Sunday, July 31, 2016

Talked About So Much, but Still Underrated

Stadium Club photography is talked about all over the blogosphere and it's now the identifying feature of a modern Stadium Club set. While it's widely discussed, the photography is far and away better than any other set that I still think it's underrated.

I just picked up my first cards from 2016 Stadium Club the other day, but I realized I hadn't even posted about a stack of 2015 Stadium Club I picked up last year! 

Will the Braves rotation ever get back to where it was in the mid-90s? Seems unlikely, but they are trying with all the young pitchers the team is accumulating.

For the second year in a row, Adam Jones has a memorable card in Stadium Club. In 2014 it was flags with Jones running onto the field.

The All-Star, MVP candidate, and first-round pick and 'captain' of my fantasy baseball team this year.

I love a good sliding shot. First one I can remember featuring Freeman, although it's possible there's another out there.

 Another young pitcher having a solid year for a first place team. Notice the tongue.

My second-round pick for my fantasy baseball team, and my favorite player in the game today. These horizontal shots are great.

Definitely missing this guy this season. Erick Aybar has been pretty painful to watch.

Another of the more memorable cards from this Stadium Club release, I'm sure. Best pitcher in the game.

He may not be an 'ace' on every team, but he's our ace and all-star. He's also one of only three starters listed on the active roster as of Friday when this post was written. Sad times for the Atlanta rotation.

Wish I had thought of this card for a July 4th post. Perfect way to end things in this one. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Collecting Firsts

A recent ebay purchase marked some collecting firsts for me. Let's get go from the lesser firsts up to the major firsts.

Collecting First #1: First card from 2016 Stadium Club

Before I pick up any base cards from 2016 Stadium Club, I've actually added an insert to my collection. Couldn't be happier with the player, either. Betts has easily become the most exciting player for me to watch. And this is a strong insert offering from Topps.  This one reminds me of a mid-90's Fleer insert set of some sort, the font in particular. Take a look at this insert set from 1995-96 Fleer basketball. I know it's basketball, but the font on this Mookie reminds me of the player name font on that insert set, and others that are similar I'm sure. I'm only referencing basketball because during the mid-90s that was my main collecting focus.

Collecting First #2: First baseball autograph purchased on ebay

So far I've stuck to inserts for ebay purchases and the occasional game worn card, and honestly have tried to stay off of ebay altogether, but once I found one card I wanted, I looked for other cards to make the shipping worthwhile. While the Bordick doesn't fit a specific need for my collection, it's a sharp on-card auto of a player I enjoyed watching in the 90s. Reason enough for me to place a bid.

Collecting First #3: First autograph of a current Braves system player

I wish I could leave the word 'system' off this one, but Wisler was just demoted to AAA Gwinnett. Wisler will bounce back, I'm sure, after he gets back on track in the minors. Sharp card though with an on-card autograph.

Collecting First #4: First Ryan Klesko autograph

Definitely the most excited about this Klesko autograph from 2015 Archives. Really like the design and another on-card autograph. I was long overdue for a Klesko autograph to add to my biggest baseball player collection. 

A successful ebay purchase, indeed. Combined shipping makes for a whole lot better bidding experience.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Oh So Rare Trip to a Card Shop

Over a recent weekend I had an opportunity to visit a card shop while out of town. With none located within a few hundred miles of my house, I had to take advantage. It's been probably 10 years since I've visited a card shop in person. With a max of about 20 minutes to spare, I quickly dove into several boxes of random baseball singles and looked for Braves. I enlisted the help of my wife who graciously pulled a stack of Braves aside for me from a different section of the box.

At the end of the 20 minutes I came away with a stack of about thirty Braves from the mid-90s to today. I'd forgotten how fun it is to sort through a box of previously unseen cards.

All these cards are new to me, and I almost didn't pick up the first Smoltz from 'Future Stars' because, well, it's Smoltz in a set called 'Future Stars'. But it reminded me of some Upper Deck sets from the 90s so I added it to my stack. The Fond Farewells card makes me sad that Smoltz didn't finish his career as a Brave, but it's a sharp insert. The Maddux I can appreciate because it's shiny on the back as well as the front, and it's a Maddux.

A trio of Braves from 2009. Can never have enough cards of Bobby Cox. The Braves traded Kelly Johnson to the Mets for the second year in a row and was leading off against the Braves just recently. Glad he may get another playoff run, just not happy about it being with the Mets. I like these Red uniforms.

A few cards of one of my favorite Braves, Tim Hudson, all from sets that I like. Would have preferred an action shot on the O-Pee-Chee, though. The Green is nice on the 2013 Archives.

Couldn't pick up a stack of Braves without a handful of Chipper cards. Nice expression on the 2007 Upper Deck. The design is terrible, but I like the photo.

Next up a pair of guys that I remember watching in person at AAA Richmond. What a solid career for Martin Prado. Gregor Blanco has put together a nice string of solid seasons for the Giants. The Braves traded him to the Royals in 2010 for part of a season of Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth.

One of my favorite all-time Braves, with an insert from 2008. There are a couple other Braves in this set, Chipper Jones and a current Brave, Nick Markakis.

A couple Jason Heyward cards. Any Heritage card is a good Heritage card. This O-Pee-Chee might be one of my favorite Chipper cards.

Three Frenchies. It's been nice to see Francoeur back in a Braves uniform this year. He's been much better against left-handed pitching, hitting a respectable .288 as of earlier in the week. Seems the Braves might be looking to deal Francoeur if the right deal comes along. 

And three current Braves up-and-comers. Folty in general has been solid. He'll have a string of good quality starts and then a poor start. Hoping to see more of Mallex Smith later this year. Based on latest reports it's looking like September. Wisler has been struggling recently and was just sent down to AAA, but looks to still be a key piece for the future. With the lack of starting options for the Braves and having recently traded away starter Lucas Harrell, these young pitchers, Aaron Blair and Matt Wisler for instance, have been thrust into starting in bad situations. The offense isn't giving any support which puts so much pressure on these young guys to try to carry the load. This is my first Wisler card, though. I'll expect to add many more over the years.

Can't go wrong with a Freeman rookie card. Even Freeman is having a down year by his standards. It's been a tough year for everyone in Atlanta offensively. 

Great card of Markakis beating a throw, sliding into a base. It's been fun watching Markakis in Atlanta this year, and while his power hasn't really returned, he did recently have a streak where he didn't have a swinging strike for 32 plate appearances. Markakis just doesn't strike out that often.

Well that is certainly a record for me as far as number of cards scanned for one post. Those of you who have a card shop within easy driving distance, I envy you. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July, and a Mookie Monstah Stack

Excited to watch the Fort Bragg game between the Marlins and Braves from last night, as a permanent field and temporary bleachers for 12.500 were constructed for military and their families to enjoy the first regular season MLB game in the state of North Carolina. Pretty cool!

Wishing you all a great 4th of July with your families!

And with that said, I want to share some recent pickups of one of my favorite active players, Mookie Betts.

Heading into the last few days of all-star voting, Mookie was third among AL outfielders. Seems likely he will be on the AL squad when the rosters are released on Tuesday night. Since seeing him in single-A Greenville back in 2013 it's been fun to watch his ascent to being one of the premier players in baseball. It was an easy decision to collect his cards. While I haven't picked up many of his tougher to find parallels or autographs, I have added a good number of base and inserts to my collection.  Here are some of my recent pickups for the Mookie Monstah.

The 2015 Topps Chrome base didn't scan well, but the refractor, and what I think is the prism refractor version, scanned much better. My understanding is these are the two easiest versions to find. Do X-fractors no longer exist?

The first card in this row is from 2015 Topps Series 2. I just found out there is a photo variation where he is sliding into a base that I am missing. It's a pretty cool shot. Now that I'm doing a little searching, there's also a variation for 2016 Topps Series 1. The Topps Archives might be my favorite in this blog post. The Blue and Red text look nice together on a Red Sox card. And this Topps Heritage '51 Collection card is probably in my top 5 Mookie cards. This one rightly points out that Mookie is already being called one of the most exciting players in baseball.

Probably the least exciting card in this group, the 2015 Bowman card points out Betts is a fan of Florida State football. That's one thing I can disagree with Mookie on. The Series Next die cut insert scanned well.

While this 2015 Bowman's Best card did not. It looks much nicer in person. 

The Red Sox are really struggling right now, particularly with pitching. A 21-2 loss stings no matter which way you look at it, but Betts continues to produce while the Red Sox slump.