Saturday, November 27, 2021

Good Luck Ducks, Week 13: War

It's rivalry week. 

A long time ago, when I was in college, I watched the Ducks play Oregon State in my dorm room with the person I was dating at the time on a tiny black and white TV. It was years beyond the acceptable date to actually own a black and white TV as ones only means of consuming media, but this was the college days where those sorts of things could be understandably overlooked. The person I was dating was rooting for the Beavers, and at some point in the second half it was announced that the Ducks had clinched a spot in the Rose Bowl regardless of the outcome because of the result of the USC/UCLA game. She was rooting for OSU, and upon hearing the news told me that I could relax and root for her team now that Oregon's fate had been decided.

That's not how rivalry games work, of course.

Thanks in large part to Dino Philyaw, the Ducks won anyway, and I probably said stupid things to said person who challenged me.

In 2008, the Oregon State Beavers needed a win over Oregon to reach the Rose Bowl for the first time in 44 years. The Ducks were having a very good year, but due to their conference record the Rose Bowl was out of reach. One could have understandably rooted for the Beavers to play in that coveted game, but I surely didn't because that's not how rivalry games work. Oregon won 65-38, and it wasn't that close.

In 2017, Oregon was having a miserable season under one-and-done joke of a head coach Willie Taggart when they faced the Beavers who had only won a single game. You could argue that the game had no meaning and wasn't watchable, but it's hard to tell that to a Ducks player because that's not how rivalry games work. Oregon won 69-10. They probably dumped a Gatorade cooler on Taggart's head, but he surely didn't deserve it.

Series History: The Ducks own a 66-48-10 edge (10 ties??!) with 11 wins in their last 13 tries. They're coming off of a loss in the pandemic season, however.

Opponent Talk: The Beavers may have been eliminated from Pac-12 North title contention with Washington State's win yesterday, but they're looking forward to the future after locking up former QB star and current head coach Jonathan Smith to a long-term deal.

The 2008 game was one of the most satisfying wins in the big (don't call it Civil War) rivalry.

Game time is 12:30 PM PST on ESPN. Go Ducks!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Summer Fun in November


A #CrackinWaxMailDay from @CrackinWax features the late-arriving Topps Archives set.
For the past decade, the Topps Archives set has been a summertime event, adding some much-needed fun and nostalgia to an otherwise stuffy release schedule. It's a breezy set. It's not essential and not quite low-end, but it's affordable enough that almost anyone could collect it. I usually pick up a blaster or two, collect the team set and then mostly forget about it. In recent years, they've really packed in the nostalgia by adding classic movie tie-ins, an Expos feature, and metal discs that resemble the late '80s (and '60s before them) baseball "coins". This year there was really nothing on that grand of a scale that was added, and the set arrived very late in the release schedule due to the ongoing issues at Topps in their last days as a viable baseball card company.

It's new cards, so I must have them (for some reason.) I once again went to Crackin' Wax to fill my "new cards" need in a case break. I have a few extra team sets if anyone is looking for one.

To be fair, this year's set is still fun, if a little late. The 2011 design gets a nod here, and it looks nearly identical aside from the gold foil replacing the usual silver. I understand that changing the foil color is a good practice for distinguishing reprints from the original thing, but it seemed unnecessary here as none of these cards are actually reprinted from the 2011 set.

Next up is the 1957 design, last seen in 2015 Topps Archives.

And then there's the 1983 design, which... same. This is Topps shrugging and saying "you bought it six year ago, so why not?"

The 1991 design was used even more recently as part of the 2016 Topps Archives set. They just wanted to re-use this design so they could slap the new "70 Years" logo on some of these and call them variations.

The same goes for the 2001 set, except that I don't believe this design has ever been re-used outside of possibly whatever Topps does with some of their on-demand throwback products. This was a welcome sight.

I don't think Archives (in its current form) has used the classic woodgrain 1962 Topps design before. In the early '00s, a number of cards used this design, but those were actually in the style of reprints, which was the original "Archives" concept.

The less said about the "70 years into the future" design, the better. The amusing thing about this to me is that it was conceived long before Topps lost their MLB license, making Topps producing baseball cards in the year 2091 even less likely than it already would have been in the first place. I'd like to add that all of my Arenado cards were damaged in the same spot. I'm guessing there was some sort of issue with the sheet that these were printed on.

Inserts are fun, though! These "movie posters" inserts also have a box topper counterpart that is an actual mini-poster that you can unfold and stick on your wall. This one is just a normal card-shaped card, however.

Topps also went back to 1991 to honor their Bazooka set, which used a similar design as their flagship set.

I also landed a few numbered parallels in this break. This orange something or other Paul Goldschmidt card is numbered to just 15!

Jack Flaherty gets the red something or other parallel treatment with a card numbered 30 out of 50.

A more basic parallel came in the form of this Nolan Arenado, which basically looks like a holofoil card.

That's all of the Archives that I received. As a huge, huge bonus, however, CW threw in a whole team set of this 582 Montgomery Club exclusive foil-stamped factory set. Very nice! I won't subject you to another 21 pictures of flagship base cards with a stamp on them, however.

It turns out that even the bonuses have their own bonuses, because I also ended up with three cards featuring old supposedly lost designs that were part of a small set that was also exclusive to 582 Montgomery Club members.

This design looks fantastic in my opinion. I wouldn't mind seeing this get a wider release with a bigger set.

I'm not sure about this one, however. Was Topps really considering putting out a bright yellow bordered set in the black & white photo era? This seems more like it may have been a Bowman thing, although again I'm not sure I'm buying the yellow here.

Thanks again to Crackin' Wax for the extra goodies!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Good Luck Ducks, Week 12: Underdogs!

The third ranked team in the country is an underdog as they go on the road against the Pac-12 South leaders. 
The Utah Utes have picked up a lot of steam over recent weeks, which has put them in the surprising position of being a home favorite over the #3 team in the country. With Utah now ranked at #23, they loom as the biggest remaining threat the Pac-12 has to offer. A lot is at stake for both teams, and yet both teams know they will almost certainly face each other again in two weeks for the conference championship.

All of the pressure is on the Ducks today, as it usually is with a potential playoff bid at stake. Oregon has looked better as the conference schedule has progressed, riding a punishing rushing attack with just enough throws from Anthony Brown Jr. to keep the defense off balance. The Ducks will need to survive the usual attrition of injuries plus another in-season transfer which saw their wide receiver and primary punt returner Mycah Pittman bail on the team at one of the season's biggest moments. Honestly, unless there was some sort of mental health issue or other off-field extraneous circumstances, this is a pretty lousy move.

Utah is led by quarterback Cam Rising (great name there) and a three-pronged rushing attack. I would expect to see a lot of points put on the board today. However, Oregon's defense has been stingy at times, and the always dangerous Kayvon Thibodeaux has continued to wreak havoc in the backfield. If the Ducks play up to the level of their competition on the road like they did against other quality teams, it should be a good outcome for the team in white and green. If not, the stakes of the conference championship game become significantly lower.

Series History: Oregon is 23-10 all-time versus the Utes, with most games dating back to their time in the WAC and Mountain West.

Opponent Talk: They're doing advanced math to compare scores of games with common opponents to show that Utah should come out on top with this one. I'm not sure that ever works.

In their last meeting, the Ducks took down Utah in the Pac-12 Championship en route to their Rose Bowl win.

Game time is 4:30 PST on ABC. Go Ducks!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Platinum Status


A reasonably priced blaster? In 2021? 
I had a decent day at the monthly card show last Saturday once I got over the fact that 95% of the tables are not for me. So many people involved in this business have tables full of marked up retail products and ten cent cards in dollar boxes. I spent most of my time at the show in dime boxes at a couple of tables, and even found a blaster that wasn't marked up at all on my way out the door.

Bowman Platinum is never my favorite product, as the foilboard heavy product always tends to veer towards tackiness rather than something special. I do think Walmart usually comes up short in their retail exclusives versus the other big box chain.

This design isn't terrible, but I'm not sure I'll remember it in a few years. Dylan Carlson's RC is one of four Cardinals on the base checklist, which checks in at 100 cards. There's also the expected Prospects cards, where the Cardinals only have one participant.

I also pulled a "foil ice" parallel of the third place finisher in the NL ROY award. I surely can't complain about that.

I also ended up with both versions of the George Springer card, but no other cards for my collection.

I'm not sure how "Renowned" this catcher who played 10 games for the Rangers in 2020 is, but he's still rookie eligible in 2022.

I think this is supposed to be an insert design called Periodic Elements, but the gimmick is ruined a bit by the player obscuring part of the design. Also, it's weird to see his name printed as R.Hassell on the card (his first name is Robert.)

Here's what the Prospects design looks like (in foil ice form.)

Jake Cronenworth was one of the better players who had RCs in 2021 products.

Here's another one of the foil ice Prospects cards. This reminds me that I still have a boxed up bunch of Nationals cards with no address to send them to, because the person who claimed them claimed to be a fan of Cade Cavalli.

Brailyn Marquez is apparently one of the Cubs better prospects, but he didn't pitch at all in 2021. I'm guessing there was some sort of injury at play.

The best card of the box was objectively this Ronald Acuña Jr. card, which is numbered to just 99. This one heads to my trade box.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Good Luck Ducks, Week 11: Don't Coug It! (Seriously, Don't.)

The #3 Ducks host a pesky Washington State Cougars team in a #Pac12AfterDark affair. 
In recent years, Oregon has had the most trouble with two Pac-12 North teams no matter what their records represented: Stanford, who upset them once again, and Washington State. The Cougars at one point were winners of four straight in the series, but the Ducks have won the last two. Still, for any players that have been around the program for more than a couple of years, the sting of losing to the Cougars must still linger. With the high stakes that accompany any game involving a top 5 team at this point in the season, you would expect all players to be on high alert.

The Cougs are coming off of a convincing win over Arizona State and could take over first place in the Pac-12 North with a win tonight. With Mike Leach and the "air raid" days a couple of seasons behind them, Washington State still has a formidable passing attack behind sophomore QB Jayden de Laura and his top target Calvin Jackson Jr.

The Ducks went with a full-on ground assault against the Huskies last week, which limited their passing game to just 98 yards from Anthony Brown Jr. It seems pretty unlikely to see a repeat of that scenario, even though Travis Dye has been the biggest part of their attack in recent weeks. Cougars/Ducks games have usually been settled through the air (aside from a certain game 20 years ago), so Oregon fans will hope for another productive but efficient game from their quarterback. Only Utah and Oregon State remain on the schedule after this one, so I think we're beyond the "trap game" possibilities at this point.

Series History: The Ducks lead the all-time series 51-42-7 and are coming off of two straight wins.

Opponent Talk: The Cougs are looking for turnovers. Let's try not to be sloppy this time.

Oregon got the monkey (or Cougar) off their back with a late game drive that ended in a game winning field goal in their last match at Autzen in 2019.

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

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Cards of Every Flavor

So many sports at once. 
This is the time of year when it seems like there are way too many sporting events competing for my attention. With the World Series only recently concluding, there's still way too many sports things going on for all of the free hours I have in my day. In the spirit of "too many sports", let's check out a bunch of cards from a bunch of different sports thanks to Sportscards from the Dollar Store.

The Blazers have been off to a bit of a rough start this season, but I still enjoy the older cards I received here. Court Kings seems to be more of a higher end set than its baseball counterpart (Diamond Kings), so I am always glad to get my hands on any of it.

This is what fancy basketball cards looked like almost a couple of decades ago. I wish Fleer/Flair was still around these days, especially for what they would do with basketball cards. I think Upper Deck still holds the license to the Fleer brand, which isn't very helpful.

There's always room for a little more Sheed around the blog.

In the American football divsiion, some Ducks alums and Eagles pros were added to my collection. Onterrio Smith kind of threw his career away over some weed nonsense, which probably would have been treated differently today considering that times have really changed. (Okay, maybe not, if you ask Josh Gordon.)

I really like that buckstorecards has access to CFL cards, because you don't exactly see them at the card shows in my area. This one is a special "blank back" variation, which doesn't seem to be cataloged in TCDB as of yet.

From pro Ducks to pro birds of another feather we go with this card of now former Eagle Zach Ertz. I was bummed to see that Ertz was finally traded (to Arizona) a couple of weeks ago after rumors persisted for quite awhile that he was headed elsewhere. He was a great Eagle, even if he bugged me as a Stanford Cardinal.

Duce Staley was one of my favorite Eagles of the Andy Reid days, and it's cool to see him involved in coaching. I was hoping that he was going to get the Eagles head coaching job, although I have no idea how that would have worked out. (I don't really know anything about NFL coaching, to be honest.)

I also seem to get 100% of my St. Louis Blues cards from buckstorecards. Here is my now annual admission that I've barely been able to watch any Blues games (there's also Portland Timbers soccer happening to distract my attention, and they're not even pictured here.) This Canvas style card is really nice. I'd probably collect more hockey cards if they were all like this.

Pietrangelo was one of the stars of the recent Stanley Cup winning team, but he moved on to Vegas around a year ago.

Barbashev was also one of the Stanley Cup winning guys. I suppose that I mostly scanned cards of guys that I had heard of.

I haven't heard of Klim Kostin, but this was too cool not to show off. This is an autographed hockey stick chunk! I definitely didn't have one of these in my life before.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Good Luck Ducks, Week 10: Fuskies

The Ducks head to Seattle to take on their hated rival to the north. 
Just a few days after Oregon cruised to a comfortable win over Colorado, the AP poll that had seemingly inflated the team's stature all season suddenly became irrelevant. The Ducks were suddenly ranked #4 and in position to actually make the College Football Playoffs if the season ended that day. It was a bit surprising, but it looks like Oregon got a much bigger boost for their road win over Ohio State, which still stands as one of the biggest wins in all of college football, than any sort of penalty they received for their loss to a lousy Stanford team.

Can they back it up? With four games remaining on the regular season schedule, the Ducks are up against a grumpy Washington team in Husky Stadium. Every single conference game the Huskies have been involved in has been closely contested. It's not too dissimilar to Oregon's season aside from the much better record on the Ducks side. Both teams should by amply prepared for a tight game down the stretch should it come to it.

Oregon is hoping for another strong performance from Anthony Brown Jr., who looked to be in much better control of things last week against an admittedly inferior team. Ditto for Travis Dye, who despite not being utilized heavily has still managed to find the end zone 6 times in the last two games in the absence of CJ Verdell. Washington is led by quarterback Dylan Morris, who has had some quality games and some rough ones in 2021. Playing at home should certainly help the Huskies, but it remains to be seen if they can hang with the Ducks.

Series History: Washington leads the all-time series with a 60-47-5 record, although the Ducks won 12 straight before a a pair of blowout losses that were erased from my mind. The last two meetings have been nailbiting Ducks wins.

Opponent Talk: QB Morris doubles down on his decision to go to his hometown school instead of accepting offers from others such as Oregon and Notre Dame.

In the last meeting between the two bitter rivals, Oregon came from behind to pull off a close win in Seattle in a pivotal building block towards an eventual conference title and Rose Bowl win.

Game time is 4:30 PM PDT on ABC. Go Ducks!

Friday, November 5, 2021

Spring Cleaning is Over!

That's a wrap on Spring Cleaning... any Nationals fans out there? Paging "constant1st"... 

The increasingly inaccurately named Spring Cleaning event has now come to a conclusion. With the exception of a late-requested Minnesota-focused package and a bunch of Nationals cards that I don't have a mailing address for, everything has been shipped. Did you miss out on all of the fun? I may still have a bunch of cards for some of the unclaimed teams. We can always try to work out a trade, but soon I am going to implement my now annual ban on trips to the post office soon. (PWE's will, as always, continue in abundance.)

In other blog news, I finally moved my "10 Most Wanted" list to the menu bar at the top of the blog. This will finally make it viewable on mobile and hopefully generate a little more interest than in the past. Google has been making it increasingly more difficult to edit and update certain widgets for those of us who liked to more or less stick to the old-school Blogger layout, so I might start removing other neglected things from the sidebar since they're not visible on mobile anyway. We'll see.

Next up for the blog? December will see the return of the annual college football bowl pick 'em contest. Maybe I will get some other cool ideas before then?

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Cramming a Few More Releases into America's Already Bloated Snack Hole

The latest @CrackinWax #CrackinWaxMailDay includes 3 more new baseball releases. 
It's been a bit, but I decided to jump into a couple more Crackin' Wax breaks while there were some available. First up is Panini's first Mosaic baseball set. Panini released an NBA version of this set during the absolute peak of basketball card mania and I feel that it actually hastened the decline of the market at the time (that and Zion Williamson being a bit disappointing.) The set is an absolute snore as it kind of resembles a bargain brand version of Prizm. Why make another Prizm-style set at a fairly expensive price point when you already have Prizm?

This new baseball release looks nearly identical to the 2019-20 NBA release, aside from using different fonts. It's another chromium-style set, but it's devoid of any real background and instead just uses a bunch of geometric shapes. There are tons and tons (this is Panini, so even more than you can imagine) of parallels, plus a bunch of inserts that seem to be really difficult to pull.

I only ended up with base cards, except for a single Giants silver parallel card as they were one of the teams that was pre-packaged with the Cards in the break. The non-Cardinal cards will all end up in trade boxes for a later day. (I have Marlins cards from this set as well.)

A new KK card for my collection rounds out the group of 4 Redbirds.

The second box break of the week was the online exclusive Allen & Ginter X. Boxes of this set were reportedly a lot more expensive this year than in the past, which means that I'll probably be sticking to picking up singles here and there.

I ended up with 3 base Cardinals cards plus a couple of minis. My other teams for this one were the Nationals and Tigers, so I have a few of their cards as well.

I also ended up with two free box break slots in a 2021 Topps Archives Snapshots break due to some success with my team in the Crackin' Wax fantasy baseball league. This is another online-exclusive set, but the design looks loads better than most of the flagship sets of late.

I was assigned the entire NL Central and NL West divisions for this. It's a small set (50 cards), and unfortunately the Cardinals have zero cards in it aside from an insert. So, no Cards cards for me, but plenty of trade bait.

This is a Tintype Titans insert. I'm not sure where the name comes from or what it signifies. The only time I'm really happy about posting images of Cubs cards here on the blog is when it's some Hall of Famer or retired player who played before my time, so this is cool.

There are parallels in this and I don't imagine the print run is very high on these. If Joey Bart ends up being a big time player at some point, I suppose that this could become a big time card. Big time!

I did end up with an autograph in this break (I believe there's one in every mini box). These are signed on-card and look really nice. I only wish it was someone I collect or at least not a player on an NL Central team that isn't the Cardinals.