“In Action” Inaction

1982-83 O-Pee-Chee card #40 – Mel Bridgman In Action

Mel Bridgman In ActionFile this under false advertising.

At the top of the card it states – no, it practically screams – in uppercase letters “IN ACTION”. But clearly, Mel Bridgman is anything but “in action”. Maybe O-Pee-Chee erroneously added a space between the two words, and really meant to say “inaction” As in, Bridgman isn’t really doing anything except looking somewhat perplexed – perhaps by the misnomer that labels the top of his trading card. Continue reading ““In Action” Inaction”

Thanks for nothin’, NHL

Yesterday I would have loved to have watched the All-Star game. What’s not to love about a 12-to-11 blowout that was settled in the shootout? The only problem was, the game was on VS.

VS, aka Versus. You know, that channel that has the national broadcast rights to the National Hockey League here in the U.S. of A. As far back as I can remember during my years of following this sport, the NHL All-Star game has been televised on NBC. Free TV, not cable.

But this year, the League–despite its hype and high ratings of the Winter Classic–felt that the annual game made up of the best hockey players in the world would best be served on a cable TV station that many people in the U.S. don’t get.

Even the NHL circa-1990, with their caveman-like ways of yore, were smart enough not to bury the All-Star game on cable. At the time, their national broadcast partner in the United States was SportsChannel, which was not carried in many regions. But the All-Star Game, thankfully, was on NBC. It usually got piss-poor ratings, but it was the one hockey game that anyone in the U.S. could see.

So, I have to wonder, what gives? With “The NHL on NBC” having a “Game of the Week” each Sunday–as well as games three through seven of the Stanley Cup Finals–you’d think the freakin’ All-Star Game would have been a killer time-slot filler. Sadly, that was not the case.

Now, don’t get me wrong–I can get Versus in my area. For the past six years, I subscribed to ComCast Cable. ComCast owns Versus, and is trying to grow it to become a competitor for ESPN; hence Versus was part of even ComCast’s most basic of channel lineups. As in, you always got it, and for no additional cost.

Since moving last June, I decided that I was damn tired of ComCast’s overpriced cable. Sure, it was good, but is it eighty dollars a month good? My girlfriend Shellie previously subscribed to Dish Network, and I was easily swayed, as we could get most of the channels we wanted for $50 a month.

Most of the channels. Guess what channel is not included.

Yep, that one. A basic subscription to Dish Network would cost $40/month. For $10 more, Shellie can get all of her Animal Planet-type channels, and I would get ComCast SportsNet Chicago–which makes me ask, just how many “sports channels” does ComCast own? But CSN is a necessity to me, since they televise most of the Chicago Blackhawks games. But paying $60 a month (instead of $50) just to get Versus, seems like a waste of money.

Here’s why Versus *is* a waste of money if you are not a ComCast Cable subscriber. Versus shows two games a week, usually involving one or more of the following teams per game: the New York Rangers, the New Jersey Devils, the Detroit Red Wings, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Washington Capitals and/or the Buffalo Sabres. For $10 a month, you can get your fill of the Patrick Division, and then some. But you’ll never get to see, say, the Phoenix Coyotes take on the San Jose Sharks.

After some thought, I decided–with urging from Shellie–to take the extra $10 that I’d be spending each month for Versus and apply it to the Center Ice package.

OMG! Now, instead of seeing two games per week, I can see all the games *except* the two that are on Versus. Because unbeknown to Versus, hockey games occur on Tuesdays through Sundays too. Either Versus does not know that “hockey happens” seven days a week, or they’re too busy televising quail hunting or bull riding or swamp boat racing.

Except that, yesterday Versus put aside their bull riding and televised the All-Star Game instead. Damn.

Canadians are lucky that they don’t have to put up with this.

Me and My Shadow

1990-91 Seventh Inning Sketch QMJHL card #46 – Martin Chaput

Martin ChaputCanadian-based card manufacturer Seventh Inning Sketch is best known for their trading card sets featuring major junior hockey players from the early 1990s. Whereas “police sets” from that era relied on posed portrait shots, Seventh Inning Sketch instead utilized action photography on the majority of the cards. This made for a more exciting set of cards, although a stinker did slip through the cracks every now and then. This is one such card. Continue reading “Me and My Shadow”

Review: 1983 Canadian National Junior Team set

21-card set of Canada’s top junior players is pure gold

The 1983 Canadian National Junior Team set was one of my “Holy Grails” as a hockey card collector. I first laid eyes upon this set at a sports card show way back in 1991, when $100 for a set of cards was a “lot of money” for me. Hell, that’s still a lot of money, but it’s worth it. This amazing postcard-sized set, which was released during the 1983 World Junior Championships, features most of the young men who played for Canada’s Junior Team – including 17-year old prospects and future Hall of Famers Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman. Continue reading “Review: 1983 Canadian National Junior Team set”

Wall calendars suck

First of, a belated Happy New Year to all. A computer problem has kept me away from the internets the past few days, but I’m back online.

calendar cover

Anyway, with the first of the year now come and gone, my girlfriend Shellie and I decided to purchase calendars at a local bookstore. The best time to buy a calendar is right after New Year’s Day–they become more and more obsolete as the days go by, and you can usually find them marked down at least 50%.

But calendar selections are pretty lame; it’s mostly puppies or flowers or puppies frolicking in flowers. You have your dogs, kittens, horses, Camp Rock, farm equipment, Playboy Playmates, muscle cars, etc. etc. Stuff that I normally don’t like enough to want to hang on my wall (with the exception of a Playboy calendar–but only single guys hang up “naked lady pictures” in their place).

In Chicago, you will find sports calendars of the Cubs, the White Sox, the Bulls (even though they suck), the Bears (ditto), NASCAR, Notre Dame Football, college basketball…and if you are lucky, a hockey calendar. I found this Blackhawks calendar and purchased it, which brings me to the first reason why calendars suck:

1. They are overpriced.

Who in their right mind pays $14.99 for a calendar? The answer is no one. We all just wait and wait until January 2 and then get one at half price. I think the bookstores and calendar-making companies have finally figured this out, and inflated their prices accordingly. Before we know it, calendars will cost $29.99, and get “marked down” to $15. I’m sure some person who knows all about publishing and/or distribution channels can prove me wrong on this, but I don’t care. I have my suspicions.

Paging through the calendar, I notice that Mr. January is Robert Lang. Lang was traded to Montreal before training camp. This brings me to my second reason why calendars suck:

2. The player selection is lame.

calendar cover

Lang was traded on September 12, 2008. Even worse, Rene Bourque–who graces the month of August 2009–was traded to Calgary on July 1, 2008. Which makes me wonder who picked these players? Most of the players in the calendar (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp) make sense. But these two? Why not also include Jim Vandermeer and Patrick Lalime as long as we’re at it?

calendar cover

I know that, like everything else that is published, there are deadlines. But there’s no flipping way that these stupid calendars were printed before Bourque’s trade on July 1. Didn’t someone at Turner Licensing–the fine folks who made this calendar–realize or even care that Lang and Bourque were gone?

Why aren’t our two big free agent acquisitions–Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet–somewhere in this calendar? What is this, an old Topps hockey card set? Do they have to play a full season in Chicago before appearing in a lousy, overpriced calendar?


calendar cover

Other questionable inclusions are Nikolai Khabibulin (March) and Martin Havlat (May). Most likely, those two guys will be long gone by the time their months roll around.

calendar cover

Maybe I’m just bitter because I didn’t get a free calendar at a ‘Hawks game this year, or my local gas station didn’t give me a crappy “gas station calendar”. My favorite Chinese restaurant gave me a wall scroll-type calendar, but you can’t really write on those.

Oh well. I guess I can’t expect too much, considering that this cost me around $8 and will get the job done. And it still beats that “puppies frolicking in flowers” calendar.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Mario!

Sports Illustrated for Kids Volume 5, Number 12 – December 1993

Sports Illustrated for Kids Volume 5, Number 12 - December 1993Even though I was a bit old to be perusing Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine back in December 1993, how could I pass this issue up? The cover photograph features Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins, dressed as Santa Claus and feeding fish to penguins – tell me that does not scream “buy this magazine now!!!” Never mind the fact that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole, penguins live at the South Pole and Lemieux lives in Pittsburgh. Continue reading “Ho! Ho! Ho! Mario!”

When hype meets frostbite

Living in Chicago and being a Blackhawks fan, you would think that I would be dying to go to this season’s NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day.

To tell the truth, I did want to go to this game really bad. As my sister asked me, “How many times can you say you’ve seen a hockey game at Wrigley Field?” That raised a good point. Continue reading “When hype meets frostbite”