Friday, December 12, 2014

One Pack of Topps Update

This is just the second pack of 2014 baseball cards I've opened. Really my hope was to get an Oriole or a Brave, and luckily I pulled one of each. Nothing gets you excited about the hobby like cracking a pack. 

Looks like the Orioles are interested in bringing back Delmon Young. I'm in favor of this based off of this hit alone.

Avilan had a 4-1 record for the Braves in 2014 but finished with a 4.57 era in 43.1 innings, a figure far off from his previous two seasons with the Braves.

A trio of rookies in one pack, I'll take it. Chase Anderson got one vote for NL rookie of the year, finishing 10th in voting after going 9-7 with a 4.01 ERA with the Diamondbacks.

An All-Star card of Yu Darvish, a red parallel of a Giants rookie who is pegged as a utility infielder in this article, and maybe my favorite photo from the pack, of Cole Figueroa.

Seems like a solid pack to me, but mainly it was satisfying to rip it open.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kemp to the Padres

Baseball moves are happening left and right, with the Dodgers and Red Sox making the most. I mentioned visiting Dodger stadium about 10 years ago which led me to follow the team through the years. While they fall below the Orioles and Braves on my favorite teams list, I do have a few small player collections of certain Dodgers such as Shawn Green, Cesar Izturis, Paul Lo Duca, Andre Ethier, James Loney, and Matt Kemp. 

By now you've probably seen that Kemp was dealt to the Padres earlier today. I don't know much about the guys the Dodgers are getting in return, but I do know that without Kemp the Dodgers are lacking power in their lineup. It looks like the players coming in return for Kemp may not remain with the Dodgers anyway.

But as we've seen the last of Kemp in a Dodgers uniform for now, I thought I'd share some Kemp cards from my collection. 

We start off with a pretty card from Bowman's Best, #'d out of 499. The back shows some power stats from his days with Single A Columbus. In 2004 he hit one homer for every 24.9 at-bats, compared to the Single A average of 48.1 at-bats. Fun fact, Matt Kemp and I are the same height at 6 foot 4, according to this card.

Turkey Red is a favorite set of mine. I opened a box of the basketball version of this set, pulling cards of some of the all-time basketball greats. Glad to have this Kemp rookie in my collection.

Wasn't going to make it through this post without showing a card from Heritage, this one from 2007. This Heritage card says that Kemp is just 6 foot 2. Hmm.

I probably could have ordered these cards better, as now we are back to a First Year card from 2005 Topps Update. 

My favorite card of the bunch is easily this Allen & Ginter relic from 2010. Just a beautiful card, and one of the few relics in any of my baseball player collections. 

The back of this Topps 52 Kemp from 2006 notes his hot start after being called up from Jacksonville. Kemp hit .375 with 7 HRs in his first 16 games with the Dodgers. 

His totals in 9 years with the Dodgers: 182 HRs, 648 RBIs, 170 stolen bases (most of which came between 2008-2011), 1188 hits, and a .292 average. Will be strange to see him in another uniform, particularly one in the same division. 

We will see what the pieces end up bringing back to the Dodgers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Long Offseason

You may have noticed that my blogging in recent weeks has been essentially non-existent. Or maybe you haven't noticed because you just read whatever pops up on your feed. Or maybe you haven't noticed because my blog hasn't been around that long, and I imagine there are quite a few blogs that are short-lived and fade away as quickly as they appear. The truth is I've lacked the free time between work and family to slip away to work on the blog. I definitely don't plan to let this blog fall by the wayside. It's a great community of collectors and I've already been amazed at the generosity of the blogosphere.

My sports world has been bleak in the baseball off-season, with the other teams that I pull for struggling this winter. Virginia Tech football has fallen off to its worst season I can remember, the low-point being a 6-3 loss in double overtime to Wake Forest which I can sadly say I watched all of. It was a sad afternoon spent watching the game that went to overtime tied 0-0 and cleaning up our bonus room that was still cluttered with boxes and all the random stuff we didn't have a place for after a move from North Carolina last year. Virginia Tech basketball just lost to Radford at home. I don't think there's any more explanation needed there. The Indiana Pacers are struggling after losing Paul George over the summer to a horrific leg injury I still haven't watched, Lance Stephenson to free agency, and injuries to so many starters and rotation players that at times they've started games with several guys who couldn't even crack the rotation last season. The team having the most success is the Buffalo Bills who are clinging to playoff hopes at 7-6 with a quarterback who wasn't even with the team at the start of the season. It's just one of those years.

A bright spot in the baseball off-season was seeing one of my favorite Orioles go over to the Braves. I think it's a sign that I need to kick off a larger Markakis collection, which currently stands at a handful of cards.

One thing I miss about the fall and winter months is going to minor league games. The Greenville Drive are a short drive away, and it's been fun following the young Red Sox prospects. One player in particular, Mookie Betts, moved quickly through the ranks and looks to be a potential star. Another former Drive player to keep an eye on is Manuel Margot, who will likely start next season in High A Salem. has him as the 3rd ranked prospect in the organization. He definitely has speed and hits well enough to be a leadoff type guy down the road. 

I picked up my first cards of these guys recently. Was glad to see Mookie show up in the Topps Update set, more than once, in fact! I've added these guys to my wantlist under my player collections. I see that Mookie has a card in the Heritage High Numbers set. Will look to add that one next.

I can't guarantee daily blog posts anytime soon, but will certainly post more than once a month as I did in November. Can't even call that blogging.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Onwards and Heywards

The opinions I've read are mixed on the recent trade sending Heyward to the Cardinals for Shelby Miller. I'm conflicted with how I feel about it, too. They say you can never have enough good starting pitching, so I'm down with adding another young starter to the rotation. But wasn't a failure to score runs a big part in the struggle in the 2nd half for the Braves? Heyward was one of the few guys getting on base with regularity.

I admit in my recent return to the baseball card hobby that Heyward wasn't a guy I targeted for my collection (I only have two cards of his). It isn't because I don't like him as a player. He plays great defense, he hits, and seems to be a likable guy. On my list of Braves, I'd pick his cards up before Justin Upton and others. I guess my focus has been on a few guys, and mainly Freeman from the current group, because of times like this. Player movement is just so frequent that you become invested, and then they're gone. I picked up my first card of Tommy La Stella a couple weeks back, and a few days later he's traded to the Cubs.

So from a hobby perspective the Heyward trade doesn't bother me, but as a fan of the Braves, you hate to lose guys like this. I feel like a breakout is coming for Heyward on the Cardinals, and even if he doesn't sign with them long-term, that will hurt as a Braves fan. 

What's your take on the Heyward trade, and to the Cardinals fans out there, how are you feeling?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Yes, I'm Writing About Heritage Again

I was flipping through my binder, which needs to expand into three binders by the way (Braves/Orioles/Other), and I realized I only owned 3 cards from this year's Heritage release, and none of them Orioles. This. Had. To. Change. And so in my latest package from Just Commons, I got a start on an Orioles team set. 

I can't get enough of these cards, not the Orioles home uniforms, not the Orioles banner waving, not the staged poses, not even the beautiful blue sky.

First cards in the collection of Gausman, which can be expected as he only appeared in the majors starting in 2013. But J.J. Hardy? I guess I didn't see Hardy as someone who would be sticking around, but with a three year extension, appears I was wrong.

I like Heritage so much I couldn't stop at the major league release. I had to dip into the Heritage Minors set as well, picking up my first card of Tommy La Stella, Atlanta's likely second baseman going into next year. La Stella was 2nd on the team in average with runners in scoring position in 2014, second only to Jayson Heyward, per this article.

Christian Walker got some at bats in Septembers for the Orioles, after playing 95 games in AA Bowie and 44 games for AAA Norfolk. He hit a combined 26 homers in the minors and looks promising.

I've got my eye on some other cards from the Heritage Minors set, so those may show up here on the blog soon. La Stella also has a card in 2014 Update.

Something tells me I'm not done with the 2014 Heritage set yet.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bowman Chrome Card Backs

In previous posts I've ranked Topps Heritage as my top base set for 2014, and with the season coming to a close, chances are slim that Heritage will be topped. If I had to rank card backs though, 2014 Bowman Chrome would best that list.

I admit that the Orioles playoff run has led me to favor them slightly in my recent pickups over my other wants, and I think it's understandable. A recent lot of Bowman Chrome from Just Commons reflects that tendency.

The away Orioles uniforms are my favorite in baseball right now, followed by the Braves alternate navy uniforms. So that's led me to go after some team sets for this memorable O's squad. Let's start with the guys that played in the playoffs.

And the guys I wish could have played against the Royals.

Now for those card backs I was referring to. Stats are nice, but graphics combined with stats are where it's at.

Maybe my favorite graphic on these card backs, the Spray Chart. Look at all those arrows for Chris Davis, showing all 53 of his HRs from 2013. Looks like the most went to right center.

Schoop, being a rookie, gets minor league organizational ranks, stats compared the average, and some 'insight', which is a random stat. So this card back would suggest that Schoop has some power despite batting near the bottom of the O's order this season.

And for Machado we see how he hit against left and right handers in 2013. Look at those averages up and in!

While I've been focusing on Orioles lately, I'm still picking up non-Orioles that fit in my Braves and player collections. Really excited to see what Alex Wood will do in 2015.

Freeman basically feasted on right handed pitching in 2013 based on the right graphic.

And my second favorite back behind the HR spray chart, the strikeout chart for Kershaw. Look at all those swinging strikeouts against the curve.

Very impressed with these card backs, and the fronts aren't bad either. This moves Bowman Chrome into 2nd on my 2014 set rankings. Here's the top 5...

1. Topps Heritage
2. Bowman Chrome
3. Gypsy Queen
4. Allen & Ginter
5. Topps Chrome

I moved Ginter above Topps Chrome after getting a lot of Ginter in recently.

NBA season starts tonight, coinciding with the potential World Series clinching game, and although the NBA kickoff may not excite too many of you out there in the baseball card realm, it's one of my favorite times of year. I am expecting the excitement to wear off fairly quick this year, as it looks like the Pacers will be mediocre this season. Good luck to whoever you're cheering for tonight, whether it be baseball or basketball!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hokie Hokie Hokie Hahn

Well, the early season enthusiasm around the Virginia Tech football program has cooled down considerably over the last few weeks, and particularly after the Hokies lost 30-6 to Miami on Thursday night. It was probably the most pathetic performance I've seen from the Hokies since I really started following the team closely when I started school there in 2004. And so in this post I'm not going to talk about former Hokie football players, but on an up-and-coming major league pitcher, Jesse Hahn.

Hahn pitched for the Hokies from 2008-2010, striking out 76 batters in 73 innings in his final season. Hahn's first season happened to line up with my senior year at Tech, when I realized I'd been missing out on some great baseball my first three years, and so I tried to cram as many games in as I could. So many great teams in the ACC year to year, and take a look at the All-Tournament team from 2008. Yonder Alonso, Jemile Weeks, Buster Posey, Matt Harvey. So what if the Hokies finished 6-24 in conference play that year.

The Rays took Hahn in the 6th round of the 2010 draft, and traded him to the Padres in January of this year.

Back in July my family took in a Braves game against the San Diego Padres. I was disappointed in the days leading up to the game, as I thought we were going to miss Hahn pitching by a day. Luckily the lineup was adjusted and we were treated to a pitching matchup of Jesse Hahn and Alex Wood. Wood didn't have his best game, but the Braves couldn't get anything going against Hahn, who gave up just 1 run and 3 hits in 6 solid innings.

All of this to explain why Jesse Hahn appears to show up randomly on my want list. These three are the first of his I've added to my collection, and sadly even though the first card is from 2010 and the Bowman are from 2013, they appear to be the same image with some photoshopping. Disappointing, but it looks promising for Hahn getting more cards in the future. I was hoping for Topps Update, but it didn't happen. Maybe next year's Topps release?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Slide Into It- Triple Play 97

I've always enjoyed sports video games. Any sport, I like them all. When my parents gave me a playstation when I was 10 or so, one of the first games I picked up was Triple Play 97.  To this day it still might be my favorite sports video game.

Tony Gwynn graced the cover, a 12 time all-star at that point in his career. 

Here's a video of the gameplay from Triple Play 97. I still don't think you can beat the simple gameplay. I enjoyed competing in the Home Run Derby mode with my dad, us each picking a team of sluggers from the time, among them Mark McGwire, Griffey, Albert Belle, Andres Galarraga, Sheffield, Sosa, Frank Thomas, etc... The fun part for us was you could move the batter around the batter's box, even while the pitch was on the way. So we were able to slide forward into the pitch while taking a power swing for even more power. Fun times!

I recently picked up MLB the Show 13 for Playstation 3 to get my baseball video game fix. My oh my how games have changed since the first baseball game on my original playstation.

While the graphics are obviously superb, the gameplay isn't all that different on the most basic modes. Maybe it's time to pull out the old playstation and play some home run derby. Slide into it! 

What are your favorite sports video games?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mini Christmas in October

Do you ever open a package or a pack of cards and feel like you're 10 years old again? Maybe that's every package or pack of cards for you, or maybe it happens every once in awhile. Sometimes I get caught up thinking about what I'm supposed to open versus what I could open, and that takes away from my enjoyment of this great hobby.

One of those throwback 10 year-old moments happened to me yesterday when I opened a package from Duane, who collects A&G minis and tracks his wantlists and trades on his blog, Democratic Roadkill.

It's going to take me awhile to return the favor after such an awesome package. It'll also take me several posts to cover what Duane sent. Despite the title of this post, I'll start with the full-size cards.

First up some masterpieces of Cal. The first is from 2008 Upper Deck while the last two are from 2007. Why put the 2008 card first, you ask? I misread the year on the 2008 card. I collected a number of masterpieces from the 2009-10 Upper Deck basketball insert set, and these look pretty similar in design. I've always thought these cards were underrated, and it was nice to see several of one of my favorite baseball players. Of the three, I prefer the 2008 Cal.

You all are familiar with the 2014 Ginter design I am sure, as well as the Pastime's Pastimes insert set. I am pleased to add a card of Orioles 2nd baseman Jonathan Schoop (pronounced 'Scope', if by chance you are unaware) to my collection. Adam Jones has a pastime of Philanthropist. The card back tells how Jones earned a key to the city for his work with Baltimore youth. Chris Davis spends his time at the gym.

Moving on to the great stack of cards from 2013 A&G. A few members of the 2014 AL East Champion Orioles. Wei-Yin Chen had a fine season going 16-6 with a 3.54 era. Although Chen was the losing pitcher in game 3 of the ALCS, can't fault his performance, giving up 2 runs in 5 innings. Could have used both of the other two guys in the lineup for sure.

Next up some Braves legends, including my first cards of Warren Spahn and Phil Niekro. In a trip to Turner Field over the summer, seeing statues of these three greats was a treat. My dad's also a big Spahn fan. 

And another all-timer along with two current Braves. It will be nice to see Medlen back in the rotation next season (one can hope!). Kimbrel was a treat to watch in 2014 and one of the bright spots for the Braves as they struggled post All-Star break. 

Rounding out the full-size cards for this post are a couple of Kershaws, one from 2012 and one from 2013, and a Grady Sizmore. My favorite out of the three is by far the 2013 Kershaw. I assume that is his dreaded curveball.

These minis from 2012 Topps, using the design from the 87 Topps set, might be my favorite group of cards from this post. Neat to see different Orioles logos used for the current and former players. Nice job on these, Topps!

These minis are new to me, Kimball champions from 2011 Topps Update. Zach Britton went 11-11 in 2011 as a starter, a pretty good record given his 4.61 era and that the Orioles only won 69 games that year. And we have Vlad Guerrero in his final season and only as an Oriole. I assume each card from this set has a checklist on the back as these two do. Now that I'm up to three (recently received the Markakis in a trade package as well), why not go for the whole Orioles team set?

More minis coming in a future post. Thank you Duane, what a treat to open this package from you!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Orioles Stack from the Commish

Within a few days of starting by blog back in August, Bob from The Five Tool Collector was the first to welcome me to the blogosphere. I enjoy reading Bob's daily posts on the Orioles and the impressive collection he's built. The other day I received a package from Bob and I knew it would be filled with some neat Orioles, and I was right.

Eddie Murray, one of my favorite all-time Orioles, made up the majority of the package, which I was thrilled about since I have very few Murray cards in my collection. All of these are great Topps designs. Hard to pick a favorite as there are parts of each card that I like. I think the 85 Topps design on the right is my favorite, mainly because I can't see enough of that Orioles logo.

Here we have Murray cards from 1982 Fleer and Topps. I'd say the Topps card wins this battle. Appreciate seeing an action shot of Murray at the plate. First thing I noticed about the Fleer card was the difference in surface texture from the Topps cards I received. Basically all of these cards reinforce Murray's nickname, Steady Eddie, as all of them are solid.

Up next, a few cards of Oriole great Brooks Robinson. Interesting fact I didn't know about Brooks until recently, he's a natural left-hander but threw and batted righty. Being left handed myself I should take offense to this, but who am I to argue with 16 gold gloves, 18 all-star appearances, 2 world series championships, MVP awards of all kinds (World Series, Regular Season, All-Star), and Hall of Fame Membership?

Both of these Topps designs are great. What I'm getting at is I don't have a bad thing to say about any of the older Topps designs. I can't get enough of any year. Which means I will probably end up adding some of the 70s and 80s Orioles and Braves team sets to my wantlist. Really like the color from the 1976 version.

Finishing out the package, we've got an early Cal card and an Opening Day Andruw Jones, both cards new to me. 

Great stuff, Bob. Thanks again for the welcome and for the stack of cards! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pulled Over for Too Fast a Fastball

Was going through a stack of Braves when I found this card from 1996 Score of one of my favorite Braves relievers, Mark Wohlers. As with any Braves player who moved through the minor league system, I must mention his time in Richmond from 1991-93. He pitched for 24 saves over those seasons, making 75 appearances. In 91 he had an ERA of 1.03 in 23 appearances and in 93 an ERA of 1.84 in 25 appearances.

This card looks like it wants to be a die-cut, if you notice the edge of the photo, next to the name on the right side. A radar rating is the perfect subset for Wohlers, who has the 3rd fastest recorded pitch in baseball history at 103 mph.

Look at that hair! No surprise that one of the common search terms on google under 'm' for Wohlers is 'Mark Wohlers mullet'. Also 'meltdown', but we'll ignore that one.

Wohlers spent several years as a set-up man for the Braves until 1995, when he became the closer. He has 119 saves for his career, including 39 in his only All-Star season in 1996.

Additionally Wohlers appeared on a Saturday Night Live episode in 1997 with 13 other MLB players for a skit called 'Baseball Dreams'. If anyone can find a video of this, I would love to watch it. Helen Hunt hosted the episode and Hanson was the musical guest, singing 'MMMBop'. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Chipper Stack

My second largest player collection behind Ryan Klesko so far is likely Chipper Jones. I have a large stack of cards of his from the late 90s, early 2000s. He won the NL MVP in 1999, so I guess it makes sense that a lot of the cards I have of Chipper are from that time. It's rare to see a player stick with one team through his whole career these days, and Chipper was able to do that for 19 seasons with the Braves. 

Here are some of my favorites from the stack.

I appreciate this Vintage '61 from 1999 Fleer Tradition, made to look like 1961 Fleer. And honestly before seeing this card I didn't know that Fleer made sets that early on. Pretty good design for that early on. From reading, the original 1961 set featured players from baseball's history, from the 1800s to current players from that time. Would be neat to own a card from the original set.

I can check off the Chipper Jones from my 1999 Fleer Ultra team set wantlist. While the action shot of Chipper doesn't make the Andruw, it's still a nice looking card.

The backgrounds of these Ionix cards from Upper Deck just don't scan well, but I thought it did well enough to post here. A nice shot of Chipper's post swing.

The first card in this row is an insert from 2007 insert called Flashback Fridays. Maybe I should have saved talking about this set till a Friday, because I also have the Rafael Furcal from this set. From what I can find online, it looks like there were blasters of 2007 Topps that included 5 cards from this set as a 'starter'. Maybe someone who remembers can fill me in. This card really does have a flashback feel, as the back mentions this is part of a series on famous ballplayers, and each card has a tip on inside baseball. Sounds like something written on an older card to me.

This 2000 Topps Finest is one of my favorite Chipper cards, but it just didn't scan well. The background is supposed to be light blue and it of course is chrome-y. The background also has 1999 NL MVP written all over it, which you can't really tell in the scan. I had to include a card that mentions Chipper's MVP award. 

This card from 2003 Upper Deck Vintage might be my favorite in this stack. I always enjoy seeing the Braves throwback uniforms, and this card looks pretty close to the design of 2014 Topps Heritage, which I've already ranked #1 on my list of 2014 set releases, and of course looks like 1965 Topps. Interesting how Upper Deck was able to produce cards that look like an old Topps set. I am assuming there was some kind of deal made there, right?

Finally, a card with one of my all-time favorite Braves and my current favorite Brave, Freddie Freeman! Pretty cool to see them featured on the same card, this one from 2010 Bowman. The card points out how Chipper hit at least 20 home runs each season from 1995 through 2008. Pretty impressive.

2010 was the year Freeman made his major league debut. More hype surrounded Jason Heyward at the time than Freeman, but Freeman also looked very promising. I'm hoping Freeman will model Chipper in staying on with the Braves for his whole career.

Friday, September 26, 2014

More Sizmore

I mentioned in an earlier post how Grady Sizemore has landed on my wantlist. Since I am just getting into the baseball card hobby after a long absence, many of the cards I end up searching for and picking up are ones from sets I've seen on other blogs.

Recently I've seen others in the blogosphere post cards in a mini relic set from 2011 Topps Lineage. I think these relics look sharp and so I looked at the checklist to see if any of my guys show up in the set. Several of them do, and there are some impressive names on the checklist, including both current and retired players. The most affordable out of the guys I collect seems to be Mr. Sizemore, which I picked up on ebay recently.

This set, made to look like 1975 Topps, is gigantic with 99 different players included. Would be impressive to see this set put together. I'll settle with picking up a few of my favorites, starting with Sizemore.

His batting average since I last posted about him has sadly dropped to .248, and he is no longer starting in the outfield every day. More like every 3rd or 4th game. After solid months in July and August, Sizemore is hitting just .075 in September. Hopefully he gets out of the slump before the season ends. Really I just hope this isn't the end of Sizmore's major league career. Surely a team will take a chance on him to start next season.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wall of Fame

In modern card sets most of us are pretty accustomed to seeing relics, and while they are fun to pull, they aren't nearly as scarce as they used to be.

One of the most unique cards in my collection has to be this Wall of Fame insert from 2001 Fleer E-X. How many sets in the history of baseball cards have a piece of an actual ballpark wall? This is the only one I'm aware of.

Definitely looks like an E-X design. The die-cut seems unnecessary but it makes it seem like puzzle-piece, which is kinda cool. I like the headshot and action shot on the same card. I am thinking though a picture of Jones fielding the ball in the outfield would have been more fitting. These are minor complaints though as this is an awesome set and card.

Something interesting I noticed when I pulled this card out to scan was the 'Game Dated' stamp on the back of this card. These appear to be the stats for Andruw Jones on the date listed, an 11-2 win for the Braves over the Brewers. Looking up the box score on baseball reference, Jones did indeed go 4 for 5 with 3 runs scored and an RBI. His RBI came in the top of the 3rd inning off of Brewers pitcher Jimmy Haynes. What I'm wondering about this Game Dated stamp is- was the piece of wall taken on this day? I would assume that it was. If not, what is the significance of this date?

Pretty neat card. I know there's a Cal on the checklist. Pulling this Andruw Jones out now has me on the lookout for the Ripken. What's the most interesting relic card in your collection?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Backstop Stack, Part 2

Last time I started showing off a stack of cards that Marcus from All the Way to the Backstop. I hit some of my favorites from the older sets, and this time I'll look at some of the more recent cards.

A nice start to a Mike Minor collection, with this year's Bowman, a Topps Chrome Refractor (yes!!) and a Blue parallel. Mike has rebounded somewhat from a miserable start to the season, putting together a string of quality starts from mid-August to mid-September. Overall though a season to forget for Mike. Hopefully 2015 will be better!

Marcus also set some sweet Craig Kimbrel cards. All of these are awesome, but my favorite is probably the Hometown parallel from this year's Bowman set. I need to pick up some more of these. Maybe a Braves hometown team set should be added to the wantlist. The Allen & Ginter is my first ever ripped card.

Next up an array of cards of some other current Braves. While I'm honestly not a fan of the inserts from this year's Topps, I'm glad to add any card of Freeman to my collection.

Bethancourt appears to be a promising catcher, great defensively. He's getting some playing time currently for the major league club with the Braves out of the playoff race and he is hitting pretty well.

And lastly a Heritage Blue parallel of one of my favorite pitchers, Julio Teheran. I've said on multiple posts that I really enjoy this heritage set, and why would a blue parallel be any different?

While Marcus included a good number of current Braves, he also included a couple of the recently retired Chipper Jones. I particularly enjoy the Stadium Club card from 1994 showing the date from his major league debut. The back of the card mentions his time in AAA Richmond. I enjoy seeing the references to Richmond.

Rounding out my favorites from the package are a few current Orioles. Even with Chris recently suspended, I'll still cheer for him when he comes back because of things like this.

Markakis has been one of my favorite Orioles for years. This season's he's in a leadoff role, and while it isn't his best season statistically, I'd say he's been a big part of the team's success this year.

Thanks again, Marcus! I've got a stack of cards ready to be sent off to you.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Backstop Stack

One of the first blogs I started following when I caught the hobby bug earlier this summer was a Padres blog called All the Way to the Backstop. The other day Marcus was nice enough to mention my blog in a post about Ryan Klesko, whom I have written about here and here previously.

Marcus was nice enough to send me a large stack of Braves spanning several decades with a few Orioles thrown in as well. The stack was tall enough that it's going to take more than one post to go through them all.

First up, a nice start to a Dale Murphy collection, a player that I surprisingly had no cards of prior to this package.

Some awesome oddballs that are all new to me. First up a card from Kay-Bee Toys. It took me a minute to realize that it was in fact the toy store, as I was accustomed to seeing it as KB in my childhood. These sets were produced from 1986 to 1990. The Murphy is from 1989.

The Cap'n Crunch card is from a 1989 set as well. By this point Murphy was past the prime of his career. Interesting how the KayBee card shows a Braves logo while the Cap'n Crunch does not. Looks like they had a license from the MLBPA only.

The Quaker Chewy card is one of the few cards where I've seen the card number on the front of the card. I appreciate seeing the Quaker Man on the front of the card, as well.

Out of the three backs, I appreciate the Quaker Chewy back the most, particularly the Career Highlights section. Storing my cards in binders, I appreciate when I don't have to turn the binder to read the card backs.

More Murphy cards, the first cards from each of these sets for me. I actually quite like the O-Pee-Chee design from 1984. The card on the right has writing in both English and French. Having taken French in high school, I appreciated seeing both languages on the back to be able to refresh my memory on some French I've forgotten over the years.

Marcus also included what is likely a team set from 1990 Donruss. I chose to scan my three favorites from the group, featuring a young Glavine and Smoltz. Both had only been in the majors a few years at this point, and I appreciated seeing their minor league statistics in combination with their major league statistics on the back of these cards.

Lastly for this post, Marcus sent a card from 1989 Topps, as well as a 2014 Topps Die-Cut 89 Mini. Kinda neat to see them side by side. Acker played ten years in the majors primarily as a relief pitcher, spending time with the Blue Jays, Braves, and Mariners. He did start 32 games in his career and win 33 games with a 3.97 ERA.

Finally, the first card in my Braves collection of outfielder Justin Upton. Upton's had a solid season for Atlanta, hitting .271 with 27 home runs and a career high 97 RBIs, while primarily batting cleanup. Upton has one more year on his contract before he becomes a free-agent, it appears.  I've posted about these minis before, and I while I like the full size card from the original set, I can see what Topps was thinking when they made the die-cuts. Topps essentially eliminated the while space from the original card, which I'm in favor of. I guess you can say I've changed my tune somewhat on these.

Thanks, Marcus for the great group of cards! This was only a small portion of what was sent, and I'll share more in future posts!