Friday, February 27, 2015

Airbrushed Fridays: 2008 Topps #433

Spring Training begins!

Who is he? Carlos Silva had a 9 year major league career, more than most of us, including 7 seasons as a starter. He finished with a .500 W-L record and fairly pedestrian numbers, his best season coming in 2005 with the Twins where he walked just 9 batters all season. Always susceptible to the gopher ball, he would led the league (on the wrong side) in home runs allowed the following season with 38.

How did he get here? Silva's 2007 was better, but that didn't stop the Twins from letting him walk. He signed as a free agent with the Mariners in 2008, where he would find himself with the worst ERA (6.46) of any full time starter. (His W-L record that year was 4-15 for what it's worth.)

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None

Airbrushed Score: 5

Comments: 2008 was probably the golden era of Topps Photoshop flubs, but this is nothing like the Miguel Tejada card found in Series 1 that year.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

My 2015 Topps Progress

Here's what I've accomplished so far.

I've polished off the Cardinals base team set for Series One. This is probably the earliest that I've ever managed this, but I also have the fact that there were only something like 10 Cardinals cards (including multi-player cards) in the whole series. Still, I'm not complaining.

I have quite a few foil parallels to get my hands on, however. And there's always those pesky serial-numbered cards. Hot Corner Cards was kind enough to send me this Lance Lynn foil parallel via PWE, which means I just need the following foils:

  • 11, 60, 61, 80, 85, 220, 286, 311, 336
I'm not doing so hot with the inserts, however. I still need all three versions of the two First Home Run cards I care about (#9 and #16) plus several other inserts. Go here to see the complete list. If you're working on 2015 Topps Series One, I have plenty of extras, so just let me know what you need!


Some Blazers, a Wizard and a Duck walk into a blog...

At some point this week the power went out in my place and I have been too busy to figure out why my scanner and PC were no longer on speaking terms. A few cables were unplugged and then replugged and here we are with some more cards on the blog, this time thanks to Sportscards From The Dollar Store. Buckstorecards is one of the few blogs that I follow that truly goes for all four major North American sports which makes for an interesting read. It's not quite baseball season yet, though it's really close, so I feel comfortable if my usual baseball-to-non-baseball ratio is a bit off right now.

LaMarcus is truly Our Hero. This is a surprisingly nice looking serial numbered (to 299) card.

Say what you will about Panini, but they do make a nice Prizm card when they have their licenses all in order. I've been hearing chatter about fake patches and other unseemly things in their products lately, however. That's not cool.

It's former Duck Dion Jordan! This is one of those Panini cards that you can download an app for and view some additional content in lieu of printed stats on the back or something.

Finally, buckstorecards took me up to 555 Ozzies, thanks to a couple of 1983 O-Pee-Chee album stickers that I needed. They look just like the Topps stickers of the same year, but have different printing on the back to indicate their Canadian-ness. Of course, all of these stickers were actually printed in Italy by our good friends Panini. Viva Italia!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mercy Mercy

R.I.P. Jerome Kersey.

I was stunned to learn of the sudden passing of Jerome Kersey, leaving us with just three of the Bill Schonely-proclaimed "Best Starting Five in the NBA". Kersey was more likely to get a floorburn than knock down a clutch jumper, but he parlayed his draft selection out of a small college in Farmville, Virginia into a long and successful NBA career. He had been very active with the Blazers in recent days, both a consistent presence at their games and in TV work with the local cable network that covers the team.

Kersey was the starting small forward for the Blazers in the peak of their late '80s-to-early '90s run where they made two NBA Finals appearances, coming up just short against both the Bad Boys of Detroit and peak Michael Jordan in separate years. He was all hustle and tenacity on the floor. He competed in multiple slam dunk contests (runner-up to Jordan at one point) and took home an elusive championship ring as a member of the Spurs in 1999.

As the Schonz would say, Mercy Mercy, Jerome Kersey!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Someone Put Music in My Sportsball Cards

Collectibles are not always the baseball kind.

Jack White's insert card in the 2015 Topps set sparkled a fair amount of pop culture interest. Though it wasn't quite the mopey freeze frame of his visit to Wrigley Field that sparked a million memes, it did become an interesting conversation piece as the new Topps Series One was rolled out. It's funny how the mainstream media gets ahold of (or is fed) a story like this at the beginning of every season. No one is talking baseball cards on cable television by the time Series Two rolls around, or even by the time something like Bowman first hits the shelves.

If it was ten years ago, I might have really enjoyed this card. I liked The Big Lebowski well enough that I might have gotten a kick out of the Jeff Bridges card as well. This stuff just seems unnecessary to me now, but I'm not sure why. I own all of the White Stripes records, but I can't say I'm a big fan of Jack White the person in the screechy celebrity era. The story of his tour rider was amusing enough for a few minutes, but now that there's been multiple responses penned in return, I'm really tired of it already. The next time you see this guy on the screen, are you going to talk about his music, his baseball card or his touring crew's very specific guacamole recipe?

It's a cute idea, Topps, but I could have used another Adam Wainwright card instead. This one is up for grabs.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Airbrushed Fridays: 2013 Topps Stickers #55

One of the newest Cardinals had a little work done.

Who is he? Mark Reynolds is the hard-swinginest, home run-hittinest free swinging baseball man the game has seen in some time. Okay, fine, he just strikes out a ton and hits plenty of home runs. Throw in a few walks here and there and you have a Three True Outcomes guy. Except... well... striking out truly is favorite thing to do. He led the league in the category for four consecutive years and only now doesn't do it because he doesn't get enough playing time.

How did he get here? At one point, Reynolds had a primo job with the Diamondbacks and was considered a budding star, but he just couldn't keep the strikeouts down even as his power numbers plummeted. He also hit south of the Mendoza Line more than once. After Arizona traded him to Baltimore, the Orioles let him go and he's hopped from team to team via free agency ever since. While the Cardinals picked him up as a bench bat to boost their lack of "pop" on the roster, it remains to be seen if his time in St. Louis will outshine that of, say, Ty Wigginton.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: 2013 Topps Heritage #230 - same Photoshopped photo, plus zoom

Airbrushed Score: 7

Comments: It's entirely possible I won't hate Mark Reynolds at this time next year, but we'll see.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spanish Silver Ink

It's officially the NBA All-Star Break!

Victor Claver may not be a Blazer by the time the league resumes play as the trading deadline is looming and his playing time has been rather scarce. That didn't prevent me from picking up a snappy certified autograph of the third year Spanish forward thanks to a Listia auction win. Like others on the Blazers bench, Claver found a lot more playing time a couple of seasons ago when Terry Stotts took over a struggling team with an inexperienced bench. After the team added a few pieces and stormed out of the gate last season, playing time for the less experienced players dried up. The process repeated itself this year. While some (Meyers Leonard?!) have stepped up their games given additional opportunities, others like Claver and Will Barton have sat for long stretches. I do like Claver's game, and it's hard to improve on what you have when you don't have a chance to show it.

All that being said, I'm interested in pretty much any Blazers card I don't already have, autographed or otherwise. Just so you know. Now, back to your regularly scheduled (baseball) programming.

2015 Topps: The Blaster

What is a blaster supposed to be, anyway? Where did that name even come from?

Here are my final thoughts on 2015 Topps Series One as I take a look what I got in my blaster last week. I will probably buy a few more packs here and there, but that will probably be it. There aren't a lot of Cardinals in this set for once. I'm not complaining, though.

As you can see above, the manufactured memorabilia hit is a Tulo card, which works out well if your name is Erin. These "cards" are more like bricks, and they are very heavy. You could seriously injure someone with one of these if you so desired.

This is supposedly a "Baseball History" insert, but I don't think they were playing any kind of baseball on the moon.

Here's another "rainbow foil" parallel. It turns out that these are nearly as rare as the golds.

That's some nerve you've got there, Topps!

Deion Sanders hit 39 home runs in his career, one fewer than Nelson Cruz hit last season. This is an extremely stupid baseball card.

Wright doesn't look 10+ years younger here (this is supposed to be from 2004 if you can't read the foil) but the patch on his sleeve seems to match one the Mets wore that season. Maybe GCRL can verify this.

These are pretty busy looking and the year is displayed as prominently as the player.

New Guy, Old Guy. Matt Harvey has a teenage mustache.

This seems legit. Look at those awful vests the Pirates used to wear, along with Bautista's hilarious sleeves.

Oh man, I started this blog that year (2008) and seeing Hamilton in a Reds jersey doesn't seem weird at all.

Josh Hamilton was also my gold card o' the blaster.

I don't care about these at all. This is yet another card to put in the "NO TEAM" section of my trade-able inserts box that I'll never get rid of.

These are great. I wish current Cardinals made great defensive plays in the outfield that could be captured on a baseball card.

I wish he was beating the crap out of Robin Ventura on this card instead of this.

How did Randy Johnson not catastrophically tear his arm up at some point in his career? That might be what amazes me the most.

You don't see many cards of Red Schoendienst these days in another uniform besides the Cardinals. So this doesn't go in my binder? Aw, man.

This will have to do.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Clear and Present Wainwright

My second clear Adam Wainwright parallel is my second clear parallel, period.

Last summer, I acquired a rare Adam Wainwright parallel through a somewhat surprising channel, thinking I probably wouldn't be lucky enough to pick up anything like this again. That other clear Wainwright card also doubles as a Clayton Kershaw parallel (and Jordan Zimmermann if you're into that sort of thing), but I like to focus on what I like here. As it turns out, that card won't be the only low numbered see-through card in my collection, as I negotiated several spots in my mini group break for this 2014 Topps Update Waino card from Caitlin.

Hey, look, he's pointing in a different direction!

In other news, I am planning on sending out the prizes on Monday for the Bowl Pick 'Em. March Madness is just around the corner, and as longtime readers of the blog know, that also means March Radness is nearly upon us. Get your crystal ball ready!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

2015 Topps: The Hanger Pack

Some highlights of another batch of new Topps cards I purchased.

I stopped by Target yesterday and am now very thankful that my trip earlier in the week was derailed. I never would have made it into a random Fred Meyer and I never would have found 2015 Topps cards, because my usual Target still doesn't have any of it. In fact, they pulled almost all of their baseball stuff off the shelves in the fall (or maybe it all just sold?) so the aisle is mostly football and hockey stuff which doesn't really interest me.

Anyway, here's some stuff I got in the $9.99 hanger pack.

This is another one of the "rainbow foil" parallels. They're basically budget style refractors.

Here's what the gold parallels look like. They are certainly different than in past years, with more of a foil sheen to them. I miss the old glittery gold look, but I would certainly take an improved base set design as a trade-off. Like in recent years, they are serial numbered to the current year in raised black ink.

This is a very specific sounding insert set. Does this series only have right fielders, with the other outfield positions being saved for subsequent sets? I guess I didn't research this very carefully. I have a feeling I'm going to wish Topps saved the Heyward inserts for later in the year when they would be bound for my Cardinals binders.

The best pitchers in the NL. Kershaw did distance himself a bit from the rest by the end of the season, of course.

More Kershaw, this time side by side with Fernando on another "Old Guy, New Guy" card.

Lance Lynn is a great pitcher. There, I said it.

This was a thing that happened in 2012.

This is probably my least favorite insert set from 2015. It's just ugly.

The 1st Home Run inserts have gold versions that are probably limited to these hanger packs, which will probably make them challenging to collect. I got two in the box, which is probably standard. This is all just speculation on my part.

That's some serious Pitcher Face!

Here's the other gold 1st Home Run insert, which will head straight for Erin's Tulo collection.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Airbrushed Fridays: 2014 Topps #490

2014 was so, so long ago.

Who is he? Logan Morrison is a part time outfielder and first baseman who came up in the Marlins system. He was, to my knowledge, the first player to get demoted to the minors for focusing more on Twitter than his game during his time with Florida. This didn't make Morrison very happy as he sought legal retribution for his troubles.

How did he get here? The Mariners traded a bullpen arm, Carter Capps, to the Marlins last offseason to bring Morrison to the Pacific Northwest.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None

Airbrushed Score: 7

Comments: This appears to be another close-cropped photo, something that Topps has favored of late. But why stop there? They could have just zoomed in to Logan's face and had even less work to do in Photoshop.

2015 Topps: The Jumbo

A first look at the new year's brand new Topps product.

I made a mad dash to Target last night to check and see if the new 2015 Topps Series One had hit the shelves yet, but my plans were derailed. I know this is a common complaint, but I have found that the places I normally shop are a little behind the rest of the country when it comes to stocking their shelves. Strangely enough, I didn't even make it to Target last night because my train abruptly kicked all of its passengers off. If this hadn't happened, there's a decent chance I wouldn't have any of these shiny new cards in my hands, because I decided to pop into a Fred Meyer store instead. They had the new stuff in all sorts of configurations, and I ended up buying one of everything: a loose pack, a jumbo pack, a hanger box and a blaster. You can find the loosey over at APTBNL soon, but for now here are some of the cards I got the from the jumbo pack and my thoughts on said cards.

On first impression, I do think this is easily the best looking base set Topps had put out in more than a decade. The only thing that's preventing me from actually collecting the stupid thing, aside from cash and common sense, is that I still have too many hangups with the way these cards are cranked out. They're still putting out the same thin white carts with glossy coating and they still release their cards in three series, only two of which are numbered consecutively. They still favor flash and gimmicks over cards of role players and the overlooked. In my younger collecting days, I looked to baseball cards as a physical document of a player's season and career, but we only cards of the chosen ones anymore. (Bring back Topps Total!)

In any case, if I was going to collect any base set of the last decade, it would be this one, because they finally got away from the horrible blandness that has plagued almost every set since I started this blog.

I'm all for inserts of current players that are a throwback to something early in their career. I really like (and am still trying to collect) the 2008 50th Anniversary All-Rookie Team insets for this very reason.

I haven't warmed up to these yet, but how long has it been since Fernando had a (licensed) baseball card?

These league leaders cards are familiar. I guess that's all I have to say.

I'm not sure that Topps remembers how they are supposed to use the Future Stars tag. Back in the day, the Future Stars cards were of players that were still rookies and very green. Abreu already has a full and extremely productive season under his belt. Oddly enough, Evan Gattis also has the Future Stars banner, and he's essentially played two full seasons.

The card backs are really nice. I like the big numbers and the fact that it goes out of its way to tell you that it's "Series One". Topps even took care to include Abreu's Cuban pro numbers on the back and HOLY CRAP HE HIT A LOT OF HOME RUNS. And look at all those steals! I guess the international stats didn't quite import to the Topps computers correctly. I smell a data shift. Data shift!

Yet again... Topps can't let this concept go. Old guy and current guy, together at last. We get it.

You can't really tell by the scan, but this is a Rainbow Foil parallel. These are seriously underwhelming. They are the only non-serial numbered parallel as far as I know, so at least there's fewer colors of things to collect this year if you're a team collector.

And once again, there's a gaggle of new officially designated "RC" rookies with funny names that I've never heard of. Some of these guys will make it and others will be Wladimir Balentien.