Tuesday 26 April 2016

Additions to Starting Lineup

Since a previous post showing the Browns Starting Lineup figures that I owned, I have added two more to my collection, and also noticed that I had previously shown the 1989 Bernie Kosar figure as a 1990 one, which has since been edited in the previous post.

1990 Eric Metcalf

1990 Bernie Kosar - white uniform

The Kosar box is pretty beat up (and was advertised as such), and the cards are sliding out of their bubbles on the packaging, but I won it for a good price. If I find another in better shape at a good price I'll probably buy it to keep sealed and open this one to display Bernie and add the cards to my collection.

It is crazy to see the asking prices on eBay right now for some of the older figures. Well, they can ask what they want, it doesn't mean they'll sell. I guess I'll just have to keep checking to see if any pop up at better prices. Looking at some of the completed sales, I really missed out on a few a while back. I wish I had been watching then.

I really haven't bought much lately, partly from being really busy, and partly to let the wallet recover from the purchases I made in Arizona last month. And the other big thing that I have to do is reorganize my collection after moving everything to make sure they weren't near the leak from the broken water pipe.

My collection is scattered, and I'm not sure if I've mixed cards meant for my collection with some of the doubles. I'm going to have to take the time, and compare cards with the collection in the binders. I'll have fun doing it, but it will take time, which I have to find.

Monday 25 April 2016

Draft Talk

I haven't posted since the Browns traded their #2 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft to the Eagles.

I'm thrilled with the trade. The Browns have a lot of holes to fill, and the extra picks will definitely help there, and I was worried that they might draft whichever QB was left out of Goff or Wentz with the #2 just because it was expected that they should do so. I would like them to build and stabilize the team this year, and then if RGIII doesn't work out, to draft a QB with their first pick next year. I just think that bringing in a rookie QB after losing two starting members of your O-Line, and with all the doubts with their receiving corps and their running game, that it wouldn't really allow them to learn the game and develop while constantly being hit, hurried and scrambling. I think waiting a year for a QB might be better.

As for the #8 pick, I would still consider offers for it, but wouldn't trade it just for the sake of trading it. There will still be a very good player available at #8, and I think that I would only trade it if I were blown away with the offer. In a way it would be fun to get another first for next year, and have three to play with, assuming of course that the new front office can hit on their first round picks.

With cards from my collection, let's look back to the four recent NFL Drafts where the Browns have had two first round picks. (You would think that this would be more fun!)

2007 - GM: Phil Savage

Pick #3 - Joe Thomas
2007 SP Authentic - Gold #276
In 9 years in the league, Joe Thomas has been named to the Pro Bowl each year, and has been named a First-Team All-Pro 6 times. No complaints about this pick. He is still with the team, although there are a lot of mutterings that analytics say to trade him. I want to see him stay in Cleveland for his career, but do think that if he decides that he wants to move on that the Browns should grant his wish. I hope he stays for his career and goes into the Hall of Fame having only played for one team.

Pick #22 - Brady Quinn
2007 Leaf Certified Materials - Souvenir Stamps Autographs Pro Team Logos #14
I liked Brady Quinn, and in his three years with the Browns, he started 12 games, winning 3 of them.

He was the 2nd QB drafted of 11 that year, behind JaMarcus Russell (1), and ahead of Kevin Kolb (36), John Beck (40), Drew Stanton (43), Trent Edwards (92), Isaiah Stanback (103), Jeff Rowe (151), Troy Smith (174), Jordan Palmer (205), and Tyler Thigpen (217).

At the time, and also being a Notre Dame fan, I was excited about trading up to get him, and am not going to criticize the Browns for getting a player I wanted. It is too bad things didn't work out.

More positively, Brady Quinn and his wife, former USA Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone, are expecting their first child in August. Best wishes to them!

2012 - GM: Tom Heckert

I actually missed watching the first round of this draft as I was working that night, and had friends sending me e-mails as picks were being made.

Pick #3 - Trent Richardson
2012 Panini Absolute #235
Ever the optimist, I was thrilled when the Browns traded up to get Trent Richardson. He had a strong rookie season, rushing for 950 yards and 11 TDs while playing most of the season with two broken ribs.

Surprisingly at the time, Richardson was traded by the front office team of Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi after the second game of the 2013 season to the Colts for a 1st round pick in 2014. His play since the trade has made the trade look good for the Browns.

Trent Richardson recently signed with the Baltimore Ravens. As much as I still like Richardson, I can't wish any success on the Ravens.

 Pick #22 - Brandon Weeden
2012 Topps Valor - Legionary Autographs Discipline #LA-BW
This second Browns pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft came from the Falcons in the 2011 trade that sent them the pick where they drafted Julio Jones.

Weeden was the 4th QB drafted out of 11 that year, behind Andrew Luck (1), Robert Griffin III (2), Ryan Tannehill (8), and ahead of Brock Osweiler (57), Russell Wilson (75), Nick Foles (88), Kirk Cousins (102), Ryan Lindley (185), B.J. Coleman (243) and Chandler Harnish (253).

Honestly, when they drafted him, I really didn't know too much about him other than that he would be a 29 year old rookie, which I didn't think much of.

He started 20 games in his two years with the Browns, winning 5, before his career took him to Dallas and Houston. He re-signed with the Texans earlier this spring.

2014 - GM: Ray Farmer

Pick #8 - Justin Gilbert
2014 Panini Rookies & Stars - Draft Class #8
I was really happy with this pick, but a little confused as to why the Browns traded up one spot to Minnesota to get him. No matter, I figured drafting the first CB in the draft would be worth it, one whose name I saw ranked high on a lot of mock drafts. I thought he would be perfect to play opposite Joe Haden.

I'm really hoping the new Browns coaching staff can get something out of Justin Gilbert. This will be a make or break season for him.

Pick #22 - Johnny Manziel
2014 Panini Limited - Rookie Threads Autographs #3
Watching the 2014 Draft was fun, especially to see where Manziel wound up. After the Browns didn't pick him at 8, the next pick that everyone I was watching with was looking forward to was the Cowboys at 16, with one of the guys in the room being a big Cowboys fan. He was thrilled when the Cowboys took Zack Martin.

All of a sudden, it was announced that the Browns had traded up from #26 (the pick received for Trent Richardson) to #22. I started to get a bad feeling, and it was confirmed when they announced the pick of Manziel. I had really wanted either Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr, and actually would not have been upset had the Browns taken Bridgewater with their #8 pick. I mean, I had read how Joe Banner and the Browns had commissioned a study on the QBs eligible for the draft, and that it had said to take Bridgewater. I trusted a study that I knew nothing about, and frankly didn't want a Johnny Football circus to surround the team. I knew he had a lot of potential, but just hoped that he would concentrate on football enough to realize it.

Well, once the pick was announced, I really hoped that he would become a star QB. I didn't want to have the pick wasted. He always sounded so good, saying all the right things. Too bad his actions didn't back up his talk.

The news is reporting that he will be indicted in Dallas tomorrow. Good luck, Johnny. Please, turn your life around.

2015 - GM: Ray Farmer

Pick #12 - Danny Shelton
2015 Topps High Tek - Grass Autographs #60
Danny Shelton had his moments last year. He may not have had the season that many were hoping for from a first round pick, but I don't think that he really looked out of place either.

I think that he can have a solid role in the future with the Browns.

Pick #19 - Cameron Erving
2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions - Gold #CE
When Cameron Erving was drafted, most people thought he would be a great insurance policy at C if Alex Mack were to opt out at the end of last season, and that in the meantime he would be a great back-up at any position on the O-Line over the course of last season.

Sadly, he didn't look that good while filling in last year, but we'll see how he does this year after having added some strength, and only having to worry about playing one position.

I can't wait to see what Thursday will bring. Officially, the Browns do not have two first round picks this year, but with New England having lost their pick, and the Browns having the first pick of the second round, it is about as close as you can get to it. Should be fun!

Monday 11 April 2016

COMC purchase

I had an interesting experience with COMC after asking for some purchases to be mailed to me a while back. I eagerly opened a bubble-wrap envelope that arrived at my home only to sit there with a surprised look on my face. Staring out at me in a team bag was a Jack Eichel card, and I didn't order any hockey cards.

Without opening the team bag, I looked at the paper invoice with the order - it was all hockey cards, including a McDavid UD rookie, and should have been sent to a collector in Alberta. I'm sure he had the same look on his face when he saw all my Cleveland Browns cards. I never did open his team bag to look at his cards, and the McDavid was not on the top or bottom so I didn't see it. I wonder if he looked through my cards?

I contacted COMC, and they said that they had heard from the other collector and they asked us both to return the cards to them, and they would then send us the correct packages.

Both of us did, and everything worked out in the end. And I'm really happy about it because I really would have been heartbroken to lose this card:
1950 Bowman #6 Lou Groza RC

As you can see, it has some water stains (and was identified as having such), but the picture on the front is nice and clear. I'm really not worried about the water stains, especially since they lowered the price that I bought the card to just under $15. A steal in my eyes.

I had purchased this well before the Jim Brown, but it arrived after I got back from Arizona so I am thrilled to add this card to my Otto Graham and Jim Brown rookie cards.

Other purchases included this assortment of Hall of Famers.

The 1986 McDonald's All-Star Ozzie Newsome allowed me to continue to whittle away at all those cards that I need to complete my team set.

The 7-11 disc is the West version - I had already owned the East disc.

And I believe that the Hall of Fame reprints of Jim Brown and Len Ford completed the Browns that I needed from those years.

Until I got back into collecting, and started researching the Browns cards that were out there, I wasn't even aware of the Sample cards that preceded the 1989 Pro Set cards. It is pretty close to what they came out with as their actual set.

As well, until recently, I would have sworn that I had all of the 1992 Browns cards from the Pro Line set. Then I saw the Bengals card of Brian Brennan, and realized that it was actually a Browns card. I mean, look at that clothing!

I recently acquired the base card, but needed the autograph. A simple enough thing to find on COMC. I guess he isn't as popular a name for a lot of collectors out there.

A small order, but I thought that I just couldn't wait any longer to have that Groza in hand. As it turned out, I did, but not long, and it was just as sweet to finally get it.

Thursday 7 April 2016

Love the Smell of card trades

I want to thank Tim at I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning for a package that he sent me a while ago, and that looking back in my sent email, I don't even think that I let him know I received. Sorry, man!

Now being that it has been a while, and some of my cards have been really mixed up since the broken water pipe, I hope that these were all among cards that he sent me and that I'm crediting the right person.

Here is most of what I believe that he sent.

Way back in January, Tim posted that he pulled that Topps Platinum Rookie Refractor Patch card of Duke Johnson that was numbered 1/125. I'm lucky that he knew that there was a Browns fan out there that would really want it!

As for the other two cards in this photo, I've commented a few times on Terrance West's autograph (if he's going to squiggle his last name, shouldn't he at least cross a 't'?), and the constant inclusion of Vince Mayle in sets even though he didn't make the team out of training camp, but I still do want the cards. (And to be fair, I think the Donruss cards were early enough that the cards were probably being made before we knew that he wouldn't make the team.)

Some pre-move Browns including a great photo of Burnett leaping, and a Score Summit Ground Zero parallel of Eric Zeier. (Seeing Zeier's number 10 reminds me that I had started doing the research for my Browns By the Numbers. Better get back to that.)

A writer on ESPN Cleveland wrote an article ranking the starting 24 QBs since 1999. I had thought of doing a similar post when Austin Davis got his start but realized I didn't have cards of a number of the QBs. Maybe I'll do a post when RGIII becomes number 25. Anyway, he ranked Couch #2 behind Kelly Holcomb, giving Holcomb the nod due to his play in his playoff start against the Steelers. I believe he then wrote that he wouldn't have a problem with people reversing the two choices. I have Couch as #1 on the list, and really wish he would have had a chance to play with a good OL in front of him.

It is always nice to get any of the various Topps parallels, there are so many. And I've slowly been collecting the Browns in the Panini Hot Rookies set. If the Browns are going to have any success this year, I think that Joe Haden will have to be healthy and playing at his best level, and that the Browns will need Josh Gordon to be reinstated and play like he did a couple of years ago when he led the league in receiving yards. Even then, it is a big rebuilding year and I can't imagine even competing for the playoffs. They've had what I thought were way better teams let me down so many times.

I hope that Jordan Cameron plays a bigger role for the Dolphins next year than he did last year. I don't automatically stop following players once they leave the Browns, and often have a soft spot for their continued success, and I liked Cameron.

As for that Topps card...I was so hopeful once the Browns drafted Weeden and Richardson that they would be successful. Seeing this card makes me sigh, shake my head, and laugh. I'm so used to it by now.

Now the following cards are ones that I think that were part of what was sent to me.

A couple of nice parallels up top for West and Manziel.

I like how Panini puts retired stars in their Prizm sets. The first "big card" that I ever bought was when I bought Paul Warfield's 1965 Philadelphia rookie card from a local card store while I was in college. For years, I kept looking at in on the wall, and eventually broke down and bought it.

As for Josh McCown, he really had a good season for the Browns last year, and his record doesn't reflect his play. The defense and running game didn't help him much.

Tim, your team needs a QB. They could do worse than making a play for McCown as a caretaker for a year and to mentor a new draft pick. I'm surprise his name doesn't seem to ever get mentioned.

Again, Tim, thanks for the cards! I'm really late on getting stuff back to you but hope when I get them in the mail to you, that you will enjoy them. I'll try to make it soon.

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Wallet Card Wednesday - 12 (Arizona trip)

I missed last week's wallet card post but all of this week's post is from my trip to Arizona. They aren't all wallet card shots, and I'll have to do a separate post later on the Musical Instrument Museum. Sadly, I missed the baseball card exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum since I didn't remember that it wasn't open on Monday or Tuesday. I left it too late.

We'll start off with a nice stop at the Philadelphia airport.

I really seem to only get Pinkberry when I go to San Diego each year for Comic-Con. Seeing it at the Philadelphia airport, I had to get some.

I actually flew to Phoenix out of Albany (we'll get to that later), having to scrape the ice off of my windows before making the five hour drive. Do you know what was really nice about my trip?
View from backyard patio on my first morning in Arizona
Oh, yeah! This is much nicer than having to scrape the car off. Oh, warmth, how I enjoyed you. (I type as I look out the window at the snow falling today in Ottawa. Ugh.)

I don't really talk too much about basketball but part of the reason that I visited my mom that late in March was so that I could go see the Celtics play the Suns. I enjoyed the game. At the half they honored the 1976 Sunderella Suns.

Most of the players from the team were there. Sorry the picture isn't as clear as it could be. I don't think that I get the most out of the camera on my Blackberry.

Here is a free throw shot, and the final score. There were a lot of Celtic fans, and empty seats in the arena.

I enjoyed the game, and received a nice surprise when I left the arena.

From the back of the box, the 1976 Phoenix Suns team consisted of:

Alvan Adams
Dennis Awtrey
Mike Bantom
Keith Erickson
Nate Hawthorne
Gar Heard
Phil Lumpkin
Curtis Perry
Pat Riley
Fred Saunders
John Shumate
Ricky Sobers
Dick Van Arsdale
Paul Westphal
John Wetzel

To me, Pat Riley was notable in his absence. It was fun to hear the other players interviewed at half-time. Gar Heard was great.

Shortly after meeting Corky from Pack War, I went to see a Cactus League ballgame.

After watching the White Sox at the Rockies, I have now seen eight different teams play at four different stadiums in my four March visits to Phoenix to see my mom.

You can't make it out, but John Danks is pitching
Again, the highlight to me was the weather, but in the bottom of the third, the Rockies went back-to-back-to-back off of Danks. (Blackmon, Story and Gonzalez hitting the dingers.)

Final score
As you can see, the three dingers didn't hold up. I think there were seven HRs for the game. The ball was flying!

Now the reason that I flew from Albany was so that I could go to a concert on the way home. I try to see Straight No Chaser every good chance I get. I love their music, and they are great guys. They were playing in Albany on Wednesday, March 30.
Checking out the Palace Theatre in Albany, NY
I spent a few hours walking around Albany, going over a pedestrian bridge down to a view of the Hudson River.

In walking around downtown, I thought this building was pretty interesting.

The "John Eagan, Blacksmith" was what caught my eye. Looking for some history of the building, I found out that it was built in 1849, and the R.B. Wing building was built in 1914. It is nice to come across stuff like that while taking a walk.

I had a great time at the concert, saying hi to the guys after the show at their customary autograph signing as I usually do. I highly recommend their shows if you get a chance to see them, and stick around and say hi to them, they're great guys!

One of these things is not like the other...
After posing for this photo, I hopped in the car for the ride home, arriving around 3:30 am. It was a long day, but a great way to finish a trip.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Vintage oddballs from my Arizona trip

I still have a little more vintage Browns purchases to show from my recent Arizona trip in addition to what I've shown in my last two posts.

I like oddballs, and sometimes go a bit crazy when I find them. I will even look through baseball oddballs to find and send some to other bloggers. One store that I went to in Phoenix had tons of oddballs. I loved it. (To any interested, the store is 20th Century Sports Cards and Collectibles at 3210 W. Bell Rd., Suite 102/103.)

Looking through the display cases, I saw a display of 1964 Wheaties football stickers. Upon asking and looking through the stickers, I picked up a complete team set of the Browns, and accidentally added one extra sticker.
Top (l-r): Jim Brown; Bill Glass; Galen Fiss
Middle (l-r): John Morrow; Bernie Parrish; Dick Schafrath
Bottom: Erich Barnes
Unfortunately, if you look closely at the number on the Barnes sticker you will see a border on it. Knowing that Barnes played for the Browns, and since the jersey did look brownish, I figured that he was part of the team set. As it turns out, he didn't start with the Browns until 1965, and from looking at other photos and his playing history, I figure that it is an old photo of him wearing a Bears uniform. (See the orange accent on the border of the jersey number.) Oh, well. (Tony Burbs, I'll be putting it aside for you.)

Another item found was this fold-out poster of Gene Hickerson:
1970 Topps - Posters #15

A thing of beauty!

As is another poster that I needed:
1971 Topps - Posters #16
You might be able to see from the top and the sides, that this poster has a bit of a centering issue, but it sure looks good to me.

Finally, in 1972, Sunoco issued a set of stamps, with an update set to follow. I have all the Browns in the regular set, and need two in the update set. What I didn't have, however, was one of the albums that the stamps could be stored in.

In the store, they had two different albums for the 1972 set. The larger one was 128 pages, and had a lot of nice color pictures, and team write-ups; the smaller was 56 pages, and just had pages to put the stamps in by team.

I picked up one the larger, deluxe albums.

The back of the album had 144 stickers still attached. They were the same stickers in each of the albums.

I'll conclude today with some thoughts on current Browns news.

I can't say that I was surprised that the Browns released Donte Whitner, as it fits into how they are releasing veteran players and goin younger. Personally, I would have liked to have kept him as a veteran leader, but I understand why they did it. I don't, however, know why they wouldn't have done him the favor of releasing him earlier so that he'd have a better chance to find a good home, or a better salary in free agency before teams started filling their needs.

The other player released was Ifo Ekpre-Olomu as he was fighting back from missing all of last year with a knee injury. The drafted him knowing that he wasn't going to play last year, hoping that he would be ready for this year. I wish that they would have kept him at least through off-season workouts to see if he could come back, but I'm sure they know more about his knee than I do from just reading the internet. I hope he manages to get healthy and make it into a NFL game.

With those two players released, the Browns secondary has more holes. I wonder if they will choose Jalen Ramsey with pick number two if he's available.

Friday 1 April 2016

Single card post

I'll have a bunch of posts coming up on my Easter trip to Arizona to visit my mother. I picked up a lot of cards, met a fellow blogger, visited a great museum and saw one of my favorite groups in concert.

I also came home with a bunch of vintage cards that blew my budget on cards for a while.

The highlight is this single card. Sadly for the card, but easier on my wallet, a previous owner of this card must have decided to improve the edges and/or centering a bit. I knew about it when buying it, but this might be the only way I'll own this card.