Monday, March 31, 2014

Fired Up and Seeing Stars This Opening Day

Of all the licensed products released each year, I've got to think that Opening Day is the bottom feeder among the ocean of baseball cards. The thing is, it is a cheap product to open and they often have some interesting inserts.

I recently picked up two of the inserts off of ebay for a cheap price and they are a perfect expression of my thoughts on this Opening Day.


FIRED UP!!!

With flames which look hellish, this insert could have been called, "Lake of Fire." Thankfully, it wasn't.

Hopefully, this shot of Kimbrel is a foreshadowing of a save he will earn today.






STARS!!!

This is a beautiful looking card; they have to be seen in person to truly appreciate them. The best lenticular card since the 1983 Kellogg's set, imo.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Micro and Mini and Macro Murphys...Oh, My!

Re-organizing my collection today and I realized that there's no such thing as an ordinary Dale Murphy card. In fact, they come in all shapes and sizes:


Micro:
1992 Topps Micro #680

Micro Minis
1989 Red Foley Stickers #84

1990 Red Foley Stickers #67

1992 Red Foley Stickers #70

1993 Red Foley Stickers #68


Minis
1987 Fleer #74

1988 Fleer #65


Macro Minis
1989 Panini Stickers #45


Mini Macros
1990 Topps Big #40


Macros
1986 Donruss All-Stars #4


Friday, March 28, 2014

Base(ball) Oddity #2: One Giant Leap for My Collection

Neil Armstrong once described the difficulties he faced in landing the lunar module Eagle, saying, "the unknowns were rampant, there were just a thousand things to worry about." Not to downplay the importance of the event, but I've discovered that the first part of that quote can apply to eBay, as well- as in, an abundance of good stuff. In fact, I recently found an item on there that seemed out of this world. Or, at the very least, from out of this country.

 I've been aware of box panels from O-Pee-Chee baseball, but I had never seen the larger box bottoms from the Canadian product. So you can imagine how overjoyed I was to find out that they had commemorated the Braves 1991 Worst-to-First finish on the bottoms of 1992 O-Pee-Chee baseball boxes. WHAT?! How come no one ever told me about those? Heck, even my handy-dandy Standard Catalog doesn't even mention those things.


So...what could be better than finding one of these splendid box bottoms? Doubling your pleasure, that's what. The seller had two for only 5 bucks, delivered.


As you can tell, they're pretty rough- as far as the cut goes. I'm not real crazy about the neon orange and am thinking of trimming them along the outer edge of the white border. Since it's not listed in the catalog, I really have no idea what their 'official size' is considered to be. Before their arrival, I thought they would measure out at the standard 2.5 x 3.5 size. Had I read the description that the seller included more closely, I would have known.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Doctor Chop

For the past few years I have sort of put the quest for oddball Dale Murphy cards on the back burner. And while it's never been easier to locate those oddities- what with eBay, Sportlots, COMC and many other sites- I've been chasing down crap that, for at least some of it, has already seen my interest begin to wane. *Sigh* Such is the life of a collector. Well, at least this one.


A recent eBay search pulled up one interesting Murphy piece- a 1985 General Mills Cereal card from Canada, which featured my childhood hero along with Robin Yount. The card was scored down the middle, allowing it to have the unthinkable done to it AND making it the perfect trade bait for a card I really wanted to acquire from Off Hiatus


Not too long before that, Tony had posted the results of a box break of 2008 Goudey. One of the nicer cards he had pulled was an autographed card of former Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson, which I thought would be a great addition to my collection. The new Yankee second baseman was a bit of a disappointment in Atlanta- I thought he'd be the next Chipper Jones (HA!)- but hey, he was a Brave and it is a nice signature!

So before taking the scalpel to it, I contacted Tony. He confirmed that he was interested in the Yount and so the card underwent surgery. With the hands of a surgeon, I was able to perform (hopefully) a flawless procedure. 

In return for my services, OH sent me a nice package that contained a number of cards. Included in the bunch was an AWESOME 1988 UK Mini Dion James.


Since Topps has revived the mini, let's see this set resurrected. I wonder if they included mini pieces of gum? Did the '75s?



1988 Rookies #9 Ron Gant


What a transformation Gant saw in his career. From decent rookie season to getting shipped back to the minors to learn a new position and get his head straight at the plate. It's a shame that after being such a key to the Braves early 90s success, he wasn't able to get a ring when they won it all in 1995.


Speaking of disappointments...

The man is now a Chihuahua. An El Paso Chihuahua, that is. Frenchy recently signed a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres, bringing his career one step closer to the border. Sounds like it could  become a hit HBO series. Oh, wait.

Anyway, another team set I'm just starting to put together. Great stuff!



Smoltzie!!! Going in with all his others.



BOB!!!!

Another of my favorites from my childhood- although I've never gone all out looking for his cards. My first '87 Leaf, believe it or not!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

1965 Topps #23 Bob Tiefenauer

One of the things I enjoy doing on my blog is featuring the Heritage singles and their vintage counterpart. When I first started doing this, it seemed like you would find cards from each of the respective years which featured players from the same team on a corresponding card number. The last couple of years, this doesn't seem to be the case (at least with the Braves cards). This year there will be five Braves on cards which share the same card number as a Brave player from the 1965 set: #82, 170, 200, 346 and 383.


First up, from 1965 Topps, number 23- Bob Tiefenauer.





One look at Tiefenauer, and I think of the Cheshire card; he looks like he's up to no good. Maybe he's about to unleash a fastball chin-high on some pitcher who plunked a Brave (of course, as a knuckleballer, just how fast would he have thrown?) Maybe he's going to cross up his catcher and throw one to the groin. He may not be smiling, but he's sure got a smirk that looks like he's plotting some mischief.


Bob's time with Milwaukee was a short one. After pitching the two previous seasons in a Braves uniform, Bob appeared in just six games (7 innings) for Milwaukee in 1965 before being dealt to the Yankees on June 16th for pitcher Tom Dukes. Having worn the pinstripes for just under two months, Tiefenauer was then purchased by the Indians from the Yankees on August 11th. Bob's record in Cleveland that year was rough: 0-5 in just 15 games (22.1 IP) and he would only pitch a total of 24.2 more innings in the majors after that (split between the Indians and Cubs in 1967 and 1968). 


A veteran of parts of 10 major league seasons, Bob also spent parts of Nineteen (!!) different seasons in the minors before calling it quits in 1969 at the age of thirty-nine. He went on to work for the Phillies as a bullpen coach and minor league pitching coach for nearly twenty years. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

What I Miss About the 80's...

...it's not the parachute pants, big hair or 'coache's cleats.' It's not valley girls (like, totally!), bright clothes or leg warmers. I certainly enjoyed many things from that decade: music and sports, among others- but what I'm referring to are things that fall into the world of collecting 1980s baseball cards.

As I was going through some of my collection last night, I began taking a mental inventory of some of those things we have since seen kicked to the wayside (or, so it seems).

Great Set Designs from Topps
I can honestly say that the 80s was the only decade which I liked every design that Topps put out for its flagship set. There's not a one that sucked.



Mesh Hats
Absolutely glorious. These were found upon the players' melons in Spring Training, and you could bet that Topps would include them on card. Only headwear better than these were the ones with foam on the front. I don't recall major leaguers wearing them.



Green Cardbacks 
I'm not going to say that all of today's cards need to have simplistic card backs- but it would be nice to see an entry-level set with green (or red, clay, etc) on the back. I guess that's what Archives (and, eventually, Heritage) is for.












Broken Monopoly 
Don't get me wrong- I do like some of the non-licensed products out there; but still...We saw the breakup of Topps' monopoly at the beginning of the decade and how sweet would it have been if the 2010's could have started out the same way.


                                                             Traded Sets
If it's not in a boxed set, I don't wanna hear it referred to as a traded set. It's high time Topps refers to the current 'Update Series' as the Third Series. Straining at gnats, you say? Absolutely!





In Action
Sure, we have plenty of great action photos today. But nothing replaces this awesome subset! 



                                                           Logo on the Ball
How many times have I looked at the '81 set and not think much about how the Topps name is in the baseball? Not to mention the old-time logo (T with the hook on it) on the back of the cards make for one bad-ass card.





Glossy All-Star Sets
If you collect players or teams from the 80s then you have GOT to have some of these in your collection. Topps has included All-Stars in their more recent Update sets, but c'mon- who wouldn't rather have these bad boys rather than today's offerings?! At the very least, do the NL/AL All-Star 
on the players base cards, like they also did at the time.


Team Batting and Pitching Leaders/Team Checklists
Great part of the collection if you're a team set collector; heck, great card if you collect each year's complete set, as well. 


K-Mart (and other retail) Boxed Sets
I don't know about where you live, but there was a time when the 'twin-cities' where I live did not have a Walmart, Target, Fred Meyer, Shopko or any other large 'all-encompassing' department store besides K-Mart and Woolworths. It just so happens that both distributed special 'boxed sets' produced by Topps for them. Have any of the previously mentioned stores done that? (Well, Target did a Dodgers set, but...boo!) I didn't think so.

One other thing (although it's not something I necessarily miss):
We can thank the 80s for the ridiculous mascot cards that we have today. Huh? Well, remember this one?

Do you have any favorite things about cards from the 80s that I missed?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Worth the Wait?

Although I no longer put complete sets together and buy very few packs or boxes, I was looking forward to buying a couple of Jumbo Packs of the recently released Heritage. I even visited our local Target on my day off this past Tuesday, thinking I would find them there. I didn't; they must have had them in the back store room.

Disappointed that I'm the last kid on the block to rip open a pack, I made my way back over to the large retailer this afternoon. I had to go into work this morning, so I deserved something to reward myself for being such a dedicated worker. This time, I found the precious packs and picked up a couple of them.

Pack #1
First card... #150 Manny Machado ~all of us seem to have 'that guy' that appears in every pack we open. Machado is 'that guy' for me. Could be worse.


282 Rookie Stars Heath Hembree/ Kevin Siegrist
17 John Mayberry
234 Jonny Gomes
366 A.J. Griffin
NAP-MS Max Scherzer New Age Performers


Once again, Topps scores a hit with this insert.

66 Joe Maddon
336 Andy Dircks
38 Brett Lawrie
7 A.L. ERA Leaders Anibal Sanchez/ Bartolo Colon
216 Patrick Corbin
395 Brian McCann ~I railed against Topps including Mac in the flagship as a Brave. Now, I wish they had done him as a Brave in the Chrome insert, like they did Beltran.

32 Bruch Bochy
164 John Danks
297 Khris Davis
65MLB-NR Nolan Ryan- 1st Draft

Another great insert, showcasing picks from the first ever amateur draft.

263 Jonathan Lucroy
405 Danny Salazar
89 Kyle Gibson
126 Mike Matheny


Pack #2
149 Buster Posey~ another player I seem to have a knack for pulling
191 Tommy Milone
100 Adam Wainwright
157 Kyle Seager
292 Khris Davis- again?
470 Stephen Strasburg- Red bordered Target card
118 Justin Ruggiano
330 CC Sabathia
43 Carlos Beltran
342 Matt Carpenter
364 Darwin Barney
139 Melky Cabrera
379 Trevor Cahill
275 Julio Teheran- Juuuuulio! 1st Braves player pulled! Weee.


BF-BG Flashbacks Bob Gibson- Badass card. Cardboard-yes. Player-yes.


314 Avisail Garcia
373 Ben Revere
83 Jusitn Smoak
227 Jonny Venters - Another Bravo
111 Yunel Escobar- another ex-Bravo



While I enjoyed the experience of opening the packs, I certainly didn't get any 'must haves.' Pulling a Brave or two is always exciting, but I've already got the team set so they will go into a box of doubles. The rest- if you need anything of them, let me know which ones and throw out a trade offer.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Commons?

Common. Adjective or Noun?

The collecting world uses the word as a noun, much the way it's been used to describe the non-ruling class; those who weren't born with the blue blood (or in the case of sports- they weren't the blue chip prospects). They're the antithisis of the superstar; the Mario Mendoza's of the world; the Rafael Belliard's on the diamond.


As a collector, I often think of the term as an adjective- referring to that which occurs frequently or is widespread. Unfortuanately, this type of use can lead to frustration for the collector.

I've been chasing many-a-'common' for a few years now, totally stumped why they weren't so readily  available. They're commons, after all!



So, I did what any self-respecting noble would do: I sought after these peasants to serve the land of their lord (and reside in the cardboard homes of Ye Old Card Chop).


Well, I recently acquired three of those plebeians. And, as I began thinking of what to write- something occurred to me. Noun. I couldn't find them as easily as I thought because I'm thinking in terms of adjectives. The use of the word, in both the price guides and the vernacular, doesn't refer to a copious supply of cardboard.

 Perhaps that's why Walley's, Wohlers' and Junior's pilgrimage has felt so feudal futile. 



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Prodigal Card


I'm sure all of us have heard (of) the story of the prodigal son, so I won't rehash the story- but I will tell the tale of the prodigal card.

In my collection of Topps team sets, I've also tried to pick up the retail team sets. My primary interest in them can be found in the cards with the photo variations. Most are identical to the regular base cards (save the card number)- but a few in each set do differ from their more common counterparts. And while today's featured card isn't one of those variations, it is one which I had at one time- before trading it to a fellow Brave collector a couple of years ago. I don't know if I had thought it was a double, or what the reasoning behind sending it off to him; regardless...it's nice to have this one back in the fold.


2011 Braves Topps (Retail) #ATL6 Martin Prado


I discovered this card was missing from my collection a few months ago. Racking my brain as to why it was nowhere to be found, I finally realized it was the one I had sent off to said fellow Braves collector. Devestated, I started out a long search for a replacement. I hadn't had any success until one came up on eBay recently. Finding it, and then purchasing it, made me feel like the woman in the parable of the lost coin. And here I am- rejoicing .


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Base(ball) Oddity #1: 1980 Laughlins

Three...Two...One. Liftoff.

The 1980 Laughlin 300/400/500 set featured 30 cards of members of three of Major League Baseball's most prestigious clubs: 300 wins, .400 batting average and 500 home runs.


1980 Laughlin #16 Hank Aaron
57969-16Fr.jpg (325×323)


Reminiscent of the older Topps' Heads Up cards, the cards featured vibrant colors and the hallowed numbers in a large, white font.

I like the idea of a set which recognizes the exclusive clubs- it's surely something that has since been done during the whole insert card craze. What distinguishes this set from other such inserts would be the colors and the overall 'fun factor' that comes with these beauties.

#25 Eddie Mathews

57969-25Fr.jpg (325×318)


I also like how the manufacturer utilized actual photos for the head and how the black and white pictures enhance the colors on the card. Very striking.

#15 Warren Spahn
57969-15Fr.jpg (324×325)

Spahn had the perfect facial features for a set like this and the goofy character to match. His 363 wins will never be approached by another left-handed pitcher.

Monday, March 17, 2014

First Heritage Cards! (And I'm Seeking Your Input)

Other than a very strong wind that's been blowing all day (and ruining some of the plans I had) it's been a pretty good day. I've got both today and tomorrow off, so that's always a plus. I also had lunch with a childhood friend and upon arriving home, I found a number of packages in the mailbox. So yes-as Ice Cube once spoke- 'today was a good day.'

The only goodies I'm going to show off on this St. Patrick's Day evening are two which, judging by the color scheme, carry a bit of the 'Luck O' the Irish.' Green and Gold-it's only fitting. They also happen to be the very first two 2014 Heritage cards's I've received (not opened, mind you). 

#148 Action Variation Freddie Freeman




  I know...most of us don't like the gimmicks in today's cards: the shortprints, variations, rainbows, etc. but there's one type that I like, and that's the variations. Gimme a photo variation over a different colored boarder and I'm happy.



#170 Action Variation Justin Upton


I've really debated on whether or not I wanted to purchase any of the Heritage. Truthfully, it's the most fun I've ever had opening boxes. However, I'm not planning on putting a set together and I really don't want a bunch of extra stuff lying around. So, I decided on Friday that I would buy a pack when I found some (I still haven't) and use the money I would have spent on a box on eBay purchases. This will allow me to pick up every Braves cards I *want* (realistically speaking) for less than that box of cards. No brainer, if you ask me. I'll get my entertainment from YouTube box break videos, thank you very much.

This mailday also gave me an opportunity to experiment with using my iPad and an Epson app to scan the cards. The reason? Well, I might possibly be looking at replacing my laptop; it's about three years old and has developed wireless adapter issues. I'm facing the following possibilities: replacing the adapter (if possible, financially feasible?), replacing the laptop or not do anything and continue using our mobile devices and a smaller Samsung Chromebook I purchased for the kids. I like the idea of Chromebook (although, I'd buy the larger 14" HP one), although it may not make any sense if my iPad can do everything the Chromebook can do. 

So- I need your input. Has anyone out there stopped using a Windows PC and gone strictly to a Chromebook or tablets? The way technology seems to be moving, software can easily be replaced by apps or online sites. The only software I really use is Photoshop, but found an online editing program that is very similar. I would not be able to download my tax software, but can do that online. Music- I only buy digital now (although I wouldn't be able to put any of my music on cds to my iphone). Spreadsheets and Word Processors- use ones in the cloud. Pros, cons? Anyone?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beware the Ides of Cards

So I had this idea to do a post playing off of the soothsayer's warning to Julius Caesar to 'beware the Ides of March,' but figured I wouldn't be so lucky to find a former player with the name Caesar.


1994 Mother's Cookies Dodgers #15 Thomas Caesar Candiotti


Well, I'm feeling pretty lucky because a quick search on baseball reference dot com provided my answer. The only major leaguer it pulled up was the former pitcher, whose middle name is Caesar. Score!!

My next question was: does he have a card numbered 15? Well, a search of Beckett's data base provided me with another answer. Yes, yes he does.

Beware!
Unfortunately, I can't find any records of him pitching any spring training games on March 15th during his career. So instead I'd like to say that there should have been a warning issued to the knuckleballer heading into the 1994 season: Beware pitching on May 9th. Candiotti faced the Houston Astros that day and was roughed up pretty good: 2.1 innings pitched, giving up 8 runs (7 earned) on 6 hits, 1 walk and 1 hit batsman. Included in that hit parade was a home run by Jeff 'Brutus' Bagwell.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Golden Opportunity to Promote the Hobby. Wasted.

So I was all set to schedule a Food-Issue Friday post when I discovered our local ABC affiliate had ran a brief piece on the card show that took place this past weekend. If you've read my first post regarding this show, you will remember I referred to it as being stale. I was hoping that at least a little love on the news would stir up some interest among new dealers- or heck, maybe even bring some new folks into the hobby.




Unfortunately, the folks at FOX-9 picked the wrong weekend to attend one of the card shows for their feature. The weather was beautiful and (as you can tell by the 'crowd'- mostly dealers) very few turned out for the event.

(Sorry it's not a YouTube video that will allow streaming. But the link does feature a media player on their website. )


I'd like to end this on a positive note; I mean, who likes to read just negative news? I wish I had some other cards to show off from my time there at the Big Show, but I don't. I've already showed them off in three previous posts.

Well, here's some good news: at least there are cards with 'girls on them.' Tee-hee.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spring Card Show #3: I Did His Wife a Favor

My most unexpected purchase during this past weekend's card show involved something that I don't collect: Starting Lineups.


As I was making one last round, one dealer tried to sell me two Starting Lineups to go along with a Chipper Jones card I was going to buy from him for $2.25. When I told him I wasn't interested, he said he'd give both of them to me for $5- and he'd also include the card I was already buying. Besides, my 'grandchildren' would probably enjoy playing with them.

I don't have any grandchildren, but thanks for thinking of them.





Now, I had no interest in the figures- but I did have an interest in the cards that accompany the toys; so I agreed to his asking price, stating that it's worth it alone just for the cards. As I handed him the money, he told me I was "doing his wife a favor."













I'm sure there were plenty of other wives who would be happy to see their husbands getting rid of stuff that's been cluttering up their garage, basement, closet or office. Only problem, the guy would have to sell a lot of stuff to make it even noticeable. And, judging from what I saw while there, I can't imagine this woman had any company in her state of bliss.




He helped me out- I helped him out; one good turn deserves another, I suppose.





Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nostalgia

"I woke last night to the sound of thunder, how far off I sat and wondered. Started humming a song from 1962, ain't it funny how the night moves. When you just don't seem to have as much to lose, strange how the night moves- with autumn closing in. "  ~Bob Seger





Forgive me for waxing nostalgic. The news for Braves fans the past few days hasn't been good. Mike Minor appears to be starting the season on the DL, Brandon Beachy continues to have soreness (not to mention a big drop in velocity) in his elbow and now Kris Medlen's possibly out for the season with ligament issues in the arm that previously underwent Tommy John surgery. All this after having let Tim Hudson walk as a free-agent. It's a good thing that we signed 'he who just make pitch' (Freddy Garcia) this offseason.




All these pitching problems have me yearning for, or, shall I say, appreciating what the team had for the better part of a decade. With Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz, the team had a trio of aces who were dependable- giving the team 34 starts each season (at least until Smoltz developed his own health issues). 

And so I'm going to drown my sorrows- not with a pint, but with this six-pack of pale Braves.

********

Glav's return gave Braves fans plenty of reasons to rejoice and celebrate (well, for some of us). It lasted all of about two weeks. I would have preferred to see him sign a one-day contract just to retire as a Brave.




Glory Days!!! Back when the CY Young award called the ATL home.



Never a fan of the Fleer designs; never a fan of the company rebranding their base set as Platinum. But, it's Smoltzie on a design that some consider a 'classic.'



Donruss celebrated Glavine's 2000th K on the back of this card. The strikeout came against the Mets on June 26, 2002; his first season in New York was 2003. I'm thankful that the card manufacturer didn't do something stupid like picture him in a Mets uniform on this Diamond King card.