Here at First and Goal, we have very important and pressing announcement to make:



OMG!!! Allen & Ginter!

That is all. You may now return to your previously scheduled activities.

For those of you who are curious, yes, this bad boy is ready and raring to go for the annual Gint-a-Cuffs competition. Last year, I had to do a faux Gint-a-Cuffs entry because I had missed the entry deadline (my inability to make quick decisions led me to buying a box about a month or two later than everyone else). But this year, I’m in. In fact, the box is all ripped and mostly written up, I just need to scan everything and wait for the official scoring rules.

You can check in on all of the Gint-a-Cuffs IV action here.


Ginter Question


I have a question for all of you Allen and Ginter nuts out there. I realize this might seem a bit elementary, but I’m new to the game, so please forgive me.

When I opened my box, I pulled an N43 Box Loader of David Price. As a Buccos fan and Emmitt Smith collector, this card has absolutely no importance to me or my card collection. So naturally I’d like to send it to someone who will appreciate it. I will probably go the eBay route because it doesn’t make a lot of sense for a business to buy things and then turn around and give it all away for free (well, at least not for a company the size of mine).

So that brings us to our question: Just how do you ship one of these things?!?

I mean, really. It’s too large for a standard penny sleeve and toploader. And thicker toploaders don’t help because thickness is the only dimension that’s NOT bigger than normal. But it’s too small for a picture frame or something like that. Do I just stick it between two pieces of cardboard and hope my “DO NOT BEND” stamp is noticed? Do I try to tape multiple toploaders together? Do I just throw the card away in digust because I can’t ship it like a normal card (keep in mind I am a severe creation of habit).

Please advise.


Product Review: 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter


Wait a minute. Something doesn’t look right. Isn’t Allen & Ginter a baseball set? Aren’t I reading a football card blog? Did banks get tired of buying each other and opt to start buying and merging sports card blogs? I’m confused.

The answer to those burning questions would be: Yes. Yes. Not yet. So to clarify, I will remind you all that I already posted a disclaimer about this one. I got caught up in the moment and bought a box of baseball cards. I wasn’t able to enter Gint-a-Cuffs III, so I figured I might as well do a box break review. This is that review.

2011 Topps Allen and Ginter box
The Box – Click for Detail

Hobby boxes come with 24 8-card packs for a total of 192 cards. I got this box from Dave and Adam’s Card World for $82, which translates into a reasonable $0.43/card ratio. Allen & Ginter is a rare breed. It appeals to set collectors with its large base set, short prints, and variants, but it also appeals to hit collectors (though certainly not as much as a super high end set) with its red ink autos and DNA relics. So $0.43 is just about right: low enough for set collectors to buy in bulk but not so low that it thwarts all mojo collectors.

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter pack
If you get around Blogland, you’ve seen this olde tyme guy a lot by now…

The Breakdown:
Base Cards
   Total: 127 (3 duplicates)
   Rookie Cards: 13
   Short Prints: 12
   Base Minis: 6
   A&G Ad Back: 6
   Black Border Parallels: 3
   Portraits of Penultimacy: 2
   World’s Most Mysterious Figures: 1
   Animals in Peril: 2
   Step Right Up: 2
   Uninvited Guests: 2
   Hometown Heroes: 18
   Floating Fortresses: 3
   Baseball Highlight Sketches: 4
   Minds That Made the Future: 3
   The Ascent of Man: 4
   Base Code Card Parallels: 3
   N43 Box Loader: 1
   A&G Captured Mini Relics: 3

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter2011 Topps Allen & Ginter
2011 Topps Allen & Ginter
Click each image for a full-sized scan

1st Down, Design: I love it. Other folks have mentioned they don’t particularly care for the A&G design this year and that it’s slowly been going downhill over the past few years. This is my first real look at A&G, so I guess I haven’t been jaded by even better sets, because I really like this design. The painted feel of the photos is great and the overall design is very clean. I also really like the logo placement and what Topps did for the non-MLB base cards. I do admit the player name placement could be better. The last names just sorta hang out there. One thing I’m not a fan of is the horizontal cards. They just seem awkward and don’t fit the feel of the set as well, especially the ones that have an action shot. The card backs are interesting. Maybe A&G has always done this, but I was amused by the lack of any graphics and having all statistics in word form.

2nd Down, Inserts: Where to start? I guess the minis. These are cool, espcially since they have the old cigarette feel to them, especially once you add the Ad Backs. The various inserts were all very interesting subjects, I’m just still not sure how I feel about non-sports cards in my sports card box. One thing I need help from an avid A&G fan is about the mini vs standard sized inserts. Other than base cards, all of my minis were from different sets than my standard sized inserts. Is that common? Do they separate inserts so that this group is only available as minis and that group is only available in standard sized? I also really like the A&G relics. I find it really cool that the actual relic swatch is embedded on a mini card which is then encased inside a standard sized card. Cool stuff. I’m also digging the plaid Upton relic. For more information on that, go read Night Owl’s post. Overall, these are pretty cool inserts. Even if I do have my doubts about sponges being a part of the “ascent of man”. It probably doesn’t help that I believe in intelligent Creation…

3rd Down, Collation: Solid. Out of 127 base cards, a mere 3 were duplicates. I tend to hate duplicates, but that really isn’t a bad ratio at all. And one of those was from my favorite team (Pedro Alvarez), so I really can’t complain (although I’d rather have a duplicate of Neil Walker or Andrew McCutchen). I feel like I got all of the short prints, minis, relics, and various other inserts I was supposed to get, so that is another plus. Really, this was one of the best collated boxes I’ve seen in a long time. Hopefully this box is indicative of the entire product run.

4th Down, Overall Value: Well, it certainly helps that this is one of the most popular products of the year across any sport. As I said, there are a lot of pieces to lure in a lot of different types of collectors. You’re getting a very nicely designed product with some rather nice “chase” cards for a decent enough price. One factor that probably goes unnoticed in these product reviews more than it should is the fun factor. This product was just fun to open. I never knew if the next card was going to be a base card of Chase Utley, a mini parallel of Wee Man, or a very colorful card of a fish. Not every card appealed to my tastes in collecting (where are the Emmitt Smith A&G minis?!?), but each one has a cool factor. Considering this is a HOBBY (which a lot of people seem to forget on a daily basis), what more could you ask?

RED ZONE RESULTS: TOUCHDOWN, PAT GOOD As I mentioned above, maybe it’s just because I haven’t had prior experience with the Allen & Ginter line, but I loved this product. There were very few items that made me question the folks behind the scenes and it was just a blast to open. I got thrashed for saying the Big Time inserts in 2011 SAGE were nice because they were colorful and reminded me of my childhood for some reason, but I’m going to play a similar card here. Even if these cards were worthless (and I’m not sure how many people are storming eBay looking for cards of old wooden ships), this product would still have a fair amount of value in every pack. It’s well designed. It’s spontaneous. It’s fun. It deserves the TD and PAT.

NEXT UP: 2011 Score

Faux Gint-a-Cuffs


As promised, I did a little research and tried to score my box of 2011 Allen & Ginter. I had wanted to officially register for this year’s blog battle, but just didn’t have the hobby funds at the time. So per the norm, I am a day late and a dollar short. The official 1&G product review is still forth coming, but here is my mock Gint-a-Cuffs breakdown awhile. And note, since I am not an official contestant this year, I’m not doing a pack-by-pack and I’m not showing every card that scores points. You can see scans of some of them in that forth coming review. These scores may also not be 100% accurate, but I tried to be as true to the rules as possible and penalized myself where necessary. For instance, I did pull a Chuck Woolery, but due to knowing I wasn’t doing a pack-by-pack review, I didn’t note until after the fact that his point bonus was contingent on who was in his pack, so no points for my misstep. For the record, my favorite team is the Pirates and favorite player is Neil Walker. Now, the results:

#7 Mickey Mantle (Yankees) -1 Yankees
#15 Diana Taurasi (UConn Women) -1 badness
#47 Phil Hughes (Yankees) -1 Yankees
#63 Neil Walker (Pirates) +1 Favorite Team, +4 Favorite Player (+5 total)
#79 Aimee Mullins (Paralympic Champion) +1 awesomeness
#94 Josh Rodriguez (Pirates) +1 Favorite Team
#109 Martin Prado (Braves) +2 FP List
#125 Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) +2 FP List
#133 Geno Auriemma (UConn Coach) -1 badness
#135 Kyle Petty (NASCAR) +1 awesomeness
#150 Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) +2 FP List
#173 Mariano Rivera (Yankees) -1 Yankees
#184 Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) +1 Favorite Team
#184 Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) +1 Favorite Team (duplicate)
#200 Josh Hamilton (Rangers) +2 FP List
#230 Mark Teixeira (Yankees) -1 Yankees
#235 Cole Hamels (Phillies) +2 FP List
#259 Tim Hudson (Braves) +2 FP List
#264 Adam Jones (Orioles) +2 FP List
#314 Nick Markakis (Orioles) +2 SP, +2 FP List (+4 total)
#318 Brett Wallace (Astros) +2 SP
#320 Jon Lester (Red Sox) +2 SP, +2 FP List (+4 total)
#321 Mark Reynolds (Orioles) +2 SP
#322 Travor Cahill (Athletics) +2 SP
#323 Orlando Hudson (Padres) +2 SP
#330 CC Sabathia (Yankees) +2 SP, -1 Yankees (+1 total)
#334 Gaby Sanchez (Marlins) +2 SP
#335 Jason Heyward (Braves) +2 SP, +2 FP List (+4 total)
#336 Kevin Kouzmanoff (Athletics) +2 SP
#342 Mike Pelfrey (Mets) +2 SP

#197 Jay Bruce (Reds) +3 FP List
#202 Nick Swisher (Yankees) -1 Yankees
#317 Brian Matusz (Orioles) +3 SP
#343 Drew Stubbs (Reds) +3 SP

Penultimacy – 2 @ +3 each (+6 total)
     1 of which was Mike Gellner +2 code breaker

World’s Most Mysterious Figures – 1 @ +3 (+3 total)

Animals in Peril – 2 @ +3 each (+6 total)

Step Right Up – 2 @ +3 each (+6 total)

Uninvited Guests – 2 @ +3 each (+6 total)

Black Borders
     #92 Michael Pineda (Mariners) +3
     #94 Josh Rodriguez (Pirates) +3, +1 Favorite Team (+4 total)
     #270 Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox) +3, +3 FP List (+6 total)

A&G Ad Back Minis
     5 basic ad backs – 5 @ +2 each (+10 total)
     #335 Jason Heyward (Braves) +3 FP List, +12 mini SP (+15 total)

N43 Box Loader – David Price – +5

Hometown Heroes – 18 @ +1 each (+18 total)
     #HH12 Andrew McCutchen (Pirates) +1 Favorite Team
     #HH84 Matt Kemp (Dodgers) +2 FP List
     #HH93 Lance Berkman (Cardinals) +2 FP List

Floating Fortresses – 3 @ +2 each (+6 total)

Baseball Highlights Sketches – 4 @ +3 each (+12 total)
     Mark Teixeira (Yankees) -1 Yankees

Minds That Made The Future – 3 @ +2 each (+6 total)

The Ascent of Man – 4 @ +1 each (+4 total)

Code Cards – 3 @ +3 each (+9 total)

Basic Relic Cards – 3 @ +10 each (+30 total)


One adjustment that needs to be made is for my favorite player. I added +4 for Neil Walker, which I believe plays by the rules. However, if I had registered on time, everyone else also would have been given +2 for Neil being on the Favorite Player list. So instead of figuring out everyone who pulled Neil and adjust their scores, I will just assume all participants pulled his card and thus the net affect would be to reduce my score by -2.


As of right now, that would put me square in a tie with Night Owl for third place. Fortunately for Mr. Owl, I am not eligble. Unfortunately for everyone, I am pretty sure I will be participating should there be a Gint-a-Cuffs IV. I was obviously happy to pull my favorite player, and I was surprised at some of the players not on the list (Chase Utley? Albert Pujols? Really?). I can also definitely see the value in having a favorite team such as the Phillies though: way more chances at bonus team points due to team popularity and representation in the overall checklist. I pulled a whopping 6 Pirates, and one was a duplicate.

I must say, I have a new appreciation for everyone who participates. Breaking an entire box and scoring every card was enough work for me. I can only imagine how much more effort and time it would take to report on a pack-by-pack basis and show a scan of every scoring card (every card listed above, without being able to group total like I did for the inserts).

This certainly was a lot of fun though. The official 1&G box break product review will definitely have an entertainment factor built into the overall value portion.




Well, I did it. I’m still not sure exactly how to feel about it, but it’s done. No do-overs. It’s final.

I bought a box of baseball cards.

I bought a box of Allen & Ginter baseball cards.

And now I will probably never look at life the same again.

As a guy who hasn’t really collected actual baseball cards since he was about 8 years old, I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider in Blog-o-Land. Sure, there are plenty of football card blogs, or at least multi-sport blogs, to keep me occupied in the little time I have to surf the Blog Wave. But there’s just something about baseball cards. It must be what all other pies feel when Apple Pie shows up to the party.

And damn if I don’t love me some apple pie.

So after three years of reading blogs gush over baseball cards and specifically Allen & Ginter baseball cards, I finally caved. I really wanted to pull the trigger when 2011 Gint-a-Cuffs signups were underway, but the PayPal bankroll wasn’t much at the time and I talked myself out of it. So in typical Dave fashion, I’m showing up late with my apple pie to a party where almost everyone has already had their fill of apple pie.

[Note to self: stop writing blog posts on an empty stomach]

But there are some saving graces. Because I didn’t get in on the Gint-a-Cuffs action, there will not be a pack-by-pack breakdown. I may post a mock Ginty score, but it won’t matter to anyone but me. I also won’t talk on end about how much I love or hate certain inserts, lament over short prints, or beg and plead to the masses for the 9 minis I need to complete the set. I’ll probably post a standard box break review, list some cards on eBay or a trade list, and call it a day. And the last saving grace, and to give this post some legitimacy as a First and Goal post, I can also relate this purchase to a Pearl Jam song. Go me.

Title: Habit
Album: No Code
Correlation: This one is strictly lyrically based. With regards to buying Allen & Ginter, these could easily be my thoughts verbatim:

See it happen to a couple of friends
See it happen and the message it sends
Takin off for what’s an obvious fall
Just to see what all the fuss is about

And as far as what you might be thinking at home, especially those of you who also aren’t all that into baseball cards or Allen & Ginter specifically, this is probably a good sumation of your thoughts:

It’s not your way… not your way
It’s not your way

Never thought you’d habit [repeated a whole bunch…]

No official music video, but here is a fairly decent live video for your viewing pleasure.

Speaking as a child of the 90s…

So yeah. I did it. I admit. There’s no turning back now. And I don’t feel terribly guilty about it.

Sue me.

Or just be on the look out for an official 1&G product review stating what everyone already knows anyway.

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…