Monday, January 26, 2015

Sad Sacks

So I was window shopping on COMC last night, when I ran across this beauty from 1978:






I knew it was a TCMA minor league release, but who in the world is the dude on the left? Could it be some sad sack Warriors wannabe?  And what the hell is that thing next to him? 

You know that times are tough when you make your mascot don only a headpiece and no other part of a costume.



Anyway, I flipped the card 'over'- because COMC is cool like that- and lo, and behold, here's my answer:






CHIEF POWA HITTA?!!



Let's just see THIS thing get released in 2015. Somehow I don't think it would ever make it to pack out.












Sunday, January 25, 2015

1982 Atlanta Braves Team Issue

I recently ran across a lot of 11 1982 team-issued Braves cards on eBay with a starting bid of 99 cents (which is the price I ended up paying for them). Up until about three weeks ago, I had never owned any of the black and white 3" x 5" cards; now, I own fourteen.




The first ones I purchased consisted of a couple of Dale Murphy's and a Bob Horner from 1983 and 1984, respectively. This second purchase gained my interest primarily because it included a "Rookie" card of Brett Butler, who had been one of my favorites during his short time in Atlanta, as well as his Topps rookie card partner, Steve Bedrosian.

One of the other interesting pieces in this release (but not in the lot I purchased) is the Bob Porter card. At first, I thought that Beckett (where I got this checklist from) was in error- that it should have read Horner, not Porter. But I searched for info on a Bob Porter and found that there was, in fact, a player by that name who had played in a few games for Atlanta in 1981 and 1982. An obscure name that I didn't remember. That's one of the great things about team-issued cards such as these.



I'm still undecided as to whether or not I'll try to finish off the set, but I have a good start, should I do so.

#1 Jose Alvarez
#2 Steve Bedrosian
#3 Bruce Benedict
#4 Brett Butler
#5 Rick Camp
#6 Joe Cowley
#7 Carlos Diaz
#8 Ken Dayley
#9 Terry Harper
#10 Randy Johnson
#11 Rufino Linares
#12 Rick Mahler
#13 Larry McWilliams
#14 Dale Murphy
#15 Bob Porter
#16 Joe Torre MGR
#17 Bob Walk
#18 Bob Watson
#19 Larry Whisenton
#20 Chief Noc-A-Homa

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sweet Leaf

When I first met you, didn't realize. I can't forget you, or your surprise. You introduced me to my mind. And left me wanting- you and your kind... My life was empty, forever on a down. Until you took me, showed me around. My life is free now, my life is clear. I love you sweet Leaf, though you can't hear." ~ Black Sabbath's Sweet Leaf


You think I'm going to talk about dope, but I'm not.

 Yeah, that's right- I'm talking the best drug of all... cardboard. Cheap, mind blowing and highly addictive. Although, as you may have come to realize, it has been known to cause burnout.




As I was going through the collection recently, putting team sets into binders, I ran across a few singles from the 1992 Leaf baseball set. Surprisingly, I came up really short on the number I needed to complete the Braves team set. Fifteen in all were needed, so I headed on over to Sportlots, found a dealer who was able to supply my needs, and finished off the set. My pocket book took a very small hit: $2.70 for all of them.






















My love for Leaf began in 1991- the year I re-entered the hobby; it would have started a year earlier, had I been collecting then. The big appeal for me in '91 and '92 was the grey used on the borders (as well as the use of the color in the 1990 release). It had an elegant look to it and the nice, clean design on the back left me wanting more. It was, as the kids say today, dope.



Nineteen Ninety-Three came and with it, changes. Gone was the grey; instead, color. Intense and rich. Foil and high gloss were introduced to us, as well as full-color bleed photos. It was a new strain of cardboard; a cheap knock off of Stadium Club and Ultra, brands which had opened my mind to entirely new things.

Unfortunately, my love for Leaf wouldn't last but for another year or two. By 1995, I was done with it, looking for something different. A new high.

That year, I found Fleer.



As Dayf over at Cardboard Junkie would say, do cards- not drugs. Otherwise, you might end up like Mr. Osbourne.



Does anybody still collect Leaf around here?! 
WOOOOOOOO!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Food-Issue Friday: Vocal Warm Up


do, do, do, do


Clears throat 


Bee-chum. Blow-zer. Bell-yard.



Grabs scotch. Drinks scotch.



Bee-chum. Blow-zer. Bell-yard. (While checking self out in mirror)



Clears throat.



A triumvirate Lykes hot dog vendors.



hot dog vendors. Ven-doors




hooodooo hooodooo





Blowzer. Blowzer was born on the bayou.




The human vacuum is a fast freight train.



choooglin  choooglin





Beech is on his daddy's knee.

THE Beech. the BEECH



War Chant sounds.





We're on in Five...four...three...two...one...

Good evening. Leading off tonight, we will take a look at three recently acquired cards from the 1995 Lykes Braves set...




Bumper music....

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Trepidation



My geekdom began as a teenager who loved music. My older sister may disagree, but I digress.

Countless times during my high school years my three closest friends and me would pack into one of our cars and head over to Boise, which is a twenty-five mile drive from our hometown. The occasion? Record release day (always on a Tuesday, I do believe). Westgate Records, or Five-Mile Records, would be our destination to pick up our copies of the latest album by whichever hard rock act. But before that exciting day hit, there was another moment of great anticipation- and that was the day we would hear the release dates for said albums (usually in Circus or Hit Parader magazine).


Well, yesterday was that day. But instead of hearing which act is releasing an upcoming album, it's what cards are going to be included in 2015 Topps Series 1. This year, however, was marked not with anticipation as much as it was trepidation. 

What caused such a feeling? Well, if you've followed the hot stove league, you are aware of the many moves Atlanta has made during the offseason. And I just had a bad feeling that many of the Braves players featured in Series 1 would be individuals who will no longer don the Red, White, and Blue of my team. 

So as I sat down to eat my lunch, I found the checklist and so began the pain.

36  Julio Teheran (yay!!!!- he's still on the team!!!)
x 58 Evan Gattis---Hello, Houston
64 Braves team card---We still have a team?
x 69 Justin Upton---Where in the world is Justin Sandiego?
73 Freddie Freeman---who will he hug?
x 181 Jason Heyward---the man who would turn Dayf against us
184 B.J. Upton---Come get a BJ bobblehead
x 201 Tommy LaStella--- Maybe Chip Caray can get him a table at his grandfathers restaurant
202 Mike Minor--- I fully expect him to be next on the block
255 James Russell---now we're talking; I"m getting excited about collecting now
283 Chris Johnson---*yawn*
x 349 League Leaders- JUp, Adrian Gonzalez and Giancarlo Stanton---Up Up and Away




What, no Zoilo Almonte?!!









So as you can tell, a number of cards in the team set feature ex-Braves, each marked with an 'X.' Hardly anything to get excited about. But, to rub salt in the proverbial wound, Topps went and made an insert set called 'First Pitch' featuring celebs who threw out the first pitch at ballparks around the majors. After seeing who was listed under 'Atlanta,' I opened a new tab and googled the name: Austin Mahone. What I saw was this d-bag





Yeah, that will draw interest from 30-60 year old men. Imma chasing that card.




I guess now we'll just wait for Kimbrel to be traded, and then it will be...


Ladies and Gentlemen, your new Braves closer...



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Base(ball) Oddity #25: Convenience Stores

"I tell you, Rat, the business is sh*tty. I mean, the kids today, they're not even listenin to Aerosmith."~ Mike Damone, Fast Times at Ridgemont High

But, unlike today, the kids back then still collected cards~ The ChopKeeper


In my previous Base(ball) Oddity post, I lamented the loss of 7-11 convenience stores in our area. Well, the same company that bought out the local 7-11 franchisees also bought out the local Circle Ks. But back in 1985, there were plenty of each in our area. And Aerosmith was back in the saddle again.

1985 Circle K #11 Eddie Mathews

I was out of card collecting by the time this set was released. The years between 1982 and 1985 were a period of great change in my life. As a thirteen year old in 1982, I was still actively collecting cards; as a sixteen year-old in '85, I related more to the youth in Cameron Crowe's 1982 classic film, and my love of Aerosmith rivaled my love of baseball. Had I known that their 1985 'comeback album', Done with Mirrors, would be (IMO) their last great one, I would have bemoaned with Damone about the downfall of such a great band.

Convenience Truth

If you have seen Fast Times (and really, who hasn't!!) then you know the role that convenience stores play in movie: Damone, the sleaze ball scalper, is left holding many Blue Oyster Cult tickets, which, he says, brought him this close to having to get a job at 7-11; Brad Hamilton, a single and successful guy, gets fired from his dream job at All-American Burger, then quits another rather than making a delivery while wearing a pirate costume. He then gets a job at a convenience store (Mi-T Mart), where he thwarts a robbery attempt and becomes store manager; in the movie's close, it's revealed that Damone gets busted scalping Ozzy Osborne tickets and ends up working at 7-11.

Convenience stores also played an important role in my childhood. I lived about 1/4 mile from a 
Circle K and it's where I bought a majority of the cards during my childhood. I remember buying packs of '80-81 Topps NBA and pulling the Bird/Magic Rookie Card; packs of '81 Topps football and pulling the Joe Montana RC; there was also that 1982 Orioles Future Stars card with Bob Bonner on it. And, had I still been collecting, it would have been the perfect place to pick up this great 33-card set. The set recognized the top home run hitters of all-time in order by their career totals (for some reason, DiMaggio is not included). And while I didn't pick up a set back then, they're easily enough found today.


Righteous Bucks

I paid a buck for this card, which seems about the normal price on eBay. Check Out My Cards have quite a few for half that. There's a nice boxed set currently available on the 'bay for six bucks, delivered.


You Worked In Oakland

So, what was Eddie Mathews doing in 1985?  I didn't know, so I decided to look into it and after spending too much time on it, I still don't know. He did work in the Oakland organization as a minor league hitting instructor between the years of 1981 & 1983. At one point in 1982, a spot was detected on his lung in and, after the A's doctors examined him, was found to have Tuberculosis. Mathews also worked in the Brewers and Rangers organizations as a coach and scout- none lasting very long, admittedly due to his hard drinking ways.

Oddly Enough
The quote at the beginning of this post was from a scene that did not make the theatrical release of Fast Times, but was used in the edited television version. I like to think of these type of gems as the equivalent of the oddball set


Monday, January 19, 2015

Cool as a Cucumber


As the back of card number 4 from Fleer's 1993 Career Highlights set tells us, Tom Glavine was known throughout his career as being unflappable. He lost seventeen games in his first full major league season, had first-inning trouble through his career, and yet always remained that same stoic force on the mound- devoid of showing any emotion.
"It goes back to a lesson I learned in the minor leagues," he once said prior to his Game 7 start in the 1996 NLCS.  "When you're out there pitching,  don't show any emotion. Act like you have complete control, even when you don't. And for some reason, I've had that ability, with whatever is going on in my life, whether it's on the field or personal stuff, to set is aside and concentrate on what I'm doing."


So it's no wonder that following the Seattle Seahawks improbable come from behind victory over Green Bay that Tom sent out this tweet regarding Russell Wilson's tearful breakdown :




Now, you know Tom's one of 'my guys'- one of my favorite players of all-time. When the faithful badmouthed him for his involvement as a union rep and his hard-lined stance during the 1994 strike, I withheld any real opinion (and I'm very much anti-union); when he left Atlanta for New York, I was disappointed, but never voiced any bitterness towards him. But still, I thought it was ridiculous of him to speak out about a guy who just overcame the worst game of his professional career, leading his team to the Super Bowl. So, I shot a tweet back his way- not expecting any reply. Well, I was wrong...




Yep- Tommie's still as cool as a cucumber. And he had just made my day that much better.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mack the Bat

He had an auspicious debut, much like another kid from Atlanta, Georgia would have 50 years later.

One day after being recalled from AAA Louisville, Mack Jones collected four hits in his major league debut (July 13, 1961), including going 2-2 against Bob Gibson. A few games later, Jones went 3-4 with 3 RBI against the Phillies, bringing his hitting street to seven games to start his major league career. At the end of his rookie season, Jones had collected hits in 15 of the 28 games he had played.

The next two years saw 'Mack the Knife' split time between AAA and the majors; he spent the entire 1964 season at AAA Syracuse, where he posted some pretty 'sick' stats: .317/.413/.630, 14 doubles, 18 triples, 39 Homers, 102 RBI, 13 stolen bases. Apparently, that was enough to convince Braves management that he was ready for a full-time major league gig.

1965 Topps #241 Mack Jones


When given a chance to play full-time in 1965, Mack responded by hitting 31 homers- becoming one of six Braves that year to hit at least 20 HRs, which set a NL record. It would also be only time Mack had a full-time job in Milwaukee, as the Braves would move to his hometown just prior to the 1966 season.

In the final ever Braves home game at Milwaukee's County Stadium (9/22/65),  Jones homered off Sandy Koufax in the bottom of the 3rd to give Milwaukee a 5-1 lead. The Dodgers would rally to tie the game at six before it eventually headed to extra innings. The visitors would then take a 7-6 lead in the top of the eleventh, setting up drama for the bottom of the eleventh. With one out, Jones came to bat for the sixth time that day and promptly beat out an infield single. The next batter, Henry Aaron, lined out to center fielder Willie Davis, who would fire the ball back to first to double off Jones. And just like that, the Braves thirteen years in Milwaukee were finished.


Later in his career, Mack would be drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 1968 expansion draft and quickly became the first star of the new team. In the first ever Expos home game, Jones homered in his first at-bat- a 3-run shot off St. Louis' Nelson Briles- giving le Expos a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. In his next at-bat (bottom of the 2nd), Mack the Knife hit a two-run triple, giving the home town team a 5-0 lead. It would be the finest year of Mack Jones' big league career, as he hit .277/.379/.488 with 22 home runs.  So popular was Jones with the Montreal faithful that the leftfield bleachers at Montreal's Jarry Park was nicknamed 'Jonesville' after the lefty.




Friday, January 16, 2015

Base(ball) Oddity #24: 2000, Man

'Well my name is a number, a piece of plastic film...don't you know,  I'm a 2000 man.'~ The Rolling Stones- 2000 Man


Welcome to the twenty-fourth edition in a series on oddball baseball issues. Today, perhaps the strangest of all...

Despite having former Diamondback Erubial Durazo in the set, the final slurpee coin set from 7-11 was, in my opinion, the best offering from the convenience store giant. I'm strictly talking aesthetics here; nothing can beat the sets from my childhood, as far as the checklist. Earlier designs might have been difficult to tell from one year to the next, but there's no mistaking the 2000's.



2000 Seven-Eleven Slurpee Coins #3 Chipper Jones
We have all heard of how the ball looks when a player is 'in the zone.' Well, I'm pretty sure that the ball didn't look like one of these Slurpee Coins when Chipper Jones stepped to the plate during the 1999 season. Well, at least it didn't during the final three months of the season, as Hoss hit .349/.485/.756 with 31 homer over the last 81 games of the year- winning the NL MVP in the process.



Where Have You Gone, Chipper Jones?




Looking at these discs- even one from 2000- takes me back to my childhood. We had 7-11's around here back then.



You see, all of our local franchise stores sold out to a competitor about, oh, I don't know, ten years ago. Maybe longer; maybe fewer.



Gone are the Big Gulps; gone are the Slurpees; gone are the discs.







Chipper- wouldn't you like it if Slurpee Discs were still being produced?



Yeah, me, too.




At least we still have Chipper.


Oh, thank heaven for 7-11. And Number 10.


*In case you're wondering, the selfies were tweeted by Chip during the Ohio State-Oregon game the other night. I'm still trying to decide whether or not he picked up a few 40oz bottles of "800" (Olde English, that is) before the festivities. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

We Barely Knew Ya...Lee Lacy

It's strange how sometimes a pretty decent career can be forgotten.

As I was researching today's subject (Lee Lacy) I came across a bit of information that I did not know about the former MLB player: he has a daughter who is a forward for the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA and the former lover of former WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw. This discovery prompted me to share the news with a sports fan who works in my department . Surprisingly, he didn't remember Lacy (and he's my age, so it wasn't a matter of an entirely different age group not knowing). But, he did remember hearing about Holdsclaw taking out her rage on Miss Lacy. Anyway, this isn't about Lee's daughter, but about the man himself- and I write this just to show how easily we forget those who played in the era of our youth. 



Lacy, whom the Braves received from the Dodgers in a trade that also brought Tom Paciorek, Jerry Royster and Jim Wynn over to the team in exchange for Dusty Baker and Ed Goodson, had an incredibly short stay in Atlanta. Fifty games into the 1976 season, the Braves traded the super-utility player back to the Dodgers (along with pitcher Elias Sosa) for reliever (and 1974 Cy Young winner) Mike Marshall- who himself would have a short stay in town. 


If you have ever wondered why the Braves were so bad for so long during the 70s and part of the 80s, it's because of deals like this one made by then-GM Eddie Robinson. Baker at the time was the trade was only 26 years old and approaching the prime of his career. Lacy, while a nice player, was nothing more than a utility player and Wimpy Paciorek was nothing more than a replacement-level player. Jimmy Wynn was a star at one time, but was 34 years old at this time and pretty much washed up. Think of Andruw Jones- that's what you got in Wynn. A fourth piece to have come over, Jerry Royster, had a decent bat (good eye-low strikeout rate) and speed (not to mention was versatile) but had a rock for a glove. To make matters worse was that the team then sent Lacy back to the Dodgers a few months later. As I mentioned before, the Braves received former Cy Young winner Mike Marshall in return- but that will be a story for another day.

How'd He Do?
Lee's time in Atlanta- nothing to get excited about...
.272/.299/.367   50 games, 180 at-bats,  3 HR, 20 RBI, 2 SB (2 CS)
5 positions played (LF, CF, RF, 2B, 3B)

HUH?
Another interesting piece of information I found during my research was a stat from the sabr.org website, showing an interesting paradox when it comes to stats:

In 1983, Lee Lacy hit .266 against RHP, .336 against LHP- for an overall batting average of .302. Andre Dawson, on the other hand- that same year- hit better against righties (.283) and lefties (.346), but had a lower overall average (.299). Dawson finished the year w/ 189 hits in 633 AB, while Lacy had 87 hits in 288 at-bats. 

I know, goofy, but I love obscure bits of information like that.