Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cubbies Game Recap August 30th, 2015 - aka Cyle Hendricks Rocks!!!

I wasn't planning on going to this game.  In fact Rohit and I had bought tickets to the 8/31/16 game vs the Pirates months ago.  But on Tuesday morning Rohit noticed that ticket prices were pretty low and we both wanted to see Hendricks pitch.  

The last time I had seen Hendricks pitch at Wrigley was at the beginning of August and he'd thrown his complete game shut out against the Marlins.  So yeah my expectations were high ;)

Since it was a last minute decision to go I had to run home to get Cubs gear.  I didn't know it when I bought those red Ann Taylor shorts but I think I've worn them the most this year!!

 We got seats in section 17, I thought we'd be more off to the side but we were basically slightly left of home plate.

We were in Row 5 which at Wrigley really means row 10.  IT WAS AWESOME!!

All of the Cubs scoring though came in the first two innings.  Baez was getting a rare start a the lead off hitter.  


Baez got hit by a pitch in his hand.  Man that had to of hurt!!  After KB got out it was Rizzo's turn.  I had a good feeling since he hadn't really had any homers in the month of August.

Yep I was right, me smiling after he hit a two run homer.  

Oh I tried a new to me food at Wrigley!  I'd always seen the bison dogs cart but never actually ordered.  Maybe because it's cash only?  This Bison Italian Sausage was amazing (but messy).  

Here's a shot of Matt Szczur cuz you know I love the guy.  He ended up with one hit during the game but got stranded on base. 

I love Kyle but I think he feels inconvenienced about actually having to go out and hit.  He must hate it, but not sure why???

Guess who this is based on his batting stance....yeah it's KB!

Kyle didn't give up a hit until the 5th inning.  Everyone at Wrigley definitely noticed.  After the hit a good number of people stood to give him a nice round of applause.

He ended up pitching for 7 innings and giving up 3 hits and no runs.  He lowered his ERA to 2.09!!!  

Since we were sitting so close the most fun was seeing the Pirates just shaking their heads at some called strikes.  He definitely seemed to be puzzling them! 

At the end of the 7th inning Kyle got a nice round of applause from the fans.  He was at 99 pitches so I guess everyone figured he was done.  

In the 13 inning game the night before Carl Edwards Jr. was the only reliever NOT used, so I was pretty sure we'd see him today.  He was hitting 97 mph and was really impressive too!  

The 9th inning of course meant.....


His intro is fun but I miss Rondon's too.  Oh well maybe next year?

It's always fun to watch the crowd react to Chapman's pitches.  There is always oohing and ahhing as he hits anything over 100 mph.  I don't think it's every going to get old!

Chapman got his 3 outs pretty uneventfully so then we were celebrating the W!

Gotta take the obligator Cubs win selfie!!!

You can't really tell in that pic but that's Chapman and Maddon hugging.  It's pretty funny how often these grown men hug!


The game didn't have much offensive excitement after those first two innings so that's probably why the Game Changing Player was....


 Here is a replay of his pick off that I forgot to even mention!  Kyle picked off Harrison (whom he had walked) at first base.  Later Miggy would catch Marte stealing at 2nd base.  Because of those two moves Kyle only pitched to the minimum through 4 innings.

Seeing Rizzo FINALLY hit a 2nd August homerun, the pick off and the caught stealing, watching Kyle pitch effortless for 7 innings, so many great memories to add to the collection for 2016!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Collecting Matt Szczur

Matt Szczur is one of my favorite under dogs on the Cubs (Kyle Hendricks is #1) and for an under dog he actually has quite a few auto and relic cards.  As the 4th or 5th outfielder Szczur has been able to really come into his own and become a valuable asset to the team.

I believe he's ranked as the 2nd best pinch hitter in the league.  He's also had a few big games including his first grand slam that happened to be at Wrigley and a game I attended in April!

When he first got injured in Spring Training I thought he was a goner but I think he's worked his way up to at least the 23rd man on on the roster.

This is the first card that I picked up for Matt and it was actually by accident.  I didn't realize it was an actual on card autograph obtained in person!  No matter I still like it a lot!

Since I didn't have a non-auto rookie card for him I went ahead and picked up this Black Refractor of his Topps card.  I like the Black Refractors they look really slick!  

I also have his 2012 Bowman Card.  I know this one has quite a few refractors but I haven't pulled the trigger on buying any just yet.  

The Panini Immaculate Collection cards are my favorite of the non MLB licensed cards.  Even though the players are usually in some sort of generic uniform they are usually still recognizable and the relics and/or autos are always pretty sweet.  I just realized that last year Szczur was 41 and now he's #20!  I'm gonna have to hunt down a card of his featuring #20!!

The National Treasures cards always look super classy.  I'm constantly chasing these cards on eBay and they almost always get out of my price range.  I like this one a lot.  It's an added bonus that it's numbered of out 49!

This Donruss rookie auto card is my absolute favorite of Matt Szczur's cards.  I don't think this pic does it justice at all but it's shiny and bright and it reminds me of the cards I used to stare out in the early 90's at the baseball card shop.  You know the ones you didn't just happen upon in a pack and cost more than anything else?  They made some fancy cards in the early 90s!

An auto card of Szczur from the Minors.  Not a huge fan of the generic background.  

These cut out cards are kind of goofy.  I'm not sure what it means but I only own 2 of them, one of Matt and one of Tommy La Stella!

Another shiny and nice auto card!!  By the way as hard as it is to pronounce Szczur it sure as heck seems harder to read his signature!  

I haven't been able to find any cards of him from 2016, but hopefully one of the sets rectifies that situation soon!  I don't get why Topps has to release the same old set in 20 different variations when they could easily just add new cards with these fringe players!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Collecting Kyle Hendricks

Kyle Hendricks is my favorite Cubs pitcher.  He's the ultimate underdog and seems to only now get a lil respect after taking the major league lead in ERA.  As of 8/24 he has a 2.19!!

My appreciation of Kyle started back on my birthday last September 28th in a game against the Royals.  He pitched 6 shut out innings and the Cubs eventually walked off the game on a Chris Denorfia pinch hit solo homerun in the 11th inning!

(Speaking of underdogs where is Chris Denorfia this season??)

In his 6 innings Hendricks allowed 2 hits, walked 2 and struck out 9!!  Kyle's ERA was over 4 at the time and so maybe this outting was just a fluke?  

Well by coincidence a few friend and I decided to go to Milwaukee to see a game and guess who was pitching?  Kyle Hendricks again!  And yet again Kyle pitched 6 shut out this innings and this time he allowed 1 hit, NO walks and 8 strike outs!  So he was even better!!  

This winter when there were articles written about Kyle competing with Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard, Travis Wood and Adam Warren for the 5th starter position I thought the Cubs were crazy!  Thankfully not only did Kyle "win" the opportunity to pitch as the 5th starter he is not looking more and more like the top of the rotation.  

And since he had the first start post All-Star break technically he is top of the rotation ;)

Surprisingly or rather unsurprisingly Kyle has very few baseball cards. His very first one is of him in his Myrtle Beach Pelicans uniform. 

2012 Topps Heritage

I actually think this is his best photo of all the cards I have.  Per Cardboard Connection there are some variations of this card:  PARALLEL CARDS: Black-Bordered 1:8 Packs #/96, Blue-Bordered 1/1, Printing Plates 1/1

Much more prolific is the 2012 1st Bowman Chrome.  Oddly enough even though it was released in the same year as the Topps Heritage he is pictured in Texas Rangers gear.  

 2012 1st Bowman Chrome

There is also a variation that I will probably never own because there is only one listed on eBay and it's listed as a Buy it Now for $199.99!

2012 1st Bowman Variation

I saw this autographed one listed on eBay for a reasonable price and I thought why not?  I do wish it was in sharpie rather than pen though.  

The 2012 1st Bowman Card has several refractors and so far I only own the Green one.  

2012 1st Bowman Green Refractor

Green Refractor next to the original 

There are several refractors from this set.  

X-Fractor (Retail Only)

Refractor 1:4

Blue Refractor #/250

Purple Refractor #/199

As recently as 8/15 this one sold for $15.51 on eBay!  Clearly the new ERA leader is picking up in price!

Gold Refractor #/50

A gold one sold for $14.99 on 6/13!?!

Orange Refractor #/25

Blue Wave Refractor #/50

Kicking myself because on 7/31 one of these sold for $4.01 including shipping!!!

Red Refractor #/5

Aaaah that was torture going through the sold listings to get pics of the Refractors and seeing how cheap some of them went really recently!!  Ugh, well hopefully at some point I'll luck upon one or two!

PARALLEL CARDS that I couldn't find pics for: Super-Fractor 1/1 (Hobby Only), Printing Plates 1/1: 4 color plates per card (Hobby Only)

Every year Iowa releases a team set.  Here's Kyle's card from the 2014 set.

Kyle only has one true RC marked card.  That's from the 2014 Topps Heritage set. Since he debuted on July 10, 2014, Topps included him in their high numbered set that gets released later in the year.

The 2015 Topps Heritage set included him as well.  In this set he also has a gum stain variation. 

2015 Topps Heritage Gum Variation

I specifically ordered this card off of  It was WAY cheaper there than on eBay.  Honestly though I don't think I'd ever be able to pick this one out in a box of cards!

2015 Topps and Mini Variation

These are like almost the same size!  There are Black (#/10), Red (#/5) and Gold (1/1) parallels but I haven't seen them yet on eBay or elsewhere.  

2015 Rainbow Foil (1:10) and Regular Version

Can you discern the difference between the Rainbow Foil version and the Regular?  

I had to get the light to catch it just right to really be able to tell the difference.  

I just ordered the gold version #/2015.  

Other parallels include Snow Camo (#/99), hobby- and jumbo-exclusive Black (#/64), Pink (#/50), numbered silver Framed (one per hobby or jumbo case), Clear (#/10), Printing Plates and Platinum (1/1). Clear parallels are only in basic hobby boxes, not jumbo or retail.  I haven't seen any of these for Hendricks yet :(
2016 again had Topps Heritage feature Kyle!  

2016 Topps Heritage

Again the variations seem subtle with the gum stain back being one and another was a red back and was limited to 10. 

2016 Topps Heritage Red Back #/10

If there are any other variations I have not seen or read about them.

2016 Topps

I have the most variations of the 2016 Topps Base set card.  

2016 Topps Gold #/2016
2016 Topps Black #/65

2016 Topps Vintage /100

2016 Topps Jumbo!  next to the regular version

Rainbow Foil next to the Regular Version

I just need the Pink #/50, the Clear #/10, the All-Star Game stamped version and I guess the Sapphire Edition for my collection to be complete!  (Besides Framed (Hobby/Jumbo - 1 per case), Platinum (1/1) and Printing Plates (Hobby/Jumbo - #1/1).

And last is what may be my favorite card of all!  Kyle threw a complete game shut out on August 1, 2016 against the Marlins at Wrigley Field.  I attended the game and promise to write up a recap soon!

Topps Now 8/2/16

I have a love/hate relationship with the Topps Now cards.  I do love the exciting moments they capture in a season and appreciate that they recognized Kyle for his great work.  But if you buy the card as a single they cost $9.99!  They get as cheap as $4.99 if you buy in bulk.  A lot of people buy them in bulk and then resell.  For such a high price and for the card being available for only a day and then presumably printed I wish they were at least numbered!  

This particular card had a print run of 347 cards.  It's only the second Topps Now card that I own.  The first one was Willson's 1st career pitch he ever saw that turned into a homerun.  

Now I'm really happy that Willson and Kyle have developed such a great working relationship.  I look forward to following this particular battery pair for many years to come!!!