I am so happy right now. My favorite NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, just used their #1 pick to draft the best player from my college alma mater, Penn State, Aaron Maybin! Maybin was a red-shirt sophomore for PSU last year, and emerged as one of the most dominating players in college football after being given a chance to start for the first time. Maybin’s season was, in my opinion, the top season by a Penn State defensive end since my freshman year of 1997. That includes Courtney Brown, the #1 overall pick in the 2000 draft, Michael Haynes, and Tamba Hali, who were also first round picks.
This comes two years after the Bills drafted Paul Posluszny, one of the all-time greatest Penn State linebackers. Coupled with the addition of T.O., I am starting to get very excited about the upcoming football season! Hey, with the Rays getting comfortable in last place in the A.L. East, I need something to look forward to…
You can bet that I’ll be scouring eBay for Aaron Maybin autographs to add to my collection soon.
I’m sorry for the lack of posts recently. I’ll explain my absence and the future of this blog soon.
As you’ve probably noticed, my posting has been sparse since the beginning of March. I’ve been very busy at work and at home recently, with very little time left over to devote to collecting, let alone blogging. This will probably continue at least until the beginning of April. My schedule is pretty packed for the next week and a half, and then my wife and I will be on vacation in Florida from March 20 – 28.
In case you’re waiting for it, I’m still working on my follow-up post on 2009 Topps Heritage. It should be ready soon; I just need to find some time to scan some of the cards. One thing that I can tell you is that I was extremely lucky with my two boxes in that I got ZERO doubles! Yes, I managed to get 382 different cards. I got enough base cards that I don’t think I’ll need to buy any more hobby boxes or packs. I’ll just buy the cards that I still need on eBay or Sportlots.
Of course, any time that I take a break from blogging, huge events start to happen. Here’s my take on a few of them:
- It’s absolutely inexcusable that Razor and Upper Deck have allowed fake “cut” signatures to find their way into their products. I’m sure that everyone has read about this by now, but if you haven’t, the details are here. I give Brian Gray of Razor credit for trying to rectify the situation after the fact, but I think that some irreparable damage has been done to the hobby. I know that I’m not alone in saying that I’m much less likely to buy any cut signature card now, but my confidence is shaken in other types of cards too. For example, I doubt that any significant verification is done on the “game used” pieces of memorabilia that are inserted into cards. I think that it’s less likely that non-cut certified autographs are fake, but in many cases, the card companies are simply mailing stickers to athletes, who sign them and mail them back. I do believe that the vast majority of athletes are legitimately signing the stickers (and cards) if only because they don’t want to see their reputations damaged if they’re caught mailing back fake autographs to the card companies. But the potential does exist that there are some fake certified autographs out there. If any evidence of that is ever discovered, get ready to watch the entire card industry implode.
- So apparently Panini is buying Donruss-Playoff (details here). This has the potential to be a very good thing for collectors. First, it keeps Donruss in business. The company was obviously having financial troubles, but Panini seems to have plenty of cash, so that problem is solved. I think it’s logical that Panini would use the Donruss name for their U.S.-based card business, and keep many of the existing Donruss, Leaf, and Playoff brand names around. Let’s face it, football and baseball card collectors are much more likely to buy cards with the Donruss name on them than Panini. Hopefully they’ll keep many of the creative people from the company too. But this is really great news for basketball card collectors. After it was announced that Panini had obtained an exclusive license to produce NBA cards, many collectors assumed that the cards that would be produced would be a joke. But now, the cards are likely to have the Donruss brand name on them, be designed by the Donruss creative team, and be produced at the Donruss facilities. I don’t really see any negatives about this deal at this point. Now, it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens to Upper Deck, which is also for sale, and has apparently completely given up trying to make quality baseball card products.
- If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m a Buffalo Bills football fan. Even though my blog is focused on baseball and cards, my private conversations with friends and family in recent months have been dominated by talk of my disgust for how the team is being run. They have a completely incompetent head coach (Dick Jauron) and coaching staff who are coming back again in 2009, their biggest star player (Marshawn Lynch) is unable to obey the law and stay out of trouble, and they consistently make horrible decisions about what players to let go and what players to sign. It seemed obvious that a 10th straight non-playoff season was on the horizon…
And then they signed Terrell Owens this past weekend. I was completely shocked and blown away by this. My first reaction was disbelief, and then I quickly decided that I hated the signing. After all, T.O. is a complete jackass, a horrible teammate, and he’s been a cancer in the locker room of every team that he played for. I mean, if Jerry Jones didn’t want him in Dallas anymore, that really says something. The signing also demonstrated the impulsive decision-making in the Bills front office and their complete lack of long-term planning. But amazingly, the more that I thought about it, the more that I started to like the signing. First, it’s a one-year deal. If it doesn’t work out, the Bills can cleanly cut ties with T.O. after the season. Also, he’s going to have to keep his tantrums to a minimum and perform on the field at a high level if he wants any other team to want to sign him next year. But most importantly, T.O. is unquestionably an elite receiver, and he’s going to make the Bills offense a lot better. One of their major problems has been that opposing defenses have been able to double-cover Lee Evans, preventing him from getting open and making plays. Now, the Bills will have two top receivers, Evans and Owens. That’s going to cause problems for defenders, and it should allow both of them to make more big plays. And if the passing game is much improved, then teams won’t be able to load up on the line of scrimmage to stop the run, so Lynch and Fred Jackson should be more productive too. Finally, one of the things that I hated about 2008 was how apathetic it appeared that the coaches and many of the players were. They just didn’t have much competitive fire. Say what you will about T.O., but he wants to win more than anyone, and he’s not afraid to speak his mind if others around him don’t have the same commitment to winning.
Strangely enough, the signing of T.O. has made me a lot more excited about the 2009 football season. If nothing else, he’s going to make the team much more exciting to watch, either because of his performance on the field, or his antics off the field. The Bills weren’t going to do anything in 2009 without T.O. and now that he’s on the team, they have somewhat of a chance. If the Dolphins and Falcons could improve so much between 2007 and 2008, anything is possible with the 2009 Bills.
It looks like this wasn’t such a “quick” update after all. I might only have a few more posts for the rest of the month, but I hope that you’ll stick around and keep reading Fielder’s Choice when I’m able to write more!
So I made the mistake of watching the Super Bowl last night. I’m still wondering why I even bothered. I can’t imagine a matchup that I’d be more apathetic about than the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Arizona Cardinals. But like most Americans, I feel some sort of obligation to watch the Super Bowl every year.
I used to really like the Super Bowl. I’ve watched every one of them going back to Super Bowl XX when the Bears beat the Patriots. It used to be a really exciting and entertaining sporting event. But now I’m starting to realize that my interest in the NFL has been slowly declining for years to the point where I can’t even watch a game in real time without falling asleep…
Yes, I was so bored that I fell asleep during the beginning of the third quarter. I woke up briefly when the Cardinals were ahead with two minutes left in the game. I went back to sleep and assumed they had won, only to find out hours later that the Steelers came back. Woop de do. I couldn’t possibly have cared less.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t hate football. I’m still very entertained by college football. But the NFL has become completely unenjoyable and unwatchable for me. There are many reasons for that…
First, I’m a Buffalo Bills fan. With the obvious exception of the Detroit Lions, the Bills have been the worst team to be a fan of over the last 10 years. The Bills last made the playoffs in the 1999 season, and ever since then they’ve alternated between being horrible and mediocre. They have hired the most inept coaches in the NFL, and they’ve consistently made bad personnel decisions. The front office isn’t even trying to build a winning team. They just try to field a team in the cheapest way possible every year. The fans deal with it because of all the good memories that we have of the Bills from the early 1990s. We hope that those glory days will come back some day, but they won’t. Nobody in the front office or on the coaching staff has any desire to win, and it’s just a matter of time before the 90-year old owner (Ralph Wilson) passes away and the team relocates to a bigger market. Sadly, I’m almost looking forward to that, so that I can end my suffering.
Despite all of this, I still subscribe to the NFL Sunday Ticket package on DirecTV and I watch every Bills game. Some of the games are even mildly entertaining. However, I absolutely cannot watch a game live. I DVR every game, and I start watching from the beginning a couple of hours after the game starts. I do this so that I don’t have to sit through the constant stream of commercials and stoppages in play. While an average NFL game lasts 3.5 to 4 hours, I’ve found that I can easily get through the whole game in 60 – 90 minutes by fast-forwarding through the commercials, play stoppages, and half-time.
If the NFL would just let the players play the game, I’d actually be able to watch an entire game in real time. But instead, we have to endure commercial timeouts after every couple of plays, constant instant replays, and incessant overanalysis by the announcers. Look, football is a very simple game. I don’t need to see replays of every play from five different camera angles, and I don’t need to have my intelligence insulted by analysts like John Madden who seem to think that they need to explain the most mundane details of the game as if it were rocket science. Then there are the constant penalties that shine the spotlight on the referees instead of the players and take time away from the actual playing of the game. And then of course, there’s half-time, which is nothing but a huge waste of time.
I really don’t understand why all of the wasted time is considered necessary by the NFL, but they really need to find ways to speed up the pace of the game if they want to keep me interested as a fan. Each year that goes by, the problem gets worse and worse, to the point where I can’t even watch it anymore. At this point, it’s very unlikely that I’ll watch any of next year’s Super Bowl.
I think that another part of the problem is that there are so few interesting stars in the NFL today. There certainly weren’t any on either team last night. Sure, there are good players on both teams, but they’re not interesting. In the NFL, players are penalized for celebrating and showing any emotion. For example, as talented on they might be, what on earth is interesting about Ben Roethlisberger or Larry Fitzgerald? In recent years, the only team that I’ve been interested to watch in the Super Bowl has been the Patriots, only because Tom Brady and Bill Belichick win so consistently in such a boring way that I enjoy rooting for them to lose. And because I know that most Red Sox fans are Patriots fans too…
Anyway, I can take comfort in the fact that this year’s NFL season and the Super Bore is now over, and there are only 12 more days until MLB pitchers and catchers report for spring training, and then 63 days until Opening Day. And I have the MLB Network to tide me over until then. I would much rather watch any baseball game on the planet than an NFL game.
What does everyone else think? I know that I can’t possibly be the only one who was bored out of their mind during yesterday’s game…
Let’s change the subject back to college football for a minute. As you know, I am a Penn State graduate and a huge fan of the Nittany Lions football team. I was very disappointed with the loss to USC in the Rose Bowl. I’m also disappointed that the Big Ten conference has only a 1-5 record in bowl games this year. The Iowa Hawkeyes are the only team to earn a victory (in the Outback Bowl). Northwestern also put up a good fight in the Alamo Bowl before falling to Missouri in overtime.
This is bad news for fans of any Big Ten school. Traditionally, the Big Ten has been the best football conference in the country, and now that it’s having a down year (coupled with some losses in BCS bowl games in the last few years), the Big Ten haters and critics are out in full force talking about how much they think the conference has fallen. I should point out that even in a down year, the only conferences that were clearly better than the Big Ten were the Big 12 and the SEC, and now the Pac Ten has a good argument too, with its undefeated record in bowl games. Unfortunately many members of the media seem to have a vendetta against the Big Ten, and they’d like nothing better than to continue to talk trash about the proud conference all offseason and into the 2009 college football season.
Therefore, it is imperative that every fan of a Big Ten team (and I know there are at least some who read this blog) root for the Buckeyes of The Ohio State University to defeat Texas in the Fiesta Bowl tonight. Texas is a great team, maybe the best in the country, and if Ohio State can beat them, it’ll send a very loud message to the naysayers that the Big Ten is still a huge power. If Ohio State loses, that’ll just add more fuel to their anti-Big Ten fire.
For the day, I will forget about Penn State, and proudly cheer for Ohio State. All Big Ten fans and alumni should do the same. As the title of this post says, we are all Buckeyes today! And some of us are Buckeyes every day.
And let’s face it, rooting for Ohio State in a bowl game is a lot easier than rooting for Michigan…
Speaking of Michigan, although I generally despise their football team, I really hope that Rich Rodriguez will get them back on the right track in 2009. It’s good for the conference when Michigan is one of the top teams in the country. I just hope that they continue to lose to Penn State like they did this year.
And one more thing about the Big Ten – I think it’s time to just get it over with and invite Notre Dame to be the 12th team in the conference, form two divisions, and start a conference championship game. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the best two conferences in the country (Big 12 and SEC) have already done that.
Happy New Year to everyone! I can’t believe that 2009 is here already. The highlight of my day will be watching Penn State beat USC in the Rose Bowl. The game should be just as good as the National Championship game. I believe that both Penn State and USC would be just as worthy of being national champions as Florida and Oklahoma (and Texas, for that matter). It is a shame that we’ll never know who the best team in college football is this year because there is no playoff system.
Anyway, in the spirit of today’s game, here’s a picture of me with Joe Paterno taken on Sunday in front of Beaver Stadium:
With the holiday season winding down after today, you can look forward to me posting on a regular basis again very soon. There are a ton of posts in my backlog that I need to finish…
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on this blog yet, but I have a brother who’s two years younger than me. We don’t have a perfect relationship; like most brothers we’ve had our ups and downs over the years. Through it all, the one thing we’ve always had in common is our love of sports. And when we were kids, we both collected cards. We had some great times opening packs together, building sets, and trading.
I’ll never forget how much fun we had in 1988 when I taught my brother everything I knew about baseball cards and we both tried to build the 1988 Topps set. It was my third attempt at building a set and his first. We’d spend all of our money on packs every time we were in the grocery store, drug store, gas station, Kmart, or our local hobby store at the time, a place called G&J Enterprises. When we’d open the packs, we’d pull out all of the cards that we needed for our sets and then trade the doubles to each other. I still remember that unfortunate afternoon when he got a bloody nose and he bled all over my Tom Trebelhorn manager card. By the end of the summer, we were both still about 10 cards short of the full set. I still have my cards in a box up in my attic. To this day, I’m still missing those 10 cards.
Anyway, we both collected between 1988 – 1994. It was one of our favorite activities to do together. He continued collecting after I stopped, but he focused mostly on football cards. He was a huge fan of the Atlanta Falcons. I think he was the only kid in all of New York State who liked the Falcons. We grew up about an hour from Buffalo, and there were two types of football fans where we lived – people who loved the Bills (like me) and people who hated the Bills. My brother became one of the haters. I think that the Falcons caught his interest because of Deion Sanders in the early 1990s.
He kept collecting football cards until the early part of this decade, when the huge number of sets and the escalating prices finally drove him out of the hobby. We’ve been talking over the last few months about my renewed interest in baseball cards, and he’s been asking a lot about what the hobby is like today. I haven’t told him about my blog yet, but I probably will eventually. In the back of my mind, I think it would be funny if he randomly found it while looking for information about cards online.
So since he doesn’t read my blog, I think it’s OK for me to show off the Christmas present that I bought for him. Check it out:
Since he’s a Falcons fan, he’s been extremely happy about how Matt Ryan has played this year. I think that Ryan’s cards are hotter than anyone’s in the football card hobby right now. Of course this means that his autographed cards are very pricey, but it’s for my only brother and I’m hoping that giving him this card will lead him to jump back into the hobby.
The card is from 2008 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia, and it’s numbered 068/299. I think it’s a great looking card, it’s from a good brand, and Ryan’s got a very nice signature. The card’s surface is pretty shiny too, but you can’t really see it in the scan. It’s got two event-used jersey pieces and one piece of an event-used football from the NFL Rookie Premiere on May 17. Sure, game-used would be better, but I think that the Rookie Premiere event-used relics are pretty standard in football cards. After all, they don’t have any NFL game-used memorabilia when the cards are produced.
So what do the football card collectors out there think of this card?
The title of this post is also one of my favorite quotes from one of my all-time favorite movies, Wayne’s World. When I read previews of upcoming products on other blogs and web sites, it’s rare that I see something that I decide instantaneously that I need to have. Sometimes I see an Evan Longoria card that looks nice, and I want to have it, but I don’t anxiously count down the days until the product is released. But recently, I have seen a card that I absolutely need to have as soon as I possibly can, and it’s actually from a football card product. You see, Topps is coming out with a football card set called Mayo that will be similar to Allen & Ginter baseball in that it’s based on a football card set from the 1800s (1894 to be precise). The set itself sounds pretty cool, but the card that blows me away is this certified autograph of one of the all-time best people in the world, Joe Paterno:
I have to give credit where it’s due here; I read about the card and got the image from Beckett’s blog.
Anyway, this is the first ever certified autograph of Joe Pa, the living legend, and it is a great looking card! If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you probably know that I am a Penn State graduate (class of 2001), and like anyone who ever went to Penn State, I am a huge admirer of Joe Pa. The man has been a coach at Penn State since 1950. That’s before either of my parents were born and it was during the Truman Administration. He’s been the head coach since 1966, and he’s won more games (383) and bowl games (23) than any coach in college football history.
Joe Pa will turn 82 later this month. Even though the team is basically run by the assistant coaches now (especially defensive coordinator Tom Bradley), Joe Pa is still the leader of the team and the program. I remember when Lloyd Carr (Michigan) and John Cooper (Ohio State) used to tell recruits to stay away from Penn State because they didn’t know how much longer Joe Pa would be coaching. He’s managed to outlast both of them and win the Big Ten championship in 2 of the last 4 years, including this year.
According to Dave & Adam’s Card World, Mayo will be released on January 8, 2009. I might buy a hobby box of it, but I know that I’ll definitely be searching eBay for the Joe Pa autograph card as soon as I can.
Coincidentally, January 8 will be exactly one week after the Rose Bowl, which I am extremely excited about. Penn State went 11-1 this season, with the only loss the result of a heartbreaking last-second field goal by Iowa. I was very happy to see Oregon beat Oregon State a week and a half ago to ensure that Penn State will play USC in the Rose Bowl. Since we already demolished Oregon State earlier this year, 45-14, playing them again wouldn’t have been much of a reward. On the other hand, USC is one of the top teams in college football, and it’ll be a great game between two evenly matched teams. USC might be favored because it’ll almost a home game for them in Pasadena, but they did lose to the same Oregon State team that Penn State blew out. I believe that Penn State and USC are both as good as the teams that will be in the national championship game, Florida and Oklahoma, and it’s a real shame that we’ll never find out who would win in a real playoff system. I get that the SEC and the Big Twelve were the two best conferences this year, but that doesn’t mean that the winners of the Big Ten and Pac Ten are any less deserving of a shot at the national championship. Anyway I can’t wait to see what happens in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day!
And I can’t wait to own the autographed Joe Paterno card. It will be mine – oh yes, it will be mine!
If you were a Penn State fan or alumnus, and someone randomly came up to you and yelled out “We Are”, you would instinctively yell back “PENN STATE!” at the top of your lungs. That’s just the way that we Penn Staters roll…
It’s pretty awesome when over 107,000 people are yelling it out at Beaver Stadium on football Saturdays. One side of the stadium does the “We Are” and the other side answers with “PENN STATE!” This goes on for about 10 rounds until one side yells out “Thank you” and the other side answers with “You’re welcome!”
By reading this blog, you might be under the mistaken impression that the Rays postseason run is the only incredibly awesome thing that’s going on in my life as a sports fan. But that’s not the case! My Nittany Lions are now 7-0, alone on top of the Big 10 standings, and #3 in both the coaches and media polls!
On Saturday night, Penn State had its biggest game of the year so far, on the road in Camp Randall Stadium against Wisconsin. The sports scheduling gods decided to be cruel to all of the Penn State graduates who are also Tampa Bay Rays fans (all one of us!) by having the football game and the Rays playoff game both start at 8:00. Although many Penn Staters will think that I had misplaced priorities, I decided to watch the Rays game live and record the Penn State game. I made sure to instruct my friends and family members not to call me after the football game and reveal the outcome.
As you know by now, the Rays game didn’t end until 1:34 AM and I stayed tuned to watch some of the post-game interviews. Then I had to take my wife up to bed, say good night to her, and explain why I needed to go back downstairs to watch the Penn State game. In all honesty, I would not have been able to sleep without watching the game. So I started watching the football game a little bit after 2:00 and finished it at 4:30. What a night!
Penn State won it 48-7, dominating Wisconsin on offense, defense, and special teams. This was a good Wisconsin team. Consider that just a week earlier, Ohio State only beat them 20-17 in Madison. And the week before that, Michigan needed to mount a huge comeback to beat Wisconsin 27-25 at the Big House.
With the win, along with a few big upsets, Penn State moved up to #3 in the polls, only behind Texas and Alabama. This Penn State team is really, really good. It’s easily the best team since I started going to school there. Quarterback Daryll Clark, running back Evan Royster, and wide receiver Derrick Williams lead the offense, along with the best PSU offensive line that I’ve ever seen. Aaron Maybin has emerged from obscurity to suddenly become the most dominant defensive end in the country, and he leads an outstanding defense that is filled with players who have prosperous NFL careers in front of them.
Next weekend is another huge game. We play Michigan at home. You might think that Michigan’s poor season thus far makes it an easy win for Penn State, but considering that Penn State has not beaten Michigan since I was a senior in high school in 1996, I know that it will not be easy. Every single season, no matter how good Penn State might be or how bad MIchigan might be, the Wolverines find a way to beat us and seriously depress me. I’m keeping my expectations low this year to avoid disappointment. If we do find a way to beat Michigan, I’ll be on cloud nine!
The weekend after the Michigan game, Penn State plays Ohio State in Columbus in an even bigger matchup…
For some reason, my favorite sports teams have all decided to have unprecedentedly successful seasons at the same time. I can only sit back, take it all in, and appreciate my good fortune. Even my Buffalo Bills are in first place at 4-1, and my Carolina Hurricanes are off to a 2-0 start.
And little does my wife know, but I’m starting to plan a trip up to Pennsylvania for one of Penn State’s November home games…
2008 is shaping up to be the best year ever for the sport teams that I root for…
As is well-documented on this blog, the Tampa Bay Rays won the A.L. East and are going to the playoffs for the first time ever.
My alma mater, Penn State University, is off to a 5-0 start in college football, and they’ve vaulted up to #6 in the polls. I didn’t know if they were for real before this week. But then Oregon State (a team that we beat 45-14 a few weeks ago) beat USC on Thursday. And in the first Big Ten game of the season, we beat a good Illinois team 38-24 on Saturday night. We have to play Wisconsin and Ohio State on the road this year, and Michigan (who we haven’t beaten since 1996) at home. It’s going to be tough, but it looks like this could be a very special season.
My favorite NFL football team, the Buffalo Bills, is off to a 4-0 start after beating the Rams 31-14 today. Yeah, you could argue that they should have beaten the Rams by more than 17 point, but it’s a road win and I’ll take it. The whole team is playing really well, and I’m starting to believe that the Bills will make the playoffs for the first time since 1999!
Today, I officially won both of the fantasy baseball leagues that I competed in this year. Somehow I’ve managed to win about 95% of the leagues that I’ve been in over the last 5-6 years. I guess my friends aren’t quite as fanatical about baseball as I am. I’m hoping to start a fantasy league for baseball card bloggers next year to get some good competition.
If this trend continues, you can bet that the Carolina Hurricanes are going to be very, very good this year…
This is really random, but when I mentioned the Tennessee Titans in the blog post that I just wrote, I started to think about the Houston Oilers, who moved to Tennessee and became the Titans in 1997. Of course, whenever I think of the Oilers, I think about the greatest comeback in NFL history, when the Bills beat the Oilers in the AFC wildcard playoff game on January 3, 1993. And that game reminds me of the very cheesy Houston Oilers fight song. After the comeback game, a sports talk radio station in Buffalo started playing the Oilers song over and over again as a way of mocking the Oilers. I remember recording the song on a cassette tape and listening to it many times. It’s one of those things in life that’s so bad that it’s good. Anyway, I just found the song on YouTube, and I listened to it for the first time in many, many years. I’m posting it here in the hope that at least one person will listen to it and be as entertained by the wonderful awfulness of the song as I am!