Monday, March 27, 2017

This Is Cool

I went online shopping. 

I'm really bad at showing off my online purchases, but then I came across this classic card from the 1980-81 Topps NBA set that just needed to be shown. Kobe Bryant's father and Kareem on the same card! This is a cool card. But of course, I just snagged this (and a bunch of others) from COMC for the man on the far right, one Calvin Natt. Natt was one of the Blazers leading scorers when I was a child until he was dealt in a controversial 5-for-1 trade that brought Kiki Vandeweghe to Portland. Natt was popular, Fat Lever was popular, Wayne Cooper was popular... hell, if you put on a Blazers jersey, you were popular. That's just how it worked. Clyde Drexler would soon emerge as the franchise star for the next decade, so the trade is mostly just a footnote at this point.

More cards! These are mostly of the Blazers variety, because I've been working on organizing this particular part of my collection lately. I think now is probably the time to start picking up Brandon Roy stuff on the cheap. Roy's #7 is unofficially retired by the team as far as I can tell, and if there was any justice in the world he would have played long enough to have it be an official retirement.

I don't know this dude, but that's a cool pose.

I guess this is kind of, sort of the hoops equivalent of Diamond Kings. Maybe that's what Panini was going for here.

I couldn't afford the Stadium Club Beam Team inserts as a kid, and one of the best things about shopping as an adult is finding that sort of stuff that was just out of reach in your youth.

While perusing Blazers cards of yesteryear, I'm discovering some of the oddball releases I missed out on back in the day. I'm pretty sure if any SkyBox so-called prototypes had been available at any local card shows way back when, the Blazers cards would have been priced at something like $50. This definitely set me back less than a buck.

Obligatory Dame card! He's been tearing it up lately as the team makes a late push for the last playoff spot. This is the Prizm version of his Prizm card, which is kind of like a Refractor with a redundant name.

They aren't the most attractive things in the world, but I really like these insert cards in the 2016-17 Hoops set, documenting last season's playoffs all across the league. Last season's Most Improved Player has improved again in 2016-17.

A Cardinal?! Baseball? How did this get in there? Actually, I'm quite sure I bought this by mistake. O'Neill has been out of pro ball for a year or two now. This is numbered to 75, though.

Theo Ratliff blocked a whole bunch of shots upon arriving from Atlanta in the early part of last decade. I found him to be an interesting inclusion in a somewhat recent (2013-14) set. It was a cheap certified autograph from a guy whose cards I don't have too many of.

More 1990-91 SkyBox weirdness. I don't remember these minis at all, but they are roughly the size of those old Topps Cracker Jack baseball cards from around the same time period and were apparently available through some Canadian food snack package.

Dave Twardzik was the starting point guard on the Blazers sole championship team and his number is hanging in the rafters at the (formerly known as) Rose Garden just across from the arena where said championship was one. This card is from a current season release. I really like that Panini has a diverse selection of retired players in their products, unlike a certain company with a certain exclusive baseball card license.

With any chance I get to buy cards from COMC, I make sure to pick up at least one old Star card. They are expensive, and it's getting next to impossible to find anything I need that sells for less than $1 -- my usual threshold for buying single cards.

Finally, here's a Waino Topps rookie card. I didn't even own it. I don't even own the Chrome version of this. What is wrong with me? Still, I thought it best to go out on a baseball note. Opening Day/Night/Whatever is less than a week away!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Radness Update

A contest update as the field of teams has narrowed from 64(ish) to 16. 

After the first week of the frenzy that is March Madness, I find myself in my usual position with my bracket: somewhere between laughable and pathetic. I should have thought about last year's results (Villanova won) when considering my picks this year, as it's been a long time since we've had a repeat champion. Alas, this contest is for you, the reader, and not me... though I still put my picks out there every year as a cautionary tale.

In first place currently is the Tomahawk Chop Bracket, entered by this year's co-Belk Bowl contest-within-a-contest winner. The best indicator of future success, however, is usually the PPR (i.e. Possible Points Remaining.) Add the PPR to your current total and you've got a good idea of where you stand. With that in mind, the reigning Bowl Pick 'Em Champ MrHaverkamp is currently best positioned to take his second straight Cards on Cards contest.

Special thanks to Billy for these great translucent Simpsons cards, which are designed a bit like oversized film slides. I'm not entirely sure what I did to deserve these, but he must have recognized a fellow Simpsons fan through a reference made somewhere in one of my posts or comments.

Monday, March 13, 2017

March Radness Reminder

The field is set. The contest is free. 

Sign up now and start filling out your bracket! Are you going to pick Duke? Everyone loves Duke!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Dear Topps, I Hate You

This is what a card back looks like. 

Full stats!

Also, don't forget to sign up for the March Radness contest. The Radness starts Thursday.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

There's a Lot to Like About Topps Heritage

And a few things that are not so much full of awesome. 

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this year's Topps Heritage product, and was recently considering what the end point might look like for my collection of this product line. (The '70s does seem like a good time to get out.) As I lunged forward into my first serious baseball card purchases of the new year, I wasn't prepared to like this set as much I ended up liking it. For as much as I've hated on Topps in recent times (flagship set, all things BUNT), the 2017 Topps Heritage set seems great to me. I was not a fan of the original design this is based on exactly, but it feels great to have substantial cardboardy cards in my hands before the arrival of the new baseball season.

What I like!

Cardinals! Of course, there's nothing more satisfying than pulling a healthy batch of players from your favorite team. I have a feeling I'm going to be acquiring a lot of Dexter Fowler cards in the coming years. Tyler Lyons has no Topps or Bowman cards to speak of, so it was a shock to see his card fall out of a pack even though he is expected to see time in his 5th major league season at some point this year.

Game Card Inserts! I will always be a sucker for things like this. By the way, I seem to have an extra Machado card. Hmm, maybe collation should be under the "Things I Don't Like!" section.

There's apparently a Target rookies-only (red backs instead of blue) version of the '68 Game set. I have no idea who this guy is. His signature is not helping matters.

Relevant Historic Inserts! It's altogether too eerie, not to mention sad, to read about a "controversial gesture supporting civil rights" at a sporting event in 1968. It's a reminder that things are not great right now.

What I Don't Like! 

Low Print Run Unnumbered Stealth Parallels! Seriously, what the hell is this? The back of the card is more yellow than the standard off-yellow card backs in this set, and that's about it. Not even the "Code" number is changed from your garden variety Javier Baez card. And yet, this is apparently a variation with a print run of just 25 cards. I guess these will be card show fodder for people with keen eyes for color variations or something.

Ugly Inserts! This has no single design element in common with the base set. They may as well have put some lava lamps in the background with some "groovy chick" with tinted glasses and called it good.

More Short Prints! Q: What do we all like about Topps Heritage and just can't get enough of? A: Short Prints! Okay... maybe not? This has been a 500 card set with 75 short prints for quite awhile now, but Topps jacked up the SP number to a full 100 cards this time around. Great?

What I Am Fairly Ambivalent About! 

Reduced Odds For Inserts! As a casualty, perhaps, of additional short prints and an additional insert set, the chances at pulling all of the usual inserts (New Age Performers, Then and Now, Flashbacks of both Baseball and News variety) have all been significantly reduced. In the case of the News Flashbacks, I think this is probably a good thing as the market for non-baseball cards in a baseball product seems to be limited. It's going to be hell trying to complete some of these sets without cheating (i.e. buying single cards online), though.

Chome-d Heritage! Yeah, I never really care about these. Hunter Pence here is up for grabs.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Blazers, A-to-W

A huge stack of Blazers arrives courtesy of @ElCaminoBilly as the sorting process begins. 

On a night when the Trail Blazers game in Minnesota was called off because the floor was too wet, due to (seriously?) Disney On Ice, I thought I'd show off a bunch of basketball cards I received from fellow blogger and Guilt-Free Basketball Card Club Member #101, Billy Kingsley. Billy runs both the Nothing But Nets and Cardboard History blogs, which is two more sites than I could ever hope to find the time to manage. Check them out if they're not already part of your regularly scheduled reading list.

It was a tragic day when the Blazers decided to join the majority and add a mascot to their team. Blaze is a "trail cat". That's his backstory. That's it.

I have fonder memories of Brandon Roy, whose legend seems to grow larger the more distance is created between his last moments in the league. I could see his number getting retired someday.

From a perennial All-Star whose career was cut far, far too short to a guy who just seems like he was happy to be there. Cliff Alexander only spent a season on Portland's roster, and this season has been playing in the D-League.

Gerald was another one year wonder. Someday, a Gerald Henderson Blazers jersey will probably be as interesting as, say, a Nick Van Exel?

I always have room for Dame rookie cards.

Speaking of rookie cards, here's a red parallel of CJ McCollum's rookie Hoops card. Even though he appears to be floating in space, this is a really nice get.

What do these symbols mean? My brain is boggled.

I think I have a healthy stack of these Meyers Leonard rookie cards by now, but I am never going to be able to resist the opportunity to laugh at this photo.

I have fond memories of Pippen's days as the surly floor general (sorry, Stoudamire) in Portland, but this card gives me a serious headache. This seems like that tv show NUMB3RS only much, much worse. (I never saw it.)

Sabas! I should strongly consider becoming an Arvydas Sabonis super-collector, but I'm afraid I might be competing with some foreign markets.

For as much grief as the Blazers have received over the years for drafting Sam Bowie, it was nice (and surprising!) to see Bowie included in last year's Prizm set. When actually healthy, Bowie was a pretty talented ball player. Of course, you could say the same about Greg Oden, though that dude had some serious off-court issues.

Speaking of issues... OH HELLO SHEED!

The NBA trade deadline's recent passing had me dreaming of a scenario in which Wesley Matthews somehow returned to Portland, but those thoughts exclusively existed in my own head. Oh well. I like the team Portland has this year, just not so much the results they have achieved (not good at all.)

I'm working on putting my unsorted Blazers cards in some sort of order, and then it's off to The Trading Card Database I go as I work on cataloging another collection of mine.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

March Radness IX: Embrace Radness

Be the right combination of smart and lucky and you could win some free cards. #MarchRadness

For the ninth straight year, I am holding a NCAA bracket contest. I'm opening this up a week early to see if we can get an even bigger group this year. If you're new, curious or just didn't get an invite for some reason, this is just another reminder that the contest is open to all Cards on Cards readers, passers-by and lookie-loos. Read further on for instructions.

One thing I should clarify up front if you don't follow college basketball (and as anyone who might be familiar with my own bracket-picking history should know, I really don't)... the field hasn't been selected yet. Conference tournament games are still happening. Everything will be set by next Sunday evening (aka Selection Sunday, March 11), at which time I will send out some more reminders. You'll have a few days to make your picks at that point.

One of the requirements is having an ESPN account. ESPN should hopefully not ask you for any invasive information as part of the conditions for signing up. If they do, please tell me immediately and I'll consider other options. If you absolutely, positively refuse to sign up for one of those things, go ahead and send me your bracket before the deadline in some sort of legible form and I'll send you a prize if you manage to pick a lot of winners. 

ESPN's default scoring rules apply. Play-in games do not count because they are dumb and no one pays attention to them. Should you choose one of the play-in winners to advance in the real part of the tournament, not only do you do so at your own peril but you also have the advantage of showing success no matter which play-in team makes it in. PLEASE make sure you fill out the entire bracket, including the tie-breaking final score of the final game. I hate to disqualify people for not filling everything out, but it seems to happen every year.

What's the incentive here? Other than bragging rights, the first prize winner will receive a 2017 Topps Heritage, 2017 Topps Gypsy Queen or 2017 Panini Diamond Kings baseball retail blaster box (your choice! *subject to availability) Three runners-up (runner-ups?) will receive prize packs for their MLB or NBA team of their choice including no less than one certified autograph or memorabilia card (or both?!). Worst place will receive something truly terrible. You will be scared to check your mailbox for weeks.

If you'd like to participate, click here and click on the "Create a Bracket Now!" button (password = marchradness). The deadline is the morning prior to the first real (non play-in) tournament game on Thursday, March 16th, though I would suggest getting your bracket done by the night before just to be safe. Leave a comment here or send me an email if the invite link doesn't work or if you are otherwise having trouble joining up so I can send you a direct invitation.