Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Bar is CLOSED

Thanks for all of the support folks.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

One Final Mailday

Tonight I board the big ol' jet airliner for Chicago and a new start. So that means this is the final "real" post on this blog. What better way to go then to show off the latest additions to the collection. There is a an ebay purchase and a couple of trades.

First up from the Bay.

A Yellow Parallel Vincent Lecavalier UD Champs. Step one on the rainbow, now to find the base, blue and red versions!

Trade number one. I sent Drew a bunch of football cards and he responded with a couple of 100 count plastic boxes containing some set needs, O's and Rays along with the single football card. It's pretty flippin' sweet.

A Lenny Moore Buy Back. This is the first buy back from any sport that I've been able to add to my collection. The fact that it's one of the all time best BALTIMORE Colts makes it even sweeter. Thanks Drew!

Trade number two. The Great Sports Name Hall of Fame. In return for some football cards as well Tim loaded a 100 count box full of O's including an addition to my player collection.

Sugar Bear! The personal collection now sits at a whopping 4 Rayford cards. There were also a bunch of 1990's era Orioles that I didn't have. It's always nice to see cards that aren't in the collection. Thank you Tim and the 1992 cards I mentioned are on there way to you.


On Wednesday the Tampa Bay Lightning sent two of their players to the local Champs at International Mall in Tampa. Since I had nothing better to do that day I went there about an hour early and ended up as the 50th person in line. In total about 250 people showed up, which given the normal apathy surrounding hockey and the Bolts dismal performance over the last three weeks, ended up being a decent turnout.

It helped that the closest thing to a hockey icon in town, Vincent Lecavalier, was one of the signers. As a devoted fan of "Enzo" I decided to have him sign my jersey (which will become the centerpiece of my Lightning memorabilia collection once I can afford to have it framed) and a couple of cards.

He was signing with fellow French Canadian Alex Tanguay. When I dropped the the cards on the table to have them signed Vinny made a joke about the Canadians card Tanguay signed. Alas, it was in French and since I'm a monolingual American I had no idea what he said. They were both polite and genuinely glad to meet the fans.

There ya go. Hoped you enjoyed the final post. Come and check things out at The Hopeful Chase, regular posts should be starting in the next day or so!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The O's Make a Trade.

It's been announced that the O's have acquired former Devil Ray/Astro/Red Sox/Dodger/ Cardinal infielder Julio Lugo for the always popular player to be named later. Chances are that player will be named Cash. To make room for Lugo, Michael Aubrey was designated for assignment.

I wish this was an April Fools joke; not because I think Lugo is washed up (he hit .280 with St Louis and Boston last season), but because this means Brian Roberts isn't as healthy as we're being told.

Roberts has struggled with a herniated disk in his lower back all spring and just returned to the everyday lineup. For the O's to pull in an experienced middle infielder this late in Spring Training means that they are worried that Roberts may miss significant time.

If they weren't concerned then they wouldn't have made the deal and stuck it out with Robert Andino and Ty Wigginton as their utility infielders. I don't see them carrying three spare infielders all season long so I'm guessing the light hitting Andino, who is out of minor league options, is the odd man out.

Lugo wanted out of St Louis when it was apparent he wasn't going to be a starter for the Cardinals. Could Lugo eventually beat out Cesar Izturis for the starting shortstop position? It's possible, but unlikely. The O's like Izturis' defense and feel that they have enough power in the lineup to make up for his below average offensive output.

Roberts has played in the last three games for the O's and is slowly playing his way into game shape. He states that he feels fine, but back problems, like hamstrings and sprained ankles, have a tendency to linger throughout the season. It could also affect the way Roberts plays the game. Will he be wanting to dive after ground balls or slide headfirst into second if it might cause the injury to flare up?

The longest tenured Oriole is a key part of the O's lineup. He is a steady leadoff hitter that sets the tempo for the power guys behind him. Buster Olney from ESPN points out that the O's open the season with 28 of 35 games against teams that had a winning record last season. Sixteen of their games in April are against American League East teams. If they aren't firing at all cylinders to start the season they could find themselves 10 games back by the time May 1st comes around.

Despite all of that doom and gloom there is some good news: The O's won't be spending a lot of money on Lugo. The Red Sox are paying all but $400,000 of Lugo's $8.6 million salary.

So they got that going for them.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Through The Mail Success - Mike McKenna

For the last couple of weeks I've been kicking around the idea of jumpstarting my through the mail efforts. You may have noticed that along the sidebar I've added a request's over there on the left, nope further down, keep going, there ya go!

However, I wasn't sure how I was going to attack it. Who should I send them to? What should I say? How much is this going to end up costing me? Well I think I've stumbled across a half-baked plan. Why not get an autograph of everyone who has donned a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform? Several folks are doing the same thing with various teams, but as of right now no one has targeted the Lightning.

I also have a bit of a headstart thanks to college. My friend and roommate was a big hockey fan and we thought nothing of skipping a morning class to head down to the Ice Palace and catch the players before the morning skate. We didn't have much competition in those days, maybe 5 other people standing around with the same idea.

Almost every player and coach was more than willing to sign, except for a certain "Great One", but that's a whole different story for another day. So I amassed a nice collection of signatures from the then current Lightning and a surprising number of future Lightning players.

With this in mind I sent out my first Lightning targeted request last week. I sent it to former Tampa netminder Mike McKenna. McKenna is a U.S. born goalie who had a brief run (15 games, 4 wins) with the Lightning last season when the team was decimated by injuries in the net.

I was surprised to see him return the card, signed within a week. It was sitting in my mailbox Monday afternoon. I guess he doesn't get many requests.

McKenna, 27, has bounced around the minor leagues since he turned pro in 2005-06. He is currently playing for Lowell in New Jersey's farm system, but has seen time in the net at Norfolk, Portland, Omaha, Milwaukee and Las Vegas.

He was drafted by Nashville in the 6th round of the 2002 draft (11 picks ahead of Paul Ranger) and has spent the time since trying to crack an NHL roster. His stint with the Bolts remains his only NHL time.

A St. Louis native, McKenna is a man of many interests. He graduated from St Lawerence University with a degree in economics and is a fan of Scandanavian Thrash Metal. He is also an occaisonal "Tweeter" who can be found tweeting about life in the minors at

He signed his name and added his Tampa Bay jersey number (30) in black Sharpie across the 2009-10 UD Victory Rookie card I sent. It was my fault that I didn't prep the glossy card before sending it to him so the signature is a little spotty.

Thank you for signing and returning the card Mike. Here's hoping next season finds you between the pipes in an NHL areana!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Champ is here! The champ is here! The Wasteland Breaks a Box of Cards *Now with Sexy Update!

I haven’t broken box on this site for quite some time. Finances are a major reason for that. After all, it’s hard to justify dropping $75-$100 on a box of cards when there are bills to pay and no money coming in. However, thanks to some shrewd dealing on eBay and people willing to pay top dollar for gimmick cards I was able to pick up one box of 2009-10 UD Champs.

I stayed away from this product last year because of the price point. If I remember correctly my local shop had them for $4.00 a pack. In that pack you get 5 cards, two of them of the mini variety. Collecting the entire set through packs would be next to impossible.

This year I saw a box on Dave and Adams for under $70 and armed with a $5.00 coupon I copied from someone’s Beckett I made my purchase (paypal is a wonderful thing). Five days later the UPS guy dropped it off and I got to rippin’. One box, 20 packs, 5 cards (on average) per pack.

Here are the results along with the odds of pulling according to the back of the wrapper.

Base Cards:

48 cards, no doubles, one Lightning, no Vincent Lecavalier.

As usual I didn’t pull any Vinny cards. I think this makes 5 boxes in a row without a card of the Lightning captain. Regardless of that I do enjoy the base cards. There is a nice mix of the usual veterans and today’s stars.

The faded, blue background frames the action shots nicely giving the cards a portrait-like feeling. I do get a kick out of the “EST. 2008” below the photo. It reminds me of the local sub shop that has been serving the neighborhood since “2002”. I guess you have to start somewhere.

There is 100 cards in the base set and it looks like you get about ½ of that amount in one box. It’s a good start, but still tough for set builders to put this together without spending a lot of money.

Without a glossy front these cards would be perfect for sending through the mail for autographs, something that I will probably do once I move to my new location.

Colored Parallels:

Green 1:4, Red 1:10, Yellow 1:20

I received 5 green parallels, 2 reds, and 2 yellows. So in that sense I beat the odds, woo-hoo!. The colors aren’t too garish and will make a nice, and not too difficult to collect rainbow for player collectors.


Usually they come two to a pack and are not parallels of the base card. They feature a different photo and design.

Mini Rookies:

Again I hit the box average as I pulled 5 rookies with the best being Atlanta’s Evander Kane. Nice close-ups and solid gold borders make these attractive cards to collect.

Mini different color packs

Red 1:20, Blue 1:80, Green 1:160, Parkhurst 1:320

Because even the mini’s need parallel versions I guess. This is an example of where card companies have gone a little too far with a concept. Is there any need for having 4 different variations of a subset? I think not. I had one red back (which actually looks more orange than red).

Mini Subsets

1:2 Wonders of the World/ Natural History/ Historical Figures

I pulled 10 of these cards, so again I was right on the box odds. To break it down further I received 2 wonders of the word (Lighthouse of Alexandria, Aurora), 4 Natural History Collection (Gros Morne National Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Richardoestesia, Western Red Lilly) and 4 Historical Figures (Sir Mackenzie Bowell, James K Polk, Harry Truman, Franklin Delano Roosevelt).

Nice cards, but nothing that I would feel the need to chase.


Each box boasts 4 hits (on card autos or relics), but the back of the pack lists the odds at 1:7 which means there are probably boxes out there with only three hits. Luckily for me I did get the four hits.


Tim Kennedy

Mini Relics

Daniel Alfredsson, Dion Phaneuf, Derick Brassard

Apparently, my box fell in the “d” line of relic sorting. At least they are three different colors, if I had gotten three plain white relics I would have been a little disappointed. They do make a nice red, white and blue theme. Go America!

Final thoughts

The fact that you get four hits per box is the saving grace, anything less and this would be drastically overpriced. It will be interesting to see if the price goes up or down as time goes by. It would be nice if Upper Deck dropped one of the minis in the pack and added another base card.

I would recommend that set collectors wait till the collated sets start showing up on the secondary market, collecting pack by pack will kill your budget. Player collectors should enjoy the chase of completing the rainbow, and while the hits aren’t big budget multi swatches, at least you get the joy of seeing something every 5 packs or so.

On card autos are always appreciated and the card design features is nicely. The base cards lend themselves nicely to getting in person autos or through the mail autos. The rookies look nice, but I wonder how they’ll sell since they are mini’s and not full size cards.

All inserts are for trade, if you’re collecting the mini’s let me know which ones you need and I’ll see if I can send some your way.

Overall I rate this product a second line center. It scores well, but has room for improvement.

* Update!

So upon further review I didn't beat the odds on the yellow parallel borders. In fact, I only received one. The other yellow card was a Yellow ANIMAL ICON parallel seeded 1:80 packs.

See it has animals on it! Ain't they the cutest? So that means I did just a tad bit better on the box than I intially thought. This card is going up on eBay (hey I gots to make money!)

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Blog is Dead, Long Live the Blog!

A couple of posts ago I teased that there was big news coming down the pike. Now, while I might have exaggerated the effect it has on your day-to-day life, it will definitely change the things I’m doing (and not doing).

For the second time in a year I’m going back to work after having a period of unemployment, or as my family liked to call it “funemployment”. The big difference this time is that my new job isn’t going to be in my second bedroom/office. It is, in fact, not even in this town, or even in this state.

As of April 9th, 2010 I will leave the fun and sun of Florida for the wind and thrills of the big city. Or as they like to call it – “The City of the Big Shoulders” – Chicago.

My better half and I have talked about leaving Florida for along time. She’s lived here her entire life and I’ve spent the better part of the last decade and a half in the Sunshine State. Whenever we’ve talked about moving certain cities have always come up. Honolulu, Seattle, Portland and Chicago were what we called “type A” cities – the ones we focused on.

Thanks to the recent downturn in the economy I was given an involuntary sabbatical and used that time to figure out what I wanted to be when I got older. Alas, I didn’t find the answer that question - probably because I spent a large amount of that free time at the pool. I did eventually find a job in the industry in which I’ve been working for the past decade.

So what does this mean for you my loyal readers (hi mom and dad!)

It means that I’ll no longer be continuing this web site (I’ll give you a moment to recover). Since I’ll no longer be living in the area I won’t be able to report on the trials and tribulations of being a sports fan in a sports wasteland.

I’ll also be crashing on friends couch so that means I won’t have access to my vast collection of mostly useless pieces of cardboard. So my trading will be down. I think I’ll take a shoebox of cards with me to sell on the Bay, or to finish up some trades that I have pending.

The wantlist will be transferred to the new site, so if you see something on there that you want to get rid of, contact me and we’ll work something out. I have a healthy balance in my Paypal account (thanks “Pie in the Face” gimmicks!) so I’ll keep adding to my personal collection.

That’s right I mentioned a new website. The new website will be called The Hopeful Chase, a phrase I borrowed from an interview with Dick Perez that was posted on The Hall of Very Good (and reposted on Magic Carpet Ride Mojo and Beardy’s or whatever they call their blog).

To me the phrase pretty much sums up the way I collect cards, always chasing the perfect card, hoping it’s in the next pack I bust or envelope that’s in the mail. It also sums up the way I live life, much to the chagrin of my better half and my parents. The move to Chicago is a hopeful chase of the joy of living somewhere else. Traveling to foreign countries is a hopeful chase of seeing the world through other people’s eyes. Drinking a new beer is the hopeful chase of finding the greatest liquid refreshment in the world.

All of those things will be discussed on the new site along with whatever cards I happen to pick up and the adventures of the teams I follow. I will be diminishing my focus on the Rays, even more than I have recently. It’s almost like I’m divorcing myself from the team to contain the heartbreak of that day next winter when Carl Crawford is no longer with the team. I will continue to focus on him in my personal collection, up to the moment he puts on pinstripes or Boston gray. If he signs with any other team I’ll still get his cards, but if he goes to either one of those teams look for a sale on Crawford cards.

Besides, I was never that good with writing about the Rays, The Collective Troll always did it better – and more often. Check out his contest while you're at it. Even the ever reclusive Dave over at Fielders Choicehas written more about the Rays in the last few months.

It will be a big change, the hardest part being apart from my better half for the next year or so. So, hopefully, the blog will be therapeutic as well as informational.

I’ll probably post a few more times here before moving over to the new site next month. So feel free to update your sites and all that jazz. Thank you to all of those who have added this site to their weblogs and have read my often rambling, unedited, pointless posts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hope is a Waking Dream

As the season winds to a close the sense of dissillusionment and meloncoly percolates among Lightning fans. Just a month ago the playoffs were a distinct possibility and excitment was building in the cool Tampa air.

Fast forward to the present day where the losses are piling up on a nightly basis and the faintest of hopes are fading into the night. I'll save a few review of the season for a future columnm, for now I'll just post some reminders of why there is a reason to have hope.

1.Steven Stamkos from the left circle.

2. Victor Hedman skating effortlessly through the neutral zone with puck

3. Vincent Lecavalier injury free and contract-worry free

4. An owner with cash, not like these two.

5. It’s not 1998-99. I give you these notable names from the roster a decade ago:
Colin Forbes, Sergey Gusev, David Wilkie, Mike McBain, Steve Kelly, Drew Bannister, Karel Betik, Corey Spring, Xavier Delisle, Mario Larocque, Jason Bonsignore and Zac Bierk.


Dustin Tokarski in the net.