Here I Go Again


No, Metal Heads, I’m not referring to Whitesnake’s power ballad. Well, okay, maybe I am, but only in a contorted pop culture reference sort of way. I think…

What I am really referring to is the fact that I once again have talked myself into starting a new collection. You are completely and utterly shocked, I can tell. I alluded to this yesterday and figured I’d eventually get around to writing a full post about it someday. Well, given my lack of any other topics I’d rather write about, and given my ridiculous excitement that always follows a new collection decision, “someday” happens to be today. Lucky you.

2008 UD Masterpieces

In jumping around the hobby world a few days ago, I was confronted with a few references to 2008 UD Masterpieces. Granted, I believe all of these confrontations were with the baseball set, but it still got me to thinking about the football side of things. Quite a while ago, I got a few free packs from DA Card World and was generally impressed, though I didn’t feel the need to build the set right then and there. I even sent the one short-printed rookie I pulled to another blogger who was looking for it. Then this past holiday shopping season, DA had boxes of Masterpieces ridiculously marked down, so I bought three boxes and chose the Masterpieces packs as my free gift to nearly get a fourth box (in essence, although obviously the per box breakdown wouldn’t hold true). Opening those boxes is when I first really fell in love with the set. I realize that all of the “paintings” may not be actual paintings, I am confused why Emmitt was not included in even the base checklist, and I am slightly annoyed that out of a rather small 110-card set, 5 of the cards were never actually issued while several athletes (Peterson, Favre, Brady, Dyson) got two cards all to themselves. But for some reason, despite these pitfalls, I like the set. I pulled the entire base set, save the short prints, and figured it would end there.

Skip forward to early this week. Those references I mentioned earlier got me to thinking how sweet it would be to have all of the framed parallel sets in one kick ass binder. I got all sorts of excited like a little school girl on the release date of the next Twilight movie (wait, wasn’t that yesterday?). That made me finally get around to putting the base set into a binder and I even created a huge spreadsheet to track my progress of all of the parallel sets (complete with automatically calculated stats). Why? Because I’m a big doofus, that’s why.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get the entire thing completed, but it will be something after which I can chase. Because I need one more thing, on top of new Emmitts, Curtis Conway (which has gone stale), and base Topps Pirates.


Someday I’ll learn to complete what I’ve started before moving onto the next thing. I swear. Promise. Scout’s honor. Someday.

Oh, and just to bring this post completely full circle, here is a video for you Metal Heads out there. Hey, if I am going to have 80s hair goodness in my head the rest of the day, so should you. At the very least, I hope we can all enjoy some glimpses of the long-legged Tawny Kitaen…


UDA is looking for the Ultimate “Man Cave!”


In yet another attempt to get collectors to show off their collection (and to pimp out the UDA brand), Upper Deck has announced a new contest for anyone who has a room specially dedicated to sports and specifically sports memorabilia and collectibles. Here is the official press release from Upper Deck:

Upper Deck Authenticated is Offering Big Prizes in the Hunt for the Ultimate ‘Man Cave’

Global leader in authentic sports and entertainment memorabilia is looking to reward those collectors willing to show off their UDA items

Carlsbad, CA (May 17, 2010) – Sometimes men need a place to go where they can feel like a man. A place where their sports heroes adorn all four walls, where the couches are comfortable and the big screen plays only in High Definition. These man caves provide men with the chance to recharge and ever since 1992, Upper Deck Authenticated (UDA) has been there to provide compelling and authentic signed memorabilia from Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, LeBron James and many other elite superstars to line the walls of these domiciles. UDA wants to see the habitats that men from around the globe have created and showcase them via the company’s Facebook page.

UDA is running a five-week promotion leading up to Father’s Day to find the top man caves for sports fans throughout the world. Up for grabs are several compelling prizes from the Upper Deck Authenticated portfolio or products just for submitting an entry. Simply by submitting video or images of your man cave by May 31, 2010, you will automatically be entered into the early bird random drawing for a new Steven Stamkos autographed puck “Curve” display. By sending in your video or images by June 18, 2010, you will also have the opportunity to receive a LeBron James autographed “Spotlight” photo as part of our last call random drawing. And each week, for those who have submitted video or images, there will be a weekly drawing to add a Michael Jordan game-used floor piece in a collector’s box to your man cave. Participants can only win once for their submissions and winners will be announced on Facebook after each drawing.

There are plenty of prizes to encourage sports enthusiasts to show off their favorite spaces, but in the end, there can be only one ultimate man cave. UDA staff members will review all submissions in an effort to find the best man cave from entries received and award that top collector with one of the company’s most coveted items from one of our top spokesmen; a hand-painted Michael Jordan signed Bulls jersey limited to just 6 copies with a retail value of $3,000. The following criteria will be followed for judging purposes to find the ultimate man cave for this specific promotion:

   1) A prominent selection of UDA items should on display in the man cave. Additional points will be awarded for presenting a good cross section of old and new UDA items.

   2) The quality of the submission. Were photos or video haphazardly taken or is the submission as high-quality as the man cave itself? The submissions should be high-quality with solid descriptions to help paint the picture of why your man cave is the best.

   3) The quality of the display. Are items displayed in an attractive and compelling manner or are they just tossed together? We are looking for an eye-catching arrangement to showcase attractive UDA items.

    4) How creative was the owner in putting together, displaying and showing off his man cave? UDA staff will award additional points for creativity.

UDA is well aware that men are not the only sports enthusiasts who enjoy the man cave experience, so ladies are also encouraged to show off their “she caves” that pay homage to their favorite sports heroes. Additionally, many man cave and she cave dwellers wish to keep the whereabouts of their sports havens secret, much like Superman and his Fortress of Solitude. UDA staffers can understand and appreciate those concerns so anyone not interested in posting their habitats on Facebook, can e-mail their submissions to UDA will post those submissions without identifying the customer’s name or location.

“Our worldwide customers are extremely passionate about their collections and showing off UDA memorabilia with pride,” said UDA’s Senior Business Manager Chuck Donato. “They do so primarily because they know the signatures from UDA items are authentic, so that provides them with great peace of mind as they relax in their man caves. This promotion is designed to thank those customers, many of whom are fathers, who have chosen to invest in our premium line of collectibles.”

With so many prized memorabilia pieces up for grabs, what are you waiting for? Get to your man cave or she cave with a camera or video camera now to get in the game today!

About Upper Deck
Upper Deck is the leading sports and entertainment trading card and collectibles company. For more information on Upper Deck and its products please visit

Click image for larger view

Get Off My [Card]


In my continuing dry season of being sans-scanner, here is another dose of old images that I was going through and found amusing:

From 1990 through 2000, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith were part of one of the best offenses in NFL history, or at least in the 1990s. Both were important factors in three Super Bowl victories and in a few months, both will be Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees. As football players (a true team sport), they needed one another to reach the heights of gridiron success they obtained.

However, the world of cardboard is a quintessential one-man sport. A vast majority of cards feature one player and one player only. Yet, as luck would have it, even in this realm Troy and Emmitt will forever be linked. For team or set collectors, this may not be a big deal. However, as a player collector, I can’t help but notice that Troy seems to be lurking in quite a few corners of my Emmitt collection.

Sometimes, Troy just didn’t have enough time to get out of the way. In order for the action shot to feel right, he had to be included:

1997 Stadium Club1998 Ultra Top 30
Click images for full-sized scans

Other times, it appears he tried to run off the card, but just couldn’t resist turning around and looking for the photog that was about to snap Emmitt’s picture:

1992 Pacific1993 Fleer
1996 Score CL2001 Pacific
Click images for full-sized scans

He occassionally snuck onto cards with other culprits:

1996 Zenith Triple Trouble
2008 Donruss Classics Classic Quads Gold
Click images for full-sized scans

And other times he worked alone to steal the spotlight:

1999 Score Great Combos
2000 Topps Combos
Click images for full-sized scans

He was often just standing around, waiting to be captured in the moment:

1996 Pro Line1996 Ultra
1997 Topps Gallery2001 Upper Deck
Click images for full-sized scans

Although he occassionally had to run into the frame to be included:

1996 Select2000 Bowman's Best
Click images for full-sized scans

Lastly, he even went so far as to take a ghostly and rather creepy approach to get onto a few more of Emmitt’s cards:

1997 Action Packed2000 Collector's Edge EG
Do I really need to explain this anymore?

In total, Aikman appears on a measley 2.75% of my Emmitt Smith cards. However, when you consider that a lot of sets in the 90s and early 2000s featured cut out player shots with no backgrounds, that is a fair number of accidental inclusions. Perhaps there was some sort of conspiracy between Aikman and the photogs hired out by card companies. Maybe Emmitt is included on just as many Aikman cards as set producers simply liked the idea of showing great teammate cominations. Or better yet, it’s entirely possible that I have read WAY too into these cards and really just need to get my computer back so I can start scanning new cards to write about.

It does make me wonder, though, if Emmitt was ever caught singing, “Hey! You! Get off of my card. Hey! You! Get off of my card. Hey! You! Get off of my card. Don’t hang around, ’cause two’s a crowd on my card, baby!”

Putting Out an APB


All units please respond…

While looking over my Emmitt Smith collection recently, I was reminded of my mini Topps Collection, which consists of the Topps base card from each of the 15 years of Emmitt’s Hall of Fame career. I previously posted an article about that mini collection here. As I was writing that post, I realized I could also obtain a similar “Score Collection”, though for one reason or another I never set it as a goal.

After several large acquisitions from Catch22, I wondered if I had obtained the complete Score Collection without realizing it. I searched through the records and found that I am still missing two years, 1997 and 2004. I was just about to find these online and buy them when I thought better of it. I never like spending money on shipping, ESPECIALLY if the shipping charges exceed the cardboard purchased and ESPECIALLY if that cardboard is two base cards from a low-end company. I thought to myself, “You know Self, I bet there is a blogger or two that has those cards just sitting around and would be willing to trade for them. You should issue an All-Points Bulletin to see if you can track them down!” So now here I am, pleading with you, the great and wonderful blogosphere, to check your stacks and boxes and binders of unwanted football cards. If you see either of these two “gems”:

1997 Score2004 Score
1997 Score #4 and 2004 Score #1

I would be happy to take them off your hands. Just let me know what you collect and I will do my best to ensure you will be handsomly compensated for your efforts.

And also, let me know if you have any unwanted base Topps cards of Pittsburgh Pirates players laying around. The Buccos page above has been updated after a nice package from Night Owl (future official thank you post coming soon). I would be happy to take anything not marked “OWN” on that list as well.

…Over and out. 🙂

Broader Horizons


Being a player collector can sometimes be a sticky situation. In today’s excessively commercial society, it is no wonder that many companies produce a wide assortment of sports collectibles. You can find everything from trading cards to cereal boxes, plastic figurines to plates, and t-shirts to bedding. So when you are a huge fan of a specific team or player, where do you draw the line?

As a trading card collector, it would be easy for me to say that only standard trading cards will become targets for my collection. Granted, as I have previously written, even that can be a headache at times. Sure, I have a few Starting Lineup figurines and various other Emmitt consumer goods, but cards are definitely my focus. That all seems very fine, black and white even. But every so often, something comes along to grey things up a bit. That “thing” for today’s topic of discussion is coins.

Now you may say, “If you are a card collector, why would you bother with collecting coins, even if they do feature Emmitt Smith?” At first, I would be quick to answer, “I wouldn’t,” but then I have to remind myself that I already have two such pieces in my Emmitt collection. The image below is a minted brass coin produced by Pinnacle Brands, Inc., the same company that made some great trading cards at their…*ahem*…pinnacle.

1996 Pinnacle Mint Coins Brass
1996 Pinnacle Mint Coins Brass

As a stand-alone coin, I probably could have avoided that one. As luck would have it though, it was included in a lot I bought on eBay some months ago. Of course now that it’s in my collection, I’m not giving it up any time soon. A new problem pops up when the coin is actually part of the card. Take the image below, another coin produced by Pinnacle in 1997:

1997 Pinnacle Mint Minted Highlights Coins Nickel
1997 Pinnacle Mint Minted Highlights Coins Nickel

Looks innocent enough. Except then you have to consider that it’s only rightful place is embedded into this card, right inside that nifty die-cut window:

1997 Pinnacle Mint Minted Highlights Die-Cuts
1997 Pinnacle Mint Minted Highlights Die-Cuts

NOW what am I suppose to do? Yes, it’s a coin, which I normally don’t collect, but it’s part of a card, which I do collect! Talk about conundrums! Thankfully, I already own this coin/card tandem, but if I didn’t, I don’t know whether or not I would pursue it. Not only does it breaks the bounds of a “standard” card, but I need at least a memorabilia-thick toploader to store it.

Does any one else suffer from these spiritual and ethical dilemmas, or should I just keep these to myself from now on?

Blog Bat Around: $50,000 Shopping Spree


Being somewhat of a blogging newcomer (First and Goal’s first “birthday” is still over a month away), this is my first Blog Bat Around. The topic for discussion? What would I do if I were given $50,000 and 15 minutes on eBay? First, I would like to say that I am actually a pretty sensible guy. Given $50,000 in real life, I would most likely max out the Roth IRA contributions for my wife and I, get some home improvement projects rolling, and put the rest towards the mortgage. Obviously there are three glaring problems with this plan: 1) that would take more than 15 minutes to orchestrate, 2) I can’t really do any of this on eBay, and 3) no one is actually giving me $50,000. Second, given that I am a budget collector and an accountant, there is no way I could blow $50,000 in a 15-minute span on eBay. Not going to happen. I am far too anal about looking for the lowest prices (even if it’s free money, I’d still want to get the most possible for my hard(ly)-earned dollars) and most of what I collect is dirt cheap to begin with. So I am throwing out that portion of the question. I’m going to answer this question instead: What would you do if you were given $50,000 in eBay gift certificates, had an entire day off work, and had to spend the money on sports collectibles?

I like that question a lot better. It gives me time to do some homework. But not too much homework. And since no one has offered to pony up that $50,000 yet, here are my quick thoughts as to what I would buy:

1) 1950 Topps Felt Backs Joe Paterno
As a football collector and a Penn State alumnus, this would be the ultimate card for my collection. Even given JoePa’s incredible success and longevity, he still has only been featured on a small handfull of cards, including this gem of a rookie card. What some people may not know is that Joe was actually 64 years old when this card was printed. Estimated cost: $2,500

1950 Topps Felt Backs Joe Paterno

2) Emmitt Smith autographed jersey
Supposedly no player collection is complete without an autographed jersey. Given my normal shrewdiness, it is very highly doubtful I will ever splurge to get one of these. But, given fantasy money to blow, I would be more than happy to in this case. Estimated cost: $500.

Emmitt Smith autographed jersey

3) Pittsburgh Pirates Grab Bag
Next up would be a quick solution to my sudden urge to put together a collection of every Topps base card featuring a Pittsburgh Pirate. Because I doubt there are very many auctions or BIN listings for 1987 Topps cards, this would probably take the form of me buying a ton of lots and hoping for the best. Obviously I would go for anything that resembles a team set for a particular year, and then try to fill in the cracks with singles. The biggest problem with this idea is that I have a feeling a fair amount of money would be wasted on shipping charges. The one perk is that what I predict to be the most expensive card in that category, Roberto Clemente’s rookie, would easily be within my reach. Estimated cost (at least what I’d be willing to spend on random Topps Pirates): $3,500.

1955 Topps Roberto Clemente

4) Random Emmitt Smith additions
As I said, I am a budget collector AND I am trying to focus my collection. So rather than go blow a bunch of money on iconic cards or very overpriced cardboard of young players who haven’t proven anything yet, I would just bolster my Emmitt collection. This is a big reason I vote for the “all day off work” revision to the Blog Bat Around. I would love to stroll around eBay and add whatever Emmitt cards I come across that I do not already own. One of the general targets would be autographs and/or jersey cards as I have very few of those in my collection currently. I would especially be interested in stuff from the high-end sets I wouldn’t otherwise purchase, like Exquisite, UD Black, etc. But to stay true to my roots, there is no reason to expect I would walk away from this fantasy without tons of shiny 90s inserts and any base card I do not already have. BTW, I’m putting out a bounty for the 1999 Donruss Elite Primary Colors Red. I have yet to see one of these listed for sale anywhere. It would look really nice beside my Yellow and Blue ones. Probable limit: $8,500

5) Card Shop inventory
For those of you who have read my blog for a little while, it is no secret that it is a dream of mine to own my own card shop. With the estimated remaining $35,000 of eBay goodness, I would try to buy a ton of boxes and cases of unopened product (and maybe give in and buy a bunch of over priced cards of young players who haven’t proven anything yet or even some iconic football cards). Without having to pump in $35,000 of my own capital (which would NEVER happen at this point in life), I wouldn’t be obsessed with profit margin to start off with. I could start selling the inventory to get cash, which would in turn be used to buy more inventory. Right now may not be the best time to jump into the market, but even if the entire $35,000 was gone in two years, at least I could say I gave my dream a chance at reality AND I wouldn’t be out $35,000 of my own money. That sounds like a win/win situation to me.

So maybe my $50,000 shopping spree wouldn’t be as fun or frantic as some others’ and maybe I am aiming far too low, but if all I walked away with were the things listed above, I would be a VERY happy collector.

Now, who wants to make this plan a reality…?

What Am I Doing?


In case you have been living in a hole somewhere or are just generally oblivious to ANYTHING around you, you should already know that it is Opening Day. Well, I mean, sorta Day 2 since the Yankees and Red Sox decided to kick things off early last night (like that shady fella who throws his line in the water at 7:54am when trout season technically doesn’t open until 8:00am).

Now, you may be asking yourself why a self-proclaimed football guy would care about the first day of baseball season. Well, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m not exactly a one-sport guy anymore. When I was in college, my best buddies were always stoked about Opening Day. And why not? The sun was finally warm, bikinis started appearing in the freshmen quads, and even your worst class was only a few weeks from being over. I even made the voyage with them to Pittsburgh my junior and senior year to catch a Buccos game in late April, my first professional sporting events ever (not proud of that tidbit of info). Unfortunately, their love for baseball and the Pirates slowly rubbed off on me.

I say unfortunately, not because the Pirates are awful, but because I generally don’t do anything half-assed (except writing for First and Goal during tax season apparently). That means that I watch every game I possibly can, am elated during the wins, and miserable during the losses. And when your favorite team is losing 120/162 games, you can imagine how many losses I suffered through last year.

This year, after football was in the bags and before IRS compliance really became a day and night thought for me, I was looking ahead to the 2010 Pirates. What will this year hold? Who is going to be the young stud that makes his first MLB appearance? Which fan favorite will be the first to get traded? When would the team lose for the 82nd time of the season?

Around the same time, I was thinking about how all of these other bloggers have great general collections and are able to trade and buy at will and can always find things they need. Meanwhile, I’m sitting on a list of Emmitt Smith cards I’ll never own that continues to grow, knowing I won’t pony up the dollar to start stratching things off. That’s when it hit me: collect baseball cards! Now, before you get all excited and streak around the neighborhood, I should define that a bit (I’m an accountant; I need order and organization in my life): I am going to collect base Topps cards of Pirates only. No Astros. No Donruss. No shiny parallels or inserts (even the sweet ones from the mid 90s).

So, now that I have that out in the open, let the trades begin. I don’t have a lot of trade bait (I can tie my own trout flies, but I can’t print my own cardboard icons), but what I do have is yours. If you send me a stack of old base Topps Pirates, I’ll send you whatever you collect, assuming it falls into the worthless late 80s/early 90s ballpark. You like the Yankees? I’ve got some for you (I’m looking at you, Joe). You like Chipper Jones? I’ve got something you might want. You like Diamond Kings subset cards? I’m your man.

If you’re interested in my progress, see the “Buccos” tab above. I can’t guarantee this will always be 100% up to date, but I will do my best.

Now, send me some Pirates. Something between this:

1952 Topps #12 Monty Basgall
1952 Topps #12 Monty Basgall

And this:

2010 Topps #284 Ross Ohlendorf
2010 Topps #284 Ross Ohlendorf

Will I ever get them all? No. Will I ever get close? Probably not. Do I plan to enjoy the quest? You better, you better, you bet…