Friday, March 31, 2017

The Opening Day Cubs of the 1980s

Putting together the 1970s lineups was fun, so I'm going to keep going with this.  Here's the 1980s version.

Other than third base, the infield was pretty consistent.  Durham, Sandberg, and Dunston show up quite a bit.  Third base was in the midst of the post-Santo merry-go-round.  Jody Davis had a nice six-year run behind the plate.  Keith Moreland was Mr. Versitile, starting in three different positions.  Fergie had a ten year gap between opening day starts and then Rick Sutcliffe was the starter for five straight years.

How bad was the '82 team that Doug Bird got the nod for the opener?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Opening Day Cubs of the 1970s

I spent some time browsing my Cubs media guide and built a tile of the Cubs' opening day lineups from the 1970s.  It was an interesting exercise to see how the lineup evolved over the decade.

I used the players' first available Topps card from when they first made an appearance in the opening day lineup.  I then used that same card each additional time they cracked the lineup so it would be easy to see the changes.

The top row of the tile is the 1970 opening day lineup.  Each year following is on the next row.  The players are shown by position, 1st base - 3rd base, catcher, left, center, and right fielder, and pitcher.

Here's what I ended up with:

You can see some relative consistency early on with the '69 team, and then as they were jettisoned, several changes came each year.

Shortstop and third base have the fewest changes, with three players, while first base saw the most changes, with seven different players.  Jose Cardenal and Don Kessinger tied for making the most appearances, six each.

The two biggest surprises for me were the 1971 starting centerfielder, Jose Ortiz, and the 1974 first baseman, Billy Williams.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

2017 Opening Day Cubs Set

The Cubs were given 12 cards among the 200 on the 2017 Opening Day checklist.  If you divide 200 by the 30 teams, each team should have six or seven cards.I feel greedy that the Cubs doubled that.

The thing I like most about Opening Day is that it gives a preview of series two cards.  Of the 11 Cubs players, six were not included in the first series, so Opening Day lets us know what their cards will look like.




Those are some pretty big names to have been left out of Series One.  Most of these guys were on leader cards or inserts, so it didn't even register with me that they were being held out until Series Two.

Here's a look at the five that were in Series One:


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Full Run of Topps Stickers, 2011 - 2017

It will be very easy to take a look at all of the Cubs stickers since Topps brought the product back in 2011.  Each year there have been exactly nine players and the team logo, a total of ten stickers.

I just plop ten stickers in each row, make a row for each year and voila!

Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Topps Stickers Cubs

As they have each year since 2011, Topps put out a sticker set.  The format has stayed the same, with nine stickers per team and a half sticker team logo.

Some years its been a stretch to come up with nine Cubs to include in the set.  This year there is the opposite problem.  Who do you leave out? And to make it even tougher, the mascot got a sticker, leaving just eight spots for the players.

Left out were NL ERA leader Kyle Hendricks, All Star Jon Lester, NLCS MVP Javier Baez, and World Series star Kyle Schwarber.

Here's who Topps went with:


The team logo has been paired with the White Sox for the past five years.

Each year the White Sox sticker has been on top.   I wonder how Topps determines which team goes on the top?  Early on it could have been by wins and losses.  Not any more!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 14,772 Cubs cards from 120 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s: 1953 Topps #173 Preston Ward  One very odd thing with this card is the C on Ward's hat.  It looks like today's C and it would be easy to overlook.  But in 1953 the Cubs hat used a wishbone C.  I wonder why the artist rounded the C?

1980s: 1983 Team Issued Chuck Rainey This card is part of the set the Cubs gave away on September 2 and 3.  There were 15,000 sets to be given away each day.  On September 2 on 11,575 were in the park and the next day attendance was better, 20,107.  I'll bet there were an awful lot of the sets that never got passed out.

1990s: 1993 Upper Deck #379 Jim Bullinger  Bullinger spent most of the '93 season in the bullpen of the Iowa Cubs.  He made just 15 appearances for the big league club.

2000s: 2007 Upper Deck #519 Felix Pie  Here's a big slice of Bust Pie.  This guy was highly touted for years and then never came close to meeting expectations.  I considered him to be Corey Patterson II.

2010s: 2011 Topps Chrome #17 Starlin Castro  The 2011 card gives a nice look of Castro turning a double play.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Heritage 2018

Let's take a look at what we'll be chasing in eleven months...

...the 2018 Heritage set, which will be based on..

...the 1969 set.

It will be pretty hard for Topps to mess up this design.  It's about as basic as you can name, circle with name and position, picture.  That's it.  As with the 1968 set, these have team specific colors.  The Cubs and White Sox were again given the orange circle.

My dream for Heritage is that Topps would get posed shots from major league parks.  Most of what they've had lately comes from photo day during spring training.  Beyond that, my ultimate wish is that Topps would photoshop the players into period-appropriate parks.  I put Kris Bryant into a late-Sixties Wrigley Field.

That, for me, is Heritage.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Look at All the 2017 Heritage Cubs

Let's wrap up two weeks worth of 2017 Heritage with one more look at all the Cubs cards.  I've got a team set of 54 cards.   The most I've ever had with Heritage is last year's 65 cards.  The 65 cards included the High Number set and Heritage Minors.  With 54 already from just the first release, I'm sure that I'll shatter the previous record.  How high will it go??

Here are the 54 cards, lined up alphabetically by the player's last name.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Heritage 2017 and Topps 1968 Side By Side

Each year I like to compare Heritage with it's inspiration.

The most obvious feature of the 1968 Topps cards is the burlap borders.  Series one has the wider version and the rest of the set got slimmed down.  A second hallmark is the use of team-specific colors.  Both Chicago teams were given an orange circle.  Topps was going to have to faithfully recreate both of these features in Heritage.

So how well was Topps able to pull this off?



I'd say they pretty much nailed it.  About the only thing that seems a bit off is that the font for the last name on the Heritage cards seems a tab bit thicker. So kudos to Topps for that.

Below are the players from both teams.  There are similarities as both were relatively young teams.  The Cubs were coming off of a major improvement in 1967, vaulting to third place from last place.  Obviously I don't need to say much about what the 2016 Cubs did.  The 1968 Cubs regressed a little, losing three more games compared to the year before.  if the 2017 Cubs lose three additional games, they will still have 100 wins and I will be a happy boy!

The Position Players:






I wonder if some day Bryant, Russell, Baez, and Rizzo will roll off my tongue as easily as Santo, Kessinger, Beckert, and Banks?

The Outfield





The Pitchers





The '68 Cubs weren't bad and they have four guys in Cooperstown. But the '17 team players top them at just about every position.  I think the Cubs are set for a decent run!