Monday, August 31, 2015

Not Sick Of Baseball Yet

So summer break ended and class is back in session. But will that stop me from seeing as much Staten Island Yankees baseball as I can? Nope.


This was one of the last two serieses that'll be hosted at SI this year. The Tigers' affiliate the Connecticut Tigers came to town. Right when the Yankees are in an important playoff race.


My first autograph was from Alex Bisacca. I finally got to make a custom for him and he seemed to really like it (or at least I hope he did). One really unique thing about Bisacca is that he also seems to wear Ricky Vaughn type glasses.


My next autograph was courtesy of Danienger Perez. Danienger was one of the many Venezuelan players signed by the Yankees in their insane IFA haul last year. He's the first player in that signing class to make it to a level this high.


This Cam Gibson was actually one that a fellow autograph collector (who I've come to know these past two years) got for me while he was over on the Connecticut Tigers side. Gibson was the Tigers' fifth round pick and as you can see he does not mess around since he hits with his bare hands. And yes, he is indeed the son of Kirk Gibson.


Tyler Alexander was the Tigers' fifth round pick this year and this was also obtained for my by my aforementioned fellow autograph collector. He's a lefty and was originally drafted by the Tigers back in 2013 as a 23rd rounder but he didn't sign. Two years later the Tigers finally got their man.


Alright, now the game itself was quite something.

Danienger Perez had himself quite the debut. He went 3-4 and drove in three runs (read the full recap on Pinstriped Prospects). Much like their quad-A affiliate who were beating up the Barves, the SI Yankees pounded the CT Tigers and eventually won 10-2.

Victory, We Have Victory!

Despite the victory the SI Yankees are still tied for first place in the McNamara division with the Renegades who put up 10 runs of their own against the Spinners (the useless Red Sox affiliate). At this all SI can do is hope that Aberdeen stays away and that whoever faces the Renegades can ensure that they lose. Also SI should really win more games, that would be very ideal.

ゴジラだ!

Oh and Hideki Matsui was there too. Because I follow what I preach I did not ask him for an autograph of picture. Although I did take this picture from the side.


I failed to mention this in the past but this year the SI Yankees are selling their cards as singles in these gigantic (8x10?) versions too. Look how small your normal card is placed right above it!
I got Thairo because he's Thairo. And yes, that's a genuine autograph. Hence why this cost me $20.
On a sidenote, although the scan may make it look decent. The picture is a big grainy because it appears as though the people behind this card just blew up the original smaller card.


And lastly, another autograph collector I met at the game gave me this program for the 2015 New York-Pennsylvania League All Star Game. Isn't it cool?!

And that's it for this recap. I suppose one more noteworthy thing is that I've had relatives of players (siblings and parents) comment on this blog in recent times. That just blows my mind since I still think this blog exists in a bubble where only 20 people (all members of the blogosphere) are the ones who visit. It's a small world indeed. I guess this means that I can't (not that I ever really would) talk smack about players anymore ;).

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

2015 IP Auto Count: 128

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Salaries (Pt. II)

I've touched upon salaries before on this blog but because I'm not the most knowledgable person when it comes to contracts and the money given to athletes I don't really say a lot about it.

But in recent years we've seen contracts given to big leaguers get bigger and bigger. Once Mike Trout and Bryce Harper reach the free agent market, you can bet that the Giancarlo Stanton deal will no longer be the biggest in MLB history.

And naturally people are bitching and moaning about how major leaguers are getting paid too much. Not knowing that baseball generates a ton of revenue and that that revenue was generated by the players themselves and how they probably deserve a big chunk of money for that. Also completely forgetting that we live in a world were inflation exists and a dollar from yesterday is worth less than a dollar from today.


I would offer my two cents on athletes and their salaries, but this A Dose Of Buckley represents my opinion perfectly.

Just watch it. A Dose Of Buckley may be comedic but like all good comedy, it's based on truth.

Look, at the end of the day I'd rather have the money I spend on tickets and whatnot go to the players who are THE reason I enjoy baseball in the first place than the owners. In other words, give all the money to A-Rod and keep as much of it away from Steinbrenner's wallet as possible.

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Completion

So I went to the double header between the Staten Island Yankees and Aberdeen Ironbirds yesterday, and boy was it one heck of a day.


Because of the double header the game started at 5 (which meant the gates opened at 4). I kind of left my house in a hurry lol.


My first autograph on this day was from Jeff Hendrix. Hendrix is a guy who I've sort of overlooked. In that he's been hitting the ball really well this year (hence why the team routinely dishes him out as the leadoff hitter). I prepared a dupe of the card above to give to him but I ended up giving it to a kid next to me who wanted an autograph (I have to practice what I preach). I bought a loose Hendrix (thank the Lord the SI Yanks sell cards via singles this year) and gave it to him after the game.


My second autograph was from Josh Roeder. Roeder pitched in game one of the double header and locked down the win with a scoreless 7th inning (in the minors double headers are 7 innings long), earning his fourth save in the process.


My next autograph was from Jeff Degano, who I finally got around to making a custom for. The Yankees' second rounder this year. He may be the starter for the SI Yankees on Thursday.


Next up I finally got the Yankees' first draft pick this year James Kaprielian!
I actually asked him to sign four cards but gave the fourth one to the aforementioned kid I gave the Hendrix dupe to. Don't worry, I still had a couple of cards to give to Kaprielian himself. ;). Kaprielian here was the last of my pre-game autograph haul.


After the first game of the double header ended. There was a brief 30 minute intermission (30 minutes is brief in baseball preparation time) but I managed to get Zack Zehner here. Zack is a very capable left fielder who's been tasked with hitting second in the lineup in recent times (especially after Holder's thumb issues started getting worse).


After the second game ended I managed to get the signature on the ticket stub from the newest SI Yankee, Alex Bisacca. He was in the bullpen chilling with the other relievers and even started warming up in the bottom of the 7th inning in game two of the double-header just in case the SI Yankees managed to tie the game and the game would go to extra innings.


My second post game autograph was courtesy of Matthew Borens. Although it appeared as though Borens was moved to the bullpen when Kaprielian got called up and was slotted into the SIY rotation, Borens will be starting game 1 of the double-header the SI Yankees will play tonight (that's right, the SI Yankees are playing two doubleheaders in two consecutive days). You can never have enough starting pitching.


My third post game autograph came courtesy of Jonny Drozd. Drozd was also chilling in the bullpen but as he said himself (to paraphrase) "he didn't do much." I'm sure the SI Yanks will call upon his services today.


My last autograph on this day was from Ethan Carnes. Carnes started game two of the doubleheader, he went 4.1 innings pitched allowing just one run. Carnes is a super cool dude who promised me he'd sign my card after the game and sign it he did. Carnes' mother was also in attendance (she had a jersey that said Carnes on it). I gave Ethan an extra card of his from this year's set and he said his mother would really love it.
On a sidenote, Carnes called me a true fan. #smile.

With the Carnes autograph I finally finished the 2015 Staten Island Yankees team set (minus the five guys who weren't with the team by the time the team set came out). Whether or not I finish the complete set remains to be seen as Alex Robinett was just deployed to army boot camp (I wish him the best and hope he returns to the mound in the future at 100% health) and Ty McFarland has been missing in action since late June (I hope everything with him is okay too). Then again, crazier things have happened. And I do have those five guys' autographs on other cards ;).

So with that out of way onto the games :).


Game 1 was actually a continuation of a postponed game from 8/19. The SI Yankees were already up 2-1 and the game ended in a 4-1 victory for the SI Yankees. Kolton Mahoney (who started the original game too) threw six innings of one run ball.


Before the game Kolton Mahoney even gave me a ball that happened to be lying around on the ground. I gave the ball to a lady to give to her son (different kid from aforementioned one) and they were really appreciative about it (gotta spread the love ;)). We even started talking about basic human decency and about how she and her son actually went to Japan once.


Game 2 ended in a 1-2 loss for the SI Yankees. Ethan Carnes pitched a really great 4.1 innings but James Reeves (who wasn't too bad either) ended up giving up one run which proved to be the winning run. But it was still a well pitched game nonetheless.

In any case because the SI Yankees managed to one win of these two games (and because of Hudson Valley's loss) the SI Yanks remain in first place. Now they have to make sure to win at least one (both if possible) of today's two games.


All in all it was a pretty wonderful day, the kind of day that makes you glad to be alive (yes, they exist, I was very surprised that they exist but they do). I helped some kids get autographs and a ball, I finished my team set (sort of) and I finally got James Kaprielian's autograph. I also got to give out the last of the dupes to the players who'd already signed for me as thank you presents (except one). What a great way to end summer break :).

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

2015 IP Auto Count: 124

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A First

So Staten Island baseball finally came home after the All Star Break yesterday, and I went to the game.


It was the first game in a (long) series against the Aberdeen Ironbirds. In the span of three days the two teams have to play five games. I'll talk more about how important this series is (at least as far as the SI Yankees are concerned) later. Right now, here are some autographs :).


First up is one of the recent call ups, Trey Amburgey. Amburgey was the Yankees' 13th rounder this year and he pretty much demolished the GCL (warning, small sample size) and got promoted to SI. Since coming to SI he's continued to his the tar out of the ball, as he earned New York-Penn League player of the week honors last week.


Here is reliever Andre Del Bosque. He and I actually had a little chat before the game and he told me that he read my blog (including my recent Do's & Don'ts of Autograph Collecting post). This marks the second time a player has said they visited my blog (although I suspect it's at least the third).


This James Reeves autograph was the last one I got before the game. Reeves is a power pitcher who can throw a fastball that hits the mid-90's along with a slider and change-up. This year the Yankees are trying him out in a relief role (which might be where he ends up in the long term) but next year he may get a few chances to start and stretch out his innings in Charleston.


My first autograph after the game was from Drew Bridges.
Bridges was the Yankees' 20th round pick from 2013. He was one of the few draftees from that class who was drafted out of high school and as such his development has been a bit slow. However, he started out this year strong with a really good June and very productive July. His momentum has slowed a little in recent times but he's not without promise. On a side note, he sure knows how to pick it at third.


My last autograph from yesterday was from Alvaro Noriega. Noriega was originally assigned to Charleston this year but he was assigned to SI a few weeks ago to help the team out. He's primarily a backup catcher but pretty important now that the SI Yanks are down to three catchers.

So anyway back to the impact this game has on the playoff picture.
This series is pivotal as Aberdeen is currently 1.5 games behind the SI Yanks in the standings. A series win could change the whole entire NYPL playoffs picture. And the SI Yanks are currently battling injuries that range from serious to minor. Holder's thumb, Jackson's back and Wagner's wrist to name a few. But Holder managed to be in the lineup so I'm guessing it's healed enough for him to play. BTW, speaking of Holder, his brother Andrew left a comment on my blog. You never know who'll find your stuff ;).

As the title suggests, this game had several firsts.


One first is that this was James Kaprielian's first game in Staten Island. Technically he didn't pitch but it was his first appearance at SI. Unfortunately I didn't get his autograph (too many people mobbing him before the game) so I decided to try and get his autograph another time. Still cool to see Kaprielian, Holder and Degano on the same squad though.


Another first is that this game featured the first time I witnessed a position player pitching. The game went into extra innings (tied at 3 runs apiece) after Luis Cedeno threw six scoreless innings and Mark Seyler threw 0.2 innings & allowed 3 runs (it seemed like he left the mound with some sort of injury). After Seyler, Travis Hissong threw 3.1 innings of scoreless relief and Andre Del Bosque threw one inning of scoreless relief. By the top of the 11th inning the SIY staff decided they were going to save their bullpen and had Jake Hernandez, a catcher back from Charleston, warming up in the bullpen. The reason for this is because on 8/25 and 8/26, the SI Yankees have to play a doubleheader on both days as a result of suspended games that never happened last week in Aberdeen.


Jake Hernandez allowed one run which turned out to be the winning run as the Ironbirds won 4-3. In all honestly Hernandez wasn't awful and he managed to limit the damage to one run. Props.


On a sidenote, in the bottom of the 12th inning the SIYs had another position player Junior Valera warming up. Just in case the SIY managed to tie the game but not walk it off. Wouldn't that have been something?

So yeah, pretty decent game. I didn't like the result but the SI Yankees are still in first place. Hopefully they'll take both games from the Ironbirds tomorrow, and also watch from afar if the Cyclones can beat the Renegades (currently 2nd) to make sure they don't catch up.

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

2015 IP Auto Count: 113

Saturday, August 22, 2015

12 Down 2 More To Go

So I arranged a trade with another Japanese collector the other day. This marked the first time I had happened to engage in a trade with this individual but we had mutual, um, friends(?) and we worked something out.

It all started when that particular person sent me a picture of this.


Yep, that's a red refractor of LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS from 2014 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects. Once the other person offered this to me I pounced on it.


It's numbered 1/5 and is very shiny. However, obtaining it wasn't exactly as smooth as I led on. Let's put it like this. The other person (while nice and lenient) apparently gave up, in all honesty, way too much for this card in another trade. I managed to squabble together a package consisting of things the other person needed (thank goodness a card show was happening when this trade negotiation was going down) and a few of other things to help fill the rest of the void (in terms of monetary value).


With this I am only two more refractors away from the rainbow as all I need is the superfractor (of course) and the silver wave which always costs more than I'm willing to pay. Oh and I only need three more plates ;).

And the trade partner (being the generous soul that they are), naturally threw in some extras. And these weren't just run of the mill throw-ins either.



There was this Slamchez relic numbered to 500.


A numbered Mason Williams refractor from Bowman Sterling.


And this numbered green refractor of Slade Heathcott.

This trade brought me back because I haven't been this concerned with trying to match monetary value in years (at least via a trade). Luckily the other person was very nice and was willing to get something done since this was our first trade. Hopefully there will be more to trades to come between us and I can return the favor by getting to know exactly what their niche is (I have a semi-good idea of what that is) and then giving them the usual ZZ treatment ;).

In the meantime, if you guys have any spare Roberto Alomars lying around I'll be open to trading for them. All of them.

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

Friday, August 21, 2015

Parallels Make The World Smaller

I'm not sure how many people are actually aware of this, but with the internet we are more connected to the rest of the world than ever before.

Those of you who were around back before computers became a household item can probably attest to how far away everything used to feel. Did you ever think that you'd ever trade cards though the mail with people based in other cities? Or other countries for that matter?

The internet has truly helped us shrink the world. We all use our blogs to yammer about nothing to complete strangers (many of whom probably don't even live in the same country as us). And we use the internet to help us get in touch with those very same people.

It a sense it's great. I'm 100% confident that my collection wouldn't even be remotely close to where it is today if I didn't have the internet. As my Torrens collection has been helped out by various individuals in the US, Canada, France, Japan, the Netherlands and people from countries like Sweden (unfortunately that person and I couldn't agree on a deal) have offered to help.

However, it's also changed the game and has made collecting a lot more, um, challenging.

In the past/before the internet was invented, I doubt that parallels could exist. Or at least not on the scale that they exist in today. Without eBay, I can't imagine how much more difficult, nay impossible, completing a rainbow would be. Actually I can imagine, Topps Tek!
Currently companies are taking advantage about how every minute detail about their latest product can find it's way onto a site like Cardboard Connect and crank out parallels based on every color and design known to man. And some can only be found overseas.

As many of you know I do put some focus on cards that are exclusive to Asia (read: Japan). Partly because I'm Japanese myself and because I know a lot of folks in my motherland (who range from avid collectors who are native to Japan to non-native collectors who just happen to have teaching gigs in Japan) who can hook me up.

One of my "calling cards" in my trade packages are Sega Card Gens. I try to stock up on these and trade them to people on this blogosphere because how else are people on here supposed to get them? As most people don't even know they exist.

These kinds of cards are cool and horrifying at the same time. They're cool because they're a card exclusive to another country that a lot of people wouldn't have been able to acquire otherwise. They're horrifying because once you realize that cards that are exclusive to foreign markets can exist, you have to start wondering what does exist. And that's not good because most collectors consider themselves people who have OCD and just have to have everything. Or at least want to know about everything.

Anyway, here is where I finally tie all of my rambling together and get into the meat of this post.

As you can probably tell, some of those Asia-exclusive cards that do exist are parallels. And those of you who read my blog on a semi-regular basis knows that I've mentioned a few parallels exclusive to Asia in the past. Like here, here and pretty much most of the 2014 Bowman Draft Clone Breaks.

This happened months ago but when 2015 Bowman finally hit the shelves, there were special editions of it exclusive to Asia. Yep, at this point Topps/Bowman has finally come to realize that there are avid collectors in Asia (some willing to spend oodles of cash) and that it is a highly profitable market. Like 2014 Bowman Draft Asia Edition, the Asian version of 2015 Bowman had an exclusive parallel. Unlike 2014 Bowman Draft however, there were three exclusive parallels. One of which I don't even have yet (it's that exclusive!).


This is a black-red parallel. It's a paper parallel of the base version and is both black and red (duh).
This is of top prospect Dermis Garcia, whose 2015 season debut was slowed by injuries but he's due to really show his superior talent in 2016.


And no this is not numbered and the back looks exactly the same as your normal base card.


This is the black refractor. It's also not numbered and the back looks exactly like the ones on the normal chromes. With the way things are going, I have a feeling that these black bordered parallels are going to be standard parallels exclusive to the Asian market.

The last parallel (that I don't own yet so I can't supply a picture yet) is a black wave refractor. If you really want to see them some can be found on eBay. This caught me by surprise because black wave refractors were previously available here in North America too.

And no I have no idea what the odds on these cards were. Although I vaguely remembering hearing how the black-reds were seeded at one per box, black refs were a few (2 or 3 maybe?) per box and black waves were roughly 5 per box or something.

I briefly talked about the black refs before, but this time I can show off more. As I got one Dermis (seen above) and two of the following four top Yankees prospects.


NELSON!


HEYO, IT'S MATEO!


If Gary Sanchez can be a fraction of what Pablo Sanchez was, he'll be one of the best hitters of all time.


Bird is indeed the word.

All of these were sent to me by a collector named Campos who runs a Japanese blog called Bowman's Best!! We decided to do a trade and they went above and beyond by sending me these beauties. I sent them some US only parallels in exchange for Asia only stuff. Good swap (on paper).

Although chasing rainbows have become a lot harder with all these new parallels (many of which go unnoticed), the internet has allowed us to be more connected and have more access to the world (and cards by extension) than ever before, making the chase seem tedious but not impossible. Like that earworm goes, it's a small world after all.

As always thanks for stopping by and tolerating my rambling. Take care :).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Collecting Minor Leaguers Who Made It: When Do You Stop?

This may come to a complete shock to many of you, but I collect a minor leaguer in the Yankees organization named Luis Torrens. I know this development is totally out of the blue but it's true.


I have very high hopes for Torrens. I think he can truly be a special player in the big leagues. I think he can even be the heir to great Yankees catcher throne.

And it's fun to think of what he could potentially be in the future as a fan but as a collector I shudder to think how much harder collecting Torrens is going to be if/when he becomes a big leaguer.

Although we now live in a world where the very best and brightest prospects can have close to a dozen new mainstream cards of themselves released per year (and that's ignoring the parallels) that number goes up quite a bit when they finally make it to the big leagues.

So I'm left with these questions. "Will I continue to be a Luis Torrens super collector if/when he makes it to the big leagues? Or will I stop when he finally graduates rookie status due to how my budget and sanity couldn't handle trying to collect a major leaguer in this day and age?"


Now I know that a lot can happen in these next few years and that Torrens is no guarantee to make it to the big leagues. And even if he did, there's no guarantee that he'd be anything more than what John Ryan Murphy currently is (a backup catcher). And most of all there's no guarantee he'd break through to the big leagues as a Yankee either.

If that were the case it'd be a lot easier to collect Torrens since Murphy (and other players of his ilk) just have a boost in cards when they were a rookie and then they're almost never seen on cards ever again until they have some out of nowhere breakout season. And once players are out of the Yankee org their value plummets (just look at Cano) and it'd be a lot easier for me to say "oh I only collect his Yankees era stuff."

But imagine if Torrens really did become the next Dickey/Berra/Howard/Munson/Posada. The number of cards I'd have to accumulate every year would be maddening. Useless relics from Triple Threads I have no interest in mocking me with their existence. Base cards from garbage products like Donruss or Museum Collection on my want lists.

And worst of all, the inner conflict within myself as I debate whether or not I should continue to collect Torrens or not. "I collected his pre-rookie stuff, why stop there?" followed by "Are you nuts? Look at that price tag on a card from a product you don't even like!" and then "Yeah but you're a super collector!" on repeat until I go mad and end up either homeless and rambling nonsense or thrown into a mental asylum.

I probably won't be able to decide how to go about collecting LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSS if/when he makes it to the big leagues and sticks around until it actually happens but it doesn't change the fact that this is something I'm potentially going to have to deal with someday.


What do you people think? Should I stop at his pre-rookie stuff? Should I not bother worrying since he's probably going to the Cubs in the Starlin Castro deal?

The Backs (In Order)

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).
Oh and these cards shown were some of my latest additions courtesy of COMC.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Every Game Counts

You know how in baseball there's this cliche called "every game counts" and how it's pretty false?
I mean when you look at a major league baseball schedule there are 162 games played per year by every team. A lot can happen in 162 games. More often than not every team wins at least 60 games, loses at least 60 games, and every team does what it can with the remaining 42 games. So in theory, there are barely 50 games that actually count.

Your average MLB season spans across six months (minus spring training and the postseason). In that span of time teams can take first place in their division, lose their place in first place, or suddenly make up a 13 game deficit. So games in the first half might as well be moot. The Brewers were in first place for most of 2014 and they fell apart in the second half. On the other side of the coin Athletics were barely in contention for most of 2012 and yet surged near the end to take the AL West away from the Rangers in game 162.
Now that we're approaching the end of the 2015 season, we're starting to get into the games that actually do count (especially now that the schedule makers have arranged for more in division match ups in August/September than ever before).

The thing about short season baseball though is that every game does indeed count.
The Staten Island Yankees play roughly 81 games per season. Roughly 40 on the road and roughly 40 at home. In 81 games there is a lot less time to dig yourself out of a hole if you stumble at the starting line. So you need to cash in every win you can possibly get.

It's also tricky because these minor league playoffs aren't exactly the biggest priority for the organizations. I mean sure, having players exposed to a winning environment is always a plus but at the end of the day the main purpose of minor league baseball is player development.

So as a result you'll often find the better players the team had to offer moved up to higher levels. On one hand it's great because they probably deserved that promotion and they're getting closer to the big leagues. On the other hand the team the guy used to be on just lost a player who helped them contend. And the player being brought up or sent down to fill the void on the roster is no guarantee to come in and pick up where the other guy left off.

As of this post the Staten Island Yankees are in first place in their division in the McNamara division and are very much in contention. They have three weeks of baseball left and those three weeks will be intense. They have at least one series with their division rivals the Aberdeen Ironbirds, Hudson Valley Renegades and Brooklyn Cyclones respectively. Those three teams aren't too far behind in the standings and the outcome of those series(es?) could determine whether postseason baseball returns to Staten Island or Scooter The Holy Cow gets a head start on his winter vacation.

Despite how Jorge Mateo was promoted from Charleston to Tampa (both teams are out of contention BTW), the Yankees have not moved All Star Thairo Estrada up to Charleston. It's most likely a combination of how the Yankees want to see what Angel Aguilar and Vicente Conde can do, as well as possibly keep Thairo down in the NYPL to help the team get to the postseason (hey I never said that the playoffs aren't a priority ;)).


So will anybody be coming to SI to help out their chances of clinching a playoff berth? Well Jeff Degano was recently promoted up here but then again I think he might be able to make two more starts before being shut down for the year. Kevin Cornelius has been really good since being brought up and Trey Amburgey has had some nice games here and there since being called up too. The affiliate right below SI, the Pulaski Yankees, are also in contention in their league but whether or not the Yankees fiddle around and move somebody from that squad up to SI is a big question mark. Although if they sent Drew Finley or Carlos Vidal up here that'd be quite something. More likely the SI might get somebody from the GCL (both GCL affiliates are out of contention). James Kaprelian is a maybe but he's still shaking off some rust down in the GCL. Maybe an out of nowhere guy in top prospect Wilkerman Garcia?

Nah forget it, reinforcements aren't coming.

In any case these next few weeks will be crucial. The Yankees got swept by the Williamsport Crosscutters and that really hurt their chances of clinching the division (luckily every other team in the division keeps losing too). And the Yankees will be going up against in-division teams that could either shorten or lengthen their lead with every game. The Yankees are also going to need to win as many of remaining games against the out of division teams like Lowell (BOS), Connecticut (DET) and Tri-City (HOU). Especially against Lowell and Tri-City who are both battling each other for first place in the Stedler division.

This is the beauty of short season baseball, we wouldn't be having this conversation about contending if the team had gotten off to a lousy start or suffered a horrendous slump because their season would be over right then and there. Every game counts.

Monday, August 17, 2015

One Night, One Life To Live

I went to a Staten Island Yankees game yesterday. It was the last one before the all star break. Four SI Yankees were selected for the all star game and I'll talk about those representatives  later.


When I posted my cardshow pickups post on Saturday I noticed that I was getting very close to 100 IP autos this year. Although I initially had doubts about being able to reach it, those doubts were put to rest on this day. And you'll see why as we dive into the autographs.


My first autograph was of Will Carter. And no this is not a custom, it is a real legitimate card made by Choice. That's right, the 2015 Staten Island Yankees team set is out this year! And Carter holds the distinction for the being the first guy to sign one of the team set cards for me this year. Carter was originally a starter in the SI Yankees rotation but he's been moved to the bullpen in recent times as the SI squad has tried to both shuffle guys back and forth between the rotation and bullpen and also accommodate for recent call ups like Jeff Degano. Anyway Carter saw some action in this game, throwing 1.2 innings of relief.


My second autograph was of one of my favorite players on this year's squad, Travis Hissong. Hissong is one of the nicest players I've ever met. He's easy going, he's funny and he's always got a nice smile on his face. He's come to recognize me at this point and we talked a little about Severino and how the Yankees farm system is doing great. Hissong came into this game later on as a closer and although it was a nail biter, he locked down the save.


Yoel Espinal is also another of my favorite players on this year's squad. After Jeff Degano got promoted to SI Espinal was moved to the bullpen. He saw some action in this game throwing 0.2 innings. The positive is that I got to give him a print I couldn't give him the last time I went to SI.


Next I got Kyle Holder on both is team set card and his top prospects card. He sat this game out (apparently he was dealing with a thumb injury per Robert Pimpsner/Pinstriped Prospects) but he still came out to sign autographs. I gave him a complete NYPL Top Prospects set as a thank you present.


It's weird, Eduardo De Oleo hasn't caught in a while and suddenly he's been catching a lot. On this game he was Jeff Degano's battery mate and he had two hits including a home run (which was really important as it broke a tie).


Ryan Krill has been moved around from 1B to OF to DH. The ninth rounder doesn't project to downright slam home runs, but he does hit for a fair bit power or at least line drive power (think Billy Butler back when he was actually good). Back in college he was also apparently a top tier defender at first base which helps.


Now we enter my post-game haul as most of my autographs were obtained after the game. I got Mark Seyler here right after the game ended and he was packing up. He's a reliever who throws in the low-90's.


Junior Valera here was one of the four Staten Island Yankees selected to go to the New York-Penn League All Star Game. However, it's been reported that he's currently listed as day-to-day and whether or not he actually plays in the All Star Game remains to be seen. Here's to hoping for a speedy recovery because the center fielder has been on a tear these past few games. Jumping from hitting in the lower half of the lineup to more in the middle of the order.


Jake Hernandez had some family (or friends) visiting him and he (or someone in his party) asked me if they could use my sharpie. I gladly said yes and then Jake proceeded to sign roughly a dozen copies of this card (the gift shop sold some of these cards as singles) for his folks.


PC guy Thairo Estrada is another one of the Staten Island Yankees who was selected to the NYPL All Star Game. Apparently he was selected as a DH despite that fact that he's been an elite second baseman this year. Although he's primarily a SS, Kyle Holder being on the same team meant Estrada had to move to second, and he's been very good there so much so that one wonders if the Yankees'll ever move him back. Anyway, Estrada's been so good this year that I've started my own hashtag based on what Mike Axisa said on River Ave Blues #SummerOfThairo.


Here's gentle giant Domingo Acevedo. ACEvedo can throw pure heat that can/has reached 100 mph several times this year. Equiped with a change up and slider, he could be a dangerously good starter for the Yankees in the future.


Son of former big leaguer Jose Mesa, Jose Mesa Jr. has been a good pitcher in his own right. Tommy John surgery delayed his professional debut but in 2014 he made it back onto the mound and he's been downright dominant as a reliever. So far in 21.2 innings pitched, he's got 35 strike outs! Apparently his velocity seems to have returned to the levels it was before he got the surgery and he's possibly even better now than he was back then. One thing is certain, Jose Mesa Jr. retweeted some Twitpics I posted.


Hark! A non-Yankee!
Yeah the SI Yankees were hosting the Vermont Lakemonsters (the NYPL affiliate of the Oakland A's). They had two guys I was interested in getting an autograph of but I settled on one, Chris Kohler. For those of you who don't remember, Chris Kohler was the 1/1 autograph I pulled a long time ago. I gave that 1/1 to him as a thank you present BTW.


Brandon Wagner has been splitting time at a lot of infield positions this year. Primarily starting at third and occasionally playing second when Estrada needed some rest. The 18th rounder has a solid patient approach the Yankees like and it'll be interesting to see where he goes from here.


Next I got Kevin James Alexander. KJ is currently a one of the guys being shuffled from catcher to DH to 1B and occasionally to the OF. The 2014 free agent signee has done pretty well in limited playing time.


Kolton Mahoney was originally drafted by the Brewers in 2014 was a 23rd rounder but he didn't sign and was drafted by the Yankees in the 16th round this year and he did sign. He threw a no-hitter before he was a pro. And he could very well throw one after turning pro as well.


Michael Schaub here is a bit of a reclamation project. After spending a few years in the Brewers org he was released midway through 2014 and played in an independent league. However, the Yankees later scooped him up and they must see some sort of potential in Schaub. He's been a reliever as an SI Yankee and he's been pretty solid.


Luis Cedeno is the third Staten Island Yankee selected to the All Star Game. And for good reason, he's quietly been one of the best starters in the squad and in the whole league this year. Despite a few rocky starts here and there he truly has been the team's ace.


Another rotation mainstay is Derek Callahan. Callahan was the Yankees' 16th round pick in 2014 and according to this interview he spent the 2014-15 offseason refining his breaking pitches. Overall the southpaw's body of work has been a mixed bag but his FIP suggests that he's been a tad unlucky this year.


And my very last autograph on this day was courtesy of the fourth and last SI Yankee selected to the All Star Game. As of this post Jackson leads the SI Yankees in home runs with 5 HRs which is 8th best in the league (assume the seven guys in front of him are still in the league). Jackson is currently on the 7-day DL due to back issues but he is still going to go to the game and partake in the festivities.

Man, I think that was my biggest haul this year. 23 autographs in one night!


Alright, now the game itself was a 10-8 Staten Island Yankees victory. Even though a lot of my favorite pitchers pitched, this wasn't a very well pitched game. Both teams went through a lot of relievers and between every out it seemed like there was one hit, one walk and one HBP in between. The game took roughly 3 and a half hours to finish, which is long compared to how long the other games have gone on for this year.


In addition to seven team sets, I picked up this uncut sheet of this year's team set. The lady at the gift shop was kind enough to offer to hold onto it until the game ended so it wouldn't get damaged, but knowing me, it was going to get dinged and mangled eventually so I decided to just hold onto it for the entire game (and the journey back home). It's a little bent and I'm sure I won't dare to get it signed by anybody, but hey it's a cool piece and I like it!


As I mentioned before the team sold some of the cards in the set as singles ($2 each). That seems like a great deal until you realize that five of these singles could've gotten you a team set (which are $10 each). Still, it's an ideal answer to the sort of common problem of "do I open this team set just for the sake of one or two cards?" Anyway I ended up picking up six Kyle Holders because I'm an insane person. During this purchase I got to meet Ethan Carnes' mother who had come all the way from Texas to meet her son. She was a really nice lady and it's really easy to see where Carnes learned to be so cool (Ethan Carnes is another good guy on this year's squad, although it's not like there are any bad guys).


This funnel cake was yummy.

And that was pretty much it. I got the team set and went on an autograph getting tirade. I still need to get eight more signatures, as well as come up with a way to get the remaining five subjects that aren't even in SI anymore. But still, I got 23 autographs, which pushed me above the 100 IP auto mark this year :)!

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

2015 IP Auto Count: 108