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!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ginter Goodies from The Collective Mind

Want lists: reduced! 

Back in September, GCA from The Collective Mind set me a ton of Allen & Ginter extras to knock down some of my want lists a few notches. I am still working on putting together another stack of cards to send back for this one, but in the meantime I thought I'd show off some of the goods.

It was quite a sad shock to hear about the passing of Roy Halladay. It seems like there's been a lot of lives taken way too young when it comes to MLB lately. Halladay was one of my favorite players not connected to the Cardinals, and I still have vivid memories of his pitcher's duel with Chris Carpenter in the 2011 playoffs. And that's not to mention the day I heard about the no-hitter Doc had going in the playoffs the season before, which prompted me to pop into a sports bar out in the suburbs to see it through to the end.

The early days of the Allen & Ginter revival featured a lot of smiling posed shots like this.

Cap Anson, the original hipster.

I'm not sure I'd consider the Astrodome a field, exactly, but I do really like this insert set dedicated to defunct stadiums.

A tip o' the cap to Carlos Beltran, who is hanging it up after a long, tremendous career.

A tip o' the cap to Gandhi... okay, sometimes these things just don't transition well. Beltran was a fantastic player, but Gandhi was a little bit more important in the grand scheme of things.

The Pastime's Pastimes inserts were so jarring at the time because they used an all black background in a set that traditionally favors lots of white. I guess this was just the precursor to the interesting looking but wholly unnecessary Allen & Ginter X product.

Klosterman is a writer who lives in Portland now. Have you moved to Portland yet?

This tree looks like a giant mushroom.

Apparently someone tried to create a machine to play chess a la Deep Blue, only more than 200 years earlier. Of course, the whole thing was a scam, but the actual story that was passed down seems highly dubious as well.

Thanks again to GCA! You can check out my Ginter and other set want lists here.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Good Luck Ducks, Week 13: All Out War

It's Civil War day, with both schools seemingly headed in opposite directions. 

Fresh off the return of their starting quarterback and a solid thumping of Arizona last week, the Oregon Ducks head into their conference finale with a lot of confidence. Justin Herbert shook off some rust and looked impressive in his ability to throw the ball downfield, something apparently no other active members of the Ducks roster can do. Oregon continued to run the ball with reckless abandon and did it well. The defense stepped up and made key plays. In fact, the only thing to find fault with were the penalties, which have continued to plague the Ducks all season. Still, it's not hard to feel good about where Oregon is headed right now.

All of this is before we look at today's opponent. It's seems fair to safe that Oregon State has bottomed out at this point. The Beavers head to Eugene today with zero conference wins and just one victory total, a come from behind squeaker against an FCS opponent (Portland State). Their head coach walked away from this sorry bunch (and supposedly a ton of money) in the middle of the season. Their interim coach doesn't seem like he will be the guy leading the program forward, either, and supposedly they have already hired a new coach even though they're currently denying it to the media. On the field, the Beavers do have one man wrecking crew Ryan Nall, who flattened the Ducks a year ago. They don't have much else, unfortunately.

Rivalry games are fun because you never really know what will happen. OSU, despite being underdogs by multiple touchdowns, could rally for an inspiring victory and dance on Rich Brooks Field in Autzen Stadium. This is their Super Bowl, after all. Not having a single win that counts for anything has to be more of an inspirational factor than anything at this point. But will it happen? It shouldn't happen. Oregon is too talented to slip up again, the way they slipped up last season with a coach that had probably long since lost the team. Today should be a 7th win for Oregon and a bit of an uptick in bowl game selection at the very least. And there's always, you know, the whole winning the state thing.

121st Civil War links:

  • OregonLive puts together this list every year, but reading the history of some of the early games in this series is fascinating. "Rowdy, hat-grabbing behavior"
  • Thomas Tyner was one of the greatest high school running backs in Oregon history, then went on to star with the Ducks in the 2013 Civil War. He's on the wrong side of the rivalry now.
  • Willie Taggart Status Alert: Still coaching the Ducks (for now). Honestly, if he leaves for Florida, he would come across as one of the biggest frauds around, at least this side of the nation's capital.
  • Know Your Opponent: The Beavers are going to counter Oregon's newly found run-stopping abilities with, uh, more running I guess?
  • The Unis!: All green. Love it.
20 years ago, the Akili Smith to Patrick Johnson connection was on point.

Game time is 4:00 PM PST. Broadcast channel is ESPN2. Your scheduled broadcasters are Roy Philpott, Tom Ramsey and Alex Corddry. Go Ducks!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Best Kind of Group Break

May all your group breaks be affordable yet bountiful. 

Back in September, Cardboard Collections hosted another Affordable Group Break. Stop me if you've heard this before, but since the Cardinals were available I jumped all over it. Colbey was breaking 2003 Fleer Focus Jersey Edition and 2005 Fleer Showcase. While I didn't strike it rich (ha!) with any jersey cards from said Jersey Edition or anything like that, I came away with a number of nice things for my collection.

I am a sucker for most Fleer sets before Upper Deck picked up their charred remains and stomped them out. This design is a little busy, though, and the photos (complete with super soft focus backgrounds) actually remind me a lot of what I hate about the last two seasons of the Topps flagship set. That being said, you can't find stuff like this on the shelves any more and I surely needed some of these for my team collection.

Tino Martinez wasn't the most popular Cardinals player, but he had a tough job trying replace Big Mac.

Fortunately, Mr. Pujols eventually was able to slide right in at 1B, and then some! I'm not sure what to say about the 2005 Fleer Showcase design, one of the last sets before the Upper Deck takeover, but at least we get multiple photos of the subject.

The Orioles were my secondary, randomized team selection in the break. Colbey tossed in some extra packs from the current season, which netted me this Pink Prizm parallel of Manny Machado. This is currently earmarked for Gavin unless he doesn't need it.

Finally, I also snagged a couple of golden Cardinals rookie future aces from the 2017 Topps set.

Luke Weaver was impressive with his work down the stretch last season. It's anyone's guess as far as how the 2018 Cardinals rotation will shake out, but the smart money is on Weaver getting a spot at the backend of the rotation with Alex Reyes having a natural innings restriction by working out of the bullpen as he attempts to come back from Tommy John surgery.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Good Luck Ducks, Week 12: Crunch Time

It's down to a two-game season as Oregon hosts a surprising Arizona team. 

It comes down to this: at 5-5 on the season, fresh off their bye week, the Oregon Ducks have two games remaining to become bowl eligible. And with Justin Herbert expected to get the start for the first time since September (when Oregon was actually 3-1), the final two games, both at home, are starting to look pretty winnable.

That's not to forget, of course, that winless Oregon State will be hungry next week. But the main obstacle that stands in the way is human highlight reel Khalil Tate, a quintessential dual-threat college QB that has nearly 1300 yards on the ground to go with nearly 1000 in the air. The Ducks improved run defense will certainly be tested today in Eugene in trying to contain Tate. It will be a tough game for sure, as Justin Herbert (assuming he's able to go) with need to shake off the rust against a team still competing for a spot in an upper tier bowl game.

After the bye week, and five weeks of miserably inept football on the offensive side of the ball, Oregon hopefully has a chance to reboot their season here. With a win today and/or next week, it will at least start to feel like the program is headed in the right direction after the freefall that began with the Alamo Bowl two years.

Links o' the week:

After an earlier home loss to Arizona would be their only stumbling block on the way to the championship game in 2014, Oregon came out and absolutely wrecked the Wildcats in the Pac-12 Championship.

Game time is 4:00 PM PST. Broadcast channel is Pac-12 Network. Your scheduled broadcasters are Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron and Lewis Johnson. Go Ducks!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mega Blast

It's just a blaster with a big box. 

Topps Chrome Update has been an odd retail-only end of the year cash grab since 2013, but this time around they dropped all pretenses that someone might actually want the plain old flagship update packs in another configuration. With a $5 jump in price, this is just a blaster in a funny package. You get 7 packs of the small Chrome Update set, with each pack containing 4 cards. With Target selling all Topps cards at 10% off this week (along with my 5% "red card" discount), I convinced myself that this was a good idea. I don't know that anyone actually puts together sets of Chrome cards, but they make nice trade bait at least.

Altuve took home AL MVP honors today, which was nice to see. I was waiting for the writers to screw this one up, actually. Unfortunately, this All-Star photo isn't the one with Altuve standing next to Aaron Judge, but that would have taken too much of the focus away from this truly amazing player.

I'm not sure how Topps can convince itself, let alone us, that this is actually a rookie card.

The requisite insert set for this product is a Rookie Cup reprint set. This isn't really a bad thing on paper, but I'm pretty sure I have the actual Harper card from 2013 so this doesn't seem like anything special.

And then, of course, there's the weirdness with old designs on new(er) Chrome cards.

The NL ROY runner-up DeJong will probably be a forgotten trivia answer in a couple of years, but his future on the field is exciting nonetheless. The Cardinals were decently represented in this 100 card set.

This was essentially the hit of the box, a low numbered (06/25) red refractor of one of the game's top sluggers. I feel like he's under-collected.

Again, not a rookie card.

It's a former Cardinals guy in another uniform. This is always weird to see.

Speaking of soon-to-be forgotten trivia questions, the 2017 NL MVP vote was certainly a strange one. The top two vote getters were neck-and-neck (Votto was narrowly edged out by Giancarlo Stanton) but you had to look down to 3rd place before finding a player on a playoff team (Goldschmidt).

Yadi may not have received any MVP votes, but he's #1 in our hearts!