Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Big Name Managers, Good Starts, Then Nothing

Since 2003 the Cubs have had six different managers.  Three of the six were big-name hires; three were not.

The no-names would be Mike Quade, Dale Sveum, and Rick Renteria.  None of these guys lasted more than two years; none had much success.

The big name managers are a different story.

Dusty was hired in 2003 after leading the Giants to the World Series.  His first year with the Cubs saw them as the surprise winners of the NL Central.  They won the NLDS over the Braves and then, well, lets not talk about the NLCS.

In 2004 the Cubs won one more game that the '03 squad, but that wasn't good enough to win the division.  They were leading the wild card race, but fell apart at the end of the season and lost it..  Dusty stuck around for two more years but the team got worse.

His win totals for the four years: 88, 89, 79, 66.

After dumping Dusty, they hired another big name, Lou Piniella.  Sweet Lou would lead us to the promised land.

He got off to a good start, as the '07 team came out of nowhere to win the Central with 85 wins.  But no promised land...they got swept by the Diamondbacks.

The '08 team did even better, winning an NL best 97 games.  Again, though, it was broom city in the NLDS, this time at the hands of the Dodgers.  Then things got worse and Lou quit midway through the 2010 season.  The four year wins for his teams are 85, 97, 83, and 75.  That was not the promised land.

And now the team is again led by a big name, Joe Maddon.   Once again, the big name brings the team to the post season in his first year with the Cubs.

The question... will Maddon be able to sustain the success?  Of there three, I'd have to say he has the best chance.  Baker and Piniella had veteran teams.  Maddon's got a young team that is built for the long haul.

Joe will do what the other two big names, the three no-names, and a long list of other Cubs managers couldn't do... Joe will lead us to the promised land.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Milk Duds Billy

I've added another item to the Billy Williams PSA collection and it is a repeat, of sorts.

For reasons that I don't understand, the PSA master list includes both a cut-out version and full box version from the 1971 Milk Duds set.

The cut version was picked almost three years ago...fairly simple to find.

The complete box is tougher and more expensive.  That makes sense.  What kid in 1971 would save the whole box?  I was ten in 1971 and there's no way I would have done that.  I would have cut it out.

There have been boxes available, but most are either grades and very expensive or had way-to-high BINs.  My plan (as ususal) was to wait patiently for one to pop up as an auction with a low starting price, set the sniper, and then wait and hope.

All's well that ends well.  I got this for a fraction of the graded card price though the box is in wonderful condition.

With this I've hit the 75% mark..three quarters of the way complete!  That's 95 out of 127.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Heritage Minors Leaders

I've got three more from Heritage Minor League.

Topps did leader cards in the main Heritage set because the '66 set had league leaders.

This year for the first time, Topps included leader cards in Heritage Minor League.  It is the first time a Minor League set included these, though other Heritage sets had them.  In a set with only 225 cards, it seems like a waste of ten slots to include them.

Kris Bryant was included on three of the cards, so I picked them up to keep the team set complete.


Bryant led the minors with 43 home runs, was second in runs scored (111) and his 110 RBIs was good for third.

Notice how Topps used the same picture on all three cards. That seems a bit lazy to me.  Matt Olson got different pictures on the HR and Runs Scored card.  Why use the same on all three from Bryant?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

They're In the Postseason!

They Cubs are back in the postseason for the first time since 2008!  The Wrigley Wax curse had been broken!

In 2007 the Cubs won 85 games and the Central Division.
In 2008 the Cubs won a league-leading 97 games.

In 2009 I started this blog.

In 2009 the Cubs won 83 games.
In 2010 the Cubs won 75 games
In 2011 the Cubs won 71 games
In 2012 the Cubs won 61 games
In 2013 the Cubs won 66 games
In 2014 the Cubs won 73 games

Coming into the 2015 season, the Cubs had a 429-543 record and a .441 winning percentage during the life of Wrigley Wax.

I was starting to wonder if it was my fault.

There's the Billy Goat, the Shea black cat, Bartman...was there a Wrigley Wax curse?


The young Cubs have surprised most fans (including me) by being this good this soon. Everything seems to be falling into place.

Of course it could all come crashing down on October 7.  But that is a week and a half away.  I'm not going to worry about it........ yet.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

2015 Heritage Minors Cubs

Both Heritage Minors and the Heritage High Numbers have come out in the past week or so.  Odd that they came out so close.  I thing the Minors set is getting lost in the shuffle.

The set is made up of 200 base cards and another 25 of the dreaded short prints.  The loaded Cubs system placed 12 players on the checklist.  If the players were divided evenly between the 30 teams there would be 7 or 8 per team, so the Cubs blew the average out of the water.

The big name in the bunch is Kyle Schwarber.  He's shown with the AA Smokies.  Schwarber really tore through the minors this year and has become a fixture in the Cubs lineup.

Carl Edwards (formerly known as CJ Edwards) is the only other in the bunch that saw big league action in 2015.

The rest of the players are at least a year away...none are shown with the AAA Iowa Cubs.





Friday, September 25, 2015

Ernie's Last Game

The Cubs have been celebrating / remembering Erinie Banks all season long.

This had been on the field for every game and

they've worn this shoulder patch, too.

I recently did some digging around the Tribune archives and found this picture:

It's from the September 27, 1971 edition.  Mr. Cub played his final game the day before.  The Cubs still had three more games left in Montreal, but Ernie was allowed to skip the trip.

He actually skipped most of the 1971 season.  He played in just 39 games and hit a minuscule .193.  His legs were shot and so was his power.  He connected for just 3 HRs and 6 RBIs.  It was a pretty inglorious way for him to end his storied career.

It seems like he ended his life in a similarly inglorious way.  This article from Chicago Magazine give a pretty sad account of his final few years.

This is the way I'd like to remember 1971 and Ernie Banks...all smiles.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

1994 Startling Lineup Cubs

Hey!  Two years in a row the Starting Lineup set showed some growth.  For 1994 the set increased to 57 cards.

The Cubs netted two on the checklist, and they are the two from the mid-90s that make the most sense, Grace and Sandberg.  Sammy wasn't SAMMY yet.


You can see the card design was another snazzy one, with colors and curves and all.  

The set marks the end of a seven-year run from Ryno.  He had a card in each of the different Starting Lineup sets.  His retirement during the 1994 season would bring his streak to an end.  He did, though, get a card in the 1997 set when he came back.

Here's the seven year Ryno run:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

1993 Starting Lineup Cubs

For the first time in four years, the Starting Lineup set size three whole cards (from 35 to 38)!  I guess three more is better than the massive shrinkage of previous years.  Though the set grew, the Cubs cards shrank.

Ryno was the last Cub standing.  But, since he's such a good guy (though in the card above he's got his game face on), his SLU figure came with a bonus card!

Sandberg is a Hit Men.

Notice that the border on the second card is a color reversal of the base card border.  Isn't that cool, boys and girls.

1992 Starting Lineup Cubs

The Starting Lineup shrinkage continues.  Let's recap the recent set sizes:

1989: 168 cards
1990: 86 cards
1991: 46 cards
1992: 35 cards

While the set was again getting smaller, the card design got funkier.


Stripes and all sorts of color - a definite departure from previous years.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Crown Him With Many Crowns

Here's another Panini Billy Rainbow.  This time I've got the Cooperstown Crown Royale Die Cut cards.  This insert set has seven different versions....base, silver, purple, blue, gold, green, and black.  I've come up with all but two, the gold (/10) and black (1/1).  The odd thing is that I've got two of the /5 greens, but not a single one of the ten golds has ever shown up on Ebay.

First, a look at each card individually:

And here is a look at the five side-by-side:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Five Not Random Cubs Cards

I'm starting to get really excited about what this team could do over the next several weeks.  I'm not letting the RNG pick the cards.  I picked these based on what's happened in the first two games with the Cardinals this weekend

1961 Topps #141 Billy Williams  In 1961 Billy set the team record for both homers and RBIs by a rookie.  The RBI record is gone, the HR record was tied yesterday.  I know Billy is excited by this team and doesn't mind seeing the records gone.

2015 Topps #616 Kris Bryant  Your new rookie season HR and RBI leader.  He hit a bomb yesterday that made it to the back row of the bleachers.  

2015 Topps Chrome #24 Addison Russell  Just when it looked like the bullpen might give away another game, Russell made a spectacular game-ending play.  He's so smooth with the glove, hit bat is coming around, and he's just 21 years old.

2015 Stadium Club #92 Jorge Soler Just before Bryant hit his bomb to the bleachers, Soler smoked a laser beam into the left field seats.  Having him healthy and hitting will really add to the Cubs chances.

2015 Gypsy Queen #33 Starlin Castro I had given up on him a couple months ago.  Joe Maddon did not.  Joe Maddon is smarter than I am.  Since losing his shortstop job, Castro sat on the bench for a few games and then has turned himself into a fairly decent second baseman.  His bat has returned too.  He mashed two homers against the Cards on Friday and had two more hits yesterday.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Kris Bryant is Too Cool

Saw this yesterday...Kris Bryant is too cool!

When he came up, the expectation was that he would hit .400, blast 70 HRs and knock in 150 runs.  Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but expectations were very high.

He's steadily lived up to the expectations.  He's in contention for Rookie of the Year.  The average is up to .275.  He's got 24 dingers and has a team rookie record 93 RBIs....all very solid numbers.

I've also been impressed with how he's handled himself amidst such high hopes.  He hasn't gotten an attitude.  He seems very down-to-earth.  He's meshed with the team and is just one of the guys.

I love that he's so unassuming in the video and just seems to be having fun.

I hope he can have fun on the field through the month of October.

Friday, September 18, 2015

1991 Starting Lineup Cubs

The shrinkage trend that started in 1990, seeing the set size halved, continued in 1991.  This time the set went from 86 players to just 46.  That means in two years, 75% of the set disappeared, going from 168 to 46.  Yikes.

The cards returned to a more traditional Starting Lineup look, with a colorful border and the red stripes and Starting Lineup logo.  Yellow must have been the color of 1991 because Fleer used the same bright shade on their cards.

Despite a small set size of 46 players + nine more in the extended set, the Cubs were well represented with five cards. Almost half the MLB teams had either no players or just one, so netting five is awesome.