Monday, March 27, 2017

Mikko Koivu & Mikael Granlund Autograph Signing

I'm not able to make most of the autograph signings taking place in the Minneapolis area, but I do like to make a few. I usually am able to make a couple of year, but there had to be a good enough guest for me to justify to my wife that it is worth making the three-and-a-half-hour trip from Moorhead. Either that, or we are coincidentally in the area for another reason, and I am able to convince her that the mall hosting the signing is the one we need to be shopping at.

The most recent signing took place last week with Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund. The plan was for my wife & I to travel together, and our three daughters to stay at my parents' house. Unfortunately, our youngest got an ear infection and was sick all weekend, and when my dad watched her Friday night, he ended up getting sick, too. I had already bought the tickets, so I was going, which meant that I'd be traveling alone, and my wife would stay home with our three girls.

Still, I don't mind a nice, solo long-distance drive, so off I went!

Mikko Koivu is the longest-tenured player on the Minnesota Wild, and has been with the organization since being drafted sixth overall in 2001. He also became the team's first permanent captain in 2009, and has held the distinction ever since. While this is the first time I have met him in person, this is the second signing I have participated in, as I got a puck and an 8x10 through mail order at a signing he did with FanHQ last year.

Originally, I was planning on getting a jersey signed, but the funds just weren't there for me, so the plan was to get a mini helmet signed. However, when I got to the store to pick up my autograph tickets, a photo caught my eye, and I just couldn't walk away from it. It's a bird's-eye view of him taking a shot, and it works perfectly. There's action, you get a clear view of his name & number, and there's plenty of clear ice surface on the bottom for him to sign. It's a 16x20 print, and the blue ink really pops off of the ice surface.

Koivu's fellow Finnish countyman, Mikael Granlund, was also there. Like Koivu, he was an early draft pick (9th overall in 2010), and has spent his entire NHL career with the Wild organization. This season is by far his best, as her has already scored 25 goals and 41 assists, and has already demolished his previous best points total (44 last season).

With no autographs of his already, apart from a few cards that were released during his rookie sesaon. So, step 1 was getting his signature on an official game puck. For me, autographed pucks don't look any better than silver ink on an official game puck. I also got a couple of cards signed by him, for my 2013-14 Score and 2014-15 Ultra sets.

This was a fun signing, and definitely worth the trip. I even splurged on the VIP package, which not only got me a signature and a photograph from each players, but also got me in the first group through the line. Considering I had a three-and-a-half-hour drive back home. being able to head home at 7:15 from a signing that was scheduled to start at 7:00 was well worth a few extra bucks.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

TTM Returns: Week Ending 3-25-17

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the week ending March 25, 2017:

Joe Musgrove

Silvino Bracho

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Spring Training: Chicago Cubs vs. Seattle Mariners 3/9/17

My wife and I did end up going to one more Chicago Cubs game last week while we were in Arizona. Just two days after seeing them play Team Italy, we went back to Sloan Park to see them play the Seattle Mariners.

With this being against a Major League team, tickets were a bit tougher to come by. I spent some time on various second-hand ticket websites, and finally, the right deal came across, and I jumped on it. I actually was able to get them for less that face value, which was great! The seats were in the Budweiser rooftop section, which is above the concession area in left-center field. They have bleachers there to sit on, in addition to some restaurant-style tables and chairs. Although it isn't Wrigley field, I can still technically say that I sat in the outfield bleacher seats at a Chicago cubs home game.

After about halfway through the game, we decided to move a bit closer, and sat in some field-level seats on the first base side of the park. It was amazing to see how different of a game it is when you are at that different perspective.

Like at every Sloan Park home game, Fergie Jenkins was holding an autograph signing with former MLB players to raise money for various charities. The names will sometimes change, but everyone at this game was also at the previous one. The only difference was the George Foster wasn't at this game, so it's a good thing I got the ball signed by him at the previous one. This time around, I got baseballs signed by Byron Browne and Darrell Evans, and a photo from Lee Smith. I actually purchased just one photo for Smith to sign in silver, but when the silver paint pen wasn't working too well with some letters, he signed another copy in blue for me, and had me keep them both. Despite that imperfection, I still like the silver one better, but of course I appreciate the gesture.

Baseball games are always fun. Always. Even when you are at your second game in three days, and for the second time, they manage to enter the 9th inning with a lead, and end the game with a loss. It just goes to show that even though they are World Series champions, the Cubs will always be the Cubs.

Here's to a great 2017 baseball season, everybody!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Autographs and a Zamboni Ride at the March 17 Fargo Force Game

My family and I had a great time watching our local USHL team, the Fargo Force, tonight. The home team lost 3-2, but it's never a bad night when you are out with your family watching a hockey game.

Our 5-year-old even had the opportunity to ride the Zamboni during the second intermission. We had scheduled this at the beginning of the season, and knew about it for a while, but she was looking forward to it all day. When the moment came, she was all smiles as she took a trip around the ice. 

After the game, we had the opportunity to meet one of the players. Kevin O'Neil was the evening's "Player spotlight" and was signing autographs for fans after the game. My girls were off playing at the playground area, but I waited in line, and got a puck and a game program signed by him. 

TTM Returns: Week Ending 3-11-17

I know it's a little bit late for this one, but with a week-long vacations, followed by a 4-day, 50-hour work week, I just haven't had time to post these until now. Anyway, here's a quick look at the TTM returns I received back for the week ending March 11, 2017:

Adam Kennedy

Sean Doolittle

Jake Barrett

Travis Jankowski

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Spring Training: Chicago Cubs vs. Team Italy 3/7/17

I made the short trip from Chadler, AZ to Mesa yesterday afternoon with my wife and my dad to see the defending World Series Champions, the Chicago Cubs, in Spring Training action.

We got the general admission tickets, which put us in the outfield lawn. Despite being the cheapest in the park, the view is amazing, and really gives you a great view of the entire field during the game. The Cubs lost 8-7 to team Italy, but the three of us had a great time while we were there. After all, when you're from Minnesota, and it's March, and you find yourself outside in the sun wearing shorts and watching a baseball game, it could never be a bad day.

Also at the game was Chicago Cubs legend and Baseball Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins, who hosts autograph signings with former Major League ballplayers to help raise money for the Fergie Jenkins Foundation, as well as various other charities. At today's game was Jenkins, Bill Buckner, George Foster, Lee Smith, Pete LaCock, Byron Browne, and Darrell Evans. Of course, I had to participate, and got baseballs signed by Jenkins, Buckner, and Foster.

It was quite an amazing feeling, not only to be at the ballpark, but to watch the Cubs as they are about to enter the baseball season as defending World Series Champions, for the first time in 108 years!