Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Waino is Back? Waino is Back!

The ace returns.

What would devastate most normal humans and what usually sidelines athletes of excellence for a calendar year has apparently only shelved Adam Wainwright for five months. Wainwright was activated from the DL and will be available out of the bullpen for tomorrow's doubleheader. With the injury bug hitting someone on the team seemingly every day, this is a bit of good news.

Tim from I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning sent over the Wainwright Chipz parallel along with a bunch of other great Cardinal cards, like this Jaime Garcia 2013 Bowman Chrome refractor. No one expected anything out of Jaime this season, but he's been one of the most valuable members of the rotation.

I'm back to being nervous about Rosenthal, which is sort of my default setting with him. Hopefully the rainy day off today will help as he's responded better with rest this season than without. I wouldn't mind seeing him sit tomorrow, as well, but that's not likely to happen if the division is on the line.

This man's health could define the Cardinals ultimate success (or lack thereof) in the postseason. Since his latest thumb injury, the pitching has stayed (mostly) strong, but no one calls a game like he does. That's not to mention what he does to baserunners.

Tim also sent over a couple of silver serial-numbered players from the hood*.

(*Note: Waino is from a small town in Georgia and Marco is from Fort Collins, CO.)

Thanks again to Tim for the trade! There's more from him on the way.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Heritage High Blaster Break

No Cardinals were harmed in the breaking of this box.

It's been a long time since I've done a box break, let alone a blaster break, here at Cards on Cards. After tinkering the past couple of years with an online-exclusive factory set-only version of what's basically the Topps Heritage Traded Set, Topps brought this thing fully back in pack for for the first time since 2009. And unlike in 2009, they didn't group the set with the year end Topps Update flagship release, sticking everyone with lots of extra unwanted Aaron Miles cards. Each pack has the now-customary 9 cards. The set is small (225 cards including 25 SPs) and should be pretty easy to complete. (Famous last words.)

Pack 1:

695 - Alex Guerrero - You won't see a lot of big names in this set, aside from your flavor-of-the-month rookies. The rest of the set is focused on young players, overlooked players who didn't make the cut originally and a few cards of players who switched teams that didn't get the Photoshop treatment in the initial set.
619 - Melvin Upton Jr.
521 - Shane Greene
621 - Wil Myers

AW-3 - Corey Kluber - Here's a new-to-High Number insert series with a pretty decent faux-retro look.
537 - Anthony Gose
632 - Marlon Byrd
568 - Mikie Mahtook - Might he be one for the Great Sports Name HOF?
629 - Shane Victorino

Pack 2:
653 - Nate Karns
635 - Drew Pomeranz
649 - Nick Hundley
565 - Jordy Mercer

711 - Andrew Miller Chrome Black Refractor (18/66) - These are quite rare! Miller become one of the most valuable relievers in the league lately, but he falls into that category of guys who didn't make the cut last time around. This is up for grabs.
643 - Alex Torres - This is the goofy hat guy.
614 - Tyler Moore - Mary?
646 - A.J. Ramos
571 - Odrisamer Despaigne - I hope I spelled that correctly.

Pack 3:
564 - Delmon Young
595 - Trevor Cahill - This is the card Night Owl was most "excited" about.
508 - Angel Nesbitt
512 - Ruben Tejada

717 - Francisco Lindor - Cards 701-725 are short printed. Topps put rookies Kris Bryant (and Addison Russell for what it's worth) in the SP group because they are straight up jerks.
540 - Rafael Betancourt
502 - Brett Cecil
569 - Jeurys Familia
599 - Archie Bradley

Pack 4:
660 - Michael Lorenzen
506 - David Buchanan
527 - Eduardo Rodriguez - No idea who he is...z.zzzzz.zzzz.
510 - Justin Nicolino

RP-7 - Carlos Rodon Rookie Performers - Here's an insert concept they carried over from the 2008/2009 years. There are some really tough to get Rookie Performers inserts of key rookies like Kershaw and Votto from those years that make this stand up to those old Rookie Sensations Fleer inserts from their NBA sets. At least, that's what it reminds me of. I know they did those for baseball, too, but it didn't generate the same excitement.
600 - Sean Gilmartin
687 - Asdrubal Cabrera
627 - Tony Cingrani
700 - Casey Janssen - I don't know how Janssen went from sleeper pick for fantasy closer to forgotten reliever in an update set so quickly.

Pack 5:

630 - Steven Matz - It's kind of perfect that a guy named Matz plays for the Mets.
574 - Sean Rodriguez
516 - Vincent Velasquez
541 - John Ryan Murphy

CC-7 - King Royals - These look like base cards, but they're not. They use the same design as the cards in the first set that pay tribute to cards in the original 1968 Topps set, but I suspect that they are entirely their own creation.
505 - Jesse Chavez
511 - Nick Ahmed
602 - Justin Maxwell
654 - Christian Bethancourt - There are entirely too many Betancourts/Bethancourts in baseball.

Pack 6:
672 - Tuffy Gosewisch - He's no "Tuffy" Rhodes, that's for sure.
520 - A.J. Burnett
661 - Roberto Hernandez
609 - Leonys Martin

709 - Jesse Hahn - Another SP.
566 - Yunel Escobar
616 - Justin Bour - Bour kind of came out of nowhere to have a breakout year.
552 - Aaron Harang - Harang (Phillies) is like this set's equivalent of the 2009 Topps Heritage High Series John Smoltz (Cardinals) card, or maybe like Pedro Martinez (also Phillies). Well, except, a lot less HOF-worthy.
676 - Williams Perez - Two last names!

Pack 7:
536 - Jose Urena
524 - Alex Rios
658 - Nick Martinez
662 - Marcus Semien

723 - Yovani Gallardo Mini (015/100) - Another tough pull! I don't think I've ever pulled one of these minis before. Hanging on to this makes more sense for my collection than the silly shiny pseudo parallels, but I haven't decided what I'm doing with this yet.
651 - Kyle Blanks
663 - Robinson Chirinos - Back-to-back-to-back Rangers.
501 - Christian Walker
589 - Mason Williams

Pack 8:
613 - Tyler Olson
617 - Micah Johnson
612 - Hansel Robles - As I said, lots of cards with the RC logo.
664 - Tyler Flowers

NT-11 - Eddie Rosario Now and Then - I had to look this up three times before I could get Rosario's first name right. I've never heard of him. This is a funny reverse of the Then & Now inserts, but I don't even get what they're going for here. I can't decide if you the red design looks like something you could stab someone with or do drugs out of. (Okay, fine, it could be a sharp-edged soup ladle, I suppose.)
590 - Taylor Jungmann - There's a "young man" joke here, I suppose.
645 - Ubaldo Jimenez
519 - Cameron Maybin
579 - Garrett Jones

So that's it. I will add this set to my regular Topps Heritage want list soon. Did you happen to notice what's missing, though? There were no Cardinals in this box. There are, in fact, only 4 Cardinals cards in the entire set. There are no Cardinals non-relic/auto/numbered inserts. This will be a very easy team set to collect. (Famous last words.)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Good Luck Ducks, Week 4: Bring on the Pac

Ready or not, here comes conference play.

First, from the Cards on Cards Dept. of Corrections: I mistakenly mentioned last week that Georgia State was an FCS team. They are not. They actually play in the Sun Belt Conference, one of the lowest regarded conferences at college football's top level (FBS). This is why there was actually a Vegas spread on the game (something like 44 points) which Oregon unfortunately did not beat. Georgia State only had one conference win to their name in school history, but they're mostly brand new to this thing so we'll give them a pass. The Ducks are coming off a fairly uninspiring performance, where the defense let up for several tough to watch stretches. Backup QB Jeff Lockie acquitted himself well enough on the field, but it wasn't difficult to see why he he was challenged for (and ultimately lost) the starting job when Vernon Adams Jr. arrived on campus.

Both the Ducks and their conference opening opponent Utah are being fairly coy about which quarterback will start tonight. It would make sense for Oregon to give Adams another week of rest for his broken finger, but Utah gave the Ducks a scare last year when Marcus Mariota was on their side, and this year the Utes seem even tougher. Utah comes in with a 3-0 record and a #18 ranking (to Oregon's 2-1, #13) and a big chip on their collective shoulder after Joe Walker returned a loose ball dropped into the end zone by a celebrating receiver the full length of the field back for a touchdown on what should have given the Utes a two score lead early in last season's meeting. From there, the previously stifled Ducks picked apart the opponent until the score resembled many of their other lopsided victories that year.

No matter which players take which snaps, this figures to be a fairly low scoring game, with Utah's defense already getting accolades while Oregon's looks to atone for mistakes made against weaker competition.

After a lot of confusion, Joe Walker's scramble towards the other end zone turned the tide in last season's meeting between the Utes and the Ducks.

Game time is 5:30 PDT with national coverage on FOX. Go Ducks!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Airbrushed Fridays: 2015 Topps #384

A season of disappointment in the Emerald City.

Who is he? Justin Ruggiano is a journeyman outfielder who, mostly as a reserve, has spent parts of 7 seasons in the majors with 5 different teams. Ruggiano was drafted by the Dodgers but broke into the bigs with Tampa Bay. Although he appeared in the World Series, he never really cracked the Rays lineup and ended up with the Marlins (by way of Houston) in 2012. The following year in Miami was the closest he came to a full season's worth of appearances, but he was off to the Cubs in 2014.

How did he get here? Ruggiano found himself on the other side of another exchange for a minor leaguer late last December when Seattle came calling. After a relatively strong showing the previous season, Ruggiano wasn't used much in Seattle and didn't perform all that well. The Dodgers became the latest team to acquire him at the deadline, and he's done well there so far (small sample size alert).

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None, but here's the original photo --

Airbrushed Score: 10

Comments: This is an atrocity. Does this look at all like Seattle's dark jersey? Does that even look like a '2'? It's funny, because you can still see Ruggiano's old Cubs jersey number (20) on the knob of his bat.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Are You Ready for the Playoffs?

What do you say, guys?

Sure am! But I've been getting roughed a little bit in September and I'm afraid Mike will chain me to the radiator again like he did last playoffs.

I am! But, ah, my thumb... maybe not so much.

Absolutely! By the way, don't tell anyone, but I just cut someone's brake line. You get to figure out who.

They said I was one of the best pitchers in the game. Then, they said my season was over. They said it will be a long road back. They said it will take hard work... long hours... dedication. Then, they said I play for the Marlins. They said I will never make the playoffs until I get away from this clown shoes franchise.

Dude, I'm dead. Leave me alone.

Thanks to Night Owl for the great Heritage cards (short prints!) and more!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

More Big Guns

The hits, they keep on comin'.

Much like last night's trade post, here we have another ridiculously great batch of cards, this time from longtime friend o' the blog Play at the Plate. While he shares a first name with the sender of yesterday's loot, his interests lean more in the Rangers direction rather than to Twinsdom. PatP has been sending me stuff for years, and I always make sure I kick down my Rangers stuff to him. Rest assured I will be on the lookout for something cool at the next card show.

Tim Cooney got a turn in the rotation this year with Wainwright out and Jaime Garcia dealing with his own annual DL trip. He did fairly well in his six starts, but like most young pitchers he didn't go very deep into games.

Here's another one of those heavy duty Medallion cards from 2015 Topps blasters! I just need Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina and I will have them all. Well, shoot, those guys are pretty popular. And they'll probably throw even more at us in Topps Update.

It's a bright and shiny Stan The Man, which means you've either been staring at your screen too long and your eyes are dying... or it's one of those shiny refractor dealies. I guess your eye doctor won't kill me if I tell you it's the latter.

I just wish we had gotten more amazing on field moments out of Oscar while he was around besides that crazy first home run in the rain, because you just had the feeling that he was going to be full of them.

Fernando Tatis had a habit of dropping in and out of baseball fans' collective consciousness, and he often did it dramatically - like when he hit two grand slams in one inning for the Cardinals in 1999.

These new fangled Diamond Kings are kind of goofy, but this is more inspired than the base designs Panini has been throwing at us at least.

Finally, here's a photo variation of Yadi celebrating the Divisional Series win over the Dodgers. This one is going to Erin. I'd ask my readers out there for another one, but some of you are Dodgers fans and have probably already burned anything that looks like this.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Big Guns

Nothing but top shelf here.

Helping to clean up some of the mess, Brian of Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary agreed to swap 2015 Topps First Home Run Medallion cards pulled from blasters this year with the caveat that someone was going home with a bunch of unwanted Twins cards. I was just thrilled to get rid of some stuff, as usual, as well as add a so-called hit to my Matt Carpenter collection.

Brian also included a bunch of brand new Cardinals cards in the deal, including my first (maybe) look at Mark Reynolds in a (maybe) real St. Louis uniform. I'm suspicious, though, because that is my nature.

While Trevor Rosenthal may be getting all of the glory as he has just tied the franchise single season record for saves, Adam Wainwright is making headlines of his own as he's threatening to actually pitch again this season. He's been cleared for "baseball activities" and apparently is aiming to contribute out of the bullpen, defying all logic and medical science.

Here is a great little insert card from the 2015 Topps Archives set of the Cardinals injured catcher. This is right up Erin's alley in terms of her narrow collecting interests, so it would seem I'm going to have to find another one of these for myself.

Here's the shiny, heavy Matt Carpenter Medallion card. I had pulled a similar card of Big Papi from back when he was just the guy who played for the Twins who used to go by David Arias. And yet, this wasn't even the best card of the lot...

Holy buckets, people! It's Clyde the Glide on some sort of patch card. This is by far the best Drexler card in my collection, that is until... until... [TO BE CONTINUED].

Seriously, there are some great trade posts coming up!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Good Luck Ducks, Week 3: Time for a Tune-Up

Time to regroup, FCS style.

Oregon looks to rebound this week after a very disappointing loss. It didn't seem at all likely that the Ducks would beat the Spartans after how leaky their defense was in the opening game, so it was all the more difficult to stomach when the defense stepped up but the offense still couldn't get it done. Team Duck made a valiant effort to come back in the second half and was a hilariously misthrown pass away from maybe... just maybe... pulling the thing off. Tough.

Vernon Adams Jr. has been disappointing so far, but it turns out he's been dealing with a broken finger since the first game. It's tough for anyone to step in after the perfection that is Marcus Mariota (did you get a look at his NFL debut?!), but Adams was designed to be a one year wonder that lead the strong Ducks offense to another big postseason game. For this week at least, it may well be Jeff Lockie's turn to run the team as Adams rests for another day.

Fortunately, today's opponent is the Georgia State Panthers as we're still a week away from conference play. This is another paycheck game, something that has a staple in nearly every big time program's schedule in the new BCS/post-BCS era. The games aren't nearly as much fun to watch, but it will finally give some much needed playing time to the reserve players, up-and-comers and walk-ons. These games aren't the prettiest to watch, but it will be nice to get back in the win column after last week's rough result.

The Panthers do feature the nation's 9th leading passer in Nick Arbuckle, so it will be another test for Oregon's young secondary. They will get plenty of work in before Utah comes to town next week.

Former All-American corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu saw his first extended action in a similar game back in 2011 against Missouri State.

Game time is 11:00 AM PDT (so early!) with national coverage on the Pac-12 Network. Go Ducks!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Airbrushed Fridays: 1992 Topps #26

The end of an era.

Who is he? Mike Bielecki was a starting pitcher who spent 14 seasons in the major leagues, splitting time among five different franchises. Bielecki came up with the Pirates, drafted in the first round of the now defunct June secondary draft in 1979. After being dealt off to the Cubs for peanut shells, Bielecki would have his best career season in Chicago in 1989 when he won 18 games with 212 1/3 innings logged and a 3.14 ERA to show for it.

How did he get here? The Braves began their big run of the '90s in the 1991 season, and as the trade deadline approached they dealt for Bielecki, who unfortunately only lasted an inning and two-thirds before he was shut down for the rest of the season. He returned in 1992 with decent results, and before his career was done he would take three separate tours of Atlanta.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None

Airbrushed Score: 3

Comments: You'd be hard pressed to find many airbrushed cards after 1990 and before whatever year it was that some Topps intern got Photoshop installed on his Windows 98 machine. This, however, appears to be one of them. It's hard to blame Topps for not being able to find a photo of one of the 2 fleeting appearances Bielecki made in a Braves uniform, but they could have gone with a "NOW WITH BRAVES" printing on the front instead of this. Someone did some quality work here, but the result is still a little too dreamy to be real.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Down the Stretch They Come

The baseball races have gotten interesting all of a sudden.

The Cardinals are finally starting to get a little bit healthier as the last few weeks of the season are upon us. (For some reason, the regular seasons stretches several days into October, meaning that the bulk of the World Series will be held in miserable November weather and subject to numerous weather delays. Great job, guys!) Matt Adams finally made a start after a couple of pinch hit appearances, Matt Holliday is technically active and Adam Wainwright is threatening to dance his way onto a roster even if it probably isn't medically reasonable to return from a torn Achilles in 5 months instead of the usual year or more.

For the second night in a row, I'm featuring some cards received in the mail from a nice guy named Jeff. This Jeff is a Braves fan, and he runs the quality blog called Wish They Still Came With Bubblegum. Sadly, none of the cards I received smelled like bubblegum or had any gum-like residue on them, but you only have to back about 5 or 6 years to find Topps Heritage packs with the sugary menace in them.

Much like the underrated 1997 Upper Deck baseball set, UD's 1996-97 NBA offering puts a date and a caption to every base card. I cannot understate how seriously cool this is to me. I wish every card photo taken outside of a studio had a date and a caption behind it somewhere.

Jimmy Reed. Jimmy... Reed. Jimmy Reed? Nope, nothing is coming to mind. He was apparently a 6th round pick out of Maryland a couple of years ago and finished his season at AAA Memphis this year, so it's possible we could see him on the big stage soon if things fall into place.

This is just a nice looking mini card of one of my favorite players. Matt Carpenter has had a strange season statistically, with career highs in HRs and Ks.

Super thick possibly hobby-only insert card from 2013 of the Wizard! Nice!

When Matt Adams first went down and looked to be lost for the season, it looked like Xavier Scruggs would get a huge boost in playing time. I'm not sure what went wrong, but he was quickly jettisoned in favor of veterans (and eventually Stephen Piscotty in a roundabout way) and didn't even get a September call-up. Next year, maybe? He has a cool name!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Hamm 'n Tape

Hamm supply is low. Please send help.

In case you missed it, I'm trying to tilt all of the baseball cards that feature the ultramagnetic Jon Hamm towards the Pacific Northwest for some reason - more specifically, to my residence (or PO Box) in Portland. I'm up to two (!) of these cards now, thanks to White Sox enthusiast and Don Draper of the collecting world Jeff from 2x3 Heroes.

There was more than Hamm in this envelope, however. Here's a card with a piece of tape on it that one Steven Farinaro signed. Farinaro is in his third year in the Cardinals system and hasn't really made it out of rookie ball, but he only just turned 20 last month, which means he wasn't even born yet when I started college. And now I might possibly have some of his trace DNA. That's kind of frightening.

Jeff sent a nice array of cards from the 2015 Topps Heritage, something I kind of dropped the ball on this year. A couple of Cleveland Indians SPs and this Willie Mays Flashbacks card were among the highlights. This is one of the better Heritage insert designs in my opinion.

Here's a great card of Albert Pujols in a throwback jersey, likely taken during the ill-fated 2003 season. I've kind of softened my stance on Pujols lately. He just did so many amazing things in his 11 seasons in St. Louis that the good has to outweigh the bad (i.e. his splitting town for more cash.) Oh... that contract, though!

Finally, I snagged an explosive gold parallel "rookie card" of the explosive Cardinals closer. Rosie has been very good this season outside of a rough patch he hit around the All-Star break. Matheny has supposedly tried to be a bit smarter about his usage this season. Whether or not that's really been a contributing factor, the results have been good.