Saturday, September 28, 2013
Oregon opens conference play against a team that has suddenly become pass-happy.
After a week that saw Oregon's stock only rise despite not taking the field, the Ducks are faced with a number of firsts heading into tonight's game. First night game. First conference game. First questionable weather game. Unseasonably torrential rain is supposedly headed to the Willamette Valley this weekend, and despite the fact that it "never rains in Autzen Stadium", things are expected to be rather... damp?
New head coach Sonny Dykes has brought his "Air Raid" offense from Lousiana Tech to the Bay Area, and considering how California has fared in recent years, the change can't be the worst thing in the world. Cal's fans are even talking in confidence about how their team will fare against an Oregon team that many feel is the best in the nation right now. It could be exciting - hell, it should be exciting, especially if the weather wreaks havoc on the field conditions.
The Cal Bears have been a prickly opponent over the years, but things have been decidedly different in recent years. Save for a nailbiting defensive struggle in Berkeley in 2010, things have tilted heavily in Oregon's favor for the last four years. Oregon outscored Cal a combined 85-18 in their last two meetings in Eugene and won last year's game on the road 59-17. While Cal may be finally headed in the right direction after floundering under former Oregon offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, I don't think tomorrow is the time where the Bears get their comeuppance.
Some highlights from last year's drubbing. I am not usually a fan of game footage set to music, but the song selection here was especially interesting.
Game time is 7:30 PDT with national coverage on the Pac-12 Network. Go Ducks!
Friday, September 27, 2013
My friend Goo.
Who is this week's victim, and why do we care? Say what you will about Terry Forster, but not many individuals on this planet can claim a 17 year major league career and a World Series ring to boot. Forster, infamously labeled a "fat tub of goo" by a certain late-night talk show host, spent most of his fruitful career as a lefty reliever. If you've got the stomach for it, lefty reliever seem to hang around the game forever.
Why is this a thing? Forster came up with the White Sox, who apparently outgrew him after a subpar 1976 season. After a single season with the pre-"We Are Family" Pirates, Forster signed a free agent deal with the Dodgers, where he'd spend the next 5 seasons. He earned a ring as a member of the bullpen with the '81 Dodgers, the team that taught me what it was like to root against an eventual champion.
Airbrushed Fridays is a weekly feature as the name seems to imply. If you know of a card with an altered photograph that you'd like to see featured, please contact me. You probably won't win anything other than a date with Steve Garvey, but you never know!
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Previously on the Cardinalpalooza: J.D. Drew | Colby Rasmus | Yadier Molina | Allen Craig | Stan Musial | Rick Ankiel | David Freese | Keith Hernandez | Steve Carlton | Lance Berkman | Lou Brock | Dennis Eckersley
Mark McGwire is a polarizing figure to this day for his (now admitted) PED use during his playing career. And despite his massive popularity during the fabled Home Run Chase of 1998, McGwire was not universally loved by die-hard Cardinal fans. I have some cards of his to get rid of. The list, as always, follows at the end of the post.
Despite McGwire's huge individual successes immediately upon arriving in St. Louis, his golden years were lean years for the team itself. Many Cardinal fans did not appreciate the swell in attention the team was receiving when the team on the whole was floundering. Aside from the two year hangover that followed the 2006 World Series team that saw the team say goodbye to many of its aging stars, McGwire's peak years were the dark years of the Tony La Russa era.
I didn't mind McGwire at the time, in spite of the team's struggles. He was fun to watch and he had an earnest quality about him. He seemed to take all of the attention in stride and never seemed cocky. His attitude seemed, well, very Cardinal-like. Unfortunately, he didn't represent the franchise well when it came to some of the steps he took to perform on the field.
1998 Fleer Sports Illustrated World Series Fever #80
1998 Pacific #416
1998 Score #RT25
1998 Score (Checklist) #270
1998 Skybox Dugout Axcess #41
1998 Skybox Dugout Axcess (7th Inning Sketch) #127
1998 Skybox Thunder #25
1998 Topps #325 [2 available]
1998 Topps ('97 Season Highlights) #478 [2 available]
1999 Bowman #6 [2 available]
1999 Fleer Ultra #70
1999 Pacific Invincible (Sandlot Heroes) #16
1999 Pacific Omega #197
1999 Skybox Premium #47
1999 Topps #70 [2 available]
1999 Topps (Season Highlights) #201 [2 available]
1999 Topps (League Leaders) #223 [4 available]
1999 Topps Finest #70
1999 Upper Deck Choice #130
1999 Upper Deck MVP #169
1999 Upper Deck MVP (Checklist) #220
1999 Upper Deck Powerdeck Auxiliary Power #AUX-2
1999 Upper Deck Victory (Big Play Makers) #321 [2 available]
1999 Upper Deck Victory (Magic) #439
2000 Fleer Tradition (League Leaders w/ Matt Williams, Sammy Sosa) #4 [2 available]
2000 Pacific #356
2000 Skybox Dominion #37
2000 Topps (20th Century's Best) #232
2000 Topps (Season Highlights) #456 [3 available]
2000 Topps (League Leaders w/ Manny Ramirez) #463
2000 Topps (20th Century's Best) #469
2000 Topps Gallery #70
2000 Topps Opening Day 2K #OD1 [2 available]
2000 Topps Stars #166 [
3 2 available]
2000 Upper Deck (All-UD Team) #523
2000 Upper Deck Black Diamond #80
2000 Upper Deck Victory #70 [2 available]
2000 Upper Deck Victory Contest Ad Card [2 available]
2001 Fleer Futures #54
2001 Fleer Tradition #256
2001 Topps #50 [3 available]
2001 Upper Deck Ovation #34
2002 Fleer Tradition #177
2002 Upper Deck (Checklist) #745
2002 Upper Deck Ovation (Superstar Spotlights) #117
2002 Upper Deck Ovation (Superstar Spotlights) #119
2003 Upper Deck Victory #88 [3 available]
2003 Upper Deck Victory Green #88
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
A simple sampling of this year's Allen & Ginter product.
I've been quietly squirreling away a small supply of this year's Allen & Ginter set while largely avoiding any big purchases this past summer. Aside from buying a blaster (good for an upcoming post) and a few loose packs, I've mostly been getting by on Listia purchases and a couple of group breaks that I entered. My Cardboard Habit hosted once such break, and here are a few cards I received in it.
I snagged the Cardinals, of course, and was happy to receive most of the team set proper in this break. I'm just missing one SP (#340) before I'll have all of the regular issue Cardinals cards. Of course, there's still the matter of the doubles that I need for the full set and all of the crazy parallels and inserts that they throw your way. You know, nothing big or anything.
I've made peace (HA!) with my decision to "slow collect" this set. These cards are still new to me when I look at them, and for perhaps the first time since I started this blog more than five years ago I think I'll be able to full avoid the "Ginter Fatigue" phenomenon that overtakes some of us by fall. I may even post my want list in its infant stages this time to encourage people that have abandoned collecting the set to dump their stuff on me. Maybe. We'll see.
The Rays were my randomly assigned team, and since I have so few base cards I'll probably be keeping most of them. By virtue of their win tonight, the Rays now have a leg up on their competition in the now three-way race for two so-called Wild Card spots. I still think the real playoffs start when the Divisional Series games start, but I'm sure there are plenty of older, crustier men than I who think than pennants should be decided in the regular season.
It's good to see Enos Slaughter in this set, a Cardinal legend that hasn't been used and abused to death by Topps thus far. As for the Cardinals, there is good news. With an off day tomorrow, St. Louis heads into their final series (versus the pesky Cubs) needing a single win or a single loss by the Pirates to clinch the NL Central. Nice.
Previously on the Cardinalpalooza: Colby Rasmus | Yadier Molina | Allen Craig | Stan Musial | Rick Ankiel | David Freese | Keith Hernandez | Steve Carlton | Lance Berkman | Lou Brock | Dennis Eckersley
J.D. Drew actually fits into roughly the same category as Colby Rasmus, neither a fan favorite nor a universal superstar. Drew stuck around for much longer than Rasmus, however, and was ultimately a more accomplished player. Rasmus has only been around for the better part of five seasons, though, so there's still time for him yet.
Drew has a reputation, however deserved (or not) - he was branded from very early on when he refused to sign with the Phillies despite being offered a healthy signing bonus. Drew's path to MLB instead led him to St. Louis, where he was destined to be one of the game's biggest superstars.
He never became that superstar, despite the fact that few could complain about his production on the field. He had his issues actually staying on that field, but when he played he was a positive contributor. As it stands today, he only made one All-Star team (as a member of the Red Sox) when many saw his name joining the other luminaries on the outfield walls at Busch.
Myself, I am about as ambivalent about J.D. Drew as Drew seemed to be about the game of baseball on the field. Fans of max effort players hated him because he didn't seem to be "giving it his all" on the field, while fans of Cardinal baseball in general just wished he'd be healthy enough to stay on the field. His prime years with the team coincided with a period of time when I was not collecting cards and not able to watch many games on TV, so I didn't connect with him the same way I felt about, say, Ryan Ludwick even.
2002 Fleer Platinum #170
2003 Playoff Portraits #110
2002 Bowman Chrome #49
1998 Fleer Tradition #U100
1999 Fleer Tradition #7 [2 available]
1999 Pacific [Action] #352
1999 Pacific [Posed] #352
1999 Skybox Premium [Spring Fling] #294
1999 Skybox Molten Metal [Supernatural] #131
1999 Skybox Thunder www.batterz.com #WB1
1999 Upper Deck Challengers For 70 #C30
1999 Upper Deck Choice [Rookie Class] #27
1999 Upper Deck Encore [Star Rookie] #100
1999 Upper Deck Century Legends [21st Century Phenoms] #101
1999 Upper Deck MVP #170
1999 Upper Deck SP Top Prospects #51
1999 Upper Deck SP Top Prospects [Top 10 Prospects Checklist] #1
2000 Fleer Mystique #120
2000 Topps Gallery #24
2000 Upper Deck Gold Reserve #153 [2 available]
2000 Upper Deck Hitter's Club [Hitting the Show] #74
2000 Upper Deck HoloGrFX #21
2000 Upper Deck MVP #55 [2 available]
2000 Upper Deck Pros & Prospects #57 [2 available]
2001 Bowman #80
2001 Fleer Focus #196
2001 Fleer Futures #167
2001 Fleer Platinum #245
2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars #97
2001 Topps #101 [2 available]
2001 Upper Deck Evolution #55
2001 Upper Deck SP Authentic #54
2002 Donruss #136
2002 Donruss Classics #32
2002 Donruss Classics Sample #32
2002 Donruss Diamond Kings #78 [2 available]
2002 Donruss Originals #195
2002 Donruss Originals #322 [2 available]
2002 Fleer Triple Crown #200
2002 Leaf #100
2002 Upper Deck MVP #172
2002 Upper Deck #650
2002 Upper Deck [Piece of History] #54
2002 Upper Deck Ovation #37 [2 available]
2003 Donruss #390 [3 available]
2003 Donruss Champions #242
2003 Donruss Diamond Kings #146
2003 Donruss Team Heroes #478
2003 Fleer Flair #69
2003 Fleer Splendid Splinters #65
2003 Fleer Tradition #304
2003 Topps Stadium Club #49
2003 Upper Deck Game Face #102
2003 Upper Deck Victory #85 [4 available]
2003 Upper Deck Victory [Solid Hits] #122 [2 available]
2003 Upper Deck Victory Green #85
2006 Fleer Ultra Retro Lucky 13 #233
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
So close, yet... the magic number is reduced to 3.
Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha was within a sliver of pitching a no-hitter tonight. As aggravating as it was to see the Cardinals get so tantalizingly close to their first no-hitter in more than a decade, I was relieved that they won the game. It was a fantastic outing by Wacha on a night when the offense really needed it. I also discovered tonight that I don't have any Wacha cards to post on the blog, which is a huge tragedy.
Instead, I offer this year's Allen & Ginter Stan Musial Across the Years insert in its place for some reason. Erin discovered the imperfection after I won this card from Listia, as she noticed that the back of the card mentions a fictitious team known as the St. Luis Cardinals. It would be fun if Topps spent their free time fixing errors like these rather than intentionally creating their own "variation" cards, but the reality is that they probably only run the presses one time and there would never be a scenario where an error was caught before they stopped printing the allotted amount of cards for any given set.
But what do I know? I'm just a sucker with no Michael Wacha cards. Unless there's one in my stacks of unsorted trade post fodder. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Every lineup has a hole.
Who is this week's victim, and why do we care? Gregor Blanco is an outfielder whose stats don't exactly jump off the page at you. He's fast and rangy if his Topps card is to be believed, but he's very limited offensively. He's not a full time starter, but he still gets his 400 ABs or so a year, which makes me wonder if there's something about his game that I'm not seeing. Clubhouse leader. Gritty. Intangibles. Stuff like that. That must be it.
Why is this a thing? Blanco made his major league debut in Atlanta when the Great Jordan Schafer Era collapsed before it got started. Atlanta needed pitching help at the trade deadline in 2010, and Blanco was off to Kansas City along with Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth. Blanco didn't spend a lot of time in KC, but he resurfaced after a year out of the bigs with the Giants, just in time to get a ring.
Airbrushed Fridays is a weekly feature as the name seems to imply. If you know of a card with an altered photograph that you'd like to see featured, please contact me. You probably won't win anything other than a sub-replacement level outfielder, but you never know!
A look at some edumacational oddball Cards on cards.
Over the course of a few Listia auctions, I was able to accumulate a bunch of Kansas City Life regionally issued cards, commonly known as "police cards" because they're primarily distributed to children by people working in a police community outreach program. At least, I think that's how it goes. It's been a long time since Officer Friendly came to my school to give out Portland Trail Blazers cards that I took home and stashed in a cigar box to cherish forever and ever.
In addition to a lone 1999 Mark McGwire card, I also scored what I believe is the entire 1993 and 1994 sets, plus a good chunk of the 2006 set for good measure. I guess the guys at Kansas City Life Insurance Company have been doing this for a long time.
The 1993 set is very, well, blue. It also has the "red letters on blue background" thing that can make the letters jump around on you if you stare at them for awhile. Or if you're sleepy. Or otherwise chemically indisposed, I guess.
I like the 1994 design a lot more, although it's a little on the goofy side. There's a nice thick red stripe running up the side, and the player's number is printed on a baseball that's totally jumping out at you.
The biggest gain for me out of the 2006 set is that I obtained some cards of rarely seen Cardinals. In fact, several of these players never suited up for St. Louis in the regular season. Their Topps issued cards are Photoshopped, so these end up being the only issued cards of certain players in actual Cardinal uniforms.
In fact, I'm not aware of there being any Ricardo Rincon Cardinals cards at all. Rincon actually did pitch a few regular season games for the Cardinals before he ended up needing Tommy John surgery.
I haven't even gotten to my favorite thing about these cards. After the jump, we'll look at the very informative flipsides of the cards, where lessons are truly learned.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
The season is flying out the window. A trade post will set us straight.
St. Louis has pulled ahead of the Pirates by 2 games, which is the largest lead they've had in the NL Central since July 26th. Yes, the race has been that tight, with the Pirates and the Cards running neck and neck for the entire second half. With 10 games left, it's still anybody's division. Nevertheless, it's time for some cautious optimism, which we'll celebrate with some truly excellent cards from Play at the Plate.
A bit of sobering news: Matt Adams left the game early tonight with soreness in his elbow, the same elbow that he had surgery on late last year. Let's hope that it isn't a big deal, because with Allen Craig likely out until the playoffs (at least), losing his capable replacement and team's top pinch hitter (when everyone else is healthy) is the kind of thing that could tank a division race. Who knew that we'd be saying this about Matt Adams, say, a year ago?
Seth Maness has been a pretty solid option out of the bullpen, a pen that has been completely reworked even since the early part of the season. The Cardinals have already faced their former setup man and would-be replacement closer Mitchell Boggs in this series. Boggs fizzled out and the Rockies picked him up on the cheap. Maness has effectively been his replacement, emphasis on the word "effectively".
I'll never get tired of Topps framed relics. I don't know what it is. They make me just a little bit excited about a bit of jersey that I'm not supposed to be excited at all about anymore.
Speaking of excitement, PATP sent over this neat insert card of the Future Excitement, Oscar Taveras. Taveras didn't play a whole lot this year and injuries cost him a shot at a late season call-up. The organization is counting on a strong offseason and spring from Taveras, especially if they opt not to resign Carlos Beltran.
Shelby's been a little shaky lately, but he's stayed in the rotation. He never returned to the levels of his early season dominance, but I think we'll still look back favorably at his rookie year on the whole. Hopefully, this season serves as a building block for better things to come. Like in the playoffs. Yeah!
PATP also sent over a few set building needs, and I selected a couple of 1985 Fleer cards to show here. I remember this Shawon Dunston card fetching a little bit of coin back when I was a kid. Dunston didn't exactly become the next Ernie Banks, but he carved himself out a pretty solid career. I love getting cards like this that I could probably snap up for a quarter now but couldn't afford back in the day.
Sometimes you're just not sure how to end things, and Pete Rose storms in and starts signing autographs and demanding stacks of cash from all of his onlookers. Awkward. I'm just going to back away from this post, slowly...
Previously on the Cardinalpalooza: Yadier Molina | Allen Craig | Stan Musial | Rick Ankiel | David Freese | Keith Hernandez | Steve Carlton | Lance Berkman | Lou Brock | Dennis Eckersley | Bob Gibson
Colby Rasmus fits into a different category than most of the other players I've offered up here on the Cardinalpalooza. He's not a fan favorite whose collecting appeal is mostly limited to the Cardinals fanbase and he's not a transcendent superstar like Gibby or Musial. Rasmus is the former top prospect who was dealt to bolster a playoff run and is still trying to find his way in the league. The list of cards available follows, as always, at the end of the post.
Colby wasn't run out of town exactly, and there was much debate among the Cardinal fanbase as to whether the trade that sent him to Toronto was a good one. And then the World Series happened and everyone sort of shut up about that. Rasmus has shown his superstar potential at times with Toronto and at other teams he's been injured and/or ineffective.
In short, Rasmus is someone you'd want on your fantasy team, if anything but to have some sort of scapegoat to angrily shake your fist at on Sunday afternoons when you're about to lose to the guy who never logs in after the draft to check his lineups. The jerk.
2009 Topps #631 [3 available]
2009 Topps Chrome #196
2009 Upper Deck X Die Cut #97
2010 Topps #207 [5 available]
2010 Upper Deck #460 [2 available]
2011 Topps #448 [4 available]
2011 Topps Chrome #71 [
2011 Topps Opening Day #180 [3 available]
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Trade time with Night Owl Cards. Yeah, we've seen this before.
We're approaching the last dozen or so regular season games of the baseball season, which means that it's time to be shocked about how fast summer flew by. You could be a little bit sad, too, or you could be so excited about football that you're ready to leave the mostly quiet din of leisurely baseball behind. If you're me, however, you're a lot sad about summer fading away and you also realize that you've got piles of things laying about your home that you need to get in their proper places.
So here's another hurried trade post, this time courtesy of frequent flyer Night Owl. Night Owl's Dodgers have all but clinched their division, by the way, with the Cardinals stuck in a three-way death battle to the end where the two losers will probably get a second chance to claw their way into the playoffs. He sent over some Allen & Ginter goodies and some Cardinals goodies because he's good at what he does.
Night Owl is a fan of minis, especially of the 1975 Topps variety. Actually, he's made it clear on plenty of occasions that all other minis are clearly inferior to this little test issue back from the mid-'70s. I'm happy to receive one of his extras, a John Denny rookie that's plastered with some other guys.
The team collector's dilemma: do I add this to my Cardinals binder shelf (I'm just going to call it a shelf from now on), knowing that there's no indication of Beltran's status with St. Louis anywhere on this card. I guess I'll just say yes and pretend I have a rock solid criteria for these things, where international/non-MLB uniform cards of a player that was under contract during the year of issue will belong with that player's MLB team. Sure. Why not?
Finally, here's a goldie version of the Stan Musial Chasing History insert from Series 1. I think it was Series 1? When does Topps Update come out this year? I haven't bought a ton of cards lately.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Tennessee finally heads to Eugene to complete the home-and-home.
The SEC is coming! The SEC is coming! SEC. S-E-C. You'd think the conference was in a level all of its own, where its members only feared relegation to other, vastly inferior conferences like the ACC or whatever the Big 12 is now if they didn't gloriously smash 85% of their opponents to pieces. This is also the conference that likes to schedule directional cow colleges for non-conference games in the middle of November while other schools are tallying up casualties and wondering how they'll make it to a bowl game without burning some punk's redshirt.
The truth is, the SEC is still the best conference around and their worst teams are still superior in talent to most winning schools out there. Today's opponent, the Tennessee Volunteers, have been on losing side of the ledger more often that not of late, but they have a storied history and they are a living, breathing SEC team in the flesh. Oregon has taken a page from some of these schools and scheduled some pretty puzzlingly awful schools recently as well, but here we finally have a major conference vs. major conference September battle that should provide some intrigue. No matter where the Vols are at in terms of being "back", this should be the biggest test of the young season for the second ranked Ducks. Another blowout could earn them a couple more first place votes. A close game would certainly provide valuable lessons and good experiences for their young players. A loss, even to an S-E-C team would be a huge M-I-S-S-T-E-P.
While LaMichael James is not around to provide the post-lightning delay heroics this time around (the first game in this series was back in 2010!), I think the Ducks will be fired up in front of the home crowd to put up a healthy amount of points early. I do think that Tennessee will be able to hang with them for awhile, but I think the tide will turn by the the time third quarter rolls around to give Oregon a comfortable lead to work with.
Oregon's last meeting with Tennessee went very well after the weather intervened. Skip ahead to about the 5:00 minute mark if you want to get goosebumps.
Game time is 12:30 PDT with national coverage on ABC. Go Ducks!
Friday, September 13, 2013
The other Catfish?
Who is this week's victim, and why do we care? Jim Crawford was a lefty reliever and spot starter who split his five big league seasons over two franchises. He was also known as Catfish. Apologies to Mr. Crawford here, however, because if I pulled this card in the mid-'70s my eyes would go right to that little newspaper headline and I'd think I'd hooked myself a Catfish Hunter. Crawford was no Catfish Hunter, but by playing baseball professionally he has several legs up on me.
Why is this a thing? Crawford... sorry... Catfish spent a couple of seasons with the Astros before he was included in a six-player deal with the Tigers, a trade that involved the hilariously named Mark Lemongello. He presumably provided depth in the rotation and insurance in the bullpen, but his career ended very early at age 27.
Airbrushed Fridays is a weekly feature as the name seems to imply. If you know of a card with an altered photograph that you'd like to see featured, please contact me. You probably won't win anything other than a Subway Club card (missing three stamps), but you never know!
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Trades. You know you love 'em.
Resident Ken Griffey Jr enthusiast The Junior Junkie (not to be confused with Junkie Junior who appears to be the subject of an '80s heroin documentary) shared with me a mass of Cardinals cards young and old, from the late '80s to present day 2013. I've chosen to show a few here.
I wonder what exactly Rafael Furcal is up to. One of the sparkplugs of the 2011 team, Fookie managed to completely destroy his elbow and is presumed to be working at an airport somewhere, wishing a "happy flight!" to weary travelers.
This is one of those snazzy gold signature parallels from the omnipresent mid-'90s staple budget set, Collector's Choice. I don't have too many of these. But what is up with the signature there? There is no way that can be Geronimo Pena's. It looks more like "Sun Raina" with an oddly placed accent.
Now that's how you do a signature! Of course, Brian Jordan has his little helper peering over his shoulder whenever he has to perform even the most menial task, like tying his shoes. The autograph was a piece of cake.
TJJ also threw in a much needed 2009 Topps Propaganda card. Hey, in another 7 years I might actually be finished with this pesky little insert set!