Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Big League Moment Angels Pitcher Hector Santiago Interview

For the 2014 off season the Angels participated in a 3-team trade to try to solve the rotation problems of the previous season. Slugger Mark Trumbo was dealt and in return the Halo's received two young arms Tyler Skaggs, a former Angel prospect, and Hector Santiago. Santiago is developing into a reliable arm in the rotation, building up a solid innings count with a very good K/9 ratio supporting his 3.56 ERA. While many writers are focusing on the potential of Skaggs, Santiago's arm has the potential to be the key bridge in the rotation for Halos this season and farther down the line.

Santiago was kind enough to do an interview and answer a few questions for me about his MLB career.

First off, new member of the Angels. How did you find out about the trade? Who broke the news to you about it?
"Rick Hahn, GM of White Sox called me."

How did you find out you were being called up to the Majors with the White Sox in 2011?
"My Double A manager called me early Sunday morning and asked if I could pitch for the Sox at night."

After your call up did any player go out of their way to show you the day to day of being a big leaguer and help mentor you?
"No not really I kept to myself and just went about my business."

Pitching coach Don Cooper, what was his biggest piece of advice to you as a young pitcher? 
"He always said focus and fastball command two big things pitchers need to have success."

You're a fan favorite in Chicago and likely one in the Anaheim being so twitter active. What's the biggest thing fans can do to show you support?
"Fans show their support all the time through twitter but actually showing up to games and cheering us on in good and bad times gives us confidence and trust in the fans. We love when we talk out and see our teams colors and logos all over the place. "

The White Sox are a popular franchise, how do you feel about autograph seekers? Do you mind it? Anything you especially enjoy signing?
"I don't mind signing anything or anytime but I hope that fans understand that we are at work and we can't always stop and sign. But I try to sign as much as I can! And I like signing team baseballs the most because it shows your team fan! But sweet spot is pretty cool!

This team is gonna be great. I see some MVP type seasons ahead and hopefully a Cy Young! Don't forget about Rookie of the Year!"

It was great of Hector Santiago to do spend some of his offseason doing this interview and I'm looking forward to him becoming an anchor in the Angels rotation for years to come. If you don't follow him on twitter you should follow the fan friendly pitcher's twitter @HecSantiago53

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Big League Moment Grant Green Interview

While at the Brandon Barnes Wiffleball event I used some time to interview Angels' infielder Grant Green. Grant was extremely personable and a pleasure to do an extended interview with, that gave a great glimpse into his time so far as a Major Leaguer.

First question. How did you find out you were being called up the majors?
I was actually in AAA Fresno. My manager was the same high school I went to, I start to get dressed for the game, he was like "Hey grant don't get dressed yet." so I'm just sitting in the visiting clubhouse wondering what's going on. I go into his office and go so whats the deal, " He tells me you're getting called up you're getting on a plane tonight you're going to Pittsburgh." And I'm like are you kidding? He says he'd never joke about something like that."

When you first get to the clubhouse what did the As have waiting for you?
"I mean they have the jerseys and everything. It's nothing special just jerseys. But the coaches are there waiting congratulate you, say hi and what not. To me thats one of the coolest things when you get that first call up how excited everyone is for you. Everyone goes through it, everyones been there before, they're all just so happy."

I know some teams break it up. Did the club house manager give you a number?
"It was my number in spring training so they just kept it over for the season."

So you were traded to the Angels, how did you find out?
"I start to get on the field for a game. Same thing manager says "hey we can't let you play today you're taking the day off." I knew Sogard had been hurt a couple days before so he says hey you're just in a holding pattern right now. We're just going to see what the deal is. So I went up and was lifting in our clubhouse and a couple of pitchers come in and ask what the deal is. I tell them I don't know  yet. Finally one of them says congratulations. For what? You just got traded. I was like…bull…I would have heard something. And he says no it's on twitter. I ended up finding out a little after that when the GM's called."

The stories about Billy Beane...are they true? Is there an organizational idea, hey this is what people think about our organization? Or is it more baseball and less numbers than everyone tries to make it out to?
"There's definitely less numbers. He's not going to reward you for walking 500 times. It's the type of thing where a lot of teams are just starting to looking into now its On Base Percentage. He's really big on that and not to the extent that most people think but he's still into OBP and playing the game the right way. Although its not as bad as everyone says it is, it's still present in the organization."

Did anyone take you in and show you how to be a big leaguer?
"With Oakland I knew a lot of the guys already from Spring Training every year. I knew Trumbo from being around here, Conger's from around here. Kole Calhoun from playing against him. All the guys have been there before so no one treats you any differently. There is a bit of rookie hazing but its all in good fun. everyone was nice and forward with any information I needed."

What was your rookie hazing?
"We wore Speedos with the Angels, but I wasn't there for it with the A's. Usually its in September with the September call ups but I wasn't around for it."

What's your favorite park as a player?
"New Yankee stadium is always nice. But still my favorite the one I had the most fun in, maybe because it was my call up is Pittsburgh. I had a blast. I thought the ballpark was gorgeous, such a beautiful ballpark the city we stayed in was really nice. All around great."

What are your goals as a team or individually?
"As a team it's to win games make the playoffs and hopefully heat up at the right time and win a World Series. Personally same as every year. Get better be more consistent. Wherever the chips fall theres nothing you can control besides working hard and trying to do your best."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Big League Moment Brandon Barnes Interview

While I was at the Brandon Barnes 1st Annual Wiffleball Invitational I took the opportunity to talk to Brandon for a few minutes and he was kind enough to do a quick interview. Below is the transcribed conversation.

First off Rockie now, who was the first person to tell you?
"I was actually going to professional athletes outreach in Florida, its a Christian convention. I got off the plane and had a message from my GM. I gave him a call and he told me I was traded."

Are you looking forward to that outfield?
"Yeah definitely I played there once last year. It's a big outfield. I like to run around and go after balls and I'm very excited. It's a hitters park so its even more fun."

How did you find out you were being called up?
"Called in by my AAA manager in 2012. I thought it was to talk about the game. Talked about my attitude and said it had been a little different then he told me he was joking and I was being called to the Majors."

Did you get any rookie hazing by the Astros?
"We had to wear speedos the first year in Chicago. This year I was super woman but I don't remember where it was it's all a blur."

First annual wiffleball tournament. Are you planning another event? Was it easy to work with the organization?
"Not yet I think I'll let some time go first. I've worked with PCRF before so it was pretty simple to start but pulling this all together was pretty tough."

You have items from Vinne Pestano, Mark Trumbo, but Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. How were you able to get everything?
I have a lot of good friends and connections. In the baseball world we all have each others numbers were all pretty close so just reaching out.

Did you think about the cycle?
"No. Until I stepped up and knew I needed a double thats the only time I ever thought about it."

Did you feel it off the end of the bat?
"No. I mean I got it pretty good and it just shot down the right field line."

I know the Astros are pretty young did any veterans take you in?
"Rick Ankiel and Carlos Pena really helped me a lot. "

It was great to take a chance to talk to Brandon Barnes and get to know more about him as a player and a little about how he got involved in working with the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Recap Brandon Barnes' 1st Annual Barnyard Wiffleball Invitational 12/14/13

Southern California native outfielder Brandon Barnes returned to his roots to put on the 1st Annual Barnyard Wiffleball Invitational at the Anaheim based The Office Sports Academy. The charity event featured a wiffleball tournament, raffle, silent auction, vendor booths and food truck all in support of the  Pediactric Cancer Research Foundation.

The cause is especially close to Barnes' heart as his younger brother had a condition which required treatments from 13 months old through the 8th grade to become cancer free. What was especially nice was the event got large press coverage, making the Astros' official MLB website and some television promotion prior to occurring.

Typically for events like this the promotional coverage doesn't always spread beyond direct sponsors or sites covering athlete appearances. Seeing the cause being discussed on a national scale is a huge success for Brandon Barnes. The event was well run and organized, appearing to be a resounding success raising significant funds through entry fees, raffle tickets and the live auction. Hopefully the event is repeated and further coverage can increase attention to the PCRF for more information about the foundation you can read it here on their site.

I got Brandon Barnes' autograph on this ROMLB and he was nice enough to inscribe the "Cycle 7/19/13" he hit for the Houston Astros. Now that he's moving to the Coors Field I think his offense will continue to shine. Barnes was kind enough to share a few moments to answer a few questions about his career and involvement with the PCRF which you can read here.
Barnes' rallied support from fellow Southern California natives and big leaguers Angels' infielder Grant Green and Oakland A's infielder Daric Barton to donate items and play in the tournament with him.  Barnes is in the far back and Barton is to the right behind the bar.
Also I had Grant Green autograph this 2010 Bowman Platinum prospect card.
Though Daric Barton and former All Star Gregg Jefferies were there I didn't have any cards or photos for them to sign and I declined to drop a ball on them. After getting Green and Barnes' autographs they were kind enough to spend a few minutes being interviewed by me which I will post soon. When the interviews were over I watched some more wiffleball and hung out for the raffle before leaving since former Angels slugger Mark Trumbo was a no show and didn't make an appearance.

It was a nice event and I'm looking forward to seeing the PCRF and Brandon Barnes work together in the future. Hopefully Grant Green makes it a tradition to rock a neon bandana while playing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Man Versus Ball by Jon Hart

Recently I was sent a copy of author Jon Hart's book Man Versus Ball published by Potomac Books in 2013. I had heard of the book in a post by ballhawk Zack Hample and had been curious to give it a read so I was happy to obtain a copy for a review.

What I got when I sat down to read it was not what I had expected. I'd been anticipating blurbs about random sports adventures and what I got was much more. Instead of a series of short stories covering the same sports and the same articles we've all read, I got a chance to essentially sit at a bar rail and listen to one of the more eccentric personalities in New York talk about his meandering through the back alleys of amateur, semi-pro and professional sports. It takes a certain kind of guy to go to mascot school, play roller-basketball and be a concessions vendor in New York City all in one lifetime and Jon Hart is most definitely that guy.

Hart's book captures something every sports fan has had at some point or another, the "I wonder…" moment. Not everyone has the chance to fly across the country to play in the World Cup of roller-soccer or to spend summer afternoons in the stands of Citi Field hawking beer, but Hart took the chance and lets us take a peek at what life on the other side is like. The endless summer we all wish we could've gone wild and knocked off our craziest bucket lists is his reality. It's rarely done, not often talked about but it's all enjoyably accessible in his book.

So do yourself a favor, pull a stool up to the rail, order yourself something tasty to drink, get a copy of Man Versus Ball and enjoy the ride.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Blake Griffin Kia LA Autoshow Appearance 11/30/13

This is one of the graphs that makes me thankful that I live in Southern California due to all the great autograph opportunities. The Los Angeles Autoshow is one of the biggest and most important in the industry so vendors are sure to pull out the stops to try to draw large crowds. Kia for the past few years has leaned on drawing a crowd with its spokesman Clippers star Blake Griffin.

I went to the autoshow extremely early so I could make a full day of the event. I wondered the various booths and checked out the luxury cars before wandering over to the Kia booth. There was a line starting to form so I waited for Alex and Rob to come give me company. When they arrived we hung out and waited patiently for Blake to arrive for the signing scheduled from 4:30-6:30.

As we were waiting we saw the line grow. That's not unexpected to us. Apparently though it was unexpected to Kia as they had a small stack of small 5x7 photos that they were expecting to have Blake sign and hand out. However there were easily 400 people wrapped around the convention center going from the far left of the photo all the way around the Kia booth and wrapped back past the right side of the photo. And everyone was waiting for a chance to meet Blake for an autograph and photo op.
Since they were vastly under prepared for the crowd they made a surprising announcement that they'd allow you to get one item signed. One item that you could provide yourself. That's right. A free Blake Griffin autograph on an item of our choosing, not the standard provided Kia stock photo.

We couldn't believe ourselves and even when Blake showed up we still didn't believe it. Blake doesn't do signings besides the Kia appearance and the past 2 years he's only signed the Kia photo. Well it came down to it and Blake started signing autographs.
And what would you know it was true. The Kia booth was nice enough to have an employee who took a photo for you, and they were nice/smart enough to snap two to make sure it came out. I took my turn saying hello and then was able to my Blake Griffin autographed jersey.
Getting Blake Griffins autograph was awesome enough, but I was able to get him to sit down and knock out a jersey for me instead of a small stock photo. It was a great day running into everyone, checking out some cars and not only meeting Blake but getting him to autograph my jersey.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

RBI (194) Tom Morello...

I had the opportunity to see guitarist Tom Morello play in his folk music band "The Nightwatchman" during a short tour in 2007. Morello's acclaim is from being the guitarist for famous rock groups Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, but the side projects he involves himself with always showcase his stellar guitar playing skills.
The club I saw him perform in the Paradise rock club was small and it was a very great intimate show. After the show if you purchased the debut album you could meet Tom and have him sign the album cover. I of course opted to stay and meet the man. It was a quick perfunctory hello and smile while he signed but considering he sat to sign minutes after playing a lengthy folk set I couldn't blame him and was happy for the opportunity to add him to my collection. It's not often I get to collect celebrity or rock star autographs, but it's nice when I'm able to so this Tom Morello autograph is a nice piece.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

RBI (193) Sugarcult

One more benefit to living in Southern California is the local entertainment and music industry. As I posted before I had the opportunity to see rock band Alien Ant Farm perform locally and got their autograph, and I was also able to meet the band Sugarcult.

Sugarcult is best known for the songs "She's the Blade""Pretty Girl" and most notably "Bouncing Off the Walls" and they have a pretty high energy set as a result of their hits. I got to the front of the performance which was fun and then after the set their bass guitarist threw a pick into the crowd. I was lucky enough to catch the custom pick he had just played with.
After their set part of the band hung out with the crowd and signed autographs. I was able to get bassist Airin Older and guitarist Marko Desantis to sign a sticker and Airin Older autographed the pick he through into the crowd. Marko obviously had a little bit of fun with it since he doodled a heart and the break here inscription on the seem of the sticker backing.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

RBI (192) Story of the Year

In the late fall of 2006 I went to the Boston venue the Avalon to see St. Louis rock group Story of the Year perform. For a small fee with my ticket I was able to get access to a meet and greet after the show. It was a great show because they're really a high energy live band and always a group I see in person if given the opportunity.
Some of the fans were just there to say hi and take photos but I opted to get Story of the Year's autograph. All the guys were nice and I had the whole band autograph the ticket I had printed out for the show. It was a quick meet but I enjoyed it and am glad I took advantage of the chance.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

RBI (191) Paramore

Continuing to upload some autographs from my collection that I had gotten years prior to becoming an actual hardcore grapher here is one of my favorites that has been framed for years before I really knew what I was doing. In the summer of 2006 I went to Warped Tour San Diego to see the band Paramore perform I was happy to enjoy the show and have seen them several times since then. I was even happier to get Paramore's autograph on my ticket at an appearance at a booth sponsored by someone I can't remember.
In pink is Hayley Williams' autograph, in teal Hunter Lamb, black is Zac Farro, red Josh Farro, and in blue is Jeremy Davis. Back when I got the autograph they were just becoming popular with the success of All We Know Is Falling and their tour, but I'm not sure anyone in San Diego that day knew they were seeing a 3-time Grammy nominee with a Platinum record. Either way it's fun to have another band's autograph in my collection, especially one that did one of my favorite records. Now I'm sure it's almost impossible to knock out a piece like this signed by Paramore easily since they're such a popular group with hardcore fans.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

RBI (190) Alysha Nett

My previous post highlighted Tianna G being hot in a bikini and this one isn't that different though it is a more widely known model Alysha Nett. Alysha Nett was featured on New York Ink's series premiere episode getting her tree tattoo done by Tim Hendricks on her thigh. She's modeled for CBNC, Supreme, The Hundreds, MOOSE Limited and basically any brand that is legitimate in that world. Her tumblr is one of the top model tumblrs and she's been voted best web model by multiple different sites.

I picked up this Alysha Nett autographed 11x14 poster.
She was nice enough to toss in this second poster for my collection, and I'm happy to have added it. At some point if I find out we're going to be at the same event in LA I may bring it along to have her sign it.
She's definitely one of the top streetwear models and I'm glad to have put her in my collection to have the top three models Alysha Nett, Tianna G and Shay Maria together in the collection. With baseball's off season only a few World Series games away I'm going to probably keep expanding my print collection while I keep busy. I'm not sure if anyone will really complain about seeing Alysha Nett looking hot.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

RBI (189) Tianna G

Yeah I added once again to the collection of streetwear model prints and photographs I've been building. It's mainly been Shay Maria but I added well known model Tianna G (Tianna Gregory) who has worked with Van Styles, CBNC, Diamond and DGK.

I bought this Tianna G autographed 8x10 photograph, but it came out really dark. I actually don't mind the print coming out dark. I have it framed already and the whole scene seems mysterious and looks good up on the wall.
Since the 8x10 came out dark she added in the smaller brighter print in the package so now I have this nice print of Tianna G looking hot in a swimsuit.
She didn't have to do that and it was super nice of her to add in the small print that I also framed and have up. Definitely two really nice photographs that I'm glad to have and post up along with my Shay Marias. You can follow Tianna G on twitter and instragram.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

RPS (10) Graphing the Anaheim Ducks 10/19/13

With baseball in Southern California finished for the season I went with some friends to try graphing the Anaheim Ducks for the first time. I had heard of some good successes and big numbers by other experienced hockey autograph collectors so I figured it was worth a Saturday morning to give it a shot.

I wasn't sure what to bring along with me for my first attempt so I settled on a buying a 2013-14 Score team set of cards and printing an 8x10 photograph. When I got to the Honda Center to meet up with my friends I learned the Ducks weren't there due to a concert so we went to their back up practice facility.

I had heard hockey players were some of the nicest pros out there to collect and I always wondered if it was just an exaggeration. It's not. The Ducks are one of the nicest groups of professionals I've ever encountered and they had no hesitation to sign for us when we asked. The only guys who didn't sign for us on their way in were the players who didn't park by where we were standing to see them arrive. Everyone had a nice thing to say as they signed and were extremely polite to us graphers. I kid you not. Today I became a Ducks fan and decided collecting hockey autographs isn't too bad.

In no particular order here's how I did today.
Cam Fowler autographed Score card.
Kyle Palmieri autographed Score card.
Lucas Sbisa autographed Score card.
Corey Perry autographed Score card.
Daniel Winnik autographed Score card.
Nick Bonino autographed Score card.
Andrew Cogliano autographed Score card.
All-Star Saku Koivu autographed Score card.
All-Star Jonas Hiller autographed Score card.
Captain, Stanley Cup Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Ryan Getzlaf autographed Score card.
If you're an autograph collector reading this post then you're probably used to seeing the cars athletes drive around in. Let me say this. Ryan Getzlaf has the sickest car I've ever seen a pro driving. A blacked out matte black luxury ride. While he was signing for us we couldn't even pretend to not be drooling over his car and I told him "You have the sickest car I've ever seen a pro drive. You win the Anaheim car game. Your car is cooler than Albert Pujols'." To which he hid a grin and said thanks while finishing my Ducks Team Leaders card also autographed by Corey Perry and Viktor Fasth.
After the Ducks came in we followed them into the practice facility and watched their practice. Something you can never do anywhere else, so one more reason I'll be a Ducks fan from now on. They worked hard and then finished up practice so we went back outside to wait for the man of the hour. Future NHL Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne came out and was nice enough to knock out autographs for everyone who waited and asked. First I got this Teemu Selanne autographed 8x10 photograph.
After he signed the photo I had Teemu to sign a puck I picked up from the team store during practice. He signed quickly but gave the nice items people had good signatures, signing in good spots and inscribed when asked. Definitely a class act from a hockey legend so I'm very happy to knocked out getting the "Finnish Flash" autograph before he retires, hopefully with another run at a Stanley Cup championship.
Basically I knocked out almost the entire Ducks team in one day. At some point I'm going to go back to try for more Teemu Selanne autographs and to finish my Score team set. It was a cool day spent with Rob, Al, Benson and Matt and I'm glad I went out to collect the Ducks and start collecting NHL autographs.

Friday, October 11, 2013

RBI (188) Mike Scioscia, Last 2013 Graph...

I already posted about getting Albert Pujols' autograph on the last day of the regular season at Angel Stadium, well I neglected to post knocking out another long time goal longtime Angels manager Mike Scioscia.

Scioscia as a player won 2 World Series Championships with the Dodgers while being a 2-time All Star. He's managed the Angels to over 1,200 Wins, 2 AL Manager of the Year awards, a World Series Championship and somehow found time to make two appearances in the Simpsons.
I haven't had much luck getting this Mike Scioscia autograph so getting after he got to the stadium was a nice pull for me. I've been after him for my 1987 Topps project for two seasons now. It's not like I have any sort of realistic belief that I'll finish the set but the guys in the set seem to be decent signers, its a pleasant design and it's something to work on every once in a while.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

RBI (187) Evan Longoria...

On occasion I'll get an autograph and instead of immediately posting it I'll wait until that player does something noticeable or until he is relevant to post about. Right now with the Rays in postseason against the Red Sox Tampa Bay Rays 3rd baseman Evan Longoria is incredibly relevant and noticeable.

Longo was the 3rd overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft taken out of Long Beach State University the home of fellow stars Jered Weaver, Jason Vargas and Troy Tulowitzki. He's been the power of the heart of the Rays lineup and been recognized with multiple All-Star selections, Gold Glove awards and been named a Silver Slugger. If a third baseman can do it well he's doing it and been one of the main challengers to Adrian Beltre's reign as top third baseman within the American League the past few seasons.
Evan Longoria autographed this 2012 Allen and Ginter "What's in a Name" card for me when the Rays played the Angels during the 2012 season. I like these cards and got his fellow star ace pitcher David Price to sign his version of the card. With stars like Longoria, Price and Ben Zobrist it's easy to see why the Rays are making waves and in the post season.

RBI (186) Rays Magic...

The past few seasons the Tampa Bay Rays have been regular contenders in October and a big part of it has been digging out talent from all parts of the draft. Pitcher Jake McGee is one of those arms they found to be a solid arm coming out of the pen.

McGee was drafted out of the 2004 MLB Draft in the 5th round and debuted in 2010 for the Rays. The lefty has provided solid results for Joe Maddon when he comes out in games appearing in 71 games and recording his first career save this season. He's one of the under the radar guys that has helped the Rays hold on to their magic to push into the post season.
Jake McGee autographed this 2011 Topps Lineage rookie card for me when the Rays were in town to play against the Angels in the 2013 season. I like McGee and especially since the season before he gave me a Orioles commemorative baseball that I saved and ended up getting Adam Jones' autograph on.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

RBI (185) Long Delayed TTM Response...

I was pleasantly surprised to see a TTM return envelope in my mailbox considering I haven't had very much time to send out TTM's this year after burning myself out trying to do my 365 TTM challenge last year. I knew it had to be a fairly old reply but I was shocked to see how old it was when I checked my records.

Cadaret was a journeyman reliever and starter who posted 539 Strikeouts with a 38-32 record pitching from 1987-1994 with a comeback in the 1997-1998 seasons. He debuted for the A's before pitching for the Yankees, Reds, Royals, Jays, Tigers, Angels and eventually the Rangers. I remember asking how it felt to make it back into the majors with the Angels, but unfortunately Mr. Cadaret didn't respond to my letter. I was very glad though to add his autograph in my collection especially since he played for the A's in the 1988 World Series.
Greg Cadaret autographed this 1990 Fleer card for me 2 years and 4 months after I sent it to his home address.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

2013 MLB Season Summary

The 2013 season was a great year and I definitely was able to get some great autographs and memories from it all.

Here's a review of the top autographs I was able to get this baseball season:

Albert Pujols autographed 8x10 photograph

David Ortiz autographed baseball

Dustin Pedroia autographed jersey

Justin Masterson autographed jersey

Mariano Rivera autographed baseball

Joe Nathan autographed 2013 All Star baseball

Terry Francona autographed baseball

Jose Bautista autographed baseball

Troy Percival 2002 World Series autographed baseball

Fred Lynn autographed baseball

Essentially I killed it with the all time greatest Red Sox players. Season awesome. Especially since I knocked out these awesome Sox living in Southern California.

A great fun season with something like a dozen baseballs I got throughout the year without really trying to ballhawk much just going for random toss ups besides my awesome game used ball I got from an umpire for my first in game ball.

RBI (184) Albert Pujols, Graphing the season's final home game...

It took two seasons but I finally did it. I got Albert Pujols' autograph on the final day of the 2013 season after two full seasons of trying to hunt him down.

The last home game was scheduled for the early afternoon so I was able to get to the stadium and catch some of the players going in for the game before I had to go into work. I was too late for a few of the players but Albert Pujols rolled in and after loading up his bags he came to the waiting crowd and started signing. It was a magical high pressure moment for me since it had taken so long for me to even be close to Pujols picking up a pen to sign and I was really worried if he would pick me or not. He reached for my clipboard and sharpie so I was super excited and thanked him for signing.
Albert signed this 8x10 photograph that I took of him at the Angels press conference after he signed as a free agent for the 2012 season. I was so excited to finally put the future Hall of Famer into my collection and it's a huge relief to finally knock him off the list after he signed this photograph at Angel Stadium. Talk about a great way to graph my last day of the season.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

RBI (183) Johnny Pesky...

I don't purchase many autographs and all my graphing at Angel Stadium typically makes readers forget I'm a big Red Sox fan. One autograph I was sure to buy was legendary player, coach and manager Johnny Pesky after his unfortunate passing.
I got this Johnny Pesky autographed baseball inscribed Mr. Red Sox and I'm glad to have it along side my other Red Sox legends pieces like my Bobby DoerrFred Lynn, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia.
With the season wrapping up I'm sure I'll pick up my pen and paper again to start sending out TTM requests over the off season to stay busy and keep a bit of an autograph fix coming through since graphing dries up for me when baseball season ends. I'll be making sure to look for some vintage cardboard to send to some older players to expand my collection while some of them are still around to answer my questions about the different eras of baseball.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

RBI (182) A Utility All Star...

The past few seasons I've had mixed luck when the Rays come into town. I've gotten David Price before and it's one of my favorite pieces in my autograph collection but the position players have been tough for me. I was finally able to get Ben Zobrist's autograph this past season.

Zobrist was drafted in the 6th round of the 2004 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros but was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. He's played every position but pitcher and catcher and that versatility has helped Joe Maddon turn the Rays into a contender. He's been an All-Star two times already with his defensive abilities being valued by the AL All Star managers while having a decent average with pop and speed knocking in over 100 career Home Runs and having 90 career stolen bases.
Ben Zobrist autographed this 2013 Topps Heritage card and was nice enough to inscribe "All-Star" when he signed it for me. I got Zobrist to sign when he came into town with the Rays to play the Angels during the 2013 season.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

RBI (181) New York State of Mind...

I've got to give it up to outfielder/first baseman Nick Swisher. Even when he was a New York Yankee he was a reliable autograph signer and he's kept that trend up since crossing over to the Cleveland Indians.

Swisher was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the first round of the 2002 MLB draft as part of Billy Beane's Moneyball movement. He played for the A's before moving on to the White Sox, Yankees and Indians. While in New York he was a member of the 2009 World Series Championship team and was voted an All Star in 2010. He's crossed the 1000 hits and 200 Home Run marks being a reliable RBI machine despite his fairly pedestrian career batting average.
I had Nick Swisher autograph this 2012 Topps Heritage card for me when the Indians came to Anaheim to play the Angels during the 2013 season. You can find Nick Swisher's twitter @NickSwisher here.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

RBI (180) Adrian Beltre...

One of my favorite players growing up has been Adrian Beltre. He's a slick fielding, power hitting third baseman who I've always enjoyed watching play. His career has primarily been on the West coast besides a year out in Boston so I've always been able to keep track of him and watch his career.

Beltre was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic. He debuted for the Dodgers at age 19 and hasn't turned back since developing into one of the premier 3rd basemen of his era of play. He's a multiple time All-Star, Gold Glover and Silver Slugger winner. He's rapidly advancing his stats to impressive career plateaus with more than 2300 hits, 370 Home Runs and 1,200 RBI's. All of these statistics have been acquired while maintaing top level defense at third so it's going to be interesting to see when he decides to end his career since he still has years left he could play at first base or as a DH when his defense declines. He may make a very interesting run at the traditional Cooperstown marks in the next few years.
I was able to get Adrian Beltre's autograph on this baseball before a Rangers vs Angels game in Anaheim. The ball is actually my first baseball I've gotten from during a game with umpire Brian Knight being kind enough to toss me the ball at the end of the first inning of the Indians vs Angels game on the 19th of September, 2013. Since it was my first ball given to me actually during a baseball game I held onto it for someone special and one of my favorite players is definitely special enough for me to use on him.

RBI (179) Troy Percival...

I've written in the past before about getting Angels pitcher Troy Percival's autograph in person on a baseball and through the mail. The Angels held a fiesta celebration at the stadium and had current players as well as alumni come to sign autographs for the fans and Percival was among the alumni who came back.
I had Troy Percival autograph this baseball and he was nice enough to inscribe "02 CHAMPS" on the ball under the World Series logo. The autograph and inscription came out nicely so I don't think I'll turn this into a 2002 team ball and will leave it as a Percival solo signed ball. The ball was actually a nice surprise my parents found when going through some old boxes that they picked up back when the team actually won the World Series so it was awesome to find a 11 year old baseball and get it signed by one of my favorite former Angels.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

RBI (178) Josh Beckett....

I was able to continue with my project to assemble the Red Sox 2007 World Series Championship rotation through a trade with my friend Al. He's working on building the 2012 Topps Heritage set so I traded him a giant stack of short prints and a few I had gotten signed myself for this Josh Beckett autographed baseball that he got one of the days I wasn't able to graph the Dodgers.
Beckett is a multi-time All Star, won 2003 and 2007 World Series Championships, crossed the 1700 Strikeout plateau, and has more than 130 Wins. He's a welcome addition to my collection and now is alongside my Jon Lester and Curt Schilling autographed baseballs so now I only need one more to finish the collection that won in 2007.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

RBI (177) Jason Kipnis...

The American League is stacked with some quality second basemen from Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia and now Jason Kipnis. Kipnis is a huge part of the Indians revival as a cornerstone of the franchise.

Kipnis was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 MLB draft and debuted in 2011 for the Indians. He's been a reliable solution for the tribe at second base with a combination of solid defense, home run power and speed on the base paths. In two full seasons he's already developed into a consistent 15/25 player. His solid numbers have resulted in an All Star nod already with more recognition likely in store for him down the road though hardware will be tough to come by considering Pedroia and Cano's residence in the AL.
I was lucky enough to get this Jason Kipnis autographed 2012 Topps Heritage card during the Indians vs Angels series at Angel Stadium during the 2013 season. I did well getting Cleveland Indians autographs this season so I'm looking forward to them coming back around so I can work on getting a few more signatures.

Monday, August 26, 2013

RBI (176) A Comeback All Star...

Recently I was able to get the autograph of former All Star pitcher Scott Kazmir.

Kazmir was drafted 15th overall in the 2002 Draft by the New York Mets despite verbally committing to the Longhorns. He was traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2004 and became a staff leader until he was traded to the Angels. After the trade his career fell apart and he dropped out of baseball until he worked his way back through independent ball and the minors to come back up with the Indians. He's been a 2-time All Star and was the 2007 AL Strikeout leader.
Scott Kazmir autographed this 2011 Topps Heritage card for me and was nice enough to inscribe "All Star" on it when I asked him to. To be honest I wasn't a huge Kazmir fan but seeing how he fought his way back into baseball to be part of the Indians resurgence makes me respect him a lot.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

RBI (175) Terry Francona...

I was very happy to get a Terry Francona autographed baseball to add to my collection. It took a few attempts with him as an analyst, Red Sox manager and as manager of the Indians but I was glad to get a ball signed by Francona in my shelf.

Francona is one of the top autographs for me in Red Sox history since he is the manager that was able to break the curse and bring a World Series championship to Boston. He not only broke the curse but also won the 2007 World Series making himself a key part of the Red Sox dynasty. The infamous breakup of the clubhouse cost him his position in Boston and after some time away from managing he has helped turn the Indians around. He's crossed the 1,000 Win plateau and earned two rings, he's definitely one of the top managers in the game.
I got Terry Francona's autograph on this baseball when the Indians came to play the Angels at Angel Stadium during the 2013 season. I had sent a card to Tito during the 365 challenge that I wasn't able to get back so it really means a lot to put this in my collection. I think I'll be trying to get a copy of Francona's book autographed next season and work on getting Francona's signature on my Fenway Park seat.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

RBI (174) Justin Masterson Jersey...

I've posted about my Justin Masterson collection that I've slowly been building and I made a big addition. 2013 has been a huge breakout year for Masterson with him being amongst the top of the AL Strikeout leaders and a strong record. He was named an All Star for the first time so I went ahead and got a Masterson All Star Game bp jersey.
When the Indians came to town I was able to get this Justin Masterson autographed jersey on the numbers with a silver paint pen. He was kind enough to do a dual inscription "1st ASG" and then wrote the bible verse "John 16:33" I'm really happy with how it came out and it's one of my favorite autographs I've been able to get. Without a doubt Justin's one of the nicest and most accommodating signers in baseball whenever he gives out an autograph he really takes his time and knocks them out. He's always sure to give a consistent signature and almost always puts a verse when he signs. Seeing how he incorporated the All Star inscription into his normal signature was a really awesome touch. Justin Masterson's autograph is definitely one of my favorites.

RBI (173) Sandy Alomar Jr...

It's always nice when you're able to get a stud's autograph and it's even nicer when that stud is more than just a player but a respected name within baseball. I was able to get former catcher and current coach Sandy Alomar Jr to sign.

Alomar Jr. was signed by the San Diego Padres as an amateur free agent in 1983. He was traded by the Padres after two short call ups and broke into the Majors with the Cleveland Indians in 1990. Immediately he made a name for himself playing for the Tribe for 10 seasons before becoming a journeyman playing for the White Sox, Rockies, Rangers, Dodgers and finally the Mets. He's a 6-time All-Star and won the 1990 AL Rookie of the Year. After his playing days were over he became a coach for the Indians as well as temporary manager after Manny Acta was fired, but was passed over for Terry Francona to be Acta's replacement.
I was able to get Sandy Alomar Jr. to sign this 1991 Bowman card for me when the Indians were in town to play the Angels during the 2013 season. He was kind enough to inscribe "90 ROY" for me after I asked.

RBI (172) Jim Leyland TTM...

I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my 365 TTM's come back after a long delay. There was no postmark on it so I wasn't sure who had finally responded. When I opened the envelope I was happy to see Jim Leyland signed my card.

Leyland is notorious for chain smoking during games inside the dugout but not many people complain considering the results he's been able to get as a manager. He's won more than 1750 Games, was 2-time NL Manager of the year, AL Manager of the Year and won the 1997 World Series to give the Florida Marlins their first franchise World Series championship. As Detroit's manager he's had another World Series appearance and been one of the more humorous managers in the game. He's quoted as commenting on Orioles stud Manny Machado that he's the league leader of doubles and Leyland is second in doubles, double vodka's and double scotches. 
Jim Leyland autographed this 2011 Topps Heritage card for me that I sent TTM c/o the Tigers at Comercia Park after 1 year and 4 months.

RBI (171) Jonny Gomes...

Big thanks to Matt from MC's Autographs for this one. I was hanging out at the stadium waiting for the Red Sox when he gave me this Jonny Gomes 8x10 that he had an extra copy of so I could get it signed. I never had gotten Gomes before, so it was cool to drop a nicer item than just a card.

Gomes was taken in the 18th round of the 2001 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He debuted for the Rays in September of 2003 and then finally stuck around after a big year in the minors in 2005. He's played for the Rays, Reds, Nationals, A's and currently the Red Sox. He's been a spark plug in the rebuilt Red Sox being a part of the Red Sox beard nation that has helped rebound them from the Bobby Valentine destruction into dominance of the American League.
Jonny Gomes autographed this 8x10 photograph for me when the Red Sox came to play the Angels during the 2013 season. He laughed when he was signing the photo and a player in the dugout I couldn't see made a comment about the shot, responding he must have been hustling after a steak dinner.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ronda Rousey

It's not a secret I'm a big UFC fan and that I'm a huge Ronda Rousey fan especially after going to UFC 157. Ronda Rousey's hot, an Olympic medalist, a UFC champion and a general badass there's too much to not like. After striking out at the UFC World Tour Los Angeles I decided I wanted to add a Ronda autograph especially before it became even more difficult to get one. With her being a coach on the 18th season of the Ultimate Fighter, fighting Miesha Tate as co-main event with Anderson Silva and Chris Wieddman and getting ready to film the Expendables 3 getting Rousey to sign will be even tougher.
I got this Ronda Rousey autographed 11x14 photograph on ebay for a pretty fair price and I'm stoked to have a Ronda Rousey autograph in my collection especially after I got it PSA authenticated.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

KIC Print

I added another print to the collection that I keep displayed. This one is a small "Defy All Odds" 4x6 print of local upstart Southern California KIC brand showcasing their logo character Spacey. The brand has expanded to cover snapbacks, beanies, tshirts, stickers and even socks.
All the packages of the KIC Set Up The Upset tshirts come with Spacey stickers and a personalized note on the "Defy All Odds" Spacey print.
Obviously from the hot girls repping the KIC brand Set Up The Upset tshirt care packages and Spacey prints have some fans and I know I'm one of them.
Besides who is really going to complain about seeing hot girls in their KIC Set Up The Upset tshirts or the alien logo prints and stickers?
I know I won't be complaining. And even MMA fighter Marina Shafir likes her Spacey beanie care package.