Thursday, October 8, 2015

Showing off my Junk

Dude, no.

I'm talking about a box of cards I received from my pal, The Junior Junkie.
You see, I won a contest of at the Griffey Card World Headquarters. I simply guessed a number and somehow came away the winner. The number I guessed? 24 for Seattle Griffey, then 30 for Cincy Griffey. 2430. How do you like that? Rigged!

The prize was 100 different Griffeys, all of which I'll give to my son and put in his binder as I force him to like baseball cards. I promise, all of these will go to him.

While there were 100, true to his word, here are a couple that I liked the most, including the iconic bubble gum card:
And of course, he won above and beyond and sent me some great Yanks, including this 1991-1992 Rising Stars book and card set that includes Tino (he's in there, I promise):
Here are a few of the Yanks, many from the '90s and early '00s. It brought back a lot of memories to go through them. We're talking Pacific Private Stock, Gallery, Zenith, Topps Stars, etc.
Topps Stars was one of the coolest sets back in 1997. It had a cloth-like feel, and the cards felt premium. They were hard to find. You definitely weren't finding them at CVS. It was a huge deal for my to get the Tino from that set, and it took years for me to track down his card in the 1997 Topps Stars All-Star insert set. It was a tough, tough find.

Unfortunately, Topps got cute in 1998 and did the whole "all cards are serially numbered" thing. Not necessary. However, this is one of those sets that I wouldn't mind them raising from the dead for a year or two.
TJ, thanks my man. The Griffeys for my little guy will surely be treasured. Hope you had a good birthday!

Monday, October 5, 2015

The New Core

A reputation is a hard thing to shake. Even after someone changes, their past seems to follow them around forever. It's no different in sports.

Just look at the NFL. The Bengals, my favorite NFL team, were a joke in the mid 2000s, with a new player getting arrested seemingly every week. Now, they rarely have any players with off-the-field issues. However, just watch the NFL Draft, and everytime someone with character concerns is in line to be drafted, they are connected to the Bengals because of their past draft choices.

For a long time, the Yankees traded away many of their top assets in order to help the Big League club. It left them with very few high-level prospects. Their farm system became a joke, and the butt of many jokes around baseball.

But that was a long time ago. They have not traded a top prospect since 2011, when Jesus Montero was sent to Seattle. However, he was sent for a young ace, Michael Pineda. He wasn't shipped off for some utility infielder at the trade deadline.

In fact, Brian Cashman has been very stingy about trading his upper-level prospects in recent years. Any deal involving a prospect now usually comes from a surplus. Yet, once the Yankees had some good prospects in AA and AAA this year, no one seemed to take it seriously because of the lack of help the Yankees had gotten from their farm in recent years.

Cashman held firm at the trade deadline, and the results are really starting to show.

The Yankees are playing in October this year in large part because of a young group of Yankees prospects who were thrust into a pennant race, and performed exceptionally well. In fact, they probably performed better than any deadline acquisition outside of Cespedes, Price, or Tulo.

Cashman said he would not trade Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Greg Bird, or Jorge Mateo. He actually was ready to include Mateo in a deal for Craig Kimbrel. Mateo was in A ball while the other three were in AAA. He could afford to lose a prospect that was a few years away from the Majors, but the Padres balked.

Right after the trade deadline (in which NY only acquired Dustin Ackley...again dealing from a surplus), Severino and Bird got their time to shine. Severino stepped right into the rotation and pitched 62 strong innings for the Yanks, finishing with a 2.89 ERA and 56 Ks. I'm not sure a a veteran pitcher would have done that for NY, yet here is a 21-year-old kid carrying the rotation down the stretch.

While Greg Bird was called up with Mark Teixeira still healthy, it didn't take long for him to be the everyday 1B after Teixeira got injured. The results? 11 HRs and 30 RBIs in 45 games. I'm not even sure Teixeira would have hit 11 more dingers for the rest of the season.

If the Yanks beat the Astros tomorrow night, there's a very real chance that Severino will get the ball in Game 1 or 2, while Greg Bird will undoubtedly be starting at first and hitting in the middle of the order.

But it doesn't stop there. John Ryan Murphy became one of the best backup catchers in baseball and is just 24. I'd have to imagine the Yanks might get some enticing offers from him in the off-season if they dangle him.

A slew of OFers and relievers also contributed all season long. As a prospect fan, it was gratifying to watch.

And to think, the Yankees most exciting prospect, Aaron Judge, is still waiting in the wings at AAA and should see ML time next season. Their top choice from this June's draft is a SP who should climb the ladder quickly next year as well.

It's an exciting time to be a Yankees fan. While a lot of the team gets older and their contracts come off the books, I'm really anticipating watching a new group of homegrown stars over the next few seasons.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Cool with the Wild Card

As a Yankees fan, I'm probably supposed to be disappointed by a Wild Card berth.

It's trendy to be mad or consider a season a failure if another World Series title isn't added to the mantle. However, I'm not upset at all. I'm very happy to have October baseball, and to get what is essentially a Game 7 on Tuesday night. Win or go home. Do or die.

I am disappointed that a large division lead was lost. That did stink. But at the same time, many, myself included, did not think this team was capable of making the Playoffs way back in April. There were so many question marks heading into the season. And for the most part, things went right.

We all waited for Masahiro Tanaka's elbow to blow out. It didn't. He threw 154 solid innings.

Big Mike had a great start and put the staff on his back through June. Although he did experience an injury and didn't pitch well at the end of the season, he still threw 157 above-average innings.

Right there, that's over 300 innings from guys the Yanks didn't know if they'd get 100 from.

Who would close with David Robertson gone? Andrew Miller, that's f'ing who.

Didd Gregorius showed that he's a Major League shortstop after an abysmal start.

Where would the power come from? Well, Mark Teixeira and A-Rod both hit over 30 HRs. Teixeira's season came to an unfortunate end after fouling a ball off of his leg. However, he was replaced in the lineup by Greg Bird, who has 11 HRs in 43 games since Teixeira went down.

That brings me to another point. The Kids.

The amount of meaningful innings played by Yankees farmhands was impressive. Bird is a legitimate force in the middle of the lineup. Luis Severino has held down the rotation. Slade Heathcott blasted a huge in an important September game. John Ryan Murphy is the best backup catcher in baseball at the age of 24. From Chasen Shreve to Mason Williams to Robert Refsnyder to Brandon Pinder to Nick Rumbelow, the Yanks got more production from their farm than I can remember.

Not everything went right. CC Sabathia was horrid. Stephen Drew, while hitting for some power, batted under .200 for most of the season...again. Ivan Nova wasn't good in his return from Tommy John surgery. Jacoby Ellsbury was an MVP candidate before he got hurt. Nathan Eovaldi developed into a legit starting pitcher, only to be shelved for (likely) the rest of the season with an injury.

It's been a fun season, and I really hope the Yanks can win on Tuesday night and have a shot in the ALDS. All you have to do is get to the Playoffs, and anything can happen. I'd rather have that shot than no shot at all.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Old Habits are the best

I think Robert of $30 A Week Habit and I have been around the blog world for about the same amount of time.

His his first post was in July of 2011, while mine was February of that same year. So we're about the same age around here.

Robert is one of those generous guys that sends 'just because' packages. I actually need to send him some Jays soon because I think he's pulled ahead of me in the 'just because' package unofficial race. Also, those pesky Jays.

Anyhow, Robert sent me these while the Yanks were cemented in first place and the Jays had a good offense but no pitching. So, in other words, he sent these several months ago. Times change, eh?

Regardless, here are a few of the goods, including a Nova relic, and a couple of 2015 GQs, a set which I've gotten very little of.  In fact, these might be the first I've gotten. Therefore, it is most appreciated.

This Walk-Off Winners set is pretty cool. I didn't know about it. These two in particular are really great memories of Yankees walk-off HRs in my lifetime. The Jeter is from the 2001 World Series when he became "Mr. November". Funny, I really do remember Clay Bellinger (#12) going crazy with that right fist in the air.
I remember this Giambi moment well too. In the rain, int he 14th inning, with the bases loaded and the Yanks down 3. That was a sweet moment in his first season in NY.

There are a few more I wish were in the set, including Aaron Boone's 2003 ALCS walk-off. I realize it can't be a Yankees-only set (or can it????), and there are probably a few notable omissions overall. I like that Raul Ibanez is in the set from the 2012 ALDS. I was at that game, so that make it extra cool.
Thanks, Robert, and good luck in the post-season. See you in the ALCS? (probably not)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Tino-only PWE

Man, you guys are awesome with your PWEs.

While bubble mailers rock, PWEs feel like so much thought goes into the content. There is limited space without adding the dreaded extra stamp, so one must choose carefully what makes the final cut.

John from Johnny's Trading Spot sent a sweet PWE of nothing but Tinos. Seriously, that was it. Check it out:

I did need that Hometown Hero State version card above. I'd also like to call attention to the Topps Micro cards. I can't get enough of those. I have an irrational love for them.

John, thank you for these cards my friend!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Something shiny from Ryan's Pitch

I mentioned it previously, but I have a folder of scanned cards that I'm months overdue in terms of sharing. While its nice to have some show-and-tell fodder for the blog, I do feel bad that I haven't been more proactive in posting it.

One of my good buddies in this hobby is Ryan L. of Ryan's Pitch. Him and I may not trade (aka send packages back and forth) terribly often, but the ones we do are always meaningful. Ryan always sends a thoughful note as well. He is truly one of the good guys out there.

While he sent a few cards, my favorite is easily this Tino Martinez card:
It's a dark scan, but the card is super vibrant from 1998 Pinnacle Plus.  It really is a pretty card. This was one of the years that Pinnacle put out 250 different sets. It also makes me realize that card technology has really stalled out in the past 15-20 years. If I told you I pulled this card from Topps yesterday, it wouldn't seem far-fetched. I suppose that's the problem with a monoply. There is a lakc of innovation. Topps just recycles old ideas.

Speaking of recycling, here are two new Rizzutos, both sporting the same photo:
Ryan, thank you much my friend. I hope all is well!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Drinking YooHoo at Night

I won't lie. A few days ago, I was grabbing a bagel, and I usually get a juice or a coffee to wash it down. But something else caught my eye in the beverage cooler:
No, not the card. I wish. I'm talking about YooHoo! I chugged it so damn fast I didn't even savor it. It's still that good. If it weren't so bad for me, I'd drink three a day. But I think I'll stick to the one per year. That's allowed.

That sweet YooHoo Rizzuto (which I needed for my PC) came from a Night Owl PWE over the summer sometime. I don't know when, but I have a big folder of scanned cards from trades or packages that were months ago. Not acceptable, but I'll get around to them all at some point.

Greg also shot me a few more Yanks, and a really cool Tino from Topps Magazine!