Saturday, October 31, 2009

Good Luck Ducks, Week 9: Meet the Autzen Reaper

Remember this guy, USC? Remember him? Remember how he carved up your vaunted defense? Remember how you had no idea where he was going from one play to the next? Remember how badly your ears burned for days after from the howls of Autzen Stadium's Ducks fans, haunting your dreams that turned into recurring nightmares where you just can't seem to get back into the BCS title game no matter how hard you try.

Remember when it looked like you just might tie the game until Matthew Harper picked off your precious Mark Sanchez with mere seconds remaining on the clock?

Oh, Dennis may be out of eligibilty, but in his place is one Jeremiah Masoli. And there are many ferocious Ducks out there just like him, waiting to take a peck at your souls with our razor-sharp beaks and webbed feet of DOOM.

Game time is 5:00 PDT on ABC or ESPN2. When you hear the rapping at your door tonight, it might not be the kids out looking for a candied snack. It could just be a ferocious duck, telling you that your time has come.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Airbrushed Fridays: 1979 Topps #102

My birthday is coming up (one hint: it's allegedly a spooooooky day) and I most likely won't get a chance to post again until Sunday night or Monday at the latest. With that in mind, I'm going to go in a bit of a different direction this week. I originally pulled this because the card looked so odd that I knew it had to be an airbrush job. Upon further inspection, however, it could be that I have just a really shoddy example of this card. Or, perhaps, they're all shoddy. The person who can best provide evidence for either case, airbrushed or not, will win a treat of some sort. (It won't be my leftover Halloween candy, I promise.)

Some evidence to consider: everything appears to be really off-register, like one of the color palettes was printed slightly askew from the other, giving the whole card a bit of a blurry effect. There are little printing spots off to the left of Anderson's face. The O's logo almost looks like it was taken from another card or picture and just pasted onto the master "card" or something. And there is some really crazy shading going on with his face. Either Anderson has some sort of skin condition that I'll later feel terrible about making fun of or the Earth used to have 3 suns back in the late '70s. Hey, I was only a few years old at the time, so there's no way I'd remember if that wasn't the case.

Mike Anderson was a reserve outfielder who would make his last major league appearance before this card even came out. His Wikipedia bio says very little and he finished up his final season by logging just an .094 batting average in 32 at-bats. That was his only season with the Orioles, which also made me think he was a great candidate for airbrushing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cards on Cards in Volume

It's easily to get intimated by a large stack of cards that I plan to write something about. Such was the case when I acquired a full 660-ct. box of Cardinals cards from gcrl. I'd been putting it off for awhile, but last night I felt like I needed to do something with my hands during the World Series game and sorting the contents of this box into alphabetized stacks seemed to do the trick. I challenged myself to pull 10 cards... 15 at the most... worth writing about here and ended up with the 19 images you see in front of you. I apologize for my image heavy post and instead will try to keep my comments brief. I should also mention that, not pictured here, is a Ryan Ludwick 2009 A&G jersey card that was a surprise. It's also the second of those that I've received in recent days, but I am not one to thumb my nose at actual (supposed) pieces of clothes worn by Cardinals players. Er, strike that last sentence. It sounds creepy.

Ladies and gentlemen: your 2010 Cardinals hitting coach. It should be an interesting year.

The same dude that requested more Gibby on this blog also made the same request about Lou Brock. This magazine themed set has a lot of nice looking cards from what I've seen so far.

There were a few DK cards and I really wanted to include one, so I did.

Wait, so is this a "manufactured box score" swatch? This is kind of strange. I like the concept, I think, but I still don't know what to make of it.

The 2009 A&G black border minis look a lot better, but that doesn't keep me from wanting to collect all of the ones I don't have from this and previous years.

This one was a surprise. There aren't many Cardinals cards from 1987 to 1992 that I don't own, but this Rich Gedman card was one of them. Even scarier is the fact that I instantly knew I didn't have it because I didn't recognize it at first.

This is one of the earlier, fairly well-known error cards. I'm not sure where they got Jeff from Terry, but here he is anyway. Since this is pre-Billy Ripken, you have to give Donruss the benefit of the doubt here and figure that it was an honest mistake.

I received several 2009 Topps Chrome cards, including Mr. Ankiel here. It hasn't really hit me yet that we may have seen the last of him in a Cardinals uniform, more than a decade after he made his debut.

I just wanted to scan this one to see how crazy it would look. It looks pretty crazy.

I'm stunned whenever I receive a card from the '50s or '60s, no matter what the condition. This is great!

I'm sorely lacking in the 2006 and 2007 Allen & Ginter department, so this Frankie Frisch A&G back mini is much appreciated. Every time I see packs of 2007 I buy them up, and I've yet to ever see a 2006 pack.

Here's Chris Carpenter, 2009 Comeback Player of the Year, owning the game.

As I've finally decided that 2003 Topps is my favorite set of the decade, I was afraid of what the Chrome version would look like. I'm no longer afraid - it's nice.

As a hardcore collector of Score cards for their first several seasons, it's surprising that this is actually my first 1991 Score traded card. (Okay, fine, the packs were really cheap.)

Steely, shiny Ryan Ludwick. I'm hoping he bounces back and has a season more in line with his 2008 levels. He showed flashes of it last season and I still believe he's a pretty useful corner outfielder.

I was fortunate enough to get several more Topps gold parallel cards, including this Izzy card from 2004.

I also received a lot of 2004 Topps base set cards including Yadi's rookie. I wasn't aware that he ever wore #24, which is actually really confusing to me. Rookies and prospects usually get the high uniform number treatment (anywhere from the 50s on up) and I know that Yadi broke in wearing #41. He eventually switched to #4 the same year that Braden Looper came in and took #41. I've never seen him wearing this number on any other card. I guess I'll have to investigate further.

And finally, an unexpected autograph of Brian Barton. I'm disappointed that the club didn't find a way for Barton to stick around. He was at an "advanced age" for a rookie, but I still liked watching him play.

Thanks again to gcrl. Make sure you check out his blog. I am way behind on sending his package, but I promise that it will be out in the mail on Friday.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Favorite Yankees

I'm rooting for the Yankees and I am making no apologies for it. I'm not going to defend their free spending ways, their perceived arrogance or Derek Jeter's perma-smug facial expression. I understand how everyone who ever had Mark Teixeira play for their team could probably hate the guy. And don't get me started about the orange-faced cheater, Alex Rodriguez. I still root for this team, however. In fact, I've rooted for them for longer than any other baseball team. They were my dad's team, and his father's team as well. And while I eventually found myself picking a certain National League team as my favorite of favorites, I am not going to bury my Yankee-loving roots. It also makes it just a little more fun to root for a team that everyone else seems to hate. It seems like there are always Yankee fans at road games that I see on TV, but everywhere I happen to go I hear nothing but venom and hatred for the team in pinstripes.

Here are my top 10 favorite Yankees of the moment. A week or a month from now this list could look a lot different because I'm not all that great at ranking things, but I took a stab right now nonetheless.

10 - Hideki Matsui

Matsui, when healthy, is an RBI machine. He doesn't give a whole lot else, but it's something I've come to appreciate especially when watching the often-frustrating Cardinals offense struggle with men on base. I'm not sure how much he has left in the tank, and it seems like this might be his last year with the Yankees, but I've enjoyed watching him play. He seems like a decent guy and isn't super flashy or obnoxious.

9 - Graig Nettles

When I played little league baseball, my glove had a Graig Nettles signature emblazoned on it. I wore a hole in it with my thumbnail, which made every other glove I ever tried just not feel right.

8 - Mariano Rivera

The best closer of all-time.

7 - Mike Pagliarulo

"Pags" was an early favorite of mine despite his penchant for low batting averages. He had a cool name. He ranks 493rd (tied) on the top 500 home run hitters of all-time list according to Wikipedia.

6 - Dave Righetti

"Rags" broke the single-season saves record on the last day of the 1986 season by saving both games of a doubleheader, which cranked him up to fully awesome in my book. I was really ticked when Bobby Thigpen shattered his record 4 years later by getting 11 (!) more than he did.

5 - Rickey Henderson

Not all of the players on my list escape the cocky and obnoxious tag. Rickey backed it up, though, and I've always been one to appreciate a stolen base. I'd always pretend I was Rickey when I would try to steal bases in my youth.

4 - Bernie Williams

A consummate pro and an all-around great guy. If you hate Bernie Williams, you hate baseball.

3 - Don Mattingly

It was hard to put Mattingly below anyone on this list, but it has seriously made me ill to see him in a Dodgers uniform along side Joe Torre. Torre doesn't bother me, but Mattingly... that's just wrong!

2 - Dave Winfield

Winfield was drafted by four professional sports teams, including an NFL team despite the fact that he never played college football. He was the Yankees best slugger throughout the '80s until Steinbrenner ran him out of town. To me, he just sounded like a baseball player.

1 - Reggie Jackson

I was too young to remember the 1977 World Series, and Reggie was a California Angel during the years I really started watching games. But thanks to my parents and their stories, I always associated him with the Yankees. He was about as humble as Muhammad Ali, but I remember seeing him hit grand slams and felt like he was the only player capable of doing it. He was my first favorite player, but eventually Ozzie Smith won me over. Reggie Jackson also had his own Nickelodeon show!

Go Yankees.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tipoff Time

It's less than 20 hours until tipoff time for the Portland Trail Blazers and I couldn't be more excited. The NBA opens its regular season schedule and so do the Blazers, as they host the team that knocked them out of the playoffs, the Houston Rockets, at the Rose Garden at 7:00 PM. And that's where I'll be, rather than at work. So far, Portland has been the model of success for teams planning on rebuilding from scratch. Last year they finally returned to the playoffs after a long (too long!) absence and this time they will try to improve on last year's first round exit.

This gives me the opportunity to show off some Blazers cards I received from Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius clear back in July. I feel like I'm cheating enough when I talk about another sport/team other than baseball/the Cardinals, so I decided to limit my offseason ramblings. I may bring back the weekly Blazers posts in some format, although I grew very tired of them last year even as the season was getting more and more intense. I'll probably try and switch things up a bit this time around.

When I post on this blog I usually have an idea of what I want the piece to be about and then try to scan some cards that are relevant to the piece or can at least accentuate what I'm writing in some way. This time, I'm going to try and let the cards do the talking. The Blazers traded backup point guard Sergio Rodriguez in the offseason and attempted to see if Bayless could adapt to the role. His point guard play was, by all accounts, disastrous in the Summer League. Summer League play may be even more meaningless than preseason play, but it still was hugely troubling when you consider the caliber of competition Bayless was facing. I really like what Bayless can bring as an offensive threat off the bench, but those skills are not point guard skills. He can attack the basket like crazy and even change a game, but unless Rudy Fernandez or someone else at the 2 (don't even say it!) misses a lot of time, I don't see Bayless getting a ton of play this year.

Man, I love this Murad set. There's really nothing else like it, besides the original Murad of course. Those were apparently college football cards, or at least included college football cards. I need to make collecting all of the Blazers in this set a priority.

Channing Frye was perhaps the most beloved Blazers player off of the court, but he didn't really fit into an offense with a team that had a player with a similar build and range (LaMarcus Aldridge) who is much, much better than him. Frye can really shoot, though, and appears to be set for a starting role with the Phoenix Suns. Portland added Juwan Howard and a couple of draft picks to provide depth at the forward position.

The most talked about thing in the offseason was the acquisition of Andre Miller, who many assumed would take over the starting point guard duties and relegate Steve Blake to a backup role. I won't rehash everything here, and I am reserving judgment on the Miller signing for now because I honestly don't know if it was a good idea or not. What is clear is that Brandon Roy brings out the best in Blake and that Miller handles the ball a lot more, which is something that Roy is used to doing.

The second biggest story of the offseason is the continued improvement of one Greg Oden, the #1 overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft. Anyone who is actually surprised at this news deserves to have their access to watching basketball games revoked.

And finally, here's Brandon Roy, the proud owner of a maximum dollar NBA contract extension. Stay healthy and humble, Brandon.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

5 on the 5: 2003 Topps Series 2

Here are my first five series 2 packs of a set I'd like to work on someday. This is a companion piece to this post from a few weeks ago.

Pack 1:
428 - Ricky Ledee

456 - Robin Ventura
582 - Dmitri Young
421 - Carlos Delgado
570 - Jake Peavy (I never got to see Peavy pitch in person here in Portland as he skipped AAA.)
693 - Torii Hunter Award Winner
547 - Roger Cedeno
634 - Boston Red Sox
372 - Cliff Floyd (The Mets orange uniforms were hideous. I'll spare you the image.)

682 - Chase Utley / Gavin Floyd Prospects (One of these guys worked out pretty well for the Phillies.)
- eTopps ad
- Checklist 3 of 3

Pack 2:
577 - Tom Glavine (There's that ugly orange again.)
515 - Darin Erstad
538 - Jorge Julio
373 - Bobby Hill (That boy ain't right.)
565 - Paul Wilson

704 - Randy Johnson Award Winner
426 - Bill Mueller
575 - Chris Widger (At some point Widger was a Cardinal, but I don't remember what year or why. It had to be after 2002 as he's pictured as a Yankee here.)
518 - Kerry Ligtenberg

589 - Fernando Tatis

Pack 3:
432 - Damion Easley
585 - Mike Sweeney (I can never keep Mike and Mark Sweeney straight.)

479 - Raul Ibanez
620 - Brett Myers
616 - A.J. Pierzynski
705 - Miguel Tejada Award Winner
371 - Chris Singleton
383 - Luis Vizcaino
525 - Joe Mays

394 - Eli Marrero (Marrero was always one of my favorite bench Cardinals when he was around.)

Pack 4:
559 - Moises Alou
555 - Damian Miller
591 - Corey Lidle
615 - Tyler Houston (This guy was the #2 overall pick of the 1989 draft, but he spent his career as a reserve infielder and platoon catcher.)

661 - Jeremy Guthrie

698 - Scott Rolen Award Winner (I miss Scott Rolen, but not so much his injuries. He's a very good hitter and terrific in the field.)
715 - Vladimir Guerrero All-Stars
637 - Cincinnati Reds

675 Brandon Phillips / Victor Martinez Prospects (This is quite a pack for successful former Indians.)
679 Joe Borchard / Corwin Malone Prospects (For every Phillips and V-Mart there's a bunch of these guys laying around.)
- Checklist 2 of 3

Pack 5:
443 - Flash Gordon (Topps, your nickname thing is kind of annoying. His name was Tom. He had a name.)
543 - Terry Mulholland (I never thought this guy would retire. Wait, is he retired? He never played for the Cards but I think he played for just about everyone else.)
586 - Alex Cora
437 - Morgan Ensberg

469 - Brett Tomko (This is from Tomko's stopover in Missouri on his own quest to pitch with incredible mediocrity for every team in the league.)

701 - Larry Walker Award Winner
368 - Francisco Rodriguez
415 - Milton Bradley (From the text on the back: "Milton is one of the young, multi-tooled played around whom the Indians are planning to rebuild." I wonder how that worked out.)
647 - Montreal Expos
422 - Kevin Mench
- eTopps ad

5 packs and no inserts to speak of. That's fairly surprising. At least I got a pretty decent amount of Cardinals.