Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Final Four

Well, I'm down to the final four cards in the 'Screw Topps 100 Card Challenge.' Each player represented here today was a part of a mid-to-late season trade and played an important role in Atlanta Braves post-season history.

1992 Fleer Update #U-71 Jeff Reardon (99 cents)
Acquired from the BoSox on August 30, 1992, Reardon was lights out for the Braves the final month of the regular season-going 3-0 in 14 appearances (15.1 IP) and sporting a 1.021 WHIP. The veteran barely qualified for post-season play (league rules state that a player must be on the 40 man roster by September 1st, with the exception of injury replacements), and actually pitched well against the Pirates in the NLCS-throwing three innings over three games and picking up a win, while allowing no runs. Unfortunately for Braves fans, the then-career saves leader also pitched in the World Series.

After taking the first game from the Blue Jays, and leading 4-3 in the top of the ninth in game 2, Atlanta was looking to take control of the Series. The 'Terminator' came in for the save and got lead off hitter Pat Borders to line out. He then walked Derek Bell before giving up what would be the game winning home run to pinch-hitter Ed Sprague.

Reardon's last appearance in a Braves uniform would be two days later, in game three.

After Braves starter Steve Avery allowed a lead-off single to Roberto Alomar in the bottom of the ninth, reliever Mark Wohlers intentionally walked Joe Carter after Alomar stole second. Hall of Fame OFer Dave Winfield would then move Alomar and Carter up a base with a sacrifice bunt. Mike Stanton, coming in for Wohlers, set up the double play by intentionally walking game two hero Sprague. Manager Jimmy Williams, filling in for Bobby Cox (who had been tossed) brought in Reardon, who immediately went up 0-2 on Candy Maldonado with two curve balls. The third pitch was a charm for the Candy man, who was looking for, and got, yet another curve (a hanging one, at that). Maldonado stroked a  flyball to deep center to win the game, giving the Jays a two games to one lead. They would eventually win it 4-2, thanks in large part of Jeff Reardon.


1988 Score #610 Doyle Alexander (25 cents)
Trailing the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays by 1.5 games on August 12, 1987, the Detroit Tigers made a key move for their pennant run by trading a minor league prospect to the Atlanta Braves for veteran starter Doyle Alexander. The thirty-six year old Alexander would go 9-0 (with three shutouts) in eleven games down the stretch for Detroit-posting a 1.53 ERA with a 1.008 WHIP. Detroit would eventually win the division-but fail to make it to the World Series. An even bigger loss was the prospect-a man named John Smoltz. Nothing further needs to be said.






1995 Upper Deck Minors Future Stock #118 Andre King (25 cents)
Who, you might ask?

King, a second-team high school All-American his senior year, was drafted by the Braves in second round (66th pick) in the 1993 draft. Great things were expected of King after an impressive performance during his debut season in Danville, where he was named the #3 overall prospect in the Appy league.

 After moving up a level to Macon, Andre's second season was a disappointment, however. His third season, spent in Durham, saw the speedster struggle once again before he was sent to the White Sox for Mike Deveraux.

King eventually spent time in the Cardinals, Reds, and Devil Rays minor league systems before returning to the U (Miami)-where he played football. Following his collegiate career, Andre spent four season with the Cleveland Browns as a wide receiver.

1995 Topps #23 Mike Devereaux (25 cents)
The man acquired for Andre King didn't make much noise during the Braves' final month of the 1995 regular season. Limited to only 55 at-bats over twenty-nine regular season games, Devereaux still made the Braves post-season roster as a bench player.

Against the Rockies in the first ever Division Series, Mike only had five at bats- getting one hit. It was in the NLCS, though, where he engraved his name in Braves lore. Against the Reds, Devereaux hit .308 with a 10th inning game-winning RBI in game one and a three-run homer in the decisive game four- earning him MVP of the NLCS. The Braves, of course, went on to defeat the Indians for their first World Championship since 1957-and their first, and only, in Atlanta.





Final Totals: 100 cards/ $63.53
So, after spending the past month trying to 'top' Topps, I think can look at it as a successful run. I picked up cards of traded veterans, rookies, top prospects, future Hall of Famers, busts, unknowns, and not one-but two autographed cards. Who needs to spend $100 for a 100 card set? 

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