Thursday, August 31, 2017

Churro

Players weekend just passed. It was a fun little promotion where players had nicknames on the back of their jerseys (if they picked a nickname at all).

Luis Torrens had a nickname, it was "Churro."

Luis "Churro" Alfonso Saez Torrens (21)

I assume that when most of you think of the word churro, you think of the long sugary stick made out of dough. I like those snacks too but I'm pretty sure that's not what Torrens had in mind.


Especially not after reading about the origin of the nickname from this article explaining all of the Padres' nicknames written by MLB.com's Padres beat writer A.J. Cassavell.

Now my Spanish is a bit, primitive, but I at least know that the word churro has a few meanings. The aforementioned doughy treat, disaster/failure, and finally handsomeness/beautifulness. I think handsomeness and beautifulness were what the Torrens family has been going for.

I always figured that LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS had a nickname but I now know that that name is Churro. Another fun fact to add to the Torrens trivia collection.


As for the Torrens card collection, it has even more fire to bake the churros now. Thanks to this On Fire diecut autograph from 2014 Leaf Valiant. This is an ongoing rainbow project of mine (well, they all are TBH) and progress on this one has been the absolute slowest.


On the bright side this is the yellow parallel numbered 08/10. What this effectively means is that I am only the Red 1/1 away from completing this rainbow, as well as that and three printing plates away from completing the master rainbow. Will I ever finish this? Depends on exactly what's been pulled so far out of boxes, what remains in sealed boxes of Valiant, and whether Leaf actually sent out all of the cards in the first place :P.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Finishing Touches

It's now nearly the end of August. If you can believe it, we're almost three fourths of the way through 2017. Baseball season is winding down and nowhere is that sad fact more apparent than down in the minor leagues.


The Yankees and Brooklyn Cyclones (SSA-Mets) don't really meet up unless it's either the very first series of the season, or it's near the end of the regular season. In other words, the matchup is either a sign of fun times to come or a sign that cold weather is coming to take the ball away. Before that happens though, I need to get some cards inked.


First up is this Jorge Guzman. Whenever I go to games this year Guzman is pitching. That's the rule now apparently. No complaints from me though, he's a total beast. Just the other day the New York Yankees' official YouTube page put out this awesome video on what's really been working for him this year.


Good stuff!


At this point a lot of the team set needs I have for the 2017 SI set is either in Charleston, gone home or on the DL. Chase Hodson recently returned to Staten Island after a brief stint in Charleston. Hodson was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted amateur free agent last year. Armed with a fastball and curveball, Hodson has put up some nice numbers for the Yankees teams he's been on. He's 25 and on the older side but he could carve out a nice long career filling up relief spots on various rosters.


Next up is outfielder Andy Diaz.
Diaz was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted international free agent back in 2014. Diaz started the season in Pulaski before being promoted to Staten Island around early August. He's shown some pop this year in the rookie/short season leagues, the other day he even went 2-3 with a dinger against the Aberdeen IronBirds (SSA-Orioles).


Diaz had cards in both last year and this year's Pulaski Yankees team sets. I just love how simple that signature is.


Next up is Yankees righty Kaleb Ort.
Ort was originally signed by the Joliet Slammers (indy ball, Frontier League) as a non-drafted free agent back in 2016. Ort was later picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks who gave him a home until March 2017. Ort went back to pitching for the Joliet Slammers for a while before the Yankees picked him up around mid-May. Ort is armed with a fastball in the high-90's and a slider.


Danienger Perez wasn't in the SIY team set this year but he was in the Pulaski one. Perez is a utility infielder who the Yankees signed as a non-drafted international free agent in 2014. Perez is a versatile defender but offensively is a slap hitter with good speed and contact. Perez hasn't shown a lot of power so far but then again he hasn't been given a ton of chances either (too much infield depth at these lower positions). Wish him the best though.


And last but certainly not least is an autograph of Jio Orozco.
Jio Orozco was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 14th round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. He came over to the Yankees as part of the Ben Gamel trade and so far he's worked out pretty great for the Yankees. Excited to see what happens next year.


The New York Yankees made a video for him too.


Jorge Guzman had an interesting start. The good part is that his fastball peaked at 101 mph and he struck out seven (still holds the lead in K's in the entire NYPL). The bad part is that he gave up six runs in four innings.


Despite the best efforts of Ryan Krill and Keith Skinner (along with singles from Wilkerman Garcia and Welfrin Mateo) the offense was never able to show up and the Yankees lost 0-6 to the Cyclones (BOX SCORE).

On a brighter note, a friend of mine who I get autographs with in Staten Island went to a promotional card set giveaway day the other day. I didn't go because I was down with a cold but they went and gave me the card set from that day. Thanks again bud!

Now we both initially thought that the giveaway set was going to be either a regular team set or maybe a parallel version of the team set with different border colors (definitely possible since the SIY set this year has a 2013 Topps motif), or maybe even an update set with new players. It was none of them. Instead fans got something might actually be a lot funner.


The set itself was a small 20 card set called "Made In America" that was made by Choice and sponsored by the Staten Island University Hospital.


The 20 cards are focused on fun scenes from the Staten Island Yankees season. And in some cases a few standout players.


You have your standard minor league baseball activities like tug of war to entertain kids between innings.


You have fireworks.


You have what matters the most at these games, the kids.


You have player rituals.


You have victory celebrations.


You have one of the team's top writers/photographers being photographed.
This Ryan Pimpsner card is my favorite of the bunch BTW. Back when I still made custom cards Pimpsner's photographs were heavily used (with permission) and while I don't make customs anymore (at least not unless I'm using my own photographs) I still appreciate Pimpsner for all of the work he puts in to covering the Yankees. Afterall, he is one of the key guys behind Pinstriped Prospects, a really good site if you're a huge minor league Yankees fan like me, they have a hub of writers covering the system all the way down in the GCL to up in triple-A Scranton. Check it out if you're a huge Yankees prospect nerd like me.

One more interesting tidbit about this set is that one of the cards is likely an error.


These are cards six and eight respectively. The photos are alike.


But the card descriptions on the back are different. Card number six properly names Dom Thompson-Williams, Kendall Coleman and Timmy Robinson (the three players on the card), but card number eight talks about Dalton Blaser. I have to assume that there was a different photo for eight but someone at Choice or someone at SI in charge of getting the photos to Choice messed up.

Not like any of this matters unless you're some maniac like I am though :P.

Anyway that was my latest SIY game. I think I'm done with autographs for the year unless some last minute addition pops up like Luis Medina or someone else from Pulaski. I will probably attend a playoff game though :).

As always thanks for stopping by and take care.

2017 IP Auto Count: 62

Friday, August 25, 2017

Other Things In The Aisle

Try as I might, I can't just focus on baseball cards. By now I'm sure you're all well aware that I'm into Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and that I'm probably into other forms of cardboard too. Today I thought I'd go over some of the things I've been really into that have presented themselves in card form and in products that we tend to gloss over when we're looking for blasters at retail stores.


So one of my favorite movie franchises is Dreamworks' How To Train Your Dragon franchise. The first two movies were excellent in my opinion and I'm cautiously excited about the third installment (I say cautiously because the people who made Minions bought out Dreamworks).

Topps made a whole set for the second HTTYD2 movie back in 2014. If you were in the card aisle at big box mart back then, you probably glanced over this product while you were looking for 2014 Heritage or something.


Nowadays the set is rather rare. My friend Ryan from This Card Is Cool once told me that cards related to kids shows are hard to find, and this set has shown me that that is very true. I mean I've managed to find some good lots on eBay (mainly from one seller) but trying to find/complete a masterset is going to be tricky. If not impossible thanks to all of the insert sets and fun kid-oriented extras like stickers, puzzles and stand-up cards. I'd have better luck buying every unopened pack I can find and hoping for the best.


Nonetheless I loved the movies too much to not get anything. So I got one of the base cards (of Astrid because Hiccup was sold out) and a complete puzzle. The backs of the puzzle cards are all stickers like the "Berk's Best Buds" sticker previously seen above.


Now we're going back to when I was a wee little baby, with the mid-90's Disney hit, Gargoyles.

Disney's darkest cartoon to date (by a wide margin) had a set of cards released by Skybox back in 1994. It had a fair number of promo cards like the one above which features promo artwork of Goliath (the lead character in Gargoyles) gliding down from a building on his way to protect Manhattan. The whole card is a 5x7 card BTW.


The back features a brief description/overview of the show. How the Gargoyles came to be protectors of NYC in 1994. Most of it overlaps with what the intro to the show itself says. If you have the time I highly recommend watching/listening to it. It's a very epic theme song with one of the best voices in all of animation history courtesy of Keith David.


Awesome stuff wouldn't you say?

Speaking of Disney and mastersets though, I completed a master set of something Star Wars related a while back.

Back in 2014 Topps released a special set of cards to help promote the new Star Wars cartoon, Star Wars Rebels. It was a simple set with 100 base cards, ten stickers and ten tattoos.

I got the 100 base cards and ten stickers down quickly thanks to buying blaster and rack packs like a mad-man while they were still on shelves. The tattoos eluded me for a while.


The last one I needed was Hera Syndulla.


Now I have the entire master set!

I'm kind of thrilled. It's the very first time I've completed a master set. I suppose I should a 1/1 sketch card (this product came with those) but those tend to go out of my price range so maybe that's for another time.

Right now I'm just glad that the mission I set out to do years ago is finally done.

Anyway those were some things you likely missed/ignored in the card aisle. Will there ever be a second edition of this post? We'll see. Depends on if you do ;).

As always thanks for stopping by and take care.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Autumn Is Approaching

Yesterday was my first Staten Island Yankees game in weeks. Work, school and the SIY's schedule kept me away from the games for quite a long time. I made sure to make the most of my recent trip.


Yesterday was the NYPL version of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry as the Yankees took on the Lowell Spinners (the NYPL BOS affiliate).


My first autograph was from Juan De Paula, featured here on one of my favorite pictures from this year's team set.
De Paula came over to the Yankees organization in the Ben Gamel trade and thus far that trade has proved to be good for both parties involved. Gamel has really taken off in Seattle while De Paula was part of a combined no-hitter last month. De Paula has silently been a great pitcher in the NYPL this season.


Next up is the other arm NYY got in the Gamel trade, Jio Orozco. Drafted by the Mariners in the fourteenth round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft, Orozco's 2017 has featured stints in Charleston, Pulaski and Staten Island. Armed with a low-90's fastball, changeup and curveball, Orozco's job for now is to be a starter until NYY decides to move him to the bullpen. It will be fun to see Orozco's development going forward.


Next up is Yankees southpaw Daniel Alvarez.
Alvarez was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted free agent back in 2014. With Austin DeCarr back in Staten Island (more on that later), Alvarez has been inserted back into the starting rotation after an appearance in relief.


Jason Lopez here was the Yankees' starting catcher for yesterday.
Lopez had a hit and a walk for the Yankees while batting in the three hold.


Cody Brown was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted free agent this year out of Mississippi State. Interestingly enough Brown played under former Yankee Andy Cannizaro while at MSU.


The Top Prospects set came out recently and I was fortunate enough to get a Wilkerman Garcia in it. Garcia has emerged as a very steady bat. He's a year or two away from a breakout season, I can feel it (feel free to screenshot this hot take to make fun of me in like five years).


Austin DeCarr (the Yankees' third rounder in 2014), recently came back to Staten Island after a stint in Charleston following Extended Spring Training. DeCarr has been relegated to the bullpen at this point (although it may be a "late in the season" thing to control his innings). With DeCarr in the pen, Alvarez goes back to the rotation. DeCarr is here to reinforce a pen headed for the NYPL playoffs.


Timmy Robinson was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 21st round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. He drove in the only run scored in this game.


Next is Manny Argomaniz, an undrafted free agent signee by the Yankees. With the Yankees having as many as four catchers at once, it's been tough for Argomaniz to find consistent playing time but he's making the most of what he can do.


Last but not least is Greg Weissert.
Weissert was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 18th round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. The New York native got some attention during his time at Fordham U for two barehanded plays he made.


And those were my autographs for the day.


With De Paula and Orozco, now I'm really only one more piece away from completing the Ben Gamel trade (Gamel himself).


Because I went naturally Jorge Guzman was pitching again. One interesting thing is that this time Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez (far left) was here as a roving instructor. Very cool to see.

Guzman was his usual dominant self. He went six innings of no-run, three-hit ball while allowing one ball and striking out seven. With those seven K's Guzman has a comfortable lead in the NYPL in K's with 78, nearly 14 more than the guy in second place. Weissert and Kaleb Ort kept the Spinners off of the board and the Yankees came away with the 1-0 victory (BOX SCORE).


BTW, the Top Prospects set is out for those who are curious. Some fun names in there as per usual.


To my blogging/collecting buddies who are Red Sox fans, say hello to your first rounder Tanner Houck and his pitcher face. Sidenote, he refuses to sign so good luck getting his autograph.

There's still a few more weeks of ball left before the playoffs but for now a Staten Island playoff berth is all but assured. I'd have to think so. Hopefully they can win it all again this time.

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

2017 IP Auto Count: 55

Monday, August 21, 2017

Throwing Ones

Out of all of the serial numbered cards, the best one to get just might be the one of one. Actually there is no "might be," it is. There's only one copy of it in existence.


Like this Alex Rodriguez (In Rod We Trust!) printing plate I got from Bob Walk The Plank a while back. The second ever printing plate to enter my collection via BWTP.


You can see which of the four plates this one is, and which product it's from up there. You can also read BWTP's post about his experience pulling the thing here.

With eBay being the go-to place for baseball cards that people want and don't want, you can find a lot of actual 1/1's. That said, trying to compete with the entire internet for one card that you all know there is only one of is not fun and is why a lot of collectors don't bother with 1/1's at all.

But if you're like me and have a network of awesome people who know what you want, you can luck into some great cards.

So big thanks to Bob Walk The Plank, and as always thank you (the readers) for stopping by.

Take care :).

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Team Set Time

The 2017 Staten Island Yankees team set is finally out. Which can only mean one thing, Zippy Zappy is now in beast mode.


Yesterday the Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) came to town. But thanks to Twitter I knew that the SIY team set was out. I picked up one for me and a friend of mine, and got straight to work on getting the cards signed. As of yesterday the store had yet to have the top prospect set for the NYPL but that will come soon enough.


First up is Trevor Stephan. The Yankees' third rounder from the 2017 MLB player draft, making him the very first 2017 draftee I've acquired an autograph of. So far Stephan's made a few starts for SI and he's looked good in most of them. Armed with a low-to-mid 90's fastball that can reach 97, a curveball and a changeup, Stephan projects to be a solid MLB contributor in some fashion. The Yankees will try to develop him as a starter until he shows he can't anymore, but for now it's looking pretty nice. The 6'4" righthander will likely be in Charleston next year.


Next is one of my personal favorites (my "buddy" you could say) in the Yankees org, Alex Bisacca. Bisacca was drafted by the Yankees in the 35th round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft and has seen some success as a member of various bullpens in the organization. Bisacca remembered me from 2015 and still follows me on Twitter and Instagram to this day. He's a cool dude. I got him some of his cards from Pulaski as a thank you present.


Next up is Jeff Degano, the Yankees' second rounder from 2015.
Degano is another guy who knows me by name now. Which is pretty cool IMHO. Degano is still working his way back from his case of the Yips, but he's making progress. Looking forward to see him rebound in the future.


Will Jones, the Yankees' 28th rounder from 2016, has steadily been a reliable and consistent member of the SIY bullpen this season. As of this post he has 11 strike-outs as opposed to four walks in 10 games.


Yup, got Wilkerman Garcia.
He's proven to be one of the steadier bats on the team this year as a 19 year old while being one of the youngest in the whole league. He even played a key role in this particular game.


It appears that 2017 is the year where whenever I go to SI, Jorge Guzman is pitching (although there are exceptions). The top prospect is having a fine season in SI and he continued his roll with this game where he started. Guzman went five innings, allowing one run and striking out eight batters. He reportedly also hit 101 mph at one point.


Ryan Krill was drafted by the Yankees in the ninth round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. Unfortunately injuries wrecked his 2016 season and he's making up for lost time this year as a member of the baby bombers. As a first baseman, Krill might be needed in the future if the 1B fiasco that happened this year happens again.


Cesar Diaz was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted free agent back in 2013. His development has been slow but steady. I can't really find a whole lot about him other than how he's a switch hitter who hits for contact.


Justin Kamplain was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 18th round of the 2014 MLB Player Draft. Kamplain was with Staten Island in 2014 but in 2015 the Yankees tried him out as a starter which didn't not end too well. They've shifted him back into a reliever and he's working his way back up the ladder now.


Brian Reyes was originally signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted free agent back in 2013. After opening the season with Pulaski Reyes was promoted to Staten Island in late June. He's appeared in four games since then (a byproduct of having four catchers on the active roster).


Reyes had eluded me for a while now because I was looking to get this Pulaski card of signed a while ago. Now I got it and the SIY team card signed too.


Brian Trieglaff was drafted by the Yankees in the 13th round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. The righty is a power reliever who's success at the higher levels may be contingent on the development of a second pitch.


Next up is Leonardo Molina. Molina has seen his fair share of success and improvements since joining the SI Yankees. He's still refining his approach for the game but he is starting to make some strides.


I actually asked Molina to sign two of his cards. One from the Staten Island Yankees team set and one from the Charleston Riverdogs teamset. I like the look of the Charleston one a bit more, namely due to it showing Molina hustling.


Kendall Coleman was drafted by the Yankees in the 11th round of the 2013 MLB Player Draft. I thought Coleman was poised to go to Charleston this year (and stay there) but unfortunately injuries put him on the shelf for all of spring training. The poor guy just can't catch a break. Hopefully he can finish the year off strong and get back on track soon.


Eduardo Rivera was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted free agent back in 2010. Rivera was the SIY' closer last year before he promoted to Charleston and then Tampa. Rivera is due to be a minor league free agent at the end of this season so he'll have to show the Yankees that he's really worth keeping around. If not, he and his fastball could latch onto a new home.


David Palladino was originally drafted by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2013 MLB Player Draft. Palladino has been at Staten Island for various parts of the last four years, but the organization's reluctance to let him go is due to how he fits their mold. As in, Palladino is a 6'8" giant. If he can ever harness his pitches, he'd be a legitimate threat in the bullpen. One cool thing is that if Palladino returns to SI for one more year, he'll have sole possession of the title of "longest tenured SI Yankee" at five years.


HARK, A NON-YANKEE!
Yes, this Jhailyn Ortiz was pulled in the Clone Break a few weeks ago and I'd been keeping it safe hoping to get it signed when the Crosscutters came to town. My friend who needed players on the Crosscutters had this signed for me (I had a Stephan card signed for him in return). And boom, I have an orange refractor auto of a top 30 Phillies prospect.


Next up is the Yankees' manager (even though he's listed on the card as a coach), Julio Mosquera. The back of Mosquera's card is quite detailed. Giving an extensive bio about the former Blue Jays/Brewers backstop. Mosquera had a long career in the minor leagues playing for teams like the Jays, Brew Crew, Rays, Rangers, Mariners and the Yankees. Mosquera has been in the Yankees org as a coach for 12 seasons now and according to the card, he's been a key part of developing the likes of Francisco Cervelli and Gary Sanchez.


Here is another coach I was lucky enough to get an autograph from. Travis Phelps.
The back of the card is quite detailed in terms of Phelps' background as well. An 89th rounder by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 1996 MLB player draft (89 drafts!), Phelps had some short MLB stints with Tampa and with Milwaukee but spent most of his time as a journeyman in the minors. He even pitched in indyball for a few years as well. Phelps eventually decided to go behind the scenes by running a training facility and being a sports agent before joining the Yankees as a pitching instructor.


I offered Mr. Phelps a copy of his 2016 card but he just signed it and gave it back to me. Thanks Mr. Phelps!


Last but not least is the second 2017 NYY draftee I got yesterday, Glenn Otto.
Glenn Otto was drafted by the New York Yankees in the fifth round of the 2017 MLB Player Draft. After some brief stints in the GCL, Otto was promoted to Staten Island in late July and hasn't looked back since. Otto is armed with a low 90's fastball, a very good curveball and a work in progress changeup. The outlook for now is that the Yankees will try to develop the righty from Rice University as a starter (like Chance Adams and Josh Rogers before him) until he shows he can't.


Otto was a dominant reliever/closer in college and he's started his professional career in the GCL/Staten Island bullpen as well. He'll likely get stretched out more next year in Charleston or Tampa.


I asked Otto to sign three cards for me (the most from any player on this day). The last two were obtained via an eBay lot the day Otto was drafted. My hunch that he'd be in SI paid off handsomely. The shiny insert from two scans ago is numbered 131/999 and the relic is numbered 105/199.

In all I got 24 autographs yesterday. Which is not my record overall, but is the record for this year. I think it might be the most number of cards I got signed though, I'll have to check. It's pretty tough to compete with the 2014 and 2015 years where I was at peak energy. But I guess 24 isn't a bad number of autographs to get.


As for the game it was a bit of a nail biter. Jorge Guzman gunned down the Crosscutters while allowing a run. Josh Roeder (who wasn't in the team set this year) relieved him and gave up one more run but rebounded for a nice 3.1 inning outing. Kamplain came in the ninth with two batters to go to finish off the game.


For the first few innings the Yankees were hitless but eventually they were able to get a rally going and tie the game in the 6th inning thanks to a two-run single by Kendall Coleman. Wilkerman Garcia had a walk off single in the 9th where he single to right and drove home the newly promoted Andy Diaz.


Oh and around the time the game started I got a ball from Will Jones. Thanks Will!

One final note is that the Yankees had ZERO guys selected for the 2017 New York-Penn League All Star Game. Dafuq? Oh sure, just exclude players from the first place team in the McNamara Division. Like Jorge Guzman who now leads the entire NYPL in strikeouts with 64. Meh, somebody's probably going to game anyway as a sub or something but still, the anti-Yankees bias has emerged. Tony is grinning somewhere.

Anyway that was my latest game. Cards, balls, walk-offs, what baseball is really about (for me lol).

Big thanks to everyone that signed for me and big thanks (as always) to you the readers for stopping by :).

Take care.

2017 IP Auto Count: 45