Wednesday, June 21, 2017

At Least They're a Fun Mess


Look, I'm not gonna say that the Athletics don't deserve to be in last. The farm system that led to those amazing seasons in the early 2000s has since dissolved a bit, and this seasons team is a mish-mosh of cheap contracts and overtired prospects. However...of the six last place teams right now, I do think that the A's are probably the most fun to watch. There's doom and despair, yes, but at the same time...there's 3 guys hitting near 20 home runs, and there's two guys most of baseball counted out who are doing really well.

Ryan Healy had a great rookie year last year, and as he started 2017 with a down average I got pretty worried. I thought he wouldn't be able to recapture the magic, and fall short like the rest of the A's. But now he's racked up 17 home runs, and he'd providing A's games with a nice amount of suspense.

I feel like the A's could build a team around this guy, like Anthony Rizzo in Chicago, and stack some heftier prospects and players around him to form a contender. I'm guessing that won't be for a while, but still.

Look, the A's may be dire, but there's some charm to them.

Coming Tonight- I'll be watching one of the other last place teams play ball tonight, so expect some sort of recap afterwards.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Surprise Blaster of 2017 Topps Series 2

Didn't see this one coming.

Lately, I've been hitting Wal-Mart for my week-of-release card needs, because the local Target never seems to have products until two weeks after they're out. Tonight, I was there to get socks and toothpaste...but my curiosity was piqued. I sauntered over to the card aisle, and sure enough...Series 2. Right there.

So I bought a blaster. And since my scanner's not working with my new laptop, I'm gonna just log it cold.

By the way, my box came with a guaranteed american flag manufactured thing...of Masahiro Tanaka, a Japanese pitcher. So, while it's nice to get a Yankee, there's still that famous Topps flavor of pathetic irony.

Pack 1-
554- Jason Castro. The photoshop job to start off is actually pretty nice. They're definitely improving.
664- Blake Swihart
572- Braves team card. Look, I'll give Topps credit- the team cards they've brought back into the set have been pretty great shots.
426- Mets team card- AND ANOTHER ONE!
559- Jason Motte GOLD #'D TO 2017. Nice shot for it, too.
Memorable Moments insert of Carlton Fisk's walk off. This design's a little better than the boring insert designs of late, but it's still a bit too white.
Topps Salute- an Independence Day card of Matt Carpenter.
372- Ryan Schimpf. The Padres throwback helps a bit.
516- Tony Wolters
684- Jorge Polanco, a member of the battalion of Twins rookies.

Pack 2-
647- Jose Reyes. Great card, even if he's back to tanking this year.
393- Koji Uehara. I still don't like the truncated stats on the back.
564- Nationals team card.Ooooh, this one's another amazing one.
368- Jhonny Peralta, who's been airlifted from the Cardinals infield.
'87 Topps insert of ROBINSON CANO.
377- Adam Rosales SHINY??? I don't get these.
FIRST PITCH of Bonnie Hunt, which is a pretty nice name.
546- Addison Reed
377- Adam Rosales...again.
434- Tyler Saladino

Pack 3-
406- Stephen Vogt. Yeah, the increase in good photography is DEFINITELY evident this series.
436- Cody Allen, one of the best closers nobody's heard of.
504- Austin Hedges
396- JT Realmuto. Again, aside from the over-abudant border usage, the horizontals are still great.
Topps Salute of Josh Donaldson...commemorating Spring Training...for some reason.
ID4 insert of Miguel Cabrera, which is pretty cool.
609- Adalberto Media
614- Shawn O'Malley
510- Kelby Tomlinson
489- Jarrod Dyson. Again, zoomed back, interesting photo.

Pack 4-
501- Ian Kinsler
496- Mike Fiers
389- George Springer. Again, really nice horizontal photography.
611- Victor Martinez
All Time All Stars insert of Hank Aaron. This, however, we didn't particularly need.
ASG MVP insert of Roberto Alomar. These, on the other hand, I do like.
493- Hunter Dozier
676- Eric Hosmer, whose on-ness is getting the Royals back into the picture this season.
446- Dexter Fowler. Still a favorite, no matter what uniform.
550- Mikie Mahtook

Pack 5-
388- Yasmani Grandal. Something else I've noticed is that there are a ton of great shots of catchers in this set.
605- Michael Brantley
417- Darren O'Day
Memorable Moments of Nolan Ryan signing with Houston.
665- Yu Darvish SHORT PRINT VARIATION!!! This has a different image of him fielding warm up balls, and I'm so happy I pulled a variation.
ID4 insert of Mookie Betts
413- Rob Segedin
556- STARLIN CASTRO. the best.
473- Eugenio Suarez and his gum-blowing fixation.
507- Matt Garza

Pack 6-
521- Brandon Phillips. Nice that they got a shot of him in a Braves uniform.
534- Cody Asche. Man, I'm glad we got rid of him when we did..
549- Miguel Gonzalez
470- Brandon Drury
87T Johnny Damon..SOX. ARGH.
Major League Milestones of Trevor Story. And back to the lazy insert designs Topps is used to.
514- Jeremy Jeffress
555- Noah Syndergaard!!
694- Matt Wieters, looking commanding in a Nats uniform
462- Rich Hill

Pack 7-
431- TOMMY JOSEPH
695- Jon Jay
576- Russell Martin. Don't love him, but I love this shot.
608- Dodgers team card
Topps Salute of Kenny Lofton
ID4 insert of Francisco Lindor
415- Pat Valaika. Man, they picked the wrong Rockies rookie..
600- YOENIS CESPEDES.
653- Cam Bedrosian
422- Andrew Miller, best set-up man in baseball.

Pack 8-
482- SIR DIDI GREGORIUS.
391- Jonathan Schoop
430- Rangers tc
636- Pirates combo
485- GREG BIRD...GOLD #D TO 2017. Wish he was doing better, but it's still a gold Yankee.
All Time ASG of Juan Marichal
ASG MVP of Melky Cabrera
689- Jason Vargas, back to pitching really well for Kansas City.
505- Seung Hwan Oh
441- Jose Iglesias

Pack 9-
428- Jay Bruce
355- Shelby Miller, burning all his former credibility
630- Edwin Encarnacion, with another great shot
499- Danny Valencia
Memorable Moments of YAZ
ID4 of Giancarlo Stanton
519- Dan Fogelbach
425- Carlos Gonzalez, in a Stadium Club-worthy shot.
567- Devon Travis
376- Chase Anderson, slowly becoming an ace on this Brewers team

Pack 10-
579- Taylor Jungmann
444- Andrew Heaney
452- Travis Shaw
424- Derek Dietrich
565- JD Martinez, with a pretty great horizontal shot
87T Omar Vizquel
First Pitch of Luke Donald, one of the many unnecessary golfers in this set
672- Luke Maile
620- Sam Dyson
383- Adam Frazier


That was a pretty nice blaster, and proof that Topps is improving flagship with Series 2.

Supernova


Let's get this out of the way first. If I could just have everyone's attention for a second.

(loudspeaker feedback)

ATTENTION: ANDREW MCCUTCHEN IS FINALLY HITTING AGAIN.

Okay, you can go back to what you were doing.

I figured I'd start with that. The Pirates are towards the end of the NL Central, but they're still relevant enough, especially with Cutch coming back, and Ivan Nova having another truly great season on the mound. The guy had a ton of jitters and inconsistency as a Yankee, so to see him dominant again in Pittsburgh is a marvel.

The team's still working on some things, though the addition of Josh Bell as a consistent, hard-hitting first baseman is noted, as well as David Freese playing a full-time position, Adam Frazier filling in for Starling Marte, and the still-fearsome tactics of Jameson Taillon. There are some holes in the rotation, there's not a great deal of roster depth, and there are a few injuries and just plain down seasons. This isn't a perfect team, but it's rebuilding.

Right now they're essentially tied for third with the Cardinals. The Cardinals have a series with the Phillies this week. I think it would be absolutely hysterical if the Phils took 3 from them. Mainly because I'll be in attendance for one, but also because the Pirates could jump back into a prime position, to potentially chase the Cubs for seconds. Don't know if it's possible this year, but...you never know.

Coming Tonight: After an impressive rookie season, he's back to hitting like hell and conquering my Yankees on the west coast.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Twins vs. June


It's sad...we started the season knowing the Twins were red-hot, and changed, and a different team...and how did they spend June? By losing a bunch of games by wide margins. It's like the old Twins never left after all!

I mean, I have a ton of respect for this Twins team, and how they've improved, but if they're gonna lose games like that, they're asking for it. Aside from Jose Berrios and Ervin Santana, the whole pitching staff is drying up. Everyone is either giving up far too many runs or getting injured...WHILE giving up far too many runs. And again, even if Berrios and Santana are red-hot, two guys can hold up a whole rotation. It doesn't work like that.

The lineup's still pretty hot, too. I mean, a lot of them are calming down, but nobody's problematic. They're just having a sorry month. Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco are still having great seasons.

I don't think they're down for the count yet, but the Royals are surging and the Indians are in first, so it's going to be tough.

Coming Tomorrow- He pitched for my team, he got even better the second he left. Now, even as his team's finally improving, he's still somehow an ace.

God Save the Queens


...sad to say, but we might approaching 'trash-fire' levels of play in Flushing Meadows.

I don't know how it happened. The pitching was tight a year ago. The lineup was solid in 2015. The production was even constant when the team wasn't great. I didn't think it'd flow into this absolute mess of a roster this year. It's just become heartbreaking, even if they're still technically in that three-way deadlock for second place.

The pitching, sadly, just looks dire this year. deGrom, Harvey, Gsellman and Wheeler just aren't as dominant as usual- deGrom's got a ton of strikeouts, but NEEDS to keep his ERA down. Steven Matz and Seth Lugo are just now adding their stuff, but how long's it gonna take until they start falling to what the rest of the rotation's fallen to.

The lineup's filled with a ton of holes due to injuries, but Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto are doing the best they can, and Yoenis Cespedes is catching up. On the flip side...Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera are injured, Jose Reyes and Curtis Granderson are cold, and none of the guys that are being brought up are really adding anything. So, for right now, they're just stuck in this little three-way rut, no real way of getting out.

I don't know what else they have to do, but I at least hope things get better.

Coming Tonight: He had a disappointing rookie year, but he's back on top, helping his team stay on first.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sir Didi


So, we had a bad west-coast road trip. So what?

To be honest, I'm not worried. The Yankees have more momentum than most of the AL, and they just happened to have a bad road trip. They haven't lost their mojo. They still have some of the best players in the major leagues right at their fingertips. The only problem is that without C.C. Sabathia, the pitching is sliding down a bit. They're not completely bad now, they just all had a bad week. They're gonna be at home for a week, and hopefully that will change things a bit.

The lineup, by the way, is still in pristine condition. Aaron Hicks might be headed to the DL, but at the same time, Mason Williams is finally healthy, and we're using him now for all he's worth until the inevitable trade in the next 12 months. Yes, Chris Carter's still problematic, but he's better than he was. Yes, Chase Headley's been cold, but there's a certain someone waiting in the wings, ready to strike within the next month.

Didi Gregorius has had a spectacular month, hitting like wild and making up for his month on the DL. This is a guy we got for absolutely nothing from Arizona, and we thought would just be a steady defensive player that'd get us by for a while, but Didi has impressed big time, becoming a fan favorite and one of the most fun players on the team. He and Starlin Castro make a terrific, hard-hitting double play duo, and it'd be wonderful to see them both in the ASG.

Despite the botched road trip, the Yankees are still looking fantastic, and the hopes are still high.

Coming Tomorrow- A less composed New York team, where their first baseman is somehow still uninjured, and doing relatively well.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Brad Hand Dealt a Bad Hand



So...I don't think there's anything at all worth talking about in terms of the San Diego Padres.

Look, even if there have been rookies and misfits, and people like Franchy Cordero and Jose Pirela hitting like animals, this is still the absolute most pathetic team in baseball. Nobody on the starting roster is hitting. None of the pitching is polished, and everybody's over the hill. Wil Myers is back to disappointing us (slightly). It's just a mess of a team, even if the little shreds of youth are trying to save them.

Brad Hand's one of the few noteworthy players on this team. Literally...he's just a middle reliever, and he's the only guy worth talking about. That's something.

I don't have much else, guys. They're the 2017 Padres. They don't give you much.

Coming Tonight: He's royalty in his home country...and he's certainly become royalty in the Bronx.