Random Thoughts 12/22/14

-Man has it been a long time since I’ve done one of these.  Sorry about that.  I got really busy for several weeks and never got around to writing much on my blog.  A lot of happened in the sports world in the last few weeks.  Who’s ready for Bowl Season?  I can’t wait to watch the College Football Playoffs.  I do feel bad for Baylor and TCU.  I’m not going to say Ohio State didn’t deserve to be there.  I think all 3 deserved to be there.  Sadly, there was only 1 spot left.  I love the Playoff system, but I feel like it needs to expand to 8 teams.  Could it be more than 8?  Sure.  But 8 would be enough.  This year 8 would have put all the 1 and 2 loss  teams into the Playoff (Sorry Boise and Marshall I’m talking Power Conference teams only).  Many thought that a Playoff would devalue the regular season.  I think it did the opposite.  Sure a team like Alabama or Oregon can now afford 1 loss and it probably won’t matter.  However, would everyone have really cared about a Nebraska/Ohio State game without the Playoffs?  I love it.  Looking at the match-ups, I definitely like Alabama.  Nothing against Ohio State, but a third string QB going against Bama is not a good thing.  And Bama has a legit offense too.  I expect them to win by at least 10.  The Oregon/FSU game is very interesting to me.  On paper I’d say Oregon is going to roll.  FSU has REALLY struggled to win so many of their games.  They won 7 games by 7 points or less.  You know how many Oregon won like that?  One.  In fact the 3 other Playoff teams combined to win 6 games by 7 points or less.  But what does that really mean for FSU?  Does it mean they struggle?  Does it mean they play down (or up) to their competition?  Does it mean they were really lucky all year?  Does it mean they’re just really good in close games?  Honestly I think it’s a little bit of all of them.  Granted, some of those games should not have been close.  Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and maybe Clemson are understandable.  Maybe even Florida and Miami since those are rivalry games.  But Boston College?  That one was a real shocker.  Really since they beat Syracuse 38-20, FSU hasn’t had an easy win.  That’s the span of 7 games.  Okay, I’ve gone on long enough.  What I was referring to is that Oregon SHOULD beat FSU and they SHOULD beat them fairly easily.  However, it scares me to say this will be an easy win.  I am guessing that Oregon will win, but that it will be close.

-Last year I wrote a ton about the NBA.  I love the NBA and have been meaning to write about it more this year.  The season is off to a fairly normal start.  Most of the good teams are good and most of the bad teams are bad.  The biggest surprise is probably Charlotte.  They are really terrible right now.  They’ve been a little better lately, but still have a lot of work to do.  Fortunately they play in the East, so if they can rattle off 6-7 in a row they’ll be right in the middle of the Playoff race.  The top of the East remains open.  Toronto, Atlanta and Washington hold the top 3 spots right now.  However, I’d be shocked if Chicago and Cleveland don’t end up in the top 2 spots.  I give Toronto a lot of credit for continuing to win without DeRozan.  And Atlanta has been a pleasant surprise.  However, Chicago and Cleveland just have too much talent.  The West is every bit as loaded as we expected.  Golden State has been absolutely amazing.  Steve Kerr clearly has made a difference.  Portland, Memphis, Houston, Dallas, LAC and San Antonio are all doing their thing.  The last Playoff spot could be a little interesting, but I doubt it.  Right now New Orleans is holding down the 8th spot, but OKC is hot on their trails.  OKC has won 8 of 10 and is nearly back to .500 after starting the season without Westbrook and Durant.  There is absolutely no way OKC doesn’t jump into the top 8 assuming Westbrook and Durant stay healthy.  I’m already giddy about the Playoffs.  The West is going to be amazing.  I wouldn’t be surprised at all if every team out West won 50 games.  And the East Playoffs will actually be really fun after the 1st round.  I can’t see any of the bottom 3 teams winning a 1st round match-up, but you never know.  Miami is the one team in the East that could be dangerous in the 1st round.  They’re not playing great right now, but they’ve had injuries (big shock!) and they certainly are experienced.  The rookies have been a major disappointment this year.  Parker, Embiid and Randle are all done for the season.  Aaron Gordon might be as well.  Smart, Vonleh and McDermott have or will miss extended parts of the season.  In addition to that, only 2 rookies are averaging over 10 points per game.  I’ll be shocked if more than two or three end up over 10 points per game at this point.  There is still plenty of time for these guys to turn it around, but man has it been a rough start.

-The trading card market has certainly been interesting the last few weeks.  Many of the products have come out and dropped in price.  I caution everyone not to panic.  This happens from time-to-time.  What I will say is that the manufacturers have to take notice and make some adjustments.  I’m not saying it’s all their fault.  Many of us have ordered too much.  This has caused many dealers to have to “dump” product to raise money.  This is never a good thing.  However, the products must be better.  The manufacturers must get a handle on how much they are producing.  I know they have to keep production up for revenue purposes.  However, the market simply can’t handle all the product that is coming out.  And if the market gets too bad then the manufacturers their customers.  That’s not good for anyone.  It’s better to naturally reduce production than to be forced to because of lack of customers.  In addition to lower production, one thing MUST be stressed right now and that is creativity.  I know this isn’t easy.  There’s only so much you can do on a 3 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ piece of cardboard.  However, the manufacturers MUST continue to push the boundaries.  Some of these new ideas probably won’t work.  My point is that a lot of what’s going on right now isn’t working anyway.  The solution can’t be to just throw more autographs and more patches into the products.  They have to find a way to create value without always just throwing more “hits” into the products.  Perhaps this is set building.  Maybe it’s insert cards.  Or parallel cards.  It has to be something.  Nearly all of the products look really nice.  I don’t think design is an issue.  I’m sure many of you are saying to yourself that this wouldn’t work.  That people don’t build sets anymore.  That no one cares about inserts and that parallels are already done way too much now.  I don’t disagree with any of that.  I’m not simply saying that Panini should just expect people to start collecting sets.  I’m not saying that Topps should just assume all the colors in Chrome are going to start selling for more.  What I’m saying is that these companies have to find ways to make collectors buy more single cards and care about buying more stuff.  Topps Tek is a perfect example of this.  Topps had a prime opportunity to really have a lot of collectors buy into a product.  Sadly they screwed it up.  Yes the product did okay.  But they could have really knocked out of the park with this one.  Where were all the different patterns?  As I said, not all of the market issues are the manufacturer’s fault.  They can’t help it that the 2014 football rookies and 2014-15 basketball rookies have been much worse than anticipated.  That’s not their fault.  While many of the 2014-15 BK products don’t sell that great, I actually like the products so far.  They are fun to open.  The cards look great.  And they deliver decent value.  Topps Platinum FB looks really solid.  I love the jumbo patches.  The on-card autographs are nice.  This product was done well.  Is it selling well?  Not really.  Is that Topps fault?  Not really.  No matter what the manufacturers do, some of the products are not going to do well.  But we have to get to a point where some of them do well and some of them people actually care about.

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