Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Say-Hey Kid

Although Jason Heyward had two hits today and may be coming out of his slump, the title is not a typo; it's a reference to HOF'er Willie Mays (for all you kiddies out there who have never heard of him). As I am looking back at the 1961 Topps Milwaukee Braves cards, along with their 2010 Topps Heritage Braves, I would be terribly remiss in failing to mention that Mays hit 4 home runs against Milwaukee on this date in 1961 (April 30). By clubbing the four homers, Mays became only the ninth player in Major League history to reach that feat.
























Twenty-Five years later, on July 6, 1986, Atlanta Brave Bob Horner would join that exclusive club against the Montreal Expos, becoming only the eleventh major leaguer to hit four in a game (and only the second to do so when his team loses).


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Isn't Braves Country








They have the pitchers to be a "dominating staff"- but right now they've got a sh***y offense (sorry-but it's the only word that truly fits). Sometimes all you can do is laugh, otherwise you might go crazy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Kyle Ain't So Cool

Well, being a Boise State University fan, I thought it was pretty cool to see our star db Kyle Wilson go to the Jets in the 1st round of this years draft. Kyle was only the second Bronco to go in the first round and made us Idahoans proud. However, that was then, this is now...



Seems that those pesky Metropolitans decided to have Mr Wilson throw out the first pitch before the Braves heartbreaking loss Sunday night. To rub salt into the wound, the receiver of the pitch was none other than Frenchy Francouer. I can only hope that Chipper's son Shea one day is drafted by the Patriots or Dolphins and crushes the Jets hope of a Super Bowl. Yeah- that'd be nice!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

50 Year Counterparts, Pt. 3

2010
Topps Heritage #89 Martin Prado



One of the few bright spots thus far for the Braves in '10 has been the play of second baseman Martin Prado. It's hard to believe how his game has evolved over the course of the last 10 months-and I find it ironic that Martin may be battling the man he replaced (Kelly Johnson) for a spot on the N.L. All-Star team this summer. In 2009, Martin posted a superb .822 OPS, which was 5th highest amongst second-basemen in BOTH leagues. People in the Braves organization rave about Prado's hitting, and believe he will be a 20-HR guy- which is much needed, since this team has about as much pop as the average death metal band.

What's to like about this card? C'mon, it's Martin! This guy is about the only consistent player the Braves have fielded this year. Could do without the yellow/greenish background. Looks like he's visiting some strange planet. I do dig the empty seats in the background, though.






1961 Topps #335 Frank Bolling
Prado's 1961 counterpart was a first year Brave by the name of Frank Bolling. Known as a fine fielding second baseman, Bolling had won a Gold Glove in '58 with the Detroit Tigers and came to Milwaukee after the 1960 season in a six-player trade. Frank remained a Brave for the next six years and was with the team when they moved to Atlanta for the '66 season. While playing for the Braves, he led the NL in fielding during the 1961, 1962, and 1964 seasons. Bolling was also an All-Star in 1961 & 1962, as well as a Sporting News NL All-Star in 1961. A decent hitter, Frank twice hit 15 homers-which was a career high for him.

Since Bolling was traded after the 1960 season, Topps didn't have any photos of him in a Braves uni, thus the obvious air-brush job on the uniform. The poor guy's mug even appears to have been touched up- making for a horrible looking card. I almost think they would have been better off excluding traded players from these vintage sets because I can't recall many that are aesthetically pleasing.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

50 Year Counterparts, Pt. 2

The single most unsettled position for the Braves the past decade has been, by far, Left Field. The position has been a revolving door, and I can't bring myself to do the research on how many they've actually fielded. Yes, it pains me that much! Or perhaps I'm just lazy-you be the judge.
This offseason's acquisition of Melky Cabrera didn't leave many fans thinking that this would end the cycle, but who would have thought that through the first twelve games of the season, the Braves left fielders would be combining to hit .127 with 0 HRs and 4 RBI?


1961 Topps #296 Wes Covington
The 1961 season saw Wes Covington start the year as the Braves left-fielder, but he didn't finish the season in Milwaukee. Actually, by the time the season ended Covington had played for 4 MLB teams: Milwaukee, Chicago (A.L), Kansas City Athletics, and Philadelphi. What's even more amazing are the dates of his transactions: May 10 waived by Milwaukee, claimed by the ChiSox; June 10 traded by the Sox to Kansas City; July 2 traded to the Phillies. That's 4 teams in less than 3 months! Although he didn't contribute much to the Braves in '61 (he only played 9 games w/ 21 AB), he was a pretty productive player for Milwaukee from '56-60. His best year was in '58, when he hit .330, with 24 HR and 74 RBI in only 294 AB.

What I like about this card: While most Braves cards from the '61 set are pretty plain and boring, this one is my second favorite (Aaron's #415 being "Topps"). I don't recall seeing many photos of guys grabbing their bat(s) out of the racks, which makes this card more unique. I also like the fact that it has a beautiful shot of the Braves logo on the left sleeve of the jersey. Wes has also got some kind of funky pose going on. If he were a modern athlete, he would probably go on the DL for tweaking his back while striking this pose.






2010 Topps Heritage #28 Melky Cabrera
Acquired this offseason in a package that sent Javier Vazquez to the Yanks. One would think that a player who had started for the New York Yankees for four years by the time he was 25 years old would give us something (anything) to be excited about. What the heck happened? No one expected Melky to come in and be be an All-Star, but this is ridiculous! Arodys Vizcaino had better be one heck of a big-league pitcher to justify that deal.

What I like about this card: Hey, at least Melky hadn't made any plate appearances for the Braves when this card was issued! Like the girl no one wants to date, "It's nice and colorful."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Package from Cards on Cards

Much to my surprise, I received a package today from fellow Trail Blazer fan Cards on Cards. I had sent some Cardinal cards to Kerry a few weeks ago and he reciprocated by sending me some Bravo stuff.

You can imagine the joy that welled up inside when I found not one, but two cards of my all-time favoritest Brave, Jo-Jo Reyes.




Jo-Jo, knowing his time is short, must be contemplating the deeper things in life, such as "is there really life after baseball?"













Dissipate: To attenuate to or almost to the point of disappearing

Jo-Jo appears to be vanishing in this card, much like his career.







Nothing like the beautiful Allen & Ginter's. I was real happy to find these, as I haven't picked up many of them since getting back into collecting.






Larry!























Yuneed to get your bat going- soon!






















Thanks again to Kerry of Cards on Cards for the delivering the goods!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Prospect of the Week: Christian Bethancourt


2010 Topps Debut Gold #7, card #02/50 I love the Topps Gold Cards, and what's better than having the prospects numbered to 50? I picked this up for 5.5 greenies- should be a solid investment!


Now that Jason Heyward has made his way to Atlanta, there's no other position prospect in the farm system that I want to see more than catcher Christian Bethancourt.

Bethancourt, whom the Braves signed as a free agent out of Panama in 2008, ended the 2009 season ranked by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Gulf Coast League- and this as a 17 year old. His main calling card is his defensive game, and in particular, his arm. On the scouting scale, his arm rates anywhere from the low 70's to 80 (80 being the highest)and he's projected to be a plus defender. Offensively, Christian is a very aggressive hitter who is still very raw, yet has above-average power potential and a pretty good eye for such a young hitter. Could develop into a very good hitter down the road. Braves fans would like nothing more than for Bethancourt to have a career much like Pudge Rodriquez. Atlanta could be facing a great conundrum by the year 2013- what to do with Brian McCann?

Christian Bethancourt-2010 Rome Braves
9g 34ab 4r 11h 1-2B 1-HR 6RBI 15TB 0BB 3K .314OBP .441SLG .324AVG .755OPS 1E

Sunday, April 18, 2010

1981 Topps Baseball Scratch Off #72





Whoever designed this set for Topps must have been an evil person. Not only were they seeking to corrupt the youth of America by getting them hooked on baseball cards, but a baseball card that looks like a lottery ticket?! My Murphy had been perforated, but was obviously never used. The set included 108 players' cards and came in panels with a three-player combination. Each team would have 9 players and then each 'manager' would scratch off a circle, which represented an AB. You get the idea...

This game was second only to Strat-O-Matic for baseball junkies like me who could spend hours alone, playing imaginary games which would turn into imaginary seasons. And yet, those games seemed so real- I could smell the freshly cut grass, hear the crack of the bat, and hear the roar of the crowd as the winning run would score.

Clutch

As much as I like the "J-Hey Kid" moniker used for Jason Heyward, I'm gonna start calling the kid "Clutch."

50 Year Counterparts, Pt. 1B


2010 Topps Heritage #137

I guess you'll be thought of as a fiery manager if you own the Major League Baseball record for ejections, and no one has been tossed more than Bobby Cox. However, this isn't the reputation that Cox has. While Chuck Dressen had the reputation of having a lively disposition, Cox doesn't. More often than not, when Cox gets ejected it is because he is trying to protect one of his players from getting the ol' heave-ho.


Bobby's mostly recognized as a players manager. I can't recall ever hearing a former player bad mouth the man. No, it's usually the fans and the media who bad mouth Cox, using "loyal" in a pejorative manner. I guess you can sum up Cox's career from an incident years ago. It is reported that when former owner Ted Turner fired Bobby after the 1981 season, he was asked at a press conference who was on his short list for manager, in which Turner replied, "It would be Bobby Cox if I hadn't just fired him. We need someone like him around here." Sounds much like another owner/manager tale from my childhood- that of George Steinbrenner & Billy Martin.

Friday, April 16, 2010

50 Year Counterparts, Pt. 1A


In the spirit of ’61, and raising a toast to this year’s 2010 Topps Heritage set, let’s take a look at the 1961 Topps Milwaukee Braves and its 50-year counterpart, the 2010 Topps Heritage Atlanta Braves.
Our look has got to start at the top, and since they (thankfully) don’t make cards of the suits, let’s look at the Chiefs: Chuck Dressen and Bobby Cox.

“The Giants is dead.” No, this isn’t a reference to the unforgettable 1993 season in which the Braves came storming from behind San Francisco to overtake the Giants during the last two months of the season. No, them’s the words of former MLB manager
Chuck Dressen, who declared the Giants to be dead as his Brooklyn Dodgers team held a 12.5 game lead over the New York Giants on August 10th of 1951. That was the same year, of course, that the Giants caught fire by winning 37 of their last 41 games to catch the Dodgers, forcing a three game playoff to decide which team would win the N.L. Pennant. And as we all know, Bobby Thompson would hit a game 3 game-winning homer (“The Shot Heard ‘Round the World”), giving the Giants the pennant.

Nine years later, in 1960, Dressen would be hired by the Milwaukee Braves- a team that thought Dressen could help them get past the team they had finished second to the year before- the newly relocated Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a short honeymoon, however, as Dressen was fired by the end of the 1961 season. While most fans remember the 1961 season as the year that Roger Maris broke The Babe’s single season record for home-runs, Milwaukee fans remember it as the beginning of their decline in the N.L. standings, which led to their leaving Milwaukee for Atlanta for the 1966 season.

During that 1961 season, Dressen led the Braves to a 71-58, but was replaced by then team vice-president Birdie Tebbetts. Under Tebbetts, the Braves would play sub-.500 ball (12-13) to finish the season 83-71. After learning of the firing, Dressen claimed to have been given no reason for the firing, only that they said he was “through.” And, in typical fashion, would brashly declare that “Tebbetts has wanted the job for some time.” One has to think there must be some truth to that, as the Braves were 13 games over .500 at the time of the firing. Dressen’s aforementioned brash character could have also led to the firing, as he was known as a very fiery competitor who once claimed to have knocked down a 230 pound pitcher with one punch while he was manager with Cincinnati (Dressen was a small-ish man at 5’6”).

After his firing in Milwaukee, Dressen only had one more major-league managerial job- with Detroit from 1963 until his untimely death in 1966.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Prospect of the Week- Randall Delgado

Randall Delgado- 2010 Topps Debut Gold #45/50


The long-standing tradition of rich pitching for the Braves organization continues into the 21st century. While most of the hype has been centered on Julio Teheran and recently acquired Arodys Vizcaino (the centerpiece of the Javier Vazquez trade with the Yankees), one guy who is often overlooked (but might be better than either) is 20 year-old Randall Delgado.

Signed out of Panama as a Non-Drafted free-agent in 2006, Delgado began his career as a 17 year-old in the Braves Dominican Summer League team. The next season (2008), Atlanta started him out in the Appalachian League-which was unusual,given his age and the fact that they typically start younger kids out in the Gulf Coast League. Last year, Wilson spent the season at Rome, in the A-Ball South Atlantic League where he somewhat struggled. Despite his poor record and high ERA in Rome, he was only 19, pitching in a league where the average player is 1-2 years older. He also averaged over a strike-out per inning, helped by the fact that he has an above-average fastball, above-average changeup, and an improving curveball that may eventually rate the same. Another bright spot on Delgado's season was that he finished strong down the stretch, while most young players tend to wear down. This maturity and the mental make-up he has could lead to a possible role as a lights-out closer down the road (much like the talk about former Braves prospect Neftali Feliz).


To start the 2010 season, Randall is in High-A level Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League. Through his first two starts, he has pitched 10 innings, allowing 6 hits, 1 run (earned) for a 0.90 ERA, 2 BB, 10 K, holding opposing hitters to a .182 average, while having no decisions.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Jo-Jo Must Go-Go

All I want for Christmas.... a trade of Jo-Jo Reyes to the Cards for Albert Pujols (we'll even throw in Freddie Freeman).


One of the most difficult things in live that we must endure is pain. No one enjoys suffering, and if you're like me- you'll do whatever you can in order to alleviate that pain. That being said, I affirm that without pain growth cannot happen. Whether it be the child who is enduring "growing pains" as their body grows and matures, or whether it be on a larger scale (such as our nation's problems)- this is something we all must admit is a necessity. But...the suffering that one Mr. Jo-Jo Reyes is making Brave fans endure is like an absessed tooth- and the faster it's extracted, the better off you are. Consider Reyes' line from today's game against that offensive juggernaut, the San Diego Padres: 3.1 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 3 BB, 2 HR. This after posting 2009 numbers of 27 IP, 27 H, 25 R, 21 ER, 13 BB, r HR, and an ERA of 7.00. Jair Jurrgens had an aweful performance today, no doubt about it, but this was an anomaly for Jurrgens, while Reyes' lines are becoming the norm for him. Here's a little more info on Jo-Jo: In 41 career games, he has allowed four earned runs or more in 21 of them; in those 41 major league games, he HAS NOT had a SINGLE scoreless outing. Since the beginning of the '08 season, he's 3-13 with a 6.47 ERA. C'mon Frank, give us fans an early Christmas present and trade this guy- surely we've got someone down on the farm that can do better than this!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

2010 Heritage Blaster Break

Had the pleasure of opening a 2010 Heritage blaster box Wednesday night; I couldn't pass up the urge to buy one as my wife and I were in Target. Obviously, it was purchased in part to fix my baseball card jones, but I was also hoping that it would provide me with at least a few cards needed for my base set. I'm still undecided as to whether or not I'll try to get all the SPs. There's so many other things I'm trying to pick up, and not enough time nor money.
Here are the goods...
Pack 1:
Baltimore Orioles team card
Nolan Reimold
Kendry Morales
Carlos Beltran
2009 A.L. Wins League Leaders
Then and Now Whitey Ford/Felix Hernandez













-I really like the Then and Now subset; I think it's one of the better ones I've seen over the years.


Jeff Niemann
Kyle Banks

Pack 2:
Josh Willingham
Lance Berkman
Trevor Cahill
Zack Greinke- New Age Performers
2009 World Series-Matsui Named MVP
Brad Kilby
Juan Rivera
Mark Teixeira

How ironic: as I was opening the blaster, I was watching the Cubs/Braves game, with Ryan Dempster mowing down Brave after Brave...

Pack 3:
Ryan Dempster
Tony LaRussa
Adam Everett
Matt Holiday
Pujols-Wright/Diamond Corners
Check List-4th Series
Chris Davis
Albert Pujols-Topps All Stars (SP)

Pack 4:
Erick Aybar
Edwin Jackson
Geovany Soto

former Brave prospect....
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (say that 5 times fast!)
Steve Pearce
Jason Kubel
Max Scherzer (was he born with his eyes like that?!)




-I must admit, this dude's eyes CREEP ME OUT! I guess that's the "shock factor" he must have been going for. Can't say I don't remember doing that kinda stuff when I was younger, just to get a rise outta someone. The thing he's got going on reminds me of Marilyn Manson...

Shane Victorino- Topps All Stars (SP)


Pack 5:
A.L. Strikeout League Leaders
Alex Rodriguez
Jose Lopez
Adam Lind
Detroit Tigers team card
Cleveland Indians team card
Edgar Renteria
Bronson Arroyo SP

Pack 6:
Yuniesky Betancourt
A.J. Pierzynski
Vladimir Guerrero
Melvin Mora
James Loney
News Flash Backs: Twenty-Third Amendment is Ratified



If it weren't for Strasburg, I bet the residents of D.C. would like to use their right to vote in order to contract the Nationals!












Matt Kemp
Mark Reynolds

Pack 7:
A.L. Batting Average League Leaders (gotta love these! 2 future hall of famers, with a possible third one!)
Carlos Quentin
Carlos Gonzalez
Delmon Young
Brian Fuentes
Nate McLouth- Chrome Refractor #434/561 Yes! That's what I'm talkin' about... A Bravo-who cares if it's only McLouth?






Coco Crisp
Derek Lee

Pack 8:
Bruce Bochy
Matt Laporta
Ichiro
Brad Bergesen
Han-Ram and Longo
Jeremy Guthrie
Joey Votto
Jay Bruce

Well, after taking an inventory, I got 3 subset cards needed, 1 SP, and 23 cards needed for the base set. Now I've gotta try to pick some up via trade-too much $$ spent on boxes, packs.

I Left My Mind in San Francisco

From the "Weird News" Department, this just in: An employee of Majestic, the athletic wear company that manufactures MLB jerseys, apparently left their mind somewhere far, far away from their head. For the second straight year, a MLB player's uniform has had a spelling error on the front.

Last year it was the "Natinals" Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn imitating "Wheel of Fortune" contestants.(You know, "I'd like to buy a vowel, Pat")
















This year, the poor fellow is Giants sub Eugenio Velez.








I wander if the Majestic employee responsible for this goof had just got back from a trip to Haight-Ashbury?

715


It was thirty six years ago today that 'The Hammer', home-run champion Hank Aaron, hit an Al Downing high fastball over the left-center wall in Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium, passing Babe Ruth's record of 714 career homers. I was only four years old at the time of the historic home run and didn't get to witness it live, but I still get chills when I watch the video of Hank circling the bases. Who can forget those two fans running beside him as he rounded second and headed towards third? It's too bad to have seen the record of a class act like Aaron be broken by a class ass like Barry Bonds. Hopefully one day Barry Bonds will be stripped of the **record** that he gained by cheating; but if he doesn't, then myself and plenty of others will still think of The Hammer as the real home-run champion.
The 1974 Topps card of the "New All-Time Home Run King" pictured above is an interesting one in that when it hit the streets, Aaron had not yet broken the record. Producing a card that recognized the Home Run Champ before he actually passed Ruth was quite a presumptuous move on their part, but it paid off for the company as this has been a pretty well sought-after card.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

153

While the talk of the beginning of the 2010 baseball season has been centered on 20 year-old Atlanta Brave phenom Jason Heyward,and rightfully so, I want to digress for the time being in order to honor the man, the myth, the legend...yes, Mr. Bobby Cox.

As Cox enters his last year as the Chief, there's nothing more Brave players would like to give him than a World Series title.


What a fitting end that would be to a Hall of Fame career that has spanned 25 years in Atlanta as the manager, 5 N.L. Pennants, and 1 World Series. And let's not forget that it was Cox, who as General Manager for Atlanta, traded for one John Smotlz (an absolute steal-one of best trades in MLB history) and drafted Chipper Jones #1 overall in the June 1990 amateur draft.

Topps has done a great job over the years of capturing Cox on cardboard. There's the 2002 Topps baseball, which displays Bobby as a grandfather-like figure, which is the image so many of us have of him.

The photo of the 1978 Topps is a younger Cox that many of us may not even recognize:


Personally, I think that Topps (or any of the other card manufacturers) should have captured the Chief at his finest