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!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jeter Against the Orioles

This will be one of the few Yankee related posts you'll see on this blog, but if I'm going to post on any Yankee, it may as well be one that has certainly represented Major League Baseball with class, Derek Jeter.

Jeter has likely taken his last swing in Camden Yards. his possible last at-bat coming in the 8th inning Sunday night in a 3-2 loss against the Orioles and Andrew Miller.  He went 0-4 in the game, but finished his career at Camden Yards with 184 hits, most from any visiting player.  Funny enough, Kelly Johnson, who's already played for the Yankees and Red Sox this season, had the walk-off hit for the Orioles. It seems unlikely that the Yankees make the playoffs at this point and the odds are even slimmer that the Orioles and Yankees meet in them.

When I was younger I received a complete set of 1993 Upper Deck as a gift, probably a birthday or Christmas present, I can't recall. One of the better cards in the set is Jeter's rookie card, although I don't think it's worth as much now as it once was.

Looks like some of the other prospects include Carlos Delgado, Cliff Floyd, Manny Ramirez, and Charles Johnson. Pretty good group when you add Jeter as well. I appreciate the simplicity of these cards.

One of the few Yankee cards I am glad to keep a part of my collection. As the fans at Camden Yards did over the weekend, I applaud Jeter for a great career.

Back to non-Yankee posts tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

More Ripken Stacks

While the Braves are now below .500, the Orioles have kept on winning despite injuries and suspensions and are now division champs for the first time since 1997! And so, in honor of this, I'll post and talk about some of my favorite Ripken cards!

Turkey Red was one of my favorite basketball sets from the mid-2000s and I was pleased to come across this one in my stack of Cal cards. Just a unique set.

The card in the center from 2000 Upper Deck Ovation did not scan very well, but it's a cool design with most of the card being taken up by a baseball with a different texture there from the rest of the card.

If there's a player that belongs in a Pure Grit insert set, it's Cal. Not sure if I've mentioned this, but I also like shiny cards, and this insert is shiny, even if you can't tell from the scan.

Continuing the trend of cards that didn't scan well, this Piece of the Game insert from 1998 Pinnacle Plus mostly talks about Lou Gehrig on the back.

This 2000 Prism card actually scanned very well. The back of the card wastes so much space, as only one year of stats appears on the back. Cool card for sure, though.

And another favorite Topps brand, Gold Label. Just a great design and a card that I think I picked up at a card show back in the day. The card mentions one game against the Braves in June of 1999 where Cal scored 5 runs, the first time he'd managed that feat in his career.

On to the last row! This Flair Greats design isn't one of my favorite, but how can I not like a card picturing Cal from the early days of his career. I appreciate a card back that has a lot of stat, and this one has 16 years of stats, missing just the early years of his career.

This 1999 Revolution card scanned decently, but the gold and white really looks great with the Orioles uniforms.

And finally the card that I may as well not even post since it scanned so poorly, an insert from Fleer Focus called 'Focal Points', in case you can't read it in the scan (which you probably can't). This card has an orange background which you can't see in the scan, and goes nicely with the black Orioles uniform. I enjoy lesser known tidbits on the backs of cards, but this card tells about his home run total (over 400), hit total (over 3,000), and his two gold glove awards.

Getting close to documenting all the Ripken cards in my collection. More to post about soon!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

This is What Massive Power Looks Like...

...according to the 1995 Emotion card for Ryan Klesko.

Seeing as this is my largest baseball player collection and I need to get my havelist up to date and into pages and out of stacks, I will continue to share some of my favorites as I go.

First up we have the horizontal cards, starting with the already mentioned 1995 Emotion set.  All three of these cards scanned great and have good color, especially the Emotion.  The Emotion card brings up a fact you may not know about Klesko, that he is a former pitcher. He pitched at Westminister (Calif.) High School, and an arm injury sustained while pitching for the USA Junior Olympic team halted his pitching career. This AJC article from 2011 mentions if not for this injury he may have been drafted as a pitcher.

As I've mentioned I always enjoy cards where players are signing autographs for fans.  Klesko's autograph should be an affordable one I can add to my collection someday.

I have at least 6 copies of this 1999 Topps Klesko, which means I should show off at least one of them on this blog post, right? The fun fact from this card back reads that Klesko hit a home-run against St. Louis that allowed Atlanta to break the 1941 Brooklyn Dodgers record for most consecutive games with a homer, the 25th straight game for Atlanta. I love baseball cards for these type of facts.

And that concludes the Braves portion of the post.

This is the only black and white card in my Klesko collection. This is another set I will likely want a team-set of Braves and Orioles from. The second card... well I just enjoy Topps Heritage.

Here we have different post-swings from Klesko. Looks like he hit both of these balls in the air. I'm going to assume they were both home-runs. The 2001 Topps Opening Day notes that Klesko led baseball in stolen bases among first baseman in 2000, stealing 23 bases. Impressive for a power hitter.

And lastly one of my favorite die cut sets from 2003 Upper Deck Standing O. Despite this being a tiny card, the die cut still has room for three years of stats and a lengthy write-up on the back. 

One of these days I'll have my full Klesko collection listed!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sizemore in Boston

As I mentioned in my first post on this blog, my wife and I took in a Red Sox game against the Twins on our honeymoon in Boston back in June.  Rubby De La Rosa, a promising young Red Sox starter, gave up just 1 hit in 7 innings to help the Red Sox get a 1-0 win, the only run scored on a sac fly from Mike Napoli.

While at Fenway we decided to pick up some souvenirs for ourselves as well as family and friends. We both decided to get a player t-shirt.  I advised my wife to get a Dustin Pedroia shirt, a safe pick. His contract with the Sox runs through 2021, and even if he leaves Boston in the near future, he's had a great career with the Red Sox.  We had also seen a shirt earlier in the evening that said 'Pedroia the Destroia', which made my wife feel good about this pick.

For my shirt, I wanted to get a shirt that less people would own, but I also wanted a player that I was familiar with, a player that I liked.  Well I saw the name Sizemore up on the wall, and that was a name I knew and a player I liked from his days in Cleveland.  I knew he was coming back from some injury troubles, but I remembered he had won a spot as a starting outfielder to start the season and had started off pretty well.  I did note that he wasn't in the lineup for the game we were currently attending, but I figured he was just getting a night off and we might see him as a pinch hitter later on. While what I knew his about his early season start was true, what I didn't realize was that he was hitting .216 on the season and had played his last game for Boston the day before.  

For those of you keeping track, here is the timeline:

Sunday, June 15th- Grady Sizemore plays his last game for Boston, going 0-4 with a walk and a strikeout.
Monday, June 16th- My wife and I attend a Red Sox game, where I purchase a Grady Sizemore t-shirt.
Tuesday, June 17th- Grady Sizemore is designated for assignment.

Ouch.  And so I present my Sizemore Red Sox #38 shirt.  I'd say I got what I wanted, a pretty unique shirt.

I'm pleased to report, however, that Sizemore is hitting .283 through 48 games for the Phillies since being cut by the Red Sox. 

Is this story reason enough to add Grady Sizemore as a player I collect? I think so.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

First Team Set Want list - 1999 Ultra

I've enjoyed collecting Ultra sets over the years, and although I don't have a desire to pick up complete sets, Braves and Orioles team sets give me a taste of set collecting without picking up hundreds of cards.

Last month I posted about a stack of Andruw Jones cards in my collection, one of which is from 1999 Ultra where he has jumped up onto the wall.  Not only do I like the action shot in this card, but the text on this card as well.  I've decided 1999 Ultra will be the first team set I go after, for both the Orioles and Braves.  Here are the team checklists per


1 Greg Maddux
17 Walt Weiss
25 Andruw Jones
48 Andres Galarraga
71 Tony Graffanino
156 Chipper Jones
187 Michael Tucker
203 Denny Neagle
217 Greg Maddux Season CROWNS SP
242 Bruce Chen PROSPECTS SP
247 George Lombard PROSPECTS SP

The only one I can mark off the list is the Andruw Jones.  All others will go onto the What I Collect page.  My only complaint with this checklist- where are Glavine and Smoltz, while Denny Neagle shows up on the checklist instead?  

I would just say I'll go after a different year instead, but this is my favorite Ultra design.  Plus, the Orioles checklist for this year is great.


16 Brady Anderson
83 Cal Ripken, Jr.
96 Mike Mussina
105 Scott Erickson
114 Eric Davis
123 Armando Benitez
143 Rafael Palmeiro
177 Roberto Alomar
213 Cal Ripken, Jr. CL
243 Ryan Minor PROSPECTS SP

Two Ripken cards, Alomar, Mussina, and a personal favorite of mine, Scott Erickson.  Was this team particularly great on the field, no they weren't.  But it's a team I enjoyed watching in my childhood, and that's good enough for me.  The only guy missing here that I feel like should have been included is B.J. Surhoff.

So I will be looking to pick up Braves and Orioles from this set, and likely other Ultra sets in the future (2004 and 2005 Ultra are my other favorites).

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bowman Platinum and My First Ever 2014 Set Rankings

Generally I like shiny cards, especially ones of my favorite players. That's why I decided to add a few cards from 2014 Bowman Platinum in my recent Just Commons order.

And honestly, the lack of color on the design with a blurry background leaves me feeling 'meh' on these cards. They do look slightly better in person than they scan, because of course they are shiny. And of course I am glad to add any cards of these guys to my collection, but I feel like this is a base set that's missing what makes cards appealing to me, good action shots where you can see more than just the player, and/or more color.

And here we have the backs of the cards, with minimal stats and the metallic look.

I realized while scanning these cards that I've developed a sort of internal ranking on the 2014 base sets as I've picked up at least a few base cards from a lot of them. So of course I feel like I should share these rankings with you. I am only going to include sets that I have actually picked up cards from. We're going from least favorite to favorite here.

8) Donruss - No logos, no likey. Donruss comes in last.

7) Bowman Platinum - For the reason's I've listed in this post, but at least these have team logos.

6) Topps Archives - I like some of these, but they have several different designs in the same base set. I'd rather Topps just stick to one design and go with it for that year. Maybe I'm alone on that.

5) Topps - Affordable, lots of players, and I like the design just fine.  I think 2015 Topps will come in higher on the rankings.

4) Allen & Ginter - I guess A&G comes in next. It was fun to read all the box break posts while not spending much on it myself. I don't know that this year's is my favorite Ginter design, but I like the unique cards that show up in the set.

3) Topps Chrome - I've already written about how much I enjoy Chrome. I like shiny base cards and I like any and all versions of refractors. I've still yet to pick up a refractor or base cards of my favorite players. I need to fix this!

2) Gypsy Queen - I enjoy this set each year and I think it would rank near the top in just about any year. I think the color in these cards is why I like it so much.

1) Topps Heritage - My favorite set every year. About the time I started this blog, I looked back through a box of all the baseball cards in my collection, and about a fourth of them are probably from Heritage sets over the years. I've bought more packs of Heritage sets over the years than any other, and 2014 might be my favorite base set yet. So it comes in at the top of my list.

And there you have it, my personal 2014 set rankings!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What a Wonderful Card

I was going through a stack of random Braves cards when I came across the following card of a former Braves minor leaguer.

Wonderful Terrific Monds III.  What a name.  Now some of you might be familiar with this minor leaguer who was drafted in the 50th round and played at all levels of the Braves minor league system between 1993 and 1997 before moving over to the Rockies minor league system, but he was new to me.  Wonderful is the son of former San Francisco 49er, Wonder Monds (Wonderful Jr.).  His grandfather was given the name when he was the first male born after a string of girls, which was  "wonderful, just terrific", per this baseball reference page.

It appears Monds has a number of cards between 1995 and 1997.  One of these is from the 1997 Fleer Ultra set, which I expect to collect a team set of Braves from.  Looks like I'll be adding at least one more Wonderful card to my collection in the future.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kershaw's Possible MVP Season

Clayton Kershaw is 18-3 with a 1.67 ERA.  How ridiculous is that?  Pretty much every pitching stat is a career best for him this season, and he's only 26 years old.  His win/loss percentage is .857

When looking at the all-time best ERAs for a season, Kershaw's 2014 campaign shows up 79th on that list, which sounds good, but when you take out anyone pre-1968, you get a number of seasons you can count on one hand with some room to spare.

Kershaw has been a pleasure to watch this season, and every season for that matter, and he's why I tune in to watch the Dodgers at least every 5th day, even if it's not live, and even if I'm doing something else with the game on in the background.  

It also makes me wonder why more collectors don't seem to value Kershaw like they value other stars like Trout.  Is it a position player/pitcher thing?  I'm OK with it as a Kershaw collector, by the way, just don't really understand it.

Here are some of the first Kershaw cards I added to my collection, all 2014 versions.  My favorite is the 2014 Heritage.  I will definitely be putting some team sets together from Heritage.  This is probably my favorite set from 2014 so far, even ahead of the shiny Chrome.

Here's a 2013 die-cut insert from Bowman Platinum that I picked up in a batch of cards from Just Commons recent.  The back of this one talks about Kershaw developing a slider that has turned into his best offspeed pitch.  Could it be his curveball now?  

I heard Kershaw talk to Colin Cowherd recently on the radio and he seems to be a humble guy who really has not let success get to his head.  It was also interesting to hear about his routine and how he prepares.  You can listen to the interview at this link.  Of course I'll be cheering for the Braves to make the playoffs and go far, the Orioles to go far, but if both of those teams come up short, I'll be cheering for Kershaw and the Dodgers to win a championship.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

An Uxpected Wonderful Football Weekend

I'm veering from my typical baseball post to share my joy from the weekend with you.  This won't happen all that often, but as I used to write a basketball blog and enjoy college and NFL football, an occasional post on another sport might slip in from time to time.

This past weekend the unexpected happened. My alma mater Virginia Tech upset the then 8th ranked Ohio State.  This would have been enough as this was as big a win for the Hokies as any they've had since I started school there in 2004. But my favorite NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, also upset the heavily favored Chicago Bears, both games on the road!  In honor of these wins, I want to share with you some of my Hokies and Bills collections.  Today I'll start with part of my Hokies collection!  Get excited!

I definitely won't cover every single Hokie that's played in the NFL here.  Sadly I have no cards of Bruce Smith and a few of the more recent Hokies in the NFL (Tyrod Taylor, David Wilson, Logan Thomas).  Most of the collection focuses on players who were there when I was in school, and some the years leading up to that.

First up we've got Corey Moore, defensive end who had 35 career sacks, and was an All-American and won the Bronko Nagurski award for college football's best defensive player in 1999.  I love this card because Corey happened to get drafted by the Bills in the 3rd round.  He didn't have a long NFL career, sadly.

We've also got Andre Davis who played receiver, scoring a touchdown in the 2000 national championship game for the Hokies against Florida State.  A great punt returner as well.  The Hokies went 39-5 while Davis played for the Hokies.  He was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2002 draft and also played for the Buffalo Bills in 2006.

Last, one of my favorite Hokies, Ernest Wilford.  He left Virginia Tech as the Hokies all-time leader in receptions.  He had a great pro career, mainly with the Jacksonville Jaguars, scoring 14 touchdowns for his career.

Next up, a great Hokie running back, Kevin Jones.  He paired with another Hokie back Lee Suggs to form a ferocious running back combo, called 'The Untouchables'.  KJ was drafted in the first round of the 2004 draft by the Detroit Lions.  He had a great rookie season but struggled with injuries during his pro career.

Another favorite of mine, the first defensive back featured here, DeAngelo Hall.  DHall did some of everything while at Virginia Tech, scoring touchdowns on offense, defense, and special teams.  He was 2nd-team All American in 2002.  Hall is still playing for the Washington Redskins and is a 3-time pro bowler.

In a future post I'll share more of my Hokies collection, showing off some autographs.  Tomorrow I'll be back with a baseball post.  

Monday, September 8, 2014

The New Donruss Set

A recent Donruss basketball release from Panini is actually one of my all-time favorite basketball sets, believe it or not. If you're curious, check out a link to the set checklist and images.  I opened several boxes and found some great cards, nicely designed base cards and rookies, creative inserts, and a box with relics of Magic Johnson and John Stockton.  So when I noticed Panini has put out Donruss baseball sets, I expected a similar result.  I've read some not so positive reviews of this product, but I was able to pick up some cards of my favorite players on the cheap.

These three actually look pretty good, the Orioles in particular.  The orange on the sides at least distinguish these cards from those of other teams.  The 'Baltimore' text at least resembles what is written on the Orioles away jerseys.  Now that I'm looking at them closer, I can get behind these three.

The two Freeman base cards look pretty similar from Series 1 to Series 2.  There's also no red at all in these cards, which makes these not actually look like Braves cards.

Same photos from the cards above.  But the things that I liked about some of the base cards, the colors, don't show up in the Donruss Elite cards.

While this set doesn't compare to the basketball Donruss release, I appreciated adding cards of my favorite players to my collection.  Looking at a checklist and insert images, some of the inserts do look more enticing, the Diamond Kings insert for example. Now to add that Freddie Freeman insert to my collection!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Old Friends and New Friends

I appreciate a set where I can collect both current and retired players from my want list.  2014 Gypsy Queen is one of those sets.

Here we've got the new.  One of the guys helping to carry what little offense the Braves are mustering these days.  Freeman is leading the Braves in batting average, on-base percentage and hits.  If he can add 2 more home runs to his total he will have hit at least 20 home runs in each of his full seasons in the majors.  I tried to see who else may have accomplished this but apparently my googling skills aren't good enough.  

Machado is out for the rest of this year, a seemingly large blow to the Orioles' chances at making a deep playoff run.  However the Orioles seem relatively unaffected by this loss.  They keep rolling along towards the playoffs with a big lead in the division.  Surely his loss will be felt in the playoffs, though.  Looking at this particular card, it is by far my favorite base card that I have in my collection thus far.  Part of it is I really enjoy the away gray jersey, but also the background colors look great in this one.

And my baseball heroes from the 90s.  The back of the Maddux notes that he has the 2nd (1.56) and 3rd (1.63) best live ball single season ERA, behind Bob Gibson (1.12).  If Clayton Kershaw keeps pitching the way he is, he might have a shot at that 1.63 mark.  But what incredible numbers.

Another 2014 Ripken to add to the collection.  The back of this one notes that Ripken is the Orioles all-time leader in home runs by 88 and RBIs by 388.

This is the first card of 2014 of Smoltz I've picked up.  He also has an A&G short print and Pastimes Pastime insert card.  Although the insert set isn't my favorite, both of these cards are on my 2014 want list.

In the past I've cracked some packs of Gypsy Queen and although I do enjoy these cards, I think I'll be content to stick with these from my favorite players, and maybe pick up some additional Braves and Orioles from this set.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Braves in Stained Glass

As mentioned in an earlier post, I've been on the lookout for some unique inserts of the players I collect to add to my collection.  In that post I noted that the Stained Glass Stars insert set from 1996 Studio had caught my eye.  Fortunately some Braves are found on the checklist.  I was able to snag a few of these for a fair price off ebay recently.  

These cards are razor thin and extremely delicate.  They were so thin that it was difficult for me to get them out of the scanner after getting them uploaded.  As you can see these cards aren't in perfect condition, but all of these that I saw on ebay had some kind of flaw.  The small marks you see on these are about what you can expect if you look to acquire them.  Outside of these, the background of these cards are beautiful, and luckily the bright scans bring out the best in them.  You can definitely see through these cards, and what's hard to see in the scan is the stained glass portion of the cards have a texture that mimics the texture of actual stained glass.

I would guess that for 1996, this was a pretty innovative design, part of what makes this set attractive to me 18 years later.  I'll look to pick up more unique insert designs of my favorite players.

What are some of your favorite insert sets over the years?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Old, but still Finest

Getting back into the loop in the baseball card hobby, there are several recent sets I've been impressed with. 2014 Finest fits that category, others are 2014 Heritage and the inserts from 2014 Topps Chrome.  Of course I have ended up picking up a little bit of every recent release, even if it's just a base card or two of a favorite player.

One blog post in particular from the Night Owl caused me to pick out a few older finest releases and see what I could pick up on the cheap that hit my want list.  The 1995 release in particular reminded me of this year's set.  And luckily for me, several of my favorite players show up on the checklist.  I decided to opt for some of the easier cards to pick up of former Braves, Smoltz and Klesko.

With protective coating still intact, the design looks to incorporate the baseball diamond, with the overlapping circles and corners of the diamond being the base pads.  Would like to have seen more blue in the background of the Klesko, but I understand the design is to make the background look like the field.

I appreciate cards that show a player image on the backs.  The designs of these card backs use space quite well.  One thing I found interesting was the Smoltz says Atlanta Braves near the top while the Klesko just says Braves.  I assume this is a difference between series 1 and series 2 releases.

Now to pick up some 2014 Finest!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Getting in on Chrome

Everyone seems to be ripping some packs of the newly released 2014 Topps Chrome, and I got jealous. And so I ended up with a rack pack, hoping for some Braves, Orioles, maybe a Kershaw.  I've learned from busting boxes and packs over the years not to expect anything special, to enjoy busting the packs, and if anything comes out of it, well that's a nice bonus.  Right, so let's see some Braves, Orioles, and Kershaw!

Well in the pack of Orange Refractors we've got two NL East rivals and a Yankee. Pretty much the opposite of the start I am looking for.  Hopefully these cards will find a nice home out there.  Onto pack one, surely a Brave or Oriole will greet me there!

We've got a couple rookies, a Pirate, and a Zack Greinke from my 3rd favorite team, the Dodgers.  Onto pack two...

Another couple rookies, including Springer who I've got stashed on the DL of my fantasy baseball team, maybe to keep at $1 for next year. But the Refractor? Matt Cain from a team standing in the way of the Braves in the wild card race.  11 cards in, 11 cards up for trade!  Onto the last pack...

 Two AL east rivals and a rookie.  5 rookies in 3 packs, is that normal?  One more card in the pack, and luckily it left me with a smile on the my face...

I knew it, a Kershaw insert! This means I've got luck on my side and I should go out and bust more Chrome, right?  Or maybe I should stop while I'm feeling good.  Yeah, I'll go that route.  Until next year, Chrome.