Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Horizontal Card Challenge

I've gone and done it again.

I've started another new blog and even though I'm barely keeping up with the 2014 Topps blog, this one should be easier to maintain. And for those wondering, I'll be back in force this week on the 2014 Topps blog.

I'll be tweaking the template/layout and making a header over the next week or so, but I think I do a pretty good job explaining the premise in the welcome post.

Please check it out as I hope it will be very interactive! There will be a contest to help promote it with details to follow.

Thanks for your support!

2014 Topps Factory Team Set - Mariners

So far, I've broken down three factory team sets, comparing them to the Series One and Opening Day releases. They have all been National League teams (Cubs, Nationals, Rockies) so I'm going to jump to the American League with the Seattle Mariners.

In Series One, the Mariners had 14 different players represented on 15 cards. Hisashi Iwakuma had a base card and also appeared on the American League ERA leader card. Of the 14 base cards, 11 also appeared in the factory team set. That doesn't leave a whole lot of room for new cards.

When Opening Day rolled around, the Mariners were slotted with 9 base cards, but only two that didn't appear in Series One. Rollovers include James Paxton, Mike Zunino, Hisashi Iwakuma, Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin, Taijuan Walker and Kendrys Morales (more on him later). New to Opening Day were King Felix and probably the biggest free agent acquisition in the league, a Photoshopped Robinson Cano.

Knowing that one of the remaining cards is a stadium card, that leaves only three new player cards from the factory team set.

Brad Miller took over the starting shortstop job from a struggling Brendan Ryan (who was eventually traded to the Yankees) last season and continues on this year. Logan Morrison joined the Mariners following an off-season trade with the Miami Marlins. Corey Hart was a two-time All-Star in nine seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers before missing the entire 2013 season recovering from knee surgery. He signed as a free agent for 2014.

My mom's side of the family lives in Washington state so while I made several childhood trips to the Kingdome, I haven't had a chance to check out Safeco Field yet.This is completely random, but I wonder what that large group of people wearing yellow in the left field corner are representing.

For those paying attention, there were a couple of cards from Series One that didn't make the cut for the team set. 

Danny Farquhar and Abraham Almonte are both currently with the Mariners so the only reason I can think of that they weren't part of the team set is that the team was over represented in Series One. Farquhar is a middle reliever and Almonte is a 4th/5th outfielder, both expendable positions in the team set game.

Kendrys Morales was granted free agency following the 2013 season. So while this photo was an interesting selection for a Series One card, Topps couldn't justify using the card again a few months later for the team set.

And finally, we have the mascot from Opening Day.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Kameron Loe

I really intended to hit this past Spring Training hard with my ATCRCS collection. I was going to do some TTM requestys as well as solicit a little help from SCN members who tend to offer their services for both Florida and Arizona locations. But if you recall, I ran into some issues with my laptop, losing all of my customs including the templates. That put some serious brakes on that plan.

I made this Kameron Loe card shortly after his cup of coffee with the Cubs last year. The Cubs selected Loe off waivers from the Seattle Mariners in early April and he proceeded to pitch 8.1 innings over seven appearances with no record and a 5.40 ERA. On May 6, 2013, the Cubs made several roster moves including designating Loe for assignment. He cleared waivers, the Cubs sent him to Iowa but Loe elected free agency instead.

He then split the rest of 2013 with the Braves and their Triple A affiliate in Gwinnett.

I made the card in hopes of snagging him when he came through DC with the Braves but I never made that trip. Loe signed with the Giants for this season and since I already had it printed and laying around, I included it with a small package I sent out to someone helping with Arizona autographs this spring. He didn't make the Giants out of Spring Training but did get picked up by the Royals, where he spent the first six weeks of this season with their Triple A affiliate in Omaha.

He was released last week but was quickly picked up by the Braves again and is currently assigned again to Gwinnett.

I haven't updated my ATCRCS page in a couple of weeks but with a couple of other Spring Training posts coming up, I'll get on that soon.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cubs with Kids

Someone, somewhere along the lines made a comment about having somebody's "true rookie" because he was pictured as a kid on his father's card. Unfortunately, this has been sitting in my draft folder for so long, I forget where I should give credit for the inspiration. 

At the time, I was sorting out Cubs lots so I set these two aside to scan.

The Shawon Dunston card comes out of 1995 Score. In 1994 (when I presume the photo was taken), Shawon Dunston Jr., would have been a one year old. It's been a while since my kids were that young so its hard for me to gauge age, but that seems about right. 

Dunston Jr. was drafted out of high school in the 11th round of the 2011 draft by the Cubs and is currently with their Midwest League (Single A) affiliate, the Kane County Cougars, where he plays in the outfield.

Dunston Sr. bounced around after leaving the Cubs, including back to the Cubs and settled into a post playing career career with the San Francisco Giants as a coach and special assistant.

The Steve Buechele card is from 1995 as well but this time from Upper Deck. I was starting to wonder if maybe the Cubs had a Father's Day game or something in 1994 and brought the kids onto the field but Dunston is wearing a road jersey and Buechele is wearing the home pinstripes. So most likely it is just a coincidence.

Steve played third base for the Cubs from 1992-1995 and is currently the manager of the Texas Rangers' Triple A affiliate, the Round Rock Express. I thought the Express were a lower level but they must have bumped up when I wasn't looking (10 years ago, whoops). 

Steve has five kids including three sons. The oldest, Garrett played for the University of Oklahoma and was drafted by the Rangers in 2010 but didn't sign. The next year, the Giants selected him in the 14th Round where he played in the lower minor leagues before being released 2013. Garrett would have been 4-5 years old when the photo on the card was taken. While he does look older than Shawon Dunston Jr., I'm not sure he looks that much older. I'd have pegged that kid as three?

Steve's next oldest son, Tanner is a little younger and played baseball at Fullerton College. I can't really find anything else about him so he must not have decided to pursue baseball. His youngest son is still in high school now so I doubt that was him.

I don't know, could be either Garrett or Tanner. But whichever it is, don't be afraid of Steve...

I think they had to do some photoshopping to fix the shadow under the bill of his cap, but it came out kind of creepy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Whoops! One more from Comatoad

On Sunday I ran a post thanking Duff (AKA Comatoad from over at Bleedin' Brown and Goldfor a package he sent. As I was moving some of my scanned images into their appropriate folders from that post, I realized I left arguably the highlight of the package out of the write up.

Despite being a current Padre, Andrew Cashner as a Cub must not have fit into his collection.

This card from 2010 Topps Finest hit a quadfecta for my collection. As I mentioned Andrew Cashner is shown back from his Cubbie days. Ding! There's an autograph. Ding! Two jersey swatches, each with a pinstripe. Ding!

And when you flip it over to appreciate the backside, you can see in the upper right corner that it is serial numbered out of 499. Ding!

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a quadfecta!

The Cubs sent Cashner and a minor leaguer to the Padres in exchange for Anthony Rizzo and another minor leaguer prior to the 2012 season. Cashner seems to be following in Jeff Samardzija's footsteps this season with his low ERA (2.35) but losing record (2-5). The Padres offense has been shutout in four Cashner's nine starts this season.

I vaguely remember being excited about the three young C's coming up in 2010, Andrew Cashner, Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro. Tyler Colvin has since moved on to the Colorado Rockies and is currently with the San Francisco Giants. Luckily for the Cubs, Castro has mostly returned to his 2010-11 self.

Thanks again, Duff!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Help Me Finish 2014 Opening Day!

Thanks to my buddy Ty (formerly of the short-lived League Leader in Italics blog), I am less than two perfectly collated packs away from putting the finishing touches on my 2014 Opening Day base set. I doubt those packs exist so I am putting out a call for help.

Someone else has stepped up with an offer for a couple, leaving me just these six cards short:

143, 170, 195, 196, 214, 220

I can easily place a JustCommons or Sportlots order but I'm sure some of you have some extras collecting dust that you'd like to turn into cards you'd want/like.

Ty was the recipient of one of the 1954 Bowman cards I picked up at the show last weekend and in exchange he hit my want list pretty hard. Some of you long time readers may remember that he helped me out quite a bit with last year’s Opening Day set when he lost two blasters worth to me in some extreme pack wars. Here’s the stack he hooked me up with over the weekend:

This was nearly a third of the set! Not only did he help with the base, but he knocked out the rest of the blue parallel Cubs I needed. Here are all six Cubs from the set:

I kind of like the way my scanner handles shiny cards. Thanks Ty!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mark Prior Monday - 2006 Upper Deck Ovation Superstar Theatre

A little while back when I broke down Cubs Lot #4, I mentioned a big chunk of Mark Prior cards but I didn't want to show off the nearly 200 different cards in one post. Doing one or a couple at a time will make the scanning and cropping much more manageable. Prior was a big part of the early-mid 2000's Cubs teams when I wasn't collecting so most of the inserts/subsets were new to my collection. I really enjoy learning about sets that I had ever heard of or knew very little about.

From what I can tell Upper Deck produced Ovation for a couple of years in the early 2000's and then again in 2006.

The Superstar Theatre insert set consisted of 30 cards but it doesn't appear that this was a one-per-team situation as Derrek Lee also represents the Cubs. Last week, I said I would have tried to complete that entire set (Fleer InScribed) if I was collecting when it was released. This set, I'm barely interested in the Cubs. Its different but it just seems kind of cheesy and doesn't really translate to baseball. Is Prior standing in center field facing away from the infield?

Maybe the back can explain the theatre correlation.

Not really. Upper Deck brought the curtain around to the back to tie it in, but the writing is your basic card back blurb. They do mention "the early stage of his career" but I don't know if that was an intentional pun or not.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Package from Comatoad

A few weeks back I received an email from Duff (AKA Comatoad) from over at Bleedin' Brown and Gold offering up some Cubs goodies. The Brown and Gold of course refers to the San Diego Padres, who coincidentally the Cubs are playing in a four game series this weekend. I didn't realize there were so many Padres fans out there as I think Duff is the third in my fairly small trading circle (which I'm always looking to expand by the way).

Fast forward to last week and an unexpected package came in the mail. The timing may be a little off because one of my helpful kids brought in the mail one day and set it on my desk but didn't tell me about it. I unearthed it this week while paying some bills so it was a most welcome site. There were a couple of team bags and I've got a bunch of my favorites today.

Much like this displaced Cubs fan lives in Virginia, Duff doesn't live anywhere near San Diego though. Luckily for me, he lives in Iowa, near the Cubs Triple A affiliate, the Iowa Cubs.

The Cubbie Bear mascot card is unnumbered on the back so I don't think it is part of the 2013 I-Cubs team set. The pocket schedule is a nice oddball for the collection too.

But there were a slew of big league Cubs, too.

I don't know if Starlin Castro will ever replace the shortstop of my childhood, Shawon Dunston but his stats probably will. Remember though that those 1994 stats on the card above are from a strike shortened season.

Sometimes these comparison cards are a bit of a stretch. Unfortunately for Andre Dawson, he'll forever be linked to Alex Rodriguez as the only two players to win an MVP award while playing for a last place team.

I'm not real familiar with the Donruss Elite Extra Edition product but these are some great additions to the Cubs Chicago (NL) collection despite the lack of Cubs colors and logos.

The design on the Fleer Platinum Bobby Hill card looked real familiar but I couldn't place it until a few cards later when I came across the oddball Rick Sutcliffe. Looks like a pretty good match.

Sutcliffe wasn't the only Cubs Cy Young winner though as this 2014 Topps insert of the newest Hall of Famer, Greg Maddux made its way into the package too.

And it may have been in "just" Triple A, but Chris Rusin just threw a no-hitter for the I-Cubs the other day. Nice!

This Brendan Ryan card probably wins the package for oddest oddball though. The Just brand isn't really an oddball, especially in the minor league genre but the design itself sure is. I don't know that I have words for it.

Seriously, I have to be running out of options for adding new Kevin Orie cards to my collection but this one was definitely new.

Thanks a ton Duff. I'll get some Padres cards out to you ASAP.