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Thursday, Oct 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.

Collect call: 2014 Topps Finest football

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Topps trots out its 2014 Finest football set with the same formula that has been so successful in recent years. Rookie autographs and shiny cards, including refractors, are the big draws.

A hobby box is actually two mini-boxes, with six packs per mini and five cards per pack. A base set includes 100 veteran cards and 50 rookies. The mini-box I opened contained nine rookie cards, including former Plant High and Georgia star Aaron Murray, Sammy Watkins, Michael Sam and Jimmy Garoppolo. The card design for the base set is vertical, which I love, and team colors are prevalent on the sides and bottoms of the card fronts.

Topps promises an auto patch card or a jumbo auto relic in each mini-box. The card I received was a rookie autograph patch card of Bengals rookie running back Jeremy Hill, numbered to 50. The design is horizontal, and the autograph comes on a sticker.

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Collect call: 2014 Topps UFC Champions

Published:   |   Updated: September 27, 2014 at 07:33 PM
BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

For collectors who enjoy mixed martial arts, it’s a fun time. Topps’ latest effort, UFC Champions, is perfect for set builders and offers enough hot cards to please collectors looking for nice hits.

A hobby box contains 20 packs, with 10 cards to a pack. There is a 200-card base set, with parallels in silver, black, blue, red and a 1/1 platinum.

The hobby box I opened contained 160 base cards. For set builders, that’s a nice percentage. There also were 12 parallels; six were black ones numbered to 188, there were five blues numbered to 88, and a red parallel of Mike Easton numbered to 8.

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Seeking that ticket to beat pediatric brain cancer

Published:   |   Updated: September 26, 2014 at 11:32 PM
BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

It’s a nightmare for any parent: a child is diagnosed with a brain tumor.

It’s a devastating blow, and parents are left in the helpless position of providing comfort and strength to a child who may not be able to grasp what is happening.

“Is there anything worse than watching a child dying from it?” asks Paul Hale, director of the pediatric division for fundraising at the Florida Brain Tumor Association in Coral Springs.

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Polls allows fans to vote for baseball’s most important people

Published:   |   Updated: September 23, 2014 at 11:06 PM
BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Polls are a subjective thing. They are certain to cause lively debate, and not surprisingly, some controversy.

And when it comes to major-league baseball, polls about who is “the greatest” can fuel arguments for weeks.

But what about the “most important” people in baseball history? That goes beyond the realm of players and managers. That pulls in owners, reporters, authors, broadcasters, statisticians and more.

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Pro football pioneers who won’t be forgotten

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

The National Football League sure could use some good news these days. You know, a story that combines honor, courage, integrity and foresight.

Here’s a story worth telling, even if it happened 68 years ago. A year before Jackie Robinson broke the color line in major-league baseball, four black football players re-integrated pro football. They faced some of the same racism Robinson encountered. But like the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Hall of Famer, they handled bigotry with toughness, dignity and class. And, they were pretty good athletes, too.

“Forgotten Four: The Integration of Pro Football” premieres Tuesday night on the Epix network. The hour-long documentary focuses on Kenny Washington and Woody Strode, who were signed by the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams in 1946; and Hall of Famers Marion Motley (elected in 1968) and Bill Willis (1977), who were signed that same year by the Cleveland Browns of the All-American Football Conference. The signings ended a dozen years of a silent “gentleman’s” agreement among pro football owners, who stopped signing black athletes at the height of the Great Depression.

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Collect call: 2014 Topps Triple Threads baseball

Published:   |   Updated: September 21, 2014 at 07:13 PM
BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

The philosophy behind Topps Triple Threads baseball has remained constant: if it’s not broken, there’s no need to fix it.

A hobby box for this high-end set comes with two mini-boxes, with seven cards per mini-box. Topps promises that each mini-box will contain two low-numbered, triple relic cards — one of them autographed.

The base set contains 100 cards, but collectors who buy this product are probably not set builders. However, the card stock is thick and the design is nice. There’s a nice marbling effect that frames the action shot, and the photography is sharp. Some of the die-cut phrases might be a reach, but most are explained on the back of the card.

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Revisiting baseball’s miracle team

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By bob d’angeloTribune staff

It was the unlikeliest pennant run in major-league history.

Even 100 years later, the story of Boston’s “Miracle Braves” of 1914 resonates, because it’s the ultimate worst-to-first story. The laughingstock of major-league baseball for more than a decade, the team lost 101 games in 1912 and finished a staggering 52 games out of first place.

In 1914, the Braves were 26-40 and in last place on July 4. Three days later, they lost 10-2 to a minor-league team from Buffalo. Then, something truly miraculous took place. Boston went 68-19 the rest of the season, won the National League pennant by 101/2 games over the New York Giants, and then swept the mighty Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series.

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Panini previews Playbook football

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Panini America released images of its Playbook football product on Friday, a set that is scheduled to be released in late October. What will be interesting about this set will be the configuration. Each two-card pack will contain one booklet card and one autograph or memorabilia card.

Some of the highlights include Playbook Booklet Signatures, which will showcase current NFL stars. There also will be 1/1 autographed printing plates, NFL Shields and Nike swooshes.

Rookie Booklet Signatures will feature the 40 rookies who appeared at the NFLPA’s rookie premiere event. These cards will include player die-cuts, two pieces of memorabilia and an autograph.

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Golf’s greatest concession

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BY BOB D’ANGELO Tribune staff

It was the greatest non-shot in golf history.

After Jack Nicklaus sank a nervy 5-foot putt at No. 18 in the final match of the 1969 Ryder Cup, opponent Tony Jacklin knew he faced a testy 2-footer to halve the match at Royal Birkdale and produce the first tie in the event’s history.

It never happened. Nicklaus picked up Jacklin’s marker and conceded the putt, a spontaneous gesture of sportsmanship that dumbfounded members of both the United States and Great Britain squads.

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Collect call: 2014 Topps Chrome baseball

Published:   |   Updated: September 9, 2014 at 06:35 PM
BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

It’s that time of year for baseball collectors who enjoy the shiny stuff.

The 220-card Topps Chrome baseball set offers plenty of shiny cards, plus refractors, X-fractors and atomic refractors.

A hobby box contains 24 packs, with four cards to a pack. The price range for a hobby box falls in the mid-$60s range. Topps promises two autograph cards per hobby box; a nice plus about these autos is that they are on-card signatures.

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