Monday, March 26, 2018

Card Madness, Pt. 7: Time for the Elite Eight

Last week, I started my own tournament in conjunction with March Madness: Card Madness.  I  created a bracket and I'm pitting baseball teams against each other in a battle to the death by showcasing cards from my collection, which have been randomly selected.  The bracket is here, so you can view progress.  Cards were chosen at random and each team will have a different representative every round.  This is baseball after all.  You can't pass the ball to Michael in Crunch Time; you have to go with the next man up in the order.

With two rounds in the books, we have reached the Elite Eight.  Our eight teams remaining are

Chicago White Sox
Atlanta Braves
Houston Astros
Chicago Cubs
Kansas City Royals
San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Angels
Washington Nationals

This round will take us to the Final Four, or LCCS (League Card Championship Series), as the case may be.  Who will advance?

Round 3: Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels


2017 Topps #275 Dallas Keuchel vs. 2015 Topps Update #US185 David Murphy

This is a rather difficult matchup for me.  Once again, we have 2017 Topps up against its 2015 counterpart.  The 2015 design looks great in the Angels' red.  David Murphy looks cool in his shades as he takes a cut.  Dallas Keuchel is a true ace, and I like that you can clearly see the grip on his pitch.  Keuchel wins the player matchup; Murphy takes the card look.  Ultimately, I suppose this one boils down to which card I would rather have if I had to take one and only one.

Winner: Astros

Round 3: Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves

2003 Fleer Splendid Splinters #121 Matt Bruback vs. 2015 Topps #543 Alberto Callaspo

Topps has taken a lot of flak for its 2016 and 2017 designs.  But they are gorgeous compared to this Fleer Splendid Splinters offering.  This card is hideous.  There's too much going on.  Why do we need three illustrated ball players in the background?  Why is there a bar code in the corner?   What does this have to do with "Building Blocks?"  To boot, Matt Bruback never played a Major League game.  Alberto Callaspo may have never been a star, but I learned from the back of his card that he entered 2015 with the best strikeout to at bat ratio among active players in the Majors with at least 3000 at bats.  Impressive.  What really catches my eye on this card is the patriotic Braves uni that Callaspo is sporting.  Love it.  I'm afraid my Cubs didn't put up much of a fight against Atlanta.

Winner: Braves

Round 3: Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals

1995 Topps #135 Julio Franco vs. 2013 Panini Triple Play #34 Eric Hosmer

Two cards from All-Star MVPs in my collection.  Julio Franco appears on the 1995 Topps, which has grown on me throughout the years.  I never liked it then, but I'm beginning to appreciate it.  It might be somewhat hard to read the name, but the scoreboard photo on the back is kind of a cool touch.  Regardless, it's better than the Triple Play design.  This is a horrible card.  The cartoon of Hosmer isn't great.  I can't figure out what the musical symbols in the background are all about.  It's the only card in the set with music, so it would stand to reason that it is meant to connect to Hosmer personally, but I don't know why.  Going to the back of the cards, Franco's has a little factoid that stands out: he reached 50 RBI faster than any other player in a ChiSox uniform.  Impressive--especially for a player on the back nine of his career.  This really wasn't much of a contest.

Winner: White Sox

Round 3: Washington Nationals vs. San Diego Padres

1997 Donruss Elite # Mark Grudzielanek vs. 2016 Topps Archives #222 Matt Kemp

The Washington/Montreal franchise is represented once again by the Expos.  The 1997 Donruss Elite set is a cool shiny set, but with one fatal flaw: the border takes up entirely too much space.  The empty space on the bottom of the card is almost as large as the postage stamp of picture.  I don't get it.  Other than that, the blue and red look good all shiny, and I like the way Grudzielanek's bat comes out of the frame.  On the other card, I really like the 1991 design, and the modern Padres logo and uniform look even better than the original to me.  The players have similar WAR scores when you factor in that Kemp doesn't have quite as many games played as Grudzielanek.  I have to give the edge to Kemp here, though, because he has two All-Star Appearances and Gold Gloves to Grud's one each.  I like this matchup, but I have to go with Matt Kemp and San Diego here.

Winner: Padres

Well, that narrows it down to the Final Four!  Houston took a bye week in the 1st Round and they are going strong into the semis.  Who do you see as Cinderella?  San Diego?  The White Sox?  I can't say that I anticipated either one getting this far.  What matchups would you have seen going the other way?  Let me know your thoughts as we head into the final weekend of Card Madness!

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