Tuesday, January 27, 2015

You Can Always Get Scammed

Even hobbies have their villains.

People that spend the big money on huge quantities of cards, or even the big money on just one or two cards, definitely know that the card collecting "Hobby" as its known isn't immune to dirtbags. Like anything that can get dollar signs in people's eyes, there are always going to be shady folks trying to make or steal a quick buck or several. There's fascinating dirty details to unearth about legendary Tobacco cards and infamous card companies (hello, Upper Deck!), and I'm not going to rehash that here. Bogus auctions and items exchanged via the mail not being "as advertised" are going to happen no matter who is buying what.

It's funny when it happens, then, to a circle of small-time like-minded people who just like to send cards through the mail to each other and exchange stories and experiences about those cards, sports, and life in general. I'm generally pretty skeptical of people's actions if I haven't dealt with them before, and I feel like I'm pretty insulated to being duped. Mail thievery aside, it's just kind of eyerolling when you can tell when someone who tries to be an active participant in this little blog thing is obviously not above board.

I'm not here to call out any individuals by name. Instead, these things just remind me that I need to do something I meant to do years ago and actually compile a list of people I've traded with. I can't remember a single bad experience in these exchanges. There's been dozens of non-starters, but in most cases this is likely because one or both parties just didn't get their pile of cards together in time. Life gets in the way, etc. In general, it seems that if you make an effort to read someone's blog and get to know a little bit about what they like, and then reach out in the form of an email or a comment, most people... most... are not looking to take advantage of your kindness. At least, that's been my experience.

The first person that's going to go on that "Solid Dudes" (ladies can be dudes! we're all dudes here!) list is Pat from Hot Corner Cards. Pat reached out to me when I was in my Angry Dome and sent me piles upon piles of cards. (I still owe Pat! I need to hit his mailbox up before I turn into one of those horrible people I was just complaining about.)

Pat also sent some 2014 Topps Heritage set needs. I am getting closer, little by little, day by day. You know what's not little? Matt's head. There's not much room for anything else on this card.

There's a sense of mystery about the Cardinals rotation this coming season, with a number of players returning from injuries and Shelby Miller dealt away. Marco Gonzales looked good at times last season and could be a factor in the rotation depending on how things play out.

This is a clown card, guys. Clown card. Ozzie's not a clown. I cannot draw to save my life, but I know you can do better, Upper Deck.

I just like showing this card as often as possible because it cracks me up.

So is this obstruction now? Is Yadi out? Does anyone know the rules anymore?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sports 'n Stuff

Red cards from Dodger Blue country.

I've been having a run of lousy sports luck, which made me seriously question how much I want to invest my time and emotions into games of men I don't know and will never meet. I do this from time to time, but lately it's been a serious test. I was really disappointed with Oregon's loss in the recent College Football Playoffs and have been watching a very promising Blazers season go down in a heap of balky shoulders and busted up digits.

Fortunately, baseball keeps me even-keeled and contemplative, and I have the kindness of others with their bubbly envelopes to keep me going through the long winter. Fellow Archer fan Greg of Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle sent over a quality pile of cards suited for my collecting needs, even as I'm trying to evaluate why I think I have these sort of needs.

I don't know if it's a west coast thing or what, but roughly 20% of all cards I pull seem to be Dodgers cards. If it wasn't for the fact that roughly 20% of all card bloggers are Dodgers fans, this would be a problem, but I rarely have issues with finding a suitor for a Dodgers pull. Greg found a nice bunch of Cardinal minis for me to drool over and then encase in plastic where they can't absorb any more of my drool.

The Motte, you see, is serial numbered. The Beltran, you see, has no number at all. That's a sneaky pair of ex-Cardinals.

AHHH! How did this wrong-headed Red player end up in here? I suppose it's because I still have this silly Propaganda insert set to finish up from 2009 Topps Update. Did you notice that I hyperlinked that? Hint, hint...

Boom, clap, POW! It's a Jimmy Edmonds jersey card that I'd never seen before. I like it. I'll take it!

And here's a purple guy that I've never heard of. I looked him up and his pro stats end after 2013 with no news stories to speak of, so that's probably not a good sign.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A New Year is (Almost) Upon Us

Let's put 2014 Topps to bed.

Even though I'm unusually excited (no more white borders!) about the soon-to-be-unleashed 2015 Topps set, I haven't looked at the checklist yet. It went live today, and I'm sure that the Cardinals were at least adequately represented. I'll check it out in due time, but it served as a reminder that I need to close the books on 2014 before I move the list of all of the cards I still need to unearth to another place while I make room for the shiny new list.

Thanks to the holiday generosity of One Man's Junk (Wax), I can at least say that I have two fewer parallels to collect. These scorching red cards were the color du jour last year, which makes me wonder what Topps has up their sleeves in the parallel department this time around.

But before we talk parallels, I could use your help in the most basic way. I still need these plain old white bordered non-crazy-stat-having, unbedazzled, boring old base cards for my Cardinals collection:

#US-71 - Justin Masterson
#US-113 - Oscar Taveras
#US-117 - John Lackey
#US-145 - A.J. Pierzynski

Yes, these are all from the somewhat recent Update set, so I don't feel quite so lazy. Anyway, if you've got 'em, let me know. I'll send you something you need in return. Meanwhile, if you're ready to get depressed with me, here's what else I need (just Cardinals!) from the flagship set alone...

  • 14 short printed variations
  • 25 inserts
  • 8 already expired online code quasi-parallel cards
  • 152 parallels that aren't even serial numbered
  • ... and an untold amount of serial numbered cards, memorabilia (fake and possibly real) and autographed cards that I don't bother to keep track of because it's healthy to have limits, right?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Catching Up With Trade Posts

Shiny Cardinal cards from a Red Sox fan.

Last month, my stash of Topps Chipz was the impetus for a Red Sox-for-Cardinals trade, this time with Catching Up With Collecting. It was my first time trading with CUWC, and it did not disappoint. (To be fair, I can't remember a trade I've made through this blog that was disappointing. You guys are all pretty great.) I got some much needed Chipz in return, but as they're not very exciting to scan, I will instead show off a few more rectangular looking objects.

The Cardinals have had a rotating cast of right fielders in recent years. After replacing some combination of Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick with Lance Berkman and finding huge success in 2011, Carlos Beltran came along and kept things rolling for two really nice seasons. Production fell off a cliff last year, however. The juice completely ran out of Allen Craig's bat last year and now the duty falls to Jason Heyward to restore what had been a pretty productive position for this team.

Here's another Beltran, of the chromed up and serial numbered variety. If this looks a little weird, it might be that you're used to the base card version. I can only surmise that it must take longer to manufacture the chrome parallels than the base cards, giving Topps extra time to work their Photoshopping "magic" on the base cards. This is all a guess, though.

This looks like some fake Topps Tek. What do you guys think?

Although I'm not really a fan of the manupatch cards per se, I kind of liked what I'd seen of these when they were doing tributes to famous rookie cards. This isn't a rookie card, though. It's still a fun card of Stan the Man.

I do hope they never stop making stickers.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Airbrushed Fridays: 2013 Topps #416

Pitchers and catchers report in five weeks! Pitchers and catchers report in five weeks!

Who is he? Jordan Lyles is a right handed starting pitcher for the Colorado Rockies. He broke into the majors at just 20 years old and is still looking to put together the proverbial breakout season.

How did he get here? Lyles broke in with the Astros and was Photoshopped out of an Astros uniform and into a newer Astros uniform. More annoying to me than any other photo tinkering shenanigans than Topps ever pulls, in 2013 they decided to go wild with altering uniforms of players who had not changed teams in the offseason. Rather, three franchises changed their uniforms (Marlins, Blue Jays and Astros) and someone felt it necessary to imagine these players in the uniforms they would soon be wearing instead of waiting for reality to catch up. Lyles later was traded the Rockies in the Dexter Fowler deal, but that has nothing to do with the card at hand.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None

Source image (from gettyimages):

Airbrushed Score: 9

Comments: I don't really miss Houston's old unis, however.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Winner, a Loser, and a Pack Break

Contest results revealed! And much, much more!

First off, a slow clap and a wave of the foam finger to Jeff of One Man's Junk (Wax) for taking the top prize in the Bowl Pick 'em Contest. It was a very closely contested race, and the top two finishers actually didn't pick the correct winner (grr) in the title game. Let's just say it had a bit of a Jeopardy feel to it. Jeff joins hiflew (Belk champ) in the winner's circle and will receive a 2015 Topps Series 1 blaster for his troubles. The runner-up was reader Brandon who will receive a big old bag full of cards of the team/player of his choice. And finally, in the worst place was hiflew, proving that lightning can sometimes strike twice... but it's probably going to be fatal one of these days. (Please note that Unabashed Interest would have had the worst entry, but he did not make a selection for the championship game.)

The loser of the big game was Oregon, which was truly disappointing. I didn't have a huge reaction to it in the moment, but unfortunately I think this is going to be one of those slow burn things that I stew over for years. National championship contention can be a fickle thing in college sports, and the Ducks could easily never have another opportunity in my lifetime. They could also be in it next season, but who knows? All I know is that it flat out sucks, as a fan.

And now it's back to baseball, with the last of the 2005 Sweet Spot packs that I purchased a couple of months back.

29 - Manny Ramirez - It's Mr. Baseball, Manny himself! Hooray?

54 - Roger Clemens Platinum 32/99 - Well, Hall of Fame selections are still fresh in everyone's mind, and Clemens hasn't seen a sudden surge in popularity. It makes me wonder what would have happened if he had taken the Andy Pettitte/Jason Giambi route all along and been more forthcoming all along. I guess that's not in his nature, though. (Does anyone collect this guy?)

85 - Curt Schilling - Again, not the nicest guy in the world. People seem to be holding a variety of things against him, including his his lackluster years with the Phillies. And his "bloody" sock. And his craaaaaazy ideas. (And maybe that video game he financed that went down the toilet?)

30 - Paul Konerko - A baseball facial hair look that didn't end with the '90s.

22 - Derek Lowe - We saw him in a previous pack. I guess this is a small set.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Good Luck Ducks: It's Only Everything

Oregon faces Ohio State in the inaugural CFP National Championship game.

Wow. A season (and a half, it feels like) of exciting college football has culminated in a final meeting between two teams that won actual playoff games for the right to face each other for the ultimate prize. Had the abomination that was the BCS existed this season, we would have seen Oregon and Ohio State facing off in a big bowl game that nevertheless would have been a consolation prize while Alabama and Florida State duked it out for the title. Instead, the Ducks and the Buckeyes get to play for a national title.

The Rose Bowl followed the script of a number of big Oregon games over the years. The Ducks battled FSU closely for more than two quarters until a key play broke Oregon's way and the thing just kind of had a snowball effect on last year's champs. Several rather comedic turnovers that led to touchdowns later, and suddenly Oregon was breaking Rose Bowl scoring records en route to a blowout win.

The long road to this game hasn't been easy on Oregon. More injuries have taken their toll. The Ducks lost one of their top receivers in Devon Allen on the opening kickoff in the Rose Bowl. On top of that and all of the other missing players, redshirt freshman sensation Darren Carrington got suspended for tonight's game after failing a drug test for marijuana, something that has been decriminalized (if not legalized) in most places but is still apparently very much on the NCAA's naughty list. I can't even begin to tell you how much I hate this ruling, but there's nothing that can be done at this point.

Ohio State is a very good football team, and it's more than a little worrisome to think that they are playing this game without a lot of pressure and expectations. Not much was expected of the Buckeyes coming out of a conference that's perceived to be rather weak these days, and virtually no one was talking about them as a contender before the playoff selection committee made their picks. A win over the behemoth that is Alabama has to count for something, and it seems doubtful that they'll be intimidated by the team with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

Even without Carrington, Allen, Ekpre-Olomu, Brown, Addison, and countless others that should be around to contribute tonight, Oregon still has the talent and the discipline to win today. I am nervous because the Ducks have never done this before. I am uncertain because no Oregon based sports team that I root for has gone all the way to the top prize since I was in diapers and far too young to remember. But in Marcus Mariota, the Ducks have a leader that seems to repel failure.


Candy apple green laying the quack down.

Game time is 5:30 PST with national TV coverage on ESPN. Go Ducks!