lebron James' numbers.  It's not hard to figure out what he's averaging every season being that this is his tenth year.  2000 points, 560 assists, 570 rebounds, 130 steals, and 65 blocks.  He's 28 years old and the scary thing is Lebron is fine-tuning his game, perfecting his strengths and improving upon his weaknessess.  The numbers are staggering, but James' critics point to 1 championship and repeated poor performances in the clutch.

With the Cavaliers Lebron was the be-all, end-all.  He carried them to the Finals in 06-07 and made them relevant for the first time since 1992 when Mark Price and Brad Daugherty took the Cavs to the Conference Finals.  It's not an insult to the former teammates of James to say he didn't have enough help to win a championship.  They had success as a team.  Basketball is no individual sport, but Lebron carried the franchise like very few ever have.  Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry made moves and acquisitions to help Lebron but they never made the right ones (Old Shaq & Antawn Jamison).  The Heat and Pat Riley have made the right moves.  They've surrounded James, Wade & Bosh with quality role-players and have paid them generously.

Lebron James is just beginning to enter his prime.  Physically he's stronger than ever.  Mentally he's stronger than ever.  His shooting % has gone up progressively since 2009, from 49 to 50 to 51 to 53 to 55 percent this year.  He is big enough and skilled enough to play every position on the floor effectively.  Lebron really is the ultimate hybrid player that can do it all.  This 2003-04 Bowman Rookie is cool but it's not the one I'm trying to get most.  One of my previous posts holds that clue.  Any Lebron Rookie is money in the bank, but the one I'm looking to acquire will require some added work & research.  I'll put it up when I get it

Monday, January 21, 2013

Roberto Clemente

Pittsburgh is a pretty cool city.  I tell people it's a lot like Harrisburg.  There's a bunch of hills, mountains and cityscapes intermingled with houses and communities all connected by a black & yellow brick road (or Bridge).  If you drive through it too fast, you might miss it or get the wrong impression.  Like any metropolitan area, it's got some rough edges.  You gotta keep your head on a swivel when walking through certain areas, but make no mistake, the people are good-hearted and driven.

Back in 2003 I took a trip to see an old buddy.  Both of us in college and about to graduate, we partied it up for a few days in the city.  I was extremely jealous of my friend's living situation.  Nice townhouse on the edge of the city overlooking the Igloo with 4 roomates and plenty of willing-participant neighbors.  "Now this is college life."  As the Ultimate Sports fans that we were, it was Pitt Panthers and Larry Fitzgerald on Saturday @ Heinz Field, followed by a Steelers Game party on Sunday at the crib, capped off with a Pirates Sunday Matinee @ PNC Park (Steroid Chant at Brian Giles:)

A Large group of us walked around the city to each location.  That's how small it is.  All this stuff is packed together in a tight little area.  Like 2 square miles and you've got 3 Stadiums and 150 Skyscrapers.  All of it surrounded by rivers.  I think the Majestic company got their name by visiting Pittsburgh.  Walking across the big, yellow Roberto Clemente Bridge to PNC Park was cool too.  MLB named their Humanitarian Award after Clemente because he flew supplies to Nicaragua after an earthquake ravaged a major city.  Their air plane crashed into the ocean due to an overloaded of supplies, killing Roberto and 3 crew members.

Roberto Clemente was another one of the few ball players that made you want to play baseball just by watching him.  Like Rose, he played the game with style and grit.  Roberto was incredibly skillful.  A real 5-Tool player, he hit for batting average, power, had a cannon arm, was fast as hell and was a great defender.  Clemente played with a flair and elegance that'd make your grandfather say, "There's a real ball player for ya."  Pittsburgh and all Baseball Aficionados put this guy near the top of any Best Ball Player List.  Presidential Medal of Freedom Winner & Baseball God.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Playing Cards Count

KEM, Copag, Bicycle, Da Vinci, Trump.  I played Crazy Eights with Bicycle's going back to my first decade.  I've played poker with Copag cards at a home game in Camp Hill, PA.  In Atlantic City @ the Trump Taj Mahal on the crisp, green felt I fingered some Trump brand playing cards.  Tried my hand at human anatomy and bought some sturdy Da Vinci cards.  But my favorite kind of card, other than a Topps Unitas or a Fleer Jordan, is a KEM Cellulose Acetate.

Forget shuffling paper or laminate cardboard.  Don't strain your wrists and fingers struggling to slick the perfect bridge.  You've got to Go All-In or Fold with KEM.  These cards break the mold and make your card playing experience a pleasure.  My set came in Black & Gold, but you can get em in Red & Blue.  Not only do these cards flip, slide, fold and glide, they maintain their shape and look nice from either side;)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Swing and A Miss

The NFL's final four teams are set.  Atlanta Falcons, 49ers, Ravens and Patriots.  The games this past weekend were thrilling to the end.  The Falcons barely escaped with their last second field goal and the Ravens upset the Broncos.  Peyton Manning's team came up short for him once again, like they have repeatedly in his historic career.  The Saints won Super Bowl 44 basically by an onsides kick and several dropped passes by the inept Colts receivers.  Peyton should have 2 Rings like Eli, but the elder Manning never had the luxury of a great supporting cast(& Miracles), especially a stout defense.  The Broncos D came up as short as any top defense ever has.  The critics are sneezing @ the coaching and at Peyton, but if the defense played to half of their capability the game wouldn't have been close.

The 49ers found a diamond in the rough with Colin Kaepernick and the Falcons are striving to live up to expecatations.  It's looking like a 49ers, Patriots Super Bowl, but no prediction is ever golden in the NFL.  I bought some 2012 Topps Chrome Football Hobby Boxes direct from their website.  4 Boxes later the best I did was a Nick Foles Autograph.  Got a couple Luck's & RG3's but nothing rare or autographed.  The disappointment of striking out on finding a rare refractor or expensive autograph was only outweighed by the hours of fun.  I have perfected my wax pack opening technique, as to not damage a single edge or corner.  My method is a secret because the Hobby is competitive and I'm trying to win. 

Before now, the last time I bought a hobby box was two years ago when I got (2) 2003-04 Topps Finest Basketball hobby boxes.  The trend remained the same as I did not find a single Lebron James rookie.  I didn't even get a Bosh, Wade or Anthony.  I had to settle for a Brian Grant refractor(all I saw were the Heat Colors and I was so pissed when it wasn't D-Wade).  Oh and a Francisco Elson Autograph rookie.  Also got a Ben Wallace and Chris Webber game worn jersey cards.  These Topps Finest cards are some of the most aesthetically pleasing and well designed cards I've ever seen.  They shine like diamonds, they reflect like mirrors and the Top Refractors fetch a very hefty price tag.  Too Bad I didn't get 1;P

Friday, January 11, 2013

We have moments in our lives that stand out.  Feelings of Greatness and Rejoice we wish could be bottled and saved for eternity.  Memories that we wish could be captured in a video or a picture to be looked at & played over and over again, whenever our hearts need a little reminder of what we once accomplished.  Even times of great pain and anguish are poignant markers for the satisfaction of knowing where we've come from and how much we've achieved.  My mind is my archive.  I've got a few of these moments, cherished & dreaded, standout happenings all on standby.  I recall them at the flash of a thought, and grin so wide my teeth grind down just a bit to leave me humbled.

My first great moment occured on a baseball field of all places.  I was 12 years old playing midget league baseball for the Steelton Lions, coached by Clark Croman.  We were playing our rival team and had taken a small lead into the last inning.  They scored a few runs to pull within 1, then a kid belted a ball deep.  I'm standing in left field and the ball is hit high.  My Dad is watching from the crowd thinking, "go back Jon" but my body runs inward.  I retreat toward the fence, jump back fully extended and snag the ball out of the air.  My team and my coach yell and run on the field, surrounding me cheering that we've won.

The Worst moment of my life happened September 4, 2011.  I'm driving to my Dad's house to go to a baseball game.  I've got my 9 and 7 year old nephews in the backseat and I'm speeding to pass a slow car in front us.  There's plenty of downhill road ahead of us, but it's still a non-passing zone because of the business parking lots on the left side of the road.  A Car begins to pull out as I'm doing 80mph and I slam the breaks.  The wheels lock, we slide sideways and we somehow avoid the car.  We go into the grass and broadside a powerline.  The airbags deploy and the powerline falls on top of us with a loud crash.  In complete panic I pull my nephew from the backseat and run away from the wreckage.  I go back for my other nephew, duck in through the window but he's pinned in the backseat.  The powerline crushed in right near his seat.  "Devin! It's me Johnny.  Can you hear me?"  He moved and fretted but I couldn't get him out.  As I sit here crying, I can tell you we're all ok.

Baseball fields hold most of my greatest moments.  In 12th Grade, I had a terrible year of baseball.  11th was so carefree and successful, then my senior year was awful.  But in one game in one at-bat it all felt better.  We were losing, getting shut out by this kid throwing around 85.  I work a 2 and 0 count and think to myself, "sitting dead red."  I'm waiting for that fastball right down the middle.  I get it.  Beautiful Swing, right on time, perfect contact and a sound & feeling I'll never forget.  Now I'm Griffey Jr, hot stepping into my trot, but the ball hits the top of the fence and I haven't reached 1st base yet.  I leg it out, slide into 2nd for a double and think, "Man if that one didn't go out, I'll never hit one."  It didn't matter though.  I rocked that kid so hard the result was meaningless.

So my high/lowlight reel is one only to be read and reminisced.  You'll never know it or see it the way I did, but you can imagine it just as you do your own.  There's time left for more and I know it's not guaranteed.  I've learned to lessen my impatience.  Future moments will occur and I'll be ready.  My past is my guide to a more wise future.  I will live better, love harder and do my best for everyone around me.  And there will always be a baseball field closeby.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


When I think about the career Ken Griffey Jr had, one not-so-popular maxim rings true; Winning Is Overrated.

One of the great moments in Baseball history happened when Jr. Griffey ran the bases, not for 1 of his 630 round-trippers, but for the American League Division Series title in 1995, when the Mariners defeated the Yankees in a deciding 5th game to advance to the ALCS.  The MLB Playoffs have become so monotonous with all the added teams, divisions and wild cards the regular season almost doesn't matter anymore.  However, this game and that moment did matter for Seattle Mariners Fans and Ken Griffey Jr admirers like myself.  It was the most joy we'd ever seen from 'the kid' in his entire career.  He'd played in so many games, hit so many HR's, drove in so many teammates and made more amazing plays than anyone ever, but he had never experienced post season success of any kind till then.

In 1990, Ken Sr. was released and picked up by the Mariners squad to help mentor Griffey Jr and the rest of an inexperienced team.  The M's were one of the greenest teams in the Show & the elder Griffey was a 2 x Champion with the Big Red Machine teams of the Cincinnati Reds in '75 and '76.  The Father and Son combo made for some All-Time Great Baseball Moments, like when they hit back-to-back HRs in a game and played in several contests side by side in Left and Center field.  Griffey Jr would later tell reporters those were the most special times he would ever have on a baseball diamond, he and his father playing together.

So when Ken Jr helped his Mariners to the playoffs in '95, he was 25 years old, the best player in the game and already the toast of Seattle(way better than Starbucks).  But when he scored that winning run against the Yankees in the ALDS and his teammates mobbed him on the ground at home plate, everyone knew Junior was determined to win.  Unfortunately, the M's lost to Cleveland in the ALCS and Griffey only played in 2 more playoff series' in his entire career, both losing efforts(Baltimore '97 & Tampa Bay in '08).

For 10 years, from '89 to '99 Ken Griffey Jr was the Man.  He was the best player in the game and Hank Aaron's HR title had a future date with Junior cuz after 10 seasons and 398 HRs, at 29 years of
age Griffey could coast to 756.  His first year after being traded to his Dad's Reds in 2000, he stayed on pace to catch Hank with a 40 HR season, but that would be the last time Junior would ever hit 40 HRs in a season and he was only 30 years old!!!  Think about that.  438 HRs at age 30.  If he averages 30 HRs a year for 10 years he'd be right there.  Saying it like that sounds so ridiculous and completely minimizes the feat, but it's frickin Ken Griffey Jr MAN!!!!  He could hit 30 HRs right handed if he wanted to.  In fact from his 23rd to his 31st birthday he hit 351 HRs, for an average of 44 HRs over 8 seasons, all before the age of 31.

Well we all know how it turned out.  The Kid played the game so hard his body broke down.  Injuries plagued Junior costing him 3 seasons worth of games from 2001 to 2008.  When Bonds, McGwire and many others were juicing their way to the record books, Junior was aging naturally.  After the age of 31 Ken Griffey Jr hit 210 HRs.  Barry Bonds hit 428 HRs from 32 to 42 years of age.  Bonds hit 334 HRs from age 21 to 31.  Seems Barry found a way to reach his prime in his mid & late 30s.

Griffey will always be better than Bonds to the informed baseball historian.  And ironically enough, World Series Rings evaded the two best players of the generation.  I'll never have sympathy for Barry Bonds and his ego and I'll always wish Junior would've stayed healthy.  I'll also always imagine what might have been if Griffey would've gone genetically altered to keep up with the Jones'.  But then again I know he was of better character, and History will Recognize & Appreciate George Kenneth "Ken" Griffey Jr. that much more for his Uncompromised Integrity.  762 for Barry, HA!!! Try 850 for THE KID.  CALL HIM JUNIOR;)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Card Hunt

Garbage Pale Kids were one of the first collectibles I found as a kid.  Actually it was the influence of my older sister that lead me to discovering these filthy, mud-scraping, worm-squishing, fece-mooshing, cow-chip-shoveling, dog-dirt-stepping, bathroom-floor-licking, under-carpet-munching, fly-tape-flossing, curdled-milk-guzzling, back-hair-shaving, brown-wart-rubbing troll-ass-kids.  I found a few of the old stickers taped inside a black diary looking book that I used to scribble in as a kid, but there weren't any good ones that could top the grotesque description I just gave.

Instead for this post I will continue with the theme of Alternative Card Collecting.  Recently while digging through some old boxes, I found some John Connor cards.  Not the guy who plays for the Jets, but the Terminator 2 John Connor.  Man I must've been really into wasting my parents money as a kid.  "Buy me these cards Mom!  I want these Mom!  Hey Dad can I have a pack of these?"  Sometimes you really need to assert your power with your kids just to tell them and explain to them why buying some things are a complete waste of time and money.  If you have to shout real loud or make them cry to get your point across, SO BE IT!

I remember finding some E.T. cards in an end-table at our old house.  E.T. was like a Phenomena when that came out in the 80s.  I was born in '81, E.T. came out in '82, but it was still being watched and marveled at at our house probably well into 1986.  It's the first movie I can remember watching and it's still the one movie I can't watch without breaking down crying at the end when Elliot says goodbye to his friend.  "Ouch."  Spielberg is the master of that.  Getting you to feel like your 8 years old again when your thirty or fifty.

Going back to the places you lived as a youth can be especially uncomfortable.  You see the same old familiar places, but with all new faces & fucking ipods.  It's really just the realization I'm getting older that makes me bitter.  I can't be that ten-year-old playing in the dirt with my friends anymore.  I know it gets worse too as time rolls on.  Wait till I'm 60, if I even get there.  It ain't hard to tell why old men act so pissed-off and angry all the time.

But on a lighter note I prefer to end with a card find.  Sometimes you'll find cool things when you go looking back in those old places.  At my Grandma's house I did some treasure hunting through stacks of dusty books because my Dad, Uncle and Aunt grew up there and I know they did their share of collecting.  The Yankees won like 10 World Series' when they were growing up and my Grandpa was a Yankee fan along with practically every other American.  Only a matter of breathing in a few more allergens & tossing a couple trees.  If you ever find Old Books, definitely be sure to flip through the pages cuz you never know what card they may have used for a book-mark.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Kevin Durant

I am thinking about perfecting the procedure for getting an autograph.  The typical approach is to arrive early at the venue, stand by the VIP or Player gate and beg.  If that fails, waiting near the sideline after the game is a small possibility for players just finishing post-game interviews and such.  I guess a Press-Pass couldn't hurt my chances of getting a high valued signature, but then again most players hate reporters and writers so that probably wouldn't work either.

Then what if your item is encased?  I have several "slabbed" cards that if autographed would at least triple their value.  I would have to be at the player's venue, with cutting tools in hand, the card as well, then on the off chance that I actually get to speak with the player to ask for an autograph I have to say, "Oh Thank you, but one moment please."  I bend down and presume to tear open the casing with pliers, negating the grade, ruining the gem mint condition of the card and I have to hope the player doesn't just walk away in disgust while I'm doing this.  Sounds pretty ridiculous, but I'm sure similar scenarios happen everyday to guys like Lebron, Kobe, KD, Pujols, A-Rod, Jordan etc... 

OK so assume the card is free from casing and the athlete is patiently standing there waiting.  Now I need to persuade him ever so subtly, "Could you please be very gentle so the card's value is maintained?"  If he hasn't walked away by now you'd have to be one of a few things: 1. Disabled; let's face it, nobody can say No or reject the physically hindered.  2. A Sexy Female; Once again nobody can say No to them.  3. A Soldier; ditto.  And #4, an old person.  Number four might be stretching it, but ordinarily Professional Athletes are very respectful of the elderly.

So if I'm going to attempt to get one of these guys' John Hancock in person, I will definitely be in disguise as one of the four options.  2 & 4 are kinda impossible unless I have a great makeup artist.  That leaves 1 & 3, which will be really offensive to every person on Earth.  Welcome to the plight of a determined autograph chaser.  You face public humiliation, celeb resent and possible incarceration for bringing cutting tools into a metal detecting setting.

At the risk of offending most of the New Age American Hypersensitive class, the Soldier would clearly be the person easiest to emulate as it would only entail some military garb.  When I obtained this Kevin Durant Autograph, I acquired the services of a licensed Signature/Memorabilia Authenticator to do the dirty work.  Some of these 'inside guys' actually have access to the locker rooms and are well known by players and staff.  How do you finagle into that position?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Cathedral Gallery

Some cards are just pretty, while others can be used as toilet paper.  Most look like a fabricated shot of a guy making a catch or cheesing for the camera with a bad haircut.  Then there are cards that look like they belong in an art gallery and this is one of them.  The 1957 Topps John Unitas Rookie Card is a work of art in its design, color, photography and subject matter.  Johnny Unitas is one of the greatest players in NFL History and his rookie card could be considered the prize of any collection.  Unitas' name has been in the news of late for some of his records being surpassed by Drew Brees and Tom Brady for most consecutive games with a TD pass.  Unitas starred on the Baltimore Colts Teams of the late 50s, 60s and early 70s which had great players like Lenny Moore, Raymond Berry and Alan Ameche.  They won Super Bowl V and two NFL championships pre-merger in '58 & '59.

Unitas and the Baltimore Colts were a bit before my time but I read a book on those Colts teams called "When the Colts Belonged to Baltimore," written by William Gildea.  Dr. Charles Kupfer of Penn State University made it required reading for his American Studies class on Family.  It was one of the few books I actually read in college.  Gildea writes of his Colts as the family gathering place, where he and his father spent Sundays together on the couch and in Memorial Stadium watching their beloved team.  The book is a poetic illustration of Sports and Teams being much more than just games and scores.  Dr. Kupfer told us his personal account of 'the Heidi game,' which took place back in 1968 when Broadway Joe's Jets played John Madden's Oakland Raiders  The occasion had such an impact on him as a child, he named his daughter Heidi.

The 1957 Topps Football Card design of a dual photograph with a player's headshot & an action pic is unique and infrequently replicated.  The 2012 Topps Chrome Football set pays homage to the '57 design by inserting current rookie players in regular, refractor and autograph editions.  The Luck and RG3 autographed ones are like gold.  But even they don't come close to the original.