It's Independence Day - happy birthday, America! Also, I've got a barbecue to get to and a workout to sneak in before that, so I don't have a whole heckuva lot of time for blogging on our nation's day of birth. Thus, here are some Cubs-related Team USA baseball cards... because what's more American than cards of America's team in America's pastime? The answer: nothing.
First, some Cubs of yesterday:
Courtesy of Upper Deck's 2004 nod to the 25th anniversary of Team USA baseball, here's some patriotic cardboard rectangles featuring guys who eventually traded the red, white and blue for plain ol' Cubbie blue. Mark Prior is obviously the biggest name here, as far as the Northsiders are concerned; that said, these are some pretty big names in baseball around the turn of the millennium.
This is truly a beautiful set. Dear Panini, current holder of the Team USA license, please feel free to do a full-on retrospective set of our nation's nine anytime.
One more Cub from yesterday in Phil Nevin. The 1991 edition of Stadium Club featured a subset made up of big, prospective names to watch out for in the near future who wear currently sporting the stars and stripes. Nevin went on to have a long and respectable career as a middle of the order bat (mostly) for the Tigers and Padres; however, by the time he reached Chicago, he was pretty much out of gas.
Moving on, let's take a look at some Cubs of today:
These two trade acquisitions from P-Town Tom make their second appearance on the blog this week, courtesy of this star spangled holiday.
I have to take a second here to acknowledge that Panini is doing a pretty good job with their Team USA license and I quite like the products they've put out over the past few years. Maybe it's just because everything looks better with full logos, but whatever. Anyway, again, feel free to throw out a retrospective set out there too, guys and gals; take advantage of what you've got!
Meanwhile, let's move on further and examine some Cubs of the future that are sporting our nation's colors:
Dillon Maples and Carson Sands look pretty good in front of Old Glory; nevertheless, I think they'd look much better in front of a capacity crowd at Wrigley Field as the first successful, homegrown pitching prospects in many moons. Though they are quite young here (18 and under squad & 16 and under squad), they are still far from being over the hill (24 and 21 respectively). In other words, they still have plenty of time to make that fever dream happen.
As it stands in 2016, Maples find himself in high-A Myrtle Beach, being absolutely lit up (7.71 ERA in 9 bullpen appearances); on the other hand, Sands is 6-1 for the A-ball South Bend Cubs with a nice 3.25 ERA in 11 starts.
We'll conclude this patriotic post with a bonus round - we've had Cubs of the past, present and future, how about a Cub that never was?
Ah, a double dose of Ty Griffin - one in a nice, long line of prospective busts prior to our current generation of young talent. Anyway, before all of that, he was just a college kid kicking ass and taking names on the national level, which led to his first round draft selection by the Cubbies in 1988.
Before the days of Bowman Draft, Leaf Perfect Game Showcase, Panini Elite Xtra Edition and the like, the only way to get your hands on cards of baseball's biggest prospects was the Broder market, aka, homemade, unlicensed cards. These were basically blogger customs before blogs were a thing and they sold fairly well at the time.
I like things that are different and/or off the beaten path, which Broders certainly are; so I must admit, they are one of my guilty pleasures in this hobby.
So, there you have it, a full round up of my stars and stripes-y baseball cards. I hope you enjoyed the read as much as I did putting it together - if you didn't, well then you're just plain un-American! Regardless, I've got some fitness stairs to climb, some food to pig out on and stuff to blow up (if snap'n'pops count), so I'd best be on my way.
Happy Fourth of July everyone!