Monday, May 22, 2017

ATCRCS - Rolando Roomes

I know, I know. I promised Page 2 of the Ivy Frankenset today but due to an unfortunate user error, I accidentally deleted the post while trying to edit it.

While I work on retyping that post, I'm dipping into the drafts folder for a quick post about the newest member to my ATCRCS set:

My memories about Rolando Roomes involve his baseball cards more so than any games he was involved in with the Cubs, just 16 at bats in 17 appearances in 1988. But I do remember him. My heyday for initially collecting cards was the mid-80's to early 90's and Roomes fell smack dab in the middle of that. The prospects card in 1989 Fleer he shares with Joe Girardi is probably his most notable as a Cub.

I didn't have the below card when it was released but picked it up at a card show a few years back. Notice the misspelled first name, both sides. No respect.

The signature on my ATCRCS card isn't terrible. You don't get every letter but it's not the chicken scratch you get from a lot of guys playing today. I think it kind of looks like Ballo Booms which sounds like a player I would have custom created in my video games back in the day.

Roomes marks the 142nd entry into the collection. At this rate, the Cubs are adding more players to their All-Time roster than I am to my collection. Time to step it up!

Friday, May 19, 2017

You Make the Call!

I thought I was all set to post Page 2 of my Ivy Frankenset but we have a last minute challenger for the card #15 slot.

Who else is in there???

I'll leave the two competitors here without further bias and hopefully we'll have a winner in the comments so I can get the post up on Monday. Thanks for the help!

1992 Leaf Ron Gant vs. 1992 Topps Stadium Club Deion Sanders

Thursday, May 18, 2017

¿Por Qué No Las Dos? Part Tres

It's been a week since I posted last and it's been a year since I done anything from this mini collection so let's end both of those streaks now.

The premise behind this mini collection is that I like cards with Wrigley Ivy on them and I like horizontal cards. These cards combine the two.

Part One explains the title reference and shows off five cards. Part Two shows off another five.

Here are five more I've come across while compiling my Ivy Frankenset (Page 2 coming very soon!)

1992 Leaf #505 Mike Bielecki
1992 Topps #773 Hal Morris

1995 Upper Deck Collector's Choice #329 John Franco
1999 Fleer Tradition Update #U-48 Braden Looper
2007 Upper Deck #418 Khalil Greene

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

My Cubs-Rockies Mashup Starting Lineup

Last week I did a post where I built a lineup made up of guys that had some significant time with both the Cubs and Red Sox during their careers. I missed the Phillies and Yankees series but I'm back today with the Rockies. Unlike the lengthy history of those first three teams, the Rockies are only in their 25th season. Let's see if I can fill out a lineup.

Like with the Red Sox, I had a few guys in mind immediately but when looking over the list of possibilities and their stats with each team, I had to make some changes. My first instincts are usually a Cub who has moved onto another team because, you know, Once a Cub, Always a Cub. After making these two lineups, its odd to realize how little attention I pay attention to players on other teams before they get to the Cubs. Their tenure and/or stats are off the radar.

Such is the case with this team's starting pitcher.

2016 Topps
Jason Hammel pitched 524 2/3 innings for the Rockies from 2009-2011 and 446 innings for the Cubs over parts of 3 seasons. That's the second highest IP total for anyone on the list, behind only Frank Castillo who heavily skewed Cubs (949 2/3 Cubs - 83 2/3 Rockies).

My brain came up with Jamie Moyer and Chris Rusin. Neither would crack the starting rotation.

1990 Donruss Best of the NL
Behind the plate was one of the more obvious choices to me. Joe Girardi started his career with the Cubs and was stolen by the Rockies in the 1992 expansion draft. Girardi spent parts of 7 season with the Cubs and 3 with the Rockies.

First base was a tough one for me. For the Cubs, I think of Mark Grace, Derrek Lee and Anthony Rizzo at first base since the Rockies have been around. For the Rockies, had they even had anybody aside from Andres Galarraga and Todd Helton? None of those guys played for both teams. I'll admit, even after cheating and looking it up, I'm a bit underwhelmed with the selection.

2012 Topps
Despite parts of nine seasons with the Cubs and Rockies, Jeff Baker barely eked out the position ahead of fellow utility man Tyler Colvin. Less than 100 games at first in that time. Moving on...

Two names came to mind when trying to come up with a second baseman.

2001 Topps Stadium Club
With recency in mind, I was leaning towards DJ LeMahieu here. He's done pretty well for himself in Colorado after leaving a crowded middle infield situation in Chicago (Starlin Castro and Gold Glover Darwin Barney at the time). However, he only had 60 at bats for the Cubs.

Eric Young on the other hand had 300+ games with the Cubs and 600+ with the Rockies. He hit a very respectable .292 with 265 stolen bases in his combined 7 seasons with the two teams.

His double play partner is also more of a Rockie than a Cub. A few more with the Rockies, a little less with the Cubs. Unfortunately, he was way better with a glove than with a bat. Like first base, there was little competition here though. I would have rather with Jose Hernandez here but his time with the Rockies was too brief.

1996 Topps Stadium Club
Rounding out the infield at third base, and giving me another chance to show off this awesome mid-90's cellphone cameo card is Todd Zeile. More known as a Cardinal, he did get a full season with the Rockies and a partial with the Cubs. Unfortunately, another slim pickin's position but I'll take him over the disappointment that was Ian Stewart.

2004 Topps
Out in left field we have one of the many former Rookie of the Years who ended up playing for the Cubs in Todd Hollandsworth. I like that this card is kind of derpy. The posture says Little League picture day. His last name ends half way between his armpit and belt. The facial expression screams enthusiasm. Probably known more for analyzing the Cubs post retirement than playing for them, Hollandsworth just left CSN this past off season to be a color commentator for Fox Sports Florida and the Marlins.

2016 Topps Allen & Ginter
What a difference a couple of years make. A little while ago, centerfield would have been patrolled by Juan Pierre. In terms of games played, Dexter Fowler is mostly a Rockie. But that can never top being the leadoff man (and selected All-Star) for the 2016 World Champion Cubs. He is definitely missed this season as the Cubs haven't been able to find their groove offensively without him atop the lineup.

2006 Topps Bazooka
Wrapping up the starting lineup is Jeromy Burnitz out in right field. Despite a few more games overall in his stints with these two teams, Tyler Colvin again loses out at being a starter on this made up team. Burnitz just edges him out in the meaningful stats.

2005 Topps
Another position that almost goes by default is the closer. Coming out of the bullpen to lock things down is LaTroy Hawkins. Turk Wendell didn't have enough time in with the Rockies. And Manny Corpas didn't have enough time in with the Cubs. Journeyman Hawkins had multiple seasons with both and played the closer role in both places.

2002 Topps
Don Baylor is calling the shots from the dugout. The first ever Rockies manager stayed on for 6 seasons and earned a NL Manager of the Year award after leading them to the playoffs in their third season as the wildcard. He also led the Cubs through some lean early 2000's years.

There isn't much star power here. It would be interesting to see if this mashup team changes in the near future at all. The cards are definitely Topps heavy. I'll try to do better mixing them up next time but the early-mid 2000's where the bulk of this team comes from is light in my collection.

What do you think? Did I miss anybody?

Monday, May 8, 2017

This Time Last Year in Topps Now Part 5

This is part of an ongoing series looking back at the Cubs 2016 Championship season via the Topps Now set.

After last night's disappointing 18th-inning loss to the Yankees, today's card is a little bittersweet. I stayed up way too late for that kind of disappointment!

Not only did the loss finish up a three-game sweep, but it brought the Cubs 2017 record to a pretty mediocre 16-15. As you can see on the card below, last year at this point the Cubs were a remarkable 24-6! 

May 8th coincided with Mother's Day last year, hence all of the pink on the card.

The Cubs were down 3-1 to the Nationals when Kris Bryant tied it with a 2-RBI double in the 7th inning.

The Nationals had a runner in scoring position in the 10th, 12th and 13th innings but couldn't put it away.

The Cubs had two on with one out in the 10th but couldn't capitalize. Jason Heyward was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on a Kris Bryant double in the 11th.

And then in the 13th...

I'll always take a four game sweep!

As this point. the Cubs have scored 28 runs fewer than last year and given up 60 more. So the bats haven't been as potent but obviously neither has their pitching. The good news is that the division isn't pulling away. While the Cubs had a 7.5 game lead at this point last year, they are only a game behind the Reds and half game behind the Cardinals. Still plenty of time to right the ship.

The Cubs got stiffed a Topps Now card the other day when they walked off the Phillies in extras (something Topps rarely misses) but somehow I doubt a Yankees extra inning victory will slip through the cracks. In terms of innings, this was the longest interleague game in MLB history.

Also of note in last night's game, the Cubs and Yankees set a combined record with 48 strikeouts, eclipsing the previous record of 43 set by the A's and Angels on July 9, 1971. I wonder if the Cubs/Yankees will split a Topps Now card in addition to the Yankees getting their own?

EDIT: Wow, I was half right. The Cubs/Yankees did get a split card but the Yankees didn't get a separate card of their own. Not only that but Kyle Schwarber got one for a catch he made in the 12th. Go figure.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Topps Now: The First 100 Part 1

In case you’ve missed it, I’m doing a series of “year in review” posts by showing off the Cubs cards from last year’s Topps Now set. In those posts, and elsewhere around the ol’ internets, I’ve seen comments about how much of a cash grab that set is and how they are really milking it this year with the amount of cards they are producing.

Yesterday, Topps Now announced the print runs for its 99th, 100th and 101st cards for the 2017 rendition. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at this snapshot of the first 100 cards from both years.

I made a spreadsheet checklist with several different sortable categories that I will use for a little compare and contrast exercise. Reader beware, it may get a little nerdy over here.

In 2016, the first two cards of the set featured events from Opening Day, one of which was the World Series Trophy for the defending champion Kansas City Royals. In 2017, that Opening Day number jumped to five.

One of the first things that jumped out at me was last year’s card number 100 featured a game from May 25, 2016. This year, the game featured was April 30, 2017. It sure does seem like a cash grab when it takes you half the time to hit the same benchmark, right?

Topps may have had that in mind. But I’m not sure the customers followed suit. Or at the very least, they got more savvy. Dozens of these cards are selling with a Buy It Now price on eBay before Topps has even finished their 24-hour purchase period and print runs are announced. There are several resellers that buy in bulk for a discount and pass the savings along with a small markup that still manages to undercut Topps. With more buyers going that route, the fewer direct to consumer one-off sales Topps receives.

Despite more unique cards produced, the print runs are getting much smaller.

Even if you take away the ridiculous Bartolo Colon card that had an 8800+ print run, that is a pretty big drop off in card average.

Speaking of Colon, some cards are easier to track than others. Most are your fairly typical one player/one team cards, such as the above Colon card.

Meanwhile, there are three other types of cards that fall outside the norm.

There are what I call "Team Cards" like the Cincinnati Reds card above. Though Billy Hamilton is shown, the feat described was accomplished by the team. The team name is also used in lieu of the player's name. In my spread sheet, "Team" is the first name, "Card" is the last name. When I sort by team, this card is grouped with other Reds cards.

Though technically also a "Team Card" this Nationals card singles out Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg specifically. This is one of two different kinds of cards I'll refer to as "Dual Cards" that are separated out. In the my spreadsheet, "Dual" is in the first name field and "Card" in the last name field.

The second kind of "Dual Card" features players from multiple teams. Topps has done several of these including the Masahiro Tanaka and Hisashi Iwakuma card below.

For this card, the team name is listed as "Multi" and results in a 31st team name. I have finagled my spreadsheet to be able to count this card as both a Yankee and Mariner card but for the purposes of this post, it will be counted as a "Multi" team.

OK. With those definitions out of the way, let's look at some more stats.

In 2016, the Braves, Diamondbacks and Twins were not represented among the first 100 cards. Four cards represented multiples teams. That leaves the remaining 96 cards distributed among 27 teams. The Dodgers led the way with 8.

In 2017, only the A’s haven’t made an appearance yet. Only two cards showed multiple teams. The distribution is a little more balanced among the teams but the leader still had 8, this time the Cubs. Even though they’ve been playing poorly, they benefited from three celebration cards (banner, trophy and rings).
And here's how they stack up in terms of overall print runs:

Individually, Trevor Story and Clayton Kershaw led the way with 4 cards apiece in 2016. Bryce Harper had three cards of his own but was also featured on 3 other dual cards for a total of 6 cards in the first 100. For those of you who don't remember Bryce Harper's hot start last year, there was speculation that the Cubs "broke" him after the May 8th game where Harper reached base 7 consecutive times without an official at bat. There was a lot of bellyaching locally when this happened.

Harper also broke a three-way tie with Aaron Judge and George Springer for 2017 when he snuck onto his 4th card of 2017 at #100.

I'll be back in a day or two with a few more stats. Let me know if there's anything you'd like to know! Personally, I don't think I ever realized how common a walk-off was until Topps Now came along.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

My Cubs-Red Sox Mashup Starting Lineup

Yesterday, Wrigley Wax had a post about Bill Buckner. I started to say in my comment to his post that he would make my Cubs-Red Sox Mashup Starting Lineup. But I was just pulling that out of my rear.

Would he really?

Is that even a thing?

Did I have a Cubs-Red Sox Mashup Starting Lineup?

No, I didn't.

But I do now!

And maybe I'll come up with one of these for each series this year. Since I'm not adding many cards to the collection these days, it's a good way to dig out and show off some stuff I already have.

The following players have played for both the Red Sox and Cubs. Off the top of my head, I could think of about 6-7 guys that could make the team. After a little research, I was able to fill out a starting lineup. I tried to stick to guys that were mostly known for having played for one of the two and had "significant" time with both. But what does that mean? Fifty games? A full season with each? I don't know. Completely arbitrary. Let's see how it goes.

Position #1 in the box score is the pitcher so we'll start there. A few players came to mind but two jumped out at me most because they have won a World Series with both teams. I'll pull a Topps All-Star Rookie team move and name a LHP and RHP. Taking the hill is either Jon Lester or John Lackey.

And if Jon Lester is your pitcher, you have to have his favorite batterymate behind the plate. The catcher position goes to fan favorite (seemingly everywhere he played, despite being mostly a backup) David Ross.

As I mentioned, Billy Buckner was kind of the inspiration for this post. Did he end up making the team?

I am going to give him the nod over Jimmie Foxx, which may seem odd when you compare the two head to head. However, Foxx spend more time with Philadelphia than he did with the Red Sox and Cubs combined and played in about 300 games fewer than Buckner's time with the two teams. Plus I don't have a Jimmie Foxx card in a Cubs uniform to show.

There is a lot less star power at second base in Todd Walker. He played in a combined 477 games for the two teams.

His double play partner was an actual double play partner. Nomar Garciaparra fills the shortstop spot. Known more for his time in Boston, he brings a ROY award, 5 All-Star game appearances and a Silver Slugger to this mashup lineup.

The hot corner is manned by Bill Mueller. He was a World Champ with the Red Sox as well as a Silver Slugger and AL Batting Champ.

I thought the outfield would be easier than it was. Andre Dawson came to mind immediately. Hall of Famer, and an MVP season with the Cubs makes him a no-brainer. By the time he came to Chicago, he was mostly done with center field but that's where I'm going to put him based on the others.

After that....crickets. A few other guys came to mind, but upon a little more research the next two guys were better fits.

Troy O'Leary gets a spot in left field. Despite just one season as a 4th/5th outfielder with the Cubs in 2003, he managed to make their postseason roster. He also accumulated 962 games with the Red Sox.

The final starting lineup spot goes to admittedly somebody I'm barely familiar with, Earl Webb. The rest of the lineup played during my lifetime. My ATCRCS cards and research generally don't go back that far but according to my Cubs collection spreadsheet, I did have a Conlon card. Unfortunately, it isn't scanned and for the quick turnaround time on this post, I'll settle for a borrowed image.

Webb played for the 1927-28 Cubs and for the BoSox from 1930-1932 for a combined total of 494 games. Not a whole lot, but in that time he batted .311 with 52 HRs and 271 RBI's.

As a bonus, I'll throw a closer out there too. This team would have a pretty solid bullpen but in a Save situation, I'm going to none other than Lee Smith.

I don't know that I'll be able to come up with a manager for each of these mashup teams I'll do but as an extra extra bonus, Don Zimmer is the obvious choice here.

If I was looking to fill out my starting rotation, I can throw out names like Dennis Lamp and Fergie Jenkins. Would Dennis Eckersley make the rotation (like he did when with these teams) or would he end up in the bullpen where he earned his HOF credentials? Ryan Dempster filled both roles adequately as well. Off the bench you have some nice utility guys like Rey Sanchez and Mark Bellhorn.

It gets a little dicier after that, otherwise I'd try for a full 25-man roster.

Pretty interesting that as long as these storied franchises has been around, most of these guys are pretty recent. Is that a bias on my part? What do you think? Did I overlook anybody?