Posted in Autographs, Star Trek, Star Wars

A few new autographs…

I’m loving the New York Mets’ start this season (9-1 is the best in franchise history), but I haven’t been having a ton of luck with baseball autographs lately. I went 0-for-5 with the requests I mailed out to spring training camps and just got a return to sender from Dusty Baker last week.

I started working on my non-baseball autograph collections more this year, and I’ve gotten four new photos to add to my albums this week.

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First up is a signed photo of two of the members of the cantina band from the original Star Wars film. Speedy Turtle Autograph Service ran private signings with Kim Falkinburg and Jibralta Merrill, two ILM staff members who were drafted to play band members and my dual-signed photo arrived on Monday. Continue reading “A few new autographs…”

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Posted in Autographs, Star Wars

A new addition to my Star Wars autograph collection & some thoughts on collecting

Earlier this week, I received a signed photo from actor Marton Csokas who’s in a Broadway play with Uma Thurman that ends in early March. Csokas is probably best known to genre fans for playing Celeborn in two of the Lord of the Rings movies and Trevor Goodchild in Aeon Flux.

In an uncredited role, Csokas provided the voice for Geonosian leader Poggle the Lesser in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. And that’s why I wrote to him to ask for an autograph. He responded in less than a week, and I have my first new Star Wars autograph of 2018. Pretty cool

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Lucasfilm released some footage of Solo: A Star Wars Story this week. Full disclosure: I did not want a “young Han Solo” movie, and I still do not think Alden Ehrenreich looks enough like Harrison Ford circa 1976. And it didn’t really help when the movie’s original directors were fired late in filming over “creative differences.”

But you know what? I’m coming around to the idea that a Star Wars caper movie could be really fun. And in the little bit we see of Ehrenreich in these clips, he seems like he’s got Han Solo’s mannerisms down.

So yeah, I’m looking forward to watching Solo on Memorial Day weekend… though I’m not sure how well it’s going to fare among all the summer blockbusters. (Avengers: Infinity War comes out May 4, Deadpool 2 is coming on May 18 and Ocean’s 8 will be out June 8.) But hey, that’s Disney’s problem.

New Star Wars Media

In other news this week, Disney announced that Game of Thrones show-runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will write and produce an entire series of new Star Wars films. This comes after the November announcement that The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson will helm a new trilogy of films to be released at some point after the as yet untitled Episode IX comes out next year. And Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors “We are developing not just one, but a few Star Wars series specifically for the Disney direct-to-consumer app.”

Am I alone in thinking that’s a lot of Star Wars?

Now I’m totally going to be there to watch all of it as long as it is entertaining. But as far as collecting goes? I think it’s time to re-evaluate.

I have literally hundreds of Star Wars action figures, and in a couple of months it will be time to buy new ones for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Except maybe I won’t.

I will get whatever comes out for Episode IX to finish the sequel trilogy… and then I’m definitely out. I can’t display everything I have now… and it’s becoming increasingly clear that Star Wars will probably still be going long after I’m gone. (Although, based on Hasbro’s fourth quarter earnings report, I’m less confident about the long-term future of Star Wars action figures.)

I’m not sure where I am with autograph collecting, either.

I have a nice original trilogy collection (no Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, Harrison Ford, Frank Oz or Ian McDiarmid, but I do have all of the other main characters and a lot of minor ones.) I have an interesting prequel trilogy collection (Jake Lloyd, Ahmed Best and Temuera Morrison are the only main characters, but I have a lot of the minor Jedi and other colorful characters.)

I have no one from the sequel trilogy. Spencer Wilding is the only one I have from Rogue One. The principal characters either aren’t available or aren’t affordable. (Sorry, Felicity Jones, you were great as Jyn Erso but I couldn’t swing the $200 you were charging at New York Comic Con last year.)

So is it really worth pursuing autographs from the casts of these new films? Or am I better off trying to add more from the original and prequel trilogies? I haven’t really decided yet.

Posted in Autographs, Baseball, New York Mets

Some recent additions to my Mets autograph collection

Last weekend, I went to MAB Celebrity Service’s Pinstripe Parade autograph show with my friend Bart. It was kind of overwhelming, really.

People bought around 300 tickets at $60 a piece for New York Yankees prospect Gleyber Torres’ autograph. Alex Rodriguez, in his first area autograph signing in more than a decade, might have been even more popular even though his autograph tickets started at $149 and went up depending on what you were getting signed. New Hall of Fame member Chipper Jones was doing his first signing since the election announcement, and he was also very in demand.

It didn’t feel like there was enough space for all of the people who were waiting for autographs, and I was thankful that I wasn’t getting any so I could steer clear of the densest crowds.

But I did come home with a selection of 15 bargain-priced signed Mets photos for a total cost of around what my friend spent to get one baseball card signed by Gleyber Torres.

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1517509133305-dcb1b45d-115d-4afc-93a2-7516ed80b0b8.jpgYesterday, I got a signed baseball card back in the mail from Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo, from a request I mailed to Mets spring training camp last February. Unlike the photo he signed for me at the Queens Baseball Convention last month, Nimmo personalized the card for me. Very cool.

Other odds & ends

Posted in Autographs, Star Trek

Paradise City Comic Con autographs

1516724506558-05e5577a-84b3-44b4-aebe-eb86e854b4d2_.jpgEarlier this month, a friend offered to get autographs for me at Paradise City Comic Con if there was anyone I needed among their guest list.

Since I had some Christmas money and there were a couple of Star Trek actors on the list, I happily said thank you & yes.

Marina Sirtis played Counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and it seemed like she always had to fight for good storylines. One of my favorite Troi episodes came in season six, “Face of the Enemy” when the counselor was captured and surgically altered to appear as a Romulan Talshiar officer to assist in the defection of a high-level Romulan government official.

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Terry Farrell played science officer Jadzia Dax for six seasons on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It’s been almost 20 years since the show went off the air, and it remains one of my favorite television series. Once of the most memorable episodes is “Trials and Tribble-ations,” an homage to the Original Series classic “The Trouble with Tribbles.” It’s a time travel story that made use of special effects to insert the DS9 characters into scenes with Captain Kirk and his crew. Coincidentally, my friend reports that it is Farrell’s favorite episode of the series.

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Posted in Autographs, Baseball

A surprise from Clay Parker

1516642684853-f71d3fec-70b7-40b4-88e3-90ddf20f637e.jpgI used to be very into mailing baseball cards to current and former players to see if they’d sign them for me. It used to be fairly common for all but the biggest stars to respond.

As time went on, responses from current players grew less common and I’d already gotten many of the former players that I remembered watching when I was younger. So I’ve cut back on mailing.

It was always fun to get a surprise in the mail beyond the standard advertisements and bills, and that’s the part that I miss now that I might send out five or ten letters during the year instead of five or ten dozen like I used to.

But every so often I’ll still get one of the old ones back. On Monday, I got an envelope postmarked from Chattanooga, Tenn. I figured it must be someone who was taking care of last year’s fan mail before they left for spring training.

I opened it and found a 1990 Fleer card from Clay Parker, and I had to check my records at SportsCollectors.Net because I didn’t remember writing to him. Turns out I tried twice, in 2011 and 2012. Yup, my card had been out for at least six years.

Now I think it’s pretty cool that former players will actually bother to open and respond to fan mail from strangers, period. And considering that my likely response to finding a pile of letters from 2011 or 2012 would be to get rid of the clutter, I’m happy Mr. Parker decided to sign my card and mail it back.

While I root for the Mets, I consider myself a baseball fan… and I had a soft spot for the not-very-good Yankee teams of the late 1980s/ early 1990s. (We didn’t have cable, so we tended to watch whichever team had a game on broadcast television on a given night.)

As a rookie with the 1989 Yankees, Clay Parker won four of nine decisions and threw two complete games in 17 starts. He also made five relief appearances, posting a 3.58 ERA.  The next summer, he was shipped the Detroit Tigers with Lance McCullers Sr. in exchange for catcher Matt Nokes, who had been an All-Star three years before. I thought he’d have a solid MLB career, even if he never became a star.

By 1992, Parker had thrown his final MLB pitch. I’m not really sure what happened, whether injuries derailed a career or whether MLB hitters proved to be better at making adjustments… or maybe just bad fortune.

Regardless, I’m happy Mr. Parker took the time to bring back some memories for me.

Odds & ends

I’m not sold on the pitch clock either, and Manfred’s plan to limit mound visits doesn’t go far enough to suit me. Want to speed up baseball games? Get rid of all of the trips to the mound! We know that most of the time, the manager, pitching coach and catcher are going out there to stall for time… and that it’s boring! Forcing managers to have relievers ready and making quicker decisions about bringing them in will have less of an effect on the integrity of the game than Manfred’s pitch clock, and would do more to get rid of dead time. Another pace-of-play improvement I’d like to see is to force managers to make an instant decision on whether to ask for replay review – no more consultations with replay coordinators.

Posted in Autographs, Baseball, New York Mets

Queens Baseball Convention recap

We got a hint of early spring weather this weekend, and the Queens Baseball Convention brought us a taste baseball. Current Mets Brandon Nimmo and Chris Flexen and former Met star Todd Hundley told stories about their careers and signed autographs for a couple hundred fans who packed the Katch Astoria on Saturday.

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I really want to compliment the event organizers for putting together a fun event that allowed us to celebrate being Mets fans for an afternoon. Flexen and especially Nimmo made new fans with their humble and genuine natures, and Hundley told some great stories about his playing days, like the time Gary Carter stole a base against him or how Hundley thought he’d been traded when he got the news he’d gotten his first MLB callup.  (In 25+ years, Hundley is the first Mets player I remember saying that Eddie Murray helped him to be a better hitter.)

Other odds & ends

I hope Wright is able to leave the game on his own terms. He says that he’s listening to his doctors and will walk away if they tell him that continuing to try to play will harm his long-term health, and that’s the only reason I’d want him to give up on his comeback attempt.

I’d be happy to have Colon back on a minor league deal, if he’s willing to go to Las Vegas as an insurance policy if one of the Mets’ starters gets hurt or underperforms. But at age 44, Colon is as much of a lottery ticket as Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, only with a much lower upside. So if Colon needs a major league guarantee, I’d pass.

Tebow has played better than I would have expected and I’ve heard a number of stories about how good he’s been interacting with fans. But by the same token, he’s a 30-year-old Single-A player who can only be counted as a prospect by the most charitable definition. So what kind of message does this to the organizational veterans in the Mets’ minor league system? Probably not a good one.

The Mets are getting better with the “Free Shirt Friday” designs, although there are still some clunkers. At the QBC we learned that Marvel is designing the TBD shirt… odds are it will be Thor-related, but given the weekend I think a David Wright Captain America design could be fun too.

Seth Lugo joined the group of Mets’ players getting married this winter

Posted in Autographs, Baseball Cards, New York Mets

Some baseball cards on a snowy day

It’s snowing again as I write this morning, but we’re less than a month away from the start of spring training. (Yoenis Cespedes, Amed Rosario, Wilmer Flores, and Juan Lagares are already in Florida.)

So I thought I’d share some recent baseball card purchases, my first of 2018. I’m particularly happy with the T.J. Rivera and Josh Smoker cards since they’ve been Mets long enough to appreciate them.

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Baseball Reference tells me that Jamie Callahan and Tomas Nido played for the Mets last year, but I don’t remember them at all. Luis Guillorme made an amazing catch in the dugout last spring, but he’s still waiting for his shot in the big leagues. The A.J. Ramos card is a placeholder until I can get one that shows him as a Met. I think I already had a Matt Reynolds autograph, but he’s sporting the snazzy Mr. Met spring training cap and it was only a dollar… so why not?

Odds & ends:

  • Johnny Monell, who briefly played for the 2015 Mets, has joined the Tampa Bay Rays organization