Tuesday, July 24, 2007

When it rains, it pours.

3 posts today, can you tell I haven't left the house since Friday night? I don't care if I'm dead, I'm going to work tomorrow.

I got sent this great article from the Star but they archive stuff for about 5 minutes so I wanted to copy it here so I could find it again.

There were a couple links of interest, this one former major-leaguer CJ Nitkowski’s highly entertaining blog details his new life playing with Japan’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. Whether it’s eating Shabu-Shabu for the first time or going grocery shopping: “Most of the time I don’t even know what I am looking at. What I do know is that never in my life have I ever seen small dried-up fish in a clear plastic bag. Not before today, that is.”

Then the guy the article is about has his page here.

And the article itself:

Twins hurler Neshek leading a double life
Internet-savvy reliever has thriving website for collectors and fans
July 23, 2007

The letters, like the emails and packages with baseballs and photos, pour in daily.

Then there are cards to mail out, items to sign, a blog to update, and a message board to moderate.

Being the boss of a small online empire is a demanding job. Especially when after work, you have to pitch to Sammy Sosa with the game on the line.

Such is life for Internet impresario Pat Neshek, who works almost as hard at his hobby as he does his paid profession — relief pitcher with the Minnesota Twins.

"I always wanted to know what pro athletes did before games, on off days and in their spare time so I said if I ever got drafted I would start a website," says Neshek via email his preferred mode of communication.

The reliever's site — On The Road with Pat Neshek — started in 2004 when he was in the minors and features one of his favourite pursuits: collecting sports memorabilia.

"One of these days though, I might have to look into insuring (my cards)," says the right-hander, adding to his lengthy to-do list.

He updates his blog regularly, often lamenting his internet connection on the road.

Read the site and you'll learn tonight's trip to the Rogers Centre with the Twins will be his first since arriving in the majors last year.

On his message board you can find threads that include blogs from former Twin and current Jays farmhand Mike Venafro (who posts as happylefty) and the Twins’ 18-year-old batboy, Adam Hanson (twinsbb17).

The majority of Neshek's posts deal honestly with the minutiae of his life in the majors — the gruelling schedule, a packed subway ride to Shea Stadium and how his family will room with him on the road if they can find cheap airfare to wherever he's playing.

It's not exactly a life of caviar and Cristal — and that's a large part of Neshek's charm.

"He just seems like me, except that he can throw 90 miles an hour," says fan and fellow card collector Dan Rosendahl, 33, who has been following the site since 2004 from his home in Denton, Tex.

Neshek's an average Joe who still, in the off-season, will hang out at Minnesota Wild games to collect autographs from hockey players.

"I thought (Pittsburgh Penguin) Georges Laraque was being rude one time because he signed my card and only put his initials," says Neshek. "He did it for every other collector there (and) we were all mad. Turns out that is how he signs every time, he stops, takes his time and signs every card the same way."

His passion for sports is refreshing. Unlike Barry Bonds or Curt Schilling, who use the Internet to sidestep the media, Neshek appears sincere.

"I really don't know how to describe this but I'm the fan/collector/guy that somehow managed to get to the big leagues," writes Neshek on his blog.

He has used the Internet to his advantage. When nominated for the major league All-Star Game Final Vote, the sidearm hurler put out a call to the Neshek Nation and fans rallied around the "Pitch in for Pat" campaign, though he eventually lost to Boston's Hideki Okajima.

The 26-year-old has also turned his site into a barter-based cottage industry of collectables.

"(Send) any signed hockey card or baseball player card with (a self addressed stamped envelope) to me and I will put one of my signed cards in," says Neshek.

And though Neshek prefers cards of the sporting variety, he’s open to accept anything.

"Someone from Manitoba sent me a 1970's Village People card signed by a couple of the members, that made me laugh," says Neshek. "You see a lot of different things, old baseball players that are hard to find, hockey players that are deceased — you never know what is going to come in."

He says he gets more mail than anyone else on the Twins and it usually takes an hour or two to sift through it, but it’s an adventure, like the time someone mysterious sent him a microchip without explanation.

"Didn’t know what it was or if it was a tracking device so I tossed it in the garbage," says Neshek. The Brooklyn Park, Minn., native says he's 'lost count' of how many cards he has with many of his new trades going into a box until he can catalogue them in the off-season.

All of which are currently uninsured.

"If they were all lost to a fire tomorrow I would start up a new collection," says Neshek. "It's more about the thrill than the value to me."

And this side post, which I liked better than the article:


Minnesota Twins pitcher Pat Neshek has turned his popular website On The Road With Pat Neshek (www.patneshek.com) into another avenue to add to his mounting card collection.
Send him an autograph card with a self addressed stamped envelop and he’ll send you one of his own autographed back. All his trades are done on a strictly barter basis, no money is exchanged. Since collecting autographs is part of his hobby, Neshek also spends his downtime in the off-season "hunting" signatures from fellow athletes.
The Star's Sunaya Sapurji picked the reliever's brain about his vast card collection and his tricks of the trade:

Q: Will you collect any trading card (eg. Desert Storm card set) or does it have to be sports related?
A. To tell you the truth I like hockey and baseball the best but if it's an oddball signed card like Desert Storm, I get a kick out of it.
Q: So how do you catalog your cards?
A. I use to put them all in a-z order and did until this season has started. Right now everything that isn't cataloged is in a box waiting for the off-season and it drives me nuts...I think I have obsessive compulsive disorder about it.
Q. Do you have one card that you consider your prized possession?
A. Not really, I have a lot of stuff. My motto is quantity over quality in the world of autographing! One of my favs is (once) I wrote to Hank Aaron for a signed card, sent it to his home (address) in 4th grade and got it back signed in 7th grade. I totally forgot what I sent him.
Q. Do you ever eat the gum (in card packs) that tastes like sawdust?
A. If it's older than 6 months it's going to disintegrate in seconds... don't eat it.
Q. What do you do with your doubles?
A. Keep 'em, quantity is king.
Q. What are your thoughts are on the emotional attachments people make while collecting autographs. I mean, it's more than just a signature – a lot of times it's the story of how you got the autograph that gives it value.
A. That's what I always liked about autographs, it's a hunt. You go out and know you might not get one guy to sign but you know there will be a story that you'll never forget. It's a fun way to kill time and hangout and forget about everything for a couple hours. Plus you might get the big star to sign something for you, it's a win-win situation.
Q. Is there any player who flat out said "No"?
A. There are a few, for some reason Paul Kariya seems to be the toughest guy lately.
Q. Has your view of card collecting/autographed hunting changed since becoming a pro athlete?
A: Nope, it just kind of showed me that athletes are in a rush sometimes and can't please everyone all the time.
Q. What are some of the most important tools needed to be a top notch ’grapher?
A. Info, being able to recognize faces, being able to know where to get a player.
Q. Has anyone ever recognized you during an autograph hunt?
A. Not really, a couple people did double takes last year.
Q. You posted a really funny letter once on the site from a guy who wanted 10 baseballs signed and inscribed by (Justin) Morneau and (Joe) Mauer to give to his wedding party ... do you get requests like this often?
A. I get about up to 5 of these request a week...I don't blame people for trying but it's a tired act.
Q. What's the most inappropriate place someone has asked you for an autograph? Are there unwritten rules to follow?
A. Lots of unwritten rules, we don't sign DURING games. A lot of times I get in a hurry and have to be at the field and am late so I might not being able to sign. If you are honest with the collectors than they usually can understand why you can't sign. They hate it when you use the same excuse everyday.

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