Saturday, November 30, 2019

Good Luck Ducks, Week 14: The 123rd Civil War

Oregon takes on their upstart rival down the road. 

After some clunkers, this could be an exciting game for fans of both of the big college teams in the state of Oregon. The Ducks take on the Beavers this afternoon in the annual conclusion to the conference schedule, with both programs establishing that they are on the rise this year.

The Ducks will try to wipe away any lingering bitterness from a rough game last week and establish some momentum heading into the Pac-12 Championship next week. Meanwhile, Oregon State looks to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2013. While Oregon improved on both sides of the ball this year, the Beavers gains were mostly felt on offense under new head coach (and former Beaver QB) Jonathan Smith.

The Civil War is usually when the trick plays really start coming out, and it should be a fun one today - at least initially. The hope on this side is that Oregon's playbook will open up considerably today, as some tendencies to be conservative this year have not always gone the way of the Ducks. Turnovers were a huge problem against Arizona State as well, which was very unexpected. Look for those things to get cleaned up this week.

  • Luke Skyywalker's Crystal Balls say: It's not clear that 2 Live Crew got into a lot of rap beefs in their day, as their rivalry was more with the music industry and those that would try to censor them. Luke does go after the haters in his football rivalry, though. You have the right to listen to whoever you want to

Game time is 1:00 PST on the Pac-12 Network. Ted Robinson, Yogi Roth and Jill Savage are on the call. Go Ducks!

Monday, November 25, 2019

That Shine

Shiny Cardinals and more from @CommunityGum (not pictured: the "more".) 

I'm closed to putting a wrap on this summer's trading card wheelings and dealings via mail. Next is up this latest bunch from Jon of the always excellent Community Gum. My home computer and my scanner are not on speaking terms at the moment, so I won't be showing off any of the cards from the big stack of 2019 Heritage and 2018 Allen & Ginter cards I received from Jon that are for my set collecting needs.

I do have what I scanned late in the summer from this package, including one of these numbered Jim Edmonds cards from an old Leaf Sportscasters insert concept. This is one of those things where there are so many different versions of the same inserts that it all makes you a bit dizzy. I just like these a lot because they remind me of the old square educational cards I used to have as a kid. I think they featured some sort of nature scenes or wild animals or something.

For this Reciprocal parallel from an Ionix set, Upper Deck must have used the kind of ink that runs when they stamped these, I guess. Much like the first card in this post, the rest of J.D.'s card shows that shiny cards just generally look better in my scanner.

Jon sent over a bunch of Cardinals cards from the new-at-the-time Panini Prizm set, including this fancy numbered (to 299) Wizard thing.

Tyler O'Neill is featured on another Prizm parallel, this time of the Carolina Blue variety. Carolina Blue is vastly superior to any other blue, if you live in, uh, the Carolinas.

Here's proof once again that the whole no-license, no-logo thing doesn't look so bad on catchers when they're wearing their full gear. Unfortunately, that's probably only something like 2% of the baseball cards Panini produces these days.

Thanks again to Community Gum!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Good Luck Ducks, Week 13: Fork in the Road

The Ducks penultimate conference test is against Arizona State on the road. 

A bit of a scheduling quirk has seen Oregon face both Washington schools in consecutive weeks, and now we have them taking on the second Arizona school in as many weeks. The Ducks have suffered some losses in terms of health on the field, but head into the game before the Civil War as a still functioning solid unit, with Justin Herbert firmly in control and the ground game cooking. Both lines have looked good. This team seems like it could be a handful for any playoff-bound team.

Of course, the playoffs will remain firmly on everyone's minds as long as the Ducks hang tantalizingly just outside of the top four. It may be a cliche to say that the Ducks can only control what they do on the field themselves, but the hope is that mentality continues in the coming weeks. They can't control what Ohio State or Clemson or those dastardly SEC schools do, so why worry about it?

The Arizona State Sun Devils started off the season hot, but have dropped their last four games. Still, they represent a formidable opponent (as do their rivals next week) and victory cannot be assumed. The hope is that Oregon will continue the momentum from last week and shake off their tendencies to start slow. With the season starting to run out of time, they can ill afford any trouble spots in their final road game.

Game time is 4:30 PST on ABC. Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit are on the call. Go Ducks!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Set Needs and a Yadi

Dodgers fan @markle05 hooks me up with some quality cards. 

The end of the deluge of trade packages sent to me over the summer is actually in sight. I still have a ton of work to do and a lot of cards to show, but I feel like I'm making (some) progress. This latest batch came back in late August from Alex of Chavez Ravining. Alex sent over a stack of needs from recent Allen & Ginter and Heritage sets along with a few Cardinals goodies (the best kind of goodies.)

From the depths of the 2017 Allen & Ginter set, and more specifically the World's Fair insert set, comes this card of the Biosphere. No, this isn't the thing that Pauly Shore had to live in as the plot of some '90s movie, as the World's Fair cards only showed the real life wonders of the world put on display.

I haven't made as much progress in this year's Topps Heritage set(s) as I would have hoped by this point, but this short printed card of the former Cardinals Piscotty put me a little bit closer. When the SPs are a full 20% of the set, you know you have your work cut out for you.

I don't know that I've ever been in a fantasy league that strictly used K% as a stat, but I wouldn't be opposed to it. I'm not sure that Randy ever knew or cared what his K rates were, though.

Here's a Heritage (High) insert from 2017 of newly crowned champion Trea Turner.

Well, I promised you a Yadi and I delivered on that promise. Well, actually, Alex was responsible for the real delivery. This is a brand new (to me, at the time) jersey card that fits well in my collection. I do miss the days when all of the memorabilia cards in Allen & Ginter sets were framed minis, but I like the design of this one here.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Foil Stamped Cardinals That Will Make You Flip

The first of several trade packages from a kind reader. 

Reader Bob contacted me back in August with an offer to send me a bunch of stuff from my want list, which I gladly accepted. He's since sent more follow-up packages that I haven't even got to post about yet, all filled with good stuff. Here's just a few of the awesome things from package numero uno.

Aside from a strange one-off release in 2008, the Stadium Club brand returned for good for the first time since the early oughts in 2014. This cool card of Matt Holliday celebrating with Matt Adams (there were a lot of Matts on the team in those days) is foiled stamped with a Members Only seal. I think these had a pretty low print run.

The embarrassing thing for me as a big Ozzie Smith fan and collector is that this photo has struck me as strange since the 2019 Stadium Club set came out back in the summer. I don't think it's from his playing days, because he looks a bit older and... are those dress pants and shoes? What is this? I suppose it could be from his Hall inauguration, but I'm not sure if he was in backflipping shape by then. I don't recognize the background (it looks like a public school to me), though I suppose with the wonders of Photoshop you could put Ozzie doing the flip in front of almost anything you want. I'm sure a minute or two of research could answer these questions for me, but I'm going to choose blissful ignorance for now.

Here's another stamped limited edition of a card already in my collection, featuring the smug look of one Carl Dale.

Bob also dropped a couple of minor league cards on me that I couldn't actually find a slot for in TCDB. This is something I really should be researching. This card features the late Chris Duncan.

Here's another one of those mystery minor league cards. I wish minor league checklists were easier to track down.

Ooh, fancy die cut SPx cards. They don't really make cards like this anymore. (Well, maybe they do for hockey still. Do any NHL collectors still like Upper Deck?)

Finally, here's a Topps card from 1993 that I only recently heard of its existence. It very much does not look like something Topps would have produced in the junk wax era. It kind of has more of a Score vibe to me. This Commanders of the Hill set was a standalone release that was only available on military bases, or so the internet tells me.

Thanks again to Bob for the very cool and interesting Cardinals stuff. There's plenty more where this came from.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Good Luck Ducks, Week 12: And Yet There Are Three More Games Left?

After another (?) bye week, the #6 Ducks look to stay in the conversation as they host Arizona. 

This year marks the 10th anniversary of one of the best Ducks game I've ever seen. I wasn't physically at this one, unlike The Pick (aka "Kenny Wheaton's Gonna Score"), but it's hard for me to imagine a more exhilarating sporting event than Oregon's double-OT victory over Arizona in enemy territory. The win, which came after the Zona Zoo had already emptied the stands and were surrounding the sidelines ready to run on the field, helped preserve Oregon's first return to the Rose Bowl in 15 years. Brent Musberger called the whole thing when he casually mentioned that those students might be returning to the stands. (Side note - it was future Eagles Super Bowl hero Nick Foles who led that Arizona team... check out that hair!)

This time around, Oregon has even loftier goals than the Rose Bowl, sitting in the #6 position in the weekly College Football Playoff poll. The group of elites only takes the top 4 teams, so the Ducks will need to maintain their position and get some help from others, but for now it's not a bad place to be. We're still a long ways away from said playoffs, with games against both Arizona schools and the always intriguing Civil War to come... and that's all before a potential conference championship game.

This year's Wildcats are led by... well, it's not entirely clear. Khalil Tate has been at the center of discussion for awhile when it comes to Arizona football, but he's been rotating at QB with another, let's say, less of a dual threat in freshman Grant Gunnell. Both teams are coming off a bye week (apparently there were two this year for some reason), but this arguably helps Oregon more than Arizona as the roles and goals are clearly defined for the squad in Eugene. The Wildcats have given up 189 points in their last four games, so Oregon figures to be able to score early and often.

Game time is 7:30 PST on ESPN. Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy and Tom Luginbill are on the call. Go Ducks!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Cardinals for Cardinals Exchange

Even Lance Berkman approves. 

Some good news of late for the longtime Cardinals fans, such as yours truly: Adam Wainwright is coming back in 2020, and it looks like Yadier Molina may be up for sticking around longer than next season. In other good news, another huge Cardinals fan that has a baseball card blog sent me another batch of his dupes-that-were-my-needs. Let's get a few glimpses of what I got from All Cardinals All The Time this time around.

All Cardinals All The Time houses one of the biggest Ray Lankford collections around, as far as I can tell, so it's always exciting when one of the lesser known Lankford dupes heads my way. I have loved the Slurpee discs since I was a little kid when they used to put rock bands on them, so these are always a treat even if they don't fit into my collection.

Here's a young Matt Carpenter with the official RC shield on it. Even though Carpenter is still one of my key "PC" guys, I had managed to forget that he wore #19 in his debut season with St. Louis and wrongly assumed it was a weird Topps Photoshop thing. (I mean, it's still probably Photoshopped somehow, but the uniform number is accurate.)

I'm not all that familar with the Walmart reboot of Topps Gallery, but how are these Artist Proofs any different than the base cards, aside from the extra stamp? At least when they did this with Stadium Club, they attempted to make the cards look sort of special. Marcell Ozuna looks to be testing the free agent waters after a couple of productive but somewhat frustrating seasons with the Cardinals. I wouldn't be shocked if he came back, though, but it seems 50/50 at this point.

Luke Weaver still seems like he'll probably be a pretty good pitcher for many years to come, but it's comforting to see what Jack Flaherty has turned into, five years after this card was produced.

Cool stuff, as always, from ACATT. There's more like this to come!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Down on the Farm: The 2010 Memphis Redbirds

Quite a few recognizable faces are among this bunch of birds. 

I've been on a bit of a side quest this year to pick up minor league team sets on the cheap. My latest acquisition was the 2010 Memphis Redbirds set by Multi-Ad Sports. With the Cardinals due to win the World Series the following season, this set certainly had some familiar faces.

Allen Craig was one of the Cardinals top offensive players for two and a half seasons before falling off so harshly that he became one of those "whatever happened to that guy?" guys.

Daniel Descalso is still kicking around the league as a utility guy, and had a weirdly productive season at the plate in 2018. He's probably going to be confused for, say, Skip Schumaker, but... don't do that.

Here's where things get weird because it's Triple-A and all. Gotay popped up on a few big league teams the previous decade, but never made it to St. Louis (or anywhere else in MLB) in the 2010s.

Jon Jay was a staple in the Cardinals outfield for years. He was always the fourth outfielder pressed into third outfielder duties because someone or other was always getting hurt. When Jon Jay is your Plan A, things are not... good. But he was above replacement level as a replacement for awhile. He played for the White Sox last season.

Josh Kinney was actually on the 2006 World Series winning team, not the 2011 team. His surprising run as an effective reliever in a bullpen that was constantly looking for new answers was something announcers loved to mention during that playoff run. His persistent arm troubles kept him from ever making an impact again.

While Lance Lynn had a bit of a bounceback season with Texas this year, he didn't quite return to his All-Star peak. He was in the Cardinals rotation as recently as 2017.

Matt Pagnozzi only had a brief stint as Yadier Molina's backup, which doesn't exactly give you a lot to do in the first place. He's probably better known as former Cardinals All-Star Tom Pagnozzi's nephew.

Adam Ottavino was in the Cardinals farm system a long time and never really delivered on his promise. He was a late bloomer, and ended up pitching in the ALCS last month with the Yankees.

Noted blister-haver and usually good when actually healthy starting pitcher Rich Hill was actually in the Cardinals system long enough to get his own Cardinals autographed card in an Allen & Ginter set, but he spent his whole time with the organization in Memphis. Dennis is probably jealous that I have this.

Ah yes, here is Sugar Shane. He was more of a fifth outfielder type and is still kicking around the game as well. It looks like he spent 2019 in AAA with another organization.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Stacked and Jonesin'

A couple of small envelopes from @cardboardjones and @realwesmoore in an overdue post. 

The trade post machine rolls on with a couple of offerings I received back in August. First up are some cards I picked up from Steve of Tridents and Trading Cards. I had a bunch of extra Blazers cards that needed a new home, and was hooked up with a few things as a thank you.

I pretty much have a complete run of Topps Cardinals base cards since the inception of this blog (circa 2008) until the present, but for some reason there were some weird holes that popped up around 2012. This Mitchell Boggs card from the Update Series was formerly one of those needs, and I believe I still need Kyle McClellan's card from the same set. I'm sure I have plenty of parallels of each, but apparently not the base. Weird.

If I recall, this package was one of my first introductions to the 2019 Allen & Ginter set. It's not bad. This trio of Cardinals certainly helped.

Here's another one of those weird cards from 2012 that fell through the cracks. No longer! All of the different golden inserts/parallels from this set sort of blend together to me. Overall, I feel like 2012 Topps was a weaker follow-up to a genuinely exciting 2011. (Also, the Cardinals won the World Series that year, so has to help.)

I also got Stacked by the Pancake King! If you don't know who this is, you probably haven't been stacked yet. Follow the clues and let me know where that leads you.

This was an odd, but fun coupling. We pair Caleb "Biggie" Swanigan on his Panini Status rookie card with a much more notable ball player.

It's Joe Torre, on a card I've never seen in my life. It's actually numbered to 1500, from the days when card companies would add serial numbers to only a portion of their main set. It feels wrong to see the modern Cardinals logo on a B&W photo of Torre from his playing days, but that's really my only gripe here.