Wednesday, February 26, 2020

More Cards from the Bubble Man

Things are blowin' up. 

Another day, another wonderful bubble mailer from Bob at The Best Bubble. This one was full of Cardinals and Trail Blazers, with a really nice dual jersey card for my favorite personal collection. Let's dig in, as they say.

Right off the bat, here's a red Crown Royale parallel of a red clad J.D. Drew. Drew's lasting legacy is that he brought Adam Wainwright to town, who continues to soldier on as we speak. J.D. Drew cards make me happy in this roundabout way.

The Final Boss may have returned to his native country to continue his career, but the cards (and the parallels... oh the parallels) live on. This is one of those fancy Prism (not Prizm!) refractors that some have compared to fish scales. I can see it.

Here's that memorabilia card that I hinted at. Check out the baby blue swatch for Ozzie's section. It's a little out of place with the picture they used of him, but I like it. Let's just hope that not all of Upper Deck's shenanigans resulted in phony jersey cards. Isn't that more of a Panini thing?

Also as mentioned previously, there were Blazers cards. Nice! Wesley is a favorite of the blog, so this is doubly nice. I've complained about this Trail Blazers logo recently, but another older one that I never thought would see the light of day again resurfaced at the 2000's Decade Night on Sunday... let's just say I appreciate this one a little bit more after being reminded of this particular travesty.

Jarrett Jack helped usher in the era of the Blazers wearing "Portland" across their road uniforms, something that would continue today if Nike didn't eliminate the entire concept of home and road uniforms.

Big thanks again to Bob!

Monday, February 24, 2020

Not Enough Verlanders?

Still winding down 2019 with @forgotaboutblay and some cards from nearly all the sports. 

I haven't had a change to ask Dennis of Too Many Verlanders how he feels about his blog's namesake these days. The transgression of Verlander seems more serious than, say, becoming a Yankee, but it's more of a guilt-by-association thing. It's hard to lay much blame at the foot of a pitcher for being a team member of a team caught participating in a scheme that allowed their hitters to get immediate knowledge of what pitch was coming ahead of time. Of course, Justin Verlander is someone you'd expect to be a veteran leader in the clubhouse at this point in his career, so... probably conflicting feelings are what you're going to have?

I actually own an Astros shirt (was bought for me during the recent playoff run) and have a couple of minor personal collections of their players in my household (Erin's Altuves and my Springers.) These guys are definitely on the side of the ball that could have benefited in a scheme like this, but I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I didn't feel like buying any Springers or Altuves from the dime box in the card show I recently attended. I don't feel like burning their cards, either. I don't really know what I feel at the moment. I do know that the Astros aren't my team (that much is clear) and I am tired of hearing about them every time I turn on my TV in the morning.

Well, baseball is back in business, as you've most likely heard. Spring Fever! Dennis sent me a bunch of stuff late in 2019, and these cards are from the last (Christmas!) batch he sent. It's well documented that I'm a big fan of the Fleer Greats sets, and while I'm not sure that this "Rookie & Greats" set from 2003 is part of that lineage, it looks really cool.

I went to the Blazers 2000's Decades Night game last night, and it was tons of fun. Unfortunately, the team apparently wasn't extremely successful in bringing back players from those years, but it wasn't really unexpected, either. Brandon Roy is more or less estranged from the franchise over the way his career ended. The problem is, of course, that there was no way the end of Roy's career was going to be anything but awkward and sad. Rasheed Wallace wasn't likely to participate in anything cerebral, especially involving the Blazers. Scottie Pippen apparently pre-taped some stuff at the Blazers practice facility, and the recently retired Zach Randolph probably doesn't want to look back in the mirror at his career right now. That left Travis Outlaw, surprisingly-cool-about-being-fired longtime TV announcer Mike Barrett, and Damon Stoudamire to make the appearance. Stoudamire is the head coach of a college team (University of the Pacific), so it was cool that he made time to come back.

Aaron McKie was more of a '90s guy for the Blazers, although he'd pop up a lot in the 2000s, especially as a long time member of the Allen Iverson-led 76ers.

It wouldn't be a TMV trade without Oregon Ducks cards. As usual, I held most of the football cards back for future Good Luck Ducks posts. I do really like the strange stained glass pattern of Marcus Mariota's card here.

The meat of the envelope came in the form of Ducks hoops cards, however. Dillon Brooks has been huge for the Grizzlies this season after everyone probably forgot about him due to his lost 2018-19 season.

Luke Jackson is a throwback to the 2000's, as he was the one-time teammate of LeBron James when he entered the league. Let's just say that LeBron learned all of his moves from Luke, okay?

Finally, in a shocking twist, Dennis sent me a printing plate of the former Duck Joe Young. Young transferred to UO from Houston and immediately was their best player. He spent several seasons bured deep on the bench in Indiana before ending up in China. It looks like he was destroying the CBA last season, but I haven't seen much news about him this year.

Frustratingly, I wasn't able to add this to the TCDB database because it's one of those acts of Panini trickery where they inserted these in some other product (2016-17 National Treasures, I guess.) The cards these plates were made for were in most cases just as rare as the plates themselves, and Panini is famous for not publishing the actual card numbers for most of their "hits", so actually creating and maintaining a checklist for this is going to be a dreadful if not impossible task. It's a really cool card thing to own, though, so I'm very thankful for that.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Baseball is Back Again

Enjoying the weekend's slate of spring training games with some @Nachos_Grande cards. 

To me, there is absolutely nothing more calming in the world than putting on a baseball game on the TV set, even a random or meaningless exhibition. This weekend officially saw the 2020 MLB season kick off in earnest with a full slate of Grapefruit and Cactus League games, which also means it's time to wrap up some trades from late last year.

Nachos Grande set along a wonderful holiday gift that included some Cardinals goodies and a heaping helping of set filler needs. Let's check out a few of these.

Here's one of those Donruss parallels that's tied to a player's stat line. It's going to be really frustrating if Carlos Martinez doesn't secure one of the spots in the rotation this year, especially with Miles Mikolas missing some significant time.

This is a nice flashback to the past with a card for my DK PC.

Another numbered 2018 Donruss card, this sees Marcell wearing his old Marlins uniform with his (then) new team name.

I'm sure there does exist a scanner that does better justice to foil-based cards like these, but I don't own that scanner.

Here's a few good guys from the aforementioned heaping helping, in the form of 2019 Allen & Ginter.

Great stuff, as always, from Nachos Grande!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Trail Blazers Virtual Cards

The team's own custom cards, if you will. 

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, the Portland Trail Blazers planned a series of "Decades Nights" throughout the season, to honor some of the top players from the team from each decade. Fans are allowed to vote on a "team" of the decade among a pre-selected grouping of players, and the games themselves have been pretty fun. I went to the '90s night late last month and will be going to Sunday night's 2000s night. Part of the voting process is selecting from a sort of a rolodex wheel of Blazers players each represented on what totally looks like a basketball card that's probably supposed to be era appropriate.

Well, first off, let me say that I immediately regret not saving some of the images from the previous rounds of voting before they were lost to the sands of time (thanks, new internet!) I'll try to illustrate my point with what little I have to work with here.

First off (sorry, it's a Twitter video), we start off with a '70s Topps design for the 1970s team. This is the 1973-74 Topps only with a black background/border instead of white. I seem to remember these actually being white when I first saw them, but this was back in October and I'm probably just wrong.

For the '80s team, the Blazers mocked up cards in the iconic 1990-91 SkyBox design. These kind of looked era appropriate, but we all know that this set is... well... just after the '80s expired. This was also the first indication that the voting for any given player was confined to a single decade, so no Porter, Drexler or Kersey in the '80s set even though their exclusion was kind of distracting considering the card design that was being used. They would be held over for the '90s set.

Here's where Clyde and those guys ended up.

See, it's the 1991-92 SkyBox set. I think they did a good job with it, all things considered.

At this point, I was highly interested in seeing what they would use for the 2000s. Are there any memorable card designs from that decade that some Blazers intern could use to whip up some quick player "cards"? I had my doubts, and here's what they turned out.

Unless I'm missing something, it looks like they went super generic here, and just went heavy on the dreaded silver accents in their uniform design from the era (which they have finally deemphasized.) This feels like a letdown and also is pretty much what I expected.

I wonder if B-Roy will finally make his return to the Rose Garden on Sunday (doubtful.)

I'm expecting the next (and final) round of voting to be based on the overall look and feel of their website and social media accounts, but we'll see.

UPDATE - per request from Chris, The Collector, I dug up one more of the videos. I couldn't find one for the '90s team, however. Enjoy!

UPDATE 02/23/2020 - here's the 2000's Team.

Monday, February 17, 2020

When Topps Had Blue Borders

The 2003 Topps Traded set is down to fifteen needs, thanks to @cardboardjones and a huge brick of blue bordered cards.

I felt like I could have done a lot better in working on sets in 2019, but Cardboard Jones was a huge contributor. Fairly early on in my return to collecting, I took an interest in the 2003 Topps flagship set, and completed the Series 2 set with around a dozen cards still needed from Series 1. The Traded set needed a lot of help, which isn't surprising considering that it was released in a strange format. I looked into buying boxes on numerous occasions, but the steep prices and inclusion of Chrome cards in each pack made completing the set sound like a really difficult task. Amazingly enough, many years after starting this endeavor, someone I've traded with in the past was kind enough to get me really close to the finish line.

I believe I have all of the key rookies now aside from Robinson Cano, who despite the resurgent market for Topps flagship rookie cards, has probably seen his card prices permanently retreat from their peak. Hanley Ramirez was in the package as seen here, and I fortunately already owned a copy of Miguel Cabrera's card prior to this trade package.

I don't want to bore anyone with scores of blue bordered cards from 17 years ago, but I thought I'd scan a few just the same. The Crime Dog looks weird in Dodger blue, although I feel like the early '00s contain an endless supply of star players in weird uniforms.

Jeff Reboulet was a guy with a cool name that played for the AAA Portland Beavers back when I was in high school, so he gets a mention here. It's extremely doubtful that I had any idea he went on to a big league career that spanned a decade until getting back into this whole collecting side gig.

Eek, a Cub! Wellemeyer went on to log a few seasons with the La Russa/Duncan Cardinals, including a weird season where he was a starter. This set is chock full of "1st Year Card" logos, a distinction that would be later reserved for Bowman cards under the revamped rookie card rules of 2006 or whatever.

There were actually a couple of cards in the package that I'm going to be seeking a second copy of, including this 1st Year Danny Haren that's headed to my Cardinals binders. I don't know that it's a sane position to take to own more than one copy of anything at this point, but this is what I'm doing.

Similarly, I have to file this Adam Wainwright "Prospect" card in my Waino collection, which means I need another copy of it as well. I didn't make up these rules! At least, that's what I try to tell myself.

Big thanks again to Cardboard Jones. Please feel free to send help (in the form of cards) here if you are so inclined.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Fancy Foil Stamping

Foil-stamped fun and more from @marcbrubaker to help put the wraps on 2019. 

Topps seems to issue endless editions of its annual factory set during the summer, and one of them commemorates the All-Star game with a special stamp. I don't really know how long they've been doing this for, but I am pretty sure I've seen these before. Usually I'll end up with some sort of random parallel of some relief pitcher that I collect, maybe through a trade, or maybe through a repack box. If you're a player collector or even a team collector, buying this kind of stuff can get to be pretty spendy even if the set itself didn't cost all that much.

This is why it was terrific news that Marc Brubaker happened to come upon one of these sets and broke it up, contacting greedy team collectors like myself.

We're all probably sick to death of 2019 Topps flagship cards at this point, so I'll keep this pretty brief. I picked my top three faves of the set to scan here. The Busch Stadium wide shot reminds me of my incredibly fun first (?!) trip to St. Louis this past summer, although the ever present construction crane is missing from the backdrop in the photo. I'm going to miss Marcell Ozuna a little bit, because he seemed like a fun (but kind of weird) player. I always enjoy a baseball high five, though.

I also got to see Adam Wainwright start twice in person this year! I was pretty convinced that this was going to be his last season, but he had a pretty decent year all things considered and is back for 2020. He had pretty solid outings in both starts (at Seattle on July 3rd, and at home against the Cubs on July 30th) but didn't get credited with a so-called win in either start. The Cards won both games, however, so that's all that matters.

Marc sent other cards, including this flashy Chrome insert. I like these cards, but I'm not sure why they chose a photo of Yadi where he's clearly just witnessed something lousy. The hands are up on the head... it's probably out number 3, guys.

Also included with this generous package was a stack of 2019 Allen & Ginter needs. I have been playing and brushing up on a lot of '80s video games lately, so all I can think of is Capcom's 1942 series when I see this card. That's probably not great, is it.

There were plenty of Heritage needs to be found as well. I don't really give my set building pursuits anything close to equal time on this blog, but I had to make sure these were represented as there were a lot of them. I find it fascinating that Nixon was in charge when Earth Day was launched. I certainly wasn't aware of it until 1990, which would have been the 20th anniversary.

Finally, here's a nicely posed Kolten Wong spring training photo, complete with Delivery Dudes ad in the background. I don't think we have these Dudes around here, but I have long felt that there are entirely too many delivery companies in operation. How is anyone making money off of this?

Monday, February 10, 2020

133 Card Rip Party

Give me all your Turkey Red! 

After a frantic search of several retail outlets last week, I finally found some of the new 2020 Topps that didn't get "ripped" by those dastardly rippers that Topps invited to their big party. Seriously, the huge crash has to be near if we're talking about Topps essentially bragging all winter long about taking at least a million of the cards off of the unopened market from Series One. Something is wrong with this picture.

I wasn't in love with the 2020 base card design when I first saw it, but rumors started to swirl that there would be a Turkey Red insert in every (retail) pack. Color me intrigued. I also hate to admit to the fact that I was intrigued by new cards of any sorts, as the latter half of 2019 felt especially slow and dull when it came to cards. I probably need to consider some new stategies.

I didn't "bust" any boxes" or "rip" any cases, but I did buy a blaster and a jumbo pack for myself to match the prizes I purchased for others from my bowl game contest. Let's check out a few of the cards inside.

Here was my first official card of the new decade. I had a hard time not calling him Pablo.

Tommy Edman was my first Cardinal. The Future Stars logo is back and different this year. It's less flashy, but I guess I'm okay with it?

As expected, the recent run of 35th (why?) Anniversary tributes continues into 1985. I have a weird feeling that this will not be coming back for next year, with the 1986 set not really being an iconic design. ('86 was my first year of buying packs, though, so I will sort of defend it.)

Turkey Red! My most anticipated moment on an Oscar weekend was to find out if Topps screwed up Turkey Red, having not even seen so much as a preview image. It did not disappoint! The cards feel a little weird and different, but not terribly bad. They do more than enough to distinguish themselves from the boring old thin with a glossy layer base and insert card stock, which is good enough for me.

That card number looks pretty weird, but it still works. Both of my first Turkey Red pulls were rookies that I don't really know much about, but that's not the theme of the entire set.

It seems like there's a lot of horizontal cards in the base set.

It turns out that Nolan Arenado did not get traded after all. It was fun dreaming about a scenario that would bring him to St. Louis, but this turned out to be a pretty quiet offseason for the Cardinals.

I totally glossed over this card when I first saw it, only noting that apparently Topps was going back to the well of horribly Photoshopped cards in the flagship Series One set. These are usually sprinkled around in the Opening Day set these days. Well, as it turns out, this is one of the seemingly hundreds of "short printed" varation cards in the set. Despite a stated odds of 1:43 packs for the "regular" SPs, I managed to pull 2 in the the same blaster. Upon further examination, the Cole card actually has a weird look and feel to it, like it was thrown together at the last minute. Even the back of the card feels a bit different than the base cards.

Hey, die cut cards! What is this, Upper Deck X?!

See, Turkey Red has star power AND rookies I don't know. Both kinds.

Home Run Challenge scratch-off code cards are back, and I still have no idea what to do with them. I've been treating them like cards not to be defaced. What is the best strategy here?

The one-per-blaster traditional manufactured relic card isn't so bad this year. It's a thick reproduction of certain players' rookie cards, complete with a tiny medallion of the RC logo. I just wish I hadn't pulled a Cub.

Here was the other, more obvious photo variation. I suppose someone might like this.

It looks like they kept the full stats this year (nice!) and toned down the social media marks even further. I'm guessing it became too much of a chore for the under/unpaid Topps crew to track down the social media accounts of every player, especially after some early snafus.

This fits with the Turkey Red theme of having various colored skies.

The Rookie Cup is alive and well.

Topps took a different turn with League Leader cards this time around, apparently. This suggests that the multi-player League Leader cards are no longer around. As much as I seemed to love them in the '80s, they seemed tedious in modern cards in a way I could never properly explain.

Okay, well, I don't need my Turkey Red cards to be Chrome'd, so I won't be collecting these. However, they do look nice if you're a player or team collector.

Here's another card that I completely missed the first time I opened these packs. This is what officially qualifies as a gold parallel now. Topps, please kill this off if you're not going to put any effort into it.

I'm sensing that the Decades' Best inserts are last year's 150th Anniversary inserts. Seeing a great player at a podium is kind of boring, though.

Pitchers and catchers are reporting, guys! Yadi is ready to get back at it!