Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Elusive

Some hard to find items arrive in an envelope. 

It's a strange card collecting world that we live in when some of the toughest cards to nail down are ones you used to find on big box store shelves. Retail exclusive inserts, parallels, and what have you can be a bit of a burden to find soon after they are released to the wild, so it was very nice to snag a couple from Mark Kaz. There are no case breakers in the retail word (as far as I know...) so you're never likely to see a million copies of this kind of stuff on ebay. I've been a big fan of (some) of the retail inserts from a few of the somewhat recent Topps Heritage sets, so they are a part of my giant master want list.

From 2011 through 2014, there was a black bordered version of each of the cards also selected for Chrome-ification, all printed on the same stock as the regular Heritage cards from that year. This worked especially well in 2011 with a darker version of the wood grained borders, but I still like to try and get the black bordered cards from the next three years. In 2015, Topps went with some retail-only shiny foil (non-Chrome) parallel that was similar to what they've done with the past two flagship sets, but it doesn't interest me. I can't even recall what they might have done this year, maybe nothing?

Two more cards down, several million to go!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fantasy Basketball, Anyone?

Trying to gauge interest on potentially starting up a league. 

I know I have a few hoops fans among my readers, and while I'm a longtime fantasy baseball player I haven't tried basketball in awhile. I'd like to change that this year. Unless there's already a card blogger-type league going that needs an extra member or two, I'm considering starting something up for this season. Let me know if you might be interested. If I do set it up, I'll likely do a 10-team league and it will be free, though I'll probably do a reward similar to my Bowl Pick 'Em and March Radness contests to reward players for paying attention all season long.

Thoughts? Concerns? Let me know if you're interested. This is still in the thought bubble phase, though I will need to act soon since the start of the season is less than a month away.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Emotions running high. 

Aledmys Diaz belted a grand slam tonight in his second at-bat since returning from a temporary leave of the team. He was mourning the loss of his close friend, of course, the All-Star pitcher with otherworldly talent, Jose Fernandez.

My first ever card of the rookie SS came to me from a Cardboard Collections group break. It was a riskier break than I normally participate in (most of the pool went towards an all-hits product) but I did net the entirety of the Cardinals 2016 Topps BUNT team set, minus the one card I already had. It worked out very conveniently in that regard. All I'm lacking is a couple of inserts, but I am in no hurry to find them.

If there's anyone out there who is looking to start a Jose Fernandez collection, I have this retail-exclusive Chrome Update card from his rookie season. I'm sure I have a number of inserts as well, since I've never come across any Marlins collectors. Get in touch.

When I found out the news about Fernandez, it gave me an eerily similar feeling to what happened nearly two years ago, when the Cardinals top prospect also died way, way too young. Although the circumstances were different (alcohol was a clear factor in Oscar Taveras's death), it definitely dredged up some feelings from that day. Fernandez, now the Marlins all-time single season strikeout leader, had already accomplished quite a bit in his brief career. Still, these were promising young lives cut incredibly short.

Both cards are being added to the Cleaning list (the Taveras was an accidental card show purchase because I already had a copy.)

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Ripper's Dilemma

What do I do with this? 

Over the weekend, I hit up the monthly card show for the first time since the end of April. As usual, most of my time was spent poring over the nickel/dime/quarter boxes, and since the summer is over, the retail guy was there in full effect with his discounted blasters. I picked up just my second Allen & Ginter blaster of the year, along with a brand new 2016 Heritage High Number box (more on that later this week) and a 2015 Stadium Club package marked all the way down to $12. Not bad. I also made some other pack and blaster purchases that were less notable, and I even took a shot at a $5 hobby pack of of Allen & Ginter from a box that seemed to still have all of its contents in tact. This netted me my first ever "rip card".

I don't know what to do with this card. From my recollection, there's absolutely no correlation between what is contained inside the card and the player on the outside, hence there's likely no Jose Altuve lurking inside Keuchel's protective shell. There could be metal or wood (or fiberglass or dirty needles), although I'm guessing it's not going to be anything heavy based on its weight. I could just crack this thing open, as I'm not a Keuchel fan or an Astros fan really, but it might have something even more dire waiting on the inside. I watched a couple of YouTube clips with people opening these things up and it pretty much made me cringe. I don't have a single mini A&G card from the "extended" set and I just assumed a long time ago that the whole rip card thing was not for me, so now I'm just stuck with this weird card that I'm not sure what to do with.

The blaster, on the other hand, continued my dumb run of cards that Cubs fans like. I didn't do so well at the bargain boxes looking for Cubs trade bait (because 8 out of every 9 that email me about trade offers seem to love this team), so I guess this is fitting. Lester isn't one of the promising young dudes on the team, but he pretty much destroys the Cardinals every time they face him, so I'm sure these guys love him just the same.

I have been half-heartedly stealth collecting last year's Stadium Club set for awhile now. It would probably be more accurate to say that I've just been waiting for prices to come down, because there's only 5 cards in each pack. I pulled this Mets auto (which is up for grabs), plus some base cards and a few parallels. There was also an insert that I will add to my trade bait box that I forgot to scan. I think I'm just going to go with base cards and parallels for this project.

Here's one last card that I bought on purpose at the show. I paid five bucks for this, which is a Huge Deal for me, because for some reason I just can't talk myself into spending anything more than pocket change on single cards. I passed up a Wesley Matthews Blazers auto in favor of this. Strickland's time with the Blazers was a bit underrepresented and a bit underappreciated. Plus, this is a snazzy die cut (around the right edge of the ball) and has a serial numbered print run. I'm glad Panini continues to make cards of past NBA players, especially for those who aren't the Shaqs and Jordans of the world.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Good Luck Ducks, Week 4: Conference Play

Oregon enters conference play with more questions than answers, and a whole lot of injuries. 

Last week's tussle with Nebraska was supposed to set up the shape of the Oregon Ducks season, but all we got out of it were some rotten injuries and the bitter feeling that the better team lost because it couldn't get out of its own way. If it wasn't the constant barrage of the penalties, it was the refusal of head coach Mark Helfrich to use the kicking game in spite of the fact that it's probably one of the best in the nation. In a back and forth battle of touchdowns, the Ducks went for a two-point conversion after every touchdown score and failed every single time but the first. They lost 35-32 despite reaching the end zone the same number of times as their opponents, and the sad thing is that they shouldn't have even been in that position in the first place.

There's been some grousing among the fan base that Ducks fans don't know how good they have had it and that many people have been unnecessarily harsh towards the coaching staff when it comes to the team's performances. I can't see myself joining the talk show listening crazies any time soon, but I do find myself increasingly having a hard time believing in what Helfrich is doing with this group. They were clearly due for a step backwards last season after losing Marcus Mariota to the NFL and no definitive long term help at the QB position, not to mention that it's nearly impossible to remain a championship contender for more than a couple of years. Still, it's very baffling and disconcerting to see a team that clearly still has a good measure of talent lose games they way they did in the Alamo Bowl and again this past Saturday. Nebraska didn't mount a 31 point halftime comeback, but they got to mostly sit back and make the easy decisions when all (football) logic would have had them playing from behind the entire game and pondering desperate decisions.

The Ducks are back at home and crack open their conference schedule against the Colorado Buffaloes in Eugene. Colorado's football team has been horrid since the Great Conference Migration of Ought-Ten, which must make Pac-12 officials wondering if they could've possibly held out for a better Big 12 team to call their own. That being said, Colorado held their own against Michigan for a spell last week until their quarterback was knocked out of the game and has certainly shown recent signs of improvement. Colorado also has the same record as Oregon currently, for what it's worth.

The Ducks lost Olympic hurdler and wide receiver Devon Allen for the season, but that wasn't the biggest blow. Tyrell Crosby, one of the stalwarts of the offensive line, is also done for the season, leaving an already thin group even thinner. And with star running back Royce Freeman's status up in the air for this game as well, Oregon could be in for a lot of trouble. Thankfully, the Ducks are very deep at Royce's position, and Dakota Prukop seems to have plenty of tricks up his sleeve. While this won't be the most highly anticipated game of the conference schedule, it should go along way to sorting out what kind of season the Ducks are going to have. With zero games in the book, Oregon still can't be counted out as a conference contender.

I'll never get tired of the 2002 Fiesta Bowl. Never.

Game time is 2:30 PDT with national coverage on the Pac-12 Network. Go Ducks!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Back to the '70s

A super trader hits my want list where it's most vulnerable. 

As much as it seems like there's an infinite number of modern sports cards, the further back in time you go the fewer things there were to collect. Of course, anything produced before my first baseball memories (the beginning of the '80s) is still an area that's a bit neglected in my collection. Mark Hoyle is a Supertrader (and a super trader, of course) and for some reason I hadn't sent him any cards in who knows how long? This was rectified recently, and for my part I ended up with an envelope stuffed full of '70s goodies from both my basketball and baseball teams.

One of my posts earlier this summer featured a similar Blazers Team Leaders style card. That was the '75-'76 version (featuring the previous season's leaders). We step back a year with this one.

Bernie Fryer's playing career was brief, but he went on to have a long career as a referee. He retired in 2007 because he was tired of the antics of one LeBron James. (citation needed)

There were Cardinals, of course, because there's always Cardinals. This particular League Leaders card seems very familiar to me, but I am pretty sure this is at the very least an upgrade in condition to what I already owned.

I completely missed out on National Baseball Card Day. It's not on the calendar on my wall. It's not in my phone. I think there's only one brick-and-mortar card shop left in the Portland metro area, and by the time I make it out there next I wouldn't be surprised if it closed. Anyway, Yadi card was apparently one of this year's perks, and it will almost certainly end up in Erin's collection.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Some Football Guys

Summer Cleaning is just turning into Cleaning. 

Hey, it's football season, I guess. I added some football guys to the stash in the increasingly inaccurately named Summer Cleaning 2016.

Maybe I should get a head start next week on Spring Cleaning 2017.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Good Luck Ducks, Week 3: Gone Huskin'

Oregon faces a B1G test. 

Most college football seasons get incrementally tougher, and that's how it's going to be for the 2016 Oregon Ducks. Fresh off their second straight non-conference win over an inferior opponent, Oregon travels to Nebraska to take on the former longtime Oregon State coach's current school. Non-conference games against quality opponents have become a lost art in today's game, but Oregon has managed to schedule home-and-home matchups with some noteworthy schools in most years. Let's hope this continues, because it seems like more and more the SEC-style path of least resistance when it comes to scheduling is the new norm.

Despite a slightly narrower margin of victory, Oregon looked better on both sides of the ball last week against Virginia. The final tally seemed more of a result of the Ducks pulling their punches earlier and thinking ahead to their next opponent than some slippage in their performance. No, the defense didn't suddenly get great overnight, and some freshman mistakes were glaringly obvious. The Cavaliers certainly felt the wrath of Rolls Royce, with Freeman placing himself in the Heisman Conversation (tm) as early as Week 2. (Unfortunately, staying in said conversation pretty much requires being a playoff contender, something that is not expected of the Ducks at this time.)

Nebraska, to their credit, has scored even more points than the Ducks and given up fewer. Nebraska still remains outside the Top 25, but they are favored by a field goal at home and that seems like it could be a bit on the slight side. Last week, the Ducks showed they are explosive on offense and shouldn't be counted out, but they could very well be set up for an ambush here. On the other hand, they haven't lost to a Mike Riley coached team since 2007 and will be looking for their eighth consecutive win over one of his squads. In any case, a win today would give Oregon a big impression heading into conference play.

Oregon destroyed Mike Riley's team in their last meeting, back in 2014 in Corvallis.

Game time is 12:30 PDT with national coverage on ABC. Go Ducks!

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Deeper Shade of Allen & Ginter

Prestige Ginter cards and more from @bbcardclubhouse fill an otherwise bleak evening. 

Last year, to mark the 10th anniversary of the revived tobacco card style product, Topps put together an all-black super version of their Allen & Ginter set. While it looks really nice, I didn't set out to collect it because it was harder to come by and I still haven't done a very good job on the main set (or 2014 for that matter.) I've only managed to acquire what I could for my Cardinals collection through trades, and this time Adam from Cardboard Clubhouse was there to help me out.

There were some other non-Ginter X additions to my collection, including this 1st Day Issue card of every girl's dream.

Well, he's no Mark Rzepczynski, but I wonder if anyone called him Scrabble.

Included among the Ginter X cards was this mini card of Jhonny Peralta, because every fancified parallel set needs to have its own parallels.

Speaking of fancy, I'll leave you with this gold leafed Adam Wainwright card from last year's Stadium Club.

Come back soon, weekend!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Good Luck Ducks, Week 2: Step 2

The Ducks face their second test of the season with a moderate jump in skill level. 

It was great to be back in Eugene last weekend for me personally. I got to visit the triumverate of Eugene breweries, eat at some of my favorite Eugene restaurants and do the great walk from campus to Autzen. As an added bonus, somehow my first apartment hasn't been demolished even among all the new developments that have sprung up. They even have vacancies!

As far as the Ducks are concerned, the team looked disastrous on defense, save for some heroic individual play by freshman linebacker Troy Dye and a couple of nice pass breakups by the secondary. Lapses are to be expected during Week 1, and lapses were to be found. When new defensive coordinator Brady Hoke (the much maligned former Michigan head coach) declared that (paraphrasing) they didn't even resemble a defense prior to the start of the season, it was a bit alarming. That alarm played out on the field, and it's going to take a better team effort to not be completely embarrassed by FBS teams.

It wasn't all doom and gloom, however. The offense looked good after a conservative start, and new QB Dakota Prukop seems to be an improvement over Vernon Adams. The offense didn't show much, most likely by design considering the FCS opponent, but when it did you could see flashes of the old fast and destructive Ducks team at work.

Oregon faces Virginia tonight, who actually lost to an FCS opponent in their first action. While they aren't the cream of the crop in the ACC, they should be better than this, and Oregon represents their first chance at revenge. It's likely as tough for an east coast team to travel to the west coast and get a victory as it is for the reverse to happen, but the Ducks will have to put together more of a complete game than they did against the Aggies if they want to head to Nebraska with a 2-0 record. The Ducks may be ranked #24 again this week, but they can't be caught looking ahead to their B1G opponent right now.

Virginia was one of the many opponents Marcus Mariota laid waste to, back in 2013. 59-10.

Game time is 7:30 PDT with national coverage on ESPN. Go Ducks!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What is This Nonsense?

You can't, like, own a digital card, man. 

Imagine baseball cards. They're little rectangular pictures of baseball players with words on them. They're numbered and there's a whole lot of them. Fans of the sport and fans of collecting things like to collect them. Some people really obsess over them. People pay money for it.

Now, imagine that someone decides to create a digital version of baseball cards, where you can still collect things and tick off tiny boxes in your head and on your smartphone. You can still swap 'em with people, but it's just not the same. There's this weird emptiness about it, because you can't really touch the things and they're just pixels on a screen created by computer programming logic. But people pay money for it anyway!

Now, and here's where the mind really starts to warp and contort -- imagine that someone decides to create physical versions of these digital intangible fake baseball cards. Well, we can't hook up tiny printers to phones (I mean, we can but it's just not practical for everyone), so the next best thing is introduced. A baseball card set based on a smartphone app game based on baseball cards.

In my more than eight years with this blog, this is by far the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. Actually, come to think of it -- in my forty years of life, this is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard of.

Now, the only thing that keeps me from flying across the country and burning Night Owl's house down for sending me a physical-digital-physical baseball card is that it's still from a set that contains Cardinals, so I probably have to put the stupid thing in a binder along with other stupid things from said set. That, and, of course, he sent some other great cards along with it. I mean, feel free to send me all the BUNT cards and 1990 Pro Set (not really) cards you want when you are sending along '69 Gibbys.

Speaking of dumb things I still need to collect, I've got a ways to go before I have the whole bedazzled Cardinals team of 2011. Seeing as how Carp is one of my priorities, though, it's nice to get ahold of this one.

Here's Stan, digitally altered. Panini's recent Diamond Kings sets have looked nice despite their lack of logos.

Night Owl was also kind enough to send me a few more needs from this year's Heritage set. Here's ol' Barto Big Sexy because, why not?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Supersized Supertrade!

The want lists take a beating again thanks to @sanjosefuji and some huge goods from two sports. 

After complaining for years about having no A's fans to trade with, I unloaded a pallet full of Oakland-based cards on a couple of people this summer, with Supertrader Fuji taking a healthy share. While I'm not sure a ton of it will fit in his collection, I am hoping it was at least an interesting lot to sort through. Meanwhile, he responded in kind with a ton of Cardinals needs -- and a few non-Cardinals surprises.

Any time you can add an Edmonds to my collection, it's a huge occasion. This is one of those classy sets that Fleer put out, probably as a one-off, that looks better than a lot of the junk we've been seeing recently.

This year's Stadium Club set ain't no junk (nor joke), however. Here you get a small Randal with one L against a large backdrop. The Arch, Coca-Cola, and absolutely no signs of any adult beverages.

I don't recall ever seeing any cards from this set, which appears to be one of Topps' 50 year tributes they put together in 2001. They Chrome'd up the "entire" 2016 (Series One and Series Two) set this year, but it would be interesting if they randomly chromed up a set from the '80s for no real reason.

Fuji sent a lot of Cards cards from the 2014 Topps Museum Collection set, which was really nice because I'm sure these packs (or boxes or whatever) are way out of my price range ordinarily.

Ah yes, Jose Oquendo. This was one of the many failed attempts at melding baseball cards and card games into one sort of thing. Topps is still forcing these ideas on people today, only they are people with smartphones. (Also known as just phones.)

Also nice? This Topps Traded set rookie card of current Cardinals broadcaster Ricky Horton. I believe I'm down to just needing one of the Cardinals from the 1984 Topps Traded set if I'm not mistaken. Yes, I still need cards from the '80s.

Aside from that glorious end of 2013, Michael Wacha hasn't quite made it as a star yet. He's had some struggles with injuries, one of those things pitchers like to struggle with.

I'd never seen this USA Baseball card of Kolten Wong, who is listed as an OF/C on the back. This card came out a year before he was drafted by the Cardinals, but Topps must have had some sort of rights to make cards of players on Team USA before they actually turn pro. I don't understand how these things work. I am pretty sure that the Cardinals told Wong to donate his catcher's gear to a good cause when they drafted him, because of this guy...


Fuji also sent some glorious Blazer memorabilia cards, like this one of fallen hero Brandon Roy. Well, he's not actually "fallen", he just can't play basketball anymore because his knee turned to dust.

The artist also known as McBob wasn't a Blazer long, but while he was he was that 12th guy off the bench that people would cheer for.

Travis Outlaw had some good years with the Blazers after being drafted out of high school and developing into a stretch four, before that terminology came into wide use.

I love throwback jerseys. I love throwbacks in basketball. I wish the Blazers would use them more, but they've gone to more of a fauxback jersey in recent years instead. It still looks good, sans sleeves of course.

SHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED! And we have reached our final destination.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Birds of Young and Old

The want list takes another hit. 

It's still early in the week for me after a long weekend and the always bittersweet return of football to the scene, but here's a few cards of Cardinals of past and present that I was mailed recently by the Cards Stacks Blog. Well, they weren't mailed by the blog itself. That would be odd.

Here's All-Star Matt Carpenter, recently returned to the lineup, on a design I never cared for. I still need a ton of these things (the ones that feature Cardinals, of course), so they're always appreciated even if they're a little garish.

Stan The Man, and all those bats! I'm sure this press photo has been used a million times over, but it's a nice fit in this set where photography takes center stage. It's sort of the anti-BUNT.

Somehow I missed getting my hands on one of these inserts from 2014. It seems like the only thing Shelby Miller will be looking to break out of this season is Baseball Jail.

It's still not really fare of me to lionize this year's Chrome while criticizing the base set so harshly, but these cards are just more substantial.

Here's one for Erin's collection, which means -- yes -- I need one more of these. I finally got all the Panini stuff added to my 2016 want list a couple weeks back, for the first time publicly admitting that I want stuff from a set that has no MLB license. Yes, the playing field has been leveled that much with even one hand tied behind Panini's back, and it's not all all their doing.