Tuesday, May 30, 2017

2017 Topps Now Road to Opening Day Cubs Team Set

After last year's expansive (and expensive) Cubs Topps Now run, I was very hesitant to start up again in 2017. I felt last season was like catching lightning in a bottle, chronicling the World Series run and this year was going to be...meh.

Well then Topps sent me the Mike Trout coupon code card and I bit the bullet on the Spring Training/Road to Opening Day (whatever they call it) set.

As others have mentioned, the checklists weren't fully released by the deadline. I waited until the very last day to buy mine and it was still only about half announced.

Unlike some of the others teams I have seen, the Cubs had some uniform diversity. The home pinstripes that Kris Bryant wears isn't that different from their regular season unis but the chain link fence in the background screams Spring Training facility. Jon Lester's blue uniform sports the white lettering and numbering on the backs. You can also see the AZ patch on Anthony Rizzo's card.

The Addison Russell is pretty generic but the posed Javier Baez shot is very Heritage-y. Ben Zobrist is sporting a mixed uniform of road blue jersey with home pinstripe pants which is a Spring Training only thing. The blue jersey pairs with grey pants (like the Lester and Rizzo above) in the regular season.

The Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Willson Contreras also are shots that I would say are unique to Spring Training. Here, Schwarber sports the pinstripe pants. and again you see the AZ patch on Schwarber's arm as he leaves the dugout. A posed shot from Heyward as he stands near where Baez had his photo taken. Contreras appears to be carrying his gear somewhere.

A trio of generic shots here with Albert Almora Jr, Miguel Montero and Kyle Hendricks. More blue with pinstripes on the latter two. Hendricks is so lanky in his delivery that a horizontal version may have worked better here but all 15 cards in the set were vertical. Maybe a different shot altogether should have been used.

Wrapping up the set is a trio of pitchers all in different uniforms. We also get one of, if not the first non-photoshopped Cubs card of new closer Wade Davis.

Overall I'm pretty happy with the set. The coupon was nice but still a little overpriced. The player selection here was good, everybody made the team out of Spring Training (probably one of the hold ups of getting the checklist out for teams in general).

The photo selection was decent, a nice mix of posed, candid and action. Some sets I've seen had some really nice shots but nothing jumped out at me as amazing here. I probably would have gone with different photos for Montero (can't see his face), Hendricks (as stated above, horizontal or choose another photo altogether) and Lackey (cut off his hand). The Schwarber is probably my favorite in the group. The Contreras would be right up there if it was a little more zoomed out. I liked the two duffle bag shots that made it into the Pirates set and something closer to those would have been great.

Only 287 of these regular Cubs team sets were sold which seemed shockingly low to me. But then I saw the other team print runs. Yikes! Price point? Burnt out? Incomplete checklists? Not yet in the baseball mood? Probably all of the above.

And amazingly, an additional 699 Cubs sets that came with an autographed card were also sold. That seems incredibly backwards. People thought, hey I'm spending $50, let me spend just $70 more for an autographed card? I think some of the other teams had cheaper options but the Cubs set was $119.99. Too steep for me.

The Cubs had Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jason Heyward and Wade Davis as their signers. 

I've seen plenty of sets and singles on eBay but non of the Cubs autographed cards yet. I wonder if they haven't shipped yet? That's a long time for these resellers to be sitting on debt and not having product to flip. I ordered mine on April 4th (last day to order) and received them on May 3rd. That's a bit longer than the standard Topps Now turnaround but considering they hadn't finalized the checklist, not terrible.

I like the simple design on the back, very clean cut. You can see the rainbow from the scan which is new to this year's cards. I was a little surprised with the numbering. Last year's post season team sets were individually numbered to 15 for each team whereas they made Road the Opening Day one big set, continuously numbered. The Cubs are OD-301 to OD-315, which I guess makes them the 21st team in whatever order the used. You would think the champs could get top billing.

There are a couple of incentive based bonus cards that a few of the teams have already earned so hopefully I'll end up with one (or more!) of those. The Cubs have a small first place lead as I write this and if they can hold off til the All-Star break, that triggers one of them. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

2016 Topps Archives Desert Shield Cubs Team Set (Almost)

Followers of the blog know that I am attempting to collect a signed version of the 1991 Topps Desert Shield Cubs team set. I had a pack's worth as a kid that I had to split with my older brother and no Cubs. Twenty plus years later when I came back to the hobby, I stumbled across a common for a couple of bucks and picked it up without hesitation. Fast forward a couple of years and I am only missing one unsigned card from the set and have gotten 9 of the 32 cards signed already.

The missing card is out there, but it's almost like finishing a really good book. I don't necessarily want it to end. I know, I know, the chase for getting them autographed is still there but....

Last year, I didn't pick up too many non-Topps Now cards. When Topps released the Desert Shield parallels through Archives though, it caught my attention. The prices on these remain pretty high but I have picked up what I think to be reasonable deals on three of them. Though my team set isn't complete, I thought today, Memorial Day, would be a good day to post them.

None of these are currently on eBay or have recent sold histories which seems crazy to me. How rare were these?!

The Cubs have a fourth player in the set, Anthony Rizzo. Unfortunately, his card is just as rare and is the star power for the Cubs here. Thank goodness no Bryant or Schwarber! I've only seen 3 Rizzos on eBay since the set release. The first two went for around $100 early on and then nothing for months. A few weeks ago one popped up that was graded a BGS 9.5 and sold for $171.

Way out of my league!

None of these three have been autographed and at their unsigned values, I'm not sure I will try. Most of the originals from 1991 in great condition can be had for a few bucks. Maybe these will eventually come down in price?

I haven't participated in the 30 Day Card Challenge that's been circulating for a few weeks...yet. But one of the writing prompts was a card that reminds you of a family member. And that would be the original 1991 Desert Shield cards and my dad. From 1989-1992, we were stationed in Germany but he was gone for weeks and months at a time in the Middle East during this period. Despite being the junk wax era, cards weren't as easy to get overseas but he made sure my brothers and I got our fix when he was home, taking us to card shows on nearby bases and bringing home that one pack of 1991 Topps Desert Shield cards to split. Thanks, Dad.

Thankfully, he's still with us but here's to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

2017 Topps National League Standouts

Topps has been putting out 17-card team sets for a while now. It is usually mix of a couple of guys shown in Series One of their flagship set and a preview of some guys that will show up in Series Two.

In addition, they also put out sets for the National League and American League. They used to be "All-Stars" but a couple of years back, they changed it to "Standouts" from each league. I'm too lazy to look at when exactly it happened but I do remember the 2015 NL set had Javier Baez in it, who has yet to be an All-Star.

I was in Target the other day and came across the 2017 edition of the National League set. The checklist on the back showed 4 Cubs among the 17 cards so I threw one in my basket.

Interestingly enough, the card on the front of the package was Kris Bryant.

And I say interesting because here is his card from the flagship:

Just a slight difference there and one that Wrigley Wax would probably be happy with based on this post. Bryant's card in the 17-card Cubs team set is vertical as well. 

The other trio of Cubs are not surprising picks with Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. All of these look like the base cards.

The Nationals had three Standouts of their own in Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy.

The Mets snagged two spots with Yoesnis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard.

As did the Dodgers with obvious choices Clayton Kershaw and Corey Seager.

I guess there's room at first base with Rizzo for Atlanta's Freddie Freeman and Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt.

Perennial All-Star behind the plate, The Cardinals' Yadier Molina is represented.

Power hitters aren't left out as Colorado's Nolan Arenado and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton make the team.

And much to the chagrin of horizontal haters, there is one in the set with San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner. 

Missing this year is the NL logo as depicted on last year's Arrieta card below. That helped differentiate it from the base card at quick glance is, in my opinion, an unfortunate omission.

And for good measure, here is a back. Looks the same to me aside from the numbering.

If anybody wants the non-Cubs cards, let me know.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

This Time Last Year in Topps Now Part 6

Whoops, mischeduled this one! Should have gone up yesterday...

This is part of an ongoing series looking back at the Cubs 2016 Championship season via the Topps Now set. Going forward, these posts will go up the day after what is listed on the card (a year from when the card went on sale) so I can compare the seasons through the games on the date depicted.

Today we have Part 6 in the series, showcasing Card 7. It is the first of several "Team Cards" for the Cubs. Fresh off his Cy Young season, Jake Arrieta was rolling into 2016 just as hot.

As the card states, the Cubs had won a MLB tying 23 consecutive game started by Arrieta, including his first 10 starts of 2016. Addison Russell got the Cubs on the board with an RBI single in the second. But in a combined 17-run game, the first run for the Cubs is something odd to showcase. Kris Bryant had what would be the game winning three run home run in the 6th so I'm not sure why Topps went with him sliding into home in the 6-run second inning. 

I wrote a post last year after this card came out exclaiming "No Jinxies!" but it didn't work. The Cubs ended up losing Arrieta's next start on May 31st, though through no fault of his own. Arrieta threw 7 scoreless, 2-hit innings before the bullpen imploded for a no decision for Jake and a 5-0 loss for the team.

This card had a print run of 724. There are none recently sold on eBay with only a handful listed that are all above it's original sell price.

Through games on May 25, 2016, the Cubs were 31-14, outscoring their opponents by 119 runs total. They had the best record in baseball and were 5 games ahead of the Pirates.

This year, the Cubs were 25-21 with a +22 run differential, good for a half game lead over the 2nd place Brewers.

This was the 7th Topps Now card for the Cubs in 2016. In 2017, through the same date, they have doubled that with 14.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How'd That Get There? Part 5

Another quick draft folder clearing post while I redo my Ivy Frankenset Page 2 post.

Every once in a while, I include "Cubs" cards in my collection that wouldn't necessarily be included in a stricter team collector's possession.

The other day when I posted my Cubs-Rockies Mashup Roster, I noted that Joe Girardi came to mind immediately for the catcher slot. When I did a search for cards of his scanned from my collection to use for that post, these two popped up.

Unlike the Mike Bielecki card from Part 4 of this series almost two years ago, I actually knew these were in my collection. As noted on the Donruss card, Joe Girardi was part of the Expansion Draft when the Rockies and Marlins came into the league.

While Topps and Score went with posed photos in the new Rockies uniform, Donruss and Fleer used action photos from his Cubs days. And because of that, despite the contrasting purple, these will stay in with my Cubs team sets.

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