Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Roadtripping to Des Moines

Sometimes the best vacations are the ones you put the least amount of thought and planning into. Laura and I headed out Saturday morning for a couples weekend in Des Moines, Iowa.  Our first stop was in the western part of Illinois to an Amish farm, which sells patio furniture. Laura must have sat down in every chair possible while I hid out in the shade and took pictures of the ones she liked.
The furniture is made from recycled milk jugs and comes with a twenty year warranty. Plus, they can stay outside during all seasons of the year, which is kind of a big deal when the only storage space for patio furniture is in basement. Laura has settled on a glider and a chaise lounge, but I'm not sure what colors she is thinking about.

Once we got to Des Moines we checking into our hotel and then walked to dinner. I found a unique pizza place using a restaurant app on my Kindle Fire and it was a hit!

Fong's Pizza had previously been a Chinese restaurant, but some pizza minded individuals took over a few decades ago and they have been pumping out Asian themed pizzas ever since.

I tried the sweet and sour chicken pizza, because I'm a sucker for anything with pineapple on it. I guess their specialty is a crab rangoon pizza, but we didn't know that when we ordered. I suppose there's always next time!

After dinner we walked to the ballpark and I promptly bought tickets as close to first base as possible. Why? Well, because that's where Dan Vogelbach was playing, of course!

Laura had no idea when she planned this getaway weekend that the Iowa Cubs would be in town, let alone that the VOGELMONSTER was on the roster. That's okay, I made sure to let her know in short time.

By the way, in case you missed, the VOGELMONSTER was the PCL player of the week last week.

Oh, and I most recent Ebay find came the other day . . . it's a sweet camo parallel numbered to /15.
 The I-Cubs defeated the Albuquerque Isotopes in eleven innings on a walk-off bases loaded single by Juan Perez. Laura left after the seventh inning stretch, but I had my score card and bag of peanuts to keep me company. Did I mention the hotel we were staying at was about a five minute walk from the ballpark? Honestly, Laura says that she had no idea the I-Cubs were in town and she also claims it was serendipitous that the hotel location was a stone's throw from Principal Park. I'm not sure I believe her, but I love her all the same!

 The next day we hit the sculpture park in the center of downtown.
Afterwards we walked to Eatery A and indulged in brunch. I had chicken and waffles!
 The local art museum was our next stop and then we spent some time relaxing in a nearby park.
"Juan of the Dead" burger

For dinner we stopped in at Zombie Burger and once again indulged. I need to start running again!

The next morning we took a nice stroll around Gray's Lake, which was followed by a lap around the state capitol building.
 On the way out of town I took Laura's picture with the cows from the Anderson Erickson dairy plant. Laura loves their sour cream
Overall, I think this was my fourth trip to Des Moines, but my first one with my wife. It has a nice skyline, as seen below, and all the the little things that a big city should, like professional baseball, fantastic parks and unique restaurants. Yet, it still has that small town feel in places.
I hear it has a couple of nice card shops, but again, that's something that will have to wait until the next time I pass through Iowa's capital. In all, it was a great way to start the summer!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Food Edition!

The Cardboard Curmudgeon sent me a PWE late last week. I've been waiting for a nice time to open the envelope and finally found a good moment. Baseball cards are the perfect distraction when you're feeling down about a 3 to 2 loss in the bottom of the 12th inning during the state playoffs. It was a fun game to coach, but the ending was quite heart-breaking. I'm going to miss those seniors.

Back to the distraction . . .
Let's see what the owner of The Card Chop sent over!

I really like this card for a number of reasons. It measures 2" by 3.5", so it's unique in its size. There aren't many pictures of players base running, especially from this angle. Stirrups, looooove the stirrups! And lastly, that wristband is awesome.  See how it matches the waistband of his pants perfectly?  It's almost as though his wrist is missing  and there's a random hand patting his butt . . . eerie.
Stolen from Ebay because I was too lazy to get my camera phone out.

I bought the 1982 Cubs Red Lobster team set when I was in middle school.  I had to have the Ryne Sandberg card because it predated his 1983 Topps rookie card.

I may try to sneak this card into my Cubs FrankenSet.  Thanks for thinking of me, Steve!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

School's Out Box Break - 2015 Leaf Ultimate Draft

 Yes, today is my first official day of summer break. I still have many school related responsibilities filling up my agenda, but as with any summer I'm looking forward to the following:
  1. The ability to sleep in
  2. Turning into the "House Husband" super hero my wife adores
  3. Watching more baseball (TV & live) 
  4. Baseball cards and blogging
Today, I will accomplish all four on my list.
The cats allowed me to wake up naturally this morning, which is happening with more regularity as of late. The kittens are finally growing up. (Thank the heavens!)
 My wife returns this evening from visiting her sister's family in Denver. I'll spend the morning tidying up the house and taking care of the yard. My better half has a demanding career and I enjoy easing the responsibilities at home to make life a little easier on her. Happy wife, happy life.
I don't have cable or satellite, but I can pick up the Cubs/Cardinals game this afternoon with my little rabbit ears. How about that? This evening I get to coach my high school baseball team in the Regional Semi-final game.  It's always nice to still be coaching after the school year is officially over.  It's a sign that you had a good season!
Joe's still in high school!

I'm blogging and it's wonderful. My blogging has been forced and sporadic as of late. I'm typing with renewed enthusiasm this morning. It certainly doesn't hurt that I snagged a "high-end" box on sale from Dave and Adam's just for this occasion. If you know me at all, you know I love my prospects.
I've ordered the cards in this post from least interesting to most. The above card comes in as the third best in this box, and the first name that I recognize. I was hoping to pull an auto of the Cubs' 1st round selection from the 2015 draft, but alas, my attempts were foiled. Jorge Mateo is no Ian Happ, but he'll make Zippy Zappy happy.  So, he makes me happy!

If you're counting at home, then you'll realize this is the sixth card of seven from the box, and it's no slouch.
 Dansby Swanson was the overall #1 pick in last year's draft, and he's already been traded from the Diamondbacks to the Braves in the Shelby Miller deal. He is currently raking in AA. One of the guys on the high school team I coach has the nickname of "Dansby" because his "flow" is very Dansby-esque.
 Yeah, I know, it's tough to keep up with all the new lingo.

You may be wondering what could I pull out of a box that would trump last year's #1 pick?  How about arguably the best pitching prospect in the minors!

Did I mention it's numbered 9 of 10?  Sweet! Jose Urias is only 19, pitching in AAA, and sporting a WHIP of 0.780 as of this writing. He will be on a heavier workload this year, but it was just reported that Urias will only see a modest uptick in the number of innings he'll pitch this year to allow for the proper development of his arm. Surprisingly, Scott Boras, his agent, is on board with the Dodger's plan.

I plan on sitting on the Urias and Dansby cards until they make their MLB debuts and then putting them on Ebay when the iron is hot. Those funds will go to purchase the next big Cubs prospect and/or that elusive Ian Happ autographed card I've been stalking. 

Thanks for reading and happy summer to all!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Show and Tell

I guess I'm still shocked at all of the fuss the Cubs created by putting Bryce Harper on first base seven times, without a hit, in seven plate appearances on Sunday. Yes, I know it's an MLB record, but I also know it's not "scared baseball" as some would call it. Strategy is one of the many reasons I love the game, and I tend too look favorably upon nontraditional strategies . . . especially when they work! 

Not everyone is up in arms about pitching around Harper, but most of those who don't have a problem with it are Cubs fans.  Exhibit A:


More Twitter fun, but this time on a different subject . . .
Even retired, Dan Haren is a good Twitter follow who has a solid sense of humor.

Moving on . . . I made it to my second P-town Chiefs game of the season this past weekend and I was able to acquire two bobbleheads of The Bringer of Rain and I also got my picture taken with Homer, the Chiefs' mascot. Homer lost some weight in the off-season and I'm happy to now report that he now also wears pants.  He was loooooong overdue for a new look.
 My good buddy Jim and his wife moved into a new house and he claimed the one decently sized room in the basement as his own. I was able to watch a Cubs game in his new man room the other night. 

He claims there is more decorating to do, but I think it is already TOP notch. I'm uber-jealous of all the space!

Speaking of top notch . . . after reading one of Tony Burbs' blog posts about Gypsy Oak I decided to look the guy up on Ebay.  I found a Ryne Sandberg sketch card that I liked and put in a low bid, but I didn't win. The next day I had a second chance offer from the Gypsy Oak seller for my original bid.  I agreed to the purchase and I'm very glad I did.

I'm now up to 794 different Ryne Sandberg cards and one penny in the binder! Another milestone is right around the corner!

Lastly, I picked up this Dylan Cease autographed card (#'d/25) on Ebay the other day for $2.99 with FREE Shipping. Cease is a young up-and-comer in the lower levels of the Cubs system. He was drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 draft even though he just about to go under the knife for Tommy John surgery. He was a first round talent before the injury and the Cubs were willing to be patient with him during the rehab process.

Cease is healthy now and can throw SMOKE.  He's still very young, seems to be pretty athletic, and he possesses a very high ceiling. Everyone knows I love my prospects!

Well, that's enough show and tell for one day.   Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 9, 2016

How Many Times Have You Done The Same?

Man, I've done this more times than I'd like to admit.  The worst part of it is I usually spent the time to write the note and it's literally within arm's reach when I'm sealing things up. 

I saw a sweet purple GQ Anthony Rizzo on Stealing Home's blog, All Trade Bait, All The Time, and we ironed out a trade in no time flat.

 Hey, this box looks familiar to me!
 I bought a couple of pre-opened boxes of 1993 flair at an estate sale some time back and I've found that the "packs" work really well for sending cards in packages. The cards I sent out west were in this exact box. Apparently Oscar is all about recycling packaging materials like myself, so he sent it back my way. Save the planet! 

Here's the sweet Rizzo purple parallel from this year's rendition of Gypsy Queen.  Very nice, indeed!
A couple of cards for my Wrigley insert set build.
 A pair of favorites from my first run through the hobby.
 A pair of more recent Cubs in Jason Hammel and Brian Schlitter. Hammel is holding down the fourth spot in the rotation, but Schlitter and his flo are now pitching for the Rockies' organization.
 Horizontal Cubs! I loved those throw back uniforms Shawn Camp is sporting.
 Here's two of the better pitches in Cubs recent history. 
Last, but not least, a random Classic Best minor league card and an Ernie mini. I don't know if I've ever paired up an odder couple of cards.
Oscar, thanks for the trade and good luck to your Dodgers this year!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A PWE from MCH

Sometimes when I wake up in the morning and I settle in at the computer table with my breakfast I open up my e-mail and there's a message from a blogger waiting to be read. I love mornings like this, because they kind of give me that "let's race down the stairs to see what's under the Christmas tree" feeling.

Oh, oh!  What could be inside the present e-mail!?!

This particular e-mail was just a quick note from Judson, the proprietor of My Cardboard Habit, asking to confirm my address, because he had a card to send my way.  Nice!

Fast forward a week or so and a PWE from the great state of Texas found its way to my mailbox.
 I'm always up for a good note, so why not show it off? All is well AND I do need this card!

I haven't purchased any Gypsy Queen this year, but the Cubs cards are still managing to find me.  Isn't life grand?  This one is the green framed version of Addison Russell, numbered 33/99, and it is very slick looking in hand.

Judson, I don't know if there's any Matt Harrison cards under the sun that you don't already have in your collection, but I'll find something that will be of interest to you before too long.  Thanks again for thinking of me!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

All That Glitters

Is Gold!

 Gold foil, Gold Rush, gold Topps and a gold Bowman.  Gold!

Night Owl, a #SuperTrader, sent me some Cubs the other day and they were of the utmost quality.
Mr. Night Owl, these Cubs hologram sticker card thingies always brighten my day!  Thank you!
 Here are a couple of 'Grade A' first basemen. The O-Pee-Chee DLee is a card I haven't seen before. I'm almost to the point where I've decided to give Derrek some pages in one of my Cubs binders. Soooo close!
 James Russell was a pretty useful reliever during the recent dark years of Cubs baseball.  Here he is in liquorfractor form! Hector Rondon is pretty useful RIGHT NOW!
 Tow more new one for the collection!  I love the background of the Ernie card: shiny, pretty colors, and it features the names of many baseball legends.
The Sandberg is number 793 in my collection.  Eight hundred is within reach!

Thank you for the great cards, Mr. Night Owl.  They are truly appreciated!