Monday, June 30, 2014

No Minor Feat

If you haven't heard, the Braves High-A team in Lynchburg, Va. threw combined no-hitters against the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals affiliate) on back-to-back nights this past week. Atlanta's top prospect Lucas Sims, along with Alex Wilson, threw the first no-no on Thursday night, while recent Independent League signee Cody Scarpetta (along with Benino Pruneda) matched the feat on Friday night.

Speaking of Braves minor leaguers, I was somewhat disappointed in this year's team representatives in Topps Pro Debut.  Four players made up Atlanta's roster and after seeing the checklist, I was very close to just abstaining from it this year. Ultimately, I decided to pick up a team set because of the inclusion of last year's top draft pick, Jason Hursh.

2014 Pro Debut #148 James Hoyt

I don't know how I missed it, but Hoyt is a local guy- so that might just give me an excuse to purchase an autographed card of his that's included in this year's set. He's currently at AAA Gwinnett, after pitching very well at AA Mississippi for most of this year.
2014 Stats: (AA)  2-2, 1.21 ERA, 29.2 IP, 6 Saves, 0.910 WHIP, 12.7 K/9
                   (AAA)  1-0  0.00 ERA, 4 IP,  1 Save, 1.50 WHIP, 15.8 K/9

2014 Pro Debut #25 Gus Schlosser

Schlosser was the 'Twenty-Sixth Man' on Saturday- referring to the special roster spot major league teams are allotted for doubleheaders. Entering the second game of the double header, Gus pitched one inning against the Phillies, allowing only a walk.

After making the opening day roster, Gus made 9 appearances out of the pen, allowing six runs over eleven innings, as well as taking a loss and recording a blown save.

2014 Pro Debut #127 Kyle Kubitza

Kubitza is having a pretty good offensive season at AA Mississippi, with a slash line that reads .304/.403/.462, though his defense leaves something to be desired. Third base is a weak area in the farm system, which explains the Braves recent extension with Chris Johnson. Perhaps Kyle will develop into the same type player for the Braves.

2014 Pro Debut #125 Jason Hursh

With the velocity that he possesses (92-96), one would expect Hursh to record a lot more strikeouts than he does (he's averaging 4.6 per 9 innings for AA Mississippi); he's a more pitch to contact type who induces a lot of groundballs with his heavy sinker. Jason also throws a curve and change up- both of which he will to become more consistent with if he is to become a starter at the major league level.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Food-Issue Friday: Low Calorie Diet

This time of year is always an extremely busy one for me & I'm too tired to put very much time or thought into a post-plus, my wife and daughter just got home after being gone all week- so I'll just share a few recent eBay purchases.

Monday, June 23, 2014

(Chris) Resop's Fables: The Ass, the Fox and the Lion

The Ass (Atlanta Braves) and the *Fox (Kenshin Kawakami), having entered a contractual agreement for their mutual well-being only eighteen months earlier, went to the park one day to play a game of baseball. The Fox didn't get too far into the game, as the Rays of the sun kicked his ass butt. The Ass, down by two runs after five-innings, called upon the Lion (Chris Resop)- who assured them that he did not fear the sun- nor its rays, and that he would save the day. Despite throwing first-pitch strikes to 11 of the 14 rays he faced, the Lion led the Ass into a deep, dark hole, of which it could not get out of. The Ass, seeing that the Lion was no lion at all, but a kitten, kept the feline off the field until it could cut ties with the creature. It continued to keep running the fox out to the bump, however.

Moral of the story: Never trust your reliever. Nor your GM.


One of the goals I have tried to set up for my collection is to attain a card of every player to have donned the red, white and blue uniform of the Atlanta Braves (cards must be of them as a Braves, btw). Obviously, not every player who has made the roster has had a card made of them as a Brave, but it's something I'd like to do.

One player who, as far as I can tell, has appeared on only one card as an Atlanta Brave is Chris Resop. Chris' sole cardboard appearance came as an autographed card in the 2009 Upper Deck Inkredible set. I was actually quite surprised to discover this, as Resop had been with the team since October of 2007, when he had been plucked off the waiver wire from the Los Angeles Angels. That Resop would appear on a 2009 card as a member of the Braves is a mystery, as he was no longer a member of the organization in August of 2008.

The autograph is as ugly as Resop's final appearance in a Braves uniform, when he went 2 innings against Tampa on June 15, 2010. After entering the game in the top of the sixth, and being down by two runs, Chris threw 56 pitches- allowing 5 earned runs while surrendering 5 hits and three walks. By the time he finished the seventh inning, the Braves were down by 7 runs. Pittsburgh would claim him off waivers six weeks later.

Resop almost didn't pitch for the big league club that year. Had he not been called up that day, a stipulation in his contract would have allowed him to opt-out of his deal- rendering him a free-agent. While he had had success for AAA Gwinnett prior to June 15th (5-2 in 13 starts with a 1.84 ERA and 9.9 k/9, 3.3 bb/9), Chris had never had much success in the majors, and probably shouldn't have been added to the roster.

*Kenshin Kawakami signed with the Braves prior to the 2009 season for $23 million over three-years. He appeared in 50 games for the Braves (41 starts) between 2009-2010 and spent the final year at AA Mississippi- where he earned $6.667 Million while going 2-4 with an 8.41 ERA. Sly fox, indeed.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

From the Desert

I contacted Daniel over at It's like having my own Card Shop some time back to see if the Diamondbacks would like take an Upton off our hands. They already had Justin at one time, so I was hoping they'd like his older brother; unfortunately, nobody wants BJ and his paltry average, high K rate and inconsistent defense. No, wait- that was just a dream I had.

Actually, I saw that Daniel had pulled a card of Tom Glavine from this year's Bowman baseball set, so I contacted him to inquire of its availability. I offered a few Diamondbacks and he bit at the trade bait. Not only did he send me the sparkly Bowman's Back card of the soon-to-be Hall of Famer, but also included five other cards of players in my PC. Let's take a look at the cards from the desert...

Thanks again, Daniel,  for not only this beauty- but the rest as well!

Not a big fan of Gypsy Queen- but I'll never refuse a Smoltz. Nice addition to the collection!

I'm hoping that Andrelton's bat can start finding some hits- soon.

Breakfast- the most important meal of the day, so they say. Especially if the chosen cereal contains cardboard such as this one from 1994.

Mikey. No doubt who he's rooting for in the College World Series championship game!

I'm rather digging these Pristine Cards. How many years did Topps offer these things to the hobby?

I think Mick Jagger and the Stones had it all wrong, you can get what you want. At least sometimes.

Now, if only someone will trade for BJ Upton and his horrible contract....

Friday, June 20, 2014

Food (er, Soft-Drink)-Issue Friday: 1978 Coca-Cola/WPLO Atlanta Braves

I've been on a crusade of late, looking for a Bob Horner 1979 Hostess card. The search hasn't gone very well, but it did pull up a 'related' item- an eleven card lot of 1978 Coca-Cola/WPLO Atlanta Braves cards. For $1.99, these unique cards became mine.

Measuring 3" x 4 1/4" and printed on a very thin card stock, the set is done in pen and ink and features fourteen cards. I'm not a big fan of oversized cards, but hey- they're oddballs, so I won't hold that against them.

Like most Braves oddball sets, the Dale Murphy is the most popular card amongst collectors- and I certainly want every Murph I can get my paws on- but the Horner is from his rookie season (a 'pre-rookie' card), adding to its coolness.

But perhaps the coolest card is Glenn Hubbard's. Like Horner, Hubbard was a rookie in '78 and didn't appear on major league card until 1979- but here he is, in all his 70's cop-looking glory.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Future is Now

Adding an interesting twist to what has become a hobby norm (variation cards), Topps has included short printed variations of alumni of the annual Futures Game in its 2014 Series Two product. And while all the variation cards feature the silver-foiled "Future Stars" logo, not every player sporting the  logo in the regular base set is included in the short prints.

The two Braves from the set are recent additions to my collection: Jason Heyward and Julio Teheran.

Heyward appeared in the 2009 Futures Game at Busch Stadium during All-Star week and went 1-2 with a single. At nineteen years old, he was the fourth youngest member of Team USA.

One year later, nineteen year-old Julio Teheran showcased his fastball, change-up and breaking ball during a scoreless inning of relief. Julio also pitched (starting for the World team) in the 2011 game, allowing a lead-off homer to Jason Kipnis before retiring the next three hitters on only 12 pitches, including a strikeout of Bryce Harper.

As I've stated before (multiple times)- I enjoy the variation cards. Does Topps include too many of them in its sets? Of course. But I will take them over a colored parallel any day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2005 Topps Pristine Legends Murphy

Since his passing, many of you have posted tributes to the late Tony Gwynn. And while this post isn't about Gwynn, or my favorite card of his ('83 Topps), I do want to say that I had immense respect for not only Tony Gwynn the hitter, but more importantly, Tony Gwynn the man. Godspeed, Mr. Padre. 

Speaking of some of our heros, I received a card of mine yesterday- and one who could give Mr. Gwynn a run for his money in the 'Good-Guy' catagory- Dale Murphy.

I won this 2005 Topps Pristine Legends uncirculated refractor (#184/549) on eBay recently for a total of 99 cents. Unlike the others the seller had up for auction, this one does not have the Topps seal- but that didn't deter me from purchasing this beauty. 

If any of you readers have any of the other Braves from the Pristine set that you're willing to trade, let me know and hopefully we can work out a trade.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Feels Like the First Time

I've got to admit that there's a small part of me that's jealous of those collectors who enjoy the hobby with their children. As I was checking my twitter account this morning, I saw many re-tweets of collectors enjoying breaking packs or playing Bunt with their kids- and it reminded me of when my boys were younger. Neither were (nor are) big sport fans, but they did collect for a couple of their earlier years. The only interest my daughter has shown was in the dog insert in the Allen & Ginter set a couple of years ago. I never pursued it with her, and I regret that.

When asked for some Father's Day gift ideas, my list was pretty simple: jumbo pack of Series 2, Heritage and Archives. I don't need a tie, socks or under ware- so the choice was pretty natural; I don't buy packs very often, so it's a perfect opportunity to break a few. What I got was a Heritage blaster and an Archives jumbo pack. I can live with that.

Even better, my daughter asked to open some of the packs with me. I believe it was the first time she has opened any. Now, I'm not about to believe that she has been converted and is about to start asking me to feed her habit- but it was a fun thing to do with the apple of my eye. It's been years since I've done this with one of my children, but it feels like the first time.

So, what did this haul net me? Well, let's take a look, shall we?

Duda- just another homer against the Braves. He loves hitting against them.

Kinsler- I just love the photo on this card. I wish they included more of its kind.

My daughter was pretty excited about me getting a Brave. Too bad he's out for the year.

Do you have a player who seems to always find their way into your pack? Well, for me it's Manny Machado (and Buster Posey, who was absent this day). The Lester, Sanchez and Bruce are the High Number SPs.

All cards are up for trade (and I'll try to post a list of Heritage cards-for those putting the set together). The daughter pictured above isn't.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Food-Issue Friday: They Who Brought Us a Title

Most of my more recent purchases have been either Archives or the just-released Topps 2, but I have also had two highly sought-after food-issues show up on my eBay notifications. And, being the glutton that I am, I just had to have 'em- so, I bought them.

1991 Braves Dubuque (Standard) #23 David Justice & #47 Tom Glavine

David Justice and Tom Glavine will forever be linked in my collection if for no other reason than they brought the Braves their only World Series since the team's relocation to Atlanta. They also happen to be two of the players I collect.
*while I collect some of Glavine's cards during his Mets' days, I only collect DJ as a Brave.

I'm not too crazy about the stripes on the '91 Dubuque cards, but the rest of the design isn't too bad.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Raise Your Hand

Raise your hand if you've seen this before...

"Yes." *nods*

*points* "Thank you."

*smiles and chuckles* "I almost forgot you!"

*scanning the crowd* "Ah, yes. Of course."

*scans the crowd again*  "Anyone else? Last chance...don't be shy-I won't bite... Yes! You- in the back row. Thank you."

Well, aren't we an attentive group?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

In Memoriam: John "Jack" Dittmer

"The people adored us, and we couldn't do anything wrong. Businesses gave us cases of Miller, bought us gas and did our dry cleaning. They treated us like kings."~ Jack Dittmer, from William Povletich's 'Milwaukee Braves: Heroes and Heartbreak'

Former Boston/Milwaukee Brave second baseman Jack Dittmer passed away on May 31, 2014 in Strawberry Point, Iowa at the age of 86.

Mr. Dittmer had been a fan favorite upon the team's move to Milwaukee. He and shortstop Johnny Logan had played together in the minors together, for the Milwaukee Brewers, and their blue-collar work ethics were appreciated by the local fans who remembered them from their time in the minors.

Prior to signing with the Braves, Dittmer was an All-Conference and AP All-Big Ten football player for the University of Iowa- where he was the school's first nine letterman in eight years. During his junior year, the tight end was voted team MVP and received a letter from the Chicago Bears, expressing their interest in the Elkader, Iowa native. The next season, Jack set a Big Ten season record for receiving yards with 333; he also received offers from twelve of the major league baseball clubs during that senior season. He signed with the Boston Braves in 1950 for a $6,000 bonus.

Dittmer's major league career began with Boston in 1952 and ended in Detroit in 1957. His retirement from baseball came in 1959 and worked for his father at the Dittmer Motor Co., where he took over following his fathers death in 1962. And though he would sell the business in 1985, Jack continued working there until his retirement in 2009.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Trade with Brad's Blog

We all know the reputation that Phillies fans (and Philadelphia sports fans, in general) have as being unruly, mean and the worst in pro sports, so you can understand why I, being a Braves fan, would be hesitant about approaching Brad over at Brad's Blog with a trade offer. But that's exactly what I did when I noticed he had a card on his trade bait list that I had an interest in acquiring. It turned out to be the best Atlanta-Phily trade this side of Dale Murphy for Tommy Greene.

I joke, of course about Philly fans, and Brad was very amicable. I had a few Phillies that were burning a hole in my pocket and Brad was very happy to take them off of my hands. In exchange, he sent me the following:

The Heyward 2013 Topps Chasing History Relic was the centerpiece of the deal- the card I had found in Brad's trade bait menu. The Steve Avery Hall of Gold card from 1995 Score was a very pleasant surprise. I had never seen it and I always welcome new Avery's!!

One player included in the trade was Craig Kimbrel- on this 2012 Allen & Ginter's card. Congratulations to Craig on recording his franchise-record 155th save last night against the DiamondBacks. Kimbrel recorded four outs in breaking John Smoltz's record and continues to add to his career accomplishments at a young age. He currently holds the MLB record for lowest ERA (1.41) and strikeout rate (15.14 K/9) among pitchers to have appeared in at least 240 innings. 

Julioooooo! Another dominating performance by Teheran last night- further cementing his place as staff ace and one of the best young pitchers in the game.

Thanks again for the trade, Brad- and especially for not throwing sending me batteries. :)

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Lost Brady Child

As you may have already heard, Ann B. Davis- the actress who played Alice, the maid on the Brady Bunch- died earlier this week. I was reminded of the hit show once again yesterday, when our featured card showed up in the mail. 

2014 Archives Relics #68TR-MM Mike Minor

I can't imagine there's not a single reader out there who hasn't seen at least one episode of the Brady Bunch. While it originally ran for only five seasons, it has forever since been on the tube thanks to syndication. If you have never watched it, or just do not get the connection, then google Brady Bunch and look for photos. You will see what I'm talking about.

The Importance of Education

 The late Dodger great Don Drysdale made a cameo appearance in an episode of the Brady Bunch (The Dropout) as a client of Mike Brady- whose oldest son Greg is a baseball fan and happens to be a ballplayer himself. After watching Greg pitch, Big D encourages the young man by saying that he might eventually become a major league pitcher. The talk had a negative affect on the eldest Brady child, who thinks that his education is no big deal and causes his father to have to bring Drysdale back for a second visit- this time to inform Greg of the less glamorous side of the game (moral of story: STAY IN SCHOOL, KIDS!)

Lost child Mikey must have listened to Big D after watching The Dropout. Minor attended Vanderbilt University before being the Braves 1st Round draft pick (7th overall) in the 2009 draft. The pick was criticized by many at the time, but has turned out well for the Braves; In 93 career games, Mike has gone 34-28 with a 3.84 ERA, 3.14 SO/W, is averaging 7.9 strikouts per 9 and continues to improve each year.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Evil Twin

We recently subscribed to Amazon Prime. The shipping perks were certainly nice, but the primary reason was to give us another entertainment option. We have subscribed to Netflix for a few years now and though the two offer many of the same shows and movies, the recent announcement of Amazon's partnership with HBO closed the deal. It has also given me a chance to finally check out the comedy Eastbound and Down.

It didn't take long to realize that the Kenny Powers character resembled former Brave, A's, Brewer, Met, Blue Jay, White Sox, Angels and (*catch breath) Expos catcher, Charlie O'Brien. The hair, the goatee, the build. I think the two even played for the same number of teams, but I'm not sure.  Hopefully, Charlie O'Brien is nothing like the Powers character. Rumored to be based upon former major league relievers Mitch Williams and John Rocker, Powers is crude, crass and simply an ass. He's everything opposite of who I try to be- and yet, I find myself rooting for him in his comeback attempt. I'm at the end of the second season, so, please- no spoilers.

Up From the Ashes

As a member of the 1994 and 1995 Braves team, O'Brien got the chance to catch the first and second of four straight Cy Young Award Winners (Greg Maddux, followed by Pat Hentgen and Roger Clemens, while with Toronto). That was the time period, of course, where the MLB season crashed and burned-only to rise again, much like Kenny Power's career. Had Charlie stayed in Atlanta a few more years, he might have been teammates with the inspiration for Power's character, John Rocker.

Following his playing career, O'Brien had a moment that could have been taken from the HBO comedy: he was called as a witness in the Roger Clemens perjury case. Taking the stand in a hot pink shirt and a black-and-white stripped tie, O'Brien spoke of needles containing vitamin B12 being readily available in the Toronto trainers' room and sprinkled his testimony with jokes and stories that some might view as irreverent to courtroom etiquette. At one point, when speaking of facing former Yankee starter Orlando Hernandez, Charlie spoke of being dominated by "El Duque." Forgetting the pitcher's name, Charlie turned towards his former teammate and asked, 'what is his name, Roger?' drawing laughter in the process. Of course, had it been K.P. on the stand, there would have been much more colorful language involved.

And now... music from Eastbound and Down. Mr. Freddie King, "Going Down"

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Base(ball) Oddity #8: SI- or, Uncle Cy

The temperatures continue to climb and summertime's nearly upon us- so sit back, pour yourself a glass of sweet tea and enjoy today's card of Uncle Cy.

1992 SI (Sports Illustrated for Kids) #40

I remember watching Duck Dynasty for the first time and thinking to myself, 'now here's a reality show that actually seems authentic.'  Unlike most of the other 'reality shows' I had seen (I'm not big on them), the people on this one seemed like everyday joes and the storyline didn't feel contrived. Of course, that was early in the first season and by now the script does seem contrived. I've also grown tired of the brand they've created. Just go to Walmart and you'll see what I mean. But I digress.

As far as this card...I do like the SI for Kids cards, but almost think of them as a 'non-card' because of its paper-thin stock. Like it's unauthentic or something. Nevertheless, it's still a great oddball and this one didn't set me back but a dollar or so.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably aware of Uncle Si- the proverbial 'crazy uncle,' who's known for his 'Si-isms.' Things like, "Hey, Jack,"   "It's on like Donkey Kong" and "That's a fact, jack!" have become part of the redneck vernacular thanks to the old dude. 

My favorite Cy, as in Cy Young award Winner, Tom Glavine, is a part of the Braves broadcast team for the occasional home game and I don't recall him having any pithy little sayings; he let his pitching do all the talking. 

2 Cy Young Awards: 1991, 1998
Finished 2nd in the Cy Young race twice in his career: 1992, 2000
Finished 3rd in the Cy Young race twice in his career: 1992, 1995

I think one of my favorite stats from Tom's 1991 Cy Young season is mentioned on the back of his SI card: allowing two or fewer runs in about 70% of his starts that season. And that's a fact, jack!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Inside the Mind of an eBay Seller

I've been trying to tie up some loose ends lately. You know how it goes: you're trying to finish product X, but need card Y in order to complete it and don't want to pay Z for it. For me, it's been a few special commemorative cards from the last couple of Topps flagship sets. Specifically, the award winner cards.

Anyone who has priced these cards on eBay knows that they typically go for $10-$25, with others going higher. Even a $10 price tag for these is too high for my likes, so I continued to hold out hope that the pricing would eventually come down.

Well, a year later and I still had not had any success in getting either of the two Dale Murphy commemorative cards. I decided that perhaps I needed to start thinking outside the box; I needed to get into the mind of an eBay seller.

One of the secrets of buying on eBay that I have not practiced is the misspelling of an item, hoping that such an error would cause it to have very few views. This stems from my obsession with things needing to be spelled correctly (although I will admit that I'm guilty of misspelling from time to time). Well, desperate times call for desperate measures, so spelling rules be damned.

My first entry- "Dale Murph MPV card"- pulled up this hit

**Obviously, this is after the fact- the description is as it appeared on the auction

Bingo. Pretty darn close.

With the auction starting at 99 cents (with $3 shipping for this behemoth), I can't tell you how nervous I was that the bidding would then go beyond the limit I set for myself on this one. Well, my concerns were unfounded: there were no other bids and I got this beauty for a total of $3.99.