Sunday, January 21, 2018

Repack Sunday

In preparation for my trip this weekend, I went to my local dollar store. I had never really hit up their "card" selection before because from a distance it looked like stickers and other non-sports packs. This time however they had a couple of boxes full of 30-card baseball card repacks. I've seen the 20-card packs but only heard through the grapevine about the 30-carders.

Before my blogging hiatus I used to do Repack Sunday so I thought I'd reinstitute that. I like ripping packs but rarely do anymore because of my collection focus. Repacks are good cheap fun and can be a trip down memory lane so I picked up a couple.

In my old posts, I would throw out some superlatives like oldest and newest, any Cubs ties and any other notable thing I could think of. I'll keep that format. Let's see how I faired.

This 2016 Topps Chrome card of Marcus Stroman was the cover card and the only one in the pack I could see. It was also the newest card in the pack.

Conversely, this 1981 Fleer card of Terry Forster was the oldest card in the pack. Maybe Panini can find some warmup jacket photos. Although if you photoshop out the hat logo, that's just somebody's Uncle Terry chilling on the couch.

I only got one Cubs card, which I guess would be the average for a 30-card pack and 30-team league. I had this Jeff Blauser already but maybe I can put this aside and figure out what's going on in the card when I have more time.

Although just one Cub, there were a couple more with Cubs ties. Jon Lester is currently a Cub and this card highlights his no-hitter from May 19, 2008. Manny Corpas was a Rockie, then Cub, then back to the Rockies. Last season he was in an independent league. Steve Buechele is the first base coach for the Rangers and "Legendary Lloyd" McClendon is the hitting coach for the Tigers.

The coolest looking card in the pack is this Jordan Schafer card from 2014. I've long contemplated a mini collection of these leaping player cards but I've got a bit too much to organize right now to start something new.

I wouldn't classify the above two as oddballs, but they aren't exactly commonly found either. The Pedroia is out of a 55-card World Baseball Classic box set. Too bad the bottom right corner is dinged (as with several in the pack).

The only reason I've heard of Dugout Axcess is because I have run across them in my Ivy card search. There are also kind of flimsy compared to most cards.

The "worst" card in this pack belongs to this Will Clark highlight card. I opened a lot of 1990 Fleer back in the day but I don't remember this one. Maybe it's selective memory. The caption mentions Clark powering the Giants into the 1989 World Series. Most Cubs fan know that the Giants beat the Cubs to advance to the Series in 1989 and sure enough the back talks about the NLCS. Blech.

This Bobby Bonilla card wins the award for Card I'd Most Liked to Have Owned When It Was Released. This may have been a dollar card (or more) back in the day, but is now relegated to repacks. I know he bounced around a lot in his career but I will probably always think of him as a Pirate first. And then because of his ridiculous contract that pays him for another 17 years, a Met. Considering the dinged corners on many of the other cards this one is surprisingly really nice. This centering is very slightly off but otherwise a great card.

The rest of the pack were base cards out of flagships sets. A couple more 1990 Fleer, some 1987 Topps, etc. Overall, for a buck, I'm happy with the pack. No keepers, but I got a blog post out of it and maybe a second with the Blauser.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Player's Weekend Nicknames - Cubs

Yesterday I showed off the 5-card Cubs team set and thought it would be fun to have a little guessing game for the rest of the team. I know, I know, I'm several months late with this but I'm away for the weekend so I'm knocking some things out of the draft folder. This will probably only be fun for my Cubs fan readers though.

Let's start with a hard level.

Here are the nicknames of the 25 Cubs participants without their jersey numbers, although a hint would be that they are in jersey number order.

To add another hint, here is the original graphic I found with the jersey numbers:

Knowing the Cubs roster, a lot of these are variations on their real names, which makes it a lot easier.

Still stuck on few? How about a name bank to work with? (With two extra names for the party poopers with no nickname)

Almora, Albert
Arrieta, Jake
Avila, Alex
Baez, Javier
Bryant, Kris
Contreras, Willson
Davis, Wade
Duensing, Brian
Edwards Jr., Carl
Grimm, Justin
Happ, Ian
Hendricks, Kyle
Heyward, Jason
Jay, Jon
Lackey, John
LaStella, Tommy
Lester, Jon
Montgomery, Mike
Quintana, Jose
Rizzo, Anthony
Rondon, Hector
Russell, Addison
Schwarber, Kyle
Strop, Pedro
Uehara, Koji
Wilson, Justin
Zobrist, Ben

And drum roll is the answer key:

Jon Lester and Tommy LaStella were the non-participants from the name bank, just using their last names.

Friday, January 19, 2018

2017 Topps Now Player's Weekend Cubs Team Set

I dialed it way back on the Topps Now cards in 2017. I was content with the lightning in a bottle that Topps managed to catch with the magical 2016 Cubs season and didn't feel the need to chase down all of the autographs and relics (for sometimes seemingly manufactured moments) last year. However, I did pick up all of the base cards including the Player's Weekend set that was sold in August.

Each team set was five cards and were presold in August, with the player selection and photos sight unseen, much like the Road to Opening Day sets from Spring Training. All five of the Cubs ended up being position players.

While Topps Now is usually reserved for some kind of accomplishment, Topps went with a generic "Player X Wears Nickname for Player's Weekend" to describe the feat. And in the little diamonds in the upper right corner where the date goes, Topps put the player's number and position. If Topps Now wasn't a specific date focused card set, I'd support that change permanently.

I can't speak for the others, but for this particular set overall, I think Topps did well with the photo selection. Among the five cards, you get a sense of what the Cubs jersey looked like, both front and back. I guess I'm a little more traditional so I wasn't really a fan of the uniform design though. My son really liked the hat. Maybe I'm getting to old to be the target demographic. When did that happen??

Again, like the Spring Training set, there was an incentive based bonus if you purchased this directly from Topps. If your team won six consecutive games between August 22 and the end of the season, there would be a free bonus card. This time the Cubs were able to meet the criteria, not once, but twice with two separate 6-game win streaks.

All of the bonus cards have the yellowish tint in the background, I guess to distinguish them from a regular set card. This might be Rene Rivera's only Cub card?

The set was $19.99 so those two bonus cards brought the per-card cost down a bit, which is nice. The print run of 454 sets was second only to the Yankees' 834, which included Aaron Judge so there's no surprise there. The Red Sox were the only other team over 400, barely squeaking by with 401. Twelve teams sold less than 100 sets, with the Padres bringing up the rear with 52. The World Series Champion Houston Astros sold just 122 sets, but also earned two bonus cards, the only other team to double up.

It might have been fun to do a post and have people guess the player based on the nickname. Some are pretty easy but how many non-Cubs fans would have pegged Javier Baez as "El Mago" or AKA, the "Magician" for his fielding? I probably would fail miserably at other teams.

*EDIT* I'll do that tomorrow, posting the Cubs players who participated.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Let It Snow

Here in Northern Virginia, school kids had a 2-hour delay today for what amounted to a light dusting. I didn't see it as a Wrigley Wax post who is so good about picking up team sets so I figured its a perfect day to knock out the Cubs team set from Topps' 2017 Holiday line.

This team set ran me a couple of bucks and free combined shipping from the same seller as the Jose Quintana Printing Plate I showed a few days ago. As far as the set goes, it wasn't something I was exactly seeking out but when I got such a good deal on the Plate, I wanted to show my appreciation and looked through his other wares.

The Cubs had 11 players in the set, 8 everyday players and 3 starting pitchers. The biggest omission is catcher Willson Contreras, followed by Javier Baez. I'm obviously very biased because I don't think any of the other players should be cut from the checklist either. But for a 200 card set, the Cubs were already near double the average allotment.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Undercover Cubs - Dan Vogelbach

Last week after discussing some of the photoshopped Dexter Fowler cards from 2017, I promised one more. Just when everybody thought P-Town Tom had the market cornered on Dan Vogelbach posts...

Way back in November, Tom was barely into his Vogelbach writeups. He mentioned that he was a little underwhelmed with the photo selection. Curious, I headed over to the Getty Images website where Topps has been getting their photos for the past several years to see if there were any better options.

Even though he was a mid-season trade in 2016 and later a September call-up, I thought there would be a few to choose from. A search of "Vogelbach 2016" only yielded 23 results, including a few Spring Training shots with the Cubs. I guess it was kind of slim pickings. But a little surprisingly, the one used on the card was not among them.

Taking "2016" out of the equation and just searching his last name returned 82 photos, most from 2017. Sorting oldest-newest produced this image near the top:

Dated March 7, 2014, this photo was a Spring Training shot from 3 years prior. I've heard of Topps using older photos in the 50's and 60's but in this day and age, there probably aren't too many cards like this. I guess Topps really, really, really wanted Vogelbach in Stadium Club.

I'm not real familiar with Mariners uniforms but the photoshop job passed my initial viewing. On second glance, its a little more noticeable but overall the attention to detail was pretty good. In addition to logo and color swaps, Topps removed pinstripes, added piping, changed a sleeve patch, added a sleeve patch and even added a Nike swoosh on the undershirt. Not to mention the helmet on the bench beside him.

However, the smaller photo used on the back was one of the 23 photos from 2016. And it was even a Mariners one!

Another dugout shot, this one comes from September 17, 2016 prior to a game against the Astros in which he did not play.

So thanks Tom, for bringing this card to my attention. I may have only added this card as a throw in on a Sportlots purchase to maximize shipping, but Vogelbach has infiltrated my collection as an Undercover Cub.

Monday, January 15, 2018

IVY: 2003 Fleer Focus Jersey Edition #3 Trevor Hoffman

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.

As with #2 the other day, #3 has no competition so far for the Ivy Frankenset. I haven't been following the Hall of Fame polling results too closely but I believe former career Saves leader Trevor Hoffman is trending favorably? As in, if not this year, then inevitably?

Today's card comes out of 2003 Fleer Focus Jersey Edition. That's a mouthful. I was out of the hobby at this time so I have no idea what that means and why this isn't a relic card with a name like that. i imagine there's a jersey parallel? It isn't an unpleasant card by any means but because the brand and set are both represented elsewhere in the Ivy collection, card #2 already being a Padres closer, and other Hoffman options later on, I don't see this one sticking around if another #3 shows up.

The photo used on the card is too generic to get a specific date, though the Padres played just three games at Wrigley in 2002. Hoffman pitched in all three, earning Saves in the first two games.

The third time was the charm for the Cubs as both bullpens faltered in a battle of two terrible teams on August 1, 2002. Hoffman got the loss by serving up a 2-run, walk-off double to Alex Gonzlez.

Hoffman never earned the W at Wrigley in his career, finishing up 0-4 with 21 Saves in 32 appearances. That's actually understandable in this era of rare multi-inning outings from a closer as they generally get the Save or take the Loss on the road.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Favorite Card of 2017 Update

My Favorite Card of 2017 has a new parallel sibling in the collection.

When I started the chase for the Jose Quintana rainbow, this Black Printing Plate of the Chrome version was sitting on eBay for a hefty $89.99.

Cue the sad trombone.

In the meantime, the Magenta Plate of the regular version showed up in auction format with a reasonable starting price. I ended up being the only bidder and won it for about $11 shipped.

Meanwhile, the other one sat on my watch list through two 30-day cycles unsold. When it rolled over a third time without any kind of price adjustment, I decided to submit a Best Offer of what amounted to $15.00 shipped.

In the offer I apologized for lowballing, but mentioned that the Magenta had sold for closer to $10 and asked if he had any wiggle room. I expected a much higher counter offer but to my surprise, it was accepted without question.

And because of this generosity, I rewarded the seller by spending more money with him and picking up a couple more Cubs cards from him. I've got some scanning and cropping to do but those posts will come soon.

This makes the 19th version of the card in my collection.

Can somebody explain to me like I'm 5 years old why the Chrome plates are reversed while the regular card is not? This seems to be universal with Topps plates.