Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Rookie Cup Update

Not only was Ian Happ's card the lone one to show ivy, but it also has a rookie cup.

Happ was the Cubs #1 pick in the 2015 draft and it was a bit of a surprise that he made it to the majors so quickly.  He came to the majors in May and stuck around for the rest of the season.  He hit .253 and blasted 24 homers.

He made the Topps All-Rookie team as a second baseman, but he played just 44 of his 115 games there.  More of his time was spent in the outfield and that's probably where he'll play in 2018.

Happ becomes the 16th Cubs player to have a card with a rookie trophy / cup.  Here's a look at all of them:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Where's Wrigley?

Topps 2018 series one is nearly a Wrigley-free zone.

I paged through the set looking for cards with pictures from games at Wrigley Field.  The easy ones were Cubs cards.  

There are six cards with Cubs players at home.

But other than those, there are very slim Wrigley pickings.


That's it...just two cards.  Starlin is saluting his former teammates on his first at-bat at Wrigley as a visitor on May 4.  Greinke made a start against the Cubs at Wrigley three months later on August 4.

This Ian Happ card is the only one of the 350 that shows the Wrigley ivy, and we don't even get a good look at it.

I guess Topps figured that by doing a 50-card Wrigley Field insert set in 2016, we don't need to see it in many other cards.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Thoughts on the 2018 Topps Set

The 2018 Topps set makes the 50th consecutive set for me.  That is a total of 34,578 cards, all resting comfortably in 50 binders.

This is the binder label that I made for this year.

I'm fine with the design of the cards.  This is the third consecutive year with a borderless card, and I doubt Topps will ever go back to borders.  They have Heritage for that.

The names are readable, a team logo is prominent, positions are listed... that's all good for a front.  Truth be told, even if the cards were ugly as sin I'd still buy the set. For me it's not about the design, it's about having the cards.  And since the design is a one-and-done, there's always next year to look forward too.

One thing I've noticed more lately has to do with the numbering.  Back in the day, the players were numbered so that you wouldn't have players from the same team numbered closely to one another.  They were spread apart by at least 20 numbers.  The rare exception was if a player was traded and Topps make a quick fix to show the new team.  New numbers weren't given.

Today you get players from the same team very close to one another.  I counted ten instances of players from the same team with consecutive numbers in series one.  That takes some getting used to for me, seeing two Cubs (or Red Sox, Mariners, etc.) right next to each other on a binder page.

I've got another "you kids get off my lawn" type observation.  I couldn't find one picture among the 350 cards that shows a player wearing stirrups.  As a traditionalist, that makes me sad.  Not a single player looks like a real baseball player, at least to me.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 15,462 Cubs cards from 130 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s: 1975 Pioneers of Baseball #1 Cap Anson  Anson was one of three Cubs in this 28-card set.  The cards came one to a pack and were sold with Fleer stickers. The card was included to add rigidity to the pack of stickers.

1980s: 1984  Team Issued Coaches  I wonder why they made Don Zimmer take his hat off for the picture?

1990s: 1997 Fleer Ultra #163 Brant Brown If Brown had stuck to playing first base, we never would have had....

 ....his most noted moment as a Cub in 1998

2000s: 2009 Finest #98 Derrek Lee  The 2009 season was Lee's last great season, as he hit .306 with 35 HRs and 111 RBIs.

2010s: 2016 Topps Chrome #166 Kyle Schwarber  It will be interesting to see if Schwarber rebounds after his poor 2017 season. He has worked hard over the offseason, dropping 20 pounds.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Sportlots Seller Liars

I've used Sportlots for years with little trouble.  I like their wide selection of cards and their inexpensive prices.  Shipping for one or two cards is usually much less than what you'd pay on ebay and I don't mind the PWEs.

What I do mind are sellers that lie, and that has happened to me twice over the last few orders.

Here's what happens...

When you place an order, the seller is notified by Sportlots that they have an order to fill.  The seller is to then pack the order, take it to the post office, and mark it as shipped.  They have ten days to do this.  According to Sportlots rules, if any order takes more than ten days to be shipped, the seller is booted off the site.

What has happened to me twice it that sellers are marking the orders as filled and shipped, so they meet the ten day deadline.  But in truth the orders aren't shipped on the day marked.  They are shipped much later.

I had an order of Bowman's Best cards that was marked as shipped on January 21, but two weeks later had not arrived.  I contacted the seller through Sportlots, asking for any shipping information. 

I was given USPS shipping information that showed the shipping label was created on January 28, a week after the seller marked the cards as shipped.  Even worse, the package just sat on the sellers desk until I contacted him.  After that, it finally went to the post office on February 6.  The liar seller marked as shipped on January 21 but didn't actually ship the card until February 6, well outside the ten day ship limit.

I had the same thing happen with an order for a Kris Bryant Highlight card.

The order was marked as shipped on February 4.  But it wasn't.

The postmark on the envelope is February 13, nine days after the seller lied and said it was shipped.

The frustrating thing is that sellers can get away with this.  There isn't a way to speak directly with anyone at Sportlots. The only way to contact them is through their message system.

You can leave feedback on the sellers, but I don't think that has any effect on them.

I'm not ready to give up on Sportlots, yet.  There are plenty of honest seller that ship when they say they do.  I just wish I could know ahead of time who they are.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Flick Friday: Fever Pitch

Today's flick is the 2005 romantic comedy Fever Pitch.  It tells the story of teacher and super Red Sox fan Ben Wrightman and workaholic numbers-geek Lindsey Meeks.

When 8-year-old Ben moves from New Jersey to Boston, he is friendless and lonely.  His mom has Uncle Carl take young Ben for the day and being a season-ticket holder, Carl takes Ben to Fenway Park.  At that point Ben begins his Red Sox obsession.

Fast forward 23 years and Ben is now a high school teacher and has also inherited his uncle's season tickets.  Ben takes a few students to a field trip to a company that uses lots of math, trying to inspire the kids.  There he meets Lindsey.  After being prodded by his students, he asks her out.  They begin dating.  Since it is the off-season, Ben's Bosox obsession is somewhat on hold and he and Lindsey hit it off.

The relationship get bumpy when the 2004 season begin as now Ben becomes more focused on the Sox and less on Lindsey.  Things eventually come to a head and she decides to end it, fearing she'll always have the second spot in his heart.

Ben becomes despondent and eventually realizes he needs to change his priorities.  He decides to sell his season tickets as a way of trying to win back Lindsey.

Will he get her back?

Watch the movie to find out!

The movie is a harmless way to spend 103 minutes.  It is interesting that the movie was filmed in 2004, the year the Red Sox finally broke the curse.  In fact, the ending was changed to include that fact.

And Cubs connections?  The obvious would be the long championship droughts of the two teams.  Of course, 86 years seems like nothing compared to 108!

There were a couple ex-Cubs that showed up...

Dennis Eckersley was in the opening scene when young Ben goes to his first game.

And when Ben was reeling after Lindsey broke up with him, he spends time watching one of my all-time favorite Cubs Bill Buckner break his heart.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Include with the Team Set?

Topps shows this card as a National League card.

My question - do I add this to my Cubs team set?

Before I get to the answer, a little about the card itself....


Why pair these two together?  If it was Rizzo and Bryant, I get it.  Bryzzo.

I could understand a pairing of Bryant and Harper, too, as they are both Las Vegas natives.

But putting Rizzo and Harper together and then corrupting Bryzzo and using Rizzarper?

That is just dumb.

So does this belong with my other Cubs cards?

I'm leaning towards yes.

It's wouldn't be the first time I've included other National League cards.

What say you??

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

2018 Kris Bryant Highlights

As far as I'm aware, this is the first time a Cubs player has been given his own insert set.  Two years ago there was a Wrigley Field insert set, but Kris Bryant becomes the first Cubs player to be so recognized.

The Kris Bryant highlight set has 30 cards.  As I said in a previous post, it seems like a stretch to come up with 30 career highlights for a guy with three years under his belt.

The highlight years break down like this:
2015 - 13 cards
2016 - 13 cards
2017 - 4 cards

It  looks like they should have done this set in 2017, since last season there wasn't much to add.

The set not only has the regular cards, but also blue and black parallels.  I got one of each when I bought my blaster and didn't even realize it.  Apparently many Sportlots sellers were in the same boat because of the 26 cards regular cards I ordered, I was given seven blues and one black.  For consistency, I'll probably go back and replace all the blues and blacks with base cards.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Two More Insert Sets from 2018 Series One

I've got the Cubs from two more insert sets.

Heyward won his fifth Gold Glove overall, and his second in two years with the Cubs.  Notice how Topps calls this a fielding award.  They must not have any sort of agreement with Rawlings to call this a Gold Glove.

Anthony Rizzo won the Roberto Clemente Award for his off-the-field accomplishments.  A cancer survivor himself, his foundations raised over $4 million for cancer research in 2017.  He is also a frequent visitor on the cancer floor of different local children's hospitals.  

We also saw last week how he cares for others, as he left spring training and went back home to Florida, to his high school alma mater (to which he had earlier donated $150,000 for lights for the baseball and softball fields), the site of the horrific shooting.  As good as he is at baseball, he is an even better person.


Three of the 50 Superstar Sensations are Cubs, Bryant, Rizzo, and Russell.

So far I've shown 21 different Cubs inserts from the first series.  Tomorrow I'll more than double that number with the Kris Bryant Highlights set.

Monday, February 19, 2018

2018 Series One Salute Cubs

Topps again included the insert Salute in the 2018 set.  There are 100 cards and five feature Cubs.



These four salute Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Memorial Day.  The Cubs were on the road for all three of these games so we see their road uniforms re-shaded for the day.

Andre Dawson was the only Legends Cub in the set.  I'm happy that the Cubs have hired Dawson after he was purged from the Marlins by Derek Jeter.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 15,462 Cubs cards from 130 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s: 1971 Fleer World Series #43 1945 Series  I am so thankful that this card no longer represents the Cubs last World Series appearance.

1980s: 1987 Fleer #557 Jody Davis  The picture on this card is from the 1986 All-Star Game, held in the Astrodome.  I was at first baffled by the card, because Jody is wearing a home uniform, but with that video screen in the background, this is not Wrigley Field.  When I saw on Baseballreference that he was an all star in 1986, it was easy to surmise the location.

1990s: 1990 Topps Stickers #48 Mitch Williams Wild Thing was really bad as a closer in 1990, a 1-8 record and just 16 saves.  The Cubs traded him after the season.

2000s: 2005 Topps Factory Complete Set Bonus #5 Brandon Sing This card comes from a Cubs-specific Factory Complete set.  In addition to the complete 733-card set, you got five bonus cards of Cubs prospects.  Sing never made it to the majors.

2010s: 2016 Stadium Club #207 Anthony Rizzo  And what is he celebrating?  This picture was taken on October 13, 2015, as the Cubs just won game four and the Divisional Series against the Cardinals.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

2018 Series One Inserts - 1983 Cubs

The Cubs netted just 10 of the 350 spots in the series one checklist.  They did much better in the 1983 insert set, with eight of the 100 cards.

Ryne Sandberg was in the 2018 version as well as the original back in 1983.  This gives us the opportunity to compare the two side by side.  I see several differences with the new version... the purple is lighter, the name box is bigger (see the extra space above "RYNE", the CUBS lettering is larger, SECOND is spelled out.

The other seven Cubs in the set are the usual suspects.


Friday, February 16, 2018

Flick Friday: It Happens Every Spring

We go way back for today's flick, It Happens Every Spring.  This comedy was released in 1949. 

Vernon Simpson is a struggling college chemistry professor.  He is also a big baseball fan and each spring his mind wanders off of school and onto the diamond.

He's been developing a formula for a chemical that would keep insects and rodents from penetrating trees.  It is nearly finished and would allow him to earn enough money to marry his girlfriend, Debbie, who is also his student and the daughter of the college president.

An errant baseball comes crashing through his laboratory window and ruins his formula.  He figures he's ruined.  Instead he discovers that the ball that smashed his window got covered with his chemical and is now resistant to wood.  When he tries to hit the ball with a tree branch, the ball jumps over the wood, never making contact.

Simpson decides to leave the college and head to St. Louis, to help his team win the pennant.  He get a tryout, strikes out everyone, and becomes a pitcher.  Not wanting to be discovered by the college he left behind, he names himself King Kelly.

The team assigns a veteran catcher, Monk, to watch over the oddball Kelly.  Kelly has great success, though later Debbie discovers who he really is.  He eventually wins 38 games for St. Louis, leading them to the World Series.  He takes the mound for game seven and....'ll have to watch the movie to find out how it ends.

It's a mildly entertaining story, though in today's world it would never fly.  He cheats by doctoring up a ball and he's dating a student.  No, not today.

The baseball in the movie is not very good.  The teams are always referred to by city only, not by name.  We assume that the St.Louis team is in the National League because they play Brooklyn.  The uniforms are very simple, with no attempt at authenticity.

The majority of the baseball scenes were filmed at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles.  Those retangular windows in the upper deck are unique to that old park.

Here's a look at a generic "Chicago" player.

Check out the Philadelphia Stadium.  That's actually Wrigley Field with the marquee getting doctored.

This is a scene from when St. Louis was playing New York in the World Series.  It too, is obviously Wrigley Field.  There were several times when stock footage of the Cubs was used in the movie.