Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Nicknames: Mule

"Where's my mule, where's my 40 acres. Where's my dream, Mr. Emancipator. Where's my Mule, Where's my Mule." ~ Gov't Mule's "Mule"

  You probably know that the mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse and is a sterile beast. When it comes to nicknames in the game, then, it must be an awful thing then to get labeled as "Mule". And if one does a search for men who were nicknamed after the beast, you're more than likely to discover that most of their careers-for the most part- were pretty barren. They were men whose career began with a promise that was never completely fulfilled.

 Before we get to the players, though,  I want to include a custom card of Gov't Mule based upon a 2006 concert poster. The card I used as the template was a 2006 Allen & Ginter Printing Plate of Abraham Lincoln-I thought they went well together. If I ever get bored with the card industry, I very well may move into collecting poster art of the band. Heck, I might even pick up a second hobby.

 John "Mule" Watson
Photo of Mule Watson   This mule is a tough one to find much info on-let alone trying to find a piece of cardboard of him. He did play for the Boston Braves from 1920-1923, as well as for the Philadelphia Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, and New York Giants. Although he could be an "inning eater", he was also very ineffective at times. Watson's greatest feat came on August 13th, 1921, when he pitched both games of a double-header for Boston as he beat Philadelphia 4-3 and 8-0. By the way, he pitched two complete games that day.

                                        Dick "Mule" Dietz
   When it comes to "Moneyball"-types, Mule Dietz was a stud! A catcher who had an unbelievable season in 1970:  hit .300, with 22 HR, 107 RBI, .515 Slg, 109 BB, .426 OBP. He also made the All-Star game that year. In fact, he was the guy you may have seen hugging Pete Rose after The Hit King smoked Ray Fosse at home plate. By 1974 he was out of the game. "Not too many people know who I am. This [1970] is my fifth year in the league & I don't really have any clear-cut image. I haven't been a regular until this season." Well, apparently he did have an image: that of a mule.
  Mule Dietz had a card in the '73 Topps set which pictured him as a Dodger, even though he played with Atlanta in '73-which was his las year in the majors. Thankfully, I was able to find a photo of him wearing the red, white, and blue.

     George "Mule" Haas
   Haas enjoyed a lengthy major league career, playing in 1925 and 1928-1938 with Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and the ChiSox. The nickname supposedly came from one of George's hits in game 4 of the 1928 World Series. With the Athletics trailing the Cubs 8-0 in the bottom of the 7th, Philadelphia rallied for 10 runs- three of which came on an inside-the-park homer off of Haas' bat  (which had the "kick of a mule", according to a veteran sportswriter). Some cite the name coming from his facial features, while others state it was a result of the stubbornness he often displayed. I guess it beats a nickname he had earlier in his life- "eggs".

George "Mule" Suttles 
   "A free-swinger who struck out frequently, Suttles was a low-ball hitter with a big, powerful swing who hit towering tape-measured home runs that are still remembered by his teammates. The players would yell, 'Kick, Mule!' and he would 'kick' it out of the park."~ James Riley

   Suttles was one of the most feared hitters in the Negro Leagues, probably second only to Josh Gibson in the fear factor. This mule kicked it with a 50-ounce bat, and supposedly hit one home run in Cuba that flew over a 60-foot high fence in center that stood 500 feet from home plate. Suttles never played in the Major Leagues, but was elected by the Negro League Committee into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cards You're Not Likely to See: The Entrepreneurial Spirit-Walter White


After discovering he was suffering terminal lung cancer, and desperate to provide for his family once he's gone, high school teacher Walter White used his expertise in Chemistry to concoct the purest form of meth to be found. Walt displays the attributes which encapsulates the American Entrepreneurial Spirit: risk-taking, innovative, leader, strong determination, and adaptability. 


  I recently read a bio on Bryan Cranston, the actor who plays Walter White on Breaking Bad, and discovered that he is an avid Dodger fan. He also happens to be a memorabilia collector. You can read an excellent article on his collecting obsession here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Food-Issue Friday: 1993 Hostess Cecil Fielder

   Some call it karma; I prefer to call it the law of reaping and sowing. If you feed a fat kid some of these (not the cardboard, the treat they came with):

  you may end up with a cholesterol problem. Or financial problems. Considering that the featured card today dates back almost twenty years, the cholesterol problem is nothing new in this sport. Heck, the Babe was fat long before the Princess' daddy was even born.

 Perhaps Hostess should have continued to include cardboard with their treats. Of course, if they had, some group fighting childhood obesity would have blamed the company for luring young, hungry kids with the collectible. Just ask Joe Camel.

Jason Heyward Topps Factory Set Card

"Through the mansions of fear, through the mansions of pain, I see my daddy walking through them factory gates in the rain. Factory takes his hearing, factory gives him life. The working, the working, just the working life."~ Bruce Springsteen's "The Factory"

2010 Topps Factory #RC1
   When I hear the word "factory", my first thoughts are manufacturing and production. It's blue-collar. It's union workers. It's what many believe has made our country so great. It's also much like baseball: something that at one time seemed to have cried out, "America!"- only to see the number of its workers decline at a rate that parallels the loss of interest in our national pastime. At least the number of jobs in baseball doesn't change. Unless it's September 1st.

  While searching eBay recently, I came across this "Factory Set Limited Edition" card of JHey from the 2010 Topps set. Having not yet seen it, I was pleasantly surprised and decided it was a "must have" for my collection. Yeah, I know, it's yet another gimmick to get the collector to purchase the factory set. We already have the rainbow variety parallels, the Chrome cards that feature a different photo than the base, the Opening Day knock-offs, pie-in-the-face, team set issues, and countless others. Doesn't matter. As a consumer I am given a choice, and I more often than not will chose a piece of cardboard that is manufactured here in the States.

   As we head into the 2012 season, a key to the Braves success will be dependent upon how #22 performs. The Braves had an anemic offense last season, so it's imperative that Heyward regain the stroke that gave the team and us fans hope for the future during his rookie season. Can he produce like he did during his rookie season, or, like the American Factory worker, will he be expendable? 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cards You're Not Likely to See: Breaking Bad Relic

  "I guess it got the best of you...and it's always on your mind. One day your soul you cannot find, and then you want to break the rules. I see a part of you has died. And you live your life in lies. With more surprise out of the blue,blue." ~ King's X, "Blue"

  If you have never tuned into AMC's award winning drama "Breaking Bad", you've really missed out. I began watching the series a couple of months ago on Netflix and have come to the realization that it's more addicting than the meth that protagonist-turned-antagonist Walter White, along with his partner Jesse Pinkman, can cook up. Superb writing, acting, and cinematography all contribute to what makes this such a good show. While not for the faint of heart, the violence and the manufacturing, distribution, and use of the drug is not glorified. The writers do a great job in showing the consequences of ideas and of actions. In portraying the everyday joe Walt White as teacher-turned meth manufacturer, we see that this could be anyone. Even oneself. How far are you willing to go to protect your loved ones; do you have a line that's drawn?

  An interesting side note concerning the King's X lyrics: as far as I know, this song has never been used on the show-but I found the lyrics to fit quite well with the whole theme.

**Please note- this custom card is in no way an endorsement of any illicit drugs or the drug culture. It is strictly what the title says: a card you will not likely see.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 Topps Super, Super, Super (we're really serious) Short-Print Prince Fielder

We're pleased to announce a super, duper short printed card (Card # 00 in set) It is a 1 of 1 card, meaning....If you're a set collector, you're screwed!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yankee Face Dances

Sticking with The Who theme that I began yesterday, I decided to re-create the 1981 Face Dances album cover. While I began with the idea of using players from various teams-with Don Mossi (in Townsend's place) as my first subject- I decided to do a Yankee collage. I don't know if there's a baseball team that more closely resembles The Who. Brash, angry, excess- just a few adjectives that describes each. Passing on Mossi, I chose Yogi for obvious reasons: the nose and ears. Yogi's nose isn't as noticeable as Pete Townsend's, but it does cry out 'here I am.' Billy Martin as Daltrey fit because of their small stature, fiery tempers (Roger liked to throw down with his 'mates, much like Martin), and being the front man with their respective groups. I chose Reggie because his signing wasn't a popular choice with Martin, much like Daltrey opposed the band adding Kenny Jones as Keith Moon's replacement. Jones, by the way, had been a member of a group of all-stars (Faces) at one time. Of course Reggie was a part of the Oakland A's dynasty which featured many all-stars of their own. The Jones picture with the "3" (second to left on bottom row) was perfect for the '78 World Series Highlights card which honored Reggie's 3 home-runs in game six.  A Yankee tribute wouldn't be complete without Mickey Mantle, who-like John Entwistle- has influenced countless athletes and musicians. Both were also known to live a fast and hard lifestyle, which contributed to each of their early deaths.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Who Are You? or, Cards You Probably Won't See Pt.1

"Who are You. Who who who who."~ The Who

This generation- they've fooled us again! Who's Next?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Baseball, Puerto Rican style

Monday's New York Times ran a piece on the state of baseball in the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico. It's a rather sad state, given the island's great baseball heritage. I was too young to remember seeing Clemente before he died, so if pressed I would have to say my favorite player from the island is Robbie Alomar. So I ask, who's your favorite player from Puero Rico?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Clerical Nicknames

"Gather around the preacher man, gather round here...put your dreams in your pocket boy"- Kansas' "The Preacher"

Preacher Roe 
    "I had an uncle who came back from the first World War who hadn't even seen me. He said, 'what's your name, young man?' And for some reason I said, 'Preacher'...My mother said maybe it was because I liked the preacher we had at our church so well."
  Former Cardinal, Pirate, and Dodger great Elwin Charles Roe came from baseball lineage: his father (Charles) was a semi-pro baseball player, who gave up the game to pursue a calling as a country doctor. While in college, the younger Roe (at the urging of his father) would turn down offers to go pro in order to try finishing his degree. He eventually left school, being only one semester short of his degree, in order to sign and play with the St. Louis Cardinal organization.

Tyler Pastornicky

  Acquired in the Yunel Escobar/Alex Gonzalez trade in 2010, the "Rev" (or "Pastor", as some call him) has surprised many with his ascension through the Braves system-having played 128 games for their AA team in Mississippi and only 27 games at AAA Gwinnett. This Elijah-like whirlwind has taken him not to heaven, but to The Ted to begin the 2012 season, as it seems the Braves are confident the 22 year old rookie is an able replacement for the departed Alex Gonzalez. Like Roe, the Rev also comes from a baseball background: father Cliff had a two week stint in Kansas City in June of '83, filling in for injured third baseman George Brett (who reminds me the most of Tyler's soon to be teammate, Chipper Jones). The elder Pastornicky's tenure would be short lived, however, as he only went 4-32 during his brief trial. Hopefully, the Rev will stay in Atlanta longer than the old man did in KC.


Custom Cards: 1992 Leaf Tim Hudson

  The Braves called Boston their home at the time the Leaf Candy Company issued their first baseball cards. The year was 1948, our country was three years removed from World War II, and the Braves were still five years from moving to the city of Milwaukee. Along with the Bowman Gum Company's issue, the '48 Leafs were the first major mainstream sets issued during the decade (paper shortages during the War had caused the production of the treasures to cease). While the '48 Bowman cards were done in black-and-white, the Leaf cards were in color (stunningly, I might add!) and are known to have centering problems. It was also the only year that the candy company would produce the collectible until 1960, when its return was once again a one-and-done. So given the time period of Leaf''s first issue coinciding with the team still being located in Boston, I chose this photo of Huddy wearing the throwback uni.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Custom Cards: 1992 Score Dan Uggla

Trying to come up with an idea for the '92 Score cards wasn't a pleasant experience. While not the ugglaiest (sorry) set ever produced, it certainly isn't in my top 100 for nicest designs. However, after finding this photo of Uggla, I thought, "the search is done." Besides being an awesome photo of the Braves' second baseman, who is known for his bat and not his glove, the colors of the scoreboard blend in well with the green bars both above and below it. Uggla's 2011 season was defined by a) his horrible start and b) his 33 game hitting streak-which ended against the Cubs on a sure bloop single that Darwin Barney somehow caught with a similar diving grab. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Adios Pineda- Hola! Montero

  I wonder if Topps will blow it again this year and include Michael Pineda as a Mariner? They used him as their cover boy on 2011 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects, but left him off their checklist.

 I still can't understand why Seattle traded the kid. There's much debate on whether Montero will be a big league catcher, or if he's a bat without a position. If he can hold his own as a catcher (like a Mike Piazza), then the trade should be about even. However, if he's nothing more than a DH, then I don't like it at all. You just don't trade a guy with the stuff of an ace for something other than a premium position player. Pineada hit the wall in the second half of his rookie season, but was very impressive until that point. He should be a high-strikeout, inning-eating workhorse.

Teddy Come Back!

"...trying to forget you is just a waste of time...Baby come back, any kind of fool can see, there was something in everything about you. Baby come back, you can blame it all on me. I was wrong and I just can't live without you." ~ Player's 1977  #1 Hit,  "Baby Come Back"
  On this date, January 14, 1976, National League owners approved the sale of the Atlanta Braves to media mogul Ted Turner for $11 million. As much as I dislike the man, I really miss the days of an owner who actually gave a rip about the team. Turner was good for Atlanta, and Atlanta was probably good for Ted. The Braves need an owner like a Ted Turner- someone who knows something about the game, someone who actually attends the games, and who can identify and name someone on his roster. Most importantly, they need someone who is committed to winning- to bringing a World Championship back to Atlanta, and isn't afraid to open up his wallet so that his GM can get the team what they need. Many of us fans were hoping that someone would be Mark Cuban, who has expressed interest in purchasing a MLB team, but Cuban is interested in purchasing a franchise in need of much help, and doesn't see the Braves as such a team. As per the terms of the agreement when Liberty purchased the franchise, they are now free to put the team up for sale since the collective bargaining agreement expired on December 11th. The conglomerate has not given any indication that it is looking at putting the team up for sale, but those of us who are fans can only hope that it does go up on the trading block.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Latest Addition to My Smoltzie Wantlist

So, I figure I'll try to be a "Super Collector." Does anyone have 7.2 m-i-l-l-i-o-n dollars to throw my way? Yahoo sports has an article on Smoltzie putting his mansion on the market. Better yet, you can check out my future digs here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2011 Highlights: 10,000th Win

                                                                    Atlanta, GA, July 15, 2011
  The Atlanta Braves defeated the Washington Nationals this evening, and in doing so became only the third Major League Baseball team to reach the 10,000 victory mark. Only the Giants (10,489) and Cubs (10,277) franchises have more wins.

What Was Missing from the 2011 Braves Team?

"Eddie did not start many fights, but finished several."- Donald Davidson, Braves publicity director.

What the Braves of 2011 needed was an Eddie Mathews, who provided a spark for the 1957 team. The Braves had found themselves falling to forth place by the second week in June, playing with no real consistency. Did Mathews provide the spark with his bat? With his glove? No-he provided it with his fists, as he beat the hell out of Don Drysdale after "Big D" drilled Johnny Logan with a fastball on June 13. The brawl ignited the Braves, who scrapped it out for the next two months: first place, third place, tied for 1st, second place. So it went, until at one point they took 24 out of 29- never relinquishing first place (despite an early September swoon).

Monday, January 9, 2012

"Meet Your Pallbearers!"

1959 Topps #551 Fred Haney
"Meet your pallbearers gentlemen. Don't you want to meet your pallbearers?"- Manager Fred Haney, referring to reporters and photographers who entered the team's clubhouse after the Braves' third straight loss- a loss which allowed the Cardinals to climb within 2.5 games of the Braves. Milwaukee had been 8.5 games ahead of St. Louis around Labor Day-less than two weeks prior to his statement. Sound familiar? Well, the 1957 Braves would go back on a tear, winning not only the N.L. pennant, but the World Series as well.

The New Miami Marlins

I have a mansion, forgot the price. Ain't never been there, they tell me it's nice. I live in hotels, tear out the walls. I have accountants pay for it all....I go to parties sometimes until four. It's hard to leave when you can't find the door. It's tough to handle this fortune and fame-everybody's so different I haven't changed. ~ Joe Walsh  "Life's Been Good"

Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard has an excellent piece in today's Herald on how the club has taken on the identity of the city: reckless, flashy, fast, and loose. Think night-clubs, rock-stars, million-dollar mansions, yeah-that's what he's talkin' about!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Custom Cards: 1992 Upper Deck Craig Kimbrel

  While it's not considered one of the top sets of the past thirty years, the 1992 Upper Deck set still holds a special place in my collection. Why it does, I can't say for sure; perhaps it's because I re-entered the hobby during the 1991 baseball season, so the excitement of the Braves' worst-to-first finish carried over into the '92 release calendar. The clean design that the company was known for, as well as solid player selection, could also be a factor. Another draw, albeit a later release, was the company's '92 Minor League set that paralleled the major league set. It's certainly not because of scarcity.

  Now that the calendar has turned to 2012, and spring training begins in a few weeks, I want to begin doing some custom cards that flash back to 1992. Batting First....

1992 Upper Deck Craig Kimbrel

This photo would have felt right at home in the '92 set. Who doesn't remember the awesome card of Ken Griffey Jr. from this set? It featured the Kid's sweet swing in multiple-exposure. Of course, there was also the "Prime Time's Two" insert card of Deion Sanders-which featured the two-sport star in both uniforms, once again using multiple-exposure photography.


"...oh by the way, which one's Pink?"~ Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar"

Ball players today just don't have the great nicknames of years past: Cool Papa, Cap, Chief, Whitey, even one like Pinky. Do you really think that a ball player today would want to have that moniker? What's your favorite ballplayer nickname?

Merrill 'Pinky' May

Michael 'Pinky' Higgins

William 'Pinky' Hargrave (whose brother also had an emasculating nickname- former major league catcher "Bubbles" Hargrave.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

No Wax, but a Book

My wife and I celebrated our sixteenth wedding anniversary yesterday with dinner, a movie (War Horse, which I highly recommend!), and an overnight stay at a hotel. Before coming home today, we made our first ever trip to a Powell's Sweet Shoppe, followed by a trip to a local mall. For those of you who have never been to a Powell's, it a candy store that sells just about every kind of sweet imaginable. They even had gag-gift items, as well as various lunch boxes. Many of the items I remembered from my childhood, but the one thing missing was baseball cards. I thought perhaps they might have some junk wax, but it wasn't meant to be...

  One thing I did find during our trip to the mall was a heavily discounted book. If there's anything that rivals my interest in cardboard, it's books. In fact, when I began collecting again, I had to (gasp) get rid of some of my books in order to have some space for my sets, binders, and storage boxes. The book that I picked up is a biography of Reggie Jackson by baseball journalist Dayn Perry. I've never been much of a fan of Mr. October, but I do enjoy baseball history-and Jackson was one of, if not the, biggest stars during my childhood. What caught my attention was actually the book cover- it reminded me of a cross between the 1967 and 1969 Topps baseball cards. I'm currently reading Steven Travers' biography of Tom Seaver, and have some other stuff on deck, but I thought for $3 I can afford to sit on this one.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Let's Go Debts

The political cartoon is about three years old, but the story remains the same.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


"When you unwrap it, it tells you how good it is."- Jim 'Catfish' Hunter, on the Reggie! Bar

1977 Topps #10
During his 1973 MVP season in Oakland , Reggie Jackson boldly stated that he would have a candy bar named after him, should he ever play in New York City. Oakland eventually traded the star to Baltimore prior to the 1976 season, where the slugger would spend only one season. Jackson then signed with the Yankees in November of 1976, where he would not only build upon his Hall of Fame credentials-but it was also the place where he would cement his place in Cooperstown. Of course we all know of the three home-runs (on three consecutive pitches!) in game 6 of the 1977 World Series, which gave the Yankees the title and elevated Jackson into the Yankees Pantheon. But how many people remember the next time Reggie and the Yankees played at home? That would be April 13, 1978, when Reggie hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the first, giving the Yankees all the runs they would need that day. Upon returning to his place in right field the next inning, Jackson was showered with the candy bar.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I'll buy you a diamond ring my friend
If it makes you feel alright
I'll get you anything my friend
If it makes you feel alright
'cause I don't care too much for money
Money can't buy me love  "Can't Buy Me Love"- The Beatles

I'm in the high-fidelity
First class traveling set
and I think I need a Lear jet  "Money"- Pink Floyd

Don't let, don't let, don't let money fool you

Money can fool people sometimes
People-don't let money, don't let money change you,
it will keep on changing, changing up your mind.- "For the Love of Money"- The O'Jays

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. 1Timothy 6:10 (ESV)

"It's gotten to the point where fans don't come to see the game anymore. They come to see MONEY get a hit, or MONEY steal a base."- Lou Brock
    In regards to Lou Brock's comment...somehow I don't think that Dennis Rodman would concur.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

Double Vision

fill my eyes with that double vision
no disguise for that double vision
ooh-when it gets through to me, it's always new to me
my double vision gets the best of me.
- from Foreigner's 1978 Double Vision

2007 Topps #576 & 588
I discovered these two cards while going through some of my cards on New Year's Eve. Was I intoxicated and seeing double? No. While I do believe in moderation, I had no alcohol on New Years Eve. It must have been an oversight on Topps part.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Highlights: Chipper's 2500th Hit

Atlanta, GA, April 8, 2011
On the thirty-eighth anniversary of Hank Aaron's 715th home run, Chipper Jones collected his 2500th career hit during the Braves' 2011 home opener. The hit, his second on the evening, came on a sixth-inning single off of Philadelphia's Antonio Bastardo. In doing so, the Braves' third baseman became the 9th switch-hitter to reach the milestone.