Getting lost is usually not a pleasant experience - it usually involves having no idea where one is physically located or a phrase reserved for when a pretty girl rejects the advances of a shy guy. For me, personally, it's more of the former: I've spent a lot of time going for runs in areas that I wasn't at all familiar with or going off trail in forest routes and losing my way.
However, I've discovered that getting lost isn't always a bad thing. As evidenced by my first baseball card exchange with The Lost Collector, getting lost in one of his trade packages is definitely a pleasant experience!
In said bubble mailer, I found a healthy sampling of 2016 product:
Those Donruss singles are my first Cubs from this year's release, despite my having bought a jumbo pack of the product earlier in the year. I especially love the Studio inserts; that rebooted theme/design is absolutely perfect for a unlicensed, logo-less product.
Also included was a near complete set of Series 1 and the above 100 Years of Wrigley insert, depicting Aramis Ramirez's epic walkoff homerun against the Brewers on 6/29/07. That capped a comeback that spurred the then floundering Cubs to turn the season around, eventually coming from 8 games under .500 to win the division. It's a game that is absolutely seared in my mind and one of my favorite moments, as a fan.
As far as 2016 products go, there was also a helping of Archives to be found. Shown above, we have one of the Cubs' seven (!!) All Stars in Anthony Rizzo and a guy who really needs to get healthy in Jorge Soler. The outfield has just been an infirmary so far this season, with Soler, Dexter Fowler and Chris Coghlan all on the DL as we speak.
Not 2016, but still pretty recent, we have my favorite card from last year's Flagship offering. Now Oakland A's infielder Arismendy Alcantara is sporting my favorite throwback jersey, the look of the 1960's, on this 2015 single. We get a great look at the old school Cubbie bear patch on the sleeve as Mendy completes the follow through on his swing. Love it!
These two are also from recent products, but they pay tribute to designs of the past. The name Brett Jackson brings back some heebie-jeebies; but, when you think about it, he's really the last big name prospect that hasn't worked out for the Cubs. That's pretty damn amazing considering how poor Cubs prospects had fared before him.
Frank Chance, the Hall of Fame first baseman and part of the famous Tinker to Evers to Chance infield, proves once again that Panini is at it's best when they depict old-timey players on their cards. It's just not as jarring to see logo-less jerseys on turn of the century athletes. Bring back Golden Age!
From cards that mimic the past to cards that are actually from the past: here are a couple of non-Panini-fied Donruss cards.
The 1984 Donruss set is one that I've always been fond of, as have many a collector. For most, that might have something to do with the iconic Mattingly rookie card; but, how can you not love this perfectly framed shot of Chuck Rainey winding up against an ivy background, with an umpire ready for action?
Furthermore, 1987 Donruss Highlights might be a carbon copy, design-wise, of their Flagship set from that season; that said, as a Cubs fan, I think every card looks better with blue borders!
There another healthy helping of late-80's/earl-90's "junk wax" within the Lost Collector's package. However, it was hardly junk to me, seeing as I didn't have these babies until now. One man's junk is another man's treasure, after all.
Bonus points for the old school batting practice/spring training jerseys.
Now - with this couple of shiny cards, we are getting to my absolute favorite parts of this already great trade package.
Who doesn't love the original Topps Finest run of inserts from the early 90's - so gaudy, so shiny, so premium! Mike Morgan has never looked better. Additionally, the Topps Gold from '94 Topps is wonderful in that I only have (maybe) one or two of these understated parallels already sitting in my collection AND it represents a Cubgrade for my CATRC binder:
Now, this ugly mish-mash of color monstrosity from '89 Donruss can make way for that "golden" Bill Brennnan seen above. For the record, William/Bill Brennan was a busted Dodger prospect who sipped a brief cuppacoffee (four games) with LA in 1988 when he made his way to Chicago for the '93 season. He pitched in eight games, making one start, and posted a perfectly mediocre 2-1, 4.20 ERA line. Those 15 innings were the last of his MLB career.
Speaking of pitchers coming to the end of their line, the undisputed highlight of LC's generous mailing features a hurler who many had assumed was finished as recently as last year:
WOOT! A certified auto of the newly-rejuvenated lefty Rich Hill. It's always a good day when I can add a new John Hancock to my CATRC binder, especially an acetate one.
Hill had a breakout 2007 campaign and he seemed to be a key cog in the Cubs rotation for years to come. However, he quickly lost command of his famous curveball and began the life of a baseball nomad, bouncing from organization to organization, signing minor league deals, making MLB cameos and even spending time in the indy leagues.
Against all odds, he turned a hot September with the Sawx into a big contract with the A's for 2016 and is suddenly the hottest trade chip on the pitching market. Truly a phenomenal comeback story!
Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated
With that, we've reached the end of our journey through a wonderful bubble mailer - for once, I sure didn't mind getting lost, not in the least bit.
Many thanks go out to the Lost Collector for taking the time to put together such a generous trade package; hopefully, this is the start to a long and fruitful trade partnership!
Getting lost ain't always a bad thing.