Sunday, October 29, 2017

My 2017 Season Recap

I know. I know. The baseball season is not over yet. We're in the middle of the World Series and I'm hoping for three more contests, as we're tied at 2 games apiece. Go Astros! Go Dodgers!  I don't really have a horse in the race so I'm rooting for good baseball!

Since I won't be attending anymore games this year, then I might as well do my recap as I have done in the past. (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013)

This was definitely a down year for me attending professional baseball games.
In total, I made it to six Chiefs games in Peoria, one Iowa Cubs game, and Game 4 of the NLCS. I suppose if I was to make it to only one MLB game, then I chose a good one for a Cubs fan.
If my records are correct, this is the first summer since I graduated from college (2000) in which I did not attend at least ten ball games. I plan to fix that next summer... Maybe I'll knock off a couple of my remaining MLB stadiums or perhaps I'll do a tour of the Midwest League?
Until then, I have a nice picture of everyone who attended the game at Wrigley with me: my wife, my sister, and a friend who shall remain anonymous.  Good times!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Something To Hope For

It was about a year ago that my team, the Chicago Cubs, was playing in the World Series. That, my friends, was a great time for this humble blogger. I've been a Cub fan for as long as I can remember and since that time I had been hoping for just one championship.

It came in 2017. 

I can still picture Kris Bryant's foot slipping as he released the potential last out of Game 7 toward Anthony Rizzo. I remember thinking, "Oh, crap! He just over threw first base!"  History and years upon years of badly played baseball taught me to expect and fear the worst from my team.

When Rizzo pocketed the baseball I started my own mini celebration in the living room with my cat, Gus, who has since passed. I was so happy being in that moment.

I felt a void shortly thereafter. And although it has lessened to a degree, it's still with me a year later.

Recently our high school administration had the faculty watch Lou Holtz' commencement speech for Franciscan University's 2015 graduating ceremony. If you've never listened to his speech I would suggest taking the time. This speech helped diagnose what was causing my void.
In the speech he mentions there are four things a person needs in their life otherwise they will feel a "tremendous void":
  1. Everyone needs something do.
  2. Everyone needs someone to love.
  3. Everyone needs someone to believe in.
  4. Everyone needs something to hope for. 
I wouldn't say my void is tremendous, but losing my best four legged friend and the Cubs winning a much sought after World Series hurt two of the four categories above. I know, I know...  I have a great job, a loving wife, a terrific family, wonderful friends (including this cardboard community), and a solid belief system. The first three numbered items are pretty stout and I have it far better than many in this world. 

But, long ago I promised I would be happy if the Cubs would win just one during my time on this earth. And I believed it to my core, I only needed for them to come through just once. "No need to get greedy," I told myself.  My something to hope for, something which I had clung tightly to since I was in primary school, was achieved last November. It was great, it really was, but it has left me wondering, "Now what?"

I went through the 2017 season being a "casual" fan, because I thought I only needed one. But if anything has caused my bit of emptiness I feel to persist... well, it's been my newly adopted laissez-faire attitude I have tried to employ toward baseball and the Chicago Cubs. ... Incidentally, those closest to me know baseball is part of what makes me tick. I'm still not sure what made me think I could relax my passion and excitement for the game. 

I was much happier and content during the build up and anticipation of potentially winning a World Series than I have been after the fact. So, I'm going to attempt to fill this void by hoping for another championship. I'm going back to what made me happy before the the 2016 post season... I'll start reading my favorite Cubs blogs again and I'll listen to and watch more of the games next season. I suppose re-immersion in baseball is the best way to describe my rehabilitation. 

Not so coincidentally, I'm abandoning Eamus Catuli! and returning the blog's name to Waiting 'til Next Year...  It never felt right. Waiting 'til next year gives me something to something to look forward to. Something to invest my time in. Something to dream on. Something to hope for. 

Perhaps this re-immersion will also push me to get back into cardboard a little more. I used to average around 175 posts a year, but I've barely cleared the century mark since the Cubs won the World Series. Maybe not. We'll have to see. 

Sometimes putting thoughts on a page is the first step. Thanks for reading mine. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hope We Don't See the Brooms

Last Friday I received an e-mail from the Cubs stating I had won a ten minute time slot on Saturday morning for the chance to purchase four tickets to the upcoming NLCS. I logged on and looked at seats for Game #4. I picked the cheapest, which is still more than I've ever paid to see a baseball game, and now I'm left hoping for the best.

Yes, the Dodgers have a 3-0 lead in the series. Deservedly so. The Cubs have not played good baseball. Still, I'm hoping for just one win tonight. My wife, my sister, a terrific friend, and myself have all rearranged our schedules to make this trip to Wrigley possible. It sure would be nice to sing "Go Cubs, Go" at the top of our lungs later this evening.

I'm actually okay if with the idea of the Dodgers advancing. The Cubs won it all last year, which is something I was starting to doubt that I would ever see. I wanted one World Series Championship, and I got one. I'm pretty happy.

But, one more win tonight would be great. And who knows what one win could lead to?  Baseball, after all, is a crazy game.

Oh, and before I hop into a car to drive north for three hours I'd like to give a shout out to Matt from Bob Walk The Plank. He graciously dropped some knowledge on me when I tried to ship beer for the first time and then he sent a wonderful surprise the other day.
 Matt, my mailbox always has room for cards you need to get off your desk.
Especially if it's a card of The VOGELMONSTER!  BOOM!

Autographed acetate... how sweet is that?  Thanks, Matt!  (FWIW, I sent a few cards your way Monday evening. Heads up!)

Thanks for reading and Go Cubs!

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Pack of Bowman Platinum

So, I've been tracking down one copy of every Dan Vogelbach card made in 2017 and oddly enough he's in about every product but Bowman Platinum. Why is that odd?  Well, because I think Bowman Platinum is my favorite looking set of the year.  I guess it's ironic is nothing else.

 So, let's take a look at how the cards fell from this pack... you know, besides being shiny and just plain gorgeous!
 Two aging veteran outfielders... Ichiro seems to be a favorite of many collectors and I actually just found out there's a guy in my subdivision who collect Joey Bats. Crazy small world we live in.
 These two are a pair of former teammates. I'm guessing Evan Longoria would go down as the historical face of the franchise if you had to choose one for Tampa Bay. No way Wil Myers is ever doing that in San Diego. #TonyGwynn
 These two were both players from the great state of Texas, but then Darvish had to get traded and ruin that. Now he's a Dodger and will face the Cubs sometime in the next week. Ugh.  Altuve... man what a great hitter! I pass on my Altuve cards on most occasions, but this one sticks with me for a change. What a beautiful card!
 These two guys look to be wearing the same uniform, but alas, they are not. I've never heard of Jahmai Jones, but I know Washington is pretty high on Victor Robles. I'm pretty happy with the Robles pull.
 Two young pitchers who I'm not terribly excited about. I like prospects, but neither of these guys put up numbers in the minors that show them making the leap and contributing any time soon.

On to the two "special" cards from the middle of the pack. Isn't Clint Frazier the guy the Yankees called up only to see him break a bone in his MLB debut? I do the like the blue parallel, but this card is not long for my collection.
Boom! My first Aaron Judge card. I checked Ebay and once you account for shipping it appears to be a $4 or $5 card. So, I guess I have to go to work on Monday. Bummer.   Either way, it's nice to finally have a Judge rookie card in my collection.

That was a fun rip and I really do enjoy looking at these cards. So shiny!  Thanks for stopping by and reading!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Trade with A.C.B.

Let's take a break from my Topps Fire set build and do a trade post.

The business card adds a level of professionalism to this package of cards don't you think?
Julie, from A Cracked Bat, sent a good sized package full of Cubs mojo out of the blue. Julie is my resident Tigers girl. If I pull a Tiger, which isn't fairly often as of late, then it's heading her way.

I love this little community of ours.
 Notes, spontaneity, and painters tape. Simply wonderful!

On to the cardboard!

 Alex Arias is a former Peoria Chief from my middle school days, which guaranteed this card some blog time.
I don't know how many copies of this 1989 Topps Jody Davis card has passed through my hands, but I do know this is my first one with "Rediscover Topps" stamped into it.

 I'd like to see Ian Happ get a playoff start at some point. If Zobrist doesn't ever get it going or Baez needs to clear his head for a day, then I hope Joe Maddon looks Ian's way. The rookie may provide just what the Cubs need.
 Carl Edwards, Jr. is a guy who the Cubs need to get right if they're going to defeat the Dodgers. I'm heading to Chicago for the Cubs Convention in January and this one will travel with me.  Perfect for an autograph!
 I often don't run across many cards of Kiki Cuyler, but when I do they find their way into a binder! I love that this Fall Classic set only shows post season statistics. Pretty neat!

 I would love a full set of sketches. How sought after would a set like that be? This Jake Arrieta card is really well done.

 Man, I miss this guy.
 Matt Szczur now plays with Luis Torrens in San Diego, which is probably the silver lining after being traded out west. Both of these are new to my Szczur collection. What a unique looking autograph he has... I guess that's what happens when you have two non-consecutive Zs in your last name.

 Julie did a wonderful job helping me catch up on 2017 product. I've been too committed to chasing all the different Vogelmonsters to really pounce on any Cubs lots on Ebay.
Here we have the Class 1 and Class 2 Gold Label cards of Kyle Schwarber. Boy, it would be nice if Schwarber's bat got hot starting tonight. But, that begs the question... "Why is he in the lineup against Clayton Kershaw?"  That's sounds like a recipe for a Golden Sombrero. No?
 Gypsy Queen is typically not one of my favorites, but I actually like this year's design more than previous editions.
Ohhhhh.... Bowman Platinum! These five cards actually prompted me to go out and purchase my first pack of the product the other day, but we'll wait to show that off in the future.

Topps Tribute?  Yes, please!
 Another Gold Label card and pink parallel of Jake Arrieta.  Topps Chrome is a fun product to rip.
 Truly, a great assortment of cards sent by Julie!  There was more to package, but I think there are only so many Cubs cards a guy can show in one post before he starts losing readers.  So, I think I'll stop here.

Thanks Julie for all the great Cubs-centric cardboard. I've found some Tigers for you so be sure to keep an eye out on your mailbox this week!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Want List: 2017 Topps Fire

I wanted to watch some baseball today, but Mother Nature and TBS had other ideas.
So instead let's throw out a list of needs for the base set of 2017 Topps Fire.

I have a stack of about 80 repeats, highlighted by three cards each of Gary Carter, Adam Jones, Sandy Koufax and Albert Pujols. My collation wasn't great. In all, I have about 230 base cards and I was hoping to complete the full 200-card set, but with 80 repeats I guess that leaves me needing about 50 cards, give or take. It is what it is. I thought about getting another box, but with my luck I would have added to the Carter, Jones, Koufax and Pujols piles.

Here's what I still need:
1 Kris Bryant - Chicago Cubs
3 Matt Olson - Oakland Athletics RC - Sport Card Collectors
5 Evan Longoria - Tampa Bay Rays - Judson M.
6 Freddie Freeman - Atlanta Braves
10 Chris Sale - Boston Red Sox
16 Paul Konerko - Chicago White Sox - Night Owl
27 Jon Lester - Chicago Cubs - Sport Card Collectors
32 Michael Fulmer - Detroit Tigers - Sport Card Collectors
37 Eric Hosmer - Kansas City Royals
39 Paul Goldschmidt - Arizona Diamondbacks
40 Rob Zastryzny - Chicago Cubs RC - Dime Box Nick
41 Joe Musgrove - Houston Astros RC - Dime Box Nick
45 Pedro Martinez - Boston Red Sox
50 Mike Trout - Los Angeles Angels
53 Johnny Damon - Boston Red Sox - Sport Card Collectors 
57 Warren Spahn - Boston Braves - gcrl
61 Mookie Betts - Boston Red Sox
64 Steven Wright - Boston Red Sox
74 Fergie Jenkins - Chicago Cubs - Night Owl
80 Raimel Tapia - Colorado Rockies RC - Sport Card Collectors
83 Ken Griffey Jr. - Seattle Mariners - Ebay lot with VOGELMONSTER
90 Dellin Betances - New York Yankees
92 Edwin Encarnacion - Cleveland Indians
95 Jose Canseco - Oakland Athletics - Sport Card Collectors
98 Maikel Franco - Philadelphia Phillies - Dime Box Nick
99 Adrian Beltre - Texas Rangers - Night Owl
102 Yoenis Cespedes - New York Mets - Judson M.
103 Addison Russell - Chicago Cubs - Night Owl
105 Renato Nunez - Oakland Athletics RC - Sport Card Collectors
106 Yulieski Gurriel - Houston Astros RC - Night Owl
111 Tyler Glasnow - Pittsburgh Pirates RC - Sport Card Collectors
112 Didi Gregorius - New York Yankees - Judson M.
114 Ryne Sandberg - Chicago Cubs
117 Aaron Sanchez - Toronto Blue Jays - Night Owl
120 Clayton Kershaw - Los Angeles Dodgers
126 Alex Bregman - Houston Astros RC - Night Owl
133 Carl Yastrzemski - Boston Red Sox - Sport Card Collectors
142 Gavin Cecchini - New York Mets RC - gcrl
144 Hunter Dozier - Kansas City Royals RC - Night Owl
151 Gregory Polanco - Pittsburgh Pirates - Sport Card Collectors
154 Luke Weaver - St. Louis Cardinals RC - Dime Box Nick
156 Dave Winfield - New York Yankees - blaster
162 Dansby Swanson - Atlanta Braves RC - Sport Card Collectors
168 Giancarlo Stanton - Miami Marlins
175 Nolan Arenado - Colorado Rockies
177 Carson Fulmer - Chicago White Sox RC - gcrl
178 Jose Abreu - Chicago White Sox
180 Nolan Ryan - Houston Astros - gcrl
181 David Price - Boston Red Sox - J. Meeks
182 Reggie Jackson - New York Yankees - Sport Card Collectors
189 Luis Severino - New York Yankees - gcrl
199 Rougned Odor - Texas Rangers

Ouch... looking at that list I can't help but notice some of the bigger names like Bryant, Trout, Griffey and Nolan Ryan. I guess I'm lucky that I pulled a Judge and a Bellinger. Although I wasn't lucky enough to pull any duplicates of either.

If you've busted any of this product and you're willing to trade, please let me know. I think I'm going to wait on posting a list of my duplicates and inserts at this point, as I would like to use them as trade fodder to complete my base set before offering them to blogs. If you're working on a set yourself, please let me know what you need. I would love to help you out!

Oh, and no worries, I've got a few dupes and inserts set aside for those of you who have had made any prior comments.

This is a blog about baseball cards, so . . .
I'm on the hunt for all Fire parallels of The VOGELMONSTER. Currently I have the purple parallel, pictured above, in my sights. I love the chase!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Update: 2017 Topps Fire

Well, I've busted all the packs I picked up on my first run to Target. Since then, I went back and was saddened to see they had sold out of Topps Fire in less than thirty hours time.
 This morning I made the trek across the river and picked up the last four hanger Fat Packs from the other Target in the area. Now the only two retail locations in a thirty mile radius are both sold out. I wish I knew who bought all the blasters and boxes... would sure like to meet up an help each other build a set.
I'm still working on sorting the cards. I've actually had quite a bit of fun trying to figure out what I have. Some are shiny cards which I think are parallels and aren't numbered while others are

I absolutely love the checklist. I haven't taken the time to dissect it online, but I think there may be upwards of 40 or 50 retired players in the set. Some have big names like Aaron, Ruth and Gehrig, but others are players like Omar Vizquel and Aaron Boone.
Check out the top left card in the picture above. Naturally, I'd prefer to see Andre Dawson in a Cub uniform, but I think the Expos colors with the design is just tremendous.

How about some parallels before we move on to the insert sets?
 This Benintendi is the orange parallel numbered to /299. All the parallels have a shiny finish to them. They're not chrome, but they do glisten beautifully in the sun light. This card is one of my better pulls from two blasters, one retail box, and four Fat Packs. Sorry, folks... it's already up on Ebay. I need some cash to chase all The VOGELMONSTER parallels and autos!
 More numbered parallels. The DeGrom, numbered to 199, is the green and will be headed to Zippy Zappy for one of his friends. The Altuve is purple and numbered to 99. I may keep this one, it looks fantastic in hand. A.J. Pollock hot break! The one on the left is the lone magenta I pulled and it's numbered to /25. The card on the right is one of the Gold Minted parallels. You get four to every blaster and Pollock is the best name I pulled from my eight cards. Sigh.

Un-numbered parallels?  They are shiny and look like parallels, but they aren't numbered. I'm guessing these are the "Fire" parallels mentioned on Cardboard Connection.
 The Yaz is another beautiful card in hand. The Stanton is nice and shiny, but it's no where near as eye catching as the Yastrzemski.

The Blue Chip parallel cards fall one to every Fat Pack. "Blue chippers" are prospects, so I thought they were going to be limited to the rookies, as I pulled a Jacoby Jones rookie card in my first pack. Um, no. Babe Ruth is retired and Miguel Cabrera would have been worthy of the blue chip moniker about fifteen years ago.

Speaking of monikers, let's see some inserts!
 These cards are crazy. It looks like some expert graffiti artist got a hold of them. I do like the placement of the player's name at the top.

I'm guessing there are parallels of all the inserts, too.
The Millville Meteor gets the gold minted treatment and Big Papi is done up like the blue chip parallels. In my opinion, I think the parallels are unnecessary here... plus, all the color on the base insert really makes the card.

Walk Offs is another insert, but this one I have mixed emotions about. Topps Now is very biased about which teams it chooses to make cards of when there is a walk off win.  Again, I haven't looked at the checklist, but I'm hoping it's not 75% big market teams.
I believe the Harper card is the base and below we have the parallels.
 Dozier and Naquin are nice pulls for a guy who likes to root for the smaller market teams. I love that Tyler Naquin got a card for his inside-the-park walk off homer. Great selection, Topps!
Man, those Nationals are going to be difficult for the Cubs to dispose of. These are the Flame Throwers inserts and I realized the parallel of Scherzer is more rare and probably more valuable, but it pales in comparison to the aesthetics of the Strasburg card. If the name of the insert set is Flame Throwers, then why mute the colors of the flames with a parallel?

Golden Grabs... the base insert cards are sweeeeet! Each one has those green swooshes around the player and they are quite visually appealing.
 I don't mind the gold parallel as much when the name of the insert set references gold.
I pulled a Rizzo, which shows him in the middle of one of his famous tarp catches...  I am bummed it is the blue chip-esque parallel. Again, I much rather would have had the base insert here. Regardless, outside of a lone Vogelbach base card, this was my best pull for my collection.
Fired Up is the smallest insert set at just ten cards, and I think they must be the most difficult to pull. Honestly, I think they are also the best looking cards.  My camera doesn't do the card justice, as it appears much darker than it actually is. From what I can tell, these are the only cards which have two player pictures on the front, and design is toned down a bit.

And now the hits!  Neither of my blaster had anyhits, which I thought would be the case, but I held out hope until the last pack. I did get two autos from my retail box, which was a surprise because you're only guaranteed one. I was certain I was going to get a relic of Henry Owens or something.
 Again, the relic and auto checklists overall are pretty stout in my opinion. Matt Olson, especially after the September he had, is a nice pull. It's numbered out of 500 and is a sticker auto. Actually, I think all of the autos are sticker autos. It is what it is.
Roberto Osuna is not the first guy I would have chosen for my second hit in the box, but is another autograph! This is the magenta auto parallel and it is numbered to /25.

I placed both the autos up on Ebay already... hopefully they'll earn me enough so I can purchase a few Vogelbachs. Vogelbach doesn't have the name recognition that either of these players have (yet), so maybe I can turn Matt Olsno and Roberto Osuna into three or four Vogelbach autos? A guy can dream!

I'm headed to the suburbs later today and hopefully I can sneak off and check another Target's stock for Topps Fire. I'd like to snag another blaster or two. I haven't sorted my base cards yet, but I know I'm probably short fifty cards or so... too many duplicates during my break. SMH.

A want list and trade bait post will be coming soon. Stay tuned!