Saturday, September 21, 2019

Good Luck Ducks, Week 4: Let the (Conference) Games Begin!

Oregon opens the nine-game conference schedule at Stanford. 

It's never easy to start the conference schedule on the road, especially against a thorny team like Stanford. (You know, the whole "Tree" thing.) The Cardinal have been struggling, however, while Oregon cruised to victory in their last two games. Of course, there is plenty of stuff to work on, particularly the running game and short yardage situations. Things always come into focus more after the conference games begin.

After an opening week squeaker over Northwestern, Stanford dropped back to back games against USC and UCF in recent weeks by heavy margins. If the Oregon defense can keep going at the pace they're on, this seems like a rare road game that shouldn't prove to be all that difficult. Of course, comparing the Stanford offense (led by senior QB K.J. Costello) to Nevada or Montana doesn't seem all that fair. I would expect Oregon to be challenged on both sides of the ball, at least initially. The Ducks have dropped three straight to Stanford, but I would be surprised if that streak continues tonight. Last season's loss still stings too much.

  • Luke Skyywalker's Crystal Balls say: Stanford has one of the top law schools in the nation, and Luke (and the Crew) know quite a bit about First Amendment law. And what I do in my house, you might not do in your house
Game time is 4:00 PDT on ESPN. Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe will be on the call. Go Ducks!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Group Break or Trade Post?

Cardinals cards from @batcavelv to celebrate a great day in the playoff race. 

The Cards won a day game rubber match over the Nationals today while the Cubs and Brewers both dropped games at home, so I thought I'd celebrate a bit with... you guessed it... some more Cardinals cards! Back in May, I received a bunch of goodies from Tracy's Box Breaks. I believe this was part of his group break that was announced in April, but with so many extras it can easily pass for a beefy trade package.

While they're no '59s, I always love getting cards from 1960 Topps. Ron Kline only spent a single season with St. Louis, and was new to the team when this card was made as the jerseys in these photos are not recognizable.

I had never seen one of these "hot box foil" Allen & Ginter cards in person until I got this rookie year Luke Weaver card. Like most foil-backed cards, this pretty much looks exactly the same as his regular base card counterpart when scanned.

Tracy included a bunch of cards from the 1992 Upper Deck Minors set that I was missing, including what surely is now my oldest John Mabry card. All that hard work at putting together my Cardinals minor league want list is starting to pay off!

2019 Opening Day mega boxes were part of the break. I'm not sure if I ever saw one of these in the stores, so it was great to pull a couple of these exclusive red parallels. Red looks good on this team.

A new Rick Ankiel card! In 2018! This is an exciting development. Along with the former lefty hurler-turned-slugger, several more cards from this fancy Topps Archives Snapshots set were along for the ride. I really like the idea and the design of these and will happily give anything like this a home. I've had a really hard time motivating myself to buy into to the Topps online exclusive products, but stuff like this makes it tempting.

Finally, it's a shiny refractor of the Cardinals mending flamethrower. These look a little nicer than normal this year on the 1970 Topps design, especially when given a fairly blank background that this Hicks card has.

Monday, September 16, 2019

An Unboxing

Look at this! A true Mystery Box from includes nothing but surprises. 

Subscription boxes have been a big hit across a wide selection of people's interests, as they generally cater to people who are interested in things. It turns out that a lot of people are interested in things. Many of these people are interested in opening boxes of things they might be interested in, in fact. You'd be hard pressed to find many humans on this planet who don't enjoy a good present, and boxes like this are kind of like the best kinds of presents, as long as you pretend that you didn't pay money for it.

It turns out I didn't actually pay for this box from The website was kind enough to provide this box to me for, let's say, evaluation purposes. It's a super cool deal, and if you like what you see you can head on over to their site to check out some of their products. The box was very professionally presented, with branded packaging and even branded tissue paper, like a true present. Also, I'm sure I could be talked out of parting ways with most of this stuff since it mostly doesn't fit into my own personally collection. slabbed this card with a "Verified Vintage" sticker, and this 1976 Topps Rod Carew also looks to be in really nice shape. I am interested in learning more about their verification process, as this could be a nice and affordable alternative to some of the shady practices going on in the graded card industry as a whole.

This is definitely the highlight of the box. Buck Leonard was a longtime Negro League star and is also a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I am not familiar with this particular set at all (1978 Grand Slam), but my curiosity about it is definitely piqued. The card isn't graded for condition, but the autograph is authenticated by Beckett. Interestingly, the card is slabbed with an inner sleeve. Is this normal, or just common for the oddball size of the card? (I am not terribly familiar with grading cards as a whole as you might suspect, but there's been some fascinating reading material on the subject of late.)

Here's a peak at the back of the card, since this isn't a set you see every day.

This one has the logo on it and it comes with a sticker that states that it's factory sealed.

So what is this exactly? It looks like the website is creating their own cut auto cards here, although I suspect my copy is a sample/evaluation copy since there's just a "sample" stamp. The paid monthly subscriptions look to come in multiple tiers, and I'm guessing something like this (only for real) is possible in one of the higher tiers. In any case, the card design seems solid for something like this, and reminds me of some of the higher end Upper Deck cards I couldn't afford back when they were a thing (in baseball.)

Keeping in line with the variety and mystery of it all, this Marc Gasol triple jersey card came in its own top loader. It was one of those semi-rigid large top holders usually used for submitting graded cards, or so I've heard. (I primarily use them for sending cheap stuff through the mail in letters.) This card is from the fancy 2016-17 Panini Spectra set and is numbered to 149.

To polish it all off, there was also a pack inside. This is the latest Leaf football set.

I was hoping for a Ducks player, but I'm not sure that any Ducks this year made it into any of the draft style base sets. I think there might be a few autographed cards out there, but it wasn't a big year for Oregon in the draft.

The box also included a "redemption card", which is sort of like a punchcard for repeated purchases that gets you a future bonus if you accumulate enough of them. I'll hang on to mine in case I look at picking up a box on my own in the future.

I did sign up for a free account at the site, and I plan on checking out their newly launched pricing tool for collectors which was recently made available for free. This is an area that is sorely lacking/confusing to many, as you pretty much need to have a knack for navigating completed auction listings manually and weigh that against other listings of things for sale to get a ballpark range for card value these days. (Plus, you'll probably have to talk your weird uncle out of relying solely on dog-eared "price guides" that have been sitting around his basement for years when he thinks about putting his stuff up on Craigslist.)

Thanks again to! I appreciate the opportunity to do something like this, and mystery boxes are always fun.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Good Luck Ducks, Week 3: Grizzly Warning

The Ducks host Montana for their final nonconference tune-up. 

After a thorough beat down of Nevada last week which hearkened back to the Chip Kelly days in terms of blowout wins. It was easy to see that there would be some sort of response coming to the very difficult Auburn loss, and it was certainly encouraging to see that there was no let up after Justin Herbert got to head to the bench early while his backup took over.

Next up is a very late game against the Montana Grizzlies, an FCS team from the Big Sky Conference. My guess is that Herbert will have an early end to his night again and that the team will keep things relatively simple so as not to give their future opponents much in terms of video to look at when they start their conference schedule. At least, that's what the hope is here. College football can be weird and wild. I'm guessing the Ducks don't want things to get weird here.

Every season, there's a handful of FCS teams that manage to beat their FBS opponents (formerly Division 1-A and 1-AA respectively) and Oregon State shows up on this list six times. It's never happened to Oregon, and I don't see it happening tonight.

  • Luke Skyywalker's Crystal Balls say: Rapper French Montana once sampled Luke's solo single "I Wanna Rock" from whence this glorious screencap was taken. You can't stand the bass, take your crabby ass home
Game time is 7:45 PDT on the Pac-12 Network. Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron and Jill Savage are on the call once again. Go Ducks!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Beaniest

Cardinals and more from @beansbcardblog include a bunch of retail store exclusives.

When I think of the name Bean's Ballcard Blog, it always makes me think of a certain Futurama episode where Leela became a Blernsball (not at all like baseball) player.

This doesn't really have much to with anything, but it serves as an introduction to a post about a bunch of cards I got from Kin of (you guessed it!) Bean's Ballcard Blog.

I always love getting minor league cards, and that goes doubly so for what goes down as my oldest Paul DeJong card, tying it with the one copy of his "paper" 1st Bowman card from the same year. I need more DeJong cards in my life.

Shelby Miller is one of the cursed Cardinals mega prospects of this decade. I hope he figures it out or gets it together or whatever it is that these star athletes can do, someday.

Adron Chambers, the human victory cigar from the Cardinals run to the 2011 World Series is looking absolutely celebratory on this X-Fractor.

My favorite part of this package, however, was the slew of retail exclusive parallels from a three-plus year run where there was a bit of an incentive to buying regular old Topps flagship packs from Target (and the dreaded Walmart).

Kin also sent over a few set needs, like this floating head Chris Carpenter sticker from 2012 Topps Heritage. Good stuff all around.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Panini Auditions the Chronicles

A look at Panini Chronicles through the lens of a @midwestboxbreak team break. 

Panini Chronicles is a weird beast. In basketball, it seems to be Panini's attempt to cram all of their past designs that didn't make it to one of the many sets in their release calendar all in one gargantuan set just to throw something like 15 more Luka Doncic rookie cards at you. In baseball, it just feels like a weird audition for a license they'll probably never have.

Look at all of these baseball cards we could be making! Just give us a chance!

I bought into a break over at Midwest Box Breaks for the first time and got a variety of Cardinals stuff from the set, enough to whet my appetite for Panini weirdness.

I'm not sure if Phoenix is a new concept or something they acquired when they bought up other brands. I don't recall ever seeing Phoenix cards until they landed in Chronicles this year. These get the Chrome-style treatment.

Ditto for Obsidian. Has anyone seen these before? Apparently there is an Obsidian NBA set forthcoming(?). Anyway, these are thick, dark, refractor-y and generally look cool (except the whole no logos thing.)

Status is a newer Panini brand for their NBA sets. This looks almost exactly like the current basketball set, except for the weird block letter team designation where the team logo normally would be.

I think Titan is new as well. This has more of a weird offbrand minor league prospects set kind of feel to it, to its detriment.

On the plus side, the Titan cards do have the Chrome... er, sorry... Prizm finish to them. That leaves them open for Prizm style parallels like this one, which is numbered to 199.

All in all, it's not bad, although I don't feel like this ever made it to retail so I may not see much more of it.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Fire... Good?

Yes, yes. Fire good. 

I'm not really sure that I can put my finger on what Topps Fire did in the way of improvements over previous seasons, but I don't hate this year's set from what I've seen. I actually kind of like it. The Target-exclusive had been on the shelves at the local Fred Meyer (yeah... I don't even ask) for weeks now, but I finally took the bait and bought a couple of fat packs over the weekend. Fat packs are starting to become my preferred retail format of late, since they seem to be largely ignored by the local thieves who buy, reseal and return packs these days.

The base design is still silly, but they seemed to have swapped out the "fire" look for more of a splashy art paint thing. All we get is a big block letter last name on the front, but I imagine this isn't a huge set and we mostly should know these guys by their surnames.

I think I like the base design more than the parallels and inserts, which included this orange parallel of Orioles starter Alex Cobb that I pulled. It's numbered to 299. I don't think there are any Orioles fans around these parts these days, so this will go into one of my boxes for another day.

Each of the fat packs contains a "blue chip" parallel, but I'm just not much of a fan of the foilboard look. Or maybe it's just that these pretty much remove the color splashes and make them closer to a monochrome look.

None of the inserts are labeled anywhere on the card, although the card numbers themselves are a clue. You can tell it's an inserts because the design is completely different. Walker Buehler looks like he's about to drown in a sea of swirls.

Again, here's another totally different design, so it's another some kind of insert.

Here's my other blue chipper, featuring the Astros reliever Josh James. There probably aren't too many non-closer relievers in this set, but James is a "RC" so he gets to be in whatever he chooses.

Giancarlo Stanton played 3 games in March and 6 more games in June and that's been it for 2019. Weird.

Trout Alert!

This is apparently a "flame" parallel even though I see no evidence of flames or fire anywhere on this card. Also, there is a much better Alonso in the game now, so maybe this last names only thing isn't the best approach after all.

Lastly, here's a couple of Brewers on the same card - past and present. I don't think that's what Topps is calling these, though. The card number has an LL prefix. Lasting Legacies? Legendary Luminescence? Lusty Lechers?

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Good Luck Ducks, Week 2: Home Opener

The Ducks try to get last week's bitter taste out of their collective mouths as they face Nevada. 

This is the part where I usually talk about last week's game, but I'd rather not remember it at all. Oregon, in recent years anyway, it starting to build a reputation for completely flopping in the second half (see last year's Stanford game, something something repressed memories) and generally failing to look like the same football team that started the game. Wait, I wasn't going to talk about it, was I?

This is the part where I start talking about this week's game and say something about, I don't know, Justin Herbert? Justin Herbert is fine. He'll probably be fine? He knocked knees with some dude on the other team at one point, I think? But last week is just a fading memory.

And here is the part where I say something about whoever the Ducks are playing today. They are the, uh, Wolf Pack? They went 8-5 last season, including a tight Arizona Bowl victory over dreaded Arkansas State. See, I'm prepared.

  • The Last Game: We went over this, kind of. Oregon looked like they had a special season going for a couple of quarters, at least. Please wipe my memory.
  • Know Your Opponent: Nevada wants to start well in order to pull off the upset this week. Good starts... hmm... maybe not always the key to victory?
  • The Unis!: All green. I love this the most. Well, unless they bust out a throwback this season.
  • Mario Cristobal's "Crystal Ball" prediction: Mario is "looking forward to the opportunity to get back to Autzen Stadium." As I see it, yes.
  • Luke Skyywalker's Crystal Balls say: Nevada is home to the most of the legalized gambling in the western states. Luke and the Crew have probably done their fair share of deeds in the Sagebrush State. If it's an adult show you have to be 18
Game time is 4:30 PM PDT on the Pac-12 Network. Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron and Jill Savage are on the call. Go Ducks!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

A Double Dose of Loot

Baseball and basketball from @thelootlocker - both kinds! 

It had been quite awhile since I'd picked up a Loot Locker box, but I decided to dive back in after a bit of a difficult work week. I had only dabbled in baseball before and never basketball, or any of the more expensive options for that matter. For this time out, I decided to get the basic baseball box option as well as the same thing for basketball, a first for me.

If you don't know the drill, they put a few hobby packs in a well packed cardboard storage box and add a dash of hobby supplies (and candy!) on top. There are top loaders and penny sleeves for all the sweet hits you're gonna pull. (Of course, this is sports cards, so your mileage may and will vary.)

For baseball, the packs included were (all Topps) 2019 Allen & Ginter, 2019 Archives (x2) and 2019 Chrome. I opened the Chrome pack and set it aside for a future APTBNL post and will show the most intriguing card from each of the rest of the packages. This includes this mini Ozzie Albies of the A&G back variety. It's crazy that I don't hear a lot about Albies these days, for someone who has improved (offensively at least) on his All-Star rookie campaign and is also only 22(!). Of course, I do tend to have a thing for shortstops, but Albies would definitely be someone I'd want to start a team with.

Speaking of excellent NL shortstops, this is Javy Baez's short printed card from Topps Archives. He's a Cub, though, so I'm just going to keep my mouth shut.

The other Archives pack also had a short printed card. It's one of the Padres top prospects.

The hoops packs were (all Panini, of course) 2013-14 Prestige, 2018-19 Donruss Optic Fast Break (x2) and 2018-19 Prizm Fast Break. The 2013-14 Prestige pack was an interesting and welcome choice, as Loot Locker tends to stick to mostly newer if not brand new stuff. They do have a Twitter voting process if I recall, so it's kind of fun to have a bit of a say in what will end up in the next month's loot. I think this set was probably picked because it was the Giannis rookie year, but I had to make do with a sticker auto of this Jon Leuer guy instead. He's actually still kicking around the league and played in 41 games last year in a limited role with Detroit.

The shiny new stuff was all in the "Fast Break" configuration, which offers an exclusive Fast Break googly-eyed parallel and a chance at other more limited parallels. That the parallel landed on a rookie is pretty good, but I honestly have no idea if this guy is going to be good yet or not.

Ben Simmons was the parallel in the other Optic pack. Simmons is one of the stranger players in recent memory, as he absolutely refuses to shoot and plays point guard like a center. He's not like when Jason Kidd came into the league and couldn't shoot at all, because Kidd was apparently content to throw up brick after brick until they had to replace the dented rims. Simmons just refuses to participate in the whole shooting game. It's weird. I kind of like it, actually, but it has to be limiting to the team as a whole.

The Prizm Fast Break parallel looks very similar to the Optic. Are there any Tyreke Evans collectors out there? Probably not.