Monday, June 29, 2015

Omniscient

"Up here in space, I'm looking down on you. My lasers trace everything you do. You think you've private lives think nothing of the kind, there is no true escape I'm watching all the time... Always in focus, you can't feel my stare. I zoom into you but you don't know I'm there. I take a pride in probing all your secret moves. My tearless retina takes pictures that can prove...Electric eye in the sky feel my stare, always there. There's nothing you can do about it, develop and expose. I feed upon your every thought and so my powers grow." Judas Priest's Electric Eye



In case you're not aware of it, a lot of collectors were turned pissed off by the inclusion of high number SSP's in this year's Topps Archives. Seeded at 1:70 packs, the thirty cards are commanding a premium price on the secondary market- making it difficult for the set collector to finish off his (or her) set. As a team set collector, I wasn't too happy to find out that a John Smoltz card was included in that group, but I waited a few days and won an eBay auction for $10.28. Had I been more patient, I might have eventually got one for much cheaper.



The photo used on this card originally appeared in the 2008 Stadium Club set. The original looks more natural, whereas the Archives crop/zoom job makes Smoltzie look like some larger-than-life, all-knowing being-- perhaps Big Brother from Orwell's 1984 (of which inspired Priest's 1982 song).






Going back in time, to 1983 and Heavy Metal Day at the US Festival...



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Old Fashioned

Apparently, baseball card blogs are now the place to post our political views.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Food-Issue Friday: Reese's Jordan Schafer

I'm still on hiatus, but thought I'd share a custom Food-Issue card of a former Braves favorite of mine, Mr. Jordan Schafer. I was bummed to hear that he was released by the Twins recently. Perhaps a third time with Atlanta could be a charm?


  Okay, so this card doesn't exist- I modeled it after the 1993 Upper Deck/Clark Candy Reggie Jackson three-card set. As soon as I saw this picture of Jordan, I just knew it was going to appear on Food-Issue Friday. 

  Thirteen months ago, police found Schafer in possession of 25.9 grams of mary jane-along with three marijuana peanut butter cups. Back in my day, it was brownies. I guess PB Cups are the new brownies?

 Never thought I'd see this guy in the ATL again, or even back in the majors after his bust, but he was picked up off waivers from the Astros on Thursday. Management made it clear that the move was not to replace free-agent Michael Bourn, but was to add depth to the roster. Hope the kid can contribute in some way- have always liked Schafer.





My thoughts exactly!







Thursday, June 18, 2015

Inexcusable

I guess my hiatus didn't last as long as I thought it would. Despite having stating that I would be taking a break from publishing new material, the release of 2015 Topps 2 brought with it a disgust that I can't help but share.

Two cards that popped up during a search of '2015 Topps 2 Braves' compelled me to point out the laziness or just plain incompetent personnel in charge of developing the checklist. What has gotten me so fired up? These:



Signed by Atlanta as a free-agent back in November, Zoilo Almonte was released by the team in spring training and is still unemployed. He never appeared in an official game for the Braves and yet is featured in Series 2.




Our next card might even be worse- if that's even possible.




Aaron Northcraft was a fringe prospect at best in the Atlanta system prior to being traded to San Diego in the Justin Upton deal last December. Reaching AAA for the first time last year, Northcraft struggled mightily- diminishing any hope he would be a quality major league starter- and has struggled with the Padres AAA team. Northcraft was designated for assignment in early February before he even appeared in any games for his new organization. And yet here he is in Series 2- despite being traded months before this product hit the streets and despite having never pitched in the majors. 

I could also include a reliever (Shae Simmons) who underwent Tommy John surgery in early February and will miss the entire 2015 season. Simmons showed promise as a rookie last season before being shutdown for the final two months with a sore shoulder. Yeah, good choice in his inclusion, too.



Speaking of relievers... Topps also included a card for Arodys Vizcaino, who was re-acquired by the Braves this offseason in the trade that sent Tommy La Stella to the Cubs. Well, there are two problems here:

1- You would have a hard time convincing me that this is Arodys pictured on the card.
2- The numbskull was suspended for PED prior to the regular season and will miss half the season. When he does come back from suspension, his ass very well might be in AAA Gwinnett.


Look, I'm not just some cardboard curmudgeon who complains about every little thing in the collecting world these days. I like Topps and most of their products. We're not talking about Archives' thin card stock, which has apparently upset many collectors (I could care less- many other popular releases over the years have thin stock, too). This kind of crap insults the intelligence of the team set collector and is completely inexcusable. What do you have to say for yourselves, Topps?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I Am Extremely High on Meds Right Now- and You Should Be, Too!

[As I mentioned last week, I'm taking a break from posting new material, but want to keep the blog 'up-to-date' as much as possible- meaning I'll be drawing from the well of old material for the summer. The player featured on today's card is progressing nicely from his return from a second Tommy John surgery, and I wish Meds all the best. This post is from August of 2012]


 "He's one of those guys that is pretty quiet, but he always walks around like maybe he knows something you don't," Jones said. "He's got Doggies kind of presence out there on the mound. He's not a big guy, but he walks out there like 'I know I can get you out.' And he's got a few different ways to do it. Man, what a great time for him to have a great start because we needed it bad."~ Chipper Jones on Kris Medlen.


 When I first read Chipper Jones' quote where he compared Kris Medlen to Greg Maddux, I couldn't help but smile. I have long thought that the Braves 'do-it-all' pitcher compared quite nicely to Mad Dog. With a bull-dog attitude, the ability to throw strikes (pitching to contact!), and working quickly on the mound, Medlen also compares nicely to the future Hall of Famer in his ability to field his position well (Meds may not look it, but is very athletic).

 After spending most of the year in the bullpen (where he had 38 appearances), Medlen had his first major league start of the year on July 31, going five innings to pick up the win against the Marlins. With injuries, inconsistent starting pitching, and the dog days of August hitting with very few days off, the team has kept Kris in the rotation-and he has rewarded them by going 4-0 in five starts.

 With all the attributes he brings to the mound, Medlen is proving himself to be a stopper. In his last sixteen starts, the Braves have a record of 16-0. In his nineteen starts since the 2010 season, Meds has a record of 9-0 with a 3.01 ERA. And in case you didn't know, he missed almost all of the 2011 season (recording only 2.1 inning in late September) after having Tommy John surgery performed on him. Who knows what his numbers would look like had he not suffered the partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament.

 For most of this season, Atlanta viewed Kris as a valuable part of their bullpen-and for good reason. He has a very good change, which can be used effectively against right-handed hitters, and the stuff to be able to go in long relief. At this point, though, I think the righty has shown that he is even more valuable to the team as a starter- not only for the reason of this season, but going into the future as well.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Going on Hiatus

I want to start off by saying that the title of this post isn't some clever reference to a trade with Tony of Off Hiatus Baseball Cards- although a quick glance could certainly cause confusion. No- this is more of a summer sign-off.

You see, I have been putting in a lot of O.T. since coming back to work from my vacation and will continue to work long hours, 6 days a week for the next couple of months. Factor in familial responsibilities and things around the house like yard work, painting, carpeting a few rooms & who has time for blogging? And truth be told...I'm feeling a bit burned out.

I'll try to post occasionally - it may be more like doing a 'best of' where I run an old post- and I'll try to read all of your blogs on a daily basis. Hopefully I can come back refreshed and excited to get back in the game.

Monday, June 8, 2015

He's Number 1!

Happy Todd Van Poppel Day. This is the day that we Braves fans celebrate the former consensus #1 pick, who convinced Atlanta brass that he fully intended on pitching for the University of Texas. The rest, as they say, is history.

With the MLB amateur draft beginning today I thought it would be fun to feature a card of my favorite #1 overall draft pick of all time, Mr. Chipper Jones.

Now, lest you think I'm just biased (and I am!), ESPN recently had a feature by David Shoenfield in which he ranked the #1 picks from worst pick to greatest pick. And though there were plenty of good choices for the top spot, Shoenfield picked the man who was the first draft pick of the nineties.


I've featured this card previously on the blog, so you'll have to excuse the repeat. It's just that the photo on the front is about as good as it gets- it has an old-timey feel and we love those old-school poses here at the Card Chop.



If the back of this card looks familiar, that's because it's from the same photo shoot that Topps used on Chipper's 1992 Bowman card (It is a different photo than the one the company used on the Bowman card). You can insert your own 'redundant use of photos' joke here.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday Comics #2: Opposite Day

Today's card has left me scratching my head, wondering if the artist had ever been exposed to the world of baseball statistics (or any sports, for that matter).

As anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of baseball can tell you, wins come before losses. Always.

Check the league standings: you have Wins; you have Losses. Then move on to the league Pitching Leaders. Or the pitching statistics on the webpage of your favorite team.





Or you can check the back of your baseball cards: the W column comes before the L column. Even Donruss, with all of the errors found in its '81 set, got it right.





So why, pray tell, did Topps allow the following comic as it appears on the back of Ernie Johnson's 1958 card?



LOST/WON IN THE LEDGER??! I suppose the Losses were in black, while the Wins were in red, too.


We'll just pretend that it's Opposite Day.





Friday, June 5, 2015

Food-Issue Friday: Spooney

Spoony [spoo-nee]
adjective
foolish or stupidly amorous
foolish; silly


With multiple tattoos and a nipple ring, a fastball that Bobby Cox once said has more movement than any he had ever seen, a pitch called "the Thing," and a name unlike any other in the game, former Braves relief pitcher Tim Spooneybarger became a fan favorite shortly after his MLB debut. The fans weren't the only ones who fell in love with the free-spirited righty; Braves officials were captivated by Spooney's performance during his rapid rise through the minors. His one full season in Atlanta (along with his short 4-inning cup of coffee in 2001) was so successful that it enhanced his trade value and netted the Braves left-handed starter Mike Hampton after.

2002 Bryan Atlanta Braves



Dealt to the Marlins following the 2002 season, Spooney's childhood dream of pitching for the Braves ended almost as quickly as it had begun- and he burned every bridge between Georgia and South Beach after leaving town.

Tim pitched one season- his last in the majors- for the Marlins before arm troubles derailed his career. He would later pitch in 4 minor league games in 2005 and then in 6 more for the Orioles farm system in 2008 before trading in his glove for a guitar. Tim and teammate A.J. Burnett formed a rock band, aptly named Mad Ink. I have no idea if he wrote an ode to Tom and Leo.


I haven't heard any of the duo's music, but I have heard this killer tune from Seattle's Soundgarden:





Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Base(Ball) Oddity #37: Getting Lucky in My Hotel Room

As titillating as the title might be, this isn't some letter to Penthouse. It's another edition of Base(ball) Oddity.

Traveling home from our recent vacation, we decided to stop and spend the night at a hotel in Dillon, Montana. It's a pretty small town, with not much to do, so after dinner we decided to head back to our room and watch some television. The drive that day must have exhausted my wife and daughter, as they were soon asleep, leaving just me and my iPad.

Now, anytime a guy has time to himself and a means of checking the internet, who knows what kind of trouble will ensue. In my case, I opened my eBay app and began perusing Chipper Jones cards. Luckily for me, I had typed in '1998 Chipper Jones' and let the search engine do the magic.

 I don't know how long I had been scrolling through the hits, but at one point I came across this:



My inner Archimedes wanted to stand up and shout, "Eureka, I have found it!" My inner child wanted to stand up on the hotel bed and begin jumping up and down. Instead, all I could do was stifle the excitement that was dying to come out.

You see, this card/coupon (thicker than a coupon, more like a card and standard cardboard size) is one that I've been searching for for years. It should have been on my Fourteen Fugitives but was left off as an oversight. If I were to have a "White Whale" this would have been one of 3 contestants (along w/ the Boy Scouts Dale Murphy and the 1984 Topps Darryl Palmer/Slugger's Wife).




Good for one free 20 oz Coca-Cola Classic? I wouldn't even trade this in for a case of Topps Heritage.






Tuesday, June 2, 2015

LOA (Lack of Attention)

Yesterday was my first day back to work after having 1+ week off for our family vacation (week and one day, to be exact), so to say that I was feeling a little anxiety Sunday night is an understatement. I always feel that way coming off vacation because I never know what awaits, what messes I'm going to have to clean up, so to speak. The past few weeks have been particularly busy, most of my staff are newbies and we have had some procedural changes take place recently that my assistant manager hasn't had to experience first hand. Well, my fears were relieved- no one quit or did something extremely stupid to get themselves fired. However there was one little hiccup that was due to a lack of attention on his part. A few minutes of my time and we were able to right the ship.

Once I got home there were three packages awaiting me, which was nice since there were none waiting for me when I got back from vacation. I quickly saw that lack of attention goes beyond my work place. In fact, two of the three orders contained errors.

I wish I could say that the first error was due to some incompetent worker, but I can't. I'm completely at fault. Mea culpa.



A recent purchase on eBay was a card that I thought was going to be from the Braves 2015 Topps retail team set. Rather than purchase the team set (I'm narrowing the team sets I collect to 3: flagship Heritage, and Archives) I decided to pick up the Simba (Andrelton Simmons) card, since he's the only current Brave I'm collecting. Well, as you can see in the above card, what I bought was an Opening Day single- and I usually stay away from those in my PCs (unless it's a photo variation or insert). Instead of ATL-12, I now have card #171 to add to my Andrelton binder.



Error Number 2 came from COMC.com and was no fault of my own. I had ordered a 1986 Sportflics Decade Greats card of Dale Murphy (#67) but instead received this:



Best of the 60s Whitey Ford #44. Not what I was expected.

I emailed the great folks at COMC and have yet to hear from them (I'm writing this Monday evening), but they were quick to respond in my one previous problem. And I'm sure this will get taken care of in a quick manner, too.

Now, if you'll excuse me I guess I'd better proofread this post. I'd hate to overlook any errors.