Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Meeting "The Greatest of All Time"

Hey guys, Drew back here! Following our visit with the hit king, we went to grab lunch before catching up with the stolen base king! Cooperstown offered several signings featuring a good majority of the players on hand. William's intention was to meet guys he needed signed balls of, while mine was to meet who I believed were the best guys in town. And how could I meet the best without meeting "The Greatest" himself, 2009 Hall of Fame inductee Rickey Henderson!

Rickey is now 54 years old, but he still looks like he could hit a ball out of the park! He played what some people say was too long of a career, but during his prime he was undoubtedly the greatest leadoff hitter the game has ever seen. He was a hitting machine with a knack for hitting home runs, and everyone knows he is the premier base stealer through baseball history. Getting to shake hands with a hand that has met 1,406 bases successfully was a true honor.

Since I already bought a signed ball of his for a steal back in January, I decided to have the ex-Yankee place his name amongst the other 42 signers on my Mickey Mantle 16x20! I saved a nice spot for him to sign nearby Goose Gossage, and now in that general vicinity you can find Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Goose, Bobby Richardson, and Rickey! Not too bad!

I told Rickey "I know you know this, but you're the best", which certainly lightened the mood. He wasn't overly personable with me, but I'm sure he's heard that a billion times. Some autograph signers will only open up if the fan gives them a reason to. He was definitely in a good mood, and it was an overall pleasant experience, although I didn't draw too much from it. 

As I mentioned before, Henderson is now the 43rd autograph on my Mantle photo! There is still plenty of room for new names, and I hope to add a few more to it before the summer concludes! He was the only autograph I got on the picture during the trip, but certainly wasn't a bad one. 

To hear William's experience, click here!

Thanks Rickey! See Ya!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Leading Off- Shaking Hands with the Hit King!

Hey guys, Drew back here (and back on my regular blog)! Tonight I thought would be a nice time to begin the recap of my trip up to Cooperstown with William and his family, along with my dad! Like I said on William's blog yesterday, we all had a great time and experienced memories that we may not ever forget. And the trip started off with a bang.

After William bought a few signed balls immediately after we got in town, I decided to match him, and when I heard Pete Rose was signing at a store down the street, I knew where my first expense would take place at. Rose wasn't doing many of his classic inscriptions, however even that wasn't enough to keep me from meeting the man who I believe deserves a second chance at the Hall of Fame far more than any of the men involved in the Biogenesis/PED scandals.

According to many fans I've heard from, he normally comes up to Cooperstown on Induction Weekend to sign autographs. With all of the support he's gotten from fans, I'm sure he does very well financially for the few days he's signing. He was all over town during the weekend, and we went to 2 restaurants that people had said he attended that weekend. We learned that Pete has some good taste in food!

As usual, I didn't have much to say to the man, but my Dad did, saying that he made him a baseball fan. I didn't grow up watching Pete like my Dad did, but from everything I've read and seen about him over the years, I believe I would've became a baseball fan watching him too! I understand that his "crime" was a very big deal, and I think MLB did the right thing in its time, but I think it's about time Bud Selig lets this guy do his thing again. I believe he's paid his dues.

Who knows if he actually cares if he gets let back in or not though? I mean, he seems to be doing a great job selling "Bring Pete to Cooperstown" merchandise, and I'm sure he's not short on money. AND he's dating an ex-Playboy model who is 40 years younger than him! Life is good! I regret not asking Pete if I could have her autograph too!

I ended up getting this picture from the signing signed by Rose, and he inscribed it very nicely too (Drew + Joe, My Best Wishes, Pete Rose, Hit King"! It only costed $5 more than any regular flat autograph to get the picture taken and printed, and then signed. While that was a really awesome addition to my collection, William's son Chris wound up stealing the show! While the picture was being developed, Chris snuck a ball to Pete and got it signed free of charge. You can read more about that here.

After getting to meet Pete, I am even more in favor of getting him into the Hall of Fame. He never impacted the game with his actions, and always gave his all. He fought for every victory he could have, and in the long run, he got a little carried away. I'm all in favor of seeing him being reinstated by Selig, who hasn't exactly been winning many fans over of late with the relatively "easy" penalties he's been handing out.

I'll be back with more to show off tomorrow! See Ya!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Guest Post - Memories From a Great Trip

Hey guys, William from Foul Bunt here guest posting for my good friend Drew.  Good friend.  I don't think that sums it up properly.  We have been friends since 2009 when I traded a Robinson Cano auto to him for a Brian Roberts relic.  When the Hall of Fame voting was revealed in January and no living players were selected, Drew and I decided that it might be a good idea to try to check out this year's induction ceremony.  We figured, what the heck, maybe the crowds wouldn't be too overwhelming.  We worked it out that we would meet up and take on Cooperstown, so to speak.

Well, the time has come that our time together has to end.  Drew and I had a great time together in Cooperstown.  We met several Hall of Famers, one should-be Hall of Famer, some other former players, made some awesome memories and really bonded as friends.  I really appreciate how our blogs have allowed us to become great friends, probably best friends.  I realized over the course of the past few years how our blogs are quite similar.  We have similar tastes.  We root just as hard as each other for rival teams.

I know I have forged a lifetime of memories with my buddy, Drew and I know he has as well.  He and I both also know that somewhere, someone is nudging Ralph Kiner, telling him to wake up.

See ya!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Matthew Berry Book Signing Results!

Hey guys, Drew back here! My birthday was quite the eventful one this year, and I was able to cap it off with a very exciting local event (for me, at least). My friend Schuyler's (of the blog Schuyler's Stuff) parents own a bookstore in town, and they were able to have ESPN Fantasy Baseball Analyst Matthew Berry on hand for a book signing! Berry, otherwise known as TMR (The Talented Mr. Roto), recently released a book named "Fantasy Life", which is all about stories he's come across through his 30 years of playing and covering fantasy sports. He's been a huge part of making fantasy a household game, and he says that 13% of Americans play some sort of fantasy! 

I've been running a fantasy baseball league for 4 years straight now with kids from my high school, and we were stoked when we heard about him being in town. It's rare for anything relatively cool to go in where I'm at, so we tried to all meet up for the event. Unfortunately, only half the league was able to come, but we had a great time asking him questions about his experiences in fantasy along with some sleeper tips. Most of the others on hand wanted to know about football since the season is approaching, but there were a few baseball questions we were able to sneak in. He was a very friendly guy, and he picked on us all at some point, but in a genuinely nice way. It was an enjoyable experience, and worth every dollar. Here's a short clip from the hour and a half long Q&A session!

After the questions were finally answered, we all got our books signed! He added our awesome "#BeatVinny" inscription in all of our books, which has been our league motto throughout the 2013 season. Vinny has won our league two years in a row and we were begging for something to change. Vinny couldn't make it to this event as he was away on vacation, however Berry signed in his set aside book "#BeatYourself".

I'm really glad I decided to go to this event, because Berry really was an awesome guy! If you're a fantasy nut like I am, be sure to pick up "Fantasy Life"! I just started it myself and so far it's pretty hilarious! Also, thanks to Schuyler and his parents for holding the event; it was a blast!

See Ya!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Home Run Derby Recap!

Hey guys, Drew back here! Today, I'm celebrating my 17th birthday, but before all of that gets underway, let's wrap up the story that's been dragging on and on. I hope you all have enjoyed these past few posts!

They were ready. We were ready. Finally, it was the moment we had been waiting months in anticipation for. Sure, Fanfest was exciting in its own way, but this was the Home Run Derby, the event I've watched since I first heard of its existence!

What better way to kick off the festivities then have Pitbull start the party! If you couldn't tell, that's about as sarcastic as it gets. The sound system and speakers were extremely quiet from our seats, but perhaps that was for the best. My friend Matt proved me to me later on that he lipsynched the whole time, and it was really a joke of a performance. But, he is a pretty big name, so I had to at least snap a picture.

Seven of the eight participants were ready, except for Robinson Cano apparently, who I later realized wasn't in the picture. Representing Cano's team were sluggers Chris Davis, Prince Fielder, and Yoenis Cespedes (the lone non-All Star in the competition)! On David Wright's National League team, he chose Bryce Harper, long time friend Michael Cuddyer, and a last minute replacement in Pirates power hitting third baseman Pedro Alvarez!

At this point, the bets were on. We did a snake draft choosing players to win the competition starting from oldest to youngest. Dad chose Bryce Harper first overall, and Mike followed by taking 2 time reigning champion Prince Fielder. I went with Chris Davis, and then Vinny chose the captains back to back. I took Cespedes, Mike took Alvarez, and my Dad ended up with Cuddyer. We put a little $ in on our players, which only made the competition more intense!

Mets legend and future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza was on hand to throw out the first pitch. He got a huge hand from the crowd, as he deserved. Considering there isn't any evidence against him, I predict that he should make the Hall of Fame in a year or two.

Prince Fielder kicked off the contest with 2 huge bombs, one of which taped out at 483 feet! However, he "only" hit 5 moon shots, and would not advance to the second round.

Underdog Michael Cuddyer took his cuts next, and he impressed tremendously, knocking out 7 bombs in Round 1! I've always thought he was a class act player but I wasn't quite sure why Wright picked him for the Derby. He definitely impressed me though, and although he wasn't one of my picks, I rooted for him the whole night.

However, Cespedes stole the show, bopping out 17 balls in the first round, including multiple to the third deck at Citi Field, which projected to fly almost 500 feet each! My picked player dominated the first round, which resulted in some great bragging rights.

Alvarez was next, and he hit 5 home runs as well, which was a little disappointing considering the amount of power I knew he possessed. We met a guy on a bus in the city who knew "El Toro" from his childhood, and Pirates fans really lobbied to get him in the competition. He didn't do awfully by any means, but he left a lot to be desired. 

Chris Davis looked like he was taking it easy all night, and didn't seem like he was even trying that hard. But, with his effortless swing, it's easy to point fingers and judge the guy. "Crush" certainly lived up to his nickname, advancing to the second round after 8 first round dingers.

In case Cespedes didn't impress enough, we got the treat to watch 20 year old Bryce Harper showcase some of the tremendous power he possesses! Everything about him popped- the spiked up mohawk, the cleats, and most importantly: the ball off of his bat! He rocketed most of his home runs right down the line in right field, and the ball just flew off of his bat. He finished with 8 first round home runs, and advanced along with Cuddyer, Davis, and Cespedes, coincidentally, my Dad & I's two picks!

Robby Cano disappointed for the second straight year unfortunately, knocking out only 4 balls. I couldn't stand the Mets fans booing of the Yankee All Star, considering they never really had a reason to, other than being part of a team they aren't even rivals with anymore.

David Wright got the biggest hand I've ever heard in my life that night, but I showered in a few boo's, just in response to Cano being boo'ed as hard as he was. I have always respected David Wright, but I thought it'd be only fair to boo another player for absolutely no reason. Fortunately, he was eliminated after hitting 5 home runs, and a good portion of the crowd left afterwards.

Those people were ridiculously stupid though, because two of the young phenoms in baseball still had an awful lot in the tank! Cuddyer and Davis were eliminated in Round 2, leaving Cespedes and Harper for the final round: my dad's pick, and my pick! Money was on the line as the slates were cleared and the home run counter started from zero once again! Harper put another 8 on the board, finishing with 24 home runs on the night. However, Cespedes finished it off with one HUGE blast, going 455 feet off the wall in center field below the scoreboard! Here's the swing, in case you didn't see it already:

I won the bet, and the extra money, which I used to buy off a ball that Vinny hadn't used for future signings and what not! Despite my winnings, everyone enjoyed the derby as much as we expected to- if not more, and I believe the tickets were worth every penny spent. However, our night wasn't even close to being over...


Well, it turned out that the train we needed to take in order to get back to Grand Central was down. There was a fire on the track, so we had no choice but to wait in line for a different train, that came back and forth in longer time intervals. We had no choice but to wait in this enormous mob of possibly 20,000 people for over an hour. People started to get hot and the drunks began to yell at the cops. We were honestly one more idiot away from a riot breaking out. Dad told us to keep our cool, and we did, and I made great use of the free towel they gave away. It was chaotic, and by the time we got to the front of the mob for the train, the other train was back up and running. We ended up turning around and going to that train, which successfully took us back to Grand Central. 

After we got on our train at Grand Central around 1:00 in the morning, we thought we were in cruise control. However, as our stop approach and we could see my dad's SUV in the parking lot, he realized that the train wasn't really slowing down. Fortunately the train stopped and we all laughed at him on our way to the exit door. We didn't make it much farther. It turned out that our car door was sealed shut, and by the time we realized the door wasn't opening, the train left for its next stop! A few curse words were chanted throughout the train as we were all outraged at the circumstances. However, Dad got us a cab to pick us up at the next stop, and we moved to a bigger exit area to ensure we would actually get out. The cab picked us up, and then dropped us off without even leaving the parking lot because he technically wasn't supposed to pick us up. Another taxi strolled into the parking lot, and although he had no clue who we were, he gave us a ride regardless. Just about anything that could've gone wrong following the Derby did, and it was quite the mess. But looking back in retrospect, it will be a day I will never forget, despite the ups and downs along the way.

Thanks so much to Dad for treating me to this incredible day. I'm glad we all laugh about how unlucky we were on the way home now, because that wasn't meant to ruin the awesome day. With that being said, I don't think I'll be heading back to Citi Field anytime soon, because its train system really isn't that organized. I don't think I'm the only fan who said that after that night. Oh well, it was a great time.

I hope you all enjoyed and got a kick out of our story! We arrived home at 4:00 AM, which made the day a whopping 23 hours long for us. But with 6 signed baseballs and memories to last a lifetime, I'd do it all over again if I could.

See Ya!

Monday, July 22, 2013

2013 All Star Workout Day Recap!

Hey guys, Drew back here! I explained at the end of my last post that Mike, Vinny, Dad, and I's day was far from over as we left Fanfest. To go along with that quest, we also all bought tickets to attend the 2013 Chevrolet Home Run Derby at Citi Field in Queens! I believe that the derby is the marquee event of the All Star break, simply because the All Star Game itself hasn't been exciting since the extra inning affair in Yankee Stadium a few years back. The tickets weren't cheap, but I thought it would be a once in a lifetime chance to see some of the best hitters in baseball go deep before my eyes! The night of the derby is also the All Star Workout day, so if your favorite player isn't necessarily competing in the event, you may at least get to see them take some swings in the cage, which for some players can be more entertaining than watching them during the game the following night!

As we arrived at the stadium, a few of us bought the exclusive All Star Program for sale, which had the full All Star rosters among a scorecard and many other things. As we walked in we were also given a bag filled with pamphlets, a towel, and a few other small items. We originally wanted to try graphing at the stadium, but we were so exhausted from Fanfest that we just wanted to sit down and take it all in. I had never been to Citi Field prior to the event, so I used this event to get a taste of the ballpark and take in something other than Yankee Stadium air for once!

As you can see, it was a beautiful day, although I must say until the sun went down it was brutally hot out. Our seats were in the first row of the promenade section, and they were perfect for viewing the entire field and seeing the ball fly out of the stadium! We grabbed some food and picked up some merchandise, but spent the rest of the workout watching our fantasy players and favorite players take some cuts!

One of the first players we saw in the batting cage was someone who had earlier on been feet away from us, Andrew McCutchen. In retrospect, it was awesome getting to see "Cutch" entertain the children for the event, but I think I'll always remember getting the cold shoulder from him when I was literally standing two feet away from him. However, I'd like to say the security really interfered with the situation, so I'm going to try and forgive Andrew for their ridiculousness.

Bryce Harper jumped in soon afterwards! Originally, I wasn't a huge Harper fan, because he seemed arrogant and stuck-up. However, I've grown to love his passion and attitude for the game! He's always an exciting player to watch and I was pumped to see him in the Derby later on that night!

How can you be a baseball fan without loving Buster Posey? He's done it all already- won 2 World Series, an MVP, NL Rookie of the Year, made 2 All Star teams, and caught a perfect game! Yadier Molina may one of my favorite fantasy baseball catchers in recent years, but Posey is still my favorite all around catcher in the game. It was great to see him take BP, because I won't be seeing a Yankees-Giants game anytime soon.

I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't invited to this all exclusive VIP club in center field featuring Mike Trout, Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter, Nelson Cruz, and Adam Jones, but I guess I'll get over it. It was cool to see players of various teams interacting and having a good time, and it was a reminder that business is still a little kid's game through it all.

Speaking of kids, my all time favorite pitcher Mariano Rivera was out in the outfield playing catch with his two sons. I was a little nervous seeing Mo throw in the outfield, but fortunately his older son caught by the outfield wall, while he was closer to the infield. I'd love to see him finish his final year injury-free.

I found you, Harold Reynolds! The former second baseman and current MLB Network analyst was out roaming about the outfield interviewing numerous players, and I caught him talking to Salvador Perez and Nelson Cruz. I really enjoy Harold on the MLB Network, so it was neat to get to see him in person.

When you take several hundred pictures at an event, you're bound to find a picture or two that makes you question "what on Earth is going on?" Well, it appears that Miguel Cabrera lost his child to someone I cannot identify, and he doesn't look he's very motivated to take him back! Too funny.

I don't know which club I'd have a better shot of entering- the one earlier on, or this group of excellent young pitchers! By the warning track in center field stood Tigers aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, along with Boston's Clay Buchholz, the ChiSox's Chris Sale, and Tampa's last minute All Star addition Matt Moore! I could only imagine what these guys were talking about. Did you see Adam Dunn's swing on my curveball?

Mike Trout. There isn't much else to say. This guy is must-see TV.

In case Trout had a little bit of room to improve, Big Papi and Joey Bats could certainly fill up that empty space in his game. Bautista has been one of the most entertaining players in the past few years, and not even this Yankee fan can say that I hate David Ortiz. Sure, he cheated, and sure, he's murdered the Yankees many, many times, but there's something about the guy that you really have to love.

But while all of those All Stars may be pretty good, this guy in the cage stole the spotlight under the bright lights! The lone player in the Home Run Derby not on the All Star team, Yoenis Cespedes certainly went on to make his presence felt as the night went on. Tomorrow I'll wrap the night up with pictures from the actual derby! I hope you all have enjoyed this series! 

See Ya!