Monday, September 30, 2013

The Regular Season Recap

Game 163 will played today between the Rangers and Rays to determine who will advance to play in the one game Wild Card match up versus the Cleveland Indians.

This blog post will detail how the teams did in games that I attended this season, but before we look at my regular season record, how about those Indians?  In 2012 their record was a shaky 68 wins and 94 losses.  This year they pulled off quite a turnaround: 92 wins and 70 losses.

Hmmm...  The Cubs went 66 and 96 this year... could they win 90+ games next year?  Yeah, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

On to the summary!
I went to 19 ball games this past season and saw 5 Major League Baseball games, 13 Minor League Baseball games, and 1 Independent League game.

I saw 1 Cubs win at Wrigley Field out of 4 contests.  The other MLB game was this past weekend in St. Louis where I witnessed the Cardinals beat the bologna out of my Cubs.

Speaking of Cardinals and Cubs...
The Peoria Chiefs, a Cardinals' affiliate and my local team, won 6 games and lost only 3 in games that I saw at Dozer Park.
I saw the Kane County Cougars, a Cubs' affiliate, play seven games.  I love my Cougars and didn't mind traveling  to see them. They had 1 win in four attempts in Peoria, lost one game in the Quad Cities, and lost both of the games I attended in Kane County.

The Normal Cornbelters and Omaha Storm Chasers each won their respective home games that I attended.

Overall, the home team had a record of 11 wins and 8 losses in the 19 games I witnessed live.

The Cubs and their affiliates went 2 and 10 while the Cardinals and their affiliates went 7 and 3.

Why am I a Cubs fan again?  Sheesh.

With a short summer this year I think nineteen games was a pretty good tally.  Hopefully I'll be able to see a couple of new MLB ballparks next year and I can inch closer to my goal of seeing all thirty beautiful parks.

As always, I'll be Waiting 'til Next Year...  perhaps I'll see this fly a few more times next year?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Zippy Zappy Trade Post

A reader of the blog by the name of Zippy Zappy contacted me about a couple of Sega Card GEN  singles he had that featured Cubs players.  Huh.  Sega Card GEN?  Never heard of them.

Having piqued my interest, I sent Zippy Zappy a small little stash of ARod cards and I hoped for the best.

Well, those are pretty cool!  I like how the cards feature the Cubs' main colors.  The stars on the front are also intriguing... Dempster was rated higher than Castro after the 2011 season?

Huh, Sega Card GEN has a MLB license?  Look at all of those glorious logos!  I wonder how Topps feels about that?

How about the backs?
 Hello!  Japanese!  Awesome!  Sorry, probably a couple too many exclamation points there.  The height and weight are in metric units and they have Castro's strengths as a ballplayer charted on a scale to 20.  Pretty cool.

Ooops.  And there we go: Topps is the manufacturer of the Sega Card GEN cards.  Go figure, that explains the use of the logos.

It get's even better!  Zippy Zappy send along translations for the Dempster and Castro cards.  Here's Starlin's card back translated:
"One of the Cubs' shining stars who made his MLB Debut at the age of 20 and had back-to-back seasons with a .300 average. Expected to represent the majors in the future. From Opening day on wards he has been the Cubs everyday shortstop and his league best 207 hits made him the 5th player in history to accomplish the feat under the age of 21. Has increased his number of steals, made appearances at the All-Star Game and earned his second MVP of the week award, adding a lot of hardware to his resume."

More Cubs accompanied the two Japanese cards in the package. A pair of late 980's Donruss Manny Trillo cards:
Below is two-thirds of the Cubs 1989 starting outfield that helped propel the team to the postseason.  The other third?  The Rookie of the Year: Jerome "Juice" Walton. 
 The oldest Cub card in the envelope?  A 1984 Topps card of Chuch Rainey.  Some pitchers work so slow during a game (ahem, Steve Traschel) that they are referred to as a "Human Rain Delay."  I wonder if Rainey had any interesting nicknames.  Perhaps he was one of those slow workers?
 More former Cubs, but all of these are from the last two years.  The top three cards are from the 2011 A&G set... Garza was traded this past season, Pena was allowed to leave as a free agent, and Big Z was traded for Chris Volstad in 2012.
The bottom row features two cards from 2012 Heritage and one card from Topps' flagship product.  Marmol was traded this past season, DeWitt left via free agency, and Camp was cut during the season this year.  Sigh.  The roster has been a revolving door the last couple of years.

You know who hasn't played in Chicago in a while?  Yep, this guy.
 Brett Jackson used to be a top flight prospect for the Cubs.  Those days are long gone.  Double sigh.

Hey, a current Cub!  I really like the 2013 red parallels.  Nothing else witty to say.
 Wait.  Oh, yes.  Samardzija still needs a haircut.  Yuck.

Starlin Castro!  Another insert to add to my unofficial Castro collection.

Last but not least, a nice card of Ryno with the classic '72 Topps design from this year's Archives set.  Topps did a nice job on this card.

 Zippy Zappy doesn't haven't a blog, but he is a super guy to have as a trade partner!  Those Sega Card GEN cards are great and thanks for all of the fun Cubs!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Crosstown Classic: Trade Style

The Cubs won the Crosstown Classic this year against the White Sox, but when that's one of the first positives that come to mind that means it hasn't been a good year.  On a more personal level, I finally found someone to trade with who cheers for the team from the south side.  One of my collecting goals for 2013 can be crossed off the list!

I managed to scrounge up some 2011 Topps Kimball Champions card and some White Sox to send Jeff, of 2 by 3 Heroes, and here's a glimpse of what he sent my way:

2012 Bowman Chrome, the "not curly" kind.  My favorite!  Szczur is one of the great guys in all of sports and Dillon Maples is one of my favorite minor leaguers, even if he only pitched in rookie ball this year.

This next guy gets lost in the shuffle behind Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, and Albert Almora, but he's a top flight talent himself and plays the game hard.  I love the International Flag Parallels and will think long hard if this one will end up in my 2013 Bowman  FrankenSet or not.

Hey, a 1992 Topps Winners gold card!  Were these the first parallels in baseball card history?  I have a complete set tucked away downstairs.  The cards were fun to redeem back in the day!
 Trivia break: George Bell was one of three former MVPs that played for the Cubs in 1991.  Unfortunately, they were all on the wrong side of 30 when they played together and the team finished in fourth place.  Bleh.

Here are two players who were at the corners for the Cubs and really gave the Cubs something to cheer about. 

DLee was a really good guy and is now retired, while Aramis might be the only "big bat" that doesn't end the year on the DL (Weeks & Hart) or suspended (Braun) for the Brewers.   Nevertheless, I miss them both.  The Cubs offense this year was BAD.

I thought the Cubs had found their catcher of the future when this guy busted down the door in September of 2007.  He even wound up finishing 13th in the MVP voting in 2008.  Wow, things change so fast sometimes. Geo hasn't hit above 0.230 in the last three seasons!

These 2008 Upper Deck X cards have been consistently landing in my mailbox this year.  The sharp angles are a little much, but the red, white, and blue sure do look good with the Cubs and their home jerseys.

 Kid K!  I love me some Kerry Wood cards!  I already have these two in my collection.  But, that's okay.  I'm thinking I might do another project like my baseball card coffee table and Wood will figure to play a prominent role in my next attempt.
 Ah-hah!  I don't have this one: 2006 Upper Deck.
My 244th different Kerry Wood card.
 And look, my 686th different Ryne Sandberg card in the same trade package!  Nice!

I love the Bowman Heritage and this is the third different Upper Deck Artifacts card from 2006.
But oh my, what could have been! How many Cubs prospects have I collected just to see their careers fall short?  . . .  In this case, way short.

Here's one more prospect.  And hopefully this one will have a decent MLB career.
 Vitters struggled to stay healthy this year and rumor has it he will shift to the outfield next year.  I'm crossing my fingers that the switch of positions will help keep him injury free and more focused on his offense in 2014.  Cubs fans forget that he'll be just twenty-four years old next year.

Lastly, we'll wrap this one up with a couple of guys who wore our their welcome in Chicago. Again, it amazes me how the media is capable of vilifying a player.  Deserved or undeserved. 
 This is a great card of Sammy gazing at a well struck ball... perhaps, right before his famous hop?  Somehow, I think I have become the officially landing zone for all of Zambrano's relics.  In Big Z's twelve years as a Cub I didn't have one relic of his to call my own.  Now that he has been bouncing around the minor leagues for a year and is no longer affiliated with the Cubs organization I've managed to collected four of his relic cards.  Weird.  Just weird. 

This was a terrific with a very wide variety of Cubs goodness.  Thanks for the great trade, Jeff!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

He's Bleedin' Brown and Gold in Iowa and I Benefit!

Being only three hours from Wrigley Field I can see my Cubs play, in person, on a semi-regular basis.  I enjoy my day trips up to Chicago during the summer and it's easy to follow the Cubs within the local newspaper.  I guess I sometimes take that for granted.  It must be difficult rooting for a baseball team that is 1,700 miles away from your doorstep AND doesn't receive much coverage from the major media outlets.  Duff, of Bleedin' Brown and Gold, is in such a predicament and I feel for him as he lives in Iowa and is a Padres fan.

Duff reached out to me a little while back and offered to send some Iowa Cubs programs my way and some cardboard featuring Cubs.  How could I refuse?
Above are the five programs he sent my way and most of them have a scorecard inside from the day's game.  The furthest one on the right is the 2013 edition and my favorite.  I guess Duff tries to get his baseball fix by taking in some AAA baseball.  I've been to Des Moines a couple of times and they have a pretty nice stadium near the river.

I did my best to package up some brown and gold, but I feel I came up short in my quest.  Thankfully, the one big local card show in my area is less than two months away.  Hooray!  I'll be on the look out for some Friars in the future!

In the meantime, please allow me to show off what Duff generously sent my way.

Hee Seop Choi and Julio Zuleta were two of the Cubs first base prospects that never really "stuck" in the major leagues.  Both had huge power potential, but they weren't consistent enough with the bat and flamed out.

Both cards are super shiny and everyone knows I have a thing for shiny and sparkly cards.  The Choi card would be perfect for an autograph.  I wonder what the success rate is for TTM autograph requests to Korea?

Shoot, let's just stay on a little bit of a "players who were once prospects" kick, shall we?
Holy Cow!  That's a bunch of players the Cubs have put attached their hopes and dreams to.  At least three of the ten are serial numbered, which is nice, but my two favorites are of Brooks Kieschnick and Steve Clevenger.  I kind of have a mini collection of Kieschnick because I've been infatuated with him ever since he converted from hitter to pitcher to jack-of-all-trades.  Why Clevenger?  It's my first Clevenger card and it is slick looking.  Blue shiny backgrounds on Cubs cards are really a nice way to go.

A new Ryno to add to my collection!  This one is a 1997 Topps Stars card and number 686 in my Sandberg collection!
 The four cards on the right are from the Vineline, which is the magazine of the Chicago Cubs.  I've been a subscriber on and off for years, and I have these cards framed and hanging on my wall as an uncut sheet.  Pretty neat to have them cut so I can add them to my binder!

These two guys were fun to watch and were part of the Cubs' "Cajun Connection" up the middle not so long ago.
The Topps 206 card is nicely done and I love minor league cards.  Great additions to my collection.

Not only do blue shiny backgrounds work well with Cubs cards, but anything with red, white, and blue is a cinch to catch my eye.
 I was ecstatic when the Cubs traded for Harden as he was one of my favorites when he came up with the Athletics.  Too bad Rich couldn't stay healthy, because he just some filthy stuff.  Soriano left Chicago as a "good guy" and the Chicago media doesn't allow that to happen too often.  Congrats to Alfonso on reaching 50+ RBIs with both the Cubs and the Yankees this year.  I'm sure the list of players who have knocked in 50+ for two different teams in the same season is a short one.

Last but not least we have a 2013 Panini Prizm card of Mr. Cub and a silver ice parallel of the 2013 Bowman Gioskar Amaya card. 
Ernie will certainly find a place in my Cubs binder and the Amaya silver ice card will slide into my 2013 Bowman FrankenSet.  Nice!

Thanks for a great trade, Duff!  It was a little lopsided in my favor so look out for some Padres before the end of the year!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Combined Shipping? Yes, please!

I found a dealer on eBay a couple of weeks ago that would combine shipping at a very reasonable rate.  I pounced.

Initially, I was looking for some 2013 Bowman FrankenSet help.  

I was outbid on my initial bid for a Blue Wave refractor, but that's okay, because the above four cards have a spot waiting for them in a binder.  Check out the variety: four different types of parallels.  Man, I love my FrankenSet.

Afterwards I shopped around the seller's store and found some minor league Cubs.

I also won the Javier Baez from the above Pro Debut, but the seller couldn't find it.  He refunded my forty cents.  So it goes.

Ohhh... Rizzo!

In order, 2013 Topps Museum Collection, '13 Topps Mini, and '13 Panini Pinnacle.

Someday, someday way off in the future I will save my coin and vow to collect a higher end set like Topps Museum Collection.  The card is beautiful and on really thick card stock.

Random Cubbie goodness?  Check, I'm all over that one in this purchase.
Above we have a 2013 card of "The Hawk", a 2012 Panini Cooperstown card of Santo, a 2013 Orange Archives parallel of Castro, and a rookie card of Kyuji Fujikawa from this year's aforementioned Pinnacle set.  The Arismendy Alcantara and Dan Vogelbach cards are super shiny and both are inserts from this year's Bowman Platinum release.  I sure do love my minor leaguers!

As of late I've been seriously considering starting a super player collection of Welington Castillo.
Why?  Well, all of my super player collections are of players who no longer play in MLB, thus their new releases will be few and far between.  I need someone new to collect.

Castillo is a young catcher who is full of potential.  Even if he doesn't improve upon his solid 2013 campaign in the future, he'll still be an asset going forward for the Cubs performing at his current level.  In my opinion, he should be considered a "core" piece.  Plus, I got to see him play in Peoria for a season.  Always a positive!  I don't know if I'm ready to commit to "Beef" just yet, but this blue sparkly 2013 Topps was fifty cents and it is a gem!

Lastly, a 2013 Panini Prizm card of Sandberg.

Is there such a thing as too shiny?  Um, I didn't think so, but this card has changed my mind.  That's okay though, as it's another card to Sandberg collection as I close in on the 800-card milestone.

Whelp, recently I've hit Listia and eBay for card needs.  The trading market for my sets has dried up as well.  Sportlots, here I come!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Love Me Some Listia

I was able to build up almost 30,00 credits on Listia by the beginning of the calendar year and I am now just about halfway though them.  My most recent purchase was a wax box of 1992 Stadium Club baseball cards that hasn't arrived yet.  I figured, "Why not?"  I love ripping wax and all the better, it's free!

As I wait for the box to arrive, here's a few singles that I was able secure from Listia in the past week.

Vintage!  Hall-of-Famer laden vintage!

Sweet curly cardboard, Batman!  That's some water-damaged vintage.  I'm happy though.  I had a copy of the '69 Topps RBI leaders in my Santo collection and this second copy is earmarked for my Billy Williams collection.  The Fergie is new to me and is also another solid addition to my collection, no matter the condition.

Jim Abbott.  1989 Upper Deck.  Fantastic.

I loved those multi-exposure shots back in the day.  Most non-Cubs cards I pick up with the intent of using as trade bait, but not this beauty.  It's mine, all mine! <insert maniacal laughter>

Thanks for stopping by to check out my most recent editions.