Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Baseball is a funny game. Baseball cards are a funny thing.
Its's amazing that you can watch a guy take some of the worst looking at-bats in the history of the game in one moment only to end up the hero after nearly five hours of game of game is played. Hats off to Sal Perez, who should be thrilled he couldn't hear what I was yelling at him through my TV earlier tonight.
On another note, I actually bought some new baseball cards on Saturday. The Target I frequent cleared out every single loose pack of baseball cards since I was last there to make room for football and hockey... and lots of empty shelf space. The empty shelf space makes no sense to me. There is no way that they sold all of the stuff they had sitting out all summer, and these silly things aren't exactly perishable. They did still have Bowman Platinum and Topps Chrome "value" rack packs as well as Topps Chrome blasters, but even though I had some coupons I decided to invest in something I would actually consider collecting. I reached for the very last Allen & Ginter blaster.
For the second year in a row, I pretty much completely forgot to collect new Allen & Ginter cards this year, so I'm playing catch-up again. And the first Cardinals card to fall out was... this... monstrosity:
Yes, yes, this happens to everyone these days, but it's especially frustrating to me because it seems to only happen to cards I care about or cards that are easily tradeable. (This never happens to A's cards.) And now I have to go look up what you should do about damaged cards and find out if it's worth it to try to send this back to the manufacturer.
There were other cards in the blaster that I cared about, fortunately, including this A&G backed Gibby mini. The design is nice, I guess, but I miss old crappy Old Planter.
This card references genre art and other things I don't know anything about. Maybe I'll collect 'em all and learn something?
This is where we learn that Mark McGwire is as boring as a sack of rocks. His pastime is "Family Man". While there's nobility in that, we're not learning anything here.
Friday, September 26, 2014
The final weekend of regular season baseball is upon us. Also, Derek Jeter did something.
Who is he? Mickey Lolich is one of the Detroit Tigers all-time greats. He was a three-time All-Star pitcher and World Series MVP in 1968 as part of a hard-fought series with the Cardinals where he won 3 games. He still holds a number of Tigers team records and is one of the more prominent southpaw hurlers in big league history.
How did he get here? Lolich's career was in decline when the Tigers decided to trade him in a 4-player swap that saw Rusty Staub head to the Motor City. He struggled in his only season with the Mets, eventually retiring before a two season comeback with the Padres.
Repeat offender? No
Other versions of this card: Here's his regular 1976 Topps card, an action shot.
Airbrushed Score: 8
Comments: Anything with a glowing blue cap is going to rank an 8 or higher. Not even a wax stain could bring this one down.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
As the Cardinals season stumbles and sputters to the finish line, let's take a look at some... cards.
Nick runs one of the finest blogs around in Dime Boxes. When someone's interests are as varied and as broad as Nick's apparently are (is there anything he doesn't collect?), it's bound to make some compelling reading material. I was fortunate to do another card swap with Dime Boxes and snagged a number of interesting cards for my collection.
Here are just a few.
This was easily my favorite card in the whole bunch, which is why I'm showing it to you. Do you think I keep all the great ones hidden away from prying eyes such as yours? Of course not! Along with being an unlikely addition to my Brendan Ryan collection, it's just an absurd idea for a trading card. Hooray! These guys are injured! Check them out! They're on display at the local (Springfield) freak show. While no doubt a few turned out just to see a former All-Star in Mulder on a rehab assignment, I'm not sure that Ryan made many waves. He was coming off of his rookie season as a part-time infielder, after all.
The Season of McCarver has gone, well, okay. Tim McCarver retired from his day job at Big FOX to join the FOX Sports Midwest broadcast booth for a couple dozen games or so. It didn't go horribly wrong. I think sometimes the otherwise unlistenable national guys can be a little more endearing and less embarrassingly obvious when scaled down for a regional audience. Except for Thom Brennaman, The guy just wakes up unbearable.
I like seeing old, non-HOF Cardinals on modern cards. More of this, please! (Ahem. Logos would have been nice.)
And finally, Kolten Wong has been a bright spot this season as he's way ahead of where he was a year ago when he was just getting his feet wet. This is one of those short printed Futures uniform variations that the kids are so crazy about these days.
Monday, September 22, 2014
I decided to reward myself after a hot afternoon of running errands.
After having a bit of good luck with the 100 card repacks they often carry at the local Walgreens, I decided to check to see if they had anything on the shelves on Saturday. This is usually the only baseball-related item they ever carry, and it's always a mystery as to whether or not they'll even have it. I imagine the demand for this stuff is pretty low, as it sits squarely in a toy section at a 24 hour drug store that seems to be designed for people who forgot to get a gift for their significant other's son/daughter/niece/nephew and is trying to save face at the last minute. (Skittles, while great, is not a great gift.)
These are usually the same type of repack that you might see at target, hanging on a hook, encased in a hard plastic that is impossible to open with your bare hands. After some fussing with scissors (or a knife if you dare) and using your steady hands to pull out the cards without damaging them on the jagged plastic edges you just created, they can be a bit of a bear to open. This time around, I noticed that they are now using cardboard packaging (good) but have upped the price tag from $3.99 to $4.99 (not so good.) Nothing eye-popping was showing on the front of the pack, but the packaging promised a "hit" in every fourth box. Whatever that means. Anyway, let's take a gander at some of the more interesting cards I found.
Bowman Chrome is apparently "going live" this week, so in honor of one of the most useless annual sets, I present to you one of the most useless players in the game on a Bowman Chrome card. Okay, fine, Phillips has had a nice career, but he's kind of just a clown these days instead of a clown who can hit.
I have a soft spot for all things '86.
I probably would've gotten detention for saying "Clutterbuck" in class in 1989.
This Gwynn card was beat up and creased, which means there's a good chance I owned it at one time. I was 10 years old when I used to take all of the change I could find in the neighborhood up to the local card shop (also a barber shop for some reason) and get my grubby mitts on as many 1986 cards as possible.
I wouldn't have expected a set named Legacy to be one of the Fleer's most metallic designs.
Here's a random insert card from Upper Deck's last year of licensed MLB cards.
Early Manny being Tribey.
I don't get this design at all. Did Piazza play every position in the game or is this a growth chart incorrectly marked by baseball positions instead of numbers?
Such a classic design. I don't mind at all that there were a few sets that use the same design with different border colors. (Highlights, The Rookies, Opening Day... am I missing anything?)
Hey, there were cards from another country in this box. In good shape! More, please!
I don't remember ever sending in my wrappers and cash for one of these sets, but I'm sure somewhere deep down I have a repressed feeling of deep regret over this.
This is one of those cards from the annual Topps All-Star team set, which looks a lot like the factory team sets produced for each team. This has a metallic stamp for each league and also reminds me that I need to track down any of the Cardinals that ended up in these sets over the past several years.
I might actually need this one!
I don't have any recollection of this 1993 Upper Deck Diamond Gallery set at all, but seeing as it was a factory sealed set with a stated print run, I imagine that it cost a fortune at one time. And now it's a $7.99 Buy It Now with free shipping and no takers.
Not actually the guy from Homeland, Walker was one of the few that existed in the dark Cardinals era where they actually tried out stove tap caps, Pirates style. Hey man, the '70s were crazy, or so I hear.
Leaf! So... exotic!
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Oregon faces their first conference test against a team leading the nation in passing yards.
Coming off another perfect non-conference run, Oregon makes a run up to the Palouse tonight for the first time since 2010. Last week's win over Wyoming was pretty comfortable, if not quite the rout that the gambling folks were predicting. Wyoming may be tougher than people realized. It could also be a sign that the youth and inexperience is starting to show up on the field for the guys in the green helmets (or whatever color they're using this week). More likely than not, however, is that I'm probably concerned about a whole lot of nothing.
The Ducks have a legitimate shot at #1 in some polls after this weekend is over thanks to a serious upset alert down in Florida. Florida State will be missing their super-sketchy Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback due to suspension and will be doing it while facing a ranked opponent in Clemson. While an Oregon victory over Washington State tonight isn't exactly a résumé-builder, there is always a war of attrition at the top of the football table.
Tonight, the Ducks face Conor Halliday's Cougar Air Raid Attack (Cat Raid?). Halliday has already passed for 1465 yards in just three games, though they lost two of them. (The one game they won was against FCS Portland State.) Still, Halliday lit up the Ducks last year in a record breaking performance that Oregon certainly isn't likely to have forgotten. Oregon won the game, but many of the yards were piled up in garbage time, something that stuck in the craw of now retired Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti. Halliday could and likely will burn the Ducks secondary tonight, but Oregon has the talent to give up some points and still come out victorious. Honestly, I'm pretty nervous about this one and am not sure what will happen. The Ducks haven't lost to the Cougars since 2006, a season in which they finished 7-6 and unranked. This doesn't seem like it will be that kind of season.
Highlights of last season's matchup with Washington State, with a spotlight on one of the nation's top defensive backs -- Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Pink helmets, yikes!
Game time is 7:30 PM PDT with national coverage on ESPN. Go Ducks!
Friday, September 19, 2014
It's crunch time in the MLB. Whose cuisine reigns supreme?
Who is he? Cody Ross is a journeyman outfielder who has played for 7 teams in 11 big league seasons. While never an All-Star, his huge performance in the 2010 playoffs netted him an NLCS MVP award to go with a World Series ring.
How did he get here? After riding high with the Giants, who picked him up late in the 2010 season en route to World Series success, Ross found himself on the other end of the standings when he signed with the Red Sox in 2012. (This was the awful Bobby Valentine year.) After a single season in Boston, the Diamondbacks signed him to another free agent deal.
Repeat offender? No
Other versions of this card: None, but here's the original image.
Airbrushed Score: 5
Comments: Nice cropping. I guess he only needs one foot.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
They're colorful and fun, but as a collector I don't know what to do with them.
I haven't done a pack break in awhile, and I have a bunch of stuff cluttering up my desk. Let's see what we can do here. I really like these Chipz. I like buying a pack and opening them and having something substantial fall out. I don't know what that's about. But I don't really know what to do with them, especially since in two years I've yet to pull a single Cardinal. (This is out of only, like, ten packs or so...)
I wouldn't be surprised if Erin ends up being a Jose Altuve collector, so this is probably the only one that will end up staying. I knew Altuve was good, but I had no idea that he'd be putting up the numbers he's put up this season. He'd be a viable MVP candidate if the Astros were anywhere near contention this season.
This year's set has magnetic Chipz in it, which makes it about the easiest pack searching helper known to this hobby. The packs with a magnet in it stick to a lot of things. The non-magnet having packs don't. These magnetic Chipz also stick to other Chipz, which could make storing them an exercise in science.
Some of them have vinyl team logo non-sticky stickers affixed to them, like this Mascot Chip(z?) of Paws, the Tigers mascot. He's grrrrrrreeeeeaaaaaaaatttt.
This is what I want to try. I'm going to list every Chip(z) I have here and put them all up for trade. However, what I'd really like to do is turn them into other Cardinal Chipz. Does that sound reasonable? I don't care about doubles, colors, magnets, glowing things, parallels, whatever... any Cardinal Chipz you have can turn into a Chip(z) for you. The only thing I'll say is that I don't think I feel comfortable dropping these in a Plain White Envelope and sending them on their way, so if I have any takers I will try to include them in a more substantial package. And if I don't have any takers, I guess I'll try something else.
And if you don't have any Chipz to speak of, but are super desperate to get ahold of one of these, feel free to let me know. I'm a reasonable guy with a reasonable amount of fake poker chips featuring baseball players on my desk.
Here's the list. If it seems like a parallel or is not a plain white one, I'll try to include what's different about it.
Roy Halladay - Red, Magnetic
Paws - Mascot, with Tigers Decal [2 of these]
Zack Wheeler - Blue
Chase Utley - with Phillies Decal
Zack Greinke - Red, Gold interior (this one might be rare?)
Ryan Howard - Red, Magnetic
CC Sabathia - Blue
Ian Kinsler - Black, Magnetic
Carlos Gomez - Glow in the Dark
Bryce Harper - with Nats Decal
Andrew McCutchen - Black, with Pirates Decal
Raymond - Mascot
But wait, there's also 2013:
Brandon Phillips - with Reds Decal
Adrian Beltre - Gold interior
Jay Bruce - with Reds Decal
Michael Young - Glow in the Dark
Ben Zobrist [2 of these]
Angel Pagan - Glow in the Dark
Giancarlo Stanton - with Marlins Decal
Bryce Harper - with Nats Decal
Colby Rasmus - Glow in the Dark
Mike Napoli - Glow in the Dark
Finally, in case you wondered, the "Dip" is me for sitting through four hours of the Cardinals doing absolutely nothing at the plate tonight.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Oregon faces their final nonconference test in the earliest home start time I can ever remember.
There was a moment during last week's battle between top 7 teams where it felt like the game was getting away from the Ducks. Michigan St. QB Connor Cook was seemingly able to do anything and everything that he wanted while his team racked up 24 points in the second quarter alone. Oregon punted the ball more than I can remember seeing in the post-Mike Belliotti era. 3-and-outs had replaced the hurry-up-and-run-all-over-you offense as the new norm. And suddenly, early in the second half, the funk was over. Perhaps more impressive than the quick strike offense (we've seen that before) was the defense controlling the outcome and all but shutting down the running game. This is the first year in a very long time without Nick Aliotti in charge of the defense, and I have to say this was a good sign early in Don Pellum's tenure that things may be changing. The Ducks spoke throughout the offseason of trying to be more physical and they certainly looked it against the Spartans when it mattered most.
This morning, Oregon kicks off at a very strange start time (for a home game, anyway) against Wyoming, the only Mountain West team they have never faced. Wyoming won their first two games as well, though the offense put up just 17 points in each of those games. They will likely need a lot more than that to give Oregon a run for their money. The key to shutting down the Cowboys appears to be shutting down their running game, similar to last week's opponent. On a personal note, I used to joke a lot about Wyoming (the state) possibly not actually existing, since I had never met anyone from there. I still haven't, but I suspect that I may know or have come into contact with people in my life who have at least been through there at one point. If you're supposedly from Wyoming or have any good Wyoming stories, feel free to chime in with a comment.
I think the #2 ranked Ducks will win big today, but after a huge win last week and a rivalry game on the horizon for next week, this does have the makings of a potential trap game. For their part, I don't recall Oregon falling into too many of those traps. If Marcus Mariota can keep things rolling and the freshmen contribute even half as much as they did last week, the Ducks should have this one comfortably in hand before the game gets late.
Game time is 11:00 AM (what?) PDT with national coverage on the Pac-12 Network. Special thanks to Brandon L for the amazing card. Go Ducks!
Friday, September 12, 2014
Adventures in airbrushery.
Who is he? Ken Dayley was a lefty reliever whose 11 year career spanned most of the '80s, which afforded him some time to wear the powder blue uniforms that were fashionable at the time. Dayley pitched at a small Catholic school, the University of Portland (local ties!) before beginning his big league career in the Atlanta Braves rotation.
How did he get here? The Braves traded Ken to St. Louis, who had other plans for him: relief duties. Dayley spent the remainder of the 1984 season in the Cardinals farm system save for 5 innings, which makes his inclusion in the 1984 Topps Traded set all the more bizarre. Dayley would go on to be a key member of the Cardinals bullpen, proving himself as sort of a second closer, should Whitey Herzog decide that a lefty was better suited to finish up the game.
Repeat offender? No
Other versions of this card: None
Airbrushed Score: 6
Comments: Oh, they really tried! That lettering on the jersey and the birds on the bat must be really hard! '80s airbrushed cards can sometimes be hard to spot, but when they're bad they're really bad. This one probably could have been overlooked if it wasn't for the dastardly cap.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
I have a soft spot for Bowman, possibly because it's rarely ever in my face.
In an effort to do something about my sad 2014 Cardinals want list, I worked out a trade with S.Mack Talk where only 2014 cards exchanged hands. This was a quick 'n dirty trade, free of my usual procrastination (months) and threats to send pounds of cards across the country. I should probably do more trades this way.
Jimmy sent me some 2014 Bowman Cardinals cards. I realize that, while it's never an eye-popping set, I never seem to get sick of Bowman. I just don't buy a lot of Bowman. I always seem to build up a stack of base Topps cards every year that I don't know what to do with, a byproduct of liking to buy packs but only wanting to keep those that interest me. But Bowman, with its slightly elevated price tag? I'll buy a pack or two and then promptly forget about it. And admittedly, I sometimes have a hard time piecing together a coherent want list because of all of Bowman's parallels and its later seasons releases (Draft and Chrome).
But this is a set that has gone with white bordered cards for 3 straight years, after quite a few consecutive years of black bordered cards. It's not innovative or exciting. In the Topps Exclusivity Era, however, we are left with this as the only semi-affordable licensed non-Topps option on the market. (Let's not consider that Topps actually makes these cards.)
What I could do without, however, are the unknown prospect cards. I realize that Bowman's big draw is whatever deal they struck with MLB to allow them to continue to make prospect/"pre-rookie" cards. This is, essentially, cards of recent draft picks and prospects who have yet to appear in the majors. I wasn't at all aware of what was going on in sports card collecting back in 2006 when the rookie card designation was formalized, but I never understood why this brand was reserved to produce cards of basically whoever they pleased. (Pro tip: Nearly every Bowman Prospect card is horribly Photoshopped.) My suggestion would be to at least limit the cards they are allowed to make to a list of actual prospects (Top 100?) because there are far more Steven Ramoses than there are Tim Cooneys in the grand scheme of thing. Cooney will be a big leaguer soon, but it doesn't look like Ramos is on that track. Leave it to minor league cards to cover the players who don't make it to the bigs.
Jimmy sent over some cards from the flagship Topps set as well. One of my favorite things about Cardinals cards in 2014 is that they get to show off the team's new Saturday uniforms. I think they're a well done alternate jersey that still respects the tradition of the team's vaunted jersey past.
I was excited to finally get an official Kevin Siegrist rookie card. Siegrist was a flame throwing marvel on last year's squad, basically an unheard of guy drafted in a round that no longer even exists anymore. He's struggled mightily this year, both with injuries and with his efforts to duplicate the mechanics that led him to so much success last year. He supposedly figured something out if the local broadcasters are to be believed, and tonight's outing was encouraging. Here's to hoping a rejuvenated Kevin Siegrist is on the 2014 playoff roster, provided that the Cards make it there.
Monday, September 8, 2014
Is it really almost basketball season, too?
Single game tickets just went on sale for the upcoming NBA season, and I ended up snagging some nosebleeds for the Blazers opener against Oklahoma City the other day. Buying NBA tickets in the 90+ degree summer heat really took me out of reality for a moment, though. In light of the upcoming season, I'm going to be contacting those of you who have signed up for the (Free-ish) Basketball Card Trading club. I plan on making some more of those kinds of purchases in the fall and will need some fresh mailboxes to dump those excess (non-Blazers, non-Ducks) cards. If you're interested at all in something like that, feel free to contact me and snag a team or some players. Don't worry if someone else has claimed something, because I will be clearing out some people who never responded to me with addresses or anything like that. (I have a lot of extra Suns and Pistons cards, to name a couple.)
Reader Brandon L recently swapped cards with me, netting me this high quality Sheed jersey card. Rasheed Wallace is one of my all-time favorite Blazers (and players, to be honest). His antics were always at least entertaining, and even if he didn't exactly ingratiate himself to the media (or some of his teammates), he was the center figure of some of the best Blazers teams in the history of the franchise. It feels like only recently that the team is finally stopping to gloss over the Sheed era, at least the parts that don't necessarily overlap with the Jail Blazers era. (They were kind of the same thing, but they were only "The Jail Blazers" in the media when they weren't winning.)
Brandon also sent me another really nice gem that you'll see here on Saturday morning. I'm sure you know what that means.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
This is the week that we find out if Oregon has a team this year.
I always try to reset my expectations for the Ducks at the beginning of every season. This is based on what I've witnessed in the past, where I've seen teams come from out of nowhere to destroy nationally ranked opponents on national television. I've also seen teams built on a foundation of potato chips crumble the second they face a competent offense. So while last week's demolition of an FCS team was fun, we're about to find out if this year's Ducks model is any good as they face a test in a strong Michigan State team.
The #3 Ducks face the #7 Spartans this week in what is shaping up to be the best non-conference game of the season in all of college football. This is a lot to live up to for a game in early September. I am still getting used to the idea of football games being on the air. These teams may not exactly resemble the teams they will become in November and December. But there will be a lot of talent on the field today, and both sides have lofty expectations. This is the first season with a "playoff" in college football, though you can hardly call it that when only 4 teams are selected to participate. Still, that seems like a massive step in the right direction.
Oregon QB Marcus Mariota was nearly perfect in his half of play last week, and my hopes are that he won't miss a beat this time around. Michigan State's defense will provide significant pressure on the offensive line, a group that let everyone down last season at times. It may be rough. The backup quarterback shouldn't get too comfortable on the sidelines. The lightning fast trio of Duck running backs should be at the top of their game. It's still impossible for me to get a read on this team at this stage, but I am hopeful for a Ducks victory today. I wouldn't take it for granted or even bet a dollar on it, but Oregon has some truly impressive players on their side. Of course, so do the Spartans.
Reuben Droughns announced himself to the rest of the college football world back in 1998, the last time the Spartans visited Eugene.
Game time is 3:30 PDT with national coverage on FOX. College GameDay is in town! Go Ducks!