Saturday, March 3, 2012

More Returns From Spring TTM1! (and some fist-pumping)

Back in '97 (good grief....that's when I graduated from high school.....BACK in '97?!?!?), Nine Inch Nails put out a pretty edgy song entitled, "The Perfect Drug".   It walked that wonderfully thin line of appropriateness that was so very enjoyable at that point in life.   I can't go rolling through my neighborhood with that song blaring out the windows anymore, but you better believe that if it ever streams across the Apple TV's Internet radio while my kids aren't around - I'll be reaching for the volume and doing some serious fist-pumping.

Not Just For Fridays, Anymore!

What was the point of that weird diversion?   Well, NIN's song could be a very applicable anthem for TTM requests when they return victoriously.   There's really nothing quite like the joy of seeing one of those envelopes or packages waiting for us.    You immediately start guessing who might have responded and then tear into the little reward that you put some effort into and, probably, a little bit of cash.   It's a gamble and a collector's high - but in the end, it's also just some good, clean fun that connects us with a person we admire or a game we enjoy.

And this past Monday delivered another round of goodness from my STTM1 adventure!   There were two little envelopes waiting for me on the counter with the familiar "TAMPA" USPS stamp on the front (naturally).   Let's see what we had!

Many of you might  know him as "General Palpatine"

My first baseball "Front Office" TTM request - New York Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager, Brian Cashman.   He is certainly a polarizing individual in the lexicon of our sport and hobby, existing as an integral player in the ongoing operational and personnel decisions of the most expensive large-market teams in major league baseball.   Joining the organization in 1986 as an intern after finishing college (where he excelled as the lead off hitter for his school's baseball team), Brian worked his way up the ranks and found himself in the role he now fills by 1998.   Since his tenure as GM began, the Yanks have brought home six American League pennants and four World Series championships.

It hasn't been all butterflies and unicorns, though, as Cashman experienced tension with other Yankees executives over the years - fulfilling what almost seems to be a requirement for the job.   Despite differences that almost led to Brian leaving the team in 2005, the 2009 MLB Executive of the Year is now serving under a contract that will have him with the team through the end of the 2014 season.

Working to become a better fan and collector over the past year, I followed the organization's moves this past season with renewed interest.   The surprising Montero-Pineda deal was a reminder that there is a greater plan at work and even though I was disappointed to learn of Montero's departure, I applaud the executive office's gutsy nerve to think outside of the box.   We may not know the true Winners and Losers form the deal for several seasons, but it will sure be fun to watch!   I am sure Cashman had a part in that deal, along with the club's moves to add lefty slugger (I feel like I'm going out on a limb with that title, but what the heck) Raul Ibanez at a serious discount and even the long-term roll of the dice on Joba's TJ surgery rehab partner-in-crime, David Aardsma.  

Cashman was kind of enough to take the time to sign my Autograph Card and I love how he added the tiny inscription of "GM" to the side of his signature.   I think it's pretty sharp and I'm excited to have it in my collection, highlighting the often controversial yet necessary business side of our national pastime.   Thank you for the keepsake, Mr. Cashman, and good luck with our team as we move into a new season and drive for the post season!

From the front office to behind the plate, here's the other great return from Monday:

Like Luke Skywalker, he shall redeem his father's career with the Dark Side!
(I know - two Star Wars references in one post.   Bare with me, folks!)

Austin Romine is one of the Yankees' fine catching prospects.   In fact, the prospects for his chances to see more action in the near future may have become a little greater with Montero's off season departure (even though Jesus was never given much thought for his defensive capabilities!).   I had not yet picked up a baseball card for Austin when I sent out the TTM (I now have a few) but I think his signature looks great on the signature card shown above.

Mr. Romine came up to the Big's for some coffee last fall after making the move to Triple A on September 1st.   They always say "you're an injury away" and this was certainly the scenario for Austin  as unfortunate injuries befell both Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli.   Needing immediate help, Joe Girardi reached for the Manager's Bat Phone to give Romine a call but, weirdly, the numbers he had didn't work.

Maybe Austin upgraded to an iPhone when he achieved AAA status?   Serious Organizational Phone Tree FAILURE.

Anyways, the story goes that Joe then enlisted the help of Romine's brother and Anaheim Angel, Andrew.   Andrew knew how to get in touch with his brother but when Girardi finally reached his young catcher, it was via Austin's girlfriend's phone while the two lovebirds were shopping in a Kentucky Walmart.

I read this on the Internet - so it's definitely true!

Regardless of the details, Austin joined the team on the west-coast swing and saw his first action as a major leaguer against his brother's Angels on September 11, 2011.   He picked up his first hit the following day.   Good stuff!

I'm excited about Austin's ability but I am a little worried about his back.   It gave him some trouble last August and now seems to have flared up again in spring workouts.   Forgive my nervousness, it is a result of being a Mattingly fan, I'm sure.   Skipper Girardi seems to have some strong confidence in the young fellow, though, and is hoping to have Austin back in a strong position to become an everyday catcher for the team or at least secure the back-up slot this season.   I'll certainly be rooting for him as he tries to earn his spot, along with this dude:    

FOUND: Joba's flat-brim inspiration!
Proud Papa

Sure, Austin's old man played for that terrible Chicken 'n Beer outfit from Massachusetts, but any father-son legacy aspect is always pretty cool!

Thanks for taking the time to sign my card, Austin, and best of luck to you as you chase your spot with the team.

Thanks for reading!


  1. I was going to e-mail about it but couldn't find it. I put up a new post on my 1979 Topps blog and you got the blog love here's a link for it:

    Hope you enjoy the trip back to '79.