Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2011 Cardinals Season Preview

Alas, the new baseball season is upon us! I used to make it a point to predict the order of finish of each of the divisions and laugh in amazement at the end of the season when everything pretty much turned out exactly the opposite of what I expected. I was also very young when I did this. Since that early self-realization, I have strayed a bit from making my now famous predictions in recent years. However, I figured no time was better than the present to dust off the ol' crystal ball and present to you the Cards on Cards 2011 Fearless Predictions: St. Louis Cardinals edition.

It bears mentioning that all cards in this post came courtesy of “é rayhahn, rayhahn”, a blog so great that I had to cut and paste its name to make sure I got it exactly right. The box I received from the rhubarb enthusiast was massive and many-faceted that this certainly won't be the last post that mentions it.

Prediction! Chris Carpenter will pitch in the first inning on Opening Day. Not only is Carp listed as the probably starter on Thursday afternoon's season debut, but he is also the expected starter. Suffice it to say that he could... nay... should(!) make the start.

Prediction! Colby Rasmus will drop a fly ball. The controversial center fielder may not always be on the same page as skipper Tony La Russa, and there's one thing he and Tony definitely do not see eye to eye on. La Russa has a zero tolerance policy towards making mistakes if you are young and full of talent, while Colby believes in the preternatural ability to temporarily lose focus and not catch everything in the sky that is headed towards him.

Prediction! Kyle Lohse will suffer through a lousy inning, and still claim that he "felt fine out there". Since pitchers are prone to losing their arms on a whim as well as the occasional spontaneous combustion, they always seem to feel the need to alert us when things aren't gravely serious with their health.

Prediction! Mark McGwire will not trade his hitting coach cap for a batting helmet. He will also not be elected to the Hall of Fame this year. Life goes on.

Prediction! Albert Pujols will be asked to discuss his contract future beyond this season. I know I'm going against the grain here, but I really feel that he won't be extremely thrilled to discuss it.

Prediction! Jaime Garcia will throw a pitch... wait for it... left-handed! I know everyone is waiting and anticipating the dreaded sophomore slump here, but I feel with utmost confidence that Garcia will continue to hurl it "southpaw style" and baffle those who were expecting the ball to move across the plate away from right-handed batters instead of towards them.

Prediction! Ryan Franklin will get a piece of food caught in his giant beard. This is more physics than astrology, people. Sometimes I don't understand the silly predictions that people make.

And here's the big finish. I'm going with not one, but two predictions... check it out.

Prediction! Tony La Russa will get rather testy during a post-game news conference. Another Prediction! La Russa will use a bunch of different lineups throughout the season. In other words, the sun rises in the east, the earth orbits the sun, the moon orbits the earth and... the Cubs continue to suck.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Heritage Blaster from the Past(er)

The 2007 version of Topps Heritage may not be the best looker at the Heritage ball, but Heritage is Heritage in my book. You can't blame it for being patterned after a dull set. It was just 1958's turn. This was actually my first introduction to the Heritage line, and despite the dull pictures, frustrating variations and usual crop of SPs, I am still trying to put together the set all the same. I haven't bought a ton of unopened product from this year, so unfortunately my want list is still rather long and heavily slanted towards the harder to find cards. You can still find blasters of this stuff online for less than original retail price, however, and I picked up one box of said blaster stuff.

Pack 1:
400 - Tadahito Iguchi (Last seen in MLB: 2008)
364 - Eliezer Alfonzo
39 - Mitch Maier

492 - Brad Penny All-Star (First card I needed, which non-coincidentally happens to be a short print.)

MHRC12 - Mickey Mantle Home Run Champion 12 (I'm collecting all of the inserts, but I make an exception for Mantle cards. They just don't fit. I blame the cumulative annoyance of having so many inserts in so many products all at once. If anyone needs any of these, I've got a few.)
44 - Washington Nationals
271 - Chris Coste (Last seen in MLB: 2009)
190 - Marcus Giles (Last seen in MLB: 2007)

Pack 2:
332 - Bernie Williams (Last seen in MLB: 2006 - although he did play in the WBC a couple of years ago.)
223 - Reed Johnson
350 - Gary Sheffield (Last seen in MLB: 2009)
160 - Richie Sexson (Last seen in MLB: 2008)

NP1 - Ryan Howard New Age Performers (This is kind of a goofy design, but I think I prefer it to some of the later inserts. Needed this one.)
457 - John Maine
188 - Dan Johnson

287 - Chris Carpenter (I have several of these already, but I had to show it because it's a Cardinal. I like the touch of vintage with the triangle background hooking up with the modern logo.)

Pack 3:
344 - Brad Lidge
128 - Willy Aybar (I don't remember him playing for Atlanta.)

65 - Chris Narveson (I also own lots of this card.)
173 - Austin Kearns

49 - Willy Taveras (Here's another needed SP. These fall at 1:2 packs, unlike the more recent sets where they're a more difficult 1:3 ratio.)
180 - Jeff Weaver
379 - Barry Zito
99 - Wes Helms

Pack 4:
462 - Joaquin Arias
37 - Billy Sadler (Last seen in MLB: 2009)
434 - Curtis Granderson
155 - Endy Chavez

FB7 - Eddie Yost Flashback
279 - Kevin Millar (Last seen in MLB: 2009)
126 - Michael Cuddyer
423 - Roy Oswalt

Pack 5:
301 - Placido Polanco (There he is again...)
265 - Jon Lester
66 - Matt Murton (Last seen in MLB: 2009)

357 - Eric Stults (Cross another SP off the list. Last seen in MLB: 2009)

ARHR73 - Alex Rodriguez Road to 500 #73 (Speaking of pointless inserts infiltrating everything...)
358 - John Lackey
115 - Jeremy Bonderman
314 - Braves Boss and Power: Bobby Cox/Chipper Jones

Pack 6:
368 - Travis Hafner
79 - Corey Patterson (I keep waiting for him to disappear and... nothing.)
421 - Chris Capuano
42 - Russell Martin

81 - Stephen Drew Yellow Team variation (The variation cards, which usually tend to either be a yellow team name or player name, are a bit tougher to pull at 1:6 packs.)
441 - James Loney
280 - Mark Grudzielanek
98 - Ryan Zimmerman

Pack 7:
209 - Angel Guzman (Last seen in MLB: 2009)
92 - David Wright
417 - Chris Young (the outfielder)
136 - Ray Durham (Last seen in MLB: 2008)

455 - Chien-Ming Wang (Last seen in MLB: 2009 - although he's been under contract with the Nationals for more than a year. This is another tick off of the SP list.)
352 - Jake Peavy
71 - Los Angeles Dodgers
495 - Kenny Rogers All-Star

Pack 8:
273 - J.D. Drew
245 - Ted Lilly
29 - Jose Lopez

85 - Omar Vizquel (This makes it 5 regular SPs for the box!)
MHRC4 - Mickey Mantle Home Run Champion 4

403 - Bryce Brandon Harper (This is the lone non-SP card that I needed from the box. Last seen in MLB: 2006)
278 - Nick Johnson
286 - Cory Sullivan

Time to update the want list. If there's anyone else still collecting this set, I have a few extra non-SP cards and one insert card to trade, plus a whole mess of stuff that I need.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gettin' Political

I just finished up a hellish day that included three fantasy baseball drafts. I'm mentally exhausted. You know that feeling you get when you're through with three final exams, yet don't feel super confident about how well you did on any of them? I'm relieved that it's all over, but who is to say how badly I screwed things up this time.

Here's a trade package to calm the nerves and switch things up a bit. Duane of Democratic Roadkill recently sent me a box of trade fun to my hippie/commie neck of the woods. He is the latest in a recent string of contributors that has me oh so close to finally completing the 2010 Allen & Ginter set.

Placido Polanco is a frequent target of mine, being that he's not horrible and he's usually eligible at a middle infield position. You never feel great about drafting him, but he's always around somewhere, like an old shoe.

I'm sure that this was well covered last summer, but this has to be one of the worst baseball cards to ever be a baseball card.

Duane hit up a few less active want lists of mine, including the 2008 Goudey set. A mini Yogi Berra still fills a pretty huge hole in a set that at this rate won't be completed until sometime in late 2033.

Many great trades that I've completed include a bonus helping of random Cardinals cards, and this was no exception. I'm a bit surprised that Bowman's Best hasn't made a comeback. Are there any fans of this stuff out there?

Thanks again to Democratic Roadkill, who should expect a package from me by the end of the week.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Airbrushed Fridays: 2011 Topps Opening Day #159

How about Duke last night, guys? Only 3 out of 29 people in our group actually picked the Blue Devils to win it all, but they are the defending champs. Last night Arizona made them look like defending chumps. Worse yet, however, was the hoard of Arizona fans that disappeared several minutes before the game was even over. Who leaves early during a huge tournament game like that? I don't even care what the score is, that's just ridiculous.

Dan Uggla is the latest victim of Topps Opening Day Photoshop-style fraud. He is used to being the victim, whether it's his unfortunate last name or the 37 errors he committed in the All-Star Game that one time. Of course, if the Cardinals ever had a second baseman who put up .800+ OPS every season my mind would literally explode, setting aside the fact that he's hit 31 or more HRs in each of his past four seasons.

Why did Topps airbrush Dan's photo? Uggla was traded by the Marlins in November, so any appearances by press time in an Atlanta uniform would have been at press conferences, malls and steakhouses.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? I actually don't see a lot to complain about here, although I'm certain a Braves fan would disagree. There's no regular 2011 Topps photo to compare this to, so I can't really play "spot the error" with this one.

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, March 24, 2011

"Opening Day" is Less Than a Week Away

With the first 6 games of the official MLB season falling on a Thursday, I believe this is finally the season that the term Opening Day truly lost all meaning. However, that doesn't mean I can't be excited about it, because the afternoon of March 31st does mark the first time the St. Louis Cardinals will take the field in a counting game this calendar year. Naturally, I took the day off from work. And the next day. Even though the next day is an off day.

Topps likes Opening Day, too, and they have once again put together an edition of their (almost) annual Opening Day set. At the bargain value of $9.99 for 11 packs, I bit and grabbed a blaster. This set is all about inserts and goofy airbrushed cards to me, so comments and scans of everything else will be minimal if not nonexistent.

Pack 1:
6 - Aramis Ramirez
85 - Carlos Santana
75 - Buster Posey

M-12 - Kansas City Royals Mascot (No Mascot name on the front? Is the name "Sluggerrr" not suitable for printing?)

ODS-6 - CC Sabathia Opening Day Stars (Ah, I love these. They're reminiscent of last year's Topps 2020 inserts, though possibly a little more cheaply made. Still, I have to think Topps is taking a loss on this set as a whole. I'm thinking of collecting these inserts.)

152 - Mark Reynolds (First Photoshopped card of the bunch. It's not pretty. Reynolds has no regular series 1 base card, so I have nothing fun to compare the photo to.)
205 - Carlos Quentin

Pack 2:

125 - Adam Dunn (As you can plainly see, here's an example of "same photo, new team".)
52 - Placido Polanco
115 - Starlin Castro

181 - Josh Beckett Blue 1274/2011 (Yes! Topps brought back their gold serial numbers! Hopefully this carries over to Series 2 base.)

6 of 10 - Ubaldo Jimenez Spot the Error (I've seen a lot of people post these cards with the "correct" photo from the back, side by side. That's cheating! That's like having the Teacher's Edition of your math book. You should be able to spot the error without the help.)
187 - Brandon Phillips
174 - Buster Posey Rookie Cup (When did Rookie Cup cards become their own subset? It's a break with tradition.)

Pack 3:
42 - Greg Halman
66 - Brett Anderson
29 - Jonathan Papelbon

SC-14 - David Wright Superstar Celebrations
163 - Chad Billingsley
183 - Jacoby Ellsbury
190 - Elvis Andrus

Pack 4:
96 - James Shields
18 - Justin Upton
8 - Hanley Ramirez

PFP-3 - Calvin Coolidge Presidential First Pitch (Okay... so we're still not done with political cards?)
153 - Kendrys Morales
140 - Eric Jeber
216 - Jose Reyes

Pack 5:
86 - Stephen Strasburg
77 - Koji Uehara
124 - Clayton Kershaw

M-2 - Atlanta Braves Mascot (AKA Mr. Brave?)
154 - Dan Haren
148 - Kevin Youkilis
143 - Jeremy Guthrie

Pack 6:
51 - Ben Revere
113 - Wandy Rodriguez
40 - CC Sabathia

TTOD-6 - Matt Holliday Topps Town (Finally, a Cardinal! I didn't know these packs had Topps Town cards in them. They're not mentioned on the packaging. I got two in this box, so I'm guessing the odds are somewhere close to 1:5 packs.)
220 - Alfonso Soriano

198 - Adrian Gonzalez (This is just terrible looking. This is also what they used on the short printed base card, and I believe there is no Padres equivalent to speak of.)
188 - Justin Verlander

Pack 7:

55 - Cliff Lee (A different photo is used on the base card. The jersey just showing "Phil" is kind of weird looking, but I suppose it's possible that they used a photo from 2009 as well.)
71 - Jon Niese
68 - Jeremy Jeffress

1 of 10 - Mark Teixeira Spot the Error (This one is super easy.)
172 - Jorge Posada
164 - Grady Sizemore
144 - Brett Gardner

Pack 8:
61 - Jason Bay
133 - Alex Rios

192 - Dustin Pedroia Blue 1854/2011 (Again with the Red Sox?)

M-23 - Rangers Captain Mascot (I guess his name is just generic enough for inclusion on the card front.)
159 - Dan Uggla
150 - Matt Cain
170 - Logan Morrison

Pack 9:
117 - Tyler Colvin

44 - Omar Infante (There is a base card of Infante to compare this to, but it's a different photo. I don't own that card, though.)
112 - Andre Ethier

PFP-5 - Richard Nixon Presidential First Pitcher (Nixon's the one!)
179 - Prince Fielder
194 - Delmon Young
212 - Vernon Wells

Pack 10:
38 - Mike Stanton
25 - Johan Santana
101 - Brian Wilson

SC-22 - Cliff Lee Superstar Celebrations (Be honest. If you're a Rangers fan, does this make you a little bit mad now?)
138 - Chris Young
156 - Ryan Zimmerman
155 - Cole Hamels

Pack 11:
109 - Mark Buehrle
12 - Neil Walker
TTOD-14 - Brian Matusz Topps Town

UL-3 - Robinson Cano Stadium Lights (I am in agreement with most reviews that I've seen in that these are pretty nice looking.)
145 - Ubaldo Jimenez
218 - Ryan Howard
142 - C.J. Wilson

Well, there you have it. All of these cards are up for grabs aside from the Matt Holliday card and the Sabathia insert.