1987-88 O-Pee-Chee Mini #24 — Mike Liut

1987-88 OPC Mini Liut1The aspect of collecting I like best is finding cards I’ve never seen before, especially when they’re something old. This is why the last three posts have been on footballer and cricket cards from the sixties and seventies; even though I know very little, if anything, about the players on the cards, they’re new and exciting to me while still being vintage. I think this is why I don’t like vintage baseball as much as hockey. I’ve seen all the sets and designs a hundred times before.

I recently bought the 1987-88 O-Pee-Chee Mini set and while I had seen most dozens of times on other blogs and around the internet I came across this Mike Liut card which I had not. I’m surprised I hadn’t because 1. it’s of a Whaler and. 2., it’s Mike Liut. I would say his cards are featured rather prominently on many blogs due to his terrifying, horror film-esque masks. (Some day, I’m going to do a post on all of Liut’s OPC cards because he looks like such a badass in every one.) Somehow, this one slipped through the cracks until I was thumbing through the set, giving me one of those “Ah!” moments that become fewer and farther between the more and more we collect.

I like the fuzzy white borders on this set, it adds a literal haze of nostalgia to the cards. Plus, it really works well with the white of the Whalers sweater here. I like the font, too. The whole thing looks a little like the Scanlens Cricket cards from earlier in the week.

1987-88 OPC Mini Liut2


Game On!

09-10 Champs Lucic 1Hockey is back! The Bruins return tonight to face the Rangers and Rick Nash at the Garden. I’d say the two of them–and perhaps Philadelphia–are the top teams in the East.

I think I handled the lockout fine after my post a month and a half ago. After it looked like the owners and players were on the verge of a deal back in early December and then it fell apart I honestly thought there wouldn’t be a season at all. So the (personal) surprise that there will be games this winter far outweighs the anger and frustration that the lockout caused me.

It was stupid and selfish for the league and players to put the fans through a fourth work stoppage in 20 years. They probably could have worked this out earlier in the summer and avoided losing any games much like the NFL did the year before. But I’d rather push that out of my mind and enjoy hockey rather than continue to be angry about it. I understand that others disagree with me. And I understand that some won’t come back this week, month, season, etc. and I won’t argue with them but this how I’m handling it. Let’s just hope there’s not another in ten (or eight) years.

Back to the Bruins. I think they have a good shot to make it out of the east again and perhaps grab the Cup back from the Kings. Jersey has weakened, the B’s physicality matches up well physically against Pittsburgh, and as long as Bryzgalov is in net in Philadelphia I’m not scared of the Flyers. That leaves the Rangers, who were great last year and have added the aforementioned Nash. Perhaps tonight will be a barometer on where the two teams are at. There really isn’t any time for teams to tweak their roster and develop.

Game on.

09-10 Champs Lucic 2

Presidents Day

I wasn’t aware of this until earlier this morning but today isn’t officially called Presidents Day. According to the National Archives:

The official title of Monday’s holiday has actually been “George Washington’s Birthday” since its establishment in 1879.

Never mind that this holiday hasn’t fallen on Washington’s actual birthday in nearly fifty years or that a certain 16th President also celebrates his big day this month.

As mentioned yesterday, these are from the ’09-’10 Champ’s set, my main collecting goal right now. Each president has his own card. However, the reason why these inserts are called Historical Figures is that there are Canadian Prime Ministers included. Looking through these a few weeks ago, I realized that in my entire nineteen year academic career, from kindergarten to grad school, I was never taught a single lesson on Canadian history. Thanks Upper Deck, for picking up where the American public school system and three private universities left off.

Bonus fun fact: According to the back of the card, George Washington was elected unanimously by the Electoral College in 1788 and 1792. He ran unopposed.

Natural History Collection

I decided to take the plunge and start putting together the ’08-’09 Champ’s set as well. I found a lot of 29 Natural History cards on eBay at a decent price and figured it was time. Overall, I think I actually prefer this design to the other. The base cards are a push; I like the clean, simple design of the first set and the colorful frame and Photoshopped wooded backgrounds on the latter. But the inserts here are nicer. I’ve already written about the Mini Rookies looking MUCH better and ditto these. The gold borders and olive motif on the ’09-10 set is bland and and look less authentic.

The checklist is also friendlier. I appreciate the ratio of 200:280 base cards to mini ratio instead of the 100:480 so, coupled with the 100 less cards, it’ll (hopefully) be a little bit easier to complete. Sadly, no presidents or prime ministers this time around. It’s too bad Upper Deck didn’t do something with the stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Including Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks would have been neat.

One of my irrational pet peeves is horizontal cards. Sure they look great individually but in a binder… not so much. I like to have everything going the same way.

This Wolverine card is seriously awesome though.

So far, no centering issues, which the ’09-’10 suffers from greatly. Sadly, no Whalers or Nordiques here either. I’m going to a card show in a couple of weeks, so hopefully I’m able to put more of a dent into this set.

2011 Allen and Ginter

Dream of the 1890’s

This is another set I’m working on; all the base cards, minis, and inserts. They’re fairly rare, I think at only 1-2 a case. Most prices are silly on eBay (especially Brian Wilson’s) but I was able to get this for a decent amount.

Even though I teach English as a Second Language, I admit that I had to look up “flocculence” in the dictionary. It’s the noun form of flocculent, which means “having a fluffy or woolly appearance.” Unlike the previously mentioned Champ’s Rookies, these inserts really nails the aesthetic and matter of the  early 20th century. Ditto the rest of the inserts, though Topps made a few decisions with their base set I’d say are strange at the very least.

A connection between an obsession with strange facial hair that existed in the 1890’s and its current renaissance was parodied in the latest episode of Portlandia in which Fred Armisen sports a bib.

Usually, Allen and Ginter inserts have terrific backs that are cleverly written, so I was disappointed to flip this one over and find only a checklist.


The Little Ball of Hate

One thing I don’t like about this Champ’s set is the design of the Mini Rookie cards. The gold border throws off the whole aesthetic, making it look a lot closer to late-20th century than early. The 2008-09 Mini Rookies got it right (perhaps after finishing this set I’ll move on to those…) looking much more like old tobacco cards. Plus, there’s WAY too many–96 in total. More on that in a bit.

But first, Marchand.

I realize he’s the kind of player you’d hate if he played on any other team besides the one you root for (or if he wasn’t in the NHL and you ran into him at a bar). I’m sure the guy is a total douche. But if you told me at the beginning of last season that the 5′ 9″ guy who managed a single, measly assist the year before would score eleven playoff goals, including two in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, I would have laughed. So from the standpoint of a B’s fan, you love the guy. Playoff heroics like that are unforgettable, ESPECIALLY after catastrophic Super Bowl losses.

Another complaint I have about this subset is that there’s a lot of undesirables, cards of guys already overseas, out of pro hockey completely, or buried somewhere in the AHL. Aside from Marchand, there’s Antti Niemi, Matt Dushene, Evander Kane (though in a gross Thrashers jersey) and maybe a few others. And of course, probably the best card in the set:

Whenever I see this Tavares card I think of Dennis Duffy.

2009-10 Upper Deck Champ’s Hockey

My interest in collecting is in things unordinary; the strange, the interesting, the uncanny. Often these card sets are near misses, one-offs, or complete failures. Sprawling base sets are of little value to me. Even by these standards, this set is odd. There’s defunct teams represented here–Dino Ciccarelli in a North Stars jersey and Dale Hawerchuck in a Jets (it was 2009, the Thrashers still had two years left in Atlanta), but sadly, no Whalers or Nordiques–dinosaurs, arctic animals and fish, Wonders of the World that aren’t one of the actual seven, US Presidents, Canadian Prime Ministers.

Upper Deck released this during the 2009-10 season. There’s another Champ’s set from the season before which I’ll write about in the future. In this set, there’s 580 total cards, the first 100 are normal-sized of then-current and retired players, 96 mini rookies, 192 minis, and 192 of the things listed above. The mini cards are designed to look like old tobacco cards from the early 1900’s; essentially Champ’s is the Allen and Ginter of hockey. I’m only about halfway through collecting this set (though the majority of it are mini cards, there are only two in every five card pack) including almost all the mini rookies, so I still have a long way to go. And then there’s a mess of relic and autographed inserts as well.

And Timmy, if you went back to that mask, I could forgive you.