Thursday, April 28, 2016

Who and Where Are the New Kids?

Quick post today but hopefully it's very interactive.

I've tried to keep up with my favorite blogs as best I could during my hiatus but admittedly I wasn't able to read nearly as much as I used to. I missed a few things.

Wallet cards? Cool idea, sorry I missed out.

#Supertraders? I can probably guess what this is but if somebody wanted to give me a synopsis/origin story, I wouldn't object.

Cubs got good? Oh wait, no, I was around for that.

Another thing I've noticed is a few blogs I once followed have petered out as I did. Or maybe they're just on an extended break, again, like I was.

So help a brother out. Get me back in the loop. Who are the new guys in the blogosphere? Say, anyone who popped up within the last year or two. But by all means, if someone has been around longer than that and somehow slipped through the cracks, let me know. Anybody else start a second or third blog?

Things I like to read about whether I collect them or not and in no particular order:
  1. Just about anything to do with the Cubs (games, players, prospects, baseball cards, memorabilia, autographs, etc)
  2. Baseball cards (card show/online pickups, trade packages, new products, old products, niche/mini collections, box breaks, oddballs, specific sets)
  3. Custom baseball cards (original designs, modern players on old classic designs, etc)
  4. Team collectors (I might not care for your specific team, but I always like to see how other people collect their teams) 
  5. Autographs (TTM, certified pack pulls, new pickups, in person collecting)
  6. Memorabilia (bobbleheads, Stadium giveaways, other?)
  7. Baseball in general (player discussions, history, trivia)
  8. Wrestling (high school, collegiate, Olympic)
  9. Books/movies/TV (entertain me!)
  10. Other (I'll try most topics on a decent recommendation)
So there you have it. Send me some recommendations. Pimp yourself and your friends.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wroad to Wrigley Wednesday - 2015 Iowa Cubs Part 2

After my Cubs trip last August, I was all gung-ho to show off all my minor league team set pickups in a new alliteratively named series I called Wroad to Wrigley Wednesday. That lasted all of one post before the blog fell silent. But luckily, I had started the next one so I'm clearing it out of the draft folder.

In that first write up, I showed off the coaches, trainers (cards 1-5) and the mascot (card #36). Today, I have cards 6-15. If you know anything about the big league Cubs, you'll recognize quite a few of these names today.

#6 Yoanner Negrin

Yoanner Negrin has been in the Cubs system since 2011 but has yet to make his MLB debut. He is currently playing in the Mexican League.

#7 Drake Britton

Drake Britton is actually a familiar name to me but from outside the Cubs. He was formerly within the Red Sox organization and came through the Carolina League (my local minor league team's league) a few years back. I believe I have a Topps Pro Debut card signed by him. Britton made his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2013 and has 27 2/3 innings under his belt between 2013 and 2014. The Cubs claimed him off waivers in February 2015 and he spent the entire last season with Iowa. He was a free agent after the season and signed with Tigers. He is currently with their AAA team, the Toledo Mud Hens.

#8 Rubi Silva

Rubi Silva is a career minor league Cub, joining the system in 2011, like fellow Cuban, Yoanner Negrin. He is currently playing in the Mexican League.

#9 Adron Chambers

Adron Chambers has a World Series ring after being on the St. Louis Cardinals roster in 2011. He was a free agent following the 2013 season and played in the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays systems before finding his way to Iowa for the 2015 season. On November 3, Chambers was suspended 50 games for a "drug of abuse", whatever that means. I guess as opposed to PEDs? On November 6, he was granted free agency.

#10 Felipe Paulino

Feliipe Paulino has Major League experience with the Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox. He signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in May 2015 and as of Decmeber is with the Cleveland Indians organization.

#11 Kris Bryant

Finally, a player with some actual Chicago Cubs experience. You may have heard of this undercover Lyft driver, Frozen lip syncher, oh and 2015 National League Rookie of the Year. He hit two home runs in a game, including his third career grand slam but was over shadowed by Jake Arrieta's no-hitter. There was some controversy about him making the big league club out of spring training last year and due to his contract status, the big wigs from the front office kept him in Iowa for a few extra days. He split 2014 between the Tennessee Smokies and Iowa Cubs but played just 7 games for the I-Cubs in 2015.

#12 Addison Russell

Addison Russell was the big coup in the deal the sent Jeff Samardzija to the Oakland A's in 2014. He finished that season in Tennessee, played 11 games in Iowa in 2015 and has been in Chicago ever since. He debuted at second base, swapped positions with 3x All-Star Starlin Castro and is now firmly cemented as the Cubs shortstop of the future.

#13 Javier Baez

Javier Baez was the Cubs 1st Round draft pick (11th overall) in 2011 and made his Cubs debut in 2014. Primarily a middle infielder, Baez has played 1st, 2nd, 3rd and shortstop already in just 8-9 games. He also has some outfield experience in the minors. His flexibility will be key down the stretch.

#14 Arismendy Alcantara

Arismendy Alcantara signed with the Cubs as an international free agent way back in 2008. He played in 70 games in 2014, mostly after the Cubs traded away second baseman Darwin Barney. Unfortunately for Alcantara, he got off to a slow start in 2015 and didn't get called back up after Russell's moderate success. And with the Russell/Baez/Tommy La Stella and Ben Zobrist middle infield platoon, there may not be room for him this year either.

#15 Kyle Schwarber

Last but not least for today's post, we have Kyle Schwarber. It would be hard to believe that Kyle Schwarber was the 3rd best rookie on the Cubs last year but on a stacked young team, he was. Unfortunately, an outfield collision has sidelined him for the rest of 2016, but I'm looking forward to many more Schwar-bombs off the Schwar-board.

That wraps up this week's Wroad to Wrigley post. Next week will have cards 20-30 from this set.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2(sday) x 3 Heroes Mailday

It seems like every time I get complacent in not blogging, JediJeff of 2x3 Heroes fame manages to lure me back in. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but he's one of the good ones.

Last summer, I noticed that the Cubs were featured on a regional cover of Sports Illustrated. In the good ol' Land of Lincoln, and probably a slightly larger area, fans were treated to this fantastic shot of Kris Bryant's walk off home run.

And don't forget Pedro Strop!

I think in my neck of the woods, we had a Serena Williams (tennis?!) cover.

I couldn't make up the following story if I tried.

The issue date of this magazine was August 31, 2015. The walk off depicted (#12 of last season's incredible 13) was Monday, August 24, 2015. Less than a week later, while this issue was probably still on newsstands, Jake Arrieta no-hit a playoff bound Los Angeles Dodgers team.

When I heard such a regional issue existed, I shot Jeff an email asking if he could procure such a treasure for me if he happened to see one in his area. A few weeks later, I fall off the planet again.

Fast forward to about two weeks ago and all a sudden two copies of this magazine have become a "burden" and possibly a "curse" to his home (despite his Pale Hose also owning a fine start and division lead). A little on the dramatic side if you ask me.

He confirms my address hasn't changed and a week later, they show up in my mailbox. What happens next? That's right. Jake Arrieta promptly throws another no hitter.

Jeff, when the Cubs land the cover again, I think you know what to do....

But JenerousJediJeff doesn't just stop at gifting me an awesome collectible magazine and a pair of no hitters. He throws in a some cards like he's Billy Freakin' Mays.

We've got some great horizontals:

2003 Topps #252 Joe Randa
2012 Topps #461 Victor Martinez
2015 Topps Stadium Club #282 Fred McGriff
2007 Upper Deck #418 Khalil Greene
Is this Khali Greene an Ivy card too? Hmmmm.....

Speaking of Ivy cards, we've got those too:

And even some interleague Ivy cards:

I see you sneaking a South Sider into my collection...

Aaaaaaaand North Siders! My Cubs collection is a bit of a mess right now because of storage situations but I was using Zistle prior to my hiatus. And according to that record, some of these are new and some of them are upgrades.

2006 Topps Chrome #261 Greg Maddux Award Winners

If any body ever figured out how to scan chrome cards nicely while I was gone, let me know.

2012 Bowman Prospects Silver Ice #BP75 Dillon Maples

2013 Panini Pinnacle Looking Back #LB2 Starlin Castro

And pretty much everything 2015 was going to be new to me.

These Cubs were dupes, but I haven't even started looking at the Cubs portion of my horizontal collection so they'll slide over for the time being.

1994 Upper Deck Collector's Choice #284 Jose Vizcaino

2010 Upper Deck #545 Wrigley Field

And for that extra extra extra bonus, Jeff threw in one of my first 2016 cards. And its a numbered relic to boot!

2016 Topps 100 Years at Wrigley Relic #WRIGR-RP Rafael Palmeiro
With a mailing like that, no wonder I came back just to show it off!

Thanks, Jeff! By the time this posts, there should be something going back your way.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Just Another Madlock Monday

Actually, this is the first (and probably only) Madlock Monday but who doesn't like a good song pun?

At any given time, I feel like I have a bazillion side projects within my overall umbrella of being a Cubs collector. One that's been on the back burner was trying to get all of the Topps All-Star Rookie Cup cards signed. Well, I guess everything has technically been on the back burner lately, haha.

Paul of Wrigley Wax recently did a write-up on all of the Cubs players with this honor with the recent additions of Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber in 2016 and another one from a few years back with Cubs from the "missing years" when Topps named the teams but neglected to put trophies on the cards. And here's the Wiki list of each year's teams.

Sometime before my hiatus, I had picked up a very nice copy of Bill Madlock's 1975 Topps card that showcased his All-Star Rookie Team honors. Sharp corners, nicely centered.

1975 Topps #104 Bill Madlock

And when an autograph appearance came up, I sent in my card to be signed. Not only that, but I knocked off my ATCRCS card too.

I mostly remember Madlock as a Pirate and Dodger, but as the blog title used to say before it was shortened says, Once a Cub...Always a Cub.

And speaking of which, he also joins my collection through my Ivy niche collection with those teams.

1981 Donruss #252 Bill Madlock
1987 Fleer #445 Bill Madlock

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Repack Sunday

Earlier this week, I passed the card aisle in my local Target and couldn't help but take a peak at some of the 2016 issues on the shelf. Flagship. Heritage. Opening Day. Donruss. While I'm mostly a team collector, I really do enjoy ripping open packs.

But brand new product isn't in the budget right now although if you read the title, you can see I couldn't pass up a repack box, this one containing 50 miscellaneous cards and 4 unopened packs for $7.99. On some level, I know there's never really anything great in these but I always like the variety of cards you see, its a nice trip down memory lane and it usually satisfies that pack ripping itch.

When I ran this segment back in the blog's heyday, I had a few recurring themes for these boxes so I'll bring most of those back with maybe a few new ones. Let's see what the box had to offer and get to the part you're all waiting for, the pictures.

Oldest card in the box:

1984 Topps Charlie Moore
As far as "old" cards go, this is probably one of the newest I've pulled. I usually get something a few years older, maybe a first or second year Donruss or Fleer, maybe something from the 70's. Nothing spectacular here although it was a tip top condition. And even though the Brewers are now NL Central division rivals to my Cubs, I find the old glove/hidden MB logo so clever that it is one of my favorites. I think they still use it occasionally but it would be nice to see that come back full time.

Newest card(s) in the box:

2015 Topps Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez and Ian Kennedy
A three way tie with this trio of 2015 Topps. Nothing special here although I'm glad to see this box hasn't been sitting around on the Target shelf for years or anything,

Most copies of one card in the box:

1988 Topps All-Star Matt Nokes
In the dozens of repacks I've bought over the years, I don't think I've ever failed in getting a box with at least one duplicate. I think my record was 4 of one card and I've gotten duplicates of several different cards in one box so two copies of one card isn't terrible.

Most represented set(s):

2000 Topps and 2014 Topps

At four cards each, this is a tie between 2010 and 2014 Topps. The tie goes to the group with the Rookie Cup and future Cub, Rey Ordonez.

Speaking of Cubs...

Former/Future Cubs:

When all was said and done with the 50 miscellaneous cards, there was not a single current (at the time of the card's issue) Cubs player. However, the 3 cards above all feature players with Cubs ties, either before or after the card depicted. Rick Reuschel and Dennis Lamp were former Cubs while Todd Hundley was a future Cub.

Hall of Famer(s):

2006 Topps Rookie of the Week Tony Gwynn
Often, the repacks are chock full of junk wax era Hall of Famers. Not this time as I only came away with this solo, non junk wax Tony Gwynn card. I guess the repackers felt that one insert is better than multiple junk wax base? And I wonder what the Tonys are looking at over there?

Hall of Pretty Good:

The above group of guys all had very nice careers, full of highlights. Without looking, I'd assume these particular players each played in multiple All-Star games. Kid version of me would have put all of these guys in my binders back in the day when the main qualification involved being listed in Beckett (as in, not a common). Hmmmm, sidenote to self, maybe start a Hall of Pretty Good frankenset....

Smallest card in the box:

2008 Topps Heritage T205 Mini
David Ortiz
That was easy as it was the only mini in the box. The caption is bigger than the card.

Largest card in the box:

1990 Best Jack Voight
This card measures very slightly above your standard 2 1/2 x 3/12 baseball card and I do mean slightly. Probably miscut and the only reason I noticed was because it stuck out a bit when I held the cards in a stack. It also pulls double duty as the oddballiest card in the box because the rest of the cards were fairly standard flagship issues.

On to the 4 unopened packs.

Pack 1: 1990 Upper Deck

Steve Sax Collector's Choice, Dave Winfield, Rick Reuschel
Quantity here, not quality. The largest pack by far with 15 cards, but with a pretty underwhelming selection. The Collector's Choice art cards were some of my favorites as a kid and Steve Sax is a Hall of Pretty Gooder. Dave Winfield is a Hall of Famer and Rick Reuschel was a former Cub, playing against the Cubs with what looks like Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (a pitcher) batting.

Pack #2: 2013 Bowman Platinum

2013 Bowman Platinum Cutting Edge Stars
Albert Pujols
The smallest pack coming in at just 4 cards. Three cards weren't worth scanning. The Cutting Edge Stars die cut have odds of being in 1:10 packs so I guess I had that going for me. At least Albert Pujols had moved on from the Cardinals by then...

Pack #3: 2013 Panini Hometown Heroes:

2013 Panini Hometown Heroes Jody Davis
The lone Cub in the entire box and I can barely call this unlicensed Jody Davis a Cubs card. More like Chicago, NL. Also, this whole pack had dinged corners and were weirdly warped so they don't lay flat.

Pack #4: 2014 Topps Opening Day

A Topps Rookie cup and a Rookie Card.

The only two horizontal cards in the whole box.

And a Cardinals insert. Definitely the most "productive" of the four packs in terms of noteworthy/scannable cards (5 out of 7) but still leaves a lot to be desired.

These last two cards caught my attention but for different reasons. The Pujols card is numbered #TB2 on the back and after a little research, it appears that it came from a Back to School set through Target. There are a couple that sold recently on eBay for more than I paid for this whole box so that could be a nice flip. Perhaps another repack is in my future.

This Jerry Reuss card made me stop when flipping through the cards. No offense to him, but he just looks a lot older than your standard Major Leaguer. On closer look, maybe his hair and 'stache are more blonde than gray/white but still. After some quick math (born in 1949, this card is a 1986 issue), how can this guy pictured be 37 years old? I'M 37 YEARS OLD RIGHT NOW! 

That wraps up this edition of Repack Sunday. I forgot how much work scanning and cropping is but it was nice to crank out a post again.