Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top ten pickups of 2014

I've never been a big New Year's Eve guy.

You'd have to pay me good money to shove myself into a loud bar or crowded street corner on days like today. Whether it's in my house or with family, I just like to relax on December 31st.

Still, New Year's Eve is a time for reflection, for better or worse. I've already seen a lot of blogs recapping how their 2014 goals turned out. This won't be one of those posts, namely because I never made any card-related goals for the year. The way I collect isn't very goal-oriented. Plus, this way I'm not disappointed if said goals go unfulfilled.

To close out my end-of-year countdowns, I'll be presenting my own personal list of the top ten cards I added to my collection in 2014. Instead of dividing them into modern and vintage categories like I did last year, I decided to lump everything into one big mega-list here tonight.

I'll spoil a little of the surprise and say that The Mick here ended up on the outside looking in for 2014.

You know it's been a good year when someone like him doesn't make the cut.

#10 -- 1978 Topps #400 Nolan Ryan

How acquired: Found within penny stacks at a card show in February.

I may have bought "better" cards than this '78 Topps Nolan Ryan in 2014.

But I can honestly say that none of my finds could top the Ryan Express in terms of sheer shock value. That element of surprise is what earned him a spot on this list.

I decided to take a little of my birthday money and meet up with my buddy Jeff at a card show near his neck of the woods back in February. I must've stepped through some kind of strange time warp at some point, because I found a guy selling penny cards. 

I had to make sure I wasn't stuck in the '50s when a penny could get you a loaf of bread. Nope, this was 2014, and there was a guy selling baseball cards for one cent a pop. Stacks and stacks of singles for just a penny each that, for some reason, had vintage Nolan Ryans in them.

Jeff met up with me just as I was getting done with my penny dig.

You better believe that Nolan was the first card I showed him.

#9 -- 1984 Donruss #324 Tony Gwynn

How acquired: A flea market 3/$1 bin.

Baseball lost one of its heroes in 2014.

Tony Gwynn passed away at the age of 54 back in June. I'd been picking up cards of his for a while before then, but I've started to collect him with a lot more passion since his passing. It's my little way of honoring the man's legacy.

Still, I came very close to not buying this one at all. I had eight bucks' worth of cardboard picked out from a vendor at the flea market a few months ago. I was about to put back the six higher-priced cards (all of 33 cents each) I'd found in an attempt to save a little cash.

I handed the guy a ten, and waited for my two dollars in change. It was then that I realized just how much of a moron I was. I was actually passing on the chance to own a second-year card of Tony Gwynn on my favorite Donruss design.

I came to my senses and told the guy to keep the ten, and I took the other six 3/$1 cards with me. Tony included.

I would've been kicking myself all year if I didn't.

#8 -- 1995 Bowman #90 Vladimir Guerrero RC

How acquired: A star-studded package from the immortal Wes.

I long ago resigned to the fact that I'd probably never own a Vladimir Guerrero rookie card.

They were, quite simply, way too rich for my blood. Most go for far more than I'm willing or able to spend. I accepted that my Vlad collection would always have a rather gaping hole.

But then Mr. Wes came along and saved the day.

There, amongst a rubble of other cardboard goodies, was what I'd been waiting for my entire life. A true, honest-to-God Vlad rookie. I couldn't believe it.

I still can't.

#7 -- 1933 Goudey #5 Babe Herman

How acquired: A card show discount bin in March.

You would think a stack of discounted Goudeys would feature nothing more than no-namers.

That's certainly what I thought before the tri-annual card show in March. That is, until I stumbled upon a table with loads of discount vintage. Among them was a hearty stack of Goudeys for four bucks a pop.

None of the names rung a bell. Not that I was surprised or anything. At that price, you're not going to find anyone who...wait, BABE HERMAN?! One of the stars of the beloved Dodger "Bums" of the '20s?

I handed over those four dollars as fast as I could.

#6 --  All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League autographs

How acquired: An insanely generous package from reader Mark back in January.

I doubt Mark knew it at the time, but I've always had a deep interest in the AAGPBL.

I just watched A League of Their Own for about the fourth or fifth time a few days ago. I've lost count at this point. Had that movie not been made, I have a feeling not many people would remember these women ballplayers. For that reason alone, it's worth a watch if you haven't seen it already.

Sadly, there aren't a whole lot of cards honoring the league. The few I did have were instantly blown away by this spectacular collection of TTM autographs from Mark. You can see the love they had for the league through the various inscriptions and overall care they put into the signatures.

It is an absolute honor to have these women pioneers in my collection.

#5 -- 1978 Kellogg's #8 Goose Gossage

The fact that I didn't own this card had been nagging me for the better part of 2014.

I finally found one as part of a three-card lot of '78 Kellogg's on Ebay, of all places. Aside from my occasional virtual bargain hunting, I usually stay away from Ebay when buying baseball cards. It's just too much of a hassle a lot of the time.

Thankfully, everything went as smooth as could be with this auction. I ended up paying about a buck for Goose, shipped, and he was on my doorstep within a couple of days. I'm a big Gossage fan, but the real reason I wanted this particular piece was because it's a rare shot of him in a Pirates jersey.

The only other card I know of that features Goose with the Bucs is his '77 Hostess issue, and that's an awful airbrush job. Kellogg's featured him in his full, unaltered, blinding Pirates gear here.

It's Goose in all his 3-D glory.

#4a -- 1988 Upper Deck Promos #1 DeWayne Buice
#4b -- 1988 Upper Deck Promos #700 Wally Joyner

How acquired: A flea market dollar box.

Looking back, I picked up quite a few white whales this year.

The Vlad rookie, the 3-D Goose, and now these. The legendary 1988 Upper Deck Promos. I'd been looking for these for about as long as I can remember, but most of the ones I'd seen were just a bit higher than I could afford.

If you don't know the story, these were produced as prototypes prior to UD's first official offering in 1989. Buice was a partner of Upper Deck's at the beginning and helped get the company's feet off the ground. They'd go on to revolutionize the hobby in the coming years, as you probably already know.

Finding these in a dollar box at the flea market is right up there with the penny Nolan Ryan for the single biggest surprise of the year. I'm still not convinced it actually happened, to be honest.

I can honestly say that I own the first two cards Upper Deck ever produced.

Talk about owning pieces of cardboard history.

#3 -- 1971 Kellogg's #5 Roberto Clemente

How acquired: A legendary Christmas gift from Dad.

This is pretty darn close to being the perfect baseball card.

It's got vintage, 3-D, oddball, and Roberto Clemente all rolled into one. I don't know what else I could possibly want.

It's definitely my new favorite Kellogg's card and one of my favorite baseball cards, period.

New Year's Eve is always a little tough on me as well. I can't help but think of the loss of my all-time favorite ballplayer on the anniversary of his passing.

We miss you, Mr. Clemente.

#2 -- 1954 Topps #139 Ed & John O'Brien

The year of white whales continued with this iconic piece of cardboard history.

Like so many others on this list, I'd wanted this card for a long time. I thought it'd remain a want for a while due to the rather high prices the O'Brien twins often fetch, however.

That all changed when I spotted a slightly trimmed copy in a card show bargain bin last month. I was able to spear yet another white whale for the low, low price of just five dollars.

Topps didn't stray too far from the norm during their early years. You won't find too many oddities from their '50s checklists. The O'Briens are one of the extreme few instances of Topps going outside the box in their early days. 

They're basically the forefathers to the wacky baseball cards I love so much.

#1 -- 1909-11 T206 #331 Fred Merkle (Throwing)

How acquired: Another memorable Christmas present from Dad, from the same batch of gifts that netted me the Kellogg's Clemente.

I've only had this card in my collection for six days now, but I can say without a doubt that it was my best pickup of 2014.

I already said this in my Christmas post, but it deserves repeating.

I am a HUGE Fred Merkle fan. Sadly, he doesn't have a whole lot of cards out there. This is only my eighth Merkle, and my first of the real, actual, glorious tobacco variety.

The copy my dad got me for Christmas is actually one of two versions of this particular Merkle. The other is a standard portrait, but, knowing me, I think my dad made the right choice by going with the action shot.

It was the perfect way to cap off what was a memorable 2014 for both myself and my baseball card collection.

In closing, I'd just like to thank everyone who has made this such a special year here on Dime Boxes. I wouldn't be here without you, and I'm already looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store.

Have a safe and happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: The set countdown

Tonight, we'll continue with yet another end-of-year countdown here on the blog.

Yesterday, it was my Top Ten cards of the Year. Today, we'll be looking at my own personal ranking of the sets we saw hit the shelves in 2014.

In order for a product to qualify for this list, I have to have either bought at least one pack of the stuff at some point during the year OR have picked up an ample amount of the singles from other sources. (Namely, dime boxes, of course.)

While I have surprisingly found a few cards from a set like Museum Collection, for example, the three I own aren't nearly enough to be able to talk about it for more than a sentence or two. So you won't be seeing it here tonight. (Am I the last Trevor Bauer fan out there?)

In the end, thirteen different 2014 sets qualified for inclusion in this countdown.

We'll start at the bottom of the barrel and work our way to the top.

#13 -- Donruss

I was reading through an old post of mine last night when I came across this nugget of a quote.

"They [Panini] even have a Donruss revival on tap for 2014. I'm already getting excited for that....I think it'll be a real treat."

If only I knew how wrong I'd be.

Panini's 2014 Donruss revival was a good idea, in theory. But the final product was a flat-out nightmare. The '78 Topps/'87 Donruss mesh didn't turn out very well, and the lack of logos stuck out like a sore thumb.

I probably picked up close to a hundred Donruss singles in dime boxes throughout the course of the year for my various player collections. People seemed eager to unload these things as soon as they hit the shelves. You can count the number of memorable cards from this set on one hand.

Actually, you can count them on no hands, because there weren't any.

#12 -- Prizm

Only Donruss saved Prizm from coming in dead last for the second straight year.

I've said all there is to say about this set over the course of this blog's history. I don't see a real point in this set being on the market at all. It doesn't hit any kind of niche in the card industry.

Amazingly, 2014 marked Prizm's three-year anniversary.

How it's managed to hang around for three years, I'll never know.

#11 -- Gypsy Queen

I've made no effort to hide my apathy towards Gypsy Queen.

I didn't like it when it first hit the shelves in 2011, and it's only gotten worse since then. The boring designs are all starting to blend together to me. I probably won't be able to tell 2014 from any of the others at this point next year.

The sad part is that I want GQ to impress me. I don't go in to every card season saying Okay, let's see how much I can hate Gypsy Queen this year. Every season is a clean slate. But GQ has been a disappointment time and time again.

I don't see that changing anytime soon.

#10 -- Topps Chrome

It's hard for me to talk about Topps Chrome since Topps has basically been using the same formula with this brand since the mid '90s.

Chromify the Flagship base set, throw in some colorful refractors, add a few die-cut inserts, and repeat.

It's not that I dislike Topps Chrome or anything. I'll still gladly pick these things up in dime boxes whenever I get the chance, far from the begrudging Do I really have to buy this? feeling I get from Donruss or Prizm.

It's just that the OOH, CHROME!!!! thing stopped impressing me about ten years ago.

#9 -- Bowman

I still can't believe what I'm about to say, but here goes.

I actually didn't hate this year's Bowman design. The foil is still crap, but I kind of enjoyed the semi-colorful layout this year. And the big "B" inside the baseball in the corner was a fine touch as well.

Bowman will never be the best set around, but at least there's still a slight glimmer of hope.

#8 -- Archives

It seems like I say this every year, but there is no set with more missed potential than Archives.

Everything about it is so underwhelming. Topps needs to learn that there's a difference between simply recycling and old design and truly honoring it with Archives.

I love the look of '73 Topps, but the design alone isn't what makes it one of my favorite checklists in Topps history. The quirky photography is a big reason why '73 Topps so special, and anything truly honoring the iconic set would seek to replicate the sheer oddness of it.

We don't get any of that in Archives. Like all the other designs in this year's release, Topps simply used close-up, generic acton shots in the '73 Topps portion of the checklist. And not to mention they lopped off a couple years from Carlos Beltran's career stats on the back, for some reason.

At this point, I've pretty much given up on Archives.

Expect a similar monologue at this time next year, folks.

#7 -- Bowman Chrome

It took Bowman Chrome three years to qualify for one of these set countdown lists.

That's because 2014 was the first time in, well...ever that I voluntarily sought out Bowman Chrome singles. I've picked up a decent chunk of them over the last couple months without buying a single pack.

The fronts are the same as always. I'm not usually big on most Bowman designs to begin with, and chromifying them doesn't change that. That was certainly the case with this year's offering.

No, it was the backs that really intrigued me. Your standard batting average, home run, and ERA numbers went out the window in favor of full sabermetric picture charts. Perhaps this'll usher in a revolution in the world of baseball card backs.

Bowman Chrome could become a pioneer.

I sure never thought I'd say that in my lifetime.

#6 -- Opening Day

Like so many of these other sets, I've already talked at length about Opening Day in the past.

The inserts are among the best in the business, but almost all of the base cards are merely stunt doubles for Flagship. It feels like I'm buying the same card twice a lot of the time.

If Topps included some new photos in this set, then they'd really have something. Opening Day already has the no-foil thing going for it, which is a big plus. There's a lot of potential here, if Topps ever wants to try and capitalize on it.

Opening Day is always good for a cheap retail break every now and then, but not much more.

#5 -- Allen & Ginter

To me, 2014 A&G had the biggest improvement for any brand this year.

A&G had been on a long string of underwhelming efforts in the past. I hadn't truly enjoyed anything from the brand since 2010. That changed this year.

The design was clean and refreshing without getting in the way, capturing the elegance that A&G brought to the table back during its original release in 2006. I'm hoping it's a sign of things to come down the road.

Just when I was about to leave A&G for dead, Topps came along and gave it a heartbeat again this year.

#4 -- Flagship

For the first time in my three years of making these lists, Flagship failed to occupy the #1 slot.

It earned top honors in 2013 without much of a fight. It was even #1 in 2012, but that says more about the quality of cards that were on the shelves that year than anything else.

This year's design didn't grab me from the start, but I've slowly started to come around it as the months have gone by. There was certainly a lot of room for improvement, but 2014 Flagship had enough memorable moments to at least make it respectable in my eyes. And, hey, there's even WAR on the backs.

It's right around average in the long and hallowed history of Topps.

#3 -- Panini Golden Age

I know I'm one of the extreme few Golden Age fanboys out there.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I absolutely love this brand. Always have, and, as long as Panini keeps putting it out, I always will.

My non-sports collection owes a great deal of gratitude to Golden Age. And, while they don't feature logos, the cards of under-the-radar names such as Curt Flood and Harvey Haddix are a great challenge to the Tom Seavers and Nolan Ryans we've seen over and over again in recent Topps sets.

The design is colorful and in-your-face. It may be distracting to some, but I see it as the epitome for everything Golden Age tries to represent. Whether we're talking baseball or whatever else, the Golden Age of something stands out from the pack. That's exactly what this design does.

You won't get it confused with anything Topps is putting on the shelves these days.

#2 -- Heritage

I've been waiting for 2014 Topps Heritage ever since I got back into baseball cards in 2005.

While I've said it time and time again, 1965 Topps is my all-time favorite design. And that's including all cards, not just Topps.

Heritage has been a little off the past couple years, so I was scared that Topps might screw up their one chance to honor the beauty that is '65 Topps. My worries went for naught, because Topps absolutely nailed it with this year's Heritage.

In the end, 2014 Heritage did a perfect job of actually honoring '65 Topps, back and front. They didn't merely recycle the design, as Archives is so prone to doing.

It's hard to put into words, but there's something very '65 Topps-ish about poses like this Mike Trout. I can look at this card and instantly be reminded of the real '65s I'm lucky enough to own.

That's all I can ask out of Heritage.

You'd think that a set honoring my all-time favorite design would be #1 by a long shot on this list. In any other year, it would have been.

But not 2014.

#1 -- Stadium Club

No set impressed me more than Stadium Club this year.

I remember when I first heard that Stadium Club was going to make a comeback in 2014. I thought it was a good idea, but I didn't think it'd be anything that different from what Topps was already giving us.

Yeah. Think again, Nick.

It's been over a month since I scored over 100 Stadium Club singles from a card show dime box, and I'm still reeling from all the sheer beauty in this set.

The minimalist design is perfect for something like Stadium Club, in that it gets the hell out of the way and lets the pictures do the talking. Most sets are made up of mostly average cards supplemented by a few great ones.

Stadium Club is the exact inverse of that. The staggering number of gems scattered across the checklist are easily able to suppress the extreme few duds around them.

Plans for 2015 Stadium Club are already underway, and I couldn't be more excited about it.

There's little doubting that the hobby is better when Stadium Club is around.

I think 2014 did a great job of showcasing that very fact.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Top ten of 2014

I am here to report that we'll be taking a brief hiatus from my Topps countdown posts this week.


To make room for other countdowns, of course. As a blogger, it's pretty much my civic duty to compile some kind of end-of-year list. I'll be throwing a few different countdowns at you over the next few days here on Dime Boxes, in fact.

We'll begin the week of lists with my personal ranking of the Top Ten Cards of 2014. I've done one of these posts to cap off each of my first two full blogging years.

As per the rules of my past lists, non-baseball cards are not eligible for this countdown. I can't possibly be expected to rank a card of a personal hero like Joey Ramone next to someone like Derek Jeter, can I? Joey deserves a whole separate honor.

Aside from that, any baseball card I obtained during the course of 2014 is fair game for this list. Lots of great ones were considered, but only ten made the final cut. (Well, kind of. You'll see.)

Here, without further ado, are my Top Ten Cards of 2014.

#10 -- 2014 Topps Update #US-113 Oscar Taveras RD

It still bums me out to talk about it, but we begin with perhaps baseball's worst tragedy of 2014.

As you probably already know by now, up-and-coming Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras passed away in a car accident in October. He was only 22 years old.

It is indeed awful for any life to be taken at such a young age, but there's something about losing a figure from the game I love so much that makes it hit home a little more.

While they didn't know it at the time, Topps produced what would become an emotional shot of Taveras tipping his cap to the St. Louis crowd as part of their Rookie Debut subset in Update.

Part of me wants Topps to print an In Memoriam issue of the late outfielder in their 2015 checklist (much like they did with Ken Hubbs and Cory Lidle), but, as sad as it might be, the other part of me wants this to be Oscar Taveres's final ride into the sunset.

It was definitely the most emotional card of 2014.

#9 -- 2014 Topps Archives "Major League" insert set

Let's get happy again with a rollicking good comedy like Major League.

Topps had an idea for the ages by immortalizing one of the best sports movies ever made in this year's Archives checklist. I'm a big fan of Major League and get a huge kick out of finally being able to own a card of someone like Jake Taylor.

If there's one thing that prevented the set from being higher on this list, it's the fact that it just wasn't big enough. Four cards seemed underwhelming, especially with the memorable cast of characters in Major League.

Where's Cerrano? Or Harry Doyle? Or Lou Brown? Or Willie Mays Hayes? Topps could've easily beefed this set up to at least ten cards without missing a beat.

Nevertheless, I applaud the idea, even if it turned out to be juuuuuuuust a bit outside of the mark.

#8 -- 2014 Topps Heritage Minors #134 Manny Ramirez

If nothing else, this card showed me that Topps does still have a sense of humor.

There was no real reason to put Manny Ramirez in this year's Heritage Minors checklist. The Cubs came out and said outright that Ramirez wouldn't be called up to the majors in 2014. The days of Manny being a prospect are long gone.

I just found it hilarious that a 42-year-old made it into a set that revolves around minor leaguers, many of whom are probably less than half Manny's age.

This is, as of this writing, the only card I own from this year's Heritage Minors checklist. I don't care if one of the 20-year-old prospects in the set ends up becoming the next Walter Johnson.

There's no topping Manny.

#7 -- 2014 Stadium Club #141 Evan Gattis

You probably know how awesome 2014 Stadium Club is by now.

I devoted a whole chunk of card show real estate to expressing my love for the revived brand.

A set for the ages is bound to produce quite a few cards for the ages, and that's exactly what we have here with Evan Gattis. This hilariously scary shot is obviously a play on the catcher's nickname, "El Oso Blanco." (Or "The White Bear.")

I can't think of another baseball card that features a real, actual animal hide.

Could you imagine seeing something like this in Gypsy Queen or Archives? Me neither.

That's why Stadium Club rules.

#6 -- 2014 Panini Golden Age #52 Eddie Gaedel

Before 2014, I owned exactly one card of Eddie Gaedel.

It's still one of the greatest ever printed, in my opinion.

This year's Golden Age checklist finally allowed me to add a second card to the collection. The diminutive 3'7" superstar took a single at-bat with the St. Louis Browns back in 1951 before his contract was voided by MLB. (Not surprisingly, Gaedel walked on four pitches and was lifted for a pinch-runner.)

To me, Eddie Gaedel has always represented one of those oddly iconic moments that only baseball could create. There really isn't anything like him in the annals of football or basketball history. Eddie Gaedel is baseball.

It's good to finally see him getting a little more cardboard pub.

#5a -- 2014 Topps #42 Mariano Rivera
#5b -- 2014 Topps #321 Mariano Rivera HL

Okay, so I cheated.

Mariano Rivera received two outstanding cards in this year's Flagship checklist, and I'll be darned if I was able to choose between them.

So, due to my own inability to pick one over the other, they both made the list. Together.

The standard base card on top will go down as Mo's true sunset issue. It captures Rivera doing what he did so many times during his long and hallowed career, calmly saving yet another win for the Yankees. You could look at that shot alone and know that the Rays had no chance that afternoon.

The shot Topps used for Rivera's Highlights subset is just as powerful, presenting the exact moment he called it quits. Longtime Yankee teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte were brought out from the dugout to take the ball from Mo one last time, leading to a highly emotional scene at Yankee Stadium.

All I can say is, well, thank you, Topps.

You gave Mariano Rivera the goodbye he deserved.

#4 -- 2014 Stadium Club #42 Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in baseball history, but you'd never know it from his baseball cards.

Most of what Topps has released of Robinson in recent years has been a gluttony of uninspired and often recycled photos. I own north of 100 cards of Jackie going in to 2014, but not many of them stood out in any way.

That is, until Stadium Club came around.

Yes, this exceptional "autograph" shot does seem a lot better due to the boring issues Robinson received in the past. Even ignoring all that, though, this is still one fantastic baseball card. I can honestly say that I have never seen this photo of Jackie before. It captures the man at the top of his game and popularity.

It became my new favorite Jackie Robinson card after about two seconds.

#3 -- 2014 Stadium Club #182 David Ortiz

Stadium Club strikes again.

Jackie Robinson and David Ortiz might as well be 3a and 3b on this list. It was almost impossible to choose between them.

In the end, something about Ortiz convinced me to give him the nod. I'm not exactly sure what. Maybe it's because this shot so perfectly conveys the larger-than-life personality that the Red Sox slugger has become so famous for over his career.

I mean, even the president had to take second billing on a Big Papi selfie.

That can't be very common.

#2 -- 2014 Topps Heritage #312 Munenori Kawasaki

Going into 2014, there were no licensed baseball cards of Munenori Kawasaki.

I found it funny that even though Topps continued to produce cards of third-tier rookies and other no-namers, they wouldn't give Kawasaki the time of day. I was beginning to think we'd never see a card of him.

Then Heritage came around. And all my anger instantly washed away. This goofy photo tells you everything you need to know about Munenori Kawasaki in one, single frame.

Listen, you know me. You know I like action shots, strange poses, and generally quirky cards. But, when done right, there's something beautiful about a candid portrait, something that isn't really possible with an action shot.

Topps has gotten away from that line of thinking in recent years. That's something that Heritage should accomplish. And, at least in this instance, Topps was successful. Oh, were they successful.

That, my friends, is all I can ever ask out of a baseball card.

#1 -- 2014 Topps #8 Coco Crisp

Others tried, but no one could top Coco and his massive 'fro in 2014.

More than perhaps any cards I've seen in recent memory, this spectacular piece of cardboard is a throwback to the '70s, a time I never got to live through in the first place.

Coco and his 'fro present a serious challenge to the 'fros of past greats such as Oscar Gamble, Jose Cardenal, and Bake McBride. I didn't think that was even remotely possible here in an era full of faux-hawks and bushy beards.

I've praised this as the Card of the Year since Flagship hit the shelves back in January.

I knew it'd be number one since day one.

Well, there you have it. My own personal Top Ten Cards of 2014. Okay, more like Top Fourteen Cards of 2014, but you get my drift.

I had a way tougher time crafting this list than I did either of the past two years.

Looking back, 2014 certainly had its share of memorable moments.