Monday, March 31, 2014

It's Opening Day 2014!!

To celebrate opening day, I've got the Cubs all time opening day lineup. The lineup features a majority of the players from the '60's and later. That seems odd to me, considering the long history of the Cubs. In fact, of the entire lineup, I have seen all but three (Hartnett, Grimm and Pafko) of them play (and I'm not that old).

Here's what I did to pick the cards shown (when possible):  This is Samardzijas's second Opening Day start, so I've got the card from the season of Fergie's second Opening Day start.  I could do the same with Grace, Sandberg, Dunston, Santo, Williams, and Sosa.  I've also got the opening day count for today's Cubs lineup.

Pitcher: Fergie Jenkins, 7 Opening Day starts
Jeff Samarzdija is making his second start today.

Catcher: Gabby Hartnett, 12 starts
Welington Castillo is making his second Opening Day start


First Base (since 1900): Charlie Grimm and Mark Grace, 12 starts
Anthony Rizzo makes his second opening day start.

Second Base: Ryne Sandberg, 13 starts 
Darwin Barney makes his third opening day start.

Shortstop: Shawon Dunston, 11 starts
Starlin Castro is making his fourth start

Third Base: Ron Santo, 13 starts
Mike Olt makes his first opening day start

Left Field: Billy Williams, 10 starts
Junior Lake is making his first opening day start.

Center Field (since 1900): Andy Pafko, 7 starts
Ryan Sweeney makes his first opening day start

Right Field: Sammy Sosa, 12 starts
Nate Schierholtz is the starting right fielder for the second time

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The 2014 Chicago Cubs Opening Day Lineup

The season starts tomorrow. We are now in year three of the Theo rebuild, but this lineup doesn't look much better than what's been run out the past two years. The waiting for the prospects bit is starting to wear thin. Hopefully there's only one more year of this.

Here's the group that will take the field tomorrow against the Pirates.

OUTFIELD...not the most intimidating group, but they all had cards in Series One

Junior Lake, left off to a nice start when brought up last summer, tailed off towards the end.

Ryan Sweeney, center field

Nate Schieholtz, right field

INFIELD...Mike Olt is new at third (until Kris Bryant is ready!), otherwise its the same group as last season.


Mike Olt, third base, was the key to the Garza trade with the Rangers last summer. He seems to have gotten over the vision problems he and hit well this spring.

Starlin Castro, shortstop...he's got to have a bounce back season this year.

Darwin Barney, second base...I'm afraid this may be his last season as a starter for the Cubs. The prospects in the minors are going to squeeze him out. Maybe he'll stick around as a utility guy.

Anthony Rizzo, first base...same comment for him as for Castro

BATTERY...If you thought the position lineup was weak, take a look at the pitching...ouch! The Cubs have to start improving their pitching or else it won't matter how good the position players are....pitching wins titles.

Welington Castillo had a decent year as the Cubs catcher. But Topps shows him no love...he was not included in Series One, Opening Day, the Stickers, or Heritage. Where's the Beef??

Samardzija is the defacto ace of the staff. He's in a contract year, but is a bit miffed at the team and didn't work on an extension. Will he be gone before the fall? The rest of the rotation is Edwin Jackson, Jason Hammel, Travis Wood, and Carlos Villanueva

Not exactly the '27 Yankees that we're running out is it?


Saturday, March 29, 2014

2014 Topps Stickers Cubs

Heritage is released each March and its a big deal.  You can read about it on almost every baseball card blog.

Opening Day comes out a couple weeks later and the reaction to it isn't quite the same as what Heritage gets, but there is some reaction.

Topps Stickers comes out about the same time and it creates barely a ripple. Topps brought Stickers back in 2011 and each year since they've put out a set.  The set's been out a couple weeks and a checklist has still not made it to Baseballcardpedia.

As in the past, there are nine players from each team.  The nine fit on pages for each team.  I always get the stickers but skip the album page.


Two Cubs of the past are among the nine, and Topps used their usual two, Ernie Banks and Ryne Sandberg.  The old Cubs logo on Banks' card is nice.  The one on Sandberg's is lame...the logo used in 1984 is the same as the one they use today...and the one used on the stickers for today's players.

The other seven players didn't bring any surprises.


Five of the seven players have cards in Series One (all but Castro and Wood).  Like I said, no surprises here.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Few New Cards for the Billy Williams Collection

I recently placed an order with Checkoutmycards as I continue to work on getting all the Starting Lineup Cubs. Now that COMC has a flat $3.00 shipping charge, I thought there wouldn't be any harm adding a few more cards to the order. I went through their inventory and found several cards of Billy Williams that I could add to my PC. I didn't pay more than a few bucks for each, and since shipping was already covered, I figured I got some good deals especially since all the cards were numbered.

This is a /750 card from Skybox Autographics. It's my one and only Skybox card.

This is a card with a pinstriped patch. The card is /190 and comes from SP Legendary Cuts Historic Swatches.

Here are two more cards from Panini's 2013 Cooperstown Collection, or as I affectionately refer to, the droopy boobs set. I already had a base, red, and green version. Adding the blue (/499) and gold (/299) gives me a nice little five card rainbow.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Barney Rainbow Adds Two More

With the arrival of Opening Day, I have added two more cards to my 2014 Topps Darwin Barney Rainbow.

The base Opening Day card is identical to the flagship card except for the OD logo.  

The blue parallel set is /2014.  It is also stamped "March 30, 2014, which is Opening Day for a few team, but not the Cubs.  Their opener is on March 31.  Details, details!

The rainbow is now up to 16 cards, though I'm still waiting for another clear card to show up.

Top row: Base, blank back, no foil, Opening day
Second Row: Power Player, pink, black, camo
Third Row: Gold, Red Foil, red, blue
Bottom Row: green, purple, yellow, Opening Day blue

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 Opening Day Cubs

The real opening day is still five days away, but I've got Topps Opening Day cards to show today.  The 220-card set of Opening Day was released last week and six Cubs were included on the checklist.  Having six cards is a big improvement over last year (four Cubs) and 2012 (only three Cubs).  I hope that means the team is improving, too.

As usual, the Opening Day cards have the same design as the base set, minus the foil printing.  Some times the picture on the card in Opening Day is different than the one in series one, but for the five Cubs that are in both sets, the pictures are the same.



There was one Cub in Opening Day not on the Series One checklist...

...Starlin Castro.  Thanks to Opening Day, we know what to expect for Castro in Series Two.

There were several insert sets with Opening Day (Between Innings, Breaking Out, Fired Up, Mascots, Opening Day Stars, and Superstar Celebrations). The Cubs were 0-5 on those checklists.  The autograph and relics sets included a card with an autograph of Junior Lake.  Since I've already got an autograph card of Lake, I passed on the OD auto.

This is the 16th time over the past 17 years that Topps has released Opening Day.  I continue to ask, why?  Topps says that the set is for younger collectors...a lower price and smaller set make it one of the easier sets to put together.  I'd rather see Topps ditch the foil on the flagship set and lower its price.  Make the flagship more affordable and you'd get more kids than with Opening Day.

Just my two cents.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Donruss Breakout Hitters Anthony Rizzo

Just a single card today.

One of the insert sets in the 2014 Donruss set is called "Breakout Hitters."  Anthony Rizzo was one of the 35 hitters on the checklist.

We see the logoless Rizzo blasting his way through a brick wall.  I guess its kinda interesting looking.  Since this is a Cub, a little ivy around the edges would have been a cool addition.

The back of the card mentions that while Rizzo hit only .233 last season, he was sixth in the league in walks and fifth in doubles and extra-base hits.

Personally, I don't consider a .233 hitter to be a breakout hitter.  With an average that low, you're not breaking out of brick walls, you're barely breaking through paper.

This season needs to be a breakout season for Rizzo.  He needs to cut down on the strikeouts and get the average up at least 50 points.

I hope he can do both.

Oh, and if I can make a suggestion to Donruss about a card's design, I should be able to do something about it.

Rizzo blasting out of the ivy-covered walls of Wrigley.

And to keep this in the Donruss family, I  borrowed the ivy from Donruss 1981, their first set.

Thanks for the ivy, Doug Capilla

Monday, March 24, 2014

Topps 1965 and Heritage 2014 Side by Side

Each year I like to take a look at the Heritage set side by side with the original cards.

Let's start with the design.


The two match up fairly well but I have spotted a few differences.  One I've discussed in previous posts--not using the same logo.  The red-bordered area on the Heritage  cards is just a bit shorter than the originals.  It's hard to tell on the two cards above, but check out the Banks and Rizzo cards below and you'll see the difference.  A third difference is a minor one....the 2ND on the original cards is in all capital letters, while on the Heritage version the ND uses lower case letters.

I don't know if it would be a design issue, but the biggest gripe I have with Heritage are the backgrounds on the pictures.  Look at Barney's.  Topps goes with the posed shot, which would match up with '65 cards.  But the background...plain ugly blue.  That looks terrible when compared to the look at Shea Stadium we get on Amalfitano's card.  I don't want fuzzy backgrounds, I want to see ballparks!


Boy would it have been awesome if Topps could have gotten Rizzo to pose sideways like the Banks card. In fact, that should be the SP variation theme that Heritage uses.  Have a regular card, but then have the SP mimic a pose from the original.


There's an SP that I would chase!

Here come the rest of the 2014 Heritage cards along side a comparable player from the '65 set.