Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mr. Chunichi(?): Masahiko Morino

During my trip to Japan last winter, I made sure to get an autograph of one of the key members of the Dragons dynasty that was present when I was in Japan (which was also when they were winning the Japan Series and everything). The member I managed to find an autograph of (for a price that wouldn't bankrupt me) was career-long Dragon, Masahiko Morino.

I showed this Masahiko Morino autograph a few posts back right, but it (and Morino himself) deserve a separate blogpost.

This autograph is numbered 9 of 20, BTW.

Morino was a pillar in the Dragons lineup for the later half of the 2000's, providing some power and essentially being the good version of Billy Butler (except with a good glove at third).

Morino was first drafted by the Chunichi Dragons in the second round of the 1996 NPB Player Draft. He made his NPB ichigun debut the following year but wouldn't really get more playing time there until 2000. After the turn of the century Morino started getting more at-bats with every passing year and became the third baseman by 2005 (with some stints in left field here and there). He went on to be part of a pretty good Dragons dynasty as he and the Dragons went to the Nippon Series (the NPB equivalent of the World Series) five times during the Hiromitsu Ochiai era, during which they won it all in 2007 (including the Asia Series).

Morino's been fairly durable in his career thus far, only missing significant playing time due to injuries in 2008, but since 2015 his body has shown more signs of wear and tear. To the point where a few days ago he announced his retirement following the 2017 season after more issues with his thigh muscles arose. He leaves behind a pretty decorated career that included two NPB All Star Game appearances, one Nippon Series victory, several climax series appearances, a Best Nine Award, a Gold Glove, a Player of the Month award, and an All Star MVP award.

Thus the career of Masahiko Morino comes to end after two decades of playing for the Chunichi Dragons. His retirement was expected, but sad all the same.

I wish Morino the best in retirement and I'm sure Dragons fans everywhere are appreciative for all of the time, effort and dedication he put into the Dragons organization. Now to get the TTM letter ready...

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

Friday, September 15, 2017

Another Unofficial Mini Collection

So my Japanese heritage is well known. I'll admit that that's a big reason why I've had an unofficial mini collection of Japanese big leaguers (kinda like Fuji) going on. Although I don't hold onto those cards for long since I usually sell them whenever I go back to Japan.

But Japan (and America) are not the only countries I have ties to.

Enter Skartvelo, also known by you westerners as Georgia, the small Eastern European country sandwiched between the Black Sea, Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

How I have ties to this country is another story for another day. The more important matter is that I've recently started a Georgian athletes collection. For the most part Georgians have not made a huge splash stateside. To date there have been five Georgians in the NBA and none in the NHL, NFL or MLB. Move outside to sports celebrated worldwide and you can find a several Georgians scattered around various football (soccer) leagues and a few wrestling circuits.

To start off my Georgian athletes collection I recently purchased that autograph of former NBA power forward, Tornike Shengelia. I picked that one first because he's a member of the Nets. Also Brooklyn is home to a small Georgian community and I had figured that that would add some more significance. It does, a bit.

Anyway, just figure I'd get this out there. I'll try to compile a master list of Georgians that have cards (in some capacity) one day. For now, I'm off to eat some khachapuri.

As always thanks for stopping by and prtxilat iyavi :).

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Yes, I'm Going For It

For roughly three years I've held the title of Luis Torrens supercollector.

It's been fun. I've accomplished a lot of collecting milestones such as completing a rainbow (two of them actually), acquiring several 1/1 cards, and other things.

But one milestone eludes me. 100 different cards in my Torrenterion Collection.

Torrens having cards in several Bowman/Panini/Leaf products in 2013 and 2014 has managed to bring the total number of different Torrens cards in existence to triple digits. It's about time I reach that plateau.

If I'm going to do that, I'm going to need to start to pay attention the brand I've long ignored. Rize.
Rize is a weird brand. It's almost like Leaf's shadow company. None of these cards are sold in regular stores, pretty much all of these cards are from the same 2-3 sellers on eBay. And they come in various print runs and some have sticker autographs. Although I've yet to pick one up myself.

Nonetheless, these are still Torrens cards and they can help me reach the 100 card mark. And if nothing else, the card above where Torrens is in catching gear with the Venezuelan flag behind him is a great design.

Photo-wise I'm not quite sure I like the cards of Torrens hitting, but they're alright I suppose. It's fairly obvious that both shots were taken when Torrens was a Staten Island Yankee (note the stripes on the edge of the sleeves).

I'm not entirely sure when I'll reach the 100 card plateau. As of now I'm at 93, hopefully I can get painfully close by the end of the year. I guess I'll have to see if I can add maybe one or two of the autographs from Rize to bring up the count.

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