Cheese Puffs with Phoebe Cates

As I put more years behind me, I know I have experienced a metamorphosis both physically and mentally. The physical part hasn’t been so great, as I am about 50 lbs. heavier than I was as a senior in high school. There has been a steady increase in that category since age 30 at a rate of about 5 lbs. per year. I have gone from being able to eat a full box of oatmeal crème pies to only being able to eat one a week if I want to keep from feeling terrible about my choices. I also know that my hair has thinned on my head and the hair in my beard has gotten progressively grayer over the last few years. My face is starting to show more lines (I like to call it character) and my back just can’t handle the rigors of basketball and softball like the days of yore.

From a mental standpoint, the changes can sometimes seem less dramatic but I know that they are just as prevalent. For one, I do seem to worry less about things that are out of my control. I have more perspective now than I did when I was a spry young adult. I also don’t get so wrapped up in some of the nuances that life can challenge you with and try to focus more on the important stuff. That is a work in progress but I know that I am on more solid ground at 40. I have a better idea of what is important to me and my family at this age and don’t have as much time for the less important stuff. I have also seen and heard a lot over my life so I’m not as naïve or surprised by things anymore. That doesn’t mean that wild moments don’t exist; it just means that I am less surprised or shocked by them now. I think all of that is a part of maturing mentally.

But one of the key downsides to aging for your mental state is that your memories start to slip. Part of that is age but part of that is today’s society as well. We live in an age where we need to be entertained 24/7 or we get bored and want to pull our hair out. Because we have sensory (and information) overload from Twitter, FaceBook, or any of the other “have it now” tools, we move from one highlight to the next and don’t really take in the full experience anymore. This has a way of affecting the way we remember things, as moments are less of what we create and more of what is created for us. I know, I’m not a fancy psychologist or anything but I promise I am going somewhere with this.

Take for instance, movies. When I was a kid, the only way to see a movie was to go to the theater, get your parents to take you to the video store or catch it when it was on TV. Every time I bring up “video store”, I shed a lone tear in memoriam. So when you watched a movie, you have this experience of going to the video store, scouring the shelves, reading the back of cases and checking it out. You then had one or two days to watch the movie and get it back to the store before you were charged more money. So that meant you would grab a snack, turn the lights down and actually watch a movie from start to finish. It was a movie watching experience and it created memories; even if they are now just anecdotal callbacks to your youth.

Now, we pop on Netflix or our phones and watch a movie over a several day span when the mood strikes us. Or we’ll watch a 15 episode season in one night, which has a way of diluting the event as well. It isn’t about the movie or show anymore as much as it is about filling time or being someone who also saw the hot thing that every one is talking about on Twitter. There are spoilers now. And if you don’t want the spoiler, stay off social media or you will be berated for not seeing it yet. And by being subjected to the spoiler, you would have somehow gotten what you deserved. It’s about being first to see it and having the most sensible fan theory or whatever the kids are calling it now.

This is just an example of a bigger issue. This could be expanded to music, politics, sports and yes, even hobbies. We have forgotten what life was like when we had to appreciate the little things. We have forgotten the little things altogether. Maybe those things didn’t mean as much as we thought. Or maybe we have overrated things today. Either way, we have forgotten the small things and only remembered the major songs, movies, foods and toys from our youth. But there was more! Believe me when I say that “Saved by the Bell” wasn’t the only Saturday morning teen show on the tube. And “Tecmo Super Bowl”, “Super Mario” and “Contra” weren’t the only video games we played. And “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” aren’t the only horror movies the 80’s had to offer!

With that outline in place, and by keeping the context of this blog post light and fluffy, let’s look at some of the things that have been lapped by other pop culture icons but were still great when they were around. Then, strangely enough, this will tie into baseball cards. Because in the end, isn’t that what this is all about anyway? Consider this a list of forgotten/underrated/overlooked favorites according to Dub. I’m here to bring awareness to the masses.

Minute Maid Juice Bars
Everybody my age remembers the bomb pop and the push up and pop-ice that we had as kids. But why have we forgotten about the Minute Maid Juice Bars? These were magical small frozen treats that were fruity delicious and they were available at all of my school snack bars. The tops were oddly shaped triangles that morphed into a different facing triangle at the bottom. Does that make sense? You show me someone who didn’t like those and I’ll show you someone who is living life wrong. They are still around but I showed them to my daughter the last time we were at Publix and she thought I was nuts. We have to make the Minute Maid Juice Bar great again but I think the hashtag #MMMJBGA would be too cumbersome!

Cheese Puffs
While we are at it, let’s bring back another classic snack that is grossly underrated today; the Cheese Puff! I personally am a fan of any cheese puff but my friend CJ swears by the local grocery store brand puff. He doesn’t like frills in his cheese puffs. He just wants air and cheese! You can have your Doritos and Ruffles and I’ll take the Cheese Puffs all day. Again, they still make them and they are popular in pockets but they are definitely more of a kid snack. That doesn’t have to be the case anymore!

Silver Bullet
I have spoken about “Silver Bullet” before in one of my articles about 1985 Fleer. What’s not to love about this 80’s horror movie? It was a Stephen King adaptation that starred Gary Busey and Corey Haim and was about a preacher that turned into a werewolf. I mean, that sounds like pure gold to me. There is even a part in the film where they are playing poker and using baseball cards as cash; “You can’t bet managers.” This one does not get mentioned with some of the greats from the 80’s because we had to make room for all the new crap we are watching, like “Annabelle”. Chucky would run circles around “Annabelle” by the way.

Halloween III
This one is more about being underrated than forgotten. I have even been a critic of the film but only in the context that it was in the middle of the Halloween franchise. Had this been a standalone film that was never associated with the Michael Myers line of films, this would have gotten much more praise. The film is really quite good for a mid 80’s horror flick but when it didn’t have Myers, fans wrote it off. It is only remembered now as a movie that was drastically out of place.

Maximum Overdrive/Who Made Who
Here is where we cross over from movies to music and the segue couldn’t be more perfect. “Maximum Overdrive” was another Stephen King adaptation that starred Emilio Estevez. Electronics came to life, cars drove themselves and lawn mowers attacked their owners. All of this was to the soundtrack of AC/DC! One of the theme songs in the movie was “Who Made Who” and is one of their best in my mind. They will always be remembered for “Hells Bells”, “Shook Me All Night Long” and “Thunderstruck” but damnit, “Who Made Who” is a great song and should get more recognition when AC/DC comes up in conversation today. I’m betting 9 out of 10 hipsters that wear AC/DC Retro Shirts today don’t know that song.

I’m talking about the band, not the liquor. People know about Green Day or Gin Blossoms or Bush but how many of those people name Everclear as an influential band from the 90’s? I know you have heard the song “Santa Monica” but you have probably heard a laundry list of their other songs and didn’t even know it was them. They pumped out gems like “Father of Mine”, “Wonderful”, “Everything to Everyone” and “Learning How to Smile” and we aren’t even scratching the surface here. Kids today think they know what music is but if you don’t have Everclear in your catalogue (on iTunes) then you really are missing a major contributor to the 90’s garage band scene.

California Dreams
How many of you remember this gem? Not enough, because “Saved By The Bell” has taken over your memories and that is the only high school teen show you have room for anymore. This was also about a group of teenagers but this group formed a band that would have slaughtered Zack Morris’ “Friends Forever” routine. Granted, it was not as good as SBTB and Kelly Packard was no Kelly Kapowski but it deserves to have its place in our memories!

You Can’t Do That On Television
Before Nickelodeon went full on bore-fest with Dora, iCarly and Victorious, they were pumping out quality programming that included Ren & Stimpy, Double Dare and Mr. Wizard. One of the best shows in my memory though is “You Can’t Do That On Television”. This was a teenage sketch comedy that originally aired in Canada before moving to a more international audience. This is where slime was created. This was also where we were first introduced to Alanis Morisette and Christine “Moose” McGlade. It was funny, irreverent and corny at times but I really miss that show.

StarTropics was one of the most underrated and thus forgotten NES games of my youth. It was a strategy game very much like Legend of Zelda but was based on archaeology, science, space and oceanography. We’re talking extraterrestrials, speaking parrots and singing dolphins here. The game even came with a physical letter that you had to dip in water to reveal a code to continue gameplay when prompted. The only downside of the game is that it was before the internet so when I lost that letter, I couldn’t play it a second time through because none of my friends had the game and there was nowhere to go to find that code again. You could also throw RC Pro Am and ExciteBike as forgotten gems from my youth as well.

Barbara Crampton
As a teen, I liked horror movies and I liked chicks! And one of the hottest horror movie chicks ever was Barbara Crampton. She was famous for “Re-Animator” but was in others like “Puppet Master”, “The Beyond” and “Chopping Mall.” She’s been in more recent films like “We Are Still Here” and “Beyond The Gates” and still has that mojo. Sure, people remember Jamie Lee Curtis and Danielle Harris but Barbara Crampton is a true Scream Queen that should be more recognized today.

Phoebe Cates
Here is another actress that was pretty well known in the 80’s with movies like “Gremlins”, “Bright Lights, Big City” and “Drop Dead Fred”. But she was most well known for her amazing performance in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” She was drop dead gorgeous but has been relatively absent from our minds since the mid 90’s. We must not forget Phoebe Cates! I cannot and will not allow that to happen to our society. A society without Phoebe Cates is not a society I want to be a part of. Too much?

So that brings us to baseball cards. I’ve used all of these examples to set up my list of players from when I was a kid that are grossly underrated or forgotten in the hobby today. Maybe this was a flimsy setup but I enjoyed putting this list together. Collectors today will occasionally jump on an old cheap box and ask me what they should be looking for. The short answer is always the same; Bo Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Nolan Ryan. But yes, just like the list above, there is more to the 80’s baseball card scene than those hot names that everybody remembers. There are some high quality players to be found in 80’s wax that may not break the bank on eBay but certainly should have a more prominent spot in our collection when we pull their cards.

The list is by no means comprehensive but these are some of the bigger names I look for when ripping old wax. These are non-hall of fame players that probably aren’t as obvious to today’s collectors as they are to the old guard like @oriolesrise, @JunkWaxTwins, @OffHiatusBBC and @ShaneKatz73. These are players that we loved to put in our binders and were usually trade centerpieces when we wanted to pick up those Jr’s and Canseco’s.

Ruben Sierra
Sierra spent some great years with the Texas Rangers and I remember seeking him out in the late 80’s. He had 4 seasons with 100+ RBI and 17 seasons with double digit home runs. Seven of those seasons produced 20+ bombs. His best season was in 1989 when he hit .306 with 29 HR, 119 RBI and 13 triples. He was a 4x All-Star and Silver Slugger Award Winner and is in the Rangers Hall of Fame.

Vince Coleman
Coleman didn’t have the all around numbers like Sierra but he was a beast on the base path. He played 13 seasons and finished with 752 career stolen bases. He had 3 seasons with 100+, 7 seasons with 50+ and was a 6x SB leader. He hit for a mediocre average over his career at .264 and only mustered up 28 career bombs. But damn, he was fast!

Shawon Dunston
This was more of a personal favorite of mine than anything. He had so-so numbers over his career in which he hit for a .269 average with 150 HR and 212 SB. He did have 5 seasons with 20+ steals and was a 3x All-Star. I really enjoyed watching him play.

Kevin Mitchell
Mitchell was a real beast! He played 13 seasons and racked up 234 career home runs, which averaged out to 31 per 162 games. He also averaged 101 RBI per 162 games and had a career .284 average. In 1989, he won the NL MVP with a .291 batting average, 47 HR and 125 RBI. He was also a 2x All-Star and Silver Slugger Award Winner.

Jay Buhner
Buhner played 15 seasons and tallied 310 home runs and 965 RBI. Those aren’t HOF numbers but they are dang good as it averaged out to 34 HR/106 RBI per 162 games. He did strike out a lot and only hit .254 over his career but he made up for it with an All-Star appearance, a Gold Glove in ’96 and he’s in the Mariners HOF.

Benito Santiago
Santiago was one of the first catchers I really paid attention to. Alomar Jr. was a hot rookie but I really liked Santiago. He played 20 years and mashed 217 HR and amassed 920 RBI. He also collected 91 SB over his career, which is nothing to sneeze at for a catcher. He was a 5x All-Star, NLCS MVP (2002), 3x Gold Glove Winner, 4x Silver Slugger Winner and the 1987 NL ROY. He was and still is highly collectible for me. He is also a member of the San Diego Padres HOF.

Eric Davis
This may have been the easiest one for me when compiling this list. Davis was beloved by fans in Cincinnati and around the country. He was a likeable player and I enjoyed watching him play. He played 17 seasons and hit 282 HR and 934 RBI which averaged out to 28/93 per 162 games over his career. He also had 349 SB for an average of 35 per 162 games. He had a massive 80 steals in 1986 and 50 in 1985. He was also a 2x All-Star, World Series Champ (’90), 3x Gold Glove Winner, 2x Silver Slugger Award Winner, Roberto Clemente Award Winner and is a member of the Reds HOF. Former teammate Paul O’Neill said that Davis was the “Best Everything” he had ever seen play.

Mike Greenwell
Greenwell played 12 seasons and averaged 17 home runs, 10 SB and a .303 batting average per 162 games. He was a 2x All-Star, Silver Slugger Award Winner and is a member of the Red Sox HOF.

Ellis Burks
Greenwell’s teammate, Ellis Burks, is another stud I search for in the Junk Wax sets I rip. Burks played 18 seasons and hit 352 HR and knocked in 1,206 runs. This came out to an average of 29/98 per 162 games over his career. He also had 84 SB, hit for a career .291 avg and hit over .300 a total of 6 times in his career. He was a lock for the Red Sox HOF with these stats and his 2x All-Star, Gold Glove and 2x Silver Slugger Award.

Mark Grace
Grace has had his share of off-field troubles since he retired but he was a very good player during his career. He played 16 seasons and hit 173 HR and 1,146 RBI. He also won 4 Gold Gloves and went to the All-Star game 2 times. He had 9 seasons with a batting average over .300 and finished his career with a .303 average.

Chris Sabo
I’m not going to lie; some of this was about the goggles. Chris Sabo is such a nostalgic player for me because of how unique his cards were. His stats weren’t bad either though as he hit 116 HR and knocked in 426 runs over a 9 year career. He was a 3x All-Star and the NL ROY in 1988 on his way to being inducted into the Reds HOF. The goggles made him fast too as he swiped 120 career SB’s, averaging 21 per 162 games.

Andres Gallaraga
One of the reasons I like collecting Gallaraga is the Expos uniform he is found in on his 80’s cards. He was a Brave for a while too but I believe that the best looking uniform ever belonged to the Montreal Expos. He played 19 seasons and hit 399 HR, collected 1,452 RBI and swiped 128 bases while keeping a career batting average of .288. He was a 5x All-Star, 2x Gold Glover, 2x Silver Slugger, NL Batting Champ in ’93 and NL Home Run Leader in ’96. He was known for his power but he really was a 5-Tool Player for many years.

Will Clark
Clark has a few PC guys out there so this one is not a middle of the road player. Clark played 15 years and had a career batting average of .303 while hitting 284 HR and 1,205 RBI. He also was a 6x All-Star, NLCS MVP (’89), 2x Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner. He hit over .300 for 10 out of 15 total seasons. Will “The Thrill” was amazing at the plate.

Fred McGriff
The “Crime Dog” is the one player on this list that should definitely be in the Hall of Fame. He played 19 years and hit 493 home runs, falling just 7 shy of the magical “500” number. He also hit for average with a career number of .284. He was a 5x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger, 2x Home Run Leader and hit over .300 during 6 of his seasons. Please tell me why a player with 493 home runs, 1,550 RBI, a World Series Ring (’95) and these other accolades is not in the Hall of Fame. It’s a travesty!

Dave Stewart
The first pitcher on the list is a 3x World Series Champ with a career 168-129 win-loss record. The key for me with Stewart was what he did during my collecting heyday. From 1987-1990, he won 20+ games every season and finished his career with 1,741 K’s and a 3.95 ERA. He was the 1989 WS MVP and a 2x ALCS MVP. He also threw a no-hitter in 1990. He doesn’t have the numbers for the HOF but he was a very good pitcher when I started collecting.

Jose Rijo
This is not just because I pulled his auto in a recent box of Archives Postseason Signature Series. Like Dave Stewart, Rijo was a stud in the league when I started collecting. He had a career 116-91 record over 14 years but won 14+ from 90-93 and was the WS MVP in 1990. He finished with 1,600 K’s and is a member of the Reds HOF.

Bret Saberhagen
The final pitcher on my list is Saberhagen. He played 16 seasons and finished his career with a 167-117 win-loss record. He had a stellar 3.34 career ERA and struck out 1,715 batters, averaging 151 per 162 games. His best season was 1989 when he went 23-6 with 12 complete games and finished with a 2.16 ERA. He tallied 193 K’s that season. He finished his career as a 3x All-Star, World Series Champ (’85), World Series MVP (’85), 2x AL Cy Young Award, Gold Glove Winner (’89), MLB Wins Leader (’89), AL ERA Leader (’89) and pitched a no-hitter in 1991. It’s no surprise that he is a member of the Kansas City Royals HOF.

For the collectors that ask me who I look for when I rip open those classic junk wax boxes, this is your answer. There are others that are personal favorites of mine that may not have had numbers this good but these are all studs you can find in late 80’s products that make the relatively low cost very much worth it. These are also players that are highly collectible with their team collectors as well. So while Kelly Kapowski was #1 in the late 80’s, I don’t think I would have been complaining if Phoebe Cates gave me a call back then. In that same regard, while Ken Griffey Jr. and Jose Canseco were the big catches in the card world, I would complain about pulling any of these guys either. It’s easy to forget about players, songs or movies that we aren’t constantly reminded of today but that doesn’t mean they aren’t classics and worthy of our attention. Get out there and find some of these 80’s legends


Turkey, Dressing and High Fructose Gum!

Thanksgiving is a time to take a step away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and enjoy the friends and family we have in our lives. It’s also a time for football. My Thanksgiving schedule has been pretty set for the last several years with lunch at my aunt’s house with my mom’s side of the family and then dinner at my mother-in-law’s house with the wife’s family. We also have a breakfast with my dad’s side of the family but we don’t always make it home in time for those. I am not a punctual person and neither is my wife. We spend the day stuffing our faces with great homemade food, watching football, hanging out with family, watching football, eating again and then watching a little more football. It’s the main basic tenants of life if you think about it; food, family and football!

I also try to take the opportunity to really think about what it is I’m thankful for. That may be a cliché but that is what the day is about, right? I don’t normally make a big production out of it but it is a day where I take stock in where I am versus where I was a year before. Physically, that is in front of the TV watching football but mentally and spiritually, I look for ways I’ve grown over the past 365 days. Sometimes I am not very proud of the internal inventory I take but I can always learn from the time I spend reviewing the past. It’s the one day where we try not to take things for granted. It’s also as good a time as any for me to put the things I am most thankful for in writing. Did I mention that there was football as well?

The first one is easy; my family. Starting with my wife, she has loved me for over 20 years of our lives and has put up with more than any woman should have to. She entertains the hobbies I refuse to grow out of such as sports cards, video games and horror movies. She even acts like she’s a little interested from time to time but I know that it’s all just for my satisfaction. She goes to football games and hard rock concerts, watches the kids while I play softball, keeps everybody occupied while I’m screaming at the Dawgs on TV and lets me spend several nights a week staring into a laptop writing about cards. We have been through ups and downs but far more ups and our marriage only gets stronger as time passes.

I am thankful for my two beautiful daughters; Bailey and Georgia. Bailey is turning into a little lady that is more responsible than I was at 10. She cares about people, cares about her family and knows right from wrong. She listens about like I did at 10 but I guess she had to get some traits from her father, huh? She loves everything that I love and always wants to spend time with Daddy and that makes me feel like I’m doing something right. Georgia is a ball of fire at 3 but I have found myself including her in some of my favorite things lately and she is handling it all well. She likes Pearly’s for breakfast on the weekend, she likes going to the card shop (even if it’s to buy a toy) and when it’s time to go to bed, she wants to snuggle Daddy. I am blessed beyond measure with the girls in my life.

My mom and dad have always been supportive of me and they still work hard today to make sure their two boys have everything they need in their lives. They taught me how to make a marriage work, how to build a career and work hard and to believe in myself when I feel like the world is against me. My mom is one of the keys in me getting my blog started as she invested in me and my efforts to get everything in place. My dad taught me how to be a man and what was really important in life. I am thankful that I have wonderful parents that are still together 40+ years after they were married. I am even thankful that they had another son so I could have a brother to pick on early in life and reach out to later in life.

I can’t name all the friends and family that I am thankful for but I am deeply indebted to their support and friendship. I have friends that collect with me, that play softball and basketball with me, that live and die with the Dawgs with me, that go fishing with me, that drink a beer and laugh til we cry with me, and that would be there in my darkest hour for me, no matter the cost. I am extremely fortunate to have friends that I just met a couple of weeks ago while also having friends from elementary school that I haven’t physically seen in over 15 years. They are still my friends and we still share our lives with each other on social media and through occasional text messages. I am very fortunate to have avoided rubbing a lot of people the wrong way for the last 40 years. I have had very little personal conflict with others and that is a rarity today.

I am thankful for the people in my life that I have looked up to and also the few people in life that have looked up to me. The former list is longer than the latter but I take my role very seriously as a teammate, coach, blogger, co-worker, father, husband and friend. I have been fortunate to see life from many different perspectives over the years whether it be through the interactions with someone wanting to start a business, someone trying to save their business, someone starting a marriage, someone who’s marriage is falling apart, someone who has everything, someone who has lost it all, a 75 year old who has lived their life to the fullest, a 15 year old who hasn’t even begun to live and just about everything in between. I am truly blessed to have walked the path I have. That doesn’t make me any more special than anyone else but I am thankful to have the experiences I have.

I am thankful for you, the person reading this blog post. I wrote for myself for a long time and never thought people would be interested in reading it. Surprisingly, I have found that not to be the case. Somehow, someway, I have found an audience to entertain with my musings on sports cards, dumb movies, niche music and the inane events in my life when I was 13 years old. I am truly thankful for that. This has become such an important part of my life and the people I interact with here have become such important people. I have found that there is an entire group of people that share the same thoughts and experiences as I do but I would have never known about or been able to reach those people without the blog. The blog would not have been successful without you reading and sharing. I’m looking at you Kin Kinsley!

On a much lighter note, I am thankful for Taco Bell, Netflix, Harvest Moon, Miller Light, Diet Dr. Pepper (sometimes with Crown), Steak Biscuits, Chili, Fries, Reese’s, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Deftones, Starset, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Kirby Smart, Kelly Kapowski, Tecmo Super Bowl, Night of the Living Dead, my LCS, Junk Wax and Beckett. There is more but these are some of the things that help me make it through each day. And as long as Taco Bell continues to make new innovative foods like a chicken nugget quesadilla, they will have my support!

So let’s tie this in to sports cards…..and football. I mentioned above that I am thankful for junk wax. But there are so many individual sets I am thankful for under that umbrella. This is one such set. 1988 Topps Football means a lot to my collection. It is the home of the Bo Jackson and Brian Bosworth Super Rookies. It is the home of the Eric Dickerson and Joe Montana All-Pro’s. It has a clean, old school design that screams 1980’s but trendy at the same time. The set is colorful but not overdone. The wax pack designs are legendary in football. And there is gum; 30 year old high fructose gum!

Because this was a bit of a special occasion, I went directly to Baseball Card Exchange for this box. For those who don’t know, BBCE authenticates unopened boxes and you know you are getting something that is legit and not searched. It’s really the safest way to buy junk wax boxes but it does come at a little higher cost. I don’t use it for my ’89 Topps or ’90 Fleer boxes but if I am ripping something that is considered a little higher tier junk wax, I’ll pay a little extra. And yes, I consider ’88 Topps Football to be a little more premium than some others from that era. Hopefully, you will agree by the end of this rip.

First, the wrapper is a classic. I love the late 80’s line of Topps football wrappers as they all had pretty much the same design but they had different colors from year to year.

The design on the card was very Topps-like but ’88 felt a little more colorful than usual for me. The white border was accented by variations of the team colors around the photo. No better card to showcase that than this Steve Grogan, right Scott?

Each pack had a “glossy” 1,000 Yard Club Card that featured a running back or receiver that eclipsed 1,000 yards at some point in their career. There are a lot of stud names here but Eric Dickerson was the best on the ground and Jerry Rice the best through the air, in my opinion. I always liked Mike Quick too for some reason.

Before we move on from the 1,000 Yard Club, I thought some of you Error Collectors would appreciate this Curt Warner. Do you see it?

The Quarterbacks were some of the legendary players from the 80’s. We have Brady and Rodgers now but I think the talent was spread more evenly across the league back in the day. Steve Young was a backup at the time. Point out a backup right now that you think could have a Steve Young type career.

There were a couple of Hall of Fame running backs that were about to hit the NFL but weren’t quite ready for this set. Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith would be rookies in ’89 and ’90, making some of these guys forgotten men. But when you see these players in the context of ’88 Topps, you realize how good they really were. I’ve already mentioned Dickerson as one of the best but Roger Craig, Marcus Allen, Mike Rozier and Herschel Walker were no slouches. And Neal Anderson, Earnest Byner, Joe Morris and Keith Byars were all very good NFL running backs.

When you see the Wide Receivers, you should start to notice a trend. I am including the best players from ’88 in each section and so far the Redskins have been all over this piece. Doug Williams was in QB’s and George Rogers in RB’s. But they had the best trio of starting wide receivers in the NFL in 1987-88 with Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders. It’s really no wonder why the Redskins won Super Bowl XXII.

The Tight End section is slim like always but these guys were all studs. Aside from Todd Christiansen’s hair, what’s not to love here?

Defensive Linemen were pretty dadgum tough in the 80’s! Charles Mann represented the Super Bowl Champs but the Bears had a dominant front that included Mongo McMichael, The Fridge and Richard Dent. Bruce Smith and Howie Long were just hitting their stride.

If the Redskins dominated the WR category and the Bears ruled the defensive line, then the Saints were the team to beat at Linebacker. This group was really, really good with Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills and Pat Swilling. They just didn’t have quite enough offense to compete. Let’s not overlook “LT” in this set either!

These were my favorite defensive backs from the late 80’s. I have always loved Darrell Green cards and Ronnie Lott is a true legend. Joey Browner was an interception machine but could also drop the hammer on receivers as well. Fred Marion led the Pats in both tackles and interceptions in 1987.

This group of Super Rookies is missing a few studs that will be showcased in a moment but there are several players here that had very serviceable NFL careers. Ricky Nattiel was a good receiver for John Elway and Alonzo Highsmith carried the rock for Warren Moon, keeping defenses honest. Henry Thomas, Shane Conlan and Johnny Holland were all good defensive players and Jerome Brown was close to dominant in Philly with Reggie White. Brown lost his life at a very young age and didn’t get to rise to his full potential.

The Record Breakers in this set were Steve Largent, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Largent set the NFL record for receptions in a career with 752 by the end of 1987. Joe Montana set the mark for consecutive pass completions with 22 over a two game span against the Browns and Green Bay. Finally, Jerry Rice hauled in 18 touchdown passes in 1987, breaking the previous record held by Mark Clayton from 1984. He also had a TD catch in 13 straight games, another record.

Now we get to the good stuff! Not only was this set loaded with NFL Legends of the late 80’s and some key rookies; there is also a record breaker card for Walter Payton. He set a record for most rushing touchdowns in a career in 1987 with 110. He also held the mark for most career rushing yards at 16,779. Anytime I can add an original Walter Payton to my collection, I’m as happy as can be!

Let’s take a look at the best rookies from the 1988. The first is Vinny Testaverde, who had a very solid career over a staggering 21 seasons. He also won the Heisman Trophy in 1986.

Next we have Christian Okoye, “The Nigerian Nightmare”! Okoye punished defenders over 6 seasons, rushing for over 1,000 yards twice. He was the ultimate short yardage back but had enough speed to break off some big runs from time to time as well. Okoye is one of my all-time favorite players!

One of the really big rookies in 1988 was Brian “The Boz” Bosworth from Oklahoma. The Boz was bigger than life and was a superstar on and off the field. He was a ferocious defender who had amazing athletic talent. Unfortunately, once he got to the NFL, he met a man who was more ferocious than he was.

That man was Vincent Edward Jackson, better known as “Bo”. The former Heisman winner at Auburn was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but never signed due to a rift that started with the Bucs causing Bo to break an NCAA rule and be deemed ineligible for his senior baseball season. Bo has always alleged that it was some sort of sabotage on behalf of Tampa Bay to railroad his baseball career. In response, Bo refused to sign with the Bucs and went to Major League Baseball where he started an All-Star career in Kansas City. He did come back to the NFL as a 7th Round Pick by the Los Angeles Raiders and the rest is history.

This set is nearing 30 years old and I believe it still holds up amazingly well. I still really like the design. I like the “Super Rookie” moniker and the rookie class is very good. From the wax pack to the 1,000 Yard Club subset to the base cards of NFL legends, there is a lot to like about this set. Topps Football in the late 80’s is often overlooked by collectors of today but I really don’t understand why. There were some very good rookies from 1987-1990 that included Randall Cunningham, Bo, Okoye, Boz, Aikman, Deion, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith. Those are some legitimate names when it comes to NFL greats and their rookie cards are readily available at about $25 per box. I give 1988 Topps a “5” on the Dub-O-Meter because there are very few flaws that I can find. The checklist spans from Walter Payton to Bo Jackson and that covers a lot of NFL Stars. I get why people want autographs and serial numbered cards today but I am very thankful that junk wax is still accessible and I can explore cards of true NFL heroes from my youth for a relatively cheap price.

So there; among all of the other things I am thankful for today, I remain thankful for wax packs, high fructose gum, Bo Jackson, Christian Okoye, Mike Quick and even Steve Grogan. I will never allow trends or money dictate what I like about sports cards. I’ll buy new products and I’ll hope for big name autographs but I’ll always come back to my roots when I want to sit and enjoy the cardboard!


Retro Review – Not Quite Kelly Bundy

I remember watching “Growing Pains” quite a bit when I was young. I remember Mike Seaver being Mr. Cool and I probably reminded my parents of him when it came to school work, getting in trouble and pulling dumb stunts with my friends. I also thought Carol was quite the looker for an 80’s sitcom star. But she liked school a little too much for my taste. I never really paid much attention to Ben because he was the obnoxious little brother and I had one of those already. I do remember Dr. Seaver being this sort of all knowing guy that had a sense of humor and an answer for all of the kids problems. He was a psychiatrist after all. He was a good 80’s dad on TV but could be a bit of a cornball at times.I fancy myself as having a little bit of Al Bundy in my personality though. I can be crass, to the point and say things I probably shouldn’t at times. I love sports, love to watch TV and appreciate his ability to completely tune out those around him when they are grinding his last nerve. I also don’t mind the occasional swimsuit calendar on the wall. I never wanted to be a shoe salesman but I did want to one day have a secret club in my garage that consisted of me and my friends sitting around drinking beer and talking about our wives. I still haven’t formed that club but I do have some friends that enjoy sitting around drinking a beer. We only talk about how great our wives are though. We would never disparage our significant others, right?Even though Jason Seaver could be a cornball sometimes, he couldn’t hold a candle to Danny Tanner on “Full House”. Even as a kid, I thought he was a total square. I enjoyed Jessie and Joey much more than I did Danny but I guess that was how it was meant to be written. I definitely didn’t want to be in a house with a bunch of girls when I was 10 either. Yuck! I didn’t have any sisters and actually didn’t have a female cousin until I was about 14 or so. I just never latched on to “Full House” like I did these other sitcoms because I just couldn’t really relate to it like the others. They did all have something in common though; they all debuted in 1987. As I went back and looked through some of the coolness of 1987, I realized that it was a major year for television and the big screen. Maybe that’s because I was 10 and really started getting into TV but there was a lot of excellent options that year.As for TV, that was the year that we were introduced to Spuds McKenzie. You tell me one kid from 1987 that didn’t want a Spuds of his own. I didn’t even pay attention to the beer part of the ad. I wanted that dog! We also met the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that year and my cousin is still a pizza fanatic because of Michelangelo. It helps that his name is Michael as well. Then there were those awesome Micro Machines commercials. That guy had a pretty amazing talent with the fast talking! My brother played with those a lot more than I did but I always marveled at the commercials. That probably wouldn’t be a very safe toy for kids by today’s standards.The news on TV that year was also very riveting. That was the year that Baby Jessica fell into a well in her aunt’s backyard in Texas. And when I say well, what I really mean is this tiny pipe that only an 18 month old child could fit in. It took 58 hours to free her from that well and it was a televised event. It was quite scary for parents but it made me leery of small spaces for a while as well. She was eventually rescued from the pipe some 22 feet below ground and is doing well today as per media reports. Someone who didn’t do quite so well with their media circus fame in 1987 was Jim Bakker. Bakker was a TV Evangelist who was accused of rape by a secretary that actually led to the uncovering of financial fraud that led to a 45 year prison conviction. He only served 5 years before being paroled but went through a pretty public divorce from Tammy Faye as well. He has somehow found himself back in the ministry and on TV. I’m just going to leave that alone.The movies were awesome in 1987 were totally tubular! My personal favorites from that year were “Predator” and “Running Man”. I was a big Arnold fan and loved all of his movies. “Predator” was one of the first sci-fi horror movies I watched, along with “Aliens”. That movie kind of freaked me out but I thought it was really cool too. Carl Weathers was the man! As for “Running Man”, this was another sci-fi thriller about a TV game show where the only winners were the contestants who actually finished the game alive. As crazy as that movie premise seemed in 1987, to be brutally honest, we don’t seem too far from some kind of reality show that is very similar to “Running Man” in 2017. It’s a little scary how close that movie portrayed the way our society is heading.There were a lot of other classic movies released that year as well. Some of the more well known include “Lethal Weapon”, “The Untouchables”, “Dirty Dancing” and “Robocop”. Obviously, these are big name movies so I don’t have to explain how good they were. In the horror genre, there were a few that are still on my favorites list. I still love “The Lost Boys” and watched it at a friend’s house when I was totally not supposed to. I had to hide the fact that I was scared to death at my house at night because that would have eventually led to the fact that I watched it. My favorite Freddy movie was “Dream Warriors” and it was released that year as well. Throw in “Creepshow 2” and you’ve got quite a starter list of movies you should go back and re-watch.What about some family movies from ’87? Well, there was “Harry and the Hendersons”, which gave Bigfoot a soft and warm side that made you want to have him as a pet. Then there was “Ernest Goes to Camp”, which does not hold up well in 2017. Trust me, it is not good today. “Summer School” was a fun movie that had a couple of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” super fans in it. “Raising Arizona” was the first great Nicholas Cage film that also starred Holly Hunter. And “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” was a hilarious comedy with Steve Martin and John Candy. One of the best lines in a comedy film in the 80’s came from that movie. After waking up in a hotel room together, they had this unforgettable exchange:

Neal Page: Del? Why did you kiss my ear?
Del Griffith: Why are you holding my hand?
Neal Page: Where’s your OTHER hand?
Del Griffith: Between two pillows….
Neal Page: Those aren’t pillows!!!“Full Metal Jacket” is a cult classic from 1987 and I have watched the first half of that movie over and over and over. That drill sergeant is one of the greatest movie characters ever! I remember Private Pile, Private Joker and all of the characters and one liner’s from that film. It’s one that I still have on VHS in my collection. Finally, I developed a pretty strong crush that year on Elisabeth Shue thanks to “Adventures in Babysitting”. She was already a cutie in “The Karate Kid” but this one put me over the top. I still stop the channel surfing when I see her on my TV screen!There were other cool things from 1987 like “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out”, Guns N Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction” and Bon Jovi’s “Livin on a Prayer.” 1987 was really a great year for pop culture. That year produced some pretty cool trading cards as well. I remember Garbage Pail Kids that year and trying to gross out the girls in my class with those hideous cards. One of the most iconic sets ever was the 1987 Wood Grain Topps design with the beautiful Bo Jackson Future Star. I also did a review of 1987 Fleer here a few weeks ago. This was almost the perfect year for collecting because most weren’t aware it was overproduced yet but they also only had a few sets to choose from.The remaining set from that year was 1987 Donruss. I never had a ton of ’87 Donruss because I didn’t really start collecting until 1989. But even as a non-collecting kid that played with the classic toys of those days, I had some ’87 Topps lying around. I think most kids had some ’87 Topps, even if half of us didn’t know what we had. But Donruss was a relative unknown to me for many years. I have since added some pieces to my collection but I’ve never busted a full box, or even multiple packs to be honest. My recent trip to the LCS has provided that opportunity now. I picked up a full box for a mere $25, which I think is a pretty good deal.

Donruss had a pretty cool design that year with the black border and gold baseball logo stripe running horizontally across the middle of the card. Of course, there are also Diamond Kings and Rated Rookies to sort through as well. The puzzle is of Roberto Clemente, which is especially cool to me, considering how much I love his cards in the hobby. The set was numbered to 660 and a box had 36 packs with 15 cards per pack. So there are a total of 540 cards per box but if collation is similar to other sets from those years, I’m probably looking at just over half the set when I’m done. I’m really looking forward to this rip though because the set will be a fairly new experience for me.

Let’s jump right in!

First, the wrappers were not my favorite from Donruss. I didn’t like the copper color but they are still wax packs so they aren’t all bad either.

I was able to pull the full Clemente Puzzle together so that was a success!

The Diamond Kings were just as I remembered them. The artwork of Dick Perez is unmistakable. Surprisingly, my least favorite is the Jose Canseco because his head looks so odd on the card. I love the Murphy, Straw, Smith, Puckett and Davis!

The Rated Rookies pictured here were names that you may remember but not Hall of Fame type talent. I particularly liked Benito Santiago in the late 80’s. Rafael Palmeiro could have landed in the Hall had he not had his issues during the steroid era.

These three players epitomized the term “Speed”. Vince Coleman may have been the fastest but Rickey Henderson was the most prolific base stealer. Rock Raines was the closest to a 5 tool player of the group.

The infielders here are absolute studs. This was Will Clark’s rookie Donruss card and Fred McGriff’s second year card. There is a lot of talent here!

The outfielders are just as awesome and star studded as the infielders above. Jose’s rookie was the famous 1986 Donruss but this was Bobby Bonilla’s base rookie as he was included in 1986’s “The Rookies” set. Just look at that smile on Puckett! These guys make me want to pull out RBI Baseball and start swinging!

The pitchers here are Ace material. Lee Smith was a closer but he was as dominant as the starters. The Dodgers rotation was pretty scary with Fernando and Orel. It looks like Doc was startled by someone that got his attention as the photo was about to be taken.

The Veterans are all here too in 1987. I dare you to tell me you wouldn’t have wanted these guys on your team in the 80’s! Pete Rose had the elusive 1B/Mgr card. I really liked Joe Carter too and I think he is vastly underrated in the hobby today. The same could be said about Jim Rice.

The two hits in the box were these great Rated Rookies. While I missed out on the Barry Bonds RC, I am pleased that I pulled Bo and McGwire. I have now pulled all three major Bo Jackson rookies this year ripping old wax. I really wish the careers for these two had ended up better than they did. I wish Bo had stayed healthy and I wish McGwire could have just been this good without the whole steroid thing.

Finally, ’87 Donruss had a nice box bottom like many other mid 80’s wax boxes. The bottom here had Murphy and a sweet Canseco photo taken with him perfectly centered in a star on the outfield wall. There is a Reardon and Clemente puzzle card as well but the Canseco is the real gem here.As with other 1987 rips, this one was loads of fun. A rookie class of Bo, McGwire and Bonds make the ripping exciting but the inclusion of every major star from the 80’s makes the box well worth the $25 price tag. The design was not as good as 1986 but was better than 1988 in my opinion. This was probably one of the top Donruss designs for me but came right one year after my favorite so I tend to judge it too harshly. I have to give this a “4” on the Dub-O-Meter for a few reasons. The checklist is great, the design is good, the price is reasonable and the Clemente Puzzle is a classic. On the negative, the cards weren’t cut very well and collation was as odd as I’ve seen with consecutively numbered cards. The positives far outweigh the negatives here so the 4 is closer to a 4.5 than a 3.5. I would say that ultimately, the set lands somewhere between Carol Seaver and Kelly Bundy, if you know what I mean. I’d recommend this set as a fun build and the box as a nostalgic rip worth your time. What say you about 1987 Donruss?


Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Guest Hockey Writer – Naim Cardinal

First of all, I would like to thank my Twitter buddy, Dub Mentality, for having an amazing card blog and for reminding us of our appreciation for the days of old card collecting and “junk wax.” As well, I would like to thank him for giving me this opportunity to share my wax ripping experience with 1989-90 O-Pee-Chee Hockey. I will be writing the review in “Dub style” to honour his awesome blog site.Back in 1990, I was nine years old and lived in a small town in northern Alberta called Fort Vermilion. At the time, there were eight of us in my family living in a four bedroom house in “Alberta Housing”-a small neighbourhood in the community that consisted mainly of low-income housing. I was the middle child of our family and the second oldest boy-well, third because my parents had adopted one of my older cousins. We all grew up playing shinny on the outdoor rinks and also street hockey in the middle of winters that would quite often see temperatures dip down to -40C (-40F for my American friends). Here we would play for hours pretending that we were NHL greats such as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Patrick Roy, and even tough guys like Bob Probert or Joey Kocur-which lead us to “drop the gloves” quite often. Maybe it was the long winters or the fact that hockey was bred into our genes as Canadians; but, we were addicted to hockey and loved playing and watching every game that was on CBC Hockey Night in Canada. It was here that we watched our favourite players and teams and learned the game from guys like Ron McLean and Don Cherry. Despite our love for the game, unfortunately, my brothers and I were financially unable to join any leagues due to the costs of registration, equipment, and travel. But, we found a way to connect to hockey through our long games in the cold weather, Hockey Night in Canada, and collecting hockey cards.I remember the first time I had seen a hockey card. I was seven years old and visiting my cousin. That day he took us to his bedroom and proudly pulled out a photo album full of 1988-89 O-Pee-Chee (OPC) Hockey from his sock drawer. I say “photo album” because it was an actual photo album and this was what we used back in the day to display our cards before we were able to get our hands on any 9 card sleeves. 1988-89 OPC was a great set and featured rookies such as Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan, Pierre Turgeon, and aforementioned tough guy Bob Probert. The moment I laid my eyes on those cards I was instantly hooked. I thought it was so cool to see all of my heroes-Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy, and others on a piece of cardboard. I had no idea we even had hockey cards in our small town and had to get some! The next year in 1990 my older brother, cousin, and I began our card collecting life. My older brother and cousin were four and five years older than me so they understood card collecting much better than I as they put their cards in protective holders and I kept mine in a little shoe box that I carried with me everywhere I went. Eventually, the cards began to see some wear and the corners were quite rounded due to all the shuffling around that I put them through. I remember quite often being scolded by my older brother for not taking proper care of my cards.

As I mentioned earlier, we were living in low-income housing so buying hockey cards for us wasn’t always high on my parents priority list. However, I remember one occasion where I missed an opportunity to have some hockey cards as I was out playing with some friends and came home to find that, while I was out, my older brother and cousin got some 1989-90 OPC Hockey cards from the corner store-and I did not. They had all their cards out on the table as they were sorting through in front of me. I was devastated and immediately started crying (I was eight years old and a crybaby, okay?) as I knew I probably would not have the chance to get some again for some time. Well, fortunately for me, my auntie was over at the house that day and she must have felt really sorry for me (or wanted me to stop being pathetic) because, while I was crying in my room for 45 minutes she went out and came back with a full box of 1989-90 OPC Hockey cards. I had no idea that any of this was going on but she came back in the house, called me out of the room, and presented me with the full box of cards. My eyes lit up, my heart felt warmth, and an unbreakable smile came across my face. I was so grateful and will always remember how she made me feel that day as I thanked her immensely and ripped through all 48 packs, opening as gracefully as possible (much to the dismay of my older brother and cousin).That was my first full box of cards ever and just recently I picked up another box of 1989-90 OPC Hockey from Wayne’s Sports Cards here in Edmonton, AB. This was my second full box of these cards since my auntie bought me that first box in 1990. On the bottom there are four “box bottom” hockey cards that featured Mario Lemieux, Tomas Sandstrom, Mike Ridley, and Petri Skriko. On the side of the box there is a description stating that there are four different box bottoms and a total of 16 cards that you could cut out and collect. Inside, the cards come wrapped in blue and white wax packs with a hockey player on the front celebrating a goal and there are 48(!!) Packs per box. As well, there was one stick of gum (I will get to this later) in each pack and don’t worry I didn’t eat the 27 year old gum. However, I do remember the distinct taste of the gum in the packs and also remember sharing the 48 sticks of gum with my siblings from that lone box in 1990. Furthermore, this was near the end of the era of wax as the next year in 1990-91, during the collecting craze, multiple companies entered the hockey card scene and that year very few of them besides O-Pee-Chee and Bowman used wax packs.

The cards themselves are, in my opinion, a very nicely designed set as they have a blue border on the top and bottom with an icy pattern down the side edges. Some of the cards were updated by O-Pee-Chee with a “now with” signifer as many trades were made during the season and new jerseys were airbrushed in the highest quality technology of the time. The backs of the cards include a light and dark pink shading with a no colour border. As well, there is biographical information and full statistics from every NHL season and the most previous playoff. The cards also include information about highlights from the season such as game winning goals and personal statistical highs for the player if any occurred during the season. There are 330 cards in the set and I have most of the cards together but, there were some casualties in this box and I don’t know exactly how many cards that I needed were in the pile of damaged cards because I threw them out before sorting them.Now onto the gum! Although I did appreciate the gum that was in these packs while I was growing up, on this particular occasion I did not. As I mentioned earlier, every single pack had a stick of gum in it. So, that meant there were 48 sticks of gum within this box and gum sitting next to a hockey card for 27 years doesn’t have a good outcome. Unfortunately, although the gum did still present a nice smell, it was attached to every single card and was not coming off as it was fused to the front of each card. 48 packs of cards. 48 sticks of gum. 48 ruined cards.Over the years, OPC has also made Topps as its counterpart and O-Pee-Chee has always been considered to be more valuable to collectors. However, in this particular season OPC started to mass produce their hockey cards more so than in the past and Topps made less cards. Thus, leaving Topps as the more valuable hockey card set from this particular year. As well, this set includes the rookie cards of NHL greats such as Joe Sakic, Theoren Fleury, and Brian Leetch. While also producing a solid crop of NHL rookie cards that saw Trevor Linden, Tony Granato, Craig Janney, Shayne Corson, and Gary Roberts included in the set. In my particular box I was very happy to find two Joe Sakic rookie cards, a Trevor Linden, and a Brian Leetch within the box. But, was not happy to find a second Trevor Linden rookie card with gum plastered to it.

Despite the gum fiasco, I really enjoyed opening this product. The cards themselves are beauties and it was during my first year of being a collector so it brought back so many memories for me. The overall “value” of the cards is not as much as other sets because it was O-Pee-Chee’s season of mass production as we entered the card craze. However, I feel these cards have a lot of sentimental value (thank you, auntie) and there are many quality rookies to be found within. If you find ones that are worth sending in for grading it will be your lucky day! Many of the cards in this particular box were “touched” or had some wear on the edges so I probably won’t be sending in any of the rookies from this box for grading. Nonetheless, I have seen many quality grades on the market from this product-so you would still have a very good chance of receiving 9s and possibly 9.5s from BGS. Overall, it was a fun rip and give these cards a 3 on the Dub-O-Meter and probably would have given them a 4 were it not for all the damaged cards.

Naim Cardinal