Monday, September 30, 2019

Set Help (x2)

Whew. I'm getting close to clearing off all of the cardboard related packages which have made their way to the Waiting 'til Next Year mail room since the school year started. Only one more to go after today's post and that one came from north of the border about a month ago. All in due time!

First, a surprise PWE from Chicagoland via Tom R. The last time Tom and I swapped was nearly three years ago. This time he found a couple of 1991 Studio cards to help my junk wax cause.
Very nice! Thanks, Tom!

Today's second post was an agreed upon trade with Nick, from n j w v
 We're both working on junk wax sets and we swapped cards like we were two twelve-year-olds all over again.
How about that Candiotti and the knuckleball grip?  Most excellent!

Thanks for the set help, gentlemen!

FYI, I think I'm going to put together a Sportlots order and put a couple of these sets to bed. That'll be a good feeling!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Soothing the (Baseball) Pain

I was feeling pretty down at the beginning of the Cubs' collapse. There were the big, bold letters written on the wall, and I wasn't happy with what I was reading. This was about the time when the Reds swept the Cubs at Wrigley a couple weekends back. Team baseball leans so heavily on momentum, and the boys in blue didn't have it then and I didn't see it changing with Baez injured and the bullpen struggling.

I enjoy being right most of the time, but this was not one of those times. This has been a horrendous stretch of Cubs baseball that hasn't yet concluded, but it did enough damage to have locked my team of choice out of the playoffs.

So, to sooth the pain I decided to go shopping. I found a couple of autographed cards of two of my favorites for very reasonable prices.

I didn't feel immediately better when I added the cards to my Ebay cart and paid, but it sure was nice having both arrive in my mailbox earlier today.

It's no secret Zobrist, a local product, is one of my favorites. His Cubs autos are few and far between and they go for pretty penny.
This card of Zorilla is from the 2013 Topps Tribute set and features Ben in a USA uniform from the World Baseball Classic. 'Merica! Somehow that means I can get a Zobrist autograph on the cheap. That'll work!

And, Pat Hughes. He's like family to me.
I listen to more Cubs baseball on the radio than what I watch on TV (it's not even close) and Pat is that old familiar voice who entertains me so many times throughout the summer. I'm glad he finally got a baseball card and even happier to add this autographed card to my collection!
The write-up on the back of the card is pretty good, too. 

Baseball cards to sooth the soul. For those who really know me, this is not a shocking development.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope your team will be advancing to the post season!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

HOF Binder: Page 37

Some of the biggest names in cardboard from the last 30+ years are on this page. I think one of the reasons people love baseball so much is the history of the game. You have all of these numbers which helps one compare the greatness of Johnny Bench versus Pudge Rodriguez. I'm not sure which camp I belong in there, but I do know Pudge has way more cardboard offerings than Bench ever had.

Let's dive into this week's page and see which cards I chose to represent some of our more recent inductees into Cooperstown.

1990 Topps, #336 -- Ken Griffey, Jr.
Ken Griffey, Jr. is noted for having the sweetest swing of his generation. He was a tremendously gifted athlete and known for robbing sluggers of potential home runs. Griffey was elected to thirteen All-Star games, and he collected ten Gold Gloves and seven Silver Sluggers during his career. He won the AL MVP in 1995 when he helped carry Seattle to the post season for the first time in franchise history. The Kid finished his career with 630 homers, 2,781 hits and a 0.284 batting average. If he could have stayed healthy during the latter part of his career Griffey would have easily topped 3,000 hits and 700 round trippers.

1993 Donruss - Diamond Kings, #15 -- Mike Piazza
Mike Piazza might be known as the best slugging catcher of all-time. 396 of Piazza's career 427 home runs came as a catcher, which rank him #1 at the position. Piazza put together a six year stretch during the beginning of his career where he averaged 33 homers and 100+ RBI while batting 0.335. Those are some ridiculous numbers coming from any position player, let alone a backstop. Piazza, the 1993 Rookie of the Year, was a twelve-time All-Star and he earned ten Silver Slugger awards. He finished his career with 2,127 hits, a 0.308 batting average and an OPS of 0.922

1991 Donruss - The Rookies, #30 -- Jeff Bagwell
When I hear Jeff Bagwell's name the first thing that pops into my head is that weird crouch of a batting stance of his. It may have been different, but it provided results. Bagwell was the Rookie of the Year in 1991 and the MVP in 1994, when he had a slugging percentage of 0.750. He only played fifteen years, and if he would have stuck around a few more years his career home run total of 449 probably would have reached 500. Bagwell, part of the Killer B's in Houston, was twice a 30-30 performer and he finished his career with 202 steals and 0.297 batting average.

1982 Topps, #70 -- Tim Raines
Tim Raines, for my money, was an underrated ball player during his prime. There have been only a few ball players who could boast such numbers during their career and Rock Raines just happened to be playing north of the border when Rickey Henderson was starring in the Big Apple. Everyone talks about Rickey, but Raines, during his first seven seasons was as dynamic as any offensive player in the game. The switch hitter hit 0.310 with a 0.396 OBP and averaged 72 steals during that seven year stretch. Overall, he was a seven-time All-Star, a Silver Slugger recipient and he won the NL batting title in 1986. Raines finished his career with 2,605 hits, 170 homers and a 0.294 batting average.

1992 Topps, #78 -- Ivan Rodriguez
Ivan Rodriguez was a fourteen-time All-Star, an MVP in 1999, and he collected seven Silver Slugger awards. Pudge hit 311 homers and batted 0.296 for his career, but it was his defense that I remember best. He could block pitches, call a great game and handle a pitching staff . . . but that arm. Man, that arm. Rodriguez would send rockets down to any of the three bags, without warning, from his knees. In all, he threw out 46% of all would-be-base-stealers and he claimed thirteen Gold Gloves. He was truly a special talent.

1997 Topps, #5 -- Vladimir Guerrero
Vladimir Guerrero finished his career with 449 home runs and 0.318 batting average. Vlad was twice a 30-30 member, he won the AL MVP in 2004, he was elected to nine All-Star games and he was awarded eight Silver Slugger awards. Guerrero had a cannon for an arm in right field, but hitting was his calling card. He could hit anything thrown up to the plate from his nose to his toes. I always had a soft spot for Vlad the Impaler on my fantasy baseball rosters. Not only could the man rake, but he had an awesome nickname and seemed to be a fun loving dude.

My favorite card on the page this week is the 1997 Topps Vlad Guerrero. Sure, it's a posed shot, but it's so unique. Plus, a smiling Vlad for the win! Now, if I had an '89 UD Griffey, then that would surely be my favorite, but I've never broke down and bought one.

The '90 Topps Griffey and the '92 Topps Rodriguez both sport the Rookie Cup, which I'm partial to. Honestly, if I had nothing but Rookie Cup cards on any given page I think I would be okay with it.  The Donruss Bagwell serves as a nice nod to the many boxed sets from the '90s and I'm glad to finally add a Diamond King to the binder. Throw in a Tim Raines card where he's wearing the powder blue road Expos uniform and I think this page is truly a winner!

Thanks for stopping by this week!

Monday, September 23, 2019

I Won Something!

 Within the blogosphere I used to hold my fair share of contests and also enter contests whenever I could find them. It seems like Twitter is great place to get in on the contest game, but ever since my collection focus has narrowed so has my desire to participate in giveaways and the like. Anymore, I'm really picky about the contest I enter.

John, from Johnny's Trading Spot, held an easy contest for his blogaversary and I decided to toss my name into the fray. John and I have a really good trading history and I know he would send something that would make me smile. I'm embarrassed to say I'm just now getting to it., but he sent me this prize package during the second week of August. Busy is as busy does.

The package starts off with a bang!
 I wasn't collecting in 2000 and my Cubs boxes received a nice boost with the Home Team Authority and Limited Edition Employee Cubs team sets. Very cool!

Cubs stickers!
I know a certain elementary school student who will love the extra Jason Hammel sticker. He's going to go crazy!

Mark Prior has been coming up in conversation and cardboard pretty frequently for me as of late.
 So much promise in that arm!

Topps Big League is one of my favorites and I love the different subsets they have in the main set. I'm glad "Bricks & Ivy" made the cut.
 Dave & Adam's has a sale right now on 2019 Topps Big League for $23 a hobby box... I'm so very tempted to buy a couple boxes and build the set.

Talent Pipeline is a fun concept for an insert card, especially with MLB Pipeline being such a big thing. I'm holding my breath that one of the two pitching prospects can make a name for themselves.

1991 Panini Stickers! The Maddux is new to me as is the Sandberg in the top center.
That takes my Ryne Sandberg collection up to 933 unique cards and counting!

Here are my favorite two cards from the prize package.
 Dave Kingman and Bill Madlock are both underrepresented in my collection and these two oddballs, from the 1992 Ambassadors of Baseball World Tour, will fit beautifully in my binders.

Thanks for such an amazing prize package, John!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Ogle That Vogel: Regional Championship Edition

My junior high softball coaching season concluded today. We were one game away from going to the State Championships, but we were bested by a pretty talented team this afternoon in the Sectional. So it goes.
Regardless, the team went 20-5 overall and the girls brought home only the second Regional Title since I started coaching with the school fifteen years ago. It was a fun year with quite a few interesting characters. There were many more laughs today than tears and I'm thankful for that!

I'm still not sure how I manage coaching junior high girls in the fall and handle high school boys in the spring. Talk about being from two different planets!

To celebrate, how about a 1-of-1 Vogelbach autographed plate from 2017 Topps Chrome?
Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. Only three more printing plates to go. Ha!

The MLB season is coming to a close and I'll be getting ready for the playoffs. It doesn't look like my Cubs will be joining the excitement this year, but that won't stop me from showing off some truly wonderful cards of the Vogelmonster.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

HOF Binder: Page 36

Here. We. Go.  An entire page of guys we all remember from their playing days. And even better yet, two entire classes (with markers) fit perfectly within one 9-card page. Wonderful!
I think I'll try something a little different this week. I'll give you a brief rehash of the players' careers and throw a random stat at you as well. 

1997 Leaf, #40 -- Tom Glavine
 Tom Glavine will forever in my mind be remembered as the guy who was given four extra inches off the outside corner of the plate. And boy, would he ever pound that part of the strike zone! Glavine lead the league in wins five years and finished with a record of 305-203. His career ERA comes in at 3.54, and would look much better if you removed a couple of seasons at the beginning and end of his career. Glavine won two Cy Young awards, four Silver Sluggers and was elected to ten All-Star games. He won the World Series MVP in 1995 when the Braves captured the crown.
Did NOT Realize Stat: For as much as most people make of Glavine's control the numbers are kind of to the contrary. His career BB/9 mark is 3.6, which isn't bad, but not what I assumed. Also, his 5.9 K/9 mark is certainly atypical of most pitchers today. Perhaps not working deep into counts allowed him to top the 200+ inning mark fourteen times! To put that in perspective, only thirteen pitchers tallied 200+ innings in the 2018 season.

1989 Fleer, #431 -- Greg Maddux
 Greg Maddux was once a Peoria Chief, but unfortunately he played in Ptown before I started attending games. During his career he won four Cy Young awards, four ERA titles (twice under 1.70) and was elected to eight All-Star games. Maddux is tenth all-time in strikeouts and he finished with a career ERA of 3.16 and a win-loss record of 355-227 over twenty-three seasons. Oh yeah, I'd me remiss if I didn't mention the eighteen Gold Gloves.
Freaky Control Stat: During Maddux' most dominant stretch, 1992-1998, Maddux wasn't letting anyone take him deep or earn a free base. He averaged 237 innings pitched, 37 walks and only nine home runs allowed. Wow.

1990 Bowman, #320 -- Frank Thomas
 Frank Thomas was my introduction into prospecting. I missed the Ken Griffey, Jr. experience by this much, but it opened my eyes to the next big thing. At 6'5" and 240 pounds, he was rather big! Thomas was that perfect combination of average (0.301 AVG), power (521 HR), and patience (0.419 OBP). Thomas won two MVP awards, one batting title, four Silver Slugger awards and was elected to five All-Star games. The stat lines Thomas put up during the first eight years of his big league career were Gehrig-esque.
Eye Opening Stat: Thomas had 106 runs, 101 RBIs, and 109 walks, with 73 extra base hits and a 0.353 batting average in his second MVP season. That may not be as impressive as it sounds until one realizes this was the strike shortened 1994 season and he played in only 113 games.

1992 Upper Deck, #162 -- Craig Biggio
 Craig Biggio was my favorite of all the Killer B's in Houston. During his career he was an absolute menace. Biggio was in the lineup everyday, he could steal a base (5 seasons of more than 30) and he had extra base power (11 seasons with 50+). Biggio was a seven time All-Star, he won four Gold Gloves and was awarded five Silver Slugger awards. In all, he played twenty seasons, all with the Astros, and he finished his career with a 0.281 batting average and 291 homers.
Lesser Known & Painful Stat: Biggio lead the league in hit-by-pitches five times and is second all-time in the category, behind fellow Hall of Fame member Hughie Jennings.

1989 Topps, #647 -- Randy Johnson
 Randy Johnson may be my favorite pitcher ever. He was a thrower who figured it out and learned how to pitch. Throw in his genetic make-up and you have one heckuva Hall of Fame pitcher. The Big Unit won five Cy Youngs, the pitching Triple Crown, four ERA titles, was a World Series MVP with the Diamondbacks in 2001 and he was elected to ten All-Star games. Johnson finished his 22 year career with 303 wins and 166 losses, a 3.29 ERA, and he is second all-time in strikeouts with 4,875.
Aging Like a Fine Wine Stat: Johnson won four of his five Cy Young awards consecutively during his age 35-38 seasons. During that stretch he averaged 19 wins, 257 innings, 361 strikeouts and a 2.54 ERA. Zoinks!

1993 Fleer Ultra, #57 -- Pedro Martinez
 Pedro Martinez was about a foot shorter than Randy Johnson, but he was no less dynamic. Pedro won three Cy Youngs, a pitching Triple Crown, was elected to eight All-Star games, and won five ERA titles. During his career, he pitched for eighteen years and he boasts a career win-loss mark of 219-100, an ERA of 2.93. Martinez is also 13th on the all-time list of strikeouts with 3,154.
Winning Stat: Pedro has the third highest winning percentage (0.687) of any HOF pitcher behind Al Spalding (0.795) and Whitey Ford (0.690).

1990 Donruss, #121 -- John Smoltz
John Smoltz was more of a power pitcher than his craftier Braves counterparts. He lead the league in wins in 1996 and 2006, but was a closer for four seasons in between and recorded 154 saves during that span. Smoltz was an eight time All-Star and the winner of a Cy Young, Silver Slugger and Rolaids Reliefs award. He finished his career with a record 215-155 and 3.33 ERA.
Digging Deeper Fact: During his career, Smoltz was the winner of Roberto Clemente Award, the Lou Gehrig Award and the Branch Rickey Award.

Oh, this page makes me smile. Overall, there's just a bunch of great baseball talent I remember from my youth. How cool is it that Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz all made it onto the same page? I'm really glad that worked out the way it did.

Most of the cards are from early in the player's career, save the Glavine offering. Perhaps I'll go back into my trade box and see if I have any junk wax to fill the slot. Although, the Leaf card is shiny and I've always had a soft spot in my heart for shiny.

The Craig Biggio card is my favorite on this page for a number of reasons. First, it's a reminder of his versatility and how adept he was at three different positions up the middle. Second, what a unique picture! It reminds me of my catchers looking into the dugout when I'm calling pitches during a game. Very cool!
I'll give a hat tip to the Frank Thomas Bowman card. It just screams, "Welcome to spring!" Plus, it's difficult to bypass the Big Hurt's infectious smile.

That concludes this stellar page and there's only a few left.

Thanks for stopping buy!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Trade Post and Chasing 1981 Topps

Brett, a reader/commenter of the blog, reached out this summer when I offered up my cache of junk wax for the taking. I packaged some cardboard up for him and in return Brett sent me some set help.

We'll start things off with some 1991 Studio. Now I'm only missing a half dozen cards.
For the record, that is not how I remember Rob dibble.

I'm a little closer to my '88 and '91 Donruss set builds.
I'd rather not buy junk wax commons at 18 cents apiece on Sportlots, so if you have any please let me know!

Brett offered up some rare (at least in my collection) 1984 Donruss. There's a HOFer and a penguin in there!
I think '84 Donruss is my favorite design from that company. 

 Here's a food-issue and Opening Day insert of Krist Bryant. Both are new to my collection!

I'm tired of the muggy and hot conditions of September. Yes, muggy and hot in September. Ugh.
Dare I say it? Bring on the snow!

I wish there were more card sets which focused on retired players.
Lots of foil on that Santo!

Topps Archives Reserve gives vintage cards a chrome-like finish. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Here's vintage as it was meant to be!
Brett is a Mets fan and he must have had duplicates of these league leaders cards. Woo-Hoo! Fergie for the win!

Ah, and one more Hall of Fame Cubs pitcher to close out the post.
1981 Topps Bruce Sutter
I've nearly completed my 1979 Topps build and the next one I'll chase is the 1981 set. I have a couple of dozen card in my collection already which I've plucked from dime boxes over the years, but I have a long way to go on this one. If you know of anyone who would be willing to part with a starter set of 1981 Topps please let me know!

Thanks for the great trade, Brett. Sorry it took so long to get a post up!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Influencing a New Trading Partner

I always have a short list of wants/needs for other collectors I'm looking to buy for at shows and then of course there are my favorite trading partners whose collection interested are permanently melded to my mind. Finding cards for others is usually my #1 priority when I visit a card show.

For those of us who truly love the hobby I don't think there's anything better than sending someone a few cards knowing they will sincerely appreciate them.
When you get a thank you note and a card from a nine-year-old it's even better. The right hand page of the note said, "Thought the card was funny!" 

I think I'm influencing this young card collector.

I've made a couple of packages for Henry from my personal collection. Some of them are Cubs or Hall of Famers from my duplicate box, but most of them are unique shots of baseball players doing something silly. We all know the cards I'm talking about... Bip Roberts wearing a sombrero, Glen Hubbard with a snake or Keith Comstock taking one to groin... fun cards which show the lighter side of the game.
Henry's parents told me he's been carrying around the above Randy Johnson card I gave him.
It is a great card of a Hall of Fame pitcher. How cool is that?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

HOF Binder: Page 35

As a Cub fan, this is one of my favorite pages as Dawson and Santo both make appearances. There's also a couple of guys (Alomar and Larkin) who I can remember playing during the length of nearly their entire career. Good stuff overall, and it'll look much better once I take the time to track down the missing card in the lower-right corner.

1983 Fleer, #280 -- Andre Dawson
 Andre Dawson had some bum knees. There are stories out there about him icing after every game and how the turf in Olympic Stadium was going to ruin his career. At age 32 Dawson signed a very team friendly contract to play in Chicago in 1987 to get away from the turf, and that season he hit 49 homers and won the MVP award for a last place Cubs team. He won over the hearts of Cubs fans that summer. During his twenty-one year career he spent eleven season with the Expos and only six with Chicago, but he'll always be a Cub in my book! Dawson was a 20-20 guy five times with Montreal and finished his career with 438 round trippers, 304 stolen bases and 0.277 average. 

1988 Donruss, #34 -- Roberto Alomar
 Roberto Alomar was a special talent. He was a 0.300 switch-hitter who could take a walk (0.371 OBP), steal a base (474 SBs), and knock in runs (200+ HR and 500+ doubles). Alomar was elected to twelve All-Star games, he won ten Gold Gloves, and he was also a Silver Slugger four times. This '88 piece of Donruss junk wax is a bit dinged up, but it works for this project. Plus, I'm sure I get bonus points for the Rated Rookie logo!

1974 Topps, #98 -- Bert Blyleven
 I pulled a lot of Bert Blyleven cards during the late 1980s and I didn't really think much of it. He never seemed like Hall of Fame material in my eyes, but here he is on Page 35. Blyleven pitched for 22 years and accumulated 287 wins, he punched out more than 3,000 hitters, and he recorded an ERA of 3.31. Blyleven was an All-Star in 1973 and again in 1985, and he won two World Series titles during his career. What I find interesting about Blyleven's career is that he was drafted out of high school in 1969 and he was a fixture in Minnesota's rotation less than a year later. That doesn't happen anymore!

1992 Leaf, #73 -- Barry Larkin
 Barry Larkin was one of those shortstops who helped bridge the old school mindset of (all field, no hit) to the current do-it-all shortstop we have in today's game. Larkin was a career 0.295 hitter who cracked 198 homers during his nineteen year career and is a member of the 30-30 club. He had trouble staying healthy from time-to-time, but when he was at full strength he was capturing Silver Sluggers (9), Gold Gloves (3), and All-Star appearances (12).

1964 Topps, #375 -- Ron Santo
Ron Santo's posthumous election to the Hall of Fame in 2012 was bittersweet for many Cubs fans. Santo retired a handful of years before I was born, so I never got to see him play. Yet, I knew a good deal about Santo from reading about the 1969 Cubs, watching This Old Cub and listening to Cubs broadcasts. The man wore his heart on his sleeve during radio broadcasts, which as a fan I truly loved. Santo was the best third baseman during the decade of the 60's in the NL. During his career he was a nine time All-Star, he won five Gold Gloves and he slugged 342 homers while batting 0.277.

No Card -- Deacon White
I think the HOF plaque sums up his career quite nicely, but I would like to add that Deacon White didn't play more than 100 games in a season until his 13th season. During his first two years in Major League Baseball he played in only 49 games total, which was EVERY game Cleveland played. He finished his career with 2,067 hits, but if he played a 162 game schedule for 20 years his career spanned, then he would have racked up 4,000+ hits. I understand that is a big "what if," but I think it should be noted White was an exceptional hitter.

I'm not sure why I didn't start doing this earlier on, but substituting a picture of the player's plaque when I don't have a card should have been a no-brainer. Sometimes I'm a little slow I guess. For what it's worth, Deacon White has a card in the 2012 Goodwin Champions set, which I'll certainly pick up next time I make a order.

My favorite card from this batch: the 1983 Andre Dawson is fantastic. The '83 design is a little bland, but Andre is rockin' the Expos hat and that smile is contagious. Great photograph for a great man!

Thanks for stopping by!