Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Born in 1993 - Carl Nassib

Carl Nassib was born on April 12, 1993 in West Chester, PA.

In 2015 Nassib won the Vince Lombardi Award as College football's top lineman and the Ted Hendricks award as the nation's top defensive end. A year later Cleveland selected the Penn State product with the 65th overall pick.

Now a member of the Las Vegas Raiders, Nassib posted a video message to his fans announcing he is gay, making him the first active NFL player to openly identify as such. #Pride

I have to admit my ignorance here. 

When I saw the headline that "Nassib comes out as NFL's first active gay player" my initial reaction was Ryan Nassib is still in the league?

Um, no. The former Giants backup QB is not an active player. However he is Carl's older brother. 


I used to be a lot more knowledgeable of NFL rosters. Every summer I would go to the book store and pick up the Athlon Pro Football Preview issue, and then I'd sit in my bedroom and study every team's depth chart. Nowadays I can only name three of Nassib's teammates on the Raiders without looking. There's Derek Carr.. and Josh Jacobs, and....Henry Ruggs?

All but one of Carl Nassib's 130 cards were released in his rookie year of 2016. I have one in my 2016 Donruss set and didn't even know it:

Until yesterday, the only card of these defensive linemen doing Combine drills that stood out to me was the Packer, Kenny Clark. Within hours of Nassib's announcement this RC soared from a 50 cent card to over $20 shipped:

Burbank Sportscards - a trusted and reliable megastore - sold a Donruss Optic holo for $0.99 yesterday.

COMC - whose reputation has been slammed over the past year - sold three copies of the same card for over $10 after Nassib shared his story:

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand I'm encouraged that more collectors are seeking out his singles in support; the whole reason I saw these sale prices was because I was searching eBay for his lone 2019 issue - a Score autograph. (There are none on eBay but a notorious TCDB user suddenly has one for trade. Hmmm.)

On the other hand the fact that people are profiting off Carl Nassib's personal truth and putting pride flags in their listing is a little off-putting. I guess it's better than dealing with people who are purging his cards from their collection because they are anti-LGBTQ (as referenced above).

Either way, it doesn't look like I'll be adding any of Carl's cards to my collection for a while. But I plan to do so down the road. And I will be rooting for him to succeed and be accepted in the 2021 season and beyond.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, June 17, 2021

Born in 1993 - Nikita Kucherov

On this date 28 years ago Nikita Kucherov was born in Maykop, Russia. (or is it Maikop? that's how Upper Deck spells it.)

Eighteen years and one week later, the Tampa Bay Lightning drafted Kucherov in the second round of the 2011 draft. The left-shooting right wing made his NHL debut against the New York Rangers on November 25, 2013 - scoring a goal on his first shift.

In his second season Kucherov developed into a top two-way player for Tampa, finishing tied for second on the Bolts with 29 goals and leading the NHL in plus/minus with a +38 rating. He also played in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. The 21 year-old winger finished one point behind co-leaders Tyler Johnson and Patrick Kane among all postseason scorers in 2015. Chicago won the Cup in six games.

Kucherov led the Lightning in scoring a season later, topping the team with 66 points in 2015-16. He notched his first 40-goal season in 2016-17, tying Toronto rookie Auston Matthews for second in the NHL. The Bolts were loaded with young stars at the time; all of their key players were 27 or younger. It was getting tougher to keep all their talented young stars under the salary cap. Hold that thought.

Nikita Kucherov was emerging as an elite NHL superstar. However the Lightning as a whole were headed in the wrong direction. Tampa missed the playoffs by a point (not Brayden) in 2017. A year later the Bolts blew a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference final, losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Capitals in seven games.

After a 100-point season in 2017-18 Nikita signed an eight-year extension with the Lightning. His next contract would kick in at the start of the 2019-20 season - at a cap hit of $9.5 million per season. With one more season under his old "bridge" deal, Kucherov rewarded the team's commitment with a season for the ages in 2018-19.

Two days after his 25th birthday Nikita Kucherov earned Hart trophy honors as NHL's MVP and the Ted Lindsay award as MVP selected by the players. He'd already earned the Art Ross trophy for leading the NHL in scoring with 128 points - the highest single-season total by any player since Mario Lemieux racked up 161 points in 1995-96.

128 points was also the total Tampa Bay had compiled as a team, running away with the league's best record at 62-14-4. Their regular season dominance didn't extend into the playoffs as the Columbus Blue Jackets swept the Bolts in a first-round shocker. 

Another playoff loss led to increased talk about the Lightning re-setting their roster. The team had spent right up to the salary cap for years, extending young stars who were drafted and developed from within. It hadn't worked. Was it time to make a change?

GM Julien BriseBois didn't panic. He kept the roster largely intact, with Steven Stamkos as captain and Nikita Kucherov as the offensive star. On pace for his third consecutive 100-point season, Kucherov finished the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season with 85 points in 68 games - the seventh-highest total in the NHL.

More importantly, he helped the team win the Stanley Cup, leading all postseason scorers with 34 points.

This season Nikita Kucherov has been in the news for not playing. Tampa's superstar underwent surgery to repair a hip injury he suffered in training camp. As a result he missed the entire regular season. That's where things got interesting. BriseBois was able to put Kucherov - and his $9.5 million contract - on long-term injury reserve, allowing the team to clear cap space for other players.

No problem, right? Except... Kucherov had been skating with the team during the regular season. And once the playoffs start the salary cap no longer applies. The Lightning activated Nikita immediately. Was this cap circumvention? Perhaps, but it wasn't illegal.

Tampa's title defense continues against the New York Islanders tonight. While much of the discussion swirls around Nikita Kucherov's contract it should be noted that the superstar winger has been one of the top five players in the NHL since 2017. In the four seasons before his hip injury, Kucherov averaged 99.5 points per campaign - a level of production matched only by the Oilers' Connor McDavid.

No NHL player born in 1993 has compiled more career points than Nikita's 547 - a total that also tops his draft class

You can still find Nikita Kucherov cards in dime boxes - including the online dime box, where I've picked up a few (one more is on the way as I type this.) And his 2013-14 Panini Prizm RC is a bargain compared to Prizm rookie cards of the 2019 NFL and NBA Most Valuable Players.


Thanks for reading!


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Ultra Ball

My daughter has been playing a lot of Pokemon Sword and Shield lately. There's an attack move in the game called a Gyro Ball that reminds me of a former Red Sox pitcher. There's also a capture move called an Ultra Ball that you throw to catch a Pokemon if you want to add it to your team rather than attacking it.

She's also collecting Pokemon cards but I don't think she has this one. Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because a player can decide when to throw this Ultra Ball and (in the video game, at least) decide which Pokemon to collect. 

I've got over a thousand Ultra ball cards from 1992 to 1994, specifically baseball and basketball. With the base sets completed I turned my attention to Ultra inserts from 1993. 

This Roger Clemens Strike Out King insert is my fourth of the five cards in the set (still need the Nolan Ryan.) I acquired this card in a TCDB trade with Dantheman. I do not recommend trading with him. The offer was in his favor, which I didn't mind, but the cards I received weren't in great shape. Dan also takes his sweet time sending cards; in both of our trades he had received my end before shipping his. 

I might need to upgrade this Clemens eventually (note the top right edge) but it's a Red Sox card so I'll keep this in my team collection regardless. 

There are seven insert sets in 1993 Ultra baseball. I'm only interested in these and Home Run Kings for now.

Here's another 1993-adjacent insert card I acquired in a TCDB trade. I sent 12 baseball dupes to user M_ -- eleven of which were from 1993 Leaf and 1993 Studio. In return I received a Manny Ramirez base card, two hockey cards from the 1995-96 Playoff One On One TCG, and this Charles Barkley Rebound Kings insert from 1993-94 Ultra:

I'm guessing this photo was taken during the 1993 NBA Finals, but I could be wrong. The top half of this card is very strange, with a pink cloud and Chuck's head decapitating Horace Grant (and the ref). 

This is my second of ten Rebound Kings cards. I'm not planning to "catch 'em all" but I thought it would be neat to have a card that recognizes the Round Mound of Rebound's board work. The top edge of this card is a bit chipped, too.

The one insert set I do like from 1993-94 Ultra is Power In The Key. My collecting friends and I really enjoyed these back in the day; they seemed like tough pulls. I'm not going to chase this nine-card set considering the Michael Jordan alone sells for about $200.

One more 1993-ish card arrived in a TCDB trade, but it's not an Ultra.

This Brad Daugherty comes to Collector HQ courtesy of TCDB user BubbaV304. I shipped another half-dozen dupes to Bob (including four 1992-93 Ultra basketball singles) for four more of those Playoff One On One hockey cards, a Phil Simms single from 1989 Score and this Daugherty here. This one's got a couple corner touches but it fits right in with the rest of my All-Division inserts. It probably sounds like I'm complaining about condition but the Simms is actually in worse shape than any of these.

This card brings me to 65% of the set (13 of 20). I might check out Sportlots to fill some of these insert sets if I can't acquire any more in trade.

Secret Base is previewing a three-part documentary on the history of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I'm sure the Daugherty-Price-Nance teams of the early '90s will be mentioned. 

As for this blog, I have a basketball post planned as part of a potential NBA Week/Weekend similar to my NFL Week promo a few months ago. Still working out what I'll discuss and when, but it will likely include a PWE swap offer if anyone is interested in offloading some NBA cards.


Thanks for reading!


Thursday, June 3, 2021

Fade Into You

I haven't written anything here in a while. Haven't had much to say about 1993, sports, or trading cards. Lately I've been reading about 1990s alternative and binge-listening to The Ringer's Rob Harvilla's weekly podcast 60 Songs That Explain the '90s. I highly recommend it if you're a '90s fan.

"Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star hasn't come up yet. I don't think it will. But if I listed my top 60 essential tracks of the decade it would definitely make the list.


I can't recall if I ever slow-danced to this song, which means I probably didn't. It's doubtful that any school dance DJ's were cool enough to spin this track at the time. I do remember that the jock down the street used to add words to the title ("Faaade yeah-i'm into-youuu") Not sure if he was being sarcastic or if he honestly thought those were the lyrics. Also I played this song for my wife back when we were dating. She hated it.

When I was a tween I had this bad habit of assuming the name of the band was the name of the lead singer. This trend started with Jesus Jones and continued through Mazzy Star (not the singer's name, her name is Hope Sandoval) and Bush, because Gavin Rossdale was so prominent in the video (and because we'd just had a president named Bush.)  

The lead singer of Jesus Jones is Mike Edwards, the same name of the man who married my last crush. "Fade Into You" is one of those songs that always makes me think of whomever it is that I'm thinking of at the time. I doubt that's why my wife dislikes it but it's notable.

Right now I'm in a weird-bad place with office girl. I avoid her as much as I can but it's not enough. I'm not ready to leave this job, and I certainly don't want her to be the reason I leave when I inevitably do so. I think my feelings for her have mostly dissipated, leaving only a residual jealousy that I'm not one of the cool young dudes that work up front and talk to her whenever they want without hesitation. 

It's not a big deal, honestly. It'll pass. But I do miss the winter days when she and I got on a lot better. 

Anyway. I hope you're all doing well. I'll check in again soon.

Thanks for reading & listening!