Monday, December 5, 2022

Bowl Pick 'Em Contest Changes


It's almost contest time again! Let's discuss some potential changes. 
 
'Tis the season to make predictions of college football games that hardly anyone cares about for a chance at some free cards. Here are some changes I'm thinking of making for this year to make things a bit more streamlined. Please let me know what you think in the comments!
  • Change the scoring system from "confidence points" to "standard". This would stop the need to "rank" each game and switch to a pure point system weighting each game the same, which should save us a lot of time when making the picks. This would also allow me to consider opening the contest up to non-ESPN users.
  • Accept contest entries via comment/email/Twitter. This would only be available for people who can't/won't use the ESPN site. (See above.) I could theoretically add contest entries on the ESPN site manually for these users if there aren't too many, but I wouldn't allow making/changing picks on the fly (ESPN allows this if the game hasn't kicked off yet.)
  • Change the prize structure somehow. I don't have as many trade-worthy cards for team collectors at the moment, since the bulk of my trading has gone over to TCDB. I'll still have to figure something out here that makes everyone happy. First prize would still be a Topps Series One baseball blaster as usual.
  • Require contact information (email or Twitter name or what have you) prior to entering the contest. This one is probably the most important change (to me) but could potentially keep the number of participants down (no more automatic invites), unfortunately. I've had way too many winners ghost me after the contest is over (why?!), so I'd like to know up front that I can at least get ahold of you if you win something.
Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Better Late Than Never

 

A big ol' case break of Allen & Ginter from @CrackinWax brings us the latest #CrackinWaxMailDay like it's summer in November. 
 
If it felt strange to be getting my first look at Allen & Ginter around the late November holiday season, last year's blog post confirmed it: this set is very late. With everything continuing to be delayed, it made me wonder if this was just a repeat of last year's late arrival, but an August release wasn't nearly as far off from the norm as this year's schedule. After doing a bit of waffling, I did finally get into a case break from Crackin' Wax for this year's version. Like last year, I think it's just alright. I don't love it, but it is distinctly Ginter.


The design seems like it was some concept art for the pack design that crept its way into the card border itself. It leaves less space than ever for the player photos.


An 'RC' logo is always going to look funny on vintage-inspired sets, but I do prefer the standard logo to times when they've tried to make it blend in with the design and color it all sepia-toned or gold or something.


The way the border just fades away into nothingness on the right is surely going to drive the people who freak out about card centering up the wall just a bit.


Tim McCarver made the short list of SP subjects, which is a nice switch from the usual group of HOFers (and McGwires) the Cardinals typically end up with.


Minis, as you'd suspect, look very similar. They're smaller! There's even less room for the photo. I do really miss the first few sets (2006 through 2008) that would use much smaller photos, because they made the minis look a lot nicer.


Black minis are also small and, you know, black. I actually think this is one of the best black mini designs (giant logo aside) as they tend to switch these up from year to year.


Here's another black mini featuring the new NL MVP. Congrats, Goldy!


As usual, there are some full-sized inserts featuring various baseball players. This set is a bit on the boring side. It would be nice if the front featured something about the season besides the year in huge letters.


There are "final year" Pujols cards in the set, but this one is a throwback to his initial Cardinals run. I sure do miss the old Majestic jerseys.


This one is for the pitchers, and Gibby makes an appearance again. They did a clever thing with the background on these, I guess.


I landed two "hits" in the break. This was easily my favorite. Topps can do their Ginter thing year after year, but the mini framed cards always look awesome. Plus, it's Noot! Nooooooooot!


Of course, I much preferred the framed mini relics to the full-sized things, but I'm guessing these are a lot cheaper to produce. I certainly can't complain about adding another special card of the MVP.

What does everyone think about this year's Ginter set? I should probably get some duck cards, huh.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

My Second Brendan Donovan Card


Another #CrackinWaxMailDay from @CrackinWax brings the Panini weirdness and a nice bonus. 
 
Brendan Donovan had a really nice season. Not only was he consistently one of the Cardinals toughest outs, he started at six different positions (not including DH) and racked up the league's first Gold Glove Award given to a utility player. The crazy thing is that he did all of this in his first year in the league.

All season long I lamented the lack of Brendan Donovan cards, and a group break from Crackin' Wax finally helped me out. While he still didn't start showing up on base checklists until Topps Update recently came out, I was able to land an autographed card from the extremely weird Panini Chronicles set. 


If you're not familiar, the rookie-heavy set shows off designs of would-be sets for brands that Panini owns. For the most part, the set is comprised of things that didn't get their own release. If you see plain old Donruss cards, it's actually intended to be in the form of an "update" to the main set. In the NBA Chronicles sets, the checklist is numbered so that it's one gigantic set numbering in the 600 or 700 range, but for some reason the MLB set sticks to numbering each individual design as its own separate thing. I'm not sure if this is due to licensing agreements or if it's something else.


Chronicles is about 90% rookies, so if you see a guy like Juan Yepez, he's going to pop up again and again... sometimes even in the same pack.


An acetate "Clearly Donruss" set would have looked nice as its own thing, although I'm sure the price would have been prohibitively expensive.


Even though the Chronicles break was the only thing I bought from CW this particular week, I ended up with a really nice second stack of bonus cards. The foil stamped 582 Montgomery Club factory set is sent to, presumably, Montgomery Club members each season and I was gifted a Cardinals team stack from it. The only card I need to eventually track down is a multiplayer card with Adam Wainwright on it. I won't bore everyone with more scans from this set as it's truly just the regular Topps factory set (series one and two) with a stamp on it, but it will certainly make a nice addition to my binders.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Good Luck Ducks, Week 13: War Were Declared

 

Ducks and Beavers clash in the 126th edition of what we're not supposed to call the Civil War anymore. 
 
It's always much more fun when it comes down to this. Both Oregon and Oregon State are good teams this year. This is exciting! At stake is a spot in the Pac-12 championship game next week, at least for Oregon. The Ducks will face USC next week if they win, and they could still back into the game if Washington falls in the Apple Cup. The Beavers, on the other hand, have been pretty good this year but will have to settle for one of the pool of Pac-12 affiliated bowl games outside of the Rose Bowl regardless of the outcome.

Oregon's nail-biting win over Utah late last Saturday night showed that they were able to grit out a big win even with a diminished version of their star quarterback. The key to today's game will be Bo Nix's health. Reports are saying that Bo College, as I like to call him, is feeling and doing quite a bit better than last week. Nix led the Ducks to the narrow victory last week while being a stationary quarterback only until the very last play when he scrambled to a touchdown. If he's back to the mobile dual threat that he was for the rest of the season, the Beavers could have their hands full. If not, it could be Beaver Fever for Jonathan Smith's squad in Corvallis today.


Notes and other things: 
  • The only thing better, of course, would be if the Rose Bowl berth was on the line for both teams. I think OSU is good, but they might still be a year away from that level.
  • Reser Stadium's capacity is down to just around 26,000 currently as there's been a bunch of construction happening with their stadium. I'm guessing that Ducks fans will feel the squeeze the most.
  • In previous seasons where the Beavers have been good and also had the opportunity to play spoiler, the Ducks have generally been firing on all cylinders. It's that today's outcome will be fully dependent on whether Bo Nix is the would-be Heisman candidate instead of the cautious pocket passer.
  • This is the final regular game on the schedule, and it looks like that bad weather game is not coming! It looks to be crisp but dry in Corvallis today.
Game time is 12:30 PM PST on ABC in Corvallis. Go Ducks!

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Good Luck Ducks, Week 12: Revenge?

 

Oregon looks to regroup against Utah with a new potential quarterback late in the season. 
 
Things changed a lot during last week's game. The Ducks went from fringe playoff contenders to Rose Bowl hopefuls. Bo Nix went from fringe Heisman candidate to injured onlooker. All Oregon has to do now to maximize their season is win out and hope for New Year's Six glory.

Enter the Utah Utes, who dominated the Ducks twice late last season, dashing their hopes in an unfortunate weird echo of the way this season is starting to play out. Utah can again keep the Ducks out of the conference title hunt (as can Oregon State next week.) We knew it was going to be a tough task, but after flopping against Washington and possibly losing their starting quarterback for someone who has looked dreadful on the field in very limited action, things are looking even tougher now. The Utes are once again led by Cam Rising and their only conference loss was on the road at UCLA. Oregon's suspect pass defense was exploited last week once again, and it will be a big thing to watch tonight.


Notes and other things: 
  • The QB that might be making the start is former 5 star recruit Ty Thompson. The Backup Quarterback Fan Club that seems to exist in nearly every fanbase wanted desperately to see Thompson get a look last season whenever Anthony Brown would get predictable, but Thompson has yet to show anything promising on the field, though he's also yet to play more than a few meaningful downs. If he is indeed the dude tonight, it'll be interesting to see what he can do with a full gameplan.
  • It's Senior Day at Autzen, and the comfort of the home crowd should help. After last week, though, hopefully the energy will still be there.
  • With conference expansion again on the discussion table, it was interesting to look back at the two school added a decade ago. At the time, it was thought that adding Colorado from the Big 12 was the more exciting move, while Utah coming over from the Mountain West seemed to be less intriguing. As things currently stand, Utah is in the upper crust of the conference while Colorado can't hang with anyone.
  • Aside from the obvious, I'm not totally sure what I'm rooting for here tonight. If Oregon wins, it will make last week's blunders all the more painful. On the other hand, three losses to the same team in less than 365 days is really brutal and cannot stand.
Game time is 7:30 PM PST on ESPN in Eugene. Go Ducks!

Friday, November 18, 2022

Printing Plate Surprise


Hoopsters, a stack of Heritage baseball needs and something unique from a long time trader. 
 
It's been a pretty good year for me as far as my basketball card collection goes. It was never a big focus of my overall goals, but once they really took away the opportunity to buy basketball cards in stores (thanks in large part due to hype over certain rookie cards), I've really appreciated the basketball cards that I am able to get. Thanks to fellow traders like buckstorecards, as well as online sales and TCDB trades, my hoops collection is alive and well. Let's look at the buckstorecards envelope that came over here back in June.


As basketball card prices continued to escalate, the Panini sticker sets continued to provide an opportunity to get the latest players at reasonably prices. I know stickers aren't for everybody, but I enjoy them. If only we could find some appealing way to display them in binders without peeling them.


The recent sticker packs also come with full-sized cards. This one is a bronze parallel and is numbered to 99!


The bulk of the package was a big chunk of 2022 Topps Heritage cards. I was able to finish off the non-SP base set long before High Numbers came out this year, something I am very proud of.


The finishing touch comes in the form of this printing plate of former Ducks star Reuben Droughns. Droughns was the lead back on the 1998 and 1999 Ducks teams that went to the Aloha Bowl and Sun Bowl, respectively.


The card is a yellow plate from the 2005 Topps Draft Picks & Prospects set. I only own a few printing plates, so it was really cool to see this one pop up in the mail as a surprise.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

An Update on Update


An incomplete look at some of the new Cardinals in the latest edition of the Topps flagship set. 
 
For the first time in years, I wasn't able to grab my team in any box breaks for a Topps flagship set. Everyone was quick to move on to the next new shiny thing, so I am having to build my Cardinals team set the old fashioned way. I picked up a couple of new Topps Update blasters from Target online recently and was able to snag a few cards for my collection. A couple of trades have also trickled in since then that have added another card or two here.

I'm now up to three (!) Brendan Donovan cards in my collection (I'm overdue to post about number two), thanks to the card featuring the helmetless utility man on the loose. Donovan took over as team leader in HFO (helmets flown off) after Harrison Bader was dealt to the Yankees. He did a couple of other things this year as well, but I'm going to save those thoughts for that overdue post.


This is probably my favorite photo of the bunch, as there's a lot of flecks of dirt flying about. But what exactly is it that Corey Dickerson is doing here? There's no way he's bunting, is he? The Cardinals don't bunt! No one bunts anymore!


It was a rough season for Dakota Hudson, who coming off of Tommy John surgery saw his already subpar K-rate plummet to a career low. He ended up getting demoted late in the season, first to Memphis and then later to the bullpen. He doesn't seem to facing much competition from the minor league levels, however, so it will be interesting to see what happens with him going forward.


The Update set feels more substantial and less tossed off this year. It's almost back to normal, except the rookie cutoff was a bit early. Jake Walsh's three relief appearances in May saw him sneak in just before the deadline, apparently. Walsh debuted on May 11th, while Nolan Gorman (May 20 debut) missed out. The deadline for a player appearing in a new uniform, incidentally, seems like it was even earlier as I was having trouble finding anyone on the checklist who had switched teams after Opening Day.


Another reliever, Nick Wittgren was released in July after having a rough year.


Andre Pallante made the leap from AA to the Opening Day roster and never looked back. He was a key member of the bullpen and also made ten starts.


Albert Pujols popped up on the checklist a few times, as you might've expected. Will he get a "final tribute" card in next year's Series One set?


I still need almost all of the inserts and even a few of the base cards from this set, but I did land a Paul Goldschmidt All-Star card. Like last season, the All-Star cards are an insert now, presumably because the deadline to finalize the checklist and crank out endless amounts of the flagship set is earlier than the inserts. I give Topps a lot of grief in this space, but I do have to give them props for including a whopping 50 cards on the All-Star checklist, with photos from the actual game. I'm sure there were players (non-stars, especially) left off of the checklist, and I know that at least a couple of stars who opted not to attend were included, but I appreciate the effort.

Please check out my want list (or my TCDB) if you have any Cardinals I might need from this year's Update. I might pick up another blaster or two at some point if I can still afford it, but I can certainly use the help.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Good Luck Ducks, Week 11: Feeling Husky?


Oregon hosts their old rival from up I-5. 
 
The Ducks will look to keep it rolling today when they take on the Washington Huskies in the first of three tough games to finish out the conference schedule. Next up is the Utah team that trounced them twice last season, and always they'll finish things off with Oregon State (in Corvallis!) But there should be no looking past the Huskies right now, considering that they have re-entered the rankings after three straight wins.

Washington came into the season with a bit of hype surrounding their quarterback transfer with a goofy name. (Oregon has one of those of their own.) This rivalry has gotten a bit... nasty... over the years, and it certainly less good natured than the more celebrated one with the Beavers. The Huskies are at Autzen for the first time in four years, and will certainly have their work cut out for them in trying to knock off the #6 team with an 8 game winning streak overall and a 25 game winning streak at home. However, the Ducks have been prone to giving up heaps of passing yards at a time (sound familiar?) while Washington's QB came into the week leading the nation in passing yards. It sounds like an intriguing match!

Notes and other things:
  • That QB transfer with the goofy name is, of course, Michael Penix Jr. His name gives me the giggles. Unlike Bo Nix, however, Penix (Jr.) is a junior and could continue to wreak havoc in the conference for another season.
  • The weather is looking nice in Eugene tonight, so we continue for that nasty weather game. Chilly, but nice.
  • The Ducks decade-plus of dominance came to a screeching halt when the Huskies put up 70 points at Autzen against Justin Herbert making his first start as a freshman. Since then, I think Oregon has been a bit salty about it. I could see a lot of points scored in this one.
  • Expect The Duck to have some sort of weird Husky toy to play with on the sidelines today. He's gone through with his usual bit of trolling the mascot this week.
 Game time is 4:00 PM PST on Fox in Eugene. Go Ducks!

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Good Luck Ducks, Week 10: Buffalo Time


The Ducks look to hold their position as they hit the road for the second week against a struggling Colorado team. 
 
It's Ducks time again, and they're in Boulder this week to take on Colorado. The Buffaloes were once a storied football team and I'm sure it made sense at the time to add them to the conference when the Pac 10 was looking to expand. In the current times where schools are always looking for a better deal for their football cash cows, it starts to feel more like a cautionary tale. While Utah has recently stepped it up to become a conference power, Colorado has only won 43 games (including nonconference!) since joining the conference in 2011. I don't think you need to be a math major to know that isn't good.

Of course, on any given Saturday, a talented football team can meet their untimely demise, and that doesn't exclude these Ducks. Oregon suddenly finds themselves a bit thin at wide receiver, with Seven McGee entering the dreaded transfer portal and other injuries painting a murky picture. (To be fair, I'm mostly disappointed about McGee leaving because I really liked his name.) Fortunately, Bo Nix continued his... dare I say it... Heisman-esque season with another stellar performance last week. Even with some sudden wide receiver shortages, it seems like only the defense can cap this team's potential. Let's hope that they are able to work on some things against the one-win Buffaloes today and turn it into a positive.


Notes and other things: 
  • We're in the time of the season where rankings start to feel important. Oregon at #8 seems about right. It seems very unlikely that they would get steamrolled right now if they played Georgia again, although a win over them seems a bit far-fetched. The other undefeated teams, on the other hand... well, I'd love to see them play each other!
  • The Ducks will dodge another weather bullet this week it seems. If the game was in Eugene... well, let's just say that it's been stormy in the Willamette Valley. The worst would have probably been over by kickoff time, but it was still something to think about.
  • I just acquired a Sega Dreamcast console to replace my original one and tried to play an Oregon vs. Colorado matchup in College Football 2K2 in honor of this game. It went so poorly that I hit the reset button shortly before halftime.
  • I'm glad that this game will be over before game 6 of the World Series kicks off. It's been one of the most boring playoffs that I can recall, but the World Series is finally trying to make up for the short series abundance and occasionally lopsided games.
Game time is 12:30 PM PDT on ESPN in Boulder. Go Ducks!

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Good Luck Ducks, Week 9: Cal

 

It's Fighting Ducks versus Golden Bears in another Pac-12 afternoon showdown. 
 
People are starting to pay attention to the Oregon Ducks all of a sudden. With many writing off this team after being pummeled by Georgia in week one, perhaps deservedly, Dan Lanning and Bo Nix have brought this team back into the national spotlight. Last week, they took the challenge of facing another top 10 conference team head-on and delivered with a big win over UCLA. While the defense will certainly have some areas to look to improve on, the offense was able to do just about whatever they wanted to, which has become a welcome theme of late.

Next up is Cal, who is led by Purdue transfer Jack Plummer (no relation to Jake Plummer as far as I can tell.) The Bears have generally not been great during Justin Wilcox's time at the helm, but throughout the years they've always given Oregon their best effort, which has resulted in some nail-biters. I don't expect the score to be particularly close today, but given that it is Cal, nothing would really be too shocking.


Notes and other things:
  • I think I have a new favorite player and his name is Bucky Irving. If you follow B1G football closely, you may remember him as Mar'Keise Irving, who was a freshman at Minnesota last season. The Ducks have many talented running backs at their disposal, but Irving is the most electric in my opinion.
  • While Oregon mostly escaped the big rains last week after it was predicted all week, it looks like they'll dodge a late October weather bullet today. When that first bad weather game finally hits, will the Ducks be ready for it? Fortunately, they already got their Pullman trip out of the way.
  • Cal's head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator are all former Ducks standouts. Why would you do that to us, guys?
  • It's hard to know exactly where this season is headed at this point, but I'm already nervous about the Civil War football game between the Oregon State team and the Oregon team.
Game time is 12:30 PM PDT on FS1 in Berkeley. Go Ducks!

Friday, October 28, 2022

The Junk Resurfaces


From @marcbrubaker comes a pile of junk wax era needs. 
 
One of the more interesting developments to come from people like me reexamining their collections from their youth is that a lot of junk wax oddities have surfaced. A ton of these old sets had variations that spanned the entire set, in addition to the error cards that got most of the attention at the time. Many sets of the era that was created by Topps and Donruss had multiple versions of cards with small details changed (an asterisk here, two asterisks there, maybe a "C" where there is sometimes a "D"), and some sets even have three or four different "parallels" to collect. Of course, this probably appeals more to team collector's than a set builder. (Can anyone picture the maniac who puts together three distinctly different versions of a 1988 Donruss set, or four different 1989 Donruss sets?)

Not long after fishing through my stuff and figuring out what versions of which old thing I need, Marc Brubaker sent over a bunch of junk wax needs. I'm not going to bore you all with the weird copyright variations where some cards contain a single extra period that other cards don't, but I'll show off a few of the Donruss factory set border variants that Marc sent as they make more colorful examples.


Here is a Pedro Guerrero '91 Diamond Kings card, courtesy of Marc, pulled from a factory set.


Here's a copy of a pack-pulled card from my collection. Can you spot the differences? At one pont in time, it was probably safe to assume that the border pattern on any given junk wax era Donruss card was a bit random, but there really only exists two distinct versions of this pattern, a pack pulled design and a factory set version.


Here's Vince Coleman's factory set card from 1991 Donruss in Series 2 green.


This is what the pack version looks like.

So what of the Willie McGee card from the top of this post? Well, I'm glad you asked. (Okay, you probably didn't, but...)


The card Marc sent (top of the post) was from a factory set, while this one was from my collection and is from a pack. The differences in the '90 borders are harder to spot as it just kind of looks like random splatter, but there are once again two distinct versions of this pattern. Another difference that only really makes sense after you've been thumbing through piles of cards is that the factory set cards actually feel a bit different, perhaps because they've all been crammed into a cardboard box and smashed together only to sit on a shelf for an indeterminate amount of time, or possibly because they were made of slightly cheaper material? This is a difference that's a bit harder to explain, especially when most people are using TCDB and COMC and looking for visual differences.

That's enough with the junk for now. Marc did send over a couple of other, newer things.


I'm not officially a Ducks baseball collector, but if I find one in an Oregon uniform (like Zavala here), I will add it to my binder.


There were also a few additions to my 2022 Cardinals collection, including this card of maybe-MVP Paul Goldschmidt. It'll be a lively discussion once the awards start being handed out after the World Series is over as it always is.