We'll reach our Sweet 16 a couple of days before the basketball tourney. But I'm not posting this weekend, so when Monday rolls around, both March and Card Madness will have 16 surviving participants. We have 12 already.
Round 1: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Miami Marlins
2019 Topps Opening Day #129 Justin Smoak vs. 1994 Finest #164 Bryan Harvey
Both of these scans seem to have turned out dark to me. 2019 Flagship (and, consequently, Opening Day) and 1994 Finest are both fine-looking sets. The early Finest sets are kind of cool, even if this one isn't the absolute best. Player-wise, Harvey was better, I think. He once led the league in saves and won the Rolaids Relief award. Ultimately, if I had to choose one of these cards for my collection, I think I take Harvey.
Round 1: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Atlanta Braves
1993 Topps Colorado Rockies Inaugural Edition #108 vs. 2016 Bowman Platinum Platinum Presence #PP-26 Sean Newcomb
This one is interesting. At first glance, I might just take a shiny, clean insert and move on. But upon further examination, Jose Lind has a few things going for him. We have the second Rockies Inaugural edition of this tournament. That's a big plus. 1993 Topps is a nicely designed set. Ultimately, the photo is what gets me. A headfirst slide into second base is always a cool picture. But is the throw off? Lind is still standing tall, not really in position to make the tag. The runner, however, is still a couple of feet from the bag. And where is the ball? Is it in the air somewhere out of the frame? In the glove already? Does Lind have time to make this out? There is suspense in the photo that gives it the upset win over my initial reaction.
Round 1: Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles
2019 Topps Heritage #310 World Series Celebration vs. 1997 New Pinnacle #84 Rafael Palmeiro
For the second time in this round, we have a card from my 1997 New Pinnacle set. It's a nice set--very glossy, some foil, full-bleed. And I like the last name only. But it's going up against a pretty unique card. A throwback Heritage. A team card. Black and white. And it's celebrating a World Series-clinching win. Maybe if Raffy had drawn any other World Series card in the set, he would have won. But the actual title clincher? That's a cool moment on cardboard.
Winner: Red Sox
Washington Nationals vs. New York Yankees
1984 Fleer #281 Tim Raines vs. 2012 Panini Cooperstown #96 Phil Rizzuto
Our last matchup of the first round is a good one. Two Hall of Fame players squaring off. For the Nationals (who came up as the Expos here), there is a somewhat run-of-the-mill, forgettable Fleer set. But Tim Raines is a great player. The batting practice shot with the cage in the background scores major points. For the Yankees, Phil Rizzuto is also a good representative. I like the 2012 Cooperstown set, with my favorite feature probably being the little banners at the top that indicate the year of induction. This is a really close matchup between two nice base cards. In the end, I'll take the BP.
And there we have it, folks. One round is in the books. Sixteen Major League teams remain in the running to be the 2023 bracket champion of my collection. How would you have picked these? Is your team still alive? We'll pick up the Madness again next week.