Monday, June 18, 2018

Second International Trade (of 2018)

So I arranged a second international trade this month. This one with a Japanese collector with the handle @you_oh_. They're a Giants collector (specifically Pablo Sandoval) and we've been building up this trade for a good six months.

I sent them a bunch of junk wax Giants, some retail exclusive Giants and a few other things, and in return they sent back over a hundred cards of my favorite NPB team.


Blam!

This Takagi Morimichi autograph (that's numbered 37 of 90!) alone would've made this trade worth it but it wasn't the only card in the package. Not even close.


There was also this Takuya Kinoshita autograph (numbered 30/44). Kinoshita is a former PC-guy who I dropped pretty quickly lol. I like him, but when you're a catcher with the ceiling of a backup catcher it's hard to get excited about you.


The autographs weren't the only numbered cards though. Peep the super shiny star parallel above of Takamasa Suzuki. It's numbered 09/50!


A Yohei Oshima SMASH insert that scans like shit (spoilers, a lot of these Japanese parallels are cards that look super shiny in person but scan like I used a potato). It's numbered 12/30.


This is a pretty neat concept for a card. It's a photograph embedded into a card. It's numbered 188/200 and would make for a unique card if done right by Topps.


This is an even better concept for an insert, great players in the same franchise who've worn the same number. Unless you're the Yankees who retires or unofficially ghosts every number used by a great player, your team probably has a lot of super great players who just happened to share the same jersey number. I think that'd be a great idea for an insert in a Topps flagship set. This insert was numbered 093/200 BTW.


We now move onto the unnumbered inserts. Like this faux-auto dual insert of two (likely) former cheerleaders for the Chunichi Dragons.


This was interesting. This is a spherical insert that I'm guessing is some sort of modern card based on a menko-type of motiff. This one features Dragons legend Hiromitsu Inoue.


More cards that look really great and shiny in person but look like shit scanned.
I love the insert names too. Top Prospects is my kind of concept, Hot Blood is something that could only exist in Japan, and No Mercy is something I can see catching on in another Topps product that's so focused on #attitude you'd think it was from the 90's (like Topps Fire or some shit like that).


Of course the inserts and hits were nice but the real meat of the package was the 100+ base cards sent my way. This included a full completed base set of the 2017 BBM Chunichi Dragons set. Thanks to this I finally got my first Yota Kyoda rookie. After winning ROY honors in 2017, he's started the year off really slow but has managed to put up some okay results as of late. Hopefully he avoids the sophomore slump.


A sunset card of Dragons longtime slugger Masahiko "Three-Bags" Morino.


I loved this set because it is the first (and only) one to feature the pitchers that I coined as being "the big three". As in, the Dragons drafted these three with their first round picks in three consecutive drafts and were really banking on their success. My favorite of the bunch being Nomura. Nomura was DFA'd last winter, Ogasawara's having a rough 2018 and Yanagi isn't faring that much better. The Dragons suck at player development.


CALBEES!
Calbees are an underrated part of the Japanese baseball card game. These are cards that come free with potato chips. Why don't baseball cards come with potato chips in America huh? Answer me that Frito Lays!


So let's switch it up with some non-Dragons coolness. Like some numbered faux-autos, a CALBEE(!) Ohtani commemorating him throwing 163 kilometers per hour and a Matsui insert.


OH DAMN, I was not expecting to get a Masahiro Tanaka rookie card.


Much less two of them. This second one is to commemorate him being selected to the All Star Game (as a rookie) BTW.


Eyyy, a Tanak jersey relic. This one is numbered 172/200. It's dope. Jersey relics made by American companies suck because they're all mass produced and not worth caring about. Jersey relics made by Japanese companies rule because the print runs are much smaller and thus it actually means something to pull them.


Here's a first for my collection, a ball relic!
I've seen Topps and others make base relics, ticket stub relics and even dirt relics, but I don't think I've ever seen a ball relic. Or if I have this is still the first to fall into my clutches. I love touching the ball piece, it's so rubbery and bouncy. It's numbered 010/300 for extra coolness points BTW.


I'll end this post with an insert card that, surprise surprise, scans like shit.


Luckily I was sent a normal base version too. This is going to be for a future post for sure, but here's a preview...


So that was my second international trade this year. I know that I kind of glossed over a lot of things and didn't get into much detail. I wanted to but there was just so much stuff that it would've been impossible to condense it into one post. So expect multiple posts about some of these cards (and the players on them) at various times later.


Ha, this package was so dense and big that I almost didn't even mentioned the stack of Yankees sent my way. My favorite of them all being this Japan fractor of Tyler Austin. Love these things.

And that was my first trade with @you_oh_. 今回は楽しいトレードどうもありがとうございました!
Will this be my last international trade of 2018? I don't want to jinx anything but certain things are in motion right now...

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

今年初のマイナーの試合


みなさんこんにちは、また久しぶりに日本語で投稿することにしました。
今回は先日私が見に行ったマイナーの試合について語ります。


私に一番近いマイナーリーグの球団はヤンキースの傘下のスターテン・アイランド・ヤンキースです。こちらはshort season class-Aの球団でして6月の開始する普通より短いシーズンをプレイする球団です。先日(現地時間15日の金曜日)がシーズンの開幕戦でした。

まずは私が試合に行った最大の理由となるサインを紹介したいです。マイナーの試合では生オートを手に入れるのに絶好なチャンスためうまくいくと何十個も貰えることがあります(私の自己ベストは30個位)。


今年一番最初にサインをくださったのはヤンキースの外野プロスペクトのケイナン・スミス選手です。彼は昨年ヤンキースにドラフトで4巡目に指名された強打者です。もうすでにMLBの公式サイトの組織トッププロスペクトのリストにランク入りしている上どうやら他球団からトレードで要求されるようになってきたようです。まだマイナーの低いレベルにいるのにも関わらずこれほど注目度をあびているということはよほど期待できる人材として見て良いと思います。彼は左打の外野手でしてパワーがある上出塁率が悪くないと好評されています。


次のサインはノーラン・マルティネス選投手。マルティネスは2016年のドラフトで3巡目に指名された高校出身の投手。もう知っている方はご存知だと思いますがヤンキースは背の高い、回転数が多い、豪速球を投げられる投手が好みです。だから次から次も優秀な投手が出てきているのです笑。マルティネスは89-92mphあたりにストレードをなげられる上、球の回転数がヤンキースのスカウトに気に入られ、将来性がある投手です。この最後の二年間は怪我などであまり登板する事がなかったのですがまだ20でもないため段々体重とスタミナをこれから加えるだろうと予測されています。それに引き継いで球の速度もあがるという方針です。


次にサインをくださったのはエドワルド・トリアルバ選手です。彼は元々2015年にレッドソックスとプロ契約を結んだのですけどあの球団が不法にラテン系のアマチュアと契約の交渉を行っていたとバレて契約解除になったしまい、その後ヤンキースに入団した選手です。トッププロスペクトと言えるような選手ではありませんがわざわざヤンキースが彼に契約をオファーした時点でなにか良いものになれるチャンスがあると見ているでしょうね。最悪の場合はマイナーのロスターの穴埋め役でしょうがそれでもなかなか貴重な仕事なのです。


次のサインはエリック・ワガマン選手です。彼は2017年のドラフトでヤンキースが指名した打者のなかでは優れているほうです(彼の持つパワーのおかげで)。それでもファーストのみの選手であっても問題ではないと言えるほど打てるかは疑問です。


次のサインはドリュー・フィンリー投手です。彼は2015年のドラフトでヤンキースが4巡目に指名した投手です。以前はポーテンシャルがあふれる先発投手でしたが二年怪我などの影響で早めに彼のシーズンは終わってしまいまして、今年はリリーフ投手にコンバートしました。上手く行くかは疑問ですが試す価値はあります。


最後に貰ったサインはこの日の先発投手のマット・サウアー投手です。彼は昨年のドラフトでヤンキースが2巡に指名した投手でして一番あのドラフトで得た選手のなかで才能があると言われています(わざわざドラフトのボーナス金を殆ど彼のためにあれこれ手配したくらいですから)。彼もまた背の高い、90半ばmphの投球を投げられる右投げ投手です。チェンジアップとカーブもいまだにマスターしていませんがまだ19歳の彼は今後どんどん成長するのを期待されています。


そのサウアーは開幕戦の投手を託されファンの期待を裏切りませんでした。サウアー投手はブルックリン・サイクロンズ(クソメッツの傘下の球団)相手に6回も投げ安打を1つも許しませんでした。


試合中ランナーは一人許してしまいましたが、すぐピックオフプレーで始末しました。好投を見せてもらって私は結構楽しめました。残念ながら球場のスピードガンが故障していたため速度をはかることは出来ませんでした(次回は自分が持っていった方がいいと思います)。

7回にはチェイス・ホドソンというリリーフ投手(もうすでに彼のオート昨年貰っています)が登板して相手にヒット許してしまいノーヒットノーランが台無しになってしまいました。その後1点も失点してしまいましたがなんとか落ち着いて8回まで投げきれました。

一方ヤンキースの打線は点を稼ぐチャンスが何度もありましたが殆どいかせませんでした。ですが7回の裏にはやっと打線が投手らを援助できました。まずは二塁手のヘズス・バスティダスが塁にでたら、先ほどのスミス選手が二塁打を打ち、バスティダスがホームインし同点になりました。その後フレドリック・クエヴァス(彼のサインももう既に貰っています)がソロホームランを放ちヤンキースが2対1と逆転しました。

9回にはギャレット・マンデル投手(ご心配なく、もう彼のサインも持っています)が登板してサイクロンズの誰かに三塁打を許しましたが、大きな傷がなくピンチを成し遂げました。

試合の結果は2対1のヤンキースの勝利でした。この球団は打線より投手陣の力によって勝つような球団だという予測がありまして当たりました笑。今後も彼らはどうなるかが楽しみです。

その他の出来事や考え事


今年になってやっとヤンキースが観客を守る網を広げました。日本では安全用の網がフェールドを殆ど囲むのが普通ですがアメリカはかな遅れています(お金かかるものはやらない主義ですから)。私はずっと前からこうするべきだと思っていました。私だってファウルボールのライナーを食らった事が過去にありまして、あのような球が若い子供あるいは高齢者にでも直撃したら大問題になるだろうと恐れていました。嫌なハプニングが起こる前に球団が対策をとっておいてめでたしめでたし。一応ダグアウトではサインを少々とりにくくなってしまいましたが私はあそこらへんではサインを頼まないうえ、他のファンの安否のほうが大事なのでサインがとりにくくなっても全然気にしません(オートのコレクターとしてこう主張します)。


サインのコレクターとして毎年会うトラブルはこの球団のちゃんとしたロスターが最後の最後まで発表されないことです。本来でしたら事前に誰がいるか知っておきカードを用意するのが理想ですがこうしたショート・シーズンのリーグではそう上手く行かないのです。このレベルの選手の殆どは一番最近のドレフトで入団した大学生か、プロ三年目のラテン系の選手なのですが、ヤンキースはチャンスを与えたい優秀な選手が多すぎるためこのレベルに誰を送るのかを決めるのが大変だったそうです。そのため球団のスタッフだってチームの選手が全員揃うまで誰がいるのかはっきり分からないそうです。球団の色々な仕事を託されているインターンもご苦労様です。
まあ、最終的にはこのレベルだと選手が他のレベルのヤンキースのマイナーの球団に移ったり移されるが普通なので私のようなサインオタクではない限り気にしなくてもいいんですけどね笑。


オタクっぽい事と言えば、この試合でなんと3年も跨ぐボウマンカードにサインを貰いました。2016年版、2017年版と2018年版。こんな事で勝手に嬉しがっている私、笑。


因みに私は交通費を節約す為にスターテン島へ行くフェーリのターミナルまでマンハッタンのミッドタウンから歩きました。計2時間半もかかりましたが全6.5キロ(約)を歩きました。2ドル75セント(約275円)を節約する為にいい運動をできました。

変かもしれませんが私はフェリーを乗ることを毎度少し楽しみにしています。ニューヨークの港を拝見するのに絶好なチャンスの上、自由の女神なども見れます。あと私はフェリーから港を見ると少し心が落ち着くんですよね。こうした景色を見るとそうなるのでしょうけどね笑。


昼でも。


夜でも。

ニューヨークは日本やカリフォルニアなどと比べると遊べる場所はあまりないのですがこうした小さな楽しみ方は少しあります。

なにかこのブログポーストずいぶん長くなってしまいましたね。これほど皆さんの時間を使ってしまいましてすみません。

毎度ご覧になって頂いてありがとうございます。

ではお元気に:)。

2018年IP(In Person)オートのカウント:7個

Welcome to 2018


The dawn of a new baseball season is here. For most of you the baseball season started in February with Spring Training, but for me baseball season really starts halfway through June.

Honestly June is around the time I get super amped up for baseball. Not just because the Staten Island Yankees season starts (although that is a big factor) but it's basically when the draft happens and an exciting new era of future stars joins the ranks, and it's about the 40% mark of the season, meaning that the "it's early" excuse no longer applies and teams/players will really have to take where they are seriously going forward.

So yeah, how about them Yanks? The SI Yanks. Though it looks like the big league Yanks had themselves a fun night of their own spearheaded by Jonathan Loaisiga Lasagna.

As per tradition we'll start with my autographs ;).


My first autograph of the day was from Canaan Smith. The Yankees prospect, not the country singer.
Smith was the Yankees' fourth round pick in 2017 and is an interesting name to watch. Namely because he's already on the Yankees' top 30 prospect list on MLB.com (which is NOT easy to get onto), and also because teams are already asking if they can trade for him. That's pretty big, teams are already trying to get in on him lol.
Smith is a lefty slugger with an incredibly patient approach and will take a ton of walks. But he also has a ton of power enabling him to hit the ball out of the park if the pitcher makes a mistake. He'll be fun to watch.


Next up is an autograph of Nolan Martinez.
Martinez was the Yankees' third round pick in 2016. Martinez is exactly the type of pitcher the Yankees like, high spin rates and with low-90's velo that can occasionally reach the mid-90's. And that's just Martinez at age 19, think of how much more muscle and velo he'll add as he grows out his frame a bit. Martinez hasn't seen a ton of action so far and if I had to guess he'll be on a tight innings limit this season to boot, but the ceiling is still tremendously high for him. The Yankees didn't just pool all of the bonus pool savings into his (and Rutherford's) bonuses for nothing.


Here's an autograph of Eduardo Torrealba.
Torrealba was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox in 2015 as an international free agent. However, after the Red Sox were discovered to have used shady measures of acquiring Latin American talent, Torrealba was one of the free agents that were voided by the MLB and allowed to sign with another team. Torrealba signed with the Yankees. He's an infielder who's been used at a lot of positions (namely up the middle). It'll be interesting if he goes on to be something special and make the Red Sox really regret letting him slip away. Sidenote, dude's English is great.


Here's an autograph of Eric Wagaman.
Wagaman was the Yankees' 13th rounder in 2017. He's a first baseman with a lot of power and probably the best hitter the Yankees took in the 2017 draft (mainly because they went so pitching heavy that year). No knock on Wagaman though (yet), dude's got plenty of time to show that he can be a viable first base prospect with lots of power and a knack of hitting.


Here are two autographs of Drew Finley.
Drew Finley was the Yankees' third rounder in 2015. Finley's coming into the season with the Staten Island Yankees for the third straight year. In 2016 he was shut down early. In 2017 he was shut down early again. In 2018 now he's been moved to the bullpen, I assume to keep him healthy. Hopefully he can find some success again in his new role. He also signed two copies when I offered him one for him to keep.


And last but not least (not by a long shot) is Matt Sauer.
Sauer was the Yankees' second round pick in 2017. He's another tall righty that can throw in the low-to-mid 90's. Armed with a fastball, curveball and changeup, Sauer's potential is anywhere between a really good middle of the rotation starter and a really dominant middle reliever. Both of which would be very good outcomes. Sauer got the nod to be the Opening Day starter and boy did he give the fans one heck of a performance.


So yeah, Sauer pitched against the Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets affiliate) for the 2018 SIY season/home opener. He pitched six innings and held the Cyclones to ZERO hits. He only had one base runner and he picked him off. It was a really good debut for yet the latest hardthrowing righty the Yankees grew in their laboratory.


It's funny, before the game there was a silly but fun little minor league promo where if the starter pitched a no-hitter a randomly chosen fan would get a free car. Sauer joked about going a full nine innings. He probably could've too given how dominant he was. But I guess his pitch count was up (I lost track halfway through).

After Sauer left, in came Chase Hodson who promptly gave up a hit that ended the no-hit bid. The Cyclones even scored a run. But all told Hodson had a solid two innings of work. I blame his blip on him using Kylie Minogue as his entrance music.

Offensively the Yankees threatened to score numerous times throughout the game but a lot of the runners in scoring position were left stranded. They finally delivered in the seventh inning when a double by Canaan Smith tied the game, and then later a solo home run by Frederick Cuevas gave the Yankees the lead.
For whatever it's worth, Wagaman and Torrealba also had doubles in this game. Proving that signing an autograph for me will ensure that you have a good game.

Then Garrett Mundell came in for the save. The Cyclones made things interesting with a triple in the ninth inning with two outs. But Mundell shut the door after that.

The Yankees won 2-1 over the Cyclones (yeah, fuck you Brooklyn), and in exactly the way you'd have expected of them given their roster, off of the strength of their pitching.

Other Things To Note


The Yankees expanded the protective netting to ensure a safer environment for the fans. I thought this was good and frankly overdue on the Yankees part since safety at the ballpark is a really underrated issue. I've had screaming line drive fouls come straight at me and hit me, those fuckers can hurt. Imagine those hitting the youth or the elderly. It does make getting autographs at the top of the dugout a bit harder, but I never get autographs there anyway. Also I don't particularly care if it's more inconvenient to get autographs as long as it's safer for all of the other guests in attendance. And I say that as an autograph collector.


Surprise surprise, the Staten Island Yankees waited until the last minute to put up their roster again. It wasn't even 100% accurate (more like 80%). I counted about two guys on the officially posted roster who aren't with the club, and roughly three guys who had different jersey numbers than on the roster sheet. Including Sauer!

Oh well, not like it matters for now since the Yankees might end up sending players back and forth in the upcoming weeks between Pulaski-Staten Island-Charleston. I don't see Luis Medina spending the whole year in Pulaski is my point.


I did get some pocket schedules though. One's already pegged for Mark Hoyle since I know he's into this kind of stuff.


The collector in me found it interesting that this marked the first time I had Bowman cards across three years signed for me at the same event. 2016, 2017 and 2018 Bowman. If I had a 2015 card of Finley I could've made it four! This does make me wonder if I could construct a "Bowman prospect cards throughout the years" type of project using only IP autographs. Although I suspect that the earliest I could go there is 2013 Bowman.


Also, in order to save transportation fees, I walked all the way from Grand Central Terminal (midtown) to the Staten Island Ferry terminal (downtown). I walked FOUR MILES in two-ish hours just to save on $2.75. By the time I reached the stadium my knees were sore, but I stood anyway for large chunks of the game (gotta get that good Sauer footage). Never skip leg day.


And finally, I really just love the New York Bay Area. It's probably not as grand or as fun as the more famous Bay Area over in California, but NYC's rendition has its charms. The Statue of Liberty is a big point in it's favor and there are points where the waterways look super cool from the ferry.


Both during the day.


And during the night.

Everyone talks shit about Staten Island (because it kind of is shit) but I'd be lying if I said that riding a ferry doesn't make it a little bit more interesting. I love the waterways and the hustle and bustle of the big harbour. I actually wanted to be a dockside worker (more specifically a crane operator) loading and unloading cargo in the wee hours of the night when I was a kid. That was my legit dream job lol. Still kind of is everytime I cross the NYC Bay. Also being a lighthouse keeper was another job I've always wanted (lighthouses are all automated now FYI). Something to get me closer to the sea.

And there you have it, the 2018 Staten Island Yankees season opener. Best of luck to the other NYPL teams (unless the Yankees are facing them in which case I hope they all fail spectacularly, especially those Black Bears ;)).

As always thanks for stopping by and take care.

2018 IP Auto Count: 7

Friday, June 15, 2018

Woah Woah Woah, Slow Down

It's the 15th of June. That means that tonight is when the Staten Island Yankees 2018 season begins.

I'll be honest, it sort've crept up on me. By the time I knew that it was coming it was draft night.


That said I did do some due diligence. I have plucked out a few cards of players who are rumored and confirmed to report to SI this year. Looking forward to seeing some new faces and some old faces.



I also picked up some cards of the Yankees' recent draftee's in the super unlikely event they come to Staten Island for a brief cameo.

Still, between the season starting tonight and the recent news about new Torrens cards hitting the market, I feel like everything is happening at once. Which is part of the ebb and low of life I suppose.


Anyway, really looking forward to this season, should be a lot of great talent in SI (especially the pitching side of things). Can't wait.


Also just a quick note, the Staten Island Yankees have slowly transitioned into the Staten Island Pizza Rats. This is only a Saturday only promo this year, but with more and more minor league teams opting to use team names that are different from their parent team's name it wouldn't surprise me if the team switches to the Pizza Rats full time next year. Ugh.

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