Thursday, August 30, 2012

Awesome Inserts: 1993 Select Aces

"I got the medicine [Meds] that everybody wants" ~ Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

 There seems to be a disagreement about what defines the 'ace' of a pitching staff. While every major league team has a #1 starter, I do not believe every team can claim to have an 'ace.' That term should be reserved only for the elite starters of the game. The King Felix', Verlanders, Prices, and the Kershaws.

Score's Select brand had an insert in its 1993 product which featured 24 so called 'aces'- one of which is the Greg Maddux card below. These beauties were inserted one per every 27 card Super Pack, and featured obvious 'aces' such as Clemens, Glavine, Morris, Mussina, and Blackjack McDowell. Some of the more questionable starters included Bob Tewksbury, Cal Elred, Mike Morgan, and Kevin Tapani. I don't mean them any disrespect; after all, they were among some of the top pitchers during the '92 season. However, I just don't think that they should fall into a category which I believe is best reserved for the Elite starters in the game.





Should guys like R.A. Dickey fall under the category of an Ace? 



As good as Tim Hudson has been over his career, I no longer think he fits the billing as an Ace. And while I'm hesitant to apply that term to Kris Medlen, I do believe he has a chance to be very, very good for a very long time. I won't hesitate, however, to call Medlen the Braves number 1 starter at this point of the season. Should they find themselves in the one-game wild card playoff game, they need to figure out a way to have this guy on the mound for it.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Magnificent Mini!

  The news that Topps would be releasing a miniature version of the 2012 baseball set didn't exactly send me running to their Shop Topps e-store. And though my mind hasn't changed about trying to collect the Braves team set, I perused eBay to see if there were any inserts included in the on-line exclusive set that were not available in the traditional base set. Of course there were-and I was able to get this game-used jersey card of Brandon Beachy for 99 cents.

  These relics are much nicer than I anticipated, so I will definitely be looking to pick up the Tommy Hanson (the only other Brave relic I know of in this set). The autos look really sweet, too- but are probably going to go for more than what I'm willing to pay...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fredi, Uggla, and the Zombie Apocalypse

  Having dropped Directv about 2 years ago, my wife and I had not been watching much television. Let's face it- network tv sucks, so we were left with very little choice for our viewing pleasure. But last fall, we started taking advantage of our Netflix account.

  One of the shows we started watching and really enjoyed was the first season of AMC's The Walking Dead. We (especially my wife) are suckers for B-Rate horror movies and shows such as this one, so we were thrilled that Netflix carried the show. Unfortunately, the first series only consisted of six episodes-which we watched in probably three days. The second season had barely begun by the time we finished that first season, and ran until mid-March. So from around November until now we have been stuck somewhere between the real world and the zombie apocalypse. The good news is that the DVD for season 2 goes on sale this week, bringing hope to those of us who depend upon Netflix for such series.

  A wikipedia search for the series revealed that Series 3 is set to begin airing on October 14th-right in the middle of MLB's postseason.

---------------------------------------------------

Dan Uggla has been horrible this year. Take away the stretch of 33 games last season in which he had an Atlanta record 33 game hitting streak while hitting 15 homers, and he's been horrible for two seasons. At the plate, Uggla is like a zombie-just going through the motions.

 And despite Ugg's struggles, manager Fredi Gonzalez has continued penciling Dan's name in the lineup. It has made me wonder if Fredi wouldn't somehow survive the zombie apocalypse.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Custom Cards: Celebrity First Pitches

  Having a celebrity throw out the first pitch is nothing new to baseball. Here's a few for ya...


Bartolo Colon-er, Ronald McDonald



America's new sweetheart: Gabby Douglas



That Scottie Pippen, still trying to be like Mike!


Blue Jays are #WINNING! With Charlie Sheen on the mound!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gettin' Hairy

  Take a look at cards of players from the 80s and early-90s and one of the most noticeable features would have to be that which is usually hidden beneath the cap- hair.


























the King of Topless...

 







Eck's hair may no longer look like this- but you've got to admit...

















He still rocks a sweet 'do!



Of course, there's also guys whose hair is more prominent on their...throats-and they don't wear a beard?!



No post about the 80s/90s and hair would be complete without mentioning... Hair Bands!

  Although  I wouldn't necessarily classify them as a 'hair band', Jake E. Lee of the blues-based rockers Badlands (think Bad Company/Led Zeppelin on steroids) rocked some pretty sweet hair-as evidenced on my custom card of the guitar great.


Jake and the boys doing James Taylor's "Fire and Rain"






Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Oh' Atlanta

"Oh, Atlanta, hear me calling, I'm coming back to you one fine day. No need to worry, there ain't no hurry, cause I'm well. Atlanta hear me calling, I'm coming back to you one fine day. No need to worry, no need to hurry, 'cause I'm on my way back to Georgia."~ Bad Company's Oh, Atlanta.


1999 Skybox Oh Atlanta - #15 and #18 (from a 30 card set)


  My first and only visit to the city of Atlanta came in September of 1993. My dad and his future wife had planned a visit to the Peach State, and offered to pay for my airfare-as well as a couple of Braves/Reds games. Well, if you're going to twist my arm....

 The first game we attended (and my first ever Braves game) was on September 14th- the same night a certain rookie shortstop had his first ML at-bat (an infield single). And while it wasn't his ML debut (that came as a defensive replacement in San Diego)- it was the first plate appearance in Chipper's major league career. And while that was a pretty cool thing to witness, what mattered most that evening was that the Braves beat the Reds 10-3 to maintain their slim lead over the Giants in the wild, wild west. 

 The next night, however, is what made the trip totally worthwhile. 

Heading into the eighth inning, Cincinnati held a 3-2 lead. With San Francisco losing to the Cubs earlier that day, the fans seemed restless-wanting that victory to put the Braves up by 4 games. 

As the Reds came to bat in the top of the eighth, Braves right handed reliever Mark Wohlers took the mound and before you could say Leyritz, Cincinnati had two on in scoring position and one out (a sac-bunt). Juan Samuel chased Wohlers out of the game when he singled-making it 5-3 Cinci. Mike Stanton came in and the lefty got his first batter out before surrendering a single and then a double. After Jacob Brumfields' RBI double, the Reds finally relented. 

By the time Jeff Blauser led off the bottom of the eighth, a mass exodus had taken place at old Fulton County Stadium. Even more had left before Terry Pendleton grounded out to end the inning. At least we wouldn't have to fight traffic afterwards! Oh, wait-we took MARTA from the 'burbs. Still-no way this boy was leaving.

Pete Smith set the Reds down in order during the top half of the ninth, meaning we would all get home just a little sooner. Not so fast.

Reds' reliever Johnny Ruffin had already pitched the 7th and 8th innings, but manager Davey Johnson sent him back out for the bottom of the ninth. On a 1-2 count, Damon Berryhill doubled to left and then exited the game as Bill Pecota pinch-ran for him. With Pete Smith due to hit, Bobby Cox used Chipper Jones to pinch-hit. Number 16 (yes, 16) struck out on three pitches.  (Boo! Way to go #16! Who is this bum?! He will never amount to anything!).

 Bobby sent Ryan Klesko (he of the awesome card above) in to pinch-hit for light hitting Ramon Caraballo. With a 2-0 count, Klesko klubbed a bomb to the fellow right below where we were sitting-deep in the right field bleachers. 6-4!! 

Jeff Reardon, 1992 World Series goat, took over for Ruffin and proceeded to give up a double and a single. I guess some things never change.

At this point in my story, I looked over at a fellow sitting next to us. About ten minutes earlier, the dude had a Reds hat sitting upon his melon. Now? It was nowhere in sight and he's on his feet-cheering. Loudly.

That brings us to Nasty Boy Rob Dibble. Mr. Meltdown.  Facing Ron Gant, Dibs decided to bring the heat-daring Gant to beat him. On the first pitch, and with a one-handed swing, Gant hit a ball that looked like it never got higher than about twelve feet off the ground. Before we knew it, though, the ball clipped the top of the outfield wall-just barely clearing it, for a game-winning three-run home run!

When we arrived back at Bonnie's sister's house, everyone told us they saw us  on tv. The camera man had filmed Klesko's home run and my dad and I were captured jumping up and cheering. I eventually saw the highlight. First on SportsCenter, and then on TBS- which used to have a Braves year-in-review at the end of the baseball season. Ours was included on the 1993 season-in-review. 

I haven't been back to Georgia since that unforgettable late summer of '93. I was hoping that this would be the year. When Chipper announced that this would be his final season, I immediately go on line and purchased a ticked for the final home game of the season. Because of time and money constraints (primarily time-work!), that isn't going to happen. But one of these days I will return to Georgia.



Monday, August 20, 2012

Brett Butler Topps Archive Auto

  On this day in 1981, Brett Butler made his major league debut for the Braves- starting in center field and batting lead-off. Brett went 1 for 4 that night against the Mets, while scoring two runs and driving in another.

Custom "Rookie" Card

Although he only played in Atlanta from '81-'83, Butler was a favorite of mine. Perhaps it was because I could relate to someone being small in stature. Whatever the reason, he was an exciting player throughout his seventeen year career. And so when I saw that he was included in the Topps Archives autographs checklist, I was determined to pick one up. 

Mission accomplished! And, for less than $3. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

That Metal Show with Chipper Jones

  Sounding more like a song by Judas Priest than a card set, Fleer's Metal Universe was one set I never collected upon its release. Perhaps that's because I've never been a comic book reader/collector. I will give the company credit, though: it was a very unique set.

 And while I still don't have an interest in the base set, the same can't be said of the insert sets.

1999 Planet Metal #4 Chipper Jones

  These interesting die-cut cards were inserted 1:36 packs and featured fifteen of the games best players.

1999 Boyz with the Wood #10 Chipper Jones

  When I ordered this one, I didn't realize the cards in this insert set were folded. At first sight, I thought the card was a victim of an xacto-knife.

2000 Hit Machines #10 Chipper Jones

Yep...40 years old and hitting .315- Jones would have attained 3000 hits for his career if not for time missed due to injuries.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Meep, Meep!

If it's not the old man coming up big-time, it's his possible replacement.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Oh What A Night!

  The first 20,000 fans at this evening's Braves/Padres game were rewarded with a Chipper Jones bobblehead doll; everyone else had to settle for fireworks. Jones, the honoree, provided the pyrotechnics by going "double-yicketty"




  The aged one homered in his first two-at bats of the evening-the first multi-homer game he's had since 2009. The second home run of the evening was number 466 of his career and hit number 2700.








  Oh, yeah- one other thing. Kris Medlen was in da house as well-throwing his first career complete game (a shutout). It was the fifteenth consecutive game that the Braves have won with Medlen on the mound as the starter, tying the franchise record set by John Smoltz during his 1996 Cy Young campaign.

If Atlanta should decide to go back to a 5-man rotation come September, who does Fredi put in the pen?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On This Day in Braves History...2006

  On this day in 2006, Chipper Jones had his first and only three home-run game. After singling and flying out in his first two at-bats, Chip then homered in his next three at-bats to lead the Bravos to a 10-4 victory over the Nationals.

2007 UD Masterpieces #79



Monday, August 13, 2012

Custom Cards: 1992 Triple Play Paul Janish

Just like world of professional baseball, the card industry needs its utility guys. These are the players who won't carry a team, but are essential to its success.   

Triple Play was one such brand. Donruss first issued the low-end set geared for kids during the 1992 baseball season. The checklist contained only 264 cards-quite small for an era when many of the sets contained 700+ cards- and boasted a solid player checklist, with the usual stars, superstars, and commons. Plus, it also featured three subsets: Little Hotshots, Awesome Actions!, and Fun at the Ballpark. While the card fronts featured an unspectacular design and color scheme, the backs were even more boring than the fronts. 


Acquired from the Reds prior to the trade deadline, Paul Janish has been a great pickup for the Braves as he has filled in for injured shortstop Andrelton Simmons. While he won't provide much pop or a very high batting average, Janish will (and has!) provided excellent defense. 
 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Custom Cards: 94 Ultra Firemen Craig Kimbrel





One of the problems with the overabundance of insert cards from the mid-90s to mid 2000s is that it makes it hard to come up with ideas for creating an original card set. On the other hand, it is also a blessing because it provides plenty of fodder for customizing cards.

Prior to creating the Georgia Taters set, I thought about coming up with a "Firemen" set for closers.  I soon discovered that one of the companies had beat me to the idea. That's okay- I can still create a custom card from this Fleer Ultra set released in 1994. 

  Is there a closer today who better defines 'fireman' than Craig Kimbrel? I guess one could make an argument for Aroldis Chapman, but Kimbrel's my guy. In his last 29 games, the Braves closer has thrown 29 innings, striking out 52 batters and walking only one. The AJC's David O'Brien reports that during the same period, Craig has struck out at least two batters in eighteen of those appearances, gone over twenty pitches in an inning only once, and struck out the side on fewer than thirteen pitches four different times. 

  Heading into the last month and a half of the season, it looks like R.A.Dickey is the favorite for the NL Cy Young award, and rightfully so, but I think it's a safe bet to say that should Kimbrel continue his dominance, he will get at least a few votes.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bobby Cox: Yankees Signature Series auto

  Some time back I decided that I would like to obtain an autograph of every member of the Braves' 1995 World Series team. One of the difficulties in doing so is that I'm very picky when it comes to autographs. I'm not so concerned about what the signature is on, as I am of the item's authenticity. And because of that, I've been trying to stick to the various card releases which include signed cardboard. 

  One signature that has eluded me has been former Braves skipper Bobby Cox. I've seen plenty of them on eBay, mostly photos or baseballs, but not many which were made available from the card companies. That's why I was thrilled when this Yankee Signature Series card became available recently. 
  
 Now, believe me, I had a hard time pulling the trigger on this one. We're talking about a card showing Cox as a Yankee. But, where else am I going to find an auto of #6 for only $10? Well, I could probably find one, but it would be one which the signature is in question.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Custom Cards: 2012 Score Baseball

  Does anyone remember the last Score baseball product? For the life of me, I can't think of when it would have been released. Taking the design from this year's NFL product, I came up with a couple of my own.

I hope this Marte has a more successful career than one time mega prospect Andy Marte. He's already off to a great start!


After moving Kris Medlin into the starting rotation, the Braves are really counting on Cory Gearrin to fill Med's spot in the bullpen. So far, CG has done a good job.

Wouldn't it be something to see these two teams square off in the playoffs-20 years after Sid slid?!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Custom Cards: John Smoltz Iron-On

  In his recent autobiography, Braves legend John Smoltz denied the long-running rumor that he once ironed a shirt while he was wearing it- resulting in a burn on his chest. Whether he actually did this or not is kind of moot at this point- it makes for one great laugh. And one heck of a custom card idea.

Topps issued a Transfer set in it's 1965 release, featuring seventy-two players. While the originals featured the team nick-name and the player's position in the top bar, I decided to just go with the city and team name instead. I would also much rather see more color and detail-thus the inclusion in my Iron-On.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Custom Cards: 1965 Jesse Gonder

  Jesse Gonder came over from the Mets in a July, 1965 trade for outfielder Gary Kolb. The catcher appeared in thirty-one games over the rest of the season for the Braves, providing the team some depth behind starter Joe Torre. The light-hitting lefty provided little offense for the team, though, hitting only .151 in limited at-bats (53). 

Following the season, the Braves lost the veteran catcher to the Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft.

His cardboard appearance in 1965 was as a member of the Mets-the team which Gonder had his greatest success with during his 8 year big league career.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bruuuuuuce! 1988 Topps Cloth Experimental Test Issue

   What two words come to mind when you think of baseball cards from 1988? Probably 'junk wax'-right?





















While the cards from that era were overproduced (an obvious understatement), there are some hard-to-find sets that might be worth picking up. One such set is a cloth experimental test issue released by Topps in 1988.

Available originally only as uncut sheets, the card fronts have a paper-towel like texture and look to them, while the back reminds me of a gauze pad. Because it was a test issue, and not intended to go to market, some cards (such as the Bennedict) had "SAMPLE ONLY NOT FOR SALE" across the fronts.

While most of the one-hundred and twenty-one cards will set you back a few bucks (I paid $5 for this Bruuuuce), there are a few that, if found, will cost you quite a bit more. Got $350 to spare? Well, if you do, you can buy this Tom Glavine cloth 'rookie' card on eBay. If that's the price of it, I guess I can scratch it off of my want list.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Birthday Cards: 2012 Edition

  My wife and I have an understanding that we don't overdo it on the money we spend on one another's birthday. But-that didn't stop me from going way over the limit this year, when I bought her a John Deere steel pedal tractor for her garden. She grew up on a farm, and has an affection for all things John Deere. The toy tractor set me back about 250, but the surprised look on her face as she opened the package was well worth it.

  And so for my birthday this year, my wife decided to return the favor and went a little over budget on me. These are the results...

1959 Topps #450 Ed Mathews
   It's hard to believe saying that someone other than Hank Aaron held a Braves home run record, but at the time of this card, Mathews was the career leader-as per the back of this card.

Speaking of Home Run Leaders...


1961 Topps #43 N.L. Home Run Leaders Banks/Aaron/Mathews/Boyer
  While Banks led the senior circuit in homers for the '60 season, the aforementioned Mathews led the league during the '59 season. 











1963 Topps #275 Ed Mathews
A renowned drinker, I wonder if Ed was a little hung over in this photo. Kinda looks like it. Or just gruff.


























1964 Topps #35  Ed Mathews
  Was very pleased with the condition of this card. Another fact off the back: Ed began the 1964 season in 7th place on the all-time home run list. And remember, he was the guy who was supposed to pass Babe Ruth.

1966 Topps #200 Ed Mathews
  Still 7th. Rough card-but one that I've wanted for a long time. It would be his final card in a Braves uniform until the 1967 set. Okay, so the '67 was as a member of the Astros-but it was a photo of him as a Brave. He would once again be shown as a Brave in the '73 set-albeit as the manager.





















1964 Topps #300 Hank Aaron
The Hammer! Soft, rounded corners-crease through the middle. Hey, if we were made of money I'd have a nr-mt one.


1965 Topps #170 Hank Aaron
Classic card of the Home Run King! I love this set.


Thanks again to my beautiful bride for making this year a special one!