Sunday, February 18, 2018

Repack Sunday (Courtesy of Night Owl)

Last week was a pretty good mail week for me as my 2018 inserts and parallels have been trickling in from various trades and eBay purchases. Mixed in with all the newness, was an unexpected package courtesy of Night Owl.

I had sent him a couple of Holiday Dodgers a few weeks ago but because I collect Cubs cards and cards with Ivy in the background with no discernable want/need list, I wasn't really expecting anything in return. That makes me hard to trade with, something I'd love to change, so I'm working on getting organized. 

The included note urged me to use them for one of my repack Sundays and there were 30 cards, the same as my last couple of repacks. So let's see what we have for some superlatives. 

The oldest card in the pack, a 1981 Fleer Larry Bowa, has Cubs ties! And not just Cubs ties, but a Ryne Sandberg connection. In a notorious trade, Bowa came over from the Phillies with Sandberg in exchange for Ivan DeJesus. 

The newest card in the pack, like the oldest, is pulling double duty as well. This time as an actual Cub! Here we have Jason Hammel's holiday card from 2016. Night Owl doesn't fight fire with fire, apparently he fights snow cards, with snow cards!

Speaking of 1981 Fleer and Cubs, I guess the Bowa ties with Lynn McGlothen and Lenny Randle for oldest. And 1989 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Dwight Smith completes the Cubs quartet.

In another quartet, we have four  Hall of Famers, others include Bobby Cox, Willie Stargell, Rickey Henderson and Enos Slaughter. I would love to see Turn Back the Clock cards make a return. Unfortunately if they ever did, Topps would probably have them as an insert instead of part of the regular set. With parallels.

Actually, Topps did make an attempt as part of their Throwback Thursday online sets last year, but turning it back to 2015 and 2016 doesn't do much for me. You have to go back at least five years. This subset came around in the prime of my youthful collecting career so maybe they're just nostalgic. I remember reading the blurbs and learned quite a bit of baseball history from them. Knowing all the mistakes Topps makes these days, I wonder how much false history I "know" about.

Enos Slaughter was the oldest player in the bunch, born in 1916. 

But Jimmie Reese was the oldest person depicted on a card, born in 1904. This 1991 Bowman card has a 75 Years foil stamp to honor his 75 years in baseball, beginning with a stint as a batboy in 1917. I don't remember this card at all, but I didn't collect much Bowman back in the day. He was believed to be the oldest person to suit up for a game in an official capacity until Red Schoendienst did recently at the age of 95. He passed away in 1994.

*EDIT* - After a little more research, other sources claim he was born in 1901.

These cards depicted the most interesting plays. I've been thinking of starting a mini collection of players fully extended so this Nate McLouth will go into a little pile until I figure it out. And does the Carlos Ruiz card count as a play at the plate if there's noone else in the frame?

These cards would have been in my binder as a kid. Hall of Pretty Gooders, we have Bo Jackson, Darryl Strawberry and Eric Davis.

All in all, this was a pretty good repack. Thanks, Night Owl!


I initially missed this until I was putting the cards away, but the backside of the Bobby Cox checklist had the checklist for the Cubs from this set. This one makes the Cubs collection!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Two Random Rynos

In this weekly series, I show off two random Ryne Sandberg cards from my 600+ card PC. One will be from his playing days (pre-1998) and one since his retirement (1998-present).

I didn't make any headway this week with this PC in terms of cataloging as I had an influx of 2018's so count update. Luckily, I still have 600 to choose from to post about.

Playing Days:

This card from 1994 Yoo-Hoo is from the tail end of my original collecting days. Like a lot of my oddball Ryne Sandberg cards, this one could also be posted under my One Card Team Set series.

I'm guessing these were distributed in cases of Yoo-Hoo, but I picked mine up at a card show way before any of the online options would have been available. Yoo-Hoo had some New York Yankees cards in 1959 but they made a comeback in 1993 with a 20-card set featuring all retired playesr, mostly Hall of Famers with a few Hall of Pretty Gooders mixed in. In fact, where the Sandberg card above features the Rawlings logo, the 1993 set said "Baseball Legends".

The follow-up set in 1994 again had all retired players...and Ryno, who would briefly retire the first time after this set was released though.. As mentioned, the theme seems to be the Rawlings Gold Glove Award. Sandberg won nine consecutive from 1983-1991. The player portion of the set shrunk from 20 to 16, but four "Fact Cards" were added to keep the number at 20.

Post Retirement:

2005 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Signatures
 Red Stitch Black Ink #SS-RS Ryne Sandberg 148/175
This one isn't so random as I had it handy recently. Somebody on twitter (sorry, can't seem to recall the name right now) recently asked their followers to post their favorite Sweet Spot autograph card. Knowing I had this one tucked away prompted me to dig it out and let it cut in line to get scanned and catalogued.

This is a pretty awesome card in and of itself. But can you tell what makes this one especially interesting?

Unless you happen to know what Ryne Sandberg's signature looks like, you might not have caught that the autograph portion was actually assembled upside down!

Not that flipping it makes the autograph any more legible, but this is the correct orientation for Sandberg's signature.

A lot of these Sweet Spot autographs have not held up over time so I've been extremely lucky with this one. So tucked back away it goes to preserve the autograph.

Friday, February 16, 2018

First Look at 2018 Topps Now

Yesterday, I picked up some of the Yu Darvish card that Topps Now put out.

This card is #OS-94, meaning the 94th card Topps Now put out in the Off-Season. That's a little ridiculous. Topps is figuratively printing money. By comparison, there were "only" 48 off-season cards in 2016.

Unless there is another big free agent signing soon, that should just about put the bow on the 2017 set. In fact, when I was on the Topps website, I noticed they started pre-selling the 2018 Road to Opening Day team sets.

I like the concept of these sets and this year's design looks pretty sharp. I'll be curious to see if they add the date somewhere on the front like they have done the past two years. It looks like this will already be the second Darvish card with the Cubs.

The price point (like all Topps Now) is the biggest drawback. The standard 15-card set for each team is $49.99, cheaper if you buy in bulk. For 14 of the teams, there is also an option to get the team set with a random autographed card from the set. Pricing for these vary by team and there is no bulk discount for those sets. I saw that the Angels set runs $399.99, presumably because of the chance for an Shohei Ohtani autograph. Mike Trout is also an option, but so is Justin Upton. That's some serious rolling the dice.

The Cubs set with a random autograph is $99.99, down from $119.99 last year. Possible autographs include Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Ian Happ, Willson Contreras and Javier Baez. Not really any duds there, but no Darvish either. Last year had Bryant, Baez, Jason Heyward and Wade Davis. Comparatively, I would say this year is a bargain with the player changes and price drop.

Another drawback from last year's set was the full checklist wasn't available before the purchase deadline. Hopefully, Topps gets that fixed this year. Right now, the few teams I looked at had at least a couple of names, mostly the players they have confirmed will sign the autographed cards.

To make these prices a little more attractive, Topps has been offering the opportunity to earn free "bonus" cards if your team accomplishes certain feats.

Last year's Opening Day sets would give you a free card if someone on your team hit for the cycle, a pitcher threw a no-hitter or perfect game, or your team was in first place at the All-Star Break. This year has those same criteria and have also added a 15-strikeout game or 3 Home Run game from someone on your team. The Players Weekend sets offered a bonus card if your team had a six-game winning streak between sometime in August and the end of the season.

Some of the sets held their value better, while others found a decent ROI on bonus cards and the autographs. I've more or less been all in for Cubs cards from both years of Topps Now so I'll probably pick up a set of these too. I don't know if I'll pull the trigger on an autograph though.

Any other buyers out there?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

3 card Chicago Cubs SP lot (an EBay win)

Part of my morning routine is to wade through the "Saved Search" emails I get from eBay every day. If I come across something I'm interested in, but am willing to wait for a really good price, I save the search and allow the market to come to me. Not every save yields a daily hit. In fact, I would say I have about 75 things saved at any given time but only get 25ish emails. Sometimes a particular search only gets a hit every couple of weeks. Or months. I'm looking at you, Desert Shield Anthony Rizzo.

For some, even 25 emails would be too many. But most of them are really easy to speed through because there are only one or two new listings. In general, if the item was more prevalent, the price will gradually come down, leading me to buy one and take it off my list.

Some items have been in my list for a looooong time. My misspelled saved searches have netted me quite a few deals on Ryne Sandberg items over the years. Sandburg. Ryan Sandberg (although this sometimes brings up lots with Nolan Ryan). Even "Snadberg" pulls in an occasional result.

One of my collecting goals for 2018 was to pick up last year's Stadium Club Cubs Short Prints, so of course I have a couple of saved searches that will provide me with those listings. Sometimes, if I have time, I click the link and go down an eBay rabbit hole to expand my search.

About two weeks ago, I removed "stadium club" from the search criteria and just went with "cubs sp lot" as my search. On this particular day, I sorted by ending soonest. It didn't lead me to what I was looking for but I came across a listing that was too good to pass up.

The title for the auction was the same as this post:

3 card Chicago Cubs SP lot

That's not a whole lot to go on. No player names. No years. No brands. The thumbnail showed three cards but was too small to really make out what they were.The starting bid was $1.50 with $3.50 for shipping. Three short printed cards for $5 was good enough for me to click on the listing.

I know very little about the current Donruss line and their parallels. This card appears to be the same as the base, but has a magenta colored back.

Any kind of Kris Bryant insert/parallel seems to command a premium, even as far away from Chicago as I am, so I don't have too many.

And speaking of premium, Topps Triple Threads is generally something out of my price range. If Triple Threads is in my collection, they are definitely secondary market pickups. This bat relic card of the 2016 World Series MVP is numbered 19/27.

And the card most likely to be in my collection, but wasn't, was this SP Ernie Banks out of 2010 Topps. This is back when "short printed" cards weren't in every other pack like they seem to be now. I got back into collecting the following year so while I was vaguely aware of its existence, I hadn't picked one up yet. These "Legends" photo variations are now usually paired with someone from the same team, but this Banks card shares #590 with the Phillies' Ryan Howard.

Somebody had the opening bid already so in the final few seconds I threw a bid of $2.50 down. With shipping, that would be $6, or $2 per card shipped. Great deal, but not earth shattering if I didn't win. As luck would have it, it didn't even go that high as the other bidder barely went above the minimum. I guess he felt the same as I did.

Its been a long time since I pulled the trigger on eBay for something I wasn't actually looking for, but all in all, I'm happy with my pickup. The current lowest prices for the Banks and Bryant are each higher than I paid for the whole lot. The seller has low feedback so maybe with a bit more experience, they'll improve their listings.

As a side note, when did anything and everything that isn't a base card become an "SP" in listings? I mean I guess, technically, they are, but it makes searches tougher when any insert or parallel is given the SP tag. Even the gold parallels this year with 2018 copies seem to be labelled SPs.

Anybody else get an inbox full of eBay emails every morning?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My First Twitter Trade (featuring Zippy Zappy)

Technically, I've been on Twitter for over five years. But truthfully, I'm pretty sure I've never even typed the website into the address bar. I would only really go there if I followed a link from an article, look around and then not return until another article lured me in.

When the offseason began, I found myself over there more and more trying to figure out what was going on in the very slow free agent market. I started interacting, rather than just lurking, although admittedly that's a hard habit to break, even here on the blogs. I followed a few fellow bloggers and found that Twitter can be like the bonus extras on a DVD. You don't have to watch them to understand the movie, but sometimes a little behind the scenes can be fun. Maybe a little quip or hot take not worth a whole blog post can find an audience over there.

I've been following Zippy Zappy's blog Torren' Up Cards for a while, at least since he was Cervin' them up. Probably because I've been on hiatus more often than not the past couple of years but we haven't had the opportunity to strike up a deal until just recently...on Twitter.

On Topps release day, I stopped at Target and bought a hanger box on my way to work. During my lunch break, I snapped a few photos of what I pulled and offered up my non-Cubs. I don't have a lot of followers over there so I didn't expect much action.

Kenny (@disnalldat) offered to take some rookies off my hands and I was excited enough at the thought of a new trade partner, I accepted without even knowing what, if anything, I'd get in return.

I loved this base card when I first saw it and he sent two! This card was not included in the team set I picked up, so having one for my Cubs collection and one for my "I Was There!" is great! I'll do my I Was There post when the couple of parallels I've picked up come in.

Same for this one. It came with my team set, but can add this one to my "I Was There" binder.

And in what seems to be his trademark move, Kenny also added some Japanese cards!

Tsuyoshi Wada played for the Cubs from 2014-2015 before returning to the Softbank Hawks of the JPPL where he pitched from 2006-2011. This is my 4th Wada card. It goes with his 2015 Topps, 2015 Topps Team Set and 2015 Heritage.

Kenny also threw in these pretty cool Sega Card Gen Cubs. I've seen them around but had never added any to my collection.

He was even kind enough to send a translation for the back!

Thanks, Kenny! These were all great adds to the collection!

Monday, February 12, 2018

IVY: 1990 Score 100 Superstars #6 Ozzie Smith

I have almost 500 cards in the Ivy collection and need to whittle down some of the numbers where I have duplicates for the Frankenset. I want to make sure each card gets its due so I've decided that over the course of a month or so, I will sprinkle in individual posts. When I have exhausted what I have for each binder page, I'll post which ones made the cut. Once I have a full page, I'll add a tab up top where you can view each page. I have multiple representatives for many of the first 99 numbers (11 full pages) which should get me through all of 2017.

Today will just be a quick post for card #6 since he is a familiar face to the collection. I just did a post a couple of weeks back for Ozzie Smith with a card in the #5 slot. Nothing has changed in his Wrigley career in the meantime.

In fact, not only did we just see Ozzie, this is a very similar photo to the other card, ranging to his right to field a ground ball. While the other card is "fancier" with its full-bleed photo and foil name plate, this card scans readably and has the Wizard popping out of the top and bottom border. We see a nice umpire cameo, and if I had any idea who it was, I could probably game-date the card since the umpires usually rotated throughout a series.

This set, 1990 Score 100 Superstars, is probably seen as boring by today's standards but I like that it has all the pertinent information on the front. Name, team, position and jersey number. And as I mentioned, a readable scan.

This is a special set, not a base card, so we get a blurb on the back instead of stats, which is fine by me.

Along with #5, Ozzie has an opportunity to show up another dozen times or so! The previous #6 from my original Page 1 was a non-Cub also so will have some competition here.

You can read about the Hanley Ramirez card in my original Page 1 post.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Repack Sunday

Every once in a while I hit my local dollar store and pick up a few 30-card, $1 repacks. There's hardly anything worth a dollar in these packs but for me, a buck is worth the price of entertainment. A good pack will yield about 10 cards worth mentioning.

The cover card this week was the horiztonal, very orange Wei-Yin Chen. It was the only pack with a horizontal showing so it was one of the few I picked a couple of weeks back. The Tom Henke was the only other horizontal. I love 1993 Upper Deck.

The oldest cards in the pack were fittingly, a set of 1985 Twins. I bought a few packs here and there in 1983-84 but 1985 Topps was the first time I ever realy tried to complete a set so the Ed Hodge is very familiar to me. I remember thinking his glove was huge. Which is funny because the next year, Mickey Hatcher had a card where his glove is huge.

The newest card in the pack was this 2012 Topps Erik Bedard. Without doing any research, this has to be the smallest difference between oldest and newest in a pack for me. These are usally good for something from the early 80s and as recent as the year before.

We had a set of Twins, how about a pair of Twin killings to add to the pile. Mark Loretta is doubling up someone from the A's, while Felix Fermin gets the Orioles' Steve Finley.

A quartet of Hall of Famers. Reggie Jackson on the Angels makes me think of The Naked Gun. I lived in Michigan in the early-mid 90's so I got to see Sparky manage the Tigers quite a bit before he retired. His last year with the Reds was the year I was born. And since I was born in November, when the season was over, technically, he's always been a Tiger for me.

I also lived on Fort Leavenworth in the late 80's so we made the trip to see George Brett (and Bo Jackson) a few times. Did I mention I grew up going to Orioles games as well in the mid-80's when I lived in Maryland, too? I did, but that was way before Roberto Alomar got there.

This was definitely a Twins hot pack. And a Joe Niekro one, too. Niekro represents the only former/future Cubs from the pack. That's some hot fashion on the Fleer card.

As for actual Cubs, we'll wrap this up with the 1989 Rookie of the Year, Jerome Walton and his teammate and runner-up, Dwight Smith. The Smith card with the Ivy in the background was one of my favorites growing up.

Fifteen (half!) of the thirty cards worth mentioning? That makes for a great pack and well worth the buck!