Saturday, July 4, 2015

Just Stars

It's hard to believe, but today marks the 30th anniversary of 'The Rick Camp' game, a 6 hour and 10 minute, 19-inning game (following multiple rain delays!!) between the Braves and the New York Mets. The Mets won the game 16-13, but the night will always be remembered for a game-tying home run hit by Braves pitcher Rick Camp in the bottom of the 18th inning. Camp, who at the time of the at-bat was a career .060 hitter (10 for 167 with 83 strikeouts), came up to bat with 2 outs and launched an 0-2 forkball from the Mets' Tom Gorman over the left field fence at Fulton County Stadium. The bomb came at 3:20 am and would send the game into yet another inning. Despite his heroics, Camp would allow 5 runs in the top of the 19th and take the loss.



1985 Topps Stickers
I don't have any '4th of July' themed cards of the late Braves pitcher to show off today, but I do want to share this recent addition to my Dale Murphy collection. As much as I usually don't like foil cards/stickers, I do think the Stars and Stripes wouldn't have worked as well had the sticker had a normal white boarder.

















As far as his role in the marathon, Murph had a long night at the plate, going 1-8 with 3 RBI and 2 walks. But I'm sure he had plenty of stories to tell the grandchildren about that night.


















I love Braves announcer John Sterling's comment at 1:51 about 'if he hits a home run to tie this game...'





Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Last 10

The first time I became interested in the number 10 was (coincidentally) as a ten-year old boy. The number didn't belong to a baseball player I admired but was the name of a popular movie at the time.

If you're anywhere close to my age (or older), then you know what movie I'm referring to. Blake Edwards' 1979 romantic comedy tells the tale of a Los Angeles composer (Dudley Moore) who is enduring a mid-life crisis and becomes infatuated with a sexy, much younger woman (played by the beautiful Bo Derek). Now, I never saw the movie, but to my ten year-old self, there was something strangely fascinating seeing (on the movie trailer) Derek's character running on a beach in Mexico wearing her skin-colored, one-piece swimsuit. The sequence has become quite iconic in our pop culture and for guys our age it ranks right up there with the Farrah Fawcett poster.

The number wouldn't have much meaning to me until about sixteen years later, when Braves rookie Chipper Jones (who wore 16 during his 1993 cup-of-coffee) donned it during his first full season (1995)- and thereafter- in the majors. I was a fan of Chipper's prior to his major league debut, despite never having seen him play, and would have bought a #10 jersey had I not already owned one (and had I not been such a cheapskate). Here was a guy who was the number 1 pick in the nation and rocketed through the farm system- what wasn't to like? Besides, with a nickname like Chipper you knew he'd be something special! He became my favorite player and would be through the end of his playing career.


I certainly can't speak for Chipper, or any player, for that matter, but I've got to think that there are very few moments in your professional career that would be as gratifying as having your number retired while entering into an organization's Hall of Fame. For Jones, the ceremony took place two years ago this past Sunday and was brilliantly included in this year's Stadium Club release.


A big shout-out to Topps (Sooz!!) for another set chockfull of great photos. And the Chipper...a perfect 'Ten'!

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.