Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Steel Town

For the last 2 weeks I have been working as a background actor (we are not extras) in a movie called Steel Town. It stars alot of well known actors including Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight), Holly Hunter (The Firm), Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible), Rosie Perez (Untamed Heart) Viola Davis. I listed my favorite films these indivduals appeared in. Sorry Viola.

One comment that I would have to make would be about Maggie Gyllenhaal. Prior to me being part of this movie, I never thought of Maggie Gyllenhaal as anything special, however after seeing her in person. Wow! She is one person that the camera does not enhance. She is just incredible looking, very tall, long, well built and just amazing. She could walk into any nightclub in America and all eyes would turn from the other women to her.

Also, Ving Rhames is just an incredible actor and seems to be Shakespearian trained. He is just a commanding presence (though a lot shorter than he appears on camera -i.e. Tom Cruise.). Holly Hunter (incredibly fit), Rosie Perez (looking as she did almost 20 years ago in Untamed Heart and very hot in a blue dress), and Viola Davis seemed very very nice.

The shoot was not as pleasant but that is the reality of movie making. You are there for 8-12 hours for a 15 second to 2 minute scene shoot. No wonder movies take so long to make. It is very very hot because of all the lighting on the set and somewhat boring in between takes.  What I did not realize were that scenes are shot from many different angles thus causing the actors (including the background actors) to replay their scenes over and over again.

I also found it interesting that the assistant director does all the communicating with the actors and the director is more in the background. A shout out to Donald Sparks, the assistant director who had a great repore with the background actors and Daniel Barnz who seems kind of young to be a director.

The movie might not be everyone's cup of tea (it is about parents trying to get their kids into new elite charter school, giving them a better chance to succeed), i.e. no special effects, violence and bare naked ladies but it could be a feel good type of movie. I had a good time working, and urge everyone to go see Steel Town when it comes out (scheduled for 2012).  

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pete Mackanin #354

The awesomeness of this card is the Twins unifrom. There is so much going on here. You have the red caps with TC. The powder blue uniform with red numbering and lettering and you have that great patch on his shoulder. You also have the red white and blue on his shoulder sleeve. Plus the fact that he was a red white and blue batting glove while holding the bat. Also, check out the light tower in the back ground.
Finally, he obviously has something in between his cheek and gum. That face is bringing the intensity for this .226 lifetime batting average (as of the end of 1981) utility infielder.
Back Facts: Wound up the Twins No 1. second baseman down the September Stretch last year.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Panini Parallels vs. George Lucas's Star Wars

I have noticed a strikingly similarity between Panini Cards and Star Wars. Both take a concept and slightly vary it an infinite amount of times. For example, in 2010 Panini Threads football, the base cards had 6  (slighty) different parallel versions of itself. The insert Grid Iron Kings cards had 9 (slighty) different versions of itself. In some cases, the cards came in different colors, or with added materials or signatures or both.

In 1977, Star Wars came to the movie screens. I believe sometime in the late 1980s, it was remastered for better quality for the VHS tapes. In 1997, it was rereleased with additional footage. In 2004, there became a DVD version of the film. Sometime in the very near future in a galaxy close close by there will be a 3-D version of the film. There may have been other addtions (or parallel versions) that I can remember or don't know about.

But like Panini, George Lucas took his feature film and recolorized (different colors) it, added scenes (materials or signatures), 3-D it (materials and signatures) to give the public what it wants (or to milk a cow as much as he can or in Panini case, sell as many versions of a card that you can).

I have no doubt that the 3-D films will do well at the box office or some collector will try to buy all  nine versions of Steve Young Grid Iron King cards.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Scott Sanderson #288

A very tight shot of Sanderson that has interesting items in the background. To the left of Sanderson's head their appears to be a large building. To his right there appears to be an apartment building. This could be Wrigley field but I don't see ivy on the wall and probably think this is a spring training shot. The iconic Expos logo is all over this card.

Back Facts: Expos signed him off the Vanderbilt campus as thie No.3 pick in June '77 amateur draft.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ron Oester #500

It looks like Ron's batting helmet is just a little too big for his head. He kind of looks like a little leaguer. Ron was kind of a non descript player during his career, never really excelling at any particular facet of the game.

Back Facts: Had another solid season with the bat and will likely remain at 2B now that Dave Concepcion is returning as Reds shortstop.

The interesting thing about that statement on the back of the card, it seems to insinuate that Concepcion might have been leaving the Reds but came back.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

O.K. Topps Where is Justin Smoak's rc logo?

O.K., Justin Smoak came up last year with Seattle. However, he never made it into 2010 Topps Update and Highlight set. Should he have appeared in it? They way Topps has been designating rookie cards in the last few years appears to go this way. Players that come up in late August and September get a rookie card in the next years Series 1 set. Rookies that appear on opening day rosters appear in Series 2. Players that make their debut after opening day and to late August usually appear in the Updated Set. Smoak came up prior to late August last year so he should have appeared in the update set. He did not. Because he did not does that mean he does get a not rookie card logo. That does not make any sense. So now Smoak goes with any card being designated as his rookie card. Just because he did not appear in the update set does not mean he should not get the rookie card logo.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Damaso Gaarcia #479

Garcia was one of those Yankee prospects that actually panned out. The best thing about this card is the awesomeness of the Blue Jay uniform. The Blue Jays gave the Montreal Expos a run for best uniform from a Canadian team. I don't really like the blurred background but the shot shows a well proportioned Garcia.

Back Facts: Jays obtained him from Yankees with P Paul Mirabella and 1B Chris Chambliss 11/1/79 for C Rick Cerone amd P Tom Underwood

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nowitzki and the NBA Secret

Bill Simmons in his Book of Basketball wrote of something called the secret. I am not exactly sure what it was about but in the NBA there is a secret. The secret in the NBA is that about 10-15 players control all of the championships in the history of the NBA. The NBA is a little like Tennis where a very few dominant at a time.

Beginning in 1948-49 here are the names of those key players on the NBA Champions.

49 Mikan
50 Mikan
51 Risen
52 Mikan
53 Mikan
54 Mikan
55 Schayes
56 Arizin
57 Russell
58 Pettit
59 Russell
60 Russell
61 Russell
62 Russell
63 Russell
64 Russell
65 Russell
66 Russell
67 Chamberlain
68 Russell
69 Russell
70 Reed
71 Jabbar
72 Chamberlain
73 Reed
74 Cowens
75 Barry
76 Cowens
77 Walton
78 Hayes
79 Sikma
80 Jabbar/Magic
81 Bird
82 Jabbar/Magic
83 Erving/Malone
84 Bird
85 Jabbar/Magic
86 Bird
87 Jabbar/Magic
88 Jabbar/Magic
89 Thomas
90 Thomas
91 Jordan
92 Jordan
93 Jordan
94 Olajuwon
95 Olajuwon
96 Jordan
97 Jordan
98 Jordan
99 Duncan
00 Shaq/Kobe
01 Shaq/Kobe
02 Shaq/Kobe
03 Duncan
04 Billups
05 Duncan
06 Shaq/Wade
07 Duncan
08 Garnett
09 Kobe
10 Kobe
11 Nowitzki

These 14  players (Mikan, Russell, Chamberlain, Reed, Cowens, Jabbar, Magic, Bird, Thomas, Jordan, Olajuwon, Duncan, Kobe, Shaq  account for 51 of the 63 championships. There were 12 one player champion wonders with Billups, Garnett and Nowitzki coming in the last 10 years.  In all likely hood Dirk will be a one year wonder while I think Dwayne Wade will get another championship.  However, just getting your name on this list is great.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Carlton Fisk #20

Donruss DK card captures the smooth softball Chicago WS unis on this Carlton Fisk card. Just another great Diamond King card from probably the best DK set Donruss ever put out.

Back Facts: Fisk was the Red Sox No 1 pick in the June 1967 amateur draft.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Julio Valdez #560

With the Weiner scandal front and foremost, I believe Julio was in a big scandal of his own years ago. I think Julio was caught with an underage girl. A quick check of the internet reveals that On July 14, 1983 - Charges of statutory rape that had been filed against Julio Valdez, a seldom-used infielder for the Red Sox, were dropped yesterday. Hey well at least he did not go to jail.  This is a kind of odd shot of him posing for the camera. It is hard to say what his expression is on his face, is it a smile, grimaces, shock - I don't know what it is. He is holding his bat on his left shoulder as he was a switch hitter. I remember him as being one of the few Red Sox players who were fast back in the day (though he hardly played).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Scott McGregor #331

This is an O.K. shot with McGregor in his pitching motion. I wished the back ground was not out of focus as it is. Nice shot of McGregor shoes.

Back Facts: Orioles obtained him 6/15/76 in 10-player trade with the Yankees.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Billy Sample #69

This appears to be a shot of Sample leaving the batters box just after hitting the ball. I am trying to figure out which team is sitting in the dugout and I want to say it is the White Sox and this photo may be a shot from a regular season game and not a spring training game. I think Billy Sample was the announcer for the Atlanta Braves for a few years on TBS after he retired

Back Facts: In three minor league seasons in Rangers chain hit .382, .348 and .352 to win quick promotion to majors

I love this card Man - Contest over at Chronicles of Fuji

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Night Owls Card Back Countdown - My Analysis and My Predictions

There are only 2 sets left in Night Owls Card  Back Countdown. He has picked card backs for Topps sets 25 positions out of the 48 picked so far. Of those 25 sets, 21 have been prior to 1982. Night Owl has kept to mostly the main stream sets. Besides Topps, He has had Upper Deck, Score, Donruss, Fleer and Bowman on his Top 50 list 11 times. He has gone outside the box on a few occasions (including SSPC Yankees' 1978, 1953 Johnston Cookies, 1911 T205).

His oddest picks - He has 2 Skybox sets from 1999 (Thunder and Premuim). I have to admit I liked Thunder more than any other sets that year for Baseball and Basketball and I was hardly collecting at the time.

He has kept away from the Premuim (the super expensive set - 1993 Leaf, 1992 Pinnacle, 1991 Studio don't count).

My Predictions: He will pick one set pre-1982 and one set post 1982. One of the Top 2 sets will be Topps and another a non-Topps set.

I have not seen the backs all of the baseball sets but I have seen most prior to 1992. There were more main stream Baseball sets made in 2004 than probably from 1952-1985 combined. Thus, it is very unlikely that he is going to pick like a Topps Tribute or UD Black etc... He is going to pick something that most people have seen so he is not going to pick oddball either.

The prediction I am most confident about - 1994 Collector's Choice Baseball. I did not collect this set (I did collect the FB set) and have not seen all the cards but I have seen some (the football set was outstanding and I hate Upper Deck). It had a great photo, full stats and write ups on the back and it is the first set that pops into my mind on great card back sets. This will be number 1.

My second prediction is tougher to pick. I am going with 1959 Topps it has all the great things in a card back. I did not go back and reread all of his post so if he eliminated this set or addressed it, I can't remember. But based on all the sets remaining, after looking at the card back this one stands out the most. This is pick number 2

Longshots - 1987 Fleer, (loved the new stats look); 2008 Topps (there is something about this set I cant explain but maybe too similar to 1992 Topps), 1975 Topps (his other blog - too obvious - a little hard to read the backs).

Side Notes: Football Card backs that were great - 1971 Topps (it had longest write-ups or most words written on any set that I have ever seen), 1991 Bowman (also huge write-ups on the back) and 1994 CC above.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dale Murphy #299

Just an awesome shot of Murphy who would become the best player in baseball the next 2 years. This is just a nice tight close upper torso shot of Murphy in a batting pose. The powder blue of the Atlanta Braves uniform really stands out. I really like baseball cards of hitters who pose for their card in their batting stance. It makes the card feel more intimate to the collector.  I am not sure if the background is Wrigley Field or if this is a spring training shot.

Back Facts: Hit 3 HR in one game 5/18/79.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jim Slaton #80

A decent posed pre game shot of Slaton. I am not exactly sure what Stadium this was taken in. For some reason the blue in the Brewers uniform really stands out on this card. The green field, red seats and Brewer colors kind of make an odd color scheme on this card. Slaton was kind of a non descript best pitcher on those Big Hitting Brewers teams of the late 1970s.

Back Facts: Injured his are in near freezing weather at Toronto 4/16/80

Friday, June 3, 2011

Why Bowman Steven Strasberg and Bryce Harper are the best thing to happen to baseball cards since the 1980s.

In the early to mid 1980s, you could buy a pack of baseball cards for 30 cents and pull out a $3-5 rookie card of a Wade Boggs or Don Mattingly. It was around this time from 1983 to 1985, the actual value of baseball cards was worth more to the collector than the actual cost of buying them.

At that time you could spend 30-35 cents on a pack of cards and after you open the pack, the cards you had were actually were worth more than what you just spent. It was an unbelievable time. There were a couple of factors for this, In 1983-85, the economy was growing again, the demand for card was equal or exceeds the supply, and the beginning proliferation of price guides.

After card manufacturers realized that the cards they were selling were increasing in value after they sold them they began to find ways to try to cash in on that value. The first thing that they did was overproduce the cards. This over production actually over time made cards from 1986 to 1992 or so virtually worthless. It also began to drive down the prices for cards from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. As people spent more on todays cards they had less money to spend on older cards.

The second thing that the card manufacturers did was create the premuim card. In 1989 Upper Deck changed (ruined?) the hobby forever, by producing a card that cost more. This began the unfortunate trend of the actual value of the card becoming much less than the cost. The collector paid a $1.00 for a pack of cards that usually yielded a value of cards much less. This was alot different than the early to mid 80s.

This trend has continued for the last 20 years where you now have card companies selling $100 dollar packs that yield a $3 jersey card. The actual value of the card is mostly absorbed by the card company with the collector getting something relatively worthless to what was paid for.   

However, to a certain degee Harper and Strasberg changed that with Bowman. It probably is not like it was in the early 1980s but it is as close as anything since then. 2010 Bowman was flying off the shelf and Collectors who pulled a Strasberg chrome or regular card say from a $19.99 blaster were holding cards that were actually worth more than what they just paid for. (Obviously not every Blaster contained a Strasberg) This shot up the demand for all Bowman cards in general and with the help of ebay and the media it put a light on the hobby that the hobby has not seen in years(since the early to mid 1980s). It appears this is happening again with 2011 Bowman Bryce Harper cards.  The demand for his card has shot up, making Bowman hot again, also giving collectors more value for what they paid for the cards. In turn, ebay listing have shot up for his cards which could eventually attract media attention, which then could create more demand for the cards.

Topps has done its best to try to ruin Bowman by creating more sets to put Harper rookie cards in (Topps Marquee - Why on earth does this set exist other than Topps attempt to dilute and flood the market with Harper cards i.e over production or high cost premium).  

I feel for the first time in years I could go into a store and buy a pack(or Blaster of baseball cards) of Bowman and feel I got my values worth.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Moose #206

The Moose is Loose. This is an odd side shot of Moose. This is one of the few cards where some one's hand figures prominantely in the photo. It is exactly in the cente of the photo. At least that it is his pitching hand. Nice 70's shaggy haircut.

Back Facts: Struck out 14 Yankees 4/12/78 to set a club record.