Wednesday, November 29, 2017

2011-12 In The Game Enforcers Hockey

As part of a Black Friday order from Blowout Cards I purchased this box of 2011-12 In The Game Enforcers hockey:

Enforcers is a unique set in that it focuses on the NHL's tough guys rather than the scoring stars. It was a controversial release at the time after the deaths of three such players earlier that year. Many of the cards have blood-stained backgrounds and depict in-game action photos of two players fighting - something that had been banned from traditional hockey card releases.

Each box contains 5 autographed cards (all hard-signed, no stickergraphs) 5 base cards, and 2 memorabilia cards. Instead of a sealed pack the cards are contained in a 2-piece UltraPro plastic holder nestled inside the outer box. This would appear to be safer (though at least one card was slightly dinged) but it also reveals the top card.
I'm not certain that the "hit" is always at the top, but it was in this pack:

This is a standard Combatants dual relic (there are red versions limited to ten copies) However, the 3-color swatch of Georges Laraque's Oilers jersey and the mesh on Wade Belak's Maple Leafs sweater are a cut above. Many of the dual relics are multi-color and/or patch relics; In The Game did a great job of keeping the swatches interesting.

A standard Instigator jersey card of Capitals tough guy Dale Hunter. Hunter is one of the most accomplished players featured in this set, having amassed over 1,000 points over his 19 seasons in the NHL. More notably for this set, Hunter is second all time in penalty minutes with 3,565 career PIMs - and was suspended 21 games (1/4 of a season) for a vicious hit on an unsuspecting Pierre Turgeon in the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Now we get to the Band-Aid and blood splatter portion of the pack -- the autographs.
Phil Russell was a first round pick of the Blackhawks in the 1972 draft. He played over 1,000 NHL games and logged over 2,000 penalty minutes for four teams, including the New Jersey Devils. Russell is pictured in the classic red and green sweater from their early years in New Jersey.

Brad May was one of the baddest dudes in Buffalo Sabres history, racking up 1,323 PIMs in just 425 games with the club. Unlike most of the other pugilists in this product, May may be best known for scoring the game (and series) winning goal in a 1993 playoff contest against the Boston Bruins.

Back-to-back Buffalo Sabres - or so I thought.

At first glance it appeared that Denny Lambert was wearing this late 90's Sabres sweater - but he never played for the team - which means this photo was likely taken during his two-year stint with the Ottawa Senators. Lambert was the NHL's league leader in penalty minutes in the 1999-2000 season, with a relatively tame total of 219.

Link Gaetz was part of the bizarre formation of the expansion San Jose Sharks - in which the Minnesota North Stars supplied half the Sharks' players, then replenished their roster by participating in the Expansion Draft alongside the Sharks. Link's career was short-lived, but he still holds the Sharks single-season record for penalty minutes with 326, set in their inaugural season of 1991-92.

Bryan Watson's 16-year career ended before I was born. Didn't know what position he played or what teams he played for (he's pictured in a Detroit Red Wings sweater), though his name sounded kind of familiar to me. With the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1971-72, Watson led the league in penalty minutes with 212 - the lowest league-leading total until the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

You might notice that the autographed cards have blue or red backgrounds:

I can't think of any reason for this (such as AFC/NFC in football) but it's not a variation. As far as I can tell, all of the Link Gaetz cards are blue, and all of the Bryan Watson cards are red.

That's it for the autos and relics... but there are still some hits in this box. Literally.

A Bloody Battles base card featuring Sandy McCarthy and Bob Probert. The back of these cards details the circumstances of the fight depicted on the front, which is neat.

Tough Franchise is one of four subsets in the base set - and my personal favorite. This card features four of the toughest players in Vancouver Canucks history, including legendary enforcer Dave "Tiger" Williams, who scored a career high 35 goals in 1980-81.

Three more base cards, including the baddest Broad Street Bully of them all:

Dave Schultz holds a lot of penalty-related records. This card recognizes his 42 PIMs in a playoff game against the Maple Leafs in 1976. The "Hammer" squared off against Scott Garland and Tiger Williams, in a brawl-filled game straight out of Slap Shot.  

I have to be honest - this card stumped me. I didn't know if it was Wade Brookbank or his brother Sheldon, and the only Islander named Gillies that I could recall was Clark Gillies - who retired years before the Ducks franchise existed. 

The card back didn't help.
Through some sleuthing on, I deduced that the combatants were Sheldon Brookbank of the Ducks and Trevor Gillies of the Islanders. 

Last card in the box... a Tale of the Tape card featuring Donald Brashear and another Sabre bad boy, Rob Ray.

Looks like Brashear got the worst of this bout, though the card back states that he "did some damage" so perhaps that photo was taken after a different fight.

This post also appears on my blog The Collector. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2017-18 Panini NBA Stickers

Another season, and another packet of NBA stickers. It's not like you weren't expecting me to post this at some point, weren't you? You weren't.

349 - Gregg Popovich - We kick off the season with... a coach! I am pretty sure that not every head coach is represented in the sticker album, but I guess Pop isn't just any coach.

113 - Tyler Johnson - Johnson is in his 4th season as a Miami Heat reserve guard.

296 - Rajon Rondo - Rondo continues his parade around the league with the New Orleans Pelicans this season. Will he last the season?

273 - Memphis Grizzlies - No one is terrible excited about these team logo stickers, but it's an interesting touch that they put the year the franchise was established on them.

236 - P.J. Tucker

404 - Rockets / Thunder NBA Playoffs First Round - Does anyone remember this series? These are two of my least favorite teams, so I am pretty sure I didn't watch much of this.

172 - Serge Ibaka - Ibaka is from the Republic of the Congo. He has also blocked a lot of shots in his career.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

2017 Topps Baseball Update

It's been three weeks since MLB season ended with Houston Astros World Series victory over the Dodgers. Topps Update been out for over a month. Let's rip.....
US122 - Yu Darvish and Nori Aoki - both Japanese players ended up on different teams before the season ended. Yu went to Dodgers in a trade and bombed badly in the World Series. (BTW thanks Yu for helping Astros win game 3 and 7) Aoki got traded to Blue Jays and DFA'd a month later. He ended up with the Mets and released before the World Series ended.
US79 - Nick Goody
US68 - Jered Weaver - a decade with Angels he sigend with Padres. He retired before the card was released.
US242 - Mike Hauschild - another card of a player no longer with the team. He was rule 5 draft where pitched 4 games in April before getting sent back to original team (Astros) by end of the month. He spent the year in AAA Fresno.
US225 - Andrew Benintendi - was one of hot rookies of this year. This card mention about his MLB debut from last year.
US258 - Francis Martes - got Astros player! Didn't play in the postseason but still an Astros player.
USS-47 Andrew McCutchen - Topps salute insert card
US19 - Eric Skoglund
US69 - Alex Avila
US77 - Mike Moustakas - first All-Star card in this pack.
US90 - Derek Fisher - WHOO! A member of the World Series champions Astros. He scored the winning run in the bottom of 10th to end a wild game 5 of the World Series.
US41 - Mitch Haniger - this one mention about his debut game from last year. Funny thing he played for Mariners this year.

This pack contains three cards of players no longer with the team. One card I understand since they changed teams on the trade deadline. Second card they decide give him a card because he played in April before getting returned and being in the minors. Third card they use last year's game photo despite no longer with the team. At least I wasn't bombarded with All-Star cards like I seen from the packs.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

1995 Edge Judge Dredd The Epics Cards

This is a follow on post to the previous Judge Dredd The Movie Collector's Card post.  This 90-card set features artwork only and Edge must have considered my feedback since I was disappointed that The Movie card set didn't have any writing or descriptions on the back....this set does which adds some nice little trivia to the cards.  There are also some special cards we need to chase here.....EdgeTech Dark Judges 1:19 packs, Movie Preview 1:15 packs, Black Death 1:350 packs, Legends 1:10 packs and Sleep of the Just 1:4 packs.  The Black Death cards fetch a pretty penny on eBay.  Anyway, let's bust into this pack and let the judging begin....

It makes me want to go read the comic books now.  Anyone ever read them?

Friday, November 17, 2017

2017 Panini Diamond Kings

Along with reviving the Donruss name, Panini took over the Diamond Kings brand and made into something entirely their own. It doesn't in any way resemble the classic '80s Donruss Diamond Kings subsets nor the separate '00s Diamond Kings sets. These sets are entirely their own things, and they're not terrible (licensing issues aside). I just wish they used a different name.

76 - Khris Davis - Like the similarly named Chris Davis, Khris is a high power/high strikeout guy. And so is Chris Carter. They're all kinds of confusing.

33 - Stan Musial - Hooray for Stan! I think we've probably seen this photo before, however. I mean, there are probably only so many usable photos of players like Musial from his playing days, and I know we really don't need to see a card of Stan The Man Eating Breakfast or anything. (FYI, none of these "paintings" are actual artwork, they're just "digitally enhanced" photos.)

116 - Jonathan Villar - Here's a look at the back. It's not bad, but there are no stats. The picture is essentially what was used to create the "art" on the front of the card, before all of the digital craziness. Villar killed me in fantasy baseball this year, by the way.

135 - Joe Musgrove - Rookies get a bit of a different design. Musgrove spent some time in the rotation this season but pitched out of the bullpen in Houston's postseason run to the top.

18 - Joe DiMaggio Red Framed (30/99) - Here's the clear highlight of the pack. I'm a sucker for framed cards. Here is something that was actually carried over from the mid-00's Diamond Kings years, although there are other sets and card companies who have pulled this off before.

DO-2 - Corey Kluber Originals - Kluber had another terrific season and picked up another Cy Young Award this week.

73 - Brian Dozier - Lack of license has robbed this perfectly reasonable player of his team identity. He may as well work mall security in Minnesota.

30 - Pee Wee Reese - Pee Wee completes the pack, as we throw it way back to the bygone Brooklyn Dodgers days.