Sunday, September 18, 2022

Contest Winner!

This is my second blog post in a month that features modern cards. 
 
What's going on here?!?

Well, like many of you collectors, I occasionally enter a contest that's held by a fellow blogger, YouTuber, or collector. And recently I actually won one of those contests!
 
It was put on by Brent, who has a YouTube channel called Brent's Card Breaks. The only thing you had to do to enter the contest was to like the giveaway video, add a comment to the video, and subscribe to the channel. Easy enough.
 
Well, the date of the contest arrived, Brent spun the digital wheel with the names of all the entrants on it, and wouldn't you know it? "Nine Pockets" came up as the winner.
 
It was a generous prize package. Have a look at the team bags that recently arrived in my mailbox.
 
 

 
Modern baseball, '90s baseball, vintage baseball, and some random basketball cards added as a bonus.
 
Here are some of my favorites in the bunch.


Kelenic is trying to make his way back to the MLB. Detmers pitched a no-hitter in May of this year, but struggled with consistency and was sent to the minors in June. He's back with the big club now. As for Hayes, he's holding his own in Pittsburgh.



Here's a 2016 Topps Aaron Nola Rookie Debut card, a Jack Flaherty Bowman rookie from 2018, and a shiny 2021 Alec Bohm Panini Prizm Rookie Class card that didn't scan well.




And here we have autographs from two prospects. Agrazal pitched a number of games for the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2019, and is currently a minor-league free agent who last played with the Amarillo Sod Poodles (Double-A). Ottenbreit is playing Single-A ball with the Clearwater Threshers, and is currently injured. Let's hope both of those guys can get back on their horses soon! On the right is a fancy 2019 Chrome Black Refractor of Corbin Martin on the 1984 Topps design, serial numbered /199. Martin currently pitches for the Diamonbacks, and collected his first career hit in June.



Some nice vintage is up next, with a 1976 Topps victory leaders card, a smiling Jim Rice on the 1978 issue, and a Lee Smith Donruss rookie!



Jim Rice is a little more pensive here on his 1986 Fleer Star Sticker, Reggie is still swinging hard in 1987, and Frank Thomas is very happy on his 1990 Score rookie card, possibly because he knows how happy I am to have it in my collection.
 
 
All in all, a great prize. Big thanks to Brent at Brent's Card Breaks. If you enjoy watching wax packs being opened, especially those from the '80s and '90s, please do stop by his channel. 
 
And that raises a question: Do any of you readers and collectors watch trading card channels on YouTube? There are definitely some great content creators out there, including our good blogging buddy shoebox legends.
 
Share some of your favorite channels in the comment section, and thanks for reading as always!

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Esposito Brothers

Imagine this:
 
You and your brother Phil are growing up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontairo, in the 1950s.
 
Phil is developing into quite a hockey player. You're not so bad yourself, but don't have the shooting and scoring touch that Phil does. The rule when you shoot pucks for practice with him and some neighborhood friends? Whoever scores the fewest goals against the current kid playing goalie would have to be goalie next. And guess who would often end up being the goalie? 
 
You. 
 
But it helped you hone your skills. Phil, too. Fast-forward about a decade, to the 1963-64 season, and your older brother would be suiting up for his first NHL game. Around the same time, you'd be in goal and leading your NCAA Michigan Tech Huskies to the NCAA Championship. Just a couple of years later you'd be off to the Western Hockey League for your first professional experience, and in 1967, the Montreal Canadiens came calling, offering you a contract as a free agent.
 
Well, by this point older brother Phil had just been traded from the Chicago Black Hawks to the Boston Bruins, and he was really starting to light it up. During the 1968-69 season, his second with the Bruins, Phil put up 49 goals, 77 assists, and 126 points—all career highs to that point. He was named to the all-star team, and would take home the Hart trophy (most valuable player) and Art Ross trophy (top point scorer) at year's end.

Meanwhile, in Montreal, you were sitting behind Rogie Vachon and Gump Worsley on the goaltending chart. Tough to find some playing time there. You'd get into an occasional game for replacement duty, but that was it.
 
Then, as November turned to December, both Vachon and Worsley found themselves banged up. And on December 5th, you'd get your first NHL start.

Guess who you'd be facing?

Yep, the Boston Bruins. And your brother Phil. In Boston Garden.

Talk about going from the frying pan into the fire.
 
But it was an excellent game. The Bruins peppered you with 35 shots, and you stopped all but two of them. Your team put in two goals of their own, and the game ended in a 2–2 tie.
 
Guess who scored both goals against you?
 
Yep, your brother Phil. 
 
Mom was so mad at him.
 
You'd get a handful of starts over the remainder of the season, and that summer you'd be claimed by Phil's former team, the Black Hawks. That's where you really took off. In the 1969-70 season you'd play 63 games, chalk up 38 wins against just 17 losses, and post a 2.17 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. And here's the most remarkable number:
 
Of those 38 wins, 15 of them were shutouts. Fifteen! You'd be an all-star for the first time, and would win the Calder trophy (rookie of the year) and the Vezina trophy (best goaltender) at year's end. You almost took the Hart trophy as well, but finished second to Bobby Orr.

Here are the brothers just a couple of seasons later, when they were both household names across the North American continent.
 
 
1971-72 Topps #20 Phil Esposito and #110 Tony Esposito

 
For their exploits over the previous few seasons, both Tony and Phil were chosen to represent Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. Tony finished the series with the lowest goals-against average (3.25) of all goalies—and that means Canadian counterpart Ken Dryden and Soviet star Vladislav Tretiak. Brother Phil put up great numbers himself, leading the team in goals (7), assists (6), and points (13) across the 8 games.
 
How about that for two brothers?
 
Normally at this point we'd compare stats for both of them in a table. However, this time we've got a forward and a goalie, so we'll do one table for Phil, and a separate table for Tony.


PHIL ESPOSITO (career highs in bold)

 

CAREER

(18 seasons)

BEST SEASON
(1970-71, Boston)

GAMES PLAYED

1282

78

GOALS

717

76

ASSISTS

873

76

POINTS

1590

152

PENALTY MINUTES

910

71

GAME-WINNING GOALS

118

16

 

 

TONY ESPOSITO (career highs in bold)

 

CAREER

(16 seasons)

BEST SEASON
(1969-70, Chicago)

GAMES PLAYED

886

63

WINS

423

38

LOSSES

306

17

TIES

152

8

SHUTOUTS

76

15

GOALS-AGAINST AVERAGE

2.93

2.17

SAVE PERCENTAGE

.906

.932



Phil is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame (1984), a 2x Cup winner, 8x All Star, 5x Art Ross trophy winner, 2x Hart trophy winner, and 2x Pearson trophy winner. He played for the Black Hawks, Bruins, and Rangers.

He had quite a 1969-70 playoff run to the Stanley Cup championship, leading the league in goals (13), assists (14), points (27), even-strength goals (9), and power-play goals (4). Here are his career playoff numbers, which are quite impressive: 130 GP, 61 G, 76 A, 137 PTS, 138 PIM, 22 PPG, 11 GWG
 

Tony is also a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame (1988). He was a Calder trophy winner, 5x All Star, and 3x Vezina trophy winner. Another noteworthy stat: Tony led the league in total shots against AND total saves five times in a seven-year span! (From 1974-75 to 1980-81) 
 
That's a lot of pucks to have fired in your direction.
 
Aside from that first season with Montreal, he played his entire career with the Black Hawks. He was also an early pioneer of the butterfly style of goaltending, which is still being used in various forms today. 
 
So here's to the Esposito brothers. Two absolutely astonishing careers, and a great brother vs. brother memory back in 1968.
 

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Gary, Keith, and Ron on a Custom Card

Here are two true yet opposite statements:
 
Baseball games are incredibly entertaining.

Baseball games are excruciatingly boring.
 
Which of those statements you apply at any given time is a result of what happens on the field, of course, especially if you're one of the fortunate forty of fifty thousand people who happen to be in the stadium on game day.

But what about the millions of others watching on television?

Well, much of the entertainment—or boredom—is a direct result of how the broadcast team calls the game. And if you're a baseball fan, you're probably thinking of some examples on both ends of the spectrum right now. I know there are some broadcasters I sorely miss, while there are others whose play-by-play style makes me wonder how they've held their position for so long.

One current broadcast team on the positive end of the spectrum is based in Queens, New York, calling games for the New York Mets: Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling. (Also known as GKR.)
 
If you aren't familiar with the trio and their brand of commentary and humor, here's a video that you might enjoy:
 
 


Keith: Well I either gotta have the almond milk or the coconut milk, because it's non-dairy.
 
Gary: You have a lactose issue?
 
Keith: No, I do not. I just don't do dairy anymore unless it's a half-pint of ice cream...
 
Although I am a native New Yorker, I don't claim allegiance to the Mets or Yankees. But I will say that I enjoy the way Gary, Keith, and Ron call games. And recently a Mets fan named Josh (imccards on instagram) contacted me with a request to design a custom card featuring the trio. I told him I'd be up for it, and over the next few weeks we emailed back and forth, discussing and collaborating as I worked on the design. Here's the result:

 

 
I think the marquee style of the 1972 Topps design works very well for a TV broadcaster card. Additionally, one of the color combinations in the 1972 set was that same blue and orange, which works perfectly for the Mets.
 
The card back features a brief informational section for each member of the broadcast team, also done in similar style to the original 1972s. But note the "1a" designation at the end of the card number.

It's there because Josh had an idea to do a few short-printed parallels using some of the other color combinations from the 1972 Topps set. He asked if I could design a different card back for each short print, as well. Here's what I came up with:



First we've got the orange SP, hand-numbered /30. The card back features some information about the three stadiums the Mets have called home since their beginnings in 1962. I reversed the colors on the card back to help set the short prints apart from the base card. (Also, check out the center field depth at the Polo Grounds. Wow.)




Next on the scarcity scale is the green SP, hand-numbered /20. Fan favorite Mr. Met appears on the back. This one is my favorite of all the card backs.




And finally we've got the mint SP, scarcest of all, hand-numbered /10. The card back is done in the style of a vintage Mets advertisement sponsored by Rheingold Beer, which for quite a while was the official beer of the New York Mets.

The most exciting news, as you can see by the photos, is that these cards are not just digital. I've already had them printed out, and they're listed in my eBay store.

I wasn't sure how the short prints would do, but so far Mets fans and card collectors have responded favorably. Here's the rundown at the time of this writing:

Orange SP: 4 sold, 26 remaining
Green SP: 6 sold, 14 remaining
Mint SP: 3 sold, 7 remaining

Hopefully they continue to do well. Thus far, two collectors have even purchased the whole rainbow in one shot!

So here's to Gary, Keith, and Ron. May they continue to entertain Mets fans for years to come.


Now here are two questions for you:
 
(1) How do you feel about your favorite baseball team's current group of broadcasters? Thumbs up or thumbs down?
 
(2) If I were to create an all-time broadcaster version of this card, who would be on it? My first idea for the trio is Vin Scully, Mel Allen, and Harry Caray. But there are quite a few legends to choose from. Bob Uecker, Joe Garagiola, Phil Rizzuto, and Jack Buck are just some examples.

Share your answers in the comment section, and thanks as always for reading!

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Board Advertisements on Cards, Episode 4: Nestlé Chunky

Way back in 1978, the NHL allowed teams to start selling advertising space along the boards of their rinks. By the time I was a hockey card–collecting kid in the late 1980s, the trend had caught on. From snack foods to car manufacturers to banks to fast food restaurants, board advertisements really ran the gamut—and they still do.

This series will explore some of the advertisements that also managed to make their way onto hockey cards.
 
 
1988-89 Topps #194, Pierre Turgeon

 
Here's rookie center Pierre Turgeon, getting ready for a face-off. (Note his right hand moved down about a foot from the end of his hockey stick.)

Also note the advertisement on the boards behind him.

NESTLÉ CHUNKY!

 

 
I'm not sure I've ever eaten a Chunky bar, but I do remember seeing them on drug store candy racks back in my 1980s childhood. Simply put, it's a big, thick chunk of chocolate with raisins and roasted peanuts inside. Here's a cross-section:


 

Substantial.
 
And surprising to me, when I was doing some research for this post I discovered that it was introduced to the market way back in the 1930s. The original recipe contained milk chocolate, raisins, cashews, and Brazil nuts. Now that's fancy!
 
Here's a commercial that aired a couple of decades later:
 
 

 
Reporter: I beg your pardon, sir. Do all your people look like you?
 
Flying Saucer Pilot: 'Course not, most of them are homely.
 
Hilarious.
 

As for Pierre Turgeon, he went on to have a tremendous NHL career. I've mentioned him before on this blog, and marveled at how the man is not yet enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Here's a quick career stat line:

1294 GP, 515 G, 812 A, 1327 PTS, 452 PIM, 190 PPG, 86 GWG

And this is where some of those stats place Turgeon in the all-time NHL rankings at the time of this writing:
 
190 power-play goals: 22nd
86 game-winning goals: 25th
1327 points: 34th
515 goals: 40th
 
Almost every player ahead of him in those categories is in the Hall of Fame. Quite a few players behind him, too.
 
It's also worth noting that Turgeon put up nine 30-goal seasons across his career, and was better than a point-per-game player. He averaged almost a point per game in the playoffs, too (97 points in 109 games played). His skating style and play-making ability seemed effortless. A natural talent. Unfortunately, he never played on a Stanley Cup–winning team.

Maybe his teammates were too busy eating Chunky bars like this guy:
 
 

 
And I think I'll conclude episode 4 of Board Advertisements on Cards right there.
 
How many of you have ever eaten a Chunky bar? Share your thoughts in the comment section, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Group Break? Of Modern Cards? Me??

So here's something different:
 
Recently there was an offer on Trading Card Database to join a free group break of hockey cards. Specifically, two hobby boxes and a blaster box of 2021-22 Upper Deck MVP.
 
I knew of MVP. I'd seen a card or two on other blogs and YouTube channels. I even knew what a blaster box was. But I'm not a modern collector, so I don't have anything like MVP in my personal collection.
 
In fact, if you were to look through all the posts I've made on this blog since its beginnings in 2019, you'd find a total of maybe three posts that feature modern cards. Three.
 
However, this was a FREE group break. And I happened to find the post on TCDB at a time when a few teams were still available to claim. So I claimed one: The New York Islanders. Then I waited for the remaining handful of teams to be claimed, and for a date of the break to be announced.
 
Well, those teams were claimed pretty quickly, and the day of the break came soon after, by way of a video that was posted on YouTube. I watched as the host opened up pack after pack, hoping there'd be some good Islanders cards inside some of them. Here's my haul:








In that last trio we've got an Anders Lee silver script card and a mascot card, the style of which is based on a typical "gaming" card. Here's the text:

The Islanders' ice is extra cold to protect it from the cheers of this fearsome fire breather.

I really have nothing else to say about that. But now that I've had the cards in hand, I will say that the design is not bad. And the card stock is nice. It's not the typical UV coating that you worry might brick up over time. It feels more slick. As for the mascot card, it's got much more of an iridescent look than the scanner provided.
 
In any case, the group break was a fun experience. Watching it online was kind of exciting. And some hits did appear for other teams, which was cool. But will I do it again sometime? I don't know. Like I mentioned, I'm not really into modern cards. I also don't collect any specific teams. And I'm not looking to expand my collection unnecessarily. But I wouldn't rule it out.
 
How about all of you readers and collectors? Have you participated in group breaks? Do you enjoy them? What's the best card you've received from one?
 
Share in the comment section, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 14, 2022

From the Favorites Box: Kevin Mitchell, 1987 Topps #653

A series where I post some thoughts about favorite cards. Previous cards in the series are available here. 
 
 

 
There's rookie Kevin Mitchell on a sunny day at Shea Stadium, emerging from his home-plate slide in a cloud of dirt and dust. His facial expression shows childlike exuberance. In all the excitement and commotion, the ball may have even gotten past Expos catcher Mike Fitzgerald. 
 
As for the home crowd in the background? They’re all on their feet. On top of that, you have a great view of those classic 1980s Mets uniforms. And if this photo was taken the previous year, 1986, then it's a photo from their World Series championship season.
 
Now that's a baseball card.
 
For more on the photo itself, it was likely taken on June 25, 1986, when the Mets hosted the Expos.
 
Here's the play-by-play breakdown that led to Mitchell's enthusiastic slide:
 
In the bottom of the 4th inning, Darryl Strawberry doubled to left field off Expos pitcher Andy McGaffigan. Then George Foster grounded out, moving Strawberry to third. Kevin Mitchell stepped up to the plate and delivered another double, scoring Strawberry to put the Mets on the board and setting the score at 2–1 Expos. Then, on a Ray Knight single, Mitchell scored from second to tie the game, sliding home with panache as you see on the card above. Knight advanced to second on the throw home. Pitcher Sid Fernandez would then drive Knight home to make it 3–2, and the Mets would tack on a fourth run that inning. They'd end up winning the game by a score of 5–2. Lots of fun for the fans at Shea.

Mitchell would help the Mets win their 1986 World Series championship too, and at season's end finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting behind Todd Worrell and Robby Thompson. (Will Clark finished 5th, Barry Bonds 6th.)
 
However, that winter he would be traded to San Diego, and then soon after to San Francisco, where he'd really shine. In 1989 he had a year for the ages, taking home the NL MVP award ahead of Will Clark, Pedro Guerrero, and Ryne Sandberg. He'd also win the Silver Slugger award and take part in the All-Star game.
 
Here's his 1989 stat line (bold = career best): 
 
154 GP, 543 AB, 100 R, 158 H, 34 2B, 6 3B, 47 HR (led both leagues), 125 RBI (led both leagues), .291 AVG,.388 OBP, .635 SLG (led both leagues), 32 intentional walks (led both leagues)

Oh, and there was also this play:
 



What a season. 
 
Unfortunately, knee and wrist injuries really hampered Mitchell from 1991 onward. He'd bounce around from Seattle to Cincinnati to Boston to Oakland, never playing more than 100 games a season for any of those teams. He retired in 1998 at the age of 36.

But for the youthful spirit of baseball—sliding across home plate, scoring a run, getting your uniform dirty, and the exuberance that it all brings—1987 Topps #653 has a spot in my box of favorite cards.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Battle of the Bands: A Summary (And Giveaway)


 
 
What a tournament. 
 
We had top seeds dominate, we had lower-ranked seeds cause upsets, we had wise decisions that led to victories, we had poor decisions that led to defeat. We had intense battles. We had great music. And at the end of it all, Led Zeppelin were crowned champions.
 
A sincere thanks to all of you who've followed the tourney over the past 7 Sundays. I enjoyed writing out all the battles, reconnected with some great bands that I hadn't listened to in a while, and discovered from the comments section that quite a few of you card collectors and bloggers have a passion for rock music as well. Pretty cool! 
 
I hope you clicked on the videos and links in each battle. Most of them featured live performances from the contesting bands that week, and I find that those live performances are often better and more interesting than the studio versions of the same songs.
 
I also think rock and roll pairs very well with 1970s trading card designs, which is why I chose a '70s design for these rock band cards in the first place.
 



And that brings me back to the reason for this summary.
 
As a way of showing my appreciation for your readership, I'm going to send a small prize to all of you who left a comment on any of the battles throughout the tournament:
 
One card of your choice from the rock band set! 
 
Here's the list of commenters (blogs in parentheses):
 
Crocodile (Crocodile Sports Cards)
Fuji (The Chronicles of Fuji)
Elliptical Man (The View from the Third Floor)
GCA (The Collective Mind)
Brett Alan (none)
Bo (Baseball Cards Come to Life!)
Matt (Diamond Jesters)
Jon (A Penny Sleeve for Your Thoughts)
Jafronius (A Pack To Be Named Later)
Night Owl (Night Owl Cards)
Bulldog (Nothing if not Random)
Jim from Downingtown (multiple blogs)
 
 
If you see your name above, congratulations! You've earned the card.
 
Just leave a comment below with your card choice. I've got plenty of each band, so please do choose whichever one you'd like. (And if you know someone who might be interested in any of these cards, feel free to send them a link to my eBay store. I've even got the complete set available at a discounted price.)
 
I should have most of your mailing addresses from previous giveaways here on the blog, but if you haven't participated in any previous giveaways, please send me that information.
 
My email address is available on my blogger profile page

You can also message me on TCDB.
 
 
Thanks again for following along. If you missed any of the battles, I've added a tab to the toolbar at the top of this blog for convenient access.

Rock on, collectors. Rock on.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Battle of the Bands, Championship Match: Led Zeppelin vs. Ramones

Earlier this year, The Rock Universe whisked me away to a mysterious time and place to witness a battle of the bands of unparalleled greatness. I documented the experience, and now I'm sharing the battles here on the blog. And today we've reached the championship match: Led Zeppelin vs. The Ramones. Here's how it went.
 
 

 
And here we are. It was good to have a week off after what was without a doubt the heaviest concert I'd ever attended. The one bit of lineup news that had been circulating over the past few days is that the Ramones were sticking with Marky on the drums. They'd gone with him ever since Tommy had tapped out during their first-round match against KISS, and the decision was to keep playing the hot hand. Aside from that, however, both bands had remained quiet about set lists or strategies for this final match.

There was plenty of talk among the crowd, though as an impartial viewer I tried to ignore as much of it as I could. Ultimately, Zeppelin was the overwhelming favorite, and there was no dancing around it. I mean, if you put both bands on the street and challenged them to a good old-fashioned fistfight, I think I'd take the four guys from New York wearing ripped jeans and leather jackets. But this wasn't a fistfight. 
 
I stood on top of my seat, as almost everyone else was doing, and waited in the dark arena for one of the stages to be lit up. After a restless chant of "Let Them Play!" resonated through the arena for a full three minutes, the lights flashed on. 
 
Zeppelin was up first, and an unmistakable drum introduction from John Bonham signaled their choice of song: "When the Levee Breaks".
 
It was a crowd favorite to be sure. It was also a 7-minute song. The Ramones listened as long as they could, but began to grow restless with the long, drawn out ending, and before it finished they broke into "Blitzkrieg Bop". 
 
 

 
The wall of sound made Robert Plant turn away, bracing against his microphone stand. Jones and Page, too, were caught off guard as the sound filled the arena. And in typical Ramones style, as soon as the song ended, they jumped right into another one. This time, it was "Sheena is a Punk Rocker", and it was just as loud and fast. The crowd hopped up and down to the speed of it all, nodding their heads in excitement to the beat. Jones, Page, and Plant were still trying to acclimate. 
 
The whole thing was reminiscent of a hockey playoff game, where one team comes out absolutely flying and the opponent just has to weather the storm for the first few minutes. It was a pretty good plan, but John Bonham was ahead of the game. He wasn't just weathering the storm. He was actually getting into the speed and fury of it all, tapping his foot and nodding his head to each eighth note. And I think that was an even better plan.
 
All the while, the Ramones kept bashing out their second song. They were revving up the crowd and taking good command of the battle until Robert Plant figured out a way to counter. Thinking that the Ramones would want to continue right into a third song, he waited for that one brief moment between the ending of "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" and the beginning of the next song, and suddenly yelled out HEY HEY MAMA SAID THE WAY YOU MOVE, GONNA MAKE YOU SWEAT, GONNA MAKE YOU GROOVE...
 
 
 
 
And his band exploded into "Black Dog", stopping the Ramones in their tracks. The crowd roared. And that's when the Ramones made a mistake. 
 
Not only did they stop playing, but they also started watching Page, Plant, Bonham, and Jones do their thing. And that broke a cardinal rule of competition: Never get caught admiring your opponent.
 
Zeppelin continued, unaware. But the Ramones were enamored, so much so that during one round of the chorus of "Black Dog", Dee Dee began playing the bass line right along with John Paul Jones. Marky , too, began following along on the drums. Plant, crafty as ever, heard what was happening, made quick eye contact with his bandmates, and instructed them to loop the chorus around one more time. Dee Dee and Marky kept following.
 
Joey and Johnny also saw what was happening, however, and they were incensed. Still grabbing his mic stand, Joey yelled out at his two mesmerized bandmates to no avail. Zeppelin was playing so hard and with such enthusiasm that simple shouting wasn't having any effect. But during a quieter moment in the song, as Plant sung out "Ah, Ah" and held his microphone to the crowd so they could reply "Ah, Ah" in turn, Joey had an idea. 
 
Before Zeppelin could pounce back into the song, Joey yelled out as loud as he could, TAKE IT DEE DEE!
 
Instinctively, Dee Dee ran up to his microphone and shouted out ONE TWO THREE FOUR! and the Ramones struck right back, interrupting Zeppelin's song with "Commando" and starting into "Havana Affair" immediately after
 
John Paul Jones took both hands off his bass, put them on his hips, and shook his head. Plant lowered his microphone in disbelief. Bonham, upset, tried to pound out eighth notes to match Marky. It did nothing.
 
The Ramones had taken the crowd back. But the thing is, all four songs they had played thus far were songs they'd played in previous rounds of the tournament. Nothing wrong with that, but they'd probably have to play some new songs too if they wanted to win it all. I wondered if their strategy was to try and play an entire show's worth of songs—a dozen or more—one after the other, not even letting their opponent get a sniff at performing. There was nothing in the rule book against it. In fact, it reminded me that there was no rule book at all.

On the other stage, Zeppelin waited patiently again and rode out the surge of energy put forth by the Ramones. "Havana Affair" was coming to a close, and finally sensing another opening, Zeppelin punched back with "The Ocean".




If Plant, Page, and company had underestimated the straightforward power of the Ramones at the start of this battle, they sure weren't anymore. Zeppelin had plenty of ammunition and counterpunching ability, and their second and third song choices proved that without a doubt. They finished up "The Ocean" to raucous applause.
 
Not wanting to lose the crowd at such a pivotal moment, they jumped right into their fourth song, skipping the long, slow blues introduction to "Bring it on Home" and going right into the opening guitar riff.
 
 


The strategy worked. That opening guitar line, followed by the rest of the band joining in, was such a triumph of energy and rock and roll that for the first time in the tournament it was the Ramones who were knocked back. Page, Plant, Jones, and Bonham ripped through the song with renewed vigor, and even added another two verses on the fly, playing off the crowd's
joyful cheers.
 
Finally, the song wound down to a slow, bluesy finish, and as Plant played the final notes on his harmonica, the crowd roared feverishly.
 
With their four songs—each showcasing a different combination of power, skill, and musical merit—Zeppelin had decidedly taken over, just as they'd done in their previous rounds of the tournament. And what's more, both bands had now played four songs. It seemed the choice for champion was clear. Sensing defeat, Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone unplugged their guitars. The crowd had made their choice. The Rock Universe agreed. Zeppelin couldn't be stopped. 
 
But then something fascinating happened.

Hundreds of people started rushing up to the front of the Ramones' stage, and began chanting "More! More! More! More!"

Thousands more around the arena joined in. Even the members of Led Zeppelin began clapping their hands and joining in on the chant. Confused, but not about to miss out on an opportunity to blast out some more music for the fans regardless of their defeat, Johnny and Dee Dee plugged back in, Joey stood up to his microphone, and with a cue from Marky they rattled off "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue".
 
 

 
 
Then they went straight into "Cretin Hop", and immediately after that, "I Wanna Be Sedated". 
 
 

 
It was a bonus set for the ages. Afterward, Led Zeppelin, the crowd, and The Rock Universe all spent minute after minute cheering for the four guys from Queens, New York, and acknowledging just how much they rocked. 
 
But Led Zeppelin, with their staggering combination of musical talent, stage presence, energy, and range of styles were chosen as the champions of this Battle of the Bands.

 
Here are the set lists:
 
Ramones
Blitzkrieg Bop
Sheena is a Punk Rocker
Commando
Havana Affair
 
Bonus set:
Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
Cretin Hop
I Wanna Be Sedated
 
Led Zeppelin
When the Levee Breaks
Black Dog
The Ocean
Bring it on Home

 
And here's the final bracket. 
 


 
Thanks so much for all of you who followed along and commented on the various battles. I hope you enjoyed it!
 
Stay tuned next Sunday for a special Battle of the Bands custom card announcement.