Tuesday, May 31, 2016

1991 Topps Desert Shield #35 Greg Maddux

I was going to post this yesterday as it came in the mail sometime last week. But I didn't want to exploit the holiday in any way. This set means a lot to me as it came out when we were stationed overseas (Germany) and my dad spent some time in Iraq. The regular version of this set was also the last complete flagship set I completed before exiting the hobby the first time around.

I'm down to needing just a few unsigned cards and quite a bit more signed but I crossed a biggie off the list in Greg Maddux. As I've mentioned, I'm trying to be a little more condition sensitive with cards from this set and from what I've seen, there are quite a bit of centering issues with 1991 Topps in general.

This card was graded an 8 by Beckett but if you zoom in, you can see it received a 9.5 for centering. And to the naked eye, the edges and corners look as good to me as any I've seen.

Now, when you flip it over, you can see a little browning (gum? wax?) on the back which is probably why it earned a 7 on that sub grade. I can live with that as its nowhere near as bad looking in person. And its the back.
When the opportunity arises to get this signed, I'll crack it out of its case, hopefully without ruining it. Anybody have experience with that? Any tips or tricks?
The Maddux card brings me to 27/32 to complete the unsigned set and I'm still sitting at 7/32 signed.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Repack Sunday

It's Sunday, which means another repack box. I don't get out of my shopping comfort zone very often, so another one from Five Below it is.

Let's start with a look at the package guarantees.

One of these days I'll look more into these Chipz. I don't have Cubs. Previously, I have pulled a red one and a white one. Today's chip is blue. Are they parallels or or just randomly different colors?

Like last week's repack, the sole representative from the 1970's was also a former/future Cubs player. Larry Gura was drafted by the Cubs in 1969, made his debut in 1970 and spent parts of four seasons with the Cubs before short term stops in the Rangers and Yankees organizations. The bulk of his career was spent in Kansas City before returning for a partial final season with the Cubs in 1985.

I only had Tony Gwynn set aside for the Hall of Famer(s) guaranteed in the box because I had the Ryne Sandberg cards grouped with the Cubs. I think Gwynn can share the spotlight though as there were a couple of Cubs cards coming up later. Ozzie Smith also makes an appearance.

There were three cards designated as rookies in the box but this Josh Satin was the only one that doesn't fit another category later.

With the guarantees out of the way, let's see what else was in the miscellaneous cards that caught my attention. I like to show guys that I call Hall of Pretty Gooders. Guys that ended up in my binders 25 years ago but didn't find way to Cooperstown. Today's repack was very pitcher-centric.

Surprisingly, to me anyway, Dave Stieb was the only non 20-game winner in the group. He had several really good seasons but topped out at 18 wins (also hitting 17 three times though). Former Cub Mike Krukow makes an appearance too.

Speaking of Cubs, here are the rest of the former/future Cubs:

I'm too lazy to look now, but Billy Hatcher and Chris Speier were at one point coaches together with the Reds. Not sure if they still are. Speier's son also had a very brief stint with the Cubs.

Taylor Teagarden is a free agent with a looming PED suspension. Joe Carter could have fit into the Hall of Pretty Good category but since he wasn't a pitcher, he goes with the former Cubs. And the Casey McGehee card would fit into anybody's donut/on deck circle collection. (See yesterday's post about niches/mini collections as its going into a pile).

And let's not forget the actual Cubs from the box. 

Joining the Sandberg cards above, you can never go wrong with these two fan favorites from my youth, even with that pesky "Now with Braves" designation. One more player shows up later in one of the packs.

Anybody collect non-autographed autograph cards? If so, check my post from yesterday.

No luck with adding an Ivy card this go around but there plenty of horizontals.

This Ryan Zimmerman is an insert and uses his initials instead of giving it a card number so it goes into the horizontal collection but won't make the Frankenset.

A nice group celebration shot with cameos by former Cub Rafael Palemiro and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken.

Drew Pomeranz is having a pretty good season with the Padres this year. He's currently 2nd in the NL with a 1.70 ERA despite a 4-4 record.

Here is third and final of the aforementioned rookie cards and the first of three plays at the plate. Well, there doesn't appear to be an actual play here but the next two have one.

One for the catcher and...

...one for the runner.

Not much to say about Yankees and Cardinals cards other than....meh. I guess the Wellemeyer counts as a former Cub.

The two unopened packs were from 2014 Topps Update and some recent year of Triple Play (they blend together for me.

An insert and a bunting card (again, check out my post from yesterday).

And a Starlin Castro sticker out of Triple Play.

I did pick up a second repack while I was there for next week. After that one, I'm going to look around for a different kind, just to freshen things up a bit.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Show Me Your Niche! (And get some free cards!)

I recently had the opportunity to access parts of my collection I haven't seen in a while. Over the years that I've been opening repacks and blasters and hobby boxes I have accumulated way too many cards that don't fit into my personal collection.

So over the next few weeks, I will be sorting through these cards with the intent to do a big purge. I don't know that I'll have time to go through specific set want lists but if you want me to keep an eye out for anything, let me know.

Below is a list of mini collections I'll be keeping an eye out for. Please feel free to add anything in the comments I may have missed. Better yet, claim something.

Double Plays
Plays at the Plate
Catchers in Gear
Pitchers at the Plate
Diving Plays
Horizontal Cards
Bubble Gum
Throwback Jerseys
Batting Donuts/Fungo Bats
Rookie Cards (that have the visible RC designation)
Multiple Bats
Dugout Shots
On Deck
Commemorative/Memorial Patches
Cards with awards showing

The rest will end up in team lots so feel free to claim a team too, but be aware it'll probably be a lot of base cards, junk wax era to present.

I ran a similar post a few years back but I'm looking to refresh my list. Even if you commented last time, please do so again.

Thanks for your help in getting me organized!

Friday, May 27, 2016

No Jinxies!

Last season, when the Cubs won nine games in a row, manager Joe Maddon admitted to wearing the same pair of socks during the streak. When asked about it, he quoted The Office and said he wasn't superstitious, he was only a little stitious. Which reminded me of this particular photo from one of the episodes:

So I made this:

What does that have to do with anything?

Yesterday, I made a brief mention that Jake Arrieta had a start more reminiscent of his Baltimore days but still managed to get the win and tie a Major League record in the process. Not even a few hours later Topps came out with one of its Topps Now cards commemorating the event.

I can see how a "streak has ended" card would probably be a little anticlimactic for Topps. The print run on Arrieta's "scoreless innings streak at Wrigley over" card sold just 365 copies. But I'm not sure how I feel about a record tying card either. On the flip side, the history making card following his second no-hitter has the second highest print run to date at 1808 copies. If he does break the record, does he get another card? This post will publish before the sale of the card is over so I'll be a little curious to see how other collectors will feel about it via the final tally produced.

Yes, I bought some so yes, I will have extras if anybody else is interested in a trade. By the time it shows up at my doorstep in two weeks, we'll know whether Arrieta stays tied with Atlanta's Kris Medlen (of all people???) or manages to break the record.

His opponent as he goes for the record? The Los Angeles Dodgers, who haven't gotten a hit off of him since 2013. Ok, ok so his no-hitter in August was the only time he faced them last season and the schedules didn't align in 2014 for Arrieta to see them.

But doesn't that make it sound more dramatic?

Wouldn't it be fun to laugh at the futility of the Dodgers? Oh wait. At that time, the Cubs were managed by Dale Sveum and sitting in the NL Central cellar at 55-76 while Don Mattingly had the Dodgers in first place with a nearly opposite record at 77-54.

To quote Joe Maddon quoting Michael Scott, I'm only a little stitious.

Jinxies for Jackie Bradley Jr. and his hit streak. Topps Now made a card when he reached halfway to Joe DiMaggios 56 games. Bradley ended up 5 games short of Dom DiMaggio's Red Sox record of 34 games.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

ATCRCS - Anthony Young

Cubs ace Jake Arrieta had a bit of a rough outing yesterday with a lot of "first time in a long time" things going on. It had been a while since he had given up a first inning run or four earned runs in an appearance. But the Cubs' bats found their way back in St. Louis after a rough start to their road trip and helped Arrieta reach 9-0. It was his twentieth consecutive winning decision and the Cubs have won his last 23 regular season starts, tying the MLB record.

Today's featured ATCRCS card features a player with the opposite record.

From May 6, 1992 - July 24, 1993, Mets pitcher Anthony Young was on the losing end of 27 consecutive decisions. One of the major differences between Arrieta's streak and Young's though is that Young worked a lot out of the bullpen too. Fourteen of his losses came as a starter while 13 were in relief. And he wasn't even that bad. He converted 12 straight Saves and at one point had 23 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings during the streak.

He was traded to the Cubs prior to the 1994 season and went 7-10 with a 3.87 ERA in his two seasons with the team. His Cubs debut was a perfect inning of relief against his former team. His other 19 appearances that season were starts, while in 1995, he made just one start in his 32 outings.

I sent this card into a private signing I had heard about last year through SCN. While the signature is mostly A----y Y---g I do like that he added his number 16, one of four numbers he wore during his career but only during his time with the Cubs. He sported 33 and 19 with the Mets and 22 in his lone season with the Astros following his Cubs tenure. A lot of guys will sign their current number if they are active regardless of what they wore with a previous team, or the number they played the longest with.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wroad to Wrigley Wednesday - 2015 Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Last year on my road trip I picked up team sets at all of my minor league stops. In this alliteratively titled feature I'm calling Wroad to Wrigley Wednedsay, I'm showing off these team sets, figuring out whether these guys are still in the system, and if so, where.

Today's stop brings us the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, part of the Class A-Advanced Carolina League. The 2015 season was the team's first as part of the Chicago Cubs organization and they signed a two-year deal. The Carolina League has an interesting playoff format, to me at least.

And the reason I mention the playoff format is that the Pelicans are currently the defending Carolina League Champions, having swept the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals) three games to none.

Here's the link to my recap of the awesome experience I had as part of my Cubs themed road trip last summer.

But now, on to the cards! The set comes in at a pretty robust 35 cards with 26 players, 3 mascots and 6 manager/coach/field staff cards. Some minor league team sets are unnumbered but I like the way this one is done. The manager got card #1. Then the players are cards 2-27 alphabetical by last name and followed by the rest of the coaches and the mascots. But I'm going to break them down into groups the way I did it last week.

The Management:

Manager Mark Johnson led the Pelicans to the championship last season and therefore earned a promotion up to Double AA Tennessee. As I mentioned last week, Smokies manager Buddy Bailey takes over the Pelicans for 2016.

Mariano Duncan remains the hitting coach and is in his sixth season with the Cubs and 3rd with the Class A-Advanced Cubs affiliate (having spent a year with the Daytona Cubs prior to Myrtle Beach becoming the affiliate).

Pitching Coach David Rosario has moved to South Bend in the same position with his role in Nyrtle Beach filled this season by Anderson Tavares. Rosario is in his 13th season with the Cubs organization.

Last season Chris Gutierrez was the Assistant Coach but can't seem to find where he has moved on to this year.

Similarly, Peter Fagan was the Athletic Trainer last season but that position now belongs to Toby Williams.

Jason Morriss remains the Strength and Conditioning Coach and is in his fourth season with the Cubs organization and second with the Pelicans.

Returing Pelicans:

These six players, as of today are again competing for the Pelicans this season. Shawon Dunston Jr. was on the DL last season when we saw them play.

Moving On Up:

Holy Smokes! That's some good progression to see 11 guys moving up to the next level. Some of these names are familiar as they've been in major card releases such as Topps Pro Debut and  Bowman Prospects.


Kinda, sorta, but not really. Andrew Ely was assigned to the Pelicans out of Spring Training in 2015 but ended up on the DL instead. When he came off, he actually split the 2015 season between the South Bend Cubs and Eugene Emeralds, never actually playing for Myrtle Beach. He began this season with South Bend.

Seen last week:

Not only did these guys get Pelicans cards, but eagle-eyed readers may remember these guys from last week's Tennesse Smokies set. Darvill began the season in Myrtle Beach but was called up to Tennessee in May last year. He elected free agency and has yet to sign on anywhere for 2016.

Like Darvill. McKinney began 2015 with the Pelicans but got a May call up. Unlike Darvill, he is still with the Cubs, and playing in Tennessee this season. He had a walk off bases loaded single on two nights ago.

Movin' On Out: No Longer on the Wroad to Wrigley

Kvein Brown, Jasvir Rakkar, Jacob Rogers, Tyler Scott and Ben Wells were all released during or right after Spring Training this year. Michael Heesch was claimed off waivers and is currently assigned to the Palm Beach Cardinals.


Deuce is a well trained English Yellow Lab and probably what every guy dreams of when he thinks of having a dog. As you can see on the card, he brings a bucket of baseballs to the umpire before the start of the game and you can find him in the Pelicans team store or around the concourse during the game. Also, after a Pelicans win, he takes a victory lap around the bases

The Rally Shark appears after Pelicans home runs and during the late innings when the crowd needs a little extra motivation.

Splash the Pelican is the main mascot and is in his 18th season with the club. He's no bear but between Clark in Chicago and Cubbie in Iowa, that's ok. He seems to really embody the Myrtle Beach lifestyle. With only a two year deal between Myrtle Beach and the Cubs, there's no sense in making any big changes.

Next week, we'll travel to South Bend and see what their team set brings.