Friday, January 30, 2015

Airbrushed Fridays: 1978 Topps #501

Big thanks to GCRL for today's selection.

Who is he? The venerable Dave Roberts is back for another feature here at Cards on Cards. Roberts had a solid 11 year career as a big league starter, Roberts pitched for 8 different teams, and is notable for being one of the best Jewish pitchers of all-time. (Sandy Koufax not withstanding.)

How did he get here? After dealing with injuries in Detroit, the Cubs purchased Dave's contract for the stretch run in 1978. The Cubs were an unimpressive 79-83 in 1978. Roberts hit well with Chicago, but considering his primary job was to throw the ball to other hitters, it's tough to say how much he impacted that franchise.

Repeat offender? Yes and yes.

Other versions of this card: None

Airbrushed Score: 8

Comments: Not terribly convincing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

You Can Always Get Scammed

Even hobbies have their villains.

People that spend the big money on huge quantities of cards, or even the big money on just one or two cards, definitely know that the card collecting "Hobby" as its known isn't immune to dirtbags. Like anything that can get dollar signs in people's eyes, there are always going to be shady folks trying to make or steal a quick buck or several. There's fascinating dirty details to unearth about legendary Tobacco cards and infamous card companies (hello, Upper Deck!), and I'm not going to rehash that here. Bogus auctions and items exchanged via the mail not being "as advertised" are going to happen no matter who is buying what.

It's funny when it happens, then, to a circle of small-time like-minded people who just like to send cards through the mail to each other and exchange stories and experiences about those cards, sports, and life in general. I'm generally pretty skeptical of people's actions if I haven't dealt with them before, and I feel like I'm pretty insulated to being duped. Mail thievery aside, it's just kind of eyerolling when you can tell when someone who tries to be an active participant in this little blog thing is obviously not above board.

I'm not here to call out any individuals by name. Instead, these things just remind me that I need to do something I meant to do years ago and actually compile a list of people I've traded with. I can't remember a single bad experience in these exchanges. There's been dozens of non-starters, but in most cases this is likely because one or both parties just didn't get their pile of cards together in time. Life gets in the way, etc. In general, it seems that if you make an effort to read someone's blog and get to know a little bit about what they like, and then reach out in the form of an email or a comment, most people... most... are not looking to take advantage of your kindness. At least, that's been my experience.

The first person that's going to go on that "Solid Dudes" (ladies can be dudes! we're all dudes here!) list is Pat from Hot Corner Cards. Pat reached out to me when I was in my Angry Dome and sent me piles upon piles of cards. (I still owe Pat! I need to hit his mailbox up before I turn into one of those horrible people I was just complaining about.)

Pat also sent some 2014 Topps Heritage set needs. I am getting closer, little by little, day by day. You know what's not little? Matt's head. There's not much room for anything else on this card.

There's a sense of mystery about the Cardinals rotation this coming season, with a number of players returning from injuries and Shelby Miller dealt away. Marco Gonzales looked good at times last season and could be a factor in the rotation depending on how things play out.

This is a clown card, guys. Clown card. Ozzie's not a clown. I cannot draw to save my life, but I know you can do better, Upper Deck.

I just like showing this card as often as possible because it cracks me up.

So is this obstruction now? Is Yadi out? Does anyone know the rules anymore?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sports 'n Stuff

Red cards from Dodger Blue country.

I've been having a run of lousy sports luck, which made me seriously question how much I want to invest my time and emotions into games of men I don't know and will never meet. I do this from time to time, but lately it's been a serious test. I was really disappointed with Oregon's loss in the recent College Football Playoffs and have been watching a very promising Blazers season go down in a heap of balky shoulders and busted up digits.

Fortunately, baseball keeps me even-keeled and contemplative, and I have the kindness of others with their bubbly envelopes to keep me going through the long winter. Fellow Archer fan Greg of Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle sent over a quality pile of cards suited for my collecting needs, even as I'm trying to evaluate why I think I have these sort of needs.

I don't know if it's a west coast thing or what, but roughly 20% of all cards I pull seem to be Dodgers cards. If it wasn't for the fact that roughly 20% of all card bloggers are Dodgers fans, this would be a problem, but I rarely have issues with finding a suitor for a Dodgers pull. Greg found a nice bunch of Cardinal minis for me to drool over and then encase in plastic where they can't absorb any more of my drool.

The Motte, you see, is serial numbered. The Beltran, you see, has no number at all. That's a sneaky pair of ex-Cardinals.

AHHH! How did this wrong-headed Red player end up in here? I suppose it's because I still have this silly Propaganda insert set to finish up from 2009 Topps Update. Did you notice that I hyperlinked that? Hint, hint...

Boom, clap, POW! It's a Jimmy Edmonds jersey card that I'd never seen before. I like it. I'll take it!

And here's a purple guy that I've never heard of. I looked him up and his pro stats end after 2013 with no news stories to speak of, so that's probably not a good sign.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A New Year is (Almost) Upon Us

Let's put 2014 Topps to bed.

Even though I'm unusually excited (no more white borders!) about the soon-to-be-unleashed 2015 Topps set, I haven't looked at the checklist yet. It went live today, and I'm sure that the Cardinals were at least adequately represented. I'll check it out in due time, but it served as a reminder that I need to close the books on 2014 before I move the list of all of the cards I still need to unearth to another place while I make room for the shiny new list.

Thanks to the holiday generosity of One Man's Junk (Wax), I can at least say that I have two fewer parallels to collect. These scorching red cards were the color du jour last year, which makes me wonder what Topps has up their sleeves in the parallel department this time around.

But before we talk parallels, I could use your help in the most basic way. I still need these plain old white bordered non-crazy-stat-having, unbedazzled, boring old base cards for my Cardinals collection:

#US-71 - Justin Masterson
#US-113 - Oscar Taveras
#US-117 - John Lackey
#US-145 - A.J. Pierzynski

Yes, these are all from the somewhat recent Update set, so I don't feel quite so lazy. Anyway, if you've got 'em, let me know. I'll send you something you need in return. Meanwhile, if you're ready to get depressed with me, here's what else I need (just Cardinals!) from the flagship set alone...

  • 14 short printed variations
  • 25 inserts
  • 8 already expired online code quasi-parallel cards
  • 152 parallels that aren't even serial numbered
  • ... and an untold amount of serial numbered cards, memorabilia (fake and possibly real) and autographed cards that I don't bother to keep track of because it's healthy to have limits, right?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Catching Up With Trade Posts

Shiny Cardinal cards from a Red Sox fan.

Last month, my stash of Topps Chipz was the impetus for a Red Sox-for-Cardinals trade, this time with Catching Up With Collecting. It was my first time trading with CUWC, and it did not disappoint. (To be fair, I can't remember a trade I've made through this blog that was disappointing. You guys are all pretty great.) I got some much needed Chipz in return, but as they're not very exciting to scan, I will instead show off a few more rectangular looking objects.

The Cardinals have had a rotating cast of right fielders in recent years. After replacing some combination of Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick with Lance Berkman and finding huge success in 2011, Carlos Beltran came along and kept things rolling for two really nice seasons. Production fell off a cliff last year, however. The juice completely ran out of Allen Craig's bat last year and now the duty falls to Jason Heyward to restore what had been a pretty productive position for this team.

Here's another Beltran, of the chromed up and serial numbered variety. If this looks a little weird, it might be that you're used to the base card version. I can only surmise that it must take longer to manufacture the chrome parallels than the base cards, giving Topps extra time to work their Photoshopping "magic" on the base cards. This is all a guess, though.

This looks like some fake Topps Tek. What do you guys think?

Although I'm not really a fan of the manupatch cards per se, I kind of liked what I'd seen of these when they were doing tributes to famous rookie cards. This isn't a rookie card, though. It's still a fun card of Stan the Man.

I do hope they never stop making stickers.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Airbrushed Fridays: 2013 Topps #416

Pitchers and catchers report in five weeks! Pitchers and catchers report in five weeks!

Who is he? Jordan Lyles is a right handed starting pitcher for the Colorado Rockies. He broke into the majors at just 20 years old and is still looking to put together the proverbial breakout season.

How did he get here? Lyles broke in with the Astros and was Photoshopped out of an Astros uniform and into a newer Astros uniform. More annoying to me than any other photo tinkering shenanigans than Topps ever pulls, in 2013 they decided to go wild with altering uniforms of players who had not changed teams in the offseason. Rather, three franchises changed their uniforms (Marlins, Blue Jays and Astros) and someone felt it necessary to imagine these players in the uniforms they would soon be wearing instead of waiting for reality to catch up. Lyles later was traded the Rockies in the Dexter Fowler deal, but that has nothing to do with the card at hand.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None

Source image (from gettyimages):

Airbrushed Score: 9

Comments: I don't really miss Houston's old unis, however.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Winner, a Loser, and a Pack Break

Contest results revealed! And much, much more!

First off, a slow clap and a wave of the foam finger to Jeff of One Man's Junk (Wax) for taking the top prize in the Bowl Pick 'em Contest. It was a very closely contested race, and the top two finishers actually didn't pick the correct winner (grr) in the title game. Let's just say it had a bit of a Jeopardy feel to it. Jeff joins hiflew (Belk champ) in the winner's circle and will receive a 2015 Topps Series 1 blaster for his troubles. The runner-up was reader Brandon who will receive a big old bag full of cards of the team/player of his choice. And finally, in the worst place was hiflew, proving that lightning can sometimes strike twice... but it's probably going to be fatal one of these days. (Please note that Unabashed Interest would have had the worst entry, but he did not make a selection for the championship game.)

The loser of the big game was Oregon, which was truly disappointing. I didn't have a huge reaction to it in the moment, but unfortunately I think this is going to be one of those slow burn things that I stew over for years. National championship contention can be a fickle thing in college sports, and the Ducks could easily never have another opportunity in my lifetime. They could also be in it next season, but who knows? All I know is that it flat out sucks, as a fan.

And now it's back to baseball, with the last of the 2005 Sweet Spot packs that I purchased a couple of months back.

29 - Manny Ramirez - It's Mr. Baseball, Manny himself! Hooray?

54 - Roger Clemens Platinum 32/99 - Well, Hall of Fame selections are still fresh in everyone's mind, and Clemens hasn't seen a sudden surge in popularity. It makes me wonder what would have happened if he had taken the Andy Pettitte/Jason Giambi route all along and been more forthcoming all along. I guess that's not in his nature, though. (Does anyone collect this guy?)

85 - Curt Schilling - Again, not the nicest guy in the world. People seem to be holding a variety of things against him, including his his lackluster years with the Phillies. And his "bloody" sock. And his craaaaaazy ideas. (And maybe that video game he financed that went down the toilet?)

30 - Paul Konerko - A baseball facial hair look that didn't end with the '90s.

22 - Derek Lowe - We saw him in a previous pack. I guess this is a small set.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Good Luck Ducks: It's Only Everything

Oregon faces Ohio State in the inaugural CFP National Championship game.

Wow. A season (and a half, it feels like) of exciting college football has culminated in a final meeting between two teams that won actual playoff games for the right to face each other for the ultimate prize. Had the abomination that was the BCS existed this season, we would have seen Oregon and Ohio State facing off in a big bowl game that nevertheless would have been a consolation prize while Alabama and Florida State duked it out for the title. Instead, the Ducks and the Buckeyes get to play for a national title.

The Rose Bowl followed the script of a number of big Oregon games over the years. The Ducks battled FSU closely for more than two quarters until a key play broke Oregon's way and the thing just kind of had a snowball effect on last year's champs. Several rather comedic turnovers that led to touchdowns later, and suddenly Oregon was breaking Rose Bowl scoring records en route to a blowout win.

The long road to this game hasn't been easy on Oregon. More injuries have taken their toll. The Ducks lost one of their top receivers in Devon Allen on the opening kickoff in the Rose Bowl. On top of that and all of the other missing players, redshirt freshman sensation Darren Carrington got suspended for tonight's game after failing a drug test for marijuana, something that has been decriminalized (if not legalized) in most places but is still apparently very much on the NCAA's naughty list. I can't even begin to tell you how much I hate this ruling, but there's nothing that can be done at this point.

Ohio State is a very good football team, and it's more than a little worrisome to think that they are playing this game without a lot of pressure and expectations. Not much was expected of the Buckeyes coming out of a conference that's perceived to be rather weak these days, and virtually no one was talking about them as a contender before the playoff selection committee made their picks. A win over the behemoth that is Alabama has to count for something, and it seems doubtful that they'll be intimidated by the team with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

Even without Carrington, Allen, Ekpre-Olomu, Brown, Addison, and countless others that should be around to contribute tonight, Oregon still has the talent and the discipline to win today. I am nervous because the Ducks have never done this before. I am uncertain because no Oregon based sports team that I root for has gone all the way to the top prize since I was in diapers and far too young to remember. But in Marcus Mariota, the Ducks have a leader that seems to repel failure.


Candy apple green laying the quack down.

Game time is 5:30 PST with national TV coverage on ESPN. Go Ducks!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

An Original Fake

Nothing fake about this package, however.

I'm all caught up with sending packages out, so it's time to show off some of the stuff I've actually received lately. I do have more things to mail out, but they will be more of the "I feel like sending you cards so I no longer have these cards" variety instead of something I organized. Here's a few cards from the tremendous Christmas package I received from Too Many Verlanders.

Topps made parallels of a lot of their reprint insert sets a few years back to feature the "original back" of the card rather than the text they wrote about those cards. In 2010 we got the so-called Cards Your Mom Threw Out, while in 2011 they duplicated their idea but called it 60 Years of Topps. Somewhere along the line they also decided to make a bunch of "Lost Cards" of Stan Musial's years where he was off serving our country instead of playing a game for a living, and then they decided to create "original back" versions of those cards which never existed in the first place. My head is spinning. Anyway, I'm still missing a lot of these pesky inserts from my Cardinals and player collections, so it was great to get this one crossed off my list... even if it's a fake card.

My favorite base card of 2013 happened to come from my favorite photo of the 2012 baseball season, with Jon Jay making a perfect wall splash next to the newly created Tony La Russa mural in the outfield at Busch Stadium. It seems that Topps also used this photo for a Gypsy Queen insert, but they cropped out much of the lingering specter of TLR for some reason.

This mid-'00s Woody Williams parallel is numbered to 338, in honor of the number of games the junkballer had appeared in to that point in his career. Weird and arbitrary, yes, but I didn't own this and I'm glad I do now.

Thanks again to Dennis, who also passed along some Ducks that you'll see here at some future date, including something I doubt I'll be able to resist putting up on the blog on... say... Monday?

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year, Same Old Pack

Get your Sweet Spot here.

I'm still working on getting the last of the group break packages out the door. By my count, I have 4 left to ship. I'm hoping to have these in the mail by tomorrow... or Wednesday at the latest. In the meantime, I thought I'd distract myself with another pack of 2005 Sweet Spot.

44 - Joe Mauer - With all of the talk about Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers, I haven't heard Joe Mauer's name come up a whole lot. The 6-time All-Star and former MVP is on the wrong side of 30, true, but I was surprised he didn't even get a mention when one of the morning TV shows were throwing out names of active players that would likely be in the Hall one day. Mauer has never again come anywhere close to duplicating the power numbers he put in his MVP season, however, which may be the biggest thing hurting him at this point.

45 - Shawn Green Gold (562/599) - For the first time in these packs, there's no memorabilia card. Instead, there's a numbered Shawn Green parallel and an extra base card for my troubles.

89 - Johnny Damon

75 - Todd Helton - Part of your complete breakfast.

69 - Frank Thomas - Here's a HOFer.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Airbrushed Fridays: 1991 Topps #486

The first Airbrushed Friday of the new year brings us to a set we've never seen here before.

Who is he? Tommy Greene was a promising young pitcher whose career was cut short very early due in large part to recurring shoulder problems. Greene was an Atlanta first round pick who found himself part of a crowded young staff that included guys like John Smoltz and Steve Avery.

How did he get here? Atlanta traded Greene to the Phillies along with Dale Murphy in the middle of his rookie season. He would go on to throw a no-hitter the following year and was a key member of the rotation that lost to the Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None

Airbrushed Score: 6

Comments: Almost all the logo stuff is obscured, which makes this a good sneaky airbrush job.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Good Luck Ducks: Playoff Time

Oregon faces the undefeated defending champions in the first ever playoff game at college football's highest level.

College football's most lasting tradition might be unfairness. Every school that has gotten close to the ultimate goal of unquestioned number oneness over the years has at some point been subject to getting screwed by some set of rules that were in play to determine who is the best in the land. Every other high profile sport has a system that sort of sometimes makes sense, in that many teams that be considered qualified get an opportunity to narrow things down on the playing field until a final battle is held to crown a champion once and for all. College football has rarely done that.

Polls often disagreed with each other. Opponents rarely intersected. People who decided things went to bed without seeing a glimpse of games in other time zones. Teams were punished for the past misdeeds of players who are no longer enrolled in their program. At some point, when bowl affiliations made it more of an exception than the norm that the top two ranked teams would play each other at the end of the year, a system (the BCS) was developed that just further gummed up the works. As a result, in 2002 the Ducks played a punchless Colorado team that had crushed Nebraska as a consolation prize, while champion Miami crushed that same Nebraska team again in the so-called title game. For the decade-plus that it existed, tweaks were made to the BCS formula every year that reacted to the events of the previous season, until a 4-team playoff system was implemented to replace it.

The current system is still laughable when compared to other high profile sports, but it remains the one that the teams we root for are confined to playing within. In the inaugural year of the College Football Playoff (CFP), Oregon has found itself a key player, the #2 seed hosting last year's (BCS) defending champion (#3) Florida State. A win today in the Rose Bowl places Oregon in an unprecedented 15th contest this season, a title game with the winner of the Sugar Bowl (Alabama vs. Ohio State). But before we get ahead of ourselves here, we have a game to play.

And what a game it will be! Heisman Trophy winner (huzzah!) Marcus Mariota faces last year's Heisman winner Jameis Winston today. Winston has never lost a college game. His team has been disrespected all season because they have played poorly in many close games against many flimsy opponents, but the record speaks for itself. It's almost mind-boggling that a defending champion with no losses at this point in the year could actually be ranked #3, but that's how unimpressive FSU has been.

Oregon suffered a serious blow, arguably the biggest that they could suffer short of losing Mariota, when Ifo Ekpre-Olomu tore his ACL in the weeks between games. The senior consensus All-American was the anchor of the Ducks defense, and had earned so much respect that he essentially was never thrown at, leaving his contributions this season more of a team-wide thing than something you'd find in a stat column. The rest of the team looks to be a bit healthier than we last left them, at least.

It should be a tough fight. The Seminoles have tip-toed their way out of many jams this season to keep their record spotless, but they certainly haven't faced anyone like Oregon yet. With a truckload of awards and a chance to go down as the most celebrated athlete in Oregon's history, Marcus Mariota should be ready to put the team on his back and find a way to the title game.

  • This is an astounding recap, Taiwanese animation style, of Joe Walker's bizarre fumble return against Utah earlier this season that I somehow missed. It gets a little NSFW, briefly, I guess?
  • Sour grapes from a hilariously uninformed Florida sportswriter. What Mike Bianchi is missing is that the two playoff sites were predetermined before the season started, and the top seed (Alabama) was given the choice of which site to play at. If Oregon had snagged the top seed, they would have almost certainly selected the Rose Bowl instead of the Sugar Bowl.
  • Here is The Duck hanging out in a fog for some reason.

Given a second crack at the Wildcats, Oregon dominated Arizona 51-13 in the Pac-12 Championship game to cement their spot in the first College Football Playoff.

Game time is 2:00 PST with national TV coverage on ESPN. Go Ducks!