Saturday, February 28, 2015

TTM Mailbag: Gang Green Edition

Hey guys, Drew back here with another addition to my Jets autograph collection. I recently sent out a batch of TTMs to former Gang Green players to bolster my collection, and have so far received autographs back from Brad Baxter, Kyle Brady, Bobby Humphery, and Jeff Lageman. I had one more success come back recently; take a look.

Bryan Cox: 1/1 in 53 Days (Received February 9th)

Bryan Cox is the latest addition to my Jets PC! Cox made 3 Pro Bowl teams as a linebacker during his time in the NFL, and most of his success came during his time with the rival Miami Dolphins in the early 1990's. He was known for wearing the strange neck roll they said was similar to a surfboard. He finished his career with 51.5 sacks, over 700 tackles, 22 forced fumbles, and 4 interceptions. He also won a Super Bowl in 2001 with the New England Patriots.

Cox currently is the defensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons, and has spent most of his time post-career working as coaches for various teams. He signed a 1999 Topps card for me in blue sharpie with his number 51 inscribed! This may be the most successful player of the five Jets I've gotten back in this bunch, and it came out very nice. Thanks Mr. Cox!

See Ya!

Friday, February 27, 2015

We Won't Stop! Mail from William

Hey guys, Drew back here! There was a bit of confusion recently between Frankie, William, and I which resulted in me receiving both William and Frankie's cards in the same box! I accidentally posted the mini Mariano Rivera figure with Frankie's cards, but that actually was from William. Anyway, everything is now worked out, so let's see what William had to offer!

We begin with a whole lot of 2015 Topps Yankees goodness! I did wind up buying 2015 Topps cards at Target surprisingly, but I only pulled a few of the Yankees cards. Luckily for me, William opens quite a bit more than me, and is one of the most generous people in Internet history. I kicked off with the two amazing Jeter cards, both of which have become two of my all time favorite cards. The second it was revealed that Jeter's classic celebration would be the first card in the set I knew this was going to be a special year for baseball cards. I really like the gold parallel of David Phelps too; I'm going to miss him next year when the rotation is on the DL. 

I'm going to hope and pray if Sabathia and Tanaka get injured next season that they don't look sign this lefty bullpen specialist. Curtis James Jackson III, aka 50 Cent, threw perhaps the worst pitch of all time to kick off a Mets game last season. Seriously. (Vlad could still hit it though)

Well, it really doesn't get much nicer than this 2014 Topps Chrome insert of Jacoby Ellsbury! I've always kind of liked the 1989 Topps design, and I think they did a great job with it in this case. I don't have much of Ellsbury in my collection, and I have a good feeling about him in 2015. So I think I've got to do something about that.

I mentioned earlier how the new Derek Jeter 2015 cards are among my favorites of all time. This one has got to be up there now too. From everything I've seen, 2014 Stadium Club looks amazing, although it's not much of a surprise. I may have to try and get some for myself, but I could just be content with this sweet Core Four tribute. It's so weird thinking that this era of Yankee excellence has come to a close. 

He also tossed in some older cards of a couple of my personal favorites. I love that Tino Martinez Donruss rookie; even if I may have it already I'll never get enough of it.

Capping it all off was this rally towel from the Orioles playoff run last year. He seemed to have gotten about a million of these from FanFest this year, and it is a welcomed addition to my collection. If it was a Red Sox logo, I could use this in all sorts of different ways, but I can tolerate his Orioles enough to leave this unharmed. 

I'll never be able to fully repay you for all of this stuff, William. It means a lot to you that you think to send me all sorts of nice things on occasion; it's living proof that you're one of the best people I've ever come across (although you certainly don't need to send anything to prove that). Thank you so much!

See Ya!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Trip Down My Memory Lane: TTM Successes

Hey guys, Drew back here! I hope everyone is doing well; I've had a slow week but I'm anxiously waiting for some Spring Training TTM's! I got 2 RTS' back from the Red Sox I sent to (Koji Uehara and Jackie Bradley Jr.) because it appears that there was an address change I wasn't aware of, but 26 of them are still floating around in Florida and Arizona. In the meantime, I've gotten two former Yankee successes this past week that I vaguely remember from when I first started to watch baseball.

Jon Lieber: 1/1 in 32 Days (Received February 17th)

Lieber only played one season for the Yankees after signing a 2 year deal in 2003. He missed the first season due to Tommy John Surgery, and started off the second awfully in New York. However, down the stretch he turned it on and pitched great baseball, and wound up having an important role in the postseason rotation that year. He pitched well in the playoffs, and although the Red Sox went on to break the curse that year it really wasn't due to anything he did. Lieber was pretty much the definition of an average pitcher through most of his career, but did earn an All Star selection in 2001. He signed this 2005 Topps card for me in black sharpie, and although his signature leaves much to be desired, I'm happy with how it came out!

Mike Stanton: 2/2 in 40 Days (Received February 24th)

What Lieber lacked with his signature was easily redeemed by the artwork Mike Stanton left on my two cards. The former lefty bullpen cog has one of the nicest signatures in my collection, and I was excited for these cards to return back. Stanton actually holds the record for most holds in history (no pun intended) with 266, and is second in most games pitched in Major League history behind Jesse Orosco! He was a part of the Yankees 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001 pennant winning seasons, and was named an All Star his first and only time in 2001 too. He was named in the Mitchell Report however and in Brian McNamee's testimony, which lines up with the time period Clemens and Pettitte were found to be involved with HGH. He later returned to the Yankees in 2005 after playing for the Mets for a short period of time, and was soon released. Stanton signed a 2003 and 2005 Topps beautifully in blue sharpie!

Thank you to both Mr. Lieber and Mr. Stanton for the autographs! Players like them really lead me down memory lane to when I first started learning about all the different players in the game.

See Ya!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

I Am Here to Discuss the Past!

Hey guys, Drew back here! On February 15th, Andy Pettitte's son Josh informed the world that his dad's number would be retired by the Yankees at some point during the 2015 season! It was a shockwave to all Yankee fans, and for the most part the reception was positive.

Shortly after, it was also revealed that the team also planned to retire Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams' #'s 20 and 51, respectively, as well as awarding a plaque in Monument Park to former captain and second baseman Willie Randolph. Now, I know most of you in this hobby have more experience seeing players you've grown up watching receive special honors like these, but I must say it's a weird feeling when you first see this. It makes you feel rather old, I must say. I learned recently that only 2 active MLB players began their career before I was born: LaTroy Hawkins and Jamey Wright. I'm not saying I'm heading to my retirement, but it still feels like just yesterday when I first fell in love with baseball, and that was a decade ago.

With all of this mind, I figured I would share my two cents on these four greats players who have a legendary honor awaiting them over the course of this upcoming season. 

Jorge Posada
A born leader. This guy knew what it took to win, and he was as gritty as they get. I'll never forget when he came to the plate in a pinch hitting situation on September 22nd, 2011. We were sitting in our favorite seats we had ever had in the new Yankee Stadium; front row, field level in right field. Jorge came to the plate and broke the 2-2 tie with a two run single to not only win the game, but also the division! I always liked him, but after that moment I was forever a fan of his. I loved how much he defended the team over the course of his career with his fiery passion. People wonder why the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is no longer what it was, but I think much of that hatred dissipated when Posada retired.

Image Source

Bernie Williams
The forgotten member of the Core Four. Call him Pete Best, because he really got the ball rolling for the Yankees until Jeter & co. took them to the next level (Beatles anyone?). I missed most of Bernie's good years but I've seen some footage and numbers that easily warrant this accomplishment. He was a quiet presence in the locker room, but could play a mean guitar. I got goosebumps when he played "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" at Fenway Park for Jeter's last game in 2014. He did a lot of things right during those championship seasons, and was fantastic in the playoffs. He may get shorted of recognition when people discuss the impact of the Core Four, but Yankee fans will never forget their best centerfielder since Mantle.

Image Source

Willie Randolph
Obviously Willie was way before my time, but nevertheless you can see his influence every year at Old Timer's Day and beyond. When I first started following baseball he was stepping into his role as Mets manager, and although it didn't necessarily end well in Queens, he's as much of a baseball guy as anyone else. Willie has been heavily involved in the game almost every year since 1975, whether it be as a player, manager, or coach. I had the opportunity to meet him once at a card show and he was such a nice man. One of few people alive today who could say they were captain of the Yankees; Randolph helped anchor those great late 70's teams to 2 World Series titles.

Andy Pettitte
Finally, Mr. Andrew Eugene Pettitte himself. PED's or not, Andy will forever be one of my favorite pitchers of all time. I really believe he got caught up in the wrong crowd with Roger Clemens when rehabbing the infamous elbow injury he suffered in 2002. But enough about that, because surely one mistake can be forgiven from the very apologetic and sincere Pettitte. Much has been said about the lefty's chances at making the Hall of Fame one day, and while I didn't quite see a Hall of Famer while watching him pitch, he was pretty darn close. With 256 victories and several other feats under his belt, Pettitte was the guy you wanted on the mound on a cold October Bronx night. His intimidating glare was enough to blow away batters for 18 seasons, and I had the pleasure of getting to see a solid portion of those games.

I'm really glad that these four are all getting their due this upcoming season, although it does bother me how many numbers are being retired at this point. Sure, they have the most championships of any major professional sports team spanning over 100 years of excellence, so there should easily be 20 players deserving a number retirement. Joe Torre and Mariano Rivera's numbers were forever locked away recently and obviously Jeter's will be coming soon as well. After that numbers 1-10 will never be used again, which I find strange. 

The problem now is that they went overboard in the first place, retiring numbers of great Yankees but nowhere near legends. Ron Guidry was a spectacular pitcher in his prime and pitched perhaps the best season for the team in the modern era, but I don't know if I agree with his number retired alongside Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, and Ford. Billy Martin was a true Yankee at heart and devoted a majority of his life to pinstripes (when Steinbrenner let him), but again it may have been a bit much to retire his number. But now, with their numbers retired, it's only fair that new generation stars like Bernie, Jorge, and Andy get theirs. There's nothing you can do about it, and people will continue to make the "Yankees are going to run out of numbers" jokes for the rest of time, but that's okay. Monument Park provides a true celebration of baseball history as a whole, spanning decades of excellent stars that we will never forget.

Image Source

Welcome home once again boys. You're officially here to stay!

See Ya!

Friday, February 20, 2015

TTM Autograph from a Yankee Hero

Hey guys, Drew back here! I am officially in the saving money stage of this hobby, so I made sure to get a bunch of through the mail requests out to help me cope with saving my money. I first sent a batch of 8 Jets players out on December 18th, and I've already received 5 of them back signed! Next I sent to 7 former Yankees, and what I'm about to show off was the 2nd of 3 successes from that group thus far. Finally, I was able to manage 28 envelopes into the mail and off to Florida and Arizona for Spring Training, and hopefully some of those will start to trickle in. It's been a busy few months, but hopefully I'll start to be rewarded for all of the hard work with some great signatures. Today, I show off an autograph from someone dear to Yankee fan's hearts and hated by everyone in Boston. Bucky F*****g Dent.

Bucky Dent: 1/1 in 27 Days (Received February 12th)

Bucky Dent is a Yankee hero without question, known for one of the most clutch home runs in baseball history. He kept the Curse of the Bambino alive when his towering go ahead home run against the Red Sox crashed and landed over the Green Monster in 1978! It was a game that decided who would win the AL East and make the playoffs (since the Wild Card had not been invented yet), and Dent's bomb off of Mike Torrez proved to be the game winner when all was said and done. The Yankees would go on to win the World Series that year in part to Dent's hot streak which took him all the way to winning the World Series MVP! He never was known for his contributions at the plate, but he finished his career with 2 World Series rings and 3 All Star selections; making for a nice overall statline.

He signed a 2009 Goodwin Champions card for me nicely in blue sharpie. This is now my 4th autograph of his in my collection, and I have been able to meet him and have him sign my Mantle 16x20 project. 

Thanks Mr. Dent! See Ya!