Saturday, September 24, 2016

Good Luck Ducks, Week 4: Conference Play

Oregon enters conference play with more questions than answers, and a whole lot of injuries. 

Last week's tussle with Nebraska was supposed to set up the shape of the Oregon Ducks season, but all we got out of it were some rotten injuries and the bitter feeling that the better team lost because it couldn't get out of its own way. If it wasn't the constant barrage of the penalties, it was the refusal of head coach Mark Helfrich to use the kicking game in spite of the fact that it's probably one of the best in the nation. In a back and forth battle of touchdowns, the Ducks went for a two-point conversion after every touchdown score and failed every single time but the first. They lost 35-32 despite reaching the end zone the same number of times as their opponents, and the sad thing is that they shouldn't have even been in that position in the first place.

There's been some grousing among the fan base that Ducks fans don't know how good they have had it and that many people have been unnecessarily harsh towards the coaching staff when it comes to the team's performances. I can't see myself joining the talk show listening crazies any time soon, but I do find myself increasingly having a hard time believing in what Helfrich is doing with this group. They were clearly due for a step backwards last season after losing Marcus Mariota to the NFL and no definitive long term help at the QB position, not to mention that it's nearly impossible to remain a championship contender for more than a couple of years. Still, it's very baffling and disconcerting to see a team that clearly still has a good measure of talent lose games they way they did in the Alamo Bowl and again this past Saturday. Nebraska didn't mount a 31 point halftime comeback, but they got to mostly sit back and make the easy decisions when all (football) logic would have had them playing from behind the entire game and pondering desperate decisions.

The Ducks are back at home and crack open their conference schedule against the Colorado Buffaloes in Eugene. Colorado's football team has been horrid since the Great Conference Migration of Ought-Ten, which must make Pac-12 officials wondering if they could've possibly held out for a better Big 12 team to call their own. That being said, Colorado held their own against Michigan for a spell last week until their quarterback was knocked out of the game and has certainly shown recent signs of improvement. Colorado also has the same record as Oregon currently, for what it's worth.

The Ducks lost Olympic hurdler and wide receiver Devon Allen for the season, but that wasn't the biggest blow. Tyrell Crosby, one of the stalwarts of the offensive line, is also done for the season, leaving an already thin group even thinner. And with star running back Royce Freeman's status up in the air for this game as well, Oregon could be in for a lot of trouble. Thankfully, the Ducks are very deep at Royce's position, and Dakota Prukop seems to have plenty of tricks up his sleeve. While this won't be the most highly anticipated game of the conference schedule, it should go along way to sorting out what kind of season the Ducks are going to have. With zero games in the book, Oregon still can't be counted out as a conference contender.

I'll never get tired of the 2002 Fiesta Bowl. Never.

Game time is 2:30 PDT with national coverage on the Pac-12 Network. Go Ducks!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Back to the '70s

A super trader hits my want list where it's most vulnerable. 

As much as it seems like there's an infinite number of modern sports cards, the further back in time you go the fewer things there were to collect. Of course, anything produced before my first baseball memories (the beginning of the '80s) is still an area that's a bit neglected in my collection. Mark Hoyle is a Supertrader (and a super trader, of course) and for some reason I hadn't sent him any cards in who knows how long? This was rectified recently, and for my part I ended up with an envelope stuffed full of '70s goodies from both my basketball and baseball teams.

One of my posts earlier this summer featured a similar Blazers Team Leaders style card. That was the '75-'76 version (featuring the previous season's leaders). We step back a year with this one.

Bernie Fryer's playing career was brief, but he went on to have a long career as a referee. He retired in 2007 because he was tired of the antics of one LeBron James. (citation needed)

There were Cardinals, of course, because there's always Cardinals. This particular League Leaders card seems very familiar to me, but I am pretty sure this is at the very least an upgrade in condition to what I already owned.

I completely missed out on National Baseball Card Day. It's not on the calendar on my wall. It's not in my phone. I think there's only one brick-and-mortar card shop left in the Portland metro area, and by the time I make it out there next I wouldn't be surprised if it closed. Anyway, Yadi card was apparently one of this year's perks, and it will almost certainly end up in Erin's collection.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Some Football Guys

Summer Cleaning is just turning into Cleaning. 

Hey, it's football season, I guess. I added some football guys to the stash in the increasingly inaccurately named Summer Cleaning 2016.

Maybe I should get a head start next week on Spring Cleaning 2017.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Good Luck Ducks, Week 3: Gone Huskin'

Oregon faces a B1G test. 

Most college football seasons get incrementally tougher, and that's how it's going to be for the 2016 Oregon Ducks. Fresh off their second straight non-conference win over an inferior opponent, Oregon travels to Nebraska to take on the former longtime Oregon State coach's current school. Non-conference games against quality opponents have become a lost art in today's game, but Oregon has managed to schedule home-and-home matchups with some noteworthy schools in most years. Let's hope this continues, because it seems like more and more the SEC-style path of least resistance when it comes to scheduling is the new norm.

Despite a slightly narrower margin of victory, Oregon looked better on both sides of the ball last week against Virginia. The final tally seemed more of a result of the Ducks pulling their punches earlier and thinking ahead to their next opponent than some slippage in their performance. No, the defense didn't suddenly get great overnight, and some freshman mistakes were glaringly obvious. The Cavaliers certainly felt the wrath of Rolls Royce, with Freeman placing himself in the Heisman Conversation (tm) as early as Week 2. (Unfortunately, staying in said conversation pretty much requires being a playoff contender, something that is not expected of the Ducks at this time.)

Nebraska, to their credit, has scored even more points than the Ducks and given up fewer. Nebraska still remains outside the Top 25, but they are favored by a field goal at home and that seems like it could be a bit on the slight side. Last week, the Ducks showed they are explosive on offense and shouldn't be counted out, but they could very well be set up for an ambush here. On the other hand, they haven't lost to a Mike Riley coached team since 2007 and will be looking for their eighth consecutive win over one of his squads. In any case, a win today would give Oregon a big impression heading into conference play.

Oregon destroyed Mike Riley's team in their last meeting, back in 2014 in Corvallis.

Game time is 12:30 PDT with national coverage on ABC. Go Ducks!

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Deeper Shade of Allen & Ginter

Prestige Ginter cards and more from @bbcardclubhouse fill an otherwise bleak evening. 

Last year, to mark the 10th anniversary of the revived tobacco card style product, Topps put together an all-black super version of their Allen & Ginter set. While it looks really nice, I didn't set out to collect it because it was harder to come by and I still haven't done a very good job on the main set (or 2014 for that matter.) I've only managed to acquire what I could for my Cardinals collection through trades, and this time Adam from Cardboard Clubhouse was there to help me out.

There were some other non-Ginter X additions to my collection, including this 1st Day Issue card of every girl's dream.

Well, he's no Mark Rzepczynski, but I wonder if anyone called him Scrabble.

Included among the Ginter X cards was this mini card of Jhonny Peralta, because every fancified parallel set needs to have its own parallels.

Speaking of fancy, I'll leave you with this gold leafed Adam Wainwright card from last year's Stadium Club.

Come back soon, weekend!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Good Luck Ducks, Week 2: Step 2

The Ducks face their second test of the season with a moderate jump in skill level. 

It was great to be back in Eugene last weekend for me personally. I got to visit the triumverate of Eugene breweries, eat at some of my favorite Eugene restaurants and do the great walk from campus to Autzen. As an added bonus, somehow my first apartment hasn't been demolished even among all the new developments that have sprung up. They even have vacancies!

As far as the Ducks are concerned, the team looked disastrous on defense, save for some heroic individual play by freshman linebacker Troy Dye and a couple of nice pass breakups by the secondary. Lapses are to be expected during Week 1, and lapses were to be found. When new defensive coordinator Brady Hoke (the much maligned former Michigan head coach) declared that (paraphrasing) they didn't even resemble a defense prior to the start of the season, it was a bit alarming. That alarm played out on the field, and it's going to take a better team effort to not be completely embarrassed by FBS teams.

It wasn't all doom and gloom, however. The offense looked good after a conservative start, and new QB Dakota Prukop seems to be an improvement over Vernon Adams. The offense didn't show much, most likely by design considering the FCS opponent, but when it did you could see flashes of the old fast and destructive Ducks team at work.

Oregon faces Virginia tonight, who actually lost to an FCS opponent in their first action. While they aren't the cream of the crop in the ACC, they should be better than this, and Oregon represents their first chance at revenge. It's likely as tough for an east coast team to travel to the west coast and get a victory as it is for the reverse to happen, but the Ducks will have to put together more of a complete game than they did against the Aggies if they want to head to Nebraska with a 2-0 record. The Ducks may be ranked #24 again this week, but they can't be caught looking ahead to their B1G opponent right now.

Virginia was one of the many opponents Marcus Mariota laid waste to, back in 2013. 59-10.

Game time is 7:30 PDT with national coverage on ESPN. Go Ducks!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What is This Nonsense?

You can't, like, own a digital card, man. 

Imagine baseball cards. They're little rectangular pictures of baseball players with words on them. They're numbered and there's a whole lot of them. Fans of the sport and fans of collecting things like to collect them. Some people really obsess over them. People pay money for it.

Now, imagine that someone decides to create a digital version of baseball cards, where you can still collect things and tick off tiny boxes in your head and on your smartphone. You can still swap 'em with people, but it's just not the same. There's this weird emptiness about it, because you can't really touch the things and they're just pixels on a screen created by computer programming logic. But people pay money for it anyway!

Now, and here's where the mind really starts to warp and contort -- imagine that someone decides to create physical versions of these digital intangible fake baseball cards. Well, we can't hook up tiny printers to phones (I mean, we can but it's just not practical for everyone), so the next best thing is introduced. A baseball card set based on a smartphone app game based on baseball cards.

In my more than eight years with this blog, this is by far the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. Actually, come to think of it -- in my forty years of life, this is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard of.

Now, the only thing that keeps me from flying across the country and burning Night Owl's house down for sending me a physical-digital-physical baseball card is that it's still from a set that contains Cardinals, so I probably have to put the stupid thing in a binder along with other stupid things from said set. That, and, of course, he sent some other great cards along with it. I mean, feel free to send me all the BUNT cards and 1990 Pro Set (not really) cards you want when you are sending along '69 Gibbys.

Speaking of dumb things I still need to collect, I've got a ways to go before I have the whole bedazzled Cardinals team of 2011. Seeing as how Carp is one of my priorities, though, it's nice to get ahold of this one.

Here's Stan, digitally altered. Panini's recent Diamond Kings sets have looked nice despite their lack of logos.

Night Owl was also kind enough to send me a few more needs from this year's Heritage set. Here's ol' Barto Big Sexy because, why not?