Monday, March 31, 2014

How'd That Get There?! Part 2

As some of you know, I’ve been slowly adding my collection to Zistle. Last week I ran a post call How’d That Get There that featured a pair of cards that made me do a double take and ask myself why they were in my collection.  As you can probably tell by the title, I found another couple. I don’t know that this will be recurring theme, especially once I get through entering my cards but I can at least get a few more posts out of it. Maybe I should have called it My Non-Cubs Cubs Cards.

This is probably one of the more well-known error cards. Or maybe that’s the Cubs bias talking. And that late 1980’s, early 1990’s was my heyday for collecting as a kid.

Keith Comstock is clearly in a Seattle Mariners uniform. He never played for the Cubs so this isn’t some last minute “Traded” card. This is just a flat out mistake by somebody at Topps. One that was eventually corrected.

A card I do not have in my collection
Because it’s an error, it generally doesn’t show up in Cubs team sets, but it will stay in my collection. In fact, I’m almost, kind of, sort of on the look out to add one to my Desert Shield Cubs team set. Maybe. We’ll see.

And for the curious, here’s the back:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Break Loot from the Sky Box Part 1

A few weeks back I ran a contest to promote my new blog. The winner, Chris from View from the Sky Box was new to me so after checking out his blog, I saw he was running a multiple branded group break. I love the idea behind group breaks but as a team collector with a pretty sizable collection, unless the product is brand new or potentially loaded with Cubs hits, its hard for me to pull the trigger.

With that said, the selection Chris was offering was pretty amazing. It's like he saw the holes in my collection and specifically picked boxes that would fill them. Apparently he was having a hard time filling the break but like I said, his blog was new to me and I joined when I saw it.

I'm going to start with the newest and work my way backwards, spreading this out over a couple of posts.

Of the three team bags full of Cubs cards, the three Archives from 2013 were part of maybe a ten card group that I already had in my collection. But with a three card team set, that's hard to avoid. Remakes of card sets I grew up with, these will stay in my extras collection that I keep for potential autograph opportunities. The 2013 Cubs roster didn't have many potentially long term players on it so I can understand how card companies would have trouble deciding who to include beyond the big three. 

Speaking of which, Panini selected the same three for their 2013 Triple Play release. These three cards were all new to me. Call me cheap but I didn't buy any packs and didn't want to pay $3.00 shipping for a three card team set that would cost me a buck. I figured somewhere along the way I'd end up picking these up in a trade or from a dime box but now I can cross them off my list.

More to come in future posts. Thanks, Chris, for the break!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Gift of Heritage

My wife generally toes the indifference line when it comes to my collection. She won’t tag along to a card show but she doesn’t give me crap about my collection either. But it still surprised me when she came home from the store the other day and tossed a rack pack of 2014 Heritage my way. She said she hadn’t seen these before and knew I was saving “my” money for the card show (and maybe recovering my hard drive) so she picked one up for me. Nice! I love opening packs.

A lot of bloggers are going gaga over the set, which is fine with me. I don’t have any kind of attachment to the original set but I can see why people like it. Personally, I prefer action shots but since poses and head shots are kind of the hallmark of a set like Heritage, it doesn’t bother me. I also like to collects autographs and a nonglossy set like Heritage is perfect for that. Except for those previous mentioned head shots. Look at the Shin-Soo Choo or Zack Wheeler cards below as an example. They’d have to sign right over their face like they’re Steve Stone or something. So aside from the Cubs and the Ryne Sandberg card, I won’t be chasing anything else.

Without further ado, here are the twenty cards from my pack.

Ross Detwiler, Edward Mujica, Ross Ohlendorf
Wade Miley, Shin-Soo Choo, Chase Headley
Jim Johnson, Rickie Weeks, Zack Wheeler
Corey Hart, Mike Zunino, Nate Eovaldi
Chris Johnson, Jimmy Rollins, Yoenis Cespedes
Ethan Martin, Cameron Rupp, Buddy Boshers, Matt Shoemaker
New Age Performer Carlos Gonzalez
Ernie Banks Flashbacks
Logan Watkins, Abraham Almonte
I am definitely quite pleased that 10% of my cards were Cubs. And to get two that wouldn’t necessarily be included in a standard team set (an insert and a dual team rookie) is even better.

Those two cards have been added to my 2014 Cubs tab up above. And aside from the other two horizontal rookie cards, the others are up from grabs. I know, the base cards aren't a real exciting giveaway, but if you’re putting together the set, they could help someone.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Just as Robert is about to hit 1000 posts over $30 a Week Habit, I realized I too was approaching a milestone. If I recall correctly, Robert was my first official follower here at Once a Cub and was also involved in one of my first trades as a member of the blogosphere. Here I am now, almost two years later and this is post #500 for me. And don't forget Robert's brand new blog, Just Another Hockey (Card) Blogcheck it out now!

I try to post just about every day but a couple of extended breaks brings my average down to just above 5 posts per week. Still not too shabby. At the time, I didn't know if there was room for another Cubs specific blog but Ive been made to feel most welcome. So much so that I recently expanded into a second blog myself.

Thanks to everybody who follows one or both of my blogs. I know the cool thing to say is I don’t care how many views or comments a post gets and I write this for myself, blah blah blah. But in reality, I love getting a comment notification email or seeing a new follower pop up every once in a while.

I’m trying to get better about that myself. I've been chiming in a little more lately instead of lurking and I just sent out a bunch of emails the past few days asking for addresses or confirming old ones with previous trade partners. A couple of you I couldn't find emails for in your profiles so be on the lookout for comments on your blog. If you feel overlooked, maybe I haven’t found your blog yet, so drop me a line and let me know you’re out there!

It seems a little silly for me to have another contest so soon after I just had one so I’m going to wait a little closer to my actual two year blog-aversary next month. But since I  know a lot of you just like to look at the pretty pictures and skip past the words, here’s the closest thing I could find to tie in to 500.

Asterisk or not, the only two players with 500+ home runs as a Cub

More specifically, a little less controversial, here's an Ernie Banks piece.

Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks hit 512 home runs during his career. Maybe I should have saved this for post #512?

Somebody a little more knowledgeable than me might be able to speak to the distribution but I believe these were gas station (Unocal) giveaways back in the Chicago area in the mid 1980’s. They are printed on 8 ½ x 11 magazine-type glossy paper. I have several in the series but I’m not sure exactly how many there are. This one was signed a couple years back and just recently resurfaced among my belongings. The back has a long blurb that you should be able to click on to enlarge and read the whole thing.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Backside Appreciation Part 3

It's been a long time since I did one of these so I'll link the first two parts so you can get some background information.

In a nutshell, I take a quick look at the less commonly seen part of a baseball card, the backside. It could be something informative that caught my eye in a blurb. It could be funny. It could just be a really nice layout.

Today's candidate falls into the funny category. Or at least I thought so.

1999 Topps #23 Mickey Morandini
I'll shamefully admit when I first saw the card, my thoughts involved revving a motorcycle and some horrible boxing before I came to the realization that Mickey Morandini was probably about to give an un-pictured teammate a double fist bump.

A lot of baseball fans will probably associate Morandini with the Phillies teams of the early 1990's with Lenny Dykstra, John Kruk, Darren Daulton, Mitch Williams, etc. This was a mullet sporting, tobacco chewing, scrappy ballclub. But until Darwin Barney came along, Morandini was probably the only post-Ryne Sandberg second base for the Cubs I could more than just tolerate. That gritty style of baseball carried over to his time with the Cubs as you can see a dirty uniform in the photo above and down below on the front on the card.

And if you look at the statistics on the back, you can see his offense even improved after joining the Cubs. The 1998 Cubs were pretty solid so he did get a little help with careers highs in those Runs and RBI totals, but then again, so were the early 90's Phillies teams he was a part of.

It might be a fuzzy memory, but Morandini just seems like one of those guys that always had pretty cool looking cards. Whether he was turning double plays on defense or sliding in a cloud of dust like the card above. And even the time he snapped into a Slim Jim. Oh yeeeeaaahhhhh!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How'd That Get There?!

As I've been working my way through my Cubs collection and adding it to my Zistle account, I came across a pair of cards that don't really belong. One of them, I know what I was thinking, the other, not so much. Let's start with the latter.

1960 Topps Jim Marshall
Actually, I know how it got there. When sorting through a vintage box a few years back at a card show, I looked at the main picture, saw the Cubs hat that didn't get airbrushed out and paid absolutely no attention to Red Sox logo, the team name or the black and white photo on the left. So much for cardboard appreciation, huh?

As a lefty when I'm shuffling through cards, I hold the stack in my left hand and fan/thumb them into my right. For effect, this is essentially what I saw:

When sorting through a box of quarter vintage, details just get in the way.

I haven't decided what to do with it yet. It doesn't belong in my Cubs collection. And not that a 1960 Jim Marshall is a goldmine or anything, but can I justify having vintage in my niche, horizontal collection? I mean, that's just for fun, right?  I imagined it as a dime box collection, not something that could potentially fetch paper money. Even if its just a George Washington or maybe a Thomas Jefferson. Does anybody have a "serious" card in their fun, niche collection? Or does that bump into a different collection?

The funny thing about the Red Sox, is that Marshall didn't even end up playing for them. According to Baseball-Reference, the Cubs traded him to Boston following the 1959 season. And the Red Sox traded him before the 1960 season started. Twice.

Click to enlarge
Sorry, I can't make that any bigger without it cutting into my right column.

Next up is this 1978 Al Dark card.
1978 Topps Alvin Dark
I definitely added this one on purpose. Technically, this is a Padres card and doesn't show up on any Cubs team checklists. But Al(vin) Dark is right there, in black and white, in a Cubs uniform. This isn't a "Traded" card where they just didn't have him in a new uniform. This is like a "Then & Now" card. That's good enough for me. If Topps reintroduced this design and had Ryne Sandberg on the left as a Cub and as the Phillies manager on the right, I'd add that one too. But that's not a great example, because I collect anything Sandberg.

Fine. I'd do the same for Terry Francona (Indians), Joe Girardi (Yankees), Lloyd McClendon (Mariners), or even Bo Porter (Astros) too. Holy cow, what are these other teams thinking with all these ex-Cubs at the helm?!

Anyway, since I keep my cards in player order, not team set order, this one fits in just fine my other, "real" Al Dark Cubs card.

1959 Topps Al Dark

Monday, March 24, 2014

Let Our Powers Combine!

What do these three cards have in common?

No, they didn't summon Captain Planet.

Instead, along with a quick image search, they combined to create the super duper short print missing from the 2014 Opening Day Mascots set.

The border and logos come from the Darwin Barney card. The Orioles Bird contributed the position (mascot) designation. And Nick Franklin is an anagram for "Clark Knifinn" but I just used the letters to spell Clark.

The photo was borrowed from Clark's Twitter feed (@ClarktheCub) when he posed with Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks at the Cubs Convention back in January.

Love him or hate him, Clark will be around for at least this year and that means probable inclusion in the 2015 set. In the meantime, the Cubs are now not shut out of the Opening Day insert sets.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Some Loose Ends (and a Contest Winner)

I kind of got a mixture of things going on and none of them really deserve their own write-up so this might be kind of a disjointed post.

I updated my 2014 Cubs tab up at the top to include the two Opening Day Cubs cards I pulled from my blasters. As far as 2014 cards of Cubs go, if it isn't there, I don't have it and as far as I know, its not on the way to me. I do have a couple mystery trade packages on the way but don't let that stop you from offering something up. I held back from buying any Heritage and Donruss knowing that I'll be going to a card show in two weeks. 

With that said, I did blow $20 on two blasters of Opening Day the other day because I knew I would be trying to complete that set to complement my 2014 Blog with the Mascot insert set and to see if there were any photo changes from Series 1. I've added a tab at the top with my Want List from that set, so any help would be appreciated.

I've been adding my niche collections to Zistle to make it easier to keep track of what I have. My Horizontal and Ivy collections are up to date but the general Cubs collection is a work in progress. I was going to add it line by line from my Excel file, but I have decided to do it card by card instead. It will be slower, but I'm hoping to have a fresher memory of my "haves" for when I go to the card show. I'll also be more confident adding it to the online collection if I've physically seen it recently as opposed to on a spreadsheet I've built over the past couple of years. I'd love to work out some more trades this year than I have in the past, so check out my collections here. You can browse through the list or search for a specific card. I've also added links in the right hand column near the top for easy access once this post drops down from newer posts.

Speaking of niches, there's not much of a point in hoarding collecting something and not being able to show it off, so I'm thinking of adding special posts for them. Either one day a week I'll show my newest/favoritist additions or maybe doing a second post every day in the evening to show off a random one. I'll work out the details. Here's one now from my Opening Day blasters that I think is a sneak peak at Series 2.

The catcher is former Cub (current at the time of this photo), Dioner Navarro. I don't see the ball in this picture so I'm going to assume it's already in Navarro's glove. Look for that joke again when I get around to breaking this card down in Series 2!

For a lot of brands, I just buy the Cubs team set. Previously, when I bought packs with no intention of building the set or repacks, I would generally sort into two piles, the Cubs and the non-Cubs (trade pile). Starting the 2014 Topps blog and branching out from my Cubs-only collection with a couple of niche collections have both been real eye opening experiences. Breaking down each card has made me notice a lot of things I would just skip past before. And when I asked last week what other mini collections my fellow bloggers had, I was amazed at all of the variety.

While working through the equivalent of a monster box worth of repack cards, I pulled stacks of cards that met these requirements that I had casually tossed aside as non-Cubs. Many of these cards I've seen dozens of times over the years, but I never really looked at them.

Here are a few examples.

A very small sampling of double plays
Bunters, including HOFers
Cards with batting doughnuts
Players being interviewed
Signing autographs. A frickin' bird. Bunting while blowing a bubble.
Throwbacks. Grips. Rookies. Jersey numbers. The list went on and on. 

Some of these cards I'm even tempted to keep for myself, but that is a slippery slope into a collecting nightmare that I don't think I'd recover from. So horizontal cards and cards that show Wrigley Field's ivy covered walls in the background are all I'm looking for. And Cubs in general. The sooner the rest leave my house and are out of sight, out of mind, the better.

Which brings me to the contest. Stealing an idea from JediJeff over at 2x3 Heroes, I'm actually going to announce two winners. The first one after the list has been generated 3 times will get a niche lot and the last in the list gets a team lot. Thanks to everybody who has supported the blog (either or both).

Congratulations go to petethan (niche lot) and Chunter (team lot)! I'll send an email to get your addresses as I don't think we've traded before. And that was the whole point of this contest! Nice!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Some 2014 Opening Day on Opening Day 2014

Thanks to those who answered my last call for the Fantasy Draft yesterday. Who's ready for some baseball?

And speaking of last calls, I'm making one more for the contest I announced last week since the entries have pretty much stopped. I'll announce a winner tomorrow so the deadline is midnight tonight, EST. Just leave a comment on this post if you haven't already.

In anticipation of sitting through two drafts and watching a little NCAA wrestling (basketball? pffffft) on ESPN last night, I hit my local red big box store on my way home from work. Unlike earlier in the week when I only walked away with a repack, this time they finally had the Heritage, Donruss and Opening Day.

But I'm already over the first two and will only be looking to add Cubs from those sets to my collection (or any horizontal and ivy cards). Oh, and if somebody has a spare Ryne Sandberg card from Heritage, I'm looking for one of those, too! Apparently he's a little more worthy than the Cubs new manager, Rick Renteria as Wrigley Wax pointed out this morning with a great post.

As you may have guessed by the title, I did in fact pick up some 2014 Opening Day, two blasters to be exact. I know the complaints about it being mostly a rehash of the flagship Series 1, but for the price point and the stuff that is new, I'm a fan.

When people talk about kids being priced out of the hobby, I think about when I was a kid and there were really only three sets. And then Score. And finally Upper Deck, for a buck a pack (those were the days), was going to price kids out of the hobby. For some of you, there was just one brand. Why do today's kids need more than that? I think Opening Day is a perfectly good option to go along with other brands like Triple Play.

I've collected the base set since 2010 and the Cubs from previous seasons, but never really collected the inserts aside from the Cubs. After starting the 2014 Topps Blog though, I think I'm going to chase the mascots and break them down as well since they share the same basic design template. These were inserted at a 1:5 ratio and I got the four I should have gotten. The missing fourth was an Orioles Bird duplicate that is available for trade. Next year, this set should grow by one as Clark, the Cubs new mascot will probably get a card.

The Between Innings inserts are a little tougher to pull at a 1:36 ratio. If they weren't, I might consider building this set too. I don't know much about stadium entertainment, so I think it would interesting to learn a little more about them by breaking these cards down. Maybe when the prices come down a bit and I've run out of mascots.

I wasn't sure how I felt about these Breaking Out cards. They're a little gaudy for my taste, but I can see how others would like them. The Harper was the first one I pulled so I thought it was a young guys set until I pulled the other three, more established stars. I didn't scan the backs of these and I wish I did because that is what sold me on this set. The blurb ties in the Opening Day theme by recapping the first Opening Day game by the player depicted. Last year, Harper homered twice in a 2-0 victory over the Marlins on Opening Day. Jay Bruce had a double and threw David Wright out at the plate in 2009. You get the point. 

Long time readers of the blog may recall my custom PASS design. The earliest cards from that set featured Cubs players showing emotion like those in this Fired Up set. I love the idea behind the set but the Fired Up graphic is engulfed in flames and too difficult to read. Great idea for an insert, mediocre on the execution. In case you can't read the names, I pulled Jason Kipnis, Jon Lester, Matt Kemp and Sergio Romo. 

I probably should have taken a picture f these 3D Opening Day Stars but I scanned them instead. I could take or leave this set as it's been done before. And by that, I mean if there were Cubs, I would take them and leave the rest. I ended up with five of these when I was only supposed to get four, but pulled a duplicate of the Carlos Gonzalez. All of them are available except for the Bryce, which goes to my son.

Another set that was pretty cool when it came out is Superstar Celebrations but with the addition of similar themed cards in the flagship base set, these may have run their course. Unless, by chance there's a Cub and I'd add that one. All of these are available, including a duplicate of the Justin Upton.

The Billy Butler is earmarked for Chris from View from the Skybox as he collects Royals and blue bordered cards but the rest of these blue parallels are available until he speaks up for them.

And finally, we get to the base cards. I'll tease and say there are some good looking Series 2 sneak previews but I haven't had a chance to scan all of them yet. I did get extremely lucky and managed to avoid any duplicates here and am more than halfway to completing the set. I probably won't take any chances on another blaster so I'll put up a want list soon.

I haven't even looked at the full checklist yet so I don't know if the Cubs have any Series 2 previews. Of the two Cubs I pulled, both were already in Series 1.

And I think that wraps up my card spending until the big card show in a couple of weeks. I probably should have saved my $20 for that but with my fantasy drafts and the NCAA wrestling semi-finals, it was a pretty good Friday night.