NFL Predictions

September 13, 2013

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It is football season again. By the time this article is published, the first week of the regular season will already be on the books. The following is my prediction of what the results of this season will be. In 17 weeks we will see just how right or wrong I am, at least as far as the playoffs go.

Division 2012 2013 Prediction
AFC East New England New England
AFC North Baltimore Cincinnati
AFC South Houston Houston
AFC West Denver Denver
AFC Wild Card Indianapolis Indianapolis
AFC Wild Card Cincinnati Pittsburgh
NFC East Washington New York
NFC North Green Bay Green Bay
NFC South Atlanta Atlanta
NFC West San Francisco Seattle
NFC Wild Card Seattle San Francisco
NFC Wild Card Minnesota Minnesota

 

  • Exiting Playoffs: Baltimore, Washington – Baltimore defense is just too weak, RGIII will get hurt.
  • Joining Playoffs: New York Giants, Pittsburgh – both purely on defense
  • San Francisco moves from division champion to wild card – Keapernick will get hurt
  • Cincinnati and Seattle move from wild card to division champion – Overwhelming talent
  • All four divisional playoff games will be blowouts (more than 14 point victories)

 

Super Bowl: Atlanta vs Houston

Super Bowl Champion: Atlanta Falcons

 

Why Does DiMaggio’s Family Want Hannah’s DNA?

August 22, 2013

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James DiMaggio is the man who kidnapped Hannah Anderson after killing her mother and brother.  The sister of the killer is now asking the family to provide the DNA of Hannah and her brother for DNA testing.  Why?  Because they believe DiMaggio may be the biological father.  For the record, the family states that Hannah’s mother didn’t meet DiMaggio until she was six months pregnant with Hannah (which is difficult to independently verify) and that the body of Hannah’s brother Ethan was identified via a DNA match with his father (easy to independently verify with the police).

When I first read about this, my first reaction was “What the hell are they thinking?”  I don’t understand the logic of putting a grieving family through this.  You’re essentially accusing the dead woman of adultery, and to what end?  There may be more complexity to this situation than was immediately apparent, but that doesn’t mean you can just start making demands of the family.

I discussed the topic with a friend, and his response was that it had to do with family honor.  If DiMaggio was the biological father and the murders and kidnapping were the result of an argument about visitation rights, the perception might be that he’s somewhat less evil than a guy who didn’t have a “reason”.  I don’t buy this logic on a couple of levels.  First of all, regardless of the motivation, he killed two people.  I don’t see killing the mother of your child and your child as being less evil than killing a family friend and her son.  Even if this is something that would improve the public perception of DiMaggio, doesn’t it make sense to weigh the possible gain for your family against the hurt you would be causing the victims’ family?

I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t see where DiMaggio’s family has any legal basis to force DNA testing.  If DiMaggio were still alive and his status as biological father would help his case, I could see some logic that this is exculpatory evidence and might possibly be basis for a subpoena (again, I am not a lawyer).  However, since DiMaggio is dead, there won’t be a trial, so this would seem to undermine the basis for a subpoena.

The stated reason is that the family is curious about why DiMaggio left $110,000 to Hannah and Ethan’s aunt.  They find it “strange” that this was done, and are wondering if Hannah and Ethan are his biological children.  Well, there are other explanations for such a bequest, and idle curiosity isn’t a particularly good reason to be requesting a DNA test.  Curiosity be damned – it’s none of your business.

My advice to the Anderson family – tell the DiMaggio clan to go pound sand.

Dodgers Continue To Roll

August 12, 2013

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English: Vin Scully

Vin Scully – the only Dodger I don’t hate.

I hate the Dodgers (with the exception of Vin Scully) with a passion.  Early in the season, when the Dodgers were sinking in the NL West and hefting a massive payroll, I was happy to enjoy their misery.  However, since June 22, the Dodgers are an MLB-best 37-8.  That’s an incredible record, and has pushed the Dodgers to a 7.5 game lead in the NL West.  Rookie Yasiel Puig has been a big reason for the resurgence.

With about 1/4 of the season remaining, some of the races are losing suspense.  Atlanta has a massive 14.5 game lead in the NL East.  To put this in perspective, if the Nationals were to go 37-8 down the stretch (matching the Dodgers’ incredible run), they’d end up at 94-68.  The Braves would need to merely go 22-22 down the stretch to tie for the division title.  I’ll go out on a limb and hand the division title to the Braves.

Jim Leyland

Jim Leyland managed the 1992 Pirates – the last Pittsburgh team to have a winning record.

The Pirates – who have not had a winning record since 1992 – are in a fairly tight division race, with a 3 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.  They are a virtual lock to finish above .500 this year, though.  They’d need to merely go 12-33 to finish at 82-80.  A playoff spot is nearly as safe.  They have a 10.5 game lead over the odd man out in the NL Wild Card race, the Arizona Diamondbacks.  If the Pirates can keep their heads on straight and just play one game at a time, they should be in good shape.  If my Rockies can’t win the World Series this year (and this seems like a long shot), then I’ll pull for the Pirates.

The Kansas City Royals have also been playing well lately.  Although many fans criticized the Wil Myers for James Shield trade in the off-season, it’s hard to fault the performance of Shields this year.  Shields doesn’t have a lot of wins this year (his record is 7-8), but he has pitched extremely well.  As the team improves around him, Shields’ numbers should only improve.  First baseman Eric Hosmer’s power stroke has been missing, but he’s hitting .297 with a .782 OPS.  If he can regain the power, he should be an offensive force.  Third baseman Mike Moustakas is probably the key to the future.  If he figures things out, this team could go far.

Mike Trout is still great

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27)

Mike Trout

Last week, Mike Trout became the first player in MLB history homer on his 21st and 22nd birthdays.  The major leagues date back to 1876.  Of course, this is an impossible feat for half the players – the ones born during baseball’s offseason.

Cool historical footnotes aside, Trout is having another incredible year. He’s hitting .330 with 20 homers – and is leading the American League in walks, with 71.  Young hitters don’t often have the patience or command of the strike zone to lead the league in walks.  Trouts walks actually allow him to maintain a high batting average, because he’s swinging at fewer balls (this generally results in weakly hit balls).

How historically good is Trout?  A career WAR (wins above replacement) of 60 is the general guideline for a Hall of Famer.  After just 294 games in the majors, Trout is already at 18 WAR.

Bryce Harper is pretty good, too

Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper

Remember when Bryce Harper was the hot prospect?  He hasn’t been keeping up the incredible pace of Trout (who just turned 22), and has also been getting overshadowed by Yasiel Puig (turns 23 in December).  Harper’s actually be doing pretty well, though.  He has 17 homers in just 331 at bats (he missed some time due to injury), and despite a somewhat pedestrian .262 batting average, Harper has a .866 OPS.  Those are good numbers regardless of age, but for a guy who doesn’t turn 21 until October, they are downright fantastic.  Trout has set expectations sky high for 20 year olds, but the reality is that the vast majority of 20 year old players are still a few years aware from the major leagues.  While it’s likely that Trout will remain the better all-around player, don’t be surprised if Harper contends for a home run title in the next few years.

How underrated is Felix Hernandez?

6-21-09 King Felix

King Felix – the consummate ace

Felix Hernandez has been around forever – but he’s just 27.  People who track velocity say that he has lost a couple MPH off his fastball.  Despit this, his strikeout rate continues to increase, and is at a career high this year – while his walk rate is at the lowest of his career.

The only thing keeping Felix from racking up multiple Cy Young awards is his team.  Over the course of his career, Hernandez is 103-25 when the Mariners score at least 2 runs for him.  His record for all games?  110-81.  In addition to the 7-56 record when the team scores zero or one runs, there are also a lot of no-decisions for Felix.  If Hernandez was on the Yankees, he might have 160 or more career wins by now.

Barring injury, Hernandez still has a really good shot at the Hall of Fame.  240-250 wins would probably be enough, and at age 27, he still has plenty of time.  However, I think a lot of people may be underestimating just how good Hernandez is.  We could be witnessing one of the all time best pitching careers and might not even realize it.

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All Star Game Reactions

July 7, 2013

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The media tells us that fans don’t really care about baseball’s All Star Game.  I’m the counterpoint to that – I loved the All Star Game as a kid, and I still enjoy it today.  The ability to see all the great players congregating in one place makes the event bigger than the Super Bowl for me.  I’m not particularly interested in ancillary activities like the Home Run Derby – I’m all about the game.  Here are my reactions to this year’s game.

Rockies Representation

My Colorado Rockies will send three players to the game.  Troy Tulowitzki was the runaway leader at shortstop, despite losing a month to a broken rib.  Tulo will start a rehab assignment tomorrow and might play in the game.  Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is having a tremendous year and was also voted a starter, as Justin Upton’s lack of May/June production caused him to plummet in the late voting.  Finally, outfield Michael Cuddyer was elected by the players.

Yasiel Puig

The single biggest story surrounding the All Star game is whether or not Dodgers rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig will be in the game.  Puig has only a month of service time in the majors, but he has been arguably the best player in baseball during that time.  That has sparked a lively debated.  Proponents of adding Puig to the roster argue that he’s clearly a star.  Those opposed to his inclusion say that he hasn’t paid his dues.  At the moment, he’s a candidate on the Final Man vote and will most likely be added to the team.

Roster Size

Each team will have 34 players who will be eligible to play in the game.  Additionally, there will be several players who don’t count against that total – players who are injured, or pitchers who pitch in a regular game next Sunday and opt not to pitch in the game.  This means that each team will have around 40 players in uniform for the game.  Have 80 “All Stars” stretches the meaning of the term a bit.

I’d be in favor of a small roster of 25 active player and a hard cap of 30 players suited up for each side.  To accomplish this, MLB would have to do away with the rule that every team must be represented.  Their argument is that fans are more likely to watch if they can watch one of their team’s players.  Of course, as the roster has swelled, a lot of these players sit on the bench for the entire game.  It’s simply not feasible to work 34 players into the game without making the game six hours long and pretty much making a mockery of the process.  If you want to force the inclusion of all teams, make it a rolling 2 or 3 year schedule, where each team is guaranteed a player in specific years.

Prediction

Who is going to win the game?  The National League, of course.  (Naturally, that’s my prediction every single year)

 

Cereal Racists, Broken Ribs, and Pringles

June 17, 2013

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You may have seen the Cheerios commercial where the cute kid dumps the Cheerios on the dad.  Many people have seen the ad and reacted with outrage – because it features a biracial family.  Next year marks the 60th anniversay of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision and it appears that there are still many who are fighting for segregation of races.  Segregation of races in a TV commercial, no less.  We have serious problems in society, but there are people who consider the mixing of the races to be an import issue???

I love the fact that I entered college just as the internet was exploding in popularity.  I have met a great many people online over the years.  I met people from the inside out.  In the early days, digital cameras and scanners weren’t nearly as common as they are today, so you might chat with people on a regular basis for weeks or years without knowing what they look like.  Even today, I am a teleworker for a very large company and almost exclusively interact with people via audio conference.  It’s not uncommon for me to work with someone off and on for several years before I meet them in person.  You’ve heard the phrase “it’s what’s inside that counts.”  That’s what I’m interacting with – the person’s ideas and personality.

Socially, my preferences is to interact with people who share interests with me.  Race, gender, sexual orientation are irrelevant.  If you have an interest in baseball, dinosaurs, or true crime, I’ll want to chat with you.  I want to interact with your mental characteristics, not your physical attributes.

Rockies

The playoff hopes of the Rockies took a hit when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki broke a rib on Thursday the 13th.  Tulo, who was in the midst of an MVP-caliber season, will be out until at least mid July.  The Rockies are currently just a half game behind division leading Arizona.  The Rockies need to find a way to tread water while Tulo is out.  Help may be on the way in the form of Roy Oswalt.  Oswalt was signed to a minor league deal recently, and was sharp in his last outing for AA Tulas, suggesting that he may be in like for a promotion to the big league.  Drew Pomeranz may be close behind him.

Pringles

I’ve been a longtime addict of Pringles.  I could easily eat an entire can at a sitting.  However, I am now cured of this addiction.  Kellogg recently bought Pringles from Procter & Gamble.  In addition to jacking around with the size of the container, they’ve also changed the taste of Pringles.  The taste that I was addicted is gone … replaced by a “blah” taste.  The winner in all of this is Frito-Lay, as Funyuns have jumped to the top of the heap.

Cargo and Tulo Crush Reds

June 6, 2013

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Rockies rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado had four hits and scored three runs Wednesday night.  However, his achievement – noteworthy any other time it would have occurred – became barely a footnote.  Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had five hits, including two home runs.  Carlos Gonzalez had only three hit – but all of them were home runs as he drove in six runs.

Troy Tulowitzki

Troy Tulowitzki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Rockies hitters are often perceived as paper champions, since they play half their games in Coors Field.  However, Gonzalez is actually posting better numbers at home than on the road this year.  Tulowitzki is hitting better at home (he has a robust .404 batting average at home), his road OPS is .974.  If you completely threw away his home stats and just used his road stats (and bear in mind that most hitters perform somewhat better at home), he would still rank sixth in MLB in OPS (his overall OPS has him third, behind Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera).  Remember that this is a guy who plays a premium defensive position and plays it well.  There are only two shortstops who rank in the top 36 in OPS (Jean Segura is the other).

 

Manager Walt Weiss has been giving Tulo periodic days off, in hopes that it will stave off injuries that have befallen him in the past.  I’ll happily sacrifice and extra half dozen of so off days if it keeps him healthy.

Do you feel a draft?

Major League baseball’s draft begins tonight.  The two top pitchers in this year’s class are Mark Appel (a pell) and Jonathan Gray.  Earlier this week, Gray made news by testing positive for Adderall, a drug for which he does not have a prescription.  Adderall is a substance that is banned by MLB unless a player has an exemption.  Since the positive test came before Gray was drafted, he won’t face a suspension.  However, many wonder how this will affect his draft stock.

Some people have suggested that it may be MORE likely that the Astros will take him #1 overall.  Why?  Because he may now command less money, leaving more money from their draft pool to sign later picks.  Just a thought, but if a positive drug test enhances a player’s draft stock, maybe this isn’t a good thing?  I don’t blame the Astros – it’s baseball hard slotting system that is forcing these types of decisions.  The interesting thing is that the amount of money a team saves is probably less than the money the Dodgers are paying Andruw Jones not to play for them ($3.2 million) or what the Royals are paying journeyman Bruce Chen ($4.5 million) to play for them.  They may save a few bucks on the front end, but are they chasing talented athletes away to other sports?

Other notes

  • After a pedestrian April, Mike Trout his .327 with 8 homers and 8 steals in May.
  • Remember Justin Upton?  After 12 dingers in April, he had two in May en route to a dismal .654 OPS (compared to 1.136 in April).  So don’t engrave that MVP trophy quite yet.
  • Domonic Brown has long been an enigma for Phillies fans who were frustrated as his inability to reach his potential.  After a blah April, he hit 12 homers in May.  Oddly, he walked zero times (compared to 9 walks in April) and became the first player in history to hit ten homers and have zero walks in the same month.
  • The third best winning percentage in the American League, behind Boston and Texas, belongs to the Oakland A’s.
  • The Astros are 8-2 in their last ten games and are six games better than MLB-worst Miami.  They won’t be confused with a playoff contender anytime soon, but they have a shot to not be a laughingstock.  Kudos to manager Bo Porter and his guys.
  • Miami is on pace for 43 wins.  As we inch closer to the midway point in the season, they may actually be a credible threat to the 1962 Mets record of just 40 wins in a 162 game season (the Mets were 40-120, with two games rained out).
  • Atlanta has a 7.5 game lead in the NL East, by far the largest in baseball.  Nobody else has a lead of greater than 2.5 games.  Despite all their woes, the second place team in the NL East is the Phillies (thanks, Domonic Brown).

 

 

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First Place Rockies On A Roll

May 24, 2013

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Troy Tulowitzki

Troy Tulowitzki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wednesday was my birthday (er, 27, yeah, 27) and my Colorado Rockies climbed back into a first place tie as a present for me. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has been healthy this year and is off to a great start, hitting .338 with 9 homers so far on the year. Manager Walt Weiss has been giving Tulo occasional rest during the year, something that I think is incredibly smart. Getting 145 healthy games from Tulo is better than trying to get 162 from him and having him get hurt.

The Rockies have been getting good production out of most of the starters, with the exception of 1B (Todd Helton) and 2B (Josh Rutledge, who was recently optioned to AAA). Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and catcher Wilin Rosario appear to be forming the core of a very good heart of the lineup for years to come.

On the mound, three full-time Rockies starters have ERAs under 4.50 (De la Rosa 3.40, Chacin 4.10, Nicasio 4.47) and Tyler Chatwood has a 2.55 ERA in limited action – very impressive considering he environment. Chacin, Nicasio, and Chatwood are all young guys who should still have room for improvement.

By far the most disappointing team in the NL West has been the LA Dodgers, who have a $220 million payroll, but a record of just 19-26.

The Yankees have been able to win 28 of 46 games so far with a patched up lineup of misfits while their stars are on the DL. I tip my hat to Joe Girardi. This team could have easily just collapsed.

The Angels also sport a hefty payroll but have struggled early. They finally climbed into third place in their division, with a 20-27 record, but they have a long way to climb. Sophomore Mike Trout has been raking this month. After hitting .261 with 2 homers in April, Trout is hitting .359 with 8 homers in May.

Wizards v/s Thunder 03/14/11

Kevin Durant, Humanitarian

The Tigers are in second play despite the efforts of Tigre Numero Uno Miguel Cabrera, who is hitting .391 with 14 homers and 55 RBI – including .536 with 6 homers and 13 RBI in the last 5 games. The 30 year old Cabrera should reach 350 homers later this year. Cabrera does carry around a lot of weight, and I do wonder if that will prevent him from reaching .400 this year, and he’s going to get thrown out at first base more often than an average runner would.

The baseball draft is just around the corner. The Astros and Cubs pick 1-2, and Stanford Mark Appel and Vanderbilt pitcher Sonny Gray are expected to go in the top two picks.

I’ll draft away from baseball for a moment to give a shoutout to Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder for donating $1 million to tornado relief.  Sure, Durant is a rich athlete who “can afford it”, but not everyone in that situation steps forward and writes a check.  Durant manned up and did it.  A million dollars can make a real different in this situation.  Thanks for restoring my faith in humanity (for another week), Kevin,

 

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Muhammad Ali’s Rumble In Jungle Shoes

May 17, 2013

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Today I pick out another boxing item, although this is not a sportscard. These are the shoes that were worn by Muhammad Ali in his historic “Rumble in the Jungle” fight against George Foreman in Zaire in 1974.

It’s gotta be the shoes

Apologies to Marz Blackman – but hey….how could you prove these are actually the shoes that the “Greatest” wore during this fight?

Well it really is that easy.

First off, they have been photo-matched and video-matched by world-renowned boxing expert Craig Hamilton. This is essentially comparing the footage of the fight and markings on the footwear in questions and seeing if all of those stars align. More importantly however, these set of tires have the provenance of originating directly from Drew “Bundini” Brown. Brown was Ali’s longtime assistant trainer and friend. If Drew says they are good, well then ….obviously they are good.

These high toppers are no Chuck Taylors

Written in blue ink along the top interior portion of the right shoe, in what we believe to be the hand of Bundini Brown, is the notation “Ali-George Foreman – Oct 29, 1974.” (The fight took place in Zaire on October 29, 1974, but because of the time difference, it was viewed live in the United States on October 30, 1974.) A similar blue-ink notation, again in what we believe to be the hand of Bundini Brown, appears along the top interior portion of the left shoe and reads “Ali-Foreman – Oct 29, 1974.” Each shoe has been signed by Muhammad Ali in black marker on the outside of the shoe- As expected the shoes displays heavy wear, including numerous scuff marks, which could be from the fight itself, or being thrown around in luggage on the Pan-Am flight back from Africa . It would have been normal for the trainer or manager to get some of the items after the fight because let’s face it, Heavyweight Champion of the World, new fight, all new gear. So the old stuff would be packed away for safe keeping as a memento of a big win.

Goodman’s Epiphany

I guess this item is cool on a different level as I remember watching Ali and Howard Cosell on ABC as a youngster always sharing their friendly banter. I also remember a few of the “prime time” fights for Ali against various opponents in my youth. My would at time when they had Ali on the television repeat the chants of the fight crowd that night which was “Ali Bomaye!” in a very rhythmic fashion.

It is only after reading the REA catalog that I actually now know that that phrase means – Ali Kill Him!

This item started with a $10,000 opening price…pretty hefty actually, and currently has been bid up to $40,000. It is obviously one of the most important and documented items from Ali’s career and one of his most important, historic and popular fights.

Stay tuned for the last installment.

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Robert Edward Auctions: 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth

May 14, 2013

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English: 1933 Goudey baseball card of Babe Rut...

Example of 1933 Goudey #144 – Babe Ruth. The REA card is signed by Ruth.

This card is a BABE!As promised a beautiful card of a great hitter (wink wink)

This would be none other than Babe Ruth.

BUT….

This is not just ANY George Herman Ruth card….

This is an item that I have never seen the likes of…or at least don’t remember seeing. I am sure there are others out there, but this is a 1933 Goudey Gum card of Babe Ruth, bearing a signature of the Bambino himself. It is boldly signed across the front of card #144 in the set, which is also considered one of Ruth’s most iconic cards from any issue.

There is more than one Babe Ruth in this set (there are actually 4 different Ruth cards) but this one is considered one of his most popular, regardless of year of manufacture or issuing company. The card does have some minor wear on the corners and some light creasing. If it was PSA graded on condition alone, it would likely grade a PSA 2-3. It is the signature however that makes this one what it is….valuable.

Here is an excerpt from the REA catalog on this item:

This is one of only a small number of Babe Ruth signed 1933 Goudey cards we have ever seen (robably fewer than 10) and the first we have handled since 1999. Ruth has inscribed the card in black fountain pen across his image. “Sincerely Babe Ruth” with both the salutation and the signature grading a 7/8. The combination of Ruth’s signature and this particular card makes it not only one of the most elusive Ruth-signed items in the hobby, but one of the most prized and ideal-for-display as well

This one started at $2500 with the opening bid, and now stands at $13,000 with about a week to go on the auction. Will this one hit the $20K mark?

Stay tuned for this and other exciting items from the REA auction!

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Robert Edward Auctions – 1948 Leaf Rocky Graziano

May 9, 2013

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REA Auction Spotlight – Day #2 – Lot 1563- Rocky Graziano Leaf Boxing Card.  #50 in the set – Highest Graded.

It may not grab the headlines of say a Mickey Mantle Rookie, or an elusive and million dollar Honus Wagner (which coincidentally a PSA 1 Example is also being offered in the current REA Auction)  – But this card is considered THE CARD for boxing card collecting enthusiasts.

Just a handful of 1948 Leaf Rocky Graziano cards have survived – no one is exactly sure why this is such a rare card.  Was it pulled early from production at Leaf?  Did Graziano have some sort of contract dispute for the use of his likeness on a sportscard?  Was it simply some sort of “sample” used by gum and candy sales reps to give away to local confectionery and sundries owners to show what they product from Leaf would look like?  No one knows…but what it known, is that it is the rarest and one of the most valuable if not THE most valuable boxing card in existence.

The number of Rocky Graziano Leaf cards in existence is up for debate.  Some put the number as low as 10.  Other think more like 20.  One thing is for sure, they are not easy to locate and they rarely come up for auction.

This is graded by SGC who is one of the leading grading companies, particularly of pre-WWII cards.  This is the highest graded example that SGC has ever graded.  PSA has graded one Graziano a graded of PSA 5 ( which would be deemed to be a bit better) and that card sold in the REA 2011 auction for a whopping $41,125.

The bidding started on this one at $5000 and is up to  $19,000 with just a few days of bidding remaining.  This is an interesting card to put a value on.  Boxing collecting is obviously not as wide-spread as collecting baseball cards – or the other “big” sports of basketball, football and even hockey.

When one gets into pricing in this stratosphere, you only get the serious bidders taking place.  I am sure a few of these are already locked up in high end collections that will not come up for sale any time soon, which makes keeping an eye on this one all the more interesting.

Remember to check out the REA auction site and get your free catalog – you can even do this after the end of the auction – if you want to learn more about this and other fantastic sports collectibles.

Stay tuned tomorrow for another article highlighting another fabulous item which is sure to be a beautiful big hitter!

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