Saturday, March 24, 2012

A new old hobby

So a few weeks ago, I walked into a Walgreens, and randomly situated up on the impulse item rack between the candy bars and the gift cards sat a box of 2012 Topps Baseball cards, opened up with about half its packs already off to good homes. For the first time in, I dunno, 5 years, I picked up a brand new pack of baseball cards.

Fast forward, and 10 packs later, I have a nice start to my 2012 Topps collection.

It's been a LONG while since I collected a new series of baseball cards when they came out. I think the years started with a straight number back then. Anyways, I noticed how much the hobby had changed when, with 10 cards in the pack, two were for insert subsets, and 8 were for the normal base set.

These subsets are beautiful, and they have a gold theme going this year, which looks pretty good, but I have one thing bothering me here.

I now have cards from 8 different insert sets, most with Gold in the name, and cards from 2 of the 3 parallel base sets with a different coloring on the outside.

I can handle a couple of insert sets. I can handle not getting an insert in each card. What bothers me is that I have no chance whatsoever of completing an insert set with all the different kinds out there, simply by buying packs. It's just mindboggling how many cards I'd need to collect to collect ALL that Topps is putting out there, and that's not even before considering the LONG odds of getting the REALLY good stuff, the autographs and the like.

The Series 1 base set is 330 cards. I have to believe that there are just as many if you took all the cards from the various insert sets and put them together.

I sometimes feel like I'm old before my time. I like dice games, I prefer to stay in rather than go out the majority of the time, and I like my baseball card sets simple. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go sit in my rocking chair and fall asleep with baseball on TV.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Madden, and why I don't play it much any more

Why am I posting about this? Why not?

I tend to get Madden as a gift these days, or off the clearance shelves. I think the last time I plopped down full price was in 2007. Today, I picked it up, started a franchise, simmed a season, and drafted a franchise quarterback in the first round with the team I decided to play (hint: Not the Packers. That whole franchise QB thing is covered there). Played a game, great come from behind win over the Giants at home, even though I am very out of practice at this.

It was after this game that I started thinking why I don't do this more often (besides the potential for property damage). My main gameplay gripe is that it seems like the players seem like they're running under water. Compared to the NCAA game, they react very very slowly in changing directions. This has been an issue since, oh, I don't know, 06?

I think my main gripe though is that in the XBox/PS2 age, there was more of an attachment to your franchise. You could do, well, a hell of a lot more with it. The rookie scouting changed throughout the years, but it was always fun. It stinks now. I think 04 had it right by giving you hints about a player without giving away the farm, but making it easy enough to suss out what the scout was trying to say. Also, I loved the preseason drills that you could put your team through to improve them. While it may have been a boon to the human player, it also made you get to know your team a bit better, and made you feel more connected to your club, even if you sim quite a lot.

I don't think I really have a main point to this, but I thought it was worth saying. You'll see me playing MLB the Show, the NHL series, and the NCAA series (even though, right now, my regard for the real NCAA can't get any lower) before you'll see me invest major time into this game. I'm slowly giving up hope that this series will be any fun for me any time soon.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Fire Burns Again

Anyone that knows me knows I have very little to complain about these days. My life is good, I have a good job, a fantastic wife, a loving home, great pets, and all that jazz. My sports teams are doing fantastic as well, leading to me not needing to complain too loudly about them, either. The Packers are not only the Super Bowl champs, but have won the most regular season games of any Packers team, and stand a more than decent chance of repeating. The Brewers merely won more regular season games than any other Milwaukee major league baseball club ever. The Badgers are in the Rose Bowl back to back, the basketball team is getting deep in the tournament, and the hockey team continues to pump out NHL players like a pipeline. Heck, things are even going well for my adopted Canadian teams. The Bombers got to they Grey Cup, and the Jets, well, the Jets exist again, and that's enough for now. 

So what sparked my fire with the effectiveness of gasoline and a lit match?

In case you either don't care to click the link or don't understand the significance, one CFL team is apparently denying a new CFL team from using the name the city and the country associates with the CFL in Ottawa. 

Let me get one thing out of the way, and let's never speak of it again. Yes, this is the same Roughriders-Rough Riders thing that Americans (and Canadians, as well) use to point out that the CFL is, to put it mildly, something less than big league. The AHL, the top tier minor league of the NHL, also has a similar situation, as does the SEC, which is about as big league as it gets in college sports. The AHL's situation (having two leagues merge with one another) is very similar to the CFL situation (East and West coming together to form one league), and if it's good enough for the SEC, it's good enough for America. So let's move on. 

Why is this a bad thing, you may ask? Ottawa has had a linkage to the Rough Riders name since as early as 1869, and the club that became the CFL Rough Riders existed as of 1876, and took the name as of 1897. The Rough Riders won 7 Grey Cups, and while they struggled in their last two decades of existence, they had a long and storied history, one that I couldn't do justice to, so I'll just let the fact that the team existed for 120 years stand by itself for the time being.

It came to an end in Ottawa for the Rough Riders because the CFL hit a rocky patch, started losing money hand over fist, and had the bad luck to have some of the worst owners a CFL team could ever have. The last one, Horn Chen, left the team hanging, and the CFL owners, having had to salvage more than a few potentially lost causes over the past 5 years, had to let the Rough Riders slip into history. The other Riders out west were almost in the same boat, but a telethon and support from a province that was struggling economically as well kept the Green Riders from fading into the same history books as the Ottawa club. 

Another attempt at CFL football in Ottawa was made with the Renegades, as the owners of the Renegades were not willing to battle Chen for the name and logo of the former squad. These owners would also bail on the team quickly, leading to Bernie Glieberman, one of the aforementioned worst owners ever, taking over the team. It was ironic, because Glieberman wanted to move the original Riders to Shreveport in the early 90's. Glieberman bailed on the team himself, and the CFL was unwilling to pick up the pieces. The team is scheduled to resurface in 2014, this time under (hopefully) competent leadership. 

Through it all, the true CFL fans in Ottawa have stayed true, and have had to suffer the indignity of not once, but twice, losing their team because of circumstances beyond their control. 

And now this. Sure, small in the big scheme of things, as they would gladly take their team back under any circumstances, but to have another team take their name and claim it as their own? 

I suppose, though, that in a place that can't count to twelve, and a people that have been described as banjo playing inbreds by Troy Westwood, the old Bombers kicker, the top brass in Regina may have worried that their fan base would get confused with two teams with almost the same name.

And if you think that was a cheap shot, it pales in comparison of kicking a fan base when it's down. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another Roundtable....

Brought to you by three guys that love their football teams and have opinions about them!

1. Some of us have easier weeks than others (I'm looking at you, Doug), but each of us has a team that could very well knock us off, even at home. How is your team going to come out on top this week?

Norm: 1. How will Michigan come out on top this week? Simply put, they need to realize that they can still run with anybody. I read in more than one place that Denard Robinson gave a postgame speech in the locker room after the loss to MSU that earned him a bunch of respect and reinforced that he is the leader. Good, the team needs that. Now they need to apply the lessons against a very tough Iowa team. Can they do it? I honestly don't know but I'm comfortable the defiance QB1 is showing.

Doug: 1. Illinois is one of the easier teams we've played this season, but I'm hoping the team doesn't take them lightly because of their poor reputation-- Zook has his team on fire this year. How are we going beat them? By minimizing turnovers, running the ball, and completing big passes. The stabilized offense has killed this season, and it's lead by one of the most potent running games in the country (as you both know now). I don't think Illinois can stop the run with 3 different guys carrying the load, and Cousins is having a monster season throwing the ball. He's easily the most under-appreciated QB by the media.

Joe: If they can overcome the bad smell lingering from hosting Minnesota and Ohio State back to back, and they can make a big play every so often, I think the Badgers can end up on top. The defense has to keep Terelle Pryor throwing, because he can't do that as well as he can run against good teams, and we have to get up early and grind away. We aren't built to come from behind. 

2. What has been the biggest disappontment this season? Doug, you have to answer this too. :D

Norm: 2. I'll answer that with a question: What the f*ck is defensive coordinator Greg Robinson still doing on the Michigan sideline???? How anyone in power at the University hasn't slapped the sh*t out of that guy is beyond me.

Doug: 2. It's hard to pick a disappointment after starting 6-0 (had to say it), but if I had to pick one, it's coach D being in the hospital. It sucks to have your coach dealing with health issues, and I honestly thought it would hurt us. But Treadwell knows what he's doing obviously-- the two are connected at the hip. Other than that, I haven't seen much else to be disappointed with this season.

Joe: Besides the obvious (thank your team for that, Doug), we lost our best linebacker, Chris Borland, early. It's mitigated somewhat that he qualifies for a medical redshirt, but he made it big as a freshman last  year, and could have been our best chance to make big plays tonight.

3. Why is your team a threat to win the Big 10?

Norm: 3. question. That being said, NO ONE in this conference is going undefeated.

Doug: 3. We beat the most hyped (Michigan) and the best (Wisconsin) teams on our conference schedule. And we're just hitting our stride. It also helps that somehow we missed Ohio State this year on our schedule. I am, however, not looking forward to Northwestern and Iowa. We can beat them, but they're going to be VERY tight games, if I had to guess. Northwestern always ruins seasons.

Joe: Because we can win tonight, and because Michigan State has a bad habit of not finishing what they start. On one hand, they don't seem to be the Michigan State of old, on the other hand, they still bear the same colors. We'll have to see if they can take care of business the rest of the way.

4. Put your reputation where your mouth is. I need your picks this week, and I need a score. Show me how good you are at this stuff. :D

Norm: 4. Michigan - 24, Iowa - 21: somehow, someway, I see the Wolverines pulling off the upset they couldn't steal away in Iowa last year. Had this game as a loss at the beginning of the season and I honestly don't know why I'm switching it now.

MSU - 27, Illinois - 24: TRAP TRAP TRAP TRAP TRAP

Minnesota/Purdue: who cares, part 1.
Indiana/Arkansas State: who cares, part 2.

Wisconsin - 28, Ohio State - 27: Camp Randall at night is a very dangerous place for the '#1' team in the country to go with that new ranking. That place is going to be rocking and, unlike two years ago when the band got suspended for the game, they will be there to provide that ol' college atmosphere. I'm not saying that was the difference a couple of years ago, but Randall wasn't rockin' like it usually does.

Doug: MSU 31 Illinois 21-- they're upset-worthy, but they beat a weak PSU team last week. MSU is just too powerful for them I think.

Michigan 17 Iowa 28-- Iowa has an even better defense than MSU, and especially defensive line. What does this mean? Denard Robinson should get shut down again.

Purdue 21 Minnesota 20-- comes down to defense here, because neither team has an offense. Also, Minnesota likes losing the close ones.

Indiana 28 Arkansas State 17-- as Norm said, who cares?

Wisconsin 24 Ohio State 20-- I think they're angry enough to do it. This is also a bit of wishful thinking. BUT Ohio State hasn't played anyone this season, so this is going to be a big test for them, and I'm hoping Wisky takes 'em by surprise.

Joe: My goodness, we have a clean sweep. I don't know if this is wishful thinking, or if we all truly believe, but Wisconsin 17, Ohio State 13.

MSU 31, Illinois 13. If everyone identifies a game as a trap game, is it really a trap game? 

Indiana 55, Arkansas State 17. 

Purdue 45, Minnesota 3. 

Iowa 24, Michigan 10. Robinson is shut down again, and we wonder what we saw early on. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

College Football Roundtable

This week, Norm decided to play host to Doug and I going back and forth about our teams for today's big matchup between the Michigan State Spartans and the Wisconsin Badgers. Check out all the stuff that we both said, although I'm sure one of us will wish his words weren't in stone later today, or at least online.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ranking the Big 10: My Preferences

This is going to be a slightly unusual way of ranking teams. I'm putting them in order simply based on who I'd cheer for, assuming it had no impact on the Badgers, of course.

1. Wisconsin

Duh. And I'm rooting for whoever makes it easier for the Badgers to win the Big 10. Moving on, however...

I find myself rooting for these teams.... 

2. Michigan

I blame Norm for this. I do find an attraction in the tradition, Hail to the Victors, the winged helmets, and the fact that they don't run a (really) dirty program, at least as far as we've been able to tell. Plus, people from Ann Arbor can throw a good party and are fun to drink with.

3. Penn State.

Again, tradition, the plain blue uni's, Joe Pa's corpse being the head coach in the next 10 years, Weekend at Bernie's style, and the fact that they tend to make the Big 10 look good and don't choke on their cupcakes. (I'm looking at you, Michigan)

4. Nebraska

This is obviously subject to change, but them looking good this year really helps our street cred.

I'm rather indifferent to these teams....

5. Northwestern

They have the underdog thing going for them, but I'd like them a lot better if they didn't continually beat us in Evanston, even when they're not supposed to be good enough to do so. Expect games in the high 40's each between us there.

6. Indiana

Tough to dislike a team that doesn't beat you. Except for a bit of an issue around 2001-2002, we have beaten them consistently since 1992. Therefore, I tend to root for them by default, because they usually don't hurt us.

7. Michigan State

These guys annoy me more than anything. They tend to beat us when we're going good, but roll over for us when we're not. It seems to be vice versa with us, and we've both knocked down otherwise great seasons for each other.

8. Illinois

They aren't usually much of a threat, but every so often, they go nuts and have a great season, knocking us off along the way. It isn't really worth rooting for them, as when they're good, they're too good, and when they're bad, they're bottom of the barrel.

9. Purdue

I just don't like them much. It's just one of those things. There's no reason for it, they haven't done anything that would make it this way, it's just, yuck.

They're rivals, but I don't hate them TOO much....

10. Iowa

This is a rivalry in which you want to beat the other, you dislike the other, but you can appreciate their successes somewhat and tip your hat when they best you.

If they play each other, I root for a meteor....

11. Minnesota
12. Ohio State

Everything about these two schools rubs me the wrong way. Mind you, Ohio State isn't technically a "rival", but they will be a division mate, they run a dirty program (Tressel ran a dirty program at Youngstown State, and you KNOW Clarett wasn't eligible, but you don't see Ohio State forfeiting victories, while USC is the "worst thing to happen in college football in decades." Tell me how fair THAT is), and they're arrogant about the whole thing. Seeing them get it handed to them in BCS games, even if it hurts the conference, makes me happy. Minnesota taking a digger against South Dakota also makes me happy.

So there you have it. Besides the bottom two, who I wouldn't root for if my life depended on it, the others can be interchanged depending on the standings situation. But hey, this was fun to do, and it's something more than a link to the latest college roundtable. :D

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

College Football Roundtable, Week 3

Yeah, yeah, I know. Week 4 is almost over. I was busy with friends and football. Here's what we have for the roundtable for week 3, and look for the link to week 4 soon enough.

1. What did you like about your team's performance this week?

Norm (Michigan): Shoelace. The offensive line was solid once again. Shoelace. Beating Notre Dame in their own house. Shoelace...and Shoelace. I think that just about covers it.

Doug (Michigan State): I don't know that it's possible to NOT get excited about having a 183 yard rusher, and the 3rd 100 yard rushing performance in 2 weeks. Baker is explosive, and he should be able to carry us for a season with Caper and Bell subbing in fairly consistently for fresh legs. This takes the pressure off Cousins, and as we've seen, he's had solid outings because the run game has been so effective. Right now, MSU is 11th in the nation in rushing yards-- not too shabby.

Joe (Wisconsin): We can play good old Wisconsin football. We can run effectively, and the defense seems to be able to make up for our offensive mistakes. Our kickers can do the job as well. 

2. What didn't you like about your team's performance this week?

Norm:  Almost everything else not named Shoelace. The running backs need to contribute more to Michigan's offense down the road. The defense gave up too many big plays and nearly gave the victory back to the Irish with stupid penalties at the end (thank you Dayne Crist for throwing that last pass over the endzone). The kicker sucked...and that description is about as polite as I'll get.

Doug: There wasn't a lot to complain about last week, but giving up 265 passing yards to FAU is never a good sign. We held them to under 50 rushing yards, which is good, but that kind of pass defense will get destroyed in the Big 10.

Joe: Our special teams, besides the guys that actually kick the ball, are special with a capital "Durrrr." We're short kick returners, and our kick coverage teams have been an issue for a few years. I'd advocate for the firing of the special teams coach if we HAD one. Instead, Bielema thinks he can make it work himself. It's clearly not.

3. What Big 10 team looks stronger to you this year than you thought?

Norm:  I have two: Wisconsin and the team that shall not be named. Both teams have defenses that are stout and will cause problems for anyone they face. I can't wait until these two face each other, it's going to be a battle.

Doug: Without a doubt-- Michigan. Who would've thought the guy with a 38% completion percentage last season would be a heisman front runner? I mean, it's hard to read into at this point because they haven't played full-strength teams (just teams that were good last year and lost some good players), but I definitely picked them to lose to UConn, so they're already way better than I expected.

Joe: Michigan can score points, which I thought was going to be an issue, and Ohio State seems to be more than we expected, which is usually not the case. 

4. On the flipside again, which Big 10 team looks weaker than you thought?

Norm:  That's hard to say, really. I tend to think all teams in the Big Ten are weaker than those in other BCS Conferences (except the ACC and the Big East-those teams suck).

Doug: Penn State and Minnesota. Penn State is always decent, and Bolden looked good in his first week... Against a horrible school. Then they came out and laid an egg at 'Bama. How many red zone turnovers? It was ugly. Minnesota was at least decent last year, and I think we're seeing what happens when Eric Decker leaves your offense. They lost to USD and had a hard time with MTSU... Enough said.

Joe: You have to say Minnesota after they lost to what amounts to a Division II team. They did that a few years ago as well, so that should be proof enough a new stadium does not a football program make. 

5. Can your quarterback tie his shoes, or does his mommy have to do it for him? :)

Norm:  Of course he can. Now is there any defender out there quick enough to catch him and make him tie his shoes? There's still plenty of football left to be played but so far, the signs point to 'NO'.'

Doug:  Kirk Cousins doesn't need to be a trend-setter. He goes out and takes care of business with his shoes tied, like any sensible football player would do. Stay safe kids, tie your shoes.

Joe: Scott Tolzien shows leadership in a lot of instances, and he also shows the younger players that tying their shoes is preferable to not tying their shoes. I can just imagine Robinson being caught by one of those flapping shoelaces and losing an ACL or Achilles. I'd be scared if I were a Michigan fan, but I suppose if I was a Michigan fan, I'd have bigger things to worry about. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

College Football Roundtable, Week 2

Check out Norm's blog here ( to see our college football roundtable discussion for week 2. Next week, I do believe it's my turn. Now, time to think of some intelligent questions...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wait a sec....

Manager, coach, player, and fan all ejected in last night's game?

I think Bob Davidson and crew hit a rare cycle for ejections.