Monday, August 11, 2014

A Pleasant Birthday Surprise from a Best Friend

Hey guys, Drew back here! College is now 11 days away, and I'm more nervous than ever before. It's crazy thinking about the middle school version of myself that used to type away to you all on Blogger and how quickly time has gone. What dates me the most is when William and I talk about how long we've known each other, because it's been around 6 years now! Time flies when you're having fun, and it's safe to say my time in the blogging community has been a real blast. I don't plan on blogging from school because I won't have much to write about and I'll be caught up in numerous other things, but don't cut me from your blogrolls just yet because I'll have a lot of through the mail successes to share when I come home! 

On that note, William sent me a birthday present recently, and it was something I hadn't seen or heard about yet, but fell in love with the second I held it in my hand.

It's the short printed Masahiro Tanaka rookie card from this year's Series 2 edition; card number 661! Tanaka was extremely impressive to me in the beginning of the season, and I really hope he can recover from his nagging elbow problems and make an impact for the Yankees this fall. I don't see the Yankees going anywhere this season without him leading the pitching staff, because as impressive as Brandon McCarthy has been so far I'm not ready to trust him to be our ace in a playoff series. If Pineda and Tanaka can come back from their respective injuries and lend a hand, there's a slim chance that they could advance past some of the other American League challengers, but the guy on the card above is the X-Factor without question.

I absolutely love having this card in my collection, and I hope to add more Tanaka cards in the future to my collection (this is my second)! Thank you so much William for the great gift, as I've said countless times; you're the best, and I hope everyone that reads my blog reads his as well (he's much more active than I am anyway!). Have a great day everyone, and See Ya!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A One of a Kind TTM Mailday!

Hey guys, Drew back here! I've been collecting a few great through the mail successes lately to eventually put into a post together for you all to check out... and here we are:

Daniel Hudson: 2/2 (460 Days, Received July 19th)

Talk about a player who just can't seem to catch a break. Hudson emerged in 2011 as a potential future ace for the Diamondbacks, but in 2012 he underwent Tommy John surgery, and on his way back from the surgery he tore the ligament in his elbow for the second time, which required a second procedure. Luckily, he is starting to pitch again, and while he may never be the same pitcher with 16 wins and an ERA well under 4, it'll be nice to see him grace the mound again. In the meantime, after over a year of waiting, he signed and personalized two cards for my collection! Both came out beautiful, and I'll be rooting for him to come back stronger than ever before!

Ken Singleton: 2/2 (12 Days, Received July 19th)

I've listened to Ken Singleton call Yankee games with Michael Kay my whole life, and while he may not be recognized for his work; I've always considered myself a fan of his. He signed a 1972 and 1973 Topps card for me, and now I can say I have both primary Yankee announcers autographs (I obtained Michael Kay's at FanFest last year)!

Mike Cameron: 2/2 (14 Days, Received July 21st)

I'll always remember Mike Cameron for his defensive prowess, so it was only fitting that I had him sign a 2007 Gold Glove card! He was a very underrated, great all around player throughout his 17 years in the league, and I'm really glad I got to add his autograph to my collection.

Ty Hensley: 2/2 (14 Days, Received July 21st)

Pretty cool right? I had a brief but effective stint last year buying some of Hensley's cards while he recovered from hip surgery, and I ended up sending him two of those cards requesting an autograph. I would normally never risk sending a card as valuable as a printing plate, but I knew he was a reliable signer, and I have the cyan plate too just in case anything were to go wrong. I thought it would be cool to own a signed printing plate, but I also told Ty I'd be willing to trade him both printing plates I owned for some game used memorabilia. He didn't seem to have interest in the offer but signed the plate for me, as well as the blue parallel to the left numbered to 500. I hope Hensley can recover from all his injuries and pitch like he did before, because he could end up being a difference maker one day for the Yankees!

Bobby Doerr: 3/2 (15 Days, Received July 22nd)

I felt kind of bad sending to Mr. Doerr again, especially as he continues to age, but I really wanted to get the two Pacific cards he has signed for my set. I bit the bullet, and they both came back signed, and you can clearly see that Doerr's signature is beginning to get a little shaky. However, at 96 years old I'm pretty sure that's something to be expected. I absolutely love the painting card on the left, and these cards mark numbers 21 and 22 in my Pacific autograph set!

Doerr also gave me a signed 2007 Topps "Distinguished Service" insert on top of the cards I requested! I think this mistakenly placed in my envelope, but I'm not complaining because I really like this insert set and the cards look even better sporting signatures. It's really awesome to have something reflecting on a different part of Doerr's life as opposed to his baseball career, since he's lived an amazing 96 years full of achievements. This was as good of an added bonus as its going to get.

Vernon Wells: 2/2 (18 Days, Received July 25th)

Unfortunately, the Yankees didn't get an awful lot out of Vernon on his pit stop in the Bronx, but I'll always remember him more for being the star of the Toronto Blue Jays as I began to watch baseball (along with Roy Halladay). Wells ranks around the lines of Mike Cameron as far as stat lines go, but the presence Wells made as a five tool player in his prime was frightening to face for a while. He also was in the lineup at the first baseball game I ever went to, so it's definitely a signature I've needed for a while. He signed a 2001 and 2014 Topps card for me, and both cards came out great!

July was a really successful month for my collection as you can see. I was able to add some needed autographs without spending anything but the price of stamps! This month I've got some more in store, as I'm starting to work on fixing up my basement and sort things out before I leave two weeks from now. I've got a card show and a bunch of TTM requests to send out in the meantime, and I'll let you all know how things go when I get there! But for now, See Ya!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Special Night at a Special Place

Hey everyone, Drew back here. My summer is coming to a close and fast, but I've been busy making sure I leave my home on the best note possible. Last night my Dad took my girlfriend, sister, and I to the Yankees game! The Yanks took on Detroit, and the pitching matchup worried me that we may not have chosen the best night to go. The Tigers started last year's Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, while the Yankees put newly acquired Brandon McCarthy on the mound. The thing with baseball is, things never seem to go as planned.

We got to the stadium over 2 hours prior to gametime, so we immediately bolted to Monument Park to see it before it became overcrowded with people (still too late). It was very busy, but we got there early enough that we didn't really have to wait in line for long, which certainly helped under the blistering sun. I got to finally see Mariano Rivera's retired number, which really was amazing. He was the first player I grew up watching whose number was put to rest by the Yankees organization, so it almost felt like a part of my childhood was along the hallowed halls of the park. 

I forgot my mom's amazing camera at home before the game, so I only ended up with cell phone pictures. I didn't get any spectacular pictures, but we had field level front row seats in right field (if you've been following for a while, the same seats I got on TV with when Cano belted one out a few years ago). Here's Jesus Joba Chamberlain warming up with Detroit. He kind of looks like he lived out of a garbage pail between his time in New York and Detroit, but I must say, it may have brought out the best in him since he's having a solid 2014 campaign.

Batting practice was scary, to say the least. As I mentioned earlier, our seats were in the front row of the right field bleachers, and BP took place just as the sun was setting. We couldn't see any balls coming our way until they were right near us, and I find it funny how 9 out of every 10 of those balls were hit by Miguel Cabrera. If you were there and didn't really believe in his talent beforehand, you'd have been sure to change your mind following the show he put on in batting practice. Unreal.

I don't know if any of you saw this, but last night Justin Verlander flipped his renowned girlfriend Kate Upton a baseball. It just so happens that she was the second young blonde he threw a ball to that day, because before this happened, Justin tossed my sister a ball! My dad yelled to him that it was his daughter's first Yankees game (which, by the way, it was), and Justin came over and tossed her the ball! It was a nice moment for sure, and I just so happened to catch it on camera! After my dad let two Miggy Cabrera blasts roll past his fingertips, we finally got ourselves a souvenir, one Diana will have for the rest of her life.

Oh, and here it is.

One of the best parts about having the seats we had is the atmosphere. At this section we're directly in front of the bleacher creatures, extremely close to the right fielder throughout the game, and right next to the Yankees bullpen. I said hello to Francisco Cervelli and Brian McCann last night as the pitchers got loose, and both players responded back to me! I love hearing the pop sound when the ball hits the glove in the bullpen, and from that spot we are right in the action of the pitcher getting loose!

We were very pleased to see the Captain in the lineup this go round, especially since he wasn't in the lineup at the last game we went to. I tipped my cap to Derek each time he came to the plate, because who knows if this was the last time I'd ever get to see him play baseball. Mark Teixeira was a last second lineup scratch, but it worked out because rather than hanging out with Martin Prado all night, we got Ichiro instead who took Tex's place in the lineup! From being right by Ichiro all night, I realized just how small he was, and how locked in he was during the game. He's as professional as it gets, and it was really cool to get to watch him play also before he calls it quits.

We were extremely spoiled in right field that night, because we also got to see Torii Hunter up close too. I've always had a tremendous deal of respect for Torii, and I thought he was one of those universally loved players coming from a dark era in the game. However, the hammered guy next to me didn't seem to feel the love, and let Torii know it all night. I have to admit, the guy was pretty funny ragging on Hunter, but after a while the joke got old and annoying. Hunter responded to the guy with hand gestures saying how he's fat, ugly, and short, which got a big kick out of the right field crowd. 

Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury drove in the lone two Yankees runs, but Brandon McCarthy was able to hold off the terrific Tigers offense to 1 run over 5 2/3 innings and earned himself the victory. Ellsbury could've had much more on the sac fly he hit with the bases loaded had it not been for the incredible catch made by new Tiger Ezekiel Carrera. I've never seen a better defensive play in person before, and after watching the highlights I firmly believe that catch should be nominated for one of the finest of this season! 

Matt Thornton (no longer a Yankee), Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley held the game for David Robertson to finish off in the 9th for his 30th save! It was a big win for a hot Yankees team against one of the best in the business, and Brandon McCarthy impressed me a lot. I don't think the Yankees have the pitching to go deep into the playoffs, but who knows if Tanaka will come back and help the cause down the stretch.

On top of getting to witness a great game, I added two things to my Yankees collection, the 2014 Yankees yearbook and a Derek Jeter bobblehead! I didn't get around to purchasing the 2013 Yankees yearbook yet but plan on adding it soon, since I have the yearbooks dating back to 2005 when I first started following the team. My dad bought me the Jeter bobblehead, which actually resembles him a little bit! I've been adding a few bobbleheads to my collection here and there lately just for fun, and no collection could be complete without my favorite player of all time.

I had an amazing time with some of my favorite people last night, and if this was the last time I got to see Derek Jeter play, it's been an unbelievable run. RE2PECT.

See Ya!

Monday, July 14, 2014

My First Trip to AT&T Park!

Hey guys, Drew back here, and I am currently in the heart of San Francisco to bring you some pictures from the Giants-Diamondbacks game I went to Saturday! It was probably the least exciting game of the 3 game set, and the Giants ended up losing 2-0, but it sure was an amazing experience!

We've been in California since Thursday exploring the beautiful city of San Francisco, and prior to the trip we ordered tickets for my family to meet up with some relatives at this Giants game! There are a lot of incredible sights here, but I was most looking forward to seeing AT&T Park for the first time! I always loved the Giants' stadium; I remember watching Barry Bonds blasting home runs into McCovey Cove, and the 2007 Home Run Derby in which Vladimir Guerrero was practically crushing golf balls onto the fairway all night. I've also always had a lot of respect for the Giants organization, and I've rooted for them in their 2 recent World Series wins. So, it was safe to say going to a Giants game was on my baseball bucket list!

We walked around the outside of the stadium for a while, getting to check out all of the amazing statues of former Giants legends! I consider Willie Mays to be the best all around player in baseball history, so seeing his statue in person was especially amazing!

We next walked across McCovey Cove on a bridge to meet Willie McCovey's statue! I didn't realize how far this statue was from the stadium itself, but it was worth the walk without a doubt.

Behind the stadium were some plaques on the ground, including this one dedicating Barry Bonds' record breaking home run. I don't have much respect for Bonds, if any, but he is the home run champ and it is a part of history whether we as fans appreciate it or not.

Brian Wilson, in the meantime, was one of my favorite Giants players growing up! He hasn't done much in LA, but he certainly made his presence felt in San Francisco during his tenure with the team. This plaque dedicated his 48 saves in 2010, which became a Giants franchise record. It doesn't look like Sergio Romo will be matching that this season, but I guess crazier things have happened.

"The Baby Bull" Orlando Cepeda never did a whole lot for me. I've seen him in person a few times over the course of my life, but I've never really wanted to pay to meet him. Regardless, this statue is pretty nice, and it greets fans entering the 2nd Street Gate.

And then, we entered the stadium, and here is exactly what I saw. If that isn't the prettiest thing you've ever seen I don't know what is. This was a view from our seats, which were really, really nice! So nice in fact that I was able to get a few really cool close up pictures!

I may sound like everyone else, but Buster Posey is my favorite Giant. Ever since I got his autograph through the mail the Spring Training prior to his rookie season, I've rooted for him. The best feeling is rooting for someone who signed for you before they make it big, and that's exactly how it worked out with him.

I'm pretty proud of this shot. 

We got into the stadium a little late because we were waiting for the rest of our family to arrive, but we got in to hear some of the ceremony they had honoring former pitcher Dave Dravecky, including Will Clark's quick speech! I'm almost positive the man in the wheelchair is Willie McCovey, but we didn't get to see the introductions and they didn't say anything after we sat down regarding him. I really wish we got in sooner so I could have seen that, but I guess I got to say I saw him in person anyway.

It was hard to focus on Dravecky's speech because the players were warming up literally right in front of us, so I snapped some pictures throughout the ceremony. Michael Morse and Hunter Pence are playing catch in the picture above. I never realized just how tall these two were!

Dravecky's speech was touching to say the least. He suffered from bone cancer which led to his career being cut short far too soon, and eventually his arm deteriorated so much that it had to be amputated. The fans in San Francisco really loved him, judging by the roaring ovation he received after his heartfelt speech. 

He went on to throw out the first pitch, and he pretended to throw the ball with his nonexistent left arm, and then actually threw the ball with his right arm. It was definitely a touching moment, and I think when I get home I'm going to write him a letter.

The Giants simply just know how to do things the right way.

Ryan Vogelsong started the game for the Giants, and faced off against Wade Miley. The matchup wasn't supposed to be very enticing, but it turned out to be a pretty good battle. Ultimately, Miley got the last laugh, pitching 7 scoreless innings. "Vogey", as he's known to many Giants fans, allowed a solo home run off the bat of Aaron Hill, but otherwise pitched well also, especially with the help from some great defensive plays by Pence, Scutaro, and the Panda roaming 3rd base!

The Diamondbacks only major silver lining over the course of this season was provided from the guy in the picture above, Mr. Paul Goldschmidt. Goldy has been phenomenal these past two seasons and has evolved into the best 1st baseman in the National League! He ripped a double in the first inning and flashed his leather later on to put a halt to the biggest Giants rally of the day.

The Giants have been terrible since the beginning of the summer, to put it simply. The look on Buster Posey's face here after striking out says it all. Posey has had a really tough year, and it really showed when not one, not two, not three, but four other catchers had been named to the All Star team before he did. 

Despite their huge slide down the standings, they are only a game out of first place in the NL West going into the All Star break! It's going to be another classic race between the Giants and Dodgers this season, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it winds up.

The 7th inning stretch was a lot of fun, as team mascot Lou Seal tossed Cracker Jacks into our section during "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"!

Sergio Romo came in relief later on. He lost his closer's job recently after getting hit around an awful lot. He struck out both batters he faced with men on base and kept the Giants in the game, which could help him win back his job sooner rather than later.

My sister and I walked around the stadium between the 8th and 9th innings, and it further proved that it's the most gorgeous ballpark I've ever been to! 

I never realized there were slides inside the Coke bottle in the left field bleachers! The slides are for children aged 14 and under, otherwise I so would've done it. 

The Giants would go on to drop the game 2-0 as I stated before, but it was a really special experience that I'm extremely fortunate and lucky to say I was able to take part in. If you're a huge baseball fan, which if you're reading this blog I assume you should be; you've gotta check this park out. It does not disappoint.

Okay, off to Alcatraz! See Ya!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mets vs. Braves Recap!

Hey everyone, Drew back here! Last night I decided to join my friend Matt and his family at Citi Field to take on a Mets game! I went to Citi Field for the first time last summer for the Home Run Derby, and I thought the ballpark was gorgeous! Although it wasn't quite Yankee Stadium (maybe biased... definitely biased), it definitely left me impressed. I had to go back to take in an actual game, and we drove this time, which saved us from having to take the subway and train (which didn't go very well last year if you don't recall).

The Mets took on the Braves, and the odds were clearly in the Braves favor although the Mets had won 4 in a row prior to the game. Newly named All Star Julio Teheran started for the Braves, but the Mets got to him early and he didn't end up lasting very long. I like Teheran, but it was nice to see him suffer a little after I made the mistake of trading him away from my fantasy team after not fully buying into his amazing start to the season (I traded Rendon & Teheran for Matt Carpenter and Doug Fister..). 

Curtis Granderson took Teheran deep to lead off the game for the Mets, which was ironic given my hatred for Grandy as a player. I always loved his personality and work ethic when he was with the Yankees, but I couldn't stand the amount of strike outs and low batting average. If you look in the bottom right corner of the picture above you can see me to the left of the kid in the green shirt (my friend Matt)! Granderson towered one into the second deck, and the offense didn't stop from there.

Daniel Murphy, David Wright, and Lucas Duda all stood out the most to me, but each offensive player (not including the pitcher) had at least 1 hit (hitters #1-7 all had 2 or more hits)! On top of that, young stud Jacob deGrom pitched 7 scoreless innings; striking out 11 in a dominant performance. And to top it off, Eric Young Jr, David Wright, and Daniel Murphy all made phenomenal plays i the field! The Mets took a 7-0 lead, but the bullpen made it interesting in the end, and the final wound up being 8-3. The current Braves never really impressed me, but they were especially atrocious yesterday. 

In the 9th inning, it started to heavily rain, and the Braves were starting to put some guys on base. The wind also picked up, which caused garbage to fly all over the field. I get the feeling that people ended up throwing more on the field, because if you can see in the picture above; there was a ton of garbage on the field. Nothing more symbolic for the Mets organization than that!

Jokes aside, I had a great time at Citi Field last night! The game, the food, and the experience as a whole was great, which is all I could ask for in a ballgame. It helped me take my mind off my dreadful Yankees for a night, and while I've never been a big Mets fan, I've always been a big David Wright fan, and his diving stop at 3rd really made my night!

If you live by Citi Field and haven't paid it a visit yet, I suggest you should! I still would take Yankee Stadium any day, but I love a little variety in my life and I really had a good time! I'll be checking out another stadium for the very first time this upcoming weekend, and you better believe I'll have a post up regarding that when its all said and done!

See Ya!