Thursday, June 22, 2017

Roster Collecting and Roster Movement

First of all, I'm back to the keyboard after a week-plus, mini-hiatus.  Not that I need one, but I think that I have a pretty decent excuse:  recently, the wife and I moved into a new apartment a few miles down the road from our previous location.  This new joint is much larger than our last living space and, thus, we can now bring home our treasured possessions that had been gathering dust in a storage unit.  That unit, by the way, was in a third town; therefore, it took several days, countless trips, significant man power, and bribes of pizza and beer.  However, we are now resting comfortably in our new, humble abode and couldn't be happier.

In the interim, my cards had been living in a set of cardboard boxes, which were pirated from a local retailer.  Sidebar - thank goodness my wife worked retail for so long, as those connections saved us a ton on moving supplies.  That said, aside from all of my free time being sucked up by moving, unpacking, and redecorating, it's pretty darn tough to blog about baseball cards when all of your goodies are hidden away.

Of course, one of the first things I did when we got settled was to set up the spare bedroom for use as an office and - get this - dedicated card space!  For the first time in my collecting life, my cards and collectibles aren't banished to the corner of a closet or tucked away underneath the bed.  The space still needs some TLC, but I have my computer all set up, the internet turned on and my card boxes and binders all unpacked.  So, it's time to resuscitate Wrigley Roster Jenga.

Speaking of computers, one of the first things I saw on the web when I fired up the ol' Hewlett Packard machine was this Tweet:

Shane, from the fantastic, Red Sox-centric blog titled Off the Wall, decided to show off the massive binder which houses the pride and joy of his "Sawx" accumulations - his All-Time Red Sox Calbum.  Contained within this behemoth is a comprehensive collation of every man who has ever donned a Red Sox uniform - well, those of which he has a card for, anyway.  Does any of this sound familiar to you, at all?  Well, if you've been reading my blog for any particular length of time, it sure should set something off in your brain.  This is the very same concept around which my personal collection and blog are built around; however, my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection (CATRC) revolves around Chicago's north side baseball club, of course.

For years, I assumed that I was the only one in the card collecting community who accumulated baseball cards in this manner; I thought I was a lone weirdo.  I was always content to acquire one Sandberg, one Sosa, one Maddux, etc. etc. and found the challenge of getting as many different players as possible to be a rewarding and even natural endeavor.  Unfortunately, never did I ever, in all of my years of visiting card shops, collecting with friends, attending card shows, or in my early days of blogging, encounter another like-minded individual.  That is, until not so long ago, when Shane and I made acquaintance on the Twitter-sphere.

This blew my mind and I was overjoyed to discover that others like me exist in the collecting landscape.  It was just great to find out that I wasn't the only person in community who's brain was wired this way.  Fast forward back to this morning, just as Shane decided to give us a sneak peak at this companion compendium, my brain's wiring darn near short-circuited... the concept may, in fact, be spreading!

Hot damn!  Grand Cards (of the sadly, long dormant Grand Cards blog) and Kin (of Bean's Ballcard Blog & I Feel Like a Collector Again), welcome to the club!  Maybe we should all get matching vests or something...

All in all, I was also surprised that there weren't more dedicated team collectors out there giving this concept a shot. I have always found this pursuit to be a fun and different way to collect, especially for a club with as rich of a history as the Cubs.  It builds a certain familiarity with the rich history of the team and keeps me engaged with the day-to-day roster maneuvering and operations which occur.  I believe that the Red Sox, Tigers, and the Mountaineers would be just as fun to collect in this same manner.

At any rate, it's funny that these revelations should occur today.  After all, just a couple hours after I excitedly discovered that the "roster collection movement" may be expanding, I scrolled across another Tweet which provided some related news:

I may have been the only Cubs fan in the greater Chicagoland area whose biggest takeaway from this major roster shakeup was that Mark Zagunis would be making his Major League debut.  Sure, Kyle Schwarber has gone from World Series folk hero to regular season zero and Jason Heyward represents a major loss for an already reeling offense... but, NEW CUB ALERT!!!!

Luckily, I just so happened to have a pair of Mark Zagunis cards, queued up and ready to go in my prospect stock, as it seemed likely that he'd be getting the call at some point in 2017.

Hmmmmm.... sure looks like Panini and Topps bough the license for the same photograph in their 2014 prospect-laden products, doesn't it?

Zagunis was drafted as a catcher, but made the move to the outfield shortly after his selection in the draft.  This year. the 2014 third round draft pick has followed up a strong 2016 campaign with a .249/.399/.474 slash through 268 plate appearances at Triple-A Iowa this season, to go along with 11 home runs.  He was easily the most MLB-ready, corner outfielder in the system, making him a natural replacement on the roster for the "J-Hey Kid" and "Schwarbino."

Now the question is which one of these cards should I chose to represent Zagunis in my CATRC binder?  Bowman is the industry standard when it comes to pre-rookie cards and this 2014 Bowman is the very first card of his to hit the market.  On the other hand, the 2014 Panini Prizm Perennial Draft Picks offers a better look at his face and is quite shiny.

But, wait - what's this?

Wild card!

In the process of drafting this post, I discovered a third Zagunis card that had slipped my mind - I'm pretty sure this one came to me very recently, by way of Dime Box Nick.  But, I could be wrong, as my records and already tenuous memories have been jostled about by the big move.  This card is the most recent of the trio, hailing from last year's edition of Bowman, a design which I definitely prefer over the plain white borders of 2014.  Furthermore, it lists Zags in the position which he will actually play in Chicago - the outfield.

So, do I go with the milestone card, the shiny object, or the most accurate depiction?  Decisions, decisions....

In the meantime, Joe Maddon and the Cubs sure didn't take long to make a decision about Mark, as he's already being inserted in the starting lineup:

Maddon and Co. have long had a track record for "baptism by fire" or throwing a rookie call-up into the lineup right away so that jitters don't even have time to develop.  Here's hoping that Zagunis announces his presence with authority against the Marlins tonight!

In all seriousness though, I do hope that Schwarber can work through his issues at AAA quickly and that the nasty cut on Jason Heyward's hand heals rapidly - both of their bats, if healthy and effective, would go a long way towards fixing the defending World Series Champions' current offensive woes.  However, while it comes with a steep cost, I can't help but be excited about adding another new name to the Cubs All-Time Roster and my corresponding collection.  I'm sure that this conflicted feeling is something that Shane is all too familiar with, when it comes to his Red Sox.

At any rate, into my binder one of those Zagunis cards will go.  As you can see, my gargantuan three-ringer is about the same size as Shane and weighs about as much as a small child.  Maybe it's time that I follow in Shane's footsteps and take some time to flip through the binder itself on Twitter or on the blog and show it off, page by page.  It is the pride and joy of my cardboard collection and something that I have been working on for more than a decade, so why not show it off, right?  If that's something that interests you, keep an eye open.

In conclusion, overall, I'd say that today was a pretty big day for my roster collecting habits.  Not only did I get a chance to add a new name to my marquee binder, but I also discovered that the concept might not be as odd and off the beaten path as I once thought.   There are others like me out there!

Reason 7,000,001 as to why starting a baseball card blog was a good decision.


  1. That's a big ass binder. Damn.

    Email me your new address when you can!

  2. 'Maybe it's time that I follow in Shane's footsteps and take some time to flip through the binder itself on Twitter or on the blog and show it off, page by page.'

    Fabulous idea!

    And for what it's worth, I like Zag's OF card best of the three.

  3. Yes, do it. Would love to see the pages in your binder.

  4. I am going to do this, but it is low on the project list at this time. Who'd imagine what should be such a basic hobby would involve so many projects inside of it!?