Saturday, March 31, 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 "card" is a actually a sticker out of the 1992 Panini Stickers set. Although it is technically a Dante Bichette sticker, it is included in the Sandberg collection as a cameo. That's not him in the background behind Bichette. That's his shoulder on the back of the sticker as part of the Guessing Game. Ryno does have a sticker in this set (#183) and it uses the same photos that was cropped here.

There are 288 stickers in the set and the Cubs team set has 11 players and a logo sticker.

Post Retirement:

Though post-retirement, Sandberg is still in uniform here. This card comes from the 2011 Lehigh Valley IronPigs team-issued team set, Ryno's first year with the team. He led the IronPigs to their first ever playoff appearance and was named Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

My Cubs-Marlins Mashup Starting Lineup

It's Opening Day!

Last year I posted a mashup lineup for a couple of different series before going on my hiatus. I thought it might be a good idea to resurrect it. So far I've done the Red Sox and Rockies. The object is to field a team of all nine positions and maybe some bench using players that have suited up for both teams. Some picks are subjective but I try to go with a player who spent a good amount of time with both teams rather than a career Cub or opponent.

The Cubs open the season with a 10-day roadtrip, beginning with the Marlins for a four game weekend series. After the offseason teardown, I don't think I could name any Marlins off the top of my head except for former Cub Starlin Castro.

As usual, I have a few names off the top of my head, but will need a little help from Baseball-Reference to round out the lineup.

Getting the nod to start is Ryan Dempster. He spent five seasons with the Marlins and nine with the Cubs. The only pitcher with more combined innings was Carlos Zambrano, but that was very heavily skewed towards the Cubs. Dempster ended up out of the bullpen in the later years with Chicago but he's my ace here.

Behind the plate we have Benito Santiago. Perhaps more known as a Gold Glove, All-Star, and ROY with the Padres, Santiago has the most significant playing time between these two teams at catcher with a combined 349 games.

Manning first base is the super veteran of both squads, Derrek Lee. He played 924 games with the Cubs and 844 with the Marlins. Nobody else is even close at any position. Lee was a Gold Glover with the Marlins before winning two more with the Cubs.

The rest of the infield is spotty.

More of a utility guy, Emilio Bonifacio gets the nod at second base. If Starlin Castro plays a full season in Miami this year, he'll probably take over this spot. By the way, the card above is listed as a White Sox card over at Trading Card Database because that's where he ended up in 2015, but those are clearly Cubby Blue pinstripes. With no logos and only a Chicago team designation, Cubs card it is.

Kevin Orie is at the hot corner. Despite being traded to or signing as a free agent by nine other teams over the course of his career, Orie only suited up at the Major League level for the Cubs and Marlins.

Rounding out the infield is Alex Arias at shortstop. Another slim pickin's position. Arias was drafted by the Cubs in 1987, made his debut in 1992 and was traded to the Marlins after the season. 

On to the outfield, where the competition is a little better.

Chris Coghlan, who was the ROY for the Marlins in 2009 and a World Champion with the Cubs in 2016 is playing out in left field. He played over 300 games with each team.

Just missing the Rockies/Cubs mashup team due to Dexter Fowler, Juan Pierre takes the centerfield spot on this team. He only spent one season with the Cubs, but played in all 162 games. In fact, he maxed out five seasons in a row starting with 3 years in Florida, one in Chicago and one with the Dodgers. He had four seasons with over 200 hits, including two with the Marlins and his only year with the Cubs.

A long time Marlins front office worker after finishing his playing career, the Hawk returns to where he belongs this season. Andre Dawson clearly skews Cubs (867 games to 121) but its my team, my rules. He brings another ROY trophy to this team that he won with the Expos. He also made the Red Sox/Cubs team and would probably make an Expos/Cubs mashup as well.

There are a few good options off the bench. Moises Alou, Luis Gonzalez & Cliff Floyd were all solid outfielders. I'd take John Baker behind the plate too as a back up catcher. Out of the bullpen, Antonio Alfonseca and Kevin Gregg had decent runs (and then not). Carlos Marmol was mostly a Cub, but I'd take him in his prime.

As for who is running this team, only two Marlins managers have Cubs ties, Joe Girardi and Rene Lachemann. Girardi played for the Cubs but never coached them. Lachemann was the Marlins inaugural manager and was also the bench coach for a few years in the early 2000's, so he's my choice to lead this team.

What do you think? Anybody you'd swap out?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Cardboard Association Part 2

I've been keeping busy the past two weeks, really trying to get my organizing in gear. The time I would normally use for blogging has been reallocated to other things. My other blog takes hardly any time, especially with the template. I can knock out a week's worth of posts in about 90 minutes so I can't really place the burden there. While sorting cards though, I have come across a few things I think are worth mentioning. That how I end up posting about non-Cubs cards...and division rivals to boot.

A few weeks ago I made a post associating some cards together. Whether they share a photo, or a moment or just a day, sometimes cards are linked in my brain.

While sorting some 2012 Topps into team piles for redistribution, I came across these two cards of the Cardinals' Edwin Jackson and the Reds' Juan Francisco. Same play, taken just moments apart.

The source photos are the only two results when I searched for both of the players' names together so that made it quite easy.
ST. LOUIS, MO -SEPTEMBER 4: Juan Francisco #25 of the Cincinnati Reds attempts to score on a wild pitch against Edwin Jackson #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on September 4, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Reds beat the Cardinals 3-2. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) 

The captions were exactly the same for both, leaving it vague as to what the result of the play was. You see the ball on the Jackson card, but there is still some distance between the players on the Francisco card. The runner should be out, but there are a lot of bang-bang plays at the plate that don't go the way they should.

According to the Baseball-Reference box score, Juan Francisco doubled in the 4th inning and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. The first pitch to the next batter was a wild one, but the Cardinals' battery recovered and got the inning ending out at the plate

The Cardinals would tie the game in the bottom half of the inning at two runs apiece. The score would stay that way until the 10th inning when Francisco redeemed himself with an RBI single for the winning run. Francisco was 4-5 that day but had just the one RBI and no runs scored.

Another interesting thing about these cards is that the Jackson card is from Series 1 and the Francisco card is Series 2. The cards would be nowhere near each other in the set/binder (if I had the complete set). I would have never caught this (and it's been 6 years, right?) had it not been for Edwin Jackson being one of the players either. Because he would go on to become a Cub, his cards garner a second glance from me.

Also, coincidentally, they both appear in the Update Series that year as they had moved onto different teams for 2012. Weird, no?

Monday, March 26, 2018

Monday Mailday - A Trade and 2 eBays

Before we get to the mailday cards, let's post the winners from the randomized drawing for my other blog followers. The new blog has ten followers, good enough for two sets to giveaway.

Daniel from It's Like Having My Own Card Shop was removed from the list as I am giving him a set already for being the first follower. I am the 10th follower myself as I like to make sure my blog posts right. If it shows up in my reading list, I'm sure it works for you guys too.

So we had eight other official followers on the list. Randomized a standard three times, the first and last place names are the winners:

Congrats to Ryan H of the dormant "O" No!!! Another Orioles Blog and to gcrl of several blogs, most recently cards as i see them.

I will be reaching out later today to get addresses for all of the participants for team sets as well. Thanks again guys, I appreciate the support!

I had a bit of a light mail week as I've been enjoying ripping through my case of Opening Day and not mindlessly searching through eBay. The first package was a pair of team bags from a reader named Jeremy. I don't think he has a blog, but if I'm wrong Jeremy, please correct me.

Jeremy managed to hit a couple of weak spots in the Cubs collection. This non- team logo, plain clothes Bowman card is indeed a "Cubs" card, as noted on the back. Ah, the early 90's.

My first hobby break was from around 1997- 2008ish and is the biggest gap in my collection. I completely missed the Forty Man set from Upper Deck and think I would have really liked it. I wonder how many other sets just missed out on sticking around longer because of timing. 

Sammy Sosa is undoubtedly the Cubs player with the worst ratio of existing cards to cards in my collection. He falls into that time frame where I wasn't adding cards but the manufacturers were.

The Shawon Dunston is the only one of the two listed officially as a Fan Favorite, but Greg Maddux definitely was too!

Jeremy also hit me with some Topps Gallery base from last year. I'm not typically a fan of art cards, but I'll happily add these to the collection.

Rounding out this mailer are a pair of Amethyst (?) parallels out of Topps Triples Threads. Each are numbered out of 340. Thanks a bunch, Jeremy! Much appreciated!

On to the eBay portion of the mailweek which certainly qualifies as quality over quantity.

Last week's mailday brought a Jason Heyward Stadium Club short print parallel. This week he gets a teammate in Kyle Schwarber. Two down, eight to go for this "I Was There" mini collection. I was hoping to add one a month and knock the set out by the end of the year, but the supply seems to be drying up. There hasn't been a whole lot to choose from.

Last but not least, I finally got a hit on my "Jose Quintana Clear" search I've had saved for a few months on eBay. It's hard to tell from the scan, but the card is indeed clear and numbered out of ten. The starting bid was a little higher than I wanted to finish at but when this is the only one that has showed in the 5-6 months the set has been out, I pulled the trigger. I'm think it was a few dollars more than the 1/1 printing plates I picked up. But no matter, it's mine and I don't have to worry about finding it anymore! A few bucks is worth the piece of mind, no?

Friday, March 23, 2018

What I Collect - Blog Bat Around

I was putting this off because I kind of touched on a lot of it when I came back to blogging at the beginning of the year and was setting my goals. But readership has picked up a bit in the past weeks the more I posted so I'll take another stab at it with a few more details.

Cubs and Cubs Accessories:

As a Cubs centered blog, this is probably self explanatory. I am a Cubs team collector and looking for as many unique Cubs cards as possible. I know the chase will never end, but that's what makes it fun!

With the exception of my Opening Day splurge, I am picking up team sets as they come out this year. Trying to plug holes from previous years' sets is proving to be a losing battle without more organization, so I am on a buying hiatus from past years until I can attack the needs a little more methodically and cost effectively.

Other Cubs memorabilia in my collection include autographs, magazines, books, cups, ice cream helmets, photos, bobbleheads, Starting Lineups & McFarlane figures, shirts/jerseys, stadium giveaways, etc. You name it. With the move next summer, I am starting to box things up, but am taking pictures as I go. I hope to show these in a series of Throwback Thursday posts throughout the year.

Everything and anything Cubs. Check.

Autograph Collections:

I have a few smaller autograph collections within my Cubs collection.

Among other things, I have been slowly working my way through the 1991 Topps Desert Shield parallel set, as well as the Topps All-Star Rookie Cup cards.

But my most agressive project is my ATCRCS (All-Time Cubs Roster Custom Set). This a custom made set for each player to have suited up for the Cubs. I haven't added to it in quite a while but intend to refocus on that this year.

Player Collections:

I have two player collections, Ryne Sandberg and Tony Campana. I am currently scanning and cataloging my Sanderg PC and am nearing a finish on that end. My Campana collection has essentially ground to a halt as I'm down to 1/1's or otherwise extremely limited cards. There's a tab at the top that shows what I have for him. But as I posted yesterday, Topps is almost forcing my hand into a third PC with Jose Quintana. Which brings me to my next collection.

I Was There Cards:

Since the creation of Topps Now, I thought it was really great to have a card from a game I attended. That snowballed into seemingly every game I have attended since its inception garnering a card. I've also really enjoyed researching the source photos from Topps card since they use Getty Images for their photos. This has made it really easy to determine if I was at a game and has resulted in the aforementioned Quintana explosion in my collection with all the various parallels.

The Andrew McCutchen was from the 2015 Wild Card game. I did succumb and pick up some Topps Now cards that aren't necessarily Cubs finest moments (the Jayson Werth walk-off in 2016 and Ryan Zimmerman home run in the 2017 NLDS). I also went to a random Marlins/Nationals game last August that saw Giancarlo Stanton hit a bomb and get a card. I have around 25 cards in this collection, almost triple that if you include all of the parallels.

Cubs Topps Now:

This obviously falls into my Cubs collection, but I keep them separate. I bought in early to this Topps cash cow. I have completed the 2016 Cubs team set, including at least one version of each of the autographs and relics released. That got quite pricey towards the end! For me, Topps really caught lightning in a bottle that season with the Cubs ending their long World Series drought. I didn't think I would keep up with it in 2017, but I did for the most part. I completed the base set and all of their subsets (Road to Opening Day, Player's Weekend, Post Season), but I refrained from most of the relics and autographs this time. Will I keep going in 2018? Probably. This binder is one of my greatest collection joys.

Cubs Adjacent - Ivy and Cubs Cameos:

Aside from the few complete sets I have, non-Cubs cards have a hard time staying in my collection. My biggest niche collection is made up of cards that feature Wrigley Field's iconic Ivy in the background. I recently surpassed 500 cards and honestly, without a checklist to work from, I have no idea what all is out there. That makes finding new ones such a treat. All Ivy cards are welcomed and I am in the process of compiling a Frankenset as well. I am also thinking of starting a TTM project with my duplicates asking the players if they have any Wrigley specific memories.

Cameo cards are a bit unorganized at the moment from a cataloged standpoint, although I keep them all together. Basically, if a Cubs player shows up as a base runner on a double play, as a catcher on a batter's card, as a fielder on a runner's card or whatever, I'll add them to this collection. Ivy trumps cameo, but if I have a duplicate, each collection will get one.

Undercover Cubs:

I touched on these recently as well. These are cards of players from other teams but are also "Cubs" card somehow. The Dexter Fowler is a photoshop job as the source photo shows him as a Cub. The Joe Girardi is a Rockies card, but show him as a Cub because they didn't photoshop the uniform.

Very Unofficial PC Guys:

I collect cards of Cubs players so designating them as PC guys seems a bit redundant. This list is made up of guys with non-Cubs ties. Before I started this blog, I did a summer internship for my local Minor League team, the Potomac Nationals, the high-A Washington Nationals affiliate. I saw dozens of games that year and I became partial to a few guys that I saw play and will root for them (as long as they aren't playing the Cubs). I won't go chasing parallels online or anything crazy but if I pull their card from a pack, I'll set it aside. If I come across something in a dime box I need, I'll pick it up. A few of them have even had Topps Now cards, but I've passed on them for now. These guys all came through Potomac that season, either with the Nats or as a visitor.

Justin Grimm (even though he isn't a Cub anymore, I'll keep adding him)
Jeremy Hazelbaker
TJ House
Sandy Leon
Manny Machado
Tim Melville
Whit Merrifield
Jake Odorizzi
Mike Olt
Eury Perez
Jake Petricka
Tyler Saladino
Jonathan Schoop
Andrelton Simmons
Steven Souza

A few others made it to the show but I've never really seen cards of them.

Washington Nationals

Finally, Washington Nationals cards. At work, I have the opportunity to work with kids and occasionally we have a baseball themed program. Nats cards, like most teams in their local markets, tend to command a slight premium around here so they get pretty excited when I bring in a box or two of Nats cards for them to go through.

We had a Spring Training program a few weeks ago so my Nats cards are tapped out again. In fact, I just joined a Team Collectors site as the Nationals representative for the sole purpose to replenish. Thanks to Paul from Wrigley Wax for the idea a few years back. He's a teacher (principal?) and does this for his kids with Tigers cards if I recall correctly.

That was a lot longer than I expected. I thought "Cubs and Cubs Accessories" would cover most of it but it turns out a lot of little things add up!

Shameless plug! Don't forget to check out my new blog 2018 Topps Opening Day! No post today but the first insert will show up tomorrow!