Saturday, September 29, 2012

Signature Saturday - Geovany Soto

Was going to write a congratulatory post directed towards Darwin Barney's record breaking errorless streak. That fell through so then I wrote a rant about the error and how it was just like the rest of the Cubs season. But, when I came back to it to publish it, I decided against it. 

So this is what you get a quick write-up on some Geovany Soto autographs. Vinnie from over on was offering to take cards for Rangers players when they were in his neck of the woods to play his hometown Mariners. His handling fee was acceptable to me so I reached out asking for help and he came through with this card for my 2012 custom team set. This brings the total count of different players signing their card in my set to 24.
2012 Custom Geovany Soto
This next 8x10 photo was sent in to a private signing Soto did, I think, before the 2011 season. It's a made-from-scratch-in-Photoshop photo made to look like the back of a jersey. You probably can't tell from the size of the photo but its incredibly detailed with a fabric texture background and stitching around the letters and numbers. Much cheaper than an actual jersey. I've also gotten one signed by Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams. Eventually, I'll be getting them framed up and put up around the room.

Geovany Soto Jersey Back 8x10 (Original photo courtesy of Baseball Backs)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

6 More Cubs from 2012

Not much to say today about these but here are 6 more cards for the 2012 Team Set. This covers all the players except for Alex Hinshaw and adds another coach. I'll add these to the tab that shows the whole set together when I get the chance but since they are in alphabetical order, that takes a little bit more time than just uploading them. 

Oh, and I don't think I mentioned it but it has already gotten many views. Last week or so, I added a tab to the top that shows the whole set at a glance, haha.

Jason Berken
Jaye Chapman
Pat Listach
Anthony Recker
Dave Sappelt
Miguel Socolovich

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Something to look forward to...

About this time, there's something every Cubs fan is looking forward year's schedule! MLB released it this afternoon and there are a couple of games/series I'm already looking forward to.

April 1, 3-4: at Pittsburgh (3)July 2-4: at Oakland (3)
April 5-7: at Atlanta (3)July 5-7: PITTSBURGH (3)
April 8-10: MILWAUKEE (3)July 9-10: LOS ANGELES (AL, 2)
April 11-14: SAN FRANCISCO (4)July 11-14: ST. LOUIS (4)
April 16-18: TEXAS (3)July 16: All-Star Game in New York (NL)
April 19-21: at Milwaukee (3)July 19-21: at Colorado (3)
April 22-24: at Cincinnati (3)July 22-25: at Arizona (4)
April 25-28: at Miami (4)July 26-28: at San Francisco (3)
April 29-May 2: SAN DIEGO (4)July 29-31: MILWAUKEE (3)
May 3-5: CINCINNATI (3)August 1-4: LOS ANGELES (NL, 4)
May 7-8: ST. LOUIS (2)August 6-8: at Philadelphia (3)
May 10-12: at Washington (3)August 9-11: at St. Louis (3)
May 13-15: COLORADO (3)August 12-14: CINCINNATI (3)
May 17-19: NEW YORK (NL, 3)August 16-18: ST. LOUIS (3)
May 21-23: at Pittsburgh (3)August 19-22: WASHINGTON (4)
May 24-26: at Cincinnati (3)August 23-25: at San Diego (3)
May 27-28: at White Sox (2)August 26-28: at Los Angeles (NL, 3)
May 29-30: WHITE SOX (2)August 30-Sept. 1: PHILADELPHIA (3)
May 31-June 2: ARIZONA (3)September 2-4: MIAMI (3)
June 4-5: at Los Angeles (AL, 2)September 6-8: MILWAUKEE (3)
June 7-9: PITTSBURGH (3)September 9-11: at Cincinnati (3)
June 10-13: CINCINNATI (4)September 12-15: at Pittsburgh (4)
June 14-16: at New York (NL, 3)September 16-19: at Milwaukee (4)
June 17-20: at St. Louis (4)September 20-22: ATLANTA (3)
June 21-23: HOUSTON (3)September 23-25: PITTSBURGH (3)
June 25-27: at Milwaukee (3)September 27-29: at St. Louis (3)
June 28-30: at Seattle (3)

Right off the bat, opening day is in Pittsburgh. I live in Northern Virginia so that's not too bad of a hike. Not sure I'd be able to talk my wife into it, especially since it is during the week, but I'll keep it on my calendar. Because if the team is anything like this year's, that series might be the last time the Cubs are at .500.

In May, the Cubs come back to DC. With my autograph success at last week's game, I am chomping at the bit for this series. Its a weekend series with probable day games on Saturday and Sunday. That motivates me to start planning my 2013 custom team set!

In early August, the Cubs go to Philadelphia which is a bit closer than Pittsburgh but pretty rowdy. Not sure if I can/should take the kids to that one. Might have to play that one by ear depending on how well the team is doing.

Interleague play has the Cubs playing the American League West next year with series in Los Angeles (Angels), Oakland and Seattle as well as hosting the Astros (yeah!) and Rangers. Of course, this is in addition to their annual home and away series with the White Sox.

The last 6 weeks or so of the season brings home and away series against all four of the division rivals. I haven't looked at anybody else's schedule yet but hopefully next year we won't be the ones trying to play spoiler!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cubs @ Nats on 8/3/2012

Hope you brought a lunch, this will be a long one...

So as excited as I was to receive that package I wrote up yesterday, I had been looking forward to the Cubs @ Nats game on Labor Day since I received the tickets for Father's Day. My wife works with a guy whose brother works for the Nats. He hooked her up with an employee discount on some crazy expensive Diamond Club seats behind home plate. Included with the ticket was an all you can eat and all you can drink buffet. Adult beverages included!

I'm not much of an alcohol drinker at all. But let me tell you, when you tell your wife that you want to go to the game several hours before the gates open and possibly stay for a couple more after the game ends, its nice that she can toss a few back without worrying about the ol' wallet. She has her days when she despises my hobby but she also hates to be left out of anything. So while waiting around always sucks, when players start showing up, she's right in there helping. 

Waiting at the player's parking lot pre-game, we saw a bunch of player's come through and a couple stopped to sign. These will go into my son's collection since they're Nats. I'm not sure how we ended up with 5 Tyler Clippard's because we usually just try for one of each player. One of us must have handed him 2 stuck together and he pulled them apart. We also each got one from Gio Gonzalez and one from Drew Storen.

2011 Tyler Clippard All-Star and Base
2012 Tyler Clippard Base
Gio Gonzalez 2012 Archives, Archives Gold, Bowman Gold, Opening Day
Drew Storen Gypsy Queen, Topps Base, Legendary Lineage, Gold Futures
Now on to the good stuff! No offense to the Nationals who have put a pounding on the Cubs this week, but I think we all know which team I pull for. Once we were let inside the gates, my wife and younger son decided to go check out our seats/buffet. My older son and I made our way down to the third base line for Cubs autographs. After a bit, we decided to split up, me staying along the line, him going towards the dugout. I brought two sets of my custom set in case a player wanted one or was somehow able to get both signed.
Because it was a day game, there was no batting practice. Because there was no batting practice, there wasn't this ridiculous netting that normally runs from the dugout to the foul pole on both sides of the diamond. While this may prevent injuries to unsuspecting fans who are just trying to find their seats during BP, it also prevents a lot of pregame autographs.

With no BP, the bullpen pitchers all came out and did their stretching along the third base line. Nobody was signing just yet so I was mentally matching up names and faces. The pregame warmup jerseys had numbers but no names. There were a ton of Cubs "fans" at the game around me but with all the roster changes this season, nobody really recognized anybody except maybe Carlos Marmol.

I was worried I wasn't going to recognize a lot of the new guys too but I guess making the customs really helped. I found myself calling guys over and as they were walking over, people were nudging me saying, "Who is that?" Meanwhile, some of the players themselves seemed shocked that I had a card for them to sign. My autograph book is a little spiral bound 6"x9" book that I attached two cards to each page with photo corners. None of the players said anything about my custom cards but a couple of them just stood over my book for an extra second or two before they realized which card to sign.

Jeff Beliveau, Michael Bowden, Shawn Camp, Tony Campana, Adrian Cardenas, Lendy Castillo
It was kind of funny because they came over, signed for me, maybe one or two other people and then left. I had knocked out about 8-9 guys and they all started to head in to the dugout. The position players didn't seem to be coming out so I headed over towards the dugout to find my son. He had gotten David DeJesus who had been talking to Gio Gonzalez (former A's teammates) and James Russell who for some reason hadn't been warming up with the rest of the bullpen guys. 

Pretty happy with our successes, we decided to head up to our seats and get some food and drinks. We made or way through the buffet, sat down to eat and looked down towards the dugout. Of course, now all the position players were hanging out, not signing autographs but warming up and shooting the breeze. We scarfed down our food and headed back down to the top of the dugout. Lined up along the front of the dugout on the top step were a bunch of players. My son called "Mr. So & So" and when they turned around he held up a card and sharpie. The player nodded for him to throw it so clipped the sharpie to the card and tossed it. The player signed it and threw it back. Then my son called the next guy and then the next guy etc and they all did the same thing. This is how we got Adrian Cardenas, Tony Campana (!), Justin Germano, Brett Jackson, Chris Volstad and Travis Wood. Luis Valbuena was the last one we tried but he said the game was about to start. Some of the cards did get a little dinged when they were thrown back and forth but I think it just adds to the story. Not selling them, nobody wants these homemade pieces but me anyway!

Steve Clevenger, Manuel Corpas, David DeJesus, Justin Germano, Brett Jackson, Joe Mather
During the 9th inning, we headed back down towards the dugout. The Cubs were in the middle of a rally, down 2-0, then 2-1 before the game finally ended. It was pretty neat to be that close to the dugout (managed to get to the 2nd row) and hear the players get excited. When the game ended, the only player we got was Joe Mather, but still a great day overall.

Blake Parker, Anthony Rizzo, Chris Rusin, James Russell, Josh Vitters, Chris Volstad
During the course of getting autographs, we heard one of the players tell some family members which hotel the players were staying at. Since my wife was a couple adult beverages in, I managed to talk her into just "checking it out" to see if we would see anybody else. No real expectations and we were quite happy with what we got at that point. We found a place to park about 2 blocks away and just started casually walking around. Less than 2 minutes from when we left our car we see Manny Corpas walking down the street. He had already signed my custom card and his Iowa Cubs card for us at the stadium so I didn't have anything else. We made eye contact, I said "tough game today" and he looked at me confused for having recognized him. Then he smiled, said yep and kept walking.

We go closer to the hotel and I spotted Josh Vitters coming back from the drugstore up the block and he signed his custom and a Heritage Minors card for us. As Vitters is finishing up, Anthony Rizzo walks out of the hotel. I had multiple cards but didn't want to press my luck so I just handed him my custom.

I was hoping to see Tony Campana again but I had told my wife "just 30 minutes" since the kids were starting school the next day. Not a bad way to finish!
Travis Wood

Manny Corpas, Chris Volstad, Josh Vitters, Tony Campana
No, I didn't get any/many of the stars (what stars? Its the Cubs!) but when completing a team set, I figure its better to get some of the smaller pieces that might not be around as long to get. Guys like Castro and Soriano make appearances where worst case scenario, I could pay to finish up the set. But some of these young pitchers might not be around later. And whether they said anything or not, I like to think these guys were happy to be recognized and have something personalized to sign, unlike a program or ticket stub..

Whew, if you made it through all that, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Iowa Cubs

Hands down, the best package that came during my hiatus was my end of a deal worked out with a fellow collector named James through He participated in one of my group breaks early on and when I found out he went to Iowa Cubs games to get autographs, I asked for his help. We worked out a similar deal that I had last year with another collector (mentioned previously here) where I would buy a couple of team sets and he would try to get as many signed as possible.

Well, the Iowa Cubs season recently wrapped up and out of a possible 35 cards, I received 23 of them back signed. I'm very happy with that seeing as the set isn't usually released until July-ish and a lot of the players that were part of the team early on in the season when the sets were made have moved on in one fashion or another. And saying the Cubs made a ton of moves this year would be an understatement. Several of these guys are currently playing for the big league Cubs.

Here's the booty!

Blake Lalli, Nate Sampson, Brian Esposito, Esmailin Caridad, Matt Tolbert, Jeff Beliveau

Josh Vitters, Chris Rusin, Blake parker, Welington Castillo, Rodrigo Lopez, Adrian Cardenas

Casey Coleman, Scott Maine, Jay Jackson, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Brooks Raley, Dave Sappelt

Frankie De La Cruz, Juan Apodaca, Nick Frangella

Alfredo Amezaga, Mike Mason
Now if that wasn't great enough, James also took some of my customs for guys who had played for the Chicago Cubs at some point during the season but for whatever reason were back down with the Iowa Cubs. These are my first batch of signed cards for my custom 2012 team set.
Jairo Asencio, Casey Coleman, Blake Lalli, Rodrigo Lopez
And to top it all off, the fastest Cub north of Havana...Tony Campana!
Tony Campana

Thanks a ton James!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I'm back!...Sort of...

I didn't intend to take a 2 week hiatus. But after posting pretty much every day for about 4 months, things all came together at once. My father-in-law came to visit for an end of summer, last hurrah kind of thing. There was a Boy Scout campout that pretty much got rained out/shortened on Assateague Island. It was still pretty fun though as we hung around after the group disbanded. And of course, school starting up for my boys.

So here we are. September 1st. A new month. The Cubs are trying to avoid a 100 loss season. Should be some callups later today and I'm hoping Tony Campana is one of them. I am going to the Cubs @ Nats game on Monday so it would be nice if he's there. I'll be bringing some of my custom cards and can hopefully get some autographs. I actually have some pretty low expectations due to the travel schedule, time of the game, the fact that the game is on a holiday and it will probably be packed. But I'll bring them anyway.

I've taken a little bit of my extra time from when I wasn't writing a post and used it for good. I believe all outstanding trade packages have been mailed. I went through all my emails to make sure I got everybody but if I somehow missed you and you don't get a package by the end of next week, please let me know.

I alluded in my title that I was "sort of" back. I have a lot of things coming up that could impact my ability to post daily as I had been doing. And with the baseball season winding down and lack of new card releases that I'm interested in for several months (aside from Topps Traded/Highlights/Updates or whatever they're calling it this year) I won't have a whole lot to write about anyway except new customs or additions to my collections. I have not burned out or gotten bored with the process or anything like that. I'll be writing posts when I can but it may be reduced to a few times a week or even just weekly. We'll see.

Thanks to everyone who has followed and commented on my blog since I started it in the Spring. I don't have a lot of like minded hobbyists in my every day life so it's been great to have an outlet for my collection.