Friday, September 30, 2022

Bird-Themed Teams

Bird cards from @forgotaboutblay because apparently that's all I collect. 
A comment someone Erin* made to me the other day made me start thinking about sports teams and their mascots. A lot of sports teams have animal mascots and nicknames. A lot of NFL teams do not. For whatever reason, I've ended up mostly gravitating towards bird teams (Cardinals, Eagles, Ducks -- not pictured). Dennis from Too Many Verlanders sent me another stellar batch of cards back in June that happened to feature those bird teams.

It's always exciting to add another Jim Edmonds card to my collection. I'm guessing somewhere out there is a version of this where all three players have their own memorabilia piece. Maybe there's one that just has Edmonds? Or just Rolen?

Rick Ankiel gets two memorabilia chunks of his own, both a bat and a snippet of his clothing. The default background for these cards show a row of batting helmets. I wonder if there are any embedded helmet piece cards.

Here's another card with multiple opportunities for jersey chunks, but only the white portion is real. Were these card companies toying with us?

This might be my favorite card of the lot. It's an on-card autograph from Topps Total on a design I'd never seen before. The "Signatures" script has a very '80s cafe look to it.

The NFL portion of the package contained this card of Michigan alum Jason Avant. Dennis probably has a few extra cards of Michigan players in the same way that I often end up with more dupes of the teams that I collect than anything else.

Finally, here's an interesting design concept. This "Freeze Frame" insert card contains something that looks like a slide in the middle. I would love to see more of these cards.

*A certain someone called me out for referring to her as "someone", so I have adjusted the post accordingly.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Your 2022 St. Louis Cardinals, More or Less

No thanks to Topps, here are a bunch of 2022 Cardinals players on baseball cards. 
Have you happened to notice that our good friends at Fanatics are a little... behind? Topps Chrome just dropped recently, and it was basically just shiny Series 1, which featured players in their 2021 uniforms. If you're looking for something a little more current from The Topps Company, you might have to go with Topps Fire or one of those other little niche sets that aren't produced in large quantities, because I don't even expect Topps Update to be "updating" much of anything.

The best place to catch some new (and new-ish) Cardinals turned out to be the 2022 Choice Memphis Redbirds set. By my count, this features a whopping 15 players who played for the big league Birds in 2022, including several who should have appeared in 2022 Topps sets but likely won't. The burly Alec Burleson and the speedy Ben DeLuzio were late season call-ups, so they wouldn't have likely shown up on Topps cards this year under different conditions. Who can even say what happens next year?

Brendan Donovan will get a lot of NL Rookie of the Year votes, but is expected to ultimately fall somewhere behind a pair of Atlanta stars. He's been with the team since Opening Day, so he should have been in Series Two.

Conner Capel came over to the St. Louis organization as part of the Oscar Mercado trade several years back. He had a cup of coffee with the Cards before ultimately being waived in a roster crunch and catching on with Oakland.

Ivan Herrera has served as the Cardinals third string catcher this year, and he got the call when Yadier Molina missed some time. It remains to be seen if he can challenge for at least a portion of the catching job next season.

Junior Fernandez has been in Topps big league sets since 2020. He seemed to have finally put it together earlier this season only to lose his grip on whatever it is that pitchers get (or don't get.) He was perhaps the highest profile roster crunch casualty this year and was immediately snatched up by the Pirates as they are wont to do.

James Naile was a career minor leaguer who finally had a chance to make his big league debut (in front of his parents) earlier this season. It was charming.

Johan Oviedo actually made his big league debut during the weird excuse for a season we call 2020 and was a Topps rookie in 2021 sets. He was part of the trade deadline deal with Pittsburgh that brought over Jose Quintana and Chris Stratton.

Jake Walsh debuted in May and made 3 appearances out of the pen before being demoted again. He seems like the exact type of player who would end up as a 2023 Series One rookie even if he's in another organization by then. Walsh is wearing a Memphis Chicks throwback here, which is a bit disconcerting because they were never a Cardinals affiliate.

Juan Yepez actually made it into the 2022 Topps cycle (in Series Two!) He did not appear with the big league club until this season, but was added to the active roster for the dreaded Wild Card game last fall, which must have put him on their radar. He had a nice run in the first couple of months of the season, but lost playing time to some old guy named Albert.

Robertson was called up earlier this season and made two appearances (only one plate appearance) before being waived and claimed numerous times, ultimately ending up back with the Memphis Redbirds. He's another strong candidate for 2023 Series One rookie.

The young Liberatore made his debut this season and started 6 games, but hasn't really impressed at any level so far in 2022. Let's hope for bigger and brighter things for him. 

Along with Liberatore, the other top prospect to get the call this year was Nolan Gorman. His Topps Now cards were adorned with the "Call Up" logo instead of the "RC" logo, meaning that he's being shelved until 2023. He's got a ton of power but is still working on that whole strikeout thing. At least, I hope that he is.

Cory Spangenberg has a significant amount of major league experience and was brought to the Cardinals organization for depth purposes, I'm assuming. He did get into one game with St. Louis this season but did not make a plate appearance.

Zack Thompson was a first round pick just three years ago and has taken over as the Cards primary lefty reliever late in the season.

As always, it was fun to pick up another minor league team set. I'm glad they are still making them.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Good Luck Ducks, Week 4: Wazzu


Oregon faces an early road test in the Northwest as the conference schedule begins. 
It still feels like summer in the Pacific Northwest, but Pac-12 conference play starts today in earnest. The Ducks are up in Pullman, WA today to take on the Washington State Cougars. The Cougs are off to a 3-0 start, with their big win coming in a squeaker at Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Oregon is feeling pretty confident today after dominating BYU in their second straight strong performance after the Georgia debacle.

We've reached the point in the season where you look around the conference and say "hey, looks like everyone is really good this year." Well, almost everyone. (Sorry, Colorado.) Of course, the Pac-12 has taken quite a beating in recent years, especially in the media. It's also been shut out of the playoffs for the past few seasons, and a couple of mediocre schools decided to leave. Also, their current TV deal is pretty dreadful. Still, this is a conference with a lot of history, and a 3-0 start by any school is nothing to sneeze at. The Cougars are known as a quarterback school and are led by Cameron Ward, a transfer from an FCS school in San Antonio (Incarnate Word). Let's hope that the Ducks continue to disrupt the passer and bat down the balls in the air.

Notes and other things:
  • WSU is expecting a sellout today, which is always a good look for a rivalry game.
  • The Cougars seemingly had the Ducks number for a few years there while a young Justin Herbert was still at UO, but the last three games have gone Oregon's way.
  • I'm always going to feel better about playing in Pullman in September than November, when cold weather and sometimes snow is a big factor.
  • I think I probably gave up my right as a Duck to talk about "Coug'ing it" after the years 2015 through 2018, but it's always going to be there somewhere in the back of my brain.
  • I haven't talked a lot about Bo Nix yet, but after wanting to bleach my eyes during that first game, he's been pretty close to perfect. I'm not sure adversity is going to be his strong suit (is it anyone's?), but if he can continue to play near the level he's been at in the two victories, Oregon isn't going to lose many games.
  • Big thanks to Dennis for today's card. He sent a few other really nice ones along with this one which I promise to show off soon.
  • Game time is 1:00 PM PDT on FOX in Pullman. Go Ducks!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Easily Distracted

A #CrackinWaxMailDay from @CrackinWax brings a familiar design. 
While I spent the bulk of my card hobby summer working on adding to my collection on TCDB, there was quite a dearth of new baseball cards sets. One set that did make it out the door and onto the shelves was 2021 Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary. This one really smacks of "stupid customers, they'll buy anything!" as people really seemed to eat it up in droves. I'm not certain how or why a 2021 product was delayed for so long (there was a more plausible explanation with Big League, I guess), but it seemed like it was all baseball card people were talking about for awhile there.

I told myself that I was going to stay far away from the stuff, but Crackin' Wax recently put up some breaks on the website for the first time in awhile and I got the itch. I ended up with three teams in the break due to the way it was configured, but I've already traded off some of the unwanted cards.

I did end up with three Cardinals cards. As you can see, the set is a mix of current and retired players, in Chrome form, using the familiar 1952 design. While the cards do have a certain appeal, nothing that Topps has done in recent years has seemed so entirely unnecessary as this set. The set is huge and the number of cards you actually get for the price is miniscule. It's hard to know exactly who this set is supposed to appeal to.

The Cardinals cards from the base set will remain on my want list for the time being. They do look nice. They just feel a bit frivolous, but in a way that will seriously damage your wallet.

Here's a look at one of the card backs, which is a very imperfect take on the original 1952 set. Others have noted a plethora of typos and factual errors on these, but I am not noticing anything too screwy here.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Good Luck Ducks, Week 3: BYU

The Quack Attack hosts BYU in the first meeting between the two teams since 2006. 
The Ducks are back! The Ducks are back in the Top 25 (?!) If I made the rules, there would be no Top 25 rankings for at least the first few weeks of the season (maybe even the first six?), because the whole system is based on incomplete information and heavily biased towards those that have experienced the most success / have the highest reputation (tv ratings?) at those early stages of any given season. Could it be that there are some... flaws... in the big sport of college football?

Brigham Young University's football is also ranked and has a pair of impressive wins on it's ledger in the early days of this season. This is also a program that went 5-0 against the Pac-12 conference last season. (The Pac-12 is going through a bit of a rough patch right now, in case you hadn't heard.) This shouldn't be a Georgia level opponent that Oregon is facing today, but this is a team who is gunning for an at-large bid at a top tier bowl game at the very least. The Ducks, meanwhile, were able to take all of their frustrations out on Eastern Washington last week, erasing any doubt of the outcome very early on in the game. They were even able to get a couple of backup quarterbacks some work before it was all said and done. Again, the information on this team is still very incomplete at this point, but there's a lot of hope for a good performance from the home squad at Autzen Stadium today.

Notes and other things: 
  • The Ducks are slim favorites this week at the stadium where it never rains, but most of the attention right now is on the BYU Cougars after knocking off Baylor a week ago. I feel like the Big 12 and the Pac-12 are pretty much on the same level these days, which says that this team seems capable of taking down almost anyone in the west.
  • BYU flat-out embarrassed Oregon in a basketball game that I attended in Portland almost ten months ago, so I am extra hyped to see some payback this afternoon. The amount of Ducks fans that came out to the Moda Center was pitiful (we're talking like a 90/10 split in favor of the team from Utah), but I'm not going to put this on the Ducks fanbase. It's hard to get anyone interested in college basketball before March these days. Still, it was really humiliating as a fan to witness up-close.
  • Speaking of humiliating, the last time Oregon played the Cougars was in a 2006 bowl game blowout loss. A random YouTuber recently posted some highlights from this game and I have almost no recollection of it. I was surprised that Brent Musberger was trotted out for such a mid-tier game. Dennis Dixon was just a game away from the start of his abbreviated Heisman campaign, and yet Mike Belliotti was still tinkering with his two-quarterback system. (Brady Leaf was... not elite.)
  • Game time is 12:30 PM PDT on FOX in Eugene. Go Ducks!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Pick a Team


How many teams can Panini cram into one player's card? 

Wesley Matthews is one of my favorite ex-Blazers, and I continue to seek out his cards whenever it makes sense to. One of my recent pickups was this Panini Status jersey card from the 2018-19 season, via a TCDB trade. Matthews is pictured with the New York Knicks, but is listed as a member of the Indiana Pacers under his name. We also see the Panini standard verbiage on the side of the card explaining that the player has changed teams. I have no beef with this, and actually prefer it to the usual Topps practice of either using Photoshop when a player changes teams or just leaving the player with his old team until the timing is right.

On the back, we see the Pacers logo, but something else jumps out. If you zoom in closely, you'll see that the "game-worn material" was actually worn (allegedly) by Matthews when he was with the Dallas Mavericks. Now, I understand that there is going to be a lot of team-switching involved with the base card process, but I wish they would just align the player's photo and team designation with the memorabilia pieces.

Matthews has changed teams a number of times in recent seasons. In fact, the most surprising thing about this card is that Matthews only appeared in two games with the Knicks! This is almost like catching an appearance of Rasheed Wallace in a Hawks uniform. It's almost like it never really happened, but here we have real documented photographic proof.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Good Luck Ducks, Week 2: EWU


The Ducks look to regroup against a top FCS opponent. 
Last week's game was the equivalent of watching someone repeatedly hurl themselves against a brick wall, without making so much as a scratch against that wall. It was one of the worst college football games I've ever seen any team play. If the team was looking to get off to a good start with a new coaching staff and a massively revamped roster, well, that was not it at all. No matter the circumstances, I can always find some sort of positive to take away from a game involving a team that I root for, but I'm really struggling here. At least there weren't a lot of... injuries?

Next up on the schedule is the Eastern Washington Eagles. While this is obviously a much needed step down from the reigning champs, it's still a storied FCS program that can cause a lot of problems for any so-called Power 5 program. Bo Nix should have an easier time against the EWU defense. A lot of things should happen that didn't happen last week. Let's just see how it all plays out.

Notes and other things:
  • I don't want to complain about conference defections all season (or really at all), but certain events have only continued to add to the continued decline of the Pac-12 (on the football side, at least.) In hindsight, I think adding Colorado and Utah years ago really hurt the conference's standing, even though Utah clearly was the best team in 2021. They're never going to overcome the time zone issue on their own, but tradition was one of the best things they could hang on to.
  • There is no way that the sudden, tragic death of tight end Spencer Webb didn't affect the Ducks roster in the worst way. It happened back in mid-July, but it had to have been weighing heavily on his teammates mind as they took the field for the first time.
  • Okay, fine, I'm going to talk about it again. USC has barely been relevant since Reggie Bush was getting paid to play before being paid to play was cool, and UCLA hasn't made a top tier bowl in almost 25 years. It's almost like these decisions are being made by out of touch geriatric idiots! Have fun with your mediocrity, B1G.
  • Eastern Washington has one of the sillier, but still kind of cool sports logos. I'm not jealous, but I'm kind of interested.
  • Oregon sent out some sort of "we know we told you to wear black, but, just kidding... please wear yellow" email blast this week. This is the first time I've heard of such a change, and it makes me wonder what prompted it. It was mentioned that the team was going to wear yellow, but in the past the directive to wear a certain color didn't always match up with what the team was planning on wearing. Also, having attended a few games in the past dozen years or so, Ducks fans don't really follow the rules all that well.
  • Big thanks to buckstorecards for my first ever Kayvon Thibodeaux card. Man, I miss him. He made the last couple of frustrating, post-Herbert seasons more bearable.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Summer PWEs

Some plain white goodies from @breakdowncards as well as a pair of envelopes from a Dodgers fan. 
I'm up to more than 90 trades on TCDB now, but there were still a few envelopes kicking around from the traditional "through the blog" trade method. These are almost always blind packages and are much more fun than knowing exactly what you're going to get.

The first one came from gcrl and was sent back in July. I was on a big tear for awhile in trying to acquire 2018 Jack Flaherty cards, and with a nice performance in his first game back from his latest stint on the IL, I remain cautiously optimistic about his prospects again. (I even bought a Jack Flaherty t-shirt while on vacation in St. Louis recently. This is usually the kiss of death.)

The recent rebirth of Bowman Heritage has been one of the lazier things Topps has come up with, and there's plenty of competition for that. They basically take the same checklist as the regular Bowman cards, and in most cases the same photos, and slap on one of the original design templates (in this case, 1992.) For some reason, people were really excited about this! Of course, there were parallels, and I need those pesky parallels. I wonder how many buttons someone had to click on a computer to make all of the photos black & white.

Cardinals on the old Target red bordered cards did look a lot better than this one-off "red hot foil" parallel design. I think just about everyone liked the special diamond anniversary parallels in the 2011 set, and then it was just diminishing returns after that. (Actually, 2012's "gold sparkle" might be my least favorite.)

Envelope number two is from fellow Portland resident Gavin of Baseball Card Breakdown. The first pair of cards are from a pair of Cardinals who have cloudy futures. I believe these cards are from one of those throwback or "flashback" type of online-exclusive sets. I can never remember if Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday is the more accepted thing to do.

The cards have a very 1990 vibe, which is nice. There's ivy in the background, so it must be Wrigley Field, right?

This one is a shiny gold (parallel?) from the 2001 Topps Archives set. I'm trying hard these days to remember Jimmy Edmonds as a heck of a ballplayer because he can be insufferable at times as a broadcaster.

I had to shrink the image of this mini version of one of my favorite Cardinals base cards ever, because it would otherwise look exactly the same size as the rest of the standard-sized cards here.

Gavin is a huge collector of those Topps Retired autographs from the mid-'00s, and he occasionally tosses a card or two from that era my way. I really liked the 2003 Topps base design and would love to see this re-used more often than, say, 1987 for the millionth time.

I clearly forgot to do this in chronological order, because the third envelope is actually the second of the day from gcrl, although this one has a June postmark on it. I did intend to save it for last because someone really leveled up here, so to speak.

In addition to another doomed DeJong, gcrl sent a pair of shiny catcher cards. (Speaking of doomed, what in the world are the Cardinals going to do without Yadier Molina next season? Andrew Knizner is fine and all, but it's hard to see anyone on the 40-man roster currently getting a starter's share of the innings next season behind the plate.)

This shiny parallel is from the days where Topps hadn't apparently run out of gold foil to stamp their cards with. I mean, is that what really happened? There hasn't been anything resembling gold on Topps gold cards for many years now.

Folks, there is once again a new Hamm King and his name is gcrl (okay, maybe not his real name.) Do you have what it takes to unseat the Hamm King? Send me your Hamm(s)! (But maybe don't send your Hamm's.)

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Good Luck Ducks, Week 1: Bulldoggin'

Ready or not, it's college football season. 
The Ducks are back, and they have a new head coach in tow. Normally, I'd be pretty peeved about this, but it's clear that college football in the '20s is vastly different than the sport we grew up with -- or even what it was like a decade ago. Players have the transfer portal now, which is effectively a free agent system for the sport. With the increased player movement, why shouldn't coaches look out for themselves and find the situations that suit them best? If it sounds like I enjoy this new reality, I really don't, but I'm just trying to accept the circumstances for the way that they are.

Oregon faces the defending champion Georgia Bulldogs today in enemy territory. To add intrigue to this already tall order, the Ducks new head coach is none other than Georgia's former defensive coordinator. While no one can expect Dan Lanning to stick around Eugene any longer than his recent predecessors, it'll be interesting to see what he can do with this collection of players he has on hand right now. Other prominent UO alums pushed for a coach with local ties, but Lanning it is for now. Let's hope he can improve on a team that was very difficult to watch in 2021.

Notes and other things:
  • The Ducks don't even have a starting quarterback yet! Isn't that something? Lanning has refused to name a starter publicly, but everyone is expecting it to be Auburn transfer Bo Nix. Interestingly, it was Nix who started as a freshman against Oregon in the Ducks last playoff-caliber season opener.
  • Oregon and Georgia have only met once, in 1977.
  • I've switched up the formatting again a bit this season to make things a bit easier on me. Mostly, though, the idea is the same. I say a few things about today's game and post a (usually) completely unrelated Ducks card I've obtained somewhat recently. If you have any Ducks cards (college or pro uniform) you think I'd like, feel free to reach out!
  • Georgia's quarterback is Stetson Bennett. Do you think he prefers cowboy hats?
  • It's hard to really know what to expect from a game one in any given college season, even before the transfer portal era. Is there such a thing as a National Championship Hangover? Please let this be a thing.
  • Game time is 12:30 PM PDT on ABC in Atlanta. Go Ducks!
Bonus Ducks card o' the week:

Friday, September 2, 2022

Affordable Break Success

Stylish Cardinals cards and more from @flywheels breaks. 
Another shipment of Affordable Group Breaks goodies arrived at Cards on Cards central late last spring. It's up to me to decide how often this stuff is shipped to me, but I tend to lose track of what I have stacked up and am never sure what I'm going to get. This particular stack of cards ended up being a really nice one, and I thought I'd show off a few of the returns here.

This J.D. Drew insert comes from the 1999 Upper Deck Encore set. Upper Deck was really cranking out a lot of nice looking inserts around this time. It's a shame what happened to Upper Deck, although they really did it to themselves I suppose.

The seldom seen, and someone boring, 2002 Fleer set was another box in the breaks. Each of these cards has a subtle parallel variation that includes gold text on the back instead of black. I probably could have shown an example of this, but it really is rather boring. Fortunately, I was able to take down several needs from this box break in both the base set and the parallels.

Here's another '99 Encore insert. You can imagine a jersey swatch or some other piece of memorabilia here in place of the holofoil hexagon.

The 2006 Upper Deck Special F/X set seems to have been a one-off attempt at making a premium version of the company's flagship set, something akin to Topps Chrome but using different card stock. It's heavily glossed and still looks pretty nice.

2003 Topps Stadium Club included thicker gold parallels, which seemed to be vulnerable to sticking and rough borders, like a lot of UV-coated cards of the era. This probably won't go down as one of the more memorable Stadium Club sets, but I did end up with a few more of these chunky cards that I didn't already have.

This card is certainly a candidate for the best card I've added to my collection of the year. It comes from the Special F/X set mentioned above, and you certainly don't see a lot of signed Adam Wainwright cards these days. It's one of the nicer looking sticker autos I've ever seen, as the special shiny tape actually blends well with the card design.

One of the breaks was actually a non-baseball break. If you can find a cheap '90s break where the Eagles are available, I'm going to be all for it. This strange little Action Packed set from 1993 highlights the current season's Monday Night Football schedule and includes a blurb about the player on the back.

Colbey included a couple of bonus cards with my break stuff. I believe I have a full uncut sheet that includes this Clyde Drexler SI For Kids card, but I didn't have my own perforated one that I can put in my binder.

I bought a couple of boxes of last season's Panini NBA Stickers, which includes one full-sized card per pack. The cards also have their own parallels, like this foil Dame. The boxes are still available at a discount price from GameStop if anyone is up for a cheap, fun NBA break.