Month: August 2010

Braves Collection: 2010 Gwinnett Braves Team Set

This is another set I picked up at a recent Gwinnett Braves game. I’m digging the wood-grained borders ripped off from 1962/1987 Topps. I forgot to scan the backs which is too bad because after the ridiculously boring 2009 design, the 2010 backs are just excellent. I a much too lazy to hit the scanner again this morning. Sorry.

If you are an Atlanta Braves prospect, and you have broken your wrist, please, for the love of God, DON’T KEEP IT TO YOURSELF AND KEEP PLAYING. I still hope Schafer can find his way back to the Atlanta team. We could have used him in center this year.
Here’s how you can tell the difference between our backup middle infielders. Diory Hernandez can hit in the minors. Brandon Hicks can’t hit anywhere.
I hope that Freddi Gonzales gives this kid a shot at the centerfield job next year. He’s awfully fun to watch play. I guess if they don’t give him the shot, I can just keep enjoying his play at Gwinnett.
Seriously … remember this kid’s name. You’ll be hearing a lot more about him.

Set Collection: 2010 International League Top Prospects

I picked this up at a recent Gwinnett Braves game and I have to say, especially for a minor league set, it is nice. It’s certainly a step above the 2009 and 2010 Gwinnett Braves team sets.

This is the man who will man first base for the Braves starting opening day 2011.
If you had asked me three months ago, I would have said this is the man who will close games for the Braves in 2011, but now I’m thinking that might be Johnny Venters. No matter … Kimbrel is good and will be a big league closer.
The name is familiar but I can’t place the face. Is this the guy that just had Tommy John surgery?

Set Collection: 1971 Topps

I hope to finish building this set before I die, but I’m not going to hold my breath. I have so very few high numbers and stars that I get discouraged whenever I look at my want list. (You can see it in the want list links on the right.) I really would like to finish this set though. It’s my favorite design of the 70s.

Ted Williams of the Major Fucking Leagues. If you don’t get it, then you need to get yourself a copy of Ball Four and read it immediately. Don’t finish this post. Go buy it now. I’ll still be here when you get back.
Milt Pappas is primarily known as the guy the idiot Red received from Baltimore for Frank Robinson. You know, because they thought Robinson was washed up at 30. That would be right before Robinson won the Triple Crown. Pappas was also one of Leo Durocher’s least favorite players.
It appears that a decision has been made and it is final. Ron Santo will be inducted into the Hall of Fame after his death so that he won’t be alive to enjoy it. There’s no rational reason for this decision, but there you go. Sorry dude, I’m pulling for you. With Pinella and Lee gone, you are just about the only thing left to like about the current version of the Cubbie franchise.
This is the closest thing I have to a true super star card in the set. Admit it … those guys are pretty damn great.
This is how a checklist card ought to look from an older set. (I should point out that the marked out cards do not accurately reflect the state of my set.)
Just because I wanted to include Knucksie …
I saved the best for last. THIS is what a hero looks like.

Glavine Collection: 2008 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Signatures S2-TG

As of today, this is my only Glavine autograph issued by a major card company. I really, really like the Sweet Spot autographs, even though they do seem to fade a bit over the years. Tom has always had a really nice signature, especially when compared to Greg Maddux.

I really like this card. I especially like that the black and white pictures on the back are the same pictures as on the front of the card.

Bring Back Topps Total

I know that people collect for all sorts of different reasons, and that’s cool with me. For me, collecting baseball cards grew out of my love for the game of baseball itself. I love reading about the history of the game. I love the intricacies and strategies that makeup the game. I love delving into box scores and statistics. I could spend hours at Baseball Reference. I love watching highlights on television and on my phone. I love watching games from Little League to the Bigs. It’s all great. Baseball the game (obviously, not the business) is perfect.

I especially love the 25 man team. If you are building a team to win, every position on the roster is important. I’m going to use my favorite team, the Braves, as an example. While it is true that during that streak of 14 straight division championships, it was guys like David Justice, Chipper Jones, Fred McGriff, Andruw Jones and Andres Galaraga getting most of the big hits. Still, every guy contributed. We can all remember starters like Mark Lemke, Ryan Klesko, Marquis Grissom, and Jeff Blauser getting big hits, but most of us can also remember Mike Mordecai, Mike Deveraux and Julio Franco knocking in big runs. Francisco Cabrera didn’t just win game 7 of the 1992 NLCS for the Braves, he hit a huge home run off of Rob Dibble of the Reds in August of 1991 keying a big comeback win to keep the Braves in the hunt against the Dodgers.

Operating on the theory that every man on the 25 man roster is important, I want every card of every player on every team. There was a time that you could reliably count on the base Topps set having a card for the majority of the players on each team. Unfortunately, over the years, the base set has been reduced and marginalized. Betting that set collectors would continue to buy the product anyway, Topps has begun loading the base set with rookies and gimmicks. A marginal rookie with little chance of a big league career is far more likely to get a card that a backup catcher, utility man or long reliever. (Reid Gorecki gets a card in 2010 Topps, but one of the best backup catchers in baseball, David Ross doesn’t? Are you shitting me Topps? And what about our All-Star utility man Omar Infante? Why isn’t he in the set? Stupid, stupid, stupid.) Plus, Topps is driving up the prices of base set boxes on the secondary market with stupid useless variations and gimmicks. Base Topps should be the definitive baseball card set each year for the set collector. It should be a true document of the baseball season and of every baseball team, but those days are long gone and they won’t be coming back soon. Still, Topps can rectify the situation.

A few years ago, Topps had the perfect set for the set collector, Topps Total. You could count on getting a number of cards in every pack, with a parallel being the only gimmick. There weren’t fake errors. There were no pictures of players with shaving cream smeared on their face. Abraham Lincoln failed to appear in every Topps Total set. No, Topps Total was about getting as many players as possible into a single set at a cheap price without short prints. Where are you Topps Total? You are missed.

Look, I’m not someone who believes that every product should appeal to every type of collector but it seems to me that the set collector is becoming increasingly marginalized in the hobby. This seems strange to me because most set collectors have been long time collectors. These are the guys who collect whether the hobby is in decline or not. I still believe they are the heart of the hobby. I don’t begrudge the collector that wants every Albert Pujols card ever printed. More power to them. I just want at least one comprehensive set every year that’s easy to collect and won’t bust my wallet, like Heritage. I want Topps Total back. Is that too much to ask?

Set Collection: 1976 Topps

The best complete sets are the ones you didn’t even now you had. I pulled out my monster box of 70s and early 80s cards and started sorting them a few weekends ago. To my complete and utter shock, I had the complete 1976 set. I have no idea how this happened, but I’m not complaining.

Any set that starts off with a Hank Aaron card is OK by me.
I’ve always been a big fan of the Spaceman. He tells it like it is. Plus, I’ve always wanted to try a little marijuana on my pancakes in the morning.
This is the first Hank Aaron card I ever owned. When I got it, I wasn’t bothered at all that he was wearing a Brewers uniform. After moving to Georgia in 1981 though, and becoming a tried and true Braves fan, I think it looks odd.
In 1976, when Topps had a stupid gimmick, they just shoved in the set. They didn’t create this as a short printed variation of Bevacqua’s regular card.
The prized rookie card in the ’76 set is Dennis Eckersley … one of my least favorite players of all time.
Uh oh! My Knucksie was miscut. Somehow, I’ll survive.
I prefer the Topps sets where they just placed a player’s All Star designation right on their main card. This leaves more room in the set for other players. (On an unrelated point, I once rode on the same airplane as Rod Carew.)
I’ve only included Lefty because I wanted to scan a whole page of cards and he was one of my favorite players when he was pitching. He is still one of the two or three best pitchers I’ve seen pitch.
I should point out that I’m not the one who wrote on the front of this card. I’m told that I should look to upgrade cards like this, but to tell you the truth, I don’t see the point. I like the card just like this. Who wants a bunch of perfect old cards anyway? Cards with creases, rounded corners and written words have far more character.