Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Being Mischievous in Des Moines

Vince and Craig taking in another Cubs loss.

On Saturday six of us piled into two different vehicles and we drove four hours west to Des Moines, Iowa, to see the I-Cubs play the dreaded Memphis Redbirds.

Why?  Well, because some might argue that the bats in Des Moines are more potent than the ones featured in Wrigley.

3-4-5?  Yeah, that's a pretty solid heart of the order.

We actually saw two homers from Javier Baez, the second of which seemingly was shot out of a cannon.  Jorger Soler crushed one that knifed through a 20+ mph wind to dead center on Sunday.  I love me some offense as long as it is wearing Cubbie blue.

Unfortunately, we were witness to some less than stellar baseball on the whole being played by the home team, and the I-Cubs dropped both games of a doubleheader Saturday night and the early game on Sunday before our return trip.  Overall, the Redbids swept the I-Cubs in a five game series played over a three day span. 

The trip wasn't a total loss though.  Let's run through a few highlights...
1. My sister left two separate complimentary messages for truckers on their "How's my driving?" hotline.  That was a hoot.

2. My buddy, Vince, knows a guy and snagged us a pair of rooms in a pretty swank hotel for $39.99 each.  I wish I knew a guy.

3. I got to relieve my college days when we ordered a couple of large pizzas after the Saturday night doubleheader.  Mmmm... pizza after midnight!  If you're in the Des Moines area be sure to try Paul Revere's Pizza. Delish!

4. We took Craig frisbee-golfing Sunday morning for the first time.  I think he had a fun time!
Craig recovering a disc amongst the "rhubarb."
5. On Sunday we took part in the Family Deal, which includes, 4 tickets, 4 slices of pizza, 4 drinks, and 4 I-Cubs hats for only $48. Totally worth it!

6.  The best part, for me, happened when my sister found a suite ticket on the concourse.

"I dare you to go up there, Tom"

"Challenge accepted!"

 The employee at the elevator pressed the up button for me and smiled as though we were old friends.

I don't know why I pressed the Floor 2 button, because the ticket was for Suite 321.  Oops.  At least I didn't draw attention to myself.

When I reached the suite level on Floor 3 the ballpark representative was busy attending to a matter with some paying customers, so I just started meandering up and down the hallway until I found 321.

"Oops, wrong suite!"  Yep, that's what I said when I entered 321 and found it full with fans of the I-Cubs.  Bummer, I was hoping my sister found the ticket because the suite owners had left after game one of the doubleheader.

I did an about face and made off for the other end of the hall and passed an exhibit on how baseball bats are made.

The stadium was previously name Sec Taylor Stadium, and I found the little section on the suite level which paid tribute to him.

Mr. Taylor was previously a beloved sports editor for the local paper.

I passed some two foot tall, glass encased statues of past Cubs greats.  The one on the left could be Ernie Banks, bu the on eon the right looks nothing like Greg Maddux if you ask me.

I snapped a few shots of framed pictures of the bigger names who donned an Iowa Cubs uniform.
Give yourself a pat on the back if you know who #34 is!

Then I came across an empty suite.  The door was a ajar, the lights were dimmed, there were a few plates and napkins on tables leftover from the guests.  No one was there.  Their ticket stubs were there, a handful of programs were there, and some nachos were there.  But no one was there. Huh.
 I like nachos!  Yes, there were only blue tortilla chips left.  No matter.  Just in case you're wondering... There's nothing better than eating nachos in a suite you can't afford and watching a game from a vantage point you didn't pay for while looking down upon all the poor folk in the lower bowl. It was a like a little slice of heaven.

Then I realized, I missed my friends.  I scooped up the other tickets and made haste for the poor folk section.

On the way out I was able to get the nice elevator lady, the one who apparently had known me for years, to snap a picture of me and the I-Cubs mascot.


I returned to my friends and told a great tale about nachos and how the other half live.  I passed them the tickets from the suite and encouraged them to go take a look for themselves.   Unfortunately, from what I gathered, the employee who was detained when I arrived was not as busy this time around, and sent my friends back out to the cheap seats. 

I felt bad that my friends didn't get to have the same experience I did, but I was proud of myself for taking the plunge and being a little more mischievous than I normally am.

Overall, it was a good 36 hour mini vacation.  Great company, decent baseball, good food, and a couple of fun memories to boot.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Wham, Bam, Thank You GCRL Man!

Simple, quick, and very satisfying.  I really love the PWE trade.  Jim, from garvey cey russell lopes, recently posted his desire to complete the 2002 Topps T206 set.  I was in the middle of a long hibernation period of collecting at the time the T206 came about, but that didn't stop me from heading downstairs to the man room to look through my cards.  Really, the inner child in me doesn't need much of an excuse to look through my collection.

I luckily found ONE T206 and I shipped it off to gcrl.
This is not the first "business" card I've found in a trade package.  Maybe I should get on board?  Yes, I cut off the contact information on the bottom of the card because I didn't want to be responsible for gcrl getting spammed.

You know what's better than a PWE trade?  A blind PWE trade that has cards inside which I need!
Anthony Rizzo, what a great guy!  And it's my first A&G card from 2014!  I'm sure everyone else is on the verge of tiring from Allen & Ginter's, but I'm pretty stoked!  A Cub and an insert of one of my favorite players!

Okay, enough exclamation points... 
 Jim also sent me this Greg Maddux Upper Class insert, which is an insert from this year's Topps flagship product.  It's a nicely done insert and another fine addition to my collection.

Quick and easy.  Thanks for the cards, Jim!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Colossus: A Vintage Epilogue

It took five battles to defeat the Colossus:
  1. Set building additions
  2. Serial Numbered cards
  3. Player Collection additions
  4. Game Used Relics
  5. Autographs
The reward for taking down such a ferocious beast?  Vintage!  Glorious vintage!
Nearly three inches of top loader encased cardboard from 1978.  A complete team set!

 Good chunks of Cubs cards from from 1977 and 1976...

A healthy helping of cards from 1973 and 1972...

 1971, 1970, and some duplicates from 1969...

A sizable offering from 1968...

A sweet Randy Hundley rookie from 1967 and eleven cards from 1966...

 Some cards that were redone with recent editions of Topps Heritage: 1965 & 1964...

Half a dozen cards from 1963, a Moe Drabowsky from 1960, and three from 1959...

A 1955 Bill Tremel and a 1954 Ben Scheffing...

And then it got crazy.  A pair from the 1952 Bowman set.  Just beautiful!

Here are the two recent additions with the three I already had in my collection. 

And last, but certainly not least, I give you the oldest card in my collection:
 A 1951 Bowman card of Hal Jeffcoat!

What an unbelievable haul!  Vintage with actual creases, stains, tears, soft corners...  so great!  In my estimation, that's the way vintage should be!  Loved!

I big THANK YOU to Wes, from Jaybarkerfan's Junk, for sending such a tremendous package of cards my way.  My man room was seemingly in disrepair for the better part of a month as I sorted and collated my way through the boxes.  Many of the cards found their way into binders, some remained in their top loaders, but all of them are now part of a very happy blogger's collection.  Thanks, Wes!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shut the Front Door!

It's time for a little show in tell.   When I went to Texas at the end of last month to visit my buddy Jeff had a wrapped present sitting on the guest bedroom nightstand waiting for me.

Just by the size and shape of it I had a feeling it was cardboard.

Boy, was I ever right!
Last season the Cubs gave away 81 retro-style baseball cards in four installments.  I have two of them and had pretty much given up hope on tracking down the other two sets.  Here's all four sets in one package and it comes with a foil "Season Ticket Holder" stamp on each one!  Nice!

Did I mention that Jeff is a Chicago Cubs season ticket holder?  Yeah, I know people in high places.  Hehe.
Thanks, Jeff!  You are the man!

One more gift showed up in my mailbox a week ago today. 
 At first I was confuzzled because I didn't order anything from Shutterfly.  But once I cracked into it I was pretty pumped!
Shut the front door!  It's four magnets commemorating Jim, Jane and I's trip to spring training this past March.
 Naturally, the Cubs were already losing when this picture of the scoreboard was taken.  All three of us took this shot with our cameras.  That doesn't help narrow down who's responsible at all.

Shoes!  Shoes which are connected to butts which are seated in the front row of the first night game at the new Cubs Park.  The shoes on the left are Jane's and the pair on the right are my big boats.
So, maybe Jane is the Shutterfly culprit?  You would think so, but we traded and shared a bunch of pictures when we returned from our trip.

Either Jim or Jane could have snuck up from behind and snapped this one.  In this shot I'm leaning on the exterior wall of a dugout watching the soon-to-be Daytona Cubs get a work out in.  Somewhere our there is ROCK SHOULDERS and Dan Vogelmonster on the practice field.  Two of my faves!

Me (left), Jim (right), and Theo!  A Theo sandwich! 
No one has claimed responsibility for the brilliance and generosity of the Shutterfly magnets to date. But obviously Jane took this photo.  Right?    

We'll see if someone steps forward in the next couple of weeks.  Thanks for the awesome gifts, everyone!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Colossus: Battle #5, The Autos

The Colossus was definitely weakening and its moves were becoming more and more labored as our war waged on.

Now, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The Colossus only had so much strength left and it was using that strength to prolong the inevitable.

Autographs of long forgotten prospect of Russ Rohlicek and John Webb may have done some serious damage earlier in our battles, but I was prepared for them.
 After all, what else could the beast have in store for me after serial numbered cards, player collection additions, and game used relics?

More autos of fallen prospects?
Chris Robinson and Sean Gallagher.  Ha!  I laughed in the face of Colossus!

Then it happened, I became too cocky and the Colossus too advantage and drew blood.  I was a Corey Patterson super collector back in the day and a certified auto of his would have have set me back big bucks at the time.  This was salt in the wound. How dare the monster bring up my previous failed attempts at prospecting!
 I gathered my wits about me, channeled my anger and adrenaline, dodged his Jonathan Johnson auto, and went for the jugular.

And then it fell.  A loud resounding thud echoed threw the surrounding valleys and then all was quiet except for the last couple of breaths of the Colossus.

A Kyuji Fujikawa Topps Chrome autograph, which heads straight to my player collection, and...

A cut signature of Hall-of-Famer Billy Herman hand numbered to thirty-five.
My first cut signature and beauty at that.  With that, the Colossus was no more.

My prize?  The tiresome battle certainly was for not, as the prize was simply too glorious for words!

Stay tuned for the unveiling...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Book Review: Mint Condition

Title: Mint Condition
Author: Dave Jamieson
Genre: History 
Ease of Reading: Two hundred forty-pages of text written for young and old card collectors alike. The author did a good job of breaking down the history of baseball cards in chapters, which kept the pace moving.
Synapse: The book does a wonderful job of sending the message of baseball cards were introduced as a gimmick to sell cigarettes and other products, but then became an item which could sell itself.  Along the way Jamieson unveils who the first big time card collectors in the hobby were.  The latter half of the book gets deep into licensing issues, the players' union, the junk wax era, slabbing cards, and doctoring cards. 
Comments: The history lesson Jamieson gives from the first half of the 1900s was very interesting and well written with a great amount of detail. I liked how Jamieson was more detailed with the early days of card collecting and didn't spend nearly as many pages on the hobby from the 90s to present.  I've lived those years and know the hobby pretty well.
Grade: I am baseball junkie.  I loved playing the game and I love watching it, talking about it, reading about it, and collecting cards.  Combine a couple of those things together and I'm a happy fanatic.  I'm always up for learning something new and this book delivered on that front a few times over.  I can easily identify myself within this book: a collector, not someone looking to make a buck.  Because Jamieson seems to favor the collector within his writing, at least that's how I'm interpreting his body of work, I'm giving this book a slightly biased grade of an 'A-'.  Why not an 'A' or 'A+'?  Well, because Jamieson somehow omits the blogopshere.  If he only knew what he's missing.  Even so, I think most of the participants in the baseball card blogosphere would find this book a fun read.

Side note: I would like to thank Paul, from Wrigley Wax, for sending me his extra copy.  No worries Paul, I'll pay it forward!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Colossus: Battle #4, Relics

Hits!  The Colossus had yet to unload the big guns and at close range it started lashing out at me with hit after hit.

The first one that struck me hard and knocked me on my arse.  It was a beautiful right cross in the form of a Billy Williams manufactured logo card from Upper Deck... you know, back when they had a license.
It's a great shot of Billy hangin' out by the cage and it easily one of the thickest cards in my collection.

Next, a left upper cut connected and the result was a pair of blue eyes.  Not black, blue as in the Cubby-blue uniform tops.

I could hardly see straight and the monster was delivering body blows at a fierce rate.  Hit after hit after hit.
Mark Grudzielanek was one of my favorite players when he came up with the Expos and I was beaming with joy when he donned a Cubs' jersey later in his career. So Shiny!

The Jacque Jones and Jason Kendall cards picture the players with their previous teams, but mention the Cubs as their new teams.  Anyone else find it odd that the away jersey piece is paired with Jones in a home uniform and the home jersey piece is pair with Jones in an away uniform?  The trend continues with Kendall's card, and the next...
 Brett Jackson, the owner of a 40-man roster spot, and the most forgotten of the #1 draft picks who is still playing within the Cubs' system.  (Apologies to Josh Vitters.)

 More madness!  Gray away swatches and players in the home pinstripes! 
 You see, the Colossus wasn't interested in only bashing my body but it wanted to warp my mind!  Would the madness ever cease?

 Ahhh... much better.  A couple of player poses paired with the perfect pinstripes.  With this moment of sanity I was able to rebuke the Colossus' advances and we were back on even ground.

Then it emptied its bag of hits and tried once again to best me with mismatched jerseys and swatches.
 Little did the Colossus know that it just fed my ever-growing Kerry Wood collection.  It was playing to my strengths!   

I once again had my feet under me and I was ready to put the beast down...  but it wouldn't go without a fight!

To be continued...