Saturday, September 15, 2018

2018 Michigan gameday #3: vs. SMU

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Never forget

Three weeks, three different start times.  After kicking off at 7:30 (closer to 8, really) and noon, #19 Michigan (1-1) will start their matchup with 0-2 Southern Methodist at 3:30 EST this afternoon on BTN.

The Wolverines enjoyed a much-needed rout of week 2 opponent Western Michigan last week, and they'll look to repeat that success against another overmatched opponent in the Mustangs.  Michigan was in control on both sides of the ball, piling up big yards on the ground with some nice passing to boot, plus a shutout until late into the fourth quarter.  Plenty of backups got some valuable experience including a nice look at the future of the offensive line.

While that game and this week's contest won't say much about how the team will perform come conference play time, it was nice to see the team bounce back from a tough week one loss and play to their ability against a lesser team.

So I'll be looking for Michigan to build up another big lead and start emptying the bench as soon as possible in one last tune-up before the looming Big Ten season.  Get the starters some more confidence, let the backups get some PT, and get the guys out of there healthy and ready for Nebraska and more.  And, you know, maybe light up the scoreboard too!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

2018 Michigan gameday #2: vs. Western Michigan

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After a loss to Notre Dame in a game that didn't quite go according to plan, the 0-1 Wolverines (#21) return to Ann Arbor for the home opener against the Western Michigan Broncos, who also lost last week.
And home is certainly a nice place to be.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago I got to tour the stadium (suites, press box, locker room, and field) for a work team-building event, and I had a total blast.  This display of one of Bo's most famous quotes sits just outside of the visiting locker room, and it's a great reminder that players and fans shouldn't jump ship after one setback.
Players are reminded of Bo's other legendary speech about "The team, the team, the team!" as they make their way down the tunnel between the locker room and field each week.  No one person was responsible for the loss last week, and it'll take more than one to get back into the "W" column today.
Here I am taking a leisurely selfie in the end zone, a place I hope the Wolverines frequent today after some offensive struggles last week.

The Broncos are an interesting opponent for me because of some recent games.  The 2011 matchup stands out due to Brandon Herron's singular defensive performance--he returned both a fumble and interception for touchdowns--plus the teams agreeing to end the game early due to weather.

But more notable for me was the meeting in 2001 that was to open the season.  I was a freshman in the first couple weeks of my initial semester in Ann Arbor when 9/11 occurred, and was then able to attend the opener, which was naturally pushed back, for my first game as a student.  Needless to say the singing of the anthem was a very emotional experience.

Back to the present, today's game will kick off around noon EST on FS1 (because why not) and the Wolverines will look to quiet the critics and skeptics on a day where we'll get a taste of the fall (e.g. "football") weather to come--it's not supposed to crack 70 degrees today!  I'll join the rest of the fanbase in hoping that we get to see a lot of backups get good experience today in an easy win, but for now the "win" part is the most important.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

2018 Michigan gameday #1: at Notre Dame

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This angry purple man will be on the sidelines tonight as he leads his #12 Notre Dame squad against the visiting #14 Wolverines.  The on again/off again rivals last played in 2014, at which point the Irish dickishly cancelled the series (which stands at 24-16-1 in favor of Michigan).  On the line, as usual, are bragging rights, playoff implications, and the all-time winning percentage record.
Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson is the new QB, one who will hopefully return the position to some semblance of competency after last year's sub-par play due to injury and ineffectiveness.  Despite losing #1 WR Tarik Black for an unknown period of time this looks like an offense that could be more balanced than it's been in a while, with multiple talented WRs and TEs to go with a the two-headed RB group of Karan Higdon and Chris Evans.  The biggest question mark remains the offensive line, though a coaching change and simplified scheme could alleviate some of last year's issues.
Meanwhile the defense will once again be the strength of this team.  Former #1 overall recruit Rashan Gary returns to a D-Line that will be downright scary with its skill and depth.  The linebackers look quite good with Viper Khaleke Hudson back to build on his excellent 2017.  And David Long and Lavert Hill form one of the best CB duos in the country after a season that surprisingly earned them less notice than you would have thought.  All of this adds up to another top-5 defense that should keep Michigan in games as the offense finds their groove.
With rain in the forecast will we see one of the ugly games caused by poor weather in the series, or an instant classic like 1991 (above) and 2011, the amazing comeback "Under the Lights"?  Tune in to the Notre Dame Broadcasting Company (NBC) at 7:30 EST to find out.  You all know who I'll be rooting for!


Friday, August 31, 2018

2018 Sportlots purchases: WRs received

At long last we've reached the final post in this most recent Sportlots series (except for one remaining on TMV) on the eve of Michigan's season opener.

Today's big finish stars four of the better receivers to pass through Ann Arbor.  This quartet produced 81 TD catches while adding three rushing scores and five from returns.  Let's get right down to it:

Possession receiver Jason Avant (2002-05) was a solid veteran presence with generally reliable hands, accounting for 13 TDs over his four years including eight his senior year.
This sextet is great for collectors like me as it's all college uni content!  The top row comprises base cards from 2006 Press Pass as well as its Legends and SE spinoffs.  Meanwhile, the ones on the bottom hail from that year's SAGE products:  base cards from Aspire and HIT plus a Design for Success Blue parallel insert from the latter.  The Legends and base HIT cards are my favorite and the latter is another example of how good the brand's design was until the end of that decade.

Receiver and return man Steve Breaston, a contemporary of Avant's (2003-06) was an electric presence the moment he hit the field of the Big House.  The athletic WR accumulated 10 TD receptions and two more on the ground (both coming his freshman year) while adding four on punt returns and one more on a kickoff.
I was glad to turn up a few college cards of Breaston as well, with a 2007 quartet of SAGE HIT (another fantastic design, probably my favorite) plus Chrome Black and Bronze parallels from 2007 Topps Draft, not to mention a largely covered up home uniform on an Ultra Fresh Faces insert.  A 2008 Select card parallels the base Score version I already had, and that proceeds a pair of '09s--Donruss Classics and SP Signature--and 2010s--Certified and Playoff Contenders.  Lots of fun designs there.
This last group of his cards brings a shiny 2011 Panini-branded trio courtesy of Absolute's fun hobby version and a Spectrum Red parallel plus a base from Certified.  His day ends with a Certified repeat in 2012 plus that year's Gridiron card that stars a great action photo on a horizontal design.  Is a leg supposed to bend that way?!

Guy who formerly wore #1 Braylon Edwards (2001-04) is certainly well known around these parts as one of my larger Michigan PCs, and he features even more prominently in the program's record books:

  • #1 in career receptions (252, with Marquise Walker second at 176), catches in a season (also #4 and tied for 10th), career receiving yards, and TD catches in a career
  • #4, tied for 5th, and tied for 8th (twice) in catches in a game
  • #2 (plus 5th and tied for 10th) in receiving yards in a season
  • #2 in TDs in one season with 15 in 2004, second only to Desmond Howard's 19 during his Heisman-winning '91 campaign
So it's no surprise that the guy that scored 39 collegiate TDs is the most well represented today:

Lots of designs and brands I like here.  The first eight are from 2006 and they include some lookers, especially Absolute Memorabilia (hobby version again) and Flair Showcase plus solid designs like Prestige and Upper Deck.  Donruss' Classics represents both years in typical form.
Some more '07s start this scan with repeats of the first out of Finest, Leaf Certified Materials, and Prestige joined by Upper Deck's basic SP Authentic look.  Then the 2008 stuff begins with a reprise of Finest and Prestige paired with the shininess of Leaf Limited and Score Select.  And the retail Absolute card you see down the middle is a dupe that I believe was a throw-in, unless it was sent by a confused seller who didn't have the better version.
One of Braylon's two appearances (he shares a second card with Tom Brady) finishes up 2008, and 2009 base from Certified and Finest (yep, they're both back again!) follow shortly thereafter.  Skipping another Absolute dupe we get a pair of Michigan uni cards from a couple college-friendly 2010 Upper Deck products:  SP Authentic and SPx.  Those remind me that I should do more to track down Press Pass and SAGE-type stuff of his from 2005.
The last group begins with Topps' decent 2010 follow-up to its outstanding, and the verticals conclude with a 2011 trio of previously seen brands:  Certified, Finest, and Prestige.  Then there's a pair of cards turned 90 degrees:  2011 Threads and 2009 Contenders (not sure why that ended up second).  All of these add up to a very productive day for the outspoken receiver.

One of Edwards' predecessors to wear the coveted #1 jersey, David Terrell (1998-2000), is also featured in the team's record books.  Despite leaving a year early he ranks in the top 10 in just about all of the relevant WR categories, and his 13 scores his junior year garnered him a first round selection in the 2001 draft.
Nobody ended up with more maize & blue cards than Terrell, who gets the benefit of a full page of these!  Press Pass and its PE spinoff are responsible for the first eight, with an early version of the Big Numbers insert and the shiny Showbound set being highlights.  Those die-cut Breakout cards are pretty cool too, and Terrell was good enough to get a second appearance by headlining the checklist.  How many checklists have you ever seen that look like that?
Pretty much the rest of what you see will be a callback to Anthony Thomas's haul from the other day, which makes sense since they were drafted together and appeared in many common products.  In this scan the first eight are all repeats from A-Train's bunch, with 2002 Stadium Club and Topps Gallery serving as highlights.  The '02 Ultra card represents the only brand from that year you didn't see on Wednesday.
More of the same here, but in a good way!  The six verticals, led by strong looks from Gridiron Kings and Topps Draft, were all seen in Thomas form as well, not to mention the first two horizontals--2002 Heritage and '03 Upper Deck.  UD's 2005 version also didn't make it into Thomas's portion of the post the other day because I didn't end up tracking down his base card.

Three scans worth was enough to make Terrell today's milestone guy, getting him over the 100-card hump to 114, meaning he finally caught up to the frequently linked Thomas in achieving that feat.

It was a great run but soon it'll be time for bigger and better things include a trade package, eBay pickup, and hopefully card show loot.  And more importantly tomorrow will be Michigan game day #1!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

2018 Sportlots purchases: running it back

We're now less than three days from kickoff for Michigan's season-opener, and I have two posts left to cover, so hopefully I'll get the last one up on Friday.

Today we'll be looking at two of the greatest running backs in the program's history.  Teammates in 2000, their names fill the pages of Michigan's record books while their cards fill up a couple of my player collection albums.

First up alphabetically but second chronologically (2000-2003) is Heisman finalist Chris Perry.  Perry is in the program's top 10 for career rushing yards and running TDs plus single-season rushing scores, and #5 in terms of yards gained in a season.
This first scan begins with a nice bunch of Michigan uni cards from 2004 Press Pass and Press Pass SE.  Those include a base card from each product plus one or two parallels.  Then the rest of the group is 100% Topps brands from 2005:  Bowman Chrome, Heritage, Total, and Turkey Red.  I like the throwback flavor of the Heritage best out of that group.
From this point everything else is from his four-year tenure with the Bengals.  A 2005 Ultra base and Gold Medallion from the same brand's '06 version bookend four other 2006 cards:  Select, Topps Draft, and Heritage and Turkey Red once again, with Heritage getting another nice look.  '07 is represented by Topps and its green-for-some-reason Total product.  I busted a box of '07 flagship way back when I started TMV (TMG at the time!) but never ended up with enough to complete the set and decided to break them up while being short a few Wolverines.  A shiny Leaf Limited from '08 is the last of this bunch.
This last group is all '08 items produced during Perry's final NFL campaign.  The top is a Leaf Rookies and Stars/Longevity pair, and that's followed up by a nice Playoff Contenders design and interesting throwback look from Topps Mayo.

That's 22 new cards of Perry, pushing his collection over the century mark to 109.

The second and final player today is the A-Train, Anthony Thomas (1997-2000), a national champ who left Ann Arbor tops in career rushing yards (since eclipsed by Mike Hart and Denard Robinson).  He still owns the second best single-season rushing yardage and career running scores at the school along with a top 10 total of rush TDs in a season.
Thomas' haul also starts out with some college photo cards courtesy of Press Pass and SE: one base and parallel each from 2001.  I didn't track down any new RCs of his but did scare up a Topps Collection factory set card from the same year.  Then there's a very nice start to 2002 with Absolute Memorabilia, Bowman Chrome, Finest, and Flair.
And we're not nearly done with '02 yet!  This whole scan spans some of that year's offerings, starting with another Fleer pair, Genuine and Premium.  Check out A-Train making a big cut!  Following the only example of Pacific in this post are three fun pairs.  From the Playoff name come Contenders and Prestige; Topps offers more outstanding designs from Stadium Club and Gallery; and Upper Deck brings the hits from its flagship and XL sets.  You won't hear me say this about baseball stuff nowadays, but for 2002 football give me those Topps sets all day!
And now we move on to 2003 and some repeat offenders:  Absolute Memorabilia, Bowman Chrome, Prestige, and Upper Deck.  But joining those are a nice mix of other brands:  Donruss Classics, Gridiron Kings, Fleer Showcase, Leaf Certified Materials, and Topps Draft.  As always I love the canvas look of Gridiron Kings, and the '03 and '04 Topps Draft designs are my favorites of that product.
Diving into '04 are five brands we've already seen plus a new one.  Bowman Chrome, Classics, LCM, Topps Draft, and UD make triumphant returns but are joined by Ultra.  I'm hard pressed to choose between the '03 and '04 Topps Draft designs, but fortunately I don't have to!
This scan combines the last of the verticals and a pair of landscape cards I found.  The former are all what Doug would call "Bills!  Bills!  Bills!", cards produced in 2007 during his second year in Buffalo that would be his NFL swan song.  Leaf Certified Materials, Topps Total (gold parallel) and UD are joined by a very color coordinated SPx base.  Then we take it all the way back to 2002 for Topps Heritage and '03 for Topps' All American.  Both are great callbacks, especially the latter which reminds me of some of my favorite vintage cards like this one:
Bring back those crazy logos!

The A-Train's trip to Sportlots station added 40 new cards to his collection, a productive stop that puts him at a new total of 140.

Just one post left to go now, one that'll feature four different players!

Monday, August 20, 2018

2018 Sportlots purchases: QB club

Check me out getting all motivated to get these posts done!  Today we're going to look at new additions for two of the five QBs in my PCs:
#1 is national champ and solid NFL journeyman Brian Griese.  Because his career lasted as long as it did he has a lot to choose from, and I'd say I did well in taking advantage of that.  The top three cards here are from '99 including a very cool Absolute SSD offering and base from Fleer Focus and Paramount.  2000 Upgrades on those with excellent designs by the likes of Bowman's Best, Finest, Focus again, and Fleer's Showcase, plus another Fleer product in Mystique and a solid Pacific look.
Here we finish off 2000 with another Paramount example and then the first of a couple instances of Topps Gallery, which I really went hard after in terms of cards for both blogs this time.  Then the entire batch of 2001 stuff you see is quite nice:  Absolute Memorabilia, a pair of Bowman's Bests (including one that co-stars Rams legend Kurt Warner), Bowman Chrome, Donruss Classics, Finest, and Fleer Showcase again.  For my money Bowman's Best killed it in the design department between 2000 and 2005, especially in their football product.  And Showcase was great in that it consistently looked outstanding even while really changing up its look from year to year.
The first five here finish off the 2001 run.  We start with my favorite flagship Pacific design, a decent Playoff Contenders look, the second and final iteration of the amazing blue Quantum Leaf, another great Stadium Club look, and typically good photography from Upper Deck.  Then 2002 begins with a few repeats from the previous year:  Absolute, Bowman's Best, Classics, and Finest.  Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!  I love being able to get pieces of these excellent sets starring my favorite players--just one of the many rewarding aspects of PCing!
2002 proved to be a bumper crop of Grieses for me this time, leading all years seen here with 14 cards; 2001 was second with 12.  Everything you see here continues '02, and there's lots to like.  Fleer gets back in the game with Flair, Premium, and Ultra.  Those are joined by standalones from Leaf Certified and Pacific.  Playoff is represented twice with a couple of my favorite brands, Contenders and Prestige.  And Topps scores a pair of huge completions in Stadium Club and Gallery.
2002 completes its triumphant run with base cards from Upper Deck plus its gridiron answer to baseball's 40-Man, called XL.  For some reason I scanned the latter after card #1 for 2003, which hails from Absolute Memorabilia once again.  A very strong group follows with possibly my favorite Bowman's Best design of the few you saw today, Donruss' classics and Gridiron Kings--the well done football equivalent to the Diamond version--plus Playoff Prestige and Topps Draft.  I say it every time I post one of these cards but I sure do miss Topps Draft!  We then have to skip 2004 because Griese appeared on very few cards that year, but at least I cam up with a solid start for 2004 thanks to Donruss Classics again.
Speaking of 2005 we can mostly close out the verticals with Topps Heritage, Ultra, and Upper Deck, completing a quartet of Bucs cardboard.  Topps Heritage makes one more appearance thanks to a 2006 base with Griese pictured as a member of the Bears.  Another Topps throwback product, 2003 All American, makes up half of the horizontal haul, with 2004 Upper Deck bridging the gap between Griese's Dolphins/Bucs runs.

In all I was able to add 51 new cards for a new total of 175 Brian Griese cards, a very healthy new count!
Of course Denard Robinson's five new cards pale in comparison, but three of them do have that Michigan uniform factor going for them!  All of them are from his 2013 rookie season, with #1 being a Bowman Black parallel (which, unfortunately, had to use an airbrushed photo).  The other two come from the Upper Deck-owned Fleer Retro product which inserted throwback versions of several past Fleer brands.  The Metal Universe card honors that product's 1997 design while the Ultra card is a callback to 1991.  In each case the design honored was the debut for the product, something I'm sure was done on purpose.

Besides that fun trio I added a couple slightly newer pieces.  One is a very foil-y/shiny Certified card from 2015 and the other is a typically nice look from Panini's 2016 Prestige.  Along with the 2013 offerings they give me a new total of 90 Shoelace cards, giving me some easy motivation to chase another milestone.

Just two more posts left, which I hope to get done soon!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

2018 Sportlots purchases: hosers, not posers

The NHL season may still be weeks away but as far as I'm concerned it's never a bad time to pick up PC cards from that sport.  Via Sportlots I hit three of my favorite collections and have a nice bunch of stuff to show off, but since I figure this won't be the most popular post in the series it's gonna be more "show" than "tell".

So let's chill with some icers:
Young WolverWing star and potential future captain Dylan Larkin, who just re-upped with Detroit for five seasons, is my smallest hockey PC for now since a lot of his stuff isn't affordable, but I did land this group of six Upper Deck-branded issues, two from 2016-17 and the rest from 2017-18.  My favorite from the bunch is card #2, a 2016-17 Upper Deck ice base, which you can easily tell from the scan is translucent.  These give me a new Larkin count of 19.
Next, I got five scans' worth of blog favorite C Brendan Morrison.  My main focus here was brands I knew I liked from Pacific, Topps, and Upper Deck.  This bunch from 1998-99 to 2000-01 includes some lookers, especially Black Diamond, Topps Gold Label, and SPx.
More of the same kind of fun here, ranging from 2002-03 to 2006-07.  The Stadium Club cards (including a Silver Decoy parallel) are cool as they include a cameo from fellow Wolverine Mike Comrie.  I'd love to find more cards with multiple Michigan Hockey alumni on them.  Pacific makes a few nice appearances, especially the always fun Invincible, and Ultra also makes the first of a bunch of appearances.
Here we finish up the verticals with a span of 2005-06 to 2010-11 that's 100% Ultra and UD.  Maybe they're nothing exciting but each has a solid basic design from a brand I respect.
The first of two horizontal scans begins with 1998-99 and ends with 2002-03.  The former is repped by a pair of Pacific brands plus SPx Finite, the 100% numbered set.  Pacific, UD, and a Topps Heritage offering with the "TV" design close out the group.
We'll end this group on a 100% UD run from 2002-03 to 2006-07.  That first Upper Deck card could just as easily be a Stadium Club design.  UD's Vintage and SPx bookend a couple more flagship sets for the brand.  In all I jumped Morrison's PC to 82 cards.
And last up is my other original hockey favorite, goalie Marty Turco.  While largely sticking with the same brands as those seen in Morrison's scans, I scared up another five images of new additions.  These open up with a new RC from 2000-01 Topps Stars and then zip all the way through 2004-05.  There's also some nice example of Pacific, Topps, and UD brands in there, including Stadium Club and Invincible!
Here's an all Ultra/UD scan for Turco ranging from 2005-06 to 2009-10.  My favorite is the Flair Showcase card from '06-'07, keeping the Fleer name that was then owned by Upper Deck.  By the way, with the Ultras grouped together like this it's fun to see how consistent they were with the scripting of the last names.
Here the last few verticals were mixed in with the first of the horizontals, the latter of which tend to do goalies more justice with some great photos.  The former include a 2009-10 UD product and two more from 2010-11, plus Certified from the same year.

And then the x-axis cards begin their show with a trio of Pacifics from 2001-02 and '02-'03, including a very cool die-cut Atomic base, then Topps Chrome and the TV set Heritage design from that latter year.  I totally need to get the Refractor version of that Chrome card.
Here a quartet of Upper Deck cards (three flagship and one Vintage) made from 2002-04 bookend a couple great crease photos from 2003-04 Be-a-Player Memorabilia and In the Game Action.  And a lot of great game action is exactly what we get, though what exactly is going on in that first image from UD?
From this point on it's all Upper Deck and cards made between 2005-06 and 2007-08.  The first one you see is from a product called Power Play while the third and fifth are from the ever shiny SPx.  Meanwhile, three flagship cards run along the right column, and they hail from consecutive years, which is pretty cool.

Even more so than for Morrison this purchase was productive when it came to my Turco collection which finally broke through the century mark milestone to a lofty total of 112.  Too many Turcos?  Nope!

Stay tuned for three more football posts done up by position groups, hopefully before the season starts!