Saturday, July 30, 2016

I Was There! 2016 Topps New Era # Andrew McCutchen

Yesterday, I had a post on some Topps New Era cards I picked up. In summary, I bought an auction lot that turned out to be a compete set plus a few dupes. I thought I only wanted the Kyle Schwarber for my Cubs collection and the Joc Pederson for my Ivy collection.

After breaking down the Schwarber card and catching that the photo was from the Postseason, I happened to look closer at the Andrew McCutchen card from the lot when I was cropping the scan.

Sure enough, that's a Postseason patch on McCutchen's sleeve too! Most Cubs and Pirates fans can tell you that the Pirates only played one Postseason game last season, the NL Wild Card Game. And I was there!

I have been to six Cubs games this year, three of which rated a Topps Now card. I'm still working my way through this year's Cubs team set to see if they feature games from last year I attended, but now I realize I have to check their opponents' cards from those days too. At this rate, I'm going to have a binder page full of "I Was there!" cards by the end of the season.

Getty Image #491734982
Notice the "black out" with all the Pirates fans. You can only make out one guy in blue in that whole crowd.
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 07: Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates steps onto the field prior to the National League Wild Card game against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on October 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
The caption from the Getty website isn't real specific but McCutchen coming out of the dugout without batting equipment or a glove, I'm guessing this might be from the pre-game introductions. If I knew it was going to be on a card, I'd have paid more attention! The clock in the background reads 7:53 and according to my ticket stub, it was an 8:08 start time.

Next step: Get onto the baseball card! Haha

Friday, July 29, 2016

The One Card Team Set - 2016 Topps New Era + Bonus

A few weeks ago, maybe months by now, Topps partnered up with New Era for a 9-card set featuring some of their more popular spokesmen. The cards came as a free-with-purchase incentive when you picked up a New Era brand cap at a Lids store.

I'm not much of a hat guy. I have a couple of caps representing the Cubs and their various affiliates but they are mostly hat rack decorations. However, like most guys, I do have my tried and true, broken in, well-worn, trusty go to.

Long story short, I wasn't going to be buying a $35+ hat I'm 99% sure I wouldn't wear for the chance to maybe pull one of the two cards I wanted. Ask me how many Wal-mart pizzas I've had trying to pull the Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber Marketplace cards...

Anyway, as luck would have it, I stumbled across an auction lot that included both New Era cards I was after plus a bunch more. The auction was listed as a "lot" with duplicates, but in fact turned out to be a complete set with 3 duplicates. The picture showed all 12 cards, but the description and title were bare minimum. Listed correctly, it probably would have fetched quite a bit more than what I paid.

But enough frugal bragging, on to the cards.

Eight teams were represented among the nine cards. Kyle Schwarber is the sole member of this one card team set for the Cubs. (I like this theme, I may try to find other one-card "team" sets if I remember.)

Since I'm showing off the card, I may as well break it down. The source photo shouldn't be too difficult to find. I can narrow it down to Wrigley Field and with the Postseason patch on his right sleeve, sorting newest to oldest should put it near the top of the search results. And it was.

Getty Image #493664698
The photo looks good, Schwarber coming in to make a nice catch with the iconic ivy in the background. Unfortunately, the caption paints a different picture. This was off the bat of Wilmer Flores in Game 4 of the NLCS, and it eluded Schwarber for a hit. Other photos from the sequence:

Whoops. As we all know, the Mets would end up sweeping the Cubs even though they didn't capitalize on this particular play. This card may have been better left not broken down. Despite that, I am happy that Topps went with a different photo even from the flagship set even though they stuck with the same design. With that said, the back is the exact same except for the number, the New Era designation right above it and the New Era logo in the bottom right corner.

Wait a second, Matt. You said this is a one-card team set but also that you were keeping two cards from the lot? What's the other one?!

Busted, I'm keeping a card from another team. But for good reason!

A-ha! Another card featuring the Ivy at Wrigley Field. At #4, this slides nicely into my Ivy Frankenset that will make its official debut here shortly.

Another quick search over at Getty using "Joc Pederson Wrigley 2015" provided 44 results, including the source photo above. According to the caption:
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers makes a catch on a fly ball hit by Miguel Montero of the Chicago Cubs in the 4th inning at Wrigley Field on June 23, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
But according to the Baseball-Reference boxscore:

Somebody's falsifying information...

My guess is that this is the Starlin Castro flyball to deep centerfield that followed the Miguel Montero single. Assuming the 4th inning part of the caption is correct.

But the good news is that the Cubs won this contest with a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th inning by Chris Denorfia.

Available extras from this set include Bryce Harper, Dellin Betances, Josh Donaldson and Marcus Stroman.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

2016 Topps Throwback Thursday Sets 2 & 3

I've fallen behind on my posting again. There's plenty of stuff in the queue from my trip recap to a few oddball pickups to Wroad to Wrigley updates. And seeing as I was going to try to follow Topps' Throwback Thursday cards every week, I'm way behind on those. They are finishing up Week 7 and I've only shown Week 1.

Whoops. Well let's fix that with two weeks worth in one post. The numbering continues from Week 1 so Week 2 has cards 7-12. The 1958 design was chosen in honor of Roger Maris' rookie card and therefore also showcases six of MLB's power-hitting outfielders.

I thought Week 1's print run of 1,665 was pretty low in comparison to the Topps Now cards, but Week 2 saw a significant drop down to only 730 sets sold.

#7 Yoenis Cespedes
#8 Giancarlo Stanton
#9 Bryce Harper
Yes, this card marks Bryce Harper's second entry into a 2-week old, 12-card set.

#10 Carlos Beltran
#11 Nomar Mazara
Another cash grab for Topps, this power-hitting outfielder has 12 career home runs. Probably only 8-9 when the card was developed.

#12 Jose Bautista
As with Week 1, all of the backs are the same aside from player identification, including the spelling error of the name this week's set pays tribute to. Nice.

Aside from the obvious cash grab, the only other major complaint I've seen is that we already have Archives and Heritage for Topps to rehash old sets. That changed with the Week 3 card design which also went way back to 1958. This time however, the set was modeled after the 1958 Topps TV Westerns set. I know/knew absolutely nothing about this set so using the trusty Google machine, I found the Cardboard Connection set breakdown. How refreshing it is for Topps to reuse something that hasn't been done to death!

Topps went with a Flamethrower theme and Week 3's set features all pitchers.

#13 Nolan Ryan
#14 Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw gets his 2nd card in the thus far 18-card set. He also appeared on Card #3.
#15 Noah Syndergaard
#16 Jake Arrieta
#17 Stephen Strasburg
#18 Madison Bumgarner
Interesting player selection. Nolan Ryan? Check. That's probably my first thought when asked to come up with a flamethrower. The rest? Well, they arguably make up the top 5 starting pitchers in the Majors right now, certainly the National League. At the time the set came out a few weeks ago anyway. Arrieta has slumped a little. Kershaw is hurt. Strasburg was on the DL for a bit. Otherwise, a very All-Star worthy group of pitchers.

But flamethrowers? I don't know about that. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aside from Syndergaard, aren't these guys all low to mid 90's guys? Not that that is anything to sniff at but where's Aroldis Chapman? What about Mauricio Cabrera (the guy who dominates the fastest pitch chart when the Chapman Filter is in effect)?

I like the design, like the theme, but the player selection puts a little damper on it for me.

Next week, I'll have weeks 4 & 5 in an attempt to catch up even further. And with two repeats already (Harper and Kershaw), I'll also start a chart of players and teams represented.

I've got extras of everybody here except for the Nomar Mazara card so let me know if anything grabs your attention.