Friday, July 12, 2024

Padrographs Delivers!

A heaping helping of Cardinals from the renowned Padres autographs collector! 
A few months back, a big fat package landed on my doorstep from fellow Portland resident Padrographs. I have been working on a return package of some sort for quite awhile now, but in the meantime, let's check out a few of the spoils of what I received.

As soon as I heard about the Bob Ross-branded Topps online set, it immediately went to the same place as "Ben Baller" Chrome cards and other vanity projects that the big company has put for sale online over the years. That place is not the want list. That's not going to stop me from begrudgingly collecting these when they can fill some spots in my team collection binders, though, even though the set feels a little bit like grave robbery. The main design reminds me of a GQ retread design, which could certainly be worse, but also could be a lot better.

This one is an insert, but uses similarly "inspired" Bob Ross-style background art. There are some goofy variations in the set, where they make player's hair grow like happy little trees or whatever. In any case, more Jordan Walker is always fine by me, even if they had to hassle the estate of the legendary PBS television painter one more time.

Here's a pair of Cardinals sluggers from the multi-sport 2002 Upper Deck Superstars release. This is one of those oddball sets I discovered long after the fact that it was released, especially when it's not always easy to search for due to how it's categorized.

A horizontal (or landscape as we like to call it) photo is the perfect vessel to show off the weirdness that was last year's Halloween-themed "black and orange" parallel from the Topps Update set. The background is gone in favor of the weird striped pattern that almost evokes Charlie Brown, but not quite.

I believe these thicker cards were part of one of last year's "Super Box" configurations that Topps used for their flagship sets. Confusingly, these were named Flagship cards (Flagship Collection?) despite being wholly separate from the actual base set. Also, several times I erroneously called these "Companion" cards, when in fact those were another thing more closely related to the base set. Got it? Good.

I've never been a fan of camo hats and other wearables in sports because they nearly always clash terribly with the rest of the team's colors, but it's nice to occasionally see one pop up on a card just to document the occasion. In this case, most MLB teams have been wearing stuff like this for Armed Forces Day, which just so happened to fall on May 21st, the day after Nolan Gorman's big league debut. (I believe they wore these caps for the entire weekend series.)

This 1969-inspired insert design from last year's Topps Archives set was a bit of a stretch. They took a team poster design from that year and repurposed it as single-player insert cards, slapping a bit of foil on them for good measure.

Another SI For Kids card has entered my collection. It looks like this one is from around 2007 and features Hall of Famer Scott Rolen.

Padrographs has sent quite a few Portland Beavers cards my way over the years. This is from the 1982 TCMA team set when the Beavs were the Pirates AAA affiliate and still riding high on the We Are Family fumes.

I saved the best for last, however, with a card that fits nicely into both my Beavers and Cardinals collections.

For a short time long before I was around, the Portland Beavers were affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals, which would still resonate occasionally in their logos and branding well into the '00s, with a beaver replacing the familiar "birds on the bat" design. As you can see from the back of the card, this was from a Union Oil sponsored set (in 1961), and the subject (Ray Katt) was a former Cardinal who had started coaching with the Beavers.

Now I just need to dig up some more Padres autographs.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

A Mid-Week PWE Round-Up

A new pile of plain white envelopes includes my first look at Series Two from and much more! 
This year's Topps flagship Series Two release date came and went without me finding (or really looking for) any packs or boxes. I did finally grab a pile of loose packs last Friday, but Marc Brubaker's all-Cardinals mailer happened to hit my mailbox first that day. Series Two always gets the least amount attention (from me, anyway) of the year's three flagship releases. These days, it's a combination of Photoshopped photos of players that changed teams in the past offseason, guys that were held back from the previous release, and some overlooked rookies.

Speaking of rookies, here are a couple of RCs of players who will definitely not be playing for the Cardinals in 2024. I can honestly say I'd never heard of Irving Lopez when I saw him on the checklist, but he made a handful of appearances late last September when I wasn't watching a lot of baseball. Lopez appears to be out of organized baseball right now. Drew Rom was part of the team's return in the Jack Flaherty portion of their trade deadline fire sale. The Cardinals, as always, are short a quality starter in the rotation and Flaherty would certainly look nice there. Rom was a disaster last season on the mound, but the club kept throwing him out there. Maybe they like his peripherals, or something else even less tangible (like his "stuff".) I believe he's probably out for the season with a shoulder injury, or a biceps problem, or whatever else you can find in your search injury.

Ivan Herrera, shown here wearing last season's Victory Blues, picked up a lot of playing time this season, only to find his role behind the plate usurped by rookie Pedro Pages. I think he's always going to be seen as more of a bat-first catcher on a roster that already has a prominent one (hello, Willson Contreras), so Pages' turn as an excellent pitch framer and, at least in one series, a clutch home run hitter is starting to make Herrera feel expendable.

Newcomers (if you also count Lance Lynn's return) make up three-fifths of the Cards rotation. Here's a couple of veteran guys in their Photoshopped best.

Here is the team celebrating something in 2023. It was a rare sight.

Of course, the Stars of MLB are back and this time there are three Cardinals to collect. I still need Masyn Winn and Sonny Gray, plus all of the Chrome versions.

From Fuji came this trio of Redbirds that look awfully familiar. A closer look would note that there's no foil on the Topps logo, giving these more of an Opening Day look. However, these otherwise ordinary looking cards are from a special promo set for a company called Clear Travel, which seems to be in the business of providing similar services to TSA PreCheck and similar things at other large venues.

The backs of the cards are pretty standard. You can see that these have a different numbering system and I believe the set contains 100 cards in total. I haven't run a free group break in awhile, but this is definitely the type of thing I'll be looking out for when I get around to doing one again.

Thanks to spectacular card-swappers like gcrl, I am now just two (non-SP) base cards away from completing the low series run of 2024 Topps Heritage. I say "low series" because we all know there's probably going to be a high series, whether we want it or not. These are so colorful that they're always fun to scan together.

I wish I had paid more attention to the idea of collecting SI For Kids cards. I've managed to pick up a few more recent ones that fit my collection, but it makes me wish I had kept a subscription for all those years, as weird as that would be for someone my age. (Well, okay, maybe not.)

Much had been made of the Cardinals wearing red during regular season games for the first time when they rolled out their City Connect uniforms, but red jersey tops had been a thing for a number of years during the spring. They actually had to drop these uniforms this season due to the limit of five jersey styles per team imposed by the league, or Nike, or some combination of the two. (In addition to the standard home whites and road grays, the Cardinals also have a cream colored retro-inspired jersey worn exclusively on Saturday home games and a powder blue counterpart worn exclusively on Saturday road games. And, uh, those City Connects.)

This purple partial parallel (PPP) marks the second appearance of Ivan Herrera in this post (along with Drew Rom above.)

Last up is certainly the most unique card I've received in quite some time, which came in a single-card mailer from blogger and contest-pariticpater The Diamond King. It's a shiny Donruss Optic insert parallel of then-rookie Stephen Piscotty. The colored border variation reminds me a lot of the original 1988 Donruss The Rookies set, which makes me wonder why this wasn't the color choice to begin with.

What makes it so unique? Well, check out that serial number! I only have a couple of cards with fewer copies in existence than this one.

Thanks to everyone who has sent these (non-TCDB transaction) envelopes over the past couple of months. I would love to see more, and I have plenty of things to get rid of!

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Large Mac and Other Stars

The latest and greatest group break Cardinals.
One of the packages I've yet to sort from this year was a rare all-Cardinals selection. These cards were from group breaks hosted by Nachos Grande, mainly featuring products released late last year on into the early parts of this year. A lot of these cards are from sets that have been shown off to death in various corners of the internet, so I'm going skim and try to just show some of the best of the best.

I really had no interest in the first two Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary sets, although the Cardinals cards will always have places in my binders. The first set just seemed like the millionth excuse to pay tribute to the iconic 1952 design, which was a bit boring to me. The second set? Well, it truly looks like it's powered by AI. Fortunately, the most recent edition (2023, but released this year) seems to have done away with the uncanny valley filter most of these '22s had on them, but I still haven't picked up any for myself. Goldie checks in here on a "rose gold" numbered parallel.

Ooh, here are some Tiny Little Diamonds (or whatever Topps calls them.) I was initially excited to finally get my hands on a Cardinals Packy Naughton card as he was featured prominently in the bullpen for a bit, but he hasn't been heard from at the big league level since an injury derailed his 2023 campaign.

There must have been some earlier Donruss Optic sets included, because I landed some interesting colored parallels. This Yadi card from 2021 is numbered to 199.

Dakota Hudson spent his whole career with St. Louis until he switched teams this past offseason, where he's learning the true horrors of being a Colorado Rockies starter. This is some sort of "purple stars" parallel. It's very dreamy.

There were a ton of 2023 Stadium Club parallels, but as I was saying, you've all seen these photos quite a few times by now.

I was very excited about these 2023 Topps Archives inserts featuring some Cardinals legends in their final seasons.

Apparently these are based on the 1954 Tarzan 3-D design. I wouldn't mind a whole set of these, even though they are just printed on regular Heritage-style card stock. It looks like they did attempt a 3D effect at least on this card, as the background shows all the expected signs of double-layering.

What I did not expect out of a 2023 Panini product was a Mark McGwire autograph! Sure, Large Mac only signed a sticker, and these stickers have probably been sitting around the Panini vaults for some time, but I certainly can't say I have a ton of his autographs in my collection.

Last, but certainly not least, came this Fan Favorites autograph of good ol' Simba. I feel very fortunate to have seen Ted Simmons along with a number of other Cardinals legends at a game I attended in person. With the passing of what feels like an entire generation of great players over the past five years or so (R.I.P. Willie Mays), I feel that much more fortunate for the ones that we still have around.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Stars and Stripes

Set filler needs and patriotic birds from the illustrious blog. 
I suppose I could have saved this post for a certain holiday that's coming up in a few weeks, but I received this package of cards from Night Owl way back in February, so it probably has sat around long enough. Even though I wouldn't consider myself the biggest flag-waving person around, I've always liked the Independence Day-themed parallel cards, especially the ones that Panini puts out under the Donruss branding. Part of this, I believe, is that the cards usually have more of a heavier "throwback" feel to them, using a different (and likely more expensive) card stock similar to what Topps did with their retail (Target) exclusives from 2009 through 2011.

These two Cardinals Indpendence Day pickups are great, but would you believe that I also have a secret stash of these parallels from players on other teams? I don't usually go out of my way to look for these, but I love it when I pull them from a pack or happen upon one for dirt cheap.

Night Owl sent some red birds on other flavors of cardboard, too, like this interesting insert from the 2022 Topps Gallery set. Arenado's been hitting well of late, but he left today's game after getting hit by a pitch. Injuries always seem to happen to the Cardinals just as soon as someone's bat starts to catch fire -- just look at Willson Contreras, for example. Sheesh.

Mosaic is probably my least favorite Panini brand. I'm not a fan of the way their parallels look at all, and they already have all of the chromium bases covered with Prizm, Optic, Select, and probably some other fringe products that I'm forgetting.

I wish these stamps cards from 2023 Topps Heritage were a super-common, one-per pack type of insert, because it would be really fun to peel these off and stick them on things. Like mail! These count as postage, right?

Among the big names to make their debuts last season with St. Louis, it's Masyn Winn and not Jordan Walker who really feels like the most essential young player in the organization right now. In fact, he already feels like the most important player on the entire team right now. I'm still pretty confident that Walker will put it together at some point, although the Cardinals have been rather dreadful at developing players, particularly outfielders, for quite some time now.

There's a blast from the past. I don't know how I don't have all of these blue Walmart-exclusive parallels yet, but I am sure that I am missing plenty.

Considering that this card (and versions of it like this one) is three years old, I am sure I've mentioned what a weird thing it is that they turned this photo into a horizontal card. Did Flaherty spill some spaghetti on his pants or something?

2022 was such a fun season. I just wish it hadn't ended so abruptly.

We're now onto the set-filler portion of the package. Up first is a pair of high number SPs from the low number portion of the set. Does that make sense? I hope so.

Here's a big block of Allen & Ginter minis. I'm guessing most of these were kicked out of Night Owl's mini binder at some point, although the James McDonald may well have been a Dodgers dupe. Many of these are the slightly rarer A&G back version.

Up next is a pair of cards from the very underrated 2003 Bowman Heritage set. Actually, I feel like Bowman Heritage as a whole is underrated. And no, I'm not talking about the recent Bowman Heritage revival that started with using the modern late '80s/early '90s design templates. These two cards show off three of the base card designs used in the set.

The third 2003 Bowman Heritage card in the package also shows off the third base card design. I believe these were a nod to some old test issues for Bowman that were never officially released. Duke Snider's card is joined by a 2004 Topps Heritage card of Andy Ashby, a name I haven't heard in quite a long time.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Thematically Connected?

Another stellar batch of goodies from a Canadian friend. 
Just as soon as yet another big package of stuff arrived from Sportscards From The Dollar Store, his turn for a mailing sent back in January was up to the front of the queue. As always, this is another fantastic collection of stuff from all four major sports. Yeah, even that sport.

It's a bit of a strange color clash to see the redbird team on a very green card like this one, which hails from the 2016 Topps Tribute set. I can't say I've seen many high end Topps cards manufactured in the last year or two. I wonder if Topps is still as committed to these products under Fanatics as they once were. I might just be a bit more disengaged with the hobby as a whole these days.
I really like the canvas feel from the 2008 Triple Threads set. This is a technique that I wish they would do more often, especially if they insist on making cards this chunky.

This is a really nice looking autograph of former Card Stephen Piscotty, who has spent the past couple of seasons in AAA.
(Side note: I'm trying to move from using Chrome primarily as a desktop browser to Firefox, and I'm having a really difficult time formatting these posts. Has anyone else experienced this?)

Unlike the Schoendienst card above, this later Triple Threads release just has a smooth card surface, which makes it less exciting to me.

This Big Mac card is actually made by Panini (look, no logos!), so it's a bit of an outlier here among its fancy Cardinals companions. It's hard to get excited about anything Panini does these days in the baseball realm, but I've always been a sucker for Chronicles for some weird reason.

I always tend to get Triple Threads and Tribute (and Tier One, for that matter) confused, but this Tribute card from 2010 (blue parallel, I believe) is extra shiny and should stand out in any collection.

From baseball to football we go, with this die-cut Donruss Eagles from 2016.

Dakota Prukop's time at Oregon could be best explained like an answer to a trivia question. He transferred in from Montana State to win the starting job at Oregon, but was replaced after a few games by a freshman named Justin Herbert. I don't think he has many cards, so it was nice to end up with this one.

Jason Maas was best known as Akili Smith's backup at Oregon, but went onto a lengthy career in the CFL as a player and now head coach.

Another Duck (sensing a theme here?), and a very shiny one -- this Kenjon Barner rookie year card is numbered to just 10 copies. Barner can barely even fit on the card here, which is kind of amusing considering that he's not a huge guy.

Buckstorecards is always the best source for me in finding Ducks players who didn't get a lot of cards, with many landing in the CFL like Vernon Adams Jr. A transfer him, Adams was actually the starting quarterback that Prukop replaced and is still going strong in the CFL today, coming off of a career year in 2023.

Just one hoopster to show off today. It's a Bol Bol Revolution!

The Blues haven't quite captured my interest lately as they've not been very good, but it's always fun to get a nice card of a player from the Stanley Cup winning team. Those were good times.