Friday, August 18, 2017

Graphing a Four-Game Series Between The Wood Ducks and Mudcats

Four-game series are tough for graphing.  It has been tough just having the energy to get done what I need to get done, then get home and prepare for the next game.  I took on several 50/50s for this series between the Mudcats and Wood Ducks, then added on a few cards later on when I realized one of the roving instructors was a former major leaguer, and when I saw that the Wood Ducks finalls had the Carolina League Top Prospects sets in.
I went into the series with the hope that I could get everything that I had signed, but a few players were limiting autos, so it was difficult in getting everything done.  I did get some nice cards from Trent Clark, like the Team USA ones above.
Clark apparently has begun to limit what he signs, so I had to be strategic in what I wanted to get, and when I tried to get it.  He was friendly enough, and stopped to talk with Chris and I every game.
I knew going into the series that Monte Harrison would be a tough sign, and he was.  He would only sign one card per person, so by the third game, I was only putting one card in my book that I absolutely wanted.
Luckily, I pretty much covered all of the 50/50 commitments that I made.  I ended up with some nice ones, though, so I am happy.
I was especially glad to be able to get this 2013 Perfect Game card signed, since I pulled it out of a pack.
Corey Ray was really nice, as always.  I had some great cards of him, so I was happy when I completed everything of him by the third day.  I even took a card for a friend while I was there and got it signed as well.
Ray was the only current Mudcat in the prospects set.  They are nice cards, so I was happy to be able to go ahead and get his out of the way and into my album.
I had a lot of Medeiros cards, and a lot for the 50/50s.  I got all but two of the cards signed.
These draft board cards turned out really nice.  I ended up with a couple extra, so Chris was glad to get one.  He thought they were pretty cool, too.
I had gotten Medeiros back earlier in the season, but I couldn't remember what I had gotten, so I just went with what was in my stack.  I think I did pretty well.
Isan DIaz was on the DL with a wrist injury, but still traveled with the team.  He was one of the few players who (along with Ray) signed everything on our pages.
I had a lot of different stuff of Diaz, and I also was able to chat with him a bit while he was signing each game.
I found the black parallel Bowman of Marcos Diplan at the card shop right before the series started.  I thought I had more of his cards, but that was it, with the exception of the Mudcats team set I had picked up on July 4th.
Both Lucas Erceg and Cody Ponce were really nice.  They stopped and talked to us each game, whether we had anything for them to sign or not.
Trey Supak was really quiet, but friendly.  He signed everything we had on our pages, and the cards turned out really nice.  I was also glad that the Heritage Minors got signed, since I pulled it from a pack the Sunday before the series started.
 Speaking of my Mudcats team set, I knocked out a ton of the cards during this series.
Chris also got the same ones from his set signed.  We even were able to get most of the trainers and coaches, which can be tough.
The cards are super glossy, but they all turned out really well.
I think I got my money's worth out of the set.
Speaking of sets, I got my first Wood Ducks cards!  These are the only three in existence right now, since Brett Martin, Josh Morgan and Jonathan Hernandez are the only ones listed in the 2017 Carolina League Top Prospects set.  I think I was at the game where Hernandez is pitching.  I wish the Wood Ducks would have came out with sets this year, but for some dumb reason, they aren't.
I missed out on HoJo quite a bit during this series, but finally got him the last two games.  I have most of his cards signed now, so it is all really just taking care of 50/50s for him.
Finally, I learned that Dwaye Murphy is a roving instructor for the Rangers, and he was with the team this week.  Chris and I were able to get him on three cards, including a 1987 Topps.  I really like the colors on that one, and it adds to my Topps Project.

I have one more series that I am for sure taking in, Lynchburg next weekend.  I have no idea how I am going to be able to stand the offseason, but I likely will be spending it reloading and relaxing in anticipation of the 2018 minor league season.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

TTM Success - Billy Hatcher

This week has been really busy with the 4-game series against the Mudcats at Wood Ducks.  I have been getting home late every night, so I haven't had time to get caught up on the blog (story of my life).

I wanted to fire off a post really quickly on these cards that I got back from Billy Hatcher.  I mailed to him via the Reds on May 12 and got the cards back on July 24, for a 73-day TAT.
Hatcher (b. 1960) played in the majors from 1984 to 1995 for the Cubs, Astros, Pirates, Reds, Red Sox, Phillies and Rangers.  He had 1,146 hits, 54 home runs and a .264 batting average.  He won the World Series with the Reds in 1990.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August 8, 2017 Graphing of Blue Rocks at Wood Ducks

Chris and I took in a game (along with one of Chris's friends) between the Wood Ducks and Blue Rocks last week.  We were able to do a good bit of graphing that was the culmination of the dime box finds from the National.

The above Ti-Quan Forbes was a box topper from one of the boxes of 2013 Perfect Game.  The card turned out really nice.
These are Bowman Chrome minis that I found in a dime box at the show.  That seller had boxes of Bowman dating back as far as 2006, I believe.
They also had a ton of 2014 Bowman blue and black parallels.  I stocked up on the black parallels of a bunch of guys that I knew I would see this month.
I pulled two Josh Morgan cards out of my Perfect Game boxes.  I also found four Matt Lipka 1st Bowman Cards.  He was nice enough to sign all four at this game, and we also talked about how young he was in the picture.
I was able to get a few more Jamie Quirk cards signed.  Chris actually got to go out on the field and present the lineup cards to Quirk and the umpires.  He was invited out there by Jeremy Moore, which was a really cool moment,
I added some new Topps cards to my binder, thanks to Quirk.
I had some nice parallels of Scott Blewett as well.  They turned out really nice.  I also had a bunch of Chase Vallot, but he was on the DL and didn't make the trip to Kinston.
Finally, here are the Roman Collins cards that I got.  I got two refractors, one chrome and a paper base.

Now, I am off to try to get more Mudcats.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

TTM Success - Ryan Burr

I took a shot at a minor leaguer for TTM recently, and got a nice success from Ryan Burr.  He adds another 2010 Bowman Team USA to my collection.  I guess I need to go for the set, but I have to find a cheap Alex Bregman since someone scammed me out of the two that I had.
Burr was in the Diamondbacks organization until recently, when he was traded to the White Sox.  He was sent to the White Sox organization on August 11 for future considerations.  I was lucky enough to get my cards back from Visalia Rawhide.

His minor league record so far is 7-4 with a 1.97 ERA and 144 strike outs.

I mailed to Burr on June 28 and got the cards back on July 24, for a 26-day TAT.

Lots of Incoming Autographs For The Album

With the National, some Wood Ducks games, a concert and just being really busy, I have fallen behind on some 50/50s that I have gotten recently.

I'll start it off with these two Matt Manning 2016 Bowmans that I got back from my friend in Connecticut, Dylan.  He has offered to do 50/50s for me, but I have only been able to send him Manning cards.  Thankfully, he has been able to get those done.  I just need to sit down and try to find some of the other guys he has said he can see.
Max hooked me up with a nice stack of signed 1987 Topps cards while we were at the National.  He wanted to see me push my total of signed cards for that set up.
As of a TTM that came in yesterday, I have 70 signed cards from the 1987 set.  This is by far the most signed cards I have in any set.  I don't know if I will ever get all of them (likely not), but it is fun to push that total up.
Andrew hooked me up with some 50/50s that he did for me after I left his place.  I really wanted to get the blue 2015 Bowman Chrome back (bottom right).  He still has a couple cards left that he might be able to finish up before the season is out, but even if he doesn't, he did really well this season.
I was really happy to see that Andrew was able to get this one signed.  I had ordered it for my trip, but it came too late.  I'm glad to see that it is done and can take its place in my album.
My friend, Jackson, got a ball (to be shown later) and this 1990 Topps card signed by Bill Ripken.  My friend, Michael, got this card and a ball (to be shown later) signed by Ryan Ripken (Cal's son).  I had completely forgotten that I asked Michael to get the card and ball signed, as I had also sent a ball out for TTM.  It hasn't come back yet, but I still expect it to.
My good friend, Nate, hooked me up with a TTM return that he got back from drag racing legend, Kenny Bernstein.  I have met Bernstein in person a few times, but that was way back before I was getting any kinds of cards signed.  I do have a signed t-shirt somewhere.
My friend, Gerard, always hooks me up with awesome 50/50s.  I had sent him a bunch of Pawtucket Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs cards, and he got a bunch taken care of.
I ended up with some extra of the coaches, so I will probably do a giveaway or something.
I'm just glad to be able to get a lot of these cards out of my boxes and out to people to get signed.
Gerard always does a great job in getting my stuff signed.  I feel bad that I missed two of the Wilmington Blue Rocks games this past weekend, or I would have been able to finish everything he sent me for that series.  It is also looking like I won't be able to catch the Buies Creek series this next weekend as well.
A lot of stuff is going on lately, and the minor league season is winding down.  I have really enjoyed getting all of the autos and doing 50/50s this seaon, though.
Finally, here is a card that I missed a few months ago when I posted about some autos that Max gave me.  This is a 2013 Topps Orioles team card that Max had gotten signed by Dan Duquette, the Orioles general manager.  I thought it was really cool, but didn't realize it was signed at first glance, so it ended up in my to be blogged pile and was kind of forgotten.

Thanks for all of the cards, guys!  I really appreciate all of the hard work this season!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

No One Sings Like You Anymore...

I had to borrow a line from another artist's song to tie everything together for a nice title of this post, but it fits in with the whole narrative from last night.  I went to the Guns N Roses concert in Winston-Salem, NC last night with my son, wife and brother.  This was the culmination of a lifetime of waiting and hoping to be able to have this moment.
I had taken my little brother, Andy, to see Guns N Roses in November 2006, just before his 11th birthday.  At that concert, I had told Andy that if GNR ever came back to NC, I would take him.  That was a great show and all, but it was the Guns N Roses lineup that was pretty much just Axl and friends.  When we found out that Slash and Duff had rejoined the band, Andy and I hoped that the right and true lineup would go back on tour and come relatively close to us.  What ended up happening was that they did go on tour, and announced that they would be coming to Winston-Salem, of all places.
I had a little bit of fun in telling Andy that I had gotten him tickets.  I used it as his birthday and Christmas presents this past year, and wrote the above note "from Axl".  I took the pic of the note before I added XOXO at the end of it, since I couldn't miss the opportunity to reference Joe Dirt.  Andy appreciated the joke.
The band, Live, opened the show with a short set and brought me to tears with a cover of Audioslave's "I am the Highway", saying that "it was one of the many gifts that Chris Cornell left the world..."  I was in tears.

Axl and company hit the stage just after 8:30 and rattled off song after song for almost 3 hours.
GNR has carrried a stigma in the past of no showing concerts or going on stage very late.  That wasn't the case last night.  They really brought it, and the crowd was amped the entire time.
I noticed a lot of little things in the set, like some riffs borrowed from other songs during some of the solos.  I also noticed the Prince logo on Duff's bass guitar.
It was pretty amazing seeing Slash break out the double guitar.  I don't believe I have seen anyone play one of these live.
They busted out a super duper deep cut just for me, it seems when they played Coma.  This song was one of (and still is) my favorites when I was growing up, and to hear it live was amazing.
I was happy to be able to share the experience with Mal and Chris, since this is one of the penultimate bands from my childhood.  I used to listen to Side 2 of the Use Your Illusion I cassette tape every night to fall asleep.  November Rain is probably one of my all-time favorite songs, and to finally hear it live with Slash playing the solos instead of some stand-in, it was pretty magical.
I turned to Andy during November Rain and told him "We have been waiting our whole lives for this moment."  This is very true.  We all have songs that are part of the very fabric of our being, and for me, a good many of those are Guns N Roses songs.  This band was "my band" when I was growing up.  Folks who know me know that I am a huge Pearl Jam fan, but GNR has always been at the very top for me for a lot longer than PJ has.  Not to take a thing away from Eddie and the crew, but there was always the fear that I would never be able to experience the true GNR live experience.  Thankfully, I was able to do so last night.
Another part of the show that I will always remember is that it was the culmination of a very emotional experience for me that began on the morning of May 18, 2017.  I woke up that morning at my friend, Andrew's house, and saw a text message from my wife that said "Chris Cornell died."

Being the huge Pearl Jam fan that I am, I grew to love and appreciate the talent that was Cornell's.  I remarked on too many occasions to count that Cornell had to be one of the most talented musicians that I had ever seen in my lifetime.  It took Audioslave to hammer that point home for me, but ever since Out of Exile came out, I understood Cornell's immense talent, and began to really appreciate his work with Soundgarden, and also his solo work.

If you ask my brother, Adam, he can tell you that there was once a time where I hated the song, Black Hole Sun.  He used to wake me up in the morning to Tupac, Bone Thugz N Harmony, and would sometimes change things up with BHS.  I didn't like any kind of music blasting at 5:59AM, so I can give myself a pass on my initial take of the song.

I can't think of any other celebrity death that has hit me harder than that of Cornell's.  In the months that have followed his suicide, I have been listening to a bunch of his songs on YouTube, especially his cover of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U" and the touching "I Promise This is Not Goodbye."

Live's version of "I am the Highway" last night brought me to tears, but when Dizzy Reed went into a piano riff of "Black Hole Sun" during GNR's set last night, I bawled.  Axl once went on record to express his respect to Chris Cornell back in the early 90s, and Duff recently took the stage with Cornell in a tribute concert for the supergroup, Mad Season (look this concert up, it was amazing - Sonic Evolution).  The respect that the music industry has/had for Cornell is mind blowing. Check out some of the many tributes from other artists to Cornell, starting with Norah Jones's version of Black Hole Sun.

So, what was already an emotional experience for me in seeing one of my favorite all-time bands, and then seeing this live tribute to Chris Cornell in person, really capped my night.  I believe this was probably in the top two or three all-time concerts I have been to, and by my rough count, I think this was number 28.

When I say "No One Sings Like You Anymore", I am saying that no one will ever sing like Chris Cornell anymore, but I also mean that there are very few huge acts that will put on the kind of show like GNR did last night.  All of these arena rock bands are slowly dying out, or retiring.  Andy and I couldn't name too many that are still touring that we will be able to see in the future.  There also aren't very many new bands that I see coming along that I would want to see in a huge venue.  I'll have to stick to Pearl Jam when they go back on tour, I suppose.