Friday, April 30, 2010

Airbrushed Fridays: 1989 Topps #74

1989 Topps is the bloated beast in my collection that will never go away. I'm pretty sure that if I leave any space at all in the box that houses these cards, they will multiply until they fill up all of the remaining space. There is never any free space in that box, I swear. Does... anyone want any 1989 Topps cards? Please?

Nick Leyva was the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies during a brief period in the late '80s to early '90s. He took over the team for the 1989 season, but was rather unsuccessful and was fired early on in the 1991 season (replaced by Jim Fregosi.) Leyva was a coach for the 1985 and 1987 pennant winning Cardinal teams, both of which suffered frustrating losses in the World Series.

Why did Topps airbrush Nick's photo? He first came to the organization for the 1989 season, so natually they did not have a current photo to choose from.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? It's pretty bad. I imagine this was originally a Cardinals photo, so it doesn't seem like it would have been too much of a stretch to make it Philliefied. The cap and picture in general is more reminiscent of something you'd see from the late '70s than late '80s, though.

(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.)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Time to Coach, Coach

While I don't always agree with everything they do, I'm not one of those people that blames coaches for all of a team's problems. The players play. The players win. The players lose. I've generally been positive about Nate McMillan's contributions during his run as the Blazers coach and I feel like he was totally robbed when it came down to Coach of the Year voting (he finished 3rd) with all of the injuries that the team has gone through this year.

All that being said, I didn't understand the Blazers strategy in Game 6 and feel that it contributed heavily to the Suns runaway victory. McMillan wanted the Blazers to start the offense earlier than they are used to, to get more out of their offense. They didn't play the tempo that they're used to playing: the methodical half court plan that is usually a winning formula for these Blazers. Here's to hoping for a return to Blazer basketball tonight.

Nate can't rebound the ball for you guys, though.

Game time is 7:30 PDT on TNT. The tip will likely be around 7:45 or 7:50. Go Blazers!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

All the Way Chromed Up

Here's part two (of two) of the 1998 Bowman Chrome series 2 box featuring cover model Paul Konerko and a lot of shiny chemicals.

Pack 13:
429 - Rod Barajas
301 - Bobby Smith
375 - Joe DePastino

26 of 50 - Tim Salmon Reprint (This is from the 1991 Bowman design, a favorite of mine when I was young because of its affordability and wide selection of rookies. After getting the chrome treatment, however, this looks pretty hideous.)

Pack 14:
244 - Ryan Klesko

222 - Cal Ripken
296 - Kris Benson (Kris Benson is actually in someone's rotation right now. I forget who.)
313 - Chris Reitsma

Pack 15:
286 - Francisco Cordova

269 - Mariano Rivera (Best closer of all-time in my opinion. Lee Smith would be on that short list, though.)
412 - Lou Collier
403 - Robert Luce

Pack 16:

294 - Paul Konerko (Is it too much to ask for Konerko to be in the correct uniform when he is the cover boy? Wouldn't it have been a better idea for Topps to just use someone else if they couldn't get their Konerko card in the right uniform in time?)
341 - Tom Evans
339 - Javier Vazquez
295 - Masato Toshii

Pack 17:

226 - Jim Edmonds (Woo! I feel like I already have this card, though, but I'll have to check my collection.)

249 - Wade Boggs (Boggs in the Rainbow Rays era.)
361 - Jay Yennaco
419 - Brian Meadows

Pack 18:
223 - Paul Molitor

293 - Russell Branyan (Branyan's back this season with his original Tribe-themed club.)
306 - Donnie Bridges

6 of 50 - Gil McDougald Reprint Refractor (I've actually never heard of Mr. McDougald. I guess it's time for me to do my homework. This is a 1:36 pack insert.)

Pack 19:
386 - Kyle Peterson
312 - Andrew Vessel
359 - Jason Grilli
420 - Darnell McDonald

Pack 20:
266 - Ugueth Urbina (I won't say anything bad about this guy because... well... you know.)

257 - Randy Johnson
338 - Kevin Nicholson
421 - Matt Kinney

Pack 21:
253 - Will Clark
424 - Kevin Millar

240 - Frank Thomas Refractor (Nice to get a refractor of a great player.)

395 - Ron Wright International Refractor (I wish Ron Wright was half as good as Frank Thomas. The International Refractors are a 1:24 pull.)

Pack 22:
323 - Luke Allen
348 - Cesar King
393 - Vance Wilson

293 - Russell Branyan International (Here's the International version of Branyan's card for comparison's sake.)

Pack 23:

248 - Chan Ho Park (Ew... thanks for ruining this guy for me forever, Night Owl.)
314 - Jesus Sanchez
360 - Kevin Haverbusch
424 - Kevin Millar International

Pack 24:
225 - Joe Young
291 - Javy Lopez
346 - Elvin Hernandez
306 - Donnie Bridges International

And there we have it. I'll sort through the various trade offers I've received in the coming days, but I expect to eventually send a lot of these out to people that I trade with frequently if all else fails. I have yet another box break to post here fairly soon, which is pretty similar to this one but is much less shiny.

All Glory to the 1985 Fleer

I don't even know where to begin with this one. Let's just say that if you handed me an unopened wax pack of 1985 Fleer, you could guarantee that opening it up and looking at the cards would bring me out of just about every funk imaginable. The first packs I ever opened were 1986 Topps, but I soon learned that this mysterious brand named Fleer was the same price. It was just more elusive, but instead of containing the worst tasting gum I'd ever chewed, you would get a sticker (or stickers) in every pack. Stickers!

The grey-bordered cards from 1985 Fleer were color-coordinated with the teams they represented, which helped me at a young age commit all of the teams and their associated colors to memory. But why did I lust after 1985 Fleer instead of the more attainable 1986 brand? 1986 Fleer was blue, and to this day I'm still attracted to all things blue. The fact is, I really can't say for certain, but I guess there was something amazing about a set that was not readily available to me for the milk money I squirreled away. And unlike 1986 Topps, or even 1986 Fleer which seemed rather dark to me overall, this set was really my first introduction to close-up player shots. It let you actually see the players up close.

Nothing else I can really remember coherently can explain why I've been fascinated with this set. Now that it's not such a financial burden, I'm finally going after this set. I originally owned a small stack of cards including most of the Cardinals. I also had a few stars and just two cards that one might consider "of value" in Nolan Ryan and Cal Ripken. I don't have any of the key rookies. No Roger Clemens, no Kirby Puckett... not even Dwight Gooden. I probably would have given up eating lunches for a month to get my grubby little mitts on a Gooden rookie back in grade school, even though I didn't even like Gooden or the Mets.

I got a ton of help recently in getting (re)started on this endeavor, thanks to a giant box sent from reader Rob as previously mentioned. Night Owl has also contributed to this project and I'm very grateful. My goal is to have a wantlist up in full by the end of the week.

Here's another example of one of the up close and personal photos. The odd thing is that I really dislike photos like these in almost every set ever release since 1985 Fleer. I prefer the action shots. Yet, I would have not really had a good idea what Tony Gwynn looked like when I was 11 years old if it wasn't for this card.

I think... rather... I hope that I have all of the Cardinals cards from this set in duplicate. This is probably the best one of the bunch, if only for the extremely unenthusiastic Willie photo and the intriguing stuff written under the bill of his cap.

The Cardinals navy blue warmups are a pretty rare find. Ozzie really could have been captured doing a lot more exciting things than posing like a diva here.

I have a ton of commons at this point, but I do have a handful of stars/HOFers like Eddie Murray here.

The prospect cards are amazing. Just look at that logo. The only thing I like better than the Major League Prospect cards from '80s Fleer sets are...

SuperStarSpecials! I've been tempted ever since I started this blog to start a regular feature on these cards, but I know that this would be a rather finite series. By the way, as odd as it is to think about Pete Rose reaching a milestone with the Expos, whom he barely played for, it's even more ridiculous to see this photo of him in batting practice when it's talking about his 4000th hit.

Is there anything more '80s than this?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Heartbreaking Surprise

Here's just a quick post tonight, coming after a nice comeback Cardinals victory over the Braves. I don't often get to listen to the Cardinals radio broadcasts, but tonight ended up being a special occasion due to a conflict in TV viewing interests. Last month (has it really been that long?) I received a surprise package from Matt of Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius fame. I have yet to get my act together and send off my package for him, but I will soon. The man has rather broad collecting interests (he is the one behind APTBNL after all) so why don't you send him some cards instead of reading this silly blog.

This 2004 Fan Favorites card officially becomes my best Hungo card. This is mostly because several of the Hrabosky cards I own are pretty thrashed, and I really like the Fan Favorites sets. I wish they could put something like this out nowadays.

Yadi was a big hero tonight, scoring the tying run on rookie Bryan Anderson's double after stealing second base in the 7th and then providing the winning run on an RBI ground rule double in the 8th.

Here's a lousy card for a Cardinals fan to have. Just read the caption. I'm not going to talk about it further. The worst thing is that I think this is actually a double, and I've never bought a pack of this junk before. (Don't stop sending me these cards, though. I'm sure I'll never collect them all.)

I continue to be baffled by 1997 Fleer, which seems to have been made out of reycled cardboard lining from toilet paper rolls and leftover flakes of gold glitter that girls stop using when they grow up. I'm actually thinking about trying to find a box.

I like minor league cards. I love goofy minor league cards. Just the name does it for me here.


A Message to You, Rudy

Apparently I have special powers. Before Game 4 of the Blazers/Suns playoff series, I put out a desperate call for help from Brandon Roy. Lo and behold, the man returns to action just eight days after knee surgery and provide an emotional lift, hits clutch shots, walks on water, etc.

TJ from All Your Base Cards Belong To Us remarked that I should put something up about Oden coming back. I'm not going to push my luck here. I would, however, like to see something positive from one Rudy Fernandez. While many point to the 2008 Summer Olympics and Rudy's performance and wonder why he can't play like that with the Blazers, I'll be a bit more realistic. Just do something positive, Rudy. Knock down a couple of shots. Make some of your head-turning passes. Roy is back, so the pressure should be off of you. Just play loose and have fun.

Go Blazers! The series is tied up and Game 5 is tonight on TNT at 7:30 PDT.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nineties Chrowman

Along with the Super Estrellas and some of the other boxes I've purchased recently, my non-Cardinals buying focus lately has been more geared towards picking up cheap boxes (hobby and retail) that might be fun (i.e. that I've never bought or opened before.) This is one of those. I paid $15 for a box of 1998 Bowman Chrome series 2, where apparently the big chase was for Paul Konerko? Konerko turned out to be a quality player who is still around these days (just ask the Mariners.) He actually came up with the Dodgers, who traded him to Cincinnati along with current Cardinal Dennys Reyes for closer Jeff Shaw prior to the trade deadline in 1998. Konerko only lasted a few months before he was flipped to the White Sox for Mike Cameron, where's he's played ever since.

There's a number of parallels and inserts in this product, but apparently no autographs. With the player selection available in this stuff, I would likely not like whatever autograph I ended up with anyway. I've never heard of a lot of these guys, so my comments will be brief. Here's the first half of the box.

Pack 1:

418 - Kevin Barker (Not the best design in the world, but it's certainly distinctive. I can't say that about every Bowman design.)
304 - Justin Baughman
358 - Joe Fontenot
335 - Robinson Checo

Pack 2:
321 - Damian Sapp
364 - Chris Fussell (I'm not making these people up, I swear.)

50 of 50 - Livan Hernandez Reprint (This is a 1 in 12 pack insert where the card is a chromed up reprint of a Bowman card from a previous year. This is the 1996 Bowman design.)

394 - Fernando Seguignol Refractor (Refractors are also only a 1 in 12 thing. They sure didn't toss them around loosely like they do these days. Fernando's last name looks like someone was trying to make a word in Scrabble using their spare tiles.)

Pack 3:
292 - Travis Lee (Lee had a pretty disappointing career if I recall.)

268 - Ellis Burks (Burks was murder on the Giants in 1997 according to the back of his card.)
379 - Julio Ramirez
404 - Cole Liniak

Pack 4:
327 - Eric DuBose
303 - Richard Hidalgo
425 - Ruben Rivera

250 - Jay Buhner International (There are parallel cards in the set that fall at 1 in 4 packs. Instead of the usual background, the picture is a map of where the player is from/was born. This isn't particularly impressive when it's someone who was born in the States.)

Pack 5:
264 - Moises Alou (Occasionally they throw you a bone and toss in some vets into this set.)

290 - Brian Jordan (First Cardinal of the box. Nice.)
329 - Dan McKinley

276 - Andres Galarraga International (Apparently the backs of the International parallels have the text written in the player's native language.)

Pack 6:
271 - Eddie Taubensee
411 - Damon Minor
343 - Gabe Gonzalez

231 - Kenny Lofton International (Three packs in a row with International cards. Interesting.)

Pack 7:
392 - Jeff Yoder
356 - Odalis Perez (Pujols always ate this guy alive. If you click the link, be prepared for the most annoying YouTube clip ever.)
432 - Sidney Ponson
436 - Marlon Anderson (A couple of brief former Cardinals in Ponson and Marlon Anderson.)

Pack 8:
245 - Chuck Finley (Finley also had a little spin in the Birds on the Bat.)

263 - Kenny Rogers (I never knew Rogers pitched for the A's. I still say it was pine tar.)
390 - Rafael Medina
344 - Ralph Millard

Pack 9:

224 - Derek Jeter
254 - John Valentin
395 - Ron Wright
333 - Nerio Rodriguez

Pack 10:
388 - Onan Masaoka
302 - Billy Koch
377 - Octavio Dotel (The current Pirates closer, unless he's lost his job already.)
369 - Jimmy Anderson

Pack 11:
261 - Jose Valentin

289 - Hideo Nomo
307 - Nelson Lara
354 - Dernell Stenson

Pack 12:
258 - Al Martin
270 - Dean Palmer
397 - Steve Lomasney
401 - Kevin Buford

Part two will be coming up later in the week. I'll be trading these out to the usual suspects and keeping the Cardinals for myself if they're needed.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Please Help!

Hurry back, B-Roy! I can't take much more of this.

Game 4 is on TNT this afternoon at 1:30 PDT.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Airbrushed Fridays: 1988 Topps Traded #61T

Sometimes you've just got to face the enemy.

Jeffrey Leonard was a two-time All-Star outfielder who spent the majority of his career with the San Francisco Giants, who the Cardinals happen to be squaring up against this weekend. While not particularly known as one of the premier outfielders of the time, he did get selected to the two All-Star teams and had a particularly murderous NLCS against the Cards in 1987. In fact, to date, Leonard is the last player to be selected the LCS MVP while playing for the losing team. He was also known for his fairly bizarre "one flap down" home run trot, where he'd circle the bases with one arm dangling down.

Why did Topps airbrush Jeffrey's photo? Leonard was a midseason acquisition who was sent to Milwaukee for past Airbrushed Fridays subject Ernie Riles. He would only finish out the season with Milwaukee before being signed by Seattle, where he'd spend his second All-Star season.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? Topps goes classic on us by showing the sour-faced Leonard without a cap. They couldn't totally get away with it, however, because his jersey shows obvious signs of being re-colored. It also looks like Leonard is standing or sitting in front of some sort of painting canvas.

(If you are interested in obtaining a card featured here - but not this one - 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.)