Saturday, September 11, 2021

Expansion?

 Expansion in the sports world has always caught my attention. When I was first introduced to baseball there were twenty-six teams in MLB. The Rockies and Marlins were added 1993 and the whole process was just so fascinating to me. I read everything I could about the player draft, mascot selection, uniforms, team colors, and anything else that I could find in print. None of the luster wore off when the Diamondbacks and Devil Rays were added five years later. 

There have been rumblings about expansion the last couple of years in MLB. I for one would love to see four divisions of four teams each in the AL & NL. Add in a two wild card teams in each league and give the top two teams first round byes and I'd be elated. I Nashville and Las Vegas would make good additions. No?

I'm thinking about expanding also. Recently I was sent a pair of PWEs from Jeff, the author of Wax Pack Wonders, which got my wheels turning. 

Above are a bunch of Cubs cards numbered 672 or higher. Jeff thought he would give me a head start on expanding my Cubs FrankenSet past 671.

You might be wondering why I stopped at 671. Well, there's two main reasons:

  1. I originally was going to stop at 650, but I used some page markers for ever 50 cards in the binder. Doing so pushed me to 653 to fill a full page. Argh. I had a bunch of cards pulled that were numbered higher than 653 so I decided to add another 18 cards, which landed me at 671. For what it's worth, I am not a fan of empty pockets. 
  2. The higher the numbers the more I thought my set would be dominated by Topps. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I was going for variety in players and card designs. 
Jeff sent 14 cards from Topps and the other card manufacturers were only represented by the four cards below. 


Here's a snapshot of what the backend of the FrankenSet checklist currently looks like: 

As you can see, Topps is king when it homes to the "high" numbers.

I'm not sure if I'm going to run with Jeff's expansion idea, but I'm not going to immediately sort these cards into my collection either. I'm going to think on it. It could be fun to chase down another 100+ cards until I get 792, which would be another hat-tip to Topps. We'll see!

Thanks for cards, Jeff! 

What do you think? Should I expand my Cubs FrankenSet

What about MLB expansion? Maybe MLB should focus on settling the new CBA this off season and work on "fixing" baseball before diluting the talent pool?

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Note from a Player

 My junior high coaching season ended yesterday. Well, sort of... I'm the junior varsity girls softball coach at one of the middle schools in our district. The junior varsity team is made of all the sixth graders and a few seventh graders, and our last game was yesterday. Technically I'm also the assistant varsity coach as well, and that team will continue to play for a week or so until they are eliminated from the state playoffs. Trying to coach a bunch of energetic 6th and 7th grade girls can take a lot out of a guy, but now I'll get to relax a bit and enjoy my assistant varsity gig. 

I've held this coaching position now for the last seventeen years and it's been fun watching the younger middle school players grow and mature into the occasional standout high school player. 

Every now and again I get a little extra something from a player during or at the end of a season. This was one of those years and I thought I'd share it. 

Sweet note from a very nice kid. 

I hope this note brought a smile to your face! Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 3, 2021

Gold Sig of Vogey

 When there's only five copies of a card sometimes I give up hope of ever adding one to my Vogelbach collection. A copy could be sitting in an unopened box on a shelf somewhere. Or, there might be one online, but the price could be prohibitive. 

Recently, my luck was in my favor.

A couple of weeks ago I came across this silver bordered, gold autograph of a mini Allen & Ginter 2020 Vogelbach card. Just GORGEOUS.

I added the card to my watchlist and crossed my fingers that the seller would send me a discounted offer on the card. Sometime this happens when a card doesn't sell right away at the initial asking price. 

An offer never came, which was okay with me because it was priced pretty reasonably to begin with. 

The "buy it now" auction was set to expire at midnight on Sunday, and with that in mind I offered 75% of the seller's asking price early Saturday morning. My offer was accepted immediately, which must have been the result of some sort of setting within the listed auction. 

It just arrived in my mailbox and now it's downstairs living the good life in my Vogelbach autograph box. Most excellent!

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Corkball Bat

 Last weekend my parents went to an estate sale in their neighborhood, and knowing their son loves anything and everything baseball related they forked over $4 for a corkball bat. 

I had never heard of corkball before, but from what I can tell it's a variation of stickball. There are no baserunners in this game and the size of a standard playing field is 30 feet by 250 feet. As few as two people, the pitcher and batter, can play at a time. If the ball is batted between 15 and 150 feet then the batter is awarded a single, 150 to 200 feet is a double, 200 to 250 feet is a triple, and if the ball clears 250 feet then it's a home run. 

The ball itself is the same size as a baseball, but its interior is nearly all cork and it weighs about a third of a traditional baseball. 

This particular bat looks well-loved and from what I find through online searches it appears production started in the 1950's in the St. Louis area. I don't think this one is 60 years old, but I bet it's been around for at least a few decades. This exact model can still be purchased online today from Markwort for $42!

The corkball bat is 36 inches in length and the barrel is only 1.5 inches in diameter. For reference, the picture above shows the corkball bat leaning up against the wall next to my bat collection, which includes my two coaching fungos on the far right. 

I'm not sure if I'll just decorate the man room with the bat or maybe purchase some whiffle golf balls and use them with the bat as a training aide for my sophomore baseball players. 

Thanks for the bat, Mom and Dad!

Monday, August 16, 2021

2 from my Watch List on Ebay

Each morning as I sit eating breakfast I scour Ebay for new-to-me Vogelbach cards. I save the expensive ones to my Watch List and pounce on any cheap ones I don't already have in my collection. 

2020 Allen & Ginter's X Mini Framed Auto, 04/10
I've been watching these two for some time, as they fell in the "Too expensive to purchase" category.  One of them was reduced and I decided to treat myself to both.  
2020 Topps Jumbo Event Sleeve Patch, Red parallel, 03/10
I'm now up to 270 unique Vogelbach cards from 2020. I only have THREE from 2021, and they're all from Topps Archives Signature Series, which takes older cards, adds a signature, and packages them as new. I'm not even sure I should count those. 

Do you save cards using the watch list on Ebay? If so, how many are you watching right now? I'm watching twenty-four currently, with one being of Ryne Sandberg and the rest are of a certain lefty slugger. The current Buy It Now price for all two dozen is just over nine grand. Yeah, I'll never own many of those! 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

PWEs Still Make Me Smile

 I'm not as active in the blogging/trading community as I once was, but I'm still enjoying the hobby at my own leisure. Jim, from cards as i see them, sent me a two card PWE last week, and it's magnificent. 

Up first, everyone's favorite jovial slugger: THE VOGELMONSTER!

This is a gold parallel of Daniel Vogelbach 2017 Topps rookie card. Very, very nice. 

The second card from the plain white envelope is one I've had listed on my Top 5 Most Wanted Cards list for awhile.

Stadium Club is so great, isn't it? The is the 2019 Ernie Banks card from Topps most photocentric set. Great stuff. 

Thanks for thinking of me, Jim!

Saturday, July 31, 2021

BWTP Makes Me Take Stock

 Bob Walk The Plank reached out recently and asked if I'd take on some 2021 Cubs. Well, that's kind of a silly question. The answer is, "I'll always take Cub cards!"

As of July 31st, the true question is, "Who are the 2021 Cubs?"

Let's start with the cards of players who qualify as current Cubs. 

Jason Heyward, Kyle Hendricks, Ian Happ, Alec Mills and omnipresent rookie Brailyn Marquez can still be labeled as Cubs. The only big name missing from this group would Willson Contreras. 

Count me as one of the collectors who enjoy team cards. I think Adbert Alzolay has some promise and I'm glad he'll get a full season's worth of innings this year to develop. 

Another Marquez card and two other potential pieces of the future in Christopher Morel and Ed Howard. 

Alright, time for those who have been shipped out. 

Jed Hoyer, the GM & president, tipped his hand about an impending teardown by trading Yu Darvish to the Padres last December.

Like Darvish, Billy Hamilton and Jason Kipnis never suited up for the Cubs in 2021. Austine Romine is currently on the 60-day IL.
Craig Kimbrel was sent to Chicago's southside. 
Javy Baez went to the Big Apple's NL squad. 
Kris Bryant will now be suiting up for the Giants. 
No Anthony Rizzo in this package, which is fine. His inclusion would have probably just prompted me to reach for a box of tissues. 

Thanks for the cards, BWTP!

Sigh. 

I've created a Google Sheet for all those Cub fans who want to keep track of these trades. It provides a great look at exactly who has been shipped out and what the talent return was. 

I'm still waiting to see some figures on what the payroll and projected roster currently looks like for 2022. I'm sure the front office will sign a few free agents over the winter, who they hope will perform well enough to flip at next July's deadline. I'm an invested fan with a curious mind after all. 

Full rebuild mode. Again. Double sigh. 

Thanks for reading and I hope your team took on MLB talent yesterday!

Thursday, July 29, 2021

My 1,000 Mile Jaunt Through Wisconsin

 Typically, I take one baseball themed road trip each summer. I stayed at home in 2020, because attending baseball games was not an option. This year I saw four games in five days, with an opportunity to see the Brewers play on my last day, but with Vogelbach being on the injured list I just kept on driving by Milwaukee on my way home. Get well soon, Vogey!

I started my trip out with a a card show just west of Milwaukee. There were only a dozen or so vendors there and only one had dime cards, but that was enough for me. I purchased around 150 cards from this gentleman. 

It's hard to pass up Ohtani cards for a dime each!

I wish this was a Cubs card, but I'll take what I can get when it comes to Theo. 
Starting Lineup, Canseco pitching, an oddball of Greg Luzinski and The Chicken. The boxes had a great selection!
These cards will go straight into my Folder of Fun. 
Again, just some really neat cards!
On this baseball trip I decided to try something different. Usually I try to knock another MLB stadium or two off my list, but this time I went the amateur and minor league route. 

First up was a game between the Kenosha King Fish and the Battle Creek Bombers. I arrived in the sixth inning of the first game of a doubleheader and watched the King Fish bullpen play spikeball in the outfield between games. 

Here's a picture of their mascot using a zip line during his grand entrance. Pretty cool!
The two teams belong to the collegiate Northwoods League. The rosters were crammed full of players from Big Ten schools and others around the country. I left the nightcap after the 3rd inning (2+ hours for 3 innings, ugh!) when the King Fish jumped ahead 14 to 2. They ended up winning 17 to 5.

My second game was in a western suburb of Milwaukee, and featured the Milkmen and the Gary Southshore Railcats, of the American Association, which is an independent league. 
This ballpark was absolutely gorgeous and I really took to their mascot, Bo Vine. He was extremely interactive with the crowd and I thought his uniform number, 2%, was pretty unique. 
I'm not sure I know what a railcat is, and I'm wondering if the scoreboard operator did either. Each player had a different picture of a cat, like grumpy cat! I got a chuckle out of that. 
I traveled up to Rhinelander and soon found out about the legend of the Hodag
In short, it was a publicity stunt in the 1890's, but the Hodag is kind of revered in Rhinelander. It's even the high school mascot!
The next day I played disc golf at three different courses. My favorite, oddly enough, was a local dump not too long ago. 
My main reason for heading north for this trip was to watch a game of Snowshoe baseball. 
Yes, Snowshoe baseball. If you're looking for more information here's the article which initially caught my attention. It does a great job describing the events of an evening in Lake Tomahawk. 

Dinner. Mmmmm...
I went for a cheeseburger and two slices of pie. 
Everything is donated, from the buns, to the meat, to the pies, to the wood chips on the field. All the proceeds are donated to a local cause and the entire community supports the effort. This demonstration of support and community kind of actually makes me want to move to Lake Tomahawk. 
Here's the pie board. Town members would walk up and donate their pie and the volunteers would divide it into eight pieces and place it in the refrigerators. The white board would see a LOT of action during the night! I had one piece of raspberry for dinner and one piece of peanut butter.

Then I went back and bought a piece of lemon meringue for dessert. I mean, hey, it was all for a good cause!

Here's a picture of the home team strapping on their showshoes. 
Below is a snapshot of the infield from my seat. By the time the game started there wasn't a seat to be had and there were more folding and camp chairs than I cared to count. 
I'm hoping this short video will give you an idea of how the game was played.  
They played nine innings and used a sixteen inch softball. My biggest take away was that everyone was there to have fun, including the umpires and announcer. Just a tremendously fun outing!

The next day I played another disc golf course in Manitowac, right on Lake Michigan. There were 36 holes in all, but #26 was definitely the highlight. Certainly not your traditional basket!

That evening I saw the South Bend Cubs play against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in Appleton. 
The Timber Rattlers have the best minor league ballpark I've seen for the A-level, and I've seen many. It could easily host a AAA team if given the chance. 
How about this for a carrying device for your concession stand purchases? Innovative. It was $2 beer night, so these boards with four holes cut into them were a pretty common around the park. 
My hat goes off to the scoreboard operator again. The Cubs had a fellow by the name of Ryan Reynolds in the lineup. Every other Cub had their head shot on the board, except for Mr. Reynolds. Good stuff. 

On the last day of my trip I played my sixth different course of the trip. 
Like many of the courses there were two tee pads and two basket locations. I knew going into the trip my arm wouldn't be able to take 135 holes of golf from the longs, so I played the shortest distances during each outing. I scored fairly well and came back to P-town with a nice boost to my disc golf ego!
What's gcool is I was able to play the three top rated courses in Wisconsin, according to the Udisc app, and each one was quite noteworthy in their own way. 

Here's a summary of my trip by the numbers:
Miles driven = 1,274
Days/Nights = 5 days and 4 nights
Aunts Stayed With = 1 night with Aunt Beth (Thanks, Aunt Beth!)
Ball games attended = 4 (Kenosha King Fish, Milwaukee Milkmen, Lake Tomahawk Snowhawks, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers)
Disc Golf Courses Played = 6 (Adeliade Park, Rookery Run, Sandy Point, Brandy Lake, Silver Creek, Rollin Ridge)
Disc Golf Holes Played = 135
Discs Found & Lost = 2 found & ZERO lost (Woo-Hoo!)
Mosquito bites suffered = Zero (but I used a bunch of bug spray)
Pie consumed = 3 pieces (raspberry, peanut butter, lemon meringue)
Beers consumed = 3 total (the best was Blue Bobber by Fox River Brewing Company)
Culver's Visited/Seen = Only stopped at one, but saw at least two dozen of the restaurant
Favorite Food (non-pie category) = Deep Fried Cheese Curds at Franklin Field, home of the Milkmen
Baseball Card Shops/Shows = 3 shops & 1 show attended 
Best Card Related Purchase = I finally found a 1985 Topps baseball set for a good price! Woot!
Consecutive days seeing Great Blue Heron = 4
Books Read = 1 

If you need a pick me up, then I would like to suggest The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America. 
Buck O'Neil was such a positive person. What stuck with me most through this book was how he could take any hardship, slight, or negative situation and always find the good in it. It's a quick read with many great stories about Negro League players. If you have the time, then I highly suggest. 

So, that's my summer trip. I feel more or less rejuvenated, although not quite ready to get back in the classroom. Lucky for me I still have a little time to get myself prepared. 

Thanks for reading about my trip! I hope you were able to take a summer vacation that made you smile as much as I did on mine!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Creeping Toward 700

 Without the addition of a 2021 release to chase after, the growth of my Dan Vogelbach collection has truly slowed. I'm trying to pick up cards from past years which I missed the first time around, but Milwaukee must really love the Vogelmonster because I've never had so much competition while bidding on Ebay. 

2020 Topps Jumbo Jersey Sleeve Patch

I've been watching this card for a few months at a very high "buy it now" price. The seller eventually gave in and began marking the item down 10% every time the seven day auction expired. I waited a few cycles of the mark down process until I figured it was time to pounce. I probably could have waited a couple of weeks longer, but I didn't want to risk losing this one to another buyer, especially with a card with such a low print run. 

I'm not particularly a fan of manu-relics, nor autograph stickers, but for whatever reason I'm attracted to this card. The most logical reason for my captivation can be traced back to the subject: it's THE VOGELMONSTER!

I hope you've enjoyed this quick post about card #691 in my Vogey collection.

Thanks for reading and have a great one!

Monday, July 12, 2021

Waiting Out the Rain with Some Cardboard

 It seems like the weather in this country is really bizarre as of late. Last week there was talk about record high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest and hurricane Elsa was doing her thing in the southeast. Death Valley hit 130 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend and here, in P-town, we're enduring a fourth straight day of rain. It's so humid and soggy out. Ugh. 

Thankfully the mail came early today and Nick, the generous and brilliant blogger, came to rescue me from my inevitable boredom with a wonderful padded mailer.

We'll start off with two of Chicago's best pitchers from the 1980's, Lee Smith and Rick Sutcliffe. I believe these are from the 1984 Wrigley Field promotional team set. 
The Ron Cey card is also from a Wrigley Field giveaway and I absolutely love food issued oddballs. Hello, Bill Buckner!
I have a mini collection of Glenn Beckert and both of these will slide right into the binder. The card on the left is from the 1969 Topps Milton Bradley game. Very unique and super cool!
Somehow this 2014 Panini Golden Age card of Gabby Hartnett flew under my radar when it was released. 
The All-Star game is tomorrow night, and it just so happens to be in Colorado this year.
I'm assuming this Lou Brock card was part of a five card giveaway set at the 1998 All-Star game in Denver. 
Big Daddy! Great nickname!
I don't think the holiday parallels are going away anytime soon. Of the three I think I like the 2020 design the best.
More parallels! Dexter is one of my favorites from the 2016  team and I think the orange border from Topps Big League complements Cubs cards nicely. 
A couple of "pre-rookie" cards of two of the Cubs more popular players, Kris Bryant and Kerry Wood. 
Maybe these two will become household names someday, too? It seems like Miguel Amaya has been talked about forever. Meanwhile, Ed Howard, who was drafted about a year ago, already has his second Bowman card. Crazy how the card world works. 
More 2021 Topps, but this time some Opening Day. I miss you, Yu!
Didn't Stadium Club just come out? And I already have some in hand? The blogosphere works in magical ways!  (And, it goes without saying that Nick is the best!)
Here are a couple more Stadium Club Cub shortstops to go along with the Baez from above. The Dunston card is an iconic one among Cub fans. 
I think I had about four Cubs cards released from this current year before this package. Now, 2021 inserts? Wow! 
I can always count on Nick to send some cards of the Shooter!  Woo-Hoo!
Shiny. Brooks. Kieschnick. Most excellent!  Both of these are dupes for the Kieschnick binder, but now I can fill a couple hole in the Cubs boxes. One of these has a good chance to make the Cubs FrankenSet as well. 
One of these cards is not like the others! Or is it?  Buckner and Sutcliffe are both from the O-Pee-Chee brand and with further inspection... 
Mon Dieu! So is Rick "Big Daddy" Rueschel! 

Thanks for the great assortment of cardboard Nick. Sorting cards is certainly a better alternative to watching the rain gauge slowly fill!

Have a great week and thanks for reading!