Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Trading Post #119: Collector's Crack

Now that hockey playoffs have started, which the Avalanche barely squeaked into, it's a perfect time to write about some football cards I won from Collector's Crack during his annual Super Bowl contest. The Denver Nuggets also had a chance to make it to the NBA playoffs, but weren't able to seal the deal in overtime on Wednesday. So that just leaves three Denver sports teams to cover, as the Rockies' 25th Anniversary season is still just getting underway.

The Broncos didn't factor into the NFL playoffs in the 2017-18 season, but everyone around here still bleeds orange and blue. My pick in the contest was for the Steelers to beat the Eagles. I did get the correct NFC team, but not the outcome. That disqualified me from the main prize, but I still came out on top when the randomizer spit out its results.

2010 Absolute Memorabilia Star Gazing #5 Demaryius Thomas
This was a football contest, so it's appropriate for me to start off with a few football cards. Specifically, a colorful Panini card from the Absolute Memorabilia set, a name not seen in baseball circles in quite some time. The extra-colorful design reminds me of the Aurora inserts found in last year's Diamond Kings set, perhaps not surprising as this is an insert card itself. It looks like this design is supposed to be an American flag overlaid in front of some type of spacey image from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Demaryius Thomas, one of the Broncos veteran Wide Receivers, was just getting his pro career started after attending Georgia Tech when this card was printed. He and Charlie Blackmon were both Yellow Jackets in the late-2000s, so it's possible that the two Denver sports stars knew each other in their college days, much like Peyton Manning and Todd Helton attended Tennessee together.

2008 Donruss Gridiron Gear Silver Holofoil O's #32 Brandon Marshall /250
Brandon Marshall has had quite a long career, especially by NFL standards. Yet despite playing for a dozen seasons, he's never managed to make it to the playoffs. He has made it to six Pro Bowls, including his first in 2008, the year of this shiny card. I'll take a shiny card like this regardless of the sport, especially when it has a serial number on the back.

Donruss may have had some type of tabletop game in mind, as this card also came in an "X" variety, replacing the O in the upper left of this card. If you wanted to, I suppose you could make your own formations with your shiny Gridiron Gear cards. Traditionally, Os are for the Offense and X is for the Defense, and of course most football players focus on one side or the other. I feel like I have the more "correct" version of this card, but it's as good a way as any to make another parallel.

2011 Topps Prime Veteran #PV-ER Eddie Royal
I know all these names, but I haven't really followed their careers after their departure from Denver. Eddie Royal, yet another wide receiver, later played for the Chargers and Bears, but was cut before the 2017-18 season and remains an unsigned free agent. He's barely older than Charlie Blackmon, but his career may have drawn to a close. It's a punishing sport to play, and long careers are rare. There's tremendous pressure to play through the pain, lest someone younger and healthier take your spot that you might not be able to get back. The rosters are gigantic, there are a tremendous number of young athletes graduating from college every year, and you only have a short while to really make a name for yourself.

There aren't a lot of R.A. Dickeys, Randy Johnsons, or Jose Bautistas in the NFL. Just look at this Topps Prime card itself. Royal was already a "Prime Veteran" at just 25, barely into his fourth NFL season when this set hit the market.

Side note: remember when Topps made NFL cards?

Corey Seager, by the way, is in his fourth MLB season right now, and only a little younger than Royal was in 2011. I think he has a while before anyone starts calling him a "veteran".

They are very different sports.

2003 Bowman's Best Blue #130 Adrian Madise (AU) /499
I don't follow the world of NFL prospects or the annual draft, but I can only imagine that its even deeper than in Major League Baseball. Other than Marcus Mariota, I can pretty much tell you nothing about which college player ended up on which NFL team. Perhaps that's why I've never heard of Adrian Madise, a wide receiver from TCU who played in 11 games for the Broncos in 2003. That was the extent of his NFL career, but he signed cards for Bowman that year, in this case a sticker autograph that also has one of those small, square, numbered hologram stickers on the back that Topps used to provide.

It's also serial numbered to /499, probably the rarest card I own of a player I've never heard of.

2009 Topps Chrome Cheerleaders #TCC2 Amanda
Another aspect of football that makes it quite different from baseball is the presence of cheerleaders. A stack of about ten cheerleader insert cards from 2009 Topps Chrome was the main door prize from Collector's Crack; the rest of these cards were just an added bonus.

These are the first cards of their type in my collection. I've noted before that there is a pretty glaring absence of women in professional sports, as I mentioned in a post about Allen & Ginter. There are a number of women in an on-field reporting role, but more often than not, most women on-field at an NFL game seem to have pom-poms. And let's not forget the Twitter storm that ESPN launched by putting a woman in the booth next to Rex Ryan during Monday Night Football last season.

Interestingly, you might be surprised to learn who has anchored the most episodes of SportsCenter on ESPN. Not Chris Berman, not the late Stuart Scott, not Scott Van Pelt, not Dan Patrick. It's Linda Cohn, and she did an extremely interesting interview recently with Internet celebrity and Jets superfan Gary Vaynerchuk.

Anyway, what can I say about Amanda, cheerleader for the Baltimore Ravens? Well, Topps Chrome cards still seem to have a curl no matter the subject. And cheerleading looks like it would be an especially cold occupation in the winter months. I'll bask in the sunshine and late evening twilight at Coors Field any day of the week, but I've never braved the cold to see an NFL game, which can easily drop into the single digits in a place like Colorado. Finally, I noticed that Amanda went to the University of Delaware, which is my mom's alma mater.

2011 Topps Legends #87 Tim Tebow
I don't expect to see baseball cheerleaders anytime soon, but Tim Tebow has been the one to blur the lines between baseball and football lately. He's spent a couple years in the Mets' farm system after being cut by several NFL teams. The way the injuries have been piling up for the Mets the past few years, Tebow might make it to the Majors purely because of attrition. They're currently without a catcher, as Travis d'Arnaud will undergo Tommy John surgery (yes, as a catcher), and Kevin Plawecki just hit the DL for a month after a hit-by-pitch.

When Tebow was the quarterback for the Broncos, I remember two things. He'd miraculously pull out a win by taking the lead in the 4th quarter (or even overtime, as Steelers fans and Demaryius Thomas will recall), and he'd run the ball a lot. I kept saying he should be a running back. This card confirms my second memory, mentioning that Tebow ran the ball more in his first three starts than any QB since 1970, starting off with the very first "40-30", a completing a 40 yard run and 30-yard pass in the same quarter.

That was enough to earn him a spot in the Topps Legends set, even though his NFL career only lasted sixteen games over three seasons. But perhaps we haven't heard the last of him.

By the way, did Topps ever plan on releasing Legends or Prime as baseball sets? They're beautiful.

2017 Topps Chrome '87 Topps #87T-24 David Dahl
Like nearly everyone who trades with me, Collector's Crack included a few Rockies in my envelope. Back to the familiar world of baseball and the 1987 Topps design, here's David Dahl, who might see some playing time in the next few days, thanks to the suspensions MLB handed down following a hit-by-pitch incident.

2017 Topps Chrome '87 Topps #87T-15 Nolan Arenado
Yes, Nolan Arenado got five games for that, as did Padres pitcher Luis Perdomo. He dropped his appeal and did not play in Saturday's loss in Washington. Gerardo Parra is still appealing his four-game suspension related to the incident, so there may be a brief window for David Dahl to appear in his first MLB game since the end of 2016.

Topps has been spoon-feeding us 1987 Topps for a while, but I still enjoy seeing it. The woodgrain border doesn't really come across that well when given the refractor treatment, but the overall design clearly stands up to the MLB expansion that's occurred since its release. Topps even kept the "On This Date" theme on the card back, giving us information from the 1987 season. Nolan's card back tells us about Sachio Kinugasa, a Japanese player who broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games record in 1987, whose streak ended at 2,215. David Dahl's card mentions Dave Dravecky's outstanding pitching performance in Game 2 of the 1987 NLCS, a series the Giants would lose in 7.

2003 Playoff Portraits #21 Todd Helton
This heavily-textured card of Todd Helton was clearly meant to look like an oil painting. Picture UD Masterpieces with brush strokes and you have the idea. It's pretty well done, right down to the swirls on Helton's ear flap.

This texture doesn't carry to the back, which just gets a glossy finish, standard for cards of this era. It's the second throwback to 2003 in this post, and the card brings yet another sport into this post by telling us that "Helton takes a bad swing about as often as Tiger Woods". In case you don't follow golf, Tiger is back. While he didn't contend at The Masters, he did tie for 2nd place a few tournaments ago with Patrick Reed, this year's winner at Augusta.

2013 Topps Chasing The Dream Relics #CDR-DP Drew Pomeranz (MEM)
I like to save relics for the end. This is from 2013's Chasing The Dream insert set, and I remember admiring the non-relic flavor the first time I saw it. I said back then that I wanted to acquire a few more, and cynicalbuddha at Collector's Crack made sure I did. Not only that, but this relic contains one of the prized purple pinstripes that often pop up on Rockies relic cards. Pomeranz has long since left the Rockies, turning in an excellent 17-6 record for the Red Sox last year, and he'll probably make his 2018 debut next week.

It's been a long time since a Rockie has put up a W-L record like that. But many ex-Rockies find more success on other teams. Jason Hammel had a couple great years with the Cubs, although Tyler Chatwood is 0-2 in his first two games as a Cubbie.

I was lucky to win this shipment from that Super Bowl contest. It's surprising that the contest ended over two months ago, but I'm excited to be able to write this post with a ballgame on in the background. Thanks again to Collector's Crack, and don't miss his annual Super Bowl contest once the 2018-19 NFL playoffs are set!

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