Friday, December 28, 2012

An extra Mini of Starlin. What to do?

I picked up an additional 2012 Topps mini of Starlin Castro and I've been trying to figure out what to do with it.

Then I thought about my coasters.  I've only made a couple this year and they turned out pretty good.  I've upgraded them with team colored felt backing, which I thought was a nice touch.

In the past, I always had to cut off the corners of the cards to make them fit my epoxy mold.  (See above.)

Poof!  An epiphany!  How about using the minis!

It's definitely smaller than the traditional card.  Above you can see the "Eye Black" card from a Panini Triple Play pack behind Starlin.

What do you think?  

Should I encase the extra Castro in epoxy?  What about the other minis from my last post?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Listia Minis!

Perhaps I'm spending too much time in Listia?  But, I have credits to burn!

I mostly search for 1978 Topps in an attempt to finish my set on the cheap.  But occasionally I get side-tracked and I start looking for Cubs, which seems to be the majority of my winnings as of late.

I found a 2012 Topps Minis lot and snatched it up for only 304 credits.  Lots of star power in this lot!

I've been to quite a few MLB games in person in the last ten years, but I haven't seen a game in which Ichiro's played.  I even saw the Mariners play in Seattle last season!  Stupid Yankees.

I'm looking forward to seeing if Matt Kemp can top 40 homers this year.  He plays hard; I hope he stays healthy.

Miggy Carbrera.  Meh.  I know he just won the Triple Crown and blah, blah, blah...  I'm not a fan.

Andrew McCutchen. This guy is my type of ball player.  Grossly undervalued because of the market he plays in and super talented.  He's a gamer and absolutely killed the Cubs last year to the tune of a 1.162 OPS.

Again, the centerpiece of the lot was a Cub.  Hello, Starlin!  

Now I have the Cubs team lot of 2012 minis and an extra Castro.  This is a good problem to have.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Listia: Greatest Pitchers Lot

I snagged another Listia lot the other day and shortly after the cards arrived.  I won the lot for 555 credits, which might be a little much, but I'm pretty happy with my new cards.

Behold!  1982 TCMA Baseball Greatest Pitchers Set!

Naturally, a pair Chicago Cubs were the main impetus for me bidding on this particular lot!  Three Finger Brown!  I don't have too many cards that feature old Mordecai (his given name), so this was truly a welcome addition.

Grover Cleveland Alexander, better known as Pete, was a Cub for nine seasons, but pitched his best ball for Philadelphia.

Joe McGinnity, know as the Iron Man, was best known as a New York Giant.

Juan Marichal pitched for the San Francisco Giants some time after they moved from New York.

 Eppa Rixey?  I must admit, I knew nothing about Mr. Rixey until after I flipped over his card and read the bio. 
 He was the winningest lefty in baseball history until Warren Spahn came along?  Huh, never would have guessed. 
 His stats are a little underwhelming, but I guess maybe something is lost in translation because he played in the "dead ball" era.

A fun lot five card lot and some potential trade bait for 2013.  Happy Holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Play with the Pros

I was kind of bummed last evening.  I had a basketball coaching commitment to fulfill, but I wanted to attend the "Play with the Pros" event, which was being sponsored by the Peoria Christian Center, and was taking place at the Avanti's Dome in Pekin, IL. 

The event is designed to be a baseball clinic for youngsters.  The instructors were all professional baseball players who have roots in the Peoria area.  What a great way to give back to the community.
Obviously, with today being my 35th birthday, I'm a little old for the demographic they were hoping to attract, but I would have been happy to sit in the corner and just take it all in.

So last night I'm keeping stats on the iPad during the varsity game with the head coach's daughter.  The game is moving fairly quickly and we're struggling to log all the events as neither of us are terribly famililar with the stat keeping software..  Karl, the normal scorekeeper, and I have a pretty good relationship, and he is a wiz with the iPad.  Yet, Karl was at "Play with the Pros" and would be running late this evening.  Oh, how I envied Karl.  In my book, basketball takes a backseat to baseball every time.

Finally, Karl shows up in the middle of the 3rd quarter and I can finally return to my normal post of narrating the the stats while his fingers fly about the iPad logging everything I say without hesitation.  It's good to have Karl back.  But wait, there's more. 

There's a timeout in the action... and what's this?

Karl's brought me a birthday present!  Which, totally brightened up my Friday night!

An autographed baseball from the coaches at the "Play with the Pros" clinic.  Sweet deal!

Brian Shouse, the top autograph, grew up in Effingham, IL, and attended Bradley University. He maintained a 3.72 earned run average during his pro career.

Chad Johnson, the bottom atuograph, played catcher for Galesburg High School last spring and is now in the Royals organization.

Jake Eigsti, top auotograph, graduated from Eureka High School and Indiana State University before being drafted into the New York Mets’ system.

Josh Parr, middle autograph, graduated from Illinois Valley Central High School and played the University of Illinois before being drafted by the Diamondbacks.

Zach McAllister, the bottom autograph, is a 2006 graduate of Illinois Valley Central and made his Major League debut for the Cleveland Indians last season.

Ben Zobrist is a native of Eureka and has become one of the most versatile players in the league for the Tampa Bay Rays.   I secretly try to draft him for my fantasy leagues each spring.  Shhhh!  Don't tell anyone! 

Karl definitely has the hook up.  He's worked with Ben Zobrist in the past and they e-mail from time-to-time.  I wish I had those kind of connections when I was in high school!

Thanks for the great gift, Karl!  It's the next best thing to actually being able to attend the event!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Box of Holiday Joy

If Gus somehow manages to ship himself off and he lands on your doorstep, please take good care of him.  He's on a low-iodine diet and enjoys quarter of a cup of food twice daily.  Also, he requires 2 to 3 minutes of belly scratching when you come home from work or he becomes slightly cantankerous.

Otherwise, he's pretty low maintenance.

And don't let the box fool you.  He's not all that fragile.  Gus is one of the prime reasons why we can't own nice things.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Kyuji Fujikawa joins my collection

Back on December 1st the Cubs announced that they had signed Kyuji Fujikawa to a two year contract.  The bullpen had about three solid arms last season, and two of them (Camp & Russell) were sorely overworked last year.  Fujikawa should help solidify the late inning effectiveness of the bullpen and perhaps give the Cubs some latitude to trade Marmol later this summer.

Fujikawa is only 32 and he features a fastball, slow curve, and a nasty splitter.  Here's a video of our new set-up man if you're interested:

Once the news of the signing hit the wire it was my task to find a Fujikawa card.  As luck would have it, Dave from Japanese Baseball Cards posted an entry featuring Fujikawa on cardboard.  I contacted Dave, we sent a few e-mails back and forth and finally agreed on a 1-for-1 deal.  I was pretty pumped that I could find something from my collection that he was interested in.

Dave received this Michihiro Ogasawara rookie card:

Why do I have Japanese baseball cards lying around?  We'll save that one for another post on another day.

On my end, I received a 2004 BBM 2nd Series card of Fujikawa.  For the record, Kyuji played for the Hanshin Tigers back then.

I love how the card preps you for trivia in English and then spews six lines of Japanese at you.  Yikes!

BONUS ALERT!  Generous blogger detected! Feast your eyes on this:

Yeah, um, look away now.  That is one different "baseball" card.  Fujikawa frolicking on the beach in Hawaii from the BBM 2006 set.    Um, thank you, Dave.  That was, um, ... an interesting throw-in.

My hope is that Fujikawa comes stateside for the Cubs Convention and Theo sends him down to Peoria on the Cubs Caravan to help speed his acclimation to the U.S.  If that happens, I may have a shot at an autograph!  Sweet deal!

Thanks again for working out a deal with me Dave.  Your generosity was greatly appreciated as well.  If I can ever help your collecting needs somehow, don't hesitate to give me a shout!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

One year older...

I had a nice, albeit modest, run where I was churning out 15 to 20 blog posts a month.  The frequency of posts started to become more infrequent when school started back up in August. Then basketball season started and things have slowed to almost a stand still. 

No worries. I'm still Waiting 'til Next Year and I even have some Cubs related posts planned for the near future.

In the meantime, let me show off a little bit of my birthday haul. 

For the record, today is not my birthday, nor is it my mother's.  Yet, our birthdays are four days apart and we try to always celebrate together before the holiday season starts.  Just in case you were wondering, Mom received some chocolates, shoes, a new winter coat, a crock pot, and an autographed picture of Little Big Town.

Let's start with the birthday card below: some of my loyal readers may remember it from a post in September.  In this post I described the Starlin Castro Triple Play puzzle produced by Panini and how it hangs on the wall in my Man Room.  Thanks again for an awesome gift, Vince!

I wasn't going to complete the 2012 Triple Play Panini set, and after I read this post from Joe Average Collector I was already thinking about the 2013 set.  Yet, part of me thought that it would be cool to throw all the Triple Play sets into a binder, including 2012.  I really do enjoy the "art work" of each card.  So, I'm in.  I'm going to complete the 2012 and the 2013 set.  Yes, there will be more 2012 posts on Triple Play and eventually I'll get a want list up on the blog as well.   Thanks, Mom & Dad!

 My sister, on an annual basis, gives me my favorite clothes to wear.  They're always super comfortable and feature my favorite team.  This one is manufactured of dry fit material.  I love it! The first time I'll wear it will probably be at the Cubs Caravan in Peoria on January 16th.  Then it will soon find its place in my summer rotation of baseball related attire. Thanks, Jane!

Jane also gave me a baseball trivia calendar.  I'm taking it school and I plan on writing hall passes for students on the expired days of the calendar.   Should be fun!
The answer to the question is Babe Ruth.
 I was also given this Scrabble Slam! Cubs edition game to play.  Laura and I love word games to play and hopefully we'll have some fun with this one soon.

I already have a decent baseball book library.  Today it just expanded by three. 

Out of My League by Dirk Hayhurst. I've read Hayhurst's first book and it is easily in my top five books.  If this one is half as good as his first attempt, then I'll be a happy man.

Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger.  This one I had never heard of, but it looks to be an interesting and quick read. 

The Catcher Was a Spy by Nicholas Dawidoff.  I've heard of Moe Berg, a backup catcher, and that he was employed as a spy.  I'm excited to learn more and possibly pass it on to my Grandfather after reading.

This last gift one was given to me by my loving wife, who won it on Ebay, and then paid for it using my Paypal funds that I had acquired by selling some baseball cards.  Ironic, huh?  No matter, I gave her the idea and love it even more now that it is my hands.  It is a special trading card set that features the main figures in Ken Burns Baseball documentary.  I started watching the series on Netflix, but basketball season started and it was placed on the back burner.  I'm hoping to continue the series this spring and post the cards as I go.  It should result in a fun series of blog entries.

 The photos above doesn't show everything that I received, but it highlights the baseball side of my gifts.  But wait, there's more! Laura baked me a cake, Mom and Jane prepared tacos for lunch, and I was able to watch the Bears game with Dad & Grandpa. Yep, I'm a pretty lucky guy to have such a loving family.  Thanks again, everyone!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sportlots Fun - Part IV: Cubs!

Completing a couple of sets was my main reason for visiting, adding a few Cubs was just a perk.

Shawon Dunston was one of my favorites when I was growing up.  He exhibited so much hustle on the field and his arm at shortstop was truly second to none.

Here's a nice 2005 Topps Archives card of Shawon done in the style of the 1990 flagship.

I needed a different card of Welington Castillo.  I mean, hey, he's supposedly going to be the starting catcher for the team next spring.  I had a few 2011 Topps Update cards of his, but I was hoping for something else.  A 2008 Bowman card that features his '07 season with the Peoria Chiefs was a nice find for $0.18. Score!

Many collectors have a tendency to pull the same player from packs, and often times they don't like the player or they play for a rival team.  Back in the 1990's I could pull a Juan Gonzalez card without even trying.  At least he was a pretty decent player.
My luck has changed.  I actually frequently pull cards of a player from my team!  What's the odds?  So, I am now unofficially collecting Starlin Castro. So, to help the unofficial player collection along I added a few cards.

2012 Topps Timeless Talents card with Luis Aparicio.  Apparently Starlin's game is comparative to Aparicio's because they are "rangy shortstops with game-changing speed".  Um, first, Castro's career average is 40 points higher than Luis'.  And secondly, Aparicio led the league in steals nine straight seasons.  Castro can steal a base, but not like that.  Nice try, Topps, but I don't see it.

2012 Topps Finest and 2011 Bowman - Finest Futures insert:

And my favorite 2012 Topps Opening Day - Fantasy Squad insert:

Plus I added some of the new Cub acquisitions.

Meet one of the newest additions to the starting rotation: Scott Baker.

Brian Bogusevic will battle Tony Campana for a roster spot:

 and minor league pitcher, Barrett Loux:
 Loux is my new favorite minor league player to follow.  He was compensation from the Rangers for Geovany Soto.  The original pitcher we received in the deal turned out to have a bum arm. The Rangers, in good faith, sent us Barrett instead.  Barrett is a former #1 draft pick who earned Southern League Pitcher of the Year honors in 2012.  Nice!  

Plus, get this: he doesn't have an ulnar colateral ligament in his pitching elbow.  Basically, that means his previous two organizations gave up on him because he's a bit of an unknown.  I say, great!  The man at least won't have to be subjected to Tommy John surgery because he can't tear a ligament he doesn't have.

Welcome to the Cubs, Barrett!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Free Cards from Baseball Dad

Last month Baseball Dad from ALL TRIBE BASEBALL was celebrating his birthday and his blog's anniversary.  To celebrate he did a very cool and he opened up a part of collection to the blogging community.  The deal was you only claim one card over a three day period.  The catch was that new cards would be revealed each day, and if you waited for something more to your liking it was possible that someone else would swoop in and claim your card.  Oh, the drama!

I commented on a card on the first day that cards were posted, but I did not claim.  Baseball Dad sent me that card as a bonus.  Thanks!

Here's the card: 1989 ProCards Jose Mesa #1636

 Here was my comment from Day 2:

On the second day I found a rookie card of Jim Thome and I pounced!  A have a modest Thome collection, but this 1990 Bowman was not a part of it until now.  Score!

Baseball Dad also tossed in a couple of extra Thome cards. 

2001 Topps Finest:
Ooooh!  Shiny!

1997 Donruss Studio:

I love that Studio card.  I always thought they did an excellent job capturing the player.  No action shots in the sets, but stylish cards nonetheless.  This one I'm going to earmark for a Thome autograph. 

Thanks a bunch, Baseball Dad!  I saved your mailing address and the next time I pull some spiffy Indians I'll slip them in the mail as a thank you!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sportlots Fun - Part III: a HOFer and a Speedster

While looking to get the most cards for the shipping costs in my shopping experience I had room for two more cards.  What to get?

My favorite card from the 2012 Topps Archives set was of Jackie Robinson.  I don't own any real vintage cards of Robinson, but this one has that feel to it, and I really think Topps did a nice job piecing this card together. 

Some may argue that Jackie doesn't belong in the Hall, because his career stats don't match up to the other members.  Hogwash.  The man was a inspiration and he helped change the game. Besides, he didn't start his career until he was 28 years old.  Add another five or six years on to career stat line and we would be right their with the best of them. 

For my last card I wanted to snag a Billy Hamilton.  There is a Billy Hamilton in the Hall of Fame, and he was a speedster (914 stolen bases), but I wasn't interested in the guy who played in the 1890's.
The Billy Hamilton I wanted played in the Futures All-Star game in Kansas City this summer and broke Vince Coleman's minor league stolen base record by swiping 155 bases in 132 games last summer. 

Simply. Ridiculous.   I wonder if he'll swipe more bases than his namesake in his major league career?  Somehow I doubt it, as the game is much different now, but it would make for some interesting headlines!

How fitting that Billy Hamilton plays for the Blaze and the card features a shot of him running.  I'd love to have this guy on my fantasy baseball team, but I tipped off my sister and she pounced on him.  She loves the speedsters and she's stashed him on her minor league roster as a keeper.  See?  Brothers can be nice to their little sisters.  

One more post to come and I'm saving the best for last!  (That would be the Cubs cards, of course.)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sportlots Fun - Part II: Completion of 2 More Sets

It's taken too long to get this post up.  David Freese starring as the lone card in my last post?  Yeah, not my best move.

How about some late 1980's junk wax to take your mind off of things?

1998 Topps #767 -- Jose Lind
I was only about a dozen cards or so from completing a second '88 Topps set when I went on my first collecting hiatus. 

When I briefly rejoined the hobby at the turn of the century I was only entertained by current cards. The uncompleted '88 set received no love.

After the most recent break, I have since been rejuvenated by the addition of a Man Room to hold my collection.  As a result I have been been focusing on organizing my cards which has lead to the completion of more than a few sets.

1988 Topps were what filled the shelves of stores when I first started collecting.  It's nice to finish a second set.  I think I just heard the twelve year old me say, "Thank you!"  Closure.

The 2012 Topps Opening Day set featured a twenty-five card mascot insert set.  I traded away many of the other inserts to fill my mascot needs, but helped take care of the remaining thirteen. 

The nameless White Sox mascot and the beloved Mariner Moose...
Bernie the Brewer and Mr. Met...
TC from the Twins and the Astros' Junction Jack...
 A pair of birds from the Eastern Divisions: Screech and the Blue Jay...

Captain of the Rangers and bobcat from the ballpark formerly referred to as the "BOB":
 My least favorite mascot and Parrot from Pittsburgh...
 Two Fredbirds?  Yeah, one is reserved for my Cardinal fan of cousin.

Instead of leaving you with a Cardinal as the last snapshot, how about me and picture of the Mariner Moose?   Man, it may sound odd, but I'd really like to see a moose up close and personal some day. So much so, I think I'll add it to my Bucket List. The Mariner Moose will have to fill that void for the time being.