Friday, May 31, 2013

Tony Campana (Yes, again!)

As I mentioned with the Greg Gross cards from last week, I utilized two different collectors to help me out with the Reno Aces. The whole reason I looked at the roster and saw Greg Gross and Brad Snyder to begin with was because of today's featured former Cub, Tony Campana. All in all, I now have 5(!) more Tony Campana autographs to add to my collection. The first three are courtesy of SCN user vinniemiller while the second two came from SCN user justgreg.
To start it off, I have a 2013 factory team set card. I mentioned previously that I was a little surprised at Campana's inclusion into this set but I am more than happy to add it.
Next up, I have two of my newer customs designs that blended my ATCRCS cards with a little A&G flavor. One with the Cubs, and one that may be his first and among the only cards to feature him with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The photo I used is from the team's photo day back in Spring Training. This card will definitely stay in the collection despite the team change.

And of course, after obtaining all of these signed cards from Tony Campana, I finally got around to knocking the ATCRCS card off the list as well. The photo is from his first season with the Cubs as evidenced by his jersey #41 (he switched to #1 in his second season) but I think it perfectly captures what he brought to the team. 
As an added bonus, justgreg threw in this 2012 parallel just because he knew what a big fan I was!
I am super excited to be expanding my Tony Campana collection. This nearly doubles my signed Tony Campana card collection and the ATCRCS card is the 56th in that collection.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Outfield

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that the Cubs had the same record through the same amount of games as last year. Since we all know how poorly last year ended, I was not impressed. The run differential was a bit better which is a good sign.
So how are they faring 20-ish games later? Through 51 games, the Cubs are 21-30 and in 4th place in the NL Central. That doesn't sound great, but compared to last year, it's a pretty big improvement.
At the 51 game mark last year, they were 18-33, only slightly better but they didn't get their 20th win until their 60th game. The run differential is also markedly better, with the Cubs scoring 206 runs and allowing 205. It doesn't seem possible, but it says so on the internet, so it must be true. Despite a six game losing streak last week, a pair of White Sox drubbings helped move the Cubs back into the positive.
With that said, today I have a quintet of cards featuring players from the Cubs outfield this season. There have been a few others in the rotation as well but they'll come later.
Alfonso Soriano has already matched his stolen base total from last year with 6, which leads the team. Even with the knowledge he is a former 40/40 guy, who would have thought?

David DeJesus helping out with his glove and the bat. No errors this season, tied for the team lead in runs and second among starters in batting average.
You;ve seen the next three already because I showed off signed versions earlier this month but here they are again.

Nate Schierholtz is the team leader among starters in batting average and second in doubles.
Despite limited appearances off the bench, Julio Borbon is tied for second in stolen bases on the team. In a 7-0 victory over the White Sox the other day, Borbon hit his first home run since 2010.

Another right fielder in the platoon, Hairston hasn't had quite as much success as the others. He was a nice enough guy when I got his autograph at the Cubs/Nats game but he still has some big shoes to fill with being Tony Campana's replacement.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Brad Snyder

I apologize for the lack of content the past two days, but I have been busy, busy, busy despite having a long weekend. Without many/any new cards coming in, I also didn't want to drown you all with the recent influx of ATCRCS cards all at once.

But since there were a fews days off, another ATCRCS card courtesy of one of the Reno Aces deals I made is this Brad Snyder.

Snyder was originally a first round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2003 but the Cubs selected him off waivers in 2008. He made his Major League debut in 2010 with a late season call-up by the Cubs for 12 games and had a midseason call-up the next year for another 8 games (one start, the rest as a pinch hitter/part of a double switch) before being granted free agency at the end of the year.

He spent all of 2012 with the Houston Astros Triple-A affiliate, the Oklahoma City Red Hawks. Again granted free agency at the end of the year, he signed this past offseason with the Arizona Diamondbacks and has spent this season in Reno.

On September 30, 2010, Snyder drove in the winning (and only) run in a 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres in the top of the 9th. Surprisingly, closer Carlos Marmol finished off the Padres in the bottom half with a 1-2-3 inning. Those were the days...

I am unaware of any official Cubs cards of Brad Snyder. According to there are quite a few from 2003 and 2004 but I assume those are Indians cards. This marks the 55th ATCRCS card in the collection.

For those faithful readers, you may remember I also have an autographed Brad Snyder card from his days with the Iowa Cubs:

I talk more about that here.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Last Call for Free Cards

I picked up a repack for this week, but ran out time for scanning in the cards. Since I'm short on time for getting this post up, I'll just reiterate a post from last week.

I mentioned I was suffocating in cardboard after weeks of busting open repacks. Anybody who follows this blog knows I'm just interested in the Cubs cards so I offered up the other stuff to any takers.

About half of the teams are left, while some of the bigger name teams have enough for an additional lot or two so as the title says, this is a last call before I move them over to eBay. Check out my original post for more details.

Leave a message with your preferred team and send me an email with your address if we haven't traded before. Heck, even if we have traded before, it might be a good idea to resend your email. For those who already responded to the original post, your claims have been noted.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Greg Gross

You may have noticed I haven't shown off to many new cards here lately and that's partly because of something I mentioned here earlier in the week. And partly because I've been busy trying to catch up on some of my New Year's goals regarding my collection. I just got a batch of ATCRCS cards back that I'll be showing off and some "real cards" too.
Today, I've got Reno Aces (Triple-A Diamondbacks affiliate) manager and former Cub, Greg Gross. Despite playing most of three full seasons (and part of another) with the Astros, Gross didn't hit his first home run until he came to the Cubs in 1977. In fact, he hit 6 of his career 7 home runs during his two year stint with the Cubs. And it's not like he had a 5 year career. He played for parts of 17 seasons!
Gross looks a little worried here that he's going to be a Cub for a loooong time.

I sent these two Topps cards to a fellow collector from SCN that regularly 'graphs the Tacoma Rainiers (Triple-A Mariners) and the visiting teams. He got them both signed when the Aces were in town a couple of weeks ago along with a couple of other cards of other players for my collection that will be shown later. Gross had moved on to the Phillies by the time Fleer and Donruss rolled around so as far as I know, these are his only Cubs cards. Although, I wouldn't be surprised if he shows up in a SSPC set or oddballs somewhere.
I also sent a few cards of the same guys to another collector in the same area so I'd have a better chance to get more done. Greedy? Maybe just a little. But three isn't too bad. Plus, here on the ATCRCS card, Gross looks a little happier here to be a Cub.
This is the 54th card in my ATCRCS collection and with no other new incoming cards, you'll probably be seeing a few more next week.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Infield

After featuring the bullpen as a group last week, I thought I'd reveal some more customs from the 2013 team set the same way. Today, I'll be showing the starting infield.
I'm not sure Anthony Rizzo has lived up to the hype just yet, but he is clearly the team leader at the plate in terms of run production. Just goes to show you that the pitching staff has to be near perfect in order for this team to thrive.
I've already shown this Darwin Barney card but now that he is back from his Srping Training injury, he is the second baseman of record for the team. His glove has picked up where he left off last season, but his bat needs to catch up.

Luis Valbuena has split time at third with Steve Clevenger (hurt) and Cody Ransom this season. I liked this action shot of him ranging to his left.

Now that Rizzo is locked in long term, he's likely to be fielding crazy throws from shortstop Starlin Castro for most, if not all, of that time. Luckily, it looks like Castro managed to eat this one on a broken up double play rather than throw it away. That's Alfonso Soriano in the background making a cameo while "backing up" the play, like any good outfielder would.

Behind the plate we have Welington Castillo. He's second on the team in batting average among starters behind leadoff hitter, David Dejesus but unfortunately is middle of the pack or towards the bottom in the other offensive categories. He is currently third in the Majors for throwing out baserunners with 11 although the percentage drops him out of the top ten. Guess the Cubs need to give up less base runners...

Sorry for the negativity filling much of this post today but the Cubs just haven't been playing good baseball. Earlier in the season, even though they were still losing, the games were watchable. They even pulled out of last place for a few days. I felt like even if they were behind, there was still a chance to come back. But this week was horrible. Being swept by a division rival is awful. Hopefully we can get some of those back heading into Cincinnati...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

2013 Topps Matt Garza Factory Team Set

Now that Matt Garza is off the disabled list, I had hoped to welcome him back with a win. He pitched well enough in his rehab starts, making two starts apiece at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa with a combined 1.17 ERA and the big league club was on a roll too. The stars were not aligned on Tuesday though. Despite handing the bullpen a 3-0 lead after only giving up one hit and three walk in five scoreless innings of work, the Cubs ultimately fell 5-4 in his return.
Garza was trade bait last season until he landed on the disabled list right before the trade deadline so it's not wonder Topps didn't include Garza in Series 1. His factory team set card shows him in a throwback uniform from the game against the San Francisco Giants on June 2, 2012. This made the original pretty easy to find when sifting through photos from last year.  They could have done a little bit better job on the cropping, even if it meant zooming out a little bit, to get his left elbow in the frame.

Photo by Brad Mangin (courtesy of Getty Images)

While I usually see the appeal in throwback jerseys, I can't say I find this one particularly attractive. Unlike some of the other teams from around the league, I just don't feel nostalgia for this design. Maybe because it preceeds me by a good 65+ years. According to the picture below, these uniforms are from around 1911. Why not go back a couple more years to 1908 when they last won the World Series and maybe try those? Just a thought...
More from my time though, I wouldn't mind seeing the powder blue "pajama" uniforms of the late '70s/early '80s (not shown above). Or even those 1984 pullovers.
Like Tuesday, the Cubs lost the game last year by a run, falling 2-1. See, might as well try a different uniform. Garza pitched 6 innings, gave up both runs, but the Cubs coldn't muster any more runs than a David DeJesus solo home run. On a Tony Campana note that's probably only interesting to me, he was 2-4 in the game with two stolen bases. But when he led off the top of the fourth with a bunt single, he unfortunately was thrown out stealing just before DeJesus's home run. Doh! His second hit of the game and subsequent steals of second and third failed to yield a run.

Garza's Career Chase stat is Nolan Ryan's strikeout record. No danger of that record falling here although he did break into the top 10 in his league in strikeouts in 2009 with the Rays and 2011 with the Cubs.
With Garza's return to the rotation, Carlos Villanueva got bumped to the bullpen. Rumor has it that he also shaved that sweet villainous mustache too. Double whammy.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Blake Parker

Like last week's Brooks Raley cards, this Blake Parker ATCRCS card comes courtesy of some help through

Parker is currently in Iowa with the Cubs Triple-A affiliate where he also spent most of last year. However, he qualifies for an ATCRCS card because he pitched 6 innings over 7 appearances in two different stints with the big league club last season.

After a short stint in late May-early June, he was also recalled towards the end of the year. He pitched in two of three games here in Washington, although not in the game I went to. I was lucky enough to get his custom 2012 team set card signed during that series though. I also have a 2012 Iowa Cubs team set card signed by him.

I read a few weeks ago that Blake Parker became the Iowa Cubs all-time Saves leader with, wait for it...35 career Saves at Iowa. I'll admit I don't follow the minor leagues as much as I could, but for a team as old as the I-Cubs, that seems absurdly for a career leader. I guess if you prove you can do it a couple of times in Iowa, you're ready for the Major League bullpen.

I'm not real active on Twitter but when I signed up, I followed a bunch of Cubs players, Blake Parker being one. I thanked him via Twitter after he signed for me last year and he actually responded, which I thought was kind of cool.

This is the 53rd ATCRCS card I've gotten signed for my collection.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

PWE from 2x3 Heroes

Just the other day I mentioned I was behind on trades with Jeff from 2x3 Heroes and the very next day, I received another PWE from him.

Ah, back when the Cubs were in the N.L. East. Howard Johnson ended up playing for the Cubs in 1995 but that was smack dab in the middle of Ryne Sandberg's first retirement so they were never teammates. Look for more on HoJo in the next week or so. 

Speaking of Ryno, this is one of my favorite Sandberg cards. Two shots of Ryno ranging to his right to field a ground ball and when you flip it over...

...he's finishing the playing, getting the out at first, I'm sure. It's very hard to tell, but I'm hoping that's an Andre Dawson cameo out in right field.

When I break open my repack boxes on Sunday I show off future and former Cubs even though I don't normally keep them for my collection. Aside from my complete sets, my keepers are probably 99% Cubs. This Anthony Rizzo in a Padres uniform will join that other 1%. It's just so sparkly!

And speaking of Rizzo, Jeff threw in this 2013 Opening Day card. I don't know if he checked my want list for it or just put it in the envelope becuase it was a Cub, but I needed it too. I had one already for my Cubs collection, but needed this one for the complete set I'm working on.

Thanks for the bomb, Jeff!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Help! I'm suffocating in cardboard!! (Free cards!)

Those who have been following me for a while, know that I've been busting repacks every Sunday for the last couple of months. I've counted at least a dozen and well, I am at a breaking point.

As I open them, I pull out a bunch to scan for the blog post about them. I separate any obvious trade bait and Cubs while the rest get put into a monster box. The scanned ones join them soon after. It's gone from one box to slowly approaching the need for a fourth.

My organization has fallen so far behind that some of you may have noticed I'm behind on my end of trades as well. Part of me wants to hold off and find something "epic" to put in the envelope, but now I have this monkey on my back and want it gone. So, sometime over the upcoming holiday weekend, I'm going to lock myself into the Mattcave (Man Cave + Bat Cave + my name being Matt = Mattcave), catch up on all my outstanding trades and then randomly unleash some bombs. If we've traded before and I have your address, be prepared. If we haven't and you'd like to be considered, email me your address.

The cards included would be from the various repacks, blaster and packs I've opened over the past year or so that I've been posting on this blog. Yes, there's a lot of junk wax but there's also all kinds of brands, oddballs, some inserts and minis (although hits I'm saving as trade bait), and the years range from early '80s to current stuff. There might even be a few from the '70s for some teams.

I do have a few bloggers in mind for certain teams but by no means should that stop you from putting a request in. There's plenty to go around! Consider them custom repacks! Even fellow Cubs fans, I have plenty of dupes there too.

I thought about listing them on eBay in team lots but have to decided to offer them here first. At this point, I don't even care if I get anything in return. I just want the space back! Whatever isn't claimed by week's end, probably will end up on eBay.

I would guess each team has at least 50 cards, some closer to or even over 100. Some of the newer expansion teams aren't necessarily featured as much in the repacks so they won't be as heavily represented.

I haven't touched Gypsy Queen and Bowman this year as self punishment for falling behind. Please help me free up some room so I can keep buying more!


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Repack Sunday!

This week's repack box is courtesy of Target. There were several different options, including some similar to last week's box from Five Below, but for a dollar more. There were also a couple of the repacks in the hard plastic cases like this one from several weeks ago.

Since I went a little less expensive last week, I decided to go over budget this week and pick up this one:

You can see in the upper right hand corner, it was $14.99. This one was the only one of it's kind left and I have thing for last ones. This also had a hard plastic case and boasted one complete set, one hobby pack and one game used card. This left about 100 random cards in the pack as well.

The complete set was a 1990 Score Rookie and Traded set. A quick eBay seach puts this at a value of just a few bucks, probably around $5-6 if you include shipping, so not a very big coup there. As far as Cubs go in this set, there's Bill Long, Shawn Boskie & Hector Villanueva. Yeah.

I do vaguely remember the Eric Lindros card being a big deal when the set came out, but probably couldn't get a quarter for it now. 

Even with all that negativity, I'm a big fan of Score products. Bright colorful borders, color photos on both sides. What's not to like? Someday I may even put together the entire run of sets so I'll be sitting on this until then. 

The hobby pack was 2003 Flair. The odds of 1:5 packs containing a memorabilia card seem pretty good for back then. Heck, it sounds good now. But, alas, no luck here.

Sean Burroughs, Scott Rolen, Omar Vizquel
Jason Kendall, Joe Borchard
Actually, the most interesting part of the pack to me was the checklist they included because it showed the "Future Fame" subset list. I'm guessing these were prospects and its always neat to me to look at who panned out and who didn't. Ten years later, how many of these guys do you recognize? You should be able to click on it to get a zoomed in view.

Speaking of guys who may or may not have made, among the miscellaneous cards were these minor leaguers. 

Rob Richie made a brief appearance on the Detroit Tigers roster towards the end of the 1989 season, playing in 19 games. Vince Harris never managed to crack a Major League roster, spending 11 seasons in the White Sox, Padres and Mets systems.

Also a couple of more recent hopefuls:

Wendell Fairley was the Giants 1st Round pick in 2007. Last year he was with their double-A affiliate but was recently released in spring training. I couldn't find anything saying he had signed anywhere else yet. Kyle Lotzkar was also a 2007 draft pick, but with the Reds. He is currently pitching for their double-A affiliate, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Previously starting 65 of his 68 career appearances, Lotzkar has come out of the bullpen in all 10 of his games this season.

If all of that extra information doesn't lead you to believe there wasn't much else special about this repack, I'm not sure what else I can do. There were a few other interesting cards but not much. Here are the oldest and newest cards in the pack.


1985 Topps All-Star Rich "Goose" Gossage, 2010 Topps Chrome Mike Leake

Some other cards of note:
Loved these art cards back in the day

Eric Davis in an unfamiliar uniform. I knew he bounced around a little after leaving Cincinnati but I totally forgot about his stop in Detroit. Hard to believe they found four photos to use of Davis in a Tigers uniform on just one card!

Honest to goodness, I really did find this 1993 Upper Deck Orestes Destrade card interesting. First off, it's a  1993 card, the first year the Marlins existed, so I don't know where the photo came from. Way too much to photoshop. Spring training? According to the stats and blurb on the back, he had one career home run before heading to Japan for three seasons, in which he lead the Japanese League in home runs all three seasons, all right around 40. The photo on the front looks like Destrade just passed the third base coach while rounding the bases on one of his 20 home runs that year. Also on the back, Destrade is signing autographs.

In previous repacks, I've gotten duplicates cards before. Two cards exactly the same. Probably just a collating thing. But in this one, I noticed a more-than-usual phenomenon of same player, different cards. Of the, literally, thousands of players to choose from, I got two different cards of these four players. It just seemed weird since there were only about 100 cards.

On to the former Cubs and Cubs.

Gary Gaetti seems to appear in these repacks quite often. Probably because he played quite a bit during the junk wax era. Lee Smith as an Oriole still seems weird. And a somewhat smaller Rafael Palemeiro with the Rangers.

I didn't mean to crop the Bielecki and Pico so tight because you can't really tell what horrible condition they actually came in. The left edge of the Bielecki and top edge of the Pico were just awful. Probably more noticeable because of the black edges, but just awful. And these weren't even the worst two in the repack. Considering how good the cards from the '60s and '70s I got last week, I was kind of surprised at the quality of the late '80s/early '90s card I got this week.

On the other hand, the Terry Francona below ended up being an upgrade to the one I had.

You may have thought I forgot about the game used card but I didn't. I figured I'd save it for those who stuck around through all the babble about a bad bunch of cards, haha. If it couldn't be a Cub, it may as well be someone from the team of a fellow blogger I'm currently indebted to, trade-wise. This one will be heading out to Jeff of 2 by 3 Heroes fame.