Sunday, November 27, 2011

Southbound


"Well I'm southbound, Lord, I'm comin' home to you. Well I'm southbound baby, Lord, I'm comin' home to you..." 'Southbound' - The Allman Brothers Band

In August of 1973, the Allman Brothers released the album Brothers and Sisters, which was the first album they recorded completely after the 1971 death of guitarist and leader Duane Allman (1972's Eat A Peach included songs with Allman, recorded before his death). The album would hit number 1 in the U.S. in September, and spent the next five weeks atop the U.S. albums chart. The band's two biggest hits, Jessica and Ramblin' Man (which peaked at #2 on the singles chart), were included on the release-as was the song Soundbound- a fast and lively uptempo song with its guitars and piano churning out bluesy licks.

Acquired off waivers on August 7th of 1973, just two days after brother Phil pitched a no-hitter verses the Padres, Joe Niekro found himself southbound. Having spent three seasons in Detroit, where he worked as both a starter and reliever, Joe had actually spent the first four-plus months of the '73 season in AAA Toledo, pitching in 26 games before the wire claim. Once in Atlanta, Joe was re-acquainted with the knuckleball that his father taught he and his brother-and his career would never be the same. While he would not use the knuckleball as his primary pitch, it did allow him to mix it in with his fastball, change-up, and slider-and he would go on to win 221 games over the course of his 22 year career.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Barry Bonds is...Simon the Magician

Simon Magus sought to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit in order to draw paying "customers" to see him display his "magic". Sound familiar?

Acts 8:9-22 (ESV)

9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then, they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Palmer & Jones: Junk, Hair, and the Cy Young Award

1977 Topps #5

This card features two pitchers who, despite being the Cy Young Award winners while leading their respective leagues in wins during the 1976 season, are perhaps best known for something other than their on the field performance.

Palmer, whose career was a model of consistency, was known for pitching Jockey underware. Unlike Palmer, Jones' junk was on display out on the field-not a poster. Ask most collectors what they remember about Jones, however, and you will probably hear a reference to his 'fro. While we only get a sneak peak of it here, Jones' regular card in the '77 set shows it in its full glory. Palmer, on the other hand, looks every bit the "pretty boy" with his feathered hair. Palmer would later pitch Brylcream. Figures.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Terdo at Third is Worth Two at First Base


or something like that.

As Chipper's career is racing towards the end of the finish line, there's been a lot of talk about who his replacement will be. Should the team look to eventually package prospects for a veteran or perhaps trade for a guy who is on the cusp of being a productive starter at the major league level? Would Martin Prado be the guy? Of course, there's also a great prospect in the lower minors-Edward Salcedo, who was used quite a bit at third base for Class A Rome this year. The guy who I find intriguing, however, is first baseman-turned third baseman Joey Terdoslavich. "Terdo", as he's affectionately known as, is a switch-hitter who absolutely killed the ball at high Class-A Lynchburg this season, where he had 74 XBH and a .867 OPS. Oh yes, I forgot to mention he hit 20 homers and 52 doubles-breaking the 65 year old Carolina League record for two-base hits. The Braves sent Terdo to the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League, where he has continued to see his stock climb. As of Monday, Joey had 11 XBH in 80 at-bats and a .427 OBP. Apparently playing in the spotlight doesn't affect him either: Turdo went 3-3 with a double and a three-run homer in the recent AFL Rising Stars game, which featured the "cream of the crop" in terms of prospects. If you're looking for a "J-Terd" (another great nickname!) card from Topps 2011 Pro Debut or Heritage Minor League Baseball, forget it-they didn't include him in either set. And while he entered the season as a relatively unknown prospect, I'm sure Topps won't overlook him again next year.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Michael Bourn--2012 Topps Team USA Cards


I really like the design for the upcoming 2012 Topps USA Baseball cards, which Beckett previewed today. I liked it so much, in fact, that I used its design for this Michael Bourn card. It will be interesting to see what kind of production Atlanta will get from the Bourn Identity in 2012 as it will be his free-agent year.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rookies of the Year


Congratulations to Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrel, this year's AL and NL Rookies of the Year, respectively.

Just a few tidbits about Braves players and ROY voting:

~Kimbrel became the fifth Atlanta Brave to win the ROY. Past winners include: Rafael Furcal (2000), David Justice (1990), Bob Horner (1978), and Earl Williams (1971).

~By finishing 1st and 2nd this year, Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman became only the second teammates to finish 1-2 in the voting. The others? Remember Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith with the '89 Cubs?

~This is the forth straight year that the Braves have placed someone in the top 3 for NL ROY. The others have been Jair Jurrjens (3rd in 2008), Tommy Hanson (3rd in 2009), Jayson Heyward (2nd in 2010).

With Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino still maintaining rookie status for 2012, it will be interesting to see if Atlanta can add any more names to these lists. One darkhorse to consider: shortstop Tyler Pastornicky, who some Braves player development personnel believe is ready for the majors-according to ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

1966 Topps #168 Dan Osinski



Osinski, who played for six teams during eight seasons in the majors, was a hard-throwing relief pitcher whom the Braves acquired from the Angles prior to the 1965 season. During his only season in the Braves organization, Osinski pitched in a career high 61 games while recording a career high in saves (6) and posting an ERA of 2.82 (second lowest of career). As noted on the back of the card, "Dan was traded to the Red Soxs December 15, 1965." Yes, they actually printed Soxs. As an added value, Topps also threw in a different font on the date. Nice touch.

Perhaps Topps should have included this as the write-up on the back of his card: "[Dan]...forever etched his name in Angels lore one night when he picked up sportswriter Bud Tucker and dangled him by his heels out of the window of a 15th floor hotel suite. Tucker, who was famous for his one-liners, later said his only fear was that somebody would hand Osinski a drink and the pitcher would drop him reaching for it." (from Tales from the Angels Dugout by Steve Bisheff)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2011 Bowman's Chrome Future Die-Cut Arodys Vizcaino


In a radio interview with ESPN radio yesterday, Braves GM Frank Wren commented that the Braves currently have eight starting pitchers on the roster: Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, and Kris Medlen. The one name not mentioned was super prospect Arodys Vizcaino, who Baseball America just rated as the number 2 prospect in the Braves system. Vizcaino moved up the ladder quite quickly in '11 after missing a chunk of 2010 with an arm injury. He began the year at High A Lynchburg, where he started 9 games before moving on to AA Mississippi. Eight starts and three relief appearances later, the kid found himself at AAA Gwinnett-where he appeared in all of six games (all in relief, as he was being prepared to help the big league club down the stretch). Summoned to Atlanta on August 10th after Scott Proctor was released, Vizcaino ended up with seventeen K's in 17.1 innings and a WHIP of 1.442-which the twenty-year old righty should improve upon with experience. With a log jam of starting pitchers ahead of him, Arod's future very well may be out of the 'pen- where he could be very dominating with his mid-high 90s fastball, sharp curveball, and solid changeup.

In picking up this card, I went a little bit out of the norm since I primarily buy base Topps products. The card itself is reminiscent of those insert cards of the 90s. Interesting fact from the back of card: Vizzy hails from the same Dominican hometown as Michael Pineda. How would you like to have been opposing those two while growing up?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

1962 Topps #289 Mike Krsnich


Former Milwaukee Brave Mike Krsnich could be defined as a well-traveled baseball player. Mike began his professional career in 1950 as an 18 year-old infielder with the Bradford Phillies of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York league. Over the course of his seventeen year career Krsnich played in about every minor league imaginable. Those leagues included teams in America, Canada, Japan, and Mexico-where he ended his career in 1969. Oh, yes-he also spent time in Korea during 1952 & 1953 as he performed military service in the Korean War. His big league service was very short lived, as he appeared in only 15 games during the 1960 and 1962 seasons. By making the Braves team in 1960, he became the first player from the immediate Milwaukee area to make the Braves major league club.

The back of his 1962 card states, "this season he is determined to stick." Well, Mike made the team coming out of spring training but was done by May 19th. For the year, he had only 1 hit in 12 at bats.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

1977 Topps #4 1976 Stolen Base Leaders


One of the great things about baseball is that it is played in small town, USA as well as in larger metropolitan areas. Having grown up in the former, we didn't have access to major league games- but whenever on vacation in Washington or California, my dad would make sure we were able to take in a game(s). During one such summer, 1980, we attended a Giants and Astros game in San Francisco, where I had an opportunity to have a conversation with Giants lead-off hitter Bill North. Being an eleven-year old kid (and a person who's generally shy), the thought of striking up a conversation with a major-league player should have terrified me; but as North was signing an autograph for me, I somehow summoned the courage to ask him if he remembered playing ball in my hometown of Caldwell, Idaho. An affable fellow (well, perhaps Reggie wouldn't agree), he replied that he did; in fact, he played his first year of minor league ball there, in 1969, while with the Cubs. What a small world, that was the year I was born! Surprised that a kid would know such a thing, I explained to him that I had read it in that staple of my youth, Who's Who in Baseball. I don't remember what else was said, but I really treasured that ball-for a few years, at least.

Four years prior to my encounter with him, Bill North led the A.L. in stolen bases for the second time in three years. Seventy-Six would be the last time he would be a league leader in stolen bases-which meant that this '77 card would be his final claim to cardboard fame as someone other than a "common." A year after meeting him, Bill North would retire from baseball with 395 career steals, while being caught 162 times. Good for a stolen base percentage of .709-a number which, quite frankly, surprised me.

Lopes, on the other hand, was far more successful at stealing bases than was North. Of players who have stolen over 400 bases, Lopes ranks third all-time in stolen base percentage, at 83.01% (trailing only Tim Raines and Willie Wilson). And, like North, 1976 was the second and final time that Lopes would be a league leader in steals. So successful was he in the art of base stealing, that in 1975 he broke a 53-year old MLB record by stealing 38 consecutive bases without getting caught. His record would last until 1989, when Vince Coleman would steal 50 consecutive bases.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Lopes, but the one thing about him that has always stood out in my mind is that cool cop 'stache. The day that Davey began sporting that thing was the day that Phil Garner met his match.