Monday, April 11, 2016

Inside the Clubhouse

Sunday was a super busy day.  After my fiancee did not get back from her Advocare training convention in Cincinatti until nearly 1am, we got up at 7 to catch brunch with her out of town aunt, who was stuck in a weekend long layover.  Bright, early and slow-moving, we made the 45 minute trek to a hotel in Rosemont, right by O'Hare Airport.

After a lovely meal, we weren't going to just eat and run - thus, we stayed and gabbed until she had to head over to catch her flight.  However, in the course of our conversations, the fairly new Fashion Outlet Mall in the area was brought up.

So, of course, as soon as the shuttle to the airport pulled away from the hotel, we had to hop in our car and run around and spend the rest of the day browsing clothes... yawn city.

However, clearly someone was thinking when they put this place up.  They knew they needed a business to draw the attention of the bored guy being dragged around by his significant other from Forever 21 to Lucky:


This is actually the first time this Cubs fan has seen one of these storefronts; I knew there was one in the Water Tower Place mall downtown, but was unaware that I'd be stepping into the Clubhouse in Rosemont.  This was quite the pleasant surprise.

Now, as you'd expect, most of the items found within were overpriced tchotchkes: i.e., Cubs themed barbecue sets, drink coasters, beach towels, lawn signs... you name an item, slap a Cubs logo on it and you can find it here.  Additionally, you had pretty much every player's jersey and shirsey, plus seemingly limitless other attire options.  Honestly, it was mostly crap - that said, it sure was more fun to look at than designer jeans.

There was one item that I was willing to pull the trigger on though:

Maybe it was the Anthony Rizzo MiLB card staring back at me in the front, the Ryno card that would be new to my collection, or the fact that I was determined to leave that mall with SOMETHING for myself; whatever it was, I plopped down an Alexander Hamilton and walked away with this (overpriced) repack.

Seeing as I'd already paid $2.15 for a regular, ol' can of pop, I wasn't surprised that this (likely) brick of junk wax was priced as such.  Curiosity or stubbornness got the best of me though.

Here's my main draw, unencumbered by the big, blue sticker and plastic shell.  Minor League cards of Cubs are always going to catch my interest.  This is my second one of the potential MVP first baseman; but, it's my first busher card of him in the Cubs org.  If you didn't know, Jed Hoyer has basically dragged him around wherever he went.

It's not the best looking card - Just managed to find a way to use the same picture three times on a single piece - however, it will still slot nicely into my Baby Bears binder.

From here, I expected to find nothing but late 80's and early 90's overproduction overload.  There was definitely a good portion of that, including this near hefty helping of '88 Topps...

...and these '93 Fleers:

I wasn't exactly miffed about these Fleers though.  In fact, they were actually kinda neat pulls because you don't see these two short-termers pop up in Cubs uniforms very often.  So, at least that was kind of different.

Meanwhile, outside of these exhibits (and a handful of other, non-blogworthies), the rest of the repack took a surprisingly modern turn:

There was a significant smattering of 2011 Opening Day, a set from which I'd had maybe one card of before...

... plus, a good gathering of 2012 Topps Flagships.  I'll never get tired of seeing that "flying" Darwin Barney on top of that stack; for a guy who only had himself one good year in the Bigs, he sure did get some nice cardboard in his time thus far.

We have three different variations of 2008 Upper Deck here - I'm still not sure what's going on with this set, eight years later.

Soto appears to be a normal base card, while the A's surprise Opening Day starter is somehow special in being labeled First Edition.  Then, Carlos Zambrano doesn't have any special designations on the front; however, his nameplate and the UD logo are all foily and stuff.

Any experts in '08 UD out there?

2007 Fleer isn't a bad looking set and it's one I have next to nothing from - plus, we've also got another short-term Cub popping up in Scott Moore.  All three of these puppies are new to me. 

I've always had a thing for black-bordered sets, so this has always been one of my favorite editions of Bowman.  That's a pretty sweet shot of Aramis' follow-through and it appears as though Kosuke has done something worth high-fiving too.

Here we have a pair of fun Geos, who I was surprised to find out during the Cubs' opening series is still chugging along as a back up in the Bigs with the Angels.  It's been a long fall from 2008 All-Star and ROY.

I can't remember which particular year of Archives this mock '71 design was used; however, with my stated fondness of black borders, I can't wait for a few years down the road when these dark gems will be the main course for Heritage.

Next up, a prospect card and a rookie card of a couple of youngsters.  Here's hoping that Javy Baez amounts to much more than Keto Anderson did, who never so much as sniffed the Majors.

Please get healthy Javy... and stop diving into first base!

Topps Gold and another retro release.

I definitely did not expect to find a parallel in this factory outlet repack, so this Scanlan was a more than welcome surprise!

This might be my favorite Stadium Club release of all time - the 1994 factory team sets.

For such a storied release with a long history, this might seem like an odd, obscure part to choose. However, to this Cubs fan, the "camouflaged" green borders (not found on the mainstream release that year) are evocative of the ivy colored walls a Wrigley; for a Cubs card, that's a always going to be a winning design element.

Furthermore, appropriate that it should be Karl Rhodes, who had one of the most memorable home openers of all-time with 3 homers off of Doc Gooden that year.  Here's hoping that "Bryzzo" can emulate that feat (and the Cubs actually win in the end) in tonight's first 2016 contest at the Friendly Confines.

Speaking of oddities, this might have been the most interesting card in the pack:  1986 Fleer Classic Miniatures.  Until I saw this Dunston, these minis had never shown up on my "Shawon-O-Meter" before.  By that, I mean, I'd never heard of them.

Apparently this 120 card parallel set was sold in an exclusive box set found in hobby shops at the time.  I've always thought of "mini fever" as a relatively recent phenomenon (excluding the famous '75's).  Good to know that this gimmick has roots in the 80's as well.

With that, I've reached the end of my Cubs Clubhouse repack.


Overall, I was quite pleasantly surprised with the contents found inside this repack.  There were plenty of recent cards that were not previously found in my collection, some interesting oddballs and, most importantly, it wasn't all junk wax!

As for the store itself, going inside the Cubs Clubhouse was a welcome detour from the sea of fancy shoes and cute tops found throughout the rest of the Factory Outlet Mall.  But, I think there's another new clubhouse that I'd be infinitely more excited to visit:

Looks like the Cubs have found the newly remodeled home clubhouse to be rather amenable - they look infinitely more enthused here than I did at any point of our hours long shopping spree.  I know I sure am impressed.

Hopefully that enthusiasm translates to the field tonight and that Cubs pound the Reds in their home opener tonight.  Go Cubs!


  1. I go by the team shop in PNC Park quite a bit. It has the usual overpriced jerseys and jackets. The best deals are game used items. I came really close to buying a Gerrit Cole autographed champagne bottle for around $80. It was certified as being one from the playoff celebration in 2014.

  2. That Carlos Zambrano with the foil is actually the '08 UD flagship set. The two non-foil cards look like First Edition (akin to Topps Opening Day), though I'm not sure why the Soto wouldn't be labeled as such. I always loved that set, completed the entire thing, all 801 cards of it! I'll have to do a post on it one of these days...