Friday, December 29, 2017

Contest Update!

Some are doing well. Others are Coug-ing it. 

First off, you have just hours left to make your Belk Bowl prediction. Additionally, after the playoff games on Monday, you'll need to log back into the contest site to make your final picks for the championship game. I will send out some sort of reminder through the ESPN platform to make sure everyone does that.

Here's where we stand now after 26 games played:

  • Wilson's MN St Screaming Eagles are in first, with Jafronius's The Big Show followed close behind. Both are in the upper crust (97+ percentile) of all predictors across the internetsphere. (That's a word, right?)
  • When you factor in PPR (Potential Points Remaining), Mr Haverkamp's BadgerIPAs are hanging back in 3rd but are better positioned to gain more points. Meanwhile, a number of entrants hanging down towards the rear of the standings actually have the most PPR, but they will need to be more successful with their prognostications than they have been thus far to have a shot.
  • Bringing up the rear, and thus staring down a Worst Place Prize (?) is mintxcore's The Miami Marlins of CFB, currently dragging the whole contest down just like the Marlins do to the once proud National League with regularity.
Thanks for playing, and let me know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Get Your Belk Bowl Picks In

Time is running out! 

There's still time to get one last shot at a cheap and easy contest prize before the clock runs out on 2017. The Belking begins at 10:00 AM PST Friday. You have until then to go here and make your prediction. Who ya got? Aggies? Deacons? The New England Patriots?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Animals, Materials and Humans

Baseball cards are weird. 

Red Cardboard had some extras to unload on the card collecting world recently, and I was quick enough to snap up some goodies. Along with a few random set needs, I also put my name in the hat for some Allen & Ginter minis -- the best kind of minis in my opinion.

Erin decided to collect the omnipresent 2012 Panini Triple Play set back in, well, 2012. She's mostly taken a less than passive interest in cards since then (we have too much stuff and not enough space at the moment), but I have continued to try and help her complete this set quest. The last few cards have been difficult to nail down even though packs of this stuff have been in repacks for years. It probably doesn't help that the cards are short printed as you get close to the end of the set, or that there are these weird memorabilia cards that belong to unspecified players from an unspecified league. (There is an MLBPA logo, at least.) Furthermore, some of the memorabilia cards are scarcer than others, with the jersey and bat cards being the most common, naturally. (I have a number of extras of those.) We're down to needing three Hall of Fame cards, a pants (yikes!) card, and a batting glove card. And then, I will never speak of this set again.


I wonder what the mayor of Miami thinks about the whole Marlins situation. I don't know why people are all that surprised about their fire sale. This is a franchise that has always gone through cycles of overspending and then burning it all down. The only thing that's really changed is that there's a different ownership group.

A fair share of the mini extras (or extra minis?) were of the Cincinnati Reds variety. You're bound to accumulate these things when you're a Reds blogger, after all. Here's former Cardinals star Scott Rolen late in his Cincinnati days.

Speaking of Cardinals, I also was able to acquire my first Topps Fire cards of the year. This set doesn't appeal to me in the slightest, but that's never going to stop me from adding more Cardinals cards to my collection. Oh had a rough second season with the Cardinals, but I would still expect him to catch on somewhere with a major league deal sooner than later.

It was a big surprise to see Edgar Renteria in the checklist (and as a member of the Cardinals), so maybe this set isn't all bad. After all, it is one of the sets that sees the 2017 return of Jim Edmonds to the checklists after a nearly 6 year absence. (Still need to track down that 2017 Topps Archives Fan Favorites auto of his...)

Monday, December 18, 2017

Answering the Call

Cards in a time of need. 

Bru from Remember the Astrodome was the latest to answer the distress call to get me closer to my goal of completing an Allen & Ginter set sometime while we're all still on this planet. In addition to the sweet Private Stock Alan Benes parallel, I received a nice stack of needs from the most recent A&G offering.

Before we get to the Ginter stuff, here's one more card down from my 2016 Topps Heritage want list. Cardinals have stopped showing up on league leader cards in recent years, which is too bad if you ask me.

Have you ever scanned a card before realizing that you meant to scan an entirely different card? That's what happened with Mr. Glazer here. I have no idea what to say about him, but I was going to say something complimentary about Didi Gregorius until I realized I scanned the wrong thing. Monday nights are not my sharpest.

Three World's Fair inserts were crossed off, including this Statue of Liberty card. I want to say something about the state of this country at the moment, but it's getting late... so I'd better go.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Good Luck Ducks: Las Vegas Bowl

Oregon's improvement is rewarded with a Las Vegas Bowl appearance (and a head coach desertion).

After a disastrous 2016 season that saw the Ducks go 4-8, continuing an ugly slide that began the season before, the athletic department chose to go with an outside hire. He was an up-and-comer, someone who had seen his programs through significant improvement at every level. That outside hire, of course, is an opportunistic prick who bolted at the first chance he could, considering a 7-5 season as a job well done, I guess. That outside hire was given free range to hire his own coaching staff, as is usually the case with these things. Many players with significant talent were successfully recruited. And while that outside hire is somewhere else now, the Ducks are left to pick up the pieces.

Oregon moves on with, for now, most of their assistant coaches in tact. Mario Cristobal was given the title of interim head coach for the upcoming bowl game, and later made the permanent hire. Most of the players sound happy. Most of the recruits seem happy. The rest of the coaches are here, for today, at least. Personally, I really would rather watch the Ducks play football and not hear about recruits at all, but that might just be me.

The Ducks have a football game today, in December, and still have coaches that are familiar with the players and the plays. That's a good thing. There was actually a lot to like about this season if you memory wipe that period of time when Justin Herbert wasn't the starting quarterback because the sporting life is cruel or whatever.

Oregon has a date with Boise State this afternoon, which of all of the lower tier bowl outcomes, this is honestly a pretty good one. No matter the season, I expect that Boise State is going to give you an exciting game. There's also some bad blood between the fanbases sparked in part by some sort of on field incident, for whatever that's worth. The all-Northwest match should be fun, if nothing else. The Broncos come in at 10-3, ranked, as winners of the Mountain West title. Oregon, meanwhile, benefited from two Pac-12 teams making it to New Year's Six games, allowing them to move up a notch to a more important game. The smart money would be on Boise State winning, but the Ducks have been an offensive juggernaut with Justin Herbert healthy and on the field, which he will be today. (To be fair, Oregon is actually favored by a touchdown.)

Vegas Links:
This will be the 31st bowl game in Oregon Ducks history. The 2015 Rose Bowl was the sweetest plum.

Game time is 12:30 PM PST. Broadcast channel is ABC. Your scheduled broadcasters are Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit and Molly McGrath. Go Ducks!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Contest Reminder!

Time is running out! 

There's still time left to join up with the 9th annual Bowl Pick 'Em Capitol Sports on Cards Mania contest (something like that, anyway). The first game is tomorrow morning, bright and early (unless you live on the east coast, when it will be lunch time, I guess.)

You can still guess an enter to win the Belk Bowl thing up until the start of that game, which is two weeks away.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

First Look at New Donruss

What 2018 Donruss Baseball would look like if it actually existed. 

Before I dive right in to talkin' basketball cards, I want to ask a baseball question. Did Panini lose their MLBPA license? Does anyone know? There are no future release dates to be found, no sell sheets and scarcely a trace of a mention of baseball over at the Panini America website. As much as I dislike logo-less cards, I would only be okay with Panini getting out of the baseball game if I thought Topps was doing a good job. (Spoiler alert: I don't think Topps is doing a good job.)

I'm really here to talk hoops cards (but not Hoops cards), in case you didn't know. Fresh on the heels of the season's first release (NBA Hoops, naturally) comes Panini's version of Donruss. These look very similar in color and feel to last year's release, but trade the quasi-1990 baseball look for something a little more generic. I picked up a blaster recently "for research purposes" and here are some cards from said blaster.

This Retro Series design is a little queasy looking, but you don't see Dave Bing cards every day. Actually, you pretty much never see Dave Bing cards. I am always a fan of throwback NBA cards.

You can tell this is a late career David Robinson photo because the uniform has the championship trophy patch on it, something that I associate with the NBA on ABC era. Robinson won the second of his two rings in 2003, so let's go with that.

Another year, another Sixers #1 draft pick. And like many of those who came before him, Fultz has injury issues. He also was an incredibly suspicious choice for a #1 pick in my book, the best player on an awful Pac-12 team for just a single season. Of course, you could also say the same about Lonzo Ball, though his team was pretty solid.

More Retro! The Ice Man! I love it.

Gordon Hayward's first All-Star appearance probably came at the expense of Damian Lillard not making the team again. He was famously dealt to Boston, played 5 minutes and suffered a gruesome injury.

My promised one-per-blaster guaranteed memorabilia or auto. It's always memorabilia, isn't it? Harry Giles is someone who I keep having to remind myself is a (theoretical) NBA player, and not Harry Stiles, or Prince Harry -- who sounds like he could be a Harry Giles -- for that matter.

Buddy Hield once slaughtered the Ducks while he was playing at Oklahoma, and I'll never forgive him for that. Or, at least, I'll never forget. One of those two.

This reminds me of something SkyBox would have done back in the day.

Gordon Hayward wasn't the only All-Star to change teams this season, as Kyrie is now in Boston.

I expected more parallels for some reason, but this "orange laser" Doug McDermott ended up being my only parallel pull of the box. It is not numbered.

I find it really obnoxious that the Lakers wear MPLS throwback uniforms at times. Of course, I find everything the Lakers to do to be pretty obnoxious. I do love the look and feel of all of the Court/Hall/Rookie Kings cards, though.

Finally, a Blazer makes an appearance. Here's my first card of Jusuf Nurkic in a Blazers uniform.

Biggie Swanigan got a taste of the NBA life when he got a few starts last month, but he seems to have been exiled to the end of the bench ever since. Yes, Panini is still hanging on to the classic Rated Rookie logo.

Here's Swanigan on one of those Kings inserts that I like.

Hassan Whiteside, rebounding machine.

And finally, here's the Rated Rookie card of the Blazers other draft pick. Portland moved up to get Collins, a lottery pick at #10, and he's now getting his turn at center with Nurkic temporarily on the shelf.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Rediscover 2014

Back to the (near) past. 

Thorzul Will Rule is one of the increasingly rare blogs that has been around longer than mine has, and is still going strong in 2017. I always have to respect the blog that sticks to the O.G. Blogger format. Thorzul's annual Trade Me Anything has also been around longer than I've been doing whatever it is that I do here, and I was pleased to be a participant once again this year.

Trade Me Anything is an annual trade off of the contents of the contents of a Topps Update box, and while I didn't need anything from the basic Cardinals team set this time around, I managed to claim a David Freese buyback card. Of course, the stamped Freese card isn't from his glorious 2011 season, but instead from all the way back in 2014. This happens to be the last year that Topps put together a boring white bordered set. I've come to peace with buybacks in general, but stamping anything so recent just seems incredibly unnecessary. Surely we could have celebrated the cardboard accomplishments of Topps (or whatever it is we're supposed to be commemorating) without including the past five, ten, or even fifteen years.

It would be nice, of course, if Topps managed to put together a set worth remembering for the first time in awhile. I suppose it remains to be seen what 2018 will bring, but the early images aren't super promising.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Contest Time! College Bowl Pick 'Em #9

Pick the bowl games and win some baseball cards. It's back on a new platform for Year 9! 

First off -- two big announcements here:

1. Yahoo killed off their College Bowl Pick 'Em, so I had to move things over to ESPN. If that means you have to create another stupid website account, you have my deepest apologies.
2. I stupidly deleted an entire folder of archived email, which means I lost about 90% of your email addresses and won't be able to auto-invite the majority of past participants. I expect that this will reduce the number of participants this year, so that's all the more reason to sign up! You have a better chance of winning something!

And now, on to the usual boilerplate information.

For the ninth straight year, I am giving away free cards to the best prognosticators of (mostly) meaningless college football games. Past winners include Adam from Thoughts on Sox (2009-10), Mark from Stats on the Back (2010-11), AJ from The Lost Collector (2011-12), Royal Dan (2013), The Prowling Cat (2014), Jeff from One Man's Junk (Wax) (2015), Matt of Bubba's Bangin' Batch of Baseball Bits (2016) and last year's winner MrHaverkamp

If you want to skip all the blah blah blah and just get to the free stuff, go to the bottom of the post for the sign-up link and make sure you submit picks for every game. There's even a separate contest for non-ESPN people, but you don't care about that because you've already tuned this out and started paying attention to the latest episode of Floribama Shore.

If you've participated in the past, this should work more or less the same as previous years, but it will be hosted over on I will be sending out invitations via ESPN's automated system if I happen to have your email address (which as mentioned previously, may not be the case.) If you don't get an email invite, follow the manual procedure at the bottom of this post (and if all else fails, send me an email and I will try to help you out.) For the rest of you, here are the rules and prize details, which should be similar to past years:

  • First place will receive: a 2018 Topps Series 1 blaster OR suitable equivalent (subject to availability)... as well as a small plastic pouch of cards from your favorite team/player(s)/etc.
  • Second place will receive: a Priority Mail padded envelope full of cards from your favorite team/player(s)/etc. (this usually ends up being around 8 bags/pouches or so)
  • The Rhubarb_Runner Trophy (formerly known as Worst Place) winner will receive: whatever I feel like sending you. Be very afraid to finish last. I don't advise it. You say how the enemy of your enemy is your friend? Well, I'm none of those. Of course, as past "winners" of this prize can tell you, you will still receive some cards targeted toward your favorite team/player(s).
Because there's no such thing as a free lunch, at least without a copious amount of rules and guilt, here they are (basically copied from previous years):
  • Participants must sign up through the official ESPN link. Unfortunately, this means that you must have an ESPN account. I know this is a deal breaker for some, but I am not fancy enough to figure out a good system on my own that wouldn't require more time than I allot to this project.
  • Promote this contest! No, that doesn't mean you need to "follow" my blog, nor does it mean that you'll gain any competitive advantage by posting about this contest. I just want to see a lot of people participate, and will be willing to award more prizes if there are more participants. Send some tweets! Tweet some sends! Put a subliminal message on your blog post. Make an animated gif. Send a mass email with a questionable file attachment. Write a BuzzFeed style article complete with slideshow (number 6 will shock you!). Casually tell your co-workers in the break room while discussing Eli Manning's disappointing fantasy numbers.
  • Points are scored according to the Confidence System. This basically means that while you are predicting which team wins which bowl game, you will also be responsible for ranking how confident you are in each pick. The higher you rank those games, the more points you'll get when they win and prove that you're totally right and deserve all the I-told-you-so's in the world.
  • Email me your contest information after you sign up. You can't assume that I will automatically recognize your clever contest name, nor will I necessarily disbelieve your "friend" who claims your prize after everything is said and done because he swears he's NoleFan4Lyfe and is "stoked" about his "sick pickz".
  • You can change your picks at any time, so long as your pick is made before the official start time (usually the TV broadcast time) of each game. This is what ESPN calls a "rolling lock" time.
  • "No tanking" rules are in effect. You must make a pick for every game to be eligible for the "worst place" prize. The prizes aren't that great, folks. I'd much rather award the prize to someone who failed in spectacular fashion than someone who intentionally went with picks that are doomed to fail.
Click here to sign up, and click on the 'Play Now For Free' link! It's free! First timers are very welcome.

Group ID: 179527
Password: quackquackquack

DEADLINE: There's a deadline of Saturday, December 16th at 9:00 AM PST to at least get your first pick in. That's the start time of the first bowl game.

But wait... there's more! Available to all entrants as well as non-entrants who don't want to use ESPN, there's a bonus contest:

Leave a comment here predicting the final score and winning team of the BELK BOWL before the Belking officially begins (the game is on the 29th) and win a retail jumbo pack of 2018 Topps Series 1. Whoever is closest gets it. Belk on, Belkers!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Mostly Old Blazers

Style, Style, Style. 

The Blazers have hit a bit of a rough stretch of late, which immediately followed an encouraging stretch (4-1 road trip!) This is pretty much par for the course for the Blazers in the past few seasons, so it's probably nothing to get too bent out of shape over. Some additional injuries hit the team last night, and so did the reality that this team is still very much caught in the middle between being a contender and rebuilding. I thought I'd show off a few (mostly) old Blazers cards I received recently from Billy of Cardboard History while I fire up the ESPN Trade Machine in my brain.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim, a former All-Star, spent a season-and-change in a Blazers uniform in an era that will be mostly forgotten. He came in during the last days of the Jail Blazers, was injured a bit, but didn't really rock the boat as I recall. He was mostly a decent scorer and solid player, if a somewhat forgettable one.

Dame stands out as the current Blazer in this post. He's shown here on one of those Panini Father's Day promotional cards. Lillard is the longest tenured Blazer, along with Meyers Leonard. I probably need a lot more Lillard cards. I don't think I have enough.

Zach Randolph is still around, folks. One of the last remnants of a bygone era of NBA basketball where final scores were routinely in the 80s and 90s, Z-Bo is the leading scorer of an NBA team in 2017. Well, okay, the Sacramento Kings are awful.

Like all good blog posts, this one is ending with Sheed. I would tell you the name of this set, but the card itself is practically screaming it out. Card don't lie.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Nine from the Card Show

Look at me, posting stuff I actually bought. 

I managed to spend a little time at the monthly card show this past weekend, and I even managed to save some cards to set aside for scanning. I usually end up focusing more here on what other people send me, so I suppose it's nice to once in awhile show off a few things I picked out for myself. If I recall, these all ended up costing me around $1, except where noted.

This was probably my best pickup of the day. It's true that Panini's baseball cards are not very attractive, especially the prospect sets they've put together. Still, $2 for an on card autograph of one of the Cardinals top prospects sounds pretty good to me.

This ended up being a mistake, as I am pretty sure I already have one of these Daric Barton autographs already. Oh well.

I spent the bulk of my time at the show in front of a particular quarter box, and this "crystal" parallel of a very generic looking David Freese insert ended up going home with me. It's numbered to 299.

If I recall, this set was Upper Deck's first stab at an MLB set after they lost their license. I think it might have been a test run for their sneaky attempt at the 2010 MLB set that ultimately got them into a lot of trouble.

Royal Rookies seems to have been some sort of hideous disaster. To get a certified auto for a quarter is pretty much an automatic deal to me, though.

There were also a pair of serial numbered Waino cards, which is always good in my book.

Framed cards are the best, folks.

Finally, here's a cheap jersey card pickup of a really stoned looking Luke Ridnour, the former Oregon star point guard.

If only there was a card show every weekend.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Pack Masquerading as a Blaster

An overstuffed pack of basketball cards. 

I had originally scanned this group of cards to post over at APTBNL, but I realized that someone (i.e. me) had already posted a (smaller) pack from this set. It's been awhile since I've done a straight up pack break here, so I thought it'd be fun to throw this together.

Panini has tried a few different retail configurations for this product, which exists in some sort of weird space between low end and premium. Loose packs of 10 cards went for $3.99, while blasters went for $29.99. The thing is, the blasters really only contain the one pack of 20 cards, which means the math really does not check out. The incentive for buying this is a guaranteed hit and some other goodies not readily available in other configurations, I guess. My incentive for buying this was that it was heavily discounted.

70 - Hakeem Olajuwon - The first card out of the pack is not an active player. Hakeem is wearing a uni from the Rockets unfortunate pinstripe era. Actually, I have found most Rockets uniforms over the years to be pretty dreadful.

62 - Evan Turner - Turner is sort of a Swiss Army knife who in his second season with the Blazers. This isn't recent enough for him to be pictured with the Blazers, though, so it goes in one of my trade piles.

53 - Donatas Motiejunas - Here's a look at the back of a card, which shows a smaller B&W version of the same photo on the front.

44 - DeMarcus Cousins - Cousins is one of those "he'd be a superstar, if..." kind of guys.

36 - Danilo Gallinari - This is about where I usually start to get bored and don't know what to say about every single card.

91 - John Wall - It's hard to get decent action shots on NBA cards for some reason, but this is a good one. (Seriously, though, why is that?)

87 - Joakim Noah - Noah hit the floor on Monday night for the first time this season after a lengthy suspension, and it was hard to tell if the home (Knicks) crowd was cheering for him or mocking him.

2 - Rajon Rondo Floor Generals - The first of many insert cards. Hey, you gotta get your $29.99 in value somewhere.

11 - Marc Gasol Inside Presence - Gasol just ran his coach out of town apparently, but I'm just most teams would love to have him.

367 - Nik Stauskas Wood Rookie - Numbered as part of the actual set, the pack contained two Wood rookies which are basically as described. The front face of the card seems to be made of wood, although the back has the normal Panini card feel to it. Stauskas has been with the 76ers the past few seasons but has barely touched the court this season.

332 - Aaron Gordon Wood Rookies - Gordon has been the much more successful, uh, Wood rookie.

62 - James Young Rookie Threads Jersey - Here's the "hit" and it's not great. Young is still young (only 22) but is already out of the league.

133 - Michael Carter-Williams - Back to the base cards.

126 - Marcin Gortat - I still like the Wizards jerseys a lot, but that's pretty much where I draw the line.

120 - Luc Mbah a Moute - Mbah a Moute has bounced around a bit in the league, but as a defensive specialist he's never had a hard time finding work.

115 - LaMarcus Aldridge - Blah.

173 - Stephen Curry - Not pictured: Steph's mouthguard.

166 - Russell Westbrook - A lot of stars in this pack, er, blaster!

158 - Rajon Rondo - Bonus Rondo.

149 - Omer Asik - Well, I guess I asked for more action shots.

Check out the Guilt-Free Basketball Card Club if you're into stuff like this!