Friday, December 6, 2019

Good Luck Ducks: The Pac-12 Championship

Oregon returns to the Pac-12 Championship game, this time in a spoiler role. 

The Ducks did little to shake off the offensive malaise or inspire a lot of confidence last week, just keeping their rival Beavers within arm's reach of an upset victory, even with a first time starting QB pressed into emergency duty. With Pac-12 South champ Utah sitting at #5 in the playoff rankings, it's easy to look at them as the team Oregon could have been had they beaten the Sun Devils two weeks ago. Utah is certainly the best team the Ducks have faced this season... unless Oregon wins tonight, which is why sports and especially college football are kind of silly.

Utah has been good on both sides of the ball this season. That balance is something the Ducks could use a lot of tonight. Injuries have taken their toll as they always do, and Justin Herbert again looks like he's trying to be an ace quarterback with no ace targets. Still, the great players always seem to find a way to make the most out of the least. After a dud of a game in his final home appearance, we may see tonight what Herbert can do in the toughest of circumstances. With nearly a month to go before the bowl game (and the chance to get healthier), this is likely to be the season defining game. In the postseason. Semantics, I know.

It's not all doom and gloom for the green and yellow, however. There's been clear season-to-season improvement under Mario Cristobal, and should he stick around awhile, that could bring even brighter things in the future.

  • Luke Skyywalker's Crystal Balls say: Luke loves when his teams win championships, like his beloved Miami Heat. You know what I'm saying?

Game time is 5:00 PST on ABC. Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Molly McGrath are on the call. Go Ducks!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Tons o' Card Fun

A high volume exchange of needed cards. 

As part of a surge of trades this year, I had the opportunity to send card to (and receive from) people I'd never traded with before. The biggest one of these I'd done in quite some time was worked out with Mike of A Life Shaped by Baseball. Mike's player collections are numerous and far reaching, so if you've got some extra cards I'd encourage you to check out his blog.

I have to say that when I get such a large volume of cards in the mail, I often struggle to choose some things to share here. I decided to go with a slightly different format than usual, in hopes that I can sneak in a few more pictures of cards on a time budget.

The Cardinals are going to be a bit slighted here, as Mike sent stuff from all corners of my interests. I really liked this nearly borderless Sweet Spot design from 2003 (might be new to me?) and the gold framed Gallery cards are always welcome. I decided to throw in a Bowman's Best card because, as mentioned recently, they always scan so well for me.

Here's a few baseball cards from the non-Cardinals section of my collection. Rookie year Carp, a gold parallel to match Jimmy's golden hair, and that wonderful idea that Upper Deck had to actually date their photos are on display here.

We're in the thick of basketball season now, and the Blazers are trying to remember how to be a good team. Here's a few cards from some eras where they were actually a good team. Brian Grant's card is a "silver signature" parallel.

Here are some Ducks alums in their pro uniforms. Miller was best known in his earlier Falcons uniform, Graziani took over at QB for Danny O'Neil while I was still in school, and Cota was from my own college days as well.

Here are more basketball guys. Sheed's card is very bootleg looking. The Drexler Z-Force is terrible in many ways ("Zupermen", that uniform...) but I have nothing bad to say about the former Duck Terrell Brandon or his card.

Randall Cunningham gets his own trio to himself, with the legendary Randy Moss worming his way into my card collection.

Mike also set over a bunch of set needs from the past two decades. Nice! The middle card is a late career Shawon Dunston.

The Eagles may have gotten the short shrift here, but this card is awesome and shiny and features that really good Eagles uniform and not their very unremarkable one that they've been running out there for years and years.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Good Luck Ducks, Week 14: The 123rd Civil War

Oregon takes on their upstart rival down the road. 

After some clunkers, this could be an exciting game for fans of both of the big college teams in the state of Oregon. The Ducks take on the Beavers this afternoon in the annual conclusion to the conference schedule, with both programs establishing that they are on the rise this year.

The Ducks will try to wipe away any lingering bitterness from a rough game last week and establish some momentum heading into the Pac-12 Championship next week. Meanwhile, Oregon State looks to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2013. While Oregon improved on both sides of the ball this year, the Beavers gains were mostly felt on offense under new head coach (and former Beaver QB) Jonathan Smith.

The Civil War is usually when the trick plays really start coming out, and it should be a fun one today - at least initially. The hope on this side is that Oregon's playbook will open up considerably today, as some tendencies to be conservative this year have not always gone the way of the Ducks. Turnovers were a huge problem against Arizona State as well, which was very unexpected. Look for those things to get cleaned up this week.

  • Luke Skyywalker's Crystal Balls say: It's not clear that 2 Live Crew got into a lot of rap beefs in their day, as their rivalry was more with the music industry and those that would try to censor them. Luke does go after the haters in his football rivalry, though. You have the right to listen to whoever you want to

Game time is 1:00 PST on the Pac-12 Network. Ted Robinson, Yogi Roth and Jill Savage are on the call. Go Ducks!

Monday, November 25, 2019

That Shine

Shiny Cardinals and more from @CommunityGum (not pictured: the "more".) 

I'm closed to putting a wrap on this summer's trading card wheelings and dealings via mail. Next is up this latest bunch from Jon of the always excellent Community Gum. My home computer and my scanner are not on speaking terms at the moment, so I won't be showing off any of the cards from the big stack of 2019 Heritage and 2018 Allen & Ginter cards I received from Jon that are for my set collecting needs.

I do have what I scanned late in the summer from this package, including one of these numbered Jim Edmonds cards from an old Leaf Sportscasters insert concept. This is one of those things where there are so many different versions of the same inserts that it all makes you a bit dizzy. I just like these a lot because they remind me of the old square educational cards I used to have as a kid. I think they featured some sort of nature scenes or wild animals or something.

For this Reciprocal parallel from an Ionix set, Upper Deck must have used the kind of ink that runs when they stamped these, I guess. Much like the first card in this post, the rest of J.D.'s card shows that shiny cards just generally look better in my scanner.

Jon sent over a bunch of Cardinals cards from the new-at-the-time Panini Prizm set, including this fancy numbered (to 299) Wizard thing.

Tyler O'Neill is featured on another Prizm parallel, this time of the Carolina Blue variety. Carolina Blue is vastly superior to any other blue, if you live in, uh, the Carolinas.

Here's proof once again that the whole no-license, no-logo thing doesn't look so bad on catchers when they're wearing their full gear. Unfortunately, that's probably only something like 2% of the baseball cards Panini produces these days.

Thanks again to Community Gum!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Good Luck Ducks, Week 13: Fork in the Road

The Ducks penultimate conference test is against Arizona State on the road. 

A bit of a scheduling quirk has seen Oregon face both Washington schools in consecutive weeks, and now we have them taking on the second Arizona school in as many weeks. The Ducks have suffered some losses in terms of health on the field, but head into the game before the Civil War as a still functioning solid unit, with Justin Herbert firmly in control and the ground game cooking. Both lines have looked good. This team seems like it could be a handful for any playoff-bound team.

Of course, the playoffs will remain firmly on everyone's minds as long as the Ducks hang tantalizingly just outside of the top four. It may be a cliche to say that the Ducks can only control what they do on the field themselves, but the hope is that mentality continues in the coming weeks. They can't control what Ohio State or Clemson or those dastardly SEC schools do, so why worry about it?

The Arizona State Sun Devils started off the season hot, but have dropped their last four games. Still, they represent a formidable opponent (as do their rivals next week) and victory cannot be assumed. The hope is that Oregon will continue the momentum from last week and shake off their tendencies to start slow. With the season starting to run out of time, they can ill afford any trouble spots in their final road game.

Game time is 4:30 PST on ABC. Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit are on the call. Go Ducks!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Set Needs and a Yadi

Dodgers fan @markle05 hooks me up with some quality cards. 

The end of the deluge of trade packages sent to me over the summer is actually in sight. I still have a ton of work to do and a lot of cards to show, but I feel like I'm making (some) progress. This latest batch came back in late August from Alex of Chavez Ravining. Alex sent over a stack of needs from recent Allen & Ginter and Heritage sets along with a few Cardinals goodies (the best kind of goodies.)

From the depths of the 2017 Allen & Ginter set, and more specifically the World's Fair insert set, comes this card of the Biosphere. No, this isn't the thing that Pauly Shore had to live in as the plot of some '90s movie, as the World's Fair cards only showed the real life wonders of the world put on display.

I haven't made as much progress in this year's Topps Heritage set(s) as I would have hoped by this point, but this short printed card of the former Cardinals Piscotty put me a little bit closer. When the SPs are a full 20% of the set, you know you have your work cut out for you.

I don't know that I've ever been in a fantasy league that strictly used K% as a stat, but I wouldn't be opposed to it. I'm not sure that Randy ever knew or cared what his K rates were, though.

Here's a Heritage (High) insert from 2017 of newly crowned champion Trea Turner.

Well, I promised you a Yadi and I delivered on that promise. Well, actually, Alex was responsible for the real delivery. This is a brand new (to me, at the time) jersey card that fits well in my collection. I do miss the days when all of the memorabilia cards in Allen & Ginter sets were framed minis, but I like the design of this one here.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Foil Stamped Cardinals That Will Make You Flip

The first of several trade packages from a kind reader. 

Reader Bob contacted me back in August with an offer to send me a bunch of stuff from my want list, which I gladly accepted. He's since sent more follow-up packages that I haven't even got to post about yet, all filled with good stuff. Here's just a few of the awesome things from package numero uno.

Aside from a strange one-off release in 2008, the Stadium Club brand returned for good for the first time since the early oughts in 2014. This cool card of Matt Holliday celebrating with Matt Adams (there were a lot of Matts on the team in those days) is foiled stamped with a Members Only seal. I think these had a pretty low print run.

The embarrassing thing for me as a big Ozzie Smith fan and collector is that this photo has struck me as strange since the 2019 Stadium Club set came out back in the summer. I don't think it's from his playing days, because he looks a bit older and... are those dress pants and shoes? What is this? I suppose it could be from his Hall inauguration, but I'm not sure if he was in backflipping shape by then. I don't recognize the background (it looks like a public school to me), though I suppose with the wonders of Photoshop you could put Ozzie doing the flip in front of almost anything you want. I'm sure a minute or two of research could answer these questions for me, but I'm going to choose blissful ignorance for now.

Here's another stamped limited edition of a card already in my collection, featuring the smug look of one Carl Dale.

Bob also dropped a couple of minor league cards on me that I couldn't actually find a slot for in TCDB. This is something I really should be researching. This card features the late Chris Duncan.

Here's another one of those mystery minor league cards. I wish minor league checklists were easier to track down.

Ooh, fancy die cut SPx cards. They don't really make cards like this anymore. (Well, maybe they do for hockey still. Do any NHL collectors still like Upper Deck?)

Finally, here's a Topps card from 1993 that I only recently heard of its existence. It very much does not look like something Topps would have produced in the junk wax era. It kind of has more of a Score vibe to me. This Commanders of the Hill set was a standalone release that was only available on military bases, or so the internet tells me.

Thanks again to Bob for the very cool and interesting Cardinals stuff. There's plenty more where this came from.