Saturday, November 22, 2014

Good Luck Ducks, Week 13: The Home Stretch

After another week off to heal some injuries, Oregon hits the field for their final home game of the season.

Emerging star tight end Pharaoh Brown suffered a devastating knee injury on the field at the end of the Utah game, but Oregon otherwise survived a tough and crazy game and came out on top in what was likely their last real test of the regular season schedule. Now, comes the hard part. Can Oregon stave off boredom and malaise in their final two games against the dregs of the conference before an expected tough Pac-12 Championship game in December?

Colorado has been wretched since they joined the conference, and have zero Pac-12 wins this season. However, they've managed to keep nearly all of their games close, which should be a red flag to the Ducks. On top of that, game time weather conditions are expected to be less than ideal. It never rains in Autzen Stadium, however, so it remains to be seen how that will be reconciled. I also usually never talk about the weather here, but I'm going to be attending this one. Ominous!

If all goes according to script, this feels like a game that will be decided early. In what is 99.99% certain to be Marcus Mariota's last game in Eugene, I think the starters will be rested much earlier than they have been in other situations this year. Mariota has played in almost every quarter of the season, which has certainly bolstered his stats (and his so-called Heisman credentials), but I think the smart play here is to keep him out of harm's way if it can be helped these last two weeks.

Last season's meeting with Colorado had a lot of strange shadows. And not a very close score.

Game time is 1:30 PST with national TV coverage on the Pac-12 Network. Go Ducks!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Airbrushed Fridays: 2014 Topps #428

I have yet to find a single Photoshopped card from 2014 Topps Update, so here's something from Series 2.

Who is he? Once a Cardinals organizational soldier, Skip Schumaker has become something of a journeyman in his post-Rally Squirrel days. Unfortunately, the most notoriety the outfielder (and one time second baseman) seems to get these days is when he takes the mound in the late innings of a blowout.

How did he get here? After departing St. Louis, Skip spent a single season with the Dodgers, accumulating a -1.4 WAR in his time there according to whichever WAR metric that Topps uses. Former Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty likes to acquire any and every ex-Cardinal he can find so he can put them back in Red and dream of the good times, which must be how Schumaker ended up in Cincinnati as a free agent.

Repeat offender? No

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

Airbrushed Score: 7

Comments: Okay, without cheating, can anyone name the ballpark Skip is playing at?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Finest a Junkie Can Offer

When the chips are down, the Internet gives me Chipz.

Awhile back, I made a plea for some Topps Chipz. I really like the things, but I was bummed that I didn't have any Cardinals. I can now claim to be the proud owner of two Cardinals Chipz (Hello, David Freese!) Chipz don't make the most impressive scans, however, so I decided to focus on a few other things that The Junior Junkie sent my way earlier this month.

I think Pacific paralleled everything an unparalleled number of times in their heyday. No, we will never collect all of the colors of all of the players we want.

This just looks like a regular old Topps Gallery card, but it's actually one of those refractory thick cards.

I know I defended this year's Stadium Club a bit at one point, but here's where the set really loses me. Isn't this a set that's supposed to pride itself on its unique photography? Isn't this the exact same photo used on one of those The Future Is Now inserts? Inexcusable. I realize that there's a finite number of quality photos that can be used (since Topps apparently only uses Getty Images instead of its own photographers), but they are so lazy that it's making collecting cards seem even more pointless than usual. Also, adios to Shelby Miller. He's a good pitcher, but I never really took to him for some reason. He'll do well in Atlanta, and I'm just glad they're not in the same division as the Cards.

This was easily my favorite card that I pulled out of the package initially, but I had no idea what this was until reading Night Owl's very informative post last night. This is a Kellogg's card! And Kellogg's, for some reason, made a non-faux-3D set for one weird year before returning to their senses. It doesn't actually say "Kellogg's" anywhere on the card, but it does tell me that Torre is big into "golf" and "popular music".  I wonder if Torre was a Jim Croce man or if he was more into Tony Orlando and Dawn?

One thing that's great is that people buy Topps Finest (so I don't have to!) I could probably enter a group break or something, but I can't really afford it. It feels like this year's set does a capable job of honoring the '90s Finest days.

See, this is wild! This, maybe, not so much.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Fantastic Rack Pack

I didn't even have to use my A.K.

I was having a pretty lousy Monday (yesterday) when I stopped at the Rite Aid for some cans of soup and some beverages. Rite Aid is a pretty sad place to look for cards, but there happened to be a couple of 2014 Topps Series 2 rack packs on one of the endcaps, calling my name. I picked up one because I'm a sucker. It turned out pretty well.

I actually got a card for my collection, for starters. I am actually missing a ton of Cardinals inserts from Series 1 and Series 2 as well as a good chunk of the Update Series team set.

Not that it doesn't clash with everything, because it does, but the "red hot foil" really superclashes with this guy's camo uniform.

Hey, a rookie card of the Rookie of the Year. I can't complain about that.

It gets better, though! A camo parallel of an actual star player? Hard to believe for a pack that could and probably would have sat on a drug store rack all winter until some employee accidentally knocked it on the ground and swept it up with whatever debris people tend to leave on the floor of drug stores.

And here's one of those SABR variations I've been hearing so much about. BABIP Away!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Offseason Cards from Off Hiatus

A big trade today doesn't stop the trade posts.

Another big batch of cards I needed came through the door recently, courtesy of Off Hiatus Baseball Cards. Tony may be a fan of a team that I really wish would go back to the American League where they belong, but he runs a great blog and is a great trader to boot. He sent over a bunch of Allen & Ginter cards from the most recent set that I'm woefully behind on collecting, as well as some key Cardinals needs.

I have to admit that the Jose Canseco finger story grossed me out so much that I had to stop reading about it. Disturbing. What an insane person.

Jason Motte has probably pitched his last game with the Cardinals, but he is one of the nicest guys in all of baseball. He wasn't content to just undergo the lengthy rehab from Tommy John surgery to focus on getting back in game shape. He made his foundation's Strike Out Cancer campaign his personal mission and pretty much dominated social networking in 2013 to spread awareness. Very cool guy. This is a player with an already remarkable baseball career, converting from catcher to pitcher in the minors to eventually become the closer on a World Series winning team.

The Man.

Trevor Rosenthal may have a little competition next season for the closer's role. Jordan Walden will be joining the bullpen as a piece of the Jason Heyward/Shelby Miller trade. Walden was an All-Star in 2011 while spending most of the season in the closer's role and has been a very solid guy in the bullpen throughout his career.

I can't wait to see Michael Wacha in a key role in the rotation in 2015. He's fun to watch when healthy.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Airbrushed Fridays: 2010 Topps #344

Altered photos on baseball cards for the masses.

Who is he? Brett Myers was a serviceable member of the Philadelphia Phillies rotation for the better part of last decade (whatever we are calling that). He was a member of the World Series winning 2008 team, though he struggled for much of the season and lost his only World Series start. Myers spent much of the 2007 season as a closer, a role he would later revisit.

How did he get here? Houston signed Myers as a free agent early in 2010. The rebuilding Astros needed a veteran starter and he apparently fit the role, though he'd eventually spend some time in the closer role as well.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None

Airbrushed Score: 8

Comments: This is truly an awful look for the Photoshop era. Topps seems to have actually turned a corner if the latest Update Series set is any indication, but back in 2010 things were still pretty ridiculous. Parts of Myers on this card almost look like he's in a video game.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fantastic Trade

Just like the cold weather, the trade packages keep rolling on in.

I don't trade with Cardinals fans often enough, which is a shame because I have more extra Cardinals cards in my possession than the entire rest of the National League combined, or at least it's feels that way. Recently, I came to my senses and exchanged goods with Fantastic Catch. It was pretty fantastic.

The Blazers are off to a nice start this season, with a 6-3 record in their first 9 games. Tonight they trounced Denver on the road by putting 84 points on the board in the first half alone. I can get behind this. LaMarcus Aldridge is the cornerstone of the franchise and can set himself to break all sorts of franchise records if he ends up signing a contract extension after this season is up. (I am trying not to let this keep me awake at night.)

Two collecting worlds collide with this card. Casey Matthews was a popular linebacker at the University of Oregon, and now has been thrust into an important role in the Philadelphia Eagles offense, my favorite pro team since 1990 or so.

I have no idea what to make of this card. Is this supposed to be a can of soup or something? Upper Deck's post-license Goodwin Champions sets are really bizarre and rather off-putting. This still gets into the Ozzie binder because that's how these things work.

Here's another one for the Ozzie binder, and it's one with a more traditional look. Hey, it's Ozzie #510 for the collection!