Thursday, December 11, 2014

MLB Offseason Chatter: The New Dodgers

Hey guys, Drew back here! I posted my first MLB Offseason Chatter article yesterday afternoon, and I thought I was just about up to date on the news. Little did I know, the Dodgers decided to mess with my sanity last night, as they have made not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE huge moves over the past 24 hours. I'm going to attempt to make some sense out of it for you all, so let's embark on this roller coaster ride, shall we?

Dodgers trade for Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins (not official yet)

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The Dodgers were able to fill a hole at shortstop after Hanley Ramirez fled for Boston earlier this offseason. Rollins offers switch hitting ability but over anything, an incredible veteran presence and unquestioned leadership qualities. His contract expires following the 2015 season, but the Dodgers are using him to fill the gap between Ramirez and top prospect Corey Seager, who will be gearing up to start for LA in 2016. The deal has not been finalized yet, but should be completed by the end of the day.

I would have preferred to see Rollins stand put with the Phillies for the remainder of his career, but then again if I were him I'd get out of there as soon as I could. J-Roll has played his entire career in Philadelphia, and last year he set the Phillies record for career hits, passing Mike Schmidt with his 2,235th hit. He will forever be known as a Phillie regardless of how this move works out, but it's worth a shot to possibly get his second ring in what could be one of his final seasons.

Dodgers trade 2B/SS Dee Gordon, SP Dan Haren, IF Miguel Rojas, APTBNL
Marlins trade SP Andrew Heaney, 2B Enrique Hernandez, RP Chris Hatcher, C Austin Barnes

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From how it appears, the Dodgers didn't seem to want Dee Gordon any longer. And I get that, because he may be at his peak value this season after being named an All Star and stealing 64 bases in 2014. However, many view this as a fluke season from a player whose OBP is normally hovering around .300. The Marlins view Gordon as a "Juan Pierre type player", but I see him as a Pierre-lite if anything. I do like his versatility and he proved last year that he could make the transition from shortstop to second base, which will come in handy for Miami next season. I don't think Gordon will repeat his 2014 season, but I do see him fitting relatively well hitting ahead of Giancarlo Stanton next year. 

The general reaction to this trade though, was that the Marlins got too small of a return for their top pitching prospect. Dan Haren may not even play in 2015, as he's said earlier this offseason that he'd pitch in LA where his family lives or retire. Sure, pitchers come a dime a dozen these days, and Heaney's small sample size in the big leagues last year wasn't all that impressive, but it appears as if Owner Jeffrey Loria and GM Dan Jennings got a bit impatient with someone who could complement Jose Fernandez in the top of the Marlins rotation just a year or two down the road. But, Jennings waited a lot longer to trade Heaney than Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers...

Dodgers trade SP Andrew Heaney
Angels trade 2B Howie Kendrick

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Well, that was short lived. Heaney put it best:

Either way, Heaney was moving to Los Angeles, and I'm sure he's much happier about that than coming up in the circus down in Florida that's currently in the works. He could make an impact as soon as this season for the Angels, and I'm curious to see how well he develops, because this could go down as an enormous mistake for the Marlins and now the Dodgers.

As for Kendrick, he was probably traded to free salary cap for the Angels of Anaheim to possibly go and get another key player. I would sacrifice a player of his caliber for the potential of Heaney any day, but the Dodgers needed to fill the void they created 20 minutes earlier by letting go of Dee Gordon, and this will fill it perhaps better than Gordon would've. Kendrick has had a solid career, with all 9 seasons spent with the Halos, but this could give him a chance at a World Series if Friedman and the All Star front office with the Dodgers truly know what they're doing. He batted .293 last season and had a much higher OBP than Gordon, proving that the Dodgers would prefer a high on base guy over a stolen base threat in their lineup (I would too). 

So, just to recap this so far, the Dodgers are now looking at a double play combo of Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick for this upcoming season. Next season, both of their contracts are up, and I don't expect to see them lock up Rollins with Seager waiting in the wings. I can see them extending the 31 year old Kendrick, but we'll see what kind of move they have up their sleeves.

Dodgers sign SP Brandon McCarthy to a 4 year, $48 Million Deal

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This move stung for a lot of Yankees fans, including myself. McCarthy did a great job in the second half of 2014 for the Yankees after being traded from Arizona for lefty Vidal Nuno. Who would've seen $48 million going to McCarthy after having a 5.01 ERA in the 1st half of the season after spending all of his prior career facing injuries? However, he appeared to have re-invented himself as the season moved along, and his advanced metrics looked much better than his actual performance indicated. But, $48 million does appear to be a huge overpay for a guy who has a difficult time remaining healthy for a full season. It's like if they were to give Dee Gordon an $100+ million contract after his breakout 2014 season, because McCarthy's performance in New York could have been a fluke or a hot streak. When this guy is on his game, he can act as a #2 pitcher in most team's rotations around the league, but the Dodgers are paying for him to consistently perform as such, and that may be a bit too much to hope for. He will also be 35 by the end of the deal.

McCarthy is a great clubhouse guy and absolutely hilarious on Twitter, and I really enjoyed having him in pinstripes last season. One of my offseason goals for the Yankees was to retain him, but the price and contract length were just too steep for Brian Cashman to even bother. I'm not a big Dodgers fan, but I wish Brandon all the best and hope he can perform the way he did in the Bronx consistently, because it was a lot of fun to watch.

Dodgers trade OF Matt Kemp, C Tim Federowicz, $32 Million Cash
Padres trade C Yasmani Grandal, P Joe Wieland, P Zach Eflin

This blockbuster was the first thing I saw when I woke up this morning and turned on my phone. All offseason the Dodgers had fielded offers for any of their 4 starting caliber outfielders: Kemp, Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig, and Carl Crawford. While some would immediately look at Ethier and believe him to be the easiest to trade, it made much more sense for the Dodgers to move Kemp, an inconsistent, injury prone, tumultuous former star of the league. Granted, Kemp had a comeback season in 2014, batting .287 with 25 home runs and 89 RBI. But he was still owed 5 years and $107 million on his contract, which caused a glaring problem with the Dodgers payroll-wise.

The Padres have been looking for a big bat to show off all offseason, from Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas to former Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval. Here they add Kemp, who will be paid about an average of $15 million a year from the Padres with $32 million of his $107 being eaten by LA. With his inconsistency but high potential, they are paying a great price on the former superstar. I don't know how well he'll do in a relatively weak Padres offense in a pitcher friendly ballpark, but it could be the beginning of more moves to come for San Diego. Kemp is 30 years old, and is heading towards the final years of his prime before injuries will most likely hamper him even more than they have already. The Padres also received a good hitting catching prospect in Federowicz, who could make up for the loss of their former starting catcher Yasmani Grandal.

Grandal batted .225 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI last season in San Diego, but could perform much better in Dodgers Stadium, which is a lot more hitter friendly than Petco Park. He will share catching duties with AJ Ellis. Over anything else, it appears the Dodgers didn't want anything to do with Kemp any longer, and they ended up saving $75 million dollars that at this rate will be fully spent in a few hours. Perhaps they could use that money towards trading for Phillies All Star lefty Cole Hamels, which I would love to see because it would keep him from going to Boston. Zack Greinke could opt out after next season and become a free agent, so trading for a star like Hamels could act as a great long term solution.

So in total, over the past day the Dodgers have added Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, Brandon McCarthy, Yasmani Grandal, and a wealth of prospects and cash, while losing Dee Gordon, Matt Kemp, Andrew Heaney (kind of), Dan Haren, and some prospects. The cash appears to be the difference maker here, or else I'd say the moves ended up equaling themselves out. But they are far from done as far as I can see, and if they can add Hamels or someone of high quality thanks to the Kemp savings, this offseason could wind up being a tremendous success for the boys in blue.


I hope this helped you guys gain a better understanding of what went on yesterday with the Dodgers! Of course, if you guys have any suggestions as to how I can improve my Offseason Chatter posts be sure to let me know! Thanks everyone, and for now,

See Ya!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Thoughts on the MLB Offseason Thus Far

Hey guys, Drew back here. Usually I use my blog to reflect on my sports card collection but I thought I'd try something new because I haven't had a whole lot to post about lately. So, I figured I'd offer up some of my thoughts and suggestions for this offseason so far. I'm no professional, and I don't know all the answers, but I'm just as passionate for the MLB Offseason as I am for the regular season.

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On Jon Lester: Early this morning (put an emphasis to the early) the Cubs became the winners of the Jon Lester sweepstakes, rewarding his previous performance with a 6 year, $155 million dollar contract. He will make an average of about $25.8 million per year over the span of the contract, and at the age of 31; he is heading towards the end of his prime. Many will argue that he is just on the outside of the elite core of pitchers in baseball, but does tend to have an increased value given his past postseason performance (despite giving up a lead in the Wild Card game this past year to a hungry Royals team). 

I see this move as a statement by the Cubs that they won't be allowing other teams to take advantage of them for much longer. However, Lester will be heading into his mid-30's by the time their mega prospects Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Addison Russell reach their prime. By that time, Lester will have to make adjustments as he ages, and while I personally can see him being capable of this, it is still left to be proven. Obviously there is a past connection between Cubs GM Theo Epstein and Lester, as Epstein was once the Red Sox GM prior to taking over Chicago's front office. 

Lester should bring a lot of intangibles to this Cubs team, and as their younger playoffs develop, he will be an unquestioned leader of the pitching staff, even if he isn't necessarily the best in their arsenal at that point. I don't see the Cubs suddenly becoming contenders with this move, but they are on the right path. They also traded for Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero, who will provide a great presence in the clubhouse and will be able to manage a core of young pitchers as he's done very well over the past 9 years in Arizona. To win now, the Cubs need more than this, but I think they should prepare to make a serious run 2 or 3 years from now (I suggest trading Starlin Castro by next year to make the team more well rounded prior to making that extra playoff push). So while almost $26 million is in my opinion a bit much for how he profiles to perform up until his age 37 season, the Cubs used Lester to show that they aren't messing around, and I like that. 

Note: I give a lot of respect and props to Lester for taking this challenge with a young, unproven Cubs team. If he can help them back to a World Series, he will be part of baseball lore forever, if his past postseason performances haven't done that already. Sure, I could never pass up $26 million per year, but it does sound like he had a higher offer from a Giants team that has won 3 of the past 5 World Series. Best of luck in Chicago, Jon.

On the Yankees 3 Team Deal for Didi Gregorius: This move was made almost a week ago now and I'm still torn on it. I have been on the bandwagon of Yankee fans who have wanted them to become a younger team for years now, and this would certainly fulfill such a concept. What we don't forget is that a majority of Yankees fans are not very sympathetic, and that many will jump to criticize this move (especially if Shane Greene maintains his 2014 performance in Detroit). Gregorius is unproven to me despite two full seasons in the big leagues, but he is regarded as a good defender that can't hit left handed pitching all that well. Some have recently said he doesn't have the mentality to play in New York, and given the task of replacing Jeter, he could choke even further.

But here's the thing: He's 24 years old. Rarely in New York do we get to see a position player receive opportunities at this young of an age, and it's honestly refreshing that they didn't chase after Jed Lowrie, Stephen Drew, or Asdrubal Cabrera and decided to instead take a shot in the dark. Brian Cashman has been interested in Gregorius on and off over the past year, and initially talks last year would have cost the Yankees Brett Gardner. Instead, they only surrendered Shane Greene in the move, who did have an impressive second half last year, but given his pre 2014 status as a relatively unknown prospect, he could be a fluke. That said, pitchers do make adjustments, and he could wind up becoming a consistent performer in a very good Tigers rotation next year. Nonetheless, I'd make this trade and take this chance 10 times out of 10 if I were Cashman, and I'm glad he went against his usual strategy to bring a low cost, high potential player into the mix.

On the Yankees passing up on David Robertson for Andrew Miller: Most Yankees fans were really hard pressed to see Robertson leave the fold for the White Sox this offseason. I am not one of those particular fans. Hold on though, before I get criticized: I do realize how well of a job he did filling Mariano Rivera's shoes last season and I do love seeing players stay on board with their homegrown organizations. I've even met David a few years ago at a local card show, and he instantly made me a fan of his. I have numerous pieces of his in my collection, and also have gotten an autograph back from him TTM. He's a great person, great teammate as far as we've heard, and he knows how to pitch the late innings better than most people in baseball. But as soon as he asked for Jonathan Papelbon money this offseason, I had a strange feeling that the Yankees would still pass up on him. 

Advanced pitching statistics have noticed a decline in recent seasons, and even I could see him regressing with my own eyes. After all, I was at a game last season that Robertson blew in the 9th after throwing a meatball to the Astros' Chris Carter. He's still only 29 years old, but more often than not, closers don't seem to repeat success well into their 30's (with several exceptions, Rivera of course). The main reason I didn't necessarily mind losing Robby this offseason was because of Dellin Betances' electric performance last season in the Yankee bullpen. I would absolutely love to see him takes the reins as the new closer for the Bronx Bombers in 2015. And even with the signing of Andrew Miller, I still believe he will end up earning that role next season, with Miller occasionally receiving save opportunities but mostly setting up.

That brings me to my next point: Andrew Miller. Miller is the same age as Robertson, and far less consistent, but had a dominant 2014 split between the Red Sox and Orioles. He pitched tremendously out of the bullpen for Baltimore in the playoffs, and has a lot of experience pitching in the AL East. He came at a "discount" compared to Robertson, although the catch is that he doesn't have any closing experience. But WHO CARES? Next season, instead of being tied down to Robertson's role in the 9th, Girardi could mix and match the 9th inning depending on the batters. He does prefer to set roles to pitchers though, and I think I'd take Miller-Betances over Betances-Robertson. The move isn't an upgrade, but the Yankees gain a first round pick in the draft because Miller was traded in the middle of this past season from Boston to Baltimore and Robertson was given a qualifying offer by the team attached to a draft pick.

David Robertson is by no means a bad pitcher, and I wish him all the best in Chicago. The White Sox have made several big moves this offseason now, and I wouldn't be surprised if they contended next season with Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale at the top of their rotation. I think he'll thrive in that environment, even with his statistical decline. The Yankees were of course capable of adding both pitchers to their bullpen, but I'd rather they use the money elsewhere because I don't see the bullpen as a weakness of theirs compared to other positions (second base, third base, fourth outfielder, and especially the starting rotation). They saved $10 million which they could use towards holding onto Chase Headley or possibly if they choose to make a run for Max Scherzer (which sounds more unlikely by the day, but I can dream, right?).


Whew, well that was a lot of fun. Let me know what you all think about the topics I've discussed, and please feel free to offer input on what I could do better. If you guys aren't interested in this being a part of the blog, let me know as well, I know there are plenty of sources out there that may be more reliable but I like to chime in once in a while and provide my take on the state of my favorite game in the world.

In other news, tomorrow will be my last full day here at my college before I come home for winter break, and eventually transfer next semester! I hope to be on here more regularly over the next month, but certainly no promises as always. Take care guys, and for all of you in the northeast, be safe on the roads!

See Ya!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday TTM from the ToddFather

Hey guys, Drew back here! It's been a while, but I finally received another TTM, and it was one I didn't expect to see!

Todd Frazier: 1/1 in 587 Days c/o Cincinnati Reds

I thought this Todd Frazier 2013 Topps card was long gone, but sure enough it found its way back into the middle of nowhere! Frazier is becoming one of the premier power hitters in the National League and had a breakout year in 2014; smashing 29 home runs and driving in 80 runs for the mediocre Reds team. One interesting fact about Frazier is that his little league team in Toms River, NJ won the Little League World Series in 1998, and with that he got to run out on the field at Yankee Stadium in the MLB World Series. It turns out he was a shortstop at the time, and stood next to former Yankee captain Derek Jeter for the national anthem. Last year the two reunited at the All Star game, and it made Jeet feel pretty old. 

Frazier is a great player and leader in the MLB today, and I'm really glad to have this card signed of his. Thanks so much Todd for teaching me never to write off any of these TTM requests!

See Ya!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Don't Panik: There's a New Joe Collector

Hey guys, Drew back here. I announced on my last post that I plan on going home after this semester back to my Card Cave and all the memorabilia sporting the walls (I even convinced my mom to hang my Willie Mays signed photo outside my room in the hallway... with mostly family photos nearby)! With that, I'll have a little more of an opportunity to keep up in the hobby, since I'll have all my resources with me. I'll be busier having to commute every day, but it'll be much easier to send some TTM requests out and be a little more involved. And with all that comes an announcement.

I will be collecting any and all Joe Panik cards from here on out, as he will replace Robinson Cano as my main PC! We don't often get to boast about homegrown professional sports players in my hometown, but this kid has been quite special for a long time. And we NEVER get to boast about local World Series champions, but now we do.

Panik come up through the Giants organization to replace the oft-injured Marco Scutaro. I actually had a chance to see him play in San Francisco, but unfortunately I went to one of the few games Scutaro was available for; thus no Panik. After getting adjusted for a few weeks, he took off and was a catalyst down the stretch for a streaky Giants team that needed people to step up. He batted .305 on the season in 287 at bats, and garnered some Rookie of the Year consideration for helping to get the Giants to the Wild Card Game. In such game, he collected 3 hits in 5 trips to the plate and the Giants advanced, and we all know how the rest of the story went. He didn't hit tremendously well in the playoffs from that point forward, but had some huge moments! He tripled in both the NLDS and World Series, homered off of Adam Wainwright in the 5th Game of the NLCS, and who can forget the incredible double play he and Brandon Crawford turned in Game 7? He's shown so much poise for a young player, and my friends at school mess with me for how excited I got seeing him play well.

Needless to say, we're all really proud of Joe at home. He played about a half hour away from my house in high school, and he ended up playing college ball at St. John's University in Queens; a school I considered to be my #2 option before committing elsewhere. I've purchased a Bowman rookie autograph of his in the past and gotten a few autographs TTM last season. I may not be as crazy as I was while collecting Cano, but I just wanted to inform you all that I'll be more than happy to take his cards off your hands!

As for Cano, I'll still be interested in adding some of his older Yankees cards I didn't have yet (his prices have gone down a little since being in Seattle, of course), but I won't be going out of my way. He's a great hitter, and I'm planning on stashing his stuff for when he makes the Hall of Fame one day (knock on wood), and just as he did to the Yankees; I may look to add a little extra profit due to his talent.

If you have anything of Panik's, comment below or email me. I won't be able to trade for a little while but I can keep some ideas aside if they do arise for when I do return home. Alright everyone, have a great day, See Ya!

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Pick-Me-Up from William & Co.!

Hey guys, Drew back here. Boy, has it been a whirlwind of a past month. I finally got a taste of the true college lifestyle (and no, not that kind of taste), and I've been absolutely crushed by homework over the past few weeks. I ended up having to withdraw from a course because I don't feel happy at my school and am transferring back home following this semester. I know it was short lived, but I really want to get back home because I know I'll enjoy the experience much more. 

With all that in mind, I got another great surprise package from my great friend William and one of his newer friends, Max, as well! William keeps me in the loop with the card hobby, and helps me still complete Yankees team sets though I haven't had the time and money to stay involved myself. 

Towards the end of the 2014 season I grew to adjust to Brian McCann, and I think part of it was because he hit a home run in a game I attended. While it was a down year, he still ended up putting up 23 home runs and driving in 75 runs while managing a staff that changed as frequently as the weather on my campus. William sent me three very nice McCann cards that I will gladly include in my Yankees PC box when I get home.

Also, congratulations to Alfonso Soriano on a fantastic career. He won't be getting into Cooperstown in my book, but he had some great moments with the Yankees, and some spectacular seasons with the  Rangers, Nationals, and Cubs before calling it quits at the age of 38. I'll always remember him for the being on the other end of the famous A-Rod trade prior to the 2004 season, but his batting stance and power streaks will always be memorable as a young baseball fan.

This scan covers a very strange range of Yankees history, spanning from two Red Sox turned Yankees, one of the most clutch postseason pitchers in our history, along with a cool Prizm Sabathia card and some prospects. I'm beginning to lose faith in Mason Williams unfortunately, but I wish I could say differently. I got the chance to meet him at a card show a few years ago when the Yankees considered him one of their top prospects, but it seems like things are starting to fall apart for the kid. On a much better note, this is my first card of Michael O'Neill, the son of Yankee great Paul O'Neill! He probably won't amount to anything, but you never know considering he has the blood of the Warrior!

I didn't know this card existed, but I'm really glad they did it during the horrendous "Snoop Lion" phase. I've never been a fan of his music (except for the classic stuff with Dr. Dre of course), but as a relatively big rap fan, its a must have.

Along with all the sweet stuff William included, his new friend Max, an Instagram collector; had included a few cards in the package to send me as well! I plan on getting Max back when I come home, because it was extremely thoughtful of him to do this for me.

I really don't know where I stand as far as Cano goes at this point. I believe my policy is that I'll still take anything of his, but would prefer stuff from his Yankees career over the Mariners stuff. You know, the good memories. Poor guy is going to have a long 10 years in Seattle. This is the blue refractor out of 2013 Topps Chrome, and I have to admit (and this is pretty sad) I spent quite a bit of time questioning whether it was the normal refractor or the blue refractor. However, the card was numbered to 199, and after looking online I confirmed it to be the blue. Max also threw in a Jeter Upper Deck rookie, and even with the wear on the front, I'll take every Jeter card I can get; especially that of the rookie variety!

All in all, thank you both William and Max for some really cool stuff, I'll be sure to get you both back as best as I can as soon as possible!

See Ya!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson

Hey guys, Drew back here! Well, college has started to catch up to me, which explains why I haven't been around as frequently now. Regardless of the work load, I only have had one thing to show off, which has kept me relatively unmotivated in the blogosphere. I've had a big drought with TTM successes of late, with the exception of this really unique success I received on September 27th! 

Rachel Robinson: 2/2 in 36 Days c/o Jackie Robinson Foundation

Capping off my recent projects of adding some of baseball royalty's relatives, I was able to get Jackie Robinson's widow Rachel Robinson to sign 2 photos for me! With this success, I now have gotten Babe Ruth's granddaughter Julia Ruth Stevens, Mickey Mantle's son David, and now Robinson. I absolutely love this photo I found online of Jackie, Rachel, and I believe their son Jackie Robinson Jr. The sports world is overrun with publicity, advertising, and pressure, but it's nice to see a picture of perhaps the most controversial athlete in history enjoying being with his family. I don't have enough of baseball's biggest pioneer, but this piece is something I'm very proud to be able to own.

I also was fortunate enough to receive this signed 5x7 "42" movie promo from Robinson! I included this along with the 8x10, but would've been more than content with just the one. She signed this picture perfectly aligned in the direction Jackie is sliding, and it looks so cool! I thought "42" was a pretty good movie, certainly not one of my all time favorite baseball movies, but I think Chadwick Boseman did a good job in the role. 

I'm extremely excited to add such an influential American woman's signature to my collection. Behind every strong man is a strong woman, and I'm sure some of her actions led to Jackie making the unbelievable impact he did on our country. Thank you Mrs. Robinson!

See Ya!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

TTM Tuesday!

Hey guys, Drew back here! First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who commented on my previous post advising my recent college decision. Regardless, I am planning on coming home next semester, and I want to say that its more than just that I'm homesick. Being lonely has played into my decision quite a bit, however I also feel uncomfortable on my campus and since it's a big sports school, a majority of the students have a really scummy attitude. I've made one friend on campus, and he and I agree that we're misfits at this school, and after a few of my old friends came to visit a few weeks ago, I realized I couldn't defend why I came to this school in the first place, so I decided that coming home would be the right decision for me. It's one of the first real life decisions I've had to make, but I feel relieved having made a decision and am looking forward to returning home and commuting to a great local private school while getting to see some old friends, my girlfriend, and my family.

Anyway, personal life aside, I've gotten four TTM successes since my most recent autograph post, and here are the first three of them! Enjoy:

Adam Kennedy: 2/2 in 22 Days (Received September 9th)

Adam Kennedy was a staple of my childhood watching baseball. He was always around, and I never knew much about him, but prior to sending off a few of my cards of his, I looked up his lifetime stats and saw that he actually was a fairly solid player. In 2009, he led a career resurgence in which he batted .289 with the A's, swatting 11 home runs, driving in 61 runs, and stealing 20 bases. Mr. Kennedy is now retired, and signed a 2008 Allen & Ginter as well as a 2010 Topps card for my collection; both of which look fantastic signed boldly in blue.

Austin Meadows: 1/1 in 127 Days (Received September 15th)

Last year, I sent 2013 Pirates #1 draft pick Austin Meadows this same card, only to get a response from his mother, which you can see here. Luckily, I retried Meadows earlier this season and got him back this past month, signed beautifully in blue. I've heard great things about him thus far into his minor league career and I really hope to see him succeed for the Bucs down the road!

David Murphy: 2/2 in 35 Days (Received September 25th)

David Murphy has had his moments so far into his 9 year career. He has been known as an average player often times, but he did offer a lot to Rangers fans; maybe to a little bit lesser extent than Nick Swisher gave the Yankees in his time. Now, they both play together in Cleveland, and neither of them had very good years in 2014. However, Murphy has shown that he could turn it around, and I'll definitely be rooting for him after he signed my 2009 Topps and 2012 Gypsy Queen cards in black with bible verses! I remember reading Night Owl Cards' posts about how much he liked that Murphy card, so when I saw it I knew I should try to have him sign it. Sure enough, he came through!

Thank you so much to these three players for signing my stuff, and again to my Dad for opening everything for me while I've been gone! But, I'll be home soon! 

See Ya!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Surprise College Care Package!

Hey guys, Drew back here! So... I've been in college for a little over a month now, and I have to say, the experience really isn't for me. I've always felt like I was more mature than other kids my age, so seeing people act crazy and lose their minds almost every night is almost sickening to me. I know its what most kids our age are supposed to do, but it doesn't feel right for me, so I may end up returning home to commute to a local school following this semester. 

Anyway, one of the coolest things that has happened since arriving at school was receiving a really thoughtful care package from William and his family! William and I have always had a lot in common, and he really understood a lot of what I've been going through when I explained it to him; so he sent me all sorts of snacks and cards to help brighten my day. And he sure did!

Within all of the awesomeness in the box were 3 packs of Bowman baseball! Here's what came out of them:

Nothing overly spectacular was found in these packs, but I did miss the feeling of opening a pack. When things get stripped away from you and you're in a position to start over, there's absolutely nothing better than going back to what you love; and being able to open packs, even though I haven't been very interested in buying cards lately; was an awful lot of fun.

The highlight of the 3 packs was this mini refractor of Royals star rookie Yordano Ventura. These Royals games have been phenomenal thus far into the postseason. I've been glued to my TV whenever they've played (especially because I don't get Fox Sports 1 on my TV, depriving me of all the NL games). William, your Orioles are an awesome story, and seeing them win would be great for your franchise, but I wouldn't be upset if the Royals made it to the World Series one bit.

William also threw in a bunch of recent Yankees cards he's pulled, including a ton of 2013 Topps Mini cards. I've never even seen these to be completely honest, but I'm really glad I got the chance to see them. It's a cool concept solely because Topps did the same thing in the 1970's, otherwise it'd just be an annoying gimmick. I'll take any Jeter cards I can get though! (By the way, sorry the scan got cut off, I'm still adjusting to my new printer/scanner I have in my dorm!)

Along with the Topps mini cards came some other gorgeous Yankees cards, all of which I'm certain I don't already have. I love the look of this year's Finest, and Gypsy Queen (as overdone as it is by now) still has a soft spot in my heart. I also completely ignored the fact that Topps Heritage covered my favorite vintage set of all time today, and I may have to go out and buy some packs of it now!

William, you're the man. I really appreciate all you do to cheer me up, you're a great friend, and even though we've been used to being long distance friends for a while, I definitely miss being more readily available to talk. Thank you. (And thank Chris again for the awesome letter!)

Congrats to the Orioles on advancing, by the way! See Ya!

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Storybook Closes: An End of an Era

Hey everyone, Drew back here. I've been dreading writing this post every since I first joined the blogging community in the summer of 2008. At the time I was just turning 12, and Derek Jeter just turned 34. He was escaping his prime, but still was more than capable of helping lead the Yankees to the playoffs. By that point I had gotten used to seeing my favorite team make the playoffs year in, year out. And the second I fell in love with the game in 2005, while other stars came and went, my favorite player was always the Captain.

His first full season in the big leagues was 1996, and I was born in 1996. His first four World Series wins came before I knew anything other than that I loved the Yankees. The flip play against Oakland in the 2001 playoffs, and the diving catch into the stands against the Red Sox both also came before I learned of the game I grew to love. So what was left for me to fall in love with? Number 2 was a plague in Yankee Stadium; everywhere you looked fans were sporting Jeter's famous number. He was everywhere you went; on all of the commercials and all the posters. All the ladies loved him, as evidenced by his vast array of high profile celebrity girlfriends. But all true Yankee fans saw more than the watch advertisements and his beautiful mansion in Tampa, Florida. And this underlying feeling "The Captain" gave us fans is something that no statistic could ever possibly measure. On top of it all, he still batted over .300 11 times in his first 14 seasons, and came through in huge situations in the playoffs. He goes down as one of the best hitters in the game, and especially for his postseason achievements. But, there was more to him than what met the eye to most fans.

Derek Jeter became the face of baseball. His clutch performances and legendary plays may have been special, but they always played second fiddle to his demeanor that I had never seen in another athlete. Often times it would bother me when he wouldn't show much emotion, but there was an understanding as to why he wouldn't; so that he could maintain focus on his job. He loved the sport, but he viewed it as a job for 20 years. He knew he was making a lot of money, and he wanted to do everything he could to make his stay in pinstripes worthwhile to the fans. He was the best captain anyone could ask for, and even after last night, he still has a hard time taking credit for all he's given the game.

I'm very grateful to say I grew up in the "Derek Jeter Era" of baseball. Keith Olbermann, and various other Jeter haters did not. I participated in many baseball camps and played on teams every year. Some days practice would slow down, and our coaches would ask us who our favorite players were. At least half of every team I would play for would give their vote to Jeter. Coaches would often use his playing style as an example to teach us how to play the right way. Often times kids would goof off during a game, but I stayed quiet and concentrated on the game, just as my idol would. To say that the Pequannock, New Jersey native is larger than the game is an understatement. Kids worshipped him because he did things the right way. And in the midst of many controversies in sports revolving assault, performance enhancing drugs, and even murder, Jeter's name was as clean as it came. The biggest insult you could use against him is that at one point he was close to Alex Rodriguez.

In 3rd grade, we had to dress up as our role models and speak to the class about who we were and why we dressed up as them. I chose Derek Jeter. I'm now a freshman in college, and looking back on my first game back in May of 2005, I'll never forget seeing #2 in person for the first time and jumping up and down with excitement. There's just some aura about him, even though he didn't show his emotion, it always felt like he was there to root me on. I got the pleasure of meeting his fellow Core Four member Mariano Rivera earlier this year, and while that was the biggest honor I've had in the baseball aspect of my life, meeting my idol would be a dream come true. I know I'm not alone, but I have extra motivation because I need his signature on my Core Four Sports Illustrated.

Although I mentioned before that I missed a majority of his finest moments in baseball, I did get to see some significant memories I'll always be happy to have witnessed. I saw him kiss the fans of the old Yankee Stadium goodbye in 2008 with his famous speech. I got to see him inside out a single into right field to pass Lou Gehrig as the Yankees' all time hits leader. I saw him help lead the Yanks to a championship in 2009, and that year I had never been more proud of my team. I watched his clutch 5 for 5 performance on July 9th, 2011; when he crushed a home run off of David Price for his 3000th hit. I tuned in frequently during his resurgence season in 2012, and cried as he lay flat on the infield dirt after fracturing his ankle; watching the Yankees postseason hopes dwindle at his demise. And although I was across the country in San Francisco last summer, I tuned in to see his two hits in his final All Star Game. But none of those famous images could ever beat the way the storybook came to a close last night. Honestly though, how couldn't we have expected him to finish his career on such a perfect note?

I sat glued to my TV all night. There were two dorm meetings in my hall, but I closed my door and pretended to sleep because nothing was going to stop me from being there for the Captain for his final game. I knew a situation like this wouldn't be must see TV for almost any player but Jeter. I knew something would happen, and after he crushed the ball off the wall in the first inning I knew this would be a game I'd never forget. I was calling for David Robertson's head in the 9th inning after he allowed two huge home runs to Adam Jones and Steve Pearce, but then I was okay with it because I saw Jeter would be the third batter of the inning. I wondered if there was any way that this game could come down to him. It sure did. And, just as expected, he delivered a textbook Jeter opposite field single to score rookie Antoan Richardson and win the game. As that occurred, everyone in the dorm knew I wasn't asleep, but I didn't care as I jumped around pumping my fist screaming "YES! He did it!" Heroes of my childhood were there to greet him as he crossed home plate, and while it wasn't what anyone had expected, it was exactly what we all knew he was capable of. I broke down after a sideline reporter from the YES Network asked him what was going through his head during his final at bat. "Try not to cry", he said, as Yankees fans berated him with love and Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia dumped the Gatorade cooler on his head.

I vividly remember a Yankees game I went to with my late Grandpa Walt, my Uncle Scott, and cousin Jayen. Derek started the game off with three base hits, and we all were on our feet. During his 4th at bat, my Grandpa turned to Jayen and I and said "Watch closely: you'll never see a player like him again". On cue, he ripped one into the outfield for his fourth hit of the game.

Saying goodbye to #2 last night felt like the biggest part of my childhood officially fading away from me. I've never known a Yankees team without him manning shortstop, and I don't know if I ever will. Maybe another player will come along and give the game the heart and soul Derek has given, but no player will ever impact my life the way he has.

We love you Derek Sanderson Jeter. Thank you for supplying us all with 20 years of winning and excellence. I can't wait until the day I get to shake your hand.

So long everyone.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Son of the Mick!

Hey guys, Drew back here! A little over a week ago now I received one of my cooler through the mail successes in recent memory. I don't know if any of you remember, but around this time last year I got an autograph back from Babe Ruth's 97 year old granddaughter Julia Ruth Stevens. Continuing that theme, I sent to David Mantle, Mickey Mantle's son; shortly thereafter. After about a seven month wait, my Dad opened up this really special success for me, and I can't wait to come home and see all of these for myself.

David Mantle: 5/4 in 212 Days (Sent February 8th)

I gathered a bunch of Mantle related items to send his way, the first being a 5x7 movie cover from Billy Crystal's "61*". I really enjoyed this movie, although I haven't seen it in a while. I've been collecting the 1961 Topps set on and off over the years, and the '61 season as a whole is one of my favorite seasons to read about!

I'll always remember watching the final game at the old Yankee Stadium back in 2008, and this is actually David standing on the field representing his dad. The Yankees brought out all of their legends, and if they had passed away, either a family member or an impersonator took their place. David stood in for Mickey, and having this 5x7 from the event will help me never forget the special event it was.

David also signed a 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter for me, which came out beautiful signed in blue sharpie.

The big piece here was this 8x10 Life Magazine cover of Mickey towards the end of his career. Although the cover suggests a negative downspin to Mantle's playing days, I really liked the cover and thought it would look great sporting his son's autograph. It did! By the way, in case you haven't noticed, each and every item was inscribed "Son of the Mick".

But, that wasn't all. David wanted to convey a message to me on my letter, and it was really something special. He wrote below my letter and then flipped over to the other side of the paper and continued, so take a look:

"Please keep up the good work! Make your parents proud! Thank you for your letter. Please learn from our families mistakes, don't drink, etc. Ok, Thank you, David Mantle, PS: We learned the hard way (over)

As Dad said in one of his last press conference at the Hospital he was in before he passed "I'm not a role model, if you want a role model don't be like me." God Bless and please support our troops! David"

Mickey was a hero among heroes in baseball, however there was plenty of tragedy involved in what could've been a record setting career. Many believed he had the potential to top the Babe and have the best offensive numbers in the history of the game. I believe Mickey had the greatest potential of all time, while Willie Mays is in my opinion the best all around player of all time. This letter was extremely down to Earth and kind of David, and it really meant a lot to me that he took so much time out to sign my items and give me some advice. It'll be nice to have these autographs to go along with my DiMaggio/Mantle signed photo, as well as my multi signed Mantle 16x20 project I've been working on. All in all, one of the coolest successes I've ever gotten!

Thanks so much Mr. Mantle! Have a great night everyone, and See Ya!