Sunday, December 14, 2014

Contest Time! College Bowl Pick 'Em 6

Win baseball cards for being right at something for once in your life. If you dare?

For the sixth strraight year, I am giving away free cards to the best prognosticators of (mostly) meaningless college football games. Past winners include Adam from Thoughts on Sox (2009-10), Mark from Stats on the Back (2010-11), AJ from The Lost Collector (2011-12), Royal Dan (2013) and last year's winner, The Prowling Cat.

If you want to skip all the blah blah blah and just get to the free stuff, go to the bottom of the post for the sign-up link and make sure you submit picks for every game. There's even a separate contest for non-Yahoo people, but you don't care about that because you've already started staring out the window at the squirrels chasing each other.

If you've participated in the past, you know the drill. Go on ahead to Yahoo and sign up. I have sent out invitations through Yahoo's automated system. If you don't get an email invite, follow the manual procedure at the bottom of this post (and if all else fails, send me an email and I will try to help you out.) For the rest of you, here are the rules and prize details, which will be similar to past years:

  • First place will receive: a 2015 Topps Series 1 blaster OR suitable equivalent (subject to availability at Target)... as well as a small plastic pouch of cards from your favorite team/player(s)/etc.
  • Second place will receive: a Priority Mail padded envelope full of cards from your favorite team/player(s)/etc. (this usually ends up being around 8 bags/pouches or so)
  • Worst place will receive: whatever I feel like sending you. Be very afraid to finish last  I don' advise it. Of course, as past "winners" of this prize can tell you, you will still receive some cards targeted toward your favorite team/player(s).

Because there's no such thing as a free lunch, at least without a copious amount of rules and guilt, here they are (basically copied from previous years):

  • Participants must sign up through the official Yahoo link. Unfortunately, this means that you must have a Yahoo account. I know this is a deal breaker for some, but I can't figure out another way to accept manual entries and try to math them up according to Yahoo's point system. (I don't think this one has any creepy issues that were discovered with last year's March Radness contest, but if you feel like you can't do the Yahoo thing please let me know.)
  • Promote this contest! No, that doesn't mean you need to "follow" my blog, nor does it mean that you'll gain any competitive advantage by posting about this contest. I just want to see a lot of people participate, and will be willing to award more prizes if there are more participants. 31 people joined the Yahoo group last year - let's increase that total! Put a subliminal message on your blog post. Send a mass email. Casually tell your co-workers in the break room while discussing Cam Newton disappointing fantasy numbers.
  • Points are scored according to the Confidence System. This basically means that while you are predicting which team wins which bowl game, you will also be responsible for ranking how confident you are in each pick. For example, if you are insane enough to think that Florida St. will beat Oregon and are willing to bet your street cred on it, you will want to assign that matchup a higher confidence rating (30, perhaps) than you would with your misguided Iowa will totally stomp Tennessee because I Slayed all my Taxes (dot com) pick.
  • Email me your contest information after you sign up. You can't assume that I will automatically recognize your clever Yahoo Pick Set name, nor will I necessarily disbelieve your "friend" who claims your prize after everything is said and done because he swears he's BamaFan4Ever and is the "most right" about his "sweet picks".
  • You can change your picks at any time, so long as your pick is made before the official start time (usually the TV broadcast time) of each game.
  • You must make a pick for every game to be eligible for the "worst place" prize. Also, once again this year... please... no tanking it on purpose! The prizes aren't that great, folks. I'd much rather award the prize to someone who failed in spectacular fashion than someone who intentionally went with picks that are doomed to fail like... well, I don't have a good example this year. Just stay away from Notre Dame.

Click here to sign up! It's free! First timers are very welcome.

Group ID: 7780
Password: quackquackquack

DEADLINE: There's a hard deadline of Saturday, December 20th at 11:00 AM PST. That's the start time of the first bowl game.

But wait... there's more! Available to all entrants as well as non-entrants who don't want to use Yahoo, there's a bonus contest:

Leave a comment here predicting the final score of the BELK BOWL before the Belking officially begins (the game is on the 30th) and win a retail jumbo pack of 2015 Topps Series 1. Whoever is closest gets it. Belk on, Belkers!

Bad News, Everyone!

People are jerks.

My deepest apologies are in order. I didn't receive any mail for almost an entire week. Getting nothing in my mailbox in a single day is pretty unusual, so this extended break from getting things was super alarming. The good news is... nothing. Inquiries to FedEx (who initiated the delivery of the group break box) and the gargantuan USPS (who supposedly completed the delivery for some weird reason) went completely ignored, and after my mail was apparently stolen pretty much every day for a solid week, I decided I hate baseball cards.

I also hate package delivery companies. And jerks.

Now that I'm out thirty dollars or whatever (not a big deal in the grand scheme of life),  I have decided to order another 2014 Topps Mini box since they are still on sale. Another order has been placed and the box is set to be delivered, hopefully more reliably, to my work address. I will do my best to get the cards distributed as quickly as possible. This is a temporary solution. I'm caving in and am in the process of ordering a PO Box so I can actually get mail without worry, I guess.

If you were planning on sending me something and haven't done it yet, please hold on until I can provide you a new address to send to. If you did send me something recently, well, please cross your fingers and think positive thoughts so we can both hope I get whatever you sent as intended.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Group Break Update, a New Contest, and More

Just a little housekeeping here.

Late last week I sprang a little group break on you all. I just wanted to let everyone know that the box is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, although it's being delivered by USPS now and they have left my mailbox empty for the past two days. Unless there are unforeseen delays with the box arrival, I will have everything sorted and ready to send out by early next week.

The Bowl Pick 'Em Contest is back for a sixth year. It will be open to all past, present, and future participants as always. Check this space soon for details. If you signed up last year and still have the same email address, you should already have your invite by now. Look at some of the crazy names of bowl games they have now! Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl? And don't get me started on Bitcoin...

I purchased a bucketload of cards from COMC to take advantage of their Black Friday free shipping deal, including a bunch of oddball Ozzie Smith cards and the snazzy Matt Carpenter bat card that adorns the top of this post. If you're looking to send me (or Erin) any cards from our respective player collections, I encourage you to check the hyperlinks which should point to the collections on Zistle. If a card isn't listed there, I don't have it. I know opening huge lists that point to another website can be tedious, but there is a search box available if you just want to look up one or two things and don't want to scroll through my 552 Ozzie Smith cards. (Can't you tell that I'm proud of that number?)

Finally, I neglected to thank Sportscards From The Dollar Store for the amazing LaMichael James "event-worn" jersey card that was used in Friday's Ducks post. Cards on Cards regrets the error. The card clearly paved the way to a thorough beatdown of the Arizona Wildcats and landed Oregon in the big playoff game at the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. You will likely see more of buckstorecards' generosity in future January Ducks posts, of which there will hopefully be several.

Friday, December 5, 2014

2014 Topps Mini Group Break - Starts Now!

Here's a Group Break for next-to-nothing. Claim a team here and now.

UPDATE: All teams are claimed! I may have a new group break some time after the new year if all goes well.

Step 1: Read this post.
Step 2: Leave a comment here claiming a team
Step 3: Click on my profile and send me an email with the team that you claimed and your mailing address. If you can't or don't want to send me cards, we can discuss payment in a follow up email.
Step 4: Wait a couple of hours or so.
Step 5: GOTO 1 (and claim another team if you're into that sort of thing)

Arizona Diamondbacks - Caitlin Jennings
Atlanta Braves - Colbey Hopper
Baltimore Orioles - Night Owl
Boston Red Sox - The Lost Collector
Chicago Cubs - Nick
Chicago White Sox - Caitlin Jennings
Cinncinnati Reds - Red Cardboard
Cleveland Indians - Play at the Plate
Colorado Rockies - hiflew
Detroit Tigers - Caitlin Jennings
Houston Astros - JR50
Kansas City Royals - Josh D
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - Jimmy
Los Angeles Dodgers - gcrl
Miami Marlins - Caitlin Jennings
Milwaukee Brewers - Tony L
Minnesota Twins - Play at the Plate
New York Mets - gcrl
New York Yankees - Caitlin Jennings
Oakland Athletics - JR50
Philadelphia Phillies - Dawgbones
Pittsburgh Pirates - Matthew Scott
San Diego Padres - Night Owl
San Francisco Giants - JR50
Seattle Mariners - Caitlin Jennings
St. Louis Cardinals - Cards on Cards
Tampa Bay Rays - Caitlin Jennings
Texas Rangers - Play at the Plate
Toronto Blue Jays - RAZ
Washington Nationals - Play at the Plate

Good Luck Ducks: Pac-12 Championship Game

Oregon plays for all of the Pac-12 marbles today, as well as a berth in the first top level college football playoffs.

Here we go. Straight off a resounding Civil War win, Oregon faces their final conference test in a conference championship game... that... is being played on a Friday. No other conference has to deal with this except the MAC (sorry, MAC), which makes me wonder just how much this conference is getting screwed on their various television deals. Oregon's opponent is a very familiar one, a team they lost to just two months ago. In fact, in head coach Mark Helfrich's two seasons at the helm, he's lost just three games and two were to these Arizona Wildcats.

Also working against Oregon today is that the Ducks are coming off of a short week, while Arizona (and the other two would-be contestants had things gone differently) played their last game on Friday instead of Saturday. I'm clearly not qualified to say anything that resembles wisdom here in this space, as my previous Arizona preview shows:

This feels like a "return to form" game for Oregon. In front of a nighttime home crowd on national TV with the students finally back in school in full force, I'd be very surprised if this isn't an emotionally charged game with a lot of points for the guys in... well, apparently they'll be wearing pink (and black). As long as the makeshift O-line can sneeze on the defense long enough for Mariota to do something with the ball without getting his brains beat around, the Ducks should win this one comfortably.
Yeah, so, I didn't do so well with that one. And I really don't want to go back and look at what I said about the Wildcats last season. What I do know is that Scooby Wright is a beast of a player and he ripped through the Ducks offensive line like the Kool-Aid Man running through a wet paper bag last time around. I'll just leave you with three things that I do know for sure about tonight's game:

  1. Oregon's offensive line is healthier and has improved significantly since the last meeting.
  2. Oregon's defense has also solidified. Troy Hill, of late, has been impressive as teams continue their season-long trend of staying away from Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
  3. Oregon hasn't played anyone nearly as good as Arizona since they last played Arizona.

Oregon's pivotal 10-9 win over #11 Arizona in 1994 came the week after the stunning Kenny Wheaton game and is often overlooked. This was the lone touchdown and remains one of my favorite sports experiences ever. It doesn't hurt that I was in the front row of the end zone where the TD pass was caught at the time.

Game time is 6:00 PST with national TV coverage on FOX. Go Ducks!

Airbrushed Fridays: 1974 Topps Traded #390T

The Group Break starts later today. Until then, here's an airbrushed guy. You probably know him.

Who is he? Before he became the base-tossing fiery manager man that led Seattle to a record setting regular season and guided Tampa Bay through their waning Devil Ray years, Sweet Lou Piniella was a pretty solid outfielder. With the Royals in his early years, Lou would be named the Rookie of the Year and was selected to an All-Star team.

How did he get here? The Yankees acquired Piniella during the offseason in 1973, and he'd spend the rest of his playing career -- more than a decade -- in pinstripes. And when his playing days were done, Piniella quickly got his first taste at managerial duties when Billy Martin got fired by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner for something like the 57th time.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: 1974 Topps #390

Airbrushed Score: 5

Comments: Although this one is of the hatless variety, we can see that someone's duty was to draw squiggly pinstripes all over Lou. I'm really not sure what's going on with some of the stripes near and above the 'D' on this card.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Lowbrow Group Break

Claim a team starting Friday. It won't cost much.

In a weaker moment the other night I bought a deeply discounted box of 2014 Topps Mini from the Topps website. When I came to my senses, I remembered that I'm not really a set collector (aside from Ginter and Heritage) and won't have anything to do with 95% of what comes out of the box I spent hard earned cash on. If you're a team collector like me, however, you might want these cards for your collection even though they're about the laziest gimmick ever conceived.

That's where you come in. Starting Friday, when I open this group break up for all comers, you can claim a team and get some cards. I won't even charge you if you make a good faith effort at sending me a couple of things (or more) from my want list. These cards could be from my Cardinals want lists or my set want lists. And if you don't have anything to send me or don't feel like going through your dusty old closet for that pesky old Jamie Quirk card that is glued to Dane Iorg for some weird reason, you can send me some cash. It will be $4 per team in a luxuriously used padded envelope or $2.50 per team in some tighty whitey envelopes.

This is an online-only product and each box purports to contain 24 packs with 10 cards in each pack. Someone allegedly will receive a relic or autograph. There are some serial numbered parallels to be had, but not enough to go around for the whole class. Also, several teams likely have a disproportionate number of cards compared to other fatter cats. If you're concerned about any of this, please do your research before you consider sending me cards or money.

Also, the Cardinals are off limits for obvious reasons, though I will freely PWE anyone any dupes I end up with if such a thing happens for zero dollars or goods exchanged.

Here are two big things to remember right now:

1. No one can claim a team until I say so, and I'm saying so at NOON PST Friday 12/5.
2. No team can be considered claimed until a comment is left on the group break entry post (not this one, the one I post on Friday) AND an email is sent to me containing your mailing address. Payment does not need to be received or determined in order to have claimed a team.

Feel free to leave a comment here telling me how excited you are about this, but I am going to feel sad if you do such a thing and then get beaten out by TigersFan1331 once this thing gets going for real.