Friday, November 28, 2014

Food-Issue Friday: Leftovers

I hope everyone out in cardboard land enjoyed Thanksgiving. You just can't beat a day spent with family and friends, while enjoying good food and football.

Not only have those three things become a tradition for our family every year, but so has the routine of bringing home enough leftovers for another meal or two. Do they taste as good as the fresh food served up on Thursday? No- but they make for a good meal, nonetheless.

Today's featured cards, imported from Canada, are often treated as second-class citizens. Or, for the sake of the food theme, like leftovers.

Perhaps it's because of their size. More likely, it's because they are 'junk era' offerings. And, being Canadian, maybe most American collector's don't even know of their existence.

I picked up the two Braves from the Humpty Dumpty set a few months ago on eBay, and the seller was nice enough to send an additional card- a Devon White.

Featuring full-bleed photos and UV coating, these snack-sized cardboard treasures measure 1-7/16" x 1-15/16" and feature text on the back in both English and French. Statistical information from the 1990-1993 seasons are included on the back, as well as biographical information for the player. Cards were individually wrapped and packaged one per bag of Humpty Dumpty potato chips; a complete 50-card set was available through mail in offers.

As for Humpty Dumpty, like I said- it's a Canadian potato chip company that is one of many brands offered by Old Dutch Foods, Ltd. of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ten Turkeys

Instead of the 'Cards I Am Thankful For' -type of post, I'm going to try something different this Thanksgiving. I'm calling this one 'Ten Turkeys.'

2010 National Chicle Ryne Sandberg
National Chicle was a set that you could both love and hate at the same time, depending on the artwork or the background of the painting.

Gobble Gobble: the modern helmet/jersey. Either the artist was totally oblivious to the fact that the helmet and jersey weren't from the era Rhino spent in the Phillies organization, or he took artist liberty. Either way, it is a fail.

1991 Classic "Future Aces"

Gobble Gobble: Need I say more?

2002 Topps Heritage Stubby Clapp

Gobble Gobble: You know what they say, it's who you know what you are and what you have that counts. His nickname was passed on to him from his father and grandfather, and he reportedly passed it to his one of his children. Like a bad disease.

1981 Fleer Rafael Ramirez

Gobble Gobble: I loved Ramirez during his time in Atlanta, but, dang...not a very flattering photo.

1977 Topps Don Hood

Gobble Gobble: My wife and I love horror movies, and I was recently telling her about a couple of movies that I saw very small pieces of as a child- and that it's amazing that I can still watch any from that genre (the movies were Race with Devil and Motel Hell).

 It's probably a good thing that I didn't have this card during my childhood, because it would have probably scared the hell out of me. Everything about it says, '1970s horror movie.' The dark, murky background, the facial features, not seeing the subject's eyes. Thankfully, I didn't have it; had it found its way into my childhood collection, well, I may not be collecting today.

1992 Bowman Todd Jones

Gobble Gobble: We have all heard the complaints about the cheesy prospect photos from 1992 Bowman, but did you know that Abraham Ford from The Walking Dead is included (or is it Michael Cudlitz, the actor who plays Ford?)

1992 Kellogg's Tom Seaver

Gobble Gobble: It really, really, REALLY pains me to say this but, the 1992 Kellogg's design is an utter failure. Well, let me re-state that: the border for this set failed. I like the stars and everything else about it except the purple things on this one and the blue, pink, and purple stripes on others. I can even live with the standard sized card (although, I prefer the minis).

2013 Fleer Retro Metal Universe Precious Metals Mike Trout

Gobble Gobble: These things were announced as an upcoming release towards the end of 2013 and a year later he have yet to see them. Although, some made their way into the hobby as Promo cards handed out at the Las Vegas Industry Summit. The red and blue backgrounds don't look quite as bad as this green one. What, is Mike doing the morning weather report, or what? It's a good thing he wasn't a member of the 70s Oakland A's. 

2014 Donruss Bat Kings B.J. Upton

Gobble Gobble: So, you want to have a cool insert like Bat Kings in your product? Sounds awesome- only include players who are actually good hitters, which B.J. Upton is not. And it wasn't like he did anything in 2013, either. Like his contract, the inclusion of Upton in this set is a FAILURE!

1977 Topps Tom Banks

Gobble Gobble: What would Thanksgiving be without football? So, here's my obligatory football failure.
Unflattering photos are nothing new, but I've got to tell you- this one has to be one of the worst in the history of sportscards. Banks looks like a mentally ill, homeless man in this photo. I love football cards from this era, but this one is rather bizarre.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Super Tools > Power Tools

I sometimes feel like I'm in the minority when it comes to 'manly' things.

Sure, I own a gun- but I've only hunted once in my life. *I have gone shooting a few times, for what it's worth*

I own a fishing pole- but I despise spending time trying to 'catch the big one' along the river shore, out on the lake, or any other body of water. *As a child, I enjoyed spending time with my grandfather doing this exact same thing. And as an adult I've taken my kids out numerous times- but it doesn't mean I had to like it (the fishing)*

Let's see- Barbecuing... I guess it's not so bad. Still, I only do it maybe 6 or 7 times a year. It certainly doesn't conjure up visions of Hank Hill. I suppose I prefer chillin' over killin' and grillin'.

How about the litmus test for being a man? You know what I'm talking about...Power Tools! What man doesn't want to find a new drill,  reciprocating saw, jig saw, miter saw, scroll saw, hedge trimmer, router, rotary tool, or just your basic ratchet set or wrench set under the Christmas tree? Me, that's who.

Given the choice, I'll take Super Tools over Power Tools. As in the Super Tools insert set found in Upper Deck's 1999 MVP set.

Some of the players included in the checklist fit the insert name.

And of course there's Chippah, featured on card #T15


Go ahead and revoke my man card right now. Just don't take my Chipper card.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

And Then There Were None

Two little Bravos down on the farm, one with a bat & the other with a golden arm.

I just received the final two cards needed for this year's Heritage team set- both coming from the recently released Heritage High Number set. As always, it's a bitter sweet thing because, for me, it marks the end of the cardboard calendar. We can take heart, however, because it won't be too long until the flagship takes flight.

For those of us who are Braves team set collectors, Topps' High Number Heritage Set over the last three years has looked like something from Agatha Christie's classic novel "And Then There Were None" (Insert 'how Topps is killing off collectors/ this set/etc' joke here). It seems like we see fewer and fewer Braves in the set each year. This year, we're down to only two.

2014 Heritage #H511 Tommy La Stella

2014 Heritage #H567 Christian Bethancourt

Two little Bravos playin' in the show. One's been dealt, so now there's one.

I normally don't like to scan and post cards side by side, but in the case of the Tommy La Stella and Christian Bethancourt cards, it's an absolute must. Check out the placement of their hands, the bats, their torsos... it looks like some kind of beast- not out of an Agatha Christie novel, but some SciFi flick.

La Stella may be gone, but don't expect the card to be torn in half or traded (for those of you playing at home).

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Base(ball) Oddity #20: Zip It!

I'm not one for talking much.  I guess I try to live by the proverb that a fool who keeps silent is considered wise. Why open my mouth and erase all doubt, right?

Some people, though, just don't know when to keep their mouths shut. What's really difficult is when it's someone you work with, who thinks that they need to tell you every detail of their personal lives. At least my yapper is not offering his opinion on everything- that would be much worse.

Still, there are times that I'd like to just tell him to zip it. You ever see the movie Night Shift with Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton? That moment in the morgue when Winkler's character (Chuck) gets tired of the non-stop talking of Keaton's character (Bill), and then grabs Bill's voice memo recorder and says into the speaker, "Hello, this is Chuck reminding Bill to please shut up!" Yeah, that's what I'd like to do.

Anyway...let's take a look at a couple of cool oddballs from the early 90's, shall we?

Producted by Dow Brands, this set from 1992 featured eleven Hall of Fame players and were available both in specially marked boxes of Ziploc bags and through the mail. While the photos are not the best in the market, they are good enough, giving the set a more vintage look- which I find appealing. I do like the simple design, which definitely cries out, 'oddball.' 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

November Pain

"Nothin' lasts forever and we both know hearts can change" ~ Guns N' Roses' November Rain

I had to go into the office for about forty minutes this morning to finish something that should have been completed last week, and as I was driving back home, for some strange reason, the title of this post popped into my head. Where it came from, I have no idea (I could understand if the Guns N' Roses song was on the radio), but I thought it would be fitting for those of my Braves brethren who are still mourning the trade of Jason Heyward.

I'm not a Heyward collector, but as a team set collector who is a completist, there are two cards of the former Brave that I feel like I just have to have: one coming from the 2013 Archives set and the other from 2010 Topps. Both carry a high price tag, making me torn about wanting to spend that kind of money on a guy who, in my opinion, underperformed (offensively, at least) during his tenure with Atlanta. Were there a chance that he would re-sign with Atlanta after the 2015 season, it might be a different story.

2013-Topps-Archives-Errors-Jason-Heyward-213x300.jpg (213×300)

I know many think that the intentional reverse-negative card out of 2013 Archives was nothing more than a gimmick- and I get it. When I consider this card, the first thing to remember is that it was done as a nod to the 1957 Hank Aaron reverse negative- and Heyward, of course, was billed as the next great Braves franchise player, much like Aaron was decades earlier. This card was just an extension of what the Braves organization did by having the Hammer throw out the Opening Day ceremonial first pitch to the JHey Kid moments before his big league debut on April 5, 2010.

It's too bad that Topps couldn't do their 'passing of the baton' card during Jason's rookie season, which would have been more fitting. Oh, and it would have been nice if it would have been easier to pull. Instead, many of us fans/collectors will probably never get one into our collection.

Speaking of gimmicky, way too short-printed cards... The second of the Heyward cards that will remain outside of my collection.

22830d1282959642-fs-jason-heyward-pie-face-100_5586.jpg (744×1117)

Topps took an idea, which I liked at first, and then ruined it by making them too difficult to pull. And did it year after year. #ThanksTopps

I like that they eventually put the Pie-in-the-Face photos in the Opening Day Ballpark Fun insert set- which is where they belong. It doesn't take away the pain associated with having an incomplete team set, however.

Braves fan, after hearing of trade.
090615_nr.jpg (400×300)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Food-Issue Friday: Caught in the Middle of the Cola Wars

I was in for a surprise today as I sat down to do a little research on the 1995 Sonic baseball set. I googled that exact phrase, only to see images of a set that is completely different from the one I had been familiar with. Both were from the same year and feature the Sonic name on it, but look nothing alike. It didn't take long to see that the fast-food chain had got caught in the middle of the cola wars during the mid-90s.

The one Sonic set I had been aware of is the Pepsi/Sonic Baseball Greats 12-card set, with fronts that feature colored photos and red borders, while the backs are white with blue lettering and a touch of red as well as the Major League Baseball Players Alumni logo. You know, basically an All-American design for the home of the All-American Dog. Did I mention Pepsi- the All-American drink?

On the other hand was the newly discovered 1995 Sonic/Coke Heroes of Baseball 20-card set, which featured sepia toned photos on the front and a dark blue back with a smattering of red and white. Like the Coca-Cola drink, the cards are pretty bland and left a bad after taste. But let's not get into a cola debate. *actually, the cards aren't that bad.

Unlike the Sonic/Pepsi cards, which has no mention of card manufacturer, the Coke Heroes of Baseball cards were produced by Upper Deck. They also contain the Sonic logo- something the Sonic/Pepsi cards do not have (I wouldn't consider the Sonic name on its front a logo), as well as a card number on the back, which its counterpart doesn't.

As far as the player checklist goes...well, I hate to say it, but Coke wins that one as well with a much stronger lineup (BTW-no player appears in both sets).

I do find it odd that the fast-food chain got sponsorships from the two soft drink giants for its cards, considering that they serve Coke products. Perhaps they offered both (or at least served one or the other in various regions) during the mid-nineties?

While an argument can be made for the Upper Deck Sonic/Coke being the better card, there's no doubt as to which soft drink company has the better product. And it ain't the one in Georgia.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Base(ball) Oddity #19: Aaron Aaron, Guy on Film

Looking back at the offerings from the 1990 baseball card season leaves me with a couple of thoughts: first, only two mainstream releases (Upper Deck and Leaf) were worth a crap- all other designs basically sucked; and, two: Oddballs ruled, with plenty to choose from. Today, we will look at one card that could have passed for something from the sixties, had it featured a logo on the hat.

1990 AGFA Limited Edition Series #6 Hank Aaron

Produced by Michael Schechter Associates and distributed in three-card packs with the purchase of Agfa film, this set features twenty-two players- all of whom were retired at the time of its release.

Like most, if not all, oddballs from MSA, the Agfa set did not have team logos, due to the lack of an MLB license. No harm, no foul. The set, as plain as it is, still tops Fleer and Donruss' offerings for that season.

Bad Henry had been out of the game for fourteen seasons, but he was still getting plenty of cardboard love, just as he his today. His cardboard appearances may greatly outweigh his appearances on film, but the Hammer has nonetheless been featured on both TV and feature films. Let's take a look at just a few...

Hank on Film
Happy Days, "The Hucksters" (as himself; Season 7, Epsiode 19)

Futurama, "A Leela of Her Own" (provides the voice for himself and a direct descendent, Henry XXIV; Season 3, Episode 16)

Summer Catch (2001, starring Freddie Prinze, Jr and Jessica Biel; appearing as a scout)

Mr. Belvedere, "The Field" (as himself; Season 6, Episode 1)

and let's not forget Episode 9 from Season 1 (1960) of Home Run Derby, where Hank and teammate Eddie Mathews slug it out for bragging rights of Milwaukee.

Monday, November 17, 2014


One conundrum many of us in this hobby face is whether or not we should collect our favorite player from our favorite team. I mean, how often does a player spend his entire career with one organization? Odds are that you or I will spend an exorbitant amount of money on someone who will end up with a team we could care less about, only to discover our interest in the player wanes. It's not the rule, certainly, but is often the case. 

While most of the players I've collected over the years, namely Dale Murphy, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Greg Maddux, were either traded or left as free-agents, there is one player I collect who bucked that trend and never left town: Chipper Jones.

I chose this topic because of yesterday's trade that sent Jason Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals. Being one of the more popular players in Braves Country, Heyward still has a pretty decent fan base in the world of cardboard and it got me thinking, will Braves fans still be interested in collecting Heyward? I suppose they will, just as I still collect those previously mentioned players. I can tell you that other than Murphy, I don't have as much of an interest in picking up the non-Braves cards of the Big Three. I certainly won't turn them down, but they're not high on my list of 'must-haves.'

Anyhow, yesterday also brought with it an envelope from a seller on Sportlots, and was an exclusive Chippah package: 

1997 Collector's Choice The Big Show #2

1998 Collector's Choice Mini Bobbing Heads #4

1997 Collector's Choice You Crash the Game #CG2

1998 Collector's Choice #306

1997 Collector's Choice #270

1997 Collector's Choice #326

I always enjoyed the Collector's Choice brand and wish that Upper Deck was still producing baseball cards just so we could look forward to this annual release. The '98 with the silver and red border has always been one of my favorite designs. 

An Average Card? Yes- and No

I have always had an affinity for league leader and team leader cards. They, along with season/playoff highlight cards, help chronicle the previous season in a way that the normal base cards cannot. And while I'll never not like such subset cards, I will acknowledge that not all of them are created equal.

My favorite League Leader cards are from the 1964 and 1965 Topps sets. The primary reason? The large photos and clean designs. Oh yes, I also like the vertical format. Unfortunately, most leader cards since then have been printed in a horizontal format and have a lot more going on with the design, giving them a little more of a cluttered look.

2009 O-Pee-Chee #532

You can imagine my delight, then, when the 2009 O-Pee-Chee baseball set was released, featuring cards that were reminiscent of the '65 League Leader cards. Not only that, but one actually featured 2008 N.L. batting champion Chipper Jones. I think we have a winner.

For some reason, Upper Deck decided to forgo the typical 'Batting Leaders' monicker in favor of 'Average Leaders'- something I don't recall having seen before. That, along with the fact that it has one of my all-time favorite Braves, makes this not your average card.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

He's Got Balls

All of the talk this offseason of the Braves lack of starting pitching now that Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang are free agents has left me feeling blue. There's no doubt the team will face a difficult challenge in the years to come, as the N.L. East features probably the best collection of starting rotations in the majors. And it doesn't appear that will change anytime soon.

There is one thing, however, that I can take solace in and it's this: talent can only take you so far. There's something much more important. Heart. There's also another word for it: Balls.

"Obviously they [Nationals] have a talented group over there, there's no question," former Braves ace Tim Hudson said before the Nats faced his Giants in this year's NLDS. "They have some great pitching. But come playoff time, talent can take you a long ways, but what do you have between your legs? That's going to take you real far..."

That's why I miss having Huddy on the Atlanta roster. Well, it didn't hurt that he pitched so well for the team for nine season- but he had the heart of a champion. Not to mention he's a stand-up guy.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Food-Issue Friday: Simply A Mouthful

I always like to try to keep things simple. "See the ball, hit the ball." "If you can't explain it to a six-year old, you don't understand it yourself." And yet sometimes, "Simplicities are enormously complex. Consider the sentence 'I love you.'" Cards can be the same- and when they are, they're glorious.

Like so many of the discs produced by Michael Schechter Associates, the 1994 Innovative Confections Sucker Savers are pretty simple in design but with parts that are all interconnected. Even the name itself is a mouth full. Want to keep it simple? Let's just call them Sucker Savers. See? Simple!

Like I said, the front is nice and clean: Red border, yellow strip, yellow diamond. All tied in together nicely. Hold the logos.

The backs...well, they, too, are simply wonderful. Blue on white. Two simple stat lines: one for 1993, the other for career totals. No Runs, Doubles, Triples, Stolen Bases, Walks, or Strikeouts. But stars. Lots of stars.

These discs were originally offered in plastic lollipop holders and measure 2-3/8" in diameter. They also proudly proclaim 'First Annual Collectors Edition' along the bottom of the disc, but as far as I can tell, there was never a second offering from the company. Which, you know, kinda sucks.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Bruce Sutter, the subject of yesterday's post, was such a disappointment during his time in Atlanta that I figured I'd go back to that well one more time. The Braves didn't get their money's worth out of him, so I figured I might as well, dangit...

I have to admit that I pay far greater attention to the front of cards than to the back of them. I guess it has something to do with us males being more visually oriented, but whatever. Card backs today, much like those pre-1991, often look the same, making them indistinguishable from one year to the next. That said, they are still a vital part of the collector's experience.

 They tell the story of a ball player from the unknown plains of America, to larger metropolitan areas.

 They can tell us of his triumphs, as well as his defeats.

Hobbies? We all have them. Families, too. 

They can also leave you scratching your head. For instance, why would the only thing you write about a player with Sutter's resume be, 'Tied for Texas League lead with 13 saves in 1975?' Thirteen years had passed when this card was released, and because of space constraints, Topps couldn't include Bruce's minor league stats at this point in his career. Perhaps this would cause the collector to pause and dig into their Who's Who in Baseball just to see where Bruce's career had taken him. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Never Forget

In the course of the past ten days or so, we have seen temperatures go from above normal for this time of year to below average for the same time period. It's quite strange- but one thing has stayed the same: the annual GM meetings are taking place. Yes, the Hot Stove is cooking, baby, and there's been plenty of speculating on what my team-the Braves- will be doing. Will they move Evan Gattis? Or, will they try to move either Justin Upton or Jason Heyward before their impending free-agency year? Time shall tell.

This time of year can also be difficult. Free agent signings and/or trades don't often work out how the team and its fans hope. One such free agent signing was Bruce Sutter.

The former Cub and Cardinal closer signed with the Braves on December 7th, 1984 for what was then a pretty hefty $4.8 million deal over six years (plus a report crapton deposited intoa deferred account) . In nine MLB seasons prior to the signing, Sutter had collected 260 saves and had placed in the top 5 for Cy Young voting in four of the previous six seasons (including his 1979 NL Cy Young award season). However, he had also had pitched in over 900 innings at that point, so there was a lot of mileage on his 31 year-old arm.

His first season in Atlanta saw his save total drop significantly, his ERA skyrocket and his shoulder in need of surgery. He would appear in only 16 games during the second season of the monstrous contract, leaving a lot of questions about his future. By the time the 1987 season began, Bruce had undergone his third shoulder surgery, this one would require him to miss the entire '87 season. Following his recovery, Sutter would pitch one more season in Atlanta (and final in the majors), appearing in 38 games while recording 14 saves- giving him a nice round number (300) for his Hall of Fame career.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gold and Gloves

I hope you didn't read the title for this post as 'Gold Gloves,' thinking that it would be a rundown of the awards handed out recently to the 'Finest' fielders in the majors. While the award seems to have lost some of its luster in the last decade or so, the cards I'm showing off today haven't.

1996 Topps Finest Gold Phenoms #141

The only thing I didn't like about the Finest cards from this time period was the protective film. I dislike it so much that I always peel it off immediately upon receiving these offerings from Topps. I paid about half of what I normally see this card selling for.

1999 Pacific Paramount Fielder's Choice #1 

Die-cuts are always a nice addition to the collection- even when it comes from one of my least favorite manufacturers. It's too bad Pacific didn't stick with the glove theme and include a photo of Chipper in the field. Most of the others I have seen in this set feature position players at the plate (A-Rod being the exception).