Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to everyone.  Laura and I both returned home from work after the sun had set, but that didn't stop us from nearly emptying a 120 count bag of Peanut Butter Cups, Whoppers, Almond Joys, and mini Hershey's Chocolate bars.

Some of the costumes were really cute!  But, when did it become acceptable for "children" who aren't wearing a costume to ring a doorbell, not say anything, and expect candy nevertheless?  I'm calling BS on that one.

I attended a couple of Halloween parties last weekend.  Many pictures of costumes were taken, but here's my favorite:

All the credit goes to my friend Jim.  He knows Halloween isn't my bag, and he took the lead on the costumes.  He built the wall, decorated it with ivy, and even provided me with the jacket to wear.  Jim, thanks!  You're the best!

If you don't have any idea what we dressed up as by looking at the picture, then you MUST watch the video below.  Heck, even if you do know, watch it anyway!  It's one of my favorite baseball related commercials ever.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Congrats to Darwin Barney!

Tonight Major League Baseball announced the Gold Glove Award winners for the 2012 season on ESPN2.  I don't have cable/dish, but Twitter seemed to keep me updated pretty well:
Not much to cheer about in 2012, but this announcement definitely brought a smile to my face!
Congrats, Darwin!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Triple Play: 1994 vs. 2012

I've been saving the last two packs of 2012 Panini Triple to open and post for a slow day.  When I stopped by the local card shop the other day I found some 1994 Donruss Triple Play for 50 cents a pack.  I purchased a pair just for this post.

The match-up:  $1 of '94 Donruss Triple Play versus $1 of 2012 Panini Triple Play.

I'd give the '94 a slight edge based solely on the fact that the card count will be in its favor 24 to 7.
Here's the tale of the tape:

1994 Triple Play 2012 Triple Play
Maufacturer Donruss Panini
Price per pack $0.50 $1.00
Cards per pack 12 7
MLB License Yes! No.
Hall of Famers Yes, players in '94 are in HOF now! 1:12 packs
Stickers No. at least one in every pack

Here are the highlights from the dollar's worth of '94 Triple Play.
Hall-of-Famers: Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson.
 Perennial All-Star Ivan Rodriguez and future Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine.
 Two of favorites from the era: Brian Jordan, a two-sport star, and John Kruk, who now is a baseball analyst for ESPN.
 A rookie card of Raul Mondesi and the only card of an active player in the two packs.  Jim Thome, a local favorite, manning the hot corner early in his career!
 The "Medalists" inserts are limited to one in every twelve packs.  This one features the three pitchers in the AL with the most wins: Jack McDowell, Kevin Brown, and Randy Johnson.
The other fifteen cards in the two packs weren't worth picturing.  I'm not sure how a set can contain 300 cards of "baseball's standout players" yet feature cards of players like Doug Brocail, David Hulse, Allen Watson, Mike Gallego, and Carlos Garcia.  Yawn.

How did the 2012 version of Triple Play fair?
Puzzle piece of Evan Longoria and base card of David Wirght.
 Sticker of Justin Verlander and two eye black stickers.  Yawn.
 Starlin Castro puzzle piece!  Nice!
 Matt Garza base card!  Another Cub! 
Focus subset card of Matt Garza!  Sweet!  A Cubs hot pack!

 The winner? 1994 Triple Play makes a strong case with a tough insert pull that included the Big Unit, and few cards of Hall-of-Fame players, but...

 I have to go with the 2012 edition.  A Cubs hot pack for a Cubs fan?  Seriously?  That never happens.  Red Sox fans pull Yankees.  Dodger fans pull Giants.  I pull Cardinals and White Sox... until now!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

1978 Topps Card Show Pick Ups

After finishing my parent-teacher conferences on Friday I made for the Northwoods Mall card show.  I'm guessing that I arrived a little early, as there were only three venders that were set up.  Perhaps there will be more later in the weekend?

I couldn't find any '88 Topps or 2012 Opening Day singles, but the first guy I approached had an 800-count box of '78 Topps!  Score!

I believe I could have finished my set right there and then, but I have standards, you know.  The cards have to fall within my budget and must look like the rest of the set that I have accumulated to date: fading/yellowing, creases, pen marks, off-centering, and rounded corners are the norm.  Many of the cards I found at the show were too top shelf for my liking.

Here's my haul!

300 game winner, 3 time Cy Young winner, and hall-of-famer, Tom Seaver!

Member of the 3,000 hits club and an 18 time All-Star, Carl Yastrzemski!

All-time hits leader and 17 time All-Star (at five different positions), Pete Rose

 Of all the cards I have for my set, the Mike Cubbage card was the only one that I wanted to upgrade.  The first one pictured was my original.  I placed it on top of another card with a red border for this picture.  You can obviously tell that someone took a pair of scissors to poor Mike Cubbage.  My replacement is on the right!  Yeah!

Now I only need one dozen cards to finish my set.  There's another local card show next weekend and I may have found a couple more on Listia as well.   Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lions and Elephants and Bears! Oh, My!

On Monday night I drove to Jeremy and Mikelle's house to watch the Bears versus Lions game on ESPN.  I don't have cable or satellite, so thank you to the other family and friends that also extended an invitation.

It's really a nice deal.  I bring the . . . ahem . . . adult libations and they feed me and allow me to watch their TV.  Plus I get to take in, for a brief moment, what it's like to have a 5 and a 3-year-old running around the house.  Um, wow!

During commercial breaks and injury timeouts I tried to teach the youngest how to draw a star with markers*, but she was more concerned with my ability, or apparent lack thereof, to replicate her artistic renderings of the sun. 

*Markers?  Yeah, totally should have looked for a safer medium.

Meanwhile, the older daughter was upstairs and soon appeared at halftime with a present for me! 
What goes great with Lions and Bears?  Homemade elephants of course!  A little part of me went, "Oooooh, how sweet!" 

I think I'll take it to school and put the elephant on the wall next to the other artwork I've been given.  Thanks, Kylie!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Two Dollar Tuesday & Poll!

One of my local card shops is changing locations during the next week, so the owner had boxes of cards strewn about the shop while he was preparing to move.  I would have loved to have relieved him of some of his stock, so he had less to move, but alas, I have a conscience and it would not allow me to indulge.

I did find a 1991 Leaf Studio box that was nearly empty and I purchased the remaining packs.  The owner seemed happy to rid himself of some "junk wax" rather than packing it and unpacking it.  I also picked up a pack 2012 Topps Update, with the hopes of scoring a Josh Vitters or Brett Jackson rookie card.

Two dollars will buy you 4 packs of '91 Studio, which contain 10 cards and 1 puzzle piece of a Rod Carew puzzle per pack.  Here's the ones that were worth my time to upload:

The two best pulls of the packs in my opinion: Hall-of-Famers Andre Dawson and Nolan Ryan!
Hall-of-Famers Lee Smith and Gary Carter!
Paul Molitor, a Hall-of-Famer, and one who will surely be elected to Cooperstown shortly, Carig Biggio!
Two current big league managers: Kirk Gibson and Mike Scioscia.
I love cards of Jim Abbott.  What an amazing story.  I'm not a big Paul O'Neill fan, but I dig the retro jersey.
I was hoping to pull a Ken Griffey, Jr. card, but these next two aren't a bad consolation prize.  Bud Black and Steve Decker on a Black & Decker card.  Oh, Leaf, you're so funny!  And a cool picture of Jeff Kunkel blowing a bubble. 
Not pictured: I also have six puzzle pieces and a good stack of notable players from the 1990 season to trade away.

Two dollars will buy one pack of '12 Topps Update and here's all ten cards.

Two bearded men: Lance Lynn and Andrew Cashner.  I was happy to get both cards.  The Lynn will be shipped to my cousin in St. Louis with his Halloween package and Cashner was the Padres' prize for giving up Anthony Rizzo.  Um, thank you San Diego!
 Josh Hamilton checklist highlighting his 4-homer game and Dodger Matt Guerrier.
 The middle two cards of the pack featured a gold parallel of a Gio Gonzalez All-Star card (#1444/2012) and a Bruce Sutter Blockbusters insert.    Not a bad parallel to pull, as twenty game winners don't grow on trees. Sutter will also be heading to St. Louis with Lynn.
 Two White Sox All-Star cards of Paul Konerko and Chris Sale.  Seriously? Why do I always open packs with Cardinals and White Sox?  Where are the Cubs?
Two more All-Star cards, this time of Andrew McCutchen and Joey Votto.  Can't be bummed about pulling these two players as they are arguably two of the best in the National League.

So, this begs the question: If you had two bucks to spend, would you want the joy of ripping four packs of a two decade old product that will yield forty cards OR the 2012 product that nets you eight base cards and two inserts of today's players on higher grade cardstock?

My decision has already been made, but what do you think?   Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments, but also please take the time to vote in the poll in the right margin!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Should've Been a Chief #1

*** This is post #5 of 5 featuring my favorite young Cubs prospects who should have been a Peoria Chief in 2013.

 Player #1 - Dan Vogelbach - First base / DH

Dan Vogelbach was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2011 June amateur draft from a high school located in Fort Meyers, Florida.  Let me start by saying Dan Vogelbach can flat-out hit.  He stands in at 6-foot tall and 250 pounds. So, yes, he's limited to first base because he's not blessed with speed.  No matter.  Dan Vogelbach can absolutely punish a baseball.

Dan, at eighteen, debuted shortly after he was drafted for the Mesa Cubs of the Arizona League.  He collected only a couple dozen at-bats before the season closed, but he launched his first professional home run.  This past season he split time between Mesa and the Boise Hawks.  Vogelbach hit 0.322 with 17 homers in 249 at-bats and logged an OPS of 1.051.  He was a big reason the Hawks made the playoffs this season. 

I follow Vogelbach on Twitter (@VogyVog24) and he's demonstrated that he's all about baseball, the team, and family.   He's had plenty of press during his first full season within the Cubs organization, albeit mostly by members of the Cubs blogging circle.  For example, here's a link to a GIF that was posted yesterday that analyzes his powerful swing.  Here's another, where the title of post says it all: Vogelbach hits a bomb, nails team bus parked outside. In a way it seems he has a bit of a cult following. Even with the notoriety, the guy seems to have his head screwed on straight.   

I've always been a sucker for guys who that work hard and put team first.  Dan Vogelbach is one of those types and he possess, as the scouts would say, plus-plus power.  After all, who doesn't love the long ball?  

I was planning on arriving early to Chiefs games next summer with a lawn chair, cooler, and glove in tow.  You've heard of the ball-hawks that camp out on Waveland and Sheffield at Wrigley Field?  Yeah, Vogelbach has that kind of power and I was going to try to collect my fair share of batting practice homers launched out of Peoria Chiefs Stadium and on to Adams St.  Heck, I still may give it a try when Kane County visits later this summer.

Good luck in 2013, Dan!  Go easy on my Chiefs! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Should've Been a Chief #2

*** This is post #4 of 5 featuring my favorite young Cubs prospects who should have been a Peoria Chief in 2013.

 Player #2 - Dillon Maples - Pitcher

Dillon Maples was drafted in the 15th Round of the 2011 June draft by the Cubs.  He was projected to go much higher in the draft, possibly within the top three rounds, but fell as far as he did because he was threatening to go play college football for the University of North Carolina.  The Cubs threw him a $2.5 million signing bonus, he said goodbye to football, and he immediately became the Cubs number one pitching prospect.

White Ice
Maples, much like Almora, has played against some stiff competition.  He was a member of the 2010 U18 Team USA where he pitched 11 innings, allowing just one run on two hits, while striking out twelve.  Dillon was a 2010 AFLAC All-American and a 2011 second-team Baseball America All-American. He's a special talent and has a filthy arsenal, especially when he pitches with command.

Chrome Refractor - #4 of 500
He is said to throw in the mid-90s and possess a hammer curve.  But, Maples has also had some injury problems early in his career that limited him to only six games this summer at Mesa.  Put the previous two statements together and images of Kerry Wood come dancing into my head.  

Orange - #248 of 250
Blue - #145 of 500
I don't think the Cubs will rush Maples and they'll look to work on his mechanics as much as possible to protect their investment in him.  He might start next season in Boise, but I was hoping that the 2012 draft class, which also claims some nice pitching talent, would push him to Peoria, well, er... Kane County.

Purple Chrome - #169 of 199

As you can see throughout the post, I may have gone a little overboard with the Dillon Maples cards.  But hey, I've heard of other bloggers talk about collecting the rainbow. This was my attempt and Dillon Maples' cards were relatively cheap compared to Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. I'm still missing a "Red Ice" and an "Orange Chrome," but not many have shown up on Ebay.  When they did appear on Ebay they were too expensive for this modest baseball card blog to support. Maybe some day I'll find a good deal?

Blue Chrome - #181 of 250
Blue Wave
My favorite is the Blue Wave card, it's really cool to look at in person, but doesn't photograph too well.  The on-card autograph card is really nice too, and I was able to score it for only $4.04!  Sweet deal!

Gold  - #26 of 50
Chrome Autograph
Anyway, I love my pitchers when they throw mid-90s heat, drop curveballs off tables, and make the opposing hitters wish they hadn't gotten on the bed in the morning.  I think Dillon Maples is that guy and with any luck he'll be featured in many more Bowman baseball cards in the future.

Good luck in 2013, Dillon!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Should've Been a Chief #3

*** This is post #3 of 5 featuring my favorite young Cubs prospects who should have been a Peoria Chief in 2013.

 Player #3 - Albert Almora - Outfield

Albert Almora was taken by the Cubs with the sixth overall selection of this year's June amateur draft.  Fresh out of high school in Hialeah, FL, Almora hit .321 between Mesa and Boise as an eighteen year old.  

What I've read about Almora that impresses me the most is that he has been compared to Darwin Barney in terms of baseball IQ, work ethic, and desire to win.  Not a bad make-up if you ask me.  From what I have read, he possesses the speed and instincts to play centerfield at the major league level right now. Couple that with a bat that could produce upwards of twenty homers and an average north of .300 and we're talking about a potential All-Star player.

Many of his peers on the 2012 Boise squad this year were 2010 and 2011 draft picks; Albert was one of the younger players in the league and the youngest on the Boise Hawks.  As you can from the five different Almora cards that I own, he was a member on the 16U and 18U USA National Teams that have competed recently in international competition.  He has more experience against top talent than most players his age. As a result I look for Almora to move quickly through the Cubs farm system.

I guess I shouldn't be too disappointed that Almora won't have a chance to play for my Chiefs next summer, as I'm of the mindset that he wouldn't need more than one hot month at the plate to earn a promotion to the next level.  

On a side note: Almora a good follow on Twitter, @AlbertAlmora.  He doesn't tweet a ton and when he does it's almost always strictly baseball.  Here's a picture of Stephen Bruno he took on a bus trip after a game.  I feel bad for Bruno.  I remember bus rides with the team and the last thing you wanted was the first one to fall asleep.  
Good luck next year, Albert!  Hope to see you roaming Wrigley's outfield within a couple of years!