Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cards My Sister Would Appreciate

There was a time my entire family collected baseball cards.  My dad bought packs of '89 Fleer and chased the Billy Ripken card.  My mom was fond of Upper Deck, even though it was more expensive, and I believe she still owns a couple of Griffey rookies.  My sister and I preferred quantity over quality in those days and we had mounds of Donruss, Fleer, Score, and Topps.  Heck, I still have more junk wax than I know what to do with!

When I look back on my childhood, collecting as a family is in my Top 5 "events" of all-time.  I'm smiling now just thinking about it!

Here's a couple of cards that found their way into my mailbox earlier this week.
 On the left is a 2013 Topps Chrome purple parallel and the right we have a pink parallel from Topps Series 3.  My sister?  Oh, she was into baseball cards back in the day, but her favorite color was/is purple.  I have to imagine if shiny purple parallels were prevalent in our pre-teens she would have preferred them a plenty.

Hehe.  That was a lot of p's.

I have Judson, from My Cardboard Habit, to thank for the these two beauties.  I made a quick comment and claimed any Chrome Cubs that he might have and he shipped off Starlin and Mr. Bogusevic posthaste.  Here's what I sent his way.

Speaking of Judson, he's thinking about busting a case of Topps Triple Threads.  The Cubs have already been claimed, but that doesn't mean that I can't promote his break!  Click here.

Thanks for another great trade, Judson!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Extra Innings

Nope, I'm not talking a game that went extra innings, although I dare say that's about all this World Series is missing from being one of the best in recent memory.

Tuesday evening was a night off from me sitting by the fire, busting baseball card packs, and watching baseball.  What did I do instead?  I went to Extra Innings in Bloomington-Normal with my friend, Jim.

Jim has participated in the last two Chicago Cubs fantasy camps and he's planning on going back this January for a third year in a row.  He's in a training mode and it's great!

While he gets himself into game shape I get to tag along and enjoy all the baseball activities.  I couldn't be happier.

It was a forty-five minute commute to the Extra Innings training facility, but well worth it.  We talked baseball the entire way, there and back.  Jim's always up for talking baseball, and for those of you who know me personally, you know that I can turn from a quiet introvert into a chatty stat-head in less time than it takes Kolten Wong to get picked off of first base.

Once at the practice facility we stretched, played catch, and then got down to business. I set up a pitching machine on top of a false mound, cranked it up, and fed over two hundred balls to Jim.  I'm glad he was wearing a pair of batting gloves, because he would have some gnarly blisters this morning otherwise. 

I slipped in twice for a couple dozen hacks, but I mostly was happy just to feed the machine and give Jim feedback on his swing.  I was an above average hitter in high school, but I was strictly a pitcher in college, and I've kind of poo-pooed hitting ever since. To each his own I suppose.

It was wonderful to get out do something baseball related as I "wait 'til next year" and I look forward to making the trip to Bloomington-Normal again later this winter when my basketball coaching schedule allows for it. 
 Thanks, Jim!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pack Wars from a Repack

The repack that was featured in my last post came with four packs of cards.   Two of them were from 2008 Upper Deck, one was from the First Edition and the other was an Update to the First Edition.  Why the second pack isn't called a Second Edition is beyond me.

No matter.  We have our second Pack Wars here on my humble little blog and this one will pit card versus card!

In the pictures below, the First edition card will be on the left and the Update will be on the right.  Also, for further clarification I have noticed the First Edition actually says "First Edition" directly beneath the player's name on each card.

Leading off in today's match up is Hank Blalock vs. Rafael Furcal.
This is one easy.  Furcal had 6,445 plate appearances leading off in his career.  Hank Blalock?  He NEVER batted in the #1 slot, not even as a pinch hitter.
First Edition 0, Update 1.

Brian Bruney vs. Matt Holiday?  Um, let's see...  a Yankee I've never heard of against a landscape shot of Matt Holliday in the Home Run Derby.  (Sorry for not rotating the card.)  Just look at the ball!  It's right on the bat!
First Edition 0, Update 2.

The third match up may be the most hotly contested.  Two great landscape shots.  Julio Lugo is all stretched out, but John Buck is about ready to put the smack down on Grady Sizemore. I love a good play at the plate card!
First Edition 1, Update 2.

Miguel Olivo dressed up as Darth Vader for Halloween at Wrigley Field versus Gavin Floyd and his high socks.  I sported the high socks back in the day, but I'll give this one to Vader.
First Edition 2, Update 2.

Jeff Kent?  Sorry, man, you didn't really have a fighting chance after I turned down Gavin and his high socks in the last match up.  David Murphy comes in with his high socks AND sleeveless jersey top.  Whoa!  Bustin' out the big guns!
First Edition 2, Update 3.

David Eckstein against Craig Monroe? Easy choice.  Grit.  Grit every time.
First Edition 3, Update 3.

We have a barn burner here, folks!  Four cards to go!

Josh Banks versus Pedro?  By name recognition alone Pedro has given Update the lead.
First Edition 3, Update 4.

Next up:
An awkwardly stretching Vladimir Guerrero versus Geoff Jenkins and his nice goatee.  Close, but I've always been a big fan of Vlad the Impaler.
First Edition 4, Update 4.

It's all knotted up with two more battles to go.
Yikes.  On the left we have Carlos Pena, as a Ray, before he was a Cub versus Jim Edmonds before he was a Cub.  Although Edmonds is wearing a Padres uniform, but his card does report him as a member of the Cubs.  Advantage: Edmonds.
First Edition 4, Update 5.

Update has a one card advantage going into the last card of the packs.  How will the contest unfold?
Well, I like shiny.  Shiny is always good, but I'm not a big fan of the Phillies, Red Sox, Utley, or Dice K.  Neither of the two photo selections stand out to me.  I'm calling it a draw. Each contestant earns half a point.
Final score: First Edition 4.5, Update 5.5.

Update maintains their one card margin of a lead and holds on for the win!
What do you think?  Agree or disagree?  Feel free to let the judges have it in the comment section below.

Oh, and as always, all cards featured in today's Pack Wars are up for trade.  Just let me know!

Wait, what about the other two packs the repack guaranteed?

Well, one of them was a jumbo pack of 1989 Topps. I have about 1,500 repeats of 1989 Topps.  I'm not terribly enthused about opening a JUMBO pack of the stuff.  Yawn.

The other was a five card pack of 2007 Fleer Ultra, which I'll save for another edition of Pack Wars on a rainy/snowy day.  Good stuff.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Curve Ball from a Repack.

I couldn't find too much to read within the blogosphere this morning so I reached for one of the prizes from Once A Cub's Fantasy Baseball Blaster League: a repack from winning the WHIP statistical category. 

The repack boasts 100 loose cards and four packs of cards.  I'm going to save the packs for a future post.

I've only purchased one repack in the past, but it came in a reusable clear plastic storage container.  The packaging this time around is all cardboard, including the loose cards which were found in a little white cardboard box.
Awwww.  Cute.

On to the highlights of from the one hundred cards!  Let's start with the oldest cards in the box.
On the left we have a Bob Molinaro card, sporting a terrific White Sox pullover, from the inaugural 1981 Fleer set.  On the right we have a 1981 Topps Elias Sosa of the forgotten Montreal Expos.

Most recent card?
2004 Topps rookie card of Jose Contreras.  I'm sure this card was a hot commodity at some point nearly a decade ago.

Cubs?  Well, these two kind of qualify:
Wait!  Those are guys are in Brewer's duds!  Sveum was just relieved of his duties as manager of the Cubs earlier this month.  Bosio still retains his position as pitching coach for the Cubs... for now.

Real Cubs? Only two out of the 100.  Now that's a bummer.  At least one is a Hall of Famer: The Hawk!
 I found some of the below minis from 1988 in my last repack as well.  Now I have ten more to add to my collection!

Let's sick with the oddball theme.  On the left we have an '88 Fleer Star Stickers card of The Big Cat and on the right is a 2003 Upper Deck Yankees Signature Series card of Mike Pagliarulo.  Yankees got an entire set of cards dedicated to their storied franchise?  Go figure.  Blah.

Here's a couple of cards from a team that I fondly refer to as, "The West Coast Yankees." Have you seen their payroll
I think 1985 Topps may be my favorite Topps set from the decade of the 80's.

1986?  Meh.  But I do like Reuschel's hat!

Moving forward a decade into the 90's really ushered in the overproduction era of cardboard.  No better example than the only duplicates in the repack which came from 1990 Topps.

The cards I'm happiest with from the repack?
 A smiling Eddie Murray and 1992 Topps Winner* Tom Glavine.  I love the Winner* cards and redeemed a sets worth back in 1992.  I still have some dupes laying around, too.

 Best action shot in the pack?  Hello, Walt Weiss!  Stadium Club always had solid photography.

The card I didn't see coming?  Yep, this one was certainly a "Curve Ball" alright!  Nevertheless, I think it'll find a home in my collection!

 I still have the packs from this repack, two more unopened repacks, and two blasters to go from the prize haul from Matt's fantasy baseball league.  Sounds like plenty of fuel for the blog for the next couple of weeks!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Blaster League Winnings, Part I

This past summer I ponied up a small entry fee and entered Matt's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Blaster Legaue.  I've never really played for money before, let alone baseball cards, but I gave it the "old college try" and came away pretty happy.

In all, I finished the regular season in 3rd place, 5.5 games back out of first with a 0.630 winning percentage.  The solid regular season effort was fueled by my love for pitching as I won the ERA, WHIP, and saves categories.  Each categorical win netted me a repack box. Nice!

I somehow finagled my through the playoffs and won the whole thing.  It was a tight race and I was definitely sweating it out the last weekend, but I made it through. As the playoff champion I was awarded three blasters.  Awesome.

Here's a picture of the box that was resting on my doorstep last Friday.

What was inside?  The aforementioned repacks and a blaster of Bowman, Archives, and Topps Series 2.

I cracked into the Bowman blaster with hopes of updating some cards in my Frankenset.  I came away a little disappointed, because I was only able to upgrade from a Joe Maurer gold parallel to this silver ice parallel.

I did pull a couple of nice rookies: a Top 100 Byron Buxton and a mini chrome of Sonny Gay.  Nice.

I open numerous jumbos and two hobby boxes of packs this summer of 2013 Bowman, but it took a blaster for me to uncover a numbered parallel.  Behold...
I found a Taylor Scott blue autograph numbered 5/500.  I couldn't be happier that I ripped an autograph of a Cub!

So far my prize package is starting off strong with the Cub auto hit.  Stay tuned to see how the rest of the blasters and repacks shake out.

Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Matt, from Once a Cub, for putting together and overseeing a solid fantasy league this summer.   Thanks again, Matt!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Baseball Card App

As if I needed something else to occupy my time...

Through my daily baseball readings I have discovered that a baseball card making App now exists for you smartphone.

The Rookies App seems like a pretty nice concept.  Just ask George Costanza:
You can customize the front and the backs of the cards AND then purchase them!  They come in packs of twenty and arrive in a wax pack!  Man, that takes me back a couple of decades.

I'm thinking this would be a great idea for my co-ed softball team. You can also select the option to receive twenty of the same card to use as business card.  Pure genius.

The baseball card possibilities are are endless!  Next June I should be able to find a pic of the Cubs #1 draft pick, create a professional looking card, have it printed, and then possibly get the player to sign the card when he plays for Kane County.  That's pretty cool.

Now, I just have to wait for it to become available on the Droid.  Bummer.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I have some company.

I just completed my fifth trade with Adam from ARPSmith's Sportcard Obsession.  I'm sure Adam, who has been around the blogosphere longer than myself, has completed more than a handful of trades with quite a few people.  Yet, five for me is a big deal and each transaction with Adam has been a solid one.

Notes with trade packages are a huge plus, especially when it's written with a commiserating tone like the one on the right.

Being a Cub fan certainly has had it's drawbacks as of late, but in the end aren't there twenty-eight other teams who will have to "wait 'til next year"?

I like Adam, he gets me, and I don't mind the company.

At the most recent mall card show I picked up an old school Willie Mays and sent him off to feed ARPSsmith's obsession.

Here's what found itself in my mailbox the other day:  Sweet Cub Goodness!

Billy Williams and Joe Tinker from 2013 Panini Cooperstown:
I love that Tinker, Evers, and Chance are getting some card time from Panini.

I usually try to buy one pack of everything that's at my LCS, but I haven't seen the product below yet:
Panini's 2013 Hometown Heroes.  I really like the color scheme and the concept of the less brilliant stars getting being the muse.  I may have to try to get Keith Moreland's signature on that card.  Although, I wish the jersey top wasn't so dark, because it won't make for a good autograph.

Cubs prospects.  Nice.  On the left we have Felix Sanchez from the 2003 Bowman's Best set.  The back of the card states that Felix threw 98 mph with a nasty curve.  Huh.  To me, it's just proof that even lefties with filthy stuff can't always stick in the show.
 On the right we have Dustin Geiger who batted in the middle of the lineup this past year for the 2013 Florida State League Champion Dayton Cubs.  Dustin played in Peoria in 2011 and 2013, and I'm glad to see he is continuing to have success.  It'd be neat to see signs being held by fans at Wrigley some day with the title of "Geiger Counter".  You know... to count all of his home runs.

I didn't buy more than a couple of packs of this year's flagship product from Topps, but I'm getting pretty close to completing Cubs team sets from Series 1 and Series 2.
 The blog is a great place to dump your unwanted Cubs, even guys that aren't with the team anymore!
  I love the parallels, but I could never chase them all.  Wrigley Wax found seventeen different variations of the same 2013 Topps Darwin Barney card from this year's flagship product.  Yes, SEVENTEEN!  That would drive me crazy.
I'm definitely more than content with an emerald, a couple of gold, and those two classy blue sparkly cards.  Man, those look sweet!
Above is the oldest Billy Williams card in my humble collection.  I'm a big fan of the '68 design and I'm really feeling the posed shot with the empty upper deck in the background. 

The main cards in the trade: a Willie Mays for a Billy Williams?  Yep.  I didn't even blink and I couldn't be happier.

Thanks for another great trade, Adam!  As always, my Giants are your Giants.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Let there be light!

Yep, that's what a pair of 2002 Hyundai Sante Fe headlights will look like after 174,000 miles of being exposed to the elements and hitting bugs at 55mph.

During the summer the father of a good friend gave me the idea of purchasing a restoration kit.  I didn't think much of it at the time. 

Fast forward a few months...

The days are becoming shorter and my work hours are becoming longer and as a result I've been driving more in the dark.  Bleck.  I began to notice that my visibility could stand an improvement.  I purchased a $25 kit from Auto Zone yesterday and decided to see if I could make some head way on my headlights.

Notice, below, how I have applied car tape around the headlights to prevent scratching.  I asked what the difference was between the green car tape and blue painter's tape and the Auto Zone employee answered that the green tape was thicker and more durable.  I did not find that to be true.  I think I'll use it to send baseball cards out in the mail. Ha!

The kit came with a drill attachment and circular sandpaper to facilitate the restoration process.  Pretty neat idea turning a drill into a sander!  I started with sanding the headlights with 100 grit sandpaper*.  After quite a few passes I moved to the 300 grit, and then finally to a finishing pad.

*Please note that this sandpaper was not wood grade sandpaper.

Lastly, I removed the sandpaper attachment from the drill and affixed the buffing pad.  I added a little buffing goo to the headlights and let the drill do the rest of the work.
Above is what's left of the packaging after my forty-five minute restoration experiment. 

Hey, but what about the headlights?

Almost good as new!  I'm actually looking forward to driving to work this morning to see the difference.