Sunday, September 28, 2014

Weekend TTM Roundup: 9/22-9/27

Well this was yet another slow week for TTM returns, but luckily some managed to come back.

Received On: 9/26/2014

Like former Yankees farmhand Eric Wordekemper.
Wordekemper was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 46th round of the 2005 MLB Player Draft. He climbed through the system and managed to get as high as AAA until 2011. The righty was primarily a reliever during his professional career as he only made a few spot starts and was even the closer on a few minor league squads. He finished his professional baseball career with a pretty solid 2.73 ERA and a 1.267 WHIP. He is currently an undergraduate assistant coach at Creighton University (the same college Wordekemper attended before being drafted) and has his eyes set on returning to professional baseball very soon. I hope the former Staten Island Yankee makes a full recovery (apparently he had Tommy John not too long ago) and hope he finds himself in pro ball soon.

Received On: 9/27/2014

And my last return this week is my first return from an active major leaguer in quite a while.
Nate Eovaldi was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2008 MLB Player Draft and slowly made his way up through the system as the team wanted to be careful with the righty who had just had Tommy John surgery in his junior year of high school. He quickly became one of the organization's top prospects and even made his MLB debut with the Dodgers in 2011. In 2012 he was traded to the Miami Marlins in exchange for Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate after going 1-6 with a 4.15 ERA. He took a huge step forward in 2013 as he used his improved high-90's fastball to boost his strikeout rate and drop his walk rate. Going forward it looked like Eovaldi was going to give Jose Fernandez a run for his money as the best pitcher on the Marlins pitching staff. However here in 2014 things have not gone as smoothly for Eovaldi. At least if you just look at his mainstream numbers anyway (6-13 with 4.44 ERA), however his strikeout rate has not dramatically gotten worse than last year and he has recorded a career high 137 strike-outs (and counting) so far and his FIP is actually better than last year. So while this may seem like a down year for Eovaldi, I have high hopes for him (and the entire Marlins pitching staff in general) going into 2015.

So big thanks to Eric Wordekemper and Nate Eovaldi for keeping my weekly TTM run alive.

And thank you (the readers) for stopping by. As always, take care :).

2014 TTM Total: 208

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Super (Lucky)

So I obtained one card.


That's right, I bought the non-autographed version of Luis Torrens' superfractor from 2013 Bowman Chrome. Considering how I appear to have started a Torrens super collection I knew that if I let this card slip it would haunt me forever.


Now shortly after I purchased this superfractor, I lit up and started having deep(-ish?) thoughts. Mainly how I've been so lucky/fortunate/blessed(?).
The fact that I'm in a financially stable position where I can spend money on baseball cards itself is something I need to be more grateful for. I mean right now the economy is pretty bad and lots and lots of people are struggling to provide food and shelter for their families, and then there are the third world countries where life is even worse. And yet here I am spending vast amounts of money on pictures of men like it's my birthright.
I should also probably express gratitude to my (now former) job for giving a lazy bum like me a considerable amount of hours and quite a lot of overtime money. Or at least just enough pay so that I can actually buy these pricey cards and trips to SI.

Now looking through the perspective of a collector, not only do I consider myself fortunate to have had the funds to obtain these cards, but the fact that I was able to come across both the super and red kind of blows my mind.
As of this post I currently have both the superfractor and a red refractor of Luis Torrens, both are considered to be the hardest pieces to obtain in any Chrome rainbow, and yet here they are in my collection. I've seen dozens of collectors have rainbows come to complete stops because they were never able to acquire these last two pieces.
Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that since Torrens was in 2013 Bowman Chrome and not Bowman or Bowman Draft, I don't have to go after any paper Bowman cards. YEAH!

BTW, this is the SECOND superfractor I've ever owned (and my NINTH 1/1 card overall). My first was a super of a Red Sock (of course), Ryan Pressly that I pulled myself in 2011 (I traded it away in 2012).

Now from the perspective of a fan I've also been blessed. I mean how many fans can claim to have met their favorite player in person? I know thousands of people consider Derek Jeter to be their favorite player, but I wonder what percentage of Jeter's fan base has actually had the opportunity to meet him in person, exchange fist pumps (or awkward handshakes) and have a conversation with him. I got to meet Luis quite a fair number of times in 2014 and although he's likely to forget all about me by 2015, I'll never forget how willing he was to put up with this insane fanboy.

Anyway apologies for making no sense and bantering throughout this whole post. I just wanted to express how grateful I am to be able to have such a great hobby and life(?). Although whether or not I expressed it properly is up to interpretation (I failed didn't I?). Also I really wanted to show off my new superfractor.

Now the only question (other than will I go for the rest of the rainbow, minus the plates, which is a definite YES) is, how the hell am I going to store this super?

Like this?

Now THIS is a glove box ;)

Ah screw it, I'll decide later.

As always thanks for stopping by and reading all of this Mary Jane-inspired text.
Take care ya'll :).

Friday, September 12, 2014

Y.O.L.O (Pt. II?)

I'm sure we all have at least one of these kinds of framed cards in our collection. A&G is a product that the vast majority of people on this blogosphere enjoys and the hits in it pretty much ALL come in frames and other products like Gypsy Queen and T206 also offer framed cards from time to time as well.

I've had two framed cards of Francisco Cervelli for a while now. An autograph from 2010 Topps 206 and a bat relic from 2011 A&G. I've had some trouble storing these because the frames are bulky and they stretch out the holders in my binder pages. And well... that's that type of thing I don't like.
So I decided to do this.

One could say I "destroyed" these cards (I certainly destroyed the resale value on these) but I say that I liberated these cards.
After seeing these minis entombed in those plastic chambers for so long, it's honestly quite refreshing to see them out.

I don't know about you but I like how my Cervy page is now set up. And yes I know that the relic mini is leaning.

So remember folks, don't be afraid to destroy your cards every once in a while.

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Off-Season Backstops

The offseason for the Yankees MiLB affiliate have begun. Despite this, I've been picking up minor league cards of Yankees prospects at an insane rate recently. From whole team sets to singles picked up from God-knows where (mostly eBay or COMC). Today I thought I'd share with you all some of the Yankee catchers I've been picking up recently.

One is a certified autograph of LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS from 2013 Panini Perennial Prizm Draft Picks. This one's been on my radar for a while but I never got around to scooping one up because it was a redemption. But once I saw a live one on eBay for a relatively decent price, I swooped in and it was mine.

Another Luis card from Panini, this time it's a die-cut from 2013 Elite Extra. According to Beckett Luis does not have a base card in 2013 EEE (which isn't a problem for me lol), but what he does have are autographs (all redemptions) and a few die cuts. This is an emerald die cut numbered to 25. As of this moment it's also the only Luis card in my collection that hasn't been autographed.

Gary Sanchez is somewhat of an enigma for me. I want to like him (he's a catcher and the Yankees top prospect) but for some reason I've never considered him a top priority when it comes to my collection. Maybe that'll change if I ever get to meet the guy but for now I feel like the only reason I'm collecting Sanchez is because he's a top Yankees prospect/backstop.

Gary's most recent MiLB card is this Brandt card featuring him as a Trenton Thunder. If all goes well he may get up to Scranton (AAA) next year.

I blogged about this particular Sanchez just yesterday. I still love how shiny and sparkly it is.

A Sanchez card from the 2013 FSL Top Prospect set. For people who collect players that were pretty darn good in the minors, its cards like this that drive them nuts.

Believe it or not, Romine had a pretty decent season in AAA this season. He only appeared in two games with the big league Yankees and wasn't one of the recent September call-ups. Okay scratch that, Cervelli got hurt again and Romine got called up to be the team's third catcher.

Technically this isn't a recent pick-up but I haven't acquired any Murphy cards in the past couple of months so I'm including this pickup from November 2013 anyway. At the time I overpaid for this refractor auto (cost me $5) which were going for $2.74 (on average) on eBay and COMC. One year later, I still think I overpaid.

I was initially torn on including this one because Bird is no longer a catcher and has been converted into a first baseman. However, there is a part of me that still considers Greg Bird a catcher and I'll probably continue to think so even if there's a good chance that he'll never wear the tools of ignorance again.
BTW, I love this card because of how fantastic the photo is. I consider it one of those "so HD that it looks like a really amazing painting" photos.

Although this is a cool one too since it's a minor league exclusive :).

What would a post about Yankees catchers on my blog be without Francisco Cervelli?
His minor league cards represent a huge hole in my collection, unfortunately plugging it up is not as cheap or fast as I would like it to be.

An even older Cervelli card. If memory serves this is pretty much the second card of Cervelli ever produced/distributed. The first was his card in the 2006 Staten Island Yankees team set. And the number one card on my most wanted list.

Now what would a post on my blog about Yankees prospects be without a Staten Island Yankee?
Representing the SI Yankees here is the Higster, Kyle Higashioka. He started his career strong but since then he's been pelted with injuries.

Here's an awesome name for you, Tyson Blaser.
Blaser was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2011 and has been climbing the ladder, falling off the ladder, and re-climbing the ladder up these past few years. He skipped SI altogether and was in Trenton in 2014 before landing on the DL late in the season.

Recently I picked up the 2014 Charleston Riverdogs set as it featured a lot of former Staten Island Yankees. One of them was Kale Sumner here, who I had the pleasure of meeting in person back in 2013. He looks calm and collected, but man is he a fierce competitor.

The other catcher in the Riverdogs team set was Eduardo De Oleo here. I first heard about Oleo in late 2013 when I saw a report on potential 2014-Staten Island Yankees. Oleo spent 2013 in the GCL but skipped Staten Island and went straight to Charleston in 2014. And judging from how he was doing well enough to keep LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS in Staten Island even after his rehab stint was over, he won't be coming to SI ever. Oddly enough he follows me on Twitter. Cool!

Ending on a bittersweet note, here's O'Brien's second-to-last last MiLB card as a member of the Yankees organization. Peter O'Brien was a home run hitting monster who kept getting moved around from position to position during his tenure with New York. Even though he's now in the Diamondbacks organization, his future position is still unclear. What is clear is that, ultimately, his bat will carry him. Hopefully it carries him far in a division that has two insanely hitter friendly parks and three insanely hitter killing parks. Far enough that the Yankees sign him as a free agent a few years down the line.

Anyway as you can probably tell I have a thing for home grown Yankee catchers. Growing up I was a catcher and the closest thing I have/had to a "favorite player growing up" was Jorge Posada. As such I consider homegrown Yankee catchers as Gods and free agent catchers from other teams as the most vile humans who ever existed (looking at you McCann and Stewart).
Basically this whole post full of cards that have been zoomed in unnecessarily is to announce that I have a new mini-collection. Homegrown Yankee Catchers in the post-Posada (or post-Jesus Montero) era. This is (currently) my third biggest priority. Right behind LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS (#1) and the Staten Island Yankees (#2), and in front of the T206 Highlanders (pretty distant #4).

I apologize in advance to PATP for ripping off his love of catchers (don't worry, a batch of Rangers cards are on their way to, hopefully, make up for it) and would like to thank the rest of you readers for stopping by. As always, take care :).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My First Japan-Fractor!

Hiya guys, I've been picking up a bunch of cards recently but I wanted to blog about this one in particular before the others.

As collectors I'm sure we all know about how Topps, Bowman and the other companies have started going crazy with parallels. You've got parallel cards that are available in every color known to man, you've got exclusive parallels given out at conventions like the National, you've got parallels are distributed exclusively online, and now you've also got parallels that are only available in other countries.

This is what is commonly referred to as a "Japan-fractor." These refractors are exclusive to products that had special Asian versions released in Japan, Taiwan, China, South Korea, and various other parts of Asia.
These Japan-fractors were first introduced to the collecting world in 2012 when the Japanese Edition of Bowman Sterling hit the market.

Photo Courtesy of Tatami Imports, Toronto

These special refractors feature a unique design that somewhat resembles the patterns (for lack of a better word) on tatami mats (traditional Japanese flooring mats made out of straw).
These refractors are always low-numbered parallels. If memory recalls the non-auto'd refractors in Bowman Sterling (both 2012 and 2013 versions) were numbered to 25, the autographed versions were numbered to five, and in 2014 Bowman Platinum these non-auto Japan-fractors are numbered to 35 (as of this moment I'm not sure if there are autographed ones).

Its so pretty!

Anyway the Gary Sanchez Japan-fractor above is from the Asian Edition of 2014 Bowman Platinum. To my knowledge it is now the third time a product has featured Japan-fractors. And I'm 100% sure that it's the first Japan-fractor in my collection. Considering how I'm a Japanese guy who spent one third of his life (so far) in Japan, this is LONG overdue.

It's numbered to 35!

I picked it up on eBay for $4.20 (hehe, 420) and most of it went to shipping. Ironically enough the seller was actually based in the US but no matter, I have my first Japan-fractor (technically it's my second Japan-fractor but I traded the first one I had months ago) and I can sleep well at night knowing that this post will give some of you team/player collectors nightmares about cards that you had no idea had existed (and never wanted to know they existed) and have little-to-no chance of ever obtaining. Thus causing them haunt your want lists for the rest of your lives. You're welcome.

I can't stop looking at it!

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

One more time ;)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

OT: Tick, Tick, BOOM!

As a human being, I enjoy listening to music.
I listen to a little bit of everything and find (or try to find) enjoyment in every genre (and sub-genre) that exists (even in languages I can't understand) but I do have my favorites.
One of the my favorite musical acts ever is the Swedish rock band The Hives.

I was first introduced to The Hive five back in 2007. They had just released their fourth album "The Black And White Album" and the lead single from that album Tick Tick Boom was really taking off after being used in movies, tv shows and commercials (no, I'm not ashamed to admit that I started liking a band after they got big). I loved how energetic the song was and how the band just came at you at full force.
Naturally I got interested in the rest of their music and thanks to the internet and some local mom and pop record stores I soon had their entire discography in my iPod.

The band consists of six members. Lead singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, guitarist Nicholaus Arson, guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem, bassist Dr. Matt Destruction, drummer Chris Dangerous and the mysterious Randy Fitzsimmons. Boy, and I thought the Americans gave their children weird names.
(Yes, I'm aware that those are all stage names the band members decided to give themselves).

Anyway, you're all probably wondering why I'm talking about a Swedish rock band that performs all their songs in English. Well I'll tell you why.

I picked up this card of Pelle Almqvist on eBay that's why. After reading Dime Box Nick's posts about cards that feature music acts I went out searching for some of my favorite recording artists who've been immortalized on cardboard. Now I suppose that this technically doesn't count since this is a playing card and you can find playing cards for lots of bands, but considering how The Hives don't have cards (playing ones or otherwise) I'll take what I can get.
Now one of the things on my bucket list is to see The Hives in person (their live performances are truly fantastic) and try to get Pelle's autograph on it.
And speaking of autographs...

I also picked up this signed booklet of the five-some's latest album Lex Hives (released in 2012). I only got the booklet but I already bought the CD on release day so I don't mind :).

This is the first time I ever went out of my way to collect anything other than CDs related to my favorite artists. Luckily I didn't suffer a huge financial hit this time but some of the other bands and artists I really like are going for a lot, so I'll probably wait until they fall into obscurity like the trillions of musical acts that came before them.

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

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

So It Ends....

So the Staten Island Yankees season came to an end the other day on 9/1/2014. I managed to get myself a ticket for a season finale that was surprisingly pretty empty (I think barely half of the stadium was filled) but still enjoyable nonetheless.

As always lets jump in with the autographs.

The first one I got was of Sean Carley, the starting pitcher for the SI Yanks on their last game of the 2014 season. Even though the last time I got to see/talk to him was in mid July he still remembered who I was and even asked where I've been. Naturally he had his serious business face on before the game but he was happy to sign for me regardless. Unfortunately the game didn't go smoothly for Carley as he allowed one unearned run and was pulled after 3 innings. Poor guy.

And of course Carley's battery-mate was blog hero Luis Torrens. Thanks to COMC I'd managed to obtain some more cards of LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS and had him sign three of them while giving him some extras and a SIY team set as a thank you present. These cards weren't the only thing Luis signed for me though. Oh and Luis went 1-2 with a single and a walk. BEAST!

The scanner ate the right side of my custom!

One of the few customs I still had waiting to be signed was of the manager Mario Garza. For some reason Garza was omitted from the team set but I made sure not to forget him in my customs set. When it comes to MiLB managers and coaches, it's best to get their autographs as quickly as possible. One season they might managing your local low-A team, the next season they're the third base coach for the double-A team in another state.

After the game ended I waited out back in the garage for one more player I wanted to get an autograph of, Sam Agnew-Wieland. Sam was with the Staten Island Yankees back in 2013 and for some reason in 2014. He's probably bound for Charleston next year and I wanted to say one last good-bye. I also managed to catch a few other guys like Matt Wotherspoon and Renzo Martini after the game too, although I didn't ask for their autographs.
So if I wasn't looking to obtain more autographs of the Baby Bombers, why was I waiting out back?

Well you see prior to the game I asked Luis if I could have his batting gloves after the game. Now I normally I don't ask players for their stuff but I decided to just take a chance and ask. I was expecting him to say no but instead he said yes. And sure enough Luis kept his word...

Look at those magnificent things. This is the first piece of game used memorabilia in my collection and I'm still trembling with excitement. I mean the fact that Luis said yes to my selfish request still hasn't sunk in yet, let alone how I actually have these babies in hand.

But Luis's awesomeosity didn't stop there, he also gave me this.

Yes, that is a genuine bat made for Luis Torrens. I was speechless when he gave this to me. So speechless that I only asked him to sign the gloves. Well okay, I didn't have him sign the bat because the bus was about take off and I didn't want to delay Luis or the other players wanting to go home any longer. To thank Luis I gave him a Staten Island Yankees team set and a special SI Yankee hat that was custom made for the fourth of July. I'm pretty sure he already had one hat like it, but I figured I'd get him something.

With this, Luis has pretty much become my number 1 favorite player of all time. No question.

So with the insanely awesome out of the way, let me just quickly jot down the rest of the notables.
*The Staten Island Yankees lost to the Brooklyn Cyclones 1-3. The Yankees came into the game looking to spoil Brooklyn's chances of making it to the playoffs and even the score with their crosstown rivals. Unfortunately they failed at keeping the Cyclones down but it didn't really matter as the Connecticut Tigers (the other team competing for the wild card) won against the Lowell Spinners and the Cyclones season ended anyway. HAHA.

*The SI Yankees gave away free ice cream bowls to the first 2,500 fans in attendance. I doubt that 2,500 people actually came to the park but hey, I'm always down for free Yankees themed dinnerware. BTW, the Yankees were also serving free ice cream to expecting mothers. A lot of couples in attendance were joking around with getting the girlfriend in the relationships pregnant on purpose for free ice cream.

*The crowd waiting in the garage after the game consisted mainly of Brooklyn Cyclones fans. And good grief, those Brooklyn baseball fans obnoxious.

*Even though Luis gave me his batting gloves, he never used them during the game. In fact he went bare-handed every time he stepped up to the plate. I'd like to say he was preserving them for me but the more likely reason is that Luis knows guy rule number 4. REAL MEN DON'T USE BATTING GLOVES.

I'm working on a post where I review the Staten Island Yankees season as a whole but in the meantime, this marked the last Staten Island Yankee game of 2014 and pretty much the end of my summer too.
Huge thanks to all of the wonderful players I got to meet and speak to this season (Yankees org or otherwise) and the wonderful people I got to meet along the way too.

And as always thank you the readers for stopping by to read these "look at these autographs I got" posts. It means a lot to me.
And of course, take care :).

2014 IP Count: 147