Sunday, January 31, 2016

Weekend TTM Roundup: 1/25-1/30

Received On: 01/28/2016

My first return this week was a double dose from Ian Clarkin.
Clarkin was drafted in the first round of the 2013 MLB Player Draft (33rd overall, one spot behind top prospect Aaron Judge) and is a lefty with a very high ceiling.
Clarkin didn't really show a whole lot in 2013 due to an ankle-issue but he did impress many scouts and Yankees officials in 2014 when he pitched his way up from single-A Charleston to high-A Tampa. Armed with a low-to-mid 90's fastball, a curveball and change up, he projects to be a very good starting pitcher in the big leagues. According to an interview with Danny Wild Clarkin's curveball is his favorite pitch to throw and it was considered by many to be one of the best in out of the 2013 high schoolers. A lefty with a fastball that can reach 95 mph is deadly enough but if he can bring his curveball up to par, he could give Andy Pettitte a run for his money as the best lefty to come from the farm system.
The best part of the Clarkin return is that the Aflac Bowman card on the right is a bonus that Clarkin sent along with my original request (on the left). Instant cool dude in my book (as if he wasn't already haha).

Received On: 01/28/2016

My second return this week was another double dose, from former Yankees catcher John Ryan Murphy.
John Ryan Murphy was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 2009 MLB Player Draft. He was, by all counts, a really solid draft pick. Throughout his time in the minors he was overshadowed by the likes of Jesus Montero and even Gary Sanchez who both possessed greater offensive potential and even Austin Romine who was seen as one of the better all around catching prospects in the system. Despite that Murphy kept chugging along and he provided the farm system with more catching depth.
As a hitter he can hold his own (in the minors there were rumors that he'd be just a bit-first catcher) and his ability to catch is probably his best asset. With the departure of Francisco Cervelli and the fall of Austin Romine (sort of), the backup catcher job was all but Murphy's to lose coming into 2015. As expected he won the job and did quite well as a backup catcher, both offensively and defensively. I recall the fact that he was a right hitter came in handy when it came to balancing out the offense which was heavy on lefty hitters.
Murphy was traded to the Minnesota Twins earlier this offseason in exchange for Aaron Hicks. With the trade Murphy now has a chance to be an everyday catcher for the Twins as many believe he can do so. Even though he obviously wouldn't have that chance with the Yankees.

And those were my returns this week.

Big thanks to Mr. Clarkin and Mr. Murphy for the autographs.
And as always thank you (the readers) for stopping by :).

Take care.

2016 TTM Count: 9


Monday, January 25, 2016

Hello Blizzard

So those of us on the East Coast (the better coast) of America had a blizzard approach us. We were due for some snow after a not-so-white November and December. We got more than we bargained for, but it was inevitable.

I took advantage of the snow to satisfy my inner 7 year old.

Yes, my motto is that when life gives you lemons, you recreate Star Wars scenes using LEGOs.

This is of course a recreation of the trench run seen in Star Wars Episode 7, The Force Awakens.

Admittedly a lot of the shots I took are awful because A). this X-wing is hard to hold, B). my hand is in a lot of the pics I took and C). the few shots I didn't take with my hand in it didn't capture the full beauty of this X-Wing.

Unfortunately I can't do the Battle of Hoth because I have ZERO play sets from the battle. No Rebel Hoth base. No AT-ATs. Not even Luke Skywalker and his snow speeder.

But that doesn't matter because the battle of Starkiller base with the X-Wings is just as good.

Speaking of which. The LEGO Star Wars Poe's X-Wing Fighter (Set #75102) is one of the funnest builds I've had in a good while. It's the first set in over a decade that took me over an hour to complete. Also, the details on Poe's helmet are simply sublime.

I would complain that the set is a tad overpriced (aprox $80 retail), but honestly who cares? It leaves me with less money to waste on baseball cards (that I can't buy anyway until July). And it's one cool set (no pun intended)!

Remember, snow isn't all bad. It gives us a chance to play with our toys in unique ways.

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

Monday, January 4, 2016

Wait, What?

I'm not sure how many of you have heard but there's this movie series called Star Wars. It's quite popular and has spawned countless movies, TV shows, video games, books, comic books, toys, novelty items, and (especially in recent times) collectible cards.

My favorite part of Star Wars (as many of you know) are the CGI cartoons Star Wars The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Both feature some of the better characters the whole franchise has to offer and they were both more entertaining (to ME) than any of the six films.

So it does my heart good when Topps (or whoever) releases cards featuring my favorite characters from The Clone Wars and Rebels. I usually tend to stay away from their movie-based products because I don't care about the six (soon to be nine) movies. I just want my wonderful CGI cartoons.

Which is why I was absolutely floored when I saw that the 2015 Topps Star Wars High Tek set not only had my favorite Clone Wars character, but also my favorites from Rebels. So much so that I bought a certain autograph card in the waning days of 2015. This was my second-to-last card purchase of 2015 so this doesn't compromise my goal of not buying any cards for a week/month/six months.

Of course it's Captain Rex. Who is tied for my favorite Star Wars character of all time/EVER.

As some of you may notice this card is autographed. Well that signature is of Bradley Dee Baker, the wonderful voice actor who voices all of the clones in the Clone Wars (and some in the Rebels cartoon), and has done voices for various other cartoon characters as well including American Dad and Codename Kids Next Door. Once I saw a Japanese collector in Japan pull that in a group break I knew that I just HAD to have one for myself. A few desperate clicks on eBay later, the card above was mine.

One nitpick though (bear with me as I go into geek-mode for a second) is that Captain Rex is not a clone army commander. He's a clone captain. His name isn't Commander Rex, it's Captain Rex.

I'm not quite sure what the parallel is and no I'm not going to bother trying to track down the rest of the parallels.

However if there was something I'd try to chase from the Tek set, it's at least one card of the characters from Star Wars Rebels. Especially Kanan Jarrus, who is tied with Rex for my most favorite Star Wars character EVER. For those of you who've been struggling to pay me back for a T206 I gave you, there's a big chance (nah just kidding, mostly ;)).

But working on assembling all of the Rebels will be a longterm goal for me. Plus as far as I can tell Kanan Jarrus is the only one where his voice actor doesn't have an autograph card in Tek. And that makes sense since Kanan Jarrus' voice actor is none other than Freddie Prinze Jr.

This video is over an hour long but it's pretty cool

Yes, that Freddie Prinze Jr., the one that married Sarah Michelle Gellar (aka Buffy). So unsigned cards will be enough for now. Fun fact, Sarah Michelle Gellar also voices another character in Rebels known as the Seventh Sister.

If you happen to come into possession of the Topps Tek cards (autographed or otherwise) of Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger, Sabine Wren, Hera Syndulla, Zeb Orrelios and/or Chopper, let me know.

That said if my willpower breaks and I just buy a Kanan Jarrus Topps Tek card, it'll compromise my no cards for a week/month goal, but not my no baseball cards for six months goal since they're Star Wars cards, plus I never said those six months had to be consecutive (you've got to love loopholes!).

Ack, it's barely been a week into 2016 and I'm already thinking of giving up on my New Years Resolutions.

As always thanks for stopping by and remember, Captain Rex forever <3.

Take care.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Unmet Goals (& New Ones)

Well another year has come and gone. Happy New Year every body. We're all one year closer to death!

Now, as per tradition, I thought I'd revisit my 2015 collecting goals and see if I managed to even come close at accomplishing them.

5. Less Purchases

My original definition of "less purchases" was pretty vague and nonspecific. In my original post I just went on a tangent about retail. Well this year I did purchase a handful of retail stuff. Two blasters, a Update megabox, 2 hanger boxes, 4 rack packs and a couple of loose packs. Which roughly comes out to anywhere between $100-$150. Not bad, but not great.
I guess it's a positive that I didn't buy any hobby or jumbo boxes this year (though I wanted to). Scratch that, I bought two hobby boxes this year. One for a Clone Break, another for something even more special. Ultimately I picked up way too much stuff on eBay and COMC, so yeah, consider this an F.

Grade: F

4. 20 IP Autos

To my own surprise I got a whopping 136 autographs in person this year. That may not seem much to autograph hounds to ask for a dozen signatures at a time but I got that many by asking players for autographs one signature at a time (for the most part). There were a ton of notables that are important pieces of my collection, but the most notable was probably my signed Thairo Estrada superfractor. Which is a superfractor autograph now by default :). My Mashi Murakami auto comes close!

Grade: A

3. 250 TTMs

For a brief moment in time I thought I had a real legitimate chance to reach this goal. I sent out roughly 399 requests in 2015. Of which I got back 240. Which isn't bad I guess, I mean it's more than half :).
Ultimately I came close (only needed 10 more), but no cigar.

Grade: F

2. Pick Up A New "Oldest Card In My Collection"

I toyed with the idea of adding an even older Highlanders card than my 1909-11 T206es but the price tags scarred me away real quick.

Grade: F

1. Focus & Stay On A Budget

Basically I wanted to see if I could spend less than $500 for the entire year on cards, stamps, letters, entrance fees for card shows, tickets to MiLB games and transportation to get to MiLB games. Basically everything. Well by mid-May I knew that this goal was thrown out the window. I spent nearly half that amount on stamps alone. And my purchases in Staten Island basically obliterated my "cap" and then some.

Grade: F-

In addition to these I had a few "maybe projects" mini goals that would've filled out the rest of the unofficial 10 goals.
"*Go for the 1909-11 T206 Highlanders Team Set"

"*Go for the 1909-11 T206 Wee Willie Keeler"

"*Complete the Luis Torrens 2013 Bowman Chrome rainbow"

"*Go see Luis Torrens in Charleston or Tampa"
NOPE (Torrens' injury put a halt to this)

"*Start a cult religion dedicated to Luis Torrens"
NOPE (maybe next year)

"*Make custom #Torrenator or #Torrenatrix or #TorrenNation T-shirts"

Ugh, I suck at keeping new years resolutions :(.

With that and a newfound sense of who I am as a collector, here are 5 new collecting goals for me in 2016.

5. Go for an entire week without buying any cards

Between mid-2011 to sometime in 2014, not a week went by where I didn't purchase a card (either online or in person). It happened quite a bit in 2015. But it's about time that I try and make sure that this happens more often.

4. Go for an entire month without buying any cards

This is more difficult than it sounds for an addict like me. A lot can happen in a span of 28-31 days. As a guy who's trying to build an extensive Luis Torrens collection, I can never be sure when a card I need will pop up. And now that I have a whole host of new side PC guys, this task might be even tougher than before.

3. Go for SIX months without buying any baseball cards

With a few exceptions, the first six months of the year does not offer me much in the way of baseball cards. If I were smart I should be waiting until the winter so that the hype and prices on the Bowman & Bowman Chrome offerings die down.
This is probably extreme and not going to happen, but might as well put it on the list. After all, my "$500 hobby cap" was obliterated before we reached the halfway point of 2015.

2. ONE TTM Return

I know that this is absolutely insane and that this Herculean task will be quite difficult, but I'll do my best to get at least ONE TTM return in 2016.

1. ONE IP Autograph

I'm not sure what'll happen in 2016 so I'll keep the perimeter low for now and set my goal at one IP autograph. Fingers crossed I can accomplish it.

And those are my new collecting goals for 2016. I suppose one more suggestion to myself would be to maybe try a $750 cap for the entire year on every expense this hobby needs (cards, shipping, stamps, etc...)? Consider that an unofficial number 6 goal I guess. If I managed to go through with that no cards for six months goal I may actually have a shot at that.

And those are my new goals for 2016. Some will be met. Others will not be met. Here's to better outcomes than 2015.

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