Monday, April 30, 2018

Another Four-Sport Winner

A sportsball trade package. 

The always excellent buckstorecards found another way to smuggle cards across the northern border and into my collection, sending a bounty of Cardinals, Trail Blazers, (American) footballers and even some hockey guys my way. I haven't really figured how how to incorporate hockey cards into the blog yet (or my life, really), but I have a nice little collection of St. Louis Blues cards brewing. They narrowly missed the playoffs this season and narrowly missed the cut for this post.

Minor league baseball cards are always high on the list of stuff I like to see in these sorts of swaps. I even like the new stuff Topps puts out. I just wish the packs were a bit cheaper and more accessible.

Former Cardinals rotation stalwart Jaime Garcia made his last appearances in a Cardinals uniform in last year's flagship Series 1. This is the gold parallel of his Cardinals send off. I miss the old gold borders from past sets.

Marcus Mariota RC Alert! I don't actually recognize what set this is from, but it's a little more substantial than your average set.

Oh, the perils of being a team collector. As I occasionally have to explain, not only do I collect this type of transitional card (player shown with old team, labeled as a Cardinal), but I also collect the reverse of this. If a card depicts a player in a Cardinals uniform, even if he's labeled with his new team, it goes in my collection. (Same rules apply to my Blazers cards.) Does everyone else do this, or am I just weird?

Speaking of the Trail Blazers, it's former big lug of a center Robin Lopez on some sort of red parallel from the 2014-15 Panini Threads set. I bet you already knew that, though, since it says THREADS in huge letters.

The scanner doesn't ever do a good job at showing this, but you can see right through this Nic Batum card. Cool stuff!

Finally, this is a jersey card from Panini's annual "Black Friday" promotion. At the time Black Friday rolled around, it didn't look like Zach Collins would have much of an impact on this year's Blazers team, but he started logging enough key minutes that they eventually sent former lottery pick/project Noah Vonleh packing. (Actually, it's more complicated than that, and Vonleh likely would have stuck around if the team's financial situation wasn't all screwed up right now.)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bowman Bonanza

George approves! 

Another spring season means another Bowman set hits the shelves. While I can barely tell the difference between this design and last year's, I had a much more positive initial experience with these cards than I did last year around this time. Was it because of the cards I was lucky enough to pull? Probably! At the City Target, I picked up five loose packs (from a box that actually appeared to be untouched), plus a jumbo rack pack and a 3-pack (plus bonus!) from the rack.

Ohtani ended up being the very first 2018 Bowman card I laid my eyes on, sitting on the very top of my first pack. I was initially very skeptical of him from the get go, but now it seems like his greatest obstacle might be staying healthy... well, until batters and pitchers start figuring him out, of course.

Alcantara was a Cards prospect that was lost in the Marcell Ozuna trade this past offseason. Here he is Photoshopped into his new uniform. Alcantara didn't make the Marlins out of spring training, so he still has some work to do after his cup of coffee with St. Louis last year.

Here's one of the Cardinals I pulled. With Grichuk and Piscotty gone, the path has been somewhat cleared for Bader to stick as a fourth outfielder.

#silly. Look at all of those ones and zeros.

Delvin Perez isn't someone I know a lot about, but I know that he returns from past Bowman sets.

A staple of past Bowman sets, the Scouts' Top 100 is back as an excuse to make more cards of the better prospects.

I first heard of Brent Honeywell in a feature on MLB Network. A few days later, he was lost for the season to Tommy John surgery.

This is certainly more promising than the other kind of pipeline that occasionally floods the dugouts in Oakland.

At 6'3", Riley Pint is not small for a baseball player. It's probably good that he isn't a basketball player, though. Just think of all of the name-related comments!

Tommy John surgery is #trending apparently.

This is a rare non-prospect Bowman insert. I don't know what is so special about Kyle Schwarber's birthday, though. Birthdays are a fairly common thing to have.

The three-pack special comes with three extra "camo" prospect parallels. These aren't great, but are at least an improvement over the boring yellow of previous years.

Tyler O'Neill came over from the Mariners in a midseason deal last year and has already squeezed in some at-bats with the big club this year. I don't expect him to make much of a contribution, yet, but he's an intriguing player with a lot of (so far minor league) power. (I also pulled the Chrome version of this.)

Hey look! Trea Turner has a birthday, too!

In yet another insert design, here's a Dodgers guy because there's always Dodgers guys in my packs. Stupid West Coast bias.

Vlad Jr. is #1... really? I guess he is super young and the rankings probably don't have a lot to do with how close someone is to contributing to a MLB club.

This #trending card makes it a pair of Lil' Vlad inserts.

I have to admit was pretty shocked to get this numbered Acuña card. I've heard that he's good! Usually, my (admittedly few) Bowman serial numbered cards are of light hitting middle infielders that are barely a blip on anyone's radar.

There was even an autograph in this whole bunch of cards. It looks like Santana gave up part way through signing his sticker. I mean, there were probably hundreds more of these things left to sign after all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Rookies

Another tribute to '80s Donruss cards. 

Among the bargains to be had at the most recent monthly card show were a stack of boxed sets of what could be generously considered a tribute to a late '80s staple: Donruss The Rookies. When Panini revived the brand for baseball in 2014, they put out a set in two series that included an insert concept called "The Rookies", a nod to the year end rookie-centric answer to Topps Traded and Fleer Update.

Like their base card counterparts, The Rookies: 2014 Style (no logos) are not the most attractive looking things in the world, but they do include the classic logo. The box set includes all of the inserts from Series 1 and Series 2, plus a whole lot more -- more than fifty additional box set exclusive cards to fill out the set at 100 even. I haven't done a side by side comparison between a pack-pulled insert and its box set counterpart, but as far as I can tell, there's no discernible difference.

The set includes 4 Cardinals cards, none of which I owned previously. Only Kolten Wong remains on the team roster today, while Marco Gonzales is trying to make a go of it in the Mariners rotation and Randal Grichuk is trying to stick in the Toronto outfield (and piling up a lot of strikeouts.)

And then, of course, there's Oscar. RIP.

Each box promises one autograph card as a bonus. This Aaron Sanchez, confusingly, is derived from another set entirely, but the back of the box warned me that this might happen. (Also, apparently, you have a chance to pull an unsigned Masahiro Tanaka "Rookie Ticket" card, which doesn't sound very autographed at all!)

Strangely, there was a second auto included, which uses the regular The Rookie design.

I'm only keeping the Cardinals card from this set, so the rest will generally be up for grabs. I'll probably hang on to the George Springer card, because I tend to hoard his stuff for some reason, and the Sanchez auto will probably be heading off to Canada. The rest is fair game. It's a pretty decent crop of rookies overall, with Betts and DeGrom included in the bunch among others. It's too bad about the logos, though.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Solid Gold!

A group break with some surprising luck. 

Longtime blog and box breaking aficionado Nachos Grande put together a recent group break that ticked a lot of boxes for me. This was a good mix of affordable old stuff that I missed during my non-collecting years with a dash of shiny new things that I would probably never normally buy for myself. I selected a few of the cards that knocked off some team collection needs to show here.

Mostly through trades, I have accumulated quite a few Sports Illustrated Cardinals cards over the years, but for some reason this 1997 set had mostly escaped me. Kind of like how Brian Jordan appears to be trying to escape some sort of rundown or other baserunning conundrum.

I am really starting to enjoy the term "inside baseball" and it's proliferation in everyday language, generally used to explain when things are getting a little too nerdy and overly detailed for most folks. I think I just really like baseball.

This slightly askew DK card was, surprisingly, not already in my collection. I was able to knock off a good chunk of the 2002 Fleer Triple Crown team set through this break.

I'm never not going to notice the lack of jersey numbers on the fronts of the unis in cards from the McGwire era. It just looks so wrong.

I wish this was a real Albert Pujols rookie card! Maybe someday.

Here is my big coup. Somehow, I was able to pull off an on card autograph from the exciting young member of the Cardinals pitching rotation. This is actually a huge chunk of gold metal with stickers glued on. It's not the autograph that's on a piece of sticker tape, mind you - the whole card face seems to be a sticker. I don't want to pick at it to find out for real. In any case, this is one of the coolest and most unique cards I've seen in quite some time, and has a good chance to be my number one "hit" of 2018. After a stretch of shoulder shrugging group breaks lately, it was nice to pull this off, even if I had absolutely no hand in it.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Card Show Odds 'n Sods

The odd stuff. 

The monthly card show was a week ago, but I'm finally getting the chance to sort through some of the stuff I bought. I was even in more of hurry than usual, spending the bulk of my time at just one table that had several boxes of what could be considered mostly "oddballs" for a dime a piece. I am still kicking myself for not trying to make an offer on the contents of a box from another table where everything was just two cents, but I am just not great at haggling. Plus, I think Erin would have killed me for bringing even more cards home than is absolutely necessary to keep this racket going.

Oh well, maybe next time.

I am just showing a few of the ten cent offerings, like this serial numbered Nat Borchers card from a few years ago. I rarely buy Portland Timbers stuff, but Borchers is a happy reminder of the team's MLB Cup win. Plus, the price was more than right.

One of these days, I will get my Randall Cunningham collection (aka P.C.) off to a proper start. None of my football cards are sorted in any way, as the sport continues to take a backseat... a way backseat... like those seats in an old station wagon that faced the rear of the car... to the other sports that are more interesting to me. Still, Randall is awesome, and always will be awesome -- even in other uniforms (excluding the Cowboys, of course.)

This is the ultimate oddball card. I like everything about this.

Going all the way back to the year this blog was introduced to the world, there were even a handful of 2008 Stadium Club 1st Day Issue cards in one of the boxes. These were the hobby versions, which were thicker than the normal cards and actually numbered. Topps really screwed up this set and wouldn't bring it back out of hiding for another 6 years. Still, it was nice to get another serial numbered Matt Holliday card for my collection for the price of practically nothing.

On the Brink of Elimination

What happened to the Trail Blazers? 

I don't... get it. Game 4 is in a couple of hours, which means the Blazers long offseason may begin as soon as tonight.

This card was a recent Listia win, for the real world value of just a couple of bucks. I am not sure what's going on with the jersey swatch, as I don't remember any of their Adidas jerseys looking quite like this. This set was produced relatively early in the season, so it's doubtful this cut-up is from the current year. It'll be interesting to see who is still on the team next season.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

It's Baseball Season!

Cards from @pennysleeves to soothe those playoff blues. 

Unfortunately, things have taken a bit of a turn since my enthusiastic post over the weekend. The Trail Blazers dropped both of their first two games at home, and now face a 2-0 deficit to a New Orleans team that's being carved up by Jrue Holiday and a guy named Rondo, someone it feels like hasn't been relevant in almost a decade.

Still, there are always cards from around the country to drown my sorrows in, like this fine J.D. Drew Piece of the Game bat chunk sent over from Jon of A Penny Sleeve For Your Thoughts. This is a solid reminder that it's truly baseball season now, and... wait... did the Cards game just get cancelled again? Between an outbreak of injuries and a plague of PPD's, it's been really hard to get into the 2018 MLB season so far. Fortunately, we're just three weeks in, and I'm starting to see a lot of sunny icons in my weather app... in Portland, who doesn't have a team... yet?

Jon sent a ton of other non-baseball cards, which I'd like to show off here. Brandon Roy reminds us of that wonderful playoff 4th quarter against the Dallas Mavericks, bringing the Blazers back from the brink of elimination against the eventual champs. It would prove to be his last NBA hurrah, unfortunately.

Former Ducks star QB looks great on this mid-'90s refractor. Mid-'90s refractors don't exactly grow on trees, so this was especially cool to see.

I think this crazy laser (?) etched 1995 Stadium Club card of vintage Randall Cunningham currently holds the top spot in my theoretical list of Best Cards Received in 2018. I am actually afraid to touch this card, given how fragile the little notches in the card appear to be.

From tiny laser-etched notches to clear acetate, here's a card from Jim Jackson's brief turn in a Blazers uniform. "Trader Bob" Whitsitt caught a lot of flack for some of the players he put in Portland, but it sure made for some interesting basketball cards from the many years that I never looked at cards.

Ty Detmer may not have been the best Eagle, but he was a college star. This is an interesting photo choice, with the QB becoming the receiver, I guess.

Finally, here's an urgent Wesley Matthews, ready to bail me out of this sports funk. If only he was still in a Blazers uniform right now! I have no doubt he could pull this spiraling group together to pull of a win down in Louisiana.

Anyway, Cards/Cubs is supposedly happening tomorrow around the lunch hour. I'll be at work, listening to baseball, hopefully.