Saturday, February 28, 2015

Number 10 Of The 10th Best (For Now)

Sorry if that post title made you go "huh?" It needs to be taken into context to make any sense (even then it probably still won't).

As you all know Luis Torrens is my favorite player of all time. I'm sure you all have become familiar with his name because I keep bringing it up but outside of my blog he's started to make his presence known among various prospecting circles.

During the offseason when there's nothing else to write about, a bunch of top prospect rankings came out from various sources (some were good, some were bad and some were just lazy rewrites of other lists). Torrens didn't appear on too many lists this winter except for the top Yankees prospects lists. Don't worry, next year he'll be taking Buxton/Bryant's place as the best minor leaguer in all of baseball I'm sure.

On most of the Yankees prospects lists, Torrens could usually be found in the number 8-11 range.
His position largely depended on when that list was constructed. For the more recent/up to date lists Torrens has been pushed down one slot to account for Domingo German who was acquired from the Marlins in a trade.

Anyway I went to Barnes & Nobles the other day because A). it's right next to Target and B). I wanted to read the new Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
In the book he was ranked as the ninth best prospect in the Yankees org in 2014 BG (Before German) so I'm guessing he's since been bumped down to tenth best. BA also gave him a 55 grade and labeled him a high risk. Normally I'd throw a fit but then again every prospect is a risk. Yes, even Bryant.

I took a look through some other baseball related magazines/publications that had prospect lists.

Sporting Life ranked Torrens as the 10th best prospect in the Yankees org.
Athlon Sports ranked Torrens as the 9th best prospect in the Yankees org.
Baseball Prospectus just mentioned that he drew comparisons to Miguel Gonzalez, Brandon Snyder and Tomas Telis.

All four of the publications I've mentioned wrote the same bio for Luis. He spent some time in Charleston, really opened some eyes in Staten Island, is a wiz defensively despite originally being an infielder, and has good make up. That's basically been the 2014 offseason edition of the LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS story.

The point remains that Torrens has basically been the consensus 10th best prospect in the Yankees org all winter long. Now by this time next year I'm sure that the zero in that number will be dropped and he'll be recognized as a far more superior catcher player than Blake Swihart, Kyle Schwarber and Babe Ruth combined.

But for now that's a good starting point.

Especially since I just got this in the other day.
This is the green prismatic auto of Luis Torrens from 2014 Leaf Metal Draft.

As you can see it's numbered 10/10.
For once I actually have the parallel numbered to 10 out of the way for a rainbow I'm (kind of) working on.

As Torrens gains more and more of a following I've found that I've started to really have to wrestle with investors who just want to make a profit in the future. The good thing about that is that if Torrens unfortunately flops, I can find his cards all in a few select places and not scattered around everywhere. The bad thing is that if he pans out they're going to be very expensive. I fear that gone are the days when a Luis Torrens Bowman Chrome autograph could be had for single digits.

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2014 Calbee: Shohei Ohtani (Future Dodger or Yankee?)

Rough Translation:
Recorded his first shutout victory on May 13th of this year (2014). In June he threw consecutive 160 km/hour pitches and by the end of June he led the team with 7 wins. As a hitter he's hit three home runs. In the All Star Game, he was selected as a pitcher as opposed to last year where he was an outfielder, he's going to compete as both a pitcher and a hitter going forward.


Man, was that translation rough. I often state that some of the Japanese phrases don't translate well in Japanese and this gave me the most trouble I've ever had translating Japanese into English. Then again I suck at both languages.

Anyway, this was one of my favorite pickups during my brief vacation to Japan during the holidays. Some of you may have heard about Shohei Otani (who is for some reason spelled Ohtani on the card) since he made some buzz in 2012 when he was considering coming stateside. Now some of you may be wondering why that's buzz worthy.

It was buzz worthy because he was one of the top tier talents going into the NPB draft that year to ever consider coming to the US first. The thing about most of the Japanese players that have come stateside is that more than 90% of them have played in the NPB before coming to the majors. Only rarely do Japanese players bypass the draft and come directly. The only cases I can remember are Junichi Tazawa, Mac Suzuki and a few no names that flamed out in the minors. And these guys only came here directly because they weren't good enough to get drafted by the 12 NPB teams in the first place (although the Tazawa story is a bit more complicated and messier). Meanwhile Otani was projected to be (and did end up as) a first overall draft pick. He had a 100 mph fastball that drew the attention of the Dodgers, Red Sox and Yankees' scouting departments and even tied the record for fastest pitch ever thrown in the NPB with a 101 mph heater.

Now I've said this before but I've ALWAYS wanted for a potential top prospect like Otani to come to the United States directly, develop here and really show what the Japanese are made of. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of the Japanese players that come over here spend some time in the NPB first. That's good and all but the overall track record for Japanese players that played in the NPB first and then came here has been mediocre and bordering on bad territory. Just once I'd like to see someone who's one of the premier youngsters in Japan come here, get brought up in the minor leagues here in America and show what they can do with the same training they received as everybody else. I guarantee that with a large enough sample size they'd show significantly better results than the Fukudomes or Matsuzakas of the past.

Unfortunately I knew this wasn't going to happen though. I mean there's a reason the Japanese leagues are so stingy about players who aren't in the NPB's grasp yet coming to America. If the MLB took every top undrafted Japanese player while they're a teenager, who's going to be left in Japan to keep the legacy and tradition of the NPB going and more importantly draw fans (that advertisers want to sell their products to) to the NPB?  Nobody.
Now imagine what would've happened if Otani came to the states and actually succeeded. It would've been phenomenal and inspirational for hundreds, maybe thousands of kids playing baseball in Japan. And then they'd all want to come to the MLB directly just like Otani and bypass the NPB. A whole generation of talent/future revenue lost to another baseball organization, every baseball organization's worst nightmare.
And you'd better believe there's a precedent for this. Just look at the way the MLB is exploiting and importing talent from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and various other Latin American countries. I've heard rumblings about how the baseball leagues over there aren't too thrilled.

That typed however, the MLB has had a hard-on for globalization neocolonialism for a while and they know damn well that the Asian market is an insanely big and profitable market. I remember reading some articles suggesting that the only thing keeping the MLB at bay from conquering the Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese baseball landscapes completely is the Pacific Ocean. Once technology improves and transportation is no longer a problem, you'd better believe that we'll have MLB teams in Japan and shortly thereafter in various other parts of the world that we didn't know even existed (let alone played baseball).

Wow, that was bleak (but probably going to end up being true around the time I theoretically have grandchildren).
Let's get back to Otani the player. Otani ended up signing with the Nippon Ham Fighters (yes, the Ham Fighters haha) under the condition that he could be both a pitcher AND an outfielder. For the most part he's managed to not screw anything up (i.e. get hurt) and because of his strong desire to come to the MLB you can bet that various scouting departments and fan bases will have their eyes on him for years to come. However, I have heard that his future in the MLB (should he have one) is as a pitcher so it might be best for him to fine tune his pitching arsenal as much as possible in the NPB. That said, it's hard to say no to a guy who wants to break the status quo and do both pitching AND hitting. That's badass. He failed to break the other status quo so lets see how long he can keep breaking this one (although I bet he's one injury away from having to choose once and for all).

Anyway thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Thursday, February 19, 2015

En Fuego

Last year I declared that I wasn't going to make trade posts anymore (twice actually). But this isn't as easy as one would think it is.

On one hand I don't have to spend time blogging about how I got some cards from person x, on the other hand a lot of people I send cards to take time out of their busy lives to blog about the stuff that I send them. On top of that, many customize their trade packages to suit my very weird tastes and collecting habits. Also, I might be a bit of a hypocrite seeing as how I still blog about trades made with international guys not named The Dutch Card Guy.

Now I'm grateful for any card package sent my way. The thought of somebody taking the time to put a bunch of cards into a bubble mailer and then have to deal with their local post office just to send me stuff is touching.
However, sometimes you get a package so mind-blowingly awesome that you can't help but think how much time, thought and money the other person put into that package. And for a guy like me who supposedly doesn't blog about trades, it's hard to go on and not acknowledge the other person's greatness.

Enter defgav from Baseball Card Breakdown. Although he was not involved in my Christmas wave of Zippy Zappings (nothing personal Gav, I just didn't have enough stuff to send you back in December), I accumulated enough cards for him in Japan and he was in my first Zippy Zapping wave here in 2015.

In return he sent me this purple On-Fire die cut auto from 2014 Leaf Valiant.

It's numbered 17/25 and leaves me two pieces away from a plate-less rainbow. The yellow numbered to 10 (WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE THE YELLOW ONES NUMBERED TO 10?!) and the 1/1.

In addition to the purple LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS, he sent along a bunch of A-Rods I didn't have, some prospects and a bunch of retail parallels.

Alright, I can't budge on my no trade post rule, so here's another Torrenator I picked up recently to balance it out.
This is a orange ice parallel and its numbered 14 of 25. Now all I need is a regular silver ice and the 1/1 white ice and I'll have all five Torrenators ices.

Anyway thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Weekend TTM Roundup: 2/9-2/14

Received On: 2/9/2015

My only return this week came from ex-Yankee, Bob Cerv.
Bob Cerv was signed as a free agent by the Yankees before 1950 and made his MLB debut on August 1st, 1951. He was basically a bench guy who saw limited action in his first six seasons with the Yankees. Although he did win a World Series ring with the Yankees in 1956.
Before 1957 he had been sold to the Kansas City Royals where he saw more playing time and somewhat broke out. Especially in 1958 when he posted a career high 6.3 bWAR, was picked for the MLB All Star Game (beating out Ted Williams at that) and was a nominee for the AL MVP.
Midway through 1960 Cerv was traded back to the Yankees but half a year later was shipped out to the Angels as part of the expansion draft. He was traded back to the Yankees the next season and then was purchased by the Houston Colt .45s/Astros. He was released by Houston one month later and never returned to the big leagues.

And as you can see I didn't ask Mr. Cerv for a "Cervin' Up Cards" inscription. That era of this blog has passed now. Plus I doubt we would've been able to see it anyway. I can barely make out Cerv's signature written in pen.

Regardless big thanks to Mr. Cerv for my only return this week.
And as always thank you (the reader) for stopping by. Take care :).

2015 TTM Count: 12


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Every Little Bit Counts I Guess

That shiny card you see there is a shimmer refractor from 2014 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects.
As the name of the parallel suggests, it shimmers and shines in a cool way.

I picked it up on eBay last month and so far it's been the only one I've seen hit the Bay so far. I guess it's a combination of how these parallels are exclusive to super jumbo boxes of 2014 Bowman Draft and because it's numbered to 15. IE, another gimmicky parallel designed to move an unnecessary product and piss off player collectors.

Still, the seller gave me a $3 discount and I guess every dollar I can save during my mad conquest for Torrenators is a plus. Especially since I'm conflicted on whether or not to keep going with this rainbow of LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSS. On one hand, these parallels don't seem to be popping up as much as Torrens' parallels in Bowman Chrome. On the other hand I need to save/divert funds to other cards Torrens might have in the future like Pro Debut or Heritage Minors or Platinum or Sterling. Such is the struggle/fear/anxiety for player collectors who chose to collect prospects right in the midst of the prospecting era I guess. I already have enough cards to chase, I don't need anymore. Which of course means that Torrens is going to be in all four (and more) isn't it?

Also, I appear to have let the 1/1 blank back slip by which is a bit of a bummer. Hopefully the Torrenatrix tears it up in the SAL this year so some people will start selling his rarer cards like this one.

Anyway thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Thursday, February 5, 2015

OT: Sia - Chandelier

So here's another off topic post where I talk about a song that got popular for a while but after being freed from the shackles of overplay, can be looked at more thoroughly.
Although please keep in mind that this post is nothing but my opinions/thoughts and observations. Take them with a grain of salt.

So before this song came out my knowledge of Sia was limited. I knew she was a indie-pop singer who had an underground following and then wrote music behind the scenes for pop stars like Rihanna and others, and then started singing herself on tracks that were popular in the mainstream media (David Guetta's Titanium for example). But I was pretty much oblivious to her work outside of that David Guetta song.

Then Sia's Chandelier crept up in the mainstream in 2014. Before I say anything else I'll say right now that I like it. The lyrics are thought provoking (as far as songs you see on the charts go), the music isn't boring and Sia sounds like she's giving her all into her vocal performance.

Describing the song itself might be a little more difficult. On the one hand you can say it's powerful, on the other hand you could argue that it's anything but.

In recent years pop music has had a focus on "club music." Songs DJs play at clubs and house parties that people dance to or try to hit on others while listening to. And at those clubs and parties, there just might be the type of party girl Sia is describing in her song.

What kind? The one who is always up for going to a party because she has no life and gets absolutely wasted every time.
I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelierI'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't existLike it doesn't existI'm gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dryI'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
She's going to get so drunk that she's going to swing from a chandelier, she's going to live like tomorrow doesn't exist, she's going to fly like a bird, etc...

But I'm holding on for dear life, won't look down won't open my eyesKeep my glass full until morning light, 'cause I'm just holding on for tonight
Only even she knows that this is all just a cover to hide her unfulfilling life.
She also knows that that high that makes her feel alive is fleeting.

Help me, I'm holding on for dear life, won't look down won't open my eyesKeep my glass full until morning light, 'cause I'm just holding on for tonightOn for tonight
In the lyrics this party girl feels like she's holding on for dear life for "tonight." She asks for help. She's afraid to "look down" or "open her eyes."

1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink
Throw 'em back, till I lose count
But she keeps drinking like "1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink" to "push it down" and so she can "feel her tears dry." I'm sure you all can infer what that means.
Sun is up, I'm a messGotta get out now, gotta run from thisHere comes the shame, here comes the shame
Then morning comes. She knows she's a wreck and that she needs to get out from either the party or her current lifestyle (up to interpretation I guess). Then her shame comes and wreaks havoc on her conscious some more.

So up until this point some of you may be wondering exactly how I can say that this girl has no life (or at least a life that's unfulfilling) and how is covering that fact up by partying.
I'm the one "for a good time call"Phone's blowin' up, they're ringin' my doorbellI feel the love, feel the love
Well at the beginning of the song this party girl proclaims that she is "the one 'for a good time call'" and how everybody is blowing up her phone and knocking at her door to invite her to these parties. When this happens she feels the love.

This is nothing more than my interpretation but personally I consider that a huge part of the song that speaks volumes.
There aren't too many details about what this woman does other than party (we're not sure if she even does anything else at that). But what's clear is that this woman feels empty inside. The only time she doesn't is when everybody is blowing up her phone and ringing her doorbell inviting her to come to various parties since they all know she's up for a good time.  At these moments she feels "love" or she feels like she's wanted or possibly like she has a reason to exist. Either way this is all it takes for her to continue partying.

So to recap, we have a woman who goes to parties a lot to hide the fact that she has no life, so she drowns her sorrows in alcohol and reaches a temporary high that gives her confidence to "swing from chandeliers." But try as she might in the back of her head she knows that she's messed up, scared and full of self-pity. However she can't bring herself to leave this cycle either since the only time she doesn't feel empty is whenever she's invited to these parties and alcohol makes her feel alive.
Or at least those were my takeaways from this song.

Laying all that out, I can't help but somewhat feel like a song where so much passion and energy was put into the vocals and the instrumentals might've been better if the subject matter was a little more heavier. I mean I like the subject matter for what it is (I guess), but after listening to this song over 100 times in a row I'm still conflicted on how I'm supposed to feel about a girl with basically no life. Am I supposed to feel sorry for her? Am I supposed to just think that she brought this all on herself and deserves it? Am I supposed to relate to her even though I, myself, don't do that much clubbing or partying? Judging from how the story doesn't seem to have an ending I guess all I can really do is observe that this woman has a problem.
Although in retrospect I guess this probably holds more meaning to the young partygoers in their late teens to late 20's and not some 20-something college kid who blogs about baseball cards.

According to this review on Vulture Hound, this song appears to have been somewhat inspired by how Sia's life was after her boyfriend was killed in a traffic accident.
Whether or not the party girl in this song had the same type of life event that created that kind of emptiness in her life isn't clear, but if that were case it'd probably get more of a reaction out of me other than me liking this but not knowing what I'm supposed to do with it.

Now as for the music video (which is directed by Sia and Daniel Askill), we see a little girl dancing in a dim setting in a leotard and wig. I'd say that that's a similar but also different interpretation of the song (or at least different from my interpretation). Like the party girl in the song exposing herself, the dancing girl is exposed. The backgrounds are bleak and boring so there's nothing to focus on but the girl and the music. Basically it doesn't use any gimmicks or tricks. It somewhat expects the viewers to sit down and pay attention throughout the whole thing. A Herculean task for us 21st century people with six second attention spans.

Anyway like I said, I really do like this song. I don't think it's the best song released in 2014 (sorry Sia, nobody can beat KONGOS) but I do think it's one of the better songs I heard that was in the top 10 iTunes sales chart. The way Sia sings the chorus with so much energy really does a nice job of aurally representing the highs when one has ingested way too much mind expanding substances. But she's smart enough to not forget the negatives. It might sound slow and like some generic drinking song to some people (BTW, going the Kendrick Lamar route and making a drinking song out of a song that's about something more serious that's flying over people's heads is genius, and a bit tragic, IMO). Anyway I like this song and I find that it deserves to be as successful as it's been.

I'd like to end this post with one more observation that's more about Sia herself. In almost all of the songs Sia's appeared on that caught on in the mainstream she doesn't make an appearance. And the same goes for this song. Heck, she even turned her back to the camera during her live performance of this song on Ellen. I'm not sure exactly why Sia's refusing to show her face considering how much of herself she's already exposing to the public via her music (actually I think I might've answered my own question there), but it wouldn't surprise me if some people only remembered her like the most people remember Michael Sembello (the guy who made Maniac). Nobody can recall their faces since they never appeared in the music videos for their notable hits and people only have an image of a female dancing in a leotard when they hear their hit songs. Although I guess people would still be able to remember that Sia is the performer as opposed to how some people probably think the artist behind Maniac is called Flashdance.

So that was one of the first really off topic posts on this blog. Thanks to all of you who tolerated my gibberish and ramblings throughout this post. If you any of you have some thoughts on this song I'd love to hear/read them.

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

Sources/References/Good reads ;)
*Lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics
*Vulture Hound Magazine: Sia - Chandelier (Single Review)
*Music Times: Review Sia Glistens on 'Chandelier'
*Pitchfork's Chandelier Review
*Time: Sia's "Chandelier" Is The Year's Most Sobering Party Anthem

Monday, February 2, 2015

Welcome To The Club

In 2014 everybody on this blogosphere was obsessed with the return of Stadium Club.

But that's not the club I'm here to talk about today.
While everybody was busy focusing on Stadium Club, I was secretly working on my own club. Two of them actually. The Luis Torrens fan club and the "People who have a T206 in their collection" club.

The latter was one that I only mentioned once (as a joke at that) but one that (I think) I was working on while on the sidelines.

Of course it all started last year when I finally picked up a T206 of my own and put myself in the club. The Hal Chase you see above (Note: The Hal Chase has been moved and so I replaced it with a scan of my beloved Chesbro).
The feeling of getting a card from a set so iconic and more importantly so old as the T206 set is quite something. And that something was powerful enough for me to keep scooping up more when the price was right and to give them away when I felt that somebody else should have the privilege of adding such a big piece of cardboard history to their collection.

And I did that three times in 2014. First with Night Owl Cards, then with The Lost Collector and near the end of the year with Waiting 'til Next Year.
I could be wrong but for the most part it looked like they didn't mind finally adding a card that's so frigging old to their respective collections.

And here in 2014 I've already introduced one more person to the club. As I gave my collecting buddy Mr. Anco in Japan a T206 for his Indians PC.
That's four people I've managed to introduce to the club so far. Unfortunately I came to the blogosphere too late to introduce guys like Nick or Fuji or Dan or Mark H. to the club, but despite that there will be a fifth person soon enough.

So yes, all of this was some half-assed and convoluted way to say that I've sent out another wave of Zippy Zappings, and one (maybe more?) of you guys will find your days-without-a-T206-in-my-collection streak finally broken. Enjoy the sleepless nights caused by anticipation and the disappointment when you realize it wasn't you.

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