Friday, October 31, 2014

Oops...Forgot An Update Insert

I overlooked a Cubs insert from 2014 Update...

...this All-Star Access card of Jeff Samardzija.

When I saw the checklist, I just assumed that Samardzija would be shown as an Athletic, since he was traded to the A's shortly before the All-Star game.  That's why I didn't buy the card at first.

But really, he was in All-Star limbo.  He was named to the National League team because all of his appearances at that point were with the Cubs.  But he wasn't allowed to play in the game and dressed for the game as an Athletic and sat in the AL dugout.

I suppose Topps struggled with coming up with an appropriate way to label his card.  Seems to me that since he didn't even play they could have given an All Star Access card to a different player.  Instead, they showed his as a Cub, though he wasn't a Cub.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Billy Williams...Cub...Umpire...Wide Receiver...Singer

A couple times a day I'll do an Ebay search for "Billy Williams."  I'm always looking for something new to add to the player collection.

But I face a problem that most other player collectors don't have to deal with.  It's not a problem for the Darwin Barney, Ernie Banks, Andre Dawson, or Ryne Sandberg collections, just for Billy.

The issue?

His name.

It's too common.

A search for Billy Williams items will bring up

Billy Williams the Umpire...

....Billy Williams the football wide receiver...

...and Billy Williams the singer.

Luckily the lack of a Dee in the search means I miss most of...

....his stuff.

I know that I could do a more specific search, like "Billy Williams Baseball" or Billy Williams Cubs".  But doing that could eliminate some things since sellers don't always list things with all the details.

So I stick to "Billy Williams" and just keep my scroll finger warmed up.

Anyone else get a bunch of wrong stuff in your searches?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Finishing Finest 2004

A couple weeks ago, while writing up the post about the Finest 2004 Cubs set, I realized that I hadn't finished the set.  I was using the checklist from Teamsets4U which listed 100 base cards.  However, there are actually 122 cards in the set. The extras are divided into two subsets, one with relics of current players (#101-110) and the rest are autographed cards of prospects (#111-122).

There were two Cubs among the ten relics and that meant my team set was incomplete.

Was incomplete, because here are the missing relic cards..


...of Sammy Sosa and Mark Prior.  I paid $5 delivered for each of the cards.  In 2004 I don't think you could have touched either for five bucks.

The Prior card had an interest journey on its way to the WW World Headquarters.  It seems that every now and then the post office likes to mess with me, just for fun.

The card got to the post office in Tampa on October 13 and the tracking information said I'd have the card by Friday, October 17.  That sounded great.

The card left Tampa on the 14 and then disappeared.  The tracking showed nothing new, even though it still said it would be delivered on the 17th.  It's pretty annoying to see a delivery date listed and that date has come and gone.

Finally on the 19th the shipping was updated, but it still concerned me.  The card was in Allen Park, Michigan.  That's a Detroit area sorting station.  The card should have gone to Grand Rapids.

It sat in Allen Park for two days and then went to the post office in Ann Arbor.  Now things were messed up.  Even worse, tracking later showed the card was out for delivery.  Ann Arbor is 2½ hours from me.  I'm pretty sure that no carrier in Ann Arbor has a route that extends to Sturgis.

Later in the day tracking showed that the card was undeliverable as addressed.  No kidding!

From Ann Arbor the card went back to Allen Park.  My fear was that the card was heading back to the seller in Tampa.  But on the 23rd, it showed up in Grand Rapids and the next day it was in my hand.  It was a week later than advertised, but I finally go it.

And the address on the envelope?  Was it messed up, causing the mis-shipping and delay.


It was perfect.

The post office was not.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

1987 Sportflics Cubs

Sportflics returned for a second time with a 200 card set in 1987.  The set size was the same as the inaugural set though it contained fewer multi-player cards.  The design of the card front was almost identical to the '86 set with a minor change--the '87 cards have a red box around the picture.

The Cubs have six players in the set.  There are also a couple more on the multi-player cards, but I haven't bothered with those.  I may go back and get them some time.

The Cubs included...Jody Davis, Shawon Dunston, Leon Durham, Keith Moreland, Ryne Sandberg, and Lee surprises here.


Monday, October 27, 2014

The Complete 2014 Topps Cubs Collection

Now that Update has been released, I can take a look at the entire Topps collection of Cubs for 2014.

Here's the basic rundown:

  • there were 29 cards issued to Cubs players
  • three players (Castro, Olt, and Rizzo) had two cards each, so a total of 26 players were represented
  • two players (Donnie Murphy and Dioner Navarro) didn't play a single inning for the 2014 Cubs
  • In addition to Murphy and Navarro, five other players (Barney, Hammel, Samardzija, Schierholtz, and Veras) were traded or released during the season
  • That leaves 19 of the 26 still on the 40 man roster.  I wonder how many will be on the team when it breaks camp in April?
  • 49 different players made an appearance for the 2014 Cubs, which means only 24 of the 49 have a card...less than half....not good!
And here are the cards:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 12,811 Cubs cards from 97 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s: 1961 Topps #196 Ed Bouchee  Wow, the RNG picked a card and player that I've written about a few times.  Click here for a post about how I personally knew Ed.  And here I wrote about picking up an autographed version of the 1961 card.

1980s: 1986 Topps #384 Steve Trout  You don't see many card today that show the player without a hat.  This one would be perfect for Panini--no hat and the jacket covers up any logos on the jersey.  Trout's career was on the decline in 1986 and he was used as both a starter and reliever.  He wasn't very good as either, finishing the year 5-7 with an ERA of 4.75.

1990s: 1993 Bowman #200 Ryne Sandberg  Ryno seems to be looking up into the Arizona sky--wonder why he didn't flip his glasses down.  Do any players use the flip down sunglasses anymore? 

2000s: 2000 Topps Chrome #106 Mickey Morandini Mickey was with three teams during 2000; none of them the Cubs.  He signed as a free agent with the Expos, but they sold him to the Phillies at the end of spring training.  In early August the Phillies shipped him to the Blue Jays.

2010s: 2010 Finest #8 Derrek Lee  This  was one of D-Lee's last cards as a Cub.  He was traded to the Braves in early August for three prospects that never panned out.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Some Bonus Sportflics Cards From 1986

In addition to their base set, in 1986 Sportflics put out another set called Decade Greats.  Three Cubs made it onto the 75 card checklist.

Ernie Banks was the shortstop of the 1950s.

The other two cards are interesting....take a look


You may be asking yourself "I didn't know that Mickey Cochrane and Tony Olivia played for the Cubs!"
Well, they didn't.

Which leads to the next question...Why did WW include them in the Cubs team set?

The answer is simple.

These are Sportflics cards; three pictures in one.  But on these cards, instead of three different pictures of the same player, they have pictures of three different players.

The Mickey Cochrane card is for the best catchers of the 1930's.  Also included are Bill Dickey and...

...Cubs Hall of Famer Gabby Hartnett.  I couldn't get a decent scan of the card that showed Hartnett, so I had to hold it at just the right angle and then take a picture.

The Olivia card is for outfielders of the 1960s and also includes Al Kaline and....

...Billy Williams.   Though the card is for outfielders of the 1960s, the picture is probably from the mid-seventies, when Billy let his hair grow a little longer and grew the mustache.

Friday, October 24, 2014

All The 2014 Cubs Inserts

As usual, Update is loaded with inserts.  And has been usual lately, there aren't many Cubs.

The non-relic insert sets include The Future is Now, Power Players, Fond Farewells, 1989 Mini Die-Cuts, World Series Heroes, All-Star Access, Derek Jeter Framed Reprints, and 2000 Topps Gold Label Framed.

Here's the Cubs cards:


It's Anthony Rizzo or Bust!  The All-Star Access card is has Rizzo's name on it but Castro is featured just as prominently as Rizzo.  I wonder it that's why Topps didn't bother with an Access card for Castro?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2014 Topps Update Cubs

One week and one day ago Brentandbecca took delivery on 60 cases of Topps Update.  Yesterday my 330 card set and Cubs team set arrived.  It's amazing to me that he can bust so much so quickly.  And then he sorts the cards.  I can't imagine the number of hours he must put in to get the cards shipped so quickly.  Again, amazing.

The Cubs netted 10 spots in the set, which is just about where it should be.  The past few years, the Cubs haven't been cheated in the Update set.

That's not a good means lots of changes.  Hopefully next year will see fewer Cubs in Update...


...unless they land a bunch of players on the All Star team.   The Cubs had 2½ All Stars this year: Rizzo, Castro, and Samardzija-the half since he was traded just before the break but earned a spot on the NL team.  Spellcheck made the All Star team but not the Update set as an All Star.

Here are the rest of the Update Cubs, in alphabetical order:



My guess is that the checklist was finalized by the end of July, since Javier Baez and Jorge Soler were left out.  The notable omission for me is starter Kyle Hendricks.  He made only three starts in July, which wasn't enough for Topps to think him worthy of the checklist.  He finished the season 7-2 with an ERA of 2.46.  I wonder if that's good enough to make the 2015 set.

Tomorrow I'll have all the Cubs insert cards. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

2014 Mike Olt Update Sabermetrics

My update set from Brentandbecca should arrive this afternoon.  In the meantime, this is my only update card...

...of Mike Olt.  He stuck with the Cubs for most of the season until management finally got tired of all of his strike outs.  For the year, the guy had 258 at bats, struck out 100 times, and hit a paltry .160.  Sure, he had 12 home runs.  But otherwise...a bust.

So why do I have this card?

Because its "special."  This is the sabermetrics version, with all those new-fangled stats on the back.

Here's a closeup of the stats.

I must admit I'm not all that versed on them.  All I know is that there isn't a way to pretty up his 2014 numbers.  A pig with lipstick is the best way I can come up with to describe them. Ugly is still ugly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

S̶p̶o̶r̶t̶f̶l̶i̶c̶s̶ Sport Flix1996 Cubs

On Saturday I took a look at the first release of Sportflics.  Today I've got their swan song.

The final set came out in 1996, ten years after the first.  There were. however, a few years during that span (1991 -1993) in which no set was produced.  So that makes this final set their eight release.

The sports card industry saw quite a bit of change during those ten years.  Sportflics came out just as the industry was about to explode.  By the  time of it demise, the industry bubble had burst and Sportflics was one of many casualties.

The company that produced the cards saw plenty of change too.  It's name went from Optigraphics to Score to Pinnacle to belly-up in 1998.

Even the brand name changed, becoming Sport Flix in 1995.  As the company and brand struggled, the set size shrunk.  The 1996 version has only 144 cards.  Among the 144 cards were 24 special UC3 cards.  These have a 3D look to them.  The previous year, Pinnacle had an entire 147-card UC3 set.  Cutting back to only 24 was quite a downgrade.

The Cubs were slotted into just three spots on the checklist.


Grace and Sosa got regular cards...

....and Sammy has one of the 24 UC3 cards.  Pinnacle must have been caught off-guard with Ryne Sandberg's return from retirement because the 1996 set is the only one that didn't have a card of Ryno from a season in which he was active.

I've got Sportflics/Sportflix bookends now posted.  In the next couple weeks I'll fill in the rest of the sets.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tracking the Cubs Collection Over the Years

One unintended benefit of the Five Random Cubs Cards posts is that is has given me a record of the size of my collection since 2009.  Each post will typically include the nubmer of Cubs cards and brands at the time of the post.  Over the weekend I went through the posts and made a spreadsheet that showed the number of cards and brands in my Cubs collection.  Instead of using all 147 posts, I took the information from posts near the end of March, June, September, and December.

Here's what I came up with:


And because I'm a visual guy, here's the same information in a couple of line graphs:

Back in 2009 my collection was mainly the big four: Topps, Donruss, Fleer, and Upper Deck.  There several smaller sets too, but the bulk of the 5,274 cards came from the four biggies.  

Since then, the growth of the collection and number of brands had been pretty steady.  There aren't any crazy spikes along the lines.  The number of cards grew at a steeper pace though 2011 and has leveled a bit since then.

Looking ahead, I'm anticipating the same slow and steady growth.  It's not like I've got all the Cubs cards so there are always more to be added.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 12,793 Cubs cards from 97 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s: 1971 Topps #98 Joe Decker  Righty Joe Decker was one of several young pitchers that were supposed to bolster the Cubs rotation in the early '70s.  He pitched nine games in AAA, but spent the majority of the 1971 season with the Cubs.  He was used as a reliever and spot starter.  

1980s: 1989 Bowman #284 Greg Maddux  This guy didn't bolster the starting rotation, he anchored it!  The Cubs won the division in 1989 and Maddux was a big help towards that, posting a record of 19-12 with an ERA of 2.95.  He finished third in the Cy Young voting.

1990s: 1992 Star #3 Ryne Sandberg This card is one of a slew of Sandberg Star cards from the late '80s and early '90s.  The Star '92 set has nine Ryno cards; this is #3.  Looks like they snapped a picture in Mesa.

2000s: 2004 Bazooka #243 Felix Pie  Cards of players like Felix Pie remind me to be cautious when hearing hype about superstar prospects on the way.  Pie's name was talked about for a couple years before he finally came to the Cubs....and went bust.

2010: 2010 Allen & Ginter #88 Kosuke Fukudome  Cards of players like Felix Pie Kosuke Fukudome remind me to be cautious when hearing hype about superstar prospects foreign hotshots on the way.  Pie's Fukudome's name was talked about for a couple years before he finally came to the Cubs....and went bust.