Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thank You, Mr. Cub

Here we are in the middle of winter, waiting 'til next year, and baseball news has made it to the front of most major media platforms.  Sadly, it's for the passing of Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub. 

I never got to shake Ernie Banks' hand and meet the legend in person, but that's more of a reflection on me and how I clam up around baseball celebrities than it is of Ernie. I'm sure he would have been able to loosen me up a bit with a firm handshake and his warm smile.  But alas, I was more content to watch and take joy from how he interacted with others. I was within ear shot of Ernie on several different occasions and each time he was outgoing, warm, and he seemed to put an importance on making others smile.  Ernie seemed just as eager to place a small child on his lap for a photo opportunity as he was to shake the hand of a life-long Cub fan.

He was a terrific ambassador for baseball, one of the most revered baseball talents ever, and he was a tremendous human being.

There's not much more I can say which hasn't already been said, so I'll allow people of greater notoriety than myself to offer their thoughts on Mr. Cub.

Outgoing MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig:

President of the United States, Barack Obama:

Rest in peace, Ernie. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Jason Motte, Warmsy McNapster, and Moonlighting

I'm in the middle of the second half of my high school basketball coaching gig and time is scarce, but that hasn't stopped me from jumping on the Twitter Machine and pulling a couple of my favorite photos.

Jason Motte was signed to pitch in high leverage situations this season AND provide veteran leadership for the Cubs' young bullpen.  The picture below was taken at last weekend's Cubs Convention.

I'm not doubting his pitching prowess, but this picture certainly doesn't build my confidence in him guiding a bunch of early twenty-somethings to success.  It looks like Joe Maddon may have his hands full.

You have probably heard that Wrigley Field's bleachers won't be finished until June.  I guess left-field is scheduled to be completed in early May and it's right-field brethren will open up in late May.
care of @WrigleyBlog
Either way, Chicago winters are unpredictable and I'm not holding my breath.  I do think the Cubstruction logo is clever though.

May I introduce to you Gus Warmsy McNapster.  If you can think of a warm place to sleep you can bet he's already found it.
Somewhere underneath that heating blanket is my beautiful wife's lower half.  Silly cat.

Lastly, I've been thinking about picking up a part-time and/or summer job. A new sports complex will be opening near my neighborhood late this spring and supposedly the management is looking to hire individuals who have coaching experience and know the games of softball and baseball.   Hey, that's me!
 I've already got my name in the applicant pool.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pack Wars: '90 Score vs. '14 Panini Classics

Welcome to another rousing edition of Pack Wars! 

Today we have a 16-card pack of 1990 Score against a 2014 Panini Classics, which weighs in at 8 cards. 
This will be a 2-to-1 match scheduled for 8 rounds!  . . . WHOA!  Score has jumped the gun!
Score decided to forgo the customary glove tap before the match and instead delivers a sharp uppercut to Panini Classics with a Bob Gibson trivia insert! Whoooooa Nellie!  What poor display of sportsmanship by Score!  The arena is up for grabs and it's going to take some time to settle both corners of the ring down! 

Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to cut to commercial and hope that when we return cooler heads will have prevailed. 
 Welcome back, folks. The Panini Classics corner has collected themselves and we're ready to start this match, officially this time.

Ding ding ding!  An here we go!

Round 1
Panini Classics comes out from the corner swinging fiercely with a Jackie Robinson card.  Score's Dan Pasqua and Matt Nokes are no match.  Panini has evened the score, but the sense here in the arena is that things are just starting to heat up.

Updated score:
1990 Score = 1 (Gibson cheap shot)
'14 Classics = 1

Round 2
George Bell packs a wallop with his three silver sluggers awards, three all-star appearances, and an MVP award.  Panini Classics unleashes its second Hall of Fame member in as many rounds.  Wow, Classics has come out with its guns firing!  Score, appearing a little dazed from the Robinson roundhouse, attempts to throw another punch, but its Gutterman doesn't even connect.

Updated  score:
1990 Score = 1
'14 Classics = 2

Round 3
The smelling salts came out in Score's corner between rounds. It seems to have helped as a current Cub and a future Cub land to the body of Classics, which can only retaliate with a Jon Singleton.  Perhaps Classics used all of its heavy artillery too early?  Score has tied up the match!

Updated  score:
1990 Score = 2
'14 Classics = 2

Round 4
It appears that both contestants are tiring here in the middle rounds.  Oddibe McDowell and Bob Geren give the fans little to cheer about, and Panini can only offer up its own Yankee backstop in return. 

From what we can see here in the booth it looks like the paying customers have more vigor in their step than the two in the ring.  Let's see how the judges score this round...  a draw!  Ohhhhhhh my!  The crowd is visibly displeased!

Updated  score:
1990 Score = 2.5
'14 Classics = 2.5

Round 5
Panini Classics has found its second wind and deals a Hall of Fame punch with Jimmie Foxx before Score and can even thinking about unloading its Kirk McCaskill and Carmelo Martinez. 

Updated  score:
1990 Score = 2.5
'14 Classics = 3.5

Round 6
Score, realizing that time is ruining out, delivers a glancing blow with Eric Yielding, but then lands a hard right cross with Jack Morris and his awesome mustache.  Panini stumbles a bit, wipes the fresh blood from its eye and reaches back . . . and . . . lands a Killer punch in Harmon Killebrew! A fourth member of the Hall of Fame!
The fans are rallying for Classics now and it seems as though we'll need a major change of events for Score to recover.
Updated  score:
1990 Score = 2.5
'14 Classics = 4.5

Round 7
Panini Classics tries to end the match early with a fifth member of the Copperstown museum in Rod Carew.  Score delivers a valiant attempt at a comeback with Tim Raines and Moses.  Yet, not even Moses is enough for Score to get back on the board.

Updated  score:
1990 Score = 2.5
'14 Classics =5.5

Round 8

Panini saves its insert for last and lands an Ichiro punch with the force of a lumberjack.  Score stumbles and gives a quick series of Todd Stottlemyre fastball-like jabs to the mid section in retaliation.  . . . Score, knowing it can't let this match come down to a judge's decision reaches back for one last haymaker . . .  A card commemorating Bo Jackson's lead-off homer from the '89 All-Star game off of a Rick Reuschel sinker! 

Panini Classics body absorbs the blow, staggers, and regains balance as the bell to end the round and match rings. 
Whoa Nellie, what a match!

The Final Score:
1990 Score = 3.5
'14 Classics = 5.5

Panini holds on to win behind the strength of five cards featuring members of the Hall of Fame. The Bo Jackson All-Star card was a nice unexpected score though!

Thanks for tuning into another edition of Pack Wars.  And remember folks, plunder the lox.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Call to the Blogosphere

In my last post I showed off the haul blog reader David sent me. It was a great collection of Cubs from the early 90s to present day and was flush in autos, relics, prospects, and parallels.  Simply a great package overall.

David doesn't have a blog, but he has what sounds like ambitious tastes.  For instance, he has completed the 2014 Topps Chrome set, and the refractor set, and xfractor set, AND he is working on the orange, blue, and purple sets as well.  Holy Cow!  

Another one of his big projects is an autographed 1989 Topps set.  I did have one card to contribute, a Mark Grace.

His wife is also into cards and she's working the 2014 Heritage set and the Heritage Minors set.  How lucky of a man is he?

I'm working on a return trade package for David, but I'm after the two cards which top his most wanted list:
1. Chubby Cox.  Yep, you read that correctly.  His name is Chubby Cox.
Such a great card I had to add the picture to the post a second time!

 I think it's pretty obvious why he needs a copy of this card. Well, because anyone who was ever a teenage boy needs a copy of this card.  Right?
 Here's a nice little blog post which gives a bit more of a description of Chubby's career: click here.


2. Andrew McKirahan, 2012 Peoria Chiefs, stadium giveaway team set edition.
 I have the McKirahan card on the right, but that card is from the team set that can be bought from the team store.  That is not the card he's looking for.  David actually attended some Peoria Chiefs games back in 2012 and has the entire set autographed except for the McKirahan set, because his set was shorted the card.  He wants to try to track down the card for a TTM to complete his autographed set.  Unfortunately, the guy on the blogosphere who lives in Peoria has struck out so far.  Argh!  The card he needs looks like the design on the left. 

Any help out there?  Bueller?  Bueller?    Hit me up at mrcoach00 at yahoo dot com if you have any leads on either card!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

"I have some extra Cubs that aren't doing me any good."

That's like music to my ears!  Over winter break a gentleman by the name of David, a blog-less resident of the 49th state, contacted me and proclaimed that his Cubs cards were "sitting in a box in the dark."

Well, David... let me tell you, these cards are going every which way in my collection, but all are appreciated!  Let's take a look at what was passed on to Waiting 'til Next Year headquarters.
I have a Brooks Kieschnick collection, which I will store in a database someday, and this card is now the centerpiece.  Kieschnick was drafted by the Cubs in '93 and this card was produced in 1992 and boasts of Brooks' summer exploits in the Alaska League and Hawaii tourney.  Simply awesome!

Here's some more that are heading straight to the player collection binders:
 Woo-Hoo!  The Vogelmonster!  Excellent!
 A couple of new Javy Baez cards.  I'm a big fan of the minor league Heritage sets, but I must say the shiny Bowman throwback is my favorite of the two.
 I'm calling it now: these two, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler, will both finish in the top 5 for NL Rookie of the Year in 2015.  Not coincidentally, they are both binder guys as well!
 A legend of P-town and an all around good guy: Jim Thome.  I've been waiting for the price of this card to come down in price in my neck of the woods, but now I don't have to wait any longer! 
I have the Stadium Club card already, but it's been filed away in the Castro section of my Cubs binder.  This one is up for a spot in my new Cubs FrankenSet.  (Mental note: show off FrankSet to blogosphere.)  The Diamond King is pretty sweet, and I still say Panini is doing a pretty good job of hiding the fact they don't have a license. 

Minnnnnnnnniiiiiiiis!  Woo-Hoo!  The framed Garza will go my relic/auto box, but the other three will find their places in Castro and Rizzo sections of the Cubs binder. 
Again, patience prevails.  I didn't buy any Archives this year, but they are slowlyfinding their way to me.  I'm not sure how the Cubs' faithful feel about me having Fujikawa and Fergie in the same binder, but that's the way I roll.

Lastly, the camouflage Welly is the last guy who go into the binders.  I hope he stays there, but my gut says he'll be traded before opening day, and then I'll have a decision to make on his place in my collection. The Cubs went and acquired not one, but two catchers this off season.  Arrrrrrrgh.

Well, that does it for binder representation. Let's move on to parallels and serial numbered!  Above we have a D-Lee numbered to 250.  Below a Sean Marshall numbered to 99.
 The team leaders card isn't a parallel, but the horizontal format fits well with the Marshall card above.  An A-Ram auto!  The first in my collection, what a score!  The Soriano relic has a horizontal blue stripe AND it is dirty as a car after cruising on the country back roads.  
The League Standouts was some Fleer's better work from the early 90's in my opinion.  And, who can forget skinny Sammy Sosa?  I'm a Dillon Maples super collector, which once again just proves that I can't pick prospects worth a darn.  If Maples is lucky he'll have half the career Rich Hill did.  By the way, the Hill card is see-through, thus the "Clear Path to Greatness" name for the insert series. 
What a great selection of cards overall.  Last, but not least, we have a Power Players parallel of The Shark.  I can't believe he plays for the White Sox now.  Good grief.  He's going to own the Cubs in the Crosstown Classic this summer... I just know it.

David, you may say these cards weren't doing much for you, but they have totally brightened up my January.  Thank you your generosity!  Please tune into my next post where I ask the blogosphere for a little help on a return package for David.