Monday, November 23, 2015

A Mix of Old and New

Cardinals cards from different eras.

While I was being all impressed with myself for being caught up on trade posts last week, Jeff from Wish They Still Came With Bubblegum dropped a power-packed plain white envelope on me. It was chock full of Cardinals both old and new.

Dizzy's an old card on a shiny thick new 2010 Topps Tribute design.

Rob Kaminsky is one of the up-and-comers who hasn't made it to the bigs yet. This is my first card from the 2015 Topps Heritage Minors set. At least, I think that's what it's called. Also received, but not pictured, was a league leaders type of card from this set that included Tim Cooney who did get in a few appearances with St. Louis this year.

After many, many years, the 1973 design is really growing on me. The font is just perfect for the era, and I have to admit that I really like the little logos for each position.

Finally, here's a 1969 Topps card, which would be Torre's first Cardinals card but clearly not his first in a Cardinals uniform. That would come later. Special thanks to my scanner for lopping off the right border.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Good Luck Ducks, Week 12: No Let Up

The Ducks face another huge test as the clock winds down on the 2015 season.

Another week, another thriller. Oregon stopped Stanford on a 2 point conversion that would have sent the game to OT, and suddenly the (still) hottest team in the Pac-12 is starting to dream big. Oregon is back in the Top 25 for the first time since the brutal early loss to Utah and face a similarly ranked USC team this week. The Ducks need a win today and a win over Oregon State as well as a Stanford loss in The Big Game to win the Pac-12 North. It's still a bit of a long shot, but their path to the conference championship got quite a bit clearer after last week's big win. For the fanbase, anyway, it was sweet, sweet revenge.

The Ducks haven't faced USC in 3 seasons, which is a travesty and shouldn't happen with any conference foe. The expansion of the Pac meant that every school would skip two opponents each year, but there's absolutely no excuse for skipping someone in back-to-back years. The Trojans are also on a nice winning streak since firing their coach. In any season, USC is always a football behemoth, so it's nice that the game is at Autzen Stadium.

Vernon Adams Jr. seems to be firing on all cylinders now, and with just a few games left in his career, he's actually been limited in his usage with so much action happening on the running side of the Ducks offense. Oregon's offense was very frustrating and simple for several weeks early in the season, but they've really opened up the playbook recently with multi-position players doing a variety of things. Adams has proven to be adept at scrambling his way out of trouble and has excelled at throwing the deep ball. This might go down as a stunted season for him with the way his broken finger affected him and the team's chances, but he still has time left to do some great things. On the Trojans side, senior QB Cody Kessler is chomping at the bit to get a piece of Oregon for the first time. USC usually runs as often (or more) than Oregon does, but it could come down to very experienced 5th year senior signal callers to determine the outcome of this one.

Last time these two teams met, it was just points, points, points.

Game time is 12:30 PST with national coverage on ESPN. Go Ducks!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Airbrushed Fridays: 2015 Topps #587

Dirty Dan Does Denver.

Who is he? Daniel Descalso is a utility infielder who won a World Series with the Cardinals in 2011. While he was essentially a replacement level player, he filled in at a number of positions when the Cardinals were short-handed and even pitched an inning or two. He isn't much of a hitter, but did provide some key hits in some of the Cardinals recent playoff runs.

How did he get here? The Cardinals eventually let Descalso hit free agency after the 2014 season, and he ended up signing a two year deal with the Rockies, filling a similar role in Colorado

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None, but here's the source photo --

Airbrushed Score: 9

Comments: This is dreadful Photoshop, folks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Night Owl Service

I'm a subscriber.

With this post, I am officially caught up with all incoming card-related packages for the first time in what has to be years. It seems like years, anyway. And what better way to commemorate this occasion than with some cards from my most frequent mailbox visitor, Night Owl Cards. One of these days I'm going to compile a list of links to everything he's sent. One day... maybe the next time I'm caught up?

Night Owl sent a healthy stack of this year's Heritage cards, which is great as this is the time of year that I start getting tired of looking for Heritage to open. Altuve is a short print in the set as well as one of Erin's guys to collect, but this one I'm going to keep (shh!) since it's hard enough as it is to get ahold of Heritage SPs. Also, Altuve has about a million different cards in this set when you consider all the inserts and variations.

Here's a much loved 1975 Lou Brock Hostess card. I understand there are Twinkie and non-Twinkie versions of this card. I don't see a Twinkie logo anywhere, so I'm gonna go with non-Twinkie.

I kind of miss the old Target red parallel cards now that they're gone. I know that they're just another annoying side distraction that you're never going to collect all of before you die, but the red look always looks good on Redbirds.

I'm a little disappointed that Topps used the same photo for this card as the Pujols 1st Home Run card, but I bet they have to pay some sort of per-photo fee for archival photos. (Side note: does anyone know when they started completely outsourcing their photography to Getty Images? They used to employ their own photographers at one point, didn't they?)

Ah, Kolten Wong's golden home run trot.

And here's a shiny gold low-numbered autograph of the Cardinals young reliever with the funky name. We saw bits and pieces of Tuivailala this past season, but I am guessing he will figure more prominently into the team's bullpen plans in the future.

As a bonus, Night Owl included some laminated lanyard/credentials/backstage passes/whatever from some prominent sports card conventions of the past. I haven't been to any such things before. My card shows are usually very local and homely, if you ask me.

So they used to have a night owl service for our public transit bus system back when I was a kid. I'm not sure why it went away... perhaps things are just too dangerous on the streets of Portland these days, or maybe drivers were falling asleep at the wheel. Whatever the reason, I feel like there's no excuse good enough to shut down something that keeps potential drunk drivers off the road. Bring it back, TriMet!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Shiny and New

A dazzling group of cards in my latest trade haul.

I had a bit of luck with some Topps Chrome retail purchases this year, and thanks to fine collector's like Tim B., I was able to bring home some choice cards for my own collection in return for that luck. I'm showing off just a few cards of what Tim sent over to the Pacific Northwest.

Despite what my scanner would tell you, this is actually an X-Fractor. X-Fractors are extinct now. I do kind of miss their weird blocky patterns. Yadi picked up his 8th consecutive Gold Glove recently and was also awarded the Platinum Glove, some sort of fan vote among Gold Glove winners awarded to the best defensive player in each league. He's won it 4 times in its 5 years of existence. Nice.

One of my biggest disappointments with the Cardinals brief playoff run was Jonathan Broxton's inclusion on the roster. I just didn't feel like he did anything to earn a spot. Even though one of the younger, lesser known relievers could have easily performed better, it ended up probably not mattering as the Cubs smashed holes in the Cardinals depleted rotation. This is one of the rainbow foil (don't call it a refractor!) Update set parallels that I keep forgetting about.

It's a rainbow of Scruggs! I am actually starting to take a shine to the pink parallels, but maybe it's because that color compliments red so well. Scruggs didn't get to do much in his limited time with the big league club and was DFA'd late in the season, so I'm not sure of his current status with the organization. He has a cool name, though!

Hey, it's Tim Conroy!

Why did I scan a Tim Conroy card? Well, of course, it's Miss Tiffany, the Belle of the Junk Wax Ball!

Finally, last and certainly not least, is this low numbered green refractor of blog fave Adam Wainwright. It's numbered 14/99, making it one of my lowest numbered Waino cards to date. Thanks again to I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Good Luck Ducks, Week 11: Spoiler Alert

Oregon faces their most difficult challenge with revenge on their minds.

After giving up a school record 742 yards to Arizona State in a you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it 3OT win the previous week, the Oregon Ducks came home to face Cal and promptly set a new school record on the offensive side of the ball to the tune of 777 yards. A slow start had the Ducks down 10-0 before Vernon Adams and assorted backs rolled up 31 straight points on the reeling Bears. While the final score (44-28) wasn't quite indicative of how impressive Oregon's offense was nor was the defense the smoothest thing to see, it would seem that things are heading in the right direction going into today's game.

And boy, what a game it is. Hello, Stanford. Old friend. Ruiner of Ducks national championship hopes in both 2012 and 2013. Currently sitting atop the Pac-12 North. Yeah, that Stanford. Stanford has the only shot in the West at making the coveted 4-team Playoff field this year, so you can bet that Oregon is even more fired up than usual to take them down.

Four year starting QB Kevin Hogan leads the Cardinal, while their biggest star is ex-Denver Broncos star Ed McCaffrey's son Christian, a all-purpose sophomore tailback who seems to never leave the field. After their flat opening week performance against Northwestern, Stanford has looked every bit like the best team in the Pacific time zone. However, with Oregon's offense finally starting to fire on all cylinders, the conditions are ripe for an upset. It's been many seasons since Oregon has even had an opportunity to pull off a bonafide upset, which makes this game all the more intriguing. Beyond just a win today, the Ducks would still need a lot of help if they were to to get a glimpse at the Rose Bowl, so their role is truly of the spoiler today.

In 2011, LaMichael James & Co. took down Andrew Luck's Stanford squad a few pegs.

Game time is 4:30 PST with national coverage on FOX. Go Ducks!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Airbrushed Fridays: 1972 Topps #148

Do you want the cap on... or off? Too bad.

Who is he? Dick Billings was a part-time catcher and utility man throughout his eight big league seasons. The bulk of his playing time came from 1971-1973, as he spent most of his final seasons in AAA ball. Billings' biggest claim to fame was catching Jim Bibby's no-hitter in 1973.

How did he get here? Billings didn't actually go anywhere, but wound up with this dubious photo as a result of his Washington Senators team moving to Texas to become the Rangers. He spent his final seasons under the Cardinals control, but he only managed to get into a few games with St. Louis.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None

Airbrushed Score: 2

Comments: So it's probably not airbrushed, but it's an awkward photo nonetheless. I feel like the Topps photographers would take a couple of different headshots of each player just in case someone got traded (or the team moved!) You see these "looking up into the scary sky" photos quite often.