Monday, June 30, 2014

Mark Teixeira Bobblehead

Back on Thursday, June 19th, the Yankees held their first bobblehead give away of the season. Now, as a bobblehead lovin' mofo, I was going to be there. Throw in the fact that it was Mark Teixeira Bobblehead night and I was practically scaling the wall to get my hands on one of these to add to my bobblehead collection. Thankfully, I was one of the first 18,000 fans to get to the Stadium early and Mr. Teixeira was added to my collection. I was then able to "enjoy" the game, watching the Yankees beat the Blue Jays in an important AL East battle 6-4. I say "enjoy" because the dude who was sitting next to me was invading my personal space by leaning on my arm, putting his back on me to take a picture of his group and opening his rather large book to read. I should have known he wasn't a baseball fan when he asked who Derek Jeter was.

But I didn't care. I had my bobblehead and I couldn't wait to get home, open it and put him on my shelf. When I opened the box, I was in for a bit of a surprise.

First off, let's take a look at the box. As you can see, I was given a box that was less than perfect. If I ever did want to resell this, the box would hurt the resale value on it. Most bobblehead collectors want the original box and for it to be in as pristine condition as it can be. This one falls short of the mark.

The front of the box has a picture that shows what the bobblehead inside will look like once you open it up. It also tell's you who it is and what number in this season's series it is. In this case, it's the first of 4 player bobbleheads to be given out this season. This doesn't count the Hello Kitty and Lucy bobbleheads that will be given out later in the season.

The box does have the listing of the rest of the player bobbleheads and the dates they will be given out. Right off the bat, I can see I will be missing the Lou Gehrig give away. Thank heaven for eBay.

The other two sides of the box has Tex prominently featured, just in case you forget which bobblehead you are getting and when you see the bobblehead, you just might.

I'm not really liking this bobblehead. First off, I'm not crazy about the size. It's a few inches smaller than a regular size bobble. I don't understand why we have to get smaller bobbleheads. Is it a way to save a few dollars?

That's being said. I could get past the size if this bobblehead looked anything like Mark Teixeira to begin with. I'm shocked that Alexander Global would allow this off the assembly line. They are usually pretty good with the likenesses of players. This one falls way off the mark. No pun intended on that one folks.

 On one side of the bobblehead, you get the name of the player and the sponsor on the base it's self, which is AT&T on this particular bobblehead. The lettering looks kind of sloppy as well, The last part of the last name is so crooked that the A is almost off the base completely. Plus, the paint on the letters as well as on the figure its self is very sloppy. There is a sploch of paint right on the ear, the hair is missing pain in spots and the lettering looks like a five year old painted them.

The back of the bobblehead is probably the best angle on this bobblehead. Numbers look fine and the pinstripes afre not crooked nor are they missing paint. The helmet is also nicely painted. The bat is screwed in, but it's not tight in it's hand, so if your are looking to pick up this bobblehead, your going to have to be careful with the bat.

Maybe this is the best side. You can't see the face.

I don't know what happened with this bobblehead. Maybe it's just mine, but that one side, the main side, is terribly painted. I don't know what happened at AGP. They are usually a very reliable company when making these bobbleheads. Someone really dropped the ball on this one. The reaction I got when I opened the box is usually saved for Forever bobbleheads. Hopefully, someone got an earful regarding this one.

Regardless of how this one came out, I am looking forward to the other three bobbleheads, especially the Lou Gehrig which is commemorating the 75th anniversary of his famous speech. If you haven't seen the bobblehead, here's a picture of what fans will be given this Wednesday at 1:05 PM:

Man, I am going to hate missing this game.

Last year, AGP did a good job on the Jeter, Matsui, Rivera and Berra bobbleheads. Plus, I have loved their earlier bobbleheads that were given out at Yankee Stadium in 2002 and 2003. That's pretty much why I am giving them a pass on the Teixeira. Although I am pretty disappointed with how this one came out, I believe the next bobbleheads will be better and ones that will be worthy of being displayed in any bobblehead collection.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tino Martinez Day

Today, The Yankees honored a player who was instrumental in winning 4 world championships in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 with a plaque out in the famed Monument Park. That player is Tino Martinez, who also just happens to be my favorite Yankee.

My earliest memories of Tino Martinez was watching him kill the Yankees as a member of the Mariners during the 1995 American League Division Series, batting .409 with a homer and 5 RBI's. When I heard Don Mattingly was taking a year off to decide his future, I wondered if the Yankees could get their hands on the guy from Seattle. Sure enough, the Yankees traded Sterling Hitchcock and Russ Davis for Jim Mecir, Jeff Nelson and Contantino Martinez. Highway robbery if it ever was. Jeff Nelson was a huge part of the championship teams as well as Tino was.

Over the years, I got to watch Tino launch home runs over the right field wall at the old Yankee Stadium and make some beautiful plays over at first base. I always felt Tino was robbed of a Gold Glove or two, but because the AL also had JT Snow, Rafael Palmero and John Olerud, Tino never won a Gold Glove and I think that's a shame. He was a tremendous fielding first baseman.

Tino's best season was in 1997, when he hit 44 home runs and had 141 RBI's. He finished second in the voting for Most Valuable Player, losing out to Ken Griffey Jr. He also participated and won the Home Run Derby during that season's All Star Game festivities, which was a joy for me.

My two most memorable Tino moments were in 1996 and 1998 respectively. First, during the early part of the 1996 season, Tino had started off slow and was being booed by Yankee fans. The Yankees were in Baltimore and one of the games wen late into extra innings. Tino belted a game winning home run and was cheered loudly when the team came back to NY. The second, was obviously during Game 1 of the 1998 World Series when he hit a grand slam into the upper deck off Mark Langston giving the Yankees a 4 run lead. I will always remember seeing a shower of beer pop up in the air after the ball landed into the upper deck.

Like I mentioned previously, I started collecting Tino Martinez cards back in 2002. Because I have other player collections, my Tino collection may not be as large as others, but I am proud of it. Here are my favorite Tino cards, starting with the base and inserts:

Here are my favorite Game Used cards. Mind you, these were taken before I got a scanner and I never got around to scanning them. The scanner is now broken.

I also have this printing plate

And probably my favorite Tino piece

This was a gift from a friend who used to sell cards. He accidentally sent an order late for a secret santa I was participating in. Knowing that Tino is my favorite, he sent this to me as a gift to make up for the lateness of the order. I never met Tino and I hope to at some point.

There are other cards I need to pick up. I also have eyes on some other Tino items like bobbleheads, his Starting Lineup figures, a Danbury Mint statue and some programs with him on the cover. My ultimate would be a Tino game used bat and jersey. Maybe when I win lotto.

Congratulations, Tino.  You had a great career and you were a wonderful Yankee. I think the plaque in Monument Park is rightfully deserved. You sit with the greats now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Finally Started.

Through out my collecting career (if you want to call it that), my cards have been in a state of chaos. Sure I have a lot of binders, but to be honest, I didn't know exactly what I had. I would go to card shows and pick up cards that I thought I need, but found that I already had once I got home.

Trades? Same thing. I would see a card that I'm offered, drool over my keyboard, pull the trigger, receive the card and find I already had it when I opened the binder.

Even my fellow collectors would ask me if I had a list and when I told them I didn't, I felt like the collector would be giving me a funny look behind the email. OK, maybe I'm hallucinating on this one, but that's how I felt, sniff sniff.

So, after a long discussion with the collector side of my brain, I decided I would start creating lists of my cards. Finally, I would be able to know what cards I have. I would be able to know what I really needed for my various collections. No more buying cards I already had. I finally would be in control!

Now, I originally was going to make my lists as Word Documents, but my buddy Kerry advised me to use Google Drive. I was familiar with Drive since I was making lists of my Spider-Man comic book collection. Kerry told me I could create a spreadsheet on Drive and I was sold.

So, I decided to start with my player collections. I could have knocked off the smallest collection of cards I have in a player collection which would be my Wayne Cherebet collection. But, NOOOOOOOOO! (That was me channeling my inner John Belushi) I had to start with one of my largest. That would be my Tino Martinez collection.

Constantino Martinez. That's Tino Martinez, to us common folk. He has been a favorite Yankee since he hit a late inning home run to win a game in Baltimore. As his career with the Yankees progressed, he became my very favorite. When I got back into collecting cards in 2002, I decided I would try to collect as many Tino cards as I could.

I'm actually glad I started with Tino. As I was looking up cards on eBay, and Becketts, I found I needed a heck of a lot of cards to even come close to having a good collection. It's not that I'm not proud of what I already own. I just always wanted to be THE Tino Martinez collector and I am not even close to being that. But the fun of the chase is still there for me and I am looking forward to it.

The drawback to this list is, I found quite a few doubles in my binder and the number of total cards, which I thought I had after doing a rough count, has dwindled considerably. So far, I am at 312 different Tino Martinez cards. I still have a few pages left in my binder to go through and I have my box of game used and autographed cards to list. If I am close to 450 cards, I will be a happy geek.

I'm really glad that I am doing this. I'm not even done with the Martinez list and I already feel a sense of accomplishment. Once I am done, I will make lists for my Mark Teixeira, Patrick Ewing, Mike Bossy, Wayne Chrebet, Chad Pennington, Martin Brodeur, David Lee and Derek Jeter collections. If that's not enough to keep me awake at night, there will be the time when I will want to make up lists for my Yankees, Jets, Knicks and Islander PC's. Just thinking about that is giving me grey hairs.Once I am done with each list, I will figure out a way to have them on the blog, just in case you guys are interested in seeing them

I know this is a project that may take months, even a year to finish. Maybe if I had been more organized from the very beginning, I wouldn't have to do this now. No use in crying over spilled cardboard. I just have to roll up my sleeves and get the job done. At least it's keeping me out of the pool halls and away from Miley Cyrus records.

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Favorite PC Cards: Chad Pennington

When I first restarted collecting cards back in 2003, I knew I would be collecting players that I admired. I knew I would start a Tino Martinez PC at some point and had ideas on a Roberto Clemente. On the Jets, I like Wayne Chrebet and he was also a player I wanted to collect, but I didn't start a Chrebet PC right away.

My favorite position in football is Quarterback. It's the glamour position in the game and I have seen some great QB's in my time as a fan. Montana, Moon, Bradshaw, Elway, Kelly, Manning and yes, even Brady (hacking) are just some of the greats I have seen play and just enhanced my love of the position.

As a Jets fan, I have seen some good QB's play under center for my team. When I first started watching the Jets, Richard Todd was the teams QB and he took us within a game of the Super Bowl back in 1983 before the Dolphins ground crew and AJ Duhe took us out. Then there was Ken O'Brien, who I don't feel gets the due he deserves just because he was in that heralded draft of 1983. The same draft that had quarterbacks like John Elway and Jim Kelly. The Jets, drafted Ken O'Brien at pick number 24. 3 picks later, the Miami Dolphins picked Dan Marino. O'Brien was still a good quarterback, made 2 Pro Bowls in 1985 and 1991, was the highest rated QB in the NFL in 1985 and was the first QB to pass for more than 400 yards in a game, which he did against the Seattle Seahawks in 1986. We also had Vinny Testeverde who also bought the Jets within a game of the Super Bowl in 1998, even leading the game at halftime. But no one was stopping John Elway and the Denver Broncos, who were on their way to win their second straight Super Bowl. I still hold a grudge against Denver for that one.

But in the 2002 season, the Jets were 1-4 and Coach Herman Edwards decided to start a young player from Marshal University named Chad Pennington. Pennington lead the Jets to a 9-7 record, winning the AFC East Title throwing for 3,120 yards, 22 touchdowns, 6 INT's and had rating of 104.2, a Jets record. He then lead the Jets to a victory over Peyton Manning and  the Indianapolis Colts 41-0. From that season on, I had a new favorite player and since I had just restarted collecting cards, I thought why not collect Pennington, so over the years I picked up a lot of Pennington cards, even sacrificing an Aaron Rodgers autograph card to get a Pennington autograph into my collection. Ok, maybe I could have gotten more for that, but I didn't care. I wanted that Pennington autograph.

When the Jets released Pennington in favor of Brett Farve, he signed with Miami and led them to the AFC East Title. As happy as I was for Pennington, I couldn't root for him due to my hatred of Miami and my Pennington collecting stopped that season.

Just recently, I was looking at my Pennington cards and wondered if maybe it was time to re-start the Pennington collection. My collection has some really nice cards and I would love to add more to it. But before I do, I'd like to show off some of my favorite Pennington cards in my collection:

I grabbed this 2006 Donruss Threads card off eBay for a whopping $4.00. I just love the lettering on the piece of the football in this card.

I love patch cards and this card has a piece of Pennington's name plate off his road jersey.

I just love this card for the picture alone. In a game against the Texans, Pennington scrambled for a first down and decided to let Houston know.

Probably my favorite Pennington card. I love this piece of game used helmet and love that you can see the T and S of the JETS logo.

Simple, but I love this card.

I have always been a big fan of these Upper Deck Sweet Spot Signature cards. I was thrilled to see that there was a Pennington card and added it to my Pennington collection.

My very first Pennington autograph. Of course it was going to make my list.

Looking over my Pennington collection reminded me just how much fun I had hunting down cards on eBay, card shows and trading for them with other collectors. I really wanted to be THE Pennington collector and try to get every Pennington card ever made. I obviously fell way short of that goal, but I loved the pursuit.

I have been a Jets fan since the 1980 season and have seen a lot of great Jets, but Pennington is my favorite. He may not had the greatest arm, but when he played and was healthy, the Jets won. I often wonder had he stayed healthy where he would be among the the Jet QB's in Jet history. I believe he would have been right under Joe Namath as an all time great Jet quarterback. He had the smarts and I really think he could have won a title here. I would love to see him come back here as a coach a I think he would do very well. But whatever he decides to do, I will always be a Chad Pennington fan.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Recent Autograph Hauls

The past couple of weekends I have been fortunate enough to be able to add a few new autographs to my various collections. All have been free sigs, so that's always a good thing for my now light wallet. Like I always say, if it's free, it's for me.

The first autograph signing was about a week ago at Modell's in Time Square. Eric Decker, the new wide receiver for the New York Jets, was making an appearance so, I was absolutely going to be there. I am very excited that Decker is a New York Jet. He gives Geno Smith a target that is proven and I think he's going to help the open up the offense.

Decker was scheduled to start signing at 1 PM, so I made sure I got there early. The first 100 fans were guaranteed autographs. The only catch was you either had to buy something at the store and show the receipt at the front of the line, or take the free picture they gave with the autograph. I opted for buying a Jets mini helmet for Decker to sign. After I made the purchase, I got in line.

I knew the wait was going to be pretty long, so I bought a book and spent my time reading it. About a half hour before the signing was scheduled to start Modell's employees started handing out the tickets. I got mine and noticed I was number 76 in line. I was glad I got there when I did because the line got pretty long with Jet fans wanting to meet Decker and wish him good luck.

I finally got inside the store and after a 10 minute wait, I got to the front of the line and got to meet Decker. I welcomed him to NY and wished him the very best of luck. He thanked me and told me he appreciated the well wishes as he signed the mini helmet and I was on my way.

You can see my helmet waiting on the table to be signed.

And here is the helmet signed. The signature is better in person, trust me. Another addition to my Jets collection.

Yesterday, I was able to meet former New York Knicks John Starks and Charles Oakley. The signing was at a car dealership in Queens. It's was in a place I wasn't too familiar with, so I made sure I left my home extra early. I had Googled the directions to the dealership by subway, so I was looking at a hour and 20 minute ride there. Of course, I arrived there in an hour, but it took me a few minutes to locate the dealership. I actually started to go in the opposite direction. But, thanks to GPS on my phone, I found the place without any other issues.

ESPN, which sponsored the event, had set up a tent out back of the dealership. Starks and Oakley sat at a table inside the tent and was signing autographs for the fans that were lined up. The line wasn't too long so I got my stuff ready for them to sign. Starks didn't say too much as he signed for me. Oakley was talking to someone as he signed my items.

Here's where I get on my soap box and rant for a few. I absolutely despise it when the person in line before you or one of the representatives start talking to the athlete while your there, waiting to say something to the person and get a hand shake. I feel it's rude and makes me feel ignored. Needless to say, Oakley didn't really say much to me as he was busy talking to someone else and I walked away a bit perturbed. At least I got my items signed.

I printed a 11x14 photo of Starks dunking over Michael Jordan and Horace Grant during Game 2 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals in a play that is now known as "The Dunk". This came out great and I cannot wait until I have it framed and hanging up.

I printed out a 8x10 of the Knicks logo and had Starks and Oakley sign it. I want to get as many players who played for the Knickebockers to sign it. I haven't decided it I am going to send it out TTM. If I do, I can try to have Richie Guerin, Harry Gallatin, Dick Van Arsdale, and Kenny Walker to sign it. I would hate to lose it though.

I'm also working on having a Knicks picture book signed by as many players, so I had Oakley and Starks sign pictures of them inside the book.

I had a lot of fun graphing again. I haven't gone out to meet players as regularly as I'd like to, but it feels pretty good when you get the autographs you have been wanting for your collection. I'm hoping I can add more autographs this summer to my growing collection as long as I'm not mushing a dog sled team across the Antarctic, riding a camel through the Sahara dessert or swimming across the Gulf Of Mexico...  OK, maybe for the right autograph.