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Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014

The Sports Bookie

A sports blog by Bob D'Angelo

Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia.

Encore performance: It wasn’t easy for the 1928 Yankees

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

The 1927 New York Yankees fielded a great baseball team. With sluggers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the middle of the lineup and a pitching staff led by Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock and relief specialist Wilcy Moore, the Yankees ran roughshod through the American League in ’27. Known as Murderers’ Row, they won 110 games and then swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series.

What can a team like that do for an encore?

The record shows that the 1928 Yankees repeated as American League champions with 101 wins and then swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. But as author Charlie Gentile documents in his first book, the encore performance was far from a cakewalk.

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Collect call: 2014 Topps MLS Chrome

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

It’s only fitting that “the beautiful game” should have a beautiful card set.

For the first time, MLS will have a chrome version of cards, and the 2014 Topps MLS Chrome product looks nice. I am normally not a fan of the shiny stuff, but there is something about the photography — particularly the action shots — that makes this set attractive.

Some shots become murky when presented as chrome, but shots like card N0. 91 (Andrew Farrell) show good action and expression. The same goes for card No. 61, which features D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid (there is a blue refractor I pulled of the same card that is even more attractive). The shots are more vivid to me, and they just seem to work better in soccer than they do in baseball, or even football.

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Collect call: 2014 Bowman Platinum baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

For a foil-based product, the 2014 Bowman Platinum baseball set is rather stark. But that’s not a negative. In fact, I believe it’s a strength. Unlike Finest baseball, which has a design that is colorful to the point of bombarding one’s senses, Bowman Platinum has a nice, simple look.

Full-bleed photography and a soft-focus background look good. The card stock itself is rather thin, but the players’ last names are presented in large, white-block letters, and the Bowman logo is strategically placed either on the middle left or middle right side of the card.

A hobby box contains 20 packs, with five cards to a box. Topps promises two chrome autographs and a chrome auto relic in each hobby box. The set contains 200 cards — 100 veterans and rookies, and 100 prospects.

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Collect call: 2014 Topps Finest baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Somewhere, over the rainbow …

Talk about bombarding one’s senses with color. That’s what the 2014 Topps Finest baseball set does. It’s a colorful set of chrome cards, filled with shades of purple, neon green and burnt orange. Sounds like a 64-crayon box of Crayolas from the 1960s. I think I had the box of 16 (no sharpener, poor me), but you get the idea.

The base set includes 100 cards, and a hobby box is made up of two mini boxes. I sampled a mini-box, which has six packs and five cards per pack. In addition to base cards, collectors will find refractors — plenty of them. On average, I pulled one refractor per pack in the mini-box I opened. The highlights: a regular refractor of White Sox pitcher Chris Sale, and two different refractors of Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole. One was a regular refractor, while the other one was numbered to 125.

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Collect call: 2014 Topps football

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Topps always produces a workmanlike set when it releases its flagship football product every year. Not a whole lot of style, perhaps, but there is plenty of substance. If you are a set builder or enjoy a product that is easy and affordable to collect, then the 2014 Topps football set is for you. If you are looking for lots of shiny cards or monster hits, look elsewhere.

The base set consists of 440 cards, with rookie and team cards liberally sprinkled among the veterans. Award winner cards have a special silver stamp near the bottom of the card. Examples: Peyton Manning has separate MVP and Player of the Year cards, and the Seattle Seahawks have “Super Bowl Champs” on its team card. All-Pros like the Bucs’ Gerald McCoy, Jimmy Graham and J.J. Watt also have specially stamped cards.

A hobby box is fairly reasonable, in the $50 to $60 range depending on where one purchases it. Each hobby box has 36 packs, with 10 cards to a pack. Topps is promising one autograph or relic card in every hobby box.

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Gehrig wristwatch fetches $340,000 after auction ends

Published:   |   Updated: August 26, 2014 at 06:48 PM
BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

With so many people watching and participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on YouTube, Facebook and other social networks, it’s appropriate that a watch once owned by Lou Gehrig brought in a hefty price tag one day after an auction closed.

Gehrig was the New York Yankees first baseman whose career — and life — was cut short by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The disease was named for the Hall of Famer. His wristwatch, engraved to commemorate the Yankees’ 1928 World Series sweep against the St. Louis Cardinals, sold for $340,000 on Monday, one day after SCP Auctions’ Mid-Summer Classic online auction closed.

Although it was the headline item for the Mid-Summer Classic, the Gehrig wristwatch never met its reserve price and did not sell at auction, SCP Auctions marketing manager Terry Melia said.

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Topps releases info, images for 2015 Heritage baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

My baseball card nostalgia is in full flower.

Earlier this year, Topps released its 2014 Heritage baseball product, which paid tribute to the 1965 Topps set — my all-time favorite baseball card set.

On Monday, Topps published information and images for its 2015 Heritage set, which will be released on March 4. Next year’s product will be patterned after the 1966 Topps design — another one of my favorite vintage sets. The design is simple and effective, and all the players looked good, whether it was card No. 1 (Willie Mays), Sandy Koufax or even Don Mossi (still one of my favorite vintage cards — do a Google search on Mossi’s 1966 card and you will understand).

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A look at Cleveland’s venerable League Park

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Cy Young pitched a no-hitter and Addie Joss was perfect there. It’s a ballpark where Babe Ruth hit his 500th homer, Bob Feller made his major-league debut, and Nap Lajoie and Tris Speaker notched their 3,000th career hits. It’s also the place where Ted Williams hit the only inside-the-park home run of his career to help the Boston Red Sox clinch the 1946 pennant.

The first grand slam and unassisted triple play in World Series history happened there — during Game 5 of the 1920 classic. That helped the Cleveland Indians clinch their first Series title there with a victory in Game 7. And in 1899, the Cleveland Spiders called it home during a horrific 20-134 season.

League Park has seen some great days — and Saturday, it comes back to life.

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Panini’s Prizm football offering colorful selections

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Many collectors have taken a shine to Panini America’s Prizm products. These cards with that buffed look are nice to look at. Kids love them; I’ve seen their reaction when going through a box full of Prizms (although I don’t know many kids who can afford a pack on their own) because it’s cool to see a reflection of yourself in the card.

I get that. As for me, I recently bought a 1956 Topps card of Bob Cerv off eBay that I needed for my collection. Condition? Good to very good; you know, when rounded corners were not intentional. Shiny? Not a chance, but still precious to me.

But I’m a vintage guy. Collectors of shiny stuff like Prizm football will enjoy this year’s more colorful model.

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How three giants of boxing defined a turbulent decade

Published:   |   Updated: August 19, 2014 at 10:01 PM
BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Boxing mattered in the 1970s, particularly in the heavyweight division. It had been relevant before: Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney gave the sport luster in the 1920s, and Joe Louis dominated during the late 1930s and ’40s. More recently, Mike Tyson was a terrifying force during the 1980s until his cloak of invincibility was shredded by Buster Douglas.

But the 1970s brought together three dominant and diverse personalities, and through five fights during the decade, they gave heavyweight boxing a golden age that hasn’t been equaled since.

Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Ge0rge Foreman are the main focus in Richard Hoffer’s smartly written “Bouts of Mania: Ali, Frazier and Foreman and an America on the Ropes” (Da Capo Press; hardback; $25.99; 278 pages). But Hoffer, a writer at Sports Illustrated for more than two decades, provides necessary and nuanced context as the fighters competed during a turbulent decade.

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