Saturday, September 30, 2017

Good Luck Ducks, Week 5: Familiar Foe

Oregon hosts former coaches and players in Eugene. 

The Ducks will try to rebound from a myriad of mistakes tonight after suffering a tough loss at Arizona State last Saturday. Key receiver Charles Nelson was out with an injury and it was heavily felt as Oregon managed to convert only one third down.

In comes Cal, with former Duck defensive back Justin Wilcox at the helm along with some former Duck assistants at his disposal. Both teams sit at 3-1, with rebuilt defenses and new head coaches, still trying to figure this season out.

I'm writing this on an Amazon Fire tablet, so let's get to the links:

Back with the usual format next time. Game time is 7:30 PDT on FS1. Go Ducks!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Time to Let It Go

The season is over for the Cardinals, whether I like it or not. 

As a totally biased observer, sometimes it's hard for me to understand why there's little love for the Cardinals franchise these days from outside of the fanbase. But I do get it. People get sick of teams after they have a period of sustained success. While not yet mathematically eliminated from the NL Wild Card race, this will be the second straight year that St. Louis has missed the playoffs, reminiscent of the two seasons following their unlikely 2006 championship. Except, of course, that these last two seasons are not coming on the heels of a World Series ring, but a bitter defeat and early playoff exit at the hands of the Chicago Cubs. This is year six of the Mike Matheny regime, and it wasn't a good one.

Fortunately, I have some fantastic cards from... you guessed it... a Cubs fan to cheer me up. This is part two of the feast of cards set upon me by Jon of Community Gum. Let's look at a few things from the other side of the rivalry.

Here I am rediscovering 1987 Topps. I totally forgot about this set! It's been, what, five long years since Topps put miniature tributes to this set in with their flagship product? This is actually my first bronze foil version of the Rediscover Topps line, which I am told is actually their most common variant. (Hopefully I have the right color here. Sometimes it's hard to tell with foil stamping.)

Jon included a note with this one stating that it was a repack pull. I feel like J.D. Drew is in the upper echelon of what one can expect to pull from a repack. My guaranteed hit or whatever you want to call it is usually some swatch of WBC or Futures Game jersey from a guy who never made it to AAA. I've got nothing against those guys, of course, but when you don't even get a card of a guy wearing any MLB team's uniform, it's hard to get too excited about it.

You know what always cheers me up? Ozzie Smith! Or, more specifically, cards of his that I didn't yet own. I don't often get a chance to buy Topps Finest stuff, so this insert is extra nice. Most of my Finest purchases are base cards out of quarter boxes at card shows.

I really irrationally love Topps Tek (Hi Tek?) and all of its various incarnations. I think this might be only my second card from its recent revival. I think I am just a huge sucker for anything printed on clear acetate. I am the guy that I used to make fun of, folks.

2008 SPx is like the baseball card version of a fidget spinner. Or maybe disc golf? Has anyone tried tossing these cards around an open space? Do they have a boomerang effect?

I'm taking a brief detour here, but Erin's player collections often get a disproportionate amount of attention here at Cards on Cards. This is a fun shiny parallel of Tulo from the waning moments of his Rockies glory days.

I'm probably coming across as a lot more negative than I should considering that I'm poring over all of these terrific Cardinals cards, but I do want to reiterate that I still think Allen & Ginter's shift to full sized relics are a bit of a cop out. This is a nice design, clearly, but the framed relics were always one of my favorite things to look forward to about this set each year.

This card was printed seven years before I was born, but foil stamped just a couple of years ago. It's strange to think about. I need to track down an unstamped version of this card, actually.

There were a lot of Finest cards in this package. This is probably the centerpiece right here. Wong still hasn't put things together for a full season, but he's shown enough in streaks that I still remain hopeful about his career.

This is just a plain old refractor parallel of the same card. No big deal. I probably couldn't find this in the quarter boxes, to be honest.

Another helpful note was included with this Yadier Molina card, noting that it came from the All-Star team set. I only scanned the front to show how little there is to distinguish this from his regular flagship base card. They used to actually put NL or AL logos on these, but the only way to tell now by looking at the front is noticing that the Topps logo is not actually printed in foil. Still, I am super happy to get this card so I am no longer tempted to buy the whole stupid set just for Yadi.

Well, we'll see how much the world loves the Cubbies after they win their second straight ring next month.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Good Luck Ducks, Week 4: Sun Devil's Night

The Ducks enter conference play unfazed and undefeated. 

All things considered, the non-conference portion of the Oregon Ducks 2017 football schedule could not have been better. Sure, some injuries occurred, but after 3 games the Ducks lead the nation in scoring and number of rushing touchdowns. The defense has been tested and has passed some tests that the 2016 and 2015 versions likely would have failed. In fact, despite all of the scoring, the real hero of the Wyoming game last week was the Ducks defense. It's been awhile since that side of the ball was the reason to watch an Oregon game.

Arizona State is first up on the conference docket, a road game in Tempe under the lights. The Sun Devils have not exactly gotten off to a roaring start to their season, but all of their games have been close. The Ducks have won ten straight in this series, but will be tested by a team that has been perfect in all of its red zone opportunities so far.

Links and such:

Arrion Springs and the Ducks came out on top in a walkoff shootout win over the Sun Devils during their last visit to Tempe. 116 points were scored!

Game time is 7:00 PDT. Broadcast channel is the Pac-12 Network. Your scheduled broadcasters are Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron and Lewis Johnson. Go Ducks!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Heritage Takes an Encore

"Bringing Back The 1968 Topps Design... Again" 

Whether we like it or not, Topps has decided to extend the Topps Heritage set the past few years to more than 700 cards. For someone who is so fed up with the flagship set that I may as well treat these as the de facto Topps cards to get for the year, you would think I would want more, more, more of these. (And to that, I say, bring back Topps Total!)

Nevertheless, I picked up packages of 2017 Topps Heritage High Number in three configuration options: a fat/rack/jumbo retail pack (20 cards), a hanger box (35 cards), and a blaster box (a bunch of packs and the smug satisfaction of getting a bonus... pack... I guess?) As usual, it's more of the same. Players that changed uniforms, rookies and players that were just left out for whatever reason comprise the smaller 225 card set. At least there are only 1/4 as many short prints to track down this time.

This is a really fantastic looking card, except for the subject. I would have loved to pull a card of someone with Yankees pinstripes if it wasn't this chump. This is one of three cards in this post that I'm not planning on keeping, in case there's any interest. See if you can find 'em all!

This is my first Cody Bellinger card. I'm about as impressed as Bellinger looks.

There are more Game-style inserts in High Numbers, but this time there's only the Target exclusive rookies. They started over with the numbering of these at 1 again, which I'm sure won't be confusing at all to anyone.

David Ortiz retired after last season, but that didn't stop Topps from cramming another Big Papi card into America's already bloated snack hole. This one is up for grabs, because I actually pulled two of these.

Like previous High Number efforts, Rookie Performers are back. Nothing in this set is probably going to be as expensive or tough to get a copy of as Clayton Kershaw's Rookie Performers card from the 2008 set, but that's okay I suppose. (I still need five 2008 Rookie Performers cards, though I fortunately have Kershaw and Scherzer. Votto, on the other hand...)

Short print, blue sky, blue cap. Lots of blue skies on these cards.

Mike Leake, also a short print, was the only Cardinal I pulled in this entire exercise. Of course, he's not even on the team anymore.

I've seen a lot of Manny Margot cards in 2017, which must be why I could have sworn that he was also included in Target's rookie Game cards from the first set. He was not.

Here's another SP and some blue sky.

Gift Ngoepe is the first African-born player to make the big leagues, and it took him a long time to get there. He first appeared in the WBC and the minor leagues back in 2009. At 27, he's still young yet. I guess that's easy for me to say.

Now and Then are just generic highlight insert cards. This is Buster Posey, not that you'd know by anything printed on the card.

This is not the character from Mad Men, sadly.

If you guessed that this is card number three that's up for grabs in this post, you would be absolutely correct. The Venn Diagram of Red Sox fans and Panda fans probably does not intersect at all, so I might have a bit of difficulty moving this one.

We end with a very talented pitcher that Seattle coughed up. Short print. Blue sky.

The set want list will be updated momentarily. I do need all Cardinals, still, as I often do.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Good Luck Ducks, Week 3: Elevation

The 2017 Ducks hit the road for the first time. 

For about six quarters of football, it looked like the Oregon Ducks were going to breeze through this season like the last couple of years never happened. After scoring an Autzen Stadium record 77 points in game one, Nebraska rolled in to town and the Ducks put up 42 more by halftime. Unfortunately, Mike Riley noticed the difficulty setting was stuck on Rookie mode and changed the game, with Oregon clawing and scratching and intercepting their way to a narrow victory when all was said and done. The second half shutout wasn't shocking considering the way that this team has played in the past few seasons, but the defense did things that couldn't have happened in 2016 (and probably 2015). Four intercepted passes (after nine all last season) helped the defense stand up and claim the win, even if it wasn't one that was going to help them into the Top 25 rankings.

Wyoming is next on the agenda, and they bring along heralded quarterback Josh Allen. Allen's prodigious NFL projections haven't really translated well on the actual football field yet, but he poses the most serious threat to date in a young Ducks young season. Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium is at the highest elevation in all of college football, which could provide another challenge for a team headed out to its first road test. Fortunately, the season is still getting its legs and the Ducks are probably at the healthiest point they are going to be.

Like last week, the Ducks come in to this game favored by a couple of touchdowns. For a team that truly hit rock bottom last season, it still surprises me how much is expected of them. Reputation seems to be 80% of college football prognostication, and I still haven't quite come to terms with Oregon being a school that gets the kind of treatment a Notre Dame gets. Still, as a fan, I guess you get the smug satisfaction of the mainstream public generally feeling you're superior to a lot of your opponents. Sports!

Here are some things to click on:

The first game in this series actually happened during the Marcus Mariota era.

Game time is 4:00 PM PDT. Broadcast channel is CBS Sports Network. Your scheduled broadcasters are Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor and Jenny Dell. Go Ducks!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Brick of Wants

Part one of a huge lot of stuff from Community Gum. 

It's not often that I'm overwhelmed by stuff, but there's a whole lot of stuff... literal, physical stuff... hanging out on my desk. Jon of Community Gum was a major contributor to that this summer, sending a ton of set needs my way. In part two, we'll look at some of the stuff for my team/player collections. For now, you should check out Jon's PC's which now include a quest to collect all cards of (nearly) all members of last year's Cubs team. I suppose they won some sort of series that seems pretty important to people, after all.

I do love a good array of minis. Unfortunately, I botched this scan a bit, but it's a nice mix of characters. You've got your ballplayers, your top hat, an actual pirate (lower case) and Nancy Reagan. Wow. These all came from the 2015 Ginter set, which Jon helped me out a great deal on. Of course, if you look at my desk, there are tons and tons and tons of cards from other sets that I collect.

We've been working on the 2008 Goudey set since, well, 2008. As much as I miss some serious competition for Topps, I don't miss Upper Deck's short print heavy sets. The cards look nice, but it was always aggravating to think of tracking down all of the cards. (Remember Timeline?)

Some older Heritage wants were eliminated, including a bunch of harder to find stuff from the 2010 set. Ham got to go into space and never had to worry about silly things like short prints.

I already had one of theses Matt Holliday cards for my Holliday collection (go figure), but a second card was still needed for my 2009 Topps Heritage set because I am crazy.

Ichiro is just bursting through the headlines here! This was around the time The Baseball Project's song "Ichiro Goes to the Moon" was being written. It's definitely worth a listen.

Hey, it's that guy who has been hitting all of the home runs. Save some home runs for the rest of the team, guy! This one is an insert from the 2017 set. I would probably want all of these Topps game-inspired cards even if I didn't collect all things Heritage.

Finally, here's Yaz in commemoration of his MLB debut in 1961. Yaz figures prominently in the excellent Cardboard Gods book, which got its start as the Cardboard Gods blog, which in turn figured prominently in my decision to start my own blog. Basically, Carl Yastrzemski is my muse by association.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I've Got Pages, Acid Free Pages

Trying to get rid of stuff. 

I'm going to try this again, because I think I lost track of what I was doing last time I tried this. Awhile back, I accidentally bought a box of Ultra Pro (not pictured) mini 9-pocket pages. These are the newish kind that only fit the minis inspired by the 1975 Topps Mini set. (Minis from the online-only Topps Mini set (2012-present?, inserts from recent Topps flagship sets, and some other oddballs.) While I do collect these cards when they suit my needs, these pages do not really fit my organization method and so they're just sitting around collecting dust*.

I have most of a box of 100 left, and while I don't need to send them all to one person, I'd like to avoid spending shipping on sending free things to a bunch of people. Ideally, the perfect candidates would also be someone I need to send cards to (so they can be packaged together) or someone who just would be willing to take on a bunch of cards of their favorite team or whatever. Want lists work, too. I also just intentionally bought a box of 15-pocket tobacco sized minis and I probably don't need more than half of it. I'm a little less motivated to give these up, though.

Anyway, let's not over-complicate this. Let me know if you are interested in some hot nine-pocket Ultra Pro action of the smaller-than-average variety**.

*not actually dusty

**sorry, it's late, and I've had a long work week.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Good Luck Ducks, Week 2: Let's Jump to Conclusions

Mike Riley returns to Eugene as we try to learn more about this year's Ducks model. 

I think the swagger is back. This is something that has been missing since the Mariota days, where the Ducks were simply faster and better and untouchable than their opponent. You expect a huge margin of victory over the FCS teams, and we still saw that the past couple of seasons. However, you didn't see players flat out dominating at their skilled positions like we saw last Saturday. Oregon put up an Autzen Stadium record 77 points, and the defense -- a few late first half slip-ups aside -- wasn't entirely incompetent. These are good things, no matter whose team name is on the opposite side of the scoreboard.

This afternoon's matchup is the second half of the home-and-home series between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Oregon Ducks. After losing a million times in a row to Oregon, two-time-ex-Beavers head coach Mike Riley squeaked out a victory last season, in the first of many Ducks losses to come. (Spoiler alert: it was a bad season!) Nebraska went 9-4 last season, but heads in to 2017 even younger than the young Ducks are. Last season's meeting had Dakota Prukop quarterbacking the Ducks, with stubborn ex-coach Helfrich sending the team out for five 2-pt conversions (out of a possible five tries), succeeding only once. It was probably the dumbest game in college football history.

I seriously did not want to watch sports anymore after last year's game. It was that bad. Fortunately, Justin Herbert looked skillful and accurate last week, and heads into this game with a chance to take down his first Power 5 (tm) nonconference opponent. I'm pretty sure he wasn't even born yet when Mike Riley first took the head coaching job at Oregon State, but he has a good shot to at least impress the long time coach nonetheless.

Let's check out some links while we wait for kickoff:

  • Bringing things back to Major League Baseball, Harold Reynolds and Mike Riley are intertwined as old guard Oregonian sports guys.
  • I don't think the Ducks have anyone on any serious Heisman Watch lists, but Royce Freeman put up 150 last week (plus another 50 in receiving yards) and should become the all-time Oregon rushing leader if he can stay healthy.
  • A neutral-ish party thinks this game is going to be a close one, but favors Oregon.
  • Know Your Opponent: Nebraska survived a bit of a scare in their win over an FCS opponent last week, which could be insignificant at season's end or the first warning signs of a young team being, well, young.
  • The Unis!: All white with silver helmets. These were specially designed in advance with input from children cancer patients. It will be an awkward look at home, but it will serve to promote awareness for a serious cause. This may well be the last time "Win the Day" is referenced officially.
YouTube video link time -- the Josh Huff highlight reel:

Game time is 1:30 PM PDT. Broadcast channel is FOX. Your scheduled broadcasters are Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, and Bruce Feldman. Go Ducks!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Some COMC Acquisitions

A celebration of online commerce. 

I've been doing a rather poor job of documenting my online purchases here, especially when it comes to single card purchases. I've never really been excited about buying "singles", preferring to leave things up to chance and open packs (after packs after packs.) It's a really dumb way to collect. I do like card shows and the randomness of what you might find in some guy's dime box, but again -- the randomness is there. While I'm less excited about this than a trade package, I should probably throw a few of these single purchases up on the blog from time to time. Here's a few that I had shipped over from recently.

2007 Topps Heritage was one of the first Heritage sets that I started collecting, mostly out of its relative affordability at the time (2008 Heritage was already out by then.) This set is super annoying, chock full of variations with the team logos, team names and player names. All of this is supposedly a tribute to the original 1958 set, which is fine. It's not a bad set, perhaps just a little bit boring. Again, I was buying packs of these because they weren't very expensive. And here I am, nearly ten years later, with a huge chunk of the set still to fill. For what it's worth, Eckstein's "yellow name" variation doesn't even technically fill a set need, as I needed it for my Cardinals collection.

Here's Ichiro's "yellow name" variation. You can't really go wrong with a short printed variation of a legendary player like this, as much as I want to complain. This also fit inside my typical "anything under a buck" COMC budget.

I always make sure I snag a couple of the most affordable Jim Edmonds jersey cards. Eventually, I will run out of cheap ones to buy, but he kind of has a lot of these out in the wild.

I guess this is technically a Padres card. But his Cardinals picture means it's a Cardinals jersey chunk, right? (This was probably just hanging on the wall collecting dust at a Just Sports location in the mall, wasn't it?)

I also snagged a number of 2010 Topps Heritage short prints (these ones have the white backs) for less than a dollar. I think getting Evan Longoria's card for so cheap is a good value, although I'm sure this went for something like $5-10 back in 2010.

I actually had this Ron Brewer autographed card in my COMC inventory for several months before I finally got around to putting together enough cards to make it worthwhile to ship. It was strange to see that this card existed, as Brewer didn't really have the kind of career that lived up to his high draft selection. His son Ronnie also played in the NBA for awhile. In any case, it's a cool card that I really didn't expect to see and never would have known about if not for the almighty Internet.