We're now in the regional semi-finals. Over the next two days, we'll see eight matchups. Eight winners moving on. In this round, new cards will be randomly chosen to represent each team. In case you've forgotten who our Sweet 16 are and how they got here, I have the Card Madness bracket for you:
Round 2: Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins
2015 Topps #621 Luis Valbuena vs. 1992 Donruss #25 Jack Morris
This is a low-key good matchup. After moving through the first round with a bye, defending World Series champion Astros appear for the first time. Despite being represented by a journeyman infielder, I think the card is a strong shower. First, colorful 2015 Topps is a great look. The photo is a good one, with Valbuena springing up to make likely a long throw to first. The shot, the colors, the design--it all blends well into one good card. On the other side, Hall of Famer (and former BYU Cougar) Jack Morris is on the mound for the Twins. I think I'm in the minority, but I like 1992 Donruss and always have. The photo is weaker than Valbuena's. But dig those stirrups! In a controversial call, I think the aesthetic appeal of these two sets is pretty much a wash. So on the strength of the featured player, Minnesota steals the win here.
Round 2: Seattle Mariners vs. St. Louis Cardinals
1982 Donruss #307 Lenny Randle vs. 1991 Fleer #648 Bob Tewksbury
After rolling easily through Round 1--thanks to a strong Randy Johnson card--the Mariners get another nice card to represent them this time. I like the digital "82" in this Donruss set. I like the name on the bat. I love the shot of Lenny Randle making the turn in a double play. The opponent brings a yellow Fleer border. I'm on record saying that I like this set. Bob Tewksbury probably had a better career statistically, but he may not be as well-remembered as Randle and his blowing the ball foul over the third base line. There is no competition in the quality of the photos, though.
Round 2: Los Angeles Angels vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Donruss #301 Mike Trout vs. 1991 Score #343 Jose Offerman
It's a freeway series matchup in SoCal! The Angels are bringing their best with Mike Trout. He is one of, if not the, best players I've seen play in my lifetime for sure. The problem here is that he shows up on a very weak Donruss card. Panini has done no favors to the Donruss brand, and 2014 is one of the most boring of their boring looks. The Dodgers are represented by rookie phenom Jose Offerman. Well, maybe he didn't play like a phenom, but the hype was there. Back in 1991, I can imagine this was a card to seek after. It wasn't his true rookie card, but it does say "Rookie Prospect" on it. I like Score's 1991 offering, with the black and the white borders probably being my favorite options. Offerman's photo, with the look of concentration on fielding that bouncer beats Trout's. The overall better look of the card and the associated nostalgia are enough to beat out a very "blah" card of living legend Mike Trout.
Round 2: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres
2015 Topps Chrome #37 Chris Owings vs. 2013 Topps Opening Day #84 Yonder Alonso
Topps Flagships in 2015 and 2013 are two of my favorite of the decade. I think 2015 looks even better Chromified. The curved out diamond in the corner of 2013 is nice to me. The edge might go to the Chrome here. The photos are both typical baseball card action shots, I think I slightly prefer Alonso to Owings' black jersey being camouflaged against the dark outfield wall. So far, there's not much separating the two. This will come down to the player, and I Yonder Alonso will best Chris Owings here.
One more day will get us through the Sweet 16 and into the Elite 8.