Super Bowl LIII: Signature Showdown

After two thrilling overtime Conference Championship Games, Super Bowl LIII is set to feature a clash between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots. While the finish of the Los Angeles Rams vs New Orleans Saints game will be discussed for years to come, it was business as usual for the Bill Belicheck led Patriots, who unrelentingly punished a tired Kansas City Chiefs defense in overtime en route to their third straight Super Bowl appearance.

A lot has happened in the seventeen years since these two teams last met in Super Bowl 36. That Super Bowl would be the starting point for the dynasty New England Patriots, who have gone on to win four more Super Bowl’s since. Tom Brady is still going strong at 41 years old, and with five rings and four Super Bowl MVP’s, it could be argued that he’s hungrier than ever to add to his legend before time runs out.

On the other side of the ball, the Rams have transitioned from the Greatest Show on Turf to a team that struggled to find it’s identity for many years. It wasn’t until they drafted Running Back Todd Gurley in 2015, Jared Goff in 2016, and returned to Los Angeles later that year that the team found their direction. The team made waves when they signed Head Coach Sean McVay at just 30 years old in 2017, and that may very well have been the final piece of the puzzle. The Rams went on to finish with a 13-3 record in 2018, the same record they finished with in 1999, a season that just so happened to end with a Super Bowl victory.

Last year we chose our Super Bowl winner by rating the respective team’s rookie cards. Our method of picking a winner did not go so well, as our pick of the Patriots did not come to fruition. This year around, we’ll be rating the team’s offensive skill position and one defensive position by the quality of their signatures found on trading cards. We’ll be using cards featuring highly visible and clean autographs for the sake of a fair review process.

Quarterbacks

If this were a contest based on autograph value,  Tom Brady would have Jared Goff by a Hail Mary and then some. But we’re judging based on penmanship, and neither of these players earn high marks from us (and the puns began….). While iconic and somewhat legible, Brady opts for the lazy approach of three letters and squiggles to fill up the rest of his autograph. Goff take a different route, but unfortunately that route teeters somewhere between fifth grade cursive class and “Hey, that kind of looks like my last name, right?”. We’re going to give the win to Goff because while neither auto is particularly great, Goff’s does not come across as dismissive, and it’s apparent he puts at least a little effort into trying to produce a quality signature. Touchdown Rams.  Rams 7 Patriots 0 

Running Backs

On the field, there are very few players who come close to the caliber of Todd Gurley. In just four years, Gurley has established himself among a very elite group of running backs, and is poised to set records if he can stay healthy. On the other hand, Sony Michel is a young upstart who was able to take over the starting role halfway through his rookie campaign. But when it comes to the pen, we have to give the nod to Sony, who’s autograph possesses a coolness with it’s sailboat S and lone M representing his last name. Gurley’s overlapping TG just doesn’t cut it, and there is strong evidence to support that you’re more likely to get a streaky autograph out of a Gurley than a clean one. Patriots 7 Rams 7

Wide Receivers

For the Wide Receivers group, we’ll be awarding 3 points to each receiver who’s autograph receives our stamp of approval.

James White – While technically a running back, James White led the Patriots in receptions in 2018. White’s intentionally smaller autograph shows time and care. We’re awarding a field goal here.

Julian EdelmanJulian Edelman has beautiful penmanship, but the glaring problem is that his ‘J’ looks more like a ‘D’, and his last name is marred with issues. The effort is there, and if his name were let’s say, David Iverson, this would absolutely be a points-worthy auto.

Chris Hogan – Now here’s a guy who’s doing the best with what he’s got. We appreciate the effort, even if that effort is in the same vein as Billy Madison writing ‘Rizzuto’ on a chalkboard. Kick is up and it’s good!

Brandin Cooks – No, the Pats are not cheating, at least not yet. While he caught passes from Brady last season, Brandin Cooks is now catching passes from Goff. He’s also catching points in our contest for the beautiful loops found in his initialized signature.

Robert Woods – We really like the route that Robert Woods takes with his auto, with consistent lines, a looping R, and a clever little w that transitions into an S that brings it all together. Three points on the board without question.

Cooper Kupp – He can catch passes with the best of them, but Cooper Kupp is a bust with the pen. He’s probably pretty good at drawing up offensive plays on a white board though!

So James White and Chris Hogan both earn the Pats three points a piece, while Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods keep the Rams lockstep with the Patriots. Patriots 13 Rams 13

Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski has over five hundred receptions in his brilliant career, while Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett barely have over 100 receptions combined. Gronk has a track record to haul down touchdowns in bunches, which is why we’re awarding him TWO touchdowns for his shining example of excellent penmanship, legibility, care and consideration for signing. We’re also awarding a touchdown to Tyler Higbee for a quality H and overall legible auto as well. Although we appreciate the uniqueness, Gerald Everett’s signature just doesn’t do enough for us to get all seven point, so we’ll give him three points for getting close to pay dirt. Patriots 27 Rams 23

Defensive Players

Aaron Donald gave offensives nightmares all season long, racking up 20.5 sacks along the way. Devin McCourty has been the model of consistency on an otherwise inconsistent Patriots defense. Both players have vastly contrasting signatures, making this final match up particularly difficult to decide. Devin opts to go full name, but gets lazy on his first name and trails off in areas of his last name. On the other hand, Aaron Donald not only opts for the ‘AD’ approach, but his ‘A’ is far more of a star than it is the first letter of the alphabet. Intentional or not, the swagger is overbearing, because Aaron Donald delivers every bit of what his signature seemingly represents: Star D(efense). Rams 30, Patriots 27.

Our painstakingly researched and 100% scientific method of picking a winner has led us to choose the Los Angeles Rams as our favorite to win the Big Game. Regardless of the outcome, we expect Super Bowl LIII to be a match up for the ages as many story lines play out. Speaking of which, we want you to play along at home with us. Be sure to follow our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages where later this week we’ll be giving you three different opportunities to win prizes in our Super Bowl Contests!

Fresh Out of the Pack #6 – New Sets Found on the COMC Marketplace

Fresh out of the Pack #6

Check out what’s new on the COMC Marketplace….

In our ongoing series ‘Fresh out of the Pack’ , we shine the spotlight on the latest sets that have emerged on the COMC Marketplace. It’s been a little while since our last installment of ‘Fresh out of the Pack’, so a lot of products have

Fresh new inventory of these sets will be added for many months to come, so be sure to check back often!

2018 Baseball

2018-19 Basketball

2018 Football

2018-19 Hockey

2018 Misc. Sports & Non-Sports

COMC Says Farewell to Two Standout Members of Our Team

The winds of change are blowing through the hallways of the COMC headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Over the next few weeks we’ll say farewell to two vital and standout members of our team as they move forward in their journey and pursuit of their passions.

Brandon LeCompte joined COMC in the Summer of 2016 as a member of our Identification Team. Having used COMC for many years prior, he quickly became acclimated to not only our ID Team’s internal tools and workflow, but also the company culture.

“My favorite memories at COMC were the sports related contests and season long fantasy leagues we played. They were a healthy crossroads between competition & trash talk, building comradery with people across departments over the course of many weeks.”

Brandon made such an impact that he was asked to represent COMC and the work our booth at the 2017 & 2018 National Sports Collectors Conventions. Perhaps no one can attest to the impact he made better than our ID Team Manager Charles Hodder:

“Brandon is one of the most amiable people I have ever had the pleasure to work with, much less manage. His knowledge, passion for the hobby and his unparalleled work ethic made him an indispensable part of the ID team. He also stood out from the crowd when interacting with the collecting public at large at several National Conventions on behalf of COMC. I have never heard anything but praise from anyone who has had any interaction with him.

We are better for having had him for the time we did. He has great things ahead of him and he will be sorely missed.”

You may remember Brandon from our ‘Who is COMC?‘ video where he told the story of packing all of his things into his car and moving from Texas to Washington to join COMC. So where is Brandon heading now?

“My relentless entrepreneurial spirit has led me to move in with my significant other in Florida and pursue a career in the fashion industry. I have enjoyed my two and a half years in Seattle exploring, hiking, and appreciating the Pacific Northwest. I even got to meet Gary Payton last month!”

For over a decade, Heather Hollander has been an integral part of our evolution from a tiny garage startup to the four-location company we are today. Heather was featured in our ‘COMC Origins’ video released last year, where the first four members of our team took a stroll down memory lane back at the original birthplace of COMC.

Her Manager Jim Osborn spoke highly to what Heather has meant for to our team:

“Over the 11 years Heather has been part of the COMC family, she’s processed literally millions of cards.   Starting as a 17 year-old high school student working part time, she joined the company full time after graduation. Since then, she’s become an indispensable member of the Processing Department and worked her way into a Lead role within the department. 

She truly wrote the book on her area of processing and with her personal standards being very high, she’s raised the bar for all who follow. Her attention to detail as well as the accuracy and efficiency with which she handles cards is second to none.

She’s resigning her full-time roll at COMC in order to pursue a lifelong dream to work with animals (no snide remarks about the employees of COMC).  We know she’ll embrace this new opportunity with the passion and commitment she brought to her position here.  Bon chance, Heather!”

While she’s certainly put in the time, effort and tenure, she confesses that some of her fondest moments at COMC are participating in holiday activities and company picnics with the rest of the team. One of Heather’s final contributions to COMC was the idea of having a ‘snowball fight’ (dodge ball) during our annual White Elephant Gift Exchange get together. Going forward, the snowball fight will be a yearly tradition appropriately named the “Heather Hollander Winter Invitational Snowball Fight” .

The COMC Team certainly has an abundance of pet owners, perhaps no one is more passionate about animals than Heather. Several times over the years she’s cared for small birds that flew into our office windows until they were able to fly on their own again. That’s why we know she is going to be amazing in her new role as a Assistant Groomer and Dog Bather at a local PetSmart Salon.

“I’d like to thank Tim and Julia for hiring me, and also my dad (Steve Hollander) for recommending me to them in the first placeI want to thank my manager Jim Osborn for all of his trust and encouragement. Whenever I was having a bad day, Steve Walker always had my back and would go out of his way to make my day better. I am so grateful to COMC for all of the opportunity and support you’ve given me over the past 11 years. While I am eager to pursue this new opportunity, I think I will always consider myself as part of the COMC family.”

On behalf of all of us here at COMC, we want to offer our very best to Heather and Brandon as they move forward on their journeys. For their hard work, persistence and contributions over the years, they will forever be a part of COMC. Thank you so very much for making us better. .

20 Rookies to Watch in 2018-19 Panini Prizm Basketball

Arguably the most anticipated basketball release of each calendar year over the last several years has been Panini Prizm Basketball. Panini’s stranglehold over the NBA trading card landscape over the last ten years thanks to an exclusive agreement with the NBA has resulted in the disappearance of once established key rookie sets like the Topps Chrome Refractor and Ultimate Collection Rookie Materials Autographs. In their place rose the new heirs to the throne such as the National Treasures Rookie Patch Auto and the Panini Prizm Silver Prizm.

Silver Prizms and their respective lower numbered parallels are the beck and call of NBA basketball collectors and speculators. We’ve seen meteoric rises of Silver Prizms of some of the game’s newest established stars in recent years. Jayson Tatum silvers were all the rage in 2017-18, while Ben Simmons set new heights in 2016-17. Kristaps Porzingis won collector’s hearts in 2015-16 Prizm, while others waited on Joel Embiid in 2014-15 Prizm. While Giannis Antetokounmpo proved everyone wrong when his 2013-14 Prizm skyrocketed, we can’t forget that the 2012-13 inaugural Prizm set featured a strong crop of rookies including Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving among others.

So now here we are in 2019 and the 2018-19 Panini Prizm market is truly starting to take form. There’s no doubt you’ve probably heard the names of the top rookies all making waves in the NBA this season. But what about the rest? That’s why we’ve got you covered with our list of 20 rookies to watch in 2018-19 Panini Prizm Basketball

Head of the Class

 

  1. Luka Doncic – Doncic established himself internationally before making the leap to the NBA and has not disappointed. Averaging nearly 20 points a game this season, his meteoric rise can be attributed not only to his stellar on-court performance, but also his charisma and personality. He has all the makings of an NBA Superstar and is easily the Rookie of the Year up to this point.
  2. Deandre Ayton –  The first overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft has lived up to the hype, with the big man posting over 16 points and 10 rebounds per game. The Phoenix Suns might be having a rough go at it this season, but a strong young core will eventually tip the scales the other direction.
  3. Trae Young –  The Atlanta Hawks Point Guard came out of the gate strong before cooling down, but still owns an impressive 15+ points and seven assists per game stat line.
  4. Kevin Knox – Thrust into the scrutiny of the Madison Square Garden faithful, Knox has delivered, posting over 12 points per game with a 35% 3-point percentage. A big market only means big potential for the 19 year old.
  5. Jaren Jackson Jr. – The fourth overall pick rose his stock tremendously with a 36 point performance back in November, and has elevated his game ever since.
  6. Marvin Bagley III – Prior to sustaining an injury, we loved the direction the Kings PF was headed in. That brief scope of work was enough to nudge him ahead of our #7

Rounding out the Top 12…

 

7. Michael Porter Jr. – Speculation is building on Porter, who missed the majority of the 2017-18 season at Missouri and has yet to play in an NBA game. With no timetable for his return, the five star recruit out of high school doesn’t have the stat lines to back it up, but that hasn’t stopped his Silver Prizm from reaching the $50+ mark.
8. Collin Sexton – Sexton suffers the misfortune of playing for a post-Lebron Cleveland Cavaliers team, but he has performed impressively so far, posting almost 15 points per game.
9. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – The Canadian Point Guard from ‘The 6’ has wasted no time getting acclimated to the west coast. Strong defense and the ability to score earns him a well deserved spot in our top 10.
10. Rodions Kurucs – The Latvian small forward has come on strong as of late, and has played well in limited time this season. He’s posted 24 points twice this season, earning him recognition among collectors and speculators.
11. Lonnie Walker IV – Suffering a torn meniscus in preseason was a setback, but the Spurs love what they see in the shooting guard from the University of Miami. Recently posted a 34 point performance in G-League action.
12. Mo Bamba – The Orlando Magic big man has posted decent numbers in his rookie campaign, logging 1.4 blocks per game so far. It also doesn’t hurt that a friendship with a popular rapper has resulted in off-court attention for Mo.

Don’t Sleep on These Guys..

 

13. Wendell Carter Jr. – Carter has shown flashes of brilliance mixed with inconsistency under center for the Chicago Bulls. Still, a 28 point performance is noteworthy enough to find his way into our favorite sleeper pick.
14. Miles Bridges – The 12th overall pick of the draft finds his way into #14 on our list as a strong sleeper pick. The versatile small forward has all the athleticism to either erupt into a play maker or carve our a niche as a solid role player.
15. Allonzo Trier – The Knicks shooting guard has garnered attention coming off of the bench, warranting play time as the Knicks look to get young. Suffered a small set back with a hamstring injury a few weeks back.
15.  Robert Williams III – Drew attention with two blocks on Anthony Davis in a game back in December.  Strong flashes of defense and playing for a large market earns him considerations for our list.
17. Mikal Bridges – Playing along side Deandre Ayton, the small forward from Villanova has performed commendably, posting nearly eight points per game.
18. Anfernee Simons – He has displayed phenomenal talent at the preps, and has the athleticism to boot, but has yet do anything of importance at the NBA level during his rookie campaign. Still, we have the optimism and Pacific Northwest bias to land Simons a spot on this list.
19. Kostas Antetokounmpo – The last name alone is going to draw him attention and speculation. The younger brother of Giannis was the 60th overall pick of the 2018 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and then traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Let’s be honest, we all know what Giannis did, emerging from the ashes of mediocre stat lines to become a mega star.
20. Josh Okogie – Quickly becoming a T’Wolves fan favorite, Okogie has split time between starting and coming off the bench. We like the shooting guard’s potential.

One of the things we enjoy about these lists involving sleepers is that no one seems to want to tell us if they disagree for the sake of not drawing attention to the prospect they’re stashing! There are 53 rookies total in the 2018-19 Prizm base set, meaning 33 did not make the cut here. Who else deserves consideration? Let us know in the comments below!

Rich Reminisces: What’s in a Name?

Happy New Year! If you happen to follow my Facebook page, you have seen over the past year I tend to post some funny names which pop up while doing COMC Identification work.
Those names range from the Unfortunate…
….to the sublime (Alexa Bliss, yes I’m referring to you).
This John Hillerman look-alike had the name of F.T. Mann. I just call him Fatty Man nowadays:
But another part of names, and we all have one, is how people are named after one another in sports history. We begin with Grover Cleveland Alexander who was, of course, named after the only U.S. President to regain the presidency after losing an election:
Grover Cleveland was interesting because in his first year in office (1885) he married the then 21-year old Frances Folsom, who would go one to live past the conclusion of World War II. He might not have looked the part, but he was considered quite the ladies man before he became President. He was part of the incredibly cruel 1884 election, which featured these two memorable slogans, the first being: “Ma Ma, Where’s My Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha Ha Ha”.
Cleveland assumed paternity of a child born out of wedlock.Through DNA testing of present day, we would have actually known who the father of the child was. Cleveland’s party used this slogan in response: “Blaine Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine.”  And you thought today’s politics were rough?
As stated above, the most famous person named after him is Grover Cleveland Alexander, who won well over 300 games in his fine career. He may best be known for saving Gave 7 for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1926 World Series. Contrary to legend. the famed strikeout of Tony Lazzeri was in the seventh inning, because the series ended with Babe Ruth being tagged out at 2nd on a steal attempt.
Another Hall of Famer named after a famous player who became even more famous than his predecessor was Mickey Cochrane. Cochrane was a Hall of Fame catcher and won a World Series as a manager before Bump Hadley‘s beaning ended his career.
A few years before Cochrane’s career concluded, a young man named Mickey Charles Mantle was born in Oklahoma. Now, I would have preferred Cochrane as the middle name, but the legend of being named after Cochrane was sufficient at the time.
And in a couple of other cases, we revert back to the 1st and 2nd name matching. This one is close to my heart, because well, the reason will be obvious. Chuck Klein had a nice career buttressed by playing in Baker Bowl.  Well this a nice photo of Mr. Kline:
Imagine my surprise while doing COMC Identification work to see a Charles Klein Stobbs as a name on a card:
And what is Chuck Stobbs best known for? While he was a competent major league pitcher, he is best known for surrendering a 565 foot homer to one Mickey Mantle:
And while the names of many athlete are getting stranger, sometimes we still see names we recognize…
Or whom we think is named after someone famous…
Part of me hopes Mr. Downs makes a mark in the majors because the original Jeter (Derek) is another one with a great name…..
You see, Derek Jeter’s full name is Derek Sanderson Jeter. Yes that is the same name of the 1960’s-70’s hockey wild man Derek Sanderson. Jeter is as controlled in his life as Sanderson could be out of control.
One of things I remember about Sanderson came from reading his autobiography where he claimed that his favorite song was “Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers. Well, he did pick a great single for that purpose:

And since it seemed that between 1964 and 1968 Rivers recorded every song ever written, here are a couple of more I especially like by him:
And to conclude this “What’s in a Name” blog, while this is not related to people being named after others but sharing a same name, I have no other place to put this. In the 1960’s Paul Simon put this line into the lyrics of a song:
“”Be careful his bowtie is really a camera”
Which is a line from the song “America”. Well, did you think that two decades later a man named Paul Simon would have a brief run for the presidency and be best known for, you guessed it. wearing a bow tie?
Rich Klein can be reached at RichKlein@Comc.com

COMC @ The Upper Deck 2019 Certified Diamond Dealer Conference

Hello, COMC Nation!

The first destination in our itinerary for 2019 will be Los Angeles, California for the Upper Deck 2019 Certified Diamond Dealer Conference at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. If you own a hobby shop and are an Upper Deck Certified Diamond Dealer then be sure to join us January 8th-10th for what is sure to be another great Conference hosted by Upper Deck!

COMC will be in attendance with our own booth set up for the duration of the conference. We will be available to meet with hobby shop owners to discuss how COMC can help their shops become more successful. We’ll also be available to help shop owners set up and manage their accounts, offer demonstrations of our service, and answer any and all questions they may have about our service.

If you will be in attendance at the event and would like to drop off consignment submissions, we will be accepting submissions at our booth throughout the conference. We look forward to seeing you there!

The Good Word: Manufactured Blog Post

(Note: COMC Communications Manager James Good wears many hats at COMC, including Social Media Manager and Blog Editor. While he does a wealth of the writing and curating of other blog posts found on our Blog, ‘The Good Word’ is a new regular Editorial style blog series where he will more openly share his opinions and thoughts on sports and trading cards.)

It is rumored that P.T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute”. I’d like to think that there are no such thing as suckers when it comes to collecting, but that every single one of us has a guilty pleasure or two that other collectors might see as silly or downright foolish. Whatever you want to call it, I have no shame in admitting that I love manufactured patch cards. Manufactured patches are hit-or-miss among most collectors, and I like how polarizing they are. There is very little gray area when it comes to them, collectors either love them or hate them.

My fascination with them began in 2008 when I was getting reacquainted with the landscape of the card industry following a hiatus from collecting. Among the first Felix Hernandez cards that I bought for my personal collection were his 2008 UD Premier Stitchings manufactured patches. The logo inside these cards was very well designed, and in Mariners colors as well.

The first Seattle Mariners card I ever fell in love with was obviously the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr.. The second was Alex Rodriguez’s 1994 Flair RC. The third card in that list is one from a set that most collectors are probably much less familiar with. When I first saw the 2007 Upper Deck Black Pride of a Nation set, I thought it was one of the most unique sets I had ever seen.  I was 22 years old at the time and didn’t have a lot of money, but I was able to strike a deal with a collector via a forum and in four $25 weekly paypal payments I was the owner of this beautiful piece of cardboard:

I think that when done right, a well-designed manufactured patch or logo card is better than most authentic game used swatch jersey cards. Don’t get me wrong, there is no substitute for a sick patch, laundry tag, or logoman. But take a look at the below series of cards and tell me which one appeals to you more:

Ok fine, maybe don’t answer that last one, because as far as I’m concerned the Babe Ruth Jumbo from Tools of the Trade is the pinnacle of jersey cards. It goes without saying that most of the time we would much rather have a historical piece of the game over a manufactured patch, so my theory doesn’t exactly apply to legends and Hall of Fame players. Which creates an interesting question. I prefer the manufactured patches of Tim Lincecum and Peyton Manning shown above now, but what about fifty years from now? Will the overproduced jersey and patch cards of today’s greats be coveted or as remotely desirable as some of present day in-demand Hall of Fame memorabilia cards such as 1/1 bat knobs and the  Babe Ruth that I shared above?

Card manufacturers will need to continually innovate as they roll out new products, parallels and cards that are intended to draw the interest of new collectors. For some lifelong collectors, flagship Topps Series 1 or the Young Guns RC’s in Upper Deck Series 1 hockey is more than enough to keep them ripping wax on a yearly basis. But as long as the demand remains for unique cards, the rat race of latest and greatest goes on. I think that manufactured patches, rings, and relics offer a solid creative outlet for them to continue to produce some unique additions to the hobby.

To wrap up the first installment of ‘The Good Word’, I felt compelled to share some of my personal favorite cards featuring manufactured materials. Enjoy!