Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I had a Two Random Rynos post ready to go today and somehow deleted it. Well, lost half of it and ran out of time to retype it up. So instead, for today just a quick, appropriate post out of my 2018 Topps Opening Day case break.

The Before Opening Day insert set has 20 cards featuring photos from Spring Training. This Anthony Rizzo card shows him sporting the alternate green cap that the teams usually wear for Spring Training games on March 17th for St. Patrick's Day.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Opening Day Weekend Preview

I pretty much skipped Heritage and have moved on to Opening Day. Sure, I picked up a Cubs team set, but studio photography slapped over fake scenery on a design that I'm not old enough to feel nostalgic about just isn't my thing. Plus, for a concept that is supposed to mimic an old set, Topps sure does seem to mess a lot of stuff up. The best thing about Heritage for me is the card stock.

But I digress. This isn't a bash Heritage post, it is a teaser for my Opening Day case break.

Yesterday, I received an email from UPS that the scheduled delivery time for my case was between 8:30-10:15 AM. Nice! I figured I'd open a box or two (a case has 20 36-pack boxes) and head into work around lunchtime.

But as I tweeted, a watched mailbox never fills. I headed into work around 1PM with nothing delivered and on the drive in, got the alert that the case was delivered. Figures.

I plodded through the rest of the work day and managed to get through two boxes when I got home. The picture above is the only one I'll be showing off today as I didn't take the time to scan anything last night or this morning. But I did want to share a few thoughts on the first two boxes.

Each box has 36 packs with 7 cards, one being a guaranteed insert. So in theory, each box should have roughly 216 base cards and 36 inserts. A full base set is 200 cards so again, in theory, you should be able to get a full base set in each box.

Early on in the first box, I noticed several packs with two inserts. I figured that's how Topps get you. Buy a box, get 99% of a set so you have buy more. But I was pleasantly surprised that when I was done sorting the first box, I did indeed have a complete base set. The second box did as well. Going in, I thought I would end up with about 15-16 sets from my 20 boxes and lots of miscellaneous dupes, but if things hold up, I'll have 20, plus most of the way towards a 21st.

In the first box, I had 209 base cards and 43 inserts. The second box had 210 base cards and 42 inserts. I didn't have a relic hit in either box so I pulled the exact amount of cards as advertised. I haven't compared the odds on each insert yet but at a glance, it looks like I got what I supposed to get for both boxes. The "extra" insert in the first box was a photo parallel. I thought these might be one per box, but I didn't get one in the second box. If I am getting 9-10 base dupes per box, with good collation that 21st set will be real close.

Two boxes in and I think I'm pretty close to attaining the master set that I wanted. A third might do it, again, with good collation. There are a few inserts that won't be completed, even with a case. I was hoping to get close to the photo variations, but if they aren't one per box, I won't be anywhere near as there at least 29 that I've seen.

I've been shutout so far on Stadium Signatures (not autographs, but a set through shows players giving autographs), Dugout Peeks and National Anthem. Luckily, there are only two Cubs between those three checklists so if I don't get too many, not a big loss.

Opening Day Stars are supposed to be a little bit more than one per box and I've pulled three in two boxes. As a 44-card set, I won't get as close as I'd like. We'll see how close I get and then I have to decide if its worth pursuing on the secondary market or through trades.

I noticed when sorting the base set that some of the cards have "changed" since Series 1. Giancarlo Stanton has the same photo but has been photoshopped to make him a Yankee. Jose Quintana, a card I was super collecting from Series 1 because of the photo used, changed photos completely. I'll being taking a closer look at that on the other blog.

Which reminds me, I have followed through on starting a blog for this set. I hope to have a "welcome' post on Sunday and starting showing off cards on Monday. There's nothing there yet, but if you want to get a head start on following, it can be found here. There will more details in the welcome post on Sunday, but I plan to do a bunch of giveaways (what else am I going to do with 20 Opening Day base sets?!?) so I'd recommend it, unbiasedly.

I'll be doing some statistical analysis on Sunday posts, some nerdy stuff, as I'm tracking about 25 different things with this set. I'll feature 4-5 base cards each week, one per day. Four would take me 50 weeks to get through the whole set, wrapping up just in time for next year's set. I'll do inserts on the other days. Again, more details on Sunday.

Here, I'll be doing my Two Random Rynos tomorrow per usual, followed by a 2016 Bunt blaster on Sunday instead of repack. They were my free gifts for ordering my Opening Day case with Dave & Adam's Card World.

I'll also post a reminder about the new blog starting if you haven't headed over already.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Jake Arrieta

Just a few unrelated thoughts and memories of Jake Arrieta now that he is officially with the Phillies.

Although, as the whole gist of this blog is, once a Cub, always a Cub and Arrieta fits the bill. It was somewhat odd to see #OnceaCubAlwaysaCub on twitter yesterday. It wasn't trending or anything but once I saw it, I clicked on it and saw dozens of posts with it. Although for me, Arrieta is one that should go without saying. Two no-hitters, a Cy Young Award, an All-Star selection, a Silver Slugger, a World Series Championship and that 2015 Wild Card game in Pittsburgh will easily cement your place in Cubs lore.

We all kind of knew it was coming but I think more than a few Cubs fans were hoping for a surprise Dexter Fowler-like Spring Training return. That would have been a stacked rotation.

Arrieta was the first active player whose jersey I bought. I have 8 Cubs jerseys, each a different player and design. Jerseys can be a big investment so I take great care in choosing who gets added. I just listed some of his accomplishments, but he is by far the shortest tenured Cub in the wardrobe.

I went with the road blue as that is what I think of when I think Jake Arrieta.

The one he wore when he no-hit the Dodgers in his Cy Young 2015 season.

The one he wore in the 2015 Wild Card game, when he was dominating the Pirates so badly, they tried to take him out at the plate instead.

And the one he wore when he tossed his second no-hitter, this one in 2016 against the Reds. It's one thing to be good at home, but he dominated on the road, too.

I also have this kind of generic Fear the Beard t-shirt that I picked up along the way.

I feel like my Arrieta card collection is lacking because I do not have any relics or autographs, but maybe those prices will come down a bit.

These two Topps Now cards are among my favorites. The one on the left commemorates his second no-hitter and the other is for a bomb he hit in Game 3 of the NLDS in 2016. That was the only game the Cubs lost in that series, in extras to boot, but that was more on the bullpen than him. Note the blue jerseys?

I've always been partial to the 1991 Topps Desert Shield set so when Topps recreated it in 2016 Archives, I scooped up the Arrieta. Again, trademark blue jersey.

It took a true team effort for the Cubs to pile on the runs in Arrieta's 16-0 no hitter so it is only fitting to be recognized in a group celebration shot in 2016 Topps Update.

Arrieta also penned an amazing goodbye note to Chicago and posted it on Twitter. The Cubs are built with a next man up mentality so I don't see this as the potential dynasty crashing down, but it certainly is the end of an era. And it doesn't make it any less sad. Thanks for everything, Jake!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mailday Monday

I took a few sporadic days off last week but it had more to do with lack of time than of post ideas. Sometimes not knowing what I want to talk about, despite lots to show off leads me to not get anything done. I definitely thrive under structure. That said, I've been tinkering with the idea of doing a more formulaic post schedule.

I'm always a fan of alliteration so we'll start off with a Mailday Monday. I'll be bringing back Wroad to Wrigley Wednesdays as I have a slew of minor league Cubs cards to go through as well. My Ivy cards will have a set day now on Franken-Friday. Throwback Thursday will feature some part of my collection that I've had a while but for some reason never featured. This will help me appreciate what I have, while also keeping me motivated on getting everything organized. Saturdays are for Two Random Rynos, and Sundays are for repacks. That leaves just Tuesdays as kind of a wild card.

I had a few eBay envelopes last week but had already scanned them in and filed them away before deciding I would do Mailday Monday. Nothing terribly exciting, parallels of cards I've already shown from Series  and my Heritage team set. Wrigley Wax usually does team set posts so I'll defer to him there.

But a pair of PWEs from Daniel over at It's Like Having My Own Card Shop got me really excited at the tail end of the week. He had offered up some early Donruss cards on a post a few weeks back. While my Cubs team sets are done, I raised my hand for any excess Ivy cards he may have. I knew 1981 Donruss would be a gold mine as there were quite a few on my Elusive Ivy page and Daniel really came through!

Nineteen cards between the two PWEs are all of them were new to me. I've been putting off adding these because I am pretty condition sensitive and would rather pick them up in person at a card show. However, these all came with sharp corners all around and pretty well centered. 

I was not a fan of these Astros uniforms growing up but seeing them again is great nostaligia.

And we definitely need to bring back powder blue more often!

Even the Cardinals look better in blue!

And more blue from Montreal.

A quarter of Giants. The Randy Moffitt might be my favorite from the whole group. A great shot of the whole scoreboard and his jacket underneath reminds me of the sauna suits (trash bags) we would wear while cutting weight for wrestling, whic I'm pretty sure are banned now.

Although the Padres put up a fight with three unique cards themselves. Some early season, leafless vines on the Dennis Kinney card, rain tarp behind Eric Rasmussen and Gene Richards choking waaaay up on that bat.

Not just the powder blues, but you have to love that black and yellow combo too. Fine line between gaudy and awesome.

We'll wrap it up with a Reds player in front of a red door. The doors are all green now and don't stick out as much among the Ivy. I remember them being red but couldn't tell you when they made the switch. 

I had just mentioned on my Friday post that I would pass the 500 mark on my Ivy collection if I pulled the trigger on any of my several online carts and later that day, these arrived. As you can see by the counter in the sidebar, I stand at 508.

Thanks a bunch, Daniel! I'm waiting for my case of Opening Day to arrive this week and I'll get some stuff out to you by next weekend.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Two Random Rynos

In this weekly series, I show off two random Ryne Sandberg cards from my 600+ card PC. One will be from his playing days (pre-1998) and one since his retirement (1998-present).

Playing Days:

This was actually one of my favorite cards as a young collector. I was obviously a huge Ryne Sandberg fan but I also lived in Michigan, outside Detroit for a few years in the early-mid 90's. Cecil Fielder was all the rage. Well, kind of. The Detroit Pistons were coming off back-to-back championships and there's a reason that Detroit is called Hockeytown. For me those sports didn't matter so pairing up two guys who were just mashing home runs was fun. The bright yellow cards were so bad, they were good.

Plus, this was years before interleague play so you didn't get too many of these kinds of matchups that weren't just two separate photos on one card. Because of this, I'm assuming this photo was taken at the All-Star game, and it just so happens that the 1990 game was played at Wrigley Field. Too bad they didn't turn around 180 degrees and get some Ivy in the backdrop, though there were plenty of Ivy cards in this set.

Two random things I noticed. I always thought of Cecil Fielder as a much heavier guy as a kid but he looks fairly normal here. I've noticed that about Tony Gwynn and Kirby Puckett as well. I wouldn't say they look svelte on cards but definitely leaner than I remember. The other thing is the cameo by Darryl Strawberry.

Post Retirement:

I loved the idea behind this Wrigley Field Celebrates 100 Years insert set out of 2016 Topps and actually still need to figure out which ones I need. However, the photo selection on it was a bit lacking. The name kind of gives it away but the whole point of the set is to celebrate Wrigley. So why is Sandberg is a road uniform?

The back goes on to talk about his MVP season in 1984 and according to the caption on the source photo from Getty Images, the picture was taken during Game 4 of the 1984 NLCS. So at least Topps managed to get the year to match the accomplishment. It is a nice photo, but could and should have been used elsewhere. A home jersey from a different year would have been much less noticeable. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Ivy Frankenset Page 1 (Redux)

As most of you know, some of the only non-Cubs cards that enter my collection are in a niche collection that feature Wrigley Field's iconic Ivy in the background. I'm nearing 500 unique cards and have enough in my various online store carts to push me over that milestone at any time. While I will continue to add any and every card I can find that meet the qualifications, a select few will earn their spot in a binder as part of my Ivy Frankenset.

I know it's a little anticlimactic since you have seen all of these cards in the past few weeks as I discussed each one individually. Going forward I might present those breakdown posts a little differently so as not to ruin any surprises. As I did in the original Page 1 post, I will also be posting a few statistics for tracking purposes. I'm trying to get as diverse as possible with the set so tracking which players/teams/set have been used is helpful to me.

Here are my updated eligibility "rules" since I went hogwild and pretty much eliminated the need for Cubs fillers.

#1 - The card must show the Wrigley Field Ivy somewhere in the background. Early season, leafless vines will count if nothing better is available.

#2 - Ivy on card backs (think early Upper Deck) is acceptable, but front trumps back.

#3 - Inserts/Traded/Update sets that use letters as well as numbers are acceptable. The number portion is what will be used.

#4 - I would like to minimize the duplication of players and sets overall so sometimes an obscure player or set will get the nod over bigger names.

Seems pretty self-explanatory to me, but they are my rules so let's get to the page.

1. 1997 Topps Stadium Club #1 Chipper Jones
2. 1981 Donruss #2 Rollie Fingers
3. 2003 Fleer Focus Jersey Edition #3 Trevor Hoffman
4. 2016 Topps New Era #4 Joc Pederson
5. 2011 Topps Marquee #5 Ozzie Smith
6. 2008 Upper Deck Timeline #6 Hanley Ramirez
7. 1988 Fleer Baseball MVP #7 Vince Coleman
8. 1991 Leaf #8 Dave Martinez
9. 1989 Upper Deck #9 Gregg Jefferies

I'm off to a very diverse start. All different players, sets, brands and years. A few duplicate teams but duplicates were going to happen there anyway. Here are the stats I'll be tracking:

Now on to the nerdy record keeping portion of the set. More stats will be added as the set grows. This if for this page. On the post for the next page, I will do that page plus set overall. I will also add trackers for total number of cards for each players and set once I get into duplicates.

Total cards - 9
Total Different Players - 9
Total Different Teams - 7
Hall of Famers - 4 (Counting Chipper and Hoffman early)
Positions depicted on the cards
     Outfield - 3
     Pitcher - 2
     Shortstop - 2
     3rd Base - 1
     SS/3B - 1
Different Years Represented - 9
Different Brands* Represented - 9 
Different Sets** Represented - 9
Duplicate Cards Not Used - 6

* For the purposes of this frankenset, Topps (and their parallels), Opening Day, Stadium Club, Archives, Heritage etc represent their own brands even though the are all made by Topps. The same will be true for all of the other card companies as well.

** For the purposes of this frankenset, brands from different years represent different sets. So 1991 Topps is different from 1992 Topps.

As mentioned, there were 6 cards that did not make the cut for the Frankenset. 

1996 Topps Gallery #1 Tom Glavine
1991 Score Rookies #5 Omar Olivares
2001 Topps Post #5 Greg Maddux
1990 Score 100 Superstars #6 Ozzie Smith
1988 Fleer League Leaders #7 Vince Coleman
1987 Fleer #9 Dwight Gooden

All of these players have been or will be represented later in the set. There are no other cards from the 1996 Topps Gallery or 2001 Topps Post sets that I know of, but the brands show up later. I think.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

I Was There! 2018 Topps #175 Jose Quintana

My pick for my favorite card of 2017 was a simple base card of Jose Quintana out of Topps Update that spawned more than twenty parallels between its base, chrome, mini and jumbo iterations. I happened to have been at the game when the photo was taken so it added some fun to the chase.


Fast forward to 2018 and Quintana flagship card is from the same game. I just hit the 10th different parallel mark, so time to show some off. I won't bother rehashing the game again, but you can see some photos and a video from the game on my 2017 post here.

Toys R Us Purple

I bought a number of packs this year from Toys R Us, but didn't pull any purple Cubs. These seem to dry up pretty quick and fetch more than the Target Reds and Walmart Blues ever did.

Gold #0744/2018

Golds are the most plentiful numbered cards. Because of that, they tend to be the only parallel I will chase a team set of. Especially now that the aforementioned unnumbered Target Reds and Walmart Blues went away.

Vintage Stock #61/99
The Vintage Stock have the old school feel to them and the retro Topps logo. I might have to look into finding the rest of the team set for these. Limited to 99 isn't too crazy, but some of the more popular players fetch a premium.

Black #02/67
The number of black cards goes up by one every year as they represent the number of years Topps has been making cards. They also remind me to dust my scanner.

Unnumbered Black & White Negative
As I said the other day, these Black & White Negative cards have to be the ugliest parallel. Although they are unnumbered, I have seen speculation based on odds that there are probably around 50 copies or so of these. 

Mother's Day pink #11/50

The Mother's Day Pink and Father's Day Blue are actually numbered to 50 copies. Still looking for the latter.

5x7 #01/49

I picked up one of the 5x7's. The same seller has the gold version that is limited to 10, but I didn't pull the trigger there. Maybe after the Opening Day case break.

These last two are straight up money grabs for Topps. The card on the left is the Blank Back 1/1 that Topps offers through their eBay store of just about every card they make. The card on the right is another 1/1, this one through their Transcendent VIP party. Pay a lot of money, get some swag. I can only imagine how disappointed the seller was to pull the Quintana.

These 10, plus the 19 parallels from 2017 and the Topps Now card bring me to 30 cards from Jose Quintana's Cubs debut. A checklist hasn't been released, but I anticipate a few more out of Opening Day and probably Mini later in the year. I believe he'll also be included in the 17-card factory team set.

Despite 10 versions, I'm still on the lookout for these others:

Rainbow Foil
Independence Day - /76
Father's Day Blue - /50
Memorial Day Camo - /25
Platinum - 1/1
Any Printing Plates - 1/1
5x7 Gold - /10