Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sparkles Over the Years

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Who knew?

I've been railing on Topps for overdoing the sparkles gimmick, but it turns out there have been sparkles since the start.  I guess I just never noticed them before.

The original '52 set has sparkles.  Hank Sauer had one on his bat.

Ernie Banks' iconic and expensive rookie card has one, right on the top of his hat.

Popeye's puffy cheek sparkles on his '61 card.

The hand of the head coach sparkles in 1964.

Mr. Cub is a repeat customer, with a sparkly sleeve in '68.

My favorite Cub sparkles at my least favorite ballpark.

What a combo -- super-fro and sparkles.

How do you snaz up thick black glasses?  With sparkles!

Suddenly an ugly duckling of a card becomes a swan with a sparkle.

Billy Buck's glove sparkled in 1981.  The sparkle was gone by 1986, right Red Sox fans?

Ryno's rookie sparkles, too.

Sparkles, proudly overdone by Topps since 1952!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Update Cubs Sparkles

Topps added another 50 sparkle cards in the Update set, making a total of 150 sparkles this year.  Next year they might as well just issue a new brand called Sparkles, with a checklist of 150 cards.

Two Cubs were among the 50.  While I don't have my base cards yet, both of the sparkle cards have arrived...



...Dexter Fowler and Miguel Montero.

With these two, the Cubs ended up with seven sparkles among the 150.

Four of the sparkles are on a hat/helmet, one is on a shoulder, one on a ball, and one on a mitt.

I hope that this is the last I'll see of sparkles for a while.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Russell Relic and Autograph

Prices for Addison Russell relics and autographs have fallen to the point where I can afford them.  Missing the NLCS with a pulled hammy and then the Cubs getting swept probably helped with the price drop.  My wallet is happy but my head is still not.

Most of the autographs that I've seen for Russell have been redemptions going for over $100.  No thanks on both accounts.  Recently more of his live autographs have been showing up and I was able to get this... on-card signature from Topps Five Star.  Five Star came out at the end of September and it features a two card box for $125.  Both cards are on-card autographs.  At $62.50 per card, buying this is a pretty big gamble.  The guy that bought the box with my Russell card didn't make his money back.

The relic was another from Panini's Immaculate.  Like my recent Fowler and Szczur Immaculate purchases, it's got both the relic and autograph.

All I'm missing now for the relic and autograph collections is Kris Bryant.  I'm hoping to snag a reasonably prices Panini relic.  The autograph; nothing of his is reasonably priced yet.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

1961 Topps Stamp Billy Williams #3

Trying to complete the PSA master collection for Billy Williams has meant that I've had to get some doubles.  The 1961 Topps stamp went one step further and required triples, the solo stamp and the two different panel version. I recently picked up stamp #3.

This is the full panel version with Warren Spahn.  This has been a long time coming.  The single Billy stamp and the full panel with Carl Willey were fairly easy to find.   But one with two hall of famers wasn't as easy.  I hadn't seen an auction for one of these in months, so I was excited when I found the listing.  I was also excited because the starting price wasn't crazy high.  The price I ended up paying was a fraction of the price of a PSA 9 of the stamp the recently went for $300.

Here's a look at all three versions I've got now:

My PSA Billy collection is now at 76% complete, with 96/127 in hand.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Szczur Relic

Matt Szczur was up and down with the Cubs several times this year.  He was up enough to have both autograph and relic cards in 2015.  That means he gets added to my autograph and relic lists.

The autograph I took care of months ago.

The relic I took care of last week.  It's from Panini's Immaculate Collection.  I picked it up even though it has an autograph, too.  You can see the patch has part of a button hole.  But the Cubs blue alternate jersey doesn't have red button-hole stitching.  I have no idea what sort of jersey this comes from.

The Szczur relic bring me up to 71 different Cubs players with a relic card from a year that they played for the Cubs.  The total will go to 73 if I ever find Russell and Bryant cards at a decent price.

Here's the collection...

and the names of the 71 in the collection:

Arismendy Alcantara
Moises Alou
Javier Baez
Darwin Barney
Francis Beltran
Damon Buford
Marlon Byrd
Andrew Cashner
Welington Castillo
Starlin Castro
Hee Seop Choi
Tyler Colvin
Juan Cruz
Ryan Dempster
Blake DeWitt
Jason Dubois
Jim Edmonds
Mike Fontenot
Dexter Fowler
Kyuji Fujikawa
Kosuke Fukudome
Nomar Garciaparra
Matt Garza
Mark Grace
Mark Grudzielanek
Rich Harden
Brendan Harris
Kevin Hart
Bobby Hill
Rich Hill
Todd Hundley
Brett Jackson
Jacque Jones
Eric Karros
David Kelton
Bryan LaHair
Junior Lake
Derrek Lee
Jon Lester
Ted Lilly
Kenny Lofton
Greg Maddux
Carlos Marmol
Sean Marshall
Gary Matthews, Jr.
Fred McGriff
Bill Mueller
Jose Nieves
Mike Olt
Corey Patterson
Carlos Pena
Felix Pie
Juan Pierre
Mark Prior
Aramis Ramirez
Anthony Rizzo
Jeff Samardzija
Jorge Soler
Alfonso Soriano
Sammy Sosa
Geovany Soto
Matt Szczur
Ryan Theriot
Darryle Ward
Todd Wellemeyer
Randy Wells
Rondell White
Jerome Williams
Kerry Wood
Carlos Zambrano
Julio Zuleta

Monday, October 26, 2015

Time For A Little Review

With a few days to get over the disappointment of a sweep, I've got some thoughts about the Cubs 2015 season.

  • 97 wins and advancing to the NLCS should not be anything to be disappointed with.  In April, anyone that said the Cubs would win 97 games would have been considered an insane optimist.
  • Joe Maddon did exactly what he was hired to do.  He's changed the culture, brought the rookies along nicely, and made north side baseball fun again.  He's worth every penny.
  • Jake Arrieta had the season (maybe half-season) of a lifetime.  He's raised the bar awfully high for himself.

  • Anthony Rizzo is getting better each season.  Sky's the limit with him.

  • Starlin Castro had three seasons in one.  He had a crappy, head up his butt season, followed by a great teammate doing whatever he can for the team middle, and then ended with a that's more like it run. 

  • Kris Bryant didn't let the hype bother him.  He should win the rookie of the year.  Sky's the limit for him too.

  • Kyle Schwarber is way ahead of schedule.  The question is where will he end up on the field?  He's not a left fielder and he's not a major league catcher either.

  • Jon Lester was good but not $155 million good.  

  • The Cubs still need two more top of the rotation pitchers to compete with the big boys.  Kyle Hendricks is a decent #5, except he was the Cubs #3.  Help is needed.

  • Getting swept could be a good thing if it leaves the young Cubs hungry for something better.  The 08-09 Blackhawks were in a similar, young and losing the conference finals.  They won the Cup in 2010.
  • 2016 will be interesting.  Just 162 days until Opening Day.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 13,835 Cubs cards from 105 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s: 1970 Kelloggs #37 Billy Williams This is a very interesting picture.  We've got a 1968 photo on a 1970 card and a home Cubs uniform at Shea Stadium.

1980s: 1987 Fleer #560 Frank DiPino  He had career highs in appearances and innings in 1987, becoming a workhorse out of the bullpen.  He was 3-3 win an ERA of 3.15. 

1990s: 1991 Upper Deck #115 Greg Maddux  It's not too often that you see a pitcher with a bat in his had on a baseball card.  His form looks pretty good.  The result was too.  The picture is from 1990 (the All Star patch) in San Diego (grass field, dugouts at field level).  He pitched in San Diego twice that year.  In April he got rocked, lasting only four innings.  He had one at bat and grounded out with no one on base, so it would be safe to assume he didn't bunt.  The second time he pitched in San Diego was on July 1.  In the fourth inning, with runners on first and second, he bunted and ended up on first with a single.

2000s: 2005 Champions #338 Sammy Sosa  These Champion cards look really nice with the blue and red on the card and on the Cubs.  Well done Donruss.

2010s: 2014 Heritage #348 Kyuji Fujikawa  Theo rolled the dice on this guy and lost.  Two seasons with the Cubs, $9 million, 5.50 ERA in 27 games.  Ouch.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

My Final 2011 Topps Chrome Darwin Barney Card

I was finally able to pick up my 16th and final 2011 Topps Chrome Darwin Barney card.  The holdout was the red autograph version.  It's a /25, which is the lowest number of my six autograph cards.  The only I have left are the 1/1's... a Superfractor and the four printing plates.  I won't bother with those.

Purple 186/499
Atomic 133/225
Blue 61/99
Sepia 47/99
Gold 42/50
Red 15/25
Autograph Refractor 179/499
Autograph Blue 173/199
Autograph Sepia 64/99
Autograph Black 18/100
Autograph Red 10/25

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Very Disappointed

The title says it all.

Not much more to say.

This card  matches the way I feel.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

All My Autographs According to My Rule

The Dexter Fowler autograph card got me to 112 different Cubs players with a certified autograph from a card that shows them as a Cub, issued during a year they played for the Cubs.

Instead of coming up with some long-winded post dealing with the Cubs woes in the NLCS, I'm just going to show the 112 autographs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Two Dexters to Take My Mind Off of Two Losses

The weekend in New York did not go well.

Tonight is pretty much do or die.  Please do!!!!

I've got two new cards to distract my attention for a few minutes.

These are for my relics and autograph collection.  I didn't realize that Dexter Fowler had autographs or relics this year until I started looking for Jon Lester cards.  Turns out Fowler has both.

The autograph is from Topps Supreme.  It was released about a month ago, but I was totally ignorant of that fact.  When a pack of two cards goes for $80, ignorance is bliss.

You can see that my card is the green /50 version.  I picked mine up for far less than the seller's original purchase price.  I sure hope his second card in the pack was more than just a Dexter Fowler card.

The relic card is a jumbo relic / autograph from Triple Threads.  With Triple Threads you'll be paying about $170 for two seven-card packs, guaranteed two autographs and two relics.  Again, I paid far less than what the poor sap that bought the box paid.

With these two cards, my relics collection now has 70 different Cubs with a relic from a year they played for the Cubs.  The autograph collection moves to 112 Cubs that follow the same rule.

Russell and Bryant are still to come.

Monday, October 19, 2015

I Miss Central Time

I'm writing this about an hour and a half before the start of Game 2.  When you read this I hope the series is even at one game each.  With Jake Arrieta on the mound, this is as good a chance as the Cubs will have to pull even.

I just wish the game didn't start so late. There's just too much time before the start to sit around and get nervous.  I miss Central time.

I've spent the past 17 years in the Eastern time zone after spending the first 36 year of my life in the Central.  I'm still not used to the later Eastern times.  To me, the Central time zone is right in the sweet spot....not too early and not too late.

Prime time from 7-10 p.m., perfect.  Then the late night news should start at 10:00.  I never watch the late night news any more with the 11:00 Eastern start.

A Sunday in football season should be church and then a quick lunch before the Bears at noon.  Waiting until 1:00 to start?  No.  Time is wasting!

And I feel sorry the those of you out west.  You get football at 10 or 11 a.m.  That's too early.  And your prime time shows have already been shown out east before they run for you.  Even the new shows are reruns.

I get that MLB starts the games at 8:00 for maximum TV exposure and dollars.  I just wish I didn't have to kill that extra hour before the start.

I'll look at some cards to pass the time.

Aaahhhhh...I'm feeling better!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 13,835 Cubs cards from 105 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s 1971 Topps #38 Jim Colburn  This is one of many Cubs cards in the 1971 set that had pictures taken in the parking lot of Citi Field.

1980s: 1989 Team Issued Vance Law  He was the Cubs third baseman when the Boys of Zimmer made the NLCS.  Yes, third base was a weak spot on that team!

1990s: 1998 Bowman #191 Todd Noel Every year on December 25 I post a card of Steve Christmas.  I guess I should start to include this guy, who is the first Noel to play for the Cubs.

2000s: 2005 Tools of the Trade #105 Auto Relic Billy Williams I really like this blue version.  Cubs colors, my favorite Cub, and autograph and a jersey win win win!

2010s: 2014 Heritage #125 Nate Schierholz Just for kicks I took a look at the base set from last year's Heritage.  I have 16 Cubs in the team set.  Of those 16 players, the only that are on the Cubs NLCS roster are Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, and Travis Wood.  Talk about turning over your roster!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Schwarber Legend Grows

First, Kyle Schwarber goes from college to the majors in one year.  He zoomed through the minors.



Then. we get the Schwarboard.

And yesterday, Deadspin gives us this gem, Kyle Schwarber, song and dance man.

That's him as a high school junior, a member of the school's show choir.

The guy can do it all!