Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Top TEN Wrigley Field Moments

Last summer I had a couple posts about the Wrigley Field Top Ten Moments sets that the Cubs gave away in 1999.

Eventually I acquired nine of the ten cards. Having the Top NINE Moments is not acceptable.  I don't like holes in my collection, and I've been searching in vain for the missing tenth, the Ryne Sandberg game card.  For six months, my search has come up empty.  I decided I would have to take a different route...instead of looking for the single card, why not look for the entire set.

And then it was easy.  A couple sets popped up at a fairly reasonable prices, and the hole is now filled.

Here is the missing Sandberg card, and below in chronological order...





are all TEN of the Top Ten Wrigley Field Moments.

Monday, April 29, 2013

2013 Triple Play Cubs

Yesterday I said that I'm generally staying away from the unlicensed stuff for the team sets.  Today I've got my exception, Triple Play.  The only reason I'm bothering with it is because of the Donruss Triple Play sets put out in the early '90s.  When Panini brought the name back last year, it made sense to add it to the other Triple Play sets.....gotta keep the collection complete!  And with a new release this year, I've added it as well.

Three Cubs were on the 100 player checklist...

....Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, and Alfonso Soriano.

I find the various backgrounds on the cards interesting.  Soriano's is the best, the Chicago skyline.  Rizzo's looks like wallpaper you used to find in a kid's bedroom.   And Castro doesn't even have a background.

Among the inserts, only one card...

....this red sticker of Starlin Castro, included a Cub.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pick up some Panini Prizm for the PCs

Panini recently put is a set called Prizm.  The odd thing is that its called 2012 Prizm Baseball, even though it came out well into 2013.  Even stranger, the copyright on the back of the card is 2013.

Three Cubs that I collect (Barney, Banks, and Sandberg) were included on the 200 player checklist.  I haven't gotten around to getting a Sandberg card, but I've got some Barney and Banks.

This is the refractor card of Mr. Cub.  They picked a picture that was pretty easy to eliminate any logos, since Panini doesn't have an MLB license.

I picked up three Barney cards, since I'm trying to have a more complete collection for him.


These are the base and refractor cards.  Again, eliminating logos wasn't too difficult or awkward with this picture.

The picture changed for the autographed card, going from a road shot to one at home.  The C on the helmet was removed, but at least we get a better look at his face.

I'm generally staying away from the unlicensed stuff for the team sets.  I'll only bother with most if they have players for the player collections.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tech Talk

Yes, we're card collectors, but bloggers also have to have a bit of technical know-how in order to keep the blog running smoothly. Today's post won't deal with cards, but instead, I'm going to look at some recent technical issues I've encountered.
Free is good, but sometimes you get what you pay for. I've got three different free software items to discuss...

Topic 1: The Impending Demise of Google Reader...If you have a blog, you may have noticed that I don't follow your blog...officially. I've never clicked on the "Join This Site" link, yet I keep up with 204 different blogs. The tool that has allowed me to easily follow so many blogs is Google Reader and recently Google announced that it is shutting Google Reader down on July 1.

I was stunned by the news. Reader was such as easy way to stay current with the blogs and it didn't matter what device I used to access it. The scuttlebutt for the shutdown is that Google wasn't able to monetize Reader enough to make it worth their while. But boy was it worth my while!

The day I heard the news I started looking for a replacement. I wanted something free (call me cheap) and something that would sync with whatever digital device I used.
I found Feedly and have been using it ever since. I wasn't going to wait until June 30 to find a replacement, I wanted time to get used to something new while still have Reader available. Feedly is so simple to use that I haven't bothered with Reader, especially since Google has removed the link to Reader in both the black bar and the drop down menu.

My question for other Reader users: what have or are you planning to do? Is there something better/easier than Feedly? Any advice? tips?

Topic 2: Sitemeter Trouble...I, like most bloggers I've encountered, say that we write for the sake of writing and for the love of our hobby, not for massive readership. Yet I must admit (and I bet most of you would too) that I am interested in how many people read Wrigley Wax. It is nice to know that there are people out there taking a look at this. With that in mind, I've had a Sitemeter counter installed on the blog since the beginning.

Since April 4, the meter count has not moved. And my weekly email from Sitemeter shows zero visits. The problem...not what I've been writing (I think!!), but that the Sitemeter server that I'm signed into has died.

Sitemeter has several servers. Mine was s51; you can tell which server you're using by sXX in front of your user name. Server 51 was gone from April 4 - 26.  It came back online the 26th, but it isn't recording any visits I'm not paying for anything, so again, I'm getting what I paid for. A couple weeks ago I did fill out a service request, but I never got a response.

Anyone else on s51? Any decent, free alternative counter sites you can recommend? Maybe I don't even need a counter. It looks like the stats available from Blogger are better than they have been in the past.

Topic 3: Photoscape I'd like to end on a positive note, so let me tell you about some free photo editing software that I use almost every day...Photoscape. This is the software I use to create the different tiles of cards I've featured. The "Combine" feature is easy to use and has many options.

I also use Photoscape to take screen shots when I need Ebay pictures for the blog. It allows me to take the screen shot and then crop and resize the picture in a matter of seconds....it's a very simple feature.

Finally, Photoscape has a easy-to-use rotate editing feature. I use this when scans are crooked. I can't stand crooked scans...I need perfect vertical and horizontal!! Photoscape allows me to straighten up cards so they look right.

I'm not a paid spokesman for Photoscape, but I like what it can do and I love it's price...free.
You can download it here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

2013 Topps Tribute Cubs

Series One comes out....everyone's buying and talking about it

Then Heritage....more hoopla

Gypsy Queen....lots of purchases and posts

Topps Tribute comes a little later....and......cue the crickets...Hello?  Anyone??

In case you haven't read about it, this year's Topps Tribute is a 100 card set with both active and retired players included.  There are five cards per pack, six packs per box.  Each pack is guaranteed either an autograph or a relic.  And each box runs in the neighborhood of a mere $250.  Such a deal.

Perhaps this is a bit of a generalization, but do you think its safe to say that most of us card bloggers are "budget-conscious"?  I read on different message boards about collectors spending thousands for cases, in search of that elusive big hit.  But I read very little on the blogs about chasing hits.  I think we are more "collectors" than "speculators."

This collector will never spend $50 on a pack of cards.  Instead, he lets the speculators do that and then he'll swoop in and grab the unwanted base cards at bargain prices.

There are five Cubs in this year's Tribute...all retired.  Not even Starlin Castro or Anthony Rizzo made the list.  Four of the five are players I collect (Fergie Jenkins is the fifth), so last weekend I picked up the base card of the four, spending a fraction of the cost of a single pack of this.

The cards are nice looking, shiny and thick and such.  But they should be for the price you pay.

Let me start with the best three of the four, and then save the disappointing card for last.


Three Cubs Hall of Famers in almost the exact same pose...how weird is that.

Too bad they didn't get my favorite Cub in the same pose.  Instead we get this...

It's not bad except that its the same picture as in...

....Gypsy Queen.  In fact, in the Gypsy Queen mini Billy post a couple days ago, I gave Topps some credit for using a picture that wasn't used much before.  No more props for Topps.

It's been nice to see Billy included in products that he's been missing from in the past, but use a little variety with the pictures, please.  

I haven't seen a checklist for 2013 Ginter yet, so I don't know if he is on the list.  If he is, then, may I present...

....2013 Allen and Ginter Billy Williams.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

1962 Salada Tea Billy Williams

About a month ago I posted about a 1963 Salada Tea Coin of Billy Williams that I recently added to the player collection.  The 1963 set was actually the second one put out by Salada; they put out their first set the year before.

The 1962 set was quite different from the '63 version.  The '62 coins were plastic, not metal.  The picture on the front was a paper sticker.  The set was also much bigger, with 221 players included, compared to the '63 set with only 63 players.

The coins come in six different color, depending on the player's team.  All of the Cubs coins are red.  The original checklist was only 180 coins--ten per team.  But with the addition of the Mets and Colt '45s, twenty players from those teams, plus an additional 21 players from other teams were added to later runs.

Billy Williams was one of the extra 21 players added.  He was the 1961 NL Rookie of the Year, making him an up-and-coming player.  Left out of the original ten Cubs, adding him later makes sense.  Salada also added two other Cubs to the set, Bob Will and Jim McKnight.  That made no sense!

Enough rambling...let's see the coin!

Two things that I find interesting...

...first, look at the Cubs logo on Billy's uniform.  It looks like they thought the circle around the logo should be red, not blue.  At first, I assumed some kid drew with a red marker on my coin.  But I checked and all the Billy's have that red circle over the blue one.

They did the same thing on Ernie's coin too (a picture borrowed from Ebay).  I guess the good folks at Salada thought the Cubs circle should be red, not blue.

...the other thing that struck me as interesting is that on the back is that the coin says "Save and trade 200 baseball coins 10 players each team." Billy's coin is  #207....it says 207 right on the front.  Trade 200 coins, including this one, #207.

Art and math are not Salada's strenghts....I hope their tea tastes good.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mini Billy

Yet another Gypsy Queen post!

Since he hasn't shown up in too many Topps products lately, I decided to take advantage of Billy's Gypsy Queen appearance and get as many of his cards as  I could for the player collection.   Earlier this year Billy made his first appearance in Heritage and now he shows up in Gypsy Queen for the first time, too.  It's Billypalooza!

I decided to pick up three mini parallel variations of Billy Williams' card. In addition to the base mini, there are five other parallels.  I haven't seen the wood (/5) or the leather (1/1) versions, and if they do show up, I'm sure I can't afford them.

That leaves me with the much more manageable black (/199), green (/99) and sepia (/50).  All were fairly abundant and fairly affordable.


The cards feature a shot of Billy at the Polo Grounds, taken in either 1962 or 1963.  He looks so young in the picture.  Even better, its a picture that hasn't been used much on other cards.  Too often, these kind of cards keep using the same picture over and over.

I've got different cards of Billy Williams, and I could find the same picture only twice.

Neither of these are from Topps, and both have the background removed, making the Gypsy Queen card look even more unique.

So, at least for Billy, give Topps some points for originality.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

2013 Gypsy Queen Mini Cubs

Topps seems to be mini-crazy these days, with mini cards included in just about every set.  Gypsy Queen is no exception, though, with Gypsy Queen, the minis actually make sense.

The original Gypsy Queen cards were issued in 1887 and the set had two distinct sized cards.  There were the common 1½" x 2½" cards and the rarer 2" x 3½" sized cards.  Topps has made the smaller cards the less common cards, but, hey, let's not quibble over details.

2013 Gyspy Queen has mini cards of each of the 350 cards in the regular set.  But that's not enough of a gimmick.  There are 100 mini card variations...yup, almost one third of the set has a second card.   Good luck to anyone trying to build a mini complete set.  You've got 450 cards to hunt.  Only two of the 13 mini Cubs have a variation card, so I got off pretty easy.

Here are the two with variations, Ernie Banks and Anthony Rizzo.  The variation card is the one on the right.



Below are the rest of the Cubs minis.