2022 Panini Score Football – (Yawn) It’s Ok

I ordered a blaster of 2022 Panini Score Football from Target. It’s nice to still be able to get some low-end stuff at a reasonable price. The box has 22 cards per pack with 6 packs per box. I was mainly just looking for guys from my fantasy team, Seahawks, and any fun random stuff. I had low expectations and they were more than met lol.

A typical pack had 12 of vets (current and former players), 5 RC’s, a parallel, and 4 inserts. I liked the front of the base design but sorely miss the “Fun Facts” from the back of last year’s cards. Most of the inserts are pretty cool too. I think my favorites are the “Celebrations”, “First Ballot” Hall of Famers, and “Sack Attack”

Probably the coolest card was this Lavaiska Shenault Jr. Electric parallel #14/99.

In terms of Seahawks, I got a Charles Cross RC, Jordyn Brooks gold parallel, a DK Metcalf inserts, and a team Huddle insert. I think Matt Stafford and Hollywood Brown were there from my fantasy team’s bench but not the other dudes.

One of the cool things about Score is that the base set is over 400 cards (300 vets plus 100 rookies) and includes a much larger variety of players than the other releases. Last year I bought a retail box rather than a blaster, and that steered me in the direction of building a base set (which I’m actually still working on). This year, starting with just the blaster, I don’t feel particularly motivated to build a set.

Overall, Score is what it is, just fun to see who you get, cool if you want to build a set, but not particularly inspiring visually or otherwise. I’d give 2022 Panini Score Football 3 out of 5 stars.

10/15/22 – ALDS Game 3- Astros at Mariners

SGA – M’s Rally Towel
Autos – Luis Garcia and Dusty Baker
Final Score – Astros 1, M’s 0
Astros win ALDS 3-0 and proceed to ALCS
End of the Mariners postseason.

The M’s 2022 Playoff Run So Far!

AL Wildcard Series

AL Division Series


Pre-Pregame

Having never been to a MLB playoff game, I had a lot of angst about what to bring. Do I bring graphing stuff? Would there be any graphing? Do I even bring a backpack, or would it be too cumbersome in a big crowd, especially if I had to like get up for a snack or the bathroom?

After much hemming and hawing, I decided to bring the usual stuff — blue ballpoint pen, blue sharpie, black sharpie, silver paint pen, backup pens and markers, OMLB, M’s team ball, a random MLBers ball, visitor cards, current and former Mariner cards, card storage supplies, etc. I did leave some stuff at home — visitor clothes, mini clipboard, All Star Game ball, jumbo cards, backups for backup pens and markers, etc. Wore my Mariners gear, left my Astros stuff at home. They’re my second favorite AL team, but this was the playoffs. I did bring a windbreaker to cover my Mariners stuff while on the Houston side. 🙂

There was plenty of parking at the light rail station and people were heading over early. I felt a lot of tense and quiet anxious energy mixed with “not confident” hope — or maybe that was just me ha ha. The gate lines were pretty long but some of my buddies had a good spot and included yours truly. Getting in was smooth and I received an awesome Rally Towel for use during the game. 🙂


Pregame

I’m glad I came prepared! The Mariners were already inside when the gates opened 2.5 hrs prior to first pitch. The Astros were doing the full complement of batting, pitching, and throwing practices. Lots of players were around and they looked relaxed. I did not see a lot of them signing. However, I did see a couple of pitchers near the left field railing and headed over. Luis Garcia patiently signed a card for me through the netting. It looked like he was going to “miss” at first but he carefully adjusted. The blue sharpie is a little gappy on the glossy surface but he signed it nicely. I may send it to the restoration department to ink it in a little, or just leave it alone it’s also fine as it is. Thank you Luis! That was the good news.

The bad news was that Framber Valdez was also there but skipped me and my card. I followed him to two other spots towards the dugout and he skipped me two more times. I don’t know if it was cause I left my Astros gear at home or cause I was too manly lol but that’s what happened, even after the Astros Sign Lady and another Houston superfan tried to help me. Thanks ladies. 🙂

However, there was more good news! Dusty Baker was signing at the home plate corner of the dugout. I was down the line past the camera well but decided to quickly head over and give it a shot. He signed my baseball, on the sweet spot no less! When I tossed it to him, I thought it dropped into the dugout. I don’t even know if he signed the ball I gave him or another one. Anyway, after signing it nicely he rolled it back to me on the top out of the dugout. I tried not to smear it as I took a photo and stored it in my backpack but i think somewhere along the line it smeared a little. Could have just been the pen. Regardless of the cause, the restoration department (at my house) used a white eraser to reduce the biggest smudges without like going inside the letters or anything. So the ball is a little dinged up and the auto is very slightly smeared but it’s still awesome and now stored safely. Thank you Dusty!

I considered going over to the Mariners side for the anthem/pregame stretches/etc. but thought I wouldn’t be able to hang out in an aisle, didn’t want to stand in front of the purchaser of a front row seat before our first home playoff game in 21 years, thought the players wouldn’t sign before this special game, wanted to be in my seat and see the first pitch, etc. I was in a concessions line for part of the formal introductions, hearing loud boos for the Astros and loud cheers for the M’s. I was at my seat for the anthem and stretches and didn’t see any of the good guys signing, but there were lots of fireworks, a flyover from a couple of naval fighter planes, and a first pitch from Felix Hernandez to Franklin Gutierrez. 🙂


The Game

Despite the smoke from wildfires in our region, it was a beautiful afternoon, evening, and night for baseball. It was a full house of 47,960 with over 95% M’s fans waving our new towels and watching our first home playoff game in 21 years. …… Let’s Go Mariners! …… Let’s Go Mariners! The crowd was loudly anti-Astros and pro-Mariners. The M’s needed to win this game to keep their season alive.

There was a lot of great pitching and defense. A lot. It was an 18 inning game, taking 6 hours and 22 minutes. Both teams threatened at various points but couldn’t cash in. There was a bizarre strike zone and lots of strikeouts, plus some defensive gems by Julio Rodriguez, Jarred Kelenic, Ty France, and others. It was downright scary every time Jordan Álvarez came up (and he did not homer today/tonight!) and exciting every time JRod came up (he didn’t homer either). Meanwhile, the normally reliable Jose Altuve and Mitch Haniger both struggled.

Kudos to the pitchers from both teams! Starters George Kirby (7 shutout innings, 6 hits, and 5 strikeouts) and Lance McCullers Jr. (6 shutout innings, 2 hits, and 7 strikeouts) were both excellent. The parade of relievers for each team was very effective. For the M’s, it was particularly nice to see Andres Munoz and Paul Sewald succeed after taking some lumps earlier in the series.

To be honest, I was ready for it to be over by about the 12th inning, preferably with an M’s win. I also had a newfound appreciation for the runner on 2nd thing in extra innings during the regular season. I used to think it was corny but now I think it should also be part of the postseason. Then again, it was kind of cool to get a whole second game in lol. 🙂

I’d have to say Houston had three heroes. The first hero was Luis Garcia. (Recall that Garcia signed during BP.). With his unusual rocking the baby or swinging an air bat or whatever he was doing before actually throwing the ball, plus around a 20 mile difference between his fastball and curveball, he was absolutely fantastic. He allowed only two hits and struck out six over the last five innings.

The second hero was Dusty Baker for calling on Garcia in the bottom of the 14th. (Recall that Dusty also signed during BP.) Garcia has both started and relieved effectively in his career so he seemed like a sensible choice. (I thought the M’s should have brought in Logan Gilbert around the 13th inning or so. I mean the season was on the line here! But it didn’t happen.)

The third hero was Jeremy Peña. (I did not see him sign during BP.) He had already been clutch in the first two games. Tonight, he hit the game winning home run off Penn Murfee in the top of the 18th. It felt like an excruciatingly slow line drive to centerfield but was actually pretty fast at 105.3 mph with a 24 degree launch angle. JRod could only turn and watch as it quietly traveled 415 feet and landed in The Pen. It felt like our playoff balloon had been pierced and was quietly leaking until it was suddenly just plain deflated. It was the only freaking run in the game. As Peña rounded the bases, half the Houston team ran out of the dugout because it was obviously such a huge dagger. Jose Altuve was riding around on someone’s back and everything. Mariner fans everywhere were stunned.

The ‘Stros would storm out again after Garcia finished off the bottom of the 18th. Victory for the Houston Astros and heartbreak for the Seattle Mariners. We were tied or leading for 30 of the 36 innings in the series but got swept. I was crying on the inside and still am a day later, but eventually I’ll be thinking about it all and smiling cause this was such a cool team. It was a brutal end to a wonderful season.

Final Score – Astros 1, M’s 0; Astros win ALDS 3-0 and proceed to ALCS; End of the Mariners postseason.

10/01/22 – A’s at Mariners

Autos – Jamie Moyer, Dan Wilson, Alvin Davis; Matt Boyd, Andres Munoz, Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, Erik Swanson, Harry Ford

Final Score – Mariners 5, A’s 1

Pregame

Yes it was Mariners Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Day. Everyone was operating on less sleep than usual but in high spirits given the previous night’s clinching of our first playoff berth in 21 years! No scratch off tickets this year but we each got a nice 2023 All Star Game pin. The M’s went from around 3,000 or 4,000 season ticket holders to over 10,000 this year. A large part of the increase is due to people wanting guaranteed access to purchasing this year’s playoff and next year’s all star game tickets, so the pin was apropos.

Before the game, there was a Q&A with Mariners Hall of Famers Alvin Davis, Jamie Moyer, and Dan Wilson, hosted by Rick Rizzz. Baseball players often talk about routines and consistency, so I asked something to the effect of, “Regardless of the hype around a given game, what was the most important aspect of your pregame routine?” (See my buddy’s video below for the question and part of the responses.) I was expecting them to each mention a personal quirk or superstition, but the players focused on the process.

Mariners HOF Round Table – Rick Rizzz, Alvin Davis, Dan Wilson, and Jamie Moyer

Perhaps I should not have been surprised by the process emphasis. They’re baseball players and it’s a long season — and routines are part of the process lol. Jamie Moyer talked about daily consistency from home onward. He kept it the same every day. Be prepared each and every day, it’s a team game. Respect the game and your teammates. Be consistent in your offerings to the team. Dan Wilson said take however many reps you need on a given task within the routine to get to that place where you want to be. Alvin Davis, at a different point in the Q&A, mentioned that when he was on the road he would get to the opponent’s ballpark early to check it out and get comfortable. Rick Rizzz said he eats a big plate of meatballs and pasta before each game. My buddies thought he was kidding but I think he was serious. 🙂

When I approached him later for an auto, Jamie complemented my question, which I thought was kind of cool. I told him that some of things I got out of his response were the importance of consistency, being prepared, and respecting your teammates and the game. He then added, “Leave no stone unturned.” 🙂 Dan Wilson also complimented the question. Since I only had a Reds card for Willie, I asked if he could add “Go M’s” on it, and he graciously obliged. Somehow, I forgot to bring a card for Alvin Davis, so I asked him to sign my team ball. I thought about asking him to write “Mr. Mariner”, but I didn’t. He wrote “John 3:16” instead (of his own volition). He made no comment on my question ha ha. Thanks Jamie, Dan, and Alvin for signing, and for your comments and stories during the Q&A!

Lots of the current players signed! It was mostly pitchers – Matt Boyd on the team ball; Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, Andres Munoz, and Erik Swanson on cards. Thanks guys! I missed Diego Castillo (who was one spot over), and Matt Brash. He was over in the right field corner and signing a ton. I skeddadled over there, got a decent spot, and even followed if he went the other way, but I was about two fans away when he left. I have a jersey card I’d really like him to sign and I was quite disappointed. At least I gave it my best shot. Maybe next time! Also, several of the Mariners top minor leaguers were on the field. 2021 1st round draft pick Harry Ford signed my team ball. Thanks dude!

Before the game, I waited at the 120/119 aisle for Mitch Haniger. But Haniger and several of the other regulars were not in the lineup, and Dylan Moore, among other players, did not stop by. Jesse Winker signed about 10 at the next spot over, and Jarred Kelenic signed a ton in the right field corner (looked like mostly balls for kids).


The Game

In the top of the 1st, the M’s looked like a team that was up celebrating the night before. Even though Luis Castillo and company did not look sharp, they only gave up one run. They quickly got back in gear, scoring three in the bottom of the inning. Meanwhile, Castillo settled in, totaling 6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO. That’s pretty good lol. I had to leave after the 6th inning to get to my cousin’s birthday party. The M’s tacked on a couple more runs in the bottom of the 8th to ice it.

Final Score – Mariners 5, A’s 1

09/30/22 – A’s at Mariners

Final Score – M’s 2, A’s 1
Mariners clinch 2022 AL Wild Card berth!

Pregame

I was more anxious about how and when I’d get to the game than the game itself. Normally, I leave the house about 1.5 hours before the gates open and get there in plenty of time. Today I had to wait for my wife to get home before I could leave so it would be later. Anyhow, left the house around 5:15, got through traffic to the light rail station, found a parking spot PTL, and was on the train around 5:45. I believe I was in the stadium around 6:30. I brought some cards but missed the autograph action, but was there for the first pitch at 6:40 and got some nice seats. 🙂


The Game

Since the M’s magic number was down to 1, either an Orioles loss to the Yankees or an M’s win over the A’s would clinch a playoff spot. It would be the first Mariners playoff appearance since 2001, and would and a 21 year postseason drought (the longest in major American professional sports). The O’s won, so I billed this M’s game as “The Game of the Century — So Far”.

The game was tight. Each pitcher gave up a home run in the early innings but neither offense got much going. Both the A’s Ken Waldichuk and the M’s Logan Gilbert were outstanding. Logan gifted us with a fantastic eight inning masterpiece — 8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO. Just the guy to have up there in this pressure situation, cool as a cucumber. 🙂

It was 1-1 going into the ninth. Matt Brash took care of the top of the ninth. If we needed to go to extra innings, I felt pretty good about it since we have a strong bullpen, decent team speed, the runner starting on second, and the last at bat here at home. 🙂 Extra innings, it turned out, would not be necessary.

In the bottom of the 9th, with two outs and a 3-2 count, pinch hitter Cal Raleigh golfed a ball high into the night sky and down the right field line. Everything went into slow motion. The question was if it would stay fair. It did! I thought it hit the foul pole but it might have actually bounced off a window on The Hit It Here Cafe, not that it matters. Walk off home run!!! Pandemonium ensued as the M’s won 2-1 and clinched a wild card spot, ending the drought!!!


Postgame

Everybody was going crazy, players and fans alike. Just making the playoffs was such a huge deal for Mariner fans that everyone celebrated like we won the World Series! I can’t describe it except to say it was (and still is) so joyful. I was cheering, yelling, jumping around, dancing, hugging, high-fiving many fellow fans in close proximity, etc. The M’s finally did it! They came so close so many times in the past 21 years but this group put it together and made it! The players celebrated big time! They did the type celebrations you usually see for winning a big playoff series on the field and in the clubhouse, and then came back out to celebrate with family and the fans. I’ve never seen them party like that, which makes sense cause we haven’t had that much to party about since 2001 lol. It was just so awesome! These photos hardly do it justice. Was probably there for a couple of hours after the game just enjoying it all. 🙂

09/27/22 – Rangers at Mariners

Autos – Matt Moore, Josh Jung
Final Score – Rangers 5, Mariners 0

Pregame

Well it was kind of a slow pregame. By the time I got in, the Rangers were in the midst of their BP. It was a smaller crowd than in most of the previous games and much lower energy. Matt Moore signed a card at the camera well, and Josh Jung signed a baseball at the corner of the dugout. Thank you Matt and Josh!

The random MLB’ers ball I started earlier in the year filled up so I brought a new one to this game. I picked a ball I got in the dugout from one of the groundskeepers earlier this year. Thanks again man! It’s got a scuff and a little dirt on it from actually being used but is still relatively clean. This was the ball I gave to Josh Jung and he signed it graciously and very nicely on the sweet spot. I didn’t realize he was a first round pick and a major prospect, the #1 prospect in their organization in fact! When I found that out, I put the ball safely away. 🙂 Coincidentally, earlier this month I pulled an auto card from his younger brother Jace. There is definitely a family resemblance in the autos lol.

No longer ready with my random MLB’ers ball, I missed Bubba Thompson and a few other guys. I also missed Glen Otto at the camera well. I didn’t recognize him at first. By the time I got over he was wrapping things up and I was too far back in line when he left. I had a nice card for him so I felt a little bummed, but I already pulled an auto card from him earlier this summer so that’s some consolation.

Right before the game, I decided to stay on the Rangers’ side and wait for guys like Sam Huff, Marcus Semien, and of course, Corey Seager. None of them stopped by. Peeking over to the M’s side, I saw Mitch Haniger and Ty France signing but yeah I was on the opposite side around 20 sections away lol.


The Game

Rangers rookie 3rd baseman Josh Jung was the star of the game. He drove in all five Texas runs. In the top of the 2nd, he destroyed a ball for a solo homer to left. In the top of the 6th, he had an RBI single. In the top of the 8th, he destroyed another ball to center for a three run homer.

The M’s could get nothing going offensively. It was painful to watch. Fortunately the Orioles also lost, so the M’s magic number to make the playoffs went down to 5. I mean we haven’t been there since 2001 and it’s the longest postseason drought in major American professional sports so it’s a very big deal if we get in regardless of how we get in. 🙂

Final Score – Rangers 5, Mariners 0

09/13/22 – Padres at M’s

Autos – Robert Suarez, Nick Martinez, Josh Hader, Mike Clevinger
Final Score – Padres 2, Mariners 0

Pregame

There was plenty of anticipation by autograph seekers as the San Diego Padres rolled into town. By the time I got in, the Mariners were done but the Padres were still doing BP. Mostly it was pitchers who were signing. Thank you to Robert Suarez, Nick Martinez, Josh Hader, and Mike Clevinger for signing! They signed by near the left field corner, plus Hader and Clevinger proceeded patiently and graciously down the line to the dugout, signing or posing for pictures for just about anyone who asked. I missed Seattle native Blake Snell, who signed a bunch at the home plate corner of the dugout. There were some batters signing here and there, including Juan Soto signing a couple on the field but I didn’t see many, if any, signing for the folks in the stands.

Just before the game, I had my usual angst about which side and which spot to wait at. The Mariners side looked surprisingly crowded for a Tuesday night, so I waited on the visitors side a couple of spots from the camera well. I missed Joe Musgrove over by the left field corner. Actually, I don’t remember if Musgrove signed at the end of BP or just before the game. Anyhow, Manny Machado didn’t come out, Soto did a long prayer and then went to the dugout, and no one came by, not even Wil Myers. At least my buddy got a ball signed by Ha-Seong Kim over at the dugout. Apparently, calling out in Korean helped. 🙂


The Game

It was a nice night for baseball, with an official attendance of 34,740. Both Logan Gilbert and Yu Darvish pitched very well. Gilbert gave up a run in the top of the 4th while Darvish brilliantly stymied the Mariners through eight scoreless innings. In the top of the 9th, Paul Sewald gave up one more run to make it 2-0. I think Darvish could have pitched a complete game, but San Diego brought in Josh Hader to close it out.

Final Score – Padres 2, Mariners 0

09/10/22 – Braves @ Mariners

SGA – Dan Wilson Funco
Autos – Ty France, Marcell Ozuna, Raisel Iglesias, AJ Minter
Final Score – Mariners 3, Braves 1

Pregame

There was a significant line, but not a super long one, as Season Ticket Holders entered the stadium for an early gate opening and each fan received a Dan Wilson Funko figure. Willie!!!!!! What a man 🙂

Dan Wilson Funko Pop

On the M’s side, the BP auto scene was pretty slow. Julio did not appear and Ichiro did not stop by. Andres Munoz signed a bunch at the first base end of the dugout, but I didn’t have anything for him. I waited by the home plate corner of the dugout. JP Crawford signed one or two but that was about it. It was a little better over the middle of the dugout. Sam Haggerty came by and signed a couple of jerseys, but not my card. Fortunately, Ty France came by and signed a bunch! When it was my turn, I slid my clipboard with the card and a blue Sharpie over the dugout to him. For whatever reason, he signed with a black Sharpie. No worries, it’s very nice. My first Ty France auto! Thank you Ty!!!

Ty France! Vive La France!

I wouldn’t say the Braves side was slow, but I would say you needed to be at the right place at the right time. Vaughn Grissom and Austin Riley signed some before I got over there. Marcell Ozuna signed a whole lot at the corner by the camera well, including my MLB’ers ball. Thank you Marcell! I tried asking him “Como estas?” and he said, “Esta todo bien”. With help from him and Siri, I learned that means, “It’s all good.” Right on, man! I actually had a nice card for him at home but I couldn’t find it, so MLB’ers ball it was.

Down by the left field corner, I got autos from Raisel Iglesias on a card and AJ Minter on the MLB’ers ball. Thanks guys! I tried asking Iglesias about his tattoos but I don’t think he understood me. Certainly, I didn’t understand him lol. I asked Minter about the cool Braves hats (I think they were black with the A stenciled in red) and he said they were for BP only. Fine with me, those caps are sharp. 🙂

At the home plate corner of the Atlanta dugout, Ronald Acuna Jr. signed a couple of cards, a couple of jerseys, and a bat at the home plate corner of the Atlanta dugout. I was all the way at the other end and got over there kind of late. I actually ended up in a decent spot but he didn’t signal for my card. That was a bummer. I don’t remember any other Braves signing for the rest of BP.

Both the Braves and Mariners sides were packed just before the start of the game. I picked the Braves side. If the third base dugout corner is the first spot, and the second spot is next to the camera well, I believe I was at the third spot down the line. Dansby Swanson signed at the fourth spot (of course lol). It was too crowded to get over there. He signed before the anthem, apparently kept the marker, took off his hat and went to stand with his teammates for the anthem, and then went back and continued signing a bunch with the same marker. Don’t know that I’ve ever seen that. It was pretty cool! Anyhow, all the other Braves gave the auto seekers The Heisman.

While all the Braves stuff was going, I occasionally peeked over to the M’s side. Carlos Santana signed over by Julio’s usual spot, Mitch Haniger DID sign at his spot over by the Key Bank sign, and I saw Julio over there at Mitch’s spot at some point on the way to the dugout.)


The Game

It was an eerily hazy night because of the smoke from wildfires in Eastern Washington, but still breathable. The birds near our house have been doing weird stuff for a couple of days now, so much that my daughters named yesterday and today “Animal Mayhem Days”. We’ll see if that extends through the weekend into next week, or what. At any rate, there was a large crowd with a paid attendance of 44,965.

The first 4-1/2 innings were a pitchers’ duel between Atlanta’s Max Fried and Seattle’s George Kirby. I started in Section 141 and later went up to Section 330. Both locations had very nice views of the game.

In the bottom of the 5th, Sam Haggerty tagged a ball 401 feet into Edgar’s Cantina (well, at least over the left field wall) to put the M’s up 1-0. My Oh My!

In the bottom of the 6th, Geno Suarez clobbered the ball 423 feet to deep center field to make it 2-0 good guys! It was his 28th homer of the season. Are all the guys still gonna dye their hair black and blonde if gets to 30? Lol.

Trouble brewed in the top of the 7th as the Braves got men to 1st and 3rd. Out came Kirby (to a standing ovation) and in came Andres Munoz of Los Bomberos.

Matt Olson hit into a fielder’s choice scoring Dansby Swanson. Travis d’Arnaud bounced the ball just ahead of home plate and Cal Raleigh tagged him out as Olson advanced to second. Then Munoz struck out Michael Harris II to put out the fire!

In the bottom of the 7th, Jesse Chavez walked pinch hitter Adam Frazier. JRod came up and drove him in with a double to the center field wall! M’s 3, Braves 1.

Erik Swanson came in for the top of the 8th and took care of business with the help of sliding catch in left field foul territory by Sam Haggerty. (Haggerty was 2 for 3 on those sliding catches in foul territory, incidentally.)

In the bottom of the 8th, Kirby Yates walked Meeeeetch Haniger. Geno Suarez flied out to right, after which a fan entered right field. He eluded the security agent from right field and made it to the middle of the left before he was tackled by the left field security guy, the right field guy, and like 10 other people. The left field security guy got a standing ovation while the field invader went to Time Out for the evening. After that delay, Carlos Santana struck out.

Paul Sewald came in for the top of the 9th. It’s been a bit of an adventure for him lately, but not today! Acuna grounded out. Swanson struck out. Austin Riley struck out too. Pauuuulie! M’s win!

Final Score – Mariners 3, Braves 1

09/06/22 – White Sox @ Mariners

Autos – Mitch Haniger, Julio Rodriguez!
Final Score – Mariners 3, White Sox 0

Pregame

I’m not quite sure what word best sums up the pregame auto scene — weird, slow, bizarre, awesome…. It wasn’t indescribable or unimaginable. I guess the one best word for my experience would be “weird”, even if my post here seems very run of the mill.

I heard that the previous day (Labor Day), Dylan Cease signed a bunch in the bullpen but few of any of the other ChiSox signed anywhere else during BP, and none signed just before the game. A bunch of the Mariners pitchers signed, like they often do after “throwing practice” before a day game, but no M’s signed right before the game. I chalked all that up to the 3:40 start time and a large holiday crowd) a regular start this time of year is 6:40).

I was expecting a little better today, with a much smaller projected attendance of around 17,000. The M’s were done with BP before the bullpen gates opened. The White Sox were doing their BP and continued as the regular gates opened. They signed about three total items by my count, all by Gavin Sheets. Well, probably missed some other stuff but it was clearly meager. I do know that my buddy called out to Dylan Cease as the pitcher entered the dugout and forgot to stop for the fans.

So this was definitely a day to wait for the M’s just before the game. I went over and had my usual angst about where to wait. I started in a spot where Mitch Haniger stops by, two or three spots from the camera well. My buddy insisted that Mitch stops there EVERY time as part of his routine. Since it was early, I also checked out the area down the line where the netting ends. That’s a spot where Julio Rodriguez SOMETIMES stop by, a little more often than spots closer to the dugout. It’s also a spot where he often goes first before proceeding towards the dugout to other spots. There was a whole lot of space there! About 10 people total, a couple of kids and the rest adult autograph crazies. I had nice cards ready for both players. What to do?

I ended up starting in the middle spot, which was great. Haniger signed an ice parallel of an old Topps Fire card. (Get it? Ha ha.) I was one of the first people he signed for, and even had the opportunity to pass along a jersey for a fellow grapher. That was kind of cool. Thank you Mitch!

Anyhow, the national anthem hadn’t even started yet. I quickly skeddadled out of there and heading towards the end of the netting. There were a few more people now, maybe 20. There was also some time to wait because Julio is usually the last Mariner to finish his pregame stretches.

Going over there turned out to be a great decision! JRod came by!!! I think he signed balls for a couple of kids with a black Sharpie. He was about to sign one of the grapher’s cards (another crazy guy right next to me) but the guy insisted that he used blue. Surprisingly to me, JRod obliged and seemed to sign the card with his standard auto. Then, he grabbed my card!!! He signed it slowly and neatly (also in blue) so I was thinking it would be perfect. When I stepped away and got to look at it, I was like, “Whaaaat?”, and started cracking up. Lol it’s the most bizarre JRod auto I’ve ever seen (at least since he signed my home white jersey ha ha). I think he started writing it too big, was thinking about who to sign for next, ran out of room, tried to salvage it, and finished it with a little flair. Weird, bizarre, non-standard, unique, and very special — my first JRod auto on a card! Thank you Julio!!!!

One other thing, the first guy next to me had his card in one of those scrapbooks. It’s big, so it’s easy for the player to grab and provides a nice sturdy surface for signing. Of course, it also repels some players. I’ve used a small clipboard and had both types of experiences. One time I had a card for Nellie Cruz on a clipboard. I must have stuck it too close to his face cause he looked at me like I was crazy. (I don’t think he signed the card that day but I don’t really remember either way.) Recently, I had a card for Anthony Banda. The clipboard helped me get the card to him and back. (Well, with the help of an usher cause when I slid the board it got stuck in the dugout. But anyway…) He signed it very nicely. I have a small binder for the cards I bring, but I rarely hold it out in a crowd because I don’t want the it drop or for the cards to fly out or whatever.

That card for Julio got pretty dinged up because I tried many times (guessing between five and twenty, ten seems about right), and each time I hold it, put it somewhere, secure it, hold it out, put it back, on and on. So next time I’m focused on asking JRod for an auto on a card, I’ll try the clipboard!


The Game

It was another glorious night for baseball, with a game-time temperature of 74 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. It’s been a few days so I don’t remember all the particulars. The M’s took an early lead versus Johhny Cueto.

Logan Gilbert got in trouble here and there, while also striking out a bunch of fools (I mean White Sox lol). He ended up with a nice line, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO. He got in a bunch of trouble in the top of the 6th, and I thought we should have taken him out, but he managed to pitch his way out of it. After the strikeout to end the inning, Logan was super pumped! He was double pumping his fists and thumping his chest and all that kind of stuff. His demeanor on the field is usually much more reserved and even keel, so it was so much fun to see him celebrate like that. Totally warranted. 🙂

Cal Raleigh added a late home run to fire up the M’s fans, and Los Bomberos (Brash, Munoz, and Sewald) took care of business for innings 7, 8, and 9!

Final Score – Mariners 3, White Sox 0

2022 Panini Prestige Football – Good Enough for the Start of the Season

I got a blaster of 2022 Panini Heritage Football from Target. It was $25.99+tax for 6 packs with 11 cards per pack. Overall I’d say they’re fine. Nothing spectacular but a nice way to kick off the new football season in a timely fashion. You know, like before it starts or even ends.

The first card I saw was Jonathan Taylor’s. That was pretty cosmic because I plan to select him with the first overall pick in this year’s fantasy draft! I saw the back first and then the front. I mean it doesn’t have the awesome “Fun Facts” like last year’s Score release, but it has a nice overview paragraph plus the standard stats. The front has the glossy picture with a relatively unobtrusive modern design. Given this cosmic occurrence, I wondered if this would be some kind of super blaster. It wasn’t lol.

The Rookie Cards are pretty much the same, with the RC logo. They come about two per pack. The blaster had 6 (need to double check that) RC’s including parallels. Here is Boye Mafe from the Seahawks (he made the roster!).

Speaking of parallels, there was a nice assortment with various colors and patterns, including the blaster exclusive diamonds. 🙂 There were also some cool inserts.

No Seahawks other than the Mafe rookie, but I did pull a Russell Wilson card. Even if he’s on the Cyber Horses, I’m still a fan. 🙂 Mile High Cyber Horses, that would be a pretty cool fantasy team name, although my all-time favorites remain my sister-in-law’s Victorious Secret and my wife’s Football Team (well before there was a Washington Football Team btw).

That reminds me, I have a nice autographed Russell Wilson 8×10 with a blue auto that’s a little hard to read. Think I will scan it, print it, and trace the auto with a silver or “rave green” paint pen to make the auto easier to read! Then I can also put up the enhanced reprint while safely filing away the original auto.

Back to the card, some of the players on new teams have updated pictures (don’t know if they are Photoshopped or real) while some have pics with the uniform of the old team but the logo of the new team with the little explanation.

My favorite card was in the last pack, a Kyler Murray “Heroes” insert. Sweet! Refractor looks even better in person of course. 🙂 (By the way, under the influence of this card, I drafted Murray for my fantasy team lol.)

So overall, the blaster was pretty middle-of-the road. Nothing bad, reasonably priced (which is saying a lot these days), just not much spectacular. It’s definitely nice to have some new cards heading into the fantasy draft and the actual NFL season. Who knows I might get another blaster or pick up some individual cards. (For Prestige, the hobby box relics and autos are at a completely different level and price point than the blaster offerings.). Overall, I give 2022 Panini Prestige Football blaster 3 out of 5 stars.

08/28/22 – Guardians vs. M’s

SGA – Ichiro Bobblehead
Autos – Triston McKenzie, Andre Knott, Terry Francona, Oscar Gonzalez, Miles Straw
Final Score – M’s 4, Guardians 0

Pregame

The crowd was lined up early for the Ichiro Bobbleheads. Other than making Ichiro look like a young white Manny Acta rather than a man from Japan, the bobblehead was pretty sweet! A stack of 10 Gold Gloves plus three Silver Sluggers and a bunch of other stuff. 🙂

With the early arriving crowd, the M’s side was the most packed I’ve ever seen for a Sunday morning “pitching practice”. It was kind of insane. It’s usually very quiet and sparse when the gates open for a day game, but the first couple of rows were filled with seekers young and old from the right field corner all the way to the end of the M’s dugout. A few of the pitchers, including Logan Gilbert, came by but I didn’t manage to get any autos.

Towards the end of Cleveland’s “pitching practice”, I missed Zach Plesac, Tyler Freeman, and Will Benson. However, at the corner of the dugout, I chatted briefly with my new favorite Guardian, Triston McKenzie! I asked him if he still uses the nickname “Sticks” and when he said yes, I asked if he could write it next to his auto. He graciously obliged. Apparently it’s actually “Dr. Sticks” lol. I also asked if the “24” pendant he had on his necklace was for Ken Griffey Jr. He said no, it’s been his number since he was 6 years old and is his current number (shows you what I know). However he also said that Griffey was a big part of that. Later I noticed that I gave him my Mariners team ball instead of the visitors’ ball. Doh! Anyway, there’s Dr. Sticks’ auto under Raul Ibanez’s in all it’s glory, on the wrong ball. It’s no big. He could be a Mariner someday for all we know. Think I’m gonna paint the seams on the Mariners ball blue and green for easier identification at future games. I also got an auto from field reporter Andre Knott, this time on the correct ball. 🙂 He’s both entertaining and informative on the Cleveland television broadcasts. Thank you Triston and Andre!

There was an “Ichiro Round Table” starting around 12:30. Beforehand, Terry Francona was by himself at the visitors’ dugout. I decided to just try! I walked over to the area above the middle of the dugout and asked him to sign my card. He obliged! (The usher handed him the card and sharpie and he tossed back the signed card clipped on the marker.). Thank you Tito!

The round table was narrated by Rick Rizzz, and included Alvin Davis, Edgar Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr., and, of course, Ichiro Suzuki. They told funny stories and also provided some serious compliments. They used the same words over again — “preparation “ and “routine”. Practice makes progress lol. I was over by the tunnel where the employees and guests were going on and off the field. The “heavy hitters” went in and out of the M’s dugout. I heard Edgar signed balls from a couple of kids but that was about it.

Just before the game, I was still over on the Guardians side and asked some guys to sign. At the dugout corner, I called over to wild man James Karachak. He looked over once but did not come over despite multiple requests lol. Then I went to the corner by the camera well and it was much better. Both Oscar Gonzalez (that dude is huge) and Myles Straw came by and signed my MLB’ers ball (the visitors’ one ha ha), through the net no less. Thank you, gentlemen!


The Game

Robby Ray pitched a gem, Dylan Moore hit a 3 run homer, and Ty France added a solo homer. We won!

Final Score – Mariners 4, Guardians 0