Friday, September 23, 2011

The Yankees Clinched the East, and We Were There!

Hey guys, Drew back here! Wednesday really seemed to be my kind of day, starting off with my recent big news on being included in Beckett Sports Card Monthly. Just following that, we headed down to Yankee Stadium for the makeup game we missed due to rain in late August, the second game of a double header against Tampa Bay! I was glad the game was rained out because Burnett was going to be the scheduled starter for the game, but with the makeup, we got one heck of a pitching matchup, between one of my favorite young pitchers, Rays' Jeremy Hellickson, and Yankees ace CC Sabathia!

My dad, my Grandpa Charlie, Mike, and I all got down to the stadium after a long day, and hoped to have a nice relaxing night. It didn't look promising. The weather was stable for the ride, but as soon as we got into the stadium the rain picked up more and more. We hoped it wouldn't affect us though. In the meantime, we visited Monument Park! I hadn't been to Monument Park in the new stadium yet, so I was excited to see it for the first time. Check out some pics I took in the Yankees Hall of Fame:

Ain't Looking Too Pretty to Start!
Mike and I with Joltin Joe
R.I.P. George Steinbrenner

Never Forgive, Never Forget.

I have to say, I really enjoyed Monument Park as always. They did a nice job putting it together out in center field, and the plaques and numbers look amazing as always. Even with the poor weather at the time we still all enjoyed honoring the past Yankees greats and of course, Jackie Robinson. Getting back to those ugly clouds though, well, it didn't get much better. It started to absolutely poor. However, they didn't put the tarp down on the field so I still thought there was some hope. Eventually, after about a half hour of rain, I stood up and shouted "Rain, STOP!" Two minutes later... it stopped. Time to go help my dad out with the lottery!

We waited by the Yankees bullpen, which, if you walked down the rest of the row in my section, was right next to our seats! We had these same seats back last year when I got to see Andy Pettitte pitch, even though he didn't last long because of a groin injury he sustained. Soon after we waited, Carston Charles Sabathia came out of the indoor bullpen room and began to throw!

Jeremy Hellickson getting loose

One thing I felt ashamed of not noticing however, was that the whole time CC was throwing, standing right besides Yankee catcher Russell Martin was Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson! I completely didn't realize that he was there until after CC threw out on the field. Fortunately, we did catch Reggie for a moment before he went in to the clubhouse. I double took when I saw him walk by and was like "Oh my god... it's Reggie Jackson!" and started shouting "REGGIE!!" Mike, Dad and I started yelling for him and he stopped to waved to us all before he went in the room. I almost got a perfect picture but I was shaking too much in awe to hold the camera still. 

While that was an incredible moment, I have to say watching CC Sabathia warm up from so close of a distance was unbelievable. He was throwing gas and the pop in Martin's glove was one of the most incredible sounds a baseball can make. Don't get me wrong, watching Pettitte warm up was great, but Sabathia blew him out of the water, especially throwing his nasty slider often in his warm up. 

I also got to snap a few pictures of Yankee pitching prospects, and members of the "Killer Bees": Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman. Both of them are freakishly huge, Betances being 6'8 and Brackman being a whopping 6'11. Last night they didn't fare well in each of their first pitching appearances, but they certainly have the stuff to become solid pitchers down the road.

At about 8:00, the game began! Unfortunately, being the second game of a doubleheader, the Yankees gave Jeter, Rodriguez, and Swisher a game off, and replaced them with Eric Chavez, Eduardo Nunez, and Chris Dickerson in right field. One of the things I wanted most was to be right behind my favorite player Nick Swisher once again, but sadly, I had to deal with Chris Dickerson in front of me, who was as boring as a rock compared to Swish. 

Jesus Montero!

Here are just a few random shots from throughout the game. Sabathia pitched 7.1 innings, allowing 2 runs, both on solo home runs, including a moon shot by Sean Rodriguez that bounced off the foul pole. Fortunately, the Yankees got in on the action in the home run parade, as one of my favorite players, Robinson Cano, blasted a home run into the shallow right field bleachers. Wait. I was in the shallow right field bleachers! 

Notice anything? Yep, we were on TV! If you're still struggling to realize, we were the 4 people all the way in the front, me being the crazy one with the camera over my neck with my mouth wide open. The ball landed 2 rows behind us, and we came extremely close to adding a game used ball to the collection. Unfortunately, we fell just a bit short, but we got to hold the ball, and we got on TV!

Cano broke the tie game early on, and Jesus Montero added an RBI on a double play with the bases loaded and 0 outs. Boy, was it cool to finally get to watch Montero play!

Andrew Brackman
A Close up on Aaron Laffey
Yankee prospect Austin Romine!
In the eighth, CC was starting to break down, with an extremely high pitch count. The Yankees were loosening up Brackman and Betances, but then in order to keep the game in tact, they warmed up All Star set up man David Robertson to help him out. In a 2-2 game, with the bases loaded and 1 out, the first pitch hit off Robertson made up for a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat! Wow!

Then, you couldn't imagine the joy in my face when Brett Gardner was pinch hit for in the bottom of the eighth by good old Nick Swisher! Well, my joy escalated even more when Swish came up clutch, ripping a double into the gap to lead off the inning!

The Yankees soon loaded the bases, for Jesus Montero.. err.. a pinch hitter...

None other than Jorge Posada was Girardi's choice to come up to the plate in a key appearance, and well, he came up huge, with a 2 RBI double to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead! The stadium, silent all night, erupted with chants, one very big one, was in result of the Orioles triumph over the Red Sox to take the series against the struggling Sox. I started an enormous "RED SOX SUCK" chant that carried throughout the outfield, and took part in the Hip Hop Jorge chant! 

Sadly, Girardi didn't bring Rivera in to close it out, which would've made for a perfect ending to the AL East, instead bringing in our insanely overpaid reliever Rafael Soriano, who worked through the inning, leading to a 4-2 Yankees win! With this win, the Yankees clinched the AL East yet again, which is a major accomplishment given all the smack talk Red Sox fans had to offer before the season. To beat traffic, we left with 2 outs, and missed the celebration, which I regret big time. But its okay, we all had a blast and saw a great game! Congrats to the Yankees! Time to bring home World Series Championship #28!

Also, thanks again so much Dad for taking us and spending all kinds of money on us, you're the best! See Ya!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Holy Beckett Sports Card Monthly! I'M IN!

Hey guys, Drew back here! So, while I would've been writing about the incredible Yankees game I was at last night, I decided this was something extremely important I wanted to show off first and foremost. Around 2 weeks ago, I got very bored online one day, and I saw Beckett's "Reader's Rock" monthly article program, and I thought "wouldn't it be cool if I made it in there?" So, I wrote something up on the best part of my collecting experience, the mysterious binder. I spent a good bit of time working on it, and sent it over to Beckett. I sort of forgot about it, even when yesterday I came home from school to find the newest Sports Card Monthly issue waiting for me in the mailbox.

I saved it for the car ride to Yankee Stadium, and pulled it out of my bag just minutes before dad got on an important work call. Just as he got on the call I turned to this page:

(click to zoom)

As coverboy Charlie Sheen would say, WINNING! My article took up half of page 33 in the October 2011 issue of Beckett Sports Card Monthly! I had to double take when I first saw this, and when I realized that I'm the only Drew that looks like that with an amazing binder and a great card seeking dad, I began to flip out! Mike saw it too and together we were going nuts in the back seat. Dad didn't realize what was going on, and he told us to be quiet since he was on the call, but when he got off, we all celebrated it, and dad was extremely happy for me!

I've done a lot of things I never could imagine myself doing in this hobby over the years, but this one may rank above all other things. Being in the biggest sports card magazine in the world is an honor and a privilege and I'm going to make sure I buy a few copies of this one.

Also, without the inspiration everyone has given me over the years to continue in my passion and stay in the hobby, I may not have ever had this story to tell. Thank you all for your enormous amount of support for me and my collection, it really means a lot.

See Ya!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Congratulations to the Sandman!

Hey guys, Drew back here! Today was another monumental day for the Yankees, just days after another big milestone, both of which by none other than the dominant closer Mariano Rivera. After recently celebrating Mariano's big 600th career save, 2 saves later, he became the all time saves leader, surpassing former closing great Trevor Hoffman for sole possession of the record! I'm sure, given with the NY media and coverage, every sports fan living already knows of the accomplishment, but I feel obligated to give this guy a post in recognition of the significant achievement! 

I started watching baseball in 2005, especially after I went to a game early that season at Yankee Stadium, the first of many to come in the past few years. Mariano Rivera has been there from the beginning of my journey to becoming the diehard Yankee fan I am today, and has been by far one of the most respectable baseball players not only of today, but in baseball history. Yes, he only pitches an inning every few games, but he's left a bigger impact on the game then any other who has pitched for only that long per game. He's done it with pride, a desire to win, and his patented big smile on his face, that you hardly ever see disappear, except for the rare occasion in which he struggles to do his job. He makes being a Yankees fan so much more enjoyable and fun, and is one of many reasons why I'll always cherish the tradition the team has left. 

Forget the many, many things that you may not like about the Yankees. Yes, they have an awful lot of money. But how did they get that money? By making the money. Steinbrenner did a great job building the team up in the time of the free agent period just getting underway. You hate A-Rod? Well, don't worry, I'm not too big of a fan either. You're a Red Sox fan? Sorry, don't have anything for that one. But, anyways, you all get the point. This pitcher has been larger than life in baseball, and I hope nobody can think of a way to dislike the guy. He will certainly be heading to Monument Park, as well as the Hall of Fame, and there is no doubt in my mind that I will be there at his induction. You can't pick a much better all around person to look up to as a young baseball fan, and I'm honored to have had the opportunity to grow up watching Mariano pitch so often. 

So, a big congratulations goes out to the final #42, who may be the most dominating pitcher I'll ever get to see. I do wish he could've gotten it a few days later, as Dad, my Grandpa Charlie, Mike, and I are all heading down to the Stadium for the second game of a doubleheader Wednesday night against the Rays! But oh well, maybe I'll get to see save #700! Lastly, thank you Mariano, for all the incredible years.

See Ya!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Big Old Box of Yankees From Dad!

Hey guys, Drew back here. So I've been meaning to post this for a little while now, and feel bad for not having done so sooner. Anyways, recently, Dad contacted someone on Craigslist, who was selling a huge load of Yankees cards. One day he came home with an enormous box full of Yankees, which brightened my day since I was feeling very sick at the time. Check them out!

Yeah, there were a whole lot of pinstripes inside this box, 5 rows to be exact. There were a lot of duplicates but that won't be a problem as I have many big Yankee fans to give them to. Now let's get into the stuff I thought mattered most...

Here are 8 new Nick Swisher cards I got through this. In total, I added 18 new Swisher's to my collection, giving me about 156 unique cards of his. I was surprised I didn't have a few of these, but I'm glad I was finally able to get them out of the way.

On to my 2nd personal collection; I was able to add 22 Robinson Cano cards to my respective Cano collection. It's been difficult for me to collect Cano's cards of late because his stock has finally soared as it should have a long time ago and everything of his is in demand. But I'm glad I was able to knock off a whole lot of 2008 UD Documentary and 2008 Topps Moments & Milestones cards of his. And yes, every card in the scan above is a different card, they're not doubles. Yeah, I'm confused too.

Here I found a lot of decent rookie cards, or at least, rookie cards that were decently valuable at one point or another. The top row of the scan consists of many different Melky Cabrera rookie cards, who is having a great year over in Kansas City, when many people didn't think he could do it again. He's currently sporting a .303 batting average, with 18 home runs and 83 RBI! The bottom consists of many Donruss Chien-Ming Wang rookie cards. Wang is trying to make a comeback with the Nationals this year after several injury filled seasons, but hasn't reached the point of success he had for the Yankees in 2006 and 2007. 

I used to think I had a lot of 1990 Topps Bernie Williams rookie cards. I now feel like I have enough to give one to every person in the entire world. It's definitely a nice card though. 

In this box I was able to add 2 more Dellin Betances rookie cards to my collection! I can't get enough of this guy's rookie cards, as the Lost Collector recently informed me of his MLB debut quickly approaching, as he was called up to the Yankees on  September 9th. He hasn't had an opportunity to pitch yet, but I'm sure he will during his little cup of tea. 

Next were a few of the MANY numbered inserts and parallels we came across while searching through the box. Nothing overly valuable, but I always liked numbered cards and I'm glad to add these to the collection. 

Also, there were plenty of Mark Teixeira insert and parallels, all numbered! I don't have much of anything of Tex, who is putting up another very good season. He seems almost underrated on this Yankees team, because not many people talk about him, but I honestly feel like he deserves to be in MVP talks every year. Despite a typical slow start, he is probably one of the best (if not THE best) 1st basemen in baseball defensively, but also has a great power stroke and has a solid 37 home runs. The batting average this year though? Meh.

One of my favorite parts of the box were all these nice parallels and inserts of former Yankee greats such as Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Whitey Ford, and Roger Maris. I have to admit the card companies did a great job honoring these players, as these cards are just absolutely beautiful looking. The Rizzuto Topps Archives Chrome Refractor is amazing looking in person and I love the Maris Diamond King card.

Now on to one of my favorite sets of all time; nothing better than some 2008 UD Masterpieces. I found some awesome framed cards mixed in, including a Yogi Berra green /75, a Whitey Ford not numbered black border, and two Joba Chamberlain parallels, one numbered to 50 and the other /25! These are seriously as beautiful as it gets in the card hobby, and may very well be my favorite modern set out there.

An engraved piece of Joe DiMaggio's bat? Holy WOW! Yeah, I know, it's not actually a real bat relic of Joltin Joe's, but it sure does look sweet. The card dedicates a magical DiMaggio performance when a play at the plate initiated by Charlie Keller allowed him to circle the bases and score, eventually leading the Yankees to sweet the 1939 World Series. I don't have much of DiMaggio so its a cool add for sure. 

While this card isn't of Joe DiMaggio, it is at least a real game used jersey card, of former Yankee great Paul O'Neill! The card celebrates his 1994 season when he batted .359, something close to unheard of today, or at least a modern day rarity. I've always had a lot of respect for O'Neill, he truly was a warrior on the field but a gentle giant off of it. I would love to meet him sometime for sure.

We move on to the next relic, which oddly enough is the only non Yankees card in the entire box! However, it does feed another hobby addiction of mine, which is cards of Hall of Famers! Out of 2005 Donruss Champions, here's a nice Joe Morgan bat card! You don't see much of Morgan as a Giant but its pretty cool nonetheless.

Finally, we get to the 3 autographs in the lot. The first 2 were out of the 2003 Upper Deck Yankee Signature Series product, on card autos of Lee Mazzilli and Norm Siebern. I very well may consider building this set one day, as I do have 4 different autographs out of it now, in Sieburn, Mazzilli, Winfield, and Cone! I had to research Sieburn because I literally knew nothing about him, but he was a 3 time All Star who played outfield for the Yankees from 1956-1959.

The final card was one I've wanted to get myself for a while. Out of 2006 UD Artifacts, and numbered out of 699, is an on card autograph of Ken Griffey Sr.! Yeah, Junior would've been a little better, but his daddy wasn't too bad either. A lifetime .296 hitter; Griffey spent 5 seasons with the Yankees, on a few rough teams in the mid 80's. He's got a really nice strong signature, and it fits the card design amazingly!

Anyways, that'll just about do it! Thank you so much as always dad, I'm speechless by the insane amount of things you do for me and I appreciate it so much!

See Ya!