Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Keep Your Willie Warm

To say the least, it's been awfully cold in the Chicagoland area for the past few days.  In fact, at one point yesterday morning, it was colder in the Windy City than it was on the surface of the red planet Mars... holy Chi-beria, Batman!  In contrast, later today, the mercury is due to rise all the way up to the low thirties; it's going to feel like a summer heat wave.  I think I'll run shirtless this afternoon.

This recent warmup did nothing to help the latest trade envelope to arrive in the Wrigley Roster Jenga mailbox, which was deposited in the nearly frozen over receptacle yesterday afternoon.  This chilled PWE came courtesy of the blogosphere's dime box king and fellow Chicago Eskimo, Nick, and was actually cold to the touch.

Let me just take this opportunity to remind all the guys reading this blog - it's essential that you keep your Willie warm:

I was talking about Willie Stargell, Forever stamps, obviously.  Get your mind out of the gutter, folks.

In what has become something of a trademark for Nick's mailings, a baseball-themed stamp was affixed to the outside of the envelope; so, I knew who was generous enough to gift me with some cards without even having to see the return address. 

Another detail that I could easily pick out was that poor Pops was chilled to the bone... and not just because I too was standing outside.  Rather, it was so frigid out there, that the first couple of cards to fall out of the envelope were quite clearly physically affected by the temperatures:

Just look at that, we have snowflakes on the surface of this Jason Hammel and Ian Happ has actually frozen over... the horror!!......

What's that?  They're SUPPOSED to be like that?  Oh *ahem* well, then...

The Hammel comes from Topps' recent gimmick of a parallel set - Topps Holiday.  I actually enjoy this gimmick, as the snowflakes look better than the smoke seen on the normal design. Meanwhile, we also have a "ice" parallel of Ian Happ's 2016 Bowman Platinum card, which were exclusive to value boxes.  It's super shiny and will look great in my CATRC binder when Happ makes the ultimate ascent.

Speaking of shimmery Bowmans, here's the Vogelmonster via the 2013 edition of Bowman Chrome. Vogelbach appeared on a "Risin' Thru the Ranks" insert then; but, now, he appears to have finished rising, as he's penciled in as a starter for Seattle next season.  Shame they couldn't find room for his potent bat in Chi-Town.

Along with the former Cubs prospect, we have another guy who never actually suited up with the Cubs in Warren G.  I've never been much a rap aficionado, but I was, at least, tangentially aware of the "Regulate" songster.  I think we can all agree that the First Pitch insert set has been a fun one.

Things must be warming up with this PWE, judging by the wispy smoke rising from the corners of Mr. G there...

In fact, it's starting to get hot - red hot, in fact.  "Red hot," as in, red parallels.

Neither one of these players amounted to much in the Second City, although Randy Wells did have a couple of decent seasons as a mid-rotation, innings-eater.  No matter, next to blue, red is the second best color for Cubs parallels, definitively.  After all, it is the franchise's secondary color.  In short, both of these Target exclusives will look quite sharp in my binders.

I'm all out of temperature-related puns and jokes.  However, although this envelope was shipped first-class, it appears as though Mark Prior is all about that express delivery; at least, that's what this 2003 Upper Deck MVP subset indicates.  Neat multi-exposure shot!

Ernie Banks certainly looks impressed by Mark's delivery, as we Chicagoans all were circa 2003 *sigh*.  At any rate, a new beaming Banks is always a welcome sight.  Seriously, that might be the most infectious smile in human history.

OOOOOOOOOO - turn of the millennia-era Pacific!  You know what that means, bright colors, busy designs and deep checklists.

Jose Nieves is shown floating in a big, Cubbie-blue purgatory on this 2000 Paramount single and you all know how I feel about blue Cubs cards.  Along with the former shortstop prospect, we have Tyler Houston, starting catcher for the 1998 NL Wild Card winners.  I opened a few packs of Online back in the day and I remember it seemed so high-tech and futuristic to have URLs on baseball cards... now it just looks dated and silly, especially when written out in full like that.  Where's our Twitter handle and hash tag cards?

What http://www.cubs.com looked like about the time this card was produced.

Of course, I like the dated nature of the card - it almost feels like a time capsule to my childhood.  The design is exceptionally eye-catching too.  Houston - we don't have a problem.

Speaking of dated and time capsules and such, here's a pair of cards that are far older than the late 1990's:

Vintage is always welcome in this house, especially when both cards present conditional upgrades.  My original Hobbie had some serious surface scuffing while my Tappe was more off-center than your average politician.  Score!

Also, I feel like the "C" on Tappe's helmet is way too big to be real - it looks airbrushed, to me.  However, the light-hitting, back-up catcher never played with the any other team in the Bigs.  Perhaps the picture dates from his time in Los Angeles or some other minor league stop?  Perhaps it was originally blank?  The world may never know for sure.

There was one more vintage card included in Nick's gift, one that presented another quirk:

Okay - I love everything about this card.  Vintage, oddball, mustachioed Bruce Sutter, powder blue pajama pinstripes, my favorite edition of Kellogg's cards (they're standard size), no bowing or cracking... this card is downright perfect.

Well, except for one, tiny detail - this isn't a Cubs card.  At least, not technically.

Don't believe me?  Flip it over:

Ah ha - this card came out right after the Hall of Famer's controversial trade to the Cardinals... cheapskate Wrigleys...

I didn't notice this little detail until I was sitting down to draft this post.  Obviously the good people at Kellogg's didn't have an image of the split-finger master in Cardinals duds yet and, since no team affiliation is listed on the front, there's no way to tell he's switched teams without turning it over.  While this card might technically be classified as a Cardinals card, it's still a Cubs piece in my mind - a picture is worth a thousand words.

Plus, it's still a super card, regardless.

Much like Ralston Purina, that trade was for the dogs...

And so, we've reached the end of this surprise PWE.  Like the frozen Chicago tundra, everything in the envelope was really cool, though in a much different way.

Thank you, Nick!  I'll make sure to properly return the favor, as soon as possible - I've had a nice bunch of cards starting to build up with your name on it.  Nothing as captivating as your Christmas Ichiro or vintage Sadarahu Oh and Mickey Mantle though - holy moly!  That kind of generosity will keep you warm, no matter how arctic circle-like it is outside.

That said, you should probably still wear a hot, gloves, scarf and parka, should you decide to venture outside - just in case.


  1. Glad you enjoyed everything! I found the Nieves/Houston Pacifics in a spares box I had lying around and knew I had to send them your way. Never noticed the Cardinals designation on the back of the Sutter, either. Still a Cubs card to me, too. Happy holidays, my friend!

  2. Neat stuff! I don't know how you folks up there deal with that kind of cold every year, people just aren't meant for that kind of weather.

  3. We have had the weirdest damn weather in my area. It was 60 over the weekend and about 10 degrees two nights a go.