Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I Must Be in the Front Row

Certified awesomeness. 

Trade packages have been coming in fast and furiously of late, which means I have a lot of organizing to do. Fellow NL Central blogger Tony from Off Hiatus has sent me some great stuff in the past, so why should I be surprised that this latest package was any different?

I'm typically slow to learn the names of Cardinals prospects, so I have to admit that Harrison Bader was new to me. He's also new to the binders. Bader was a 3rd round pick out of Florida in last year's draft and is already threatening to crack the Cardinals Top 10 Prospects list soon. His minor league numbers last season looked good so far, but that's coming from someone who spends absolutely no time looking at minor league stats besides occasionally flipping over a baseball card.

Awhile back, I got hold of a Lou Brock themed set from 1993 thanks to another generous blogger. I should have read the back of the COA a little bit more carefully, because maybe then I would have been prepared for this shock. Some of these sets have an autographed card in them, and thanks to Tony, I now own one of these. I can't say that I was ever prepared for a certified autograph of a Cardinals legend, let alone something produced more than 20 years ago.

Here, we see that there were 2000 signed Front Row Premium sets produced, insofar as the first card of each was signed. I cannot stress enough how nice this is of Tony to send it to me.

I also received a bunch of Dover reprints that I'm excited to put in my binders. I actually owned a bunch of these at one time in my life, and if my memory isn't completely a waste I believe they were perforated because you could actually tear them out of some sort of book. I listened to all the older kids in the neighborhood and grumpy store owners back in the day and eventually tossed these things, but now I'm glad I have some for my collection.

Frankie Frisch didn't want to get tossed away, man. Even if it's just a facsimile.

I always appreciate Drake's Big Hitters cards and pretty much all of the '80s Topps oddball sets, especially when they used the full flagship Topps design on the back.

Finally, a large portion of the acquired trade pile was 2014 Panini Donruss. I think I am finally ready to bite the bullet and start checklisting some of this unlicensed stuff. Hey, if Topps had done a better job with their exclusive license, no one would have ever gone out and bought this stuff. Now, it's here, and it's not going away.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Bubblegum and Radness

Your weekly Radness update, plus baseball cards. 

We're down to the Final Four in the big college basketball tournament. Were it not for North Carolina holding off Notre Dame, we would have seen all four #1 seeds go down in the same round. Ohio Blue Devil continues to lead with the slim margin, but all of his picks have been eliminated. Cardboard Collections, toddsteb and Cardboard Clubhouse still have two teams left in the tournament and thus appear to have the best chance at swinging the standings around and claiming the top prize, but it's really a wide open race right now. Meanwhile, the succinctly named B has the fewest points with no possible points remaining, so he will claim the Worst Place "prize" for this year.

Once again, baseball cards are the reason why we're all here, and tonight I'm looking at some cards that Jeff from Wish They Still Came With Bubblegum sent over in a stuffed envelope earlier this month. Magneuris Sierra first showed up on my radar this year as I tried to catch a few innings of spring training ball here and there. He seems promising. and thanks to Jeff I now have two of his cards from last year's Panini E^3 set. (Do they call it that?)

I've grumbled a lot about this year's Topps flagship, but I don't mind this card. I believe it's a retail only insert. The frame can't contain young Pujols.

Speaking of young, Bruce Sutter here looks like he could fit in with the hipsters here in Portland. I may have seen him at the Eleanor Friedberger show at the Doug Fir a couple of weeks ago, in fact.

And last, but obviously not least, are a pair of Yadi rookie cards of differing sizes. There's less than a week left until real baseball starts, and hopefully Yadi will be ready. I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Super '70s

Poorly scanned cards from a forgettable era for the Cards. 

My scanner does not like cards from the '70s at all. I actually looked in to replacing the thing a few months ago when there were some clearance deals at the local office supplies chain store, but I couldn't find a machine with specs that were markedly better than the machine I have for a price I can live with. I own an all-in-one Canon MP480 that uses roughly $5 worth of printer ink per printed page, so it would be better to just call it a scanner. I got it when Circuit City was going out of business. It's showing no signs of slowing down, but there are just some things it doesn't like to do and never will.

Mark Hoyle seems to be best known for two things: generously sending out vintage cards in trades and not being a blogger. He sent a bunch of great cards of old dudes and '70s stuff to me recently, and my scanner decided to scan some of them. Let's check out a few.

There are four guys on this card (obviously) and I've maybe heard of one of them (Taveras? I guess?) But something tells me that the Cardinal, Heintzelman, is the least well known of this group.

Hungo! The Mad Hungarian! I know he isn't the only one. Are all Hungarians mad? Are there gentle Hungarians? Anyway. this is just a reminder that live actual counting baseball is just around the corner, and it will only be a matter of days before Al is telling Cardinals fans how it is and how it used to be on FSN Midwest.

Reggie is literally pitching in front of approximately 5 people. Let's hope that he was just warming up, although he appears to be in full stride here.

Ah, the classic "look up at the sky so we can see the insides of your nostrils" (and obscure your cap logo). This one's for all the (two) people who acknowledged the demise of Airbrushed Fridays. I see your Mets pinstripes, Shamsky. I see them.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Gobs of Ginter

A pile of 2015 Ginter rolls in, plus a March Radness update. 

It was a crazy week for March Radness! It's easy to say that every year, but this year seemed especially nuts. Many people's darling pick to win it all (Michigan State) went down in the first round. Texas got beat by a half court prayer. Bill Murray got sad. A team somehow blew a 12 point lead with 44 seconds to go. But all four #1 seeds advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, and a few of your brackets survived as well.

Our leader, Ohio Blue Devil, had the top scores in the first two rounds but sadly fell victim to the Michigan State Plague and is likely to finish out of the running. Tied for second place is RoyalsRandoms and the cryptically named espn28013321, with the former having the overall edge in total number of potential points still available. Meanwhile, Splinter_9 is bringing up the rear, having selected the blog favorite Oregon to go all the way (they still might!) but not finding a lot of luck elsewhere in other regions. (For some moronic reason, I wimped out and picked Michigan State. I didn't feel great about it at the time and I still don't, for obvious reasons.)

But we're also here to talk about cards, and that's where this pile of 2015 Topps Allen & Ginter cards from Nachos Grande comes in. In addition to providing my requisite set bound copies of my favorite players like Matt Holliday and Adam Wainwright, I also got my very first Mike Mills trading card. Mills is one of my favorite musicians, holding it down for R.E.M. for decades. He's currently involved with The Baseball Project, which I highly recommend if you like good music and baseball (and I know you like baseball.)

Waino is more of a country guy as far as I know, but I'm going to leave this video here. Check out Mills & co. doing a number about another former Atlanta Brave, the great Portland native Dale Murphy.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Catching up with Trades

A high quality Cardinals bounty. 

I believe I have finally turned a corner in my organizational skills when it comes to my Cardinals collection. Soon, the want lists will be expanding and I'll have a better idea of what I need and what I never need more of. In the meantime, however, the trade packages keep pouring in. Here's one from Catching up with Collecting, in what was pound-for-pound the best package I've received in 2016.

I haven't bought a ton of Panini baseball, but I'm starting to get so fed up with Topps that I'm considering turning towards the dark (unlicensed) side. This card is just weird, playing off of some vague ideas of what an '80s Donruss card might have looked like. It's fun! It's got the border of an '85 All-Star set and the rainbow stripe circa 1989.

This was a weird unlicensed set, coming out just before DLP became Panini. It looks like they just decided to make Gibby's cap logo a little blurry and called it good.

This one is a playing card style insert from the 2013 Panini Golden Age set. Nice.

This is just ridiculous, which is why I scanned it. I don't even know what to say.

Nothing wrong with a little Carp goldie!

This is a really nice shiny new addition to my Matt Carpenter collection. The serial number isn't the easiest to spot, but it's 64/78 to fit with his 78 career doubles to date. He has a ton more now, as he would go on to lead the NL in doubles for the second time last season.

The medallion cards from 2016 Topps are enormously thick. I could definitely use this as a weapon against would be intruders.

It's a Shimmery Shelby.

I wasn't at all familiar with this release and wonder if it might have come late in 2015. I received a bunch of cards from the 2015 Panini Diamond Kings set including this Waino.

A dual Kolten Wong relic card! How about that? I'm hoping for a breakout year at the plate from Wong, especially with his double play partner sidelined for a good chunk of the season with a thumb injury.

And speaking of thumb injuries, it will be interesting to see how Yadi recovers from his rough 2015. There are no catchers more valuable in the game with their all around knowledge of the game, and the Cardinals cannot afford to see him on the sidelines for an extended period of time again.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mighty Oregon

Ducks on cards in blaster form. College Week continues. 

I know that there have been institution-specific sets for some of the bigger schools out there, but I never dreamed that Oregon would get the their own card set from a major manufacturer. Oregon's athletic program has been on the rise in recent years and they make waves nationally from time to time with their silly uniform designs and ties to Nike, but I still see this having limited appeal outside of a Bi-Mart store in Willamette Valley... which happens to be where I found this blaster. I almost went for just a single pack, but they hooked me with a guaranteed ("on average") hit in each box. Also, at just 49 base cards in the set and 80 cards in the box, I figured I might be able to knock out a complete set if I was lucky.

Mariota is probably half the reason this thing even exists. I don't think his cards have been on fire exactly, considering his pro team is the football equivalent of an open sewer line, but I think he showed enough in his rookie season to still be excited about him.

In addition to the base cards, there are also inserts and parallels (and parallels of inserts), because when are there not inserts and parallels?

For such a small base set, there are a lot of filler cards. This one is takes the cake.

The set does provide a look back at some of the uniforms of the past, including the much derided diamond plate look. I was personally a fan. I never did get completely behind the silver wings, even if they were at least some what bird themed.

Hoopsters are also included, although Panini's pool of them is limited to who they currently have under the NBA license. There are only a few active NBA players who came out of Oregon, including Pacers rookie Joe Young. Speaking of Ducks basketball, don't forget to sign up for the contest!

Long time pro QB Kellen Clemens goes way back to the days when Oregon had completely sane uniforms.

Before LGB became best known in his Duck days for The Punch, he was one of my favorite players - a tall back with power and incredible leaping ability.

Oregon's got a (somewhat) new basketball arena, folks! 9 of the first 10 cards of the set do not feature any player.

It seems odd to feature Luke Ridnour in a set without his counterpart Luke Jackson, but Jackson couldn't quite stick in the NBA due mostly to injuries. He coached Northwest Christian University to a conference title this season, earning his team a bid in the NAIA Division II national tournament.

Ridnour spent 12 seasons in the NBA but opted to sit out this season and may be mulling retirement.

Just to show what a strange set this truly is, Will Murphy was a former walk-on at UO and played sparingly. His time spent on NFL practice squads in two recent seasons meant that he is part of the NFLPA and therefore gets to be included in the set. This makes it hard to claim this set as a comprehensive look at the stars of Oregon athletics over the years. No retired greats or recent stars who didn't get a look at the pros, but we get Will Murphy. Cool, though. I now have a Will Murphy card for my Ducks collection, and the guy did get to play a lot more Ducks football than I ever did.

Here's the hit of the box, and it's the star of last year's Ducks basketball team (and current Pacers rookie) Joe Young. Oh yes, we already saw him above. The jersey cards and autographs also have parallel versions, and this is apparently the gold version since it's numbered to 25.

I didn't end up with the full base set, but I am going to throw up a want list, mostly to keep track of for myself. I may just snag another blaster just to see what I can get for a hit next time.

I also scooped up this Ridnour autograph from his Timberwolves days, courtesy of a Listia auction. I don't often post about Ducks (or pro Ducks) basketball, so I didn't know where else to put this. Even if Ridnour never plays another game, he and Aaron Brooks can hold their heads up high as the premier members of an era of excellent Ducks point guards.

Monday, March 14, 2016

March Radness Reminder

The field is set. Make your picks now.

Here's a late Monday night reminder that the annual March Radness contest is open. Sign up, make your picks and get to procrastinating... I mean prognosticating! The deadline to sign up and fill out your bracket is Thursday (3/17) at 9:00 AM PDT (noon east coast time).

Sunday, March 13, 2016

All the Ex's on Cards

Players change teams, but sports cards are forever. 

Postage fees are getting out of control to send stuff out of the country, but Sportscards From The Dollar Store always makes sending stuff to Canada worthwhile. Of the cards I picked out to scan today, I noticed a common theme in that most of these guys no longer play for the team I'm a fan of, like Nicolas Batum. Batum was traded away as the first bomb that was dropped on the Blazers after their frustrating playoff exist last spring at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies. Batum's role within the offense had been stifled a bit of late, so it was almost a little relieving to see him move on to a new team (Charlotte) where he could produce.

Of course, everyone has to leave their alma mater, but Northwest native Jonathan Stewart is always a Duck. After years of sharing the backfield load with DeAngelo Williams, Stewart was finally the lone featured back with the Super Bowl losing Carolina Panthers this year. He had a nice season. I had to pick a Ducks card to scan after Oregon's basketball team snagged their first ever #1 seed in the upcoming tournament. (Wrong sport, I know.)

Lillard is the one guy here who didn't change teams. Dame has been thermonuclear lately, even while operating in Steph Curry's shadow. Our new franchise player put up two 50+ scoring games to become the first Blazer to do that since before I was born. I have a feeling he has another one in him before the regular season is over.

I think buckstorecards must have gone in on a box or a group break of the 2013 Panini Hometown Heroes set, because I got a bunch of this stuff. I love cards in disc form and Sportflics/Slurpee disc style cards, so I love this.

I ended up with the lion's share of the team set (should probably figure this out one day) and chose Scrabble as the one to scan. He wasn't around St. Louis long, but his acquisition played a key role in the 2011 title run.

Finally, here's my fave ex-Blazer with an on-card autograph. His numbers are down this season in his first with Dallas, but he suffered an absolutely devastating injury. I'm hoping that he's just not "all the way back" and will improve in time, even though he plays for the hated Mavericks.