Monday, October 31, 2016

Spooky Visuals (Sorta)

Happy Halloween Folks!

I'm guessing that many of you are out doing halloween related activities with your offspring or off to some party with your significant other and/or close associates.

I hope that your evening festivities go well and that you all drink responsibly.

I'm going to be spending this Halloween like I always do, staying at home as myself (because nothing is scarier than not being white in western civilization).

For those of you who're like me and just staying home, here's a cool video (short film) I found very awesome. It's called "The Life and Death of a Pumpkin" made by Blame Society Films (the guys who make the Chad Vader, Beer & Board Games and Welcome To The Basement videos). It's pretty good.

Have a safe and happy halloween filled with fun, candy and women in scantily clad clothing.

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

How To Pick A Team To Root For In The World Series

So I have been paying a little bit of attention to baseball. It's a lot easier now (my hiatus et al.) that there are only two teams playing in games that matter.

When the postseason began the team I was supporting were the Blue Jays, because club based in a foreign country, but they didn't make it.

The 2016 World Series is going to be between the Cleveland Native Americans and the Chicago Cubs. Two teams who have suffered a long drought of World Series Championships and (from the point of view of most neutral observers) the title could go to either of them and we'd all be pretty satisfied.

In the end one of these clubs are getting an update in Night Owl's Opening Day Play Ball post next year and that's what really counts.

If you're like me (a neutral observer) you're probably searching for a team to root for in this World Series.

Everybody has their own algorithm and methods to rooting for teams. Almost none of it is based on logic. Here is mine.

Have I Seen Anybody In Person?

I've never seen either the Cleveland Indians or Chicago Cubs in person before. Ticket prices at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field are so inflated that no team is ever worth going out of your way to see.

On an individual level, have I seen these players at some games I've been to before?

Honestly with the big leaguers who were once on teams like the Rays it's hard to tell. I may have seen Zobrist as a Ray once before.

If we expand to beyond the 25-man to the 40-man the Cleveland Indians have Kyle Crockett, who I saw in my first ever minor league baseball game back in 2013. Okay well I didn't actually see him pitch but he was there in the stadium with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

Meanwhile the Cubs 40-man has Andury Acevedo, who I met in person back in 2013 when he was playing for the Staten Island Yankees. Oof, this is a tough choice.

Screw it, this criteria stinks.

Edge: Nobody


Who have I gotten returns from from the Tribe (25-man)?

Kluber, Miller, Shaw, Tomlin, Merritt, Napoli, Chisenhall and Naquin.

If we include the 40-man guys I also got returns from Salazar, Crockett and Garner.

From the Cubs (25-man).

Edwards, Grimm, Zastryzny, Zobrist and Soler.

If we include the 40-man guys I also got returns from Johnson and La Stella. And an IP from Andury Acevedo.

Oof, this is just as tough. On the one hand the Tribe returns came from key guys who've all played significant roles in the club's rise to the World Series this year. On other other hand the Cubs have a Staten Island Yankee...

You know what, Andury wasn't that special. I give the score to the Tribe who responded even after their big league careers started.

Edge: Cleveland

Ties To My Favorite Team/Organization

Here's probably a criteria a lot of people have about picking teams to root for after yours has been eliminated. See if the team remaining has some sort of significant connection with your favorite team.

Let's see what Cleveland has.

Andrew Miller. Kick ass closer/reliever who get the Yankees a ton of prospect capital this past summer. Sucks that he's gone but it's totally cool that he has a chance to get a ring now. He's so good that even a guy like me who doesn't care for non-Yankees farmhands actually liked him.

Zach McAllister. P-Town Tom should be very excited. This World Series features his beloved Cubbies going against the Tribe and one of his local hometown heroes, Zach McAllister. In addition, McAllister was a former Yankees farmhand who has carved out a decent career with the Tribe.

Abraham Almonte (40-man). Former Yankees farmhand who spent seven years in the Yankees farm system before being shipped off to Seattle in the Shawn Kelley trade. Almonte was later traded to the Padres who then traded him to the Tribe.

I'll be honest, those are some impressive ex-Yanks the Tribe have on their 40-man roster. Can the Cubs compete?

Aroldis Chapman. Domestic abuse suspect who got the Yankees a ton of prospect capital this past summer. I really don't want him back in pinstripes even though he's really good as a player.

Andury Acevedo (40-man). As mentioned previously, Acevedo was a former Staten Island Yankee who I actually saw. By all accounts he should make me root for the Cubs. But he's not playing in the World Series and he wasn't even my favorite SIY in 2013 so he's really not.

And that's it. *fart noise*

Edge goes to the Tribe. No contest.

Edge: Cleveland

Friends I Want To See Happy

This is what I'm basically going to refer as the P-Town Tom vs Anco-San series. You see, P-Town Tom is one of the best collecting buds I have who's basically the only Cubs fan I ever really trade with. We've had some wonderful trades throughout the years and I genuinely want for him to witness a Cubs World Series victory in his lifetime. And it's not just like PTT has made great contributions to just my collection, but anyone who has ever traded with him can attest to just how thoughtful the guy's packages are. I don't necessarily know if I want the Cubs to win to reverse the curse or whatever, but if nothing else, I want them to win for Tom! I don't want him to wait 'til next year anymore. BTW, PTT, I got your package the other day. Thanks a ton :)!

That said, one of my other good trading buddies Anco-san (from Japan) is a huge Tribe fan. The guy has been on a year long card hiatus but he still loves and supports the Tribe (FYI Anco-san became a fan of the team after watching Major League). I've met both him and his wife in person. And good gosh is it hard to root against him too lol.

If it were just between these guys I'd probably lean towards the Cubs but there are a few more people to acknowledge here.

Obviously there are the tons of Cubbies collectors on the rest of this corner of the blogosphere. Even though I don't trade with them I do read their blogs (if I can) and try to interact with them. They're a cool bunch. Like Wrigley Wax, Wrigley Roster Jenga, Can't Have Too Many Cards and a few others I'm forgetting at the moment.

But what about the people whose lives will be radically altered (for the worst) of one of the teams wins. Let's consider White Sox fans like 2x3 Heroes. This must be a miserable series for them because it's between a rival AL Central team and the crosstown rival team. A matchup that must only feel slightly less depressing than the two candidates in the upcoming presidential election. The species we call White Sox fans have lived for nearly over a century in peace and they were able to die peacefully knowing they never saw the Cubs win a World Series (though to be fair most of them never saw the White Sox win jack either :P). Could they handle the Cubs winning it all for once? Do we really want to make any currently living White Sox fans know that they're witnessing the Cubs winning?

Honestly, here's where the edge goes to the Cubs. Anco-san, we're still buds, but PTT got me drink coasters with Luis Torrens and Luis Severino cards embedded in them. On top of T206es, Wampas, and God knows how many Torrens cards that became important to my PC.

Edge: Cubs (Win for Tom!)

Final Verdict

Upon reviewing the data I've decided that I will root for, chaos and anarchy!

Also I'm not going to pick. The Cubs have no players I want to see succeed, not a one (actually they have one guy I want to see fail). They have fans I'm cool with that I want to see happy though. As for the Tribe they have a lot of great players I want to root for and stronger Yankees ties. But ultimately, picking one team proved to just jinx that team and sink its hopes. So I'm not rooting for anything but hilaribad defense, utter chaos by the baseball Gods (as if this matchup wasn't chaotic enough), a Charlie Sheen first pitch and all of Chicago apologizing to Steve Bartman.

Sidenote, I'm more interested in the Japan series to be perfectly honest. Go Carp! Win it for Big Hirok!

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

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Into The Sunset (BIG HIROK)

So I kind of already said farewell to BIG HIROK back in 2015 when he officially went back to Japan.  Or I thought I did. When I deleted my account on a picture hosting site I used to use it ruined a lot of posts to the point where I just deleted them. I think that happened to my goodbye Hirok post.

Regardless, this time I can do a proper one.

Now the last time goodbyes were sent to Hiroki Kuroda, it was less somber due to how he was still going to pitch as a professional, just in another country than the one I currently live in. No big deal, considering how I have deep ties to Japan, it's the land of my ancestors. I lived there for crying out loud.

But this time Hiroki Kuroda is hanging up his spikes for good.

Yes, after 20 years of bi-continental baseball, Big Hirok has announced his retirement from professional baseball after the end of this season. Which isn't much longer as the Japan Series (the NPB equivalent of the World Series) is about to start (by the time this post goes up it will probably have started).

Hiroki Kuroda had a 3.43 FIP (3.09 ERA) in 151.2 IP in Japan for his final season stats courtesy of ヌルデータ. Going 10-8 in the process as well (lack of run support continues for Hirok). He could totally continue pitching without any problems (even in the majors) if he wanted to, but he feels as though he can't reach the high standards he set for himself anymore (like not being able to throw complete games anymore).

I've already gone on record saying that I think Big Hirok is the most successful Japanese pitcher to ever come stateside, and I've seen nothing brought up to make me think otherwise.

Let's put it like this. Kuroda was here and being Big Hirok after Dice-K fell from grace (and the Igawa debacle too). Japanese pitchers didn't have the best reputation in the late 2000's because of failures/flame-outs like Dice-K, Igawa, Irabu and Nomo (the guy everybody mistakenly thinks is the best Japanese MLB pitcher ever). Kuroda stayed the same during his entire MLB tenure and gave his team lots of innings and few runs per outing. All accumulating to what were usually like 200+ IP, 3-4 ERA seasons. And he did this consistently. He never fell off.

I mean do you think teams would've been as willing to dish out massive deals for Yu Darvish or Masahiro Tanaka (or Shohei Ohtani) if Big Hirok hadn't been there to basically show that Japanese pitchers can be just as durable and good as the best of them? I really doubt it. Hirok kept Hirok'ing the competition and front offices took notice. The game of baseball owes Hirok a lot of debt.

Anyway this reminded me that I had a whole series dedicated to Hiroki Kuroda that ended after like two posts lol. About his legacy both here and in Japan. His role in Kershaw's development (and Kershaw's role in his adjustment to American ball), the loyalty he still has to this day about the very team that gave him a shot at pro ball, etc... He's got stories that need to be chronicled and told. Sadly the only guy wanting to undertake that task has a lousy work ethic.

Also this means that my low-key goal of getting a certified Hiroki Kuroda autograph made by a Japanese company (BBM, Epoch, etc...) is likely ruined because his prices will skyrocket. As if they aren't already SMH.

But if this means I can get more sets dedicated to Big Hirok, I'll take it.

Anyway thanks a ton for the memories and your immense (but likely forever under appreciated) role in baseball Hiroki Kuroda. Hopefully you and the Carp can win it all in the Japan Series and go out into the sunset with some hardware and lots of alcohol showers.

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

Hirok >>> Nomo

Monday, October 17, 2016

What I've Been Listening To... (Pt. 1?)

For a large portion of my life music was pretty significant to me. In school I was the guy who tried listening to a bunch of music and expanding my horizons (thank you Internet) and to this day I try to accomplish that even if I don't have enough time to venture out into the music world like I used to before.

I try and find at least one song I really like in every genre no matter how far removed it is from my usual playlist. Good music is good music.

I've mentioned that two of my favorite songs of all time are Somebody Told Me by The Killers and Instant Crush by Daft Punk. They still are, I just wanted to bring them up again because they're great. I've also showcased on this blog some of my other favorites like The Hives and J. Cole.

Today I thought I'd share some stuff I've been listening to recently. I'm somewhat curious to know what some of you think of these. Especially those of you who I have frequent conversations about music with (you know who you are!), I expect you people who fall into this category to listen to all of these and respond with feedback for each song ;).

When I said I try to expand my horizons, I meant it. To the point where I'm willing to go to foreign lands. Here's Italian superstar Franco Battiato. I assume most of you have heard of him at one point (especially if you're Italian), if not, well stop it and go listen to him, your biases against Sicily be damned.

I'm not too familiar with Georgia (the country) but this is a key song in a Georgian film titled Lullaby (called Lavnana in Georgian), in which a young girl is kidnapped from a wealthy family that helped two strangers whom they didn't know were thieves. She comes back years later but has no recollection of her original life or her heritage. But she does remember this lullaby from her mother. Yes, the movie is a tearjerker.

This is the Japanese band frederic and their song Oddloop. Which is a combination of the Japanese word odoru (dance) and the English word loop.
This is basically Japanese ska music. Very energetic, danceable, my girlfriend really liked it. She especially liked the emotionless girls dancing even though it's really evident that they must've cracked up laughing a ton of times during this video shoot. Contrary to what stereotypes will have you believe, the Japanese do have emotions, they're just subdued because we Japanese can communicate telepathically with each other.

Those of you in the indie rock scene have probably heard of Frightened Rabbit before. They're a rock band from Scotland and they make some pretty neat stuff. Although most of the time I have no idea what the plot (if there is one) of their songs are. This is a pretty chill song that contrasts nicely with a music video that has way too much going on in it.

Helsinki is in this bitch!
Finnish hip hop duo JVG are apparently pretty big in their home country (side note, you'd be surprised how widespread hip hop is in Finland). I have no idea what native Finnish people think of hip hop or this duo (the like to dislike ratio on this video is trying to tell me something!) but I thought this was pretty fun. I always say that mindless club songs are better enjoyed when you have no idea what the song is saying because it doesn't matter anyway. And foreign songs are the best way to make sure your brain doesn't interpret what's being said.

Presenting British indie rock band Catfish and the Bottlemen. A name that reminds me of Echo and the Bunnymen and a sound that reminds me of Kings of Leon. This song is pretty good, I enjoyed it. Apparently this is based on a conversation the lead singer Van McCann had with an ex-girlfriend about how she never got to know her mother who passed away too soon. And yet it's so upbeat.

Billy Murray man, if you try and go back to American pop music from the early 20th century expect to see a lot of him. He made a ton of music way back when and while he's gotten some flack over the years for, well, a lot of things I think it's rather charming. There's just something quaint about music that harkens back to when the Cubs had yet to win their first World Series, and before advanced microphones that practically made Frank Sinatra (and various other crooners') career(s).

Some hipsters from Brooklyn going through an existential crisis at the ripe old age of... twenty-something (these guys are barely 30 yet).

Singer-songwriter Cara Salimando is one of my favorite female performers in a genre I usually don't pay attention to for being boring.

I'll end with something really good. The most listened to song on my iPod (out of these songs) in the form of Lord Huron's Lonesome Dreams. For those of you who just scrolled down here without listening to the songs I posted I at least want people to listen to this. It's peaceful, relaxing, and a nice blend of country and folk, combing the best of both genres. It makes me want to hike up a mountain in the morning to see a beautiful sunrise.

And those were some music I've been into recently. Tune in next time for when I have another set of 10 tracks I want to share (and force Tony to listen to).

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

Friday, October 14, 2016

Likely My Last Of 2016...

Currently I'm on a baseball card hiatus (don't sue me Tony!). I'm a bit too burnt out from the hobby and my mind is elsewhere at the moment.

That said I do still engage in baseball related things from time to time (my Twitter feed shows as such). At the moment I have three baseball card focused (or related) posts brewing that I'm definitely going to publish in the next few months. And another three baseball card focused ones that are long work in progress posts that'll require more time and are iffy in terms of when I can release them.

In the meantime here's one of the aforementioned posts that I'd definitely blog about.

Currently I'm out to accomplish my goal of no baseball card purchases for six months. I accomplished the first three months of this goal in January, February and March. I'm going to complete it in October, November and December. Luckily this is perfect timing because I'm burnt out of this hobby at the moment and there's nothing really coming out in the next three months that I feel like I need to get. And if there is, well they can be acquired at a later time.

That said, I wasn't so burnt out of the hobby that I thought I was going to run away, sell everything in my collection and never come back. I acquired some cards in the waning days of September so that I'd be in a good spot if/when I return. Obviously there was the Torrens printing plate, but there were also these.

Green Refractor

Blue Refractor


Black Gold Refractor

A four card lot of Donny Sands (1st Bowman) cards from 2016 Bowman Chrome.

I scanned the backs for those of you who still haven't picked up any Bowman Chrome from this year.

Green Back

Blue Back

Refractor Back

Black Gold Back

The foursome above was a bundle on eBay that I swooped in and got for roughly $7 (S/H fees included). That's a pretty decent deal when you consider what these would cost if you bought these individually. It's also the type of deal that you have to pounce on after the product has just been released. Although the initial wave of just-released cards are often known for being comically overpriced, it's also a low-key good time to get good deals on card lots. In that sellers are trying to move their inventory quickly before the hype dies down, people realize how many of these darn things exist and the prices go down with it. So some sellers have big lots of some quality cards for very fair deals (usually because they're banking on making big bucks on other things they pulled). These are usually cards of the non-autographed variety. Unless the parallels are really limited (less than 25 copies limited) then you could score some nice deals.

Donny Sands is an infielder-turned-catcher who was drafted by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. Sands is so good that he's on the Yankees' top 30 prospect list on (the 26th best prospect too). That's saying a lot considering how deep and talented the Yankees farm system is. He projects to be a very good hitter who can hit for consistency and a fair bit of power (double-digit power). Defensively he's still adjusting to catching but the early reports seem to be good. I seem to remember a lot of people raving about his arm during his short stint in Pulaski this year. In short, he can potentially be the next great Yankees catching prospect.

I actually first heard about Donny Sands through this video made by Tucson, Arizona reporter Chuck Constantino that documented Sands' draft experience. From the phone call to the announcement on the live stream to Sands visiting his mother to tell her the news. It was just all so cool. Sidenote, it's even cooler to know that Sands can speak Spanish (likely thanks to his mother). Reminds me of former Yankees prospect Peter O'Brien actually. Gaelic-ish surname, but also can speak fluent Spanish.

Obviously I'm a fan of Sands already. Yankees catching prospects are my favorite type of prospects. Even if they drive Tony mad because they take away spots on checklists away from Brewers ;).

So this is a strong contender to be my last baseball card pickup of 2016. Assuming I don't crack and buy something this month, next month or December. If it is, I think I finished 2016 with a nice bang.

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

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fare Thee Well My Friend

The other day the cruel hand of fate took away something that had been with me for years.

My iPod Nano (6th Gen).

I purchased this Nano way back in 2010. In Japan at that. It's been through a lot with me.

This was the third iPod I had ever owned (my previous iPod Classic had died and an iPod Shuffle was one of the biggest mistakes I had ever made as a consumer).

It was with me for a big chunk (mostly later half) of my high school days. I still remember how there was this one time when I accidentally dropped it in a public bathroom after I had done a number 2 in it before school. Worst yet, I hadn't flushed yet. Having to reach in and take it out was an, interesting, experience. Despite that it was sturdy for a large number of years though.

Hundreds upon hundreds of songs have been in this iPod (albeit at different times). Maybe even thousands. Living in Japan (one of the few places on Earth that still uses CDs, even to this day) had it's benefits as it gave me a steady supply of ripped MP3 files for pretty low prices (I had access to a lot of mom-and-pop music stores in Japan) without me having to resort to being a thief.

This was the iPod that was in my pocket when I graduated from high school (I don't keep wallets or iPods or phones in my book bag unattended).

This was the iPod that went with me to Yokohama for my one year of college in Japan.

This was the iPod that came with me when I came back to the US in 2013. It stuck it out with me throughout my first two years of community college and it was also there when I entered my current four year college.

It provided me with hours upon hours of entertainment/music to entertain me during long boring conversations er, I mean train rides.

In fact, I had two songs on this iPod that had reached the 1,000 play count plateau. The Killers' Somebody Told Me (my favorite song EVER!) and Daft Punk's Instant Crush (my second favorite song ever, probably).

Now the only remnants of what was once my iPod is a white screen of death and a library of what was once inside when I connect it to iTunes.

I suppose I could take it to an Apple Store to see what can be done about it, but I'd assume the answer is zero. This is a six year old device, what are they going to do about it?

I guess I could see if anyone has ever successfully fixed this by themselves but I'm not too handy when it comes to electronics so... :P.

For now I'll keep it as is as a momento.

Now begins the search for a new iPod.  I went to a local Apple Store to ask about any iPods they had, the ones they had were around $150. Yikes. I know what I'm getting myself on X-Mas though.

But for me this brings up the question, how do people listen to music nowadays? My iPhone definitely can't serve as an iPod because all of the apps and the two pictures I took take up most of my phone's memory. And that's to say nothing of how the battery would be annihilated if I listened to music on this thing like I did with my iPod.

I understand that young people nowadays use streaming or something but screw that. I'm a 20-something who grew up in the 2000's, meaning I need a device that plays digitally compressed audio files at my command that I don't have to waste data on.

And no I am not getting a CD player, cassette player or record player. I am not lugging around machinery popularized during the last century.

Oh well. Thanks for lasting nearly a decade though iPod. You lasted three more years that I thought you would, that's for sure.

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

Monday, October 3, 2016

Taking A Small Break...

Well baseball season is over. For me it's been over for several weeks or so already since minor league baseball ended back in September. But it's October now. But something's happened recently.

I've had a case of burnout. Again.

My interest in baseball has waned in recent times and you can attribute that to a lot of things like life and such but the fact remains that baseball and cards aren't high on my list of priorities at the moment.

The last time I felt this way I took an entire month off. I feel like I'll do that again.

Will that mean I temporarily stop blogging? Not really.

While I can't really muster up the energy or even motivation to do baseball card related posts I do have ideas for non-baseball card related blog material. Song reviews and other ideas have been floating around in my head and this month might be just the month to do it. Plus you never know, I've got some baseball cards coming that I ordered back in September. Maybe they might trigger something?

In the meantime I'm wrapping up some Zippy Zappings for a lot of you. I guess this is another sign that I'm losing touch. I used to Zap people every week, nowadays I barely Zap people once a year. Where did all of that energy go? Some of them are long passed due.

In the meantime, here are some things you might be seeing on this blog.

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