Monday, April 3, 2023

2023 Card Madness: It All Comes Down to This!

When I started this little tournament, I know that thousands of people took my bracket and filled out their own predictions. Workplaces everywhere have pools of various stakes going. More than a few brackets have been busted with shocking upsets and there may be very few lucky ones who correctly foretold the final face-off: the Minnesota Twins vs. the Washington Nationals. (Or as Matt pointed out in the comments of the last post, the original Washington vs. the new Washington.) Before the pitch clock runs down, let's start this matchup!

Championship Round: Minnesota Twins vs. Washington Nationals

2018 Bowman #9 Zack Granite vs. 2014 Donruss #204 Stephen Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg jumps out to an early lead. He began his career as the most anticipated rookie in 2010. Injuries have hampered him through much of his career, but he has still put together a career worthy of the Hall of Very Good. He's got one World Championship under his belt, which he fully earned by being named MVP of the 2019 World Series. Zack Granite doesn't quite have that resume. In fact, he played at center field in 40 games in 2017 (41, if you count the Twins' Wild Card Game), presumably filling in for an injured Byron Buxton. Since this rookie card was produced, however, he hasn't made a single appearance in a Major League game. This is pretty sharp-looking Bowman card, however. Topps could and maybe should have used this for a Flagship release. The opposing Diamond King is a mediocre effort in a subset that is pretty hit-and-miss for me. I could do with a smaller logo and bunting at the top and a bigger picture. Overall, it's not as artistic as many other DK sets have been and it's exacerbated by the lack of licensing for Panini. On the plus side, it is supposedly short-printed in the 2014 set, so I suppose that helps the collectibility of the card. I keep looking back and forth between these two, trying to make a distinction. My eyes keep settling on the Granite, which is more visually appealing. But it's not like the Strasburg is horribly ugly. I just don't think the Twins have enough here. Stephen Strasburg is going to come out the hero of the Nationals' championship opportunity once again.

Winner: Nationals
So after the maddest March in history, the Washington Nationals have come out on top of the Bump and Run card collection. Here's how they got there:

That's pretty good mix of old school Expos and new school Nationals to get through the tournament.

I checked back to the last time I did a Card Madness baseball-style, and it was the Braves who won it then, in 2018. I made the prediction that it would be the only success the Braves had all season. But then this guy named Ronald Acuna broke out and won Rookie of the Year. The Braves ended up winning the NL East. Maybe I'll be wrong again, but I'm predicting a long, fruitless season for the Nationals this season. I feel fairly confident they'll finish in the cellar of a strong division. So enjoy this, Nats!

This is one of my favorite types of exercises, and I'd be doing this with or without readers. But a big thank you to all of you who kept up on Card Madness happenings. Now you'll get to enjoy the NCAA men's basketball championship tonight!