Wednesday, December 31, 2014

drewscards 2014 Year in Review

Hey everyone, Drew back here! I can't believe 2014 is already coming to a close. It's safe to say it's been one of the best, if not the very best year of my young life thus far, although it hasn't been close to my biggest year in this hobby. I headed off to college for the first time, and decided the dorm life isn't for me. I fell in love with a girl who I've had the pleasure of being with this entire year. I took up a new hobby in collecting vinyl records of all my favorite bands, which has divided my card/memorabilia budget at least in half, but I've still been finding ways to make occasional additions. Here is a look back at some of my fondest sports memories of 2014:

On January 31st...
Dad and I went to NYC for the Super Bowl Boulevard and met one of the greatest running backs in NFL history!

In early February... 

I also bought some beautiful cards after selling some stuff on!

On March 22nd...

In June, following my high school graduation...

I also saw Yankee phenom rookie Masahiro Tanaka pitch in person with my girlfriend!

On July 8th...

On July 12th...

On July 21st

On August 4th...

On August 17th...

Before I Went Away for School...
I got myself a going away present!

On August 28th...
I got a really cool TTM success from newly inducted Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa!

In September...

On September 26th...

On September 27th...

On November 15th...

On December 22nd...

Now that I had the chance to reflect on my 2014 year, I can officially confirm that it was the best year of my life. On top of all the amazing milestones I've been able to reach in my life this year, I even made time for this hobby and started a new one. But, that doesn't mean it can't get better, because my goal is to make 2015 even better than this one. I think I've got a good shot.

Thank you to everyone who helped make another year of drewscards possible. Really, without all the interaction I receive from you all, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing. From my early years in the blogosphere as an immature middle schooler to my current life in college, I can't thank you all enough for everything. 

Have a safe and Happy New Year guys and girls, I can't wait for another exciting year! See Ya!

Oh, and before I put an official wrap to this year,

Rest in Peace Grandpa Walt. Thank you for all the memories.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sayonara, Hiroki

Hey guys, Drew back here! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your families, because I most certainly did. Spending time with my family has proven to be invaluable to me, and it never hurts to open some presents as well. 

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Yesterday, the Yankees were hit with some relatively bad but expected bad news. Our former #2/3 starter Hiroki Kuroda announced he would be leaving the United States to go pitch where it all started for him in Japan. At the age of 40, it makes a lot of sense for him to be wanting to wrap up his professional career, and he'll be able to put an official end to his journeyman career. Kuroda was an above average starter in his 7 big league seasons, compiling a 79-79 record with a 3.45 ERA and 986 strikeouts. He pitched his 4 seasons with the Dodgers, but finished his MLB stint with 3 years in pinstripes. He was known for being a better pitcher than his baseball card statistics would read, often receiving hard luck losses for well pitched games. 

While it was already just about predetermined that he wouldn't be returning in pinstripes in 2015, Hiroki and his respectful, professional demeanor will most certainly be missed. Best of luck, Hiroki.

Yesterday, I was reading back on my Cooperstown trip posts, and I realized I completely forgot to post about this baseball, as well as one other ball I'll show very soon. My dad bought me this awesome Kuroda autographed baseball in a card shop, inscribed with his number and everything. My friend Mike told me Japanese pitchers wear #18 to signify being the ace of their staffs. Masahiro Tanaka wore #18 for the Rakuten Eagles before having to give up the number for Kuroda upon joining the Yankees in 2014. This is one of my personal favorite signed balls because it's rare to find his autographs out there, and I always had a lot of respect for Kuroda. While he'll be in Japan next year, I'll always have this baseball to remember his success in the Bronx.

Thank you Dad for the baseball way back when, and See Ya!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Edition: 2014 Topps Update Blaster Recap!

Hey guys, Drew back here, and miraculously I have a Christmas post for you all! First and foremost, Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to each and every one of you reading this, I hope you don't read this until later today and you're currently enjoying your time with your families, but since my holiday is wrapping up I figured I'd show you all how I did with a 2014 Topps Update Series blaster box I was given by my grandma! Enjoy:

Pack 1:
- Drew Stubbs
- Chase Headley
- Cole Hamels World Series Heroes
- Yoenis Cespedes ASG Red Border
- Kurt Suzuki ASG Red Border
- Masahiro Tanaka Rookie Debut
- Kyle Seager ASG
- Glen Perkins ASG

Pack 2:
- Pat Neshek
- Rajai Davis
- Miguel Cabrera Power Players
- Dee Gordon ASG Red Border
- Jon Lester ASG Red Border
- Marcus Stroman RC
- Tony Sanchez RC
- Jon Singleton RC

Pack 3:
- Paul Maholm
- Asdrubal Cabrera
- Chase Anderson Gold Parallel 1237/2014
- Michael Wacha The Future is Now
- Mike Trout ASG Red Border
- Aroldis Chapman ASG Red Border
- Drew Pomeranz
- Vidal Nuno

Pack 4:
- Mike Dunn
- Bryan Holaday
- Boone Logan Red Parallel
- Robbie Ray Red Border RC
- Scott Hairston Red Border
- Jason Bartlett
- Robbie Ross Jr.
- Adrian Nieto RC

Pack 5:
- Joaquin Arias
- Logan Forsythe
- Cole Figueroa
- Robin Yount Fond Farewells
- CJ Cron Red Border RC
- Rougned Odor Red Border RC
- Starlin Castro ASG
- Tyson Ross ASG

Pack 6:
- Chris Colabello
- Daric Barton
- Tucker Barnhart RC
- Jose Abreu 1989 Topps Mini
- Clayton Kershaw ASG Red Border
- Tommy La Stella Red Border RC
- Jackie Bradley Jr.
- Kurt Suzuki ASG

Pack 7:
- Justin Turner
- Aaron Sanchez RC
- Mookie Betts The Future is Now
- Kyle Blanks Red Border
- Julio Teheran ASG Red Border
- Jon Singleton Rookie Debut
- Jon Lester ASG
- Yoenis Cespedes ASG

Pack 8:
- Roger Bernadina
- Ryan Wheeler
- Martin Prado
- Sergio Romo Power Players
- Chris Sale ASG Red Border
- Todd Frazier ASG Red Border
- Eddie Butler RC
- Dee Gordon ASG

Pack 9:
- Eric Chavez
- Delmon Young
- Manny Ramirez World Series Heroes
- Miguel Cabrera ASG Red Border
- Jose Abreu ASG Red Border
- Jake Peavy
- Allen Craig
- Aroldis Chapman ASG

Pack 10:
- Dustin Ackley
- Doug Fister
- Seth Smith
- Roenis Elias Red Border RC
- Erisbel Arruebarrena Red Border RC
- Brendan Ryan
- Scott Hairston
- Mike Trout ASG

Commemorative Patch: David Ortiz

Thoughts - 
Boy, it was a lot of fun to open some packs on Christmas Eve! I remember always asking for high end boxes to open every Christmas for a few year span, and while my priorities have since changed (be on the lookout for something soon!), the fun of box busting will never truly disappear. The Ortiz patch card appears to be on the move because it needs to get out of my house, but otherwise if anyone is interested in any specific cards I'll certainly be open to discussing a trade! My favorite pull of the box was either the Jose Abreu mini card or the Masahiro Tanaka Rookie Debut; both of which will remain in my PC. 

On that note, Merry Christmas everyone, have a great rest of your day and I'll talk to you all soon! Thank you to my Nonnie for the fun gift!

See Ya!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Sterling Sharp Christmas Present from William!

Hey guys, Drew back here! I am officially home from my school for good, and I will be transferring to a local school in less than a month! I ultimately concluded that the decision would be for my best interest, as I simply did not fit in to SUNY Cortland one bit. Now, rather than having to pretend to be someone I'm not, I can be myself, focus on my own hobbies at home, and hang out with a few of my friends who go to the same school. But, we've got a bit of a ways until all of that is underway, and in the meantime Christmas time is here again!

William always sends me Christmas and birthday gifts, which is unbelievably thoughtful. I try my hardest to reciprocate his kind deeds, but it will be awfully hard to beat this beautiful card that came in my mailbox a few days ago!

Out of 2010 Topps Sterling, this is a Yogi Berra triple relic numbered 21 of 25! This isn't my first Berra relic, but it just may be the nicest one I've had the pleasure of adding to my collection thus far. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume most everyone reading this can't fit a box of Sterling into their budgets (myself being one of them), but do yourself a favor and go on eBay and pick something up from the product. These glove cards have a leather texture and makes the theme of the card work perfectly alongside the relics themselves. I'm so happy to have this in my Berra PC now, and I hope to add more cards like this in the future!

Thank you so much for the amazing gift William! You have a knack for finding stuff for me that fits in perfectly towards my collection, and I'm thrilled to add some Sterling goodness into my box. I hope you enjoy your gift, which should arrive any day now hopefully. 

If I don't get on here before Christmas, I want to wish all of you a happy holiday! Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and participating in the blog; it's an absolute honor to still have such a friendly following continue through years of blogging. You have no idea how much it all means to me, because this blog has helped me grow up and find something in myself that I never knew existed. I'm going to be majoring in Communication at my new school with a concentration in Sports Communication, and I couldn't have chosen that without the countless posts and interactions I've had the pleasure of making with all of you over the years. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Happy Holidays, and for now, See Ya!

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!