Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cotham City

I was originally going to go see a SI Yankees game today but because Mother Nature is on her period again I decided to skip it.


Instead I wanted to talk about another MLB debut by a guy who's been in the Yankees org for a while. This time with Caleb Cotham.

Cotham had been middling in the Yankees system for years but the team thought enough of him to hold onto him. And the other day he made his MLB debut in the midst of a day where trade rumors flying left and right had people forgetting that actual games were being played.

He was added to shortly after Chris Capuano got the boot. He went 1 2/3 innings pitched with four strikeouts. I'd love to embed a video but MLB video isn't allowing me to do so right now so here's a link.

I assume he'll be sent down again as the Yankees like to keep their arms fresh and ready to go whenever the game calls for them to be thrown into a game. Still, it's nice to see another homegrown Yankee climb the ranks and make his MLB debut. Hopefully Nick Goody (who I blogged about a few days ago) gets an actual MLB inning under his belt soon too.

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

OT: Rugrats - Baseball

Hello there, I thought I'd do something a bit different today and talk about an episode of a TV show. As some of you can probably tell, today I'll be talking about the episode "Baseball" from the awesome cartoon Rugrats.


Because I grew up in the late 90's/early 00's, Rugrats was ubiquitous in my childhood. I spent so many hours planted in front of the TV watching marathon upon marathon of Rugrats. Despite that Nickelodeon never really aired the really earlier episodes too often. A lot of the episodes I saw were from the post first movie era (the Dil Era as fans call it). That said, it's always fun to revisit Rugrats (especially the first season where the art was almost like a surreal painting), even as a "mature" adult.

Now let's get to the episode itself shall we?

Plot:


Grandpa Lou wins three tickets to a local baseball game via a radio show and takes his son Stu and his grandson Tommy to see the Grizzlies (city undefined) take on the Boston Boomers. There Tommy loses his Grizzlies balloon and goes on an adventure to find the balloon.

Mind Blowing Fact:

I never realized it until recently, but you know who was the composer for most (if not all) of the songs featured on Rugrats? It's none other than Mark Mothersbaugh. Yes, the lead singer of Devo created songs for Rugrats.


Notable Baseball Tidbits:

As an episode sort of focused on baseball there were a few fun things I picked up while I was watching it. The one I really want to talk about first is a baseball card trade that happened.


During the episode Tommy finds himself carried over to the announcer's booth via the popcorn vendor Dominic (who speaks with an strong Italian accent) who then negotiates a baseball card trade with one of the play-by-play guys for the radio station K-Old (lol) named Chuck. You know what the trade they negotiated on?

Chuck Trades Away: A "Perfect Condition" Willie Mays
Dominic Trades Away: One (Darryl) Strawberry and one Vida Blue

Now it's not really clear what the cards were but let's assume these were vintage cards (minus the Strawberry). Either way my reaction was HOLY MACKEREL, THAT'S A STEAL IF I EVER HEARD ONE!
This episode was created sometime in early 1991 (possibly 1990) which was before the Darryl Strawberry story spiraled out of control in a whirlwind of mediocrity and cocaine. So to me this is a pretty good snapshot of a point in time where people would actually trade vintage Willie Mays cards for Darryl Strawberry cards (and Vida Blue cards apparently). Not bad for a fictional baseball card trade.

Despite the fact that real live baseball players were mentioned, most of the players we actually see playing in this game/episode are fake.


The most prominent one is Bucky Majors. I assume his name is based on Bucky Dent and Major League Baseball. Although his appearance reminds me of Jose Canseco.
BTW, this very plot starts when Grandpa Lou answers this trivia question,

"What player in the history of baseball, hit the most homers on a second Tuesday and every Monday (in) April for all time in eternity?"

The answer? Bucky Majors! Yes in the Rugrats world Bucky Majors (number 6) is so great he's a "three time hall of famer" and a cornerstone of the Grizzlies franchise. At least according to the other play-by-play guy Hank (who's a former player too apparently).


He's such a big man that he does practice swings with multiple bats when he's on deck. And his bat "lucky number three" is so heavy the batboy struggles to lift it up. And when he makes contact with the ball he literally hits the cover off of the baseball. Man, I'd love to see his ISO lol.


BTW, although the final play in this game involved Bucky Majors catching a pop up (and Tommy), I'm guessing it'd be ruled fan interference in our world. Tommy reached out for the baseball and altered the play. For all we know that could've been a game tying home run.


The only other fictional player that was actually named and seen was "Crazy Legs" Magill. According to Hank the play-by-play guy for K-Old (lmao), Magill is an inconsistent pitcher who either pitches no hitters or walks everybody.

The interesting thing about Crazy Legs here is that the people behind this episode kind of messed up one major thing about him.
The goof is that Crazy Legs is depicted wearing the opposing team (the Boston Boomers) uniform even though he's supposed to be a member of the Grizzlies. I can say this for a fact because the very batter he's pitching to is wearing the same uniform. And because the Grizzlies/Bucky Majors were fielding when he came onto the mound.


There was one other pitcher mentioned by the name of Huskie, or possibly Haskal or Hasco or something that began with an h and had a c/k/q sound in the middle. He was the pitcher Crazy Legs Magill came in to relieve. I'm not entirely sure who he is but we did see one other Grizzlies pitcher in this episode (the guy above) who had a logic defying curveball so for all I know it could be that guy.


For those of you who are curious, the Grizzlies one 1-0 over Boston. YEAH! EVEN THE RUGRATS WORLD DOESN'T LIKE BOSTON!


One last notable baseball tidbit is that the the team Stu and Grandpa Lou root for are the Grizzlies. In our world there is a professional baseball team called the Grizzlies, the Fresno Grizzlies. It's been long speculated that the Rugrats is set somewhere on the west coast of America, probably somewhere in California, and Fresno is indeed in California. That said the Fresno Grizzlies have always been a minor league team and the Rugrats' Grizzlies were a major league team (or at least appeared to be one). Also, the Grizzlies appear to be the visiting team and Boston appears to be the home team. And yet there are blimps and scoreboards saying "Go Grizzlies" even though Boston is the home team. So does this mean the Rugrats is set in Boston? Ugh, my head hurts.

Rugrats Related Tidbits:

Grandpa Lou (Left), Stu (Right with purple hair)

Well in this episode Grandpa Lou claims to have been a minor league baseball player at one point back in 1942 before his career ended due to "the war and all." Grandpa Lou is known to say a lot of things in this series so we don't know if it's true but hey, it's something.


I've referenced it a few times in this post already but the radio station that broadcasts these baseball games is called K-Old. The station's official slogan is "Music for the old and old at heart." LMFAO, this is what I love about Rugrats. These jokes you notice when you're older (although this is admittedly one of the weaker ones in the series).

Anything else?


During the episode the bear mascot for the Grizzlies had a really nice chant going.
"Boomers, Boomers take a hike,
You're the team that we don't like."

I love that chant. I've replaced Boomers with Boston and turned it into one of my favorite things to yell ever.
"Boston, Boston take a hike. You're the team that we don't like!"

It's perfect!

Final Thoughts


All in all I loved this episode. I've been binge watching Rugrats (and it's spinoff All Grown Up) recently and I was glad I had a chance to talk about Rugrats on this blog. These season 1 episodes of Rugrats are especially great. It might be the animation or the limited dialogue (for the most part) but something about these really early episodes just seems inviting and surreal.

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

Note, the images used here are property of Nickelodeon/Viacom.

Monday, July 27, 2015

#YearOfTheProspect

In case you haven't noticed the running theme of 2015 has been the ascension of several top prospects. From the top tier guys like Byron Buxton, Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor to the top in their organization guys like Michael Conforto or Aaron Nola, we've seen a lot of guys make it. And although it remains to be seen what happens going forward, we're probably going to see a lot more well before September (Corey Seager anyone?).

Surprisingly enough the Yankees are in on this trend as well. Although he was only up for a whopping four games Robert Refsnyder was finally promoted to the big leagues and several former top prospects like Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams made it, as did solid top organization prospects like Jacob Lindgren, Ramon Flores and Nick Rumbelow.


Well now we can add Nick Goody to that list.

Nick Goody is a guy I've mentioned a few times on here. He's a reliever who throws a fastball, slider and change up and was drafted out of college as a polished reliever who projected to zoom through the Yankees organization in a hurry. Unfortunately Tommy John surgery slowed his roll but after he came back he just chugged along and BAM, he's in the big leagues now.


This season Goody absolutely destroyed hitters in double-A and triple-A. According to Fangraphs Goody had a 2.18 FIP (1.73 ERA) in 41.2 innings pitched in double-A and he had a -0.13 FIP (1.35 ERA) in 6.2 innings pitched in triple-A. This is a very small sample size but I'd be lying if I said these weren't pretty numbers. Basically two years removed from the surgery, Goody is now in the big leagues and is ready to show the world and more importantly the Yankees just how deep and effective their relief corps are both in the majors and down on the farm.


I hope Goody gets at least one game under his belt and he manages to impress Yankees brass enough that they'll call him back up in September.
That said he's already done wonders for the Yankees ballclub as his promotion to the big leagues involved having to DFA Gregorio Petit from the 40-man roster. Which is addition by subtraction at it's finest.

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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Fan Package

It's not everyday you get a package from a major league baseball team.


Earlier today my mailbox had this brownish mailer sent to me from Yankee Stadium, the very place I ironically ranted about a few days ago. What was inside?


Why a Yankees fan pack of course.

For those of you who don't know a fan pack is an assortment of goodies a team sends to you (if they do fan packs that is) for free. Sometimes you'll have to mail in a post card or fill out an online form (they basically just want your name and address). The latter was the case for this fan pack from the Yankees. They tweeted out an online form to get one and I signed up for one after failing to get one via postcard last year.

There were four things inside this fan pack.


1). Perfect Cut Decal

This is basically the kind of sticker you put on the windows of your car.


2). Die Cut Magnet

A magnet for your fridge.


3). Keychain

The Yankees want you to attach it to your keys so they can track them down and find which one is the key to your heart.


4). Pencil

In this age where everybody texts each other using a touch screen surface (or a keyboard) being able to write with a utensil may become a lost art. Then again even when writing utensils were at their peak, barely 10% of humans were able to write neatly.

Pretty simple package for being a "loyal Yankees* fan."

Have any of you ever gotten a fan pack from your favorite teams?
As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

*organization

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Little Help

So a little while back I got some more 50/50's. For those of you who missed my first post on it, 50/50's are when you send cards to another person who has a shot at getting them autographs and you usually send along extras for that person to keep for themselves (usually to get signed as well).

Well this wasn't quite a 50/50 but it was another case where I had help from people in high places.

Through Twitter I've met several wonderful people and I'll keep most of them anonymous for privacy's sake but they have helped me and my PC. I usually don't like to bother this person and I definitely don't ask this person for help obtaining autographs either, but they offered to help so I sent along a couple of cards I was hoping could be signed along with a few SIY programs for them to keep.

I guess it paid off because this time I obtained autographs of two players I didn't have a chance of obtaining otherwise.


One of them is a really good infielder (primarily third baseman) we mortals all refer to as Miguel Andujar.
Andujar is a top prospect in the Yankees organization. He's a solid defender over at third (although there are still kinks he needs work out) who projects to be able to stay at the hot corner for years to come. His biggest asset is his said to be his arm which can throw mid-90's heat if he wants it to. Offensively he projects to be a solid hitter with a fair bit of power. This season he's left mixed results with the bat (some insanely good stretches and some insanely bad stretches) but through it all he still has a ISO over .110 (according to Fangraphs) showing he has a ton of power. He won the Florida State League Home Run Derby after all. The guy is still only 20 years old at high-A (he's very young for that level) and there is still plenty of time for his bat to come around. If he takes that next big step forward, he could make Eric Jagielo a very expendable piece for the Yankees.


And the other autograph was of Ericson Leonora.
Signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Yankees back in 2008. He finally came stateside in 2012 and he's done fairly well since then. Although he's been dangled back and forth between rookie ball and full season A-ball a few times, he's finally been able to stay with the Tampa Yankees all season long this year and he's already appeared in more games as a pro than ever before. Although his numbers don't exactly leap off of the page, he's work in progress. In a system with a glut of outfielders in the upper levels (and the lower levels) Leonora has his work cut out for him, but I'm looking forward to seeing how he develops from here.

So thanks again to the gentleman who helped me get these. For privacy's sake I won't say your name but just know I really appreciate these.

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

Monday, July 20, 2015

Bobblin'

So after my abysmal experience at Yankee Stadium, I washed the awful taste of MLB out of my mouth with another Staten Island Yankees game on Saturday (which I didn't get to blog about yesterday due to my weekly TTM post). And man, that awful MLB stadium humbled me and reminded me to be really blessed that I have minor league baseball.


As always I'll start with the autographs.


Now because I had most of the Staten Island Yankees I decided to go for the Lowell Spinners (the Red Sox's NYPL affiliate). Big mistake. It took 40 minutes for most of the players to come out and in that span I only got one signature. Luis Ramon who is the signature on the right. Originally I intended to get a bunch of Spinners autographs on the ticket for a Red Sox fan I know but that became impossible. Why?

Because none of the other Spinners signed. I asked for guys like Tate Matheny and Jordon Austin but no luck. Now to be clear it's not like they were a-holes or just rudely ignored me. No, they were just busy working out and stretching and I can understand that. So I basically made my way over the Staten Island Yankees side to see some familiar faces.


I immediately got Jonny Drozd. This time I had prepared a custom with a better picture (courtesy of Robert Pimpsner over at Pinstriped Prospects).


Then I got Josh Rogers who had just signed with the Yankees like last week. He's the signature on the left of the ticket stub. I'll have to get to work on his custom immediately.


Then I got Travis Hissong. Hissong has been one of the coolest players I've spoken with this year and to thank him I made another custom for him and also gave him an uncut sheet of my customs including Travis himself and the two players I know he's really cool with (those two being Ethan Carnes and Kyle Holder).


My last autograph from this game was one I actually got during the game. That pretty girl you see there is Katlyn Cohen, one of the Pinstripe Patrol members. The Pinstripe Patrol are a cheerleading group/dance group for the Staten Island Yankees who entertain guests between innings during games, mainly by elaborate dance routines or just helping guests chosen for random activities. Miss Cohen is a Staten Island native and actually won the Miss Staten Island Scholarship Pageant this year. You can read more about that at this link on SILive.


The game itself was pretty good, and very tidy too. You'd think that a game between a Yankees minor league affiliate and a Red Sox minor league affiliate would be as long as their quad-A affiliates' games are but this one was only like 2 hours and 30 minutes, give or take. That said I had to leave around the fifth inning to tend to other matters, but you know what, it was all worth it. Not just because of the autographs I did get, but because of this day's giveaway...


BAM! That's right, it was Dellin Betances bobble head night. Until today I only had two bobble heads in my collection (and one of them is on it's way out) so this'll slide into the number two spot behind the A-Rod bobble head I got at Staten Island back in 2013.

Oh and the Staten Island Yankees won 3-1 as well. Zack Zehner hit a game typing solo HR in the 4th. In the 7th Kyle Holder hit an RBI single to take the lead and Ryan Krill later drove home an insurance run in the 8th.  Naturally they took the lead after I left. Naturally.

So all in all, even if I was only at this game for a few hours, it was awesome. Oh minor league baseball, how I missed thee.

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

2015 IP Auto Count: 62

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Glutton For Punishment

So yesterday I went to see the Yankees game over at Yankee Stadium. It was the first major league baseball game I had been to in over two years. And for good reason.


You see, I don't like Yankee Stadium. I think it stinks. It's a joke ballpark. It's very crowded, very small and way too expensive.

It certainly doesn't help that the stadium is filled with people. Very loud, very obnoxious, very self-entitled and very drunk people. Most of whom think partaking in the wave is a "cool" thing to do and can't sit still for five minutes without having to buy beer, go take a piss, buy more beer or have their friends buy more beer. Just sit your butt down and watch the game stare at your phone like every other "fan" darnit!

Now to be fair it's not like you can't find loud, obnoxious, self-entitled drunks at minor league games either. You can always find those kinds of people at any sort of baseball game. It's just that the scale is a lot smaller and a lot more tolerable the farther away you get from the big leagues. Plus you can just move away to to another seat in another section. Good luck doing that at Yankee Stadium.


The game itself was meh. I saw Tanaka since he was pretty much the only reason I went in the first place. I also saw Betances throw, Refsnyder exist and Rodriguez hit a home run (which turned out to be the winning run). The biggest highlight of the night was when the Yankees showed a video of Aaron Judge between innings. I am dead serious.

I didn't stay until the end of the game. The moment Betances finished his job in the 8th I bolted for the exit and left to avoid the onslaught of folks looking to go home. It didn't work, there were like a thousand other stadium goers with the same idea and I think we all crammed into the same subway car too. I probably should've left after seeing Betances throw his first pitch. In fact I probably never should've gone to the game at all.

So was it worth the price of admission? No. I've seen better baseball for better prices. And I've had even better experiences too.


And if you're wondering why I subjected myself to such an God-awful time, it's because some folks I know wanted to see Tanaka while he was still alive. It seems like they had a good time so good for them I guess. Now we can say that we've all seen him before his season ending injury and hopefully I never have to go back to that horrible place ever again (seriously that place looks like a toilet without the lid).

And because I know some of you might wondering, no, I've never been to Citi Field. And quite honestly, I have no business ever going there. I mean I'm sure things are horrible there too but I'm not a Mets fan, I'm not a National League baseball fan and I'm barely even a major league baseball fan.

Oy, sorry for all of this negativity guys. I honestly tried to give Yankee Stadium another shot. I came into this game with very low expectations because almost every experience I've had with major league baseball games have been awful, but somehow this game didn't even meet those expectations, in that it was even worse. So yeah, forget going to see major league baseball games. Just watch major league baseball on your TV/mobile app (blackouts be damned) or listen to it on the radio, it's better that way.


I'll finish this off on a positive note by saying I got this really cool auto of Jason Anderson (the first SI Yankee to make it to the big leagues) from The Lost Collector. It's numbered 005/500 too :). Thanks man :)!

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Balk-Off

Yet another SI Yankees game lol.


This time it was a Battle of the Boroughs or another series between the Staten Island Yankees and their bitter rivals, the Brooklyn Cyclones (the Mets' NYPL affiliate).

As always I'll start with the autographs.


I kind of forgot who I got first (I know, I'm a horrible person). But I think it might've been Cody Hamlin. This time I managed to prepare a custom for him using a picture I took myself on my iPhone. Cody Hamlin was a non-drafted free agent the Yankees signed this year. According to this video on Pac-12, Hamlin's approach is to pitch to contact. And according to Pinstripe Alley he has a deceptive delivery.


After Hamlin (or possibly before him) I got Alex Robinett. Robinett was drafted by the Yankees in 32nd round this year. He was Army West Point's ace once striking out 21 batters in a game (he was the first accomplish such a feat as a Division 1 Player since Stephen Strasburg). Because he came from an Army academy there will come a time when he has to serve his five years of service time, when exactly that is I'm not entirely sure.


Next I got Michael Schaub. Schaub was signed as a minor league free agent by the Yankees. He was originally a Brewers farmhand (he was drafted by the Brew Crew back in 2010) but was released in 2013. He came back to professional baseball in 2014 when he signed on with the independent Rockford Aviators. During that time he appeared in all of his games as a reliever (some of them as a closer). According to this article his fastball had managed to tick back up to 96 mph. Which is probably why the Yankees signed him. Never hurts to have some bullpen depth/guys that throw really hard.


After Schaub I got the last position player I needed, Jeff Hendrix. Whether by bad luck or coincidence, Hendrix's signature eluded me for far too long. Hendrix was the Yankees' fourth round pick this year and he's been primarily tasked with being the team's everyday leadoff hitter since being assigned to SI.


As you'll soon see, the rest of my haul today was pitching oriented due to the fact that I've missed out on a large number of the relief corps. This particular reliever is Bret Marks. Marks was drafted by the Yankees in the 15th round this year and he was actually drafted by the Yankees before back in 2012 as a 22nd rounder. According to this really excellent article by Dustin Dopirak, Marks doesn't shower very often, he sleeps in the aisle of the bus and he wears glasses with thick black frames to look like Rick Vaughn from Major League. I wonder the Yankee let him sleep in the aisle of the bus on the road.


Next up is Will Carter. According to PinstripedProspects' Jacob Hopkins, Carter is a Tommy John survivor who is equipped with a low 90's fastball and a curveball. He's primarily a reliever but the Yankees have given him a chance to start. Hopefully the 14th rounder goes on to be another very useful bullpen piece for the Yankees in the future.


This was another elusive Yankees arm, Jonny Drozd. When I created this custom I only had this picture of Drozd (which I took myself) available. I might have to remake this cards for Jonny. He thought it was kind of weak (note, he thought it was the official one the team made when he said that).


My last autograph from this game was from Jose Mesa Jr.
Jose Mesa Jr. is the son of former big leaguer Jose Mesa. He started the season down in rookie ball but he was promoted to SI a while back. He was one of the players I could instantly recognize.

Now I actually have something baseball card related to show you all this time.


At this game the SI Yankees were giving away a special set to commemorate the 2000 Staten Island Yankees which was the first team to win it all and become the NYPL Champions.


As you can see the design is loosely based on the 1982 Topps design. As cool as this set is the unfortunate part is the, in the grand scheme of things, none of these players went anywhere. Jason Anderson became the first SI Yankee to make it to the big leagues and Chien-Ming Wang was an ace for the Yankees for a short while until injuries derailed his promising career.


The backs a few bits and pieces of the players' personal info and one key highlight that player had as a pro, and to be honest the people behind these cards (Choice?) had to really stretch for some of these highlights.


After the game ended I knew that some people would leave behind their card sets because, duh, this is for a 15 year old squad with guys nobody (outside of a few diehard fans) remembers. In the process I picked up 23 extra sets/sheets. Out of these 23, four were in relatively good condition. It's really hard to describe in words but the way these things are packaged makes a few cards really prone to scratches. And since these were just dropped on the hard concrete floors of Richmond County Bank Ballpark, some of these had scratches and even stains. While I was picking these things up, I had to leave some behind because they were beyond repair. Anyway three of these sets already have designated homes and I've got a pretty good idea where to send a fourth one. If you'd like one of these sets/sheets feel free to leave a comment saying so. Just be warned that it might be a little damaged.


Now the actual game itself was pretty okay. My boy Yoel Espinal was on the mound and was, to be frank, pretty shaky. He allowed a lot of walks and even hit a batter. That said he did have a few good pitches and did keep the Cyclones offense pretty silent.


The game went into extra innings with 2 runs apiece and the bottom of the 10th is when things got crazy. With my boy Thairo Estrada at third, my other boy Jhalan Jackson at first the opposing pitcher Carlos Valdez got the signal to intentionally walk another one of my boys Jake Hernandez. On what was supposed to be Valdez's third ball, he balked. There was a split second where it seemed like time just froze and then a split second later the reality of what had just happened hit everyone harder than Giancarlo Stanton hits home runs. During that split second you knew that in Valdez's head he was thinking "OH, NO..."

Blurry Vision

The place (or most of it anyway) erupted as Estrada came home on the balk and the Yankees walked off, err excuse me, balked off against Brooklyn.

After the game I took a photograph with Bret Marks (mainly because he was wearing his trademark glasses) and Travis Hissong who has come to recognize me. I gave Hissong one of the extra sets I picked up and he talked about a few of the players on it like Danny Borrell who is currently a pitching coordinator in the New York Yankees organization.

All in all it was a pretty good time. On my way home I ran into my first "you made me drop my (insert item here)" scam where somebody intentionally bumps into you and claims you broke something of theirs and demands that you pay for it. I knew from the get-go where this con was going (in this case it was a cellphone) and I told them to go away because I'm a jerk who doesn't give a damn about other people (unless they're family, friends, baseball players, people who cover baseball or baseball card collectors I interact with ;)). Because if there's any place where being an asshole who doesn't care for the suffering of strangers is widely accepted, it's New York City ;). To all of my friends out there who aren't used to big cities, be careful when you go to these metropolitan areas. The minute somebody approaches you. Immediately put your hands in your pockets and make sure you can clearly see all of your belongings (like shopping bags, suitcases etc..) in front of you. It may seem extreme, but it's for the best.

And that ends what was a pretty odd day (at least for me lol).

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

2015 IP Auto Count: 57

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Something Common Yet Different

Seeing as how none of the other posts I'm working on are close to ready here's a post where I do something that the rest of the blogosphere does all the time, but one that I almost never do. Compare new cards to old cards. And yes, I'm well aware that somebody else has probably already done this with possibly the same exact cards. But I wanted to do it myself for a change.

In this case I'm going to be comparing some cards I got from my friend Anco-san to cards from the seventies. Not only that, but I'll compare cards of retired legends on designs that were released when they were active, and subsequently featured them in the original Topps set. If that description was a bit too confusing you'll see what I mean when I get into it.


First up I'm going to match up the 1973 Graig Nettles. The one on the left is the original Nettles, the one on the right is an autograph from 2014 Archives.

Similarities:

Well the border design is the same iconic 1973 design. And the little silhouette on the bottom right corner is the same. As is the little pink circle behind the silhouetted figure.

Differences:

Pretty much everything else? I mean the original didn't have the Topps logo, the Topps Archives Fan Favorites Certified Autograph Issue stamp and used a completely different photo.
Also Graig Nettles' name was originally in purple on the original and not pink like the newer one. Also there was no rights reserved symbol next to the Yankees. And Graig Nettles went from being a "3rd BASE" to a Third Baseman.

Of course we have to look at the backs too.


Similarities:

Both have a cartoon at the top, some personal information and a baseball in the middle, a few sentences about the player right below it and have Nettles' MLB batting records below that. Also the offensive categories are the same. Year/Team/AB/H/2B/3B/HR/RBI/AVG.

Differences:

*The cartoons are different.
And personally I find the cartoon on the original '73 Topps to be a lot funnier.
*The text/numbers inside the balls are different.
Some of the personal information changed too.
*On the original Nettles' weight is 180 pounds, and yet on the newer one he's 186 pounds
*His home location has also changed. On the original his home was Berea, Ohio, on the newer one it's San Diego, California (his birthplace)
*The original card writes California as "Calif."
*Right next to Nettles' birthdate which was typed as 8-22 44. On the newer one the word California is written out in full and Nettles' birthdate is typed as 8-22-44 with TWO hyphens.

*On the original Nettles' small biography is written in two lines. On the newer one Nettles only gets one line for his biography, mainly so Topps had more room to input his full career stats.
*On the original the stats included Nettles' minor league numbers, the newer one doesn't.
*Finally the original only had a small copyright logo with T.C.G. and PRTD. IN U.S.A. on the bottom while the newer one has a more elaborate copyright statement. Also a Cooperstown Collection and Topps logo to boot.

My favorite part about how the back are different is that 1973 Topps is Nettles' first appearance on cardboard as a Yankee, and thus he doesn't have any stats as a Yankee on the back. On the Archives, we get to see what Nettles did for the Yankees albeit through the caveman's old school glasses and we see that he really was the power-hitting left-handed swinger the Yankees had been looking for.

As you can see the backs offered a lot more differences than the fronts. Lets see if this applies to this next pair.


A 1976 Sparky Lyle and yet another autograph, this time from 2015 Topps Archives.

Similarities:

The design is still the immortal 1976 design. The set that dared to use green and blue together. The font color used for Sparky Lyle and "Yankees" are the same.

Differences:

Everything else (again). The photos are different and Lyle looks a lot happier on his more recent card. The cartoon pitcher on the lower left is a little bigger and mirrored on the newer version even though the original cartoon pitcher was a lefty like Lyle was. The font color for "PITCHER" is different and of course there is a rights reserved symbol next to Yankees on the newer one because law.

Now onto the backs.


Similarities:

The overall design is the same. You've got green everywhere next to a bat and a baseball.

Differences:

Oh man, where do I start?
*PITCHER NEW YORK AL (two lines) on the top right turned into PITCHER NEW YORK YANKEES® (three lines)
*Lyle's weight went from 196 to 192
*The way Lyle was signed went from PRIOR TO DRAFT to AS FREE AGENT
*Lyle's home went from Danvers, Massachusetts to Reynoldsville, Penn
*Complete Major League Pitching Record became Major League Pitching Record
This is accurate because the newer one omitted Lyle's 1967-1970 seasons where he was a Red Sock and is therefore not complete. Great move on Topps' part.
*The trivia question on the bottom became replaces with legal information

Once again the backs offered more differences than the fronts.

Final Thoughts:



I suppose the big question on everybody's mind is which is better, the originals or the newer ones?
I would say that the card stock ruins the Archives cards but the autographs make me look past that. Okay they don't but screw it, this whole thing was supposed to just be about comparing the cards based on how they seem to the eye, not to my hands.

All in all I guess I'll say that I have both so I don't care which is better.

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Future Beast Of The AL East Has Awoken...

So during these past few months I've come to "know" a lot of people who know Luis Torrens a lot more personally than I do. They include a man named Peter who is good buddies with a lot of Yankees farmhands from Latin America, and Torrens' very own father Jose Torrens.

Now I used the word know in quotes because I don't know these people personally either. Although we do have mutual acquaintances and do follow each other on Twitter (does that count?).

Anyway both Peter and Torrens Sr. have been supplying me information about LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS and his rehab process after having shoulder surgery earlier this year.

Torrens will start throwing at End of Month

Like back in early June Peter informed me that LT would start throwing at the end of June. This was the first piece of information I had gotten about his recovery in months.

Un gran placer y un orgullo que así sea. Pronto lo veremos en acción recuperandose muy bien y capitalizando otros aspectos
— jose torrens 

Later I came in contact with Torrens' own father who himself told me that Torrens was recovering very nicely.
Jose Torrens is Luis' biggest fan (of course) and is really proud of his son's achievements far. Watching him support his son (going so far as to visit him in Charleston AND Staten Island all the way from Venezuela last year) is really touching. If I ever get a chance to meet the elder Torrens I'm probably going to just give him some of my Torrens cards. I'm pretty sure he'd love it.

Aside from that I didn't get much else about LT's progress. All I really knew was that he grew a beard at one point (why not?) and may or may not have gone back to Venezuela for a little while.


And LT himself posted this video of him throwing at the Himes Complex. It was a joy to behold. The future greatest catcher of all time has finally returned (sort of)!

Now this was a post I created two weeks but I had to wait before posting because I was waiting for a certain Torrens card to come in.


And oh what a card it was. This here is the red paper parallel from 2014 Bowman Draft.


It's the third Torrenator I own that's numbered to five. And this red card perfectly represents what every other team in the AL East is thinking. Code Red: Luis Torrens Is Back. Every other team in the AL East (and the MLB for that matter) had a nice run, but it's all over now. Torrens is back on his road to the majors, and the AL East is the Yankees' to lose for a good 20 years.

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

Saturday, July 11, 2015

It's Finally Time

All season long Yankees fans have been clamoring for Stephen Drew and his sub-Mendoza line batting average to get lost and for a better second baseman to come along.

Now I was initially in that camp until I figured that it might be better to see if Drew can get something going. This Fangraphs article reflecting on Drew's 2014 season said he actually looked like a MLB hitter between July 11 and July 22 with a few breaks in between like the All Star Break and few off days. Basically for less than a week Drew was MLB hitter last season, which must be all the reason for the Yankees to have kept him around. To extract those good two weeks from him.

Well Drew has not had his two good weeks. In fact all he's done is get dangerously close to being DFA'd before hitting a home run to extend his Yankees tenure for one or two more seasons.

Also Chase Headley seems to be having some injury issues right now and the team has stated that Drew is the backup third baseman.



Which is probably why the Yankees have called up Robert Refsnyder. The man that Yankee fans have been clamoring to come up and replace Drew since, oh I don't know, mid-April?

By all accounts Refsnyder looks decent but all season long I've heard mixed-to-negative reports about him from scouts/people who know more about this stuff than I ever want to know. And purely stat wise he wasn't exactly forcing the issue in triple-A. That said we're now very close to the All Star break and more importantly the non-waiver wire trading deadline. As much as I'd just love to say that Refsnyder is here to stay as the Yankees' second baseman of the future, personally it wouldn't surprise me if the Yankees shipped him out in an effort to get MLB talent to help them in their playoff run as they try to fend off the pesky Orioles, the offensive Blue Jays, the annoying Rays and the surging Red Sox in a very wild AL East.

Not because of the very old tired narrative that the Yankees don't hold onto their prospects, but because the Yankees may not feel that one of the flaws in Refsnyder's game (like his defense) is not up to their standards and may move him to somebody who might value him more. I'm not a member of the Yankees' front office so I wouldn't know but so many people who make a living covering the Yankees seem to suggest that that is a possibility.


Anyway I can't say I expect Refsnyder to just take the everyday second base job away from Drew  nor can I see him staying around long term, but if both of those things happened that'd be great. In the meanwhile I'm just really ecstatic that another minor leaguer drafted and developed by the Yankees is on their way to the big leagues. The one thing I really wanted for Refsnyder, purely as a fan, is for him to get just one MLB game under his belt. Just one so he can say he was a major league baseball player once on his resume. Hopefully he gets his first MLB hit in his first game too.

And with Refsnyder's call up he joins a surprisingly long list of rookies who've made their MLB debut this year for the Yankees. Many of which were top prospects or intriguing guys that prospect lovers like me wanted to see get a shot in the big leagues.

Robert Refsnyder
Slade Heathcott
Mason Williams
Ramon Flores
Jacob Lindgren
Matt Tracy
Danny Burawa
Branden Pinder
Taylor Dugas (note, Dugas was called up but didn't appear in a game before being sent back down)
Diego Moreno (note, Moreno was originally a Pirates farmhand sent to NY in the Burnett trade)
Jose De Paula (note, De Paula was originally a Giants farmhand who signed with NY as a MiLB FA)
and Nick Rumbelow.


I specifically named Rumbelow last because he's special. You see, he's the very first player I ever saw in the minors to make it to the big leagues. YES! I saw him live and in person in 2013 as a Staten Island Yankee. I got his autograph and a really crappy selfie with him. Less than two years later he's pitching in the big leagues! Or was anyway before being optioned for overpaid non-Yankees farmhands returning from the DL :(.


So yeah. Refsnyder is up now and the year of the notable Yankees minor leaguers making it to the big leagues continues. The best part might be that in the span of less than 365 days the Yankees infield went from the rotting corpse of Derek Jeter and some other individuals at second to the young Sir Didi Gregorius and the young Robert Refsnyder. #Youth
Now lets see how long Refsnyder stays with the team and who else comes up when rosters expand in September.

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

OT: Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know

Welcome to the first installment of One of My Favorite Songs of All Time. A post dedicated to a song I really like and have over 500 play counts (and counting) on my iPod.


Today I thought I'd start with what I considered to be the best mainstream pop song in 2012, Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know.

Looking back on it, it's pretty hilarious that this song was one of the biggest chart smashes of 2012. After roughly a decade of very vapid and very shallow club/party music stinking up the Billboard Charts, we suddenly found ourselves with this pretty well crafted song listed uncomfortably alongside Pitbull and Ke$ha.

Now prior to 2012, there were a handful of these kinds of acts that managed to find some mainstream success. Foster The People and Owl City immediately comes to mind, and even after/around the same time as Gotye, acts like Imagine Dragons, Fun., Lorde, Bastille, The Neighborhood and Nico & Vinz managed to find some success. If only for one song.


And yet this song, it's quite different from them all. It doesn't sound like anything you'd hear on the mainstream radio. Especially not the year that brought us all this.

And honestly, that's what I like about it. It's different. It's got substance. It's better than that party rock noise everybody was obsessed with the year before.

Now the lyrics and the story they present is quite clear and pretty much spoon fed to us. So much so that I suspect a big reason why this song got big is because even casual music listeners who don't know how double entendres work could follow it. It's a post break-up song where a guy is sad and depressed and obviously not over it and is trying to portray his ex has some heartless savage.

But you didn't have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don't even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn't have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don't need that though
Now you're just somebody that I used to know

I say trying because it's quite clear the person Gotye is portraying is sort of in the wrong, intentionally. When most people break up, they often do cut the other person off and treat them like a stranger. There are exceptions (of course) but it does happen. The last bit where the ex changed their number might indicate that they did out of spite, but more likely they changed it because the narrator kept calling/texting/annoying them. Or at least I think it's more likely. I mean just look at how the narrator is being melodramatic at the beginning. Talking about he's totally okay even though he's not.

Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it's an ache I still remember
You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I'll admit that I was glad that it was over

The song then gets a big boost when the guest performer Kimbra shows up as the ex in question and provides a whole other perspective on this.

Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I'd done
But I don't wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know

Their relationship didn't work because narrator kept screwing his ex over and was manipulating her into believing it was her fault. But she couldn't take it anymore and when they split it was her understanding that the narrator wouldn't make a big fuss about it.

Basically the ex destroyed the narrator with this verse. The way the song has Gotye signing the hook one more time probably indicates that the narrator tried to defend himself by throwing the same BS at her again but at the same time we all know that they got BURNED.

Despite how the song doesn't lend itself to interpretation I quite like it. It's direct and to the point. And it's interesting. Gotye was smart enough to create this song and give the two different perspectives it needed to work. An idea he apparently had after writing the hook and finding that his character was pretty much in a corner.

Now I have pretty much no clue what the instruments used for this song were - I understand a xylophone was used at one point - but the music is pretty great IMO. It's the kind of indie-pop that you'd be hard pressed to find have mainstream success in pretty much any time period.


Unfortunately this has pretty much been Gotye's only hit and he joins a long list of musicians who were quite talented (seriously, Making Mirrors is a great album) but yet only had one hit. Who knows though, he might have a cult following and he himself has said that he's fine with his legacy.
And no I will not make that joke about how Gotye became somebody that we used to know. I just did didn't I? DOH!

I can't say that this song was the best song in 2012 (I heard a lot of great music that didn't do jack on the charts that year) but as far as mainstream pop songs go it's probably my favorite song on the Billboard Top 100 list. It's a bit unfortunate that this didn't become the standard for pop music in the 2010's and the pop charts went to having awful dribble like this and this be what sells. At least we have this song to remind all of us that occasionally we can find a diamond in a great big pile of garbage.

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

Lyrics Courtesy of AZLyrics