Friday, December 31, 2010

Airbrushed Fridays: 2008 Topps #10

Many quality bloggers out there are celebrating the end of the year with Top Ten/Best Of lists and New Year's resolutions. I have a few plans for this place in the works, but you'll have to wait until the new year is actually here before you find out about them. Instead, you're getting an Airbrushed Fridays post: Friday night style.

Unlike their airbrushed cards of the past, which are really embarrassing to all involved, Topps actually seems to be proud of their more recent efforts that involve manipulating photos. How else can you explain news like this? As a Cardinals collector, I would certainly take a manipulated photo of a Cardinal like Rich Hill who never actually took the hill in a major league game over no Rich Hill Cardinals card at all, but the rush to get star players in their new uniforms always makes my eyes roll. Why are there no press conference photos or other cheesy team-related photo ops being used? Remember the 1991 Donruss Series 2 Darryl Strawberry card? I certainly do. So what if there's no Lance Berkman Cardinals card in 2011 Topps Series 1. That's what Series 2 is for, isn't it? (I may actually have some sort of seizure when I first see Berkman in a Cardinals uni.)

We all know who Miguel Cabrera is. Why did Topps airbrush Miguel's photo? In one of the stranger decisions this company makes, the use of star players in uniforms that they have not appeared in at production time recalls the original reason why they made baseball cards in the first place. Is there nothing more childish and youthful about this hobby than finding your favorite player or team in their new model for the new year? I guess I see it both ways.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? Well, a lot of things... but we'll go with that hideous display of eye black. Miguel, you're the reason why little leaguers are wearing this stuff like they're being judged in a clown contest. Yeesh.

If you are interested in obtaining a card featured here, please send me an e-mail. If you have a card you would like to nominate for Airbrushed Fridays, please get in touch as well. I will require that I am able to see the card in person, either on loan or as a donation, so that I can examine the card and experience it in all its cruddiness.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

30 Teams in 30 Posts: #25

Awhile back, I recall a question being posed to card bloggers - something about how you would fix MLB or what sorts of changes would you make if you had absolute power over the league. I'm not very good with homework assignments, so I never really answered the question officially. One place I would definitely start is with returning the Milwaukee Brewers to the American League. Maybe it's just the principle of the issue that I have a problem with, but it never sat well with me that the acting commissioner of the league decided to move his own ballclub to the NL. A newly realigned MLB would see a minimum of two of its teams playing an interleague series at all times, but this wouldn't necessarily increase the amount of interleague games. It could actually reduce it.

Nevertheless, the Brewers were probably the least offensive team to me in the NL Central. How did they fall so far down this list? I think it really began with the shirt-untucking thing. You know... the tradition that Mike Cameron and company started where the entire team would untuck its jerseys after a victory. It looks stupid and it lacks class in what is basically the only major sport that is big on class anymore. Prince Fielder and his crazy tantrums are obnoxious. And Rickie Weeks... Rickie Weeks! That guy is a superhero when he takes the field against the Birds on the Bat.

You may have noticed that the loot available is a little thin this time around. I haven't done a ton of Brewers trades in my day, but for whatever reason things are so desperate that I resorted to scanning a very off-center 1978 O-Pee-Chee Sal Bando card. The card isn't nearly as bad as the scan makes it out to be, but it's still goofy. There were no takers for the Phillies cards I posted last time after an otherwise successful run during this series, so I'm not really expecting a lot here.

Favorite current Brewers player: Zack Greinke. Because... well... I haven't seen him in a Brew Crew uniform yet. That will eventually make me sad.

Least favorite current Brewers player: Rickie Weeks. This one is a no-brainer. He's a Cardinals nemesis. Heck, he's MY nemesis. I had no idea who he was when I added him to my fantasy team based on Yahoo's recommendation (uhh... thanks?) many years ago, and he's been nothing but trouble ever since.

Favorite Brewers player of all-time: Robin Yount. My very first baseball card ever was a 1981 Topps Robin Yount that came inside some sort of cereal box. I can't hate him at all for that reason.

Least favorite Brewers player of all-time: Weeks. Or Bud Selig. Take your pick.

The Milwaukee Brewers slink in at #25 in my reverse-ranking of favorite teams as of the moment I picked them on October 4th, 2010. All of these cards are very much up for trade, so please contact me if you're interested.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Stax of Blazers

You might need to sit down for this one. The Blazers actually won a road game tonight... at Utah! The Delta Center (or whatever they're calling it these days) and the Salt Palace before it have been houses of many horrors for Portland over the years, as Portland won for just the 15th time in franchise history in Salt Lake City. Utah has been notoriously stingy at allowing teams to win on their floor, and the Blazers have been true to that form. It was a big win for the up-and-down Blazers who, of course, lost another player to injury when Marcus Camby went down with an ankle sprain.

Meanwhile, here are some Blazers cards I snagged from Stax of Wax Pax in exchange for an assortment of baseball rookie cards. Rudy Fernandez is finally starting to show signs of the player everyone was so excited about a few summers ago after his strong international play. It is surely no coincidence that this has come during an extended absence of Brandon Roy as the Blazers are finally beginning to look towards other players to count on to lead them to victory.

I have a bunch of these Clyde Drexler Career Highlights cards, but I do not quite have the entire set. This was an entire insert set dedicated to The Glide, something Fleer liked to do with key players in this era.

Face to Face? On the flip side of this card is Jim Jackson, who was at the time a Blazer-to-be.

I can't say for sure that this isn't a photo from one of the actual All-Star Games that Walton participated in, but I wish it was.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Airbrushed Fridays: 1974 Topps Traded #73T

Merry Christmas, everyone! Here's this week's airbrushing victim, just in time to enjoy with some holiday nog.

Mike Marshall was one of the most durable relievers of all-time, not to be confused with the similarly named Dodgers outfielder who primarily played in the '80s. Marshall relied heavily on the screwball, an old-timey pitch that nobody seems to know how to throw anymore.

Why did Topps airbrush Mike's photo? The back of the card tells the story. (I prefer it when they actually show stats on the back, but what do I know?) Marshall would go onto set MLB records for most appearances in a season (106), most consecutive appearances (13) and also logged more than 200 IP in the year the Dodgers acquired him.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? The huge "TRADED" banner does its best to obscure pretty much all of Marshall's uniform, but they still had to do something to the hat. Unfortunately, that something resulted in this unearthly glowing blue hat. If only there were red and green caps to match this, it would be quite fitting for the holidays. Unfortunately, it seems like it's mostly the blue caps and the occasional orange one that get this kind of treatment.

If you are interested in obtaining a card featured here, please send me an e-mail. If you have a card you would like to nominate for Airbrushed Fridays, please get in touch as well. I will require that I am able to see the card in person, either on loan or as a donation, so that I can examine the card and experience it in all its cruddiness.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I Do is Winn

I recently received a rainsoaked manila envelope full of baseball cards from Night Owl Cards. This in itself is nothing unusual, of course, but there was a note that came along with it that had me temporarily puzzled. It announced me... imagine that... as the lucky recipient of Night's Owl's prize winnings. I enter the blog contests when time permits, but I didn't recall anything going on recently in the contest realm over at his blog. Night's Owl's contests generally involve at least some sort of firing the synapses of my brain instead of just leaving comments like "First!" and "Cubs Suck!" to gain entry.

I then realized I was going through a period of confusion not unlike what Night Owl experienced when he originally got these cards through a contest that he actually entered. The cards he sent me were actually his prize winnings from another blog, and I just happened to be the lucky Cardinals-loving punk that he could pawn this stuff off on. Fortunately, I do like stuff. I also like Chris Carpenter and Turkey Red cards. (I won't say anything about Mr. Winn. He gave it a solid try this past season.)

If it's not too early to start making lofty New Year's goals, one thing I'd like to do as a collector is add more pre-1979 cards to my collection. There were a few '70s cards in this lot like Al Hrabosky, which is nice.

At least half of the stack were McGwire cards from one of those HR chase mini sets. I have a few of these already, so it's probably time to figure out what I'm missing. I'll state it once again just for those who may not already know, but I love getting Mark McGwire cards. His cards were expensive for so long, and I know he disgusts/disappoints a lot of people, but I have no problem taking on his cards for free or for pennies. That's not to say I will actually shell out any serious coin of my own for Big Mac.
Here's the real excitement of a package that didn't really need any. Envelopes of all shapes and sizes, especially surprise ones, are welcome here. This is the reason I actually remember Night Owl's post in the first place. (Sorry... that's not to say I didn't read the rest of it! I did!) This fun and study bat relic card of Vincent Van Go is from the 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites set. I seriously wish MLB would allow Topps to make sets like this again now that they have the exclusivity deal. If they attempted this now, they'd have to muck it up with about 150 serial-numbered rookies, 145 of which nobody will ever care about.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

30 Teams in 30 Posts: #26

Number 26 on our countdown brings us to the Philadelphia Phillies, once a franchise I could actually root for. I liked Michael Jack Schmidt and his mustache. I enjoyed watching Portland Beavers players like Juan Samuel and Steve Jeltz get the call to the bigs when I was a youth during the Beavers AAA affiliation with the Phils. (I didn't enjoy the owner's attempts to rename the team the Portland Phillies.)

Where did it all go sideways? At some point, the Phillies just seemed to turn into the National League's answer to the Red Sox. Ryan Howard became bigger than life (he's probably a nice guy - his hometown St. Louis fans seem to greet him warmly) and Jimmy Rollins was the next Jose Reyes. Well, that's an Alternate Universe Jose Reyes in which Jose wins MVP awards and Carlos Beltran doesn't freeze on an Adam Wainwright curveball to lose the 2006 NLCS.

The whole Cliff Lee signing is disqualified from entry in this countdown. I made these picks a couple of months ago. Sorry, Phillies, I didn't like you then. Who should I blame... John Kruk?

Favorite current Phillies player: Roy Halladay. This one is as easy as they come. After toiling away in relative obscurity for his entire career, Halladay is finally getting some serious due. He's always been a pitcher that I admired, and if I had more time and room under my collecting belt he'd be a good candidate for a personal player collection.

Least favorite current Phillies player: Brad Lidge. I don't know what Brad Lidge did to me and every other Cardinal fan everywhere to earn all of the wrath that he gets, but... haha... I enjoy his failures. Sometimes being a fan just involves a certain level of cruelty.

Favorite Phillies player of all-time: Steve Carlton. I was a little on the young side to remember Carlton's best years, but I give him a slight edge over Schmidt for his Cardinals roots.

Least favorite Phillies player of all-time: Ricky Jordan. Because he was so disappointing! I think I had stacks of his cards once upon a time and probably gave up great stuff to get them.

The Philadelphia Phillies check in at #26 in my reverse-ranking of favorite teams as of the moment I picked them on October 4th, 2010. All of these cards are very much up for trade, so please contact me if you're interested.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Hit of a Lifetime

Many of you who follow this blog or just read the blogs in general know that I was fortunate enough to grab a once in a lifetime card from a group break recently held by The Sandlot. The cards came via insured mail a couple of weeks ago and here's a few of the images of what I got.

I really like the Topps Unique design, although it's not usually the type of set I'd normally ever pursue. Let's just say that the timing (and pricing) was right when I jumped in on this. A lot of times I get beaten out by other Cardinals' collectors on group breaks and am at least partially relieved because I know it means there will be no burden on my bank account.

I think I'm just a big fan of black bordered designs, at least when done correctly. I still think I like blue better, but these are nice. The rookies are serial-numbered, but I did get one - Tyler Greene. I'm not sure why these are serial numbered, however, as this might be one of the most mass-produced serial numbered cards in my collection now as there were 2699 produced. Just how many "regular" Topps Unique cards are there, anyway? Talk about "unique".

There were cards from a couple of other sets in the break, including my first few 2010 Topps Chrome cards. Topps Chrome came out late this year, so I still have plenty of the Cardinals to collect.

Finally, here's the big one...

I had emails, comments and even a message on Facebook from fellow collectors waiting for me when I returned home from work before I even got to read about this card for myself. It was just stunning. For the record, this is hardly a "card" as it is thicker than a wax pack from the '80s. This is my first "1 of 1" and I couldn't have asked for it to be of a better player. Many thanks again to The Sandlot and all of the other well-wishers who congratulated me at the time. I hope that you all get to pull something as good as this at some point, if not better.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Momentous Contest and a Pack for Your Troubles

Community Gum was kind enough to promote my Bowl Pick 'em Contest, so I thought I would return the favor and let you all know about the Pack Lottery Contest going on over there. You could win some wacky numbered cards from the 2008 Moments & Milestones set for very little effort, which is always nice.

Onto the pack, which I promised to you for reading my little blog plug post. I grabbed a pack of 2010 Greats of the Game basketball on an impulse buy over at the ol' Dollar Tree when stopping in for some cheap mailing supplies. I was intrigued by reading up on a pack posted at APTBNL which included a college photo of Terry Porter. There were no Porters or ex-Blazers (sort of...) here, but let's see what I got anyway.

71 - Moses Malone (Moses was actually a Blazer, briefly, but never took the court with them. He came to Portland as part of the NBA/ABA merger, but was traded away for a future 1st round pick that became someone named Rick Robey. Disasterous.)

85 - Mateen Cleaves (College star who didn't have a ton of success in the NBA. Apparently they did not have color photography in the late 1990s.)

108 - Bill Cartwright Big Man on Campus (I believe this is a subset card and not an insert. Dollar Tree packs tend to not have inserts.)

80 - David Robinson (There has only been one Admiral of the U.S. Navy in all of history, and it sure isn't David Robinson.)

35 - Oscar Robertson (Oscar Robertson averaged 33.8 PPG in his college career. 33.8!)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Contest Reminder!

Just a reminder here... don't forget about the 2nd Annual Card on Cards Bowl Pick 'em Thing. Make your selections soon... you have less than 19 hours before the deadline to enter and pick the first game. There are still plenty of slots open, and we already have a pretty good turnout so far.

A couple more things to keep in mind with this contest:

  • 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.
  • You must make a pick for every game to be eligible for the "worst place" prize. Also, once again this year... please... no tanking it on purpose! The prizes aren't that great, folks. I'd much rather award the prize to someone who failed in spectacular fashion than someone who intentionally went with picks like Arizona over Oklahoma State.
Let's see if anyone can take down the defending champ - Adam of Thoughts and Sox!

Airbrushed Fridays: 1990 Topps #254

I know that I'm supposed to set these posts up... maybe make a little small talk. I could tell you about my day. I could complain about the Blazers. I could talk about the weather. I could talk about how frustrating and sometimes downright sad it is to be a Blazers fan, actually. I could talk about being anxious about the pending Pujols extension offer. I could hype my contest again. I don't know... let's just get on with it.

Francisco Cabrera was a reserve catcher and first baseman who essentially did nothing in his career but for a fleeting moment when he ended the Pittsburgh Pirates' last ever run at being relevant with a walkoff Game 7 NLCS pinch-hit that drove in a hobbling guy that looked like a math teacher (Sid... Bream?)

Why did Topps airbrush Francisco's photo? After playing three... yes, THREE entire games for the Toronto Blue Jays, the Canadian team packaged him with Tony Castillo to pry the venerable Jim Acker away from the Atlanta team. Cabrera would go on to play just 193 more games in his career before heading off to Japan.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? 1990 was the last official year for airbrushing as far as I can gather, and Topps was determined to go out with a bang with this one. This card is just shy of Mike Laga for worst looking airbrushed card since the '70s. Some poor soul reinvented the cursive 'A' logo as well as the baseball cap itself and made the already awkward- looking Cabrera look like he was hiding a small family of finches in his lid.

If you are interested in obtaining a card featured here, please send me an e-mail. If you have a card you would like to nominate for Airbrushed Fridays, please get in touch as well. I will require that I am able to see the card in person, either on loan or as a donation, so that I can examine the card and experience it in all its cruddiness.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another Batch of Goodies from Smed's

One of the best things afforded to me by way of having this blog are the opportunities I've had to match up my collecting interests with others who by and large have opposing interests. Simply put, it makes trading very easy when both parties has a bunch of stuff the other isn't the slightest bit interested in. On the other hand, I've yet to pull off a substantial Cardinals for Cardinals trade... at least, not in a very long time. While I have thousands of Cards dupes piling up in boxes all over the place, I'm afraid a trade might be rather awkward and result in both sides just pulling in more doubles. Smed's Baseball Card Blog fits in the former category. I'm not sure I'll ever run out of stuff to trade with this blog, and boxes of various sizes seem to keep showing up in my mailbox.

I blame the scanner for making this more reddish than it needs to be, but I'm really liking the orange retail Chrome refractors this year. They've got nothing on blue refractors (or blue anything) but they're still nice and see to be fairly attainable. I'm still not quite inspired to buy full-priced Chrome product of my own.

I will agree with others who really enjoy the 2010 Topps Update All-Star Game relic design. Similar cards from past years have resulted in some eyesores, but this is pretty nice.

Fake or not, I love the patch here. Perhaps that has something to do with the impressive Cardinal themed logo...

The largest chunk of the box was actually from the 2010 Allen & Ginter set. I've made pretty good progress on this set overall, but somehow I'm not even close to being finished. I really need to finish a set... some set... at some point soon so I don't feel like this set collecting thing that I dabble in has been a complete waste of time.

I don't know what I did to make my scanner hate me (probably scan thousands of cards) but it no longer likes to scan the black bordered minis properly. That's okay, though... you get the picture, no matter how skewed and poorly cropped it may be.

Ahh, Brachiosaurus, bringer of havoc... and extremely long necks.

And where else but Allen & Ginter will you find a miniature card dedicated to vertical eruptions of scalding hot water?

Thanks again to Smed's. Everyone else... join my contest! There's still plenty of time and we're getting a good turnout so far.

Contest Time! Place Your Bets

You're a smart person. You know how to read the blogs, browse the internet... maybe enter in a few passwords. You probably watch the occasional athletic contest and you may even have some opinions about said events. Here's your chance to express some of those opinions, and possibly even win free cards!

That's right, folks, it's the Second Annual Cards on Cards College Bowl Pick 'em Contest presented by Yahoo and General Mills Nacho Cheese Flavored Bugles. Okay, fine, no one is actually sponsoring this contest, but we will be using the Yahoo platform for scoring and regulation.

Before we get to the rules, here are the prizes. Yes, these are supposed to be enticing and jaw-dropping. Basically, once you are finished reading this you will never question your ability to predict the future of amateur football athletes again. Contest winners will have the option of choosing prize packs from several categories. The 1st Place winner will get to choose two prize packs. The 2nd Place winner will have the next crack at choosing one prize, while the person who has the lowest score will be assigned an allotment of unclaimed prizes. Depending upon the number of entries, additional prizes may be awarded (such as a 3rd Place winner.) Here are the prize packs available in no particular order:
  • A 660-ct. box of cards selected primarily from a particularly prolific era. The winner will dictate a favorite team(s), player(s) or other to-be-determined wishlist for this prize.
  • Lot of early '90s junk wax era unopened basketball card packs. Look for rookie cards of future Hall of Famer Gary Payton and future Hall of Procreation-er Shawn Kemp.
  • Lot of late '80s/early '90s junk wax era unopened baseball card packs. Look for rookie cards of pre-"enhancement" Sammy Sosa. Okay, actually, a Sammy Sosa rookie card is guaranteed.
  • A "grab bag" of memorabilia and certified autographed cards - 5 total. None of these are likely to be players you or any of your friends would consider collecting, but, hey... they're good conversation pieces, right?
  • A blaster or cheap ($20 or less) box of packs to be completely determined by the winner. This is probably the most desirable prize, unless you are someone who is looking for a personal touch.
  • The Stephen Strasburg Experience: 4 cards pulled from 2010 Topps Update Series packs. This includes the bewildering and uncalled for #661 card as well as three inserts. How did Walter Johnson get dragged into this? I have no idea.
Okay, okay... settle down now. I see that these prizes are pretty great. There may even be more potential prizes entered into the mix. Feel free to make suggestions. In the meantime, here are the rules:
  • Participants must sign up through the official Yahoo link. Unfortunately, this means that you must have a Yahoo account. I am only doing this because I am lazy, not because I want you to sign up with Yahoo who gives me $27 every time someone reads one of my blog posts.
  • Promote this contest! No, that doesn't mean you need to "follow" my blog, 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, and will be willing to award more prizes if there are more participants. 16 people joined the Yahoo group last year - let's increase that total! Put a subliminal message on your blog post. Send a mass email. Casually tell your co-workers in the break room while discussing Brett Favre's latest injury. The possibilities are endless!
  • 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. For example, if you are insane enough to think that Washington will beat Nebraska and are willing to bet your street cred on it, you will want to assign that matchup a higher confidence rating (30, perhaps) than you would with your misguided "Alabama will totally stomp Michigan State because the SEC is *AWESOME*" pick.
  • Email me your contest information after you sign up. You can't assume that I will automatically recognize your clever Yahoo Pick Set name, nor will I necessarily disbelieve your "friend" who claims your prize after everything is said and done because he swears he's CowboysFan4Ever and is the "most right" about his "sweet picks".
Okay, so... you've read all that? Here's how you join:

If that doesn't work, check this out:

Group ID: 28242
Password: quackquackquack

DEADLINE: There's a hard deadline of Saturday, September December 18th at 11:00 AM PST. That's the start time of the first bowl game. To ensure that the last place "winner" does not actually attempt to "win" on purpose, everyone participating must make a pick for each game in order to qualify.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shiny Card Shop Things

It was a dark and rainy Saturday here in Portland, and I ended up using the weather (and exhaustion) as an excuse to sleep in and miss the monthly card show for at least the third month in a row. I would be really into card shows if they were at, say, 7:00 at night and if most of the people there weren't somewhat depressing to be around. I ended up venturing out in the rain instead to a "local" card shop (there really isn't such a thing where I live). I'm not much of a singles buyer, and this place certainly doesn't have the reputation of being cheap, but I did pick up a few nice cards for a total of only $5.00 as well as a bunch of bargain bin packs from 10+ years ago (coming soon to A Pack to Be Named Later I'm sure.)

Here's an older Albert Pujols card from 2003 Bowman's Best. I'm not sure the outlines around his body are necessary. And then there's the glitter... oh, the glitter.

Who knew that 2010 Topps Tribute was so... shiny looking? Actually, I didn't even know that such a set existed until a week or so ago. The background is basically all "refractory" in case you can't tell from the scan. As far as I'm concerned, an Ozzie Smith card is THE card to have in any set, and I am enjoying the fact that they still make his cards on occasion. That's, at least, one notch in the Topps exclusivity column. There are quite a few tallies in the other column, unfortunately.