Thursday, May 31, 2012

Raise the White Flag

I have a "W" flag hanging on one of the walls of my classroom.  Some kids get it, but there have been more than a few in recent years that have no idea what it stands for or why it's there.  It's always fun seeing a student's expression once I finish explaining how the Cubs raise the "W" flag after a win so the passengers on the 'L' can see if the Cubs Won or loss as they zoom by Wrigley on the public transit system back in the 1940's.

Today the "W" will not be raised and instead the Cubs' front office has decided to wave the ol' white flag.  You know the one... the one that means they're giving up on the 2012 season. 

Well, in all seriousness, I never expected the Cubs to compete this season.  And really, who actually did?  In my pre-season prediction post, I had them slotted to finish only ahead of the Astros this year in the NL Central.

If Theo and Jed, the baseball minds that be at Wrigley, have a 3 to 5 year plan for bringing the Cubs back to the post season, then I just hope they don't trade away integral pieces that could be difference makers within that time.  Starlin Castro would be one individual that I would hesitate to offer up.  No ballplayer is perfect, but Castro is still improving and I think he's a piece that anyone could build around.  Depending on the return I could see (and wouldn't mind seeing) Garza, Dempster, Marmol, Soto, and Soriano all switching uniforms before the season is over. Obviously, I'd like to see a nice return on Garza and I'm hoping they wouldn't have to eat all of Soriano's contract.  It'll be interesting to see what shakes out.

In short, I knew the white flag was coming eventually.  I just hope it brings more "W" flags in the future.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Topps Archives 2012 Box #1

I admit I'm a slow box breaker.  I know it's summer and I'm on vacation, but one's hobby shouldn't always take priority over family, friends, and adult responsibilities.  Not a big fan of the last one, thus my hobby of choice:  baseball cards!

I bought my first box of 2012 Topps Archives on the day of the product's release from my local card shop.  I told Randy, the owner who I have known for years, to pick me out a good box.  I happily paid, sat the box in the man room, and didn't touch it for nearly a week.  Yikes!  I started ripping yesterday and I finished early this morning. I would have posted earlier, but I had to take a drive back to my LCS to show off my haul to Randy and thank him for selecting the THAT particular box for me.  Randy asked me the following: "So what are you going to do with it?"

It?  Yeah, I'm one of the lucky ones.  Scroll on down to see what "it" is.

First the weird floating head stickers of Ian Kennedy, Jose Bautista, and Adrian Gonzalez:

Next, 3D cards of Babe, Matt Kemp, and Willie Mays:

Cloth stickers of Mr. October, George Brett, and recent injured Roy Halladay:

These are my first deckle edge cards.  I didn't even know what a deckle edge was until literally two weeks ago when I was asked to help pick out graduation announcements for the class of 2013.  I guess deckle edge is popular amongst graduates.  I give you Yaz and Ichiro:

Here are the reprints, which I think I'm going to chase:

Rainbow gold foil of Johnny Cueto and Lucas Duda:

Mickey Lolich and Frank Howard, my two Fan Favorites Autographs:

And lastly, the card that was foreshadowed at the beginning of the post.  The odds of pulling it are one out of 1,685 packs opened.  The card has sold on eBay for as little as $285 and as much as $455.  Yes, in case you were wondering, I did a victory lap around the house this morning after opening the pack.  Yu Darvish, on card autograph.  Nice.
This card will more than likely go up on eBay in the upcoming days unless someone has a different suggestion that seems logical and lucrative.  I've only sold one thing on eBay and I did okay the first time, so why not again?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mail Day Tuesday

Kyle from Just a Bit Outside sponsored a two-box break of 2012 Topps Archives.  I was too late to jump in and claim my Cubs, so I ponied up the very modest fee and snagged the Rockies.

The Rockies?  Yep.  The Rockies.

I'm currently in the process of planning my summer baseball trip, which just so happens to be centered around a few free nights of lodging in Golden, Colorado courtesy of my sister-in-law and her husband.  I'm still working on my 1978 Topps set and I've posted recently (and will again) about my Archives set.  Hopefully, I can track down a couple of local Colorado card shops that would be willing to trade to help me out on my sets.  Another item to add to my travel itinerary!

Here's the Rockies from the two-box break.  He also sent a couple of Cubs, which were greatly appreciated as always!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bobblehead Monday #19

Bobblehead #19
Name: Shaun Boyd
Position: Second base
Team: Peoria Chiefs
Description: 7 inches; holding 2002 Midwest League Championship Trophy.
Relevance:  My sister worked as an intern for the Peoria Chiefs in 2002.  How do I say this without incriminating myself or those that I love?  Hmmm.  Let’s just say that I went to more than my fair share of games that year.
How Acquired: Giveaway promotion through the Peoria Chiefs in 2003.
Other Notes: The Chiefs are celebrating the 10 year anniversaries for both the opening of the “new” ballpark and the 2002 MWL Championship.  I remember the 2002 really well and it is probably my 2nd favorite team to come through Peoria. The team featured seven future major league ball players including All-Stars Dan Haren and Yadier Molina.  The only downside to that season was that the Chiefs were an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals and I didn’t like the thought of cheering for future Cardinals.  Bleck.
For the record, Boyd played nine seasons of minor league ball, but he was never called up to the majors.  He was the team MVP that season, thus the reason for why he was chosen for the bobblehead over Haren or Molina.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Topps Archives 2012

I try to hold myself to collecting only one baseball card set each year.  This year I'm going to complete the 2012 Topps Archives set.  I'm not sure if I'll chase all of the insert sets, but definitely the base and all of the Cubs.

I already have one 24 pack box in my possession and another is on it's way.  To kick things off I picked up a blaster the other day and just ripped open the eight packs in front of the Cubs game.  They were losing by two runs by the time I finished opening the packs, but have since tied the score now that I've left the room to download pictures and write this post.  Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned here?   Heck, I won't return to the television for the rest of the game if it helps them break this ridiculous 10 game losing streak!

From the eight packs, of eight cards each, I pulled 9 Yankee and NOT ONE Cub.  Yuck.
Here's the haul.

Roy Halladay sticker and 3D Mickey Mantle:
Robin Yount and Andrew McCutchen cloth stickers:
Gold Marco Scutaro and Trow Tulowitzki "in action":
 Reprints of an '84 Tony Gwynn and '83 Wade Boggs:
Two short-printed cards of an '82 Bill Madlock and '92 Jim Abbott:
Lastly, a couple of base cards that took the sting out of not pulling one Cub.  Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente are two of the all-time greats I wish I could have seen play in person.  These would be two cards that I wouldn't mind pulling duplicates of down the road.  Kudos to whoever in the Topps design department worked on that sweet looking Robinson.
Stay tuned as I try to build the set!  At some point I'll get a "want list" and a "for trade" list up on the blog as well, but I'm waiting on my second box to arrive first.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Cubs Didn't Lose Yesterday!

Well, they didn't play either.  They're at home tonight and the Pirates from Pittsburgh will try to give them their tenth straight loss.  I always thought Pirates were into plundering, not giving?  Maybe things will go back to "normal" this evening and the swashbucklers will take the loss?

For those wondering, my last day of the 2011-2012 school year was yesterday, but that hasn't stopped me from doing math and educating.  In fact, I have time for a lesson right now!
First the math: the Cubs have 15 wins and 29 losses.  Folks, they're on pace for a 55-107 season.
Second, the education: That's really bad.

I digress.  Behold!  Below is what I like to call "Heaven on a bun."  The Peoria Chiefs celebrated its ten year anniversary of their new baseball complex last night with a 4 to 3 win over Clinton.  The fireworks show afterwards was pretty nice, but the Chicago-style hot dog I had was amazing.  At one point I may have even said aloud, "I would buy stock in a company that made a cologne that smelled like this Chicago dog."  Yeah, it was that good.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2 Cents a Card!

So Kyle at Just a Bit Outside, a baseball card blog for those not in the know, was selling off part of collection, by team, at the low price of two cents per card.  The deal was I had to send him payment that covered the shipping and handling plus two cents for every card that I felt was worthy of my collection.  Well, as it stands right now, my collection is all over the Man Room floor. 

They were all Cubs, so they were all worthy.  Well, maybe not the Milton Bradley card, but that's a post for another day.

Here's eight of my favorite from the 189 that arrived in the mail yesterday.

Keith Moreland in uniform for the 1984 playoff bound Cubs.  I wasn't sure about Keith as a radio broadcaster at first, but he and Pat have become a solid broadcast duo.   Matt Stairs is one of the legitimately good guys in baseball.  Love the facial hair by the way.

Sandberg and Dawson on the same card.  Really?  Doesn't get much better than that.  Reed Johnson is one of my favorites in baseball.  He trains hard, takes as many reps as possible, and ALWAYS hustles.  Sure, he's on he wrong side of 30, but he's a gamer and grinder.  I hate it when he grows that thing off of his chin, but the beard here is a much better look.

Closers.  Nice.  Lee Smith is a big man, and I once saw him in person hold a baseball in his hand.  Except it didn't look like a baseball.  It looked like my hand holding the cue ball from the billiard table.  Big Man.  Mitch Williams gets some love because he does a decent job on the MLB Network and because he was my mom's favorite from the '89 playoff team.  He was truly "Wild Thing."

Kerry Wood.  Sigh.  And the incumbent closer: Rafael Dolis.  It's tough learning on the job.  Good luck, young sir.

Four closers and no Carlos Marmol, you ask? Yes, Marmol was in the lot, but there's no love for him here.  As you may have sensed in past posts, I'm not a fan of players earning eight-figure salaries and under performing. Sorry Carlos, but it had to be said.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bobblehead Monday #20

Bobblehead #20
Name: Jane Doe
Position: Batter
Team: Rockford Peaches
Description: 7 inches; holding bat on shoulder with ball & glove on left hand.
Relevance:  I’ve coached girls softball for more than ten years now and the ladies definitely needed to be represented in this countdown.
How Acquired: This bobblehead was a gift from my sister.  My sister is a big fan of the movie “A League of Their Own”, which features a team that hails from Rockford known as the Peaches. She picked it up in Rockford during a visit to the Peaches' Museum.
Other Notes: I also possess a bobblehead of a player from the Peoria Redwings, another female baseball team from the 1940’s and 1950’s.  The Redwing bobblehead, a promotional giveaway from the Peoria Chiefs, is not featured in the countdown.
For the record, if this particular Rockford Peach was a character from “A League of Their Own”, like Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, or Geena Davis, then this bobblehead most certainly would have ranked higher.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cat on a Leash - FAIL

So it's another beautiful mid-western morning and Laura's in the yard planting flowers and I'm cleaning up around the house.  Gus, naturally, is pacing like a lion near in kitchen trying to make his get away to the great outdoors.  He and Mooshie had already managed to sneak outside earlier in the morning.  We keep explaining to them, "You're inside cats!"  Apparently there is some sort of communication barrier or something?

Laura suggested that we tether Gus down outside.  I was okay with that and after a few minor scrapes I was able to secure the harness on Gus.

So we tried the back patio first.  Victory!  He was finally quiet and decided to settle down a bit.  Before long Gus wanted some shade and made his way over to the patio table and chairs.  Unfortunately, he found out rather quickly that it is far too simple to become entangled amongst the legs of the furniture.  
Okay, next location.  The driveway seemed like a nice place.  Sun, shade, and no grass for him to trouble his bowels with.  You would think that a brick wouldn't be enough to deter a cat from relocating oneself.  Well, it was...  at least for a while!
Laura and I were in the backyard and Gus was in the front.  No biggie. He was tethered down.  Mmmmmeeeeooooow!  What?  He's in the backyard now?  From what we can figure he didn't like the neighbor's leaf blower any more than he likes the vacuum cleaner.  Poof!  He becomes Houdini!

For the record, the brick is NOT heavy enough to keep him in one place.  He must have scampered through the garage, dragging the brick, until the brick became lodged.  Gus then somehow finagled his way out of the harness and escaped the horrors of what would be the leaf blower.
Cat on a leash FAIL.  Too bad, he really seemed to like laying on the warm concrete driveway.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thanks for the Memories, Kid K!

The news broke this morning and I was able to find a television that had the game live right after work so I could watch Kerry Wood embarrass one more hitter.  Still throwing 95mph and fooling opponents with a sick curve.   Man, was he fun to watch pitch.

I hope retirement treats you well, Kerry.  Perhaps a spot within the Cubs' organization is in your future?

Time to look for a new favorite player. 

I'm not one for jewelry, but...

A co-worker of mine, who's a Cubs fan, went to a game in early April when the Cubs were playing down in St. Louis.  He was oblivious to the fact that the Cardinals were giving away replicas of the players' World Series Championship rings as a promotion.

When he first heard of the promotion he thought they'd be cheap plastic look-a-likes.  He was handed one as he went through the ticket gates and once he settled into his seat he took it out of the box and gazed at its... dare I say it?  Beauty?

He decided to hang onto the ring, but he said that it's been over a month since it had seen the light of day.  He brought it into work today and I took a few quick pictures.  It's pretty nice looking: heavy, shiny, and detailed.  You know, the ring is all the things that you would want to help commemorate something as big as your favorite team actually winning the World Series.

If that were my ring I'd turn it into Cubs tickets through the wonders of the internet.

Some day Cubs fans.  Some day.  In the meantime, I'll just continue to wait 'til next year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Head Re-attachment Procedure

It's okay folks, the most gruesome thing about this post is the title. Don't let it scare you off!

My dad gave me this box a couple of weeks ago with one simple word stamped on it.  Needless to say, the original owners did not heed the warning.  I guess the Michelin had a prominent spot at the main desk at my dad's work, until... GASP!  He was was dropped!

See Exhibit A, to the right:

Yikes!  The Michelin Man has been dismembered!

I've made a bunch of sawdust in my workshop and fashioned some cool things with my tools, but I've never performed surgery.  Sure.  Why not?

First a couple of holes.  Apparently Mr. Michelin Man is ceramic.  Lots of white dust!
Next, I had to channel my inner mad scientist as I went searching through a container of random screws.   Found one that fits!
As you can see, I sawed off the non-threaded portion of the screw and inserted it into the neck.  You're absolutely right... I should have used anesthesia.  Poor guy.
So, I grabbed the Gorilla Glue and squeezed some into Mr. Michelin Man's base and then I applied some to the screw threads.  A couple rotations of the head and then I had to find something to weigh the neck/head down while the glue dried overnight.  Um, a canister of paint thinner and my favorite pliers seemed work.
Day 2:  Dried Gorilla Glue!  Not on my patient!  I found some tweezers and my dentist tools and I cleaned up the re-attachment site.  I dipped into Laura's paint supplies and did my best to replicate his off white color paint job. 
I also cleaned him up a bit.  He had been well-handled and I was actually able to bring a little shine back to his finish.  Nice.
I would say my first head re-attachment procedure was a glowing success.  I mean, just look at that smile on the Michelin Man.  It was a fun little project.  I'm not sure Mr. Michelin Man would feel at home in my bobblehead collection.  Perhaps I'll offer him back up to my dad unless there are other takers in the audience!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bobblehead Monday #21

Bobblehead #21
Name: The Oriole Bird
Position: Mascot
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Description: 7 inches; standing with hands on hips in super hero fashion.
Relevance:  The Oriole Bird is the oldest bobblehead in my collection.  I attended an Oriole game at Camden Yards back in summer of 2002-ish and the O’-Bird commemorates that trip.  That game in Baltimore also marked the 4th different major league ballpark that I had visited: the first three were all “local” (Wrigley, Old Busch Stadium, and Old Comiskey Park).
How Acquired: My friend Jeff visited one of those Mastercard tables on the concourse at the ballgame and signed up for a credit card that he never intended to use.  His “prize” for signing up was the bobblehead.
Other Notes: There was a time in which the Oriole Bird bobblehead was affixed behind the back seats of Jeff’s car so that he could wave through the back window to the cars that followed Jeff as he drove.  I’m not sure how long the bobblehead kept that position, but eventually Jeff retired him and gave him to me.  He has a good home now and doesn’t have to work for a living anymore.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A "Super" Weekend

My sister, Jane, and I decided last weekend that we wanted to watch Avengers in the movie theater.  I can probably count the number of times I've been to the theater over the last two years on one hand.  So, to make sure we did it right we had a little catching up to do before we actually went to the show.  I had seen both of the Iron Man movies, but more to the back story was missing.

Jane came over on Monday, we had dinner, and watched Thor.  Good story, some nice action scenes, and I was reintroduced to Natalie Portman.

We both managed to squeeze time in to watch Captain America during the week as well.  I thought the story was better than Thor, but there was less humor.

We were ready for the weekend's big Avengers event.  Oh, but first, I had to play super hero!

So we're driving back from the nursery with more than a half-ton of poo in the back of the truck, and Laura says, "Tom, I love you."  Not the most romantic of environments, but she knows how to make me feel like a super hero.

Yes, that's about 1,400 pounds of mushroom compost in the back of my dad's truck.  But have no fear, we defeated that pile of poo!

Here it is again, but this time spread over Laura's new garden bed.  Talk about some smelly stuff.

I cleaned up and turned on the Cubs.  No mistakes about it: they are NOT super heros.

Mail call!  May I introduce you to Mr. Anthony Rizzo, my most recent eBay find.

Rizzo is the 47th ranked prospect in baseball by Baseball America and is absolutely mashing AAA pitching.  I can't wait to see what he can do in Wrigley!  He may be the next big Super Hero for the Cubs... um, I mean All-Star.

Off to see the Avengers!  Jane and I decided to pony up for the 3D price, and it was great.  Two-and-half hours of pure super hero entertainment.  Money well spent!  No Natalie Portman though, although Colbie Smulders had a role (Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother).

Just in case you're confused, that's Scarlet Johansson in the movie poster above.  This is Colbie Smulders:

I can easily see why the movie is a considered a blockbuster.  I would definitely recommend it, and you don't even have to possess the back story knowledge that the other movies provided, but it is nice to have and fun to catch up!

Saturday evening we went to the Peoria Chiefs game with the Cokers.  I enjoyed a jalapeno burger with habanero pepper mayonnaise that made my eyes water, and if you know anything about my fondness for heat, then that is saying something.  I'm going to have to visit that "Bugertopia" stand at the ballpark again.

I got my first look at Paul Hoilman who was sporting a twenty-four game hit streak.  He was raking like a single-A baseball super hero, until I jinxed him by showing up to the game.  Sorry about that, Paul!

Today is graduation day at my high school.  The seniors' last day was Tuesday and today I get to witness the culmination of their secondary education.  In a small way, I feel a little bit like a super hero.  Kind of cheesy, I know, but it is neat to hear the valedictorians' speeches and realize I played a small role in their lives. Congrats, grads!

And last, but not least, happy mother's day to my mom!  She's a super hero in my book!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bobblehead Monday #22

Bobblehead #22
Name: Randy Johnson
Position: Starting Pitcher
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Description: 7 inches; traditional bobblehead pose with ball in hand.  Randy’s classic mullet-like flowing hair is present!
Relevance:  Randy Johnson was one of my favorite pitchers and he helped the Diamondbacks win a World Series back in 2001.  He was also a fixture on my fantasy baseball teams when he was in his prime.
How Acquired: Another eBay transaction!
Other Notes: The Big Unit already has made an appearance in my blog when I first obtained him.  Click here for the original post.  Additionally, Randy has done more than a few commercial spots in the past and here’s two of my favorites:

 Johnson's Geico Commercial
 Johnson's Right Guard Commercial