Friday, March 30, 2012

Food-Issue Friday: 1928 F50 Cows- Brett Lawrie

According to Dean's Cards website, Pre-War cards that were inserted into dairy products are known as "F-Cards." This category of cards is considered a miscellaneous classification and were often found in milk, eggs, and ice cream, as well as in other products such as beer, cereal,  flour, peanut butter, and soda.

One release found in this group is the 1928 Sweetman, which is the set this custom Brett Lawrie is modeled after. The Sweetman's contained 60 cards in the set, each measuring 1 3/8" x 2 1/2"; and although it has a name and address on the back, the product they were advertising is unknown. Had I been thinking, I would have done better to model the back after one of the many ice cream companies whose cards were nearly identical to the Sweetman. There's a mention of their ice cream products on the backs of their cards.

Since the popular Cow ice cream company is based out of Canada, I choose a Blue Jay for the subject matter. Why Lawrie? Well, for one he is a Canadian who is an up and coming superstar. Besides, I think the man might have more tattoos than Cow ice cream has flavors (32+).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The King and Queen of Seattle

Opening Day in Japan just doesn't feel right. 
Call me a traditionalist.
When Seattle and Oakland wrap it up and head back home, let's just hope that King Felix doesn't imitate the beauty queen's tweet.

"Ugh. Can't stand cold rainy Seattle and the annoying people."~  Jean-Sun Hannah Ahn, Miss Seattle

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Baseball and Toys in the Attic

"Leaving the things that are real behind, leaving the things you love from mind. All of the things that you learned from fears, nothin' is left for the years"~from Aerosmith's "Toys in the Attic"

I recently came across a newspaper article from May 7, 1930 which told the weird story of a 71 year-old man whose effort to have all baseball players declared insane was into its sixteenth year. At that point the old gent was taking his petition to judge number eighteen. This, despite the fact that the man had been a fan of the game for over sixty years. I guess you could call him long-suffering.
 "One of the signs of insanity," said Louis R. Gemmett, "is in the method of scoring. A batter makes a one base hit, after which he proceeds at high speed to first base, ignoring the fact apparently that his effort is useless to his team unless his mates are successful in their efforts to make additional hits in order that he may continue on around the bases and register a score. That's crazy, isn't it? 
  "There should be two pitchers, one right and one left-handed, in the box at the same time. The batter wouldn't know which one was going to pitch. The purpose of the pitcher is to deceive the batsman, and baseball players are crazy to think one pitcher alone can fool batters.
  "The players are crazy to let an umpire make a final ruling in a game. There ought to be a judicial committee to act upon every disputed decision.
  "And it's crazy to call a game on account of rain. There ought to be a canopy over the field, suspended by balloons, so that play could go right on, no matter what the weather."

Mr. Gemmett: visionary, lobbyist, forerunner to the frivolous lawsuit.

 Crazy, indeed.

Satan to Play in World Baseball Classic

As reported on ESPN New York, Satan plans on playing for Israel in the upcoming WBC.

Oops- my bad. I guess it's Josh Satin.

Monday, March 26, 2012

An Unlikely Hero. Or, Vote For Pedro

The following is an excerpt from Behind the Plate- the recently released autobiography of former Braves and Orioles catcher Javy Lopez.

  "...I'll never forget the good relief we got from Pedro Borbon. We were ahead 5-1 going into the bottom of the ninth. Bobby brought in Wohlers,  but he didn't have his good stuff. He gave up a leadoff home run to Ramirez and a double to Paul Sorrento, so Bobby brought in Borbon with no outs and the potential tying run on deck. Thome, Alomar, and Lofton were coming up!"
  "Pedro came in like a bull, and I was pumped up just watching him, the way he was breathing when he came in, saying, "Let's go! Let's go!" He was hungry. He was pumped. He was so pumped!"
   "He struck out Thome looking and Alomar swinging, and then Loften lined out to right field to end the game. Just like that, Borbon had a big save in the only World Series game he ever appeared in. He only had six saves in his entire career. What a huge effort that was!"

Unexpected Guests-Minor League Guy

If this is the treatment Oscar Taveras, their top hitting prospect, gets, I'd hate to see the announcement a non-prospect would receive... "Now entering the game- Number 99, Loser- who has no shot at making the Show."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Topps' Secret Seers

2012 Topps Heritage #306
It's funny that this card features these two particular backstops. Topps must have some sort of seer working for them.

 In case you missed it, the Cardinals recently signed Yadier Molina to a 5-year, $75 million extension. With McCann's contract about to expire at the end of the 2013 season (he's actually signed through this season, with a club option for '13), one has to wonder if Molina is getting $15 million/year, what is Mac worth on the open market? $18, $20 million per year? Probably, should he stay healthy.

  Molina's contract, in my opinion, has extinguished any hope the Braves might have in signing McCann beyond his current contract. He will be thirty by the time of his impending free-agency, and will be needing to play another position at least part of the time in order to save his legs and prolong his career-something like DH, which only an American League team can offer.While McCann has been strictly a catcher, first base is always a possibility-only not in Atlanta. Plus, given the Braves current payroll, which probably won't be increasing anytime soon, it doesn't make sense to tie up twenty percent of the payroll in a player who will be an aging catcher. As much as I like BMac, his value is in being a catcher who hits. Move him off behind the plate, and he doesn't have anywhere near the value he does as a catcher- again, only my opinion.

 Another factor in the decision: the team has to love what they're seeing from catching prospect Christian Bethancourt, who's looking like he will be major league ready by late '13. Bethancourt tore up the AFL both at and behind the plate. He has been equally impressive this spring, with manager Fredi Gonzalez stating that the young catcher is already defensively ready for the Show.

  Atlanta will be facing a tough decision with this contract situation. Do they risk alienating a part of the fan base by letting go of the local kid who's loved in the community, the guy whom Chipper Jones heralded Thursday as the face of the franchise?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Custom Cards: Chipper Jones Milk Bone

  In our culture, there's not much significance when it comes to a person's name. It is merely a label used to identify us.

  When faced with naming a child, I think that many expecting parents google "most popular baby names" and, viola!, instant ideas. Or, perhaps they pick up one of those Baby Names books. Go to a Goodwill store and you're sure to find one.

  While some names are picked because there's a history of it in the family, others are chosen because we like a particular name. Celebrity names are always a popular choice.

There was a time, and perhaps it's still like this in other cultures, when a name held a significant meaning. It revealed something about the person. If you're familiar with the Bible, you will know what I'm talking about: Abram (meaning "Exalted Father") was childless, but God promised him a son and to make him the father of a great nation, then gave him a new name, Abraham (meaning father of a multitude); Jacob meant, "one who follows on another's heel"-or "supplanter." He was the second born of Isaac's twin sons and eventually suckered his older brother out of his birthright and then later deceived his aged, blind father into giving him the blessing that was reserved for the oldest (Esau). And of course, there's Jesus (the Greek equivalent of "Joshua"), which means "Yahweh is salvation," or "Yahweh saves."

I'm not sure what the name of Chipper Jones' dog is. Let's just call her "Met". He's her master, she's his bitch.

Food-Issue Friday: Custom Gates Brown Hot Dog

Oh Lord, I cannot believe I am posting about hot dogs- again! In case you missed it before, I would rather starve than eat a dog. The smell- shoot, even the sight of them makes me ill. But I am not one to let something like that stop me from a great story, so I'll just have to deal with it.

  Last year I read Jim Hawkins' biography of Al Kaline, and the author told a story about Gates Brown-the Tiger's pinch hitting extraordinaire who was well known for his appetite. According to former Tiger Jim Northrup, Brown's stomach began growling during a game, so he (Northrup) leaned out of the dugout and asked a fan to buy them a hot dog, which he acquired for the mere pittance of one baseball. However, manager Mayo Smith called upon Brown to pinch hit before the popular player could finish the dog. "'I offered to hold the hot dog for him, but you know Gates,' Northrup said. 'Once he's got his hands on something to eat, he's not going to let go.'"  Quite the conundrum, indeed. Brown, not trusting his team mates, stuffed the dog inside his jersey, stepped to the plate, and then-true to form-came up with a pinch hit single. Once on first base, the pitcher threw to first on a pick-off play, causing Brown to dive headfirst back to the bag. "When Gates stood up, he had a big splotch of mustard, about six inches across, on the front of his uniform," said Northrup.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cards You're Not Likely to See: Geico Baseball

The Braves-Nats spring training match-up today featured these two guys, and Braves broadcaster Ben Ingram (I believe it was) mentioned Werth and Hanson looking like cavemen. Thanks Ben for the inspiration!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

1977 Holiday Inn Baseball Discs

  Holiday Inn, the Atlanta-based company, partnered with Major League Baseball in 2006 to become the "Official Hotel of Major League Baseball"-a partnership that continues today. It seemed to be a perfect match, as their research indicated that a "large number of baseball fans are also loyal Holiday Inn guests." In addition to the partnership, they also entered into sponsorship agreements with five MLB teams:  Atlanta, Chicago (A.L), Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and Minnesota.

  The following year, the company offered a free pack of baseball cards to Priority Club Rewards Members who stayed in the hotel between May 31st and July 31st. Each pack contained a Cal Ripken, Jr. card that featured a promotional code, which the recipient could then enter online and play the Instant Win game for a chance to win Ripken autographs, free hotel stays, and other Upper Deck signed memorabilia. They could also register for the Grand Prize Sweepstakes, with the winner getting 2 tickets to the 2007 World Series, round trip airfare, hotel accommodations, and incidentals.

  Prior to the Upper Deck-distributed Ripken Jr. Holiday Inn cards, the hotel chain distributed a disc set in 1977 that measured 3 3/8" in diameter and were given away with the purchase of a children's dinner at over 70 participating Holiday Inns in the Midwest. You won't find any team logos on these discs, though, as they were only licensed by the Major League Players Association through Mike Schechter Associates. Looking more like a Christmas tree ornament or a coaster for drinks, these are an interesting odd-ball issue for a collection. Like the other MSA discs of the era, the set contained 70 discs.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cards You're Not Likely to See: Storage Wars

This is the Wow Factor! This is why I blog!

2012 Chopps Relics- Hair Off of Darrel "The Gambler" Sheet's Back

1963 Topps/ 2012 Heritage Counterparts: #429

Another Heritage product has come out, so it's time to break out the 'Counterparts' theme.

1963 Topps #429 Lou Burdette

 Acquired from the Yankees in August of 1951 along with $50,000 in cash for starting pitcher Johnny Sain, Lew came back to bite the Yanks in the arse by pitching three complete games (two being shutouts ) in the '57 World Series against the Bronx Bombers. Pitching on two-days rest, Burdette beat the Yankees 5-0 in game 7 to pick up MVP honors. It still ranks as one of the most dominating pitching performances in playoff history.

   "Burdette would make coffee nervous."~ former Braves manager Fred Haney, commenting on Burdette's fidgety behavior on the mound.

Speaking of dominating [stuff] and making [opponents] nervous...

2012 Topps Heritage #429 (SP) Jonny Venters

Enough said.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Card Show Alternatives

Until about four days ago I was really looking forward to our quarterly card show- that is until I realized that there was a work day scheduled for today at the private school our kids attend. They're in the process of a remodel/addition and were in need of helpers. Lots of cleaning and moving was involved. What to do?

  I decided to put the needs of others before my own desires, and have no regrets-other than some aching muscles. When I got home, there was a package in the mail from Check Out My Cards-which helped with missing out on the show. Plus, I still have some funds in my paypal account. I'll do some more 'shopping' tonight.

 Here's a few of the cards that were in the mail today.

2003 Topps Heritage "Grandstand Glory" #GG-EM Eddie Mathews
During his career, the Hall of Fame third baseman played in 963 games at Milwaukee's old County Stadium-in which he hit .268/.375/.501, sported a .876OPS, 211 HR, 591 RBI, and 129 2B.

2008 Topps Heritage "Then & Now" #TN1 Eddie Mathews & Alex Rodriguez
Today's pop quiz: Which third baseman has the most home runs? If you answered A-Fraud, you're wrong. While playing the third base position, Mathews hit 450 home runs during his career. A-Roid- only 269 of his career homers have come from the hot corner.

2008 Topps Heritage "Baseball Flashbacks" #BF10 Eddie Mathews
This flashback cards remembers Mathews' two-run homer to give the Braves the lead (and ultimately, the victory) over Don Newcombe and the Reds. Newcombe, the NL Rookie of the Year in 1949 and 1956 NL Cy Young Award Winner & NL MVP, didn't have much success against the Braves star during his career. Mathews hit .307 with 9 HR and 16 RBI in 75 at-bats against Nuke.

1994 Topps #316 Prospects: Ogea, Brumley, Michalak, Wade
1995 Topps #316 Prospects: Wade, Acevedo, Arrandale, Priest
1997 Topps #239 Jermaine Dye, #455 Andruw Jones

I've been looking for these four cards for some time now- they are four of only a handful of post-'77 Topps base cards that I'm needing for my team sets.

 Terrell  Wade was a guy that I thought was going to be the next great stud on that vaunted pitching staff. While he didn't have a horrible career, he certainly didn't meet expectations that many of us had for him (isn't that usually the case?). He appeared in 59 regular season games for Atlanta, 17 of which were starts. Tampa Bay chose him in the 1997 expansion draft, and he made 2 major league appearances for them in '98-the last two games of his major league career.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Food-Issue Friday: Custom Dale Murphy- St. Patrick's Day Edition

Congratulations to the family of the Brave's legend. During tonight's Braves/Astros telecast, Murph announced that the Murphy family has two new additions: the addition of a daughter-in-law, as son Jake proposed to girlfriend Arianne after throwing out the first pitch before the Braves and Nationals spring training game, and the birth of a new granddaughter, Penelope Murphy-born to son Tyson and his wife Val.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Opening Day Ideas for Topps

There is a part of me that would like to see Topps scrap the Opening Day product. The base cards really offer nothing more than a recapitulation of the flagship brand, save the few cards that might offer a different photo than the Series 1 (or 2) card. One thing the set does have going for it, in my opinion, are the inserts-especially when compared to the inserts offered in Series 1. These cards are refreshing compared to the 'fools gold' they are bombarding us with in Series 1 this year. Actually, I really liked last years Opening Day inserts better as well.

Now, I know the purpose of the Opening Day series is to have a cheap retail product that is attractive to kids, so they will want to keep the costs down. But since baseball fans view Opening Day as a holiday, if you will, I would like to see Topps, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, do something to make it even more special for collectors, as well as younger, newer fans.
 One thing I would like to see in future O.D. products: a return of relics- featuring actual pieces of gloves, jerseys, bats, pants-whatever- from the previous season's opening day. Make them truly game worn-not the nebulous stuff you are currently offering. How about this: do an insert like the 2011 Presidential First Pitch (which I think is genius!), but with a swatch of the president's clothing he wore during the event (would only apply to present-day Presidents, obviously). You could also have the President throw out a second pitch, and use the leather from the ball as another swatch. Call it-"Cowhide" or something silly like that. Or, how about a team card insert set with a swatch of the red, white, and blue opening day logo-ribbons that would be hanging from the stands. One cool set could be simply entitled, "Fans", and could feature a shot of a fan(s) from the home opener of each team. Can you imagine if you're a kid attending one of theses games, and how excited you would be at the prospect of having your mug on a card? Something else that would be unique: if Topps would buy, say, 25 tickets from each teams home opener and include the unused tickets as a redemption set. Who cares if it's from the nosebleed section? It'd be freakin' cool! Yeah-I know, they had the set the one year with a piece of the ticket within a card-but I'm talking strictly a ticket. Another redemption idea: have each manager fill out a second line-up card for the home opener and offer it to fans. The Mascot cards seem to be a popular one for kids, so how about doing past mascots. I'm not sure how many teams have changed their mascots over the years, but surely there are some? Of course, the Braves' Chief Noc-A-Homa might be considered too politically incorrect.
  Like I said earlier, I do like their current (and past) inserts- but let's see it more about the Opening Day, and not just in name.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Custom Cards: Comedy at Coolray

It's only Spring Training, poorly as the Braves are playing thus far, I wonder if they'll be able to beat the "Future Stars". Chip is on the poster, but who knows if he will still be playing a month from now.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Custom Cards: 1992 Fleer Prospects Andrelton Simmons

  Braves fans certainly remember a rookie shortstop who impressed the Braves' brass so much with his play during the spring of 2000, that the team decided to go with the 19-year old (well, come to find out he was really 22) as it's opening day shortstop- despite him having never played a game above high-A ball. Rafael Furcal went on to win the 2000 N.L. Rookie of the Year award, hitting .295 while stealing 40 bases.

  Like Furcal, the "Curacao Kid" Andrelton Simmons has been blessed with a cannon for an arm, has incredible range, and is a slick fielder. Simmons also, like Furcal, has never played above high-A, spending last year at Lynchburg- where he won the Carolina League batting title as a twenty-two year old. Coming into this season, all indications were that Simmons would start the year at Double-A Mississippi while another rookie, Tyler Pastornicky, would be anointed the starter on the major league team. Pastornicky, whose professional experience includes only 104 at-bats above AA (and none in the majors), has struggled this spring both at the plate and in the field. Simmons is major league ready as a fielder now (and superior to Pastornicky in that department), and may offer just as much at the plate as the Rev, so don't be surprised if Atlanta decides to go with Simmons over Pastornicky, should the latter's struggles continue. Mark Bowman on has a great piece on this here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Custom Cards: 1992 Fleer Rookie Sensation Jeremy Hellickson

The 1992 Fleer Rookie Sensation cards were, in my opinion, one of the nicest inserts done in the junk-wax era. Had there been a 2012 set, surely 2011 AL ROY Jeremy Hellickson would be included.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Filler 'er Up...and Give Me A Brew and a Brave

   Strange news on USA Today's website today about the Sunoco gas station's craft beer exchange program.  I guess I'm just getting old because I have no idea what a 'Craft Beer' is. I couldn't even identify a 'micro-brew' if it bit me in the arse.To me, a beer is a beer. And a growler? What the heck is that? Isn't that a word that Stephen King has used in one of his novels for a bowel movement? No, wait-that was a 'grumpy.' Nevermind.
  Anyway, I'd prefer the Gas retailer go back to providing cards for collectors, such as this 1994 Fleer Sunoco Greg Maddux card.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Crazy Like a Foxx, or Just a Big Dummy?


I read where Joey, er-Albert is now a stay at home dad. Hope the kids don't spill the milk!