Monday, August 31, 2015

Redirected Cards

Seeing red, just not the right red.

Sometimes the wrong team slips in. I've run into this quite a few times over the years, with the odd Cincinnati card or stray National mixed in with my usually allotment of Cardinals. Sometimes, whole chunks of mysterious cards end up in your hands. When it happened to One Man's Junk (Wax), a collector of the red team with a halo (and not the devil horned team that everyone hates these days), Jeff was kind enough to bounce those Cardinals along to someone who would appreciate them more.

Included in the loot was a healthy stack of 1975 SSPC cards, always a nice surprise. My scanner must truly hate cards from the '70s, though, because once again it decided to chop off another border. Oh well, the scanner lid has been closed and the machine has been powered down. What's done is done.

Here's Jason Heyward, apparently Photoshopped into a Nationals uniform for some reason. Let's hope this isn't a preview of next year, because as expensive as he's going to be I've enjoyed watching Heyward play. (The rise of Randal Grichuk, pre-injury, and Stephen Piscotty may give the Cardinals pause come this offseason.)

Jeff also knocked off some Heritage needs from this year's set. I'm pretty sure this was his own doing.

Finally, here's a 2013 Topps Heritage Jason Motte jersey. I've always enjoyed the completely made-up Heritage Clubhouse Collection designs for whatever reason. Motte joined up with the small bears this season and has closed out some games. I hate to see him pitching for the enemy, but I'm happy that he's been able to continue a career that was faltering for awhile.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Airbrushed Fridays: 2013 Topps #406

Who wants to get hit in the head by a line drive?

Who is he? Brandon McCarthy has been a starting pitcher in the bigs for the last 11 seasons, but he's best known for being smacked by a line drive late in the 2012 season. The shot to the head fractured his skull and caused injuries to his brain. It pretty much sounds like the worst thing ever. McCarthy came up with the White Sox, but was pitching for his third franchise (Oakland) at the time. That number has grown to six.

How did he get here? The shot to the head ended his season, but Arizona scooped him up on a two year free agent deal starting in 2013. Things with the Diamondbacks didn't go as well as hoped, but a successful stint late last year with the Yankees talked another team - the Dodgers - into handing him a big 4 year contract. He promptly needed Tommy John surgery this past spring.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None, but here's the original --

Airbrushed Score: 6

Comments: Not bad, but they probably should have left a gap between the letters in 'Arizona' like what occurs with his actual uniform.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Youth Movement

Filled with excitement/dread.

I'm getting close to wrapping up the Spring Cleaning trade posts, although there are plenty of teams still available for all you latecomers and slacker types. Royal Phil of Royal Card Review sent over most of the Cardinals Opening Day team set along with several Blazers from Panini's NBA Hoops set from a couple of seasons ago in exchange for a stash of Royals card. The Cardinals are doing really well (which makes me nervous) so there isn't a whole lot to talk about there, although the Pirates refuse to lose (which also makes me nervous).

Instead, I'll dip my toe into the Blazers discussion... another thing that's making me nervous. Everything is nervous. Thanks to a mercurial guy who was more or less holding the entire fate of the franchise hostage opting out of his desire to become "the best Blazer ever" (his words), the front office dug up the lawn and turned over all the topsoil at 1 Center Court. Aside from aspiring rapper/shoe mogul Damian Lillard and a guy who looks like a 7'1 Justin Bieber, the roster has pretty much been reset.

There's a couple of young promising players left from the previous two playoff teams, however, and they'll likely see a significant increase in opportunities if not minutes this year. Allen Crabbe was a terrific player in college and made some spot starts in place of Nicolas Batum last season, but he was mostly utilized in certain matchups as a defender. His offense hasn't developed in the pros yet, though that may be due having heavy restrictions put on him by design.

CJ McCollum (not C.J. as his trading card and Wikipedia entry suggest) is another 3rd year guard, but he is leaps ahead of Crabbe in terms of his offensive game. He shined during a stretch late in the season when Wesley Matthews' Achilles injury fatefully sealed the Blazers season, and is expected to compete with Gerald Henderson for a starting spot this year alongside Lillard.

This could and probably should be an awful NBA season for the hometown team, but it will at least be a fresh start for a lot of players.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Multi-Sport Bo-nanza

Behold, the beauty that is Flair.

Bo Rosny's Baseball Cards Come to Life! is another blog that has seemingly been around forever. Bo is out there grabbing interviews, profiling players, and generally making the rest of us blogging chumps look lazy and... chumplike? Earlier this year, Bo acquired a ton of cards and moved a bunch of them all over the place, including several hundred that landed in my mailbox. I've admittedly been a bit intimidated to write this post among my multiple false starts in trying to get a suitable package together to send back, but rest assured that this blog entry means things are moving in the right direction.

I specifically requested '90s Cardinals from the years/sets that I didn't collect in their day, and hopefully was able to fill in a bunch of gaps. I would check the want lists from these years if they actually existed. This is, I believe, my first look at Cory Bailey. Ever. Not only does he not currently have a place in my Cardinals binders but I'm pretty sure I didn't even know that such a player existed anywhere.

In contrast, I have a ton of Ray Lankford cards and I am quite sure of his existence. However, I definitely had never seen this card before, from the 1998 Topps Stars set.

I believe Bo was a near-miss in getting his name on the high score board, aka the 10 Most Wanted "Special Thanks" list of people who were able to knock off a Top 10 need. Still, I will post a Jamie Moyer card any chance that I get.

There was a huge pile of 1993 Flair cards which I will pore over in the days to come, now that they've been unleashed from my "to be scanned and reported on" box. Osborne's name is a bit of a bummer to Cards fans who remember their horrific 1996 NLCS collapse, but I choose to remember the good times... like that cool 1991 Score rookie card, maybe?

Bo also sent old-school Blazers (nice!) including two different version of a 1995-96 Fleer Metal Buck Williams card. This is basically the Slayer of basketball cards right here.

I'll take anything Finest, especially something from one of my favorite players of all-time. Clyde was Pacific's Finest back then, but would soon be one of Texas's Finest after that great Portland team was dismantled.

Wow, this looks totally bootleg. It's apparently from a brand called Scoreboard and bears no league or even Player's Association insignia.

I would have to say Nick Van Exel was one of the more unfortunate members of the Jail Blazers era. For every knucklehead like Qyntel Woods (was into dogfighting and tried to use his rookie card as photo ID when he got pulled over for speeding) or all out creep like Ruben Patterson, there was a guy like Van Exel who was just a lost former star who was trying on a new uniform in a new environment for a couple of years. The Blazers operated like a zealous fan's fantasy league team for a number of years, for better and for worse. I enjoyed the team immensely during these days, but it was also a little embarrassing to be a fan at times.

Finally, Bo threw in some Ducks hoops cards. These are always appreciated! Freddie Jones has red foil on his card, which makes me think it's some kind of parallel. Basketball season (especially college) is a ways off yet, but football is frighteningly lurking just around the corner.

Still At It

The cards keep accumulating.

Night Owl Cards has been around almost as long as this place has, and has certainly been more prolific in all aspects of the blog game. (Is there such thing as a blog game?) Countless numbers of padded envelopes have been exchanged, and back in May yet another one of these transactions occurred. The Card Blogger Class of '08 is still alive and well!

A couple of good friends of mine quit their jobs recently and are traveling around the country, seeing all the sights. I'm terribly jealous. I'm not sure if they'll make it to McWay Falls or not (I'd never actually heard of it and I'm a west coaster) but rest assured that they've already accumulated some great stories and photos to prove it.

Someone on TV suggested that Mike Trout might not be Captain Awesome and that there may be someone who is... shock of all shocks... better than The Golden God of Baseball this year. Blasphemy?

I wish that I had acquired this card sooner. She seemed like a very remarkable woman.

This is one of those weird "baseball cards on a classic basketball card design" that doesn't make sense in anyone's brain.

Finally, it's not entirely surprising that Night Owl had a duplicate Kershaw parallel that he didn't need. His excess is my... I don't know... gain? All I know is that I can't complain about adding Wainwright #210 to my collection!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Airbrushed Fridays: 1975 Topps #514

Back in vintage territory.

Who is he? Jose Cruz was a two-time All-Star outfielder. Cruz hailed from Puerto Rico, and was one of the territory's biggest stars of his day. His son, Jose Jr., was also an outfielder and had a long but nomadic big league career of his own.

How did he get here? Cruz began his career with the Cardinals, but really came into his own after the Astros purchased his contract following the 1974 season. He'd go on to earn both of his All-Star selections in Houston to go along with two Silver Slugger awards.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None

Airbrushed Score: 9

Comments: That is a ridiculously large 'H' on his cap!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tempted by '75

Collecting anything this old is rather intimidating.

I've been pondering the idea of collecting the set that came out the year I was born - 1975 - for some time now. I have no connection to the cards or most of the players, since I never opened a pack of 1975 Topps as a kid or even witnessed someone open one. It's not the best design of all-time, but it's not the worst. Unlike a lot of the sets of the '70s and early '80s, I've been able to pick this one out of a lineup for a long time. It helps that it doesn't have white borders, like most sets. It could be really fun, though! I don't think I've ever put together a set that was entirely based on trades and single card acquisitions, so this could actually be the first. I'm going to give it some thought.

In the meantime, strictly for the Cardinals collection comes this Lou Brock card that's in really nice shape aside from the divot that was taken out (and replaced) from the left border. The corners are almost... sharp. That's not very '75 to me. This was another Listia pickup that I spent a fair chunk of credits on.

I also threw down a ton of credits on this Matt Holliday jersey card from the newest Allen & Ginter set. I prefer the framed mini relics, personally, but this is okay. I know that the memorabilia card as we know it has been seriously devalued in recent years, but I still can't keep away from them.

Finally, at this month's card show, there was a table that had nothing but an arrangement of $1 autographed cards in screwdown cases. I don't know if I even have any cards in screwdown cases. I will free this Bo Hart card from it's plastic tomb (and hilarious overpriced price tag) soon, but for now you get this quick and blurry scan of the guy who was famous for a month or two over a decade ago. Well, that's more famous than I'll ever be!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bowman is Weird, Too

There's that man again.

Sometimes I imagine explaining certain things to people who have been trapped in a well for a really long time, or are just coming out of a long term coma, or maybe Marty McFly'd (McFlew?) their way to this time and space. Bowman would be weird to explain, if you knew anything about bubble gum cards.

(You see, Bowman and Topps were rivals, but big bad Topps pushed them out. And then, in the late '80s, Topps decided to revive the Bowman brand name as sort of a retro novelty brand with a weird new way to look at stats that was completely meaningless because of small sample sizes. This didn't really go anywhere for a few years until they decided to abandon the whole retro thing completely and turn the set into a weird glossy gimmicky thing full of lasers and ready to crush your hopes and dreams and empty your bank accounts because the upside to most of these players is probably Ben Grieve or Alan Benes.)

Bowman hasn't really changed a whole lot since the mid-'90s. It's a small set featuring a group of veteran players glued together with another small set of minor leaguers who haven't accrued any MLB service time. In keeping with the times, there are many parallels, autographs, bells and whistles attached, mostly focused on the so-called prospects. Some of these guys will be great! But it's a really weird alternative to the mainstream, unless you're in one of two categories: Category A, the bored who don't have a huge budget and Category B, the high rolling prospectors who will find like most games of chance the odds aren't ever in your favor. (I fit into Category A, if you were questioning this at all.)

I picked up a retail rack box (I don't even know what to call these things anymore) in a moment of weakness at a Toys 'R Us store, which means I overpaid by several dollars. It actually wasn't a bad box, all things considered. I did have the retail exclusive Tim Cooney parallel already knocked off my list thanks to a recent trade package, however. Cooney performed pretty well in his stint filling in for an injured Jaime Garcia earlier this summer, and has a good shot at competing at a rotation spot if John Lackey doesn't return next year.

The non-rookies aren't completely left out of the parallel fun, as Adeiny Hechavarria's Silver Ice version shows. I am pretty certain a catastrophic global event brought on by climate change will end my blog before I ever get in touch with an honest-to-goodness Marlins collector, so this is probably going to sit in a trade box until the end of days.

Fortunately, some guy I've never heard of signed a piece of tape which was affixed to this card, rendering it extra-tradable. I'll be sending this off to my friendly neighborhood White Sox collector. People actually like the White Sox.

This is my first Kris Bryant card! He's already got a spot in the Hall of Fame, guys. Guaranteed.

My only other Cardinal in the lot was Nick Petree's prospect card. I also already received this in a trade. Petree has been below my radar up until this point, but it turns out he's a starting pitcher out of Missouri State and has been pitching at AA Springfield this season after starting the year in high-A ball.

There are plenty of other Cardinals I need from this set, however, if you've dabbled in the Bowman weirdness.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Chrome is Weird

Shiny and new and weird.

One of the things that fascinated me the most when I first came back to the world of baseball cards in the mid-aughts was the whole concept of a Chrome card. What would it look like? What would it be like to feel? And why would anyone in their right mind pay so much money for a pack of 3 or 4 cards?

If I remember correctly, the first Chrome card I ever owned was a 2006 Topps Chrome Skip Schumaker "rookie card", and it skewed my view just a bit. These things felt weirdly like a piece of glass to hold. They also tend to attract grease and dirt pretty easily! And here I was, last Saturday, plunking down $18 for a brand new blaster of this year's edition more or less to get a few trade bait cards I could flip. I won't make a habit of this, I promise.

The box began with a special 4-pack retail bonus full of sepia-toned refractors. I didn't do so well with these. In addition to Austin Jackson, I also found Mike Minor, Michael Cuddyer and Michael Taylor. Lots of Mikes, basically. In another pack, Brandon Crawford was a non-special refractor, just shining on his own.

I doubled up on Bryce Harper in the same pack, as you can see here. Are there any Nats traders out there, or did everyone throw their collections into the river after the Strasburg market took a critical dive?

This is a Prism refractor. It's not an X-Fractor. Don't get it twisted.

Here's a really nice shiny looking insert card of a guy I've never heard of. I am really glad the Jays went back to their more classic look.

Here's another refractor. The Mariners a sad lot.

Refractor Starlin says hello. I broke my "No Cubs" rule again, but mostly just to point out that Starlin has been terrible and also to complain because he's on one of my fantasy teams. Wah!

All of these cards are available, as well as the base cards I didn't even bother to mention. There were no Cardinals to be found.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Brick of Heritage

Where do unwanted doubles go? To me, that's where.

The Topps Baseball Fanatic is one of those people as crazy as me that goes out and collects all of the Heritage every year. The thing is, for the past several years I've ended up with his (and others') hand-me-downs because I'm usually pretty slow out of the gate in collecting these sets. In any case, I know it's nice to have a place to stash your extras besides your own closet, so hopefully I've provided a good outlet for getting rid of junk over the years. Now, I should probably do something about my own junk...

The Fanatic sent over a brick's worth of cards from the most recent set, including Adam Wainwright #206 (for the collection - which means I still need a copy of his card for the set proper) and a guy by the name of Matt den Dekker. I didn't know such a player existed.

I'm usually shy about giving the Cubs any time on this blog, but Ernie is one of the all-time greats. Even though it's a totally made up design as far as I know, I am a fan of this year's Flashbacks look.

Since these cards came my way, I actually got my hands on a second Felix Hernandez SP from this set. Let me know if there's any interest out there, or for a big stack of Spring Cleaning Mariners for that matter.

The Topps Fanatic also sent over a couple of cards from last year's set. I'm now apparently finished with this set from 1 through 425, although I still need some inserts and a ton of SPs, of course. Of course.

Finally, let us not forget about good ol' 2007 Bowman Heritage, a set I've been working on somewhat in the background for years. I'll get it done one of these days. Joe Smith's so-called Rookie Card became my latest addition to this collection.