Monday, September 17, 2018

Damnit, Caught The Bug

Shortly after the hobby box of MVP hockey I opened, I started getting cravings to open other stuff. The other day I made way to Target where I got some football cards.

If you're wondering why I did such a thing, three reasons.

1). For the heck of it

2). For the sake of opening something

3). Baseball card offerings all suck this year

Most of the stuff I got leaned towards this year, but there were some things from 2013 because, why not?

Plus, going almost blind into a sport that I'm only a fan of casually allows me to appreciate the small things in life, like pulling names I actually know.

Blarg. I know this name of course but still. Blarg.
I'm torn on sending these two someone who'd like them like Mark or Tom or someone who'd hate them like Greg or... Greg.

Forever 28-3.

I actually did watch that walk off last year. It was great.

America's Finest News Source had a really good video feature on Garoppolo's ability to step out of Tom Brady's shadow.

What the? Go away baseball, no one likes you since the minor league season ended weeks ago.

Two young but injury prone QB's.

I wish I had pulled a Nick Foles too for the sake of bring him and Wentz together.

I think that's a good place to stop.

All of this makes me think that the only NFL players I'd heard of until this point were either Giants players, Jets players, or quarterbacks. The only one who didn't fall into any of those categories that I knew about in the packs I pulled were Jones, Diggs and Antonio Brown. I need to up my football game.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Coming Tide

The most recent development in baseball this year has been "The Opener". I can already tell how most of you feel about it (I read your tweets and more importantly the junk you retweet and favorite into my timeline).

For the uninitiated, "The Opener" is basically having a reliever (possibly your closer or your second best reliever) open the first inning of a game. Then the usual starting pitcher comes in in the second inning to pitch their four/five innings before giving way to the bullpen again.

The idea has been out there for a few years now and here in the era of a "rebuilding teams" some teams have begun trying it out to mostly positive results.

There are two things at play here. One is very smart and one is very sleazy.

The smart aspect is that you start the game with one of your most effective pitchers to go up against the other team's 1st, 2nd and 3rd (at least) batters. In turn allowing your starter to potentially begin their outing by just facing the cleanup batter and then the weaker second half of the lineup. When the Opener was tried out this season, it didn't work. Since then it's shown itself to be capable of producing very good results. As we get a bigger sample size we'll have a better idea of whether the idea actually works or not I'm sure.

That said the sleazy aspect is that you're taking away starts and stats from your pitchers who are going to have weaker cases (less Games Started stats for the arbiter to see for example) for raises in arbitration than they otherwise would've. The second pitcher still puts in the same number of innings, only for the team to take away a pay raise that's rightfully his.

So of course the Rays were the first to put this idea into practice. The Rays are smart and good at two things. The first is constructing a competitive ballclub with mainly pre-arb players you'd know as the fake players in video games. The second is finding every way to suppress the salaries of their players up until they're too expensive for the club to keep around (which is basically the second time through arbitration). They deserve credit for trying something new and scorn for being cheating their players out of money. Make no mistake, the Rays have money, don't be fooled by their "we're a small market team in Tampa" bullshit. MLB's revenue sharing system has been funneling millions into Stuart Sternberg's pockets for years now. The fact that he can own a team at all means that he's got enough money to make shit happen. But he won't because he's a cheapskate and will do what the New York Mets do where they cry poor like we're all morons.

The Opener also signals that the starting pitcher's role is slowly but surely diminishing. Regardless of if starting the game with a reliever stays within the game, the teams using any method they can to keep their starting pitchers healthy and effective will continue.

A good number of people I talk baseball with (both online and offline), don't like how starting pitchers rarely go past five innings anymore. A development that seems to be getting more and more common as teams catch on to methods to keep the pitchers healthy, and keep the game competitive by passing the baton to the relief corps. And I get it. I started watching baseball in 2010 where starters would usually try to go about six innings while allowing maybe one or two runs for a quality start. Nowadays some starters don't even make it out of the fourth because of their strict pitch count. On top of that, this is all incredibly taxing on the bullpen. Defeating the whole purpose of keeping pitchers healthy.

At the same time, I have seen trends and all sorts of things being tested in the minor leagues. I personally think it's inevitable that the starting pitcher's role is going to end up further diminished and a fraction of what it once was. The old "let him finish what he started" mentality is giving way to "get him out of there before he hurts himself and more importantly loses the game for us!".

If I had to guess the future pitching contingents are probably going to have starters pitching around three, maybe four, innings on 50-80 pitches before the managers hand the ball to their relievers.

So what does this all mean for offense? I can't imagine teams getting craftier with pitching will do much to help the offenses which seem to be going down year after year. I mean The Opener itself is made to make sure the starting pitcher only has to face the heart of the order two times as opposed to three if they had started normally, don't think that that doesn't make a difference. Hitters usually learn and adapt quickly by being better around the third time through the order, especially the hitters that are good enough to hit at the top of the lineup. Only problem with that is that they usually never face a pitcher a third time unless they're the best pitchers in baseball like Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander who you could face infinity times and never get a hit off of.

If you're not a fan of low run games and starters barely pitching enough innings to qualify for the win, you might not like baseball in about 10 years from now.

We'll see what happens though. First thing's first, we're due for a pitcher to die because he took a 100+mph comebacker off his head that sparks an immediate and more serious discussion about safety equipment for pitchers (no goofy looking hats this time). Because in this sport someone needs to die before the league decides to take any sort of action.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


Welp, it looks like one of my goals won't be met this year.

I was at a card shop recently and found that they had 2018-19 Upper Deck NHL MVP in stock. It's basically the hockey equivalent of Topps Opening Day. A more low-end set focused more on set collectors and inserts more than the hits. Or since this is hockey, it's all about the rookies.

The reason I bought this was because it was cheap ($40 after tax per hobby box is a pretty decent buy), and because this is one of the few products on the market right now that has a card of Rangers rookie Lias Andersson. A smart person would've waited until more Andersson rookie cards came onto the market to pick one up. But I'm not that person. I wanted to pull one with the prospect of pulling even more Ranger cards in the process. Of course I would've been happy with a Neal Pionk rookie too.

Of course in the time I've been opening hockey products none of the cards I've ever truly been after were ever in the boxes (Chytil was nowhere to be found last year), but if nothing else these box breaks are great because they allow me to get acquainted with good players on other teams. And give me a big ass supply of trade fodder in addition to TTM fodder.

So what happened with this box break?

Well as far as Rangers go, I pulled two base cards, four total. No Anderssons :(.
Shattenkirk and Spooner are both perfectly capable NHL players, and as of this post Spooner is a pretty good candidate to get traded away at the trade deadline this season.

Other notable base cards included John Tavares as a Islander (hahahaha) and a bunch of other cards already marked for some of my trade partners on here.

In this set anything above the 200's in the checklist are automatically short prints. There are fifty short prints in total and 20 of them are established vets like Connor McDavid and Mathew Barzal there. I pulled four of them total.

And the remaining 30 of the 50 short prints are all rookies. Unfortunately I didn't get a Andersson rookie or Pionk rookie, but I did get an Adam Gaudette who is probably the best rookie/prospect I pulled in this entire break.

The most common parallel set are these Silver Script cards with faux-autographs printed on the tinted cards. I pulled six including a Travis Dermott shortprint.

And being that this is MVP, there were a few puzzle pieces. I got six of them and none of them come close to helping me complete one puzzle.

This is also the 20th Anniversary of MVP's release, so there are these special inserts giving tribute to the first MVP set that came out back in 1998. These are pretty cool actually.

Of course they had a "Colours and Contours" parallel set (all numbered to 198 unless you got pulled a purple parallel numbered to eight). Mine was a damn Blackhawk.

Here are the "Player Credentials" inserts. These are almost like the ID cards you need to get into venues only they're fake (duh) and they have a sparkly effect like the starfoil rare parallels found on Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. I was pretty stoked to get Shattenkirk but then I found that I beat the odds with the Eeli Tolvanen (another top rookie). The Entry Level Access cards are at 1:22 pack odds, I only opened 20 packs. I win.

And that was my break.

Yeah, so no real big hits and the names I wanted eluded me, but for the price of two retail blasters I had a pretty fun time with my first (and hopefully only) hobby box for 2018.

And if you're wondering why Rex didn't take charge of this box like a Clone Break it's because I didn't feel like creating new set pieces.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).