Thursday, October 31, 2013

2013 Topps Update Scott Hairston

Back-to-back Scott Hairston posts. Don't worry, there's a method to the madness.

Yesterday, I showed off my Hairston ATCRCS card, but I'm still trying to figure out which Series 2 Cubs cards I need to break down before I get to the Update cards. When I came across another card from my parallel pickup the other day, I knew I wanted to look into it as well.

You got Hairston's history with the team yesterday, so today, let's just look at the card.

These red teams look pretty good framed in the Wal-Mart blue. I would have preferred Hairston zoomed out just a smidge more to get some of the bat in there, rather than cut off part of his hands, but otherwise nice selection on the photo.

I like how it appears that the older fan underneath Hairston's left elbow looks like he's wearing a Smurf hat.

I'm no expert on the Nationals uniforms but I think it looks pretty good. And I say that because this is actually Hairston's Halloween costume....

Photo by Scott Cunningham (courtesy of Getty Images)

It started off as a Cubs uniform! I'm a little dissapointed to not get a Hairston Cubs card when it was very possible (more on that when I eventually get to the Update Cubs). No Series 1 (set released before Hairston signed), no Factory Team set (probably same issue), no Series 2 (best option) and now, no Update.

So how about the game? If Hairston was a Cub, it had to have been fairly early in the season since he was traded in early July. The Cubs were still in it back then, right?

The caption on Getty Images dates the photo back to April 7, 2013 in a game against the Atlanta Braves. A quick search on Baseball Reference gives me the boxscore.

Scrolling down and it looks like Hairston pinch hit for a pinch hitter. Say what?

Well with two outs in the top of the 7th, Braves starter Tim Hudson walked third baseman Luis Valbuena. The next batter, second baseman Alberto Gonzalez (remember when Darwin Barney was hurt at the beginning of the year?) popped up to his Braves counterpart but it resulted in an E4.

Now with runners on 2nd and 3rd, Steve Clevenger is announced as a pinch hitter for Cubs relief pitcher, Michael Bowden. The Braves make a move on their end, relieving Tim Hudson with Luis Avilan. The Cubs pull Clevenger back and send in Scott Hairston instead.

Hairston proceeded to hit a ground ball to third baseman Juan Francisco who threw to second to get the force out and end the inning. With a 2-0 count and no other at bats in the game, this photo appears to have been taken during that ground ball.

The Cubs would lose the game 5-1 and drop to 2-4 on the young season.

I forgot how fun these were to do. I can't wait to dive into the rest of the actual Cubs cards!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Scott Hairston

Scott Hairston became the fifth of baseball playing Hairstons to play for a Chicago team when he signed with the Cubs as a free agent in February and made the team out of Spring Training. He joins his brother, Jerry Jr and uncle, John as North Siders, while father, Jerry Sr. and grandfather Sam were South Siders. Amongst them, they played for 14 different teams. Or you know, one more than Octavio Dotel did by himself.

Scott played the role of fourth outfielder for the Cubs, starting about half of his 52 games played, while coming off the bench the other half. He was one of sixteen players on the Cubs that played in more than 50 games. I haven't compared that with other teams but even with a team record 56 players used over the course of the season, that seems crazy high.

He was traded to the Washington Nationals in early July for a minor league pitcher and a player to be named later. The minor league pitcher was Ivan Pineyro, who went 3-1 with a 3.40 ERA in 8 starts for the Daytona Cubs (High Single-A) after the trade. As far as I can tell, the player to be named later hasn't been named.

Just like I knew you wanted more Keith Moreland last week, come back tomorrow as I have a followup on Hairston!

This card was signed as part of the large group that I sent out to Seattle when the Cubs visited the Mariners in late June. Had I known he would come play for the local MLB team, I probably would have held on to it and tried to get it done myself. He was more than accomodating when the Cubs came through DC to play the Nats in May and I got my 2013 team set card signed.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Trade Bait - 2013 Topps Update Parallels

I recently picked up my Cubs team set from the 2013 Topps Update release. The same seller had a small lot of Gold, Emerald and Wal-mart Blue parallels that happened to include a couple of Cubs ending shortly after. So since combined shipping was minimal, I placed a bid and came away the winner on both lots.

Having the Cubs team set in hand reminded me I never finished breaking down the Series 2 Cubs cards. I will pick that up later this week so I can dive right in to Update.

And after cherry picking the two Cubs cards from the parallel lot, I'm offering the rest up to anybody who wants them. I don't need anything in return but I am looking for the rest of the Cubs gold and all of the Cubs Walmart parallels from update if you happen to have any. I picked up an emerald team set already so I'm good there.

In case you can't read the foil, the emeralds are Maicer Izturis, Maicer Izturis and Randy Choate. Yes, two Izturis cards, that's not a bad upload.

These gold cards are all numbered out of 2013, which I forgot to jot down before filing them away and writing this post. A nice play at the plate on the Marlon Byrd. At first glance I thought he was out and that was a crappy thing for Topps to do to Byrd. But when I scanned the card and had a larger version of it in front of me, you can set the ball is right in front of the "M" in the Mets logo on Byrd's jersey. So probably safe. Unless Miguel Montero is a helluva plate blocker. And speaking of Byrd, I have the blue Wal-Mart parallel too...

And a few more blues available...

Let me know if you need/want any of these (aside from the two gold Cubs, of course).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Darrin Jackson

 OK, so as I was going through my draft folder of potential ATCRCS cards to write about and I came across one more former Cub/current announcer with Darrin Jackson. That's it, I swear. Although I'm sure there are others, I just don't have them.


Jackson was drafted by the Cubs in the 2nd round of the 1981 amateur draft. Their first round pick that year? Another guy I've already had sign his ATCRCS card, Joe Carter.

Jackson made his MLB debut in 1985, playing in 5 games. He got into 7 more in 1987 but broke through in 1988 to play an even 100 as the 4th-5th outfielder.

In 1989, he was one of the Boys of Zimmer until being traded to the San Diego Padres in late August.

After retiring, Jackson became the color analyst for White Sox games, partnering with "Hawk" Harrelson. Eventually, he was replaced by Steve Stone on TV but moved to radio, alonside Ed Farmer.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sandberg Sunday - Cut to the Chase Coaster

Early on in the blog when I wasn't entirely sure what to write about, Sandberg Sundays were used as a crutch to help start off my week. It has been a while since I whipped one out but thanks to P-Town Tom from Waiting 'Til Next Year, it was time to dust the concept off. And not just as a crutch, but to show off a really neat piece of Sandberg memorabilia. I can't be entirely sure, but it might even be a 1/1!

A while back Tom posted a crafty project that turned a regular baseball card into a functional part of the mancave, a coaster. I don't consider myself a crafty person so even if this is easy, I would probably go through a packs worth of cards to make something a tenth as good as the one Tom sent me. And he used a die cut insert card of my all time favorite player to boot!
Ryne Sandberg Coaster
It even has a felt backing so my fancy schmancy Ikea mancave furniture doesn't get scratched. And even though I'm not a glitter guy, it does give it a nice touch and comes up all sparkly like. I wouldn't mind pulling one of these as an insert!

Now the only decision is do I actually use it as a coaster? Or display it Han Solo-in-carbonite style ala Jabba the Hut? Hmmm...

Thanks again, Tom!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Goody Package from P-Town Tom!

I've said it before. It's a little more difficult to work out a trade with someone who likes the same team as you. But P-Town Tom of Waiting 'Til Next Year makes it look easy.

I think the Cubs had more players on their roster this year than I had unique 2013 Cubs cards. And Tom's been paying attention to the blog because he seemed to know that with the selection of cards he sent.

Right after the Heritage set came out is about when I more or less tapped out on 2013 cards for the year. Yep, that early. Flagship Series 1, Opening Day, Heritage, tap out. I had picked up a Cubs team set and that was good enough for me. But after busting the blaster from my Fantasy League winnings and looking over what I had already had from when it was released, these extra Cubs are the tipping point for me pushing through to finish the set.

One set that I didn't touch this year was Archives. I take that back. I did pick up some of the Wrigley Field giveaways that were also branded Archives, and I did pick up some inserts at a card show, but no packs or any of the base cards. So these four are new to me!

A set that I really liked from last year was the mini version of the Topps flagship. This year's set has flown under my radar as I have just caught a few mentions here and there. So these three are definitely new to me as well.

Another set that I probably would have picked up eventually was Bowman Platinum. I'm so out of the loop on this set I don't even know how complete of a team set this is. But four prospects is a nice pickup!

And last (for the cards) is a nice 2012 Peoria Chiefs team set. These might be fun to do a "Where Are They Now?" type feature like I did for Pro Debut in a year or two. I recognized a couple of names from Pro Debut, Bowman Prospects and Heritage Minors releases but I pulled two names of note for the top.

Javier Baez is a top prospect, not just for the Cubs but all of baseball. and Chiefs Manager, Casey Kopitzke is actually a former Major League Cubbie as well.

There was one other nice surprise in the package but I'm going to give it its own post tomorrow. As a tease/hint, let's just say I'll be bringing back an old theme in Sandberg Sunday...

Thanks Tom!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bob Scanlan

I didn't really think about it at the start of the week but it came together nicely. After showing Keith Moreland on Monday and Steve Stone on Wednesday, I realized I had another former Cub-turned-announcer in Bob Scanlan.

Scanlan was drafted out of high school by the Phillies in 1984. He worked his way up the minor league system but didn't make his Major League debut until 1991, when the phillies traded him and Chuck McElroy to the Cubs in exchange for Mitch Williams.

Mainly used as a middle reliever, Scanlan went 14-19 with a 3.75 ERA in his Cubs tenure. That's probably better than average for the team Cubs teams he played for as he pitched three seasons in the midst of four consecutive 4th place NL East finishes.

His post-Cubs career is better summed up from his own website biography, so I'll finish up with Scanlan is currently a color analyst for radio broadcasts of San Diego Padres games.

When the ATCRCS card above was signed (with a little help from a member), I also sent in two of his Topps cards for my collection. 

Some of you may notice a 1991 Topps card and are thinking, why didn't he send in a Desert Shield card?!? Well, that particular card is from the Topps Traded set and thus not a part of the Desert Shield set. Oh well! Still a nice trio of pickups.

The ATCRCS card marks the 90th one I've shown off here on the blog. I have about twenty more currently signed but that puts me a far cry from the goal of 200 I set at the beginning of the year. It might be a long offseason of TTM letter writing!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

2013 Topps Heritage Blaster

My second selection among the prize pool for my Fantasy Blaster/Blogger League was 2013 Topps Heritage.

As with the Gypsy Queen from earlier in the week, I realize doing a break is about 6 months too late so I'm only showing the non base cards. Everything is up for grabs so let me know if you need/want something or want me to take a look at your want list for the base cards.

Since this year's Heritage set mimicks the 1964 Topps set, the Flashback inserts pull topics from 1964 headlines. I pulled two, presidential election coverage and one that talks about Juan Marichal pitching back to back shutouts.

This Then & Now card lets you know (on the back) that Whitey Ford and Felix Hernandez are comparable in Shutouts. Felix Hernandez leds the Majors with 5 in 2012 and Whitey Ford Dean Chance led with 11 in 1964. Whitey Ford had 8. Guess Topps was short on Yankees inserts...

I don't know what a New Age Performer is. Isn't that like crystals and horoscopes and tarot cards and stuff like that?

I did pull four Cubs out of the box, something that would have made this box a success earlier in the year. But unlike Qypsy Queen where I didn't buy any, I actually already picked up a Cubs team set when this was released.

And last, and certainly least, the blue Wal-mart parallel that I was supposed to get. I don't think I could have gotten a worse card from the set. Not only is he a NL Central rival, but arguably one of the top 3 hated players in baseball right now.

This probably would have been a decent pull at the beginning of the season and gone for a couple of bucks towards recouping the blaster cost, but without looking, I'd say it'll cost more to ship than I'd get for it.

I haven't seen what the others have pulled yet and for all I know, they struck gold. But after two fairly disappointing blasters myself, I'm rethinking the Fantasy League for next year. Six-plus months is a long time to wait for something bound to lose value the further from the release date it gets (unless of course you get the one on a million blaster). I'd love to hear any opinions from those who participated on how to change things a little. And even from those who didn't but followed along. What would make you join next year?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Steve Stone

So I'll follow up Monday's ATCRCS post on current Cubs radio announcer, Keith Moreland, with a former Cubs TV announcer, Steve Stone. I did like Len & Bob together and I think Len & JD did a pretty good job this past season, especially given the product they had to promote.

But my entire childhood Cubs fandom was dictated by Harry Caray and Steve Stone. From the time I became a Cubs fan in the early 1980's through my high school years of the mid 1990's, there was not much else as important to me as Cubs baseball. As a young boy, I missed out on many of your stereotypical "boys" things because of it. I never got into cars & trucks or dinosaurs or comic books. I was about 90% sports, with a little bit of Star Wars thrown in. During that time, I watched a LOT of WGN. I may be misremembering exactly but I seem to recall a lot of Gilligan's Island, Lassie, and Dennis the Menace reruns either while waiting for Cubs games to start or immediately following the game. And during that time, Caray and Stone were the voices of Cubs baseball.

Even as a kid, I could tell how ridiculous Caray could be. Sometimes, I swear you could hear Stone rolling his eyes at the things Caray was saying. And even though he could come off as a little snarky, you couldn't really hate Stone for how hard he could be on the Cubs, because he was usually right. I don't follow the White Sox so unfortunately, I have not kept up with his transition to the South Side.

When I sent this card out to be signed with some help from a member, I was warned that Stone will often personalize. I have no intention of ever trying to sell my ATCRCS collection so I don't have a problem with that at all.

With that said, I am a little annoyed with how it turned out.

The personalization is fine. The signature is fine. The placement though is unfortunate. Rather than sign across his chest, Stone went with an upwards slant, with the personalization going right across his face. This scan actually makes it look better than it is. But that is one of the perils of in-person 'graphing, you get what you get.

I don't know that I'll actively seek out a replacement, but if I happen to see him making a paid public appearance (where he doesn't personalize), I may have to participate.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

2013 Gypsy Queen Blaster

I know I'm about six months late breaking one of these open but its been sitting in my house just as long because it was one of the prizes in my Fantasy Baseball Blaster League. Everybody should have their prizes by now so I thought I'd go ahead and post one of mine.

Before this blaster, I opened exactly zero Gypsy Queen this year. I barely even remembered the inserts from blog posts all those months ago. And after double checking, I didn't even pick up a Cubs team set this year. I have a couple through trades but I'm going to have to find the checklist to see who I'm missing.

Anyway, I didn't scan the base cards because you've probably seen them all. If you want me to check out your want lists, let me know. I won't be collecting this set aside from Cubbies so I don't need them. But I will show the inserts because I don't need these either. Some may be earmarked for some of my regular trade partners but by now, they may already have picked them up. So if you want them, let me know.

First up, we have the minis. These were one per pack. A couple big names.

Overall, I probably would have been much more impressed with this box back in April or whenever it came out. Now, at the end of the season, when the Cubs have long been eliminated and MLB is about to show reruns of the 2007 World Series, I might just be ready for winter. How long until pitchers and catchers report?

Almost for got the highlights from the box, the Cubbies!

I don't think Brett Jackson would have made the cut for set inclusion in hindsight but still two nice additions to the collection. I still have another blaster to open and post about as part of my winnings. Here's hoping the other winners had a little better luck.