Saturday, November 30, 2013

Diving into Box #2, which I thought was Box #1

Sometimes when you're ramfeezled things sneak by you and later you're left to wonder how you overlooked the obvious the first time around.

This is one of those times.

In my Testing the Waters post I reviewed the contents of the first box from the Kraken that Wes had sent me.  I somehow overlooked an entire team bag of cards.  How does one do manage to do that when it's a 200-count box?  I have no idea.  

Let's see what I missed!
Well, how about a bunch more serial numbered cards for my player collections?  Check. Missed 'em.

Five copies of a card that features my two favorite Chicago Cubs of all time?  Quintuple Check.
This 2003 Diamond Kings card may just slip into my all-time top 10 favorite cards.  Simply Awesome.

 Autographs of former Cubs prospects?  Heck yeah!  Yes, missed them, too.
 On the left we have my first Felix Pie autograph from a 2007 Bowman product.  On the right are a pair of 2002 Donruss autographs of Francis Beltran.  Both are welcome additions to my ever-growing stockpile of Cubs' autographs.

More Fukudome love?  Check.  Actually, lots of Kosuke Fukudome love.

Believe it, or not, but all four of the relics on the right are duplicates in my Fukudome collection.  What's even tougher to digest is that Wes has now sent me two copies of three of those cards!

The 2010 Topps Finest card, below on the left, is probably one of better card designs I have seen in awhile. A quality picture overlaying a shiny background featuring the Cubs logo are what makes this card for me.

My favorite relic card of Fukudome just so happens to be the only "pants" card that I now have in my collection.  I was just getting back into collecting when Topps produced its 2010 National Chicle set and somehow this relic card flew under my radar.

Maybe you can see why I was confused?
I can now confirm that Box #1 has been emptied.  But wait, so has Box #2.  What?

Free time has been so short as of late it has been nearly a week since I opened Box #1, and when I opened what I thought was Box #2 I saw another huge stack 1975 SSPC cards.  I assumed that this stack of SSPC cards was the same ones from Box #1 and that I missed a second team bag of Cubs goodness.

Thus the blog post talking about all of the cards I missed from Box #1.  Anyone else confused?

In short, there are two boxes with large stacks of 1975 SSPC cards and each had one team bag of Cubs inside.  Yet, I just wrote this entire post as though I only opened one box.  Yikes.

Three things going through my head right now:
1. How many of these 1975 SSPC cards do I now own?
2. I need to find more time for my hobby so this type of bologna doesn't happen.
3. Wes is probably laughing his head off. (And rightfully so!)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Wordle of Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Thanksgiving is, without any doubt, my favorite holiday of the year.  Family, food, football... reflecting on all the positives in one's life.  Good stuff.

The Wordle above is just a small sampling of what I'm thankful for this year.  Enjoy the day!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Testing the Waters

I mentioned that Wes, from Jaybarkerfan's Junk, sent me a flat rate box full of cards a couple of posts ago, which I dubbed The Kraken.  I either scouted or helped coach nine different girls basketball games last week, which has left me only enough time to open the team bag and catalog the results. 

Let's just say, I'm testing the waters before I dive in during Turkey Break!

The team bag contained more than just cards of Kerry Wood: it was full of Cubs goodness!

Let's start with the odds and ends:
The Xavier Nady silk card is from 2010 update and is numbered to 50 while the purple Topps Chrome Darwin Barney cards is from 2011 and is numbered to 499. Xavier Nady didn't have much of a tenure with the Cubs, and I'm afraid that Barney's may be up before too long.  I'm hoping I'm wrong.

Next, a trio of Kosuke Fukudome relics:
Two of these Fukudome relics are duplicates for me, but 2010 Gypsy Queen jersey card in the upper right of the picture is a new one.  My 78th different Fukudome card overall.  If there's another Fukudome collector out there be sure to let me know, because I don't want to corner the market on Fukudome relics!

Now, for the onslaught of Kerry Wood cards!

 On the left is a 2000 Revolution card numbered to 999.  I've never heard of the Revolution brand before.  Anybody have any ideas?  On the right is probably my favorite card of the package.  Yes, I realize that this post is full of serial numbered cards, silk cards, jersey cards, bat cards, parallels, and even an auto.  No, I'm not crazy.  Simply stated, I like the 2001 Donruss issue, and the fact that this one is from the 2002 Chicago Sun-Times Collection makes it that much sweeter.  I'm not sure how Wes got a hold of this card, but I'm glad he inserted it into the Kraken!

Next up, the aforementioned bat card from 2004 Donruss Classics.  This Dress Code card is numbered to 50 AND is my first bat relic in my Kid K collection.  Nice.  The card below is a Career Best jersey card from 2004 Donruss Elite and it is numbered to 200.  You guys know how I feel about shiny cards.  It's beautiful!

I have a different version of the Freshman Orientation card above.  This one is numbered to 5000 and the one I have isn't.  Huh.  Add another parallel to the binder!

Last, but not least another couple of beauties:
On the left we have a 2005 jersey Diamond Kings card from 2005 Donruss.  I miss the Diamond Kings cards and wish somebody would bring them back.
On the right is a 1995 Signature Rookies card that is autographed!  Holy smokes!  I'm not sure if the auto was an insert in the set, maybe a TTM auto, or an in person autograph.  Either way it's pretty sweet looking.  I didn't know Wood wore #21 during his high school days.  Perhaps if Sammy Sosa wasn't around when he made his Major League Debut, then we would know Woody by a different number?

I was approaching 250 different Kerry Wood cards before the package arrived and now I'm up to 253.  Another milestone has fallen.

Thanks for all the sweet Cubs cards, Wes!  I can't wait until I can find a little more time to crack open the next box in the Kraken!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


We, of the bloging ilk, often speak about how great of a community the blogosphere is.  Recently, my local community was hit hard by Mother Nature and now many are left with nothing.  Sunday was a terrible day in these parts, and many are stepping up to offer a hand, give some clothes, or open their check books.

I've given some clothes and helped set-up a donation effort at my high school.  Even so, when considering how much some have lost, it feels like it isn't enough.

Something for the Cardinal fans!
I know there are some Cubs and Cardinal fans out there that stop by my blog, so let me throw this out to you.  Heck, perhaps any baseball fan looking to add an autograph from a Hall-of-Fame player might be interested?

Here it goes:

The Peoria Chiefs, current Cardinals and former Cubs single A team, set up an online auction of sports memorabilia to help raise funds for Tornado Relief of their neighboring communities. They've already listed some items and plan to add more from past, present, and future Cubs and Cardinals. I kindly ask that you help spread the word to your followers, and share the auction link

Take a look if you would.

Regardless if any of you visit the auction page or not, the blogosphere is still pretty awesome.
Thanks for stopping by today.  

Something for the Cubs fans!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Lost Collector Delivers Again

AJ, the blogger known as The Lost Collector, has become one of my most frequent trading partners.  I seem to pull quite a few Yankees when I'm ripping packs, and AJ is the beneficiary of my cardboard which features players in those classic pinstripes.

Let's see what The Lost Collector sent back this time.  He seemingly has a never ending supply of Cubs cards!

Below is a 1997 Topps Stadium Club card doesn't mention which team Jody Reed plays is playing for.  The Cubs were bad in 1996 and I would be hard pressed to name five other Cubs not named Grace or Sosa.  I don't think Reed played for the Cubs, and he was a middle infielder, so I'm guessing he's the one turning the double play.
A quick flip to the back and my hunch is confirmed.  Reed is the Padre turning the twin killing.  Officially, this is not a Cubs card, but no matter.  Who is the Cub taking him out at second base?  After a little research on I've deduced it is none other than Luis Gonzalez.
It's still a sweet double play card even though Luis is making the cameo and not Reed.

Here's another card featuring a play at secondbase, but this time I think it's a straight steal.  This 1998 Upper Deck card of Doug Glanville will soon find its way into a binder.  Yes, I have a mini collection of Glanville cards.  I appreciate his baseball insight, he's a good Twitter follow (@dougglanville), and he's a pretty decent writer.  So yes, I'm hoping someday to bump into and get his autograph. This just might be the card!
 Here's two more cards of random Cubs who I have deemed to be "Binder Worthy."  Heathcliff Slocumb is one of the first Peoria Chiefs I remember watching in person to have success with the Cubs.  This 1993 Topps card is one of his earlier cards.  Turk Wendell?  Yeah, quirky pitchers need to stick together, so I have a couple pages of Turk as well.

Here's a couple of my favorite outfielders from past Cubs squads.  The 1995 Donruss card of Tuffy Rhodes reminds of when launched three home runs on Opening Day in 1994.  The card on the right is a 2012 Topps Series 2 card of Kim DeJesus' husband.  I was sorry to see David and Kim get traded to Tampa this past season.  Bummer.

Faux vintage and real vintage.  The Bill Buckner on the left is 1982 Topps wannabe from the 2012 Archives release, and the Mike Tyson is a legit 1981 Topps card.
 A couple of things to note here:
1. Buckner and Tyson each are batting with only one batting glove.  Huh.
2. I love the powder blue uniforms with the white pinstripes.
3. That Cub patch on the left sleeve needs to make a comeback.
4. Both of these men would be No-Shave-November contestants.

 More vintage?  I'm not if the Hippo Vaughn card counts.  It is from the Conlon Collection and was produced in 1993, but it features Hippo's 1918 season.  Hmmm....
The Bob Hendley card is from 1967 and seems to have been used as a teething device for a toddler (see bottom left corner).  Is it strange that I'll probably put this card into a top loader despite the condition?  I don't have many cards from the '60s.  The 1974 manager card is a new one to me as well.  I like the manager cards, and I like that this one features coaches!  It would be great to see if you could fit five signatures on the face of one card!  I think Topps should bring this back!

Oooooooh!  A 2005 Upper Deck jersey card of Mark Prior.  Man, when healthy, Prior was the goods.

Here's the other card that AJ sent which arrived in a top loader.  It's a 1996 Pinnacle insert card.  The holographic home plate actually photographed really well.  I'm not a huge fan of Sammy, but that's a pretty sweet looking card.  I guess I missed out on a bunch of really well done inserts while I was out of the hobby in the late 90s.
Yes, that is scotch tape at the top of the hard protective sleeve.  AJ ran out of blue painter's tape, but he apologized on a post-it, so it's all good.  I'm a big advocate for the blue stuff!

More?  Sure, there's more: two team bags worth, but you've seen the best, and I fear that if I show any more Cubs I'll lose the majority of my followers.  Haha.

Thanks for a great trade, AJ!  I'm on a bit of a pack breaking hiatus, but I'll start piling up Yankees again for you next spring!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Kraken

"Release the Kraken." 

Those were the last three words in an e-mail from a good blogging buddy of mine earlier this week.  Wes, of Jabarkerfan's Junk fame, almost flooded me out of my man cave with PWEs this past spring.  The flow of mail and cards from Wes was so overwhelming that I actually ran the white flag up the ol' flag post and called for a truce. He was gracious enough to cease fire and we hammered out a treaty, but then came a warning shot a couple of days ago.  And what a beauty it was!

Yesterday I received a flat rate USPS box on my front stoop.  The return address was all too familiar.

Yes.  The Kraken.  It has arrived.

Gutting the Kraken wasn't too difficult.  Never seen the innards of a Kraken before, huh?  Fear not...

... I've cleaned them up and stacked them into what I am now referring to as, "The Tower of Terror".

 The arrival of the Kraken is timed perfectly with the beginning of my basketball coaching season.  What does that mean for my loyal readers?  With the advent of 60+ hour work weeks, the revealing of the materials found within the Kraken will be somewhat of a drawn out process, but highly therapeutic for yours truly.  Nothing helps a guy relax like baseball cards.

I've only cracked into the top box from The Tower of Terror, but here's what I saw inside:

A solid brick of what appears to be Kerry Wood cards for my player collection and a LARGE stack of 1975 SSPC cards.

I cut the deck of SSPC cards and Manny Sanguillen was staring back at me. 
PNC park is my favorite ballpark in Major League Baseball and my wife and I have already made plans to go back this summer.  This card will be going with me with for sure!

Why?  Well, so I can ask Manny to sign it of course!
His barbecue stand is fabulous, and last time I was there he was chatting with fans and he had a plastic cup of sharpies within reach the entire time.

Oh, man, the autopsy of this Kraken is going to be a lot of fun!   Thanks, Wes!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

You know it's basketball season when...

Yep, I started coaching basketball again just a about two weeks ago.  How can I tell?

Well, here's what I've been coming home to each evening after practice:

Yeah, Gus is awfully cute in my discarded basketball shoe box. 

For the record, this is only the second time a head coach has purchased shoes for me, the freshmen coach.  It was a nice gesture that Gus and I can both get behind.  Well, in his case, inside.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Prospecting We Shall Go

I love my Cubs prospects.  Recently I've even added a new binder to my collection that features cards of the Chicago Cubs future.  I have a few odd balls, some minor league cards from stadium giveaways, Bowman cards, and a few from Topps Pro Debut and Heritage.

If  you have cards of Arismendy Alcantara, Albert Almora, Javier Baez, Paul Blackburn, C.J. Edwards, Pierce Johnson, Dillon Maples, Jorge Soler, Duane Underwood, or Dan Vogelbach cluttering up your desk then just give me a shout!  I would be more than happy to complete a trade for your unwanted Cubs prospects.

Today marks the release of Bowman's Draft Picks and Prospects set.  Many of the above names will be found in the set and a new one!  Time to add another page to the binder!

Kris Bryant was Cubs' #1 draft pick out of San Diego this past June and he has made quite a splash during his first professional season. I'm not sure of the origins of this card, but the perforation marks make me think it was a giveaway of some sort.  Pretty neat!

Bryant started with the Boise Hawks in July and then was soon promoted to Daytona of the Florida State League to help the D-Cubs win a championship.

Boy, this design looks familiar!

A couple of weekends ago he started at third base and batted third in the All-Star game in the Arizona Fall League.  My fingers are crossed that this won't be his only appearance on an All-Star game roster!
Of the cards above I pick one up from Listia and two from Ebay.  Is it too much to hope that fellow prospectors will trade me their 2013 Bowman Kris Bryant cards?  Only time will tell!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A PWE Rarity

It is a rare day when I open a PWE and then immediately post about its contents.  Today, err, tonight is one of those nights.  I got home late after a few day of teaching and coaching, just finished up dinner and decided to open one of two Plain White Envelopes before turning in for bed. 

Usually I'll open one and think, "Gee, that's nice."  And then I'll post about it a couple of days later.

Not. This. Time.

Wes, the king of PWEs and author of Jaybarkerfan's Junk, is at it again and this PWE deserves an immediate reaction.  How do I know he's at it again? Take a look for yourself:

Isn't that proof enough? Wes, the Gary Redus super collector, actually defaced one of Gary's cards to drive his point home.  It's even a 1-of-1!

What's nuts is the card that accompanied Gary to my mailbox.
 Oh wait, that's the back.  Sorry about that.  But hey, it does have a pretty neat shot of Mr. Cub in the uniform of the U.S. Army.  Pretty neat!

Here's the front and a piece of a paper that accompanied the card.

Um, yeah.  I'm not even sure what to say next.  I've never received the autograph of a Hall-of-Famer in a PWE envelope before.  Just crazy.   Crazy generous!

Wes, you are one unpredictable dude.  But, I think that's what makes this so much fun!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cubs: On Deck

I believe I have mentioned before that my friend, Jeff, is a Chicago Cubs seasons ticket holder.  Unfortunately, Jeff has since relocated to Texas and it's less than convenient for him to make it to random season ticket holder events sponsored by the Chicago Cubs.

He dropped me a line a couple of weeks ago and mentioned that he had three passes to the On Deck event at the Bank of America Theatre that he was looking to pass on.  Nice!  Jim, my sister, and I swooped in and took advantage of Jeff's generosity and took a day trip to Chiacago.
Downtown Chicago can be a little intimidating if you're not a frequent visitor of the city.  Luckily, we serendipitously ran into some signage (above) that helped us out. 

Once inside we found that the ornate theater, which is the oldest in Chicago, was decorated in my favorite colors!   Did we feel guilty that we were attending this event and we weren't truly season ticket holders?  Heck no.

We found our way upstairs and piled into the front row of the mezzanine level.  It had a great view!
Next we made our way to the concession stand and exchanged our vouchers for a beverage and sugar.  Score!
My two companions scoffed at my selection of candy, the Dots, but I didn't mind.  The green ones are totally worth chewing through a bunch of pink, orange, red, and yellow to get to.

Crane Kenney, President of Business Operations, was the first to speak.  My opinion of Mr. Kenney before the event wasn't very high, because I thought he meddled too much on the "player side" of things before the Ricketts family stepped in and bought the team.  Perhaps tying some of the free agent signings to Mr. Kenney was the media looking for a guy to vilify in the papers.  Conversely, I found him to be very pleasant overall and he seems to cherish working with Theo Epstein.  Additionally, he's a fantastic orator and he appears to be genuinely invested in the Cubs and bringing a winner to Chicago. 

Mr. Kenney introduced us to video footage of the new spring training complex in Mesa, Arizona, the new player development facility in the Dominican Republic, and new artist renderings of the modernized Wrigley Field.  The franchise is certainly moving in the correct direction. 

Oh, and my thoughts about Wrigley?  There was a period where I would have been okay with the Cubs moving out of Wrigleyville and breaking new ground.  But now, after seeing the pictures?  They have to stay.  It is GORGEOUS, and the new additions around the ballpark will help the community.

Theo spoke next and he talked specifically about rebuilding the franchise from the minor leagues up.  He apologized for the losing seasons, but added that the front office was going to stay the course and continue to build assets through the amateur draft, trades, and international signings.  He empathized with the fans when he said, "I don't get up in the morning and say, 'I'm going to be patient today.'"  He knows the season ticket holders and the fan base, as a whole, want a winner and we're tired of a less than stellar product on the field.

Theo said he knows that it's tough when your favorite player is traded for a bunch of minor league players, but then he threw some data at us: he has traded eight veteran players with a combined four years of control left with an average age of 32.5 and has converted that into 14 players averaging 23 years old with 78 combined years of control. (hat tip to Cubs Den for the numbers)

Oh, and the 14 players mentioned above aren't a bunch of nobodies either.  One was just voted minor league pitcher of the year!

Theo then turned to the large projector screen like Mr. Kenney before him did, but this time we were introduced to the likes of Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, CJ Edwards, and Javier Baez.  I don't know how you can be a Cubs fan and not be familiar with the five players above.  They're certainly more exciting and offer more promise than we have seen in recent memory.

Lastly, Jim Deshaies, the color commentator for the television broadcasts, brought Mr. Kenney back out to join Theo and they took about six or seven questions from the audience.  The questions were good and insightful.  Mr. Kenney and Theo didn't dodge the queries and they didn't pull any punches.  All too often athletes speak in cliches and I appreciated that they answered them honestly and directly.

Afterwards we headed down to main lobby and my sister was lucky enough to score Theo's autograph on one of the free season ticket holder hats the Cubs were giving away.  Jeff should be happy when he receives my package!

Here's a couple of cool things we learned at the two hour long event:
1. Every seat in Wrigley, even the bleachers, will be replaced as part of the renovation.  Man, I would love to add a couple seats or a section of the bleachers to my classroom at school or my man room.
2. The Cubs will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field in style this year.
     A. Each Friday home game will feature a promotional bobblehead giveaway of a famous Cub from each of the ten decades.
     B. Each Sunday home game there will be 5,000 "toys of decade" given away to the children as they walk through the gates. Perhaps an Etch-a-Sketch or a Rubix Cube?
3. A new seating patio will be built on the back side of the upper deck of Wrigley Field, which will offer more concession stands and restrooms.  As someone who sits in the upper deck from time-to-time I must say I'm pretty happy to learn of these plans!
4.  Rick Renteria was a good hire.  He's a people person, knows how to communicate, and is HIGH energy.  My type of guy!
Renteria delivering his message to the fan base.
The day was a great respite from what has already started to become the baseball-less doldrums of winter.  We even hit a Chicagoland pizza place on our way home: Papa's Pizza

Two days later, I'm back at home, in Peoria, and there's snow on the ground... in early November!  Why does it always feel like I'm waiting 'til next year?  Man... How many days until Opening Day?