Saturday, September 29, 2012

Good Luck Ducks, Week 5: Cougar Town

49-0. If you were reading this space last week, I did not see that coming. Am I convinced that the Ducks are really that good and have separated themselves from the rest of the conference? Not quite yet. Do I like asking myself and then answering questions? I sure do. Last week was fun to watch, seeing Oregon blow a sloppy game open with opportunistic ball-hawking, sacks, interceptions and... of course... speed and plenty of it.

This week's challenge comes in the form of a Washington State team that just blew a game to what is shaping up as one of the worst Pac-12 (or -10) teams of all-time. Colorado, prior to last week, had lost all of their games including to supposedly inferior in-state rival Colorado State and to FCS Sacramento State, among others. They pulled off some late game heroics to storm back and beat a Cougars team that is supposed to be on the upswing with new head coach Mike Leach. Tonight's game will be the Ducks first road test, albeit in a somewhat friendly environment as the game will be played in Seattle's CenturyLink Field which is several hours away from the Cougars Eastern Washington habitat. It's just a straight drive up I-5 from Eugene (and Portland, where there remains a pretty rabid Ducks fanbase.)

Washington State has given the Ducks more trouble in the last couple of seasons than just about anyone in the conference, so it's tough to say that this will be an easy game. If Oregon can cut down all of the mistakes (I read that they've fumbled the ball more than all but one team in the entire nation, yikes!) and can capitalize on the opportunities laid out before them like they did against so many Wildcats last week, it should be a comfortable win. They haven't won comfortably over the Cougars in awhile, however.

De'Anthony Thomas was huge in last season's win over the Cougars.

Game time is 7:30 PDT with national coverage on ESPN2. Go Ducks!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Airbrushed Fridays: 1972 Topps #591

So it's come down to this: the Cardinals hold a three game lead in the race to see which teams earns the right to be in a play-in game with the Braves for the so-called Wild Card spot. 162 games of work will be whittled down to 9 innings for 4 teams, 2 in each league. St. Louis will play their final 6 games at home (good) against the teams with the two best records in the league (bad) but both of those teams, the Nats and the Reds, have already clinched and don't have much to play for (good.) Meanwhile, the Dodgers (the team chasing the Cards) have 6 home games of their own against Colorado (bad) and the Giants (not so bad.) I don't know where this leaves me as a fan exactly, except that I still hate Bud Selig and everything he's done to the league.

Who is this week's victim, and why do we care? Paul Casanova was a catcher who was an All-Star in 1967 and once caught a no-hitter by Phil Niekro. Catching a no-hitter by a knuckleballer should earn you, like, three catcher no-hitters. Contrary to what his name would lead you to believe, Casanova was actually quite unlucky with the ladies and once took his best friend's sister out on a pity date.

Why does this card exist? Casanova spent most of his career with the Washington Senators, but apparently they wanted no part of him once they moved southwest to Texas and dealt him to Atlanta in exchange for one Hal King. This picture of Paul Casanova may well be a shot of him alone in RFK Stadium after the team had already packed his bags and moved.

Airbrushed Fridays is a weekly feature as the name seems to imply. If you know of a card with an altered photograph that you'd like to see featured, please contact me. You probably won't win anything other than a hyperlink and a position as a future NFL replacement official, but you never know!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The "Worst" Group Break Ever

I'm by no means complaining when I say this, but I entered a group break hosted by The Daily Dimwit recently and walked away with just enough cards to stash in a plain white envelope. Again, this isn't a complaint about the break itself or my luck. To borrow the most worn out of tired expressions, it is what it is. I got what I paid for. The cards I did get weren't all that bad. I love this Lou Brock card, for example. And when it's coming from someone who hit a 1/1 bat hunk (not chip) card of a multiple MVP award winner that could probably sell for a ton of money, I vowed to never complain about a group break for the rest of my life.

And this is certainly not a complaint. Aside from a handful of Artifacts base cards I didn't really need, I got two pretty nice cards. One will make fantastic tradebait.

It seems like there isn't a collector out there that is interested in players from multiple teams that doesn't collect Cal Ripken and/or Tony Gwynn. I won't own this card very long, that's for sure. At least, not nearly as long as all of my modern Mickey Mantle things.

Again, this is not a complaint. Instead, I want to express my gratitude towards all of the hard work that all of the group break hosts have put in over the years. People like me really enjoy the opportunity to spend a small amount of cash on a chance and some cards from a team I happen to like instead of having to hit the big box stores for the same old packs of crap. A couple of regular hosts have bowed out recently, one apparently for good, so I'm hoping spoiled brats like me don't discourage others from hosting. And who knows... I've had it in my mind for quite awhile to host a different kind of group break myself and may still go for it when I get the chance.

Now, who wants this Ripken/Gwynn card?

Up For Grabs: Charlie Hustle

Pete Rose is the next on the list to be given the boot out of my binders. Coupled with the fact that he was shunned from baseball and doesn't appear on many current cards, I also seemed to not be very good at pulling his cards at any point in my life. Thus, there are not very many Rose cards on the table here. Once again, see the end of this post for the full list.

1986 was the first year I started collecting, so the Pete Rose Years subset in the 1986 Topps set was the first example of a player having special attention paid to him. I was fascinated by the images of all of the (Topps) cards from Pete's career. I also went out and bought myself a 1986 Topps sticker book and marveled at the back cover, which contained images of all of these cards. How did someone so famous change positions multiple times in the middle of his career? Why was he a player AND a manager?

How do I feel about Pete Rose now? Well, as the all-time hits king, I've always thought he belongs in the Hall of Fame. He's super sleazy, but character issues plague other players who are in that exclusive group and no one really gives a rip about it. Pete as a player was actually extremely overrated. The man made 17 (!) All-Star teams yet owns a career OPS of just .784. He wasn't a power hitter. He wasn't a speedster. He was a hit machine, at least in terms of volume, making him sort of a gritty version of Ichiro (minus most of the stolen bases.) Still, I feel like if you're the best at something, you probably belong in the Hall.

I've never really understood the compulsion people have to gamble. It's not my thing. Losing money is not my thing. I often have buyer's remorse after I buy measly little packs of baseball cards even before I open the and know what's in them.

The list:

1986 Topps (MGR) #741
1986 Topps (The Pete Rose Years 1975-1978) #5
1984 Topps (League Leaders w/ Rusty Staub + Tony Perez) #702
1987 Leaf #129
1989 Topps #505 [2 available]
1986 Sportflics (Tri-Stars w/ Tony Perez + Rusty Staub) #138
1988 Topps #475
1987 Topps #200 [3 1 available]
1987 Topps (MGR) #393
1987 Topps (Reds Leaders) #281 [4 available]

[updated 11/5/12]

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Giant Trade

A huge box of goodies arrived in my mailbox earlier this month from ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession. While I had promised to send him "all of the Giants" or something close to that, I think I fell a bit short on my end. I'm still hopeful he found some of the stuff useful, as it was doing me no good to hang on to it.

This was the first pure Cardinals package I'd received in quite awhile. I am always working on various sets and sometimes I get cards from said sets, but with this trade I saw nothing but dudes on my favorite team. Not bad.

I may have got an entire team set of this 2002 Donruss Fan Club "Best Of" set. I had never seen these before, and they are the exact kind of card that doesn't scan well at all.

Who knew that Pete Kozma would suddenly become the Cardinals every day shortstop? I'm sure Jeff Luhnow was thinking that was a real possibility back in 2007 when he was drafted, but Luhnow is in Houston and Kozma hasn't proven to be very effective at anything in the minors. Yet, somehow Ryan Jackson's backup in Memphis this season is starting everyday in place of Furcal even with Jackson on the big league roster. He's getting some hits, too.

I don't really go for the unlicensed MLB-ish stuff, which is why you won't see Goodwin Champions on my want list any longer in the post-licensed era of Upper Deck. However, that doesn't mean I don't like to get these in trades. I just consider them oddballs in a way.

Go crazy folks! This isn't just a garden variety Ozzie mini, it's a Gypsy Queen back. You'll, er, have to trust me on that one.

Here's a much needed varation of the Colby Rasmus Topps 206 rookie card where he tries not to look too interested in much of anything.

They didn't leave much space for a photo on this card.

I got a pair of Bowman flashback style Shelby Miller cards. Miller was called up late in the season and so far has played the role of a low leverage reliever and potential long man.

Miller had a really rough first half to his season but seemed to straighten things out later in the summer. Hopefully he will be a staple in the rotation for years to come.

I don't think I have any of these white serial numbered parallels from the 2008 Opening Day set. I couldn't have even told you what they looked like before I received this card. It's kind of weird seeing the 2008 base design without the circles.

I actually liked the Topps Unique set, which made its lone appearance in 2009. I did have a bit of luck with it in a group break once upon a time, so there's that.

Here's one of those Yer Mom cards that I didn't already have. I'm actually still missing a ton of these, which is sad for a 2010 Topps product.

Finally, there were some nice bat cards in the box. Bat cards are still worth something, right? Or has everyone lost confidence in their authenticity as well? Personally, I always found bat carts to be a bit more fun as they seem to be a little more scarce.

There was also a pair of 2004 Bazooka Blasts bat cards, this one featuring Scott Rolen. I think it's awesome that Rolen is still in the league. I just wish he didn't play for those dreaded Reds.

So Taguchi retired from professional baseball this year at the end of July at age 43. I can always say that I his first MLB game in person, even though the game itself was very forgettable and So's presence in the lineup meant that I was denied seeing Jim Edmonds on the field. (I never got to see Edmonds play unless you count minor league games that occurred before I really knew who he was.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Good Luck Ducks, Week 4: Reverse the Curse

Conference play begins tonight for Oregon. You can essentially throw out everything the Ducks have done so far this season (except the injuries... ouch!) and consider this the first real game of the year. FCS teams and Sun Belt schools don't really test anything, except your patience. The Pac-12 looks scary good this year, too, but it's difficult to gauge who is the clear leader in the conference right now.

Arizona returns to the field this year without Nick Foles. Tonight is their first conference game as well, but they head to Autzen Stadium having already beaten Oklahoma State. Oregon's most quality win came against Fresno State. The big news in Duckland is that sophomore De'Anthony Thomas is on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated. If it wasn't for the Newsweeks and gossip rags in the breakroom at work, I probably wouldn't have even known that magazines were still being printed anymore. Nevertheless, I went out and got my copy and it's a pretty cool thing. If you're a believer in curses, well, there's that whole SI cover jinx thing, too. The last two times an Oregon player has been on the cover, the Ducks have gone out and had their hats handed to them on the field. Let's hope that isn't the case tonight.

I'm expecting a low scoring game tonight, and I'm cautiously optimistic that Oregon can get the job done in front of the home crowd. The tide seems to be shifting as the Pac-12 seems to be becoming more of a defense-oriented conference. At least, that's what some of the early results this season have been saying.

Arizona's last visit to Autzen resulted in the top-ranked Ducks clinching the Pac-10 title.

Game time is 7:30 PDT with national coverage on ESPN. Go Ducks!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Airbrushed Fridays: 2012 Topps #395

Chris Carpenter is back, but the Cardinals bullpen is not. Rough loss to the Cubs today, though one could say any loss to the Cubs this season should be considered "rough" no matter what the circumstances.

Who is this week's victim, and why do we care? Rod Barajas is a journeyman catcher who has bounced around the league, often serving as a backup, since 1999. He's got a little bit of power with the bat, but not much... you could call it "catcher power", I suppose.

Why does this card exist? The Pirates signed Barajas last offseason after he spent a year and change in Los Angeles with the non-Anaheim Dodgers of California. For some reason, whoever Photoshopped this card decided that the Pirates name and the uniform number needed to be so close that they're almost touching. Good job, otherwise. So close.

Airbrushed Fridays is a weekly feature as the name seems to imply. If you know of a card with an altered photograph that you'd like to see featured, please contact me. You probably won't win anything other than a hyperlink and some candy corn Oreos, but you never know!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Up For Grabs: The Ironman

I'm decommissioning my "superstar" binders after something like 25 years of collecting. Let's be honest, though, these binders have by and large been collecting dust since the early '90s aside from when I either pull them out to add some newer cards of players that were already in there or remove something to send to someone. They're a pain to keep around when I am no longer interested in collecting for "value". I am going to be purging cards of these players, mostly Hall of Famers, and offering them up on the blog. What doesn't get claimed will either get filtered back into the storage boxes portion of my collection (with Bip Roberts and the like) sorted by set or possibly jettisoned to an auction site like Listia.

See the list at the end of the post for details. If you've traded with me recently (or a bunch of times) just let me know and I will set any/all of the cards aside for you. If not, just mention that you're interested in the cards and arrange to send me something for them. I have want lists available on the sidebar, and even if you can't find something there I always have a home for Cardinals, Trail Blazers and University of Oregon alumni.

I remember being a huge fan of the glossy All-Star cards, of both the send-away variety and the kind (like this one) that came one per rack pack. Topps sort of tried to revive the latter concept in 2007 but the All-Star inserts looked nothing like the originals.

This is a man who needed a cap at all times.

I was never a fan of Ripken's. I was a big Ozzie Smith fan, so it was hard for me to see that there was any other shortstop better than the Wizard. I am not going to try to make that case today.

Lots of close-up head shots on these cards. Not my favorite thing in the world.

This is much better. I also have the iconic 1992 Topps card if there's anyone out there who still doesn't own his card.

I have frequently raided my Ripken stash to trade with others since I started this blog, so there isn't quite the variety that I have of some players.


The list:

1992 Donruss MVP #BC1
1987 Topps #784 [6 available]
1993 Topps #300
1988 Fleer (SuperStarSpecials w/ Bill Ripken) #640
1990 Upper Deck #266 [2 available]
1990 Bowman #255
1989 Topps All-Star Glossy #5
1995 Topps Stadium Club (Extreme Corps) #510
1994 Topps Stadium Club #373
1990 Topps #570 [2 available]
1990 Topps (Record Breaker) #8 [2 available]
1990 Topps (All-Star) #388 [3 available]
1990 Fleer (Players of the Decade - COR) #624b
1990 Donruss #96 [4 available]
1990 Donruss (All-Star COR) #676a [2 available]
1988 Topps (Orioles Leaders w/ Eddie Murray) #51 [4 available]
1991 Score #95 [2 available]
1991 Donruss #223
1991 Donruss (All-Star) #52
1990 Score #2
1988 Score #550
1987 Topps (All-Star) #609 [4 available]
1991 Topps (Record Breaker) #5
1991 Score (The Franchise) #849 [2 available]
1987 Donruss #89
1988 Donruss #171 [5 available]
1988 Donruss (Diamond King) #26 [2 available]
1988 Donruss (Ripken Baseball Family w/ Bill + Cal Sr.) #625
1989 Topps #250 [4 available]
1991 Fleer #490 [2 available]
1989 Donruss MVP #BC-15
1992 Topps #40
1992 Score #540
1990 Donruss MVP #BC-18 [2 available]
1990 Topps Kmart #20
1988 Topps UK Mini #61
1988 Donruss MVP #BC-1 [2 available]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

All the Stadium Clubs

Cardboard Collections hosted a massive mid-'90s Stadium Club group break back in August, and I was able to fill some needs in my Cardinals binders. Colbey is taking a bit of time off from the monthly Affordable Group Breaks, but here's to hoping to a speedy return.

Rich is rich with golden rainbow parallel cash right here. There is nothing more '90s than the 1994 Stadium Club set design. Every time I look at these I feel like I'm watching a vintage episode of the Real World, only with baseball players.

There are some weird color variations with the Extreme Corps cards (and the TransActions) in the 1995 set. I don't quite have it figured out.

Again, this just screams '90s. It's great, in a Teenage Fanclub sort of way, I guess.

Comin' at ya... Lee Arthur Smith.

Here's a Virtual Reality parallel of the criminally underrated Bob Tewksbury. I was a fan of his long before he joined the Cards for reasons that I can't really explain.

Todd Zeile on an old school cell phone? Todd Zeile on an old school cell phone! This is some sort of Extreme (or is that Xtreme?) insert card that has a bunch of contest rules on the back. I think I was randomly selected to receive this card as I was light on inserts/hits/whatever.

Finally, as is often the case, Colbey was kind enough to throw in some extra cards suited to my tastes. I needed this one for my team set. I really need to buy and open some more O-Pee-Chee.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Good Luck Ducks, Week 3: It Could Happen To You II

Story originally printed on September 17, 2011. Not much has changed since.

Loosely speaking, I attended the University of Oregon for several years during the mid-90s. These were fruitful times, as the Ducks were building on the mild success of the Chris Miller and Bill Musgrave years in which they had made the transition from perennial laughing stock to Independence Bowl and Freedom Bowl fodder. My second year in school in Eugene was the surprising Rose Bowl team. Subsequent years saw the Ducks move up a few notches more, and despite the occasional plateau, Oregon football has been trending upward for the better part of two and a half decades now. This is great stuff.

The thing I enjoyed the most about game days back when I lived inside of them was the walk to Autzen Stadium from campus. I will have the rare opportunity to relive that walk this morning to go catch the Ducks take on an FCS opponent in what will ultimately be a working practice and preparation for the conference schedule. Originally, Oregon was scheduled to play Utah Kansas State this week, but when Utah Kansas State suddenly became a conference ally jerk, suddenly their scheduled non-conference game vanished and no in conference game with the Utes whatever you want to call this replaced it. Such is life when you start juggling conferences continue being awesome. It could get even weirder next year.

I don't want to underestimate a team I know nothing about at all. I didn't know there was a Missouri State Tennessee Tech until a few weeks ago, which is less surprising when you consider that until recently they were known as Southwest Missouri State I don't really follow lower division sports. I am (somewhat) familiar with the Missouri Valley Conference, but only today learned that this Bears Golden Eagles football team plays in the Missouri Ohio Valley Football Conference, an FCS offshoot from a D1 conference that otherwise isn't interested in the American version of the sport of Football. This game doesn't scare me, but you only have to look back two weeks one week to Oregon State's Colorado's debacle with Sacramento State to realize that an FCS loss isn't exactly as rare as winning the lottery.

Last season's matchup with Missouri State was pretty one-sided, though the Bears did score first.

Game time is 12:30 12:00 PDT with local national-ish coverage on Comcast SportsNet Northwest Pac 12 Network. If you're going to the game like I am, apparently you are supposed to wear black green.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Airbrushed Fridays: 1978 Topps #489

Oh baseball season, where did you go? It seems like just yesterday the season was so full of endless possibilities. Even the Baltimore Orioles had a chance at a playoff spot and... wait... what? I'm confused. How did ESPN and the East Coast Media Conglomerate allow the O's in the playoff picture? It's going to be a very interesting last couple of weeks, as there are also six teams in the NL vying for two Wild Card spots, even if most of those teams seem intent on losing whenever possible.

Who is this week's victim, and why do we care? Rudy Meoli was a utility infielder who just so happened to be on the field for three of Nolan Ryan's four no-hitters as a member of the California Angels. He amassed just one full season's worth of at bats in six years in the league, with substandard production from the plate. He's perhaps best known for a '70s style Web Gem, saving Ryan's second no-hitter in 1973.

Why does this card exist? After a two year absence from the majors that saw Meoli's rights bounce from the Angels to the Padres to the Reds, the Chicago Cubs purchased his contract and put him back on the field for very limited duty in 1978. I'm not sure how this led to him getting a baseball card after years away from the bright lights, but here he is in all his mustachioed and airbrushed glory. I've seen worse work.

Airbrushed Fridays is a weekly feature as the name seems to imply. If you know of a card with an altered photograph that you'd like to see featured, please contact me. You probably won't win anything other than a hyperlink and a strange sense of entitlement, but you never know!