Friday, January 31, 2014

Listen All Y'all, It's a Sabotage




I like to think that I have a fairly eclectic taste in music. Classic rock will always be my favorite, but I also enjoy the blues, classical, big-band era music and older R&B/Soul music, among others. One genre that I just don't care for is hip-hop/rap. That being said, if you were to check my iPhone you would find a few Beastie Boys songs (I guess they're now called 'rapcore')- one of which is called Sabotage. As much as I love the song (it's been an 'ear-worm' all day today), it was actually the video that made me a fan.

Directed by Spike Jonze, the 1994 video paid homage to, and was a parody of, 1970s television crime dramas. Featuring the band members as characters in a police show called Sabotage, the video was extremely popular and received heavy airplay on MTV. In fact, it was nominated for 5 categories at the 1994 MTV Music Video Awards. And when it didn't win any of the categories, there was outrage among fans and critics alike. Jonze and the band were vindicated when the video won "Best Video (That Should Have Won a Moonman)" at the 2009 MTV VMA.

The song itself has received its share of accolades: Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it #480 out of the top 500 songs of all-time and VH1 ranked it #19 in the 100 greatest songs of the 90s. The video is a piece of art, and the song ain't bad either.

Nineteen Ninety-Four was a pretty good year for baseball cards, too. I consider it the last 'great' year for the hobby (settle down, don't throw tomatoes at me). Good set designs/checklists were the norm. But then- BAM!- the hobby took a dump when the strike hit.

If I had to pick the greatest baseball sets of the 90s, you can bet that 1994 Fleer would be at, or near, the top. And while it will never win any awards for being flashy, cutting-edge, or for any other b.s., it will kick you in the teeth. It's a throwback- much like the Sabotage video.



























I

I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, there's really no reason to feature this card here tonight.


I can't stand it, I know you planned it. I'm gonna set it straight, this Watergate. I can't stand rocking when I'm in here, 'cause your crystal ball ain't so crystal clear. So while you sit back and wonder why, I got this f***ing thorn in my side. Oh, my God-it's a mirage, I'm tellin' y'all, it's a sabotage.



1994 Fleer Atlanta Braves- starring:

Sir Kent Mercker, as himself





Gregg Olson, as Cochese
Sid Bream, as Bobby "The Rookie"
John Smoltz, as "The Chief"


and Terry Pendleton as Bunny
350 Steve Avery
351 Steve Bedrosian
352 Rafael Belliard
353 Damon Berryhill
354 Jeff Blauser
355 Sid Bream
356 Francisco Cabrera
357 Marvin Freeman
358 Ron Gant
359 Tom Glavine
360 Jay Howell
361 David Justice
362 Ryan Klesko
363 Mark Lemke
364 Javier Lopez
365 Greg Maddux
366 Fred McGriff
367 Greg McMichael
368 Kent Mercker
369 Otis Nixon
370 Greg Olson
371 Bill Pecota
372 Terry Pendleton
373 Deion Sanders
374 Pete Smith
375 John Smoltz
376 Mike Stanton
377 Tony Tarasco
378 Mark Wohlers
707 "Brave New World" McGriff/Gant/Justice
U101 Mike Kelly
U102 Roberto Kelly
U103 Charlie O'Brien
U104 Jose Oliva
U105 Gregg Olson




Thursday, January 30, 2014

Top of the Topps (Rack Packs)

Having picked up three rack packs last night- three much needed packs, at that- it's time to check out the Top of the Topps (Rack Packs).

Top 5 Base Cards

5) #180 Ben Revere
I like the photo, even if it is a Phil, and wonder what's going through his mind, what happens in the next frame.  Maybe he catches; maybe he face plants. I guess we will never know.

4) The obligatory 'rah-rah' cards: #156, #161
These kinds of 'celebration' cards always seem to be a prerequisite for the 'favorite cards' post. I'll join the bandwagon. Not because they're two of my favorites from these three packs, but because to do otherwise is collecting heresy. Here's to hoping they're a variation SP of some sort so I can get some value out of them.

3) #22 Mike Napoli World Series.
To be honest with you I got real tired of the whole Boston beard thing last year. It was like a continuation of the 'idiots' theme from 2004. Do you really have to have some sort of theme, Boston? Why not take a page out of everyone else's book and just be normal? Regardless, this is a pretty glorious beard. Not Stonewall Jackson glorious, but not bad.

2) #212 Jason Heyward
You thought I was going to post that Shane Victorino card, didn't you? I almost did (out of the pack- it came two cards before the Heyward), but I just couldn't bring myself to put another Red Sox card on this list. And so I'm going with the J-Hey Kid doing his best impression of The Kid.

1) #8 Coco Crisp
We're talking legendary card here. Of course, it's not as legendary as Oscar Gamble's 'fro- but I'm telling ya...future generations of collectors will look at Coco as we did (do) Oscar.  It almost makes me want to start a new collection of bad-ass 'fros.


Top 5 Inserts/Parallels

#5, #4 The Future is Now #FN4, #FN5 Jurickson Profar


Two of the same dude, really? (Of course, I wouldn't care if it was Julio Teheran and his two cards form this insert set). Oddly, cards #5 and 4 are numbered four and five as well.
**Someone, please tell me that you have the two Teheran's that you'll trade for the Profars! I'm begging you.

#3 Red Sparkly Kurt Suzuki parallel

Only because I've got someone in mind with this one. Be checking your mailbox in the near future. (You know who you are)

#2 Super Veteran #SV-3 Derek Jeter
One of my favorite inserts from what I've seen of Series 1. I only wish they had included something like this when Maddux and Glavine (or Chipper) were playing. Holding out hope for Series 2.

#1 Green Parallel #309 Drew Stubbs
I think this card grabbed my attention because the dude looks sick. Or like a Martian, or something. Could it be the horrible green colored border messin' with my eyes? Whatever causes it, Drew's face looks to have a little too much green tint. Green outfield wall. Green grass. Green numbers on the outfield wall. Thank God it wasn't an Oakland A's player in his green uniform. Good Grief!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Attitude Adjustment

"You got yourself a load of trouble now, you got yourself a bad deal. You say I've got a bad attitude, well, how do you think I feel? Don't want a number, I've got a name. Take a look at my face. You talk about a bad attitude, things have got to change."~ Deep Purple's  Bad Attitude

I found myself having to apologize to a co-worker today for my bad attitude. It's been coming on for awhile now, and he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when I finally erupted this morning. And so shortly afterwards, I decided that I needed an attitude adjustment. Yep- I left work a little early today and went to Target, looking for 2014 Series 1. I walked out with three rack packs.

I know- the whole thing sounds like the beginning of a very bad joke, "A guy who Topps drives crazy walks into a Target store..."  Bad Joke- or paradox?


FIRST CARD OF 2014:
Kolten Wong-RC

A Cardinal. Of course. I guess it could have been a Yank, Phil, or Dodger.

Three cards later...


FIRST BRAVE OF 2014:
Julio Teheran

Huh- What?! A Future Star? Yessss!

FIRST PARALLEL:
Red Sparkle Jose Bautista

Yawn. Next


FIRST RIC FLAIR 'WOOOOOO!' MOMENT:

I don't open packs very often, but when I do... Actually, this was a glorious moment for this collector. Don't get to pull an insert Maddux very often- especially a Die-Cut. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!



I'll save some of the other highlights for later, but if you aren't convinced that this attitude adjustment worked, then I'll leave you with this...

 
I'll be going back to work tomorrow, the happiest guy in the joint.
 
 


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Series 1

My wife and daughter are away for a few days- winter retreat for sixth through twelfth grades at the school my daughter attends (my wife is supervising the sixth grade girls). So what better way to spend an evening than dinner and some cards!!

After work I met my son and took him out for dinner, and then planned to go out on a run to Target to see if they had any of Series One. I might complain about their ever expanding checklists and gimmicks, but there's still some entertainment value in opening up a couple of packs- especially when it's the first set of the new year.

Anyway- after a (very) long day, I decided against the Target thing and instead came home to...nothing. Quietness. The State of the Union Address. Ugh. At least there's coffee.

To fill that void (no cards to open- although, yes, there's a void by my wife being gone), I've decided it's time to roll out the initial post for 2014 Chops Series 1. If you missed the 'Preview' card of Freddy Garcia, I'll provide you with this link. I'm happy to say that Atlanta did just sign the Chief to a minor league deal last week.



'twill be interesting to see if the Lord of BABIP (batting average on balls in play), Mr. Chris Johnson, can follow up his ridiculous 2013 season where he hit .394 on balls which landed in play for hits. Johnson didn't hit many homers (he finished with 12), making his total BABIP numbers even more impressive.


Happy belated birthday to Julio Teheran, who just turned 23 yesterday. Having decided that I'm going to be trying to complete some of the mid to high-end team sets, Juuuuuulio is a candidate to be the guy whose card I do pick up from those sets. I truly believe he is going be the one who continues the rich Atlanta pitching tradition.


If it's not Julio, then this is the guy who is most likely to be The One who I will pick up cards of just to have one of (fill in set name here).

Monday, January 27, 2014

Coming Soon!!

1991 Studio Previews #10 - David Justice - Courtesy of COMC.com


I've never been a fan of movie trailers. Well, let me re-state that: I've never been a fan of previews shown at the movie theater. I think it has to do with the fact that I have no control over what it is I'm watching. We rush to get there, find a seat and then have to sit through 15 minutes of previews that, for the most part, I could care less about. At least at home I can fast forward through the DVD, or- even better: choose which ones to watch on the internet.

I had never been a big fan of the special preview cards that most manufacturers released back in the 90s, either. My exposure to them was this: a card that was identical to the regular release, but with the words 'Preview' printed across the front. I viewed them much as I do parallels in today's collecting world- I'm not a fan. Give me a variation, with a different photo...now we're talkin'!

My views began to change on this last year as I was hunting down cards from the 1993 sets. I had come across a 1993 Donruss preview card of Tom Glavine which featured a photo that differed from the regular-issued Glavine. I picked it up, but had not sought out any other previews until I recently came across a few Leaf preview cards with former Braves.



One of my favorite Braves from the nineties, Steve Avery is shown here in Chicago. I'm guessing that this photo was taken on July 26, 1991- the only time he pitched in Chicago that year. On that day, he threw 8.1 innings while picking up the win. Or, it could have been from his lone 1990 start in Chicago- an August 19th no decision.



From what I have read, Deion was very close friends with Steve Avery. Honestly, it seem to me that you couldn't find a more odd-couple. While Avery appeared in be the quiet type who just went about his business, Neon Deion was all about putting on the show. And his act got old real fast.



I know I had this card in my previous collecting life. Or, perhaps the photo has been used on another card issue and it just looks familiar. Whatever the case, it now has a place with all the other 1991 Leaf cards in my Braves team binder.


As for that '91 Studio David Justice that preceded tonight's main feature, well- I still haven't picked up one of those. Which is too bad. After all, movie posters are nice and all, but the real joy comes in the experience of viewing the film. Or, in the case of cardboard- being able to place it in your binder.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Swashbuckler Sunday: eBay Bucks for a Buc

Retailers today understand the importance of customer loyalty programs. These programs are designed to reward good customers, giving them an incentive to continue doing business with the company. As a collector who is always looking to stretch that dollar, I've found a few sites that offer up some kind of rewards program: Amazon (points on my credit card- use towards supplies), COMC ($5 store credit for every 100 items purchased in a calendar month), and eBay (eBay bucks).



My quarterly eBay bucks earnings were available to me at the beginning of January, and one of the cards I had been watching was still available- a 2010 Topps Five Star autographed rookie card of Gerald McCoy, numbered 50/75. The purchase price was $5.95 plus $2.07 s/h, but with $5.01 in eBay bucks, I only had to pay a total of $3.01 shipped for this beauty. While the signature isn't all that impressive, I really like McCoy- he's an All-Pro on and off the field, who is making his second Pro Bowl appearance later today. Plus, this card now completes a trifecta of him:  rookie card, memorabilia swatch and an autographed card.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dead and Bloated

I am smelling like a rose that somebody gave me on my birthday death bed; I am smelling like a rose that somebody gave me 'cause I'm dead and bloated.~ Stone Temple Pilots

 

 
 
Topps sent out a tweet yesterday, announcing that the checklist for 2014 Series 1 was live. And so, I opened up the file (35 pages!) and began poring over the checklist as I ate my lunch. What was initially joy turned to a state of mind-numbing disbelief: looking like the past season's Triple Threads checklist, with too many inserts and parallels of autos, relics and auto/relic combos. For the master set collector or master team set collector, Topps is officially dead and bloated.


Another problem I have with the set: the inclusion of Brian McCann as a Brave in not only in the base set, but in the countless insert cards. It smacks of an SP gimmick, in which he will be included as a Yank. Look- I love BMac, but he signed with New York early enough that there's no way he should be included in this set as a Brave. He's no longer a Brave, don't include him as one.


2014 Topps 1 Braves Checklist:
66 Kris Medlen
143 Freddie Freeman/Jay Bruce/Paul Goldschmidt (LL)
212 Jason Heyward
225 Brian McCann
229 Justin Upton
237 Chris Johnson/Freddie Freeman/Michael Cuddyer (LL)
283 Andrelton Simmons
288 Julio Teheran
316 Mike Minor

Topps Silk
SC71 Jason Heyward
SC72 Justin Upton
SC73 Julio Teheran
SC74 Kris Medlen
SC75 Brian McCann

Upper Class
UC6 Craig Kimbrel
UC7 Freddie Freeman
UC28 Brian McCann
UC38 Tom Glavine

Before They Were Great
BG5 Tom Glavine

1989 Topps Mini Die-Cuts
TM11 Fred McGriff
TM17 Tom Glavine
TM25 Greg Maddux

Power Player Code Cards
PP20 Jason Heyward
PP23 Mike Minor
PP57 Justin Upton
PP82 Julio Teheran
PP101 Brian McCann

Trajectory Autos
TA-DS Deion Sanders
TA-GM Greg Maddux
TA-EG Evan Gattis
TA-HA Hank Aaron
TA-KM Kris Medlen
TA-TG Tom Glavine

Upper Class Autos
UCA-FF Freddie Freeman
UCA-TG Tom Glavine

The Future is Now Autos
FNA-JT1 Julio Teheran
FNA-JT2 Julio Teheran

Before They Were Great Autos
BGA-TG Tom Glavine

1989 Topps Mini Die-Cut Autos
TMA-JS John Smoltz

Postseason Performance Autos
PPA-FF Freddie Freeman

Upper Class Auto Relics
UCAR-FF Freddie Freeman
UCAR-TG Tom Glavine

Before They Were Great Auto Relics
BGAR-TG Tom Glavine

Trajectory Relics
TR-AS Andrelton Simmons
TR-HA Hank Aaron
TR-JT Julio Teheran

Upper Class Relics
UCR-CK Craig Kimbrel

Topps All-Rookie Cup Team Relics
RCTR-CK Craig Kimbrel

Before They Were Great Relics
BGR-TG Tom Glavine

1989 Topps Mini Die Cut Relics
TMR-DMU Dale Murphy
TMR-FM Fred McGriff
TMR-GM Greg Maddux
TMR-TG Tom Glavine

Postseason Performance Relics
PPR-CKI Craig Kimbrel
PPR-FF Freddie Freeman
PPR-JU Justin Upton

In the Name Relics
ITN-BM Brian McCann
ITN-CKI Craig Kimbrel
ITN-FF Freddie Freeman

Strata Cut Signature
SCS-WS Warren Spahn
SCS-WS1 Warren Spahn

Rookie Card Manufactured Patch Image Cards
RCP-25 John Smoltz

Spring Fever
SF16 Freddie Freeman
SF28 Justin Upton
SF40 Jason Heyward
SF41 Craig Kimbrel

Spring Fever Autos
SFA-DS Deion Sanders
SFA-TG Tom Glavine

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Food-Issue Friday: 1987 Kraft Home Plate Heroes #2 Dale Murphy

Just as baseball has dozens of 'unwritten rules,' so, too, does bachelorhood and parenthood. One such law, I believe, goes something like this: "Thou must prepare a bowl of Mac N Cheese at least once a week." 

Our kids tried to keep us accountable on this one, making requests what seemed to be every Saturday- unless it was the summer months, at which time they would increase just as the temperature does. To their dismay, we declined their requests from time to time. Things might have been different- had there been baseball cards included with this staple.

***


Kraft Foods entered into the baseball card business in 1987 with the help of Mike Schechter Associates, who produced the set for the food giant. MSA, you might remember, produced a number of 'food-issues' back in the day- notably, the discs that were a dime a dozen. The '87 Kraft product was the first and only one available on boxes of the popular noodles, although they would go on to include cards in packages of their cheese singles during the years 1993-1995.

Murph had arguably his best pro season in 1987- and his final 'great' season- hitting .295/.417/.580 along with a career-high 44 Homers. He also made the last of his seven All-Star teams. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cardboard, Fashion and...Shallow Hal?


"Uncle Larry's hooked on ice again, he seems to be stuck in the 80's. He wears his Members Only jacket, 'cause he thinks it turns on all the ladies."~ Sheryl Crowe's 'Members Only'

In the 2001 romantic comedy Shallow Hal, Jason Alexander's character (Mauricio Wilson) is ridiculed by Rosemary Shanahan (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) for the jacket he is wearing.

"Is that a Member's Only jacket?" she asks.

 "Yes," he replies.

"I guess you must be the last member."

***

Perhaps that reference means nothing to you- but for those of us who were teens (or older) during the 80's, that's as funny as it gets when it comes to fashion from that time period.

It was during that decade that, if you were a preppy male, you pretty much had to wear one of the company's racer jackets- with its front breast pocket and glorious shoulder epaulettes.





Well, like all trends (Fashion) the jacket died a fairly quick death. Sure, every once in a while you would see some 60-something year old wearing one, but those were few and far between.



The one-time symbol of wealth and popularity among not only preppy teenage boys, but that of yuppie adult males, has made a comeback in recent years. It can now be found gracing the bodies of the beautiful people of Hollywood. Which makes me want to puke even more. Uh- sorry....going off topic.

Fast forward to the 90s and we have another popular Member's Only product- only this is one that I cared about, deeply. These were cards made exclusively for members who joined Topps' Stadium Club and resembled the fronts of the regular issued cards (different photos, however), while the backs were completely different. The 1991 set, for instance, featured a faux newspaper headline and copy of the player's career highlights.

Back in the day, I actually became a "Charter Member" of this, oh so exclusive club. I felt like one of those preppies (or yuppies) from only a few years prior. Not only did I receive the Members Only cards, but I received the Charter Member cards, as well. Yeah, I felt like Tom friggin' Cruise. Gimme my Ray Bans.

***

As I have been going through my collection recently, getting it organized, making my lists, I realized that my 1991 Stadium Club Braves team set was missing a few cards. Yes- those cards that were the closest thing I'd ever get to the American Express Centurion (aka the "Black Card") were MISSING!

And so, like Hal and Maurcio hitting the nightclubs, I took to the internet, looking for five specific Braves cards.

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

Go ahead- mock me. Ask me if that's a Member's Only card.

I'll proudly tell you- "Yes, it is."

Ask me if I'm the last member.

You might see junk-era crap. I see beauty.



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

We Barely Knew Ya...Brook Jacoby

Brook Jacoby was once a pretty highly touted prospect in the Braves minor league system. Guys who play corner infield positions, hit .296 with 40 doubles, 19 homers and 108 RBI and then follow that up with a season of .292 with 28 doubles, 24 homers and 82 RBI will tend to get noticed, after all. So the excitement was certainly high when Brook received his call-up to the majors in September of 1981. And after getting pinch-hits in his first two at-bats (including a pinch-hit RBI single in his first AB), things must have looked pretty easy for the son of former minor league pitcher Brook Jacoby Sr.



Jacoby would find his way into the line-up a few more times that 1981 season, getting six more plate appearances as a pinch-hitter and two more at-bats as a defensive replacement. He would go hitless in those final eight at-bats of the season.

Brook played for AAA Richmond in 1982, and was once again impressive at the plate: hitting .299 with 21 doubles, 18 homers, and 58 RBI. He would return to Richmond for the 1983 season, significantly improving upon his numbers: .315, 32 doubles, 25 homers and 100 RBI. Once again, he was rewarded with a September call-up to Atlanta. And while he did get two pinch-hit appearances, he also got his first two major league starts (against the Dodgers on September 3 and 4)- going hitless in all eight at-bats.

STATlanta:
15 games, 2-18 (.111), 1 RBI, 1 sac.

He Gone!
Traded to Cleveland on October 21, 1983 to complete an earlier trade for P Len Barker. OF Brett Butler and P Rick Behenna were also included in the deal, which is often viewed as one of the worst in team history.

Braves Cardboard:
No officially licensed major league cards as a member of Braves. However, did appear on the '84 Donruss card in Atlanta hat and uniform. Did appear in some minor league TCMA products with Richmond.

Monday, January 20, 2014

TTM Heaven

One positive to come from the purging of a collection is the opportunity to help others towards the completion of their sets. Having seen the need for some 1984 Topps, I recently contacted Tom over at The Angels, In Order and sent him a few dozen cards. In return, he sent me a couple of Braves rookie cards from 2012 Bowman Platinum, as well as seven customized index cards used for (successful) TTM requests. That was a great surprise for one who doesn't have many of those in his collection!

2012 Bowman Platinum #BPP70 Tyler Pastornicky and BPP76 Andrelton Simmons




Charlie Cozart- 1945 Boston Braves
I'm currently reading The Victory Season: The End of World War II and the Birth of Baseball's Golden Age by Robert Weintraub, a great account of the 1946 baseball season. That was the year, of course, that saw the return of major leaguers who had served our country in the war. During the war, however, there were a number of ball players who filled roster spots vacated by those enlisted players. One such 'replacement' player was Charlie Cozart, a pitcher from North Carolina who had pitched in the minors for three seasons prior to his short stint in the majors.

Cozart's brief time in the bigs was spent during the 1945 season, in which he appeared in five games for the Boston Braves. His major league debut came on April 17 as the Braves hosted the New York Giants. Coming into the game with his team trailing 7-2 in the ninth inning, Charlie managed to walk two of the first three batters he faced (along with a sacrifice bunt) before catcher Ernie Lombardi homered to make it a 10-2 game. A groundout would follow, but then New York would hit three consecutive singles to make in an 11-2 game before Cozart retired the final hitter.

Charlie pitched much better in his next outing three days later- picking up the only decision (a Win) of his major league career- against Philadelphia, throwing two scoreless innings without allowing a base runner. His final three big league appearances would be disastrous, as he threw a combined five-innings while allowing six hits, 7 runs (5 earned) and walking 13 batters.

**
That this autographed index card came while I am reading the aforementioned book just adds to the overall awesomeness of this trade. Also, the fact that there's not that many living Boston Braves players (19 as of this past summer, according to the Boston Braves Historical Society) means that it's becoming increasingly difficult to obtain signatures. The back of the card has 2/2004 written in pencil- meaning that was either when Tom received the card back, or when he sent it out. Whatever the case, it was signed during the former player's final year on earth- he passed away December 31, 2004.


Joey Jay: 1953-1966 Braves, Reds
Jay did not exactly live up to the billing of 'bonus baby' while a member of Milwaukee. He didn't pitch that poorly- it's just that, as is so often the case, with high expectations came plenty of room for a fall. Inconsistency, lack of run support and injuries would all play a role in his struggles during his time with the Braves. A trade to Cincinnati following the 1960 season would give his career a jumpstart, and he would win 20 games in each of his first two seasons there. He would also have pretty good success against his former team, with a record of 11-7 and an ERA of 3.44 against the Braves in 24 games. His twentieth win of the 1960 season also came against his former teammates, with a 1-0, four-hit shutout, in which he struck out Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron and Joe Adcock in order to end the game. Jay would return to the Braves organization during their first year in Atlanta, after being traded for pitcher Hank Fischer on June 15, 1966. That would be his final season in the majors, thirteen years after debuting at the age of seventeen.


Johnny Logan- 1957 World Champs!
This is actually my third Logan auto, as I had received a couple others from a friend. Doesn't matter, this is different from the others, so it's a welcomed addition to my collection! As a young major leaguer, the late Johnny Logan was taken under the wings of a man whom he would become a lifelong friend of- Mr. Sibby Sisti....



Sibby Sisti: 1939-1954 Boston/Milwaukee Braves
Another former Boston Brave. Woohoo!! And, I might add, one of the best examples of alliteration found in a ballplayer's name.

Like so many other major leaguers, Sisti lost three years to the war- serving in the Coast Guard. Upon his return to the majors in 1946, new Braves manager Billy Southworth sent Sisti down to AAA Indianapolis, where he punished opposing pitchers. He would go on to win the Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year award that season, leading all Triple-A players in average (.343), hits (203) and triples (14). Sisti would return to Boston the next season, where he would spend the next eight years as a 'super-sub', playing a number of defensive positions for the Braves teams. And although he was only a career .244 hitter, Sibby would later be inducted into the Boston Braves Historical Society's Hall of Fame.



Ernie Johnson: 1950-1959 Braves, Orioles
Former Braves player, executive, and beloved broadcaster, Ernie Johnson was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2001. As a member of the Braves family for over 50 years (and one of a few with Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta ties), Johnson's auto is the one I'm most excited about in this lot. For many of us fans, Ernie was a big part of our lives- entering our homes via broadcasts on TBS. His passing came on August 12, 2011, on the same day that the organization inducted manager Bobby Cox into its Hall of Fame.


Jerry Royster: 1976-84, 1988 Atlanta Braves
A beautiful signature of a player with ties to my childhood. Royster was the 'super-sub' of the early 80s Braves team, which was the time that I first became a fan of the team. Acquired from the Dodgers in the November, 1975 trade which sent Dusty Baker to Los Angeles, Royster spent a total of ten season with the Braves.


John Rocker: 1998-2000 Atlanta Braves
Obnoxious. I guess that's the word that I would use to describe Rocker. At one time I had a different auto of the lefty, a minor league card I had sent to him while he was still a prospect in the Braves system. It was part of the big 'purge' when I got out of the hobby in the early 2000s.




Thanks again, Tom, for the trade. The signatures have caused me to seriously think about getting back into the TTM part of the hobby.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Swashbuckler Sunday: NFC Championship Edition

While I'm a Buccaneer fan at heart, I've also been a lifelong fan of Seattle. Growing up, it was easy for me to be a 'Hawks fan; after all, I've lived my entire life in the pacific northwest, and, along with Denver, we have a legion of fans here locally. The Seahawks' move back to the NFC West in 2002 was a tough pill for me to swallow, knowing that they were now in the same conference as the Bucs. So while Tampa is at home this championship Sunday, at least I have a vested interest in the NFC title game.


I've always been a highly competitive person. In fact, at my wife's wedding shower, my sister gave her advice during one of their activities: "don't play games with my brother because he hates to lose."
Well, my wife didn't take her advice, and has played games with the kids and I over the years. And while I still hate to lose, I don't let it affect my emotions. Well, not on board games, anyways. When it comes to my favorite sports teams, well, that's a different matter...


I remember watching the game depicted on the 1980 Topps #493 card. I was a ten-year old who was in his third year of being a Bucs fan. Of course, there was little for Bucs fans to cheer about prior to the 1979 season. But that season, it was... magical. After a red-hot start, the team finally came back to earth, but only needed one win to clinch the division with four games remaining. After three unsuccessful attempts, they finally clinched the division in the final week of the regular season in a 3-0 win over the Chief, in what had to be one of the worst rainstorms in NFL history. After upsetting the Eagles in the divisional round of the playoffs, Tampa hosted the Rams to decide who would go on to the Super Bowl. Our neighbors came over for some snacks and conversation while my friend Erik and I watched the game. Thankfully, our friends had left before the game ended because I was so disappointed by the loss that I cried like a baby. It's really the first memory I have of having that bitter taste of defeat. While I didn't like losing in little league up to that point, I hadn't experienced outright disappointment like that loss.


BTW- can anyone explain to me why Topps allowed part of the Rams logo on helmets during this time period, when the rest of the league didn't have theirs included? I understand there was licensing issues going on, but a partial logo? It's crazy.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Food-Issue Friday: 1994 Lykes Fred McGriff

1994 Lykes Braves Fred McGriff





















1994 Season- What's to Like:

  • First full season with Atlanta. Well, other than the strike...
  • The Crime Dog enjoyed what was arguably his best season as a pro, hitting .318/.389/.623 w/ 34HR, 94 RBI
  • Appeared in 2nd All-Star Game, winning the MVP award after his pinch-hit, two-run homer tied the game in the bottom of the ninth.

1994 Season- Takin' a Bite Out of Crime Cincy:
Hit 5 homers in 39 at-bats against the Reds during the 1994 season, with a 1.311 OPS

1994 Season- Like a Boss
In high leverage situations, McGriff hit .456/.529/.912 with a 1.441 OPS. Also posted some pretty tasty numbers when hitting line-drives, with an average of .805 and a 2.024 OPS.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We Barely Knew Ya... Doyle Alexander



Doyle Alexander actually had two stints with the Braves: 1980 and again in 1986-1987. 

His first go-around began in December of 1979, when he and Larvell Blanks were traded by Texas to Atlanta for Adrian Devine and Pepe Frias. After going 14-11 in 35 starts, he was dealt to the Giants in December, 1980 for John Montefusco and minor league pitcher Craig Landis.

Fast forward to July of 1986. Alexander- now with the Blue Jays- is traded once again to Atlanta, this time for rookie pitcher Duane Ward. Doyle would go on to pitch in thirty-three games for the Braves between July of '86 and August, 1987, when he was sent packing to Detroit for a prospect by the name of John Smoltz. Alexander helped the Tigers win their division, going  9-0 in eleven starts and finishing 4th in the voting for the A.L. Cy Young award.


Braves Cardboard:
1981 Topps #708
1981 Donruss #448
1981 Fleer # 255
1987 Topps #686 
1987 O-Pee-Chee #249
1987 Donruss #657
1987 Fleer #510

STATlanta:
25-27  4.09 ERA  68 games 466.2 IP 

Impact:
Changed the future of a franchise- only by what he brought in return, not by what he did on the field.