The NCAA tournament tips off in earnest today. Play-in games are finished. The field is set. My bracket is for Kerry's March Radness contest is ready. And here at Bump at Run, we're still in the first round of the Card Madness competition. I'm not sure if I mentioned this the past two days, but all of the cards in this competition are from my collection; they aren't chosen from the 100,000+ cards that have been made for each team. After two regions have completed their first-round action, here is a look at our bracket:
Let's find four more teams to move on and compete in the Sweet 16.
Round 1: Los Angeles Angels vs. Tampa Bay Rays
2002 Stadium Club #95 Darin Erstad vs. 2001 SP Authentic #22 Dewon Brazelton
Two cards from my first two baseball seasons after high school. Dewon Brazelton shows up on a serial-numbered card (#d/1500), but that's all it has going for it. The card is ugly. What is that sunburst? The background is plain white. The name is too small. I've never heard of Brazelton outside of this card. (I looked him up. He posted a 6.38 ERA in 63 appearances across five seasons.) Darin Erstad, on the other hand, is on a nice Stadium Club card. It's good action shot of running catch in the outfield. Erstad was a good player who put together a long career. This choice is easy.
Round 1: Cincinnati Reds vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
1996 Ultra Rawhide #7 Raul Mondesi vs. 2017 Topps Update #139 Luis Castillo
This is a good matchup. Both of these are quality players. They're both somewhat "special" cards, as Mondesi is an insert and Castillo is a rookie. Both of these are part of a complete set I've built. And I'm happy to have both in my collection. Essentially, my decision comes down to this: the Rawhide cards are really cool in-hand, with embossing and texture. And 2017 is one of my least favorite Flagship looks ever.
Round 1: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers
2022 Topps #275 Ketel Marte vs. 2020 Panini Diamond Kings #93 Tyrone Taylor
Typically, I like Panini's Diamond King release. I like the artistic flair and the feel of the card and the design is usually pretty good at covering up Panini's lack of a license. 2020 is probably my least favorite, though. The blue cloud is swallowing up a blue player on this Tyrone Taylor card. I like the emotion on the Ketel Marte card. Marte is also a better player. Overall, I'd rather have the Marte than the Taylor.
Round 1: Oakland Athletics vs. San Diego Padres
1988 Topps #476 Dave Stewart vs. 2008 Upper Deck X Xponential #X-GM
Dave Stewart was a good pitcher. I think most people would say Greg Maddux was a teensy bit better. I prefer the 1988 Topps design to this Xponential insert. I like the pose with the warm-up jacket on Stewart. Seeing Maddux on the Padres is weird. But shiny/refractory is good. I'm back and forth on this one. I think the Maddux insert is more unique to my collection and Maddux's HOF resume carries some weight. In a tough decision, I'll take San Diego.
Today had a couple of close matchups and a couple of easy decisions. One more day of Round 1 will give us our Sweet 16.