Friday, October 31, 2014

Not Airbrushed Friday: Trick or Treat!

It's my birthday, so I'm going to put you to work for me. Maybe you'll win?

Here's the deal: it's my birthday and I don't feel like I should be put to work on my birthday. That means no inspired (ha!) Airbrushed Fridays post from me. Instead, the most insightful/interesting comment about this card will win a bit of a treat, as well as this card if you really want it!

The prize is purple and shiny and current. You'll get to choose up to three of them (out of eight or so). The deadline is 11:59 PM (PDT) Sunday 11/2. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Beam Me Up

Hey, it's my birthday! (Almost.)

Impromptu contest forthcoming.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Rip City Is Back

Oh, and there's that whole World Series Game 7 thing, too.

I have tickets to the Blazers season opener tomorrow night (or basically tonight by the time you are reading this) and I couldn't be more excited. I usually go to about a dozen games a year, give or take a few, but I don't talk Blazers a lot on this blog. I don't remember a time in my life when I wasn't a Blazers fan, which I can't say about any other teams in any sports. If I can find a way to do it without driving away the meager reader base that I have, I may check in with the team here once in awhile. For now, thanks to my impulsive advance purchase of opening night tickets, I'll be down at the Rose Garden going crazy and sadly checking my phone a lot to see what's up with the Royals.

Last season's team was fun, as the team finally took a step up and won a playoff series for the first time in what seems like forever. They have one of the top power forwards in the game and a lot of positive things to build on from last season with a roster that's made just a couple of adjustments.

I picked up an overpriced team set at last week's card show in honor of the occasion, and I get to show off all five (ha) cards here. While LaMarcus Aldridge remains the pillar of the franchise and always in the discussion of the league's best players, Damian Lillard continues to step his game up on and off the court. He's on the cover of the new NBA Live 15 video game and last week even made an appearance on Conan. I can't recall a Portland-based athlete ever being on a late night talk show, so that was pretty fun.

Wesley Matthews remains the blue collar core of the team. Undrafted coming out of college, he plays with the proverbial chip on his shoulders and is constantly working. Constantly.

You would think that Panini would have rounded out a five-card team set with the fifth member of the starting lineup (Robin Lopez), but they went with underachieving lottery pick Thomas Robinson instead. Robinson is on his third team already entering his third NBA season, and today had his fourth year option declined by Portland. He disrupts his overall maddening play with occasional bursts of brilliance and can be interesting to watch. He still hasn't proven the ability to stay in the rotation, however.

Go Blazers!

And Go Royals!

Thoughts on Update

Topps Series 3 is out, and here are some cards I purchased!

I spent more money on cards last Saturday than I had the entire summer combined, and that included my first pack purchases from 2014 Topps Update. I bought 5 loose (Target) packs and a $10 hanger box (half the blaster and almost none of the mess!) I knocked a few commons off of my Cardinals want list and was left with an array of things to look at and eventually trade off.

I was honestly not expecting to find an addition to my Brendan Ryan collection in this fashion, but here it is. Ryan was basically Derek Jeter's late inning replacement this year, except that no one had the guts to ever tell Jeter to get out of the game. This left Ryan to stand awkwardly at first base and hope no one was paying attention to him, even though he's known for being a defensive wiz at short. The Yankees didn't make the playoffs this year for some reason.

This is my first ever camo parallel pull, and it actually doesn't look that bad. I guess I'm just conditioned to dislike camo jerseys (because they are generally really bad) so I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the cards. If memory serves me, someone traded me a Matt Holliday camo card awhile back so this isn't technically my first look at one of these. I'd never heard of Cam, but apparently he's the son of Steve Bedrosian which makes sense.

I like what it represents and all, but this is just not a good look. Choate's frustrating usage in the playoffs by Mike Matheny put me in the always awkward position of actively rooting against a guy on my team. It's not that I wanted him to fail, of course, but I just didn't want him anywhere near the game at the times he was deployed.

Descalso has settled into the everyman utility role, so a perennial spot in Topps Update seems appropriate.

Apparently this is some sort of photo variation, as given away by the fact that it fell inside the hanger pack in between a bunch of inserts. It also has a different code # on the back from the regular base cards. It looks like there are quite a few of these on eBay for not very much money, so I probably didn't hit the jackpot here. Still, Springer looked like quite a talent in the time he was with the Astros. Big things poppin'.

The parade of 1989 style minis continues unabated. I accidentally bought a box of the 9-pocket Ultra Pro pages for minis (the kind that fit these modern insert types and the old 1975 Topps minis) and I'm trying to get rid of them. I found a few takers but would like to find more people who could use some of these.

I don't know who all is in this Fond Farewell insert set, but if it's just players who were done after last season like Todd Helton, it would have made a lot more sense to put these in Series 1.

These are bright and kind of remind me of an early '00s design.

These are classy. These, I said it. How many times has the name "World Series Heroes" been used for a set, subset or insert set, I wonder.

Gold parallels continue. These are so boring to me without the "XX Years of Collecting" banner. I don't know why, but that really made it pop for me.

Mark Ellis's impact on the Cardinals this season was negligible, but I always am happy to have a new player to add to the binders.

These again... I'm tired of them.

Here is my lone Target parallel. If I had gone with a blaster, I would have ended up with a bunch of these, a manupatch and hardly any base cards.

I'm a little worried about the Cubs next year. I'm not afraid to say it.

Randy is too tall to fit into a frame.

This year's Update branding is a glaring example of just how far ahead of time Topps must have to begin its plan and design phase. Even though Tanaka returned from a serious elbow injury in time to make a start before the season ended, I'm sure they would have preferred to use someone else as their coverguy had they known what would happen.

Tony Cruz finally gets a real baseball card! Cruz is in his 4th season as the Cardinals primary backup catcher, but aside from a Bowman Draft card from years ago he had never been on a real MLB card before. This is exciting news for me and my Cardinals binders. Okay, you can stop laughing now.


Why is it again that they don't they just call this set Series 3?

Monday, October 27, 2014


Trying to make sense of where the cruelties of life intersect with a game played with a stick and a ball.

I wasn't able to find the words to say about the awful car wreck that took the life of Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend yesterday, and I'm not sure that I've got them now. It's weird and sad... and embarrassing... and sad again. Embarrassing and weird when you're standing in line for ice cream and someone posts the screencap of Minor League Guy one last time and you start to tear up. Weird because you feel genuine emotion for someone you didn't know and never had any real connection with. But mostly, it's just sad.

It feels raw and cruel right now. This is the third time the Cardinals have lost an active member of their team in the past 12 years, and it was all the more shocking when it was a guy you just saw on the TV only two weeks previous. And when I read the chatter about what it means for his baseball cards and blah blah blah redemption status blah, I just roll my eyes. Yet I just know that when I see his cards in my Cardinals binders I'll probably get a little bit sick inside, because it will be a crummy reminder of this tragedy.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Chrome Blaster

Let's get this blog business back on track with a box of shiny Chrome cards.

I don't normally buy many Chrome cards because they leave you very short-handed on the cards-per-dollar spectrum, but they almost always look really nice. Topps Update wasn't in the store I went to (yet) and I had a $3 off coupon, so I went for it, crossing my fingers that I'd get a Cardinal or two and a few pieces of trade bait.

Bonus pack:

217 - Aaron Hill Purple Refractor - The "bonus pack" in each blaster is a pack full of purple refractors. They look okay, but I prefer blue and orange. A couple of these were a bit off-center, but not nearly as much as my scanner would lead you to believe.

44 - Adam Wainwright Purple Refractor - Great addition to my collection!

20 - Hanley Ramirez Purple Refractor

39 - Mike Moustakas Purple Refractor - Moose tacos! Go Royals!

Pack 1:
151 - C.J. Cron

143 - Shelby Miller

127 - Tanner Roark Refractor
201 - David Ortiz

Pack 2:
157 - Michael Cuddyer
205 - Ryan Zimmerman
156 - Evan Gattis
38 - Carlos Gomez - Bleh.

Pack 3:
174 - Chase Utley

189 - Madison Bumgarner X-Fractor - This is also the photo they used for his base card which might be my least favorite of the year.
167 - Pablo Sandoval - Back-to-back Giants. That makes me sad.

54 - Carlos Martinez - This redeems this pack a little bit, I guess.

Pack 4:
28 - Joey Votto
183 - Brandon Moss

98 - Erik Johnson Refractor
40 - Wilin Rosario

Pack 5:
117 - Aroldis Chapman
32 - CC Sabathia
64 - Brandon Phillips - So many Reds.
129 - Johnny Cueto - GAH

Pack 6:
173 - Giancarlo Stanton

CC-TT - Troy Tulowitzki Chrome Connections Die-Cut Refractor - This is really nice, but it's headed to Erin's collection.
150 - Bryce Harper
135 - Martin Prado

Pack 7:
88 - Michael Choice

74 - Dexter Fowler Gold Refractor 10/50 - Here's the big hit and, man, if it was almost anyone but Dexter Fowler... oh well. Not sure what to do with this yet.
191 - Joe Nathan
36 - Josh Hamilton

Enjoy the World Series tonight. Hopefully Bumgarner will forget how to pitch.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Good Luck Ducks, Week 9: California Bound

The valley's gonna cure your every ill.

Oregon travels south to the Bay Area for their first ever visit to Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers as well as a college football team known as the California Golden Bears. While it's nowhere near the Berkeley campus, and there's a World Series game going in town, well... someone's bound to be around to watch this game, right? I mean, it's Friday night! Friday night football! Oh, er, I thought this night was usually reserved for the high school kids.

Last week's shellacking of the Huskies at the hands of the Ducks (11 straight) set right a lot of concerns about this Ducks team and put them back in the conversation for people that like to speculate on the sorts of things that won't be decided until December. Unfortunately, it ultimately comes down to this whole four team "playoff" selection committee. I'm not sure these guys will actually get anything right, and I'm afraid I'll actually be missing the days of the BCS reign of terror. Yikes.

After a 1-11 season that saw the Bears barely eke out a single win over the Portland State Vikings, clearly on par with one of the worst all-time seasons by any Pac-12 school ever, Cal has turned things around in a really weird way. They just barely beat conference doormats Washington State and Colorado in a myriad of Hail Marys and other desperate late game pass attempts. They kept things close against a surprising Arizona team and an underachieving UCLA team. And they, uh, beat Northwestern. They have the ability to score a lot, and Oregon's defense is still a work in progress. Given the advances that the Ducks have made since their first loss of the season a few weeks ago, however, I don't expect this to be too hotly contested.

Cal did not make this one interesting last year.

Game time is 7:00 PDT with national TV coverage on Fox Sports 1. Go Ducks!

Airbrushed Fridays: 1976 Topps Traded #58T

I've almost exhausted all of the '70s airbrushed cards I own. I should do something about this.

Who is he? Ron Reed was a pitcher with a short name and a long career. Debuting with Atlanta in 1966, Reed earned All-Star honors in 1968 and won his first and only World Series title in 1980. He's also in the company of Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz (and two others) as 100-win and 100-save pitchers who have thrown 50 complete games. He also played for the Detroit Pistons (basketball!) for three seasons early in his pro career.

How did he get here? Reed spent his first decade in a Braves uniform. A midseason trade found him in St. Louis in 1975, but he wouldn't stick with the Cardinals as they shipped him on to Philadelphia for Mike Anderson. It was as a member of the Phillies where Reed would find his greatest team success, as a World Series winner in 1980.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: 1976 Topps #58

Airbrushed Score: 5

Comments: The 'P' logo in any form has always been a difficult one to fake.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Stadium Club is Okay, I Guess

An extremely myopic view of the latest Topps revival.

After reading a lot of rather negative things on the Twitter about this year's Topps Stadium Club release, I was expecting an envelope full of turds and razorblades when I won a couple of Listia auctions featuring these new cards. Instead, I think we're left with a set design that could have easily been 2004 Stadium Club or some other "lost" Stadium Club year.

I'm also basing my opinion on two cards won for peanuts on what's ostensibly a free/barter-style auction website and not something I sunk over $100 of real life money into. Stadium Club at its heart was always sort of a premium set, but not really a high end set exactly. At least, that's my overall impression of it. I quit collecting cards in 1993 and only resurfaced after the brand name had been retired. The zombie version that came out in 2008 wasn't bad looking, but was hilariously flawed as collectors spent either $20 a hobby pack or $2.99 a retail pack for mostly the same cards. (In some cases, $2.99 blasters were found, but this was like due to a Target pricing error and not a complete Topps screwup.)

This version, price points aside, at least looks like a credible sequel to what came before it a decade or two ago. We even get a distinct picture of the player on the back of the card. While I really don't like hobby exclusive sets because hobby stores are generally a painful and out-of-the-way experience around these parts, I don't mind these base cards. They do scan a little bit better than they look to the naked eye, though.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Good Luck Ducks, Week 8: A Decade of Dominance

After a rebound win, Oregon faces their bitter rivals to the north.

Admittedly, I was pretty down on the Ducks last week going into the UCLA game. Jake Fisher returned to the offensive line and made a huge difference, as Marcus Mariota was no longer sacked every other play and the Ducks grabbed a comfortable lead on unfriendly turf. I'm not entirely convinced all is right, as according to head coach Mark Helfrich, Oregon missed an alarming 24 tackles to the tune of 186 extra yards gained by the Bruins. Even uglier were the points put up in garbage time by UCLA, who was another recovered onside kick away from making things interesting in a game that was ridiculously out of control in the third quarter.

I'll tuck away my grumpiness for now, though, because it's Washington week. Back when I was still a teenaged college geek, I got to witness The Pick in person, which I can still say is the single greatest sports moment I've witnessed live. I'm not even sure what I've seen on TV that beats it, either. 20 years later, Oregon will be wearing throwbacks that resemble their 1994 jerseys on the field today, which fills me with even more warm-and-fuzzies. Not only that, but after 10 consecutive wins over the Huskies, things are lined up for a big time Ducks celebration night.

So nothing could horribly wrong, could it? Ah, but my lack of confidence still lingers. Oregon has shown an inability to tackle a scarecrow in the last couple of games, and the concerns about the offensive line probably aren't going away for the rest of the season. Marcus Mariota used to take off and run as an element of surprise, but now he's mostly doing it for survival. It's a good thing that he's incredibly fast for a quarterback, but I still have visions of Dennis Dixon's bones crumbling to dust whenever I see an Oregon QB run for his life.

Oh, but I haven't even mentioned the Huskies yet. Well, I'll let the above image speak for itself. The third column is the name of the team that was victorious, in case you couldn't figure it out. Steve Sarkisian bailed on the formerly elite Washington program to coach the formerly elite USC program this past offseason, and UW ended up luring Chris Petersen away from the sinking ship that is Boise State. Washington brings in a 5-1 record on the season, same as Oregon. The difference between these two programs right now couldn't be larger, however. With the amazing looking uniforms and a little extra bit of confidence, I think that this will be a solid win for the Ducks.

"Improbable!" The lesser seen TV broadcast of The Pick and the aftermath.

Game time is 5:00 PDT with national coverage on Fox Sports 1. Go Ducks!