Friday, September 19, 2014

Airbrushed Fridays: 2013 Topps #490

It's crunch time in the MLB. Whose cuisine reigns supreme?

Who is he? Cody Ross is a journeyman outfielder who has played for 7 teams in 11 big league seasons. While never an All-Star, his huge performance in the 2010 playoffs netted him an NLCS MVP award to go with a World Series ring.

How did he get here? After riding high with the Giants, who picked him up late in the 2010 season en route to World Series success, Ross found himself on the other end of the standings when he signed with the Red Sox in 2012. (This was the awful Bobby Valentine year.) After a single season in Boston, the Diamondbacks signed him to another free agent deal.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None, but here's the original image.

Airbrushed Score: 5

Comments: Nice cropping. I guess he only needs one foot.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chipz 'n Dip

They're colorful and fun, but as a collector I don't know what to do with them.

I haven't done a pack break in awhile, and I have a bunch of stuff cluttering up my desk. Let's see what we can do here. I really like these Chipz. I like buying a pack and opening them and having something substantial fall out. I don't know what that's about. But I don't really know what to do with them, especially since in two years I've yet to pull a single Cardinal. (This is out of only, like, ten packs or so...)

I wouldn't be surprised if Erin ends up being a Jose Altuve collector, so this is probably the only one that will end up staying. I knew Altuve was good, but I had no idea that he'd be putting up the numbers he's put up this season. He'd be a viable MVP candidate if the Astros were anywhere near contention this season.

This year's set has magnetic Chipz in it, which makes it about the easiest pack searching helper known to this hobby. The packs with a magnet in it stick to a lot of things. The non-magnet having packs don't. These magnetic Chipz also stick to other Chipz, which could make storing them an exercise in science.

Some of them have vinyl team logo non-sticky stickers affixed to them, like this Mascot Chip(z?) of Paws, the Tigers mascot. He's grrrrrrreeeeeaaaaaaaatttt.

This is what I want to try. I'm going to list every Chip(z) I have here and put them all up for trade. However, what I'd really like to do is turn them into other Cardinal Chipz. Does that sound reasonable? I don't care about doubles, colors, magnets, glowing things, parallels, whatever... any Cardinal Chipz you have can turn into a Chip(z) for you. The only thing I'll say is that I don't think I feel comfortable dropping these in a Plain White Envelope and sending them on their way, so if I have any takers I will try to include them in a more substantial package. And if I don't have any takers, I guess I'll try something else.

And if you don't have any Chipz to speak of, but are super desperate to get ahold of one of these, feel free to let me know. I'm a reasonable guy with a reasonable amount of fake poker chips featuring baseball players on my desk.

Here's the list. If it seems like a parallel or is not a plain white one, I'll try to include what's different about it.


Roy Halladay - Red, Magnetic
Paws - Mascot, with Tigers Decal [2 of these]
Zack Wheeler - Blue
Jose Altuve
Chase Utley - with Phillies Decal
Marco Scutaro
David Price
Zack Greinke - Red, Gold interior (this one might be rare?)
David Ortiz
Ryan Howard - Red, Magnetic
CC Sabathia - Blue
Ian Kinsler - Black, Magnetic
Carlos Gomez - Glow in the Dark
Bryce Harper - with Nats Decal
Edwin Encarnacion
Andrew McCutchen - Black, with Pirates Decal
Jean Segura
Joe Mauer
Raymond - Mascot

But wait, there's also 2013:

Brandon Phillips - with Reds Decal
Adrian Beltre - Gold interior
Jay Bruce - with Reds Decal
Michael Young - Glow in the Dark
Yoenis Cespedes
Ben Zobrist [2 of these]
Mike Napoli
Angel Pagan - Glow in the Dark
Giancarlo Stanton - with Marlins Decal
Bryce Harper - with Nats Decal
Miguel Cabrera
Carlos Gonzalez
Colby Rasmus - Glow in the Dark
Jason Kipnis
Angel Pagan
Mike Napoli - Glow in the Dark

Finally, in case you wondered, the "Dip" is me for sitting through four hours of the Cardinals doing absolutely nothing at the plate tonight.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Good Luck Ducks, Week 3: Good Morning Football

Oregon faces their final nonconference test in the earliest home start time I can ever remember.

There was a moment during last week's battle between top 7 teams where it felt like the game was getting away from the Ducks. Michigan St. QB Connor Cook was seemingly able to do anything and everything that he wanted while his team racked up 24 points in the second quarter alone. Oregon punted the ball more than I can remember seeing in the post-Mike Belliotti era. 3-and-outs had replaced the hurry-up-and-run-all-over-you offense as the new norm. And suddenly, early in the second half, the funk was over. Perhaps more impressive than the quick strike offense (we've seen that before) was the defense controlling the outcome and all but shutting down the running game. This is the first year in a very long time without Nick Aliotti in charge of the defense, and I have to say this was a good sign early in Don Pellum's tenure that things may be changing. The Ducks spoke throughout the offseason of trying to be more physical and they certainly looked it against the Spartans when it mattered most.

This morning, Oregon kicks off at a very strange start time (for a home game, anyway) against Wyoming, the only Mountain West team they have never faced. Wyoming won their first two games as well, though the offense put up just 17 points in each of those games. They will likely need a lot more than that to give Oregon a run for their money. The key to shutting down the Cowboys appears to be shutting down their running game, similar to last week's opponent. On a personal note, I used to joke a lot about Wyoming (the state) possibly not actually existing, since I had never met anyone from there. I still haven't, but I suspect that I may know or have come into contact with people in my life who have at least been through there at one point. If you're supposedly from Wyoming or have any good Wyoming stories, feel free to chime in with a comment.

I think the #2 ranked Ducks will win big today, but after a huge win last week and a rivalry game on the horizon for next week, this does have the makings of a potential trap game. For their part, I don't recall Oregon falling into too many of those traps. If Marcus Mariota can keep things rolling and the freshmen contribute even half as much as they did last week, the Ducks should have this one comfortably in hand before the game gets late.

Oregon's last meeting with a Mountain West opponent was in 2012 when they faced Fresno State.

Game time is 11:00 AM (what?) PDT with national coverage on the Pac-12 Network. Special thanks to Brandon L for the amazing card. Go Ducks!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Airbrushed Fridays: 1984 Topps Traded #29T

Adventures in airbrushery.

Who is he? Ken Dayley was a lefty reliever whose 11 year career spanned most of the '80s, which afforded him some time to wear the powder blue uniforms that were fashionable at the time. Dayley pitched at a small Catholic school, the University of Portland (local ties!) before beginning his big league career in the Atlanta Braves rotation.

How did he get here? The Braves traded Ken to St. Louis, who had other plans for him: relief duties. Dayley spent the remainder of the 1984 season in the Cardinals farm system save for 5 innings, which makes his inclusion in the 1984 Topps Traded set all the more bizarre. Dayley would go on to be a key member of the Cardinals bullpen, proving himself as sort of a second closer, should Whitey Herzog decide that a lefty was better suited to finish up the game.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None

Airbrushed Score: 6

Comments: Oh, they really tried! That lettering on the jersey and the birds on the bat must be really hard! '80s airbrushed cards can sometimes be hard to spot, but when they're bad they're really bad. This one probably could have been overlooked if it wasn't for the dastardly cap.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Topps's Weird Cousin

I have a soft spot for Bowman, possibly because it's rarely ever in my face.

In an effort to do something about my sad 2014 Cardinals want list, I worked out a trade with S.Mack Talk where only 2014 cards exchanged hands. This was a quick 'n dirty trade, free of my usual procrastination (months) and threats to send pounds of cards across the country. I should probably do more trades this way.

Jimmy sent me some 2014 Bowman Cardinals cards. I realize that, while it's never an eye-popping set, I never seem to get sick of Bowman. I just don't buy a lot of Bowman. I always seem to build up a stack of base Topps cards every year that I don't know what to do with, a byproduct of liking to buy packs but only wanting to keep those that interest me. But Bowman, with its slightly elevated price tag? I'll buy a pack or two and then promptly forget about it. And admittedly, I sometimes have a hard time piecing together a coherent want list because of all of Bowman's parallels and its later seasons releases (Draft and Chrome).

But this is a set that has gone with white bordered cards for 3 straight years, after quite a few consecutive years of black bordered cards. It's not innovative or exciting. In the Topps Exclusivity Era, however, we are left with this as the only semi-affordable licensed non-Topps option on the market. (Let's not consider that Topps actually makes these cards.)

What I could do without, however, are the unknown prospect cards. I realize that Bowman's big draw is whatever deal they struck with MLB to allow them to continue to make prospect/"pre-rookie" cards. This is, essentially, cards of recent draft picks and prospects who have yet to appear in the majors. I wasn't at all aware of what was going on in sports card collecting back in 2006 when the rookie card designation was formalized, but I never understood why this brand was reserved to produce cards of basically whoever they pleased. (Pro tip: Nearly every Bowman Prospect card is horribly Photoshopped.) My suggestion would be to at least limit the cards they are allowed to make to a list of actual prospects (Top 100?) because there are far more Steven Ramoses than there are Tim Cooneys in the grand scheme of thing. Cooney will be a big leaguer soon, but it doesn't look like Ramos is on that track. Leave it to minor league cards to cover the players who don't make it to the bigs.

Jimmy sent over some cards from the flagship Topps set as well. One of my favorite things about Cardinals cards in 2014 is that they get to show off the team's new Saturday uniforms. I think they're a well done alternate jersey that still respects the tradition of the team's vaunted jersey past.

I was excited to finally get an official Kevin Siegrist rookie card. Siegrist was a flame throwing marvel on last year's squad, basically an unheard of guy drafted in a round that no longer even exists anymore. He's struggled mightily this year, both with injuries and with his efforts to duplicate the mechanics that led him to so much success last year. He supposedly figured something out if the local broadcasters are to be believed, and tonight's outing was encouraging. Here's to hoping a rejuvenated Kevin Siegrist is on the 2014 playoff roster, provided that the Cards make it there.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Trade Don't Lie

Is it really almost basketball season, too?

Single game tickets just went on sale for the upcoming NBA season, and I ended up snagging some nosebleeds for the Blazers opener against Oklahoma City the other day. Buying NBA tickets in the 90+ degree summer heat really took me out of reality for a moment, though. In light of the upcoming season, I'm going to be contacting those of you who have signed up for the (Free-ish) Basketball Card Trading club. I plan on making some more of those kinds of purchases in the fall and will need some fresh mailboxes to dump those excess (non-Blazers, non-Ducks) cards. If you're interested at all in something like that, feel free to contact me and snag a team or some players. Don't worry if someone else has claimed something, because I will be clearing out some people who never responded to me with addresses or anything like that. (I have a lot of extra Suns and Pistons cards, to name a couple.)

Reader Brandon L recently swapped cards with me, netting me this high quality Sheed jersey card. Rasheed Wallace is one of my all-time favorite Blazers (and players, to be honest). His antics were always at least entertaining, and even if he didn't exactly ingratiate himself to the media (or some of his teammates), he was the center figure of some of the best Blazers teams in the history of the franchise. It feels like only recently that the team is finally stopping to gloss over the Sheed era, at least the parts that don't necessarily overlap with the Jail Blazers era. (They were kind of the same thing, but they were only "The Jail Blazers" in the media when they weren't winning.)

Brandon also sent me another really nice gem that you'll see here on Saturday morning. I'm sure you know what that means.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Good Luck Ducks, Week 2: Sparty Pays a Visit

This is the week that we find out if Oregon has a team this year.

I always try to reset my expectations for the Ducks at the beginning of every season. This is based on what I've witnessed in the past, where I've seen teams come from out of nowhere to destroy nationally ranked opponents on national television. I've also seen teams built on a foundation of potato chips crumble the second they face a competent offense. So while last week's demolition of an FCS team was fun, we're about to find out if this year's Ducks model is any good as they face a test in a strong Michigan State team.

The #3 Ducks face the #7 Spartans this week in what is shaping up to be the best non-conference game of the season in all of college football. This is a lot to live up to for a game in early September. I am still getting used to the idea of football games being on the air. These teams may not exactly resemble the teams they will become in November and December. But there will be a lot of talent on the field today, and both sides have lofty expectations. This is the first season with a "playoff" in college football, though you can hardly call it that when only 4 teams are selected to participate. Still, that seems like a massive step in the right direction.

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota was nearly perfect in his half of play last week, and my hopes are that he won't miss a beat this time around. Michigan State's defense will provide significant pressure on the offensive line, a group that let everyone down last season at times. It may be rough. The backup quarterback shouldn't get too comfortable on the sidelines. The lightning fast trio of Duck running backs should be at the top of their game. It's still impossible for me to get a read on this team at this stage, but I am hopeful for a Ducks victory today. I wouldn't take it for granted or even bet a dollar on it, but Oregon has some truly impressive players on their side. Of course, so do the Spartans.

Reuben Droughns announced himself to the rest of the college football world back in 1998, the last time the Spartans visited Eugene.

Game time is 3:30 PDT with national coverage on FOX. College GameDay is in town! Go Ducks!