Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Pro Debut Has Chrome, Too

Could Topps Fire Chrome be far behind? Shiny Pro Debut cards from @CrackinWax (and more). #CrackinWaxMailDay 
We're back with a few more cards from Crackin' Wax breaks. The "jumbo" edition of Topps Pro Debut includes Chrome parallels that are exclusive to that particular configuration. Apparently this was a thing last year as well, but I wasn't aware and have never seen any of the parallels. I guess that means there's more cards out there for me to collect than I thought. (Isn't this always the case?)

As you'd expect, the cards basically look like junior league Topps Chrome cards. Surprisingly, I think this design works pretty well in Chrome form. Maybe it's the gradient on the borders that pops out a little bit?

Tink Hence is listed at 6-1, 175lbs., but you wouldn't know it by this photo as he just looks really tiny here.

Masyn Winn is actually supposedly going to be allowed to give it a go as a two-way player. I guess I didn't realize that when he first showed up in last year's Bowman Draft set. Tons of two-way players are drafted these days, but teams usually make them choose one way or another (or make the choice for them), so it was kind of refreshing to see the SS/P position designation on this card. He only threw one inning off the mound this year, but still... that counts!

I also hopped into another 2021 Topps Fire break. I didn't have much luck there, aside from this angry Jack Flaherty insert. Good soup.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Good Luck Ducks, Week 4: Wildcat Fever

Oregon opens conference play with some #Pac12AfterDark action. 
The only real Ducks-related drama last week was when starting QB Anthony Brown Jr. didn't come out to start the second half, having taken a couple of shots near the head on the final drive of the first half. Two of their three highly touted freshmen ended up under center in the second half, but in the end it wasn't a factor and Brown is expected to start tonight. Oregon didn't show a lot against Stony Brook but didn't have to.

Tonight is the conference opener, which sees the Ducks face off against Arizona at Autzen Stadium. The Wildcats dropped all three of their nonconference games this year, including an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks last week. They are also owners of the nation's longest losing streak (15). Still, this is a conference game, and any matchup against Arizona shouldn't be taken for granted. Crazy things can happen in the Pac-12 in the late timeslot. We all know this.

Oregon still has some injuries to deal with, especially on the defensive side. Will Kayvon Thibodeaux return to the field? The outlook is hazy, but apparently he's launched his own cryptocurrency, so that's... something. Look for the third-ranked Ducks to open up the playbook a bit tonight after keeping things pretty vanilla looking in two of their first three games.

Series History: Oregon leads it 27-17, with a 34-6 win in their last meeting two seasons ago.

Opponent Talk: Wildcats fans are predicting blowouts of several flavors.

Justin Herbert was nearly perfect (go figure) in the last meeting between these two squads.

Game time is 7:30 PM PDT on ESPN. Go Ducks!

Friday, September 24, 2021

Those Other Sports

Group break cards from @bgmartin76 include some Trail Blazers parallels and Tecmo-era Eagles. 
If it wasn't for the "Groups" feature on the world's most reviled social media platform, I'm not sure that I would have a Facebook account anymore. I've kept it alive because I've joined several card breaking groups, including one run by Ben's Cards and Collectibles. I mostly join basketball and football breaks in Ben's group because the baseball Cardinals are usually spoken for. This latest batch came back in May and included cards from the other teams I follow.

I suppose this is as good of a time as any to mention that I really miss going to the store and buying basketball cards. It's been awhile since I've been able to do that reliably, but now we really can't do that. People just straight up burgle that kind of stuff now.

In any case, Panini still cranks out some nice looking parallels on occasion. When it comes to baseball cards, I always have to admit to myself that I'll never get them all. When it comes to hoops, however, I'll be lucky if I get any of them at all.

Here's a plain old base card from the 2019-20 Mosaic set. Right at the peak of the basketball card craze, this set was seemingly everywhere (except on store shelves.) I'm sure Panini made a lot of money off of it.

It already feels like about five years since Hassan Whiteside was the Blazers starting center. I don't know if that's because there's been a seemingly endless pandemic happening since those days or if I'm just losing it.

Switching over to the No Fun League, I picked up a few Eagles cards from the 2013 Topps Archives set including one of future champ Nick Foles.

I was most excited about the Tecmo-era 1994 Pacific Crown Collection break. I believe Tecmo Super Bowl II was the latest and greatest around this set's time.

Check those sweet, sweet kelly green uniforms. They surely put their current look to shame, and yes, I'm going to mention this every time I post an '80s or '90s Eagles card.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Project: Randall

Collecting all the Cunninghams from 2021 Allen & Ginter with a head start from @weavahVBC and @JasonSowinski -- can you help?
Normally I'm pretty excited about a new Allen & Ginter release, but Randall Cunningham's surprise (to me) inclusion on the checklist gave me another reason to collect. I'm not going to use the term "chasing the rainbow" (not only because there aren't colored parallels in this, but also because I hate it), but I do want to collect as many of the Randall Cunningham cards that I can.

I now have my first three Randalls, thanks to some friends of Crackin' Wax. I still need another dozen or so, depending on how many printing plates were used and how many parallels there are in the new Allen & Ginter X set. A lot of these are 1/1 cards, though, so I probably won't be shelling out big bucks for them if they ever appear. Also, there will probably be a Chrome set again. Yeesh.

The A&G mini back is kind of interesting this year. It feels like they put a lot more effort into the design than usual, although I still miss the creepy Ol' Planter.

Here's the hot box silver foil edition. Not bad!

If you happen to run into any of these cards (aside from those in bold), let me know as I'd love to own a copy.

Randall Cunningham #277 - FULL CHECKLIST (?): (bold means I own it)
  • Base
  • Silver Foil (Hot Box)
  • Glossy (1/1)
  • Mini Base
  • Mini A&G Back
  • Mini Black Border
  • Mini No Number (print run: 50)
  • Mini Brooklyn Back (/25)
  • Mini Wood (1/1)
  • Mini Glossy (1/1)
  • Mini Framed Printing Plate(s) (1/1)
  • X Base
  • X Mini Black
  • X Mini Red (/5)
  • X Mini Silver (1/1)
Randall Cunningham - AUTOGRAPH CHECKLIST: (bold means I own it)
  • Dual Autographs (w/ Vashti Cunningham) DA-CC
  • Framed Mini Non-Baseball Autographs FMA-RC
  • Framed Mini Non-Baseball Autographs Red Ink FMA-RC
  • Framed Mini Non-Baseball Autographs Black Frame (/25) FMA-RC
  • X Silver Frame Black Mini Non-Baseball Autographs FMA-RC
  • X Silver Frame Black Mini Non-Baseball Autographs Black Frame Black FMA-RC (/10)
  • X Silver Frame Black Mini Non-Baseball Autographs Silver Frame Gold Ink FMA-RC (/5)

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Pro Debut & Fire

New cards and some old Fire on last week's @CrackinWax #CrackinWaxMailDay includes a familiar design.

Topps Update isn't out yet, but this is about the time of the year that people really start to get sick of the base design. Many people were sick of it before the cards hit the street, of course, with the overall look drawing fair comparisons to recent Panini Donruss offerings. I haven't disliked it as much as I thought I would, and the annual Topps Pro Debut set usually offers a bit of an enhancement over the flagship set, with the player photos glossing on top of a matte background. I picked up a Pro Debut spot in a Crackin' Wax break (with another one on the way in the mail) and was able to add a few new things to my collection.

Ivan Herrera had a nice season at Springfield and was rewarded for his success by getting a late season promotion to Memphis, who like all AAA teams are playing until the end of September for the first time that I can recall. I don't remember if this is a permanent change or brought on as part of the delayed start to the season, but it's happening. I'd be thrilled right now if my hometown AAA team hadn't been run out of their own stadium more than a decade ago.

New in Pro Debut this year is a second design that uses the 1991 Topps look for some of its prospects. These are part of the base set. Along with some of the throwback inserts that you can find in Pro Debut boxes, the whole thing has a bit more of an Archives feel this year.

Most of the names were familiar to me, but Toerner's is not. This is my first card of the former 28th round pick, and is also his first Topps card. I have no idea why this didn't get a "Pro Debut" logo. Does anyone know what criteria Topps uses for this? Does anyone care? I know that Bowman 1st's are a thing, but I don't really think anyone cares about Pro Debut. I have a soft spot for the minor leagues, however, so I'm always going to be intrigued.

I also bought slots in a couple of Fire breaks (2020 and 2019) in advance of the 2021 release that hit Target's website recently. Nothing terribly exciting (for me) came out of the 2020 break, but I did get this Flame Throwers insert. This feels like it's auditioning to be some kid's bedroom Jack Flaherty poster.

Ditto this "Smoke and Mirrors" insert from the 2019 set. If only people still made "Magic Motion" Sportflics style cards these days. If you combined that idea with some of the artists behind Topps Fire, you'd have something intriguing, I bet. (Someone tell Fanatics about this.)

Here's my "hit of the week". I bought the last spot in the break and was rewarded with this sticker autograph of the former Cardinals first baseman Jose Martinez. He was a pretty cerebral player and a fun guy to root for while he was around.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Good Luck Ducks, Week 3: Seawolves... Fever?

Oregon's final nonconference tune-up is against an unfamiliar FCS opponent. 
After the Ducks pulled off one of the biggest nonconference road wins in Pac-12 history last Saturday, many people probably looked at the schedule to see who was up next. It's... Stony Brook! I couldn't have told you a thing about the Seawolves football program before last week and I'm still fairly certain that I don't know much. Still, the home game against an FCS team comes at a good time in the schedule, after the Oregon put together a max effort performance to defeat the Buckeyes last week.

Injuries are something you always talk about in football. Oregon is going to have to learn to live without Justin Flowe, who was rumored to have broken his foot (or something like that) and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season. It would be fairly surprising to see Kayvon Thibodeaux return this week, considering the relatively low stakes of this game. And Cam McCormick, who had fought through injuries for years to finally return to the field this season for the first time since 2018 ended up tearing his Achilles on his first down catch last week. Tough stuff.

What do we make of the Stony Brook Seawolves? Since joining Division I, they've made the FCS playoffs four times, most recently in 2018. They've graduated five players to the NFL. They're 1-1 this season, with a loss at home to New Hampshire and a win last week at Colgate. They're located in New York. And... that's all I've got. This is a quality opponent in a lower division, but it doesn't feel like a trap game. Oregon should hopefully be able to win comfortably and work on a few things as they head into conference play next week. Let's cross our fingers that the injury bug stays away.

Series History: They have never faced each other.

Opponent Talk: The Stony Brook newspaper is expecting a blowout, but is looking forward to the payday.

Oregon's last matchup versus an FCS opponent was a 35-3 win over Montana in 2019. The Grizzlies are an elite FCS program, and most recently knocked off a Pac-12 opponent in Washington.

Game time is 4:30 PM PDT on the Pac-12 Network. Go Ducks!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Prizm in Color

Panini Prizm's Baseball offering is colorful fun without logos. 
Panini's MLB sets always come with two strikes against them. The lack of MLB license (no logos) is the most obvious thing, but there's always been the mentality that Topps, with their uninterrupted run at baseball cards since 1952 (ish), is the one true brand to collect. That mentality is about to tested in the Fanatics era, of course. It will be interesting to see how history looks back at baseball cards from other brands that aren't Topps once Topps stops making cards (unless, of course, Topps is purchased and does the overlord's bidding.)

In any case, I like Prizm baseball. It's come a long way from the 2012 set (actually released in 2013.) The early Prizm sets are seriously ugly, even the ones where Panini held a proper license. I bought into a couple of breaks over at Rip City Cards for a reasonable price and feel like I did pretty well for myself. Let's check out some of the goods.

Much like the third-class citizen that it's treated like, the baseball version of Prizm always gets a leftover design. This is the same design as last year's NFL and NBA sets. In some other brands where designs are shared across sports, baseball leads the way, but that's not the case with Prizm.

I'm happy with any set that continues to casually toss in an Ozzie Smith base card in 2021. Someone at Panini loves The Wizard, because he's in a ton of their sets.

Prizm tries a little harder with their inserts than, say, Topps Chrome. I know that it's not completely fair to compare Topps Chrome to Panini Prizm, because Donruss Optic is a closer analogy as long as you consider Donruss to be Panini's flagship baseball set. (Is it?)

Here's the classic non-MLB license player photo. There isn't really a logo to hide here.

Here's Paul Goldschmidt, star player of the 46ers.

Okay, that's just weird.

I did pretty well with the colorful parallels in these breaks. This is a snaky snakeskin parallel of the Cardinals rookie, numbered to just 50. I pulled a rookie year Zac Gallen snakeskin parallel from last year's Prizm set which I think I might have hung on to. Gallen was a Cardinals draft pick originally that was dealt to the Diamondbacks, making his snakeskin version much more appropriate.

Here's a basic blue parallel, Flaherty syle.

And here's a red one. I don't really know the rhyme or reason or distribution odds for most of the Prizm parallels, except that they are numerous and attract only a certain type of collector. I don't think I have it in me, personally, to chase a "rainbow" of any particular card (...or do I?)

This KK "blue mojo" parallel has the same look as the Bowman "megabox" exclusive parallels that people also call "mojo". Who decided this was to be called "mojo" and who came up with this pattern first?

This is another rookie year numbered parallel. Woodford is at least temporarily in the Cards rotation again and has a big start ahead of him against the Mets tomorrow. He can do it! I believe in him.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Good Luck Ducks, Week 2: Buckeye Fever

The Ducks hit the road for one of their biggest ever nonconference games. 
COVID-19 wiped out the home portion of the agreement with Ohio State to play a set of games that was signed a decade ago. Instead, the Ducks will just play one game against the B1G power, at high noon (eastern time) at the place they call The Horseshoe. None of this seems tremendously fair, but if we could go back in time and erase the pandemic altogether (that would be really nice!), it's tough to say that a Tyler Shough-led Oregon squad could have competed with the team that eventually went on to lose in the CFP championship game.

It never rains at Autzen Stadium, though, so you never know. No rain is in the forecast at Ohio Stadium tomorrow, either. Both teams had fairly lackluster opening games, each not securing victory until the fourth quarter.

The Ducks will likely be without their best and most dangerous player, Kayvon Thibodeaux. He reportedly did make the trip to Columbus, but otherwise not much positive news has been heard about his status. Thibodeaux hurt his ankle when his own teammate fell into him at the end of a play, which is about one of the most unfortunate ways to get hurt on a football field (next to celebrating a touchdown, I suppose.) This would put a bit of a damper on Oregon's hopes of knocking off the school that straight up punked them in the 2015 CFP championship, but all of these players were still in high school or middle school back when that was going on. A Ducks win today would establish themselves as an early playoff contender, while a loss could still provide some valuable experience that could be used later in the season. That is to say that the pressure may be on the Buckeyes more than the Fighting Ducks.

Series History: Ohio State is undefeated in 9 tries against Oregon, though they've only faced each other twice in the past 37 years. I dare not speak the name of the Dallas Cowboys running back that bulldozed the Ducks line (and secondary, and everyone else on the field) in that stupid championship game.

Opponent Talk: Ohio State has one of the most intense, content-heavy fan sites I've ever seen for a sports team on the internet. Just check out this gameday poster, for starters. It was hard to even look at this site, because I don't think I'll ever be as big of a fan of any team as much as these guys are.

This is where I usually embed a video clip of the Ducks doing something cool against today's opponent in the past, but I'm not about to put any footage of any of their 9 losses up here. (I'm guessing it would be hard to find anything online from the '80s or before.) Instead, let's check out some Thibodeaux highlights and hope he's on the field at full strength today.

Game time is at 9:00 AM PDT (sheesh!) on FOX. Go Ducks!

Thursday, September 9, 2021

All Chrome'd Up and Ready to Go

A #CrackinWaxMailDay from @CrackinWax features the premium version of the Topps flagship set. 

Topps Chrome had a bit of a price hike this year, but I still took a bit of a dip into it and bought a slot in a half-case break over at Crackin' Wax. I also ended up with a free slot in an additional Chrome box break where I was assigned the entire NL Central division thanks to a bit of fantasy baseball success, but I'm going to focus on just my Cardinals acquisitions here. (I did end up with a Pirates autograph and a numbered card of a certain former Reds pitcher whose cards I don't want to display here... I'm tired of pulling his stuff in 2021. The Pirates auto is being set aside for Bob Walk the Plank.)

As you would expect, the cards look like a metallic version of the flagship set. More so this year than in the past, I believe nearly all of the photos are the same. (There are a few short printed photo variations as usual.) We get KK's weirdly floating rookie cup here again as well.

Here's your requisite Yadi card.

There aren't tons of inserts in the Chrome set, which is mostly focused on refractor parallels and autographs. We do get the '86 Topps tribute treatment, however. At least I ended up with another new Nolan card (complete with fake uniform.)

There were some... choices made when coming up with the rookie autographs checklist. Because Topps has fallen further and further behind with deadlines and such, you're not going to see a lot of (any?) rookies in 2021 that actually made their debut in 2021. Since the abbreviated 2020 season was absolutely lousy with pitchers and lower tier roster filler making their debuts due to the huge volume of games missed (due to the pandemic, of course), well... let's just say that there are a lot of relief/minor league pitcher autos. I'm not going to complain about any Cardinals card that's new to my collection, of course, but Roel Ramirez has had an interesting path to his appearance in a Topps set.

Last season, in his MLB debut and lone 2020 appearance, he gave up back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs to the Chicago White Sox. You may have seen the highlights. He was called up a second time, this season, where he gave up another three earned runs while recording just one out. He's not with the organization any longer.

With Chrome, though, we're really all here for the refractors. This Jack Flaherty prism refractor (aka fishfractor) scans pretty well and will look pretty nice in the binders.

Next up, we'll take a look at the competitor's shiny cards for a change. And there might be a football thing. Possibly not in that order.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Good Luck Ducks, Week 1: Fresno Fever

The Ducks kick off the new college football season. 
Whether we're ready or not, it's college football season. From this fan's perspective, last year didn't really count. There were too many bad decisions and risky circumstances that led to an abbreviated Pac-12 schedule that I truly wished wasn't going to happen at all. They were basically the last conference to cave in to pressures to play football, and the so-called season carried all that weight with it. It's not really fair to the players who really wanted to play and gave it their all on the field when given the opportunity, but I just feel like I have to casually ignore what happened in 2020.

Okay, here's one last recap before we officially pretend it never happened. The Ducks started their season strong in November or something, and then sputtered towards the finish line and eventually lost confidence in their young quarterback. They only managed to play in the conference championship game because another team had too much COVID, and ended up winning the title and promoting their graduate transfer senior QB to... co-QB. The young QB ended up transferring, and they are starting the elder QB, a super senior, to start this season.

Conference champions, though! If there was anything done right last season, it was that the Ducks were able to reestablish themselves as conference champs and favorites. They come out of the game this year in the top dozen teams in the country, and with a supposedly healthy recruiting class to back it up. Their first test comes against the Fresno State Bulldogs, a Mountain West opponent coming off of a Week Zero victory by 45 points over UConn. Oregon is led this year by otherworldly defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, who has lofty aspirations of his own as he is looking to break the mold as a Heisman candidate. He is legitimately scary on the football field.

Series History: The Ducks are 7-2 all-time versus Fresno State, with their most recent matchup resulting in a 42-25 Oregon victory in 2012.

Opponent Talk: Hey, Tim DeRuyter is the new Ducks defensive coordinator. He was the Fresno State head coach for 5 years about 5 years ago. There was a time when I could have named several Ducks assistant coaches by name, but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. It will help if Jake Haener can throw for 300 yards again.

I watched a bunch of YouTube footage of past FSU/UO games in preparation for this, and stumbled across this totally forgotten factoid. These teams played in the very first regular season D1 overtime game under the current rules back in 1996. The Ducks won!

Game time is at 11:00 AM PDT on the Pac-12 Network. Go Ducks!