Friday, May 24, 2013

Starting 10: May 24, 2013 (Mega Arencibia Puma Box Addition)

After no posts for about a week (possibly more), I'm putting two out in one day. I didn't plan for this, but the Munenori Kawasaki subject was too fresh in my mind this morning, and this post is time-sensitive. 

Plus, tonight is kind of a big deal in terms of the Blue Jays and my own personal collection of baseball cards.

Following this tweet from Blue Jays reported Mike Wilner, we have our lineup for tonight:


Let it sink in. Pretty typical Jays 2013 lineup, eh? Wait a second...Sean Nolin? 2010 Draft Pick Sean Nolin?


Well hot damn. One night after highly-acclaimed Orioles prospect Kevin Gausman makes his major-league debut in the SkyDome, one of the Blue Jay's prospects will be doing the same. 

And, since this is a Starting 10 post, we'll start with the Man of the Night, Sean Nolin himself:


Due to a typo or general carelessness of the ebay seller, I was able to add this Sean Nolan rookie auto from 2012 Bowman Sterling on thecheap. Which is awesome, as it was rumoured that his autographs were short-printed, for the all too often reason from Topps: absolutely none. 

I am super excited to see him throw tonight - although with Josh Johnson coming back soon, I expect him to go back down to AA New Hampshire (AAA Buffalo is rather crowded right now) soon enough.

Now, on to the guys with bats in their hands, and if they'll actually use them:

1. LF | Melky Cabrera


The Pug's expression sums up how I feel about Melky so far this season. Also, the card isn't that great so the ultra-zoomed-out photo shouldn't bother you so much.

2. RF | Jose Bautista

Jose is back to his old ways of destroying baseballs. I enjoy those old ways. Two nights ago he provided the entire offense of the Jays, batting in all four runs. Last night I think he homered, too, but I forget. Edwin's was the one that mattered.

Many baseball analysts are on to the idea that you should bat your best guy in the #2 hole, now, and with Jose Reyes rehabbing (shifting Melky to leadoff) Gibby is putting the idea to a lineup card, and so far, I dig it. Don't underestimate the importance of a lineup that can "click", if you will. 

Also, awesome Joey Bats card right there.


3. 1B | Edwin Encarnacion

Damn, Edwin has been fun to watch this season. While he always had some good hype to him, no one really expected him to be this good after the Scott Rolen trade. 

Story: Last night I felt like I smelled terrible after visiting a local Chinese food restaurant (which was damn good, by the way) so I decided to shower. I wanted to watch the Blue Jays, though, so I decided to use what I saw on The League a few years back - and I slid my phone into a ZipLock bag and took it into the shower. But the time I loaded it up, two were on base, Jose Bautista was walked by Pedro Strop (who I also like) and Edwin came up.

And then he hit a grand slam. Yeah, you can say it was a pretty damn good idea.

By the way, he was watching porn on The League, not baseball (related: my hit count just went up. Porn!)

4. DH | Adam Lind

Here's a blue refractor from 2012 Bowman Chrome of Adam Lind. I always liked Lind, but I hated to watch him versus lefties the last few years. In 2013 he seems to be slightly better, and hitting better overall.

Part of me is hoping for a late-season acquisition of a high-OBP first baseman/DH. We've been wishing for 2004 Adam Lind for far too long. Putting him in the four-hole is risky, especially with zero production coming from Munenori Kawasaki, Colby Rasmus, Brett Lawrie and spotty JPA power.





5. C | JP Arencibia

I will have to come back to JPA. Five is too early to give away my newest #9er.

6. 3B | Brett Lawrie

Brett, I am seriously starting to doubt your commitment to SparkleMotion.

Topps joke aside, I like this card. As my Brett collection grows, his offensive numbers shrink. 

Its sad, but it happens. On a related note, I made myself pick from about 10 cards to select this one - which I have doubles of, surprisingly enough.

I am willing to trade one, if one was so interested. 

Even with his slumps, he's still out there playing awesome defense, high-fiving a Morrow-jilted Mark DeRosa and was the first to swarm the field on Joey's walk-off two nights ago.

7. CF | Colby Rasmus


For what its worth, the Pug and I feel the same about Colby Rasmus as we did about Melky. Only Colby plays a totally baller center field. 

8. 2B | Emilio Bonifacio


So, while I struggle with my Bonifacio collection and my lack of a scanner, I decided to photograph this Emilio Bonifacio 2011 Platinum Bat-Auto nuzzled into an ammonite fossil from Texas.

That is all.

9. SS | Munenori Kawasaki

Dammit, I still don't have any Munenori Kawasaki cards. Make it happen, Topps. But we cannot go without at least one photo:

Excellent.

Oh right, back to JP Arencibia.


Ohhhh yeah. The second JP Arencibia card of 2013 is.....this mondo relic from Topps Museum Collection.

I love this card, but to hell with this set, man. One and done for me.

The desperate need for Munenori Kawasaki baseball cards.

The baseball card-collecting world is being starved.

While being served a low-protein gruel of boring batting stance and watching-long-fly-balls photographs on cards, the Kobe steak of baseball player poses is being wasted. 

On a recent research mission to rip apart 2013 Topps Series 2, I loaded Getty Images - Topps' honey-hole of baseball snapshots - I was looking for players snubbed from recent sets in a plea to get them into Series Two. While I am sure it is far too late - I decided to to Topps' work for them in selecting a pile of photos of Toronto Blue Jays fan-favourite: Munenori Kawasaki.

If you go looking for Muni's cards, you're going to get blanked on finding him in a major-league uniform. All that seem to exist are World Baseball Classic cards from 2009 Bowman Draft. 

And while Kawasaki is producing a less-than-inspiring .274 slugging percentage in 2013, we Toronto fans love him, and would greatly appreciate his first non-Team Japan card.

And boy, are there options.

Finalist #1: The Asics Samurai


 Prior to watching Munenori this season, I had no idea Asics made baseball equipment. 'Nori, of course, is decked out in the gear. Without doing any particular research on the subject, I'll believe that his has some wort of equipment endorsement with them. For the most part, MLB players select bats with good pop and low breakage - but Munenori is not like all MLB players, so with what I would liberally value him at about 20 power, I'm sure the amount of pop in his bat matters not. This Tom Szczerbowski photo serves as a solid baseball card shot, but believe me, they only get better from here.

Finalist #2: Batting Circle Stretchin'


Every good samurai/baseball player needs a good stretch of the loins before weakly grounding out to second base. Munenori has become a camera magnet in Toronto just for his stretching along, comprising about 31% of SportsNet broadcast time. Any youthful baseball players should pay attention. Kudos on the shot to Tom Szczerbowski again on this excellent shot.

Finalist #3: That time Munenori Kawasaki stopped a ball in mid-air with what could only be described as his sixth - or maybe even  his seventh sense.


Ahh, yes. The first mid-air ball stop was attributed to Jim Leyland, yet this one, a photo by Jared Wickerham, is likely aided more by proper diet and stretching than coffee and Marlboros. This photo reminds me of how refreshing it is to see little skinny guys like myself in the game of professional baseball, rather than, you know, the hulking maniacs I grew up watching in the 90s and early 00s (read: "auts".)

Finalist #4: Sniper in the Trees!


Much praise goes to Ivan Nova's erratic pitch which struck Munenori on this pitch. He was fine, but now Nova is on the DL. The baseball gods work in mysterious ways, and were captured at this moment by photographer Jim McIsaac. While the lack of a face on this card would perturb many collectors, the pure action of a known moment in history card would not. I would greatly appreciate an entire rainbow of these cards, but as promised, there was a clear-cut winner in this set. 

The Winner: The Melky Bow


So much of Toronto's love of Muneori Kawasaki is from his trademark respectful bow to umpires (before every at-bat and after reaching base) and other players after scoring runs, premium pitching performances (I suppose, anyway, the Blue Jays haven't had any in 2013) and remarkable plays in the field, as was the case with this photo by Tom Szczerbowski photograph of a Melky Cabrera catch on May 20th of this year. 

So come on, Topps. Make it hapen. Series two, update series, anything. We need Munenori Kawasaki baseball cards.


Collecting needs Kawasaki cards.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

"Look at me, Rex Banner - I have a new hat!"

So, a lot of cool kids would start this post out with embedding a video of Maclemore's "Thrift Shop."

However, I am not a cool kid, at all. I'm a 26-year-old washed up athlete/environmentalist trapped in the body of a hobbling, bitter suburbanite. I'm out of touch, but I find my world much more interesting than those of the black-high-sox and neon green Miami Heat fiddy-9 fiddies you'll find on the sleakest of young gentleman (read: douchebags).

Mini-rant aside, I recently was conned into a mall/AC Moore/Rescue Mission trip in order to end up at the local Farmer's Market-Tree Nursery-Greenhouse.

The mall was uneventful - the girl had to get some electronic scent blowing candle things while I wandered - already under the influence of an irritating headache, the chemically enhanced atmosphere of Bath and Body Works was the last place I wanted to be. Thus, her purchases were made, and we traveled more or less across the street to an AC Moore, where she bought...something...and I walked away with some discounted felt pens for my field notebook at the Ol' Quarry.

Then, on the way to the Rescue Mission. We dropped off a couple bags of clothes - as we always try to donate before buying clothes from the same place at mercifully low prices.

Now, this particular RM has been a honey hole for me and my thrifting pleasures. Among my excellent finds include: Majestic New York Mets pullover hoodie, Ken Griffey Jr #3 Reds shersey, Texas baseball t-shirt and long sleeve t-shirt, multiple Toronto Blue Jays hats (their AAA franchise used to be here, nwo it is The Nationals) and last but not least - a Mitchell & Ness Chicago Cubs 1909 hoodie - which at the time, cost a cool $85 from MLB.com.

Anyways, I quickly made my way to the men's shirts, and almost immediately, was awarded with this:

 A bright orange, in my size, Boise State Broncos tee. An excellent start to my adventure. With this having an orange tag, the total, at 50% off, came to $2.

Feeling fat and sassy after that find, I ventured to the next rack to find this:

Iowa baseball! In yellow! My job often requires me to be on roadsides doing surveys or working at construction sites, so all of the birghtly colored tees I can find fit well into my connection. I've been coming up empty on yellow lately, and this was a hugely welcome addition, for the deep-pockets for a marked price of $5 - which later scanned as $3. Good deal, as this one was practically brand new.

I always make my way to hats here, as well. There's a Little League which uses MLB and MiLB logos for heir teams - and although I found a very cool Louisville Bats/Local Car Dealership one, it was incredibly dirty, so I had to leave it. I did, however, find this:


I had no idea what this one was until I turned it over to see CAL STATE FULLERTON scrolled across the velcro strap. Cal State has a pretty sweet angry Stampy logo, which somehow represents a mascot of the Titans. Cal State is the alma-mater of some decent big leaguers, including mainstay of this blog - Ricky Romero, who is hardly even a AAA pitcher at this point ($2).

Sigh.

Along a more successful favorite team of this blog, I bring you to one of my more awesome finds so far. Feast your peepers on:

Hooooo man, that is sweet. I want to camp in this hat, blaring some CCR from my Trans Am stereo and blast a few silver bullets. I look like a total jerkass wearing it around, but I just don't care.

Awesome is awesome, and you cannot beat $2 awesome.

Monday, May 13, 2013

#bowmaning

Sometimes, you've just got to beat the odds.

Lately, I've been having good luck in doing so.

Two blasters of Gypsy Queen netted me two jersey swatches and two rare Travis Snider mini parallels.

When 2013 Bowman came out this past week, I fully expected my luck to change.

Of course, I have always had quite excellent luck with Bowman.

Just not this good.

Two blasters of the stuff pulled me in a few nights ago as a freshly stocked Sprawl*Mart shelf beckoned to me after the more-often-than-not barren Target shelves left me longing for some guys  have never heard of.

It was an easy spend. And as the first thing I've opened since GQ, it felt good.

Of course, Bowman 2013 is no Bowman 2012, 2010 or even 1997. But it's a nice set, and something not everyone devotes much time to. And I like it. It's collecting, not conforming, so I think I will stick to Bowman, while everyone bitches and moans and mopes and waits up Series 2 comes out and then they can bitch about that again, too.

So let's get into it. Bowman, of course, has base cards. This year, the design just isn't that great. The card stock is nice, the cards have a good weight, and the sheen is nice.

There's also that new-card smell.

Very few stick out as favorites, photograph-wise, but these will do for show-and-tell:


That;s a greast shot. Mostly because you no doubt know what just happened. I'm a bit puzzled as to what "blue" team catcher that is in the background. My hunch says AJ Ellis.


That's a great looking base card. Notice both of these blokes are cut off around the knees. This is a theme in 2013 Bowman, and I hope it doesn't continue. On the other hand, I wish Starling Marte all the world of continuance in his performance. I'm becoming a big fan of his, and am also starting up a nice collection. Might have to rainbow this card with at least the colored paper parallels.


I like prospect, unlike pretty much everyone else of late (GET OFF MY LAWN!!!), and Bowman is chock o'block of them.

That last little bit was brought to you by my Volcanology professor, a rather uppity Scots(wo)man.

Schoop is one of the few bright spots in the 2013 Bowman Prospects class. It's just not that good of a year.


As with every Bowman release, there is"The One." The One prospect that fully numb-brained prospectors lose their shit over, and this year, Carlos Correa is The One. An argument can be made that Byron Buxton is also The One for 2013, but I didn't pull his card. So, there's that.

PS Correa is better.

Anywhoooo, there are also gold cards.


I wouldn't mind if the gold cards went away from Bowman. They work better for The Mothership, so just leave it. The good news is this one is going away, with the help of a well-time trade with a Kemp Kollector, well-known in the parts.


While I prefer the simplicity of the Top 100 sets of years past, the chromification of the insert this year isn't so bad. I wonder, though, what they'll do for the Chrome release.

Double Chrome?

These fall at 1:12, so pulling out two of them from 16 packs was quite welcome. I would welcome more of these.


Going against my pre-set theme of posting from common to scarce are the International, or if you're 'Merican!, hometown parallels. Luckily I got a Blue Jay. Unluckily, it's Tyler Gonzales, who excites me about as much as steamed celery. That's a Texas flag behind him, if you were wondering. Yet, if you cannot recognize a Texas flag, you're probably from, of, I don't know, Croatia or something.

The one behind the substantially-awesome-name Socrates Brito (say that outloud to yourself) is a Dominican flag. If you rip enough of 13 Bowman to pull some Internationals, chances are you'll see quite a few of those.

The Cody Ross and Jurd Weaver flaggers similarly show off the draped flags of New Mexico and California, respectively. I really like the Ross, which is something I never thought I'd say. I'm curious as to whether Nick Swisher is in the set or not, as his flag would be that of Ohio - the only US state not featuring a rectangular field to their flag.


I like minis, and I like refractors. However, these fail as the former. They're not very mini at all. More like the minis that Topps has been stuffing down our throats in '12 and '13. I did, however, pull some prominent Prospects, both of which are hanging in the Bigs right now.

That is if Rondon hasn't walked in seven runs at once yet.

But he throws 100 MPH!!!

Meh.


Hey! MOAR refractorz!! Sort of. I guess these are paper refractors, but don't call them that. They're silver ice parallels and normally, they drop 1:24, yet I picked up two in 16. I'm down with it. Aside from one being a Met, the other is Jairo Beras, a lesser-known but still very legit prospect in the, you-guessed-it, Texas Rangers org.

But like I said, I really spanked the odds with these boxes. How much so? How about two cards falling at 1:34 packs:

 ...I'm always a fan of Bowman autographs, but it seems like every auto is on a sticker now. Think the companies are listening to our cries for on-card autos? Think again. In case you cannot read the foil on the autos, they are Danny Salazar of the Cleveland Indians organization and Jamie Callahan of the Sawx. He'll fit in at Fenway if he ever makes it

Last but certainly not least, the highlight of my two boxes, falling at a wholesome 1:67:


Mmmm. Orange. Elvis is following me around of late after I criticized his new mega deal with the Rangers. But that's fine, I like him as a player. And I like orange. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Progressions.


Firstly, I need to apologize for my sparse posting of late. The HP scanner was sentences to death a few weeks ago, and a replacement has yet to be acquired.

If I'm honest, I just don't care for use either my Droid Bionic or Fujifilm mini SLR for taking photographs of baseball cards, yet in order to keep any sort of regular posts happening here, I have to. All of the following, as well as the Liriano splash above, are from the Droid, which I will admit takes great landscapes in well-lit situations as well as getting some extra refractory glow from cards.

But it's not the same. So, I apologize for that, but also, it doesn't much matter, and there is not much I can do about it anyway.

On to some new arrivals.

The above Rymer Liriano is yet another 2012 Bowman Sterling autograph. These can be had for cheap, especially when the prospect in question is going to miss the entire season with Tommy John surgery - which is surprising for an outfield prospect, but also less career-threatening than it would be for a pitcher.

I picked it up for $.99 is addition to a pile of six 2013 Topps Tribute base cards contributing to my reverse box-break of said product.


As you can see, I picker up Giancarlo Stanton ($.86), Andrew McCutchen ($.86), Jose Bautista ($.86), Yu Darvish ($1.85), Reggie Jackson (&.85) and Harmon Killebrew ($.85). Those prices include the outrageous shippinh that the ebay seller charged - but I can't blame him, really, and all but the Liriano auto and the Darvish had starting bids of $.01. I received no competition to land them.

So where does it put me in the 2013 Tribute Box Challenge?

Goal 275
Total 21.64
Remaining Budget 253.36

That in American Dollars. No rupies or dongs or rubels about it. Eight of thirty-five cards down, and only $21 in. I may try to do this in less than fifty dollars, but then I may be getting kind of greedy.

Something else I've been slowly chipping away at is my 2012 Pro Debut and Heritage Minors logo patch collection.

After a few months waiting on Topps to fill some redemptions, I now have these:


Out of desperation, I drafted Jean Segura in the later rounds of my own, personal fantasy league, and damn, he's good. I also roll him out there with Starling Marte, and the two have been carrying me of late. Oswaldo Arcia hasn't been to bad, either.

It's hard to even call Segura a prospect at this point. He's shown very few weaknesses.

Mason Williams, on the other hand, is another case. He recently got a DUI after failing a field sobriety test - yet legally, he was below the .08 blood/alcohol content for Florida. Light weight.

Seriously, though. Not something that should be joked about. Stop drinking and driving you entitled assholes.
_

The next is probably my favourite of my recent additions.


This Javier Baez, a very highly-touted Chicago Cubs prospect, is totally baller. I was very close to winning a combo deal with this and the Wilmer Flores (Port St. Lucie Mets), but was somehow outbid on the Flores.

Initially, I wasn't really psyched for this one. But I got a pretty good deal, and after I removed the cookie crumbs or whatever the shit the seller dribbled all over it, the green and red and orange looks pretty badass.

The Boise Hawks definitely picked a strange color combination, but it does look pretty awesome.

In case you're wondering, I now have:

Javier Baez - Boise Hawks (Chicago Cubs)
Heath Hembree - Richmond Flying Squirrels (San Francisco Giants)
Mike Olt - Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Texas Rangers)
Anthony Gose - New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Toronto Blue Jays)
Taijuan Walker - Clinton Lumberjacks (Seattle Mariners)
Jonathan Griffin - Missoula Osprey (Los Angeles Angels)
Will Middlebrooks - Pawtucket Red Sox (Boston Red Sox)

..and they're all pretty baller.

While all of the previous cards fit into my personal challenges, protests versus the industry, or insert set collections, I most recently won this shiny beacon of awesome for one of my player collections, Francisco Lindor:


Preeeeeetttttyyyyyyyyy.

This is my second Lindor relic, both of which contain this nice blue swatch which I am pretty sure means they're both from the World Futures Game jersey you see in the photo. On the other, he's pictured with the Lake County Captains, another blue team.

Lindor is featured as a prospect/set filler in 2013 Bowman with a once-again regurgitated Topps photo. le sigh.

Stay patient, readers. Looks like it will be until June for me to purchase another scanner. But it'll come, and it'll be awesome.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Towards the Goal: The Reverse Tribute Box


A few days, possibly even a week ago at this point, I decided to cook up another FU to the folks at Topps Cards.

Their Tribute set from this year looks nice, just like last year's, but I'll be damned if I could tell the difference between the '12 and '13 sets. Taking a look at the cards available on ebay, I decided to go after a few. After I received my first autograph of Salvador Perez for less than the price of half-of-one-pack and only numbered to /35, I decided that I would reconstruct a box of the stuff: thirty cards, three autographs and three relics and a pile of parallels.

My perez, a "sepia" parallel with not a single bit of sepia-tone to it, cost $10. The above Jose B. Reyes, a blue parallel of a dual-memorabilia piece...$5.50.

Now, both of those are more than I'd like to spend on cards, but at the same time, I would never, in my life, purchase a high-end box. My greatest box purchase at this point? 2010/11 Panini Rookie Anthology hockey at about $60 at the last card show I went to.

So, pick 30 2013 Topps Tribute cards, mostly one-by-one, for a fraction of the cost? Or take a steel-toed $275 kick in the testicles from Topps and purchase a box?

No thanks, Topps.

The thrill of opening your packs isn't worth it anymore.

Progress: 2/30
Total Spent: $15.49
Budget Remaining (DA Card World price $275 - Total): $259.51

Unrelated

On a side, I picked up the hella refractory Drew Hutchison from another reverse-box caliber product, 2012 Bowman Sterling. I personally loved the design of 2012 Sterling, while most complained quite a bit about it.

I've only picked up a few from it so far, including 5-8 Francisco Lindor autographs, a few Stryker Trahan autos (including one very awesome refractor) and the Lindor base refractor.

This one cost me the most, as you may have guessed.


That there is a mighty fine purple refractor on my favourite busted Blue Jay, Drew Hutchison. Normally I don't have many cards #ed lower than /50, so finally pulling in a Purple Refractor /10 of one of my favourites was quite enjoyable.

More coming soon. Maybe even a sad post about getting old and stepping away from the game you love.