Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Quick PWE from 2 by 3

A received a nice PWE from 2 by 3 Heroes recently and I thought I would show off how its contents.  Jeff's surprise PWEs always seem to fit perfectly in my collection.

For instance, everyone needs a card picturing a trout talking to a penguin.  How cool is that?

I didn't own a Billy McKinney card until now.  I'm not sure how Billy fits into the Cubs' plans, but it's nice to have so much talent down on the farm.

Speaking of talent . . .  a shiny CJ Edwards and a sparkly Junior Lake!  Junior had his window of opportunity, but unfortunately he didn't jump through it. And now he's probably trade fodder.
CJ Edwards?  I'm predicting he'll be in the bullpen in early August and CJ will find himself in some high leverage innings during September.  He has FILTHY stuff.

Lastly, two of the big dogs.  Arrieta is the de facto ace of the staff (until Lester gets his head out of his butt).
 Rizzo has taken that Kris Bryant kid under his wing.  Look at that . . . Rizzo, at 25, is becoming a young veteran leader.

Thanks for the nice surprise, Jeff.  I'm got a few things I've been saving for you and I'll drop them in the mail here before too long.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Teacher's Kick Grass

Last summer was the first in which I didn't participate in a team sport since I was five years old. Slow-pitch softball has been a big part of my summer nights for the last couple of decades.  I'm one of those weird guys who like to dive, get dirty, and run around like a madman on defense . . . but I had suffered an injury to my throwing shoulder and I was pretty upset.  I could care less about hitting so I retired my glove until I could get my shoulder fixed.

In the meantime I've signed a not so lucrative free agent deal to play kickball with my co-workers. Meet the team, Teacher's Kick Grass:
For the record:
1) I'm the one with the little guy on is shoulders
2) Those aren't gang signs my teammates are flashing... they're A-pluses!

We played Strong Ballers in the rain this evening and defeated them 12 to 0 in seven innings. I got an inning in the outfield, one at first, and I pitched four shutout innings.  At the plate I reached all three times and scored a pair of runs.  More importantly, it was fun.  I needed that.

I may try convincing my athletic director to let us borrow the inflatable eagle the high school football team runs though for our next game.   Yeah, it's a fun group!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Shot of Andrenaline

I have tomorrow's date circled on my calendar for a couple of months now.  It'll be my first Cubs game of the year!

Even though my boys in blue are playing well right now I'm still taking abuse from the Cardinal fans at work:

"Oh, you're going to the Cubs game tomorrow?  Make sure you use the restroom before you walk into Wrigley!"

Yeah, yeah. The Cubs had to bring in port-a-potties to help ease the long lines a the rest rooms during this time of construction.  Funny. 

But guess what?  I don't care.  And here's reason number one:
That's right.  And I will be there in person freezing my tail off. 

Life. Is. Good.   #GoCubsGo

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

2015 Panini Stars & Stripes

I've had my eye on this set for awhile. I didn't jump on board with the 2013 version of Stars and Stripes, because I didn't know it was out there.  I consider myself a little bit of a prospector and like the idea that Panini doesn't have to work around the absence of MLB logos.

Let's break open a pack and see what it's all about.

The first card is a guy I don't know, but I'm okay with that.  Austin Bergner is a junior in high school and won't be eligible to be drafted until the summer of 2016.
 The backs of the cards have a simple write up about the player's history as member of the USA National Team(s) and a few stats.  I wish they didn't use the same photo as the front, but I have to figure there probably aren't too many pictures floating around of these guys. How neat would it have been if the player was featured in their USA uniform on the front and then their high school or college uniform on the back?  I could dig that.

Alejandro Toral was born in 1999.  Let's not talk about him.  He's just going to make me feel old.
A.J. Minter is a junior pitcher at Texas A&M and started off the season strong, but he had Tommy John surgery last month.  Good luck with your rehab, A.J.

 Justin Garza is a junior pitcher at Cal St. Fullerton.  He's healthy and will be draft eligible this summer.
Matt Chapman, and third baseman, was drafted by the Athletics in the first round of the 2014 amateur draft.  He go his feet wet in the Midwest League last summer and struggled a bit. He has yet to play in 2015.

L.T. Tolbert captured the MVP award from the Under Armour game at Wrigley Field last August.  He's a senior in high school and has a commitment to play for the Gamecocks next spring.

On to the inserts!

The Crusade inserts are shiny and thick.  Maybe it's my Swedish bloodlines, but I really like the yellow and blue background.  And like most card collectors, I'm a sucker for shiny!
Austin Meadows was drafted seven slots after Kris Bryant in the 2013 draft. He's off to a hot start in the Florida State League and owns a lifetime 0.320 minor league average.  From everything I've read it sounds like the Pirates have a pretty nice prospect on their hands, but the Bucs' outfield right now is stacked: Polanco, Marte, and some guy named McCutchen.

Daz Cameron, the son of Mike Cameron, is high school outfielder in Georgia who graduates his May.  He is being touted by many of the draft pundits as a first round talent.  
The Fireworks insert is not particularly shiny, but it is well done. There are other insert sets in Stars & Stripes including Champions, Statistical Standouts and Diamond Kings. I'm pretty stoked about the Diamond Kings.

It'll be fun to follow some of these guys as they make the jump to professional baseball.  And who knows, maybe there are some future Cubs in the mix.  Theo likes to draft guys who have already gone through Tommy John surgery . . . yep, I'm looking at you A.J. Minter.

I didn't build a set from any of the 2014 products, but I think I'm going to splurge on a box or two of Panini's Stars & Stripes.   Perhaps I'll even hit a Kris Bryant auto?  Yeah, I know... I won't hold my breath.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Making Saw Dust

Spring break came and went for this math teacher in a hurry.  Most of it is my own fault because I spent way too many hours in the workshop creating saw dust from 1" by 16" boards.

I received an uber-generous amount of greenbacks from my parents during the holiday season (read: last December), and they were earmarked for a new flat screen television for my man room. 

The old set up.
Watching modern day programming and DVDs, which are set up for a rectangular ratio, on an almost square tube-style television was making me cantankerous. Yet, I promised myself I wouldn't purchase the new flat screen until I built a TV stand for it.

Fast forward nearly four months . . . 

Fire up the power tools!  The pile of boards above would slowly take shape in something even my cat, Gus, would like to hangout on.  Lots of saw dust for sure!

 The TV stand I crafted wound up being about six feet long by sixteen inches deep.  It's mostly pine with a couple of aspen boards, and after I added one coat of stain it looks pretty sharp.
The bottom row fits my player collection binders.  The blue one on the left houses all my cards of Kosuke Fukudome, Brooks Kieschnick, and Kerry Wood.  The one on the bottom right contains over seven hundred different Ryne Sandberg cards.  The help balance all of the Cubs-goodness the three monster boxes contain all of my non-Cub singles.  Above the monster boxes are of my baseball books.  There's a stack of about six in there somewhere which I have not read . . . yet.  All in due time!

On each end I was able to take my skill saw and carve out a track for four separate sheets of plexiglass.  They slide in and out pretty easily, and now my bobbleheads won't need a good dusting so frequently. 

 I have another thirty or so bobbleheads resting on shelves elsewhere in the room.  The guys on the left are some randomness I've picked up through friends and minor league ballparks.  The ones on the right either came from the Single-A ballpark in P-town or up the road in Rockford.

The top of the TV stand is my favorite.  The piece of glass I had cut is the most expensive piece of the stand itself, but it was totally worth it.  I needed something to protect my Cubs!

There's 112 cards in all, with 112 different sets being represented.

Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, and George Bell can each be found twice, but only because of their 1991 Upper Deck card in which it pictured all three MVPs on one card.  Otherwise there is only one card of each player.

The big names are all there: Banks, Williams, Jenkins, Santo, Grace and Maddux.
Of course I had to include my prospects: Bryant, Baez, Russell, Schwarber, Edwards, Almora and the Vogelmonster.
Other favorites made the cut as well: Nomar, Reed Johnson, Dick Tidrow and his mustache, and Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams.

It took a little time to select and arrange the cards, but I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.

Now I can watch my Cubs, in my man room, on a nice new TV supported by something I constructed myself.  Give me a mini frig to store some adult beverages and it'll be my own little slice of heaven!

Thanks for the cash Mom & Dad!