Friday, December 8, 2023

Contest Time! College Bowl Pick 'Em #14


Step right up and make your picks for a chance to win some prizes by knowing which college football teams will beat other college football teams. 
It's officially Contest Time here at Cards on Cards once again. This is the 14th year of the College Bowl Pick 'Em contest. Since some of last year's participants did express that they prefer the "confidence system", we're going back to that for the 2023-24 games. If you aren't familiar, this basically means that you'll need to pick the winner of each game and rank each pick in order of how confident you are on said pick. Read on for more details.

Our 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 (2012-13), The Prowling Cat (2013-14), Jeff from One Man's Junk (Wax) (2014-15), Matt of Bubba's Bangin' Batch of Baseball Bits (2015-16), MrHaverkamp (2016-17), Anaconda37 (2017-18), Trevor of Bump and Run (2018-19), GLM1 (2019-20), Johnny G (2021-22), and Nachos Grande (2022-23). We've still never had a repeat winner!

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 is a separate sub-contest for the non-ESPN people (or whoever!) which should only require a modicum of thought. If you don't have an ESPN account and don't want to give your personal information to Disney, there are burner email options out there (like Proton Mail)... just saying!
  • First place will receive: a 2024 Topps Series 1 blaster box 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 mystery unopened sports cards item and a bubble mailer containing cards from your favorite team/player(s)/etc. So mysterious!
  • Third place will receive: a bubble mailer including cards from your favorite team/player(s)/etc. I will also probably toss in a few cards from whatever happens to be lying around on my desk.
  • The Worst Place winner will receive: whatever I feel like sending you. This is probably also going to involve whatever happens to be lying around on my desk and hopefully nothing illegal.
Here are some rules you should really read (important stuff in bold):
  • No ghosting! Almost every year, someone fails to claim their prize (the top prize, even). Please email or DM me your contest information after you sign up. You can't assume that I will automatically recognize your contest entry name. [Blogger profile / Bluesky profile]
  • Participants must sign up through the official ESPN link.
  • Promote this contest! This is not an actual requirement for entry, 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.
  • 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. See ESPN for complete details.
  • 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.
  • Don't be a jerk and lose on purpose just to try and claim a prize. There are many, many of us who are bad enough at picking these without extra help.
Click here to sign up, and click on the 'Join Group' link! It's free! First-timers are always welcome! Password: quackquackquack

DEADLINE: There's a deadline of Saturday, December 16th at 8:00 AM PST. 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 DUKE'S MAYO BOWL before the Mayonnaising officially begins (the game is on December 27th) and win a retail pack of new baseball cards. Whoever is closest gets it. Make sure you watch the end of the game because someone will be getting an actual mayonnaise bath!

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

New Archives


Temporarily jumping back into the group break fold with some Topps Archives. 
Traditionally a summer release, the past few years have seen Topps Archives tacked on to the end of the calendar year after the baseball season is already well past complete. This year's version features the usual dip into the past design templates. I picked up an Archives group break slot from Crackin' Wax over at District. (FYI, you can use the code CARDS24 for your first purchase from the Crackin' Wax marketplace at District for $5 off anything priced at $10 or more. Nice, huh?)

The 2003 Topps design is one of the few that hasn't been completely done to death (looking at you, 1987) and so the burnout hasn't set in. In fact, the original set is such a favorite of mine that I built the flagship set from scratch (and am only two cards away from completing the Rookie/Traded set.)

The 2003-style cards actually feel a bit cheaper/flimsier than the real thing, which is odd because that set pretty much used the same card stock and gloss that today's flagship sets use. Of course, these have a matte finish to them.

The 1956 set is another of the three main design inspirations. When people complain (okay, that includes me) when one of these things doesn't quite look like the original, I have to keep reminding myself that they're supposed to be "inspired by" the original set. They don't have to look exactly the same.

This Rogers Hornsby insert is inspired by (there, I said it) the 1957 Topps Hit Stars set, which featured various big time stars of film and stage of the day. It's pretty cool, although I think this is a colorized version of the most overused photo of Hornsby in existence...

... which makes it all the more disappointing that the same photo is featured on Hornsby's base card, on the 1965 Topps design that makes up the remaining third of the set. I realize that there's a finite amount of decent photographs of old retired legends of yesteryear, but c'mon Topps: please try a little harder.

My group break bunch did result in this fantastic on-card auto of Jordan Walker, with a special green border. It's numbered to just 99 copies. Since Archives is typically known for its lower cost Fan Favorites autographs that tend to feature a lot of players that never got the typical superstar treatment, hitting this high-powered rookie was a pretty big surprise.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Good Luck Ducks: Pac-12 Championship Edition


Oregon's biggest game in nearly a decade sees them in a rematch with the only team that beat them. 
Here it is! After a full season of dominance, aside from a bit of a hiccup against Washington, we've finally arrived at the final Pac-12 Conference Championship game. This rematch wouldn't have even been possible just a couple of years ago, but a decision was made to effectively eliminate the divisions in the conference and just have the top two teams battle it out for the title. (This change, of course, did not save the conference.) Setting aside the fact that the title actually loses a bit of its meaning when it no longer pits the best from one division against the other, this should be a really exciting game!

Oregon has been, shall we say, on one since the unfortunate loss to UW. Bo Nix has the offense humming. School records have been falling week after week. Could the Ducks be any more prepared for this one? I don't think so. It would be the ultimate capper to everything this team has accomplished if Oregon could take the final conference title home tonight.

Washington will have something to say about this, of course. In the first game up in Seattle, which feels like a lifetime ago, a lot of what went wrong in the end felt self-inflicted. In the weeks since, none of this poor decision-making has cropped up again, although to be fair the Ducks haven't really been in a close game since.

Notes and other things:
  • If we were still operating under the old rules, Washington would be playing 9-3 Arizona tonight. That would still be a fun game, but super frustrating considering where Oregon stands in the overall rankings right now. Hey, the Pac-12 finally got something right!
  • Where Are They Headed? As mentioned previously, Oregon and Washington will meet during in late November every season for the foreseeable future. While tonight's game will close the books on the old conference (and a number of hugely successful college careers), the rivalry and all that goes with it will go on.
  • Ducks Ranking This Week: 5. Oregon still finds themselves outside the top 4, but have a chance to move up if they win tonight. Nothing is certain, however.
  • Bo Nix Heisman Watch: Not only are the conference title and playoff hopes on the line, but this game could decide the Heisman race as well! The primary competition for Nix and Penix is Jayden Daniels, whose season is already complete.
  • Game time is 5:00 PST on ABC in Las Vegas. Go Ducks!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

New Address PWE Round-Up


Loads of Cardinals, football players, pink cards and mini cards (and pink mini cards?)
If you hadn't heard, I recently moved after being in the same spot for more than seventeen years. It was quite a chore! Thankfully, everything is done now and I had a number of envelopes with cards in them sent to the new place. Let's check out a few of them.

First up is a stack of Cardinals cards from gcrl / cards as i see them. I'm not sure how he ended up with so many pink parallels from the 2019 Topps Mini set, but I'm certainly glad they were sent my way!

As you may have noticed, all of these cards are numbered to just 25 copies. I don't believe the print run for the base cards from this online exclusive set was all that high to begin with, but this is still really cool.

Speaking of low print runs, I also found this Sapphire Chrome card inside the envelope. This is a set that I would never join a group break of, let alone buy a box. It's so expensive! That's why I enjoy picking up the odd common Sapphire card every great once in awhile. They're just parallels (or parallels of parallels?) but they at least look nicer than when they just slap a foil logo on the flagship factory set and call it good.

I think they dropped these Walgreen's exclusive yellow parallels after a time, which is too bad, because the pharmacy closest to me just started regularly stocking cards.

Next up was a cool batch of Redbirds from Marc Brubaker, another long time trading buddy. I haven't bought any of this year's Panini baseball products since they lost their MLBPA license, so it's always nice to pick up some of those Cardinals through trading channels.

Speaking of stuff that I'm not buying, it's the new Allen & Ginter set. I finally put my foot down and decided to end my run of trying to put together this set every year. It's not that I don't like the way these cards look. They just don't really look like Allen & Ginter cards anymore, so what drew me to this brand seems to have been totally lost. If you slapped the dreaded GQ logo on these, I'm not sure that most would really notice.

Here's a couple of really nice minis. Pujols has the A&G logo on the back, and Walker is, obviously, a black parallel. 

Speaking of sets I've been avoiding, well... here's another one. This is another "art" set where they take a photo of a player and add some effects to it to try to make it look hand drawn or something. Instead, it kind of looks like all of the photos are AI-generated. Has anyone played around with Bing's AI image generator to try to make fake baseball cards? I know what I'm doing tonight!

It's AI Arenado!

This last group of cards is from the football realm and comes from buckstorecards. I have come to really appreciate these Draft Pick sets that Panini churns out year after year because they feature players in their college uniforms. I think that tends to diminish their overall value, but it makes it really fun to collect for me, especially as I've always been a bit lukewarm on the NFL game. Here Christian Gonzalez is showing off the Ducks eggshell uniform that they break out a couple of times a season.

On this one, Gonzalez is wearing more of a classic green. I do like the all green look and wish we'd see it a little more.

These aren't Ducks uniforms, but they are (former) Ducks players! I always love getting CFL cards from across the border, since I tend to never know who is in them. Apparently Upper Deck also does an e-Pack line of CFL cards, which is something that I wish existed for baseball. (Well, maybe.)

If you have any spare Dodgers (gcrl), Astros (Bru), or whatever the heck buckstorecards collects (he has diverse interests!), definitely consider dropping them in the mail to these guys.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Good Luck Ducks, Week 13: The Last Civil War?


It's the Ducks final conference meeting with their Corvallis-based rivals. 
The 127th meeting between Oregon and Oregon State on the football field is their last scheduled game together. When Oregon finally bit the bullet and decided to join the Big Ten after seeing other schools seize their own opportunities, most local fans immediate thoughts were "welp, there goes the Civil War." And it's true: there will be no more last week, Black Friday or late November rivalry games between these two teams no matter what they end up working out in the future. There's persistent talk of Oregon trying to back out of or adjust their contract with Boise State that is supposed to run for the next three seasons in order to get that Beavers game on their non-conference schedule next year (which would happen in mid-September), but they're eventually going to face a long term scheduling issue to try to keep alive a rivalry that now spans multiple conferences.

Tonight's game is particularly notable, because the Ducks have managed to pass all of their tests following the regrettable loss to Washington with flying colors. The Huskies hung on at the end last week in Corvallis to remain undefeated. The possibilities are still there, with Oregon being the consensus pick for "best one loss team in the country" and a potential rematch with UW in the very last Pac-12 Championship game looming. A Ducks win tonight and a Huskies win in their last Pac-12 Apple Cup would set it all up. From there, it would be up to the voters to determine if an Oregon conference championship would be enough to propel them to a coveted top four playoff spot. Thanksgiving is over. There aren't many games left now.

Bo Nix was absolutely stunning last week against an overmatched Sun Devils defense. He threw for a school record six (!) touchdowns, all in the first half, before being treated to a lot of second half rest. Troy Franklin broke the school record for most receiving yards in a season, still with games left to play. These Ducks have reportedly been replaying the horror show that was last season's Civil War 4th quarter on loop to prepare for tonight's game. It's something as a fan that I would never want to revisit, but at least this year we know we're in for good clear weather and no obnoxious chainsaw sounds blasting through the PA. I certainly can't complain about the last real Civil War game being played in Eugene.

Notes and other things:
  • I don't often talk about whatever random Ducks card I feel like attaching to these posts, but this one I just received from buckstorecards strike a particular interest. I do really like sports cards where you can pinpoint exactly what game the photo is from, and this one makes it clear that it's from the 2013 Fiesta Bowl win over Kansas State. That game was notable for being only the second ever game with a recorded 1 point conversion safety.
  • Where Are They Headed? Well, it still seems that Oregon State is heading nowhere. There's been no indication that either of the last two standing Pac-12 members are wanting to join up with anyone else, with a potential long term plan being to lure members of other (lesser) conferences to head to them. I don't know how this would even work or what their schedules will look like going forward, but I wish them luck. I hate that this breakup is happening.
  • Ducks Ranking This Week: 6. This should be the last week of no significant changes among the top six ranks. Many eyes will be on the Ohio State/Michigan game.
  • Bo Nix Heisman Watch: I mean, 6 touchdown passes in a half while hardly breaking a sweat? What more could you ask for?!
  • Game time is 5:30 PDT on FOX in Eugene. Go Ducks!

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Good Luck Ducks, Week 12: The Fork Realm

The Ducks penultimate game of their Pac-12 run sees them facing off against Bo Nix's longtime coach. 
There's two games left on the scheduled now for Oregon, and before the big (last) showdown against the increasingly dangerous looking Beavers, it's time to face the 3-win Arizona State Sun Devils. This seems to be innocuous enough, except when you consider that Kenny Dillingham is the head coach down there. Not only was Dillingham the Ducks offensive coordinator last season, but he also served in the same position at Auburn when Bo Nix excelled as a freshman QB and... well... ruined Oregon's season before it could get off the ground.

With the way things have gone so far, I wouldn't expect anything too shocking today, but there is always the "trap game" potential. Dillingham's presence only adds to that potential storyline. With Nix and the Ducks at the top of their game at this point, it would be very surprising, but funny things happen on the road in November.

Scoreboard watchers, be aware! In addition to this game that Oregon totally needs to be focused on, their very close rivals will be in Corvallis to host Washington in one of the biggest conference games of the season. I am no expert, but I think... with some reservation here... that it would be most beneficial to the Ducks playoff hopes if Washington did win this game. The Huskies would retain their undefeated record, and would conceivably play Oregon once again in the Pac-12 conference championship game if everything played out according to plan. A Ducks victory over Washington would potentially elevate their chances at the playoff due in large part to recency bias. Of course, that pesky last Apple Cup is lurking to ruin everything.

Notes and other things:
  • Two weeks ago, the Sun Devils lost 55-3 in what some have considered their worst loss ever. This was sandwiched by two closely fought defensive struggles, including last week's win over UCLA. It will be interesting to see what kind of game they unleash this afternoon.
  • Where Are They Headed? The Sun Devils are headed to the Big 12 next season. Fun.
  • Ducks Ranking This Week: 6. No changes this week. There's more than the pressure on winning out, hoping Washington wins out and also beating Washington in the Pac-12 title game. Someone else above them probably has to lose. Maybe two of them.
  • Bo Nix Heisman Watch: Like everything else, Bo's chances would be highly influenced by a Washington rematch victory.
  • Game time is 1:00 PST on FOX in Tempe. Go Ducks!

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Good Luck Ducks, Week 11: Join 'Em


The Ducks host another California team in some Pac-12 After Dark action.

Looking back to just mere months ago, I was really salty about tonight's game. USC was among the first to defect from the Pac-12 and had poached both the head coach and starting quarterback from the University of Oklahoma. Fast forward to, well, now and it's pretty easy to just be over it. Oregon will be in the same conference as USC (and UCLA) after all, opting to leave for the Big 10 after this season. It's hard to be mad at that anymore. What's done is done.

Can I muster up some enthusiasm for tonight's game? I definitely can! USC still hasn't managed to reach the heights of the Reggie Bush years despite being treated like college football royalty. A late night game at Autzen Stadium is always fun, but this could be a seriously high scoring one if the weather cooperates and if things go according to script. The Trojans defense has seriously struggled this season, relegating them to being shut out of the conference picture for now unless some upsets happen.

It will be a battle of two highly decorated college QBs, with Caleb Williams facing off against Bo Nix. I can't wait to see what happens!

Notes and other things:
  • Apparently Chris Rock is heavily recruiting Caleb Williams to join the New York Jets. If you were truly a Jets fan, would you really want to wish that misery on anyone else?
  • Where Are They Headed? The B1G!
  • Ducks Ranking This Week: 6. Not much changed in the past week, and Oregon did enough to solidify their position for another week by putting up 63 on Cal.
  • Bo Nix Heisman Watch: Bo is in good shape according to FOX. Caleb Williams, last season's winner -- not so much. It just goes to show you what a team's record will do to its star's Heisman hopes, regardless of how well that player actually plays.