Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Turning Five Today

The 'ol blog turns five today.

1826 days and 1885 posts later it's still alive and kicking.

It's been an interesting five years.

My Cubs collection has grown from about 3,000 cards to almost 12.000.

The Wrigley Wax World Headquarters was built and has been expanded.

The Cubs have burned through three managers and move on to #4 this spring.

The Cubs won 356 games out of 809, a lousy winning percentage of .440.

And I'm not giving up yet, on the blog or on the Cubs.

Look for a new post to show up each day.

Look for the Cubs to turn things around and bring a World Series title to Wrigley Field.

You can count on the new posts to arrive promptly at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time.

I have no time frame on the World Series title....just once in my lifetime, please!

Monday, December 30, 2013

All of the Topps Cubs Catchers

I've put tiles together all the Cubs from various brands or of a particular player.  Today I went a different route.  Today's tile criteria is a position--catcher.  I went with catcher since I figured it would be a manageable number of cards.  Most years feature only one or two catchers.

I'm using the complete Topps run from 1952 to the present.  I used cards from the flagship brand that listed the player's position as catcher.  Some players had more than one position listed, but if one of them was catcher, then they made the tile.

I ended up with 135 cards.  The most from a particular year were the 1960 and 1990 sets which had four cards each.   They were a few years that didn't include any Cub catcher.

You're not going to find a single hall of famer among the bunch.  In fact, most of these guys weren't very good.  If I had to pick the top few, I'd include Randy Hundley, Jody Davis, and Joe Girardi.  Otherwise, you're left with some pretty mediocre players.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 11,950 Cubs cards from 86 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1950s / 1960s: 1962 Topps #170 Ron Santo  This is a very young looking Santo at Candlestick Park in 1961.  The 1962 season was his third big-league season and he experienced a bit of a junior jinx (if there is such a thing).  His batting average dropped from .284 to .227 and he hit six fewer homers.  He did knock in the the same number of runs as in '61, 83, so despite the drop in average and power, he was still producing runs.  A durable diabetic, Santo played in all of the Cubs 162 games.

1970s: 1978 SSPC #260 Dennis Lamp  This card comes from the 1978 SSPC book which I've detailed here and here.  The 1978 season saw Lamp in the starting rotation for the entire year.  His final numbers were an interesting mix...his record was 7-15 while his ERA was a respectable 3.29 (best among all Cubs starters).  The Cubs were shut out in six of his losses and scored only one run in six more.  

1980s: 1989 Star #10 Jerome Walton  Notice the error on this card, listing Walton as a member of the White Sox.  This card is one of eleven in the Star 1989 Walton set.  It's also one of two in the set that have nothing on the back. I guess that as a rookie, Star ran out of things to say about him after the first nine cards.

1990s: 1997 Big League Chew Billy Williams  The Big League Chew Alumni Series has three cards in the set, the other two being Juan Marichal and Brooks Robinson.  The cards were available by mailing in proofs of purchases.  Since autographed cards were the only ones they gave, I know that the signature is authentic.

2000s: 2002 Fleer Tradition #290 Matt Stairs  Stairs came to the Cubs for the 2001 season to replace Mark Grace until super-prospect Hee Seop Choi was ready.  His numbers for the season were very average (17 HRs, 61 RBIs, .250) and the Cubs didn't re-sign him for the 2002 season.  Instead, Stairs spent the year with the Brewers.  It was another of a long line of stops in Stairs career...check out this from his baseballreference page

...a pretty long line of uniforms and numbers.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Another 2013 Mini Ginter Barney

I didn't even know these were made.  I completely missed them when Ginter came out in August.  But apparently there was another mini version in addition to the regular, AG, AG no number, and black border minis.  Baseballcardpedia calls the version the A&G Bats version...


...I call it the red version.  As you can see, the cards are hand-numbers to 25.  With only 25 of these out there, I guess  I can see how I missed them.

And with only 25 of them available, you'd think that they would go for a high price.  But I suppose that with Ginter being four months old, not too many collectors are chasing these anymore because I was able to get mine for only five bucks.

I'd say it was worth the wait.

Friday, December 27, 2013

One Down, Two to Go

My Sega Card-Gen source in Japan recently had a bunch of the 2013 cards listed, including the final three I need to complete my 14-card Cubs team set.  Still missing are Jeff Samardzija, Anthony Rizzo, and Luis Valbuena.  He had all three for sale and I was hoping that I could complete my set.

But as you can see from the title of the post, I was able to get only one of the three...

...the worst player of the three, Luis Valbuena.  I picked it up for only 99 cents, while I got outbid on the Rizzo and Samardzija.  I guess there's more of a market for those two guys than for Luis Valbuena.

Hopefully the last two will be offered again sometime soon.  In the meantime, I wait patiently.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Popped It Up!

Very rarely will a card show a pitcher batting.  That makes sense.  Most pitchers are not known for their prowess at the plate.  And in today's game, it's only the starting pitchers that even get some at bats.  In fact, only one Cub reliever, Brooks Raley, had a plate appearances during the 2013 season.

But for some unknown reason, in 1992 Fleer decided to show Cubs pitcher Les Lancaster at the plate.

Not only at the plate, but bunting.

Well, not really bunting.  More like failing at bunting.

You usually don't want the ball to go straight up.  Down is the preferred direction.

I can hear the conversation on TV between Harry and Steve Stone:

Harry: Lancaster squares to bunt...He pops it up!  Boy oh boy, you would think that a player with only one job to do at the plate would be able to do it the right way.

Steve: And for all you youngsters out there, make sure you keep your eyes on the ball and watch the ball into your bat.  Don't look up.

And me at home...Lancaster...you bum!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Steve!

I knew this guy played a few games for the Cubs, and I knew that I just had to get a card of his. He played only three games for the Cubs in late April of 1986, and he was just one for nine, a crummy .111 batting average. As far as I can tell, this card from the Cubs team issued set is the only card that features him as a major leaguer, though he did play with the Reds in 1983 and the White Sox in 1984.

He didn't have much of a big league career, but once a year his card will be here on Wrigley Wax

Merry Steve Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Christmas Story According to Luke

If the networks can run A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph, and the Grinch every year, then  I think I can re-run this post every Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

From the Gospel according to St. Luke, the second chapter: 

In those days

Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire

world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So

also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of

because he belonged to the

and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the

to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. 
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a

because there was no

for them in the inn. And there were

living out in the

nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at


of the

appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

May the simple, yet miraculous truth 
of the Christmas story 
touch your heart anew this year.



Wrigley Wax

Monday, December 23, 2013

Does the Design Really Matter?

Take a look at 63 years worth of Topps baseball card designs.

We've got some with lots of color, some not.  Some have a team logo, some don't.  There are head shots and action shots.

Though some designs are similar, none are identical.

But when all is said and done, how much does the design matter to you?

It doesn't matter a whole lot to me.

I collect Topps baseball cards.

Some years I  get some cool-looking cards.

Some years they're duds.

But I'm going to get all of them each year regardless.  Over time I've gotten over the looks of the cards and just appreciated them for what they are...the cards from a particular year.  They don't need to be pieces of art that blow me away.  If they don't strike me this year, I know that next year will be something different.

The 2014 cards look like this.

Some people like them, some don't.


Does the card have a picture of a baseball player?  Yes
Does it list the team?  Yup
Is it a piece of 3½" x 5½" cardboard?  It is.

And that's all I need.

2014 Series One comes out in a little more than a month.

I'll be buying.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 11,947 Cubs cards from 86 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1950s / 1960s: 1961 Topps #12 Moe Thacker Moe!  I've written about Moe before.  Moe spent the 1961 season going back and forth between AAA and the Cubs.  He opened the season with the Cubs but lasted only until May 1.  He came back in June before going back to AAA at the end of July.  For the season with the Cubs he hit .171 in 25 games.  I wonder why they kept sending him back?!

1970s: 1972 Topps #534 Jim Hickman (No Green)  This is another card I've written about before.  Hickman has a solid season in 1972, hitting ..272 with 17 HRs and 64 RBIs.  He was the NL Player of the Week the first week in May when he hit .556 with 3 homers and 5 RBIs

1980s: 1984 Drakes #7 Ron Cey It was just a month ago that I featured all of the Drakes cards.  Cey was one of two Cubs in the '84 set.  This surprised me, but Cey led the '84 Cubs in homers and RBIs.  I would have thought either Sandberg or Gary Matthews were the leaders in those categories.  He was also the leagues top fielding third baseman with a fielding percentage of .967.

1990s: 1990 Woolworths #21 Ryne Sandberg  I had a post on all of the Cubs Woolworth cards in July.  It is the only card Woolworths made of the Hall of Famer.  Ryno was very good in the 1990 season.  He blasted 40 homers and also won his eighth straight gold glove.  The 40 homers were good enough to lead the National League, the first time a second baseman led the league since 1925.  

2000s: 2000 Topps #106 Mickey Morandini  Micvkey got a card in the 2000, but he wasn't with the Cubs. After spending the 1998 and 1999 seasons in Chicago, he was granted free agency.  The Expos signed him, but traded him to the Phillies near the end of spring training.  He was with the Phillies until early August when he was sent north to the other Canadian team, the Blue Jays.  The 35 games he played with the Blue Jays were the last games of his career.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The First Four 2014 Topps Cubs Cards

Last week Topps tweeted out this picture...

...of a full sheet of 2014 cards.  The 110 cards on the sheet represent 1/3 of Series One.   I looked over the sheet for Cubs cards and found four.  I don't think that this means there will be twelve Cubs in the series.  My experience with full sheets is that the teams aren't spread evenly across the sheets.  I've got a full sheet from the 1989 set that doesn't have a single Cub among the 110 cards.


Back to the four Cubs that I did find.  The pictures aren't super sharp since all I had to work with was the Twitter picture.

Jeff Samardzija's card looks like this....and hopefully the Shark will still be with the Cubs by opening day

They've got two Cubs right next to each other, Junior Lake and Carlos Villanueva.   It looks like Villanueva has his Rollie Fingers mustache.

Cubs card number four was on the far left of the picture and it's hard to make out exactly who it is...but I've got an educated guess.

I can't make out the name of the player because of the angle of the picture.  He's obviously an infielder and a white guy.  It looks like it's a second baseman turning a double play.  Is it my guy Darwin Barney?

What do you think?

Friday, December 20, 2013

I Do Not Like the Padres

I saw that the Padres are planning on wearing 1984 uniforms for an entire four-game series next season.

The opponent...the Cubs.

 I do not like the Padres.

For the first 15 years of their existence, the were barely a blip on my radar.  They were the expansion team that was always bad.  They were the team that almost moved to Washington.  They were the team that were owned by the owner of McDonalds.  They were the team that had uniforms that looked like French Fries.

Then came October, 1984...specifically October 4, 6, and 7.  The Cubs blew a 2-0 NLCS lead and lose to the Padres on each of those days, and lose the series.  From that date forward, I did not like the Padres.

Next season marks the 30th year since that fateful October.  Time has eased the pain of the collapse and the dislike of the Padres.

Until now.

Thank a lot for rubbing salt in a 30 year old wound.

I do not like the Padres.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2013 Additions to the Player Collection

I've got player collections for five players....Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, and Darwin Barney.  Among the various 2013 sets I was able to add 98 cards to the collections.  The number doesn't include any cards that would be part of any Cubs team sets that I collect.  The player collection is made up of all the other cards, from insert sets or smaller sets.

Two of the players are more like step-players.  I'm not real good about adding lots of Sandberg and Dawson cards.  The 2013 additions for them were only two Dawson cards and four Rynos.  There were many more available, but I just haven't been too inspired to add them.

Ernie Banks got a fair share of additions, 18 cards.  However, six of those were on Cubs tickets.  As with Sandberg and Dawson, there were many more possibilities out there for Mr. Cub, but getting them wasn't a priority.

I'm guessing that most readers know who the big two are -- Darwin Barney and Billy Williams.  For the previous several years, it seemed like Billy Williams was left out of many sets...it was always Ernie and Ryno. But in 2013 things changed and I added 26 new cards to the collection---an appropriate number of cards, since that was Billy's uniform number....but also just a coincidence.

The big winner in 2013 was Darwin Barney.  Since he is an active player, he's in many of the "regular" sets and that means not only a base card, but a bunch of parallels too.  And I put together my fair share of Barney rainbows.  The Barney tally for the year was 48 cards.

Add up all five players and you get 98 new cards....and here they are

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Five Star Billy

A couple weeks ago Topps released the 100 card set Five Star.  The highest of it's high end sets, this goes for $400 per box of six cards.  When you pay this much, you don't get a foil pack, you get a box.

Five Cubs are on the checklist, Fergie, Ryno, Andre, Ernie, and Billy.  I have player collections of all except Fergie, but I only went after the Billy Williams.

This is the base card.  You can see that its numbered /75.  The picture looks to be early '70s Billy.  

I also picked up an autographed card.  This is another on-card auto, something Topps has done quite a lot of lately.  Good for them.  This too is numbered, to the odd number of 353.  That seems like a very strange number to use.  It's also odd that the base cards are rarer than an autographed card, in this case over four times as rare.

The best part about getting the cards was the price.  Two cards from a pack that has a price of 
$400 cost me about 4% of that price.  I'll let someone else pay the other 96% on four more cards.

These are the final cards I'll be adding to the player collection this year.  Tomorrow I'll take a look at all the player cards I added in 2013.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

North Side South Side: Brent Lillibridge

The 2013 Cubs roster had two players Edwin Jackson and Brent Lillibridge) that spent some time on both sides of town.  Both were pretty lousy with the Cubs, but the worst was Brent Lillibridge.

The weak-hitting outfielder / infielder spent three and a half seasons with the White Sox, from 2009 - June, 2012.

The Cubs signed him as a free agent over the winter.  A career .213 hitter coming into the season, I don't think the Cubs were expecting much other than a utility glove.  Darwin Barney got hurt the last week of spring training and would be out for a few weeks, opening a roster spot for Lillibridge.

He was the Cubs opening day starter at second base, but it was pretty obvious right away that he was not going to be any good. He started seven of the Cubs first nine games and had a grand total of one hit...and that came in his seventh game.  After a few more day of the same lack of hitting, Lillibridge and his .042 average were sent to AAA.  A couple months later the Cubs sold him to the Yankees.

His time with the Cubs was so short that he never made it into any cards as a Cub.  This is a card I made for a post back on opening day.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Final Look at the 2013 Cubs Calendar

As 2013 comes to an end, I'd like to take one final look at my 2013 Cubs calendar.

Twelve players were featured, one for each month.

How many of the twelve are still on the Cubs' roster?

Not very many....in fact, only...

two, Barney and Castro.

Kinda crazy, isn't it, to have 10/12 of the team's supposed stars gone in a year.

Here are the ten departed Cubs.  I've got them in the order in which they left the team..

Paul Maholm, traded to the Braves on July 30, 2012

Ryan Dempster, traded to  the Rangers on July 31, 2012

Geovany Soto, traded to  the Rangers on July 31, 2012

Jeff Baker, traded to the Tigers on August 5, 2012

Bryan LaHair, released on November 21, 2012

Ian Stewart, released on June 25, 2013

Carlos Marmol, traded to the Dodgers on July 2, 2013

Matt Garza, traded to the Rangers on July 22, 2013

Alfonso Soriano, traded to the Yankees on July 26, 2013

David DeJesus, sold to the Nationals on August 19, 2013