Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Sound of a Harpoon

I was going to title this post 'Going Out with A Bang' (being that it's my last post of the year) but realized it isn't an explosive you use to kill a White Whale, but a harpoon...

If you take a look to the right of your screen you will see the Fourteen Fugitives (unless your on a mobile device and getting the 'mobile view,' which in that case, you might not be able to see it). See that first item on the list? That would be considered my 'White Whale.' Well, it was considered my 'White Whale.'

I was contacted a little over two weeks ago by a reader named Michael who asked if I was still looking for the Boy Scouts Dale Murphy card. Am I? HECK YES!!

I was beginning to think that this card was merely a myth in the world of cardboard. Yes, I had seen it listed in the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, but had never seen a photo nor a listing of one for sale- nothing.

Michael gave a little history of how he came about getting the card and explained that there are actually two versions of the card- one has "Central Georgia Council BSA" on the bottom of the card, while the other version does not. He then offered me the card for $5. I could not believe my ears. I asked him if he accepted PayPal and, once confirmed, I immediately sent a payment. A few days later, this beauty showed up in my mail box.

I added quite a few highly sought-after Murphy cards this year, but none as wanted as this one. And now, just like the New Years Eve ball dropping, I'll be dropping this from the 14 Fugitives list.

Thanks again, Michael for the generous offer. It's truly appreciated!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

It's That Time of Year Again

I tried to convince myself and my readers last week that I am not lazy when it comes to working out- but I have since come to the conclusion that I am in fact lazy. What brought upon this revelation? Work. You see, my boss came up to me right before the Christmas holiday weekend and handed me a stack of evaluation forms for myself and my staff because, you know, it's that time of year.

The employee evaluation is something that I dread. It forces me to take a long, hard look at the work of those not only in my department, but myself as well. In other words, it forces me to exercise my brain; I can't just operate on auto-pilot. If that's not bad enough, I then have to sit in a meeting with the employee and review the evaluation- while the boss observes. It seems so redundant. 

So if it's that time of year in the workplace, then it must be that time of year on the blog, too, where I evaluate the blog and my collection. And just like that work evaluation, this too is kind of painful; it requires me to exercise the brain and then conduct an evaluation in front of an audience. Only a much larger one. 

I don't get paid enough for this.

The Blog

I have found this to be a difficult time to dedicate to the blog. In fact, this year had the fewest posts since 2011. One reason is that, as I referenced above, writing can be a difficult thing- especially when a long day at work saps your energy and you'd rather just veg out and passively take in a game or tv show. And once we subscribed to satellite tv after about a 4 year break, I watched a lot of stuff in the evenings. I often felt like I had reached the point of having nothing new to bring to the conversation and contemplated just shutting it down. I'm glad I didn't, but it was something I wrestled with.

The second reason had to do with enthusiasm, or lack thereof, for my team. Atlanta stunk it up this year and honestly, that affected my interest in collecting Braves cards- which, as you know is central to my collection. I hope that doesn't sound like a fair weathered fan.

The Collection

Here's where things get a little more interesting.

One of the changes I made in my collection this past year was starting to collect Topps base cards of the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks and the Buccaneers have been my two favorite teams going back to 1977. I have a few Bucs players I PC'd back in the day (and a couple of current players whose cards I have added to my collection) but I had ignored Seahawks card the past twenty-three years (other than a few Zorn and Largent's). So there's that.

Braves- well, as I mentioned above, the dreadful season took it's toll on my interest in Braves cards- but what really killed it was the complete deconstruction of the roster. I understood the reasoning behind getting rid of players such as Heyward, Upton and to a lesser extent- Kimbrel. But trading away Wood and Peraza and then my favorite player, Andrelton Simmons... it hurt really bad. In fact, it has killed my interest in PCs of current players.

Speaking of PC's... Dale Murphy has been the one constant (along with Chipper, but to a lesser extent). I picked up many key cards to my collection this year and am getting to the point where many of those missing are either Tiffany's or OPC's- which I'm still undecided about.

Where Do Go Now?

As I looked back and took an inventory, so to speak, of my involvement in the hobby, I came to a realization that there's one thing I really miss: putting together the annual Topps set. Before I ever became a Braves fan in 1981, I was first and foremost a baseball fan. And one way I connected to the game was through baseball cards. Topps baseball cards. It helped me to know who the players were- not just the superstars. In recent years that has but all but disappeared and I'm now more of a Braves fan than a baseball fan. That, to me, doesn't seem right because baseball is bigger than one team. I'm not abandoning my loyalty to the team, it's just that I want to go back and finish some of those sets from my youth- and put together the other sets released since then. Part of it to, I am convinced, is due to the fact that every year I get older and those years in the review mirror keep getting farther behind. This adds some kind of continuity to my life, I guess.

 All of that to say that after some deep soul searching (at least at the cardboard level), I've decided that the focus of my collection is undergoing a shift, from Braves-centric to Topps complete sets. For one thing, there's really not much left to add to my primary Braves collection (Topps Team Sets). I do enjoy the vintage stuff, but I'm not as connected to those old Braves teams, so anything prior to '81 is going on the back burner- as far as importance (and most of my needs are pre-'73). Space for complete sets has always been an issue, but I've conceded to doubling-up cards in binder sheets so that should go a long way in saving space. I've had some harsh things to say about the Topps company and current products but I'm putting those things behind. The reason I abandoned putting sets together in the first place was due to horrible collation (and too many parallel and inserts) in 2010 which caused me to be short of an Update set after opening two boxes. I also was pretty upset that we will see the first full-bleed flagship product coming out this February (I'm a traditionalist. What can I say?).

This will have an affect on the blog, although at this point I'm still not sure how. I thought about reviving the Baseball Picture Cards blog and retiring The CardChop- but am not sure that's the best thing to do. More likely, I will continue on The CardChop but change the look (not to mention content). For my fellow Braves fans and collectors- I will continue to feature cards of Dale Murphy, Chipper and others.

As I start this new journey, I will be putting up my wantlists on the 'Wantlist' page (how original)- in the way of spreadsheets. If you're looking for ideas for trade material, this is where you will find it.

In one way, I'm really excited about this breath of fresh air, but I'm also thinking it may be more challenging in posting. Why- I don't know. I guess it's because certain changes are hard for me; I have my comfort zone, and this requires a step outside of that.

Thanks to all those of you who have read the blog over the years and I look forward to continuing in the hobby and the community that we share an interest in.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Classic Seasons, Classic Materials

We seem to love the classics. Classic rock. Classic television. Classic literature. Classic cars. I might even go so far as to say that the word has been a bit overused. Instead of referring to something that has not only withstood the test of time, but is of enduring quality, it now often just refers to something old.

But if we're defining something by the classic definition of the word, then, yeah- there are some things that are worthy of this designation. Two of them were captured on cardboard by Upper Deck.  
There's nothing that cries 'uniforms from the 80s' (and 70s) like the powder blue unis. By 1981, eleven MLB teams wore the powder blues- with Atlanta being the last team to join in on the fun. 

 Bring Back the Blues, says I. And I'm not talking music.

It was nice to see Upper Deck recognize Dale's MVP-winning 1983 season but it would have been even nicer to see a second card included in the set recognizing his 1982 MVP season. Oh, well- I'll just be happy with the one card they did issue.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I'm Glad He Came Back!

I don't make the trade rounds very often, but when I do it's a beautiful thing. (that sounds like it should be a Facebook meme with the most interesting man in the world, doesn't it? But I digress.) I recently had two such trades, but for today I will post only one of them because they're worthy of their own blog entries.

Greg, from My Baseball Card Comeback, replied to a recent post I had published regarding my 2015 Topps Hanger breaks and the want list that resulted from those breaks. Greg offered to help me out with some of the cards on my list.

I was blown away when I opened the bubble mailer, as there were not one- but two nice stacks of cards. Joyfully, I pulled out my checklist and began scribbling out numbers. One, two, three... sixty-four, sixty-five!! cards. That's 65 cards. 

Among the cards were a couple of former Braves...



And, perhaps the best baseball name since Chipper Jones...

Plus, Greg also threw in 7 Braves for good measure- including the always tasty Hostess ('93) Tom Glavine, a mini Aaron, and a 1994 Ted Williams Hank Aaron that's not quite lenticular (I don't know what to call it- but it's interesting!)

Thanks for the trade, Greg, and it's nice to find another blog to follow. If you haven't done so, folks, give him a follow. He's got an interesting project going- an autographed set of one of my favorite sets from the 90's: 1992 Upper Deck Baseball.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Card(io) Workout

How important is good health to you? Do you watch your diet, get proper sleep and take time out of your day for exercise? If you listen to the experts, one of the best things you can do for a sound mind and body is cardio vascular exercise. They are good for weight loss, the building of muscle, a healthy heart and, because of the endorphins which are released, improves one's mood. 

If I'm completely honest with you, my diet isn't what it should be and I only get about 6 hours of sleep per night (which I feel is plenty for me), but I do get plenty of walking in each day. A lot of it comes at work, but my doctor has told me isn't the kind of walking I need because of the stressful environment. (We do get in quite a bit of walking as a family, so there's that). I really have no excuse for the diet thing and I figure I'll get plenty of rest when I die. But exercise? Pfft. Not interested. Hopefully it's not due to being lazy? Not only do I get a lot of walking in at work, but I also do quite a bit of lifting, squatting and bending over there (insert joke here). Look- I'm 5'8", 160 lbs and have not had many health issues in my 46+ years, so let's just say that I'm not overly concerned at this point in my life.

There's no denying, however, my laziness when it comes to trade posts. They should be the easiest posts to write, but for some reason they're the most difficult for me. It should be as easy as "here are some cards that ______ shipped me. Aren't they great?" Major exercising of the brain isn't really required. But there are so many great blogs out there and at times I feel as if I have to keep up with the Jones'. That's what happens when your'e a super competitive person.

Anyway, I have three piles of cards on my bookcase that had been sent to me by fellow bloggers and I figured it's time to get off my butt and get a little card-io workout in.

First on the list is Jim from the recently-retired blog Garvey-Cey-Russell-Lopes. I contacted Jim a few months ago to see it he was in need of a Double Play ice-cream box that featured a picture of the Steve Garvey card from the set. I had purchased the box for the Dale Murphy card and found a use for the rest of the box. About a month ago an envelope from Jim showed up in the mailbox with 8 Chipper Jones cards- six of which I did not have in my collection!

The second envelope to have arrived came via Jeff at 2x3 Heroes as part of his Club PWE. Jeff included a little more diversity in his envelope (not that I'm complaining about 9 Chippers from Jim!): 12 cards featuring 9 different Braves. Among these were three that were brand new to my eyes:

I've decided that card(io) isn't enough for good, healthy card habits, so we're going to do a little weight training... 

Julie- from A Cracked Bat- provided me with a pretty good stack that truly was worth its weight in gold. Heck, it would have with just one card alone- this autographed Dale Murphy #/91. What it's from, I have no idea; but there is a serial-numbered sticker of authenticity on the back. 

Whew. Talk about sweatin'!! 

For the post workout meal, I consumed some more of the cardboard sent my way from Julie. I'll just show a few here, but included in the group were a whole bunch of Braves from this year's Gypsy Queen, some Andruw Jones, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux. 

I guess the worst part of a trade post is just making a commitment to do it- once you begin the exercise of writing, it's not so bad. I wonder if the same goes for getting to the gym for a little exercise?

Thanks again, Jim, Jeff and Julie (hey, I never noticed the alliteration until just now!!) for all the great stuff.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2015 Topps Update Hangers and Wantlist

I did something this weekend that I had vowed to never do again- building a set of a newer Topps product. Well, I began building one, anyway.

I made that vow in 2010 when my Update box yielded waaaay too many doubles, and I made that vow again when I discovered earlier this year that Topps were going to a 400 card set. Well, here I am- off on another of my crazy ideas.

A trip to Target for some Christmas shopping led to the card aisle (doesn't it always?) and an impulsive buy. Three Hangers.

I thought I'd hit a SP Variation on the Guerrero card. I didn't because there isn't one. But I did with the Heyward.

Pulling the Heyward variation took the sting out of not pulling a Correa. I eventually landed one in my final hanger.

To my surprise I did not have 1. Single. Duplicate. Not one. Out of three hangers. I about fell out of my chair after organizing them in numerical order. Unfortunately, the hangers averaged about nine inserts each; inserts which are the most boring, unimaginative pieces of crap I think I've ever seen. It's really too bad that Topps continues to put so many inserts in packs because they really do not add any value. When I can find them in dime boxes along with the common man... what's that tell you?

Anyway, I'm going to list the cards needed for completing the set. If anyone is looking to dump so, keep me in mind.

US1,2,6,13,14,15,17, 25, 26, 28,33,38,44,49,51,53,54,56,59,64,67,74, 75,77-84, 87,92,93, 97-100, 103, 106, 109-111, 114, 116-120, 124-126, 128, 138,139,144, 154,157,159,162,163,171,172,177,178,185,188,189,192,193, 195-197, 199, 202, 206,210,212, 214,216, 218-221, 227,231,233, 235-237, 239, 242,245,248,251, 254-258, 267, 269, 272,273, 275, 279,282, 284-286,291,295, 297-299, 302-305, 307,310,313,320,323,329-333, 342,345,349,353,355,357,360, 362,363,366,367,369,370,373,376,386,389, 394, 397, 399,400

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Great Pages in the Annals of Topps #1: 1978 (649-657)

The only way to enjoy a set is to put the cards in 9-pocket pages and then placing them in a binder. And every once in a while you come across a gem that makes you believe that either an artist or a poet was at work in the construction of the checklist. It's time for a look at a great page in the annals of Topps sets...

Best Card on Page: Cesar Cedeno
Do I have to mention why this is such a great card? Not only was Cedeno a stud on the diamond, but we have a tequila sunrise uniform sighting. Legendary.

The Names!!!
Let's see... we have a Moose, a Pepe, and a freaking Bombo! You're lucky to have one of these great names on any given page, but a page with 3? This very well might be the greatest 'Names' page in the history of cardboard.

Final Card
Sadly, this year featured the final card of rising star Lyman Bostock, who was murdered September 23, 1978.

Blue Jay Blues
C'mon- admit it. Those original uniforms of the Toronto Blue Jays may not be out-of-the-stratosphere type of greatness, but they're pretty dang sweet. And Doug Radar possesses a championship caliber stare down.

Speaking of Uniforms... We also have cameo's by the Montreal Expos and the very underrated Milwaukee Brewer's 'M' hat. This page just keeps getting better!!

We all love checklist cards, so any page that features on of these can't be all that bad.

Sorry, Ron and Dave- but there's just not much to get excited about your cards.

Page Ranking- Replacement/Regular/All-Star/Hall of Fame:
Hall of Fame

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Two Greats Conjoined

Earlier this year, I saw a photo tweeted by Celebzdirect- a sports and entertainment agency- showing former Braves great Andruw Jones signing for an upcoming Topps product. And when I saw that it was for Archives- on an '89 style design, well, I probably would have jumped up and down had I not been at work.

Why all the excitement, you might ask? That's what happens when one of your favorite players is added to one of your favorite set designs. Never mind that I already had two autographs of the Curacao Kid- neither of them were on a card featuring the classic 1989 design.

It actually took a few months before I added this beauty to my collection. After the product came out, pricing on eBay was a little higher than I what thought I could get it for down the road, so I waited. And waited...before finally getting one for under my desired $10 ceiling. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Look

I have had a number of changes in recent weeks in how I "do the hobby." My collecting habits for the time being have shifted more towards football, I have adjusted the amount I budget for cards (scaling back on costs) and I have tried to move away from purchasing on eBay- using Sportlots instead.

My most recent Sportlots purchase arrived last week, and my excitement was soon brought down a notch.

The first thing I noticed as I began thumbing through the stack of cards were the facial expressions on the three cards from the 1987 set. If I were asked to describe the looks in one word it would have to be "Intense."

Though I can't see their facial expressions, I'm sure that Curt Warner and David Hughes each had an  intense look on their face.

As I mentioned earlier, my excitement at this point soured as I got to card number four.

I had ordered card number 196 from the 1985 Topps NFL set, featuring the leaders in interceptions during the 1984 season. One of the two players on the card was a Seahawk legend, Kenny Easley. Instead, I got this card...

That look when you discover the seller sent the wrong. freaking. card.

I soon got over the error and moved on to the rest of the package.

Another card to feature an appearance by one of my childhood favorites- Jim Zorn.

While he was not a very well known name, David Hughes was another of my favorites. The back played collegiately at Boise State, helping lead the then I-AA Broncos to the National Championship during his senior season (1980). Hughes was the 31st overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft and would spend five seasons in Seattle before finishing his career with the Steelers.

More intense looks...

It took me a couple of days, but I finally got the time to contact the seller and explain the card I received in error- Ken was gracious enough to send out the replacement immediately, and it arrived in the mail three days ago.

My look turned from the frown of Easly, to the satisfied look of Flynn.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Return

Jonathan Houghton~ Edgar Lee Masters

There is the caw of a crow, 
and the hesitant song of a thrush. 
There is the tinkle of a cowbell far away, 
and the voice of a plowman on Shipley's hill.
The forest beyond the orchard is still 
with midsummer stillness;
And along the road a wagon chuckles, 
loaded with corn, going to Atterbury. 
And an old man sits under a tree asleep,
And an old woman crosses the road, 
coming from the orchard with a bucket of blackberries.
And a boy lies in the grass
near the feet of the old man,
and looks up at the sailing clouds,
and longs, and longs, and longs
for what, he knows not:
For manhood, for life, for the unknown world!
Then thirty years passed,
and the boy returned worn out by life
and found the orchard vanished,
and the forest gone,
and the house made over,
and the roadway filled with dust from automobiles-
and himself desiring The Hill!

I was recently informed that the house of my childhood is up for sale and that photos of the inside are available to view online. The news caused me to immediately Google the address and have a look at the place I called home from 1976 until early 1994 (less probably 30 months).

I have long desired to see what had become of the inside of the place my dad had put so much work into over the course of about eleven years. After my parents purchased it (the first and only house they would own during their marriage), dad began the process of not only an addition to the front of the house, but a complete remodel. He also custom built all the cabinetry in the kitchen, all the furniture in my room (bed, dresser, desk, bookshelf- all built into the walls/floor), sandblasted & stain glassed windows, bathroom vanities, entertainment centers. To say it was a labor of love would be a major understatement.

Upon flipping through the twenty-five or so photos, I realized just how much things can change from the way we remembered them. The basic elements are still there: wood, glass, paint, sheetrock, but the way all of it is presented caused me to feel as if I had been robbed of a part of my childhood. Sure, much of it remained the same- the kitchen cabinetry, for instance (with the exception of the detailed wooden countertop, with all of its patterns. It had been replaced)- but gone was the carpet, the interior colors (replaced by a lot of wallpaper- yuk!), the french door in the front entrance and perhaps what had changed most of all: my old room. All the beautful furniture had been torn out; gone was the door and its large window featuring a sandblasted lions crest design and the words that declared, "Private". At that moment I realized how disappointing it was going to be to show the photos to my wife and children; something I had waited twenty years for them to see was no longer all that special.

Those of us who collected cards anywhere between the 50s and early 80s, left the hobby and then returned as adults know the feeling of how different things were upon their return. At least that was the case for me- first after a hiatus from '84 through '90 and then again after my second hiatus that lasted from 2001-2009. Speaking of hiatus'... I'm sure Tony, from Off Hiatus cards, experienced the same confusion upon his return. Of course, I'm getting old and can't remember any specifics- but if you read his blog, I'm sure you've read of some of his hobby happenings.

I'm a little- okay, a lot- behind, but a trade package from the Brewers fan included a mixture of stuff old and new, as well as those 'lost years' as I call them.

And, in typical Tony fashion, he knows his trade partners, providing them with those treasures near and dear to their hearts- or at least their collections. This latest trade package from Tony was no different.

First up were two cards of my childhood favorite, Dale Murphy. I was just out of high school when these two were released (well, the '87 probably came out right before graduation) and was not collecting at the time, so these were just two of many I picked up when I re-entered the hobby in '91.  While I already have them, it's always nice to get doubles- for either trade bait or upgrading my own copies.

There was another player from my childhood in the envelope but, to tell you the truth, I never liked him while he played. I was able to finally come to appreciate George Brett after his playing career had ended and at one time thought about starting a pc of him. I believe I had commented on Tony's blog about this particular oddball of the former Royals third baseman, as that's the only reason I can think of why it would have come my way. But like I said earlier, my mind isn't what it used to be. Cool card, regardless. 

Andruw Jones's career may not have ended as the Hall of Fame candidate many had expected, but he's still one of my all-time favorites. 

Keeping up with the Jones'. There were plenty of Chippa's included. 

Movin' on from Chippa's to....Stickas. The best things Fleer ever produced in their flagship brand, as you can see in one of the earlier photos. 

And as far as the cards of Simba... What to do with these things now? I guess I might just have to continue picking up cards with the wizard in his new duds. Too bad he'll probably enter the Hall with the wrong 'A' on his melon.

Sorry for such a delay in saying thanks, Tony. I had actually drafted a majority of this a couple weeks ago, but the Simmons trade has just killed my interest in baseball right now- and that includes cards.

I think I've put this song on the blog before, but who cares? It's one of my all-time favorites. And I'm thinking that lyrically, Neil Peart was inspired by Masters' poem Jonathan Houghton.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Worth the Price of Admission

I might be in the minority, but there are very few professional athletes that I would consider to be worth the price of admission. These are the guys that you stop what you're doing when they're in the field- or at the plate- because you don't want to miss what they might do. When it comes to my Braves, there have been three in my lifetime that fall into that category: Greg Maddux, Andruw Jones and Andrelton Simmons.

I was just finishing up with work Thursday afternoon when I received a text from a friend who is an Angels fan. "Dumb move for the Angels. Congrats to you," it read. I had been extremely busy at work that afternoon and had not had a chance to check the twitter feed on my phone, so I replied with a generic, "huh?"

Rick broke the news to me that the Angels had traded Erick Aybar, their two top prospects and cash for my favorite Braves player, Andrelton Simmons. The only word to describe what I felt at that moment (and for the next two hours) was crushed. 

Crushed in spirit. I had not even felt this way when Atlanta had traded away Dale Murphy, who was on the downside of his career, to Philadelphia. Simmons, on the other hand, was only four years into his career and has plenty of good years ahead of him.

After the initial shock wore off, anger began settling in. In the past twelve months, almost the entire roster has been made over- most of which I understood why they were doing so. You get players coming upon free-agency, so you trade them instead of getting nothing in return; you also have bad contracts that you try to get out from under; you take areas of strength and trade them for areas of need. None of which describe Simmons. 

With the team entering their final season at The Ted before moving into Sun Trust Park in 2017, popular thought was that you can not endure another horrible season like the team just finished having. Braves brass said that they would not- could not- endure another season like 2015. At this point, however, I don't believe a single word they say. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Big Red

I received a call from my dad on Monday night, informing me of the passing of his younger sister. Death is never easy but there are times when it's not a shock, ya know? My aunt had been battling lymphatic cancer for about five years and had just recently been diagnosed with leukemia. Her youngest daughter had spoken about hospice care only a few days before, so, while saddened, it certainly wasn't unexpected.

About an hour later I started seeing the tweets regarding former Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson. It was being reported that he was in a coma in an Atlanta area hospital due to what was described as 'catastrophic organ failure.' A short time later, Tommy's friend and former teammate Jordan Schafer tweeted 'RIP TH.' Although there were no reports of Tommy's death at that time, Schafer's tweet seemed to confirm our fears: the death of a young man whose once promising career had been derailed for physical and, apparently, personal problems. Tommy Hanson should have been in his pitching prime; instead, a wife is morning the loss of her husband, his children, the loss of their daddy and his parents, the loss of a son.

I returned to the hobby in December of 2009 and one of the guys whose cards I sought after was Tommy Hanson. Big Red had rocketed through the Braves farm system- including a brilliant 14-strikeout no-hitter at class AA Mississippi in 2008 (in only his second professional full-season). Later, in the fall of '08, he would dominate the hitters in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League and become the only pitcher to win league MVP, all the while cementing his status as the top pitching prospect in baseball. 

Tommy made his highly anticipated major league debut in June of 2009, and despite getting hit hard in his debut, went on to finish 3rd in the NL ROY race after going 11-4, with a 2.89 ERA and a 3.9 WAR over only 21 starts. Blessed with a mid-90s fastball, devastating curve, solid change-up and slider, the 6'6 Hanson looked like he would develop into an ace and anchor the staff for years. 

While he would never post a higher WAR during his career, Tommy continued to develop as a pitcher at the major league level and was a workhorse for the Braves 2010 staff. The first half of his 2011 campaign was worthy of being named an N.L. All-Star, but for some reason he was snubbed. I got the privilage of seeing him and Seattle's Michael Pineda duel on a trip to the Emerald City. Tommy had turned in probably the best performance of his major league career prior to that start (a 7 innings, 3-hit, 14 strikeout performance against Houston), so the excitement I felt was unreal. He threw okay against the M's, picking up the win, and would have two more great starts immediately following the game I atteneded. After that, though, Hanson's career seemed to have started its descent. A major drop in velocity got many fans worried and there wasn't much consistency during the 2012 season for the big righty. I remember many a night being totally frustrated as I watched Hanson pitch, but what I would give to watch him pitch one last time.

I didn't know Tommy Hanson, but by what his teammates and those who covered him during his days in Atlanta say, he was a very affable, generous, kind and gentle soul. He certainly left his mark on the game and on this fan and collector.

RIP, Big Red.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sans Bubblegum

Sometime back, I received a package from Jeff over at Wish They Still Came with Bubblegum. Jeff's a fellow Braves fan/collector and was the recipient of a Braves care package I had sent out. In return, not only did he send me some Braves cards- but he also sent me some much needed (and appreciated) Seahawks cards. The only thing missing from this great pack of cards? Bubblegum.

Having passed up this year's Allen & Ginter set meant no Andrelton Simmons-or any other Brave, for that matter. And so it was a nice surprise to see a card of the Braves defensive wizard and will be a nice addition to the binder. A second Ginter card, of Nick Markakis,  was added as well. Does anyone know why one would have brown/bronze colored fonts, while the other has blue? Is it a parallel thing?

Other cards included the victim of horrible offensive run support- Mr Shelby Miller-

a card of Doggie


and A.J. Minter, the 75th overall pick in the 2015 draft and who was considered to be a first-round talent prior to the Tommy John surgery that prematurely ended his junior season at Texas A&M.

Jeff also included this awesome 1997 Collector's Choice Team retail team set

Among the many Seahawks cards, I was most excited to see three from the 1993 Topps set:

and these two from Upper Deck's first two offerings:

and a local guy, of sorts. Though he was born in Missoula, Mt., John Friesz spent much of his early life in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho before going to school at the University of Idaho- where he was an All-American quarterback and winner of the Walter Payton Award (given for the nation's most outstanding player at the 1-AA level). John would eventually be named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006. San Diego would draft Friesz in the 6th round of the 1990 NFL draft and he would go on to have an 11-year career, spent with four teams (San Diego, Washington, Seattle and New England).

Thanks again, Jeff, for the nice bunch of cards!