Saturday, December 9, 2017

Contest Time! College Bowl Pick 'Em #9

Pick the bowl games and win some baseball cards. It's back on a new platform for Year 9! 

First off -- two big announcements here:

1. Yahoo killed off their College Bowl Pick 'Em, so I had to move things over to ESPN. If that means you have to create another stupid website account, you have my deepest apologies.
2. I stupidly deleted an entire folder of archived email, which means I lost about 90% of your email addresses and won't be able to auto-invite the majority of past participants. I expect that this will reduce the number of participants this year, so that's all the more reason to sign up! You have a better chance of winning something!

And now, on to the usual boilerplate information.

For the ninth straight year, I am giving away free cards to the best prognosticators of (mostly) meaningless college football games. Past winners include Adam from Thoughts on Sox (2009-10), Mark from Stats on the Back (2010-11), AJ from The Lost Collector (2011-12), Royal Dan (2013), The Prowling Cat (2014), Jeff from One Man's Junk (Wax) (2015), Matt of Bubba's Bangin' Batch of Baseball Bits (2016) and last year's winner MrHaverkamp

If you want to skip all the blah blah blah and just get to the free stuff, go to the bottom of the post for the sign-up link and make sure you submit picks for every game. There's even a separate contest for non-ESPN people, but you don't care about that because you've already tuned this out and started paying attention to the latest episode of Floribama Shore.

If you've participated in the past, this should work more or less the same as previous years, but it will be hosted over on I will be sending out invitations via ESPN's automated system if I happen to have your email address (which as mentioned previously, may not be the case.) If you don't get an email invite, follow the manual procedure at the bottom of this post (and if all else fails, send me an email and I will try to help you out.) For the rest of you, here are the rules and prize details, which should be similar to past years:

  • First place will receive: a 2018 Topps Series 1 blaster OR suitable equivalent (subject to availability)... as well as a small plastic pouch of cards from your favorite team/player(s)/etc.
  • Second place will receive: a Priority Mail padded envelope full of cards from your favorite team/player(s)/etc. (this usually ends up being around 8 bags/pouches or so)
  • The Rhubarb_Runner Trophy (formerly known as Worst Place) winner will receive: whatever I feel like sending you. Be very afraid to finish last. I don't advise it. You say how the enemy of your enemy is your friend? Well, I'm none of those. Of course, as past "winners" of this prize can tell you, you will still receive some cards targeted toward your favorite team/player(s).
Because there's no such thing as a free lunch, at least without a copious amount of rules and guilt, here they are (basically copied from previous years):
  • Participants must sign up through the official ESPN link. Unfortunately, this means that you must have an ESPN account. I know this is a deal breaker for some, but I am not fancy enough to figure out a good system on my own that wouldn't require more time than I allot to this project.
  • Promote this contest! No, that doesn't mean you need to "follow" my blog, nor does it mean that you'll gain any competitive advantage by posting about this contest. I just want to see a lot of people participate, and will be willing to award more prizes if there are more participants. Send some tweets! Tweet some sends! Put a subliminal message on your blog post. Make an animated gif. Send a mass email with a questionable file attachment. Write a BuzzFeed style article complete with slideshow (number 6 will shock you!). Casually tell your co-workers in the break room while discussing Eli Manning's disappointing fantasy numbers.
  • Points are scored according to the Confidence System. This basically means that while you are predicting which team wins which bowl game, you will also be responsible for ranking how confident you are in each pick. The higher you rank those games, the more points you'll get when they win and prove that you're totally right and deserve all the I-told-you-so's in the world.
  • Email me your contest information after you sign up. You can't assume that I will automatically recognize your clever contest name, nor will I necessarily disbelieve your "friend" who claims your prize after everything is said and done because he swears he's NoleFan4Lyfe and is "stoked" about his "sick pickz".
  • You can change your picks at any time, so long as your pick is made before the official start time (usually the TV broadcast time) of each game. This is what ESPN calls a "rolling lock" time.
  • "No tanking" rules are in effect. You must make a pick for every game to be eligible for the "worst place" prize. The prizes aren't that great, folks. I'd much rather award the prize to someone who failed in spectacular fashion than someone who intentionally went with picks that are doomed to fail.
Click here to sign up, and click on the 'Play Now For Free' link! It's free! First timers are very welcome.

Group ID: 179527
Password: quackquackquack

DEADLINE: There's a deadline of Saturday, December 16th at 9:00 AM PST to at least get your first pick in. That's the start time of the first bowl game.

But wait... there's more! Available to all entrants as well as non-entrants who don't want to use ESPN, there's a bonus contest:

Leave a comment here predicting the final score and winning team of the BELK BOWL before the Belking officially begins (the game is on the 29th) and win a retail jumbo pack of 2018 Topps Series 1. Whoever is closest gets it. Belk on, Belkers!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Mostly Old Blazers

Style, Style, Style. 

The Blazers have hit a bit of a rough stretch of late, which immediately followed an encouraging stretch (4-1 road trip!) This is pretty much par for the course for the Blazers in the past few seasons, so it's probably nothing to get too bent out of shape over. Some additional injuries hit the team last night, and so did the reality that this team is still very much caught in the middle between being a contender and rebuilding. I thought I'd show off a few (mostly) old Blazers cards I received recently from Billy of Cardboard History while I fire up the ESPN Trade Machine in my brain.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim, a former All-Star, spent a season-and-change in a Blazers uniform in an era that will be mostly forgotten. He came in during the last days of the Jail Blazers, was injured a bit, but didn't really rock the boat as I recall. He was mostly a decent scorer and solid player, if a somewhat forgettable one.

Dame stands out as the current Blazer in this post. He's shown here on one of those Panini Father's Day promotional cards. Lillard is the longest tenured Blazer, along with Meyers Leonard. I probably need a lot more Lillard cards. I don't think I have enough.

Zach Randolph is still around, folks. One of the last remnants of a bygone era of NBA basketball where final scores were routinely in the 80s and 90s, Z-Bo is the leading scorer of an NBA team in 2017. Well, okay, the Sacramento Kings are awful.

Like all good blog posts, this one is ending with Sheed. I would tell you the name of this set, but the card itself is practically screaming it out. Card don't lie.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Nine from the Card Show

Look at me, posting stuff I actually bought. 

I managed to spend a little time at the monthly card show this past weekend, and I even managed to save some cards to set aside for scanning. I usually end up focusing more here on what other people send me, so I suppose it's nice to once in awhile show off a few things I picked out for myself. If I recall, these all ended up costing me around $1, except where noted.

This was probably my best pickup of the day. It's true that Panini's baseball cards are not very attractive, especially the prospect sets they've put together. Still, $2 for an on card autograph of one of the Cardinals top prospects sounds pretty good to me.

This ended up being a mistake, as I am pretty sure I already have one of these Daric Barton autographs already. Oh well.

I spent the bulk of my time at the show in front of a particular quarter box, and this "crystal" parallel of a very generic looking David Freese insert ended up going home with me. It's numbered to 299.

If I recall, this set was Upper Deck's first stab at an MLB set after they lost their license. I think it might have been a test run for their sneaky attempt at the 2010 MLB set that ultimately got them into a lot of trouble.

Royal Rookies seems to have been some sort of hideous disaster. To get a certified auto for a quarter is pretty much an automatic deal to me, though.

There were also a pair of serial numbered Waino cards, which is always good in my book.

Framed cards are the best, folks.

Finally, here's a cheap jersey card pickup of a really stoned looking Luke Ridnour, the former Oregon star point guard.

If only there was a card show every weekend.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Pack Masquerading as a Blaster

An overstuffed pack of basketball cards. 

I had originally scanned this group of cards to post over at APTBNL, but I realized that someone (i.e. me) had already posted a (smaller) pack from this set. It's been awhile since I've done a straight up pack break here, so I thought it'd be fun to throw this together.

Panini has tried a few different retail configurations for this product, which exists in some sort of weird space between low end and premium. Loose packs of 10 cards went for $3.99, while blasters went for $29.99. The thing is, the blasters really only contain the one pack of 20 cards, which means the math really does not check out. The incentive for buying this is a guaranteed hit and some other goodies not readily available in other configurations, I guess. My incentive for buying this was that it was heavily discounted.

70 - Hakeem Olajuwon - The first card out of the pack is not an active player. Hakeem is wearing a uni from the Rockets unfortunate pinstripe era. Actually, I have found most Rockets uniforms over the years to be pretty dreadful.

62 - Evan Turner - Turner is sort of a Swiss Army knife who in his second season with the Blazers. This isn't recent enough for him to be pictured with the Blazers, though, so it goes in one of my trade piles.

53 - Donatas Motiejunas - Here's a look at the back of a card, which shows a smaller B&W version of the same photo on the front.

44 - DeMarcus Cousins - Cousins is one of those "he'd be a superstar, if..." kind of guys.

36 - Danilo Gallinari - This is about where I usually start to get bored and don't know what to say about every single card.

91 - John Wall - It's hard to get decent action shots on NBA cards for some reason, but this is a good one. (Seriously, though, why is that?)

87 - Joakim Noah - Noah hit the floor on Monday night for the first time this season after a lengthy suspension, and it was hard to tell if the home (Knicks) crowd was cheering for him or mocking him.

2 - Rajon Rondo Floor Generals - The first of many insert cards. Hey, you gotta get your $29.99 in value somewhere.

11 - Marc Gasol Inside Presence - Gasol just ran his coach out of town apparently, but I'm just most teams would love to have him.

367 - Nik Stauskas Wood Rookie - Numbered as part of the actual set, the pack contained two Wood rookies which are basically as described. The front face of the card seems to be made of wood, although the back has the normal Panini card feel to it. Stauskas has been with the 76ers the past few seasons but has barely touched the court this season.

332 - Aaron Gordon Wood Rookies - Gordon has been the much more successful, uh, Wood rookie.

62 - James Young Rookie Threads Jersey - Here's the "hit" and it's not great. Young is still young (only 22) but is already out of the league.

133 - Michael Carter-Williams - Back to the base cards.

126 - Marcin Gortat - I still like the Wizards jerseys a lot, but that's pretty much where I draw the line.

120 - Luc Mbah a Moute - Mbah a Moute has bounced around a bit in the league, but as a defensive specialist he's never had a hard time finding work.

115 - LaMarcus Aldridge - Blah.

173 - Stephen Curry - Not pictured: Steph's mouthguard.

166 - Russell Westbrook - A lot of stars in this pack, er, blaster!

158 - Rajon Rondo - Bonus Rondo.

149 - Omer Asik - Well, I guess I asked for more action shots.

Check out the Guilt-Free Basketball Card Club if you're into stuff like this!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ginter Goodies from The Collective Mind

Want lists: reduced! 

Back in September, GCA from The Collective Mind set me a ton of Allen & Ginter extras to knock down some of my want lists a few notches. I am still working on putting together another stack of cards to send back for this one, but in the meantime I thought I'd show off some of the goods.

It was quite a sad shock to hear about the passing of Roy Halladay. It seems like there's been a lot of lives taken way too young when it comes to MLB lately. Halladay was one of my favorite players not connected to the Cardinals, and I still have vivid memories of his pitcher's duel with Chris Carpenter in the 2011 playoffs. And that's not to mention the day I heard about the no-hitter Doc had going in the playoffs the season before, which prompted me to pop into a sports bar out in the suburbs to see it through to the end.

The early days of the Allen & Ginter revival featured a lot of smiling posed shots like this.

Cap Anson, the original hipster.

I'm not sure I'd consider the Astrodome a field, exactly, but I do really like this insert set dedicated to defunct stadiums.

A tip o' the cap to Carlos Beltran, who is hanging it up after a long, tremendous career.

A tip o' the cap to Gandhi... okay, sometimes these things just don't transition well. Beltran was a fantastic player, but Gandhi was a little bit more important in the grand scheme of things.

The Pastime's Pastimes inserts were so jarring at the time because they used an all black background in a set that traditionally favors lots of white. I guess this was just the precursor to the interesting looking but wholly unnecessary Allen & Ginter X product.

Klosterman is a writer who lives in Portland now. Have you moved to Portland yet?

This tree looks like a giant mushroom.

Apparently someone tried to create a machine to play chess a la Deep Blue, only more than 200 years earlier. Of course, the whole thing was a scam, but the actual story that was passed down seems highly dubious as well.

Thanks again to GCA! You can check out my Ginter and other set want lists here.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Good Luck Ducks, Week 13: All Out War

It's Civil War day, with both schools seemingly headed in opposite directions. 

Fresh off the return of their starting quarterback and a solid thumping of Arizona last week, the Oregon Ducks head into their conference finale with a lot of confidence. Justin Herbert shook off some rust and looked impressive in his ability to throw the ball downfield, something apparently no other active members of the Ducks roster can do. Oregon continued to run the ball with reckless abandon and did it well. The defense stepped up and made key plays. In fact, the only thing to find fault with were the penalties, which have continued to plague the Ducks all season. Still, it's not hard to feel good about where Oregon is headed right now.

All of this is before we look at today's opponent. It's seems fair to safe that Oregon State has bottomed out at this point. The Beavers head to Eugene today with zero conference wins and just one victory total, a come from behind squeaker against an FCS opponent (Portland State). Their head coach walked away from this sorry bunch (and supposedly a ton of money) in the middle of the season. Their interim coach doesn't seem like he will be the guy leading the program forward, either, and supposedly they have already hired a new coach even though they're currently denying it to the media. On the field, the Beavers do have one man wrecking crew Ryan Nall, who flattened the Ducks a year ago. They don't have much else, unfortunately.

Rivalry games are fun because you never really know what will happen. OSU, despite being underdogs by multiple touchdowns, could rally for an inspiring victory and dance on Rich Brooks Field in Autzen Stadium. This is their Super Bowl, after all. Not having a single win that counts for anything has to be more of an inspirational factor than anything at this point. But will it happen? It shouldn't happen. Oregon is too talented to slip up again, the way they slipped up last season with a coach that had probably long since lost the team. Today should be a 7th win for Oregon and a bit of an uptick in bowl game selection at the very least. And there's always, you know, the whole winning the state thing.

121st Civil War links:

  • OregonLive puts together this list every year, but reading the history of some of the early games in this series is fascinating. "Rowdy, hat-grabbing behavior"
  • Thomas Tyner was one of the greatest high school running backs in Oregon history, then went on to star with the Ducks in the 2013 Civil War. He's on the wrong side of the rivalry now.
  • Willie Taggart Status Alert: Still coaching the Ducks (for now). Honestly, if he leaves for Florida, he would come across as one of the biggest frauds around, at least this side of the nation's capital.
  • Know Your Opponent: The Beavers are going to counter Oregon's newly found run-stopping abilities with, uh, more running I guess?
  • The Unis!: All green. Love it.
20 years ago, the Akili Smith to Patrick Johnson connection was on point.

Game time is 4:00 PM PST. Broadcast channel is ESPN2. Your scheduled broadcasters are Roy Philpott, Tom Ramsey and Alex Corddry. Go Ducks!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Best Kind of Group Break

May all your group breaks be affordable yet bountiful. 

Back in September, Cardboard Collections hosted another Affordable Group Break. Stop me if you've heard this before, but since the Cardinals were available I jumped all over it. Colbey was breaking 2003 Fleer Focus Jersey Edition and 2005 Fleer Showcase. While I didn't strike it rich (ha!) with any jersey cards from said Jersey Edition or anything like that, I came away with a number of nice things for my collection.

I am a sucker for most Fleer sets before Upper Deck picked up their charred remains and stomped them out. This design is a little busy, though, and the photos (complete with super soft focus backgrounds) actually remind me a lot of what I hate about the last two seasons of the Topps flagship set. That being said, you can't find stuff like this on the shelves any more and I surely needed some of these for my team collection.

Tino Martinez wasn't the most popular Cardinals player, but he had a tough job trying replace Big Mac.

Fortunately, Mr. Pujols eventually was able to slide right in at 1B, and then some! I'm not sure what to say about the 2005 Fleer Showcase design, one of the last sets before the Upper Deck takeover, but at least we get multiple photos of the subject.

The Orioles were my secondary, randomized team selection in the break. Colbey tossed in some extra packs from the current season, which netted me this Pink Prizm parallel of Manny Machado. This is currently earmarked for Gavin unless he doesn't need it.

Finally, I also snagged a couple of golden Cardinals rookie future aces from the 2017 Topps set.

Luke Weaver was impressive with his work down the stretch last season. It's anyone's guess as far as how the 2018 Cardinals rotation will shake out, but the smart money is on Weaver getting a spot at the backend of the rotation with Alex Reyes having a natural innings restriction by working out of the bullpen as he attempts to come back from Tommy John surgery.