So - has anyone heard of Pokemon Go?
There's a heavy dose of sarcasm in that question; the new game revolving around the beloved, Japanese pocket monsters was launched a few days ago and it has taken the world by storm. Using augmented reality to let players physically travel around and catch these little creatures in the wild, this application has become a cultural phenomenon and it seems as though everyone is playing it. Hell, my mother made me run her through the rules so that she could go out and try to "catch 'em all."
The real benefit in this game is that it's players are forced to get up and walk about in order to play, forcing some much needed exercise and socialization on a society which has grown increasingly lazy. For instance, in order to keep a full stock of supplies (like the Pokeballs used to capture the monsters), one has to actually visit checkpoints distributed at local landmarks.
Well, while on a boredom-infused drive, I was quite surprised to find out that my LCS is now doubling as one of these PokeStops:
In order to gather these supplies, all the player has to do is swipe across the circular image in the middle and objects will appear on the screen for your taking.
Aww sweet! Just what I needed - some UltraPro nine-pocket pages and a pack of Topps Series 2 to save for a rainy day (still no Stadium Club in these parts).
Of course, things got even stranger from here:
Almost as soon as I shut the glass door behind me, this wild Corey Black card appeared in front of me. Thinking quickly, I immediately whipped out one of my carefully rationed Pokeballs and took aim at the elusive card.
Just minutes later, while I was perusing the glass display cases, chock-filled with autographs, jersey swatches, rare oddballs and parallels, this bizarre creature popped up on my radar:
It appeared to be some sort of parallel of former Indians lefty Giovanni Soto's 2016 Topps card. Again, I heeded this call to action and entered into battle... while being very careful not to scratch or crack the shopkeepers immaculate glass cases.
I'm happy to report that I was successful on both counts.
We 90's kids really now the ins and outs of catching Pokemon... errr... baseball cards...Pokebaseball cards?
Anyway, as I finished perusing the store, it was clear to me that no more excitement was to be hard - I caught everything that captured my attention. So, let's take a look at my Pokedex and get a better understanding of the feisty creatures that I walked away with:
First up Corey Black:
This is the Cubs farmhand's first appearance in a Bowman product. Black is a relief prospect who was acquired from the Yankee's system as part of the Alfonso Soriano deal from a few years back. He's climbed up the ladder slowly since and after a mid-season promotion, is having himself a pretty decent year with Iowa.
With the Cubs bullpen being almost total chaos over the past few weeks, it seems like Black may very well get his first Big League opportunity in the near future. Thus, it felt like a good idea to grab his first actual Cubs card now, so that I can be prepared to add it to my CATRC. I have a few of his MiLB cards; but, Cubbie blue is my preferred choice.
Giovanni Soto, not to be confused with the former Cubs catcher, has this rookie card in this year's Series 2 release. However, as you can plainly see, this is not the standard base version of that particular card. What we have here is his black and white negative parallel, which (as you can tell by the name) is meant to simulate the look of a film negative.
This is the first parallel of it's kind to make it's way into my grasp and, while entirely superfluous, it's pretty nifty looking in hand.
Now, in case you're wondering why this die-hard and laser-focused Cubs collector caught a seemingly random Indians hurler, I have a good reason. You see, Soto was claimed off waivers by Chicago earlier this year and stashed in AAA Iowa. Like Black, the lefty specialist has a chance to make his way to the Windy City before the year is out; the bullpen is really an open audition right now. Besides, even if he doesn't get the call, I still have a neat card to add to my "Coulda Been a Cub" binder.
With that, I had to put my quest on pause and travel around the corner in order to pick up some cat litter. This is a chore not nearly as fun as capturing baseball cards at a Pokestop; but, those little monsters aren't contained to my smart phone screen... they'll pee on my clothes if I don't change the litter quickly enough.
Anyway, I knew as soon as I noticed that the LCS was a Pokestop that I had to make a fusion post - inspiration is a fickle muse and I'm not going to question when it comes around willingly. Besides, I think we card collectors can relate to this video game. Granted, cards aren't attacking us, nor do they require special containment units to be caught; but, the tag line is "gotta catch 'em all!" Despite all the parallels, super short-prints, 1/1's and such, we still try our best to do just that for our favorite team/player/set/etc.
Gotta catch 'em all, indeed.