Thursday, January 31, 2013

Some preemptive error avoidance

The other day, I posted about a mistake I made on one of my ATCRCS cards. I really wanted to avoid something like that and have spent a lot of extra time double and triple checking my blurbs and statistics.

About a year ago, I came across a photo of Tony La Russa in a Cubs uniform and knew I wanted to make that card immediately. I was pretty sure the "R" was capitalized, but I've seen his name spelled different ways in all seemingly official capacities. I was mostly concerned with the fact of whether there was a space betwen the "La" and the "Russa" or not.

Topps didn't seem to know:

Baseball Reference has him listed with no space although if you type in La Russa, it comes up:

ESPN and the Cardinals website have him listed with a space in a couple of the press releases I saw:

And Wikipedia (which means nothing with its multiple editor approach but makes it more confusing) is filled with both but leans heavily towards a space. The page even redirects from Tony LaRussa with no space:

So what was I to do? Well, I went directly to the source! I sent a note to the future Hall of Fame manager himself, posing my question. In about two months time, I received the following response:

For good measure, I put in a line for an autograph. I came across this again recently while putting some things in order. Now I really have to finish making that card and get it out to him!

For those wondering about La Russa's ties to the Cubs, he was traded by the Braves to the Cubs following the 1972 season. He made one appearance on April 6, 1973, as a pinch runner for Ron Santo, and scored the game winning run. He spent the rest of the season down in AAA Wichita (had a decent season) and then his contract was sold to the Pirates. He bounced around the minors between the Pirates, White Sox and Cardinals but never reached the MLB level again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2013 Fantasy Baseball League + Topps Series 1

You probably didn't notice so I'll point it out right now. With the release of 2013 Topps Series 1, I decided to go ahead and start the ball rolling on the Fantasy Baseball League I'll be running through Yahoo. I added a new tab at the top of the page that has a bunch of the rules (mostly a recap of my intitial post but a little more formalized), the plan for prizes and a running tab of readers/fellow bloggers who committed to join.

I also went ahead and used my buy-in money to pick up a blaster from Wal-mart:

So click the tab at the top and if you're interested, leave a comment and I'll add you to the list. 

It was tough to not pick up a blaster for myself but I'm going to try to go about my collecting a little differently this year. I went ahead and bought my Cubs team set from a pre-sale on ebay. In an effort to save a little bit of money, I'm going to test my willpower and hold out for the inevitable price reduction to build my set. I prefer hand collating the sets which is still pretty pricey compared to buying a factory sealed one but we'll see how it goes. Last year's Series 1 hobby boxes can be had for about half the original price. Sure I'll miss out on wrapper redemptions and code cards but I've never really done those anyway.

There is a big card show near me in March (or maybe April this year?) so I'm going to try to hold out at least until then. Hopefully even until Series 2 drops in June. We'll see!

That's not to say I'm not interested in your Cubs parallels!

I did already cave and bought one jumbo pack just to tide me over though. Any non-Cubs posted below are available for grabs.

As stated on the package, I pulled 3 of the blue bordered parallels. All horizontal cards and you know how much I like those! When I first saw the base card design, I was a little skeptical of how they would translate to a horizontal design but they are much better than I expected.

I couldn't find the odds on the jumbo pack for the Emerald parallels but I did pull one. They are 1:6 hobby packs though.

These Chasing History cards seem to be part of the same series so I don't know why the Willie Mays is vertical and the Hanley Ramirez and Frank Robinson are horizontal. 

This was a Josh Reddick hot pack. The gold card is numbered out of 2013 and is a 1:5 pack pull. Nothing extra special about the Chasing the Dream card although there are apparently autographed versions of these inserts.

There are 6 Cubs with base cards in Series 1 but I didn't pull any of them. I did however, manage to pull one of the inserts, a 1972 Mini Anthony Rizzo. I'll take that.

And the only base card worth noting (unless I somehow missed an SP because I haven't figured those out yet) was a Jake Odorizzi rookie. He came through the Carolina League two seasons ago with the Wilmington Blue Rocks so we saw him play against the Potomac Nationals. I have no feelings one way or the other for the Royals but its always nice to see these guys from A ball make it to the show. I think I have a Pro Debut signed by him but I'll have to go back and look.

I do like the Career Chase line added to the backs of the card just below the personal statistics. However, this one on Odorizzi's card is a little on the ridiculous side:

 With 4 strikeouts, Odorizzi is 5710 away from Nolan Ryan's all-time record of 5,714.

Also, no 2012 MLB stats on the card? Just minor leagues? Where did those 4 K's come from?

On the other hand, they got Tyler Clippard's just plain wrong. Topps claims Mariano Rivera's save record is 575. You can see by the Brian Wilson I posted for comparison, the current record is 608. Not only that, but Clippard's total of "33" plus "519 saves away" adds up to 552? Yeah, yeah, I know. From yesterday's post, I'm one to complain about Topps mistakes, right?

If you made it this far, I'll remind you again: Go check out the Fantasy League!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rick Wrona

I knew it would happen one of these days. Despite all of the precautions and re-writes I do to make sure my information is accurate, I made a mistake in one of my blurbs. Frustrated. Embarrassed. Blurg.

This is the final card of the four I sent in to the fundraiser/private signing event. Rick Wrona wasn't able to make it to the event but Robert (the guy who did a lot of the work getting everything signed for me and countless others) went above and beyond, meeting with Wrona a few days later. This extra time probably allowed Wrona to actually read the back blurb and note the mistake. Which he did. And initialed his correction, haha.

But to be fair, we were both slightly wrong. My blurb was perfectly fine up until the last line where I made the claim that that particular game clinched the National League for the Cubs. Wrona did hit a double and later scored the game winning run in that game on September 11, 1989 against the Montreal Expos.

It was a couple of weeks later though that the Cubs clinched the division, also against the Expos. Silly me for thinking the Cubs could clinch a division that early in the season. Wrona was correct that he did hit a triple in that game but he drove in a run rather than scoring the winning run.

Oh yeah, you might want to see the actual autograph too, right?

I have decided to rewrite/correct the blurb and send it TTM with a few extras for him to keep. I'll post an update when/if I get something back.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Get Well Repack Box

When I was sick last weekend, my wife tried to cheer me up with a repack box.

It worked.

Not that I pulled anything great, but ripping packs is always a good time. It was from the same Five Below store as my last one and the same style (4 unopened packs + 100 random cards) although this time I got two of the 2008 First Edition Update packs from Upper Deck. (Last time it was 1 regular and 1 Update.)

The best thing out of the 5 card pack of Fleer Ultra was this Justin Morneau Feel the Game insert. Not a relic though so not sure how I'm supposed to feel the game...

In the first Update pack, I pulled another Johnny Cueto RC but the guaranteed Starquest card this time was BJ Upton.

And from the other pack, I pulled former Cub Cliff Floyd, future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson and an Ichiro Starquest. I really like the photography on the Randy Johnson card too. Looks like a comebacker that only a  6'10" pitcher could snag.

Again, the 1989 Jumbo pack brought back some memories. Twenty plus years laters, I could probably cover the names and tell you who each and every player was.

This pack's Rookie was David Wells. Normally, I would blame my scanner, but this card actually was dirty at the top.

A record breaker, an All-Star Hall of Famer and a base Hall of Famer. I miss Record Breaker and All-Star cards in the following year's set. The "3rd" Series (whatever they call it these days (Traded, Updates & Highlights etc) should have remained rookies and traded players. We're probably due for a Turn Back the Clock subset or something.

A current (at the time) Cub in Argenis Salazar, future (at the time) Cubs in Luis Salazar and Willie Wilson and a #1 Draft Pick Gregg Olson. My brother was an Orioles fan growing up and in 1989, if I pulled this card I was obligated to give it to him. In return, I was given any Future Star Mike Harkey cards he managed to pull. 

On to the random 100 cards. Oldest card in the box was this 1981 Topps Alan Bannister. 

Lots of future and former Cubs in this box but not quite as many current Cubs. I'm pretty sure the O-Pee-Chee Danny Jackson is new to me, though the Dascenzo and Sutcliffe are dupes.


Future Cub Terry Francona, former AND future Cub Steve Lake

All future Cubs with the exception of Campbell who played for them in 1982 and 1983.

Former Cub with a sweet 'stache Tim Stoddard, future Cubs manager Jim Lefebvre and current assistant hitting coach Rob Deer. He joins former Brewers teammates Dale Sveum and Chris Bosio on the Cubs coaching staff for 2013.

A couple of Hall of Famers from the Topps UK Minis series to go along with the Sutlcliffe I showed above. I probably picked up my Cubs versions at card shows but I have no idea how these were packaged and released originally. 

Like the last batch, I will probably sort these by team and use them to fill trade packages. Only keeping the actual Cubs cards. Again, not too shabby for $5 and since it didn't come out of my card money, even better.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sandberg Sunday - Stand-Up Guys

A few weeks ago, I did a post on a bulk Cubs card package I picked up. The next day when I posted scans, I included some of the only Ryne Sandberg card in the package that I didn't already have. It was a 1998 Pinnacle Inside card from the Stand-Up Guys insert series. The card I received was card 14-A on one side (Sandberg and Craig Biggio) and 14-B on the other (Roberto Alomar and Chuck Knoblauch).

While doing a little organizing, I came across a stack of cards I had scanned but not yet put away and that card was in it. A quick search and price comparison on ebay and Sportlots yielded the other half. Card 14-C (Sandberg and Alomar) on one side, 14-D (Knoblauch and Biggio on the other) showed up last week.

And the two cards together, in action:

This set of cards will go into my Sandberg PC but I like the way these look so I have decided to pick up another pair to display on a shelf somewhere. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jim Sundberg

To be honest, the thing I remember most about Jim Sundberg's playing time with the Cubs is the confusion it caused broadcaster Harry Caray. With Ryne Sandberg and Scott Sanderson also playing for the Cubs at the time, he would, on occasion mix up the names. I remember watching a game live at least once when this happened, but when these stories are retold they seem to be greatly exaggerated as to the frequency of the incidents.

Jim Sundberg was a catcher and as a lefty myself, that was a position I never associated with growing up. I played every other position but there was never a left-handed catcher's mitt for me to use. I probably would have liked being involved in every play but I also didn't have the bat typically associated with the position. I was more of the scrappy Ichiro type, getting on base and into scoring position.

With the exception of Jody Davis, it seemed to be kind of a rotating door behind the plate for a while. Ron Hassey. Steve Lake. Joe Girardi. Damon Berryhill. Rick Wrona. Hector Villanueva. Jim Sundberg. Like most people, I associate Sundberg more with the Rangers, but as the blog says, Once a Cub...Always a Cub.

Friday, January 25, 2013

First Pitch Friday - Shawn Johnson

Shawn Johnson has been in the public eye for quite a few years now. In fact, there's been a whole other Summer Olympics since first arriving in the spotlight in Beijing in 2008. Unfortunately, due to injuriesshe wasn't able to compete in London last summer but she followed up winning a gold and three silver medals in Beijing with a Season 8 victory on Dancing with the Stars. Recently, she finished second in the All-Stars edition of the show.

In addition to throwing out the first pitch, Johnson was the guest conductor for the 7th inning stretch too.

Also notable that day? Cubs defeat the Astros in the 13th inning with a walk-off grand slam by Alfonso Soriano to maintain a half game division lead over the Cardinals.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

George Frazier

This is another card from the fundraiser/private signing event. I really like how this one came out. George Frazier's signature isn't necessarily as legible as Bob Anderson's from yesterday but it has a lot of flourish. I could probably make a pretty good guess towards "George" but probably wouldn't ever pull "Frazier" out of there. Still better than the scribbles and/or initials of many current players. I was also a little nervous about how this one would turn out seeing as he is wearing the solid blue jersey rather than the home pinstripes. But unlike the Chris Speier card from a few weeks ago, this one looks just as good in person as the scan.

I made a mention in the blurb that Frazier came from the Indians in a multi-player trade. These were the days of blockbuster trades where 6, 7, 8 guys swapped teams. This trade brought Rick Sutcliffe and Ron Hassey to the Cubs as well. In return, the Cubs sent Joe Carter, Mel Hall, Don Schulze and Daryl Banks to the Cleveland Indians

Hassey is still the only player to catch two perfect games. Sutcliffe was a former ROY with the Indians and went on to win the Cy Young award the year of the trade with a 20-6 record (16-1 after joining Cubs). Joe Carter hit the famous home run to end the 1993 World Series for the Blue Jays against former Cub Mitch Willliams. Mel Hall finished 3rd in the ROY voting in 1983. Banks was a former 1st Round draft pick for the Cubs. 

So saying there was multi-player trade may have been a bit of an understatement. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bob Anderson

Sorry for the lack of posts the past few days but whatever sickness my kids had finally made its way to me over the holiday weekend. Isn't that how it always goes? Oh, long weekend? Gonna relax a little? Nope, body revolts. I managed to do a little blog reading and leave some comments with my phone but couldn't really muster the effort to get my actual computer.

Anyway, I recently sent in some of my ATCRCS cards to a fundraiser/private signing event held by another collector on SCN. There were probably 20-25 total players there and four of them were former Cubs. All of them are pretty good TTM signers but the prices were very reasonable and the money went to a good cause so I think it was a win/win. Don't worry, I won't hit you with them all at once like I did with my Tony Campanas.

Like most athletes from before my time, Bob Anderson has a nice, long, fairly legible signature. If I came across this signature on a blank index card and didn't know anything about Bob Anderson, I would probably guess that was the person's name. Can you miss the good ol' days if you weren't actually there?

I made this card around this time last year for the same event but missed the deadline. I meant to send them as a TTM request instead but never got around to it. So when I saw he woud be at the event again, I made sure to sent this one in with the other Cubs. Anderson played for some pretty bad Cubs teams in the late 1950's and early 1960's. There wasn't a whole lot of biographical information to go on so I remember this being one of the first blurbs where I had to really dig into the boxscores and find some nuggets. Although his wiki entry has a story about a wacky play, it was much too detailed to include as a blurb. I would bet that it was written up as one of those "You Make the Call" type columns that used to be in Baseball Digest or something like that.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Signature Saturday - Tony Campana

For those tired of me talking about Tony Campana, you may want to skip this post. There's a lot of reading but also a lot of pictures!

So what would you do if you found out your favorite (current) player was offering a free signing, but it was almost 500 miles away? Would you make the trip? Would you just say, oh well, maybe next time? Well if you're me, you'd find somebody who was going and try to piggyback a few things onto their stuff.

I was just about to post a request on the SCN message board to see if anybody was going when, lo and behold, somebody preemptively made a post offering help! As I said, it was a free signing but I offered a little something extra for his time and effort and we struck a deal.

The signing was in Knoxville, TN where Campana played AA ball with the Tennessee Smokies. It was free autographs from a player who has a small cult following so I had no idea how big the crowd would be. A list of things immediately sprung to mind to get signed but I couldn't choose. I ended up sending a bunch of items and figured I'd be happy with whatever came back.

And boy am I happy! You've seen these enough on this blog so I won't go into too much detail here. These are Tony's two Topps base cards.

Sticking with cards, below are a couple of my Tony Campana custom cards. The Pass custom on the left has been in my blog header for a couple of weeks now. The black shadow on the left side of the card is from the scan. There's a slight curvature of the card due to it being printed on photo paper. The Hustle, Not Muscle card was recently featured here on the blog and talks about Campana's only MLB home run so far, an inside the park job.

This is the third version of a Tony Campana card from the 2012 Team Set that I've gotten signed but it was actually the first one I made. After realizing, he basically had the same pose on his two Topps cards, I decided to make one of him batting instead. And also one of him running the bases. But this one had such a nice signing area, I decided to send it too.

Another thing I mentioned fairly recently was trying to get an 8x10 signed from the pictures used on Campana's Topps cards. Misson accomplished! I went with the vertical option for both and am excited with how they turned out. Not sure when I'll get these framed up because that project will probably cost a whole lot more than I spent gathering all the pieces!

I also picked up two more 8x10's. The first one is from Campana's 1st MLB home run and is the same photo I used in the custom card. This is the only piece I wanted an inscription on (something denoting the feat) but I can't really complain about a free signing, right? Looks good anyway!

This last 8x10 just looked like a fun picture. Nothing much to add, just really liked it.

Some of you may remember that I am slowly but surely adding ice cream helmets signed by "significant" Cubs players. I'm pretty sure all of the ones I have gotten have won some kind of award or honor while with the Cubs. All-Star. Gold Glove. HOF. But I'm also pretty sure being considered a favorite player is "significant" enough. It's my collection, I make the rules, so shutup already!

And last but not least, we have a staple to most autograph collections, a signed baseball. I have a few signed baseballs but not too many of them survived one of my purges. The balls tend to discolor or the ink fades or bleeds so I've stayed away from getting any new ones. This is an official Major League Baseball signed in blue ink so I'm hoping this one holds up.

Anybody else have multiple autographs from one player of the non-certified variety? I have many more Ryne Sandberg autographs but most of them are certified cards from packs.