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Thursday, Sep 18, 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.

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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Panini previews Hall of Fame 75th Anniversary set

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Panini America is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in a big way.

Panini, which has a licensing agreement with the Hall of Fame, has put out the Cooperstown set the past two years. To celebrate the Hall’s diamond anniversary, Panini is putting out a much more ambitious product.

The 2014 Hall of Fame 75th Anniversary baseball set is scheduled to be released on Oct. 8. This product will be radically different than previous Hall of Fame releases, with only 12 cards per box. Panini is promising two autographs and four cards numbered to 75 or less. There will be one insert each from the Elite Series, Dominator, Diamond Kings and Crusade subsets, plus two other cards. Base cards will come in three distinct versions, along with five different parallels numbered to 50 or less.

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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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