Saturday, April 25, 2015

My New TV Crapped Out on Me, So I Bought Some Cards

After dinner last night, I went back into my office to watch the ending of the Barves-Phillies game while my wife and daughter entertained themselves with Mockingjay 1. Well, to my surprise the less-than-two-week-old tv wouldn't turn on. Rather, I couldn't get a picture- only purple and pink lines everywhere. What?!!! It's a Magnavox, and they made a hell of a tv 40 years ago! I guess that's what I get for making a decision based on my frugal nature. So, I pulled it off the wall and headed over to Target to get a different television (and a different manufacturer). I'm glad I did- as the Barves lost it 1-0 on a walk-off error.

The one two silver linings- and there's always gotta be a silver lining, right?- is that not only did I get a new, better TV, but I also finally got around to picking up the 1 pack of Gypsy Queen that I've been wanting to open.

The Value Pack contained 3 packs plus three framed parallel cards. Let's open some packs!!!

Pack 1:

246 Brian McCann - I hate to say it, but BMac just looks like he was born to wear pinstripes. Well done, Topps.

160 Hyn-Jin Ryu - I love these poses

40 Jorge Soler- MINI ROOKIE CARD! Whoo- am I gonna be RICH!

GWO-7 Walk off Winners David Freese -  Meh.

138 Greg Maddux - Hey everybody, a Brave!!

99 Roger Maris - Great looking card of the AL single-season Home Run record holder

Pack 2:

88 Justin Upton - Hey everybody, a...former Brave.

57 Jason Vargas - Is he still on the Royals? Is he a bad-ass, too?

173 Jason Worth - *vomits*

179 James Shields - I guess they couldn't get him into his Pads uni

271 Lance Lynn - Mini card of a Card

234 Jarred Cosart - Wanna bet that no one cares about this guy's cards?

Pack 3:

39 Lou Gehrig - Another Yankee. Really?

50 Salvador Perez - Another Royal. Is he also a bad-ass? I heard they get to fight the winner of Pacquiao/Mayweather

168 David Ortiz - One of my least favorites in the game. At least it wasn't ARod

8 Jose Canseco - Mini. I bet Wax Morgue, er Wax Heaven 2.0 would approve!

GWO-4 Walk-Off Winner: David Ortiz. What did I do to upset the cardboard gods?

222 Russell Martin - *Yawn*


Okay, maybe not- but I'm sure everyone was waiting on the framed parallels...

169 Ryan Braun - Tony can expect to see this at some point

9 Bo Jackson - ANOTHER ROYAL? Okay, I won't complain on this one. What a beauty!

82 Mookie Wilson - Everybody's talking about the new kid in (Bean)town- Mookie Betts, that is- but this is the original.

Ten bucks and I don't feel like I got my money's worth, but that's not what this is all about. It the enjoyment of opening something new- a brand that I have never liked prior to this year. And for the price of going to a movie, I'll take this pack any day.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Food-Issue Friday: America's Team, America's Favorite Pizza

I feel like I've been out of the loop this week: with news, with sports, and with the hobby. That's because I woke up early Tuesday morning sick and then spent the rest of that day and Wednesday trying to get my energy (and appetite) back. It's not like I didn't have the time to keep up with what was going on- it's just that when I wasn't asleep, I wanted to be in that state of non-existence. But here it is, Friday, and I still don't have my appetite back entirely. I only hope that you are hungry for another edition of Food-Issue Friday...

I don't think my love of pizza will ever diminish. I know, it's not the healthiest of meals and it seems to be more popular among the tweener-teens demographic- but what can I say? I've never been the most health-conscious guy (I get maybe 6 hours of sleep a night and drink way too much coffee) and I collect cards, so some would even question my age. Or at least, my maturity. 

Anyway, while today's feature isn't a card, it is the latest addition to my Dale Murphy collection. And what a large addition it is, measuring 17-1/4"x 11-1/4". It's so large that I honestly don't know how to store it. I guess I should have thought of that before buying it. Perhaps I"ll frame it. Be what it may, I just couldn't pass it up. There apparently were three others distributed, each featuring two Braves, but this was the only one I just had to have.

Looking at this brings back memories of my only visit to Atlanta- back in September of 1993. I went there with my dad and his wife, to visit her sister and her family. Well, truth to be told, I went because it was free airfare and I got to take in some Braves games. Anyway, we went out for pizza and beer our first night in the ATL. Where? Yes, you guessed it: Pizza Hut. And, just like earlier this week, I awoke early the next morning with cold chills, my head spinning, and then, well, you can guess what came next. We had plans on going to the Falcons-Saints game the next day, as well as to Six Flags Over Georgia. Well, if I wasn't feeling up to attending a football game, I surely wasn't going to a theme park. And so I laid there, all day Sunday and Monday, regaining my strength for that ever so important date at Fulton County Stadium.

As you probably recall, the Braves used to dub themselves "America's Team," just as Pizza Hut dubbed themselves as "America's Favorite Pizza." It's been a few years since TBS ran those America's Team ads, but I never questioned the veracity of such claims. Pizza Hut- well, I may have liked them at one time, but something changed forever after that visit to the Peach State. And if it is America's Favorite Pizza, then something's terribly wrong.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Those of us who collect retired players can at times be spoiled. How? Well, if our guy was a big enough star at one time, we come to expect them to be included in every newer product. It's the curse of the inclusion of retired stars in current sets. We somehow end up with a sense of entitlement when player X appears in ten products each year.

As one who collects a retired player (Dale Murphy, among others), I'm to the point where I'd like to see him in one set per year-if even that. With so many different brands, Topps could rotate it so he's in a different brand each year. I know I'd appreciate his cardboard much more if that were the case. According to Beckett's database, Murphy didn't have any cards produced between 1994 and 1999- and collectors were hungry for them.

I started thinking about this last week after seeing the Celebzdirect twitter account post the following pictures of Andruw Jones signing for an upcoming (?) Topps product. I'm thinking it's Archives, but it's hard to tell now-a-days. The comment about it being redemption cards has me a bit confused, as I don't recall hearing about him being in any previous set. If they are signed redemptions, then it obviously can't be an upcoming product.

 Doesn't matter. I'm jacked to see a new card of 'Druw, whose last card was in...2013? I thought for sure that it was much longer since we have seen the former Gold Glover on cardboard. I will definitely be buying one of those, even if it is yet another 1989 design.

Back during Andruw's minor league days, I sent him a photocopied article from Baseball America- which he generously signed in two spots:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Guilty Pleasures

"Well I rolled the bones to see who'd own my mind and what's within. And it's a given rule that we're all fools, but need to have a little sin. So I'm ridin', well I'm ridin' on the gypsy- on the gypsy queen."~ Dio's Gypsy

All of us have guilty pleasures. Perhaps it's B-rate horror movies; a wife beater (shirt); a reality tv show. For me, it's 80s hard rock/hair metal. But I think I just might have discovered a new one last night: 2015 Gypsy Queen baseball.

Now let me be clear- I have despised the Gypsy Queen brand since its initial release in 2011 and, other than a few singles, have avoided it like the plague. When the sell sheet for this year's product came out, I ignored it. But I came across some on eBay last night and found myself shocked at how much I liked the 2015 design. And when I came across a listing for a guaranteed 'Hot Pack' I decided to take a chance. To roll the bones, as they say.

I didn't win the auction- my $5 bid was placed in the last 30 seconds- and looking back, I'm glad I didn't win. I mean, odds are the seller acquired this by pack searching- which I find deplorable. But still.. it is fun pulling an auto or a cool patch, no?

So, instead, I think I'll just try to complete a Braves team set and pick up the Chipper variations for my collection. The team set contains the following cards:

2 Hank Aaron (mini base variation available, also)
18 Tom Glavine (mini base variation available, also)
26 Freddie Freeman (base variation available, also)
48 Shelby Miller
68 Alex Wood
69 Nick Markakis
74 Julio Teheran
84 John Smoltz (mini base variation available, also)
112 Evan Gattis
115 Chipper Jones (mini base variation available, also)
135 Craig Kimbrel
138 Greg Maddux (mini base variation available, also)
245 Andrelton Simmons
259 Mike Foltynewicz
170 Mike Minor
302 Eddie Mathews-SP
332 Fred McGriff-SP

...and of course, plenty of inserts....

GQA-CJ Chris Johnson
GQA-EG Evan Gattis
GQA-FF Freddie Freeman
GQA-HA Hank Aaron
GQA-JS John Smoltz
GQA-PN Phil Niekro
GQA-TG Tom Glavine

Mini Autographs
GMA-GM Greg Maddux
GMA-JT Julio Teheran
GMA-TG Tom Glavine

Retail Mini Autographs
RMA-FF Freddie Freeman
RMA-JS John Smoltz

Autographed Relics
AR-FF Freddie Freeman

Laces Around the League
LAL-FF Freddie Freeman

Original Art Patches
OAP-CJ Chipper Jones
OAP-CKl Craig Kimbrel
OAP-FF Freddie Freeman
OAP-GM Greg Maddux

GQR-AS Andrelton Simmons
GQR-CKl Craig Kimbrel
GQR-FF Freddie Freeman
GQR-JH Jason Heyward

Jumbo Relics
GJR-AS Andrelton Simmons

Mini Relics
GMR-EG Evan Gattis
GMR-FF Freddie Freeman
GMR-JH Jason Heyward
GMR-JU Justin Upton
GMR-MM Mike Minor

The Queen's Throwbacks
QT-2 Andrelton Simmons
QT-24 Julio Teheran

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Wisely Chosen Friends

Quite some time back I posted a plea for someone- anyone- to help a brother out with some 1988 Donruss cards to go towards finishing my Braves team set. I received a few comments and one of them, Brian from Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary, recently hooked me up with 8 of them (plus friends)- all traveling in style. No, they didn't travel on the Madden bus, but arrived in a large envelope. They could have arrived in a leather bag by the Pony Express, for all I care; the main thing is that I have now completed the base set.

The back of this card tells us that Ken Sr. once hit three homers in a game against the Phillies, so it got me many times did Jr. hit 3 in a game? Thanks to BaseballReference.Com, I have my answer: twice. Once in '96 against the Yankees and once against the Blue Jays in 1997.

Zane's six seasons in Pittsburgh were much better than the six he spent with the Braves. Nineteen Eighty-Nine  was a particularly rough year for the lefty- as he went 1-12 in 17 starts with 58 strikeouts and 33 walks while allowing 102 hits over 99 innings before being traded to the Expos on August 8.

I graduated high school in 1987 and instead of enrolling in college, I spent the next year working a little and spending most of my time playing music. Thus, I did not spend much time (no time, really) following baseball. Had I done so, I would have surely pulled my hair out watching Andres Thomas make errors and striking out. He committed 29 errors in 1988, struck out 95 times and had a .268 OBP. The man was the antithesis of a selective hitter, walking 59 times in six seasons in Atlanta.

My second favorite Simmons to have played for Atlanta. First? Andrelton, silly.

Well captured expression on Oberkfell's face. I, too, was confused about Oberkfell. Was he really a third baseman? Well, he began at second and eventually moved to the hot corner. He sure didn't hit like a third baseman- he was a career .362 slugger, who never hit more than 5 homers in a season. And it's hard to like a guy who, while with the Cardinals, single-handedly beat the Braves in Game 2 of the 1982 NLCS when he scored the first run of the game on a wild-pitch and then drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. St. Louis would complete the sweep the next night in Atlanta.

I don't want to talk about Murphy in 1988. It was the beginning of the end. Let's move on...

My second favorite D(e)ion to play for the Braves.

Believe it or not, Mahler's Baseball page actually uses the photo from this card.

My question: why? He looks....creepy. Devilish. Like that crazy uncle your family is ashamed of.
Another believe it or not: the back of Rick's '88 Donruss card tells us that he tied Cy Young and two others for the most Opening Day shutouts (3) after his 6-0 complete game win against Philadelphia on April 7, 1987.

Let's see which friends of '88 Donruss showed up...

Awesome Impact- Awesome Player- Awesome Card!!

Well, hellooooooo Hank! Doesn't have a date on it- I'm thinking '88?

Much cooler than the original '89s. Well, I prefer the originals, but not as an oversized offering.

Like my mother used to say: choose your friends wisely. And I'm thinking Brian did a pretty good job choosing these friends for me. Thanks, Brian!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Food-Issue Friday: Grilled Cheese

Sometimes life just isn't fair. An artist has an inspired moment, but has no brush, nor paint. A musician has a melody- but is far from his piano. I have an idea for a custom faux food-issue card and my photoshop software says there's a licensing issue and the free on-line pixl editor sucks.

Now had I had the proper tools, my card would have been a Kraft Singles card celebrating grilled cheese and new Braves closer Jason Grilli (his nickname is Grilled Cheese). After all, who doesn't like grilled cheese? If you don't, you might just be missing out- at least according to a new study on the love lives of those who eat the popular sandwich. So instead of offering up some fresh grilled cheese, I guess I'll just have to serve left-overs.

Grilli has pitched really well so far this season, and while the Braves aren't expected to win very many games, should they do better than expected and Grilli save a lot of games... You might just see a baby boom in Braves Country.

Let's hear it for Grilled Cheese!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Appreciating Vintage Cardboard

I am many things: husband, father, employee, boss, sports fan- but one thing I'm not is a wine connoisseur (in fact, I don't know if I'm much of an expert in anything. Braves baseball and baseball cards, perhaps). I was reminded of this a few years ago when some friends invited us over to their house for a wine tasting party. Her cousin, who works for a distributor, got her a good deal on the fruit of the vine and was there to assist in the 'tasting' as the experts call it. And so there I sat, like a fish out of water, trying my hardest to look like someone I'm not, pouting because the only food available was sushi- and I won't eat anything raw. Well that and the fact that it was release day- meaning I had two fresh packs of 2011 Topps 1 in the car waiting for me to open.

What if we, as card collectors, had such parties? Would it be the 'vintage only' snobs and no one else; or, would there be some of those who are anathema to the hobby purists: those who collect modern stuff. What would one such party look like?

Appearance: Observe it- notice the colors, the use of line, photo selection. Anything about the subject stand out? How is the centering? Are there any flaws or defects from the printing process? Turn the card over- read the stats, familiarize yourself with the players biography. Is the card number easily identifiable? Notice the crude little drawing? We call that the comic.

Smell: Musty, as if it has been stored in the basement for 50 years. Perhaps it had been in a shoe-box, or maybe even some type of photo album. If you're lucky there's no distinguishable smell, as if it were pack-fresh.

Feel: Pull the cardboard out of its plastic case (we call this the top loader) and gently- GENTLY!!- run your finger over the front of the card. Notice the embossed-like crease in the card, feel the rough corner where the card was torn? Notice the slightly rounded corners, the frayed edges. You may also have a wax stain on the front or back (real- not contrived! WE DO NOT ALLOW CONTRIVED ERRORS!!!), so be sure to check closely for those.

Finish: Place the card back in its holder, re-examine it and contemplate the pure joy you just experienced. Live by the motto: Cardboard Life- Smell It, Feel It, Live It!

Of course, this card would never, ever be approved by the 'Purists'

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Base(ball) Oddity #32: Endangered Species

Once a common stadium giveaway promoting safety and public awareness, the team-issued Police sets have become an endangered species. While the 80's to 90's (and even into early 00's) were fraught with sets, I've only seen two team sets (Milwaukee and Minnesota) released in more recent years.

If you own- or have seen- any of these great oddities, then you are familiar with the words of wisdom each player (supposedly) has to say to the youth of America: Don't Do Drugs; Stay Out of Gangs; Stay in School; Report Burglars. et al.

Today's sets, were they to exist (or if?), would probably be heavy on the anti-bullying messages, domestic violence (while police officers have a much higher rate of domestic violence issues than the general population, but I digress) and anti-texting and driving messages. With the hit that the law enforcement community has taken in the media over the past nine months or so (whether it's fair or not. And I'm not trying to make a political statement), I have to wonder if we won't see these oddball sets making a comeback. Get re-connected with the community, ya know?

I never knew of this set's existence until I saw it on COMC a few weeks ago. The Avery card is the only one I know of and I haven't been able to find any information on this particular set. Can any fellow Braves fans out there in Braves Country pass along a good word regarding the 1992 PAL set?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lucky Ed Halicki

My first encounter with today's card was accompanied with snickering. Lots of it.

It wasn't the gangly pitcher for the Giants that caused the giggles- it was his name. As you can see, it rhymes with hickey. And 'dickey.' You'll have to excuse me. I was between 10 and 11 years old at the time and things like that brought laughter. And... it reminded me of the line from the 1978 blockbuster film Grease, when Jeff Conaway's character says, "A hickey from Kenickie is like a Hallmark Card: When you care enough to send the very best." More laughter.

Halicki, who was a bit of a malcontent, was just as quotable as the Conaway character. Speaking about Giants GM Spec Richardson, the 6'7 righty once said, "I heard Spec was sick. Well, we have something in common. I'm sick of being in a Giants uniform." Geez, with an attitude like that, he could have been wearing the black leather T-Birds jacket.

The ten or eleven year-old ChopKeeper wasn't aware that Ed had once pitched a no-hitter during the 1975 season. No-Hitter? Who's got time for that?! This guy's name rhymes with Dickie!

The no-no was the first one in the National League since the 1973 season. Afterwards, the triumphant pitcher attributed it to luck: "A no-hitter has got to be luck. If it were skill, guys like Tom Seaver, Bob Gipson, Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan would have 20." No skill involved! Ha! I told you, a laugh a minute.

I'm guessing that the disgruntled hurler never sent a Hallmark Card to Spec when the GM was ill. Had he cared enough and wanted to send the very best, then surely a copy of this Topps card would have been sent instead.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Murphy Monday: Secondary

The recent fiasco with the Topps Tribute "Smudge Gate" and the subsequent product recall caused me to have a change of heart in regards to collecting this year's offering. I initially wasn't going to bother picking up any of the Dale Murphy cards from the set, but realized I might miss out on a card that could be difficult to find down the road. And for $1.94, I couldn't pass this beauty up.

Tribute has not been one of the brands I've chased over the years, but I have grown somewhat fond of this one since receiving it in the mail. It reminds me, even if ever so slightly, of the earlier Flair baseball line.

Another recent purchase- a 2005 Playoff Prime Cuts Dale Murphy card, numbered out of /449. I was out of collecting from 2002-2009, so much of what came out then is foreign to me. I know nothing of this product, but was struck by its design. My policy on post-playing career Murphy cards is if it grabs my attention, try to buy one. Primary cards are from his playing career, all else is considered secondary and thus not must-haves.

Haters gonna hate, so get it out of your system, ya'll. I dig it, even without logos, no team nickname and with its plain gray swatch.