Wednesday, February 27, 2013

That's not a PWE!

Zenus, from The Prowling Cat, contacted me about a couple of cards that I could check off of my 2012 Panini Triple Play wantlist.

I'm always up for meeting a new blogger, and every card package, small or big, is certainly welcome at my humble cardboard collecting abode.

So, I sent Zenus a few cards, and I received a PWE envelope back.  But this Plain White Envelope was not plain!

Zenus' daughter decorated the envelope with an "old school" Cubs logo.  Sweet!
He also used a  Willie Stargell stamp.  Very nice touch.

Here's the two cards that I was able to add to my 2012 Panini Triple Play collection.

Check out my want list if you think you can help this collector out.
Thanks a ton for the trade, Zenus!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend Getaway to Chi-Town

What a fun weekend!

Let me start by saying that I went willingly with another couple and my wife to swing dancing lessons Friday evening.  I am NOT a dancer.  Put me on a baseball field or a basketball court and I'm right at home.  But on a dance floor?  With upbeat music?  And my two left feet?  Yikes! 

I have to say though, it was fun!  A little stressful, slightly intimidating, and very much out of my element.  But, fun.

Saturday we took off for downtown Chicago.  Man, what a great city to just walk around.

We started off at Garfield Park Conservatory.  Free admittance?  Yes, please!  Below are some golden barrel cacti.   Nature is very beautiful, especially when found in tiny spots within a large metropolis.
Next, a trip down memory lane.  When I first started dating Laura in the summer of 2003, I would hang out in her apartment when she went to class/clinicals at UIC.  When I needed to eat, I would venture on my own down the street to Lulu's.  What a find that was!

We drove by her apartment in an attempt to reminisce, but my mind was on that jalapeno cheese burger from a decade ago.   It was only a block away!
 Wow, they still have a jalapeno burger and fry special!  Yes, I indulged.  Yes, it was awesome.  And yes, I want another right now.

Above is a picture of us in Millennium Park just in from of Cloud Gate (aka: the "Bean").

Although the burger was good, the highlights of the day were visiting Millennium Park and enjoying dinner at the Grand Lux Cafe with my beautiful wife.
While at Millennium Park we saw some college students dressed in costumes try to gather other people to do the Harlem Shake by Cloud Gate.  Weird.  Warning, watching this video will waste 31 seconds of your life.  For the record, this was a different version than the one we saw on Saturday.

What has youtube done to the internet?

On Sunday we walked from our hotel to Shedd Aquarium and spent the morning viewing the sea life on display.

Here's a couple of my favorites: Nemo and a saw-tooth shark!

Last but not least, the main reason for our trip: the musical production of The Book of Mormon.  Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the same guys who created South Park, were responsible for a Broadway musical?  Seriously?  Sign me up!

Down right hilarious, a little irreverent, but totally worth the price of admission.

What a great getaway weekend!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

A trip to my LCS: 2013 vs. Vintage

I finally found some time to visit my local card shop (LCS) for the first time in over a month.  I bought my first pack of 2013 product and I also took a dive into the vintage box!

Here's my first card of 2013 Topps:

Yes, a little underwhelming.

The second card was much better.
I love the action shot and the uniform.  Good stuff right there!  Plus, I have a thing for diminutive second-sackers.  Did you know that the Altuve is a unit of measure?  Check it out!

Another second baseman, half a foot taller this time, and a gold parallel to boot!  I'm a Kipnis fan, no doubt about that.

Then the pack just got nasty.  Down right foul.  No name guy, after common, after no name guy.

Then... it happened.  Cardinals.  Nope, no Cubs in this pack.  My first pack of the 2013 collecting season and the score is 2 to 0, Cubs are already playing from behind.  Boo!

For the record, the Holliday is a mini.  I like minis.  Normally.  Not this one.  That is all.

As I mentioned earlier, I also took swim through the vintage bin.  What's great is that I did it all for less than the price of a wax pack of 2013 Topps.

When I got home I realized I went a little heavy on the 1976 Topps, but I'm pretty happy with my score. 

Former manager of the Cubs and inspiration for a former Halloween costume of mine back in 2008:

Vida Blue wearing yellow?  Yes, please!

Tom Terrific at spring training?  Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks as though he's about to cut loose a fastball right into the first base dugout!

 I love the old style Twins caps.  Seeing one on top of Rod Carew is even better.

Finally, a 1971 Bobby Bonds. I've recently been cleaned out on Giants trade fodder, so this was a nice find for a quarter.

Perhaps I should have spent another $2 on vintage rather than the 2013 Topps?  What do you think?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Mailbox Explodes Again

You'd think I'd pay better attention.  I mean, who wouldn't notice when their mailbox happens to get blown up?

Yeah, I'm not that observant sometimes.  Wes, from Jaybarkerfan's Junk, sent me a second plain white envelope bomb last week.  I didn't open it until yesterday, partly because I wasn't sure of its contents and partly because I was a little swamped time-wise.

Little did I realize that there were eight Cubs squeezed into one tiny penny sleeve just waiting to be  released!

Boom!  Here's the contents of the PWE bomb!

1992 Score - Mark Grace: nice picture of Grace making contact as he was so apt to do.  Glad he didn't make contact with anything when he received his latest DUI.  I hope you get the help you need, Mark.

2006 Fleer - Jacque Jones; and 1989 Score - Jerry Mumphrey.  I was too young to remember Mumphrey playing for the Cubs, but I was a Jones fan.  This card of Jones features him in the uniform of his previous team, something Photoshop would never allow these days.

2010 Topps - Carlos Marmol and the Cubs Franchise History card.  These are the only two duplicates in the PWE Bomb.  As far as popularity goes, Marmol's a victim of my own mind.  I'm not a fan of overpaid players. It's not his fault that he signed a contract extension a few years back, which assured him of $9.8 million this year.  But, last year he walked 7.3 batters per nine innings.  How is that acceptable?  I don't care how unhittable his slider used to be, but that type of performance isn't worth nearly eight figures in salary.  Sorry, rant over.

 I'm not quite sure I understand these 2009 Upper Deck Documentary cards.  I'm guessing there's one from every game of the 2008 Cubs' season?  This one just happens to feature Ryan Theriot and a 4-2 loss to the 'Stros.  If the Cubs ever win a World Series I wouldn't mind something similar from that year.

1987 Topps - Steve Trout: Ahhh, my favorite card from the envelope.  I love the '87 Topps design.  1988 was the year I was introduced to baseball cards, so I missed out on the wood grained borders, the rainbow-like "future stars", and being "Bipped" by Topps.  Perhaps this will be the next set from the past that I try to assemble?  If nothing else, it should be a cheap get!

Thanks for the surprise cards, Wes!  Payback for successfully blowing up my mailbox, again, will be on its way shortly!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Awwwwww, for me?

Last Friday I had six jubilant freshmen basketballers approach me between class periods.  Normally when I see a group of them coming at me, I make like I'm going to try to avoid them by briskly scurrying to the nearest exit.  You ever try to hold a conversation with a half-dozen hyper teens?  It's very difficult to keep up!

Bad news:  they came through the only exit and there was no way I could circumnavigate them on my route to the door.

Good news:  they came bearing a gift basket!

It's been a good long while since I was given a thank you present for coaching.  It's not something I come to expect, but it is nice to know you're appreciated as a coach.

Inside the popcorn bucket were six boxes of candy, gift cards to two restaurants, and a gift card to a movie theater.  That's not even the best part!  All of the sides of the container had team photos taped to them, and there were a dozen more pictures of the team and I underneath the boxes of candy: action shots, teams photos, and pictures of us in huddles during time outs.  I never really have a chance to take pictures during the season (too busy coaching), so I couldn't have been more happy to have some snapshots for myself!

The gift cards and candy won't last long, but I've already found a few safe places for the photos.  Good times and great memories!  Thanks girls! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cubs Calendar Sale

A friend at work stopped by Dick's Sporting Goods the other day and found a stack of Chicago Cubs calendars drastically marked down.  I guess Dick's didn't think they could move a "new" calendar six weeks into the new year.

I'm not sure what the manufacturer's suggested retail price is, but my friend found them with a sign that read, "50% off the already marked down price."  Throw in a coupon for a further discount and when it was all said and done, he walked out of the store with ALL the remaining calendars at a price of 23 cents each.  Crazy deal! 

All of his baseball loving Cubs fan friends were recipients of his good luck.  And I, for one, was quite thankful.

Here's a shot of the front of the calendar.

Each month features a different Cub, but only seven months now feature current Cubs.

Here's the players that still call Wrigley home:
 Alfonso Soriano and Matt Garza . . .
 Ian Stewart and Carlos Marmol . . .
 and last, but not least . . . Starlin Castro.

Geovany Soto, Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Jeff Baker, and Bryan LaHair are the players who are also featured, but are no longer with the club.

Soto,  Dempster, and Maholm were traded in late July of last year.  Baker was traded in early August.  LaHair has found a new club in Japan.

Also, Anthony Rizzo is not featured, and he made his Cubs debut on June 26th.  Granted, Rizzo wasn't considered a fixture in the lineup at that point, but the writing was on the wall by the July trade deadline.

It makes me wonder when they send these calendars off to printed.  Couldn't they have waited until, say, the first week of August before they send the proofs off to the printer?  That would certainly give fans a more relevant calendar to be purchased.

I guess I should wonder such things.  If they did it my way, then I probably wouldn't have a calendar to hand on the office wall!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Oh, Panini. How will you ever compete with Topps at this rate?

So, as I mentioned in a previous post, the last box of 2012 Panini Triple Play was missing the guaranteed "Real Feel" game-used card.  There are six such cards in the master set, and this would have been the third in my possession.   Yet, it wasn't meant to be.  Someone in Panini's quality control division must have taken an extended coffee break and my box went without.

So, I went to Panini's website and filed with their Quality Assurance team.  Here's the packing slip information page that they requested I complete.

I wrote a letter as they asked and sent everything through snail mail.  I wasn't expecting the issue to be resolved anytime soon.   But sooner than expected, I had a response waiting for me on-line:

Huh, I guess Panini assumes everything will go as planned, everyday, on every line, in the packing department.  Why else would they not keep any extra "Real Feel" cards on hand.

Side note #1: I love how the Panini Representative can't spell his own product correctly.  They cards I'm trying to complete do not focus on fishing reels, but are called "Real Feel".

Side note #2:  Way to win over your consumer by calling him Tim, rather than Tom.  Who's in charge of quality control within the quality assurance department?  Yikes.

So, here's what arrived in the mail the other day:

Yep, my two packs were here!  Perhaps the individual in the pack picking department took time to "pack search" a bit before choosing the packs to mailed?  You know, to try to right the original wrong in a circuitous manner.


Of the fourteen cards, I needed two.  One Andrew McCutchen puzzle piece and this card of Matt Kemp.  Bummer.

Oh, and not that Panini was intentionally trying to add injury to insult, but one of the stickers in the pack was of Mr. Verlander.

Hey, I have nothing against Justin Verlander, but I do not care for Panini's card collation within their boxes.

Yes, the sticker subset is ONLY thirty cards, and I still have 10 left to track down.  Yet, I have 10 Justin Verlander stickers.  Seriously? 

I originally thought I would collect the 2013 Triple Play set, but now I am seriously considering chasing something else.  I am a little more than frustrated with this card collecting experience and I'm afraid that the same collation issues will abound in '13.

What set should I build this year?  Vote in the poll within the right margin, and/or leave a comment!

Thanks for reading,
Tim  . . . um, I mean, Tom.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Trade with ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession

This is my third trade with Adam, from APSmirth's Sportscard Obsession, over the last half year or so.  Adam is a fan of the World Champion San Francisco Giants and one heckuva trade partner.  Here's his breakdown of what I sent his way, but it pales in comparison to what I received in return. 

We're both working on the 2012 Triple Play set by Panini, so that was the impetus for the trade.  Here's the Panini that fell out of the trade package.  I do really like those "FOCUS" cards.  Check out my want list if you think you can help!

On to the rest of the goodies!  Wait, but first a note from Adam:
Um, Adam.  Yeah.  Well, in short, the Cubbies more than made up for it!

2001 Topps Gold Label -- Hee Seop Choi and a 2001 Fleer Greats of the Game -- Hack Wilson
 I do love shiny cards, I'm just sorry my camera couldn't capture all the shininess.  Oooh, and a Hack Wilson!  Hack reminds of a shorter, right-handed version of Babe Ruth. 

Yes, Matt, I'm doing another post about Cubs baseball cards.  No need to make faces.
'01 Fleer Platinum

More Kerry Wood cards to add to the growing stack that makes up my unofficial player collection.  At this rate, I'm never going to get all of my Kid K's collated and logged in checklist format.
'01 Fleer Genuine
'04 Fleer Inscribed

2012 Topps Gold Parallel -- Ryan Dempster and a 2012 Topps Opening Day Blue Parallel of Starlin Castro

A Red 2012 Topps Parallel of a flying Darwin Barney!  Hey, my first red parallel!  Sweet deal!

Another 2012 Castro?  Yep, this time from the Topps Chrome Set.  Nice!

Wait, what?  A 1994 Fleer Nolan Ryan?  Huh.  Not a Cub, but definitely needed from my want list!

 Sammy Sosa?  Yep a 2004 Upper Deck "Power Up!" card that features Sammy on HGH.  No shocker there.

2012 Panini Cooperstown Cubs!  I really like the photos on these cards, especially the Evers and Tinker.  There just aren't many cards out there of these two guys that feature action shots!
 Ernie and Fergie!
 The Hawk and a Ryno!

 Shoot, if that wasn't enough, there's another pile of Cubs that I didn't have the patience to photograph for the blog.  Look, another shiny card of Castro!

Adam, you really outdid yourself this time.  I'm starting to wonder how I' ever going to even up the score!  Thanks again for a fantastic trade!