Saturday, May 31, 2014

The World's Game

I know what you're thinking.  Off Hiatus is a baseball card blog.  And, for the most part, it is.  I played baseball growing up, I have watched baseball my whole life, I have read about baseball my whole life, and I have collected baseball cards my whole life (with a 20-year lapse, of course).

In that "lapse period" though, I went to college and law school.  I got my own condo and my own dog -- R.I.P., Clea.
Clea was a shepherd/chow mix and watched over me like a hawk -- but she did it with a smile on her face!
Clea was my dog from about 1997 -- when I spent the summer with her training her while my roommates had moved out for the summer -- through 2010.  In January of 2010, the effects of being overweight and having an underactive thyroid, having Cushing's Disease, and tearing an ACL were too much for her to overcome.  The real issues were the thyroid and the Cushing's, and the treatment for either would exacerbate the problems caused by the other.  That was the real strange thing but it was her downfall and made her miserable.

Now, if you have a dog, you know how much into routine they are.  If you get up at 6:30 AM every morning for work and take the dog out first thing, don't expect to make it past about 7:00 AM on the weekends before the dog wakes you up to go outside.  That's what Clea did.  Starting somewhere around 2003, I would take Clea for a morning walk to the Starbucks a couple blocks away and I'd get coffee.  Then, we'd go home and I would flip on the TV.  That spring of 2003, I learned that I had the now-dearly-departed Fox Soccer Channel on my DirecTV that I had at the time, and I started watching the English Premier League. That's when I fell in love with the game of soccer.

That's why in 2004, I traveled to New York and visited a friend in early August -- because my friend and I were going to see the team I had adopted as my team -- Manchester United -- play against AC Milan. United had just bought American goalkeeper and New Jersey native Tim Howard from the MLS, and that helped cement my choice of Man Utd. as my team.

That's also why, in 2006, I took my first "big" trip overseas and spent 10 days at Christmastime in an around London -- to go to football games around London.  I saw Chelsea and Reading draw 2-2 at Stamford Bridge.  I saw Fulham and Charlton draw 2-2 at The Valley on my frozen 35th birthday.  And, I saw Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at White Hart Lane in a pouring rain storm.

Reading and Chelsea come onto the pitch before their game at Stamford Bridge in 2006
Action at the Charlton goal box during their match at The Valley in 2006

Tottenham and Liverpool slog through a rain-soaked 1-0 yawner at White Hart Lane
So, for me to go out and buy some 2014 World Cup Panini Prizm World Cup Cards today, it was not a stretch.  I was looking for a Topps Archives blaster or pack or something at a nearby Target, but they did not have any.  I settled for two of those $20 unopened pack repacks and a $20 Prizm blaster.

First off, I have no idea why Panini has to put four packs of 6 cards into a blaster box size.  I guess it is to let people think that they are getting something huge and special.  It probably also helps to avoid the potential pack-searchers, I suppose.  That said, getting 24 cards in a blaster was a little bit of a let down.

Now, on the other hand, because Panini has so dadgum many different variations and inserts and colors and such in these packs, it took the entire blaster box back to list all the possible variants included in the box, and the list was in about a 4-point font.  I like inserts as much as anyone, but I honestly have no idea now as to whether the cards I got were base set, variations, or super rare short prints.  That part is a downer.

On the plus side, the cards are shiny and pretty and everything you'd expect a Prizm card to be.  Because these are FIFA-licensed cards, Panini didn't have to airbrush out any of the national team crests on the uniform tops.  Let's take a look at a few of the cards of guys whose names are recognizable to the average soccer/football fan:

Julio Cesar, Brazil's goalkeeper

Mesut Ozil of Germany and Arsenal

Pique plays for Barcelona and Spain and once played at Man U.

Little Stevie G of Liverpool and England, and no,
this is not a mini.  I just don't like him.

Xavi Hernandez, Pique's teammate at club and country
The first two cards are obviously an insert set of World Cup Stars, and Julio Cesar's looks like it is a red, white, and blue refractor.  The others are base set cards, I believe.  These are great looking cards in many respects, but they do suffer from "Toppszoominitis" other words, could you not zoom in so closely? I'd prefer that these cards actually were simpler -- skip all the textured background garbage and give us the green grass of Wembley or the Santiago Bernabeu or the Maracana.  It would be a better card for it.

I like these cards, but I don't think I'll chase the full set.  My curiosity here was satisfied sufficiently to not sink any more money into these.  If anyone is chasing this set, let me know and we can work something out.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't owned a dog in years, but they truly are man's best friend. I still dogsit for my ex-girlfriend, because I love her dog so much. And your totally right about routines.

    As for the cards... I can't wait to watch some soccer this summer... but I probably won't be spending any money on Prizm packs.