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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

A Gallery of Birds

The latest #CrackinWaxMailDay from @CrackinWax offers a conclave of Cardinals. 
Topps Gallery, the annual Walmart exclusive set, has brought us some of the worst artwork seen since the National Chicle debacle of 2010. It was a good move to switch back to using normal player photos last year, with Topps sticking to this in 2022. I signed up for another Crackin' Wax break in order to knock out a bunch of team needs, since this product isn't available at all locally.

This year there are two basic designs. Current players are featured on this simply, framed design that has a triangle pattern in the corner. If they had cleaned this up a bit, this could have easily worked as a flagship design. (I wonder if some sort of concept version of this was actually a rejected flagship design.)

There are plenty of retired legends to choose from, and they get a similar design which gives the framed more of a "deckle edge" or postage stamp look to it.

More Gallery cards means more Ozzie Smith cards to collect.

I could do without the foil parallels. It just doesn't serve this set well, or any set, really. These will always pale in comparison to chrome refractors, so I'm not sure why they need to exist.

Each player photo seems to be optimized so that the player takes up the maximum amount of possible space inside the frame. I'd rather see some action photos, but I guess this is Topps Gallery and not Topps Action.

I'm still not used to the numberless Photo Day jerseys the Cardinals started wearing when Nike took over. They just look wrong. At least Topps has stopped bothering with Photoshopping the jersey numbers onto the front.

This was my best pull of the break. The Private Gallery Issue (or Gallery Private Issue?) cards are numbered to 250. It's just a foil stamped parallel, but they only stamped a limited number of them. Let's hear it for scarcity!

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Good Luck Ducks, Week 8: Top 10 Showdown

The first big conference game of the year brings ESPN College Game Day to the yard. 
After a bye week, a rested Oregon Ducks squad is back at Autzen to host Chip Kelly's UCLA Bruins. This is the first Chip Kelly team that quite honestly has been any good since he left Oregon a decade ago. UCLA is led by super senior QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson and his scrambling attack. As usual with any Chip Kelly team, they can be fairly unpredictable on offense with an overall goal of keeping the defense out of rhythm.

The Ducks cruised to a win two weeks ago at Arizona and haven't really been challenged by anyone other than Washington State since the opening week debacle. This is the time of year where it actually starts to make sense to start ranking teams, and as fate would have it, both of these teams find themselves in the top ten and looking for control of first place in the conference. This is the first season since expanding from ten teams where divisions have effectively been eliminated except for the purpose of scheduling. This year, the top two teams in the team will face each other in the conference championship game instead of the two division winners. This means that Oregon can't afford to lose to a southern opponent and still expect to get an automatic spot in the December game in Las Vegas. Of course, playing in front of the home crowd with an offense that's really been rolling, losing will be the furthest thing from their minds.

Notes and other things:
  • UCLA, of course, is one of the two schools moving to the B1G in a couple of years. They're deserting the only conference they've ever known for more TV money and a potentially wider audience. To me, this seems like it will cause the larger conference to lose its identity, but it might also be the push to make conferences themselves largely irrelevant. It's an interesting shift that flies in the face of tradition. I'll miss the way things were but not the ridiculously overrated and overhyped LA schools.
  • Something that hasn't been seen so far this season in Eugene: cold, rainy weather. That's definitely in the forecast today, although It Never Rains in Autzen Stadium.
  • College GameDay is in Eugene right now. If you made it down early, you might have scored some free donuts or something. It's interesting that ESPN picked this one as the game is one of the few top tier games today that is being broadcast by FOX.
  • UCLA has never been involved in the College Football Playoff discussion and hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since 1998, the first year of the now defunct BCS playoff system and the only BCS appearance they would make. And yet, they are off to greener pastures. Must be nice.
Game time is 12:30 PM PDT on FOX in Eugene. Go Ducks!

Friday, October 21, 2022

Red and Fiery

Another #CrackinWaxMailDay from @CrackinWax brings in more Prizm and Fire. 
After avoiding baseball breaks for the majority of the summer (there was really nothing new worth looking at!), I seem to have fallen back into a routine of scoping out good deals for new Cardinals cards. This latest round from charity-focused breaker Crackin' Wax including boxes of Panini Prizm and Topps Fire. These sets weren't new to me, but I still have a ways to go before I'm done with getting all of the commonly available Cards cards from them.

The Prizm break netted me just one needed card, but it was a nice one. The red Prizm Lars Nootbaar (Nooooooooooot!) looks good because, well, he's a Cardinal.

Topps Fire produced some of the first new cards of "new" Cardinal Albert Pujols. Even though Albert's time in the league is up like Yadi's, I expect there to be plenty of his cards to go around in the near future, especially next season when there will undoubtedly be some things out there to celebrate some of the milestones he hit this season.

Topps Fire, of course, features several different base card designs. They're all a bit silly. I think the design on the Pujols card is my favorite if I had to pick a winner. It has a sort of yellow caution tape look to it, somehow.

These would have looked better as a die-cut. Juan Yepez is using a pink bat here, which may have been on Mother's Day. Since Yepez wasn't with the team last Mother's Day, this photo may have been from May 8th of this year (a 4-3 loss to the Giants - the road jersey checks out.) If that's indeed the case, this set had a very quick turnaround for photos in a current Topps product. I'm impressed.

Fire's inserts are even wilder than the base cards, not that you were expecting anything less. Yadi is, indeed, Fired Up here.

This die-cut set is actually called En Fuego (the card numbers have an EF- prefix) but the words On Fire are confusingly printed in English on the front. I think most native English speaking dummies like myself know what En Fuego means.

Boom! Another new Pujols card! I'm up to 925 unique Pujols cards in my collection, but that only puts me at #6 among TCDB collectors. Of course, I only collect his Cardinals cards, so that's not too bad.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Shiny Luck

A look at the new 2022 Panini Prizm baseball set from a @mikeyBcards group break. 
Panini's Prizm set is always one of the most anticipated releases of the year... except in baseball, of course. The lack of a league licensing agreement leads to logo-less cards and tends to turn a lot of people off, among those who aren't already pro-Topps and anti-everything else just for the sake of following the most iconic brand. I still think they produce some decent looking baseball cards, and they often can be found at a more affordable price than other options.

I signed up for a group break over at Mikey B Cards for a bunch of Prizm boxes. It was my second break with these guys and they seem to a pretty solid job at what's usually a thankless task. It also helps that their prices are extremely competitive.

Even though this is technically the first 2022 Prizm product, the design follows the template from the 2021 NFL and 2021-22 NBA sets. This was initially a bit confusing to me, because the design is extremely similar to last year's design. In other brands that span multiple sports, the baseball design is often the template that is followed, but that isn't the case here.

Prizm is known for its "silver" parallels like Nootbaar's card here. In other sports, these can be very expensive. The silver parallels originally were among the most common variants available, but apparently due to their demand over the years, Panini has made them a bit more scarce.

I ended up with three blue parallels in the break (versus the one silver). Adam Wainwright is really working the geometry here.

I'm already started to get sad about the prospects of no Yadi cards in future releases. I'm sure he'll end up being a featured retired player in certain sets at some point, but I don't think he's ever been a big autograph signer. If this is it for him in the baseball card world, he's had a good run.

Prizm has inserts, of course, because this is a Panini product. I think this is where the lack of an MLB license really hurts, as none of these designs really do it for me.

I think I like the Star Gazing card, but the giant stars and large font don't leave a lot of room for the player.

This break turned out to be a very successful one for this Cardinals fan. This is a silver parallel of Dylan Carlson's Debut Signatures autographed card. I am hoping that Carlson's offense takes a big leap forward next season, because I like the other things he brings to the field.

Lastly, here's a pair of Juan Yepez autographs. Yepez was the almost-hero of Game 1 of the Cardinals Wild Card round. That game came to an extremely painful end, and the ramifications were felt in the team's listless loss to close out the brief series the following night. Rough!

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Good Luck Ducks, Week 6: Don't Feed the ZonaZoo Trolls


The Ducks hit the road to face the Wildcats down in the desert. 
Oregon won comfortably against Stanford last week and takes a 2-0 (4-1 overall) conference record into Tucson tonight to take on an Arizona team that has already tripled the number of victories they had in 2021 (1). Bo Nix kept it rolling last week, picking up a career high 141 yards on the ground as he's been more of a dual threat than expected so far this season.

The 'Cats are led by sophomore QB Jayden de Laura, who has a talented group of receivers to work with. Given the Ducks inconsistencies in defending big plays so far this season, this seems like a dangerous combination that could lead to a lot of scoring. On the other hand, the Ducks ground game has dominated of late and Arizona's defense against the rush has been less than stellar. Bucky Irving certainly has become a favorite player of mine to watch. If Oregon can establish the ground game from the start, they have a good chance of controlling the clock and the scoreboard.

Notes and other things:
  • The Ducks bye week is coming up next week, with a potential conference shaping showdown with UCLA on the other side of it. They can't afford to let this be a trap game.
  • Every trip to Arizona reminds me of this legendary 2009 game which saw some ugliness from the "ZonaZoo" (no space, apparently) when an Oregon cheerleader got hit in the head with a nearly full water bottle after the game.
  • Of course, Oregon's student section had some issues of their own recently against BYU, though it was more of the offensive verbal assault variety. College!
  • The weather should be pleasant once again for this game. It'll be interesting to see how the Ducks handle their first bad weather game of the year, but it looks like we're a ways away from that yet.
  • Game time is 6:00 PM PDT on the Pac-12 Network in Tucson. Go Ducks!

Friday, October 7, 2022

An Old Pack of Cards: Playoff Edition

It's playoff time! Let's look at an old pack that's been sitting on my desk for a long time. 
With the Cleveland Guardians making quick work of the Rays today, we are officially off and running with the 2022 MLB postseason. I thought I'd get some quick baseball content up here before we give way to the football overlords once again tomorrow.

Right off the bat, we get a big name in Michael Jack Schmidt!

The big names continue here. I feel like Clemens has a lot of early headshot cards in his collection.

Billy Beane certainly wasn't a big name at the time, but over time he became one of the more notable cards from this set.

This one screams 1986! This was the first year I started buying packs, so opening anything from '86 is always going to be extremely nostalgic for me.

Look at that... it's Jay Tibbs.

Rick Honeycutt hung around the game for a long time as a pitching coach for the Dodgers.

The third card from the team that lost the '86 World Series.

No relation to the guy that hits all of the home runs for that sad team in Anaheim.

Lee Lacy's warm-up is a nice look.

Jorge Orta is really serious about photo day.

After starting off strong, we've hit a run of lesser known players and bench guys.

Here's another example of how great the '80s Diamond Kings cards were. Nothing they've done with art cards in a long time can compare.

The names are getting more familiar here. The Astros also made the playoffs in '86. The only thing we're missing is an Angels card.

This Alan Trammell card makes it the second HOFer of the pack. It would be three, but people don't like the one guy.

We end things with another Met to make it 5 players from the World Series teams.

Don't forget the (Hank Aaron) puzzle piece!

Enjoy the games this weekend, everyone.