Monday, December 26, 2016

Cards To Myself

As the slow and painful transition from Yankees blog to Padres blog goes underway (along with everything else going on in the world right now) I needed a distraction. So I decided to go buy some Star Wars cards.

Approximately $30 worth actually. This included a rack pack of 2016 Star Wars Rogue One: Mission Briefing, a loose pack of 2016 Star Wars Card Trader, and a blaster box of 2016 Star Wars Rogue One Series One. I went into this break hoping to pull some cool things (and I sure did) and some Jyn Ersos. Maybe I'll even get lucky and pull some Kanans or Rexes? Let's find out.

Part 1: Rogue One: Mission Briefing Rack Pack

Let's start with the product I have the least hope for. As far as I can tell Mission Briefing uses cards printed on heritage/vintage-ish card stock (that's good). But it's mainly just cards of scenes and characters from the seven movies (that's bad). If it's not from the cartoons (or even obscure comics), give me something new gosh darn it! Although one bright spot is that there is a very very very slim possibility for me to pull a Kanan Jarrus (Freddy Prinze Jr.) autograph.

Ooh, Vader. The Darth Vader scene in Rogue One is one of the scariest and best scenes ever filmed in the history of the movie franchise (IMHO). It was a nice wakeup call to how powerful Vader really is.

If you're curious to know what the backs look like, here you go.

Obligatory parallel (of the Gray Squadron variety). This shows that the Rogue One sequel is confirmed.

Obligatory parallel (of the Green Squadron variety). When I think of a Rebel base, I think of that guy on the watch tower.

Ooh, nice insert. Don't know what it's called though.

This is what's known as a "Comic Strips" insert. Done in a style similar to that of comic books. I can't tell if this scene is supposed to be from the original trilogy or Rogue One. The tree and crate suggest it's indeed Rogue One though.

Hey, our second card in the pack that's actually from Rogue One! Featuring Chirrut, a blind man who's powered by the Force (but he's not a Jedi).

I don't have time to go through the rest of the pack so let's end on this nice card featuring a scene from the Clone Wars. Man, can you believe that we're now closer to 2018 than we are to 2008 (#TimeIsLinear)?

Pack 2: Card Trader Loose Pack

Much like Topps Bunt, Star Wars Card Trader is a massively popular (citation needed) mobile phone app where you can collect digital cards. And also like Topps Bunt, Topps decided to release a physical version of Card Trader. A quick eBay search shows that Kanan Jarrus has a card in this so let's see if I can get lucky and pull that (and no I will not show all 6 cards).

Always good to see Poe Dameron leading off a pack of cards.

I was suckered into buying this pack hoping to pull Kanan, this Ackbar is telling me it's...

The only insert from this pack was Film Quotes card. I'm 99.9% sure that there is a "I Know" card by Han Solo out there too.

The only parallel was this blue one which appears to have a scratch-off code on the back. I'd assume it's for the app.

Pack 3: A Blaster Box of Rogue One Series One

Alright, I struck out on getting anything Kanan-related from the past two. Now let's move onto the last portion of this post where there's a 0% chance of pulling something Kanan-related.

The blaster box came with 10 packs and one medallion card.

I managed to land Jyn Erso's main character card which is a huge get.

The other key protagonist Cassian Andor. Here the base version is accompanied by the "Blue Squadron" parallel. I'll be honest, I like these colored parallels, they enhance the base design that's a boring color into something a little better.

The key antagonist Director Krennic (and the Death Star Black parallel) here reinforces my point that the parallels look good because the base cards look boring.

This appears to be what's known as a Character Icon insert. So far I'm getting quite the Jyn hot-box.

More inserts. The Vader is a "Darth Vader Continuity Card," the Death Star is a "Gallery Card," the Erso+X-Wings is a "Montage Card," and the U-Wing is a "Blueprint Card." Got that? Good.

A Heroes of the Rebel Alliance insert of Bodhi Rook, an ex-Imperial Pilot who deflects to the Rebel Alliance to deliver a hologram and message sent by Galen Erso to Jyn Erso.

Villians of the Empire inserts here. Both of these guys wouldn't last two seconds in a fight against Clone Troopers.

The Mon Calamari look a bit different in Rogue One. I'm guessing it's explained somewhere in a book (most likely on Wookiepedia).

When I think of a Rebel base, I think of that guy on the watch tower.

Pff, Clone Troopers are still better.

Blue Leader and Blue Squadron. Don't worry, the other squadrons appear too (or most of them).

During the beginning of the movie I thought that the location they picked for whatever planet this is looks great. I'm curious to know what the actual location used to film this is, it looked bad and kinda nice at the same time. #FutureDwellingGoals?

Oh right, here are what the backs of these cards look like. No details, just a bunch of logos.

Clone Wars Veteran! Forest Whitaker's performance was really great, apparently he's even voicing Gerrera on the Rebels cartoon.

Chirrut's right hand man who's got the big guns.

The black parallel border compliments this card. I assume it'd look really boring and bad as it's beige base counterpart.

I think a key charm to Rogue One is how both sides are kinda bad. Obviously the Empire is the clear villain, but the Rebel Alliance isn't always in the right either. I like it. Adds complexity and really brings out a two-to-tango vibe in a war.

Another Jyn parallel! Is this blaster box a Jyn hot box?

Right, let's skip the rest of the cards and just go ahead to the relic!

Ooh, not quite Jyn Erso but I'll take it. I liked Bodhi well enough for the limited screen time he got in Rogue One.

Maybe this was a Bodhi Rook hot box?

So that was my retail break of Star Wars products. I enjoyed this break immensely. I didn't get any autographs but I did get a nice thick medallion card as well as a lot of cool cards.

I haven't shown all of the cards in this post (obviously) but I've saved a fair amount of scanned cards to be used for future posts.

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Rogue One

It's the holiday season, that means that there's a new Star Wars movie out. And there always will be every December for the rest of our natural lives. Hooray! I decided to buy myself a nice Star Wars related card and go see the newest movie.

Here's the card. A Tek auto of Sabine Wren (actually her voice actress Tiya Sircar) from 2015. Part of something I've been working on since I dropped collecting baseball actually.

And from here here's my kinda brief review of the most recent movie Rogue One.

I liked it. I really did.

But it left me, conflicted. As in, I was happy to have seen it, but still felt empty. It's kind of hard to talk about why without spoiling what happens to many of the characters.

The movie centers around a group of Rebels including Jyn Erso, whose father was a key person behind the development of the Death Star.  She has to help the Rebel Alliance find her father and get information on exactly what the Empire is up to. And it ends up with the Rebel Alliance falling into the rebellion's hands.

Now a lot of what I'll say from here are thoughts I had about the lore, universe and movie as I was watching it.

A). There are no Bothans

In the original trilogy it was stated that many Bothans died to bring the Rebel Alliance the Death Star plans. That appears to be false as Jyn and pretty much none of her fellow rebels are Bothans. They're mainly humans. And if you're wondering what Bothans even are, they're furry creatures (Google Image search it).

It has been brought to my attention that the Bothans and their acquisition of the Death Star plans were in Episode 6, Return of the Jedi. Silly me.

B). Rebels References!

I knew going into the movie that there were a few Star Wars Rebels references and I managed to get four of them. Two are in the form of cameo appearances by the Ghost, one in the form of a cameo appearance by Chopper the droid, and another via a loudspeaker calling for a "General Syndulla."

Truth be told it was tough to see the Ghost and Chopper because I was watching the movie in 3D (which means anything that's not important is blurry as shit). But supposedly they are there. Now the question is whether or not the General Syndulla is Hera or Cham.

C). Clone Wars Veteran!

Saw Gerrera plays a part in Rogue One, and he's one of the first (of many I hope) characters to have debuted in one of the cartoons that made an appearance in the live action movies. The official Star Wars pages on social media have a great clip of Clone Wars/Rebels writers talking about Saw. Saw'll make his Rebels debut in season three too BTW.

D). Darth Vader is ruthless

That ending man. Woof. Star Wars has been around long enough and has gained enough exposure that Vader doesn't seem too threatening anymore, but the ending to Rogue One will remind you that he's as merciless as ever.

E). This movie features the coolest looking crane game ever

You know what I'm talking about.

F). The Rebel Fleet

I assume the events that occur in A New Hope happen not too long after the events in this movie. This leaves me wondering exactly how much power the Rebel Fleet has to fight the Empire with in A New Hope. Many of the rebels escape but some are stopped by Vader's star destroyer. As we saw in ANH, not much.

G). The Death Star can move

Apparently the Death Star can move through the galaxy using hyperspace. I did not know that.

H). Crud, now I want to buy some cards LEGOs related to Rogue One

Should I set up a Patreon?

So there's my review. The movie didn't have Kanan or Rex, but I found it entertaining nonetheless.

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

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Who Would Have Thought?

To me there is no card of 2016. Nothing I really deemed worthy of making me go "wow!" came out this year.

But there is one card I recently received that would definitely be at the very top of cards that were made this year.


Yes my friends, this is a custom creation by DefGav from Baseball Card Breakdown. An original piece commissioned by P-Town Tom over at Waiting 'til Next Year Eamus Catuli! I might add.

Yes, two of my closest buds on this blogosphere teamed up to surprise me with my very first card of Luis Torrens as a Padre. I think it's great. This is the first manip I've seen of Torrens in a Padres hat and I'm very impressed. It looks real (although my standards are probably low thanks to the incredibly bad photoshop jobs on Bowman products).

One minor tidbit that came to my mind however is "what if this also had a manip of Torrens as a Red?" since Torrens was technically in that organization for like five seconds. Hmm...

Regardless, I'm very happy with this as is. Just look at the back. A very real snapshot into this moment of time leading into Spring Training. Torrens went from the Yankees to Reds to Padres, and he's vying to make it to the big leagues as Austin Hedges' backup. Gavin nailed it.

Since the Torrens trade I've taken a few glances at the Padres organization and how they project to be in 2016.

In a word, they are bad. They have 2.5 starters and a mix of okay/promising guys along with downright bad ones.

Is it all doom and gloom though? No, their farm system is at least decent. The Padres have managed to do a great job of robbing the Red Sox of some of their key prospects, and other shrewd trades have given them a pretty middle of the pack farm system.

However, in doing some research of the Padres farm system, I'm reminded of how they supposedly had a stacked top farm system back in the early 2010's. Around 2011 the team was supposed to have future MLB contributors in the form of guys like Casey Kelly, Rymer Liriano, Jedd Gyorko, Robbie Erlin, Yasmani Grandal, and others. A lot of those top prospects have either been failures or mediocre and most aren't even with the team anymore. And much is the same for the prospects they have had since.

That all sounds bad, because it kind of is bad. The Padres, for all of the talent they manage to accumulate, never really seem to break the barrier and take the next step from being mediocre to respectable. I'm hoping that changes. The NL West being a two man show between the Dodgers and Giants is always boring. The Padres are aggressive in terms of international free agents since they spent BIG last year on international free agents (almost 2014 Yankees-ish). Time will tell if they pan out. Time will also tell if the draft picks they get actually stay with the team and pan out.

Right so, thanks for the card DefGav and P-Town Tom. It was a great addition to my collection and I appreciate both of you for it. Also apologies to DefGav for kinda shitting on the Padres.

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

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Followup Thoughts About Torrens The Padre

So following my initial post about Torrens going to San Diego, I really began thinking about the positives of Luis Torrens leaving via the Rule 5 Draft.

Yes it stinks that he's not a Yankees prospect at the moment, but...

In some ways it's worth it just to see Torrens on an official MLB roster.

No Torrens probably won't make it out of spring training with the Padres, yes he could still come back to the Yankees, and yes he could still be claimed by another time by being placed on waivers before having a chance to return to the Yankees.

But you know what. Seeing Torrens in a position where he's that close is something. And it's clear that the Padres are serious about seeing what they have in Torrens. I doubt that they went out of their way to send cash and Josh VanMeter (SOURCE) to the Reds just to lose him before next March. Although it's still unclear how high the Padres are on Torrens (at least right now), they might send something back to the Yankees to keep him long term. We at least know that Torrens is now worth a double-A infielder and cash. I've heard that the Padres may try and keep him on the roster like how the Diamondbacks kept Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez on the roster a few years ago, we'll see. It all depends on what happens when Torrens reports to San Diego's training camp.

So my last post about Torrens going to San Diego was primarily about my thoughts. Now I'd like to share what Torrens himself thought of his Rule 5 selection. Thanks to Twitter I managed to find one Marcos Grunfeld who interviewed Torrens. He's followed by Torrens' official Twitter and Torrens' father so he's legit.

Also heads up, I'm going to embed Tweets written in Spanish. My Spanish stinks so I've translated these Tweets into English using Google Translate. If any of you have better translations, I'd be happy to change them.

Luis Torrens, picked today in draft rule V: "I was training and when I arrived, I see many messages on my phone and I said what this is."

Luis Torrens: "I was told that I had a chance to be chosen but I did not expect it because I played little."

Torrens: "I've liked the Yankees all my life but since one comes in here, they tell you this is a business and you want to be in MLB."

Luis Torrens: "If the Padres chose me knowing my history is because they know me and want me with them."

There were some more interesting tweets and there is a full interview somewhere but unfortunately I was unable to access the link.

Still, I'm glad I was able to get Torrens' perspective on this experience. I'm sure he's feeling a whirlwind of emotions now that he's on a faster track to the big leagues (you know, as opposed to in the Yankees org). Whether or not he's ready is debatable (he's not), but it's nice to see anyway. As you can see Torrens is really humble about being picked at all even though he's Torrens.

Based on this whole thing I can say three things without a doubt.

1). Torrens was coveted. You don't get picked second overall in any baseball draft for nothing. Even with the injury history, teams were in on his massive potential and high caliber talent.

2). Torrens' trade value at least has a floor now. Torrens was traded for cash and an infielder on the verge of making it to double-A. If the Padres want to start making a package to send to NYY to keep Torrens, that's where they can start. Where it goes is a mystery.

3). Former Yankee Cesar Vargas is on the San Diego Padres roster. And that makes me think even more positively about the Padres.

You know what, Torrens on the Padres isn't bad at all. I hope it continues.

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