Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Anaconda37, Are You Out There?

Last month's first place contest prize remains unclaimed! 

If you participated in the annual bowl pick 'em contest and you used a name like Anaconda37, please contact me as soon as possible. I need to know where to send your stuff! If I don't hear back by the end of this week, I am going to set this 2018 Topps Series 1 blaster on fire, or something like that.

If you are someone else (and that literally includes everyone else in the world), let it be known that March Radness is nearly upon us. This will be the 10th annual edition of this contest, so I am planning on doing something extra special for it. I just don't know what that is, yet. If anyone has any ideas, feel free to leave a comment or two!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

This Week in Plain White Envelopes

Single card joy from @SafeAtHomeShop @pksteinberg and @thedimwit to peruse.

I'm still starting to get settled into the groove of the week, so it's time for a quick blast about a few cards received recently in individually wrapped packages. First up, thanks to Tracy's Box Breaks, I won a Yadier Molina photo variation from last year's Topps Update set in a Twitter giveaway by Safe At Home Shop. This is one of the more interesting photo variations I've seen, as it captures a weird moment that happened during last year's All-Star Game. It was great to see Yadi have good humor about a situation that supposedly wasn't pre-planned by Nelson Cruz.

Thanks again to Peter of Baseball Every Night, I have inched closer to team set completion with the fledgling 2018 Topps series. Seven down and four to go! Everyone is crossing their fingers that Waino will be a contributor to the Cardinals 2018 run, but no one really knows for sure what's going to happen.

Finally, I may have stretched the truth a little bit when talking about "this week" with regards to the card I received from The Daily Dimwit... over a month ago. Well, time flies and all, but that doesn't diminish the intrigue of this card. Upper Deck surely loved their multiple player swatch cards, which sometimes brought together a unique combination of players. Other times, you get a fan favorite (and Cy Young Award winner) in Carpenter paired up with a guy that's mostly a trivia answer (Barton) and the frustrating end of Mark Mulder's career. Still, it's super cool that I own this, and as I get further on in my collecting years, it can be more fun to own weird cards than normal ones.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Team Set Special

Panini's blister pack NBA team sets contain a special bonus this year. 

During the second half of the Blazers recent overtime victory over the Charlotte Hornets, Erin disappeared for a bit to the team shop and picked up a 2017-18 NBA Hoops Blazers team set for me. Usually this blister pack product just has the regular base cards in it and nothing more, but it appears that there's an exclusive bonus this time. I wasn't able to find much info online about this, but this link to the official NBA Store website probably has as many details as anyone could expect to find.

Essentially, each team set contains a special blue parallel. I expected this to be the regular blue parallel you can pull from packs, but it appears to be something entirely different. I'll get to that in a moment.

I did... almost... polish off the regular team set with this purchase. I consider Allen Crabbe's Nets card a must have for my collection, since he's still pictured in a Blazers uniform. Noah Vonleh joins Crabbe in the ranks of ex-Blazers as he was shipped off to Chicago as a cap casualty, a term I am borrowing from the NFL.

The Blazers traded up to get Zach Collins, and after a slow start to his career he has settled into the rotation, which is what ultimately forced Vonleh out. Collins famously never started a college game and hasn't really logged a ton of minutes in his career, so you would expect it to be several years before he fully forms into an impact player.

Here is that bonus card. As you can see, this is more similar to a blue color that we saw with the Walmart Topps baseball parallels from 2011-2014 than the color of the parallels from you can pull from packs. Also worth noting is that the NBA Hoops logo itself is rainbow reflective.

I also just realized that I hate describing what cards look like. I'd rather just collect them.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Some 2018 Cardinals

And former Cardinals. 

Thanks to @pksteinberg of Baseball Every Night, I now have roughly 55% of the brand new Topps Series 1 set. Unfortunately, there are only a paltry 11 Cardinals cards in the entire series. I know that this has long been a problem for certain teams, and now we've reached the point where St. Louis is officially out of the limelight, having missed the playoffs in consecutive years.

Of those 11 players featured on a card, 3 of them are already getting ready to put on another uniform later this week. Aledmys Diaz, his 2016 All-Star appearance already a distant memory, was shipped off to the Blue Jays for a prospect. He'll join Randal (with one L) Grichuk in Toronto. (I still need Grichuk's card.)

The Cardinals did hang on to rookies Jack Flaherty and Harrison Bader, and both figure to be factors this season with the big league club in some capacity. It would be a bit surprising to see Flaherty win a spot in the rotation, but it would also be surprising to not see him make some starts at some point if he isn't moved to the bullpen.

I haven't really talked about the new flagship design yet. It's better. And this is a really solid photo.

I think I am still going to pass on buying packs of this stuff, as I have for the previous two sets. The lack of stats on the back is what upsets me the most now. One of the biggest reasons I got interested in baseball as a kid was from poring over box scores in the local newspaper. It was the stats, man! So the allure of baseball cards at an early age was really just a natural progression from the back pages of the Sports section to the annual document of record for each ballplayer. I realize it's easy to pull all of the stats up on B-R (and I often do), but not having full stats for a player really kills the appeal for me. (This was why I strongly preferred Fleer to Donruss in the '80s, even though they occasionally cheated for some long time veterans.)

It kind of looks like Stephen Piscotty (now in Oakland) is caught between bases and doesn't know what to do. I do like the photo choice. Let's check out the source image, because we haven't done that in awhile.

Embed from Getty Images

(If you check out the caption, he was totally caught stealing.)

All in all, this new Topps set beats last year, but it was a very low bar to clear. About as low as the space between Kolten Wong's hands.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


2008 was nothing special, at least for the Cardinals. 

Nearly ten years ago, Upper Deck tried something that'd never been done before, and hasn't been attempted since. They put together a set that included two cards for each game played in the long MLB season, one for each participating team. Even if you don't try to do the math in your head, that compiles a much larger set than any reasonable person is used to dealing with. Perhaps they were still feverous with whatever caused the Yankee Stadium Legacy set from the same year, but Upper Deck decided to put this concept out in the wild as a separate product. And, of course, they cut some corners. They cut a lot of corners.

I didn't intentionally buy any 2008 Upper Deck Documentary at the time, but I've had bits and pieces of it trickle in via trades and repacks. Jon from Community Gum busted open a whole case of the stuff, and was kind enough to send a whole brick of Cardinals my way. For the first time, I can genuinely say that I've put a significant dent in the team set, although I'm sure I have a long way to go. (The Cardinals want list is still a work in progress at this point, but it's one of my top priorities in 2018.)

If you have been buying cards as long as this blog has been around, you're probably familiar with the Documentary cards, which generally come in two flavors: base, and the rarer gold (labeled with 2008 in gold print, a la the Rick Ankiel image you see at the very top.) Contrary to popular belief, not every card of every player in this set reuses the same image. Some of the more popular players appear on multiple images. Still, with the frequency of repetition and the fact that the player photo never had anything to do with the game being commemorated, Upper Deck Documentary was not a huge critical smash.

Something I was not personally used to seeing was insert cards. I'm not sure if these All-Star inserts were a hobby only thing, or just something so uncommon that you had to buy a whole case to uncover.

Despite all the criticism, it's fun to have a huge team set to chase. Still, I'd rather have a Topps Total or Upper Deck 40-Man any day: two sets that unfortunately existed in a time outside of my collecting window.

Upper Deck Documentary even had hits! While not an integral part of the set, rookie reliever Chris Perez signed a bunch of stickers in 2008. Perez was a talented pitcher whose career was seemingly undone by personal issues.

Thanks again to Jon for sending me these Cardinals Documentary cards en masse!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Nick Foles: Super Bowl MVP

Congrats to the Eagles, and Philadelphia - if there's anything left of you.

Stunning! I don't even know what to say.

Super Big Game Day


It's hard for me to know now if I've been an Eagles fan since I first played Tecmo Super Bowl, or if it all started when I first gorged myself on $5 boxes of 1990 Pro Set. In any case, somewhere around that time, I declared myself for House Eagles and have watched (and sometimes not watched) all the ups and downs since then.

NFL has always come in a distant third in terms of my professional sports fandom, but I have memories of watching every Super Bowl going back to 1982 (coincidentally, the first one after the Eagles first one.) Technically speaking, I listened to most of Super Bowl XXXVII on the radio on a drive back home on I-5, but I caught some of it on the air at least. Still, I really didn't delve into actually paying attention to the league as a whole until Randall Cunningham came along and made me root for sports played largely on the opposite coast.

I'm excited about today's game. I rarely have a rooting interest in this game, so my usual witty banter will probably be kept at a minimum today as a I actually get excited and/or cringe at each play. I won't be devastated or surprised by a loss, but I'll be rooting hard for Nick Foles, Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins, Jay Ajayi, Alshon Jeffery and (Ducks!) LeGarrette Blount and Kenjon Barner. And a lot of other players I didn't mention! Like... Jake Elliott! He kicks bombs! Hey, I named a bunch of football players. Look at me.

Enjoy the game. Enjoy the nachos. Enjoy Justin Timberlake, I guess. Go Eagles!