Monday, September 28, 2009

Cardinal Clinchers

I know I'm a little bit late on this, but a hearty congrats is due for the 2009 St. Louis Cardinals, who clinched the NL Central title Saturday night with a win over Colorado. I thought I would also take this time to show off a few random cards that I picked up at a card show earlier this month. I picked up some stuff to top off some trades that were in the works, but I also found some time to buy a few things for myself.

By the way, is 2009 O-Pee-Chee supposed to be funny? Is this set the baseball card equivalent of a B-movie?

One table had stacks and stacks of 2007 UD Masterpieces Captured on Canvas cards, of which I bought 3. This is the only one I kept. Chris Carpenter has had a tremendous season. He's been nearly unhittable for stretches and he should be a strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.

I grabbed a whole stack of 2009 Allen & Ginter cards, most of which are Cardinals. As with the other sets that I collect, I feel the need to get at least two copies of each Cardinals card. I'm sure there are other team collectors who do this. Colby Rasmus has not the kind of rookie season that, for example, Ryan Braun had in 2007, but he's shown plenty of the reasons why he was such a highly touted prospect and should man center field at Busch III for years to come. Plus, he plays much better defense than Ryan Braun could even dream about.

Ho hum, another year, another MVP-caliber season for Albert Pujols. His amount of errors has jumped a little bit this season, but everything else he's done has been an improvement over his 2008... when he won the MVP. This Goudey red back mini was in a $1 bin, which is a pretty decent bargain if you ask me. I have no idea why Blogger decided to make it look bigger than the rest of the cards.

Yadier Molina had a down year, by his standards, behind the plate last year. He was promptly rewarded with a Gold Glove award, probably because he had perhaps his best season to date behind the plate. This year his fielding numbers are way up, so I fully expect the morons who pick people for this award to give it to someone else. The 2009 Cardinals have the fewest number of stolen base attempts against, and it's not even a close race. This rookie card is the first I've seen of the 2004 Bazooka set and was a nice find in a 10 cent bin. According to Beckett, there's a "w/ bat" version of this card out there that probably features a different photo.

Co-Signers is kind of a silly set. I'll leave it at that.

I found a number of 1998 Fleer Sports Illustrated "World Series Fever" cards at the show as well.

These full bleed cards are pretty nice looking, although I could do without the gigantic player name font.

This Lou Brock card uses what I assume to be an an actual SI magazine cover. You can see the World Series bunting in the background, which is cool.

Enos Slaughter predates Sports Illustrated, so it looks like they chose to capture him in a different kind of subset. I'm glad they didn't colorize the photo like they seem to do now.

Finally, here's Jason Marquis. I actually took a bit of ribbing from one of the dealers for buying this card. At least, I assume that's what was going on. The guy said something like "hey, you took my Marquis" and I wasn't sure if he was being serious. Marquis has the rare distinction of having made the postseason in every season he's played in the majors. However, he was left off of the NLCS and World Series rosters in 2006 as he was completely useless in the second half of the season and wound up with an ERA north of 6.00. He's had a pretty solid season for the Rockies this year, and it appears that they have a decent chance of making the postseason once again as Colorado is trying to hold off Atlanta for the NL wild card spot.

I've received six packages in the past couple of days, so I'll have some more trade posts up here soon. Here's to hoping the Cardinals have an injury-free final week and bring some good momentum with them into the playoffs.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Good Luck Ducks, Week 4: Retros

The rumor started before the season even began, if not before. It looked like it might be another case of internet silliness, but the Ducks have proven time and time again that silliness will never get in the way of a good uniform story. The word is that the Ducks will wear retro uniforms ("throwbacks", if you will) in their conference opener today.

After a confidence building yet disturbing win over Utah last week, the focus will hopefully be on the California Golden Bears rather than the uniforms. One needs to look no further than last season's frustrating loss where Oregon was severely outplayed by Cal in a controversial underwater football game. I'm a fan of instant replay in small doses, but I never thought playing in the middle of a lake was good for the game. You could also go back to the 2007 game in Eugene, but if you were to even mention said game I imagine it would feel roughly the same as if you were trying to put a cigarette out in my eye. Let's just say that the name Cameron Colvin will probably make me a little nauseous for the rest of my life.

So you have the close games, the fact that the opposing head coach used to be the offensive coordinator (always more popular than the head coach in good times and the coaching scapegoat in bad times) and the #6 national ranking. Oh, and then there's that whole "disturbing" part I mentioned. Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli completed exactly 4 passes last week, barely more than the number of times he fumbled the ball. In fact, if you look at statistics over the course of many generations of football since the forward pass came to fancy, I think you would be hard-pressed to find many games where the winning team's combined total of lost fumbles and sacks taken outnumbered the amount of passes completed. Oregon overcame that last week. I hope they can take something positive out of that game. In fact, we're already at Week 4 of the season and I still don't know what to make of this team. The game could easily get ugly and out of hand for the Ducks, but this could also be the game that silences the critics and stomps on other [insert tired cliches] and makes me a happy Duck.

Today's game is on ABC at 12:30 PDT. I believe it's regional coverage, so it is probably also available on ESPN Gameplan and if it's not on the ABC in your area.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Airbrushed Fridays: 1978 O-Pee-Chee #166

As I'd mentioned in a previous post, I've been on a bit of an O-Pee-Chee kick lately. I made a randomly impulsive eBay purchase and ended up with a pile of "pack fresh" 1978 O-Pee-Chee cards. Sadly, there were only two Cardinals in the lot, but it does leave me with plenty of things to talk about and plenty of cards to trade off. This feature will usually have more of an '80s feel, since that era was what I grew up with, but it won't be exclusive to the '80s.

Doug Rader was a long-time Astros third baseman in the '70s. His nickname, if you believe Wikipedia, was The Red Rooster. I mostly remember him from his managerial days (remember - I was an '80s kid.)

Why did Topps airbrush Doug's photo? O-Pee-Chee cards, by and large, started with the Topps template, photo and all, and adapted it to fit their bilingual needs. The card backs are lighter and the stock is different, but aside from the extra French text and differing card number there aren't usually any other significant differences between an O-Pee-Chee card and a Topps card from these days. That's unless, of course, a player was traded in the offseason, in which they get the "NOW WITH TEAM X" treatment and that new team's logo and colors. This isn't one of those cards. And although O-Pee-Chee's sets can be significantly smaller, they always have a healthy dose of Blue Jays and Expos cards, including Doug's card here.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? To make a long story short (oops - I guess you could have skipped the last several paragraph), Topps is to blame for the airbrush job even though this is an O-Pee-Chee card. Topps is to blame for that watercolor-worthy Jays logo on the cap, as well as, well, pretty much everything Doug appears to be wearing. The entire uniform, from the edges of the cap to the neckline and the ruffles in his jersey top appear to be completely drawn... by a kid in junior high, perhaps. A quick glance at the back of the card makes it all okay, however, because "Doug hit Grand-Slammer, 9-29-76." Go Doug!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Clunkers Grande

Chris from Nachos Grande is a legendary trader. I honestly don't know how he keeps up with all of the wheelings and dealings that go on over there. He's also very quick to get a post up about your cards whenever you send something his way. I think my average time is something like a week (and up to a month) after I receive cards before I can get around to posting about it. I'm also not what you'd call extremely prolific at this.

Chris has a Cards for Clunkers thing going on, wherein you browse his unwanted "hits" and offer to send him stuff that he really needs in return. It's a good idea, really. It's definitely something that someone more organized that I would probably get a lot of benefit from. I acquired 2009 Topps gold cards of Khalil Greene and Chone Figgins. I've pretty much said all I can say about Khalil Greene this year, but he's a Cardinal so that still matters to me. Figgy is a personal favorite of Erin's, and I like him as well. His card goes in Erin's collection that I've sort of decided that she needs to have.

There were also some fun bonus Cardinals cards thrown in for good measure. I'll never get tired of Rick Ankiel the Pitcher cards. He's actually turned out to be something of a disappointment as a hitter this season, but I'm hoping he can bounce back next season (even if it's not in a Cardinals uniform) as I do think his horrific man vs. wall incident early this season took a big toll on him. He has some obvious deficiencies at the plate that are probably never going to go away, but he's a skilled athlete and has a quality outfield glove.

Royce is just blowin' bubbles, reminding me of playing Triple Play '97 on my computer in my last year living in Eugene after deciding not to re-enroll for another futile year of college.

This has to be the most boring Vince Coleman baseball card of all-time. Seriously, here's Vince in his prime, coming off of back to back 100+ steal seasons. And Topps comes up with the "hey, I just sneaked up behind you so I could take your picture - pretend you're interested, Vince, please???" picture. For all of the good things that you can say about 1987 Topps, I'm not sure photography was one of its better aspects.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Trading with First Day Issue

Bud from First Day Issue recently sent me a nice variety pack of Cardinals in exchange for some of his faves. This particular stack of cards definitely boasted one of the best quality-to-quantity ratios of any trade I've made through this blog. Among the treasure was my first 2009 Upper Deck X card, a die-cut Colby Rasmus card. Colby has been going through the usually rookie torture this year that most seem to go through with Tony La Russa's Cardinals as he seems to have established himself as the starting center fielder yet is frequently out of the lineup. I'm not sure what I think about the "tilted X" look. At least they're trying new things... sort of. If this set comes back in the new Unlicensed Upper Deck World, I will be laughing my head off.

Shiny Edmonds... the best kind of Edmonds(es).

Nice card from the 2001 Topps Archives set. I like the idea of Topps Archives, but I can see why this and Fan Favorites couldn't go on for long. At some point you run out of past to rehash.

Ignoring the SPx logo for a minute, I just assumed this was some sort of base or parallel version of this year's Upper Deck X. Glaus finally got in a few at-bats this season but wasn't able to contribute much before he found another unfortunate way to be injured. An '08 version of Glaus would have given the Cardinals an offensive lineup that is only matched by the Yankees this year. It's doubtful you would have seen some of the deals that St. Louis made before the trading deadline this year, however, with a healthy Troy Glaus.

I wholeheartedly welcome any and all Allen & Ginter cards, especially from 2006-07, into my collection - even non-Cardinals cards.

I've been rather O-Pee-Chee obsessed lately (the old stuff, not the Upper Deck junk) so this is right up my alley. This David Green card is to Donruss what O-Pee-Chee was to Topps in the mid-'80s, although technically Leaf was a company that owned the Donruss name if I'm not mistaken. I can never remember what O-Pee-Chee's role in the Topps company was at the time. I think they may have just had some arrangement where they could use their designs. This card also tells me that I need to clean my scanner.

Many Cardinals fans cannot speak this man's name without dying a little more inside, or at the very least shuddering and shivering violently.

Wow, this is impressive. I don't think I have four of anything on any card I own. I barely have any bat cards, to be honest. While most would say that pieces of fabric from a uniform worn by a player "gets you closer to the game", I'd much rather have a piece of a game-used bat for some reason. I don't usually like tiny player pictures on cards, but I liked how this card is arranged.

Thanks again to Bud and First Day Issue.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Good Luck Ducks, Week 3: Utah

Utah was the 45th state admitted to the Union. Almost everyone in the state lives in one concentrated area and a great majority of the state's residents subscribe to a particular religion. In that particular area is a university, and that university happens to own the longest top level college football winning streak in the entire nation. And that team happens to be the Oregon Ducks next opponent.

I'm not going to make any wild predictions about this game. These posts are for luck more than anything. I think that, based on the first two games of the season, no one can really say how good (or not so good) this team will be at the end of the season. Normally, you would expect a Mountain West team to feel overmatched on the road at Autzen Stadium, but this is no ordinary Mountain West team and I feel like we still haven't seen the best of the Ducks.

Akili Smith turned out to be a great college quarterback and was the first player in my memory from the northwest to even draw so much as a mention in the Heisman Trophy race. It was really upsetting to see him flame out in the NFL with the Bengals, even moreso than Joey Harrington's NFL experience.

As with the first two games, today's game is on national TV. Check out ESPN during the traditional 12:30 PDT start time if you're football-curious.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Airbrushed Fridays: 1987 Topps #124

I've been toying with this idea for awhile and have decided to give it a go. Much like these companies (okay, it's pretty much Topps) give the ol' thumbs-up to some astonishingly bad pieces of "artwork", I have decided to feature an airbrushed card weekly here on the blog. Nominations? Feedback? Suggestions? They're all welcome here.

Ray Fontenot was a former starter turned reliever who bounced around a bit in the mid-'80s. He had, in fact, thrown his final major league pitch by the time this baseball card came around. His Wikipedia entry photo even features another baseball card, which is kind of awesome and sad at the same time. He also looks a bit like a shop teacher and bears an uncanny resemblance to someone I know personally.

Why did Topps airbrush Ray's photo? Well, they certainly had their opportunities to catch Fontenot live and up-close, as he made 15 appearances with the Twins after an August 1986 trade. They must have been scared off by his ERA that was just a shade under 10.00, afraid a stray pitch might inadvertently veer off and nail a Topps photographer or high-priced camera.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? I suppose you could start with the fact that it looks like no one bothered to finish painting the Twins logo on his cap as it fades into oblivion somewhere near the end of the "T". It also appears that Ray is wearing a red, white and blue medal around his neck.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trading with Brian from Texas

I just sent out 8 - count 'em - E-I-G-H-T packages out for trades/gifts to folks that I trade with or have traded with in the past. Consequently, it made me rather busy for the past few days (along with my usual weekend extra-curricular activities) so I have to apologize for the lack of content lately. I know that starting off a blog post with an apology all pen pal-style is pretty tacky, but I'm also not one of those people that posts just for the sake of posting (i.e. no entries about how I just tripped over my cat and won't be able to post for approximately 6.5 hours) so I figured an explanation was owed.

Reader Brian, who you may know from such places as the comments section of all sorts of great blogs out there, worked out a trade with me involving two of the sets I've been working on forever and threw in some fancy, shiny Cardinals as well. He's got a blog plan in the works, so feel free to encourage him to post one of these days.

Here's an SP from the 2008 Heritage set. One down, tons more to go. The latter part of this decade has not been so kind to the Giles brothers, particularly Marcus. Marcus made one more go of it in spring training last year, I believe, but he has apparently hung it up for good.

There was a nice little stack of 2009 Heritage cards, including several of the darker stocked SPs. I'd like to see what kind of player Tulo could be outside of Colorado, a place which seems to do weird things to players careers (positive and negative.)

Ah, yes, Tim Lincecum, Esq. I'm going to be hypocritical this year and hope that the voters heavily favor the overvalued W stat when casting their votes for Cy Young this year and send some love to one of the two Cardinals vying for the award.

Stubby Clapp must have gone to Coco Crisp and told him that there was only room for one colorful, goofy named player in their system and it wasn't him, because Crisp was shipped out before he ever made an appearance in a Cardinals major league game. This card is great, because it hadn't even occurred to me that Crisp would even have any Cardinals cards. I wonder if that means there are Jack Wilson Cardinals cards...

Fernando Vina is the gold standard by which all facial hair habits are measured, so it's fitting to have a card of his from the Topps Gold Label set.

I got to see So Taguchi's major league debut in 2002 in person, my first Cardinals game (or major league game for that matter.)

Brian sent along a 2002 UD Plus Taguchi card as well. I was hoping to pull this card when I bought my 2002 Upper Deck hobby box awhile back, but I ended up with other people's team's Taguchis, I'm sure.

There were a ton of serial numbered cards in the package, which is very generous and awesome of Brian. Unlike most people who probably look at serial numbers and roll their eyes, I am a sucker for pretty much anything with a shiny gold number on it. Go ahead, number it up to like 50,000. See if I care. I'll still like it. This is a really nice X-Fractor, however, and is numbered 141/299.

Another great looking Edmonds card - this is also a Gold Label card and is some sort of platinum parallel.

Brian was also nice enough to send along a couple of relic cards, including a piece of Tino Martinez's "Game-Worn Pants" (yikes!) and an "Authentic Piece of Jersey" from Jim Edmonds. No note included as to whether or not it's Jim's pants.

Thanks again to Brian. Make sure you check out his blog, or at least pester him to get a start on it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Good Luck Ducks, Week 2: Football... Finally!

Today is a great day. All across the country, tens of thousands of young helmeted men will gather at flat stretches of land and line up to play a game known as, to few outside of the United States but especially to those in this country, football. Today also marks the end of one of the longest weeks of my college football rooting life. The fact that the last time the Oregon Ducks played was on a Thursday makes it longer in calendar years, but it is primarily the events that transpired during and after last week's game that made this past week so incredibly long. Finally, up and down the Willamette Valley, we can talk about a football game and not Boise State.

In the interest of looking forward instead of backward, I'm not going to say much about the last game. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can start by searching "LaGarrette Blount" (whoever that is) on YouTube . The game became one of the top stories in all of sports last week for all of the wrong reasons. I was embarrassed to be a Duck, frankly, and now I no longer have a favorite player on the current team. Hopefully this won't last long.

Purdue is up next. This will be the home opener, and I'm hoping the Autzen Stadium crowd is no less than 100% supportive. Last season's game was an overtime thriller, though both teams have new coaches and very different looks to them this time around. I've alternately heard that Purdue is a very good football team and that they were picked to finish 10th in the Big Ten.

Haloti Ngata thinks this is serious business. Ngata was a first round pick, #12, by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2006 draft. He had perhaps the best mobility to human mass ratio I have ever seen in a football player, at least at a college level.

Tonight's game is at 7:15 PDT and is being shown nationally on FSN. Locally, a portion of the game is being pre-empted by a Seattle Mariners game, but the game is being carried in its entirety on FCS Pacific. If you have Comcast, they're showing a free preview of the three FCS networks this weekend due to the programming conflict.

Breaking up the Montony

As my next post will be football-related, I thought I'd do most of you a favor and post something quick and baseball. Here's a pack from a set I know nothing about. I believe this was part of a repack cube I bought recently.

25 - Jim Thome (See, Dodgers fans, Thome can actually field a position. Or, at least, he did for a couple of years in the middle part of this decade.)

81 - Jim Edmonds (Alright, Jimmy Baseball! His signature looks like it's something scribbed in a foreign language.)
88 - Roy Halladay (I seem to get tons of Halladay's cards. Are there any Jays collectors out there? I have tons of stuff for you if you are.)

51 - David Wright Silver (This is apparently a parallel version of the base cards. I don't know how hard these are to get. People seem to like the David Wright.)

132 - Brandon McCarthy First Class Prospects (I think it's rather contradictory to have a card called "Pro Sigs" but not have anything resembling a "sig" on the card.)
93 - Pete Orr First Class Prospects

29 - Jim Edmonds Flyball (Two Edmonds cards in one pack? This must be my lucky day! Each pack apparently had one Flyball card in it, which apparently is some sort of attempt at a game set.)

Good Luck Ducks will be up later today. By the way, if anyone out there collects that Topps Magic football set and has some extra Ducks to spare, please let me know. I would love to get ahold of some of those.