Saturday, October 29, 2011

Good Luck Ducks, Week 9: Beware the Lobster

News flash! The Ducks are good. Washington State is not very good. They seemed to be making progress last season after several truly horrible years, but injury bugs and other calamities have once again derailed their season. At this point, Oregon has seen more of their backup QB Marshall "The Lobster" Lobbestael than anyone who has been in front of him on the depth chart.

The Ducks have had their own injury issues to deal with, but they are getting healthier as their schedule has hit its breezy portion. That being said, there's no reason to take any game for granted, and last year's Cougars game was especially brutal to watch - at least physically. Let's hope that no more serious injuries are incurred, and that no Ducks players drive to or from the game illegally.

Above footage from the 2001 WSU/Oregon game, where Onterrio Smith rushed for a school record 285 yards (recently broken by LaMichael James.)

Game time is 12:00 local time at Autzen with regional coverage on FSN and Root Sports.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Zombies Have Overtaken the Perimeter!

There is no escape! AHHHHH!

I can't believe this season. I can't believe this team.

Much respect goes out to the Rangers, who have a hell of a team. I swear that Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli batted in every single inning of this series, somehow. At least, it seemed that way.

This championship will make the long offseason that much sweeter.

(Thanks to VEB for the picture.)

Airbrushed Fridays: 2008 Topps #592

Game 6! Zombies! I don't even know what to say. Monkeys! Bananas! Monkey bananas!

Matt Morris was a right-handed starting pitcher who was, at a couple of different points in his career, the ace of the St. Louis Cardinals staff. After a hot start to his major league career, he suffered an eerily similar fate as current Cards ace Adam Wainwright as he was injured during spring training in 1999 and needed Tommy John surgery.

Why did Topps airbrush Matt's photo? Morris started his steep decline in the second half of the 2005 season with the Cardinals, but he was still able to parlay his past success into a three year deal with the Giants. San Francisco gave up on him during the 2007 season right before the trade deadline, and was shipped to Pittsburgh as part of a perplexing reverse-"seller" trade that saw Rajai Davis become a Giant. Sadly, one of my favorite pitchers was done as a player by April the next season.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? That 'BURGH' and '35' on his jersey just... doesn't quite seem like it's on straight. Just sayin'.

If you are interested in obtaining a card featured here, please send me an e-mail. If you have a card you would like to nominate for Airbrushed Fridays, please get in touch as well. I will require that I am able to see the card in person, either on loan or as a donation, so that I can examine the card and experience it in all its cruddiness.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tonight's Post Has Been Postponed By Rain

I guess it doesn't matter that it stayed fairly dry for quite awhile tonight in St. Louis or that, when it did rain, it resembled more of a drizzle than a full on flood.

Don't mind me - my irritation is only exacerbated by the fact that my internet was down for several hours tonight. I planned on posting this a full four hours ago.

And now there could be the temptation of bringing Chris Carpenter in to start Game 7 on three days rest, despite the fact that a starter on 3 days rest pretty much never works out. They've already tried it once. Don't get me wrong, though. Carp is basically my favorite active player in all of baseball and I would love to see some unprecedented heroics from him. I just think it's a terrible idea.

Let's just hope that there is a Game 7.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Zombie Narrative

It wouldn't be fitting if it didn't come down to elimination games for the Zombie Cardinals. Their thirst for brains has been stymied by equal parts mismanagement and shotgun blasts to the head by the likes of Adrian Beltre and Mike "Second Cleanup Hitter" Napoli. The series stands at 3-2 with a fantastic finish set for the next two nights. Let's hope that is actually two nights, of course.

I think that, pre-blog days, I was blissfully unaware of most Cardinals hatred. Yes, I realize that only the Yankees have won more titles than St. Louis. However, it seems like there's some festering perception that the Cards always win. Does 2 championship rings in the past 43 years sound like "always win" to you? Yes, they have a rich tradition, but I still get a bit excited when I run into a Cardinals fan out here on the west coast. I vividly remember being one of three people in a crowded bar during Game 1 of the 2004 World Series that wasn't rooting for the Red Sox, the others being the friend that I came with and a stray bartender. I remember sitting at a table full of Tigers fans the night that the Cards clinched their first title in my rooting lifetime (since I was a clueless American League fan for my first few years of existence, I didn't revel in the 1982 series as much as I wish that I did.)

I do feel like an underdog as a Cards fan. (Hell, no one around here even seems to like baseball anymore.) And yes, even though St. Louis still holds the home field advantage, they have fallen into that underdog role once again this year. They have been left for dead, many times over. Let's hope they're still some brainthirsty monsters ready for one last feast or two. (Please, let it be two.)

Big thanks to Cardboard Heaven for the cards in this post. Cards are heading back in your direction soon. I'm in a bit of a trading rut at the moment.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Good Luck Ducks, Week 8: Second Half Starts Today

Having survived an injury to the best running back in college football as well as an injury to the starting quarterback, the Ducks get a reprieve this week when they head to the road to take on a struggling Colorado Buffaloes team in the first Pac-12 meeting between the two schools. Oregon may or may not be without Darren Thomas and almost certainly will not have LaMichael James, but this isn't shaping up to be a game to be concerned about. Oregon's backup tailbacks were far too much to handle for a usually impressive Sun Devils squad, while Colorado is also banged up and searching for answers with only 1 win on the season.

Oregon hasn't played Colorado since the 2002 Fiesta Bowl. Oregon failed to reach the national title game that season despite their #2 ranking in the polls. Nebraska, who was completely destroyed by the 2-loss Buffaloes late in the season, ended up as the #2 BCS team while the Ducks were relegated to a lower bowl where they beat Colorado in a cake walk. Some bitter feelings linger in the Ducks fanbase because of previous appearances against a Rick Neuheisel-led team. This is long in the past, however.

It's easy to worry about every game during a football season, and the prospects of having a redshirt freshman in his first start at the helm don't make things any easier. However, this really shouldn't be a close game and should even help to give the young players even more experience. Darron Thomas may play after all depending on who you listen to, but let's hope that there's no urgent need to go with any of the starters for too long.

Above footage from the 2002 Fiesta Bowl. Check out Maurice Morris's rollover play, one of the best I've ever seen in Ducks history!

Game time is 1:30 local time (12:30 PDT) in Boulder, CO with coverage on FSN and Root Sports in most markets.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Airbrushed Fridays: 1972 Topps #645 & 1974 Topps Traded #648T

Airbrushed Fridays was dark last week for reasons I can't really even explain. To make it up to you all, here's two times the airbrushed fun: a card representing each team in the World Series. Enjoy!

Jim Maloney was a hard throwing right handed pitcher who starred in the '60s with the Reds. He threw two no-hitters, won 20+ games twice and made the 1965 All-Star team.

Why did Topps airbrush Jim's photo? Here's something else about Jim Maloney: he never really played with the Cardinals. Arm injuries shortened his career, and after a rough stint with the California Angels, the Cardinals signed him as a free agent in the offseason with an eye on 1972. Unfortunately, things didn't work out with the Cards and he was released in early April without so much as a single Major League appearance. The Giants were next to take a run at him, but he wasn't able to return to health and retired in June, making his last appearance in the majors as an Angel.

(Feel free, of course, to ignore the fact that I used a Topps Archives version of this card because I don't own the original.)

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? Well, it's a sure sign of airbrushing when the card is capturing that "bill pointed to the sky" look.

Terry Crowley was a lefty first baseman and corner outfielder who spent the better part of his 15 year career as a bench player and occasional platoon guy. Crowley spent the bulk of his career with the Orioles, spread out over two lengthy stints. He's currently a coach in the O's organization.

Why did Topps airbrush Terry's photo? Much like Jim Maloney before him, Crowley never played for Texas. The Rangers purchased his contract in December 1973 for what I can only assume was an extra large bag of salted in-shell peanuts, and he in turn was "purchased" again a few months later by the Reds before the next season even started.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? What's even more suspicious than a bill pointed to the sky? No cap at all! I suppose Topps figured there was no reason at all to mess with the Orioles colors on his neckline.

If you are interested in obtaining a card featured here, please send me an e-mail. If you have a card you would like to nominate for Airbrushed Fridays, please get in touch as well. I will require that I am able to see the card in person, either on loan or as a donation, so that I can examine the card and experience it in all its cruddiness.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

You Can Thank the Dodgers

The Cardinals sunk to a new low this season when they were swept by the Dodgers in late August. In the midst of the sweep, I made an uncharacteristically negative post about the team that was actually rather tame compared to how I really felt inside. There was no life in the team. They had given up on the season and it showed. La Russa needed to go. The Rasmus trade was terrible. Furcal had arrived several months too late. A season that kicked off with such promise, featuring an offensive juggernaut that would rival the 2004-2005 years, had basically circled the drain by the time the final out was recorded against Los Angeles at Busch of all places. The team had a heart-to-heart after the game - clearly, something stirring must have been said - and the rest of the story is well-documented now that they are officially under the World Series microscope. It's meant as no slight to the Dodgers, who have two of the league's greatest talents in Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, but the Cards had no business being swept at home by a team that for the most part spun its wheels all season long. What a strange season.

Now that you've suffered through that paragraph, here are some cards to look at. These all came out of one of those Boxes Formerly Known As Cereal Boxes that Topps put out this year.

With a postseason run that's involved squirrels, pet turtles and a childlike "happy flight" chant, I think Brendan Ryan would have fit in with this bunch wonderfully. It's too bad that he was one of the first casualties of last season's underachieving squad.

I guess I see what Topps is doing with this card. Just do yourself a favor and don't look at the stats comparison on the back, unless you like humor or something.

Topps has gone from inserting cheesy refractors in this product to still cheesy but not shiny exclusive inserts to just straight up colored parallels.

At least you get two?

I'll have you know that I redeemed a 1990 Dennis Eckersley card with this code. Also, no one wants to trade anything I'm interested in for my die-cut Yovani Gallardo, but that's another story.

Goldie Big Papi. You like?

Bedazzled Yankee... a fitting match, I guess.

I will have a Kimball Champions trade post coming up soon. I am officially not collecting them.

Here's a very nauseating Mets parallel.

Part of me was really hoping the Tigers would make it to the World Series this year, just because it worked out so well last time.

I guess it's too easy to thank the Dodgers for the Cardinals success this season, when there are so many other things that happened in the last month that could have easily gone against St. Louis. One of the more obvious things was the Braves collapse, which the formerly unhittable Craig Kimbrel had a heavy role in.

Ahh, I'm going to make some Tigers fan very happy considering all of the Tigers stuff I've pulled lately.

If you're looking for some Topps Update stuff, just drop me a line and let me know. I'm not keeping any of it unless it involves the Birds on the Bat and/or Ozzie Smith.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ranger Danger!

The strange saga of the 2011 Cardinals continues this week as the Zombie Redbirds face their biggest threat in the high octane Texas Rangers. Despite having now won back to back AL Pennants, the Rangers largely remain an unknown quantity. The two teams have faced each other exactly three times in history, all during a series in the 2004 season which saw the Cards score 12 runs twice and take 2 out of 3. This year's model certainly hits like the 2004 team, but the only similarity in the pitching staffs is that both featured Chris Carpenter as the ace. (Carp, incidentally, lost the middle game of that series back in 2004 to someone named Ryan Drese.)

Jon Jay appears to be gaining confidence at the command post of the outfield. He started every game of the postseason so far and led the team in games played this season.

I should mention that this post is brought to you with thanks to reader Matt from VA, who sent over a good stack of 2011 Allen & Ginter cards. Shane Victorino, in code parallel form, represents one of the vanquished foes of the brain-thirsty Cards. I was fortunate enough to pull his base card in a rack pack yesterday, so I'm all set in the Flyin' Hawaiian department.

Is that a squirr... er... no.

Florence Nightingale revolutionized hospital hygiene and sanitation! This has nothing to do with the Cardinals or baseball, really. I just like the card and I like Allen & Ginter.

All-Topps Group Break: You Could Win a Baseball*

Community Gum is hosting a Topps-based overlooked products and hidden gems style group break and you can win an actual, factual autographed baseball signed by a Retired Great. (Please note: Joe Morgan qualifies as a Retired Great according to Topps.) They are opening tons of interesting boxes, and group breaks need participants... so... what are you waiting for?

*Actual baseball may differ ever so slightly from the image above. Consider yourself warned.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Good Luck Ducks, Week 7: Something to Prove

Every week in college football, you could argue that there's "a lot on the line" for any team hoping to achieve some level of success - a bowl game, perhaps. Bust out any of those tired cliches and they will apply here. The Ducks are trying to remain in contention for a BCS bowl (or better) while the Arizona State Sun Devils, #18 on the charts depending on who you ask, basically have the Pac-12 South locked up already and have a legitimate shot at a conference championship.

The Sun Devils are led by Vontaze Burfict, a linebacker who (again, if you listen to the cliche spouters) is Godzilla, Superman and Jesus all rolled in to one football sized human. He's also kind of dirty. Go ahead, just Google him. It won't take long. However, if the Ducks allow just one person to take them out of their game plan, it doesn't say much for their chances at greater success this year. Meanwhile, ASU's starting QB Brock Osweiler makes his second career start at Autzen Stadium. His last visit saw him as a freshman fill in for an injured starter before he was forced to leave the game himself due to injury. He's tall and can throw.

The biggest story is that the Ducks will almost certainly be without LaMichael James, barring some sort of Willis Reed-esque surprise appearance on the field, something you don't really see in collegiate sports because there's too much at stake and the players aren't being paid to be heroes. LaMike dislocated his elbow in the last game, but there is some hope that he won't miss a lot of time. Oregon has plenty of talented backs to carry the ball, but James just has the explosion thing that you don't really see in anyone else.

Above footage from ASU's 2009 visit to Autzen Stadium.

Game time is 7:15 PDT with national coverage on ESPN. Lee Corso's into it; what about you?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

5 on the 5: 2011 Topps Update Series

I'm still rather speechless about tonight's NLCS game. This is the type of game that the Cards have lost all year. They scored early, but not often. In fact, this is the exact same game they lost to the Phillies in the NLDS, when they got to Roy Halladay early but couldn't do anything for the rest of the game. They scored 4 tonight off of Gallardo, who is like a reverse Bud Norris to the Redbirds for some reason, but didn't so much as sniff home plate for the rest of the game. Fortunately, Carp battled through 5 and the bullpen was up to the task, pitching 4 scoreless innings capped off by another maniacal 4-out save by Jason Motte.

And now, baseball cards...

Pack 1:
US301 - Tom Gorzelanny

US220 - Adam Dunn ("Yo, guys... no offense... but you probably don't want me to bat.")
US121 - Jon Rauch
US324 - Melvin Mora
US66 - Andy Dirks
US151 - Cory Gearbin (Sometimes I don't know the names that I am looking at or typing.)
US71 - Jeff Francis

KC-103 - Zach Britton Kimball Champions
US72 - Colby Rasmus (Ugh.)

US86 - Rafael Furcal (The single most important in-season acquisition. I'm convinced that the Cards would have been eliminated from playoff contention with plenty of days to spare without the Furcal deal. It's bizarre, because until this very moment when I looked it up, I could not have told you who the Dodgers got in return for Furcal. It turns out it was someone whose name I only recognize from his 2011 Bowman card.)
US302 - Alex Torres
US49 - Rickie Weeks All-Star (I hate Rickie Weeks.)

Pack 2:
US101 - Scott Downs
US120 - Bobby Parnell
US33 - Jayson Nix

US30 - Dustin Ackley (What does it say about Ackley... and the Mariners, for that matter... that this young rookie second baseman has become the heart of Seattle's offense? Wow.)
US55 - Anthony Rizzo

US94 - Ryan Vogelsong (Whoa, settle down there, Crazyface.)
US2 - Ty Wigginton
TDG-30 - Diamond Giveaway Code Card

T60-120 - Ozzie Smith Topps 60 (Great looking card. This goes right into the Ozzie binder. I don't even think I recognize this photo, which is nice.)

US50 - Jered Weaver Red Target Parallel (It looks like in the Update Series they turned the retail exclusive Diamond Gemerald inserts into exclusive colored border parallels. I guess I am going to be suckered into wanting these things if they're Cardinals.)

US60 - Heath Bell All-Star (It's cool when you can instantly recognize a moment from a game you merely watched on TV.)
US306 - Brandon Phillips All-Star

Pack 3:
US5 - Josh Willingham
US176 - Xavier Nady
US54 - Jerry Sands (The future savior of Los Angeles? Of the Future?)
US122 - Alfredo Aceves
US194 - Jason Kipnis

US57 - Tony Campana (Here's another for the Weird Face file.)

US270 - Todd Frazier Bedazzled

DD-26 - Buster Posey / Brian McCann Diamond Duos (These often pair young players with legendary Hall of Famers, but I guess McCann is just playing that role here by wearing a retro uniform.)
US238 - Carlos Beltran All-Star
US175 - Mike Trout (Highly touted rookie.)
US131 - Jeff Keppinger

US294 - Edwin Jackson (Here's another one for the Blurry, Horizontal Pitcher file. This is also a cool TV moment for me, however, as I clearly remember the day and place that I watched Jackson's first start against the Small Bears.)

Pack 4:
US35 - Eduardo Nunez
US32 - Matt Stairs (I should have scanned his stats on the back. They go all the way back to 1992!)
US67 - Miguel Olivo

US179 - Michael Pineda Rookie Debut
US228 - Zach Britton Rookie Debut
US276 - Yuniesky Betancourt (I'm still not over the fact that he hit a HR in Game 1 of the NLCS.)
TTU-14 - Matt Garza Topps Town

477 - Franklin Gutierrez Pukey Yuckarella
US146 - Jordan Walden All-Star
US31 - Curtis Granderson All-Star

US242 - Matt Holliday Home Run Derby (I approve of this card.)
US128 - Mariano Rivera Checklist 3 of 5

Pack 5:
US187 - Bobby Wilson
US311 - Drew Butera
US93 - Matt Downs

US223 - Arthur Rhodes (Rhodes must have come over to the Cards just a little too late for the deadline. This photo is great, although it makes Rhodes look extremely short for some reason.)
US267 - Sam Fuld
US178 - Jason Bourgeois

KC-144 - Reggie Jackson Kimball Champions (I still hate that my scanner likes to crop these borders off.)

425 - Johnny Mize Vomit Parallel (Well... er... yes! Awesome. I have a hunch now that the retired legend parallels aren't more difficult to pull than your garden variety Jason Bartletts, but it's just a hunch.)

US319 - Corey Patterson (Ugh, Corey Patterson would have to show up and ruin all of that good feeling about all of the Cardinals cards I've been pulling here. Oh well, at least he's not on the playoff roster.)
US58 - Tim Lincecum All-Star
US229 - Asdrubal Cabrera All-Star
US170 - Brad Ziegler