Sunday, November 30, 2008

TWBP: Home Court Advantage

Home, sweet home. The Blazers finally got to play a string of home games this past week and responded by going 3-0. Granted, the competition wasn't always strong, but Portland actually squeaked by a team they were supposed to blow out (Sacramento) and then obliterated Miami (by 38) and solidly beat New Orleans. The win over the Hornets was the most satisfying win of the week, in a close game that looked like it could easily go either way until Portland went on a 17-0 run that Chris Paul and the gang couldn't hang with.

There is plenty of talk about what the Blazers could do in the trade market, but I am having so much fun watching this team that I really don't understand how a trade, realistically speaking, could improve this team at all. Martell Webster is due back from a preseason injury in a week now, and it's already questionable how they're going to fit him into the rotation.

About the cards:

  • Arvydas Sabonis is my second favorite Blazers of all-time. Stupid Cold War politics stood in the way of him coming to the NBA for a long time, and it also prevented Portland from winning several championships in the early 90s. Yes, I said several, and I mean it. He was drafted clear back in 1986, but is seen here on one of his "rookie cards" nearly 10 years later, with a bad back and two bad knees. Still, I loved watching him play, and he was ahead of his time in that he came to the league just before the time when European talent was being imported and appreciated en masse. He also came along too late, as he was nowhere near the player that he was when he was drafted. If you ever get a chance to, watch some highlights of the 1988 Olympics when his Soviet Union team won the gold medal and you'll see what I'm talking about.
  • I don't remember a lot about Danny Young aside from his amazing half-court shot in the 1990 NBA Finals that was released just a fraction of a second after the buzzer and ultimately did not count. It could have won the game for the Blazers and shifted momentum in the series. (P.S. I hate Bill Laimbeer.) Speaking of "ahead of the time", the inaugural Skybox set design was crazy at the time, and I still don't think we're quite ready for it.
  • I really don't have any fond memories of Tracy Murray. He came from a school I strongly dislike (UCLA), had a stupid haircut (in a time where a lot of haircuts were stupid, but somehow awesome) and did not play any defense whatsoever. He actually played his final NBA games as a Blazers, making the opening night roster in the 2003-04 season as a potential 3-point specialist but not lasting more than a handful of games. This Stadium Club set apparently represented a shift in design from a classy, high-end look to a glossy, IN YOUR FACE mid-90s approach that everything from this era seemed to have.
Bonus: This 1978-79 card was part of a 4-card lot of Blazers from this set that I won from eBay years ago and forgot to throw into my Blazers binder. Luke is now an assistant coach for the Blazers and was stricken with pneumonia recently. I only got to see him play in his brief return the Blazers in the late 80's as a backup big man, and on videotape, of course. It'll be nice to see him back on the bench, glaring at everyone again.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Good Luck Ducks: Civil War Edition

It's time for the 112th meeting between the University of Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State University Beavers. There's been a media blitz all week here in Oregon, similar to what you typically here in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. I'm not even going to attempt that here. If you want to read more about this rivalry, here are some links.

What I want to talk about is Dino Philyaw. It was 14 years ago, at Parker (now Reser) Stadium, that Dino Philyaw scored the winning touchdown in what would be the last time* the Ducks won in Corvallis in this series. Oregon would go onto the Rose Bowl, which is what Oregon State is attempting to do here. What I never see written anywhere, however, was that UCLA lost that day and the score was announced during the second half, giving the Ducks the Pac-10 title outright (with a win) and the clinching tiebreaker with a loss. The Rose Bowl was no longer in doubt at that point. My girlfriend at the time was rooting for the Beavers and as soon as we found out that UCLA won, she had the audacity to try to get me to root for the Beavers since it "didn't matter anymore." Sheesh, talk about someone who doesn't understand rivalry games!

Go Ducks!

(*EDIT: Nevermind, Oregon last won in Corvallis in 1996. For some reason I have no recollection of that game.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Miscellany

Am I back on the Eagles bandwagon after last night's big win? Should I be? I haven't had a lot of fun watching NFL games this season and it's not entirely the Eagles fault. Last night's game just reaffirmed the obvious: if Brian Westbrook is not healthy, the Eagles will fall apart. Otherwise, they're a pretty good team. Smith and Jones here are a couple of cards I got from the nickel bin at the card show I went to last weekend. Spike Jones is not this guy (too young) or this guy (too old) so he'll have to settle for 3rd-Most Talented Spike Jones.

Here are a couple of 1984 Fleer Cardinals, just because. I begged and begged for a Starter jacket like Rayford's when I was younger and finally got one just as the satiny-puffy jacket thing in baseball was fading away. Mike Ramsey just looks like a hell of a dude. I bet Rayford and Ramsey would make a great crime fighting duo.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Trading with Saints of the Cheap Seats

Trading cards with people is a great way to break up the monotony of bills, chain letters and the endless barrage of Comcast ads. I just received my end of a quick trade with Danny from Saints of the Cheap Seats a couple of days ago, and promptly took the rest of the day's mail, threw it on the ground and stomped on it. I sent (okay, am sending! I forgot to get his package out before the holiday...) some cards his way off his want list and he sent me a few extra Allen & Ginter cards that I needed for my set as well as a nice bonus selection of random Cardinals. Check out my A&G want list on the sidebar, by the way, if you've got any doubles you don't feel like hoarding.

Anyway, I'm sure you're all tired of seeing the A&G cards, so here's a few of the Cardinals goodies instead.

1972 Topps - Tommy Harper/Lou Brock League Leaders (Okay, so it's badly miscut and has a huge crease running down the middle. That's alright, though, cause it's Lou Brock!)

Ultra - Joe McEwing (Let's play Name That Ultra Year again, alright? Actually, I've already started sorting these cards into my binders and I'm too lazy to look for it at the moment. McEwing's nickname was Little Joe, but I always thought of him as Little Mac.)

1998 Donruss Preferred - Brian Jordan (Another goofy looking "futuristic" 90s design that probably shouldn't have made its way out of the design meetings.)

Ultra - Edgar Renteria (Edgar might be coming back to St. Louis. I'm fine with that if a big glove can be added to the middle infield mix as well.)

1999 Pacific - Luis Ordaz (I completely forgot this guy existed. I wonder if there are any Luis Ordaz player collectors out there.)

1996 Pinnacle - Brian Barber (Finally, proof that Brian Barber actually played in the majors. Well, sort of. He's still wearing a St. Petersburg uniform that he donned for about 35 years on the front of this card, but allegedly has major league stats on the back. I'm just curious about him because I have at least a dozen of his rookie cards but never remember him as a player.)

1996 Upper Deck - Dennis Eckersley (The back of this card looks a lot better than the front. I was glad when Duncan and La Russa brought over Eck from the A's even though he was past his glory years.)

Make sure you check out Saints of the Cheap Seats, particularly this post about Michael Eisner slicing up history. It's a good read. Meanwhile, I'll make sure that package is in the mail soon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Card Show Bounty

It's difficult enough these days to find places around here that sell baseball cards that aren't big box stores, so a few months ago I was pleased to discover that there is a monthly card show that is held in a cheesy shopping mall just outside of the city. Last time I was pretty successful at finding some bargain Cardinals to add to my collection, but I spent a great deal more time window shopping and being amazed at silly things like out of package Starting Lineup figures than I did actually digging through boxes and piles of cards. I picked up far too many cards to give equal time to here, so I'll just go over the highlights.

Football cards: I did not own a Duce Staley card, but now I'm glad that I do. I also got a shiny Randall Cunningham card, a couple of Eagles I've never heard of from 1978 and 3 cards of Oregon Ducks pictured in their college uniforms but with NFL logos that I'm saving for a later post.

Clyde Drexler cards: Blazers cards usually come at a premium around here, but I was able to grab 5 Drexler insert cards from the 1993-94 Fleer basketball set for $2. Inserted into wax packs that year were cards from a 12-card set dedicated to Drexler and his career highlights up until that point. I already had a few in my collection before I stopped collecting and had noticed them recently while flipping through my Blazers binder. I picked up card #5 and #7 at first, but then I noticed #13, #14 and #15 sitting in a snapcase all by themselves. This set is numbered to 12, right? I had no idea where these extra cards might have been inserted into, but it turns out that you could send away a bunch of pack wrappers and a nominal sum of money to receive cards #13-15 along with a free NBA Inside Stuff magazine. Unfortunately, it turns out there's also a card #16 out there, which you could only get if you actually decided to subscribe to said magazine. I could be chasing this set for awhile. Beckett's site actually proved to be useful for once in finding out this information.

Mysterious Ozzie Smith card: This is one of just two Ozzie's that I picked up, and I have no idea what it is. It has a 1995 copyright on the back and was made by Topps. I can't find a card number on it. It is super-gold on the front and super-glossy on the back, and embossed, of course. Oh well... whatever it is, I didn't have it.

Vintage Cardinals cards: Okay, basically anything pre-1980 is vintage to me. I got a nice, slightly beat up 1972 Topps Ted Simmons and an even more beat up 1971 Topps Joe Torre (and others) League Leaders card. For less than a buck, I'll buy just about anything Cardinals-related like these.

2008 Topps Heritage inserts: At 3-for-a-buck, these were hard to pass up, even though two of them are decidedly non-sports. Maybe... just maybe... I'll actually decide to collect the entire Heritage set and the inserts. But I won't go for the Chrome ones or anything. I think collecting a "set" of anything with serial numbers is insane.

Albert Pujols cards: I picked up 9 Pujols cards I needed out of a 3-for-a-buck box at the same table as the Heritage cards above. This 2007 Bowman card looks particularly nice.

2008 Allen & Ginter US Flag cards: 4 more flags for me at 50 cents a pop.

2008 Allen & Ginter base cards: I picked up 38 cards I needed for the set for 0nly 10 cents each. It could have been an even 40, but somehow I ended up with two Jermaine Dye cards and my Elijah Dukes card was somewhat mangled in transit to my home. I still need tons of these cards, though, especially SPs.

5 cent Cardinals cards!: I ended up with nearly 40 of these. The 5 cent box at one dealer's table ended up consuming by far the most time of what I had allotted for this day. To just highlight a few here, I found Cardinals cards with Jim Edmonds and Brett Tomko wearing retro uniforms that I'd never actually seen the team wear before. And there was an Edmonds faux-ticket card that is from the same set as a fascinating card I got from Dinged Corners a couple of months back. And then there was Larry Walker, looking more like a coach here than a player. Walker has been around the team as a coach/hitting guru the past couple of springs, so it would be nice to see him end up with a regular position one of these days should he choose it.

5 cent Blazers cards: I got a small handful of these, and this Gary Trent card is by far the most ridiculous of the batch. Basically, Trent is/was a ridiculous person, so the card design is very appropriate. Oddly enough, this is some rookie insert card, so it might have actually been sought after at one time.

Relic/Jersey cards: The guy with the 5 cent cards also had an entire box full of cheap game-used/autographed cards, which is something I had been looking for. I wanted to get a cheap card like this for someone I had traded with before, and I also hoped to find some interesting Cardinals stuff. They were all priced at $3 or 4 for $10, so I managed to pick out 4 cards. The first is the Taguchi card shown at the very top of this post. It was from So's rookie year, and I actually saw his first ever major league game in person, so he's a player that always sticks out in my mind. The card is also serial numbered (227/250) so at least in my mind it makes it a little nicer than some of the stuff you see in the regular Topps base sets that I end up buying these days. I also got a Tyler Greene autograph card, which I probably would have left had I not heard the news that he had been added to the 40-man roster just a few days ago. It's actually the first certified autograph that I've ever purchased. Finally, there's a Rolen jersey card (38/50) that unfortunately has a pretty chipped edge on the back of the card. I still felt like buying it.

Wax: When I decided to take off, I realized that I had not bought any packs. There was a box of 1998 Bowman for $15 that I had my eye on, but the guy left before I finally decided to cave in and buy it. I really had no idea who was in the set, but thought it might be fun to open anyway. I ended up grabbing 5 packs of 1984 Topps on the way out, priced at $1 a piece from the guy who had all the nickel cards and auto/game-used stuff. I plan on posting one of the packs on A Pack A Day and the rest will appear here at some point.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

TWBP: Living by the Three, Dying by the Three

It's time for another Token Weekly Blazers Post. This past week the Blazers went 2-2, so you get to see two more cards from the 50-card box that I got at a game I attended a couple of weeks ago. The week began with a frustrating loss to Golden State where it seemed like Portland was positioned to win their 4th game of the long 5-game road trip, only to come up short in the final minutes. The Blazers followed it up with two blowout victories over Chicago and Sacramento before falling to Phoenix last night.

It seems that while getting used to involving the post more in the offense with the addition of Greg Oden, Portland's become even more dependent on the inside-out game. If baskets are coming easily, like in the blowouts against inferior teams, there are plenty of wide open 3-point chances to take and Portland has plenty of players capable of making them. Unfortunately, as we saw last night with Phoenix, when the opponent plays a swarming and physical defense those wide open 3-point shots suddenly become a bit more contested and frequently missed. It seems like this team has taken a step forward where they are able to beat the teams they should, but they need more quality road wins like the Orlando win earlier in the year to solidify their playoff chances. For the record, I still think they have a decent chance of winning the division that everyone was ready to hand to Utah before the season started, but we'll see. Right now Portland sits one game back of both the Jazz and Denver.

About the cards:

  • I love the Rasheed Wallace Ultra card. It used to be that, outside of regional issues, home court pictures of Blazers were hard to come by. I think most of the NBA photography in the early 90's happened at Madison Square Garden in New York, so we got to see a lot of black jerseys. Meanwhile, #30 is being retired later this season for Terry Porter and Bob Gross but not for good ol' Sheed here. Personally, Wallace is still one of my favorite Blazers of the past, but he got on the wrong side of the media (obviously) and has an incredible legacy of "bad ideas" in Portland.
  • I fondly remember getting McDonalds cards with my Value Meal (#1) during lunches at high school. The Drexler card is one of those cards, and Clyde is my all-time favorite player period.
Bonus: This arrived in the mail one day for me, as an enticement to buy season tickets. Now one of my CD racks is uncomfortably familiar with Brandon Roy's face.

Trading with Texas Rangers Cards

I'm still loving the blind trades. I'm getting tons of Cardinals for my collection that I never had, plus plenty of doubles to trade to other Cardinals fans (I know you're out there) and the chance to get to know other like-minded card bloggers. This healthy-sized Cardinals for Rangers trade comes courtesy of Spiff from Texas Rangers Cards, of course. I didn't know how to restrain myself from posting tons of cards on here, so I'll try to keep the blabbing to a minimum.

2004 Upper Deck Power Up - Scott Rolen (What's the best way to make trading cards more appealing to kids? Give everyone big heads! And for kicks, assign points to each card - this one is 10 points - for no explainable reason.)

2006 Upper Deck - Adam Wainwright (This was the first year of the official "Rookie Card", though Wainwright had appeared on plenty of Braves cards prior to this year. I love Wainwright and I loved getting this card, so I'll pretend it's a rookie card anyway.)

1998 Metal Universe - Gary Gaetti (What kind of universe would produce cards like these? A Metal Universe, obviously! By the way, I hated the couple of years where the Cardinals didn't wear their uniform numbers on the front. It just looks wrong.)

1998 Score - Alan Benes (I am amazed at the sheer volume of Alan and Andy Benes cards produced in the 90s. Score is like the dollar store version of baseball cards, but we love it anyway.)

1994 Pacific - Paul Kilgus (Pacific cards are so hideous that they're awesome. There were three of these cards in the huge stack that I got. Check out the knockoff rookie cup logo. I'm pretty sure Kilgus was on no one's all-star team.)

1981 Fleer - Ken Reitz (I got a nice healthy stack of '81 Fleers including Mr. Reitz here. He's one of the more frequently referenced former Cardinals by the current television broadcast team.)

2006 Upper Deck - Chris Duncan (Like the Wainwright, there's no way this is his rookie card, but it doesn't prevent it from being awesome to me. I would love for this guy to get his career back on track, even with the current glut of Cardinal outfielders.)

2006 Fleer Tradition Black and White - Chris Carpenter (Speaking of needing to get his career back on track, he's a parallel of Carp. I'm crossing my fingers but not holding my breath. By the way, every pack I've purchased of this stuff has promised an insert card of either a sepia or black and white parallel, but this card is the first I've ever seen like that. Serves me right for getting repacked junk.)

Fleer Ultra - Jeff Brantley (Quick, name the year that this Ultra card is from right off the top of your head. No cheating! I bet you can't do it, though. Brantley is a loudmouthed Reds announcer these days after spending a number of years on ESPN's Baseball Tonight. I believe this is my first Cardinals card of him.)

1998 Bowman's Best - Braden Looper (The image does not do the shiny justice. This is my first card from Looper's first stint as a Cardinal, before he became the Marlins' closer.)

1992 Fleer Smoke 'n Heat - Lee Smith (This is probably the best card of the lot. Smoke 'n Heat was an insert set available exclusively in Christmas factory sets of 1992 Fleer, and this is the lone Cardinal in the group of 12. This is exactly the kind of obscure card I go crazy over.)

1985 Donruss - Tom Nieto (Cards from this set have always been hard to find for me for some reason. I was fortunate enough to get a few in this package.)

1984 Fleer - Jamie Quirk (I got a ton of 1984 Fleer from Spiff. My brother's old band was obsessed with this guy. I think he might have even inspired a song or at least influenced the direction of their music and how much reverb they used.)

1985 Fleer - Kurt Kepshire (I'm pretty sure I have this card, but I just wanted to talk about '85 Fleer. It was my favorite set growing up and I nearly always refused any trades that involved me losing any of the cards from it. Someday I will put together this set or at least buy a box. I'm hoping someday the Clemens card will be worthless so buying a box will actually be affordable.)

2004 Studio - Jim Edmonds (Most of the cards I've seen from this set look really awkward.)

2004 Bowman Heritage - Yadier Molina (Yadi is stuck in a TV set! Here is a bonafide rookie card, which for once actually kind of works out because Yadi even played some games in 2004. Congrats on the Gold Glove, by the way, even though the award is becoming more and more of a joke every year. Yadi deserved to at least be recognized at some point.)

2008 Goudey - Vince Coleman (I knew I had to have this card as soon as I saw someone post it on their blog. Thanks to trades like these, little effort was needed to obtain it. Nice! I also got a Lou Brock and Troy Glaus from this set, so I think I'm probably mostly lacking the SPs to get the whole team.)

Thanks again to Spiff, who does a lot better job than I at keeping the focus of his blog onto his team.