Friday, August 31, 2012

TTM Successes # 91-94!

Hey guys, Drew back here. I'm not going to lie, I've spent the last two days playing Madden 13 like it's my job. But, I found a little time away from my Ultimate Team, and I'm back to show you all 4 of my more recent TTM successes! They're really starting to flow in well, so I figured I'd combine a few to share for you all! Take a look:

First off, I got the current Brewers' Center Fielder Nyjer Morgan to sign 2 cards for me- a 2009 Topps Heritage and a 2008 Allen & Ginter! He's got a pretty bad signature, however he's one of the more consistent signers throughout baseball, and he's got a very interesting alterego in "Tony Plush". He seems like a good guy, and although Prince Fielder isn't around anymore to boost his numbers, he still has a good chance at being one of the better all around athletes in baseball. This success took 15 days in total.

Next, Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler kindly signed a 2009 Topps Heritage card for me, along with a bible inscription of 1 John 5:5, which reads "Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the son of God?" Interesting. Not only has Brad been one of the better relievers in all of baseball over the past few years, but he also is a big baseball card collector, similar to Pat Neshek. I tend to put those two in the same group; the "Collector/Reliever/Submarine" group. This return had a TAT of only 9 days!

In addition to those, I also added 2 autographs from the current Yankees backup catcher Chris Stewart! The only two cards I owned of his were from the 2007 Topps set (his rookie card), so I figured only one scan would be necessary. But yes, he did sign both for me, in only 7 days! I really have liked what I've seen out of Chris this season for the Yankees, even though the trade for him didn't really make a whole lot of sense. He's had some timely hits, and while some people overlook it, if he was an every day catcher, he'd probably have better numbers on the season than their starter, Russell Martin.

In conclusion, perhaps the best of the group was this signed 2010 Topps card of Rangers ace(?) Matt Harrison! Many people claim the Rangers don't have a true ace, but if anybody has stepped up to the throne this season, it's been Harrison. He's 15-8 on the season with a respectable 3.30 ERA, and has been a pretty solid starter for my fantasy team this season. I could've prepared this card a bit better, as the autograph did bubble up a little, but I'm very happy with it regardless! This success took 19 days to come back.

So, there you have it for this little catch up TTM session! Thank you to all who you signed for me!

See Ya!

Monday, August 27, 2012

I Read the News Today Oh Boy...

Funny, I saw Chad Pennington at Jets camp too...
Oh wow, the NY Daily News article from the day I went to Jets camp!
Oh hey, it's Tim Tebow signing autographs for kids on his birthday!
Who may that be...?
Yes, about 75% of my face, as well as my partially signed Jets football was featured in the NY Daily News the day after I visited the Jets training camp facility up in Cortland, NY! Of course, the Daily News is basically on a fairly even playing field in New York with the Post and the Times, so to be able to say I'm in it, even in the slightest of one photograph, is just awesome!

What do you guys think? Ever made a big magazine/newspaper article throughout your days in the hobby? Feel free to let me know!

See Ya!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

eBay Mailday: Allen & Ginter Autographs!

Hey everyone, Drew back here. I think it's really time I should get moving on posting some of these, considering they've sat around my desk for probably 2 or 3 months. I picked up 2 Allen & Ginter autographs from various years on eBay fairly recently, and I'd love to put them in my card box already so, check them out!

First off, from the new 2012 Ginter product, is this Jose Valverde autograph. I'm not necessarily a big fan of his, but it was cheap, so I got it anyway. For about $3 shipped, I picked up an autograph of last year's saves leader, even though this year has been quite rocky. Nonetheless, he'll have plenty of opportunities to do well in the next few years with Detroit, so for 300 pennies, I'll take it.

The other one I picked up was this 2011 A&G Nelson Cruz autograph! I drafted Cruz as my third outfielder in fantasy baseball this year, behind Hunter Pence and Alex Gordon, so I picked this up to give me more of a reason to root for him. Unfortunately, I've since cut him, as he's been very inconsistent, even though he's actually been fairly healthy this year. (By the way, it sounded like my outfield sucked, well, it didn't because I drafted Melky Cabrera as well, but certainly things have changed since...) But who could forget Cruz's power display in last year's postseason, crushing 8 home runs between 2 rounds, including 6 in the ALCS! This guy certainly has a flare for the dramatic, and although he isn't connecting on all cylinders right now, watch out come October.

Time to put these away! See Ya!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

TTM #90- Former Negro League Great!

Hey guys, Drew back here. It's time to get back in the swing of things, as all of the events have concluded and I'm just about ready for my junior year of high school. I'm not looking forward to taking 4 college courses as well as a few other tricky classes, but if I succeed this year it will really propel me in the right direction for my future. It's a little bit of pressure, but I've managed to tackle it in my past 11 years of school experience pretty well. I'm not promising how much I'll be around on the blogs during that time, due to an excessive amount of work and all of that good stuff, but for now, I might as well take a crack at clearing up some space on my desk! Here is my 90th TTM success, which I got back a few weeks ago:

Former Negro League player Herbert "Briefcase" Simpson signed not only the front, but also the back of my 2009 Allen & Ginter card! I really enjoy sending to players from the Negro League, because I'm a history geek, and many people will say that the Negro League contained more talent than the big leagues at that time. Fortunately, Larry Doby and Jackie Robinson transcended the game, and we now see talent from all over the world playing in Major League Baseball.

Simpson, like many other Negro League players during the 1940's, was enlisted into World War II right during the prime of his career, but an interesting note was that he was the only black player on a white team that played in England in the Battle League. Also, when he first arrived with the Army in Scotland, he was the first soldier off the ship, so he had to kneel down and kiss the ground. After his discharge in 1946, he signed with the Negro League Birmingham Black Barons, and eventually went on to play with the Homestead Grays. He was solid first baseman who hit from the left side, and he had a few very good Negro League seasons, although he retired before having an opportunity to play in the bigs. 

So, as I noted, not only did he sign the front, but he signed the back as well, saying "May God Bless You Drew, Herbert Simpson". I've never seen a person do that before, so that was pretty nice of him. I also included a few questions on an index card, and he did indeed answer the questions for me:

1) What is your favorite memory from your baseball career?
Playing against Mr. Paige, Doby, Josh Gibson

2) Who was the most talented player you've ever watched play?
Cool Papa Bell

On the opposite side of the index card, he wrote some sort of note about him playing for the Harlem Globe Trotters. I can't really tell what it says, so if any of you could help me decifer it I would really appreciate it. 

If you guys haven't ever sent anything to Mr. Simpson, I highly suggest you do. He seems like a class act guy, and I'm glad I finally got around to sending to him. Now if only I knew what the index card said...

See Ya!

Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 East Coast National Recap! (Pt. 4)

Hey guys, Drew back here, with the 4th and final installment of my little card show series. Finally, after waiting almost an entire week, I got my hands on my pictures that were taken at the show, and I was pretty impressed with how they came out. It must have been a nerve-wracking experience for photographers back in the day when they couldn't view what they just took, so I guess I learned a pretty valuable lesson: never leave the camera home! With that said, let's finish this review out strong; here are the players I was fortunate enough to meet last Saturday!
The first former player I met was former Twins pitcher (among other teams) Jim Kaat! Kaat is a pretty well known name around baseball, given his 25 year career spanning the 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's, as well as being a broadcaster basically from his retirement on. He made 3 All Star teams in his long career, but easily the most impressive statistic on his resume is his 16 gold gloves; the most by any pitcher in MLB history! "Kitty" Kaat retired with 283 wins and 237 losses, with an ERA of 3.45. 

A lot of people have talked about whether he should be in the Hall of Fame or not. Personally, while he was a very nice man, and I've always enjoyed listening to his broadcasts, I don't believe his statistics were dominant enough to put him in. He was a very good pitcher, but until Jack Morris gets in, I don't see Kaat getting in. 
He was a pretty nice guy though, even though he didn't really say a whole lot. I told him how I enjoy listening to his broadcasts, and he said he appreciated it, but besides that, not much else was said. I'm still very glad I took the opportunity to meet one of the few lifelong baseball men still around.  
Next, we met perhaps the greatest entertainer to ever put on the pinstripes, Mickey Rivers! I always loved hearing stories about Mickey through his Yankee days, like when he'd jump on the bullpen car begging the team not to bring in a certain pitcher, or starting plays in a runners position! He had a pretty solid career, and was a key contributor to the Yankees two World Series wins in 1977 and 1978. 

Rivers seemed to love the heck out of my signed Mickey Mantle photo, reading off all of the autographs and trying to identify who some of them were. A few players, Ron Blomberg in particular, made Mickey start cracking up, for reasons we're not all that sure. 
Finally, after he started to get bored reading off all of the autographs, he asked me where I wanted his signature, and I told him to put it anywhere. He ended up starting the right side of the picture with a nice, large autograph with his number 17! 
Mickey seems to love these autograph signings, with his big smile sticking out like a sore thumb throughout the show! He made it a really fun experience, and I can easily say he was one of the coolest players I've ever met, along with Ozzie Smith and Ernie Banks!
After Mickey, Dad and I jumped on the next line to meet the man behind the most legendary moustache in sports history, Rollie Fingers! Fingers was the 9th member of the Hall of Fame that I've gotten to meet, and it was a neat experience due to how influential he was towards the closer role in baseball that is a huge thing today! He pitched 17 seasons with the A's, Padres, and Brewers; making 7 All Star teams, winning 3 World Series, and his 1981 season earned him not only the Cy Young award, but the MVP as well! 
Rollie also wasn't the most open players I've met, but I told him how I made the custom card in his honor and he said it was pretty nice and he appreciated it. And, well, the moustache still is very much in tact, and it was an amazing sight to see, being a facial hair enthusiast!
Next was yet another borderline Hall of Famer, former first baseman Fred McGriff! I always had a lot of respect for McGriff, and I was thrilled when the "Crime Dog" was added to the lineup. I don't really know why, because I hardly know anything about him, but he just seems like a class act, and since there aren't any suspicions of him using PED's, it makes things a lot easier. Honestly, when you look at it, through that 1990's era, the best natural sluggers wound up being Jim Thome, Ken Griffey Jr, Frank Thomas, and Fred McGriff! He was only 7 home runs shy of 500 on his career, which was disappointing for him I'm sure, but it was a great career without a doubt.
I didn't have a whole lot to say other than what I wanted as an inscription, because I couldn't really think of much to say. He seemed like a pretty nice, humble guy though, which was nice. 
Former Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph was our next signer! I needed a little bit of money help to get an autograph ticket for him, and Dad obliged, which I really appreciated! We split the cost of the autograph ticket, which I've gone on record to say is a bit ridiculous for a player of his caliber. But then, after a big birthday turnout, and the thought of only having one chance to meet him, I decided to go for him as well. While Willie played for multiple teams during his career, he'll forever be known as a Yankee. 

The day before the show, I happened to be watching the final game at the old Yankee Stadium, which I had recorded back in 2008 onto a tape. When Randolph was announced during the player introductions, he took a slide into second base, so I had to commend him on his slide when I met him. He told me he ended up hurting his knee for about 3 weeks after that slide, but it was worth it because unlike the players who collected dirt into little holders, he went home with the dirt on his uniform, which he plans to hang up and frame in his house. I'm glad I remembered to bring that up when I got to talk to him, and he seemed like a really personable, nice guy.
Classic Photobomb by the guy in the background.. thanks buddy. 

The final player we met was the free guest of the day, should be Hall of Fame closer Lee Smith! We waited almost an hour to get this opportunity, as the free signer always has the longest line. However, even though his shift was almost over, Lee was still an awesome guy to us. He signed my Yankees picture, despite only pitching 8 innings for the Yankees (0 runs in those 8 by the way) in his very brief stint with them, as well as a card I had with me of his. Dad and I told him we believe his 478 saves deserve to have a Hall of Fame plaque, and we wished him the best of luck on getting into the Hall in the future. He said thank you to us, and  did a praying motion, saying he hopes he gets in one day. You have to feel for a player that is itching to make their way into Cooperstown. I'm rooting for Lee from now on. 

Still with me everyone? I know, the last few posts have dragged on and on, but I've had so many great opportunities lately that I need to document them somewhere! All of the signers we met were class acts, and fortunately, they all gave me very nice autographs too! Take a look:
Kaat is the second autograph below Mantle's right knee, and the other three are on the
top right corner. Up to 36 total autographs on the picture now!
Close up on Kaat
Rivers, Randolph, Smith
Bonus Smith autograph
Beautifully signed Fingers custom! But, not so sure how the signature
resembles Rollie, especially the 'R'... Help?
Got McGriff on a ball with a killer "Crime Dog" inscription! Sweet!
Well, I appreciate everyone who stuck it through to the end of my journey, and I'm curious to know how you think I made out! Thank you to everyone I met for the great experiences and especially to my Dad once again for sticking out even though you weren't feeling 100%!

See Ya!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

2012 ECN Recap! (Pt.3) Gypsy Queen Break!

Hey everyone, Drew back here! At last weekend's show, Dad and I needed an alternate plan for pictures, because I accidentally left home without my camera. We ended up stopping at a grocery store along the way to pick up a disposable Fujifilm camera to use for meeting players. My mom just got the pictures done and is at work for now, so we're going to skip that until tomorrow, and continue on with our recap.
2012 Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball Hobby Box - Click Image to Close
It has certainly been a while, but Dad, rather than buying singles for me at the show, decided to buy a box of 2012 Topps Gypsy Queen for us to open together! As I've mentioned, Gypsy Queen is definitely my favorite product of the year, due to several factors that I'll explain as I go through the recap. Every box contains the standard 24 packs, with 10 cards per pack, one being a mini card. Rather than having a box topper, every box contains a little 10 card exclusive mini pack featuring assorted minis you wouldn't find in the regular packs. To go along with all of this, there are 2 relics and 2 autographs per box on average. So, without further delay, let me proceed to reveal what we pulled out of our box!
We'll start with what came out of the mini pack, which we actually pulled 11 cards in. I was wondering why all of the cards didn't fit into the holder, and then I realized we were given one more than the average pack! All of the players were fairly big names; the biggest probably being Roy Halladay, Mark Teixeira, and Ryan Braun. We also pulled mini inserts of some, ya know, solid names- Josh Hamilton, Derek Jeter, and Dustin Pedroia. Not too bad!
The base cards feature a very elegant, yet intense design. The photos of the players are edited to have more of an artsy look, and I think they came out fantastic for the most part! Since I really enjoy a nice autographed card, I always look at how well the cards would come out signed, and well, a lot of these would look beyond awesome with an autograph across them!
Like I said when I opened a couple loose packs of GQ at the show, I absolutely love the variety as well. Many older players got themselves a card in the checklist, guys who are much more deserving of a card of this caliber than some lower level rookies Topps may have included a few years ago. I honestly can't see myself getting rid of any of these cards, they're just too nice!
Unfortunately, Topps had to throw in one of their relentless gimmicks to knock the set down a level, by including short printed cards featuring different photos than the regular base card has. I pulled six from what I could tell: Sabathia, Boggs, Weaver, DiMaggio, Strasburg, and Granderson; all being players I like. I also realized that the difference in the two DiMaggio cards is that the base card is zoomed in on him a little more. That's it. 
As stated earlier, every pack also comes with a mini, to go along with the box topper pack. I think Topps could've done better with this product if they didn't include the minis in the packs, and just had them as box toppers. They would be more limited, therefore increasing its value. All of these minis above are just the regular minis, but don't worry, Topps didn't forget to make things more complicated to set collectors.
What did I tell you. To go along with the exclusive box topper pack and the regular minis, Topps also threw in 4 red "Gypsy back" minis as well as 4 "Straight Cut" minis. Each are one in six packs, and while we pulled some solid names, I really don't see why these subsets are all that necessary. People may say Topps is trying to preserve the nostalgia; well, if they really wanted to do that, all the cards would be minis. Beautiful cards, yes, but with a lack of importance, they knock the set down a bit. 
Sorry everyone, but I'm not done with minis. We now have: the exclusive box topper pack, regular minis, Gypsy back minis, Straight Cut minis, black minis, AND green minis of every player in the set. And we wonder why this hobby has been dying down of late. One big chase for collectors is for all of a certain player or team's cards, but with the amount of cards of each of them out there today; those collectors will go broke on JUST the base and inserts. Topps, please, take notes, I'm preaching to a choir over here. 
Our final mini was this sepia toned mini of Aramis Ramirez, numbered 94 of 99. I like Ramirez, and this is kind of a cool idea, however, wouldn't they be so much cooler as rare throw ins in the exclusive mini pack? Personally, while the pack on top was cool, if they featured some semi-rare things like these, I would have enjoyed opening it a little more. 
Now, we go on to the concept subsets: Sliding Stars; Moonshots; and Glove Stories. I have a feeling the sliding stars idea wasn't really an idea, just Topps employees having fun with the program they use to edit the cards and making a fairly pointless set of it. I mean, these won't sell for much more than the base, considering I pulled 8 of them in my box. Again, great looking cards, but seriously, is this needed?
I think all of you know what I'll say here, and on the next insert, so I'll just show you what I pulled between Moonshots and Glove Stories.
Okay cool, now onto the good stuff! We pulled two of the blue framed parallels, Ian Kennedy and Josh Hamilton; both numbered out of 599! Hamilton is one of my favorite players, so I was so pumped to pull his insert out of a pack. I think Topps did a really good job with these parallels, because you only get a few a box, and they remain relatively rare. I think after years and years of parallel experience, Topps should have a good idea of how to get their cards to sell or not. This is one way that works. Oh, and by the way, these are the nicest looking cards we pulled in the box.
Finally, our 4 hits. First and foremost, we pulled this gray relic of Tim Hudson. Normally, I'd complain, as a swatch of Tim Hudson isn't a whole lot to write home about. However, the card looks sweet, and if I were a Braves fan, I'd be picking this up in a heartbeat. It is for trade, since I don't really have a use for it, but it wasn't too bad of a pull.
Also for trade is our second and final relic of the box, this framed one of Yovani Gallardo. I like the variety in the relics; how you get one framed and one basic relic per box.  Gallardo isn't a terrible pull either, and the relic has a cool feel to it, however I don't have much of a need for it either.
We didn't do too poorly in the autograph department either, the first being of Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland. Any chance you get to pull a Ranger is a good chance, since it's almost a given that they'll still be around come October. It'd be cool to have pulled this and then watch Mitch come through in a clutch spot this fall. As for the card itself, well, besides for the sticky note yellow card back; it's awesome. Moreland has a solid autograph compared to most others, and the white fade look really makes the auto stick out well. 
The final autograph pull was a pretty nice one, being of Reds ace Johnny Cueto! I've always liked Cueto, as I mentioned a few weeks ago when I picked up an auto of his from the new Tier One set. He doesn't have as nice of an auto as Moreland- in fact, he only signs his first name, but it is an upgrade from when he was a rookie back in 2008. For now, I think I'm going to hang onto both, as he's currently looking like a major Cy Young candidate. However, if you make an offer I can't resist, I'll consider!

Overall, I'm a big fan of Gypsy Queen, no matter how many gimmicks try to knock it off its throne. I think the minis can be blended into one more universal set, with the sepia parallels coming one per box as a mini. The insert subsets I can live with, but they don't really seem to fit with the set idea very well. I'll give it an A- as a final grade, only because the minis tend to be a tad bit confusing to understand. Then again, after years of dealing with it in Allen & Ginter, most collectors are used to Topps' weird ways.

Thanks Dad for getting me the box again; I really enjoyed opening it up with you! Part 4, dedicated to all 6 players I met, coming right up!

See Ya!