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.


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 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



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。


























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 (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 :).