Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Autograph Pickup of the BEST Current Cubbie!

Hey guys, Drew back here! To go along with my recent eBay addition, a Paul Goldschmidt Five Star on card autograph, I decided to pick up an autograph of who I believe is the best current player on the Cubs roster. Kris Bryant has loads of talent, and I feel like we'll be spending the significant future admiring his play. But in this case, I wanted to show a little love for someone who is doing big things right now, Anthony Rizzo.

Out of 2013 Topps Tribute, I found a gorgeous on card autograph numbered 60 of 99 of the Cubs young slugger. Many people have turned their focus on Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, and Addison Russell for good reason, but Rizzo is often the forgotten man on what is becoming one of the most exciting lineups to watch in all of baseball. Last year, Anthony clubbed a personal high 32 home runs while batting .286 and driving in 78 runs. He's off to a great start in 2015, and looks to be one of the better players for the foreseeable future in baseball. If you haven't heard his story, in which he overcame Hodgkins Lymphona several years ago, I highly recommend you check out this piece MLB Network ran about him over the offseason.

I bought this card for a little over $10 shipped on eBay in my recent attempt to catch up on adding some of the better autographs I've been missing. Rizzo doesn't have the best penmanship by any means, but his performance makes up for it. I also was able to add several others through Check Out My Collectibles, but there's one more card I'm saving up to buy with store credit once I sell a few more cheap cards (please feel free to help a friend out and check out my store, thanks)!

Who's your favorite player to watch on the Cubs? I wouldn't say they're off to the World Series this year, but I'm not ruling them out as a potential playoff team for years to come. Whatever the case may be, it will be fun to watch.

See Ya!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ten for Tuesday - Eliminations from the Baseball Hall

Hey everyone, Drew back here! This week in my new series, "Ten for Tuesday", we will venture into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame has been a controversial subject ever since its creation, and today we still see frequent debates over whether Pete Rose or any of the positively tested steroid players should be inducted. It makes for great conversation, which will be exactly the purpose of what I'm about to bring to you today.

10 Borderline Baseball Hall of Fame Members Who Shouldn't Be In

Let me be very clear with this before I begin: I am not saying that any of the following players were not good players. Every member of the Hall of Fame is in for one reason or another, however some of these reasons are more notable than others. Also, let us not forget that the Hall of Fame isn't always stats first. A guy like Ozzie Smith was a tremendous defensive player but generally an average offensive threat throughout his career with the Cardinals, however the impact he's made on baseball and on the city of St. Louis give him a larger than life persona than some of the players listed below. The players below may have been better all around players than Smith, but there is an element of character that should be slightly taken into consideration as well.

Also, this list is only for players who started their career 1950 or later. I personally do not know much about several of the players before that time period other than what Baseball Reference can tell me. Besides, the game was extremely different in that era, and it's difficult to compare the Deadball Era from any other era in the game's history. Lastly, I want to thank my Grandpa Roy and best buddy William of foul bunt for some advice in putting the list together!

Honorable Mentions - Billy Williams, Barry Larkin, Luis Aparicio

Something we took into consideration in building this list was name value, as cheap as that may seem. We questioned "Is this player an all time great?," and this question alone was helpful in picking apart the tiers of the Hall. Billy Williams was a great Cub, and after comparing him with the now 10th ranked player, I had to keep him out of the Top 10. He played in one playoff series for the A's in 1975, so it isn't fair to slight him for his lack of postseason accomplishments. There was a sizable gap between he and Larkin/Aparicio, who both came home with plenty of hardware and racked up solid statistics across the board. Aparicio is not a well known player to most because he played so long ago now, but was a fantastic defensive presence with a knack for stealing bases (sound familiar, Ozzie Smith?). The difference between Smith and Aparicio is the value to the game, and this may be biased due to Smith's younger age and increased popularity in comparison. But let's face it; a majority of fans would be shocked if Smith wasn't in, and Aparicio was, regardless of the statistics. But none of these players made the ultimate cut.

10 - Andre Dawson
OF, Montreal Expos / Chicago Cubs / Boston Red Sox / Florida Marlins

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Based on talent alone, you would be hardpressed to find "The Hawk" on this list. However, Andre Dawson spent his career battling injuries that took a toll on his final career contributions to the game. Unfortunately, this list does not give sympathy points, although it can be said that Dawson was great for the game and a beloved player among the cities in which he spread his time throughout. He was a tremendous fielder until the turf at Montreal's Olympic Stadium caused him to suffer knee problems. He could do it all during the late 1980's, and even earned an MVP and Rookie of the Year Award. Dawson has an impressive resumé award-wise, but his career statistics were underwhelming compared to what they could have been. And his career on base percentage of .323 is not Hall of Fame worthy, at all.

9 - Tony Perez
1B/3B, Cincinnati Reds / Montreal Expos / Boston Red Sox / Philadelphia Phillies

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Tony Perez was a very productive player for what is arguably the greatest baseball team of the modern era, however, he appeared to play fourth fiddle on the "Big Red Machine"; behind Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Joe Morgan. He was a valuable run producer in the middle of the lineup, but it can be said that driving in runs for a team of this caliber was most likely easier than it would be if he played his prime years with any other team. He also was a victim of extending his career a bit too long, which is something you will see often on this list. Perez made 7 All Star teams in his 23 year career, and even won an All Star Game MVP in 1967. He went in on his final year on the ballot, and seemed to get a lot of sympathy votes from writers who didn't vote for him previously. It's difficult to place a guy who closely missed the 3,000 hit club and 400 home run club on this list, but due to the extended longevity along with his high powered team and lack of significant hardware; the Reds slugger is on my list.

8 - Gaylord Perry
SP, San Francisco Giants / Cleveland Indians / Texas Rangers / San Diego Padres / New York Yankees / Atlanta Braves / Seattle Mariners / Kansas City Royals

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If you're among the fairly large crowd who never wishes to see Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, or Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame; you probably shouldn't be a fan of Gaylord Perry's, either. Perry is an admitted cheater, who frequently threw an illegal spitter pitch and doctored baseballs with lubricants and vaseline. Apparently, he was so proud of his system that he tried to land an endorsement deal with vaseline products! He seemed to be a hittable pitcher during his first few seasons until he started cheating his way all the way to the Hall of Fame. When it comes to his actual career statline, he pitched until he was 44 years old; which did not pay his career ERA dividends. Even while winning 314 games, Perry lost a whopping 265 games; posting a career winning percentage of .542. He struggled mightily in his only postseason appearance, and only made 5 All Star teams over his 22 seasons. His numbers were good, but not dominant, and lest we forget, he cheated. And from the looks of it, he liked it.

7 - Phil Niekro 
SP, Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves / New York Yankees / Cleveland Indians / Toronto Blue Jays

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"Knucksie" will forever be known for just that: his knuckleball. Niekro mastered the knuckleball well enough to pitch consistently well for 24 years; up until he was 48 years old. While there is something to be said for someone who is capable of performing well past his prime, he didn't exactly look like he belonged on the field at that point. It appeared as though he played in order to pad his statistics towards making a Hall of Fame case, and sure enough his plan worked out in his favor. Similarly to Perry, Niekro had a shaky winning percentage of .537, losing 274 games. Sure, Cy Young may have lost 316 games, but times were much different in the early 1900's than they were during his time. His saving grace helped him keep the legacy he has now, especially because it has been since passed down to Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey. But just because you have longevity on your side should not make you a lock for the Hall of Fame, because you're bound to reach significant milestones eventually. Niekro was a very good pitcher, better than anyone would have expected, and he makes for a fun story. But he's not a Hall of Famer in my book.

6 - Don Sutton
SP, Los Angeles Dodgers / Houston Astros / Milwaukee Brewers / Oakland Athletics / California Angels

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You know those Golden Oreos? They're great in their own right, yet every time you eat them you wish for an original chocolate cookie instead. Don Sutton is the golden Oreo of Hall of Fame pitchers. Sutton pitched for 23 seasons, and many of those years were average or slightly above average. He won over 20 games once during an era where pitchers were more capable of achieving the feat. Wins can surely be a difficult category to inspect, because a lot of the problem could have been due to lack of run support. He compiled 324 of them eventually, after struggling to get through his age's 38-43 seasons. But when it comes to sheer dominance, Sutton and Niekro simply did not own the league. When I view a Hall of Fame player, I expect to see players who appear significantly better than the rest of the pack. Plus, he only made 4 All Star teams, showing that he was not someone who was viewed among the fans as highly as perhaps he should have. Sutton accomplished plenty throughout his career, but if we could just do away with the silly 300+ wins argument (that will be ruined anyway once Clemens doesn't make it), we would see that he may not appear as much of a lock as he was in 1998 when he was enshrined.

5 - Hoyt Wilhelm
P, New York Giants / St. Louis Cardinals / Cleveland Indians / Baltimore Orioles / Chicago White Sox / California Angels / Atlanta Braves / Chicago Cubs / Los Angeles Dodgers

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Another name, another knuckleballer. Wilhelm was the first primarily relief pitcher inducted back in 1985, and set the standard for which late inning stars should or should not be included. He made eight All Star teams and won a World Series with the Giants in 1954, but he played for nine teams in that span. Saves should not matter when it comes to voting, which helps his case due to his 227 total career saves, 37th all time. My main gripe with Wilhelm, as well as with Sutter, Rollie Fingers, and Goose Gossage, is something they could not control. They simply did not pitch enough. I gave Fingers an edge on this list due to his 1981 MVP and Cy Young season, as well as 3 World Series championships (not to mention great postseason performances). Dennis Eckersley also padded his resumé for much of the same reasons. Wilhelm was transcendent in baseball history, and probably should get more respect than I am giving him, but I had such a difficult time leaving him off this list.

4 - Jim Rice
OF, Boston Red Sox

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There has been a lot of talk regarding why Jim Rice was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2009 alongside Rickey Henderson. Rice was a feared hitter without question in his prime with the Red Sox, but no matter how he performed, he never seemed to carry any of the spotlight. There's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't put his case off to a good start. He was generally a solely power hitter, although he did bat over .300 seven times during his somewhat short 16 year career. Meanwhile, he produced significantly better at home in Fenway Park than on the road (.320 average at home, .277 on the road).

But my biggest problem with Rice, along with the aforementioned Andre Dawson; is that there a plethora of players from that general era who have comparable statistics. I call it the "If he's in, then he's in, then he's in" rule, and I know it's not a catchy name but it fulfills exactly my problem. If you're going to let Jim Rice and Andre Dawson in the Hall, then their contemporaries Tony Oliva, Dave Parker, George Foster, Dick Allen, and Dwight Evans all should have plaques in the museum as well. And for a museum that strives to honor the top percentage of players to ever play the game, it should not include so many similar players in and honor the ones who were able to stand out.

When a player takes the full 15 years on the ballot to be elected, it's clear how little his presence was felt against some of the other greats of his time.

3 - Bruce Sutter
CP, Chicago Cubs / St. Louis Cardinals / Atlanta Braves

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Bruce Sutter was a really good reliever for the twelve seasons he played, and he will forever be credited for being the first pitcher to effectively use a split-finger fastball. That is why he's in the Hall of Fame. But for a Hall of Famer, he didn't pitch a whole lot. Sutter only throw slightly over 1,000 innings between the Cubs, Cardinals, and Braves, whereas his contemporary, Goose Gossage; threw almost 800 more innings. The reliever conundrum in the Hall is conflicting, because it seems to be judged based on consistent dominance and not as much on the numbers themselves. If that is the case, then Lee Smith, Billy Wagner, Trevor Hoffman, and Mariano Rivera should be in as well. All relievers, even Rivera, should be heavily debated when it comes to being inducted, because relievers (especially in the new era with one inning saves) simply do not pitch nearly as much as starting pitchers. Sure, he won a Cy Young Award, but I don't know if that is enough to build a resumé that would put him in the same Hall as guys from the same era that consistently threw 250-300 innings, year in, year out.

2 - Jim Bunning
SP, Detroit Tigers / Philadelphia Phillies / Pittsburgh Pirates / Los Angeles Dodgers

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When William and I discussed Jim Bunning's case, we initially were saying how he made it due to accumulating 300 wins. After researching his career, though, I noticed that he came nowhere close to 300 (224 total), and he shot up this list. I do not value 300 wins all that much, as you have read before with Sutton, Perry, and Niekro's respective cases, but that was why we thought he was in, which made his case more puzzling when I saw his overall numbers. The former Senator was a nine time All Star and pitched a no hitter, and other than that, he doesn't have much else to boast about. No World Series ring (or playoff experience), no Cy Young Awards, and although he was 2nd all time in strikeouts at the time of his retirement he has since been surpassed fifteen times. When you view Jim Bunning, do you see him as an all time great, better yet a legend? I didn't think so, and despite his consistent, solid career, it's hard for me to honor players that didn't have that "wow" factor.

1 - Bill Mazeroski
2B, Pittsburgh Pirates

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I remember sitting in my basement years ago sorting through cards, only to come across a 1972 Topps Bill Mazeroski card. I recognized him for his iconic home run against the Yankees to win the 1960 World Series, but didn't know much else about him. I went on to research his career statistics, and then saw that he was elected into the Hall of Fame. And ever since that day, I've wondered why that could be. His career on base percentage was .299, which would be an excellent career batting average, but is a horrible OBP for one of Cooperstown's elite. He was a great defensive player, who came away with eight Gold Glove awards, but if it wasn't for his walkoff home run it could be easily said that he would never have been even regarded as a Hall of Famer. Putting him in means that Bobby Thomson, Joe Carter, and Kirk Gibson should be in as well, and that just doesn't make sense.

The goal of this post is to spark debate over which bottom tier of Hall of Fame players could be removed. There will always be marginal players who are comparable to other members, but there are simply too many of them inducted today. Of course, this will never happen, as you cannot take away such incredible honors from the players. All of these players were extremely good players, but as time goes on, the Hall of Fame has become less and less of an accomplishment. The honor stays the same, but the more marginal players are added to the roster, the less of a distinction it becomes.

Bill Simmons wrote an article in 2002 about how he views the Hall of Fame by five separate tiers of talent; the first tier being of players who barely made the cut, while the fifth tier contained the Ruth's and the Mays' and the Walter Johnson's. Looking back on history, I would have tried my best to avoid this classification and narrow down the standards necessary for entry. It's so hard to fathom being able to make this strategy work in this day of age, and I would never mean to take away from players who earned their place in the museum. If there was ever a time to reminisce on such a debate, it is now, because of the steroid era, the Pete Rose situation and so on. So, if we were to start all over, where would we go differently?

What would you do? How do you feel about the state of the Hall of Fame today?

See Ya!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Rest of my Commons from Just Commons!

Hey everyone, Drew back here! I can't believe how quickly my second semester of college has gone. Three weeks remain, including finals week, and then I'll be off for my first college summer vacation. I recently started working at Dick's Sporting Goods as a cashier, so hopefully after a few weeks of saving I'll be able to become even more involved with the hobby. It's nice to finally be receiving money rather than solely spending it, and I'm excited for the summer! 

Today, I wanted to wrap up my first order from On Wednesday, I shared my seven new Joe Panik PC additions, and along with those, I was able to knock off 

2004 Topps was the first set I was given for Christmas from my parents, and sure enough over the years of elementary and middle school I managed to lose pieces of it. I traded some cards away (why?) and with that I recently decided to put it back together, put the cards in a binder and store them away. I'm not a very big fan of the set, although I've always liked the little outline drawings of the players in the bottom left corner of the cards. After this purchase, I'm down to needing only three cards to complete the set (I can't seem to find which three I'm missing at the moment, but when I do I'll leave them at the end of this post). I added 24 cards, including of players I collect so I can tuck those away with my PC's while still having the cards in the set binder. Perhaps my favorite part of the set are all the Postseason Highlights cards starring the Yankees and Red Sox. Ah, the good ol' days.

I also attacked a few of my other collections, including some I rarely pay attention to anymore. I couldn't pass up an Allen & Ginter Cano card, although I'm still trying to adjust to that Mariners uniform. As for Hensley, well, it sounds like it's going to be yet another uphill battle for the poor guy. Not only was he attacked over the offseason in his hometown and brutally injured, but he also had to have Tommy John Surgery. Ty seems like a really good kid, and he was great signing for me through the mail, and I wish him all the best with his recovery; I know the TJ Surgery news was crushing to him.

Andrew McCutchen was the other player I focused on with this order, because I was missing some pretty key base cards of his from over the years. I don't ever expect to have all the 1/1's and autographs, but I'd like to at least gain most of the players I collect's base cards from their playing days. Cutch isn't off to the greatest start of his career in 2015, but he's a consistent force to be reckoned with that should not be taken lightly. 

Topps Stadium Club is such an awesome product, and as soon as I knew this card of my all time favorite pitcher existed I wanted to add it to my collection. Sure enough, I was able to add this, as well as the following card of Mo's; both of which depicted a very special night in Yankee Stadium: his final game.

This was such a fantastic baseball moment that will most likely be overshadowed forever by the way Derek Jeter went out. I don't think Mariano minds this all that much, though. I wanted to make sure I had something to remember this game by, and this 2014 Topps will certainly do the trick. Topps has done a great job highlighting all the recent Yankee retirements, and I'm excited to see who will be the next player (from this current team or in the future) to make their mark on the franchise half as much as Jeter and Mariano did.

I was very pleased with my first purchase, and I hope to add more cards from their site in the future. If you haven't given it a chance yet, I highly recommend you do. While Sportlots may provide you cheaper prices, JustCommons has a universal shipping cost that probably will save you money in most cases. And don't worry Check Out My Cards, you're not going anywhere. I'm still loyal, I swear.

*UPDATE: Here are the cards I am currently missing from my 2004 Topps set: 20, 67, 98, 365, 693! Email me at if you have any of these and are willing to trade!*

See Ya!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Joe Panik PC Pickups from JustCommons!

Hey everyone, Drew back here! About two or three weeks ago, I made my first purchase on As many of you may know, I am a big fan of, and I even have a store on their site (shameless plug, couldn't help it). However, I've since learned that ordering base cards tends to add up quickly on COMC, and that I could find cheaper base cards on other sites. I have heard a lot of people talk up this site, and decided to give it a shot. For about $15, I was able to acquire cards of all of my PC players, as well as some set needs and much more. The purchase netted me with 7 new Joe Panik cards, which is the subject of today's post.

I finally got a hold of Panik's first Bowman card, from the 2011 Draft Picks & Prospects set. Joe started the season struggling at the plate, but he's been picking up for that over the past week. He is now batting .281 this season with 3 RBI.

From everything I've seen of Joe's past performances, his speciality seems to lie on the defensive side of the ball. He obviously made a fantastic diving stop in the World Series to start what would be a double play after it was reviewed, but he's frequently known to flash the leather and it's impressive to watch! He appears to be a pretty one dimensional threat at the plate, but is a pretty good contact hitter at that. Panik doesn't appear to have much pop in his bat, but as long as he can get hits he'll have a spot in a lineup for years to come.

Panik's 2014 Topps Heritage High Number card is his official rookie card, whereas all of the previous cards are considered prospect editions. It is my favorite card of his that has come out so far, and I would love to get my hands on one of the autographed copies. This will certainly do for now.

Finally, we have his first card of 2015, out of Topps Heritage once again. I can't wait to see his flagship debut that hopefully will be in Series 2, because this card doesn't do much for me. It is nice to have a card of Joe in his home San Francisco uniform rather than in batting practice or minor league jerseys!

With these 7 pickups, I now own 11 unique cards of Joe's in my collection. If you have any cards of his for trade, take a look at my checklist and feel free to email me at!

See Ya!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ten for Tuesday - Worth the Price of Admission

Hey guys, Drew back here! A lot has been said over the past few years how baseball has lost some of its magic among the younger crowd. Kids these days seem to gravitate towards quicker paced games such as football and basketball because this generation has been prone to a lack of attention span. However, the game appears to be at its purest since the Golden Eras of the 1950's and 1960's, thanks in part to the collection of excellent prospects debuting practically every year. Prospects such as Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant have generated more interest before their MLB debuts than the best players in the majors at the time such as Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols. The only piece missing to the game is the peaked interest of young kids, which is vitally important towards keeping our beloved game going strong for years to come.

This week's list will be meant as suggestions of players to perhaps show your kids (or, if you are a kid, to check out) that could make them the fan you are in the future! All of the players on this list are below the age of 27, because I felt like the list needed to be capped at some point, so you won't see Clayton Kershaw, Buster Posey, or Andrew McCutchen on this countdown. Also, this list is not based solely upon statistics and talent, but additionally focuses on the likability and excitement factors.

10 Most Exciting Young Players to Watch in 2015

Honorable Mentions - Nolan Arenado, Masahiro Tanaka, Anthony Rizzo, Manny Machado, Billy Hamilton

If you're looking for premium five tool talents, watch out for Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado. They are big power seasons away from debuting on this list, but in the meantime, check out some of the glovework they've displayed recently. And if you're in a need for speed, Billy Hamilton is the best in the business. If he improves at getting on base, he will easily crack the top 10.

10 - Madison Bumgarner, SP, San Francisco Giants (Video)

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There is nothing about this man that appears to be 25 years old, but sure enough, "Mad-Bum" is only a quarter century of age. His long hair and beard adds to his intimidation, and although he isn't a flamethrower he still knows how to overpower his opponents. The 2014 World Series MVP carved his name into baseball lore with his epic postseason performances; practically winning the World Series for the Giants. His performances also landed him "Mad-Bum" underwear, a Jimmy Fallon Late Night appearance, an endorsement with Carhartt, and 2014's Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. And, if that isn't enough; he can crush the ball at the plate when he's called upon to do so.

9 - Mookie Betts, CF, Boston Red Sox (Video)

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Mookie Betts, as painful as it is to say being a Yankees fan, is extremely good. His talent has surplanted everything he was expected to fulfill thus far for the Red Sox, and he keeps getting better. It may look like an overreaction to have him this high on my list after a huge Spring Training and hot start to 2015, but it's more than just the numbers with Betts. He's a human highlight reel in center field, and last week he stole two bases on a single play; a brilliant baseball play most young players don't seem to pick up on. He's no longer rookie eligible, but you can bet he'll be bringing home hardware in the not so distant future.

8 - Chris Sale, SP, Chicago White Sox (Video)

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Chris Sale has been arguably the best pitcher in the American League the past three years when healthy, but health has been the question mark at times. His lanky, side arm delivery is menacing towards opposing batters; reminiscent of Randy Johnson's legendary mechanics. If he is able to sustain that delivery in the future without suffering a serious shoulder or elbow injury, he may continue to be the most fun pitcher to watch in the league.

7 - Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs (Video)

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Number 7 belongs to a player who has been all the talk lately on social media and throughout baseball. Kris Bryant has been a mega prospect ever since he was drafted 2nd overall in the 2013 Draft by the Cubs. This spring, he was in the middle of a difficult financial position by Theo Epstein and Chicago's front office, but this past Friday he was called up to make his MLB debut! I don't believe he will be as advertised in his rookie season, but I still think he'll either win or come close to winning Rookie of the Year. In the future, this mammoth of a bat has the potential to be a Hall of Fame caliber player, although it would be helpful if he could develop a little better on the defensive end. I have all the respect in the world for Bryant for how he handled the demotion after crushing home runs nearly every at bat in Spring Training. It's difficult for any rookie with his potential to immediately fulfill expectations, but he is a must watch player every time he steps into the batter's box.

6 - Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami Marlins (Video)

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The 2013 NL Rookie of the Year had made an impressive splash down in Miami, but unfortunately Tommy John Surgery brought his career to a halt. When Fernandez returns in June/July of this season, baseball fans hope he can retain the talent he showed off before. His absence from the game for over a year has diminished some of what he did before, but his electric stuff should bring him right back to the top of the game, where his personality and skill belongs. Plus, he works his tail off biking and training, and is still in tip-top shape despite having the surgery.

5 - Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Video)

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The next two players on this list are two of the most electric and exciting players in the sport, held back on this list by inconsistency and injury problems. The first is Yasiel Puig, who, in two full seasons had become one of the most fun players to impersonate and watch. Puig plays the game the way it is meant to be played (let us remember, this is a kid's game after all), with passion and exuberance that is hard to replicate. But sometimes he has a bit too much fun, to the point where he's been arrested for reckless driving and frequently arriving late to the ballpark. At 24 years old, I envision Puig growing up more as he gets older and hopefully making smarter choices. But when he's on the field, and all is going right, he has a larger than life persona that even landed him on the cover of this year's MLB The Show video game.

4 - Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals (Video)

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Bryce Harper always seems to go hand in hand with Yasiel Puig, to me. Both players have the potential to dethrone Mike Trout as the best all around player in the game, but haven't quite gotten there yet. Harper was a prodigy, and has faced more pressure than perhaps any other player in baseball history, and I would say that he's done a superb job of handling it all. With new waves of talent being unleashed in the show today (Kris Bryant), Harper has had some of the weight lifted off of his shoulders, which could mean big things for the remainder of 2015. Thus far, he's been off to a hot start, and he absolutely mashed a ball to center field versus the Phillies this past weekend. I love watching Harper play because he gives 110% effort on every single play. It often results in injury, but I love the reckless demeanor he has towards the game and that he gives his heart and soul towards the team. I don't ever see him becoming someone mentioned among the likes of Mays and Mantle, but I think there are many great years to come from the nation capital's biggest star.

3 - Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets (Video)

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He's back, and just as good as ever before. Matt Harvey, Gotham's new "Dark Knight", may not be off to the start he became famous for in 2013 before also needing to undergo Tommy John Surgery, but he's going to perform. I watched the E60 documentary on Harvey's return from surgery, and realized just how big of a star he is, especially coming from New York. Harvey is the highest ranked pitcher on this list because of the spotlight he receives, and because he can deliver in high pressure situations. His ego may be aggravating to the Mets front office, but ultimately he just wishes to do his job and do it well. Jacob deGrom has been phenomenal too in a larger sample size, but Harvey is New York's finest star at the time (sorry, A-Rod).

2 - Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels (Video)

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You bet your butt that Mike Trout is not #1 on my list. I feel like everyone likes Trout, but some, myself included, can tend to get bored of his consistent excellence. He seems to have mastered the art of the big leagues, despite having led the AL in strikeouts last season. The strikeout has been the kryptonite to his Superman status (you can tell by the past two paragraphs how excited I am for Batman vs. Superman), but like everything else, watch him defeat that too. However, if you are looking to get into the game, just go to YouTube and search his name. The guy is on his way to becoming the next face of the game and ambassador similar to that of Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken Jr., and he's perhaps the most dynamic player we've seen since the turn of the century. If you want to learn how to play baseball, watch this guy (but watch Victor Martinez for plate discipline).

1 - Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins (Video)

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Everyone loves the long ball, and Giancarlo Stanton is perhaps the most talented young player in that facet of the game. Stanton has a great personality, and has proven his insane skill time and time again. Watching this guy hit in batting practice and launch balls into the goofy display in center field of Marlins Park will make you a baseball fan; almost a 99.9% guarantee. I really hope the Marlins can turn their rough start around so we can see him play meaningful games down the stretch, and here's to hoping he doesn't get the same treatment he got last September, which involved a trip to the hospital and multiple operations. Any of these upper tier players are capable of making people who previously hated or were indifferent towards baseball a fan, but Stanton is the most exciting player to watch even when he's not crushing the ball. Every pitch he watches at the plate has the potential to leave the stadium, and that is must-see TV.

Alright everyone, that is how I would rank the most exciting young players in baseball. There are so many guys who barely missed the cut, and I can see this list being completely rearranged. I know I don't have all the answers, but I like to spark conversation, and with the recent promotion of Kris Bryant, I thought this would be a fitting theme for the week.

Who did I miss? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

See Ya!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I've Hit a Gold Mine on eBay!

Hey everyone, Drew back here! I can not even begin to explain how busy the past few weeks have been, but it's safe to say I haven't had as much time for blogging as I have in recent months. However, I have been adding some pretty nice stuff to my collection again, as I recently got a job and now I haven't been feeling as uptight with my money. One of my favorite cards I've added recently is something I know several of my readers will be jealous of.

Out of 2013 Topps Five Star, my first autograph of Diamondbacks young superstar Paul Goldschmidt. I had the pleasure of seeing "Goldy" play in person last year when my family went to AT&T Park in San Francisco, and his talent was as advertised. He doubled in his first at bat and was a dangerous bat all day long for the Giants. Goldschmidt was having a great, possible MVP season in 2014 until it was cut short two months early when he broke his hand. However, he is back in business in 2015, and has already shown signs of getting right back to where he was. Playing in Arizona has made him one of the more underrated stars in today's game, and that's really too bad. If he was a Yankee, he would have come home with some nice hardware in his trophy case already, and probably would be much more popular than he has been. Regardless, he will continue to be a five tool talent for a struggling Diamondbacks franchise that hopes to overcome several difficult seasons in 2015 and beyond. 

I picked up this card for about $15 on eBay, which I considered fair since his autograph prices have slightly risen and for the caliber of the card itself. This is my first Five Star autograph in my collection, and simply put, wow. I can see why people love this product. The card is on extremely thick stock, but it almost gives it extra elegance that make it stand out. 

I hope to see a whole lot of Goldschmidt in the highlight reels this year and in the future. At the age of 27, he is entering what is usually a hitter's "prime years", and if he can build off some of his already incredible seasons, that would be quite the accomplishment.

See Ya!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ten for Tuesday - Best Active MLB Penmanship

Hey guys, Drew back here! This week's edition of my new program, "Ten for Tuesday", features my hand crafted list of who I believe have the 10 nicest signatures in all of Major League Baseball today. The art of the signature has been lost in an era of constant autograph signings and requests, but there are still some players who appear to take pride in how they write their name for fans. We certainly appreciate the extra few seconds players may take to give us a beautiful signature, and with the ten players I am about to reveal, they almost always take that route rather than scribbling something illegible. As you may recall if you have been following this blog for a long time, I ran a "Worst Autograph Bracket" about five years ago, and former pitcher Jason Jennings faced off against running back Vernand Morency in the final round.

So with this list I have excluded every single baseball player who is not currently active, and I veered outside of discussing prospects either because it would only make the list more difficult to compile. I chose players who have had their share of MLB experience, even if they aren't all currently at the top of their game. Elite players did not receive any kind of boost on the list, as this is simply about their penmanship. With all of the qualifications out of the way, let's get started.

10 Best Signatures in MLB Today

Honorable Mentions - David Wright, Shelby Miller, Tom Wilhelmsen, Carlos Beltran, Tucker Barnhart

10 - Miguel Cabrera

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Miggy's autograph is fitting to the way he hits the ball. The constant vertical strokes makes the signature violent, and as we all saw this past weekend; he sure can crush the ball. Cabrera is again one of the most popular players in the game, and he still makes his signature something fun to look at. I love how he writes his C in Cabrera in particular, but the whole thing flows in a somewhat chaotic way.

9 - Torii Hunter

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Torii Hunter is the first of Harmon Killebrew's proteges to make this list. If you've never read about Killebrew's influence on young Twins players to sign their autograph with pride, I highly suggest you do. Hunter has resulted with a fun autograph that fits his personality very well. I really like the pizzazz in the signature, and that you can almost picture a smiley face at the end of Torii (respect to Tug McGraw). Maybe he could pass down the lesson he learned to Twins top prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton.

8 - David Robertson

While researching for this post, I came across a great article written around this time last year from the New York Times in which Robertson credits his grandmother for his signature being his full name in comparison to "DRob". Robby has had an underrated career thus far, and I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago while he was arguably the best set up man in baseball. I will take any autograph that features every single letter, and the way he signs his "D" in David is pretty unique to me.

7 - Jackie Bradley Jr.

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Jackie Bradley Jr. gets a lot of credit for the way he signs his cards, however, he gets a bit of a kick in these rankings because he signs most baseballs simply "JBJ". The difference between he and the following 6 players is the difference in signatures when signing different items, and frankly, the baseball signatures would be nowhere close to this list. Justin Upton was another player who signs cards and flats beautifully but has relatively bland signed baseballs, and he was kept completely off this list in result. Bradley is currently in Triple-A for the Red Sox due to their overcrowded outfield, and I hope he gets traded so we can see if he'll ever reach his full potential.

6 - Victor Martinez

It almost feels like people overlook Victor Martinez in autograph discussions, and I'm really not sure why that is. V-Mart sports a fancy, full signature that ranks among the very best in baseball today. He enjoyed a career year in 2014 and looks to repeat this year, although he isn't getting any younger. I traded a Hakeem Nicks autograph to my friend for the card above a few years ago and it turned out to be so worth it.

5 - Jose Bautista

Jose Bautista seems like an awesome guy. One of my biggest blog regrets was starting a one and done blog feature a few years ago called "Juice, Fluke, or Truth", in which I questioned the legitimacy of his 54 home run 2010 campaign. It is now 2015, and "Joey Bats" has not failed a drug test or been proven guilty of any banned substances. While the power in Toronto has been suspicious in recent years, I'm now implementing the innocent until proven guilty mentality with him and several others. He is now one of my favorite all around players in baseball, and he follows both my regular Twitter and blog Twitter, which I find completely awesome! As for his ink, Jose provides fans with every single letter, slanted and angled with a grace that does not line up with the way he hits the ball. He is one of the most dangerous sluggers in baseball, and he has a beautiful autograph. Well done, Jose; well done.

4 - Pat Neshek

This guy may have been the first to come to mind when you all saw the post title, and rightfully so. Pat has been one of the best guys and signers in baseball history, ranking among the likes of Bob Feller and Bobby Doerr as far as TTM'ing is concerned. Neshek's autograph is the most unique in the game today, as he places baseball seams inside the "P" in Pat. Otherwise, the rest of the autograph flows well, and he tops every autograph off with his number 17. If you wish to try out through the mail autograph requests, I highly recommend sending to him with your first request. And before I move forward, I'd like to point out that this guy has become one of the best middle relievers in baseball recently, which is something few actually mention. Way to go Pat; the entire hobby is rooting for your success!

3 - Felix Hernandez

Taking the bronze medal is the King. Felix Hernandez is primed for a huge 2015, although he struggled on Sunday and had to leave the game early with quadriceps tightness. He wears his heart on his sleeve for the Mariners, and the fans are in love with him. And on top of it all, his autograph embodies the royalty in his nickname. The circular outline of his name makes this the most elegant autograph on this list, and the best autograph to get of any superstar player in the game.

2 - Julio Teheran

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Even when I hardly knew any prospects in baseball, I knew who Julio Teheran was. Why, you may ask? Come on, just look at that signature on the Triple Threads card pictured above. I began to always subconsciously think of him as "the prospect with amazing penmanship", and when he came up with the Braves I naturally started rooting for him. Teheran went into 2015 with two tremendous full seasons under his belt, and he's a great candidate to continue that trend in the future. When a player is worth rooting for just because of the way he signs his name, you know he deserves to be ranked highly on this list.

1 - Michael Cuddyer

Until Cuddyer walks away from the game, he's got the top spot on this list just about locked up. He may not be the player that Harmon Killebrew was, but he has carried on a tradition of excellent penmanship from the face behind the MLB logo. Perhaps players like Miguel Cabrera, Felix Hernandez, and Victor Martinez have flair in their signatures that may look more enjoyable to collect, but Cuddyer's is far classier.

There you have it; my top 10 favorite autographs in baseball today. I could think of about 30 total autographs capable of holding a spot on this list, but chose a select 10 that I either am proud to own or desperately wish to one day possess. I actually have autographs of 8 of the 10 players on this list, two of which I haven't gotten to share with you all yet.

The point of this post is to show you all that the "there aren't any good autographs anymore" argument is not true. While the players of yesteryear were more likely to provide their fans with gorgeous signatures, there are still guys today who try to appeal to those of us in the hobby who enjoy collecting ink. There are probably five or six bad autographs in baseball today for every average/better one, but with thousands of professional players out there, there are plenty of guys to collect.

Whose signature(s) in the game today do you enjoy most? Are there any names you think should have been included, and why? 

See Ya!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Bright Way to Open the 2015 Season!

Hey guys, Drew back here! On Opening Day, I just so happened to get an autograph in my mailbox, courtesy of one of the top position player prospects the Yankees currently have in their farm system!

Eric Jagielo: 1/1 in 273 Days (Received April 6th)

Once again, I got back a request I did not send in Spring Training, leaving me still at a 4 for 28 rate. My autograph batting average of .143 is worse than Adam Dunn's 2011 season, and it's safe to say I had higher expectations than this. But as for the autograph at hand, I was lucky enough to get a TTM I had previously written off back! Yankees top-10 prospect and third baseman Eric Jagielo returned his Bowman rookie card signed nicely in black for me in 273 days! Scott Rolen was brought in to work with Jagielo this Spring, and it is clear that the Yankees hope for a bright future from him. They seemed to have made 3 great picks finishing the first round of the 2013 draft, taking Jagielo, Ian Clarkin, and Aaron Judge. I'm especially looking forward to Judge, and still need to get myself an autograph before he makes it huge!

Thank you so much for the autograph Eric! I hope to see more of your name in the future, and hopefully in Yankee Stadium!

See Ya!