Monday, November 30, 2015

Cheap Thrills

While that is, in fact, the name of a classic album put out by Big Brother & the Holding Company way back in 1968, it is also how one might describe my card collecting habits.

I'm cheap - always have been, always will be.  I've come to grips with this fact long ago.

This quality translates to my hobbies as well.  I don't like dropping big bucks on mega-mojo hits or autographs.  I don't crack cases of cards or even as much as look at high-end money grabs like Triple Threads and the like.  *That said, if they end up in my lap, I sure won't complain.

All that said, one of my favorite places to kill time is the local dollar store.  It provides, drum roll please, Cheap Thrills:

I don't generally have much luck finding cards that I actually collect when it comes to repacks.  However, I had never seen a Collect-A-Book in a repack before and that was enough to pique my interest.

Maybe this one would be different?

Mr. Mitchell is a little worn, but the price was right.  This is the first "card" of it's kind to make it's way into my hands and as such, I never knew that they had these nifty little cartoons on the back. Perhaps I need to find me a Cubs one.

The only other literal baseball card of any interest (you might have noticed, I grabbed the "multi-sport" assortment) to fall out was this superb Ted Williams brand minor-league card of the legendary Cub-killer known as Mike Schmidt.

I love minor-league cards, I love Ted Williams cards, but I can't say I have much love for Schmidt... respect, yes; but, not love.  Still pretty cool to find it in a unassuming, dollar store repack though.

As for the other sports:

These were the only gridiron cards to be found, which was a little disappointing because I was hoping to add a little growth to my Bears All-Time Roster collection.  As it stands, neither of these guys suited up in blue and orange either.  So it goes.

But, if one picked up this repack wanting basketball cards...

...then you got your money's worth.  Too bad I don't really collect hardwood cardboard.

Still, as a Chicagoan and child of the 90's, I'll always have an affinity for the Bulls and I keep their cards when they wander into my collection.  Thus, B.J> and future-Bull John Salley were keepers for me.

Of other interest:

Again, as a child of the 90's, one of my favorite flicks growing up was Space Jam.  While I may not care too much about basketball as a whole, seeing names like these bring back the warm fuzzies.

Danny Ainge may have been a two-sport star, but I'll always think of him as the guy who yelled at Charles Barkley to "get back on D, man!" on the silver screen.

And now we get to the real reason I selected this particular re-pack:

Yes, hockey cards.  You read that right, I have now started up a hockey collection, focusing on completing the all-time roster for the Blackhawks - as if the Cubs and the Bears weren't enough of a possible task.  

Being that hockey is my second favorite sport to watch, it felt wrong to not have a card collection to go along.  I am a collector, after all.

Hockey collectors:  please feel free to swap me any Chicago dupes you might have. 

Of the hockey assortment, I was able to pull two for my Blackhawks chase.

Marty Turco had a long, productive career between the pipes for the Stars and when Antti Niemi was lost to free-agency, the Hawks signed him instead.  Unfortunately, he was quite washed up.  Not so unfortunately, his failing in Chicago allowed perennial all-star Corey Crawford to emerge from the shadows.

Meanwhile, Mr. Muni here was a bit of a hockey nomad, playing for six teams in his NHL career.  Most important to me though, was that he skated in a total of 18 contests for Chicago from 1992-94.

These two make it into my slowly growing accumulation.  A couple of dimebox digs provided a nice base from which to build this new collection - I'll have to spotlight it at some point here.

That brought an end to my my multi-sport repack; however, but I felt that another sport deserved some love too:

Yea, I bought a deck of Kyle Busch playing cards too.  The newly-crowned NASCAR champion was under-represented in my NASCAR collection; so, for a buck, why not?  And check out that hologram; they're officially official!

Each card featured this lovely portrait on the back:

Meanwhile, the face cards and aces all featured one of four poses, in lieu of the usual royalty:

Fitting, since Kyle is now NASCAR royalty, after all.  Since I have my fair share of playing cards, should I ever partake in a game of poker (more likely, go-fish), these will be broken up and treated as oddball trading cards.  I'm not sorry about it.

Sidenote - I remember when the younger Busch brother forced NASCAR to impose an age-minimum when he made his debut in the Truck series at the age of 16, leading to a temporary exile, way back in 2001.  To see him as the series champion now makes me feel old.

Time flies, man.

Flying around a super-speedway at 200mph will age ya!
Image courtesy of Snakkle

Anyway, everything you see here in the post cost me a whopping two dollars.  

To recap, I was able to add a couple of neat baseball oddballs, two Bulls, two Blackhawks and a NASCAR oddball set for a total of two George Washington flashcards... that's enough to make any penny-pinching collector smile.

Cheap Thrills indeed.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

It's Not Just a Name, It's a Lifestyle

 Will the Cubs loosen their purse strings to sign David Price or Zack Greinke?  Perhaps they'll have to "settle" for second-tier free agents like Jeff Samardzija and/or John Lackey?  Maybe they feel desperate enough about their centerfield vacancy to ink Jason Heyward or Alex Gordon?  Hot stove seasons is in full-swing.

Compared to recent years past, it's pretty nice to actually hear about the Cubs being involved in these discussions - it makes the rumor mill much more entertaining for me, regardless of whether or not I feel these would be good moves.  It's just nice to be involved, y'know?

But, even though Theo & Co. are popping up in connection with just about every big name on the market this winter, big-ticket free agents have never really been their MO.  After all, how do you think this blog earned it's moniker?

As it stands, the only moves the Cubs have made while I was away and hibernating have been of the roster jenga variety:

The front office like to take the patchwork method to building a bullpen.  After a shaky first half in 2015, they cobbled together cast-offs in Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill, Fernando Rodney, et al. and turned them into a lock-down pen.  Now that some of those folks will be lost to free agency, it's time to start re-patching.

Their first acquisition was to claim Mr. Cook on waivers from the Red Sox  A central component of the A's bullpen for three seasons, injuries really dulled his shine last year.  He was lit up in 9 games for Oakland and Boston, posting an 18.69 ERA with 7 walks in 8.2 frames.  But, if healthy, he could be useful. 

I know what you're thinking - Eric Jokisch has already been in the fold, he hasn't gone anywhere!  Well, you'd be right; however, the Cubs also went out and traded for the guy he shares this 2015 Topps Heritage rookie card with - Spencer Patton.

Known to light up a few radar guns, Spencer is your typical case of electric stuff and dangerous lack of control.  He's seen time in the Bigs over the past two seasons and it should be noted that in 24 frames of action in 2015, he hit 4 batters and walked 12.  However, his velocity is still intriguing and all this lottery ticket cost was an A-ball middle infielder, a position is well-stacked in this org.

Plus, he's a local boy (born in Urbana, played college ball at SIUE) who make it to the show despite being drafted way down in the 24th round.  Everyone loves a good human-interest story.

Next up, a couple of arms for which I do not yet have cards (thanks GoSportsCards and COMC!).  Iyt seems like it 's been all the rage to sign intriguing 7-year, minor league free agents to MLB deals, at least for the past few seasons.  That is how the White Sox hit it big with Jose Quintana and maybe the Cubs can do the same with this converted infielder.  Since he still has options, he's likely ticketed for Iowa.

Additionally, the Cubs made a second waiver claim - this time from the Mets, an organization that seems to be hemorrhaging pitching depth.  Leathersich was a top prospect in their chain and made his MLB debut this year.  However, Tommy John came a-knocking and he's out until mid-season, at best.  

Finally, the Cubs pulled another trade for a once potent bullpen arm with recent struggles when they sent Wander Cabrera (a prospect who has yet to make his North American debut) to the Rockies for Sexy Rexy here.

Another cheap lottery ticket, Brothers has battled injuries and effectiveness for the past two seasons.  However, with a full bill of health, the former Colorado closer was nails for the Mile High City.  Of course, the first time he gives up a run everybody will just be waiting to exclaim, "Oh Brothers!"

Also, hopefully his bill of health is cleaner than his hat - check out those salty sweat deposits, yuck!

Late nights in Theo's office

And, while we wait on the big-names to land (hopefully a couple find Chicago to their liking) this is what most FO's do during the silly season - play Jenga.  After all, there are far more available players than there are MLB jobs.

Hopefully the Cubs' Jenga-like approach to shoring up the pen continues to work; that said, you know how this game could end.

Wrigley Roster Jenga - it's not just a name, it's a lifestyle!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Rip Van Burbs

*YAWWWWNNNNN*  That was a nice nap, but I really should get up and start prepping my Halloween costume.  What time is it?....

There are CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS set up??!!  For the love of Pete, how long was I out?

It's damn near December??? Wowza, that must have been a helluva dose of Nyquil...

An artist's rendition of my blogging hiatus

In all seriousness, time did slip away from me a little bit, not quite like that, but it did get away from me.  I just didn't have the enthusiasm or inspiration for blogging and before I knew it, I hadn't posted since mid-October.  That happens, I suppose.

That doesn't mean I haven't been collecting cardboard rectangles though; au contraire, in fact.  While the Cubs have since washed out of the playoffs and been fairly quiet so far this off-season, I've still made some progress on my bread and butter (CATRC) and even taken up some new collections to keep my interest.  Variety is the spice of life and all that.

So, I'll spend the next few days showing off some cool stuff I picked up while my blog was asleep.  There's definitely some unique pieces and some harrowing internet-vending experiences to talk about.  I also went to my very first card show (and second, that's how long I've been gone).  Yes, I'd managed to collect cards for 10+ years and never step foot in a show... social anxiety anyone?

I guess it's time to shake off the cobwebs, limber up my creaky joints, chop off this beard and resurrect Wrigley Roster Jenga.  The internet might not have been calling for it; but, I need this outlet to feed an enthusiasm clearly not shared with my girlfriend or cats.

See?  Just look how bored she is with it.

Ahhh... it's good to be back.  I guess next time I'll just have to make sure I set an alarm; that way, I won't sleep through St. Patrick's Day or something.  Although, you'd think someone would be courteous enough to give me a nudge, right?