Friday, August 19, 2016

One last trip to Turner Field

The wife and I are making the trip one last time down to Turner Field to catch the Braves play. For the past few years I've tried to make it down to catch a game at least one a season. I'd like to go more often, but a) it's a 4 hour drive, b) I don't like the heat/humidity and c) it's hard to fit a weekend away into my wife and I's schedule at times. However we decided before the season even started we would make one last trip before the team moves out to Cobb County.

This will be a bittersweet trip. When I was younger my late father and grandfather would take me to Fulton County Stadium to watch a few games during the summer months. The thought alone of those two men that I've lost still makes me a little teary eyed. Growing up I played baseball and I loved it...however when it became time for me to make that transition from coach pitch/machine pitch to little league, I got scared. My dad was my coach, on and off the field. He knew I loved the game and he knew I could do anything I set my mind to. However he also wasn't one of those pushy parents. As I stood on the field across the athletic park and watch the kids hurl the ball towards the plate...usually all over the place...I told my dad I didn't want to play anymore. My dad's reaction? "OK son, if that is what you want." To this day I kind of wished my dad was just a little pushy because like a lot of us at times I play that what if game. What if I had gotten over my fear of kids pitching and I kept playing. What if I played ball in high school? Could I have played professionally?

Even though my dad didn't push me into playing, we still got to enjoy baseball together from time to time by driving down to Atlanta. I have fond memories of sitting in the old stadium with my dad and grandfather, watching the Braves struggle against whomever they were playing that day. I also remember coming home and hanging a big David Justice poster on my bed room door my dad bought me at a game. After I got into collecting cards around 1990/1991, going to the games was that much more fun as I "knew" more about the players after reading the backs of baseball cards. I was also able to ask my grandfather to tell me more about the players he watched growing up. 

Back them living in Charlotte, NC we got to watch many of the Braves games on the old TBS cable channel...the Super Station. I can remember the worst to first season. I can remember when Chipper was called up. I can remember the heart breaking loss to the Twins in the World Series...Kirby Puckett jumping up and down in the outfield celebrating. And of course I can remember when the Braves finally won it all in 1995. This was the same time however that my grandfather's health would start to go south and 6 months later my father's health too. I lost both of these great men so close together and of course it goes without saying that I miss them both so, so much.

Today I have a new baseball buddy to go to games with, my wife. She may not watch many of the games with me on television, but she really enjoys getting out to the field and watching a game. It's been at least two seasons since the last time we made it down to Atlanta for a game and it's surreal that this will be our last time at Turner Field, but regardless of the team's record I'm excited about this weekend trip and the new memories we'll make. Soon, I hope to be able to start doing for my girls what my dad did for me and take them to a few games. After all, isn't baseball supposed to be about family?

It's funny how these last few weeks have worked out too regarding this trip. With the Braves' record let's just say it isn't hard to obtain tickets to a game, even a weekend game. We ended up getting front row tickets in the left field, I believe the section closest to the foul pole for $22 each. Because I travel so much for work I ended up having a night to redeem for a free hotel room. Then the Braves go and trade for Matt Kemp. I am so glad I'll get to sit behind Kemp and watch him play over the likes of D'Arnaud (no offense Chase!). Then of course this week the big news was that Dansby Swanson was getting called up to the majors. While it would have been cool to what Theran hurl the ball, I'll get to see Tyrell Jenkins take the mound on Saturday against the Washington Nationals. I just hope that my favorite player to hate (Bryce Harper) plays so I can boo him in person! Yes, I feel this is going to be a great weekend. All that is left to do is go buy a new Braves hat before I leave tomorrow morning and possibly pick up a pack of two of cards for the ride down. Go Braves!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Call Up - Dansby Swanson

August 17th, 2016. According to, This is the day that the highly touted Braves prospect, Dansby Swanson is scheduled to be called up to the Show. I am working out of town this week, but you can be sure I will be in front of a television tomorrow night to watch this kid everyone is talking about.

pic courtesy of

Earlier today the Braves made a roster move when they shipped Erick Aybar off to the Detroit Tigers, effectively making room for Dansby. He has done a great job in AA Mississippi, hitting .261 with a .745 OPS in 84 games. He started this season at Class A with the Carolina Mudcats.

On the baseball card front, I've only been able to pick up a few cards of him (in a Braves uni), mostly Bowman. I look forward to seeing Topps and even Panini create more cards of him as this season continues to unfold. After all, the baseball season in the card world never truly ends. 

I'm headed to Atlanta this weekend to see the Braves take on the Nationals and I was already psyched, then they pick up Kemp and I was on cloud 9. I have front row seats in left field for Saturday. Now hearing this news has me looking forward to the weekend that much more!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Box Break: 2016 Topps Stadium Club (Part 2)

I've been so busy lately that I almost forgot I still had about half a box of 2016 Topps Stadium Club to open! I was pleased with the first half of the box so let's see what's lurking in the second half.

Pack 9
#027 Anthony Gose
#044 Mark Melancon
#078 James Shields
#272 Michael Conforto
#292 Shin-Soo Choo
#122 Greg Maddux
#131 Gerrit Cole
#BT-07 Robinson Camo - Beam Team

Pack 10
#099 Justin Turner
#208 Edgar Martinez
#210 Luis Severino RC
#156 Randal Grichuk
#240 Brock Holt
#180 George Brett
 #216 Noah Syndergaard
#I-16 Carlos Correa - ISOMetrics

Pack 11
#265 Hector Olivera RC
#036 Nomar Mazara RC
#062 Luke Jackson RC
#071 Luis Gonzalez
#097 Eric Hosmer
#271 Martin Prado
#033 Mitch Moreland
#T-4C Matt Harvey - Triumvirate Luminous

Pack 12
#121 Masahiro Tanaka
#103 Mark McGwire
#167 Micah Johnson
#008 Stephen Vogt
#101 Archie Bradley
#189 Chris Sale
#144 Kole Calhoun
#114 David Ortiz - Gold parallel

Pack 13
#228 Jeremy Hellickson
#126 Roberto Clemente
#116 J.T. Realmuto
#269 Hector Santiago
#264 A.J. Pollock
#150 Jorge De la Rosa
#285 Trevor May
#265 Hector Olivera RC - Black parallel

Pack 14
#161 Alex Rodriguez
#052 Yangervis Solarte
#184 Byron Buxton
#059 Ken Giles
#102 Ichiro
#093 C.J. Wilson
#232 Sean Doolittle
#151 Stephen Piscotty RC - Gold parallel

Pack 15
#111 Matt Carpenter
#118 Brian Dozier
#15 Paul Goldschmidt
#188 Colin Rea RC
#267 John Smoltz
#251 Jon Gray
#290 Manny Machado
#220 Jung Go Kang - Gold parallel

Pack 16
#182 Ryan Braun
#163 Billy Hamilton
#212 Jonthan Lucroy
#025 Chris Archer
#247 Cameron Rupp
#010 Jose Altuve
#162 T.J. House - Black parallel
#SCA-BHP Byoung-Ho Park - Autograph

Overall I was pleased with the box's contents. The inserts in the 2nd half were a little boring with just black and gold parallels, but the other auto ended up being another rookie. I look forward to getting these cards collated and in pages next. Then I'll see if I can move both autos for something more interesting to me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

2016 Topps Now: Chase d'Arnaud #257 (180 print run)

As bad of a season as the Braves are having, I am surprised that this makes the 4th player to receive a card in Topps Now (5th for the team if you count the card for the game played at Fort Bragg earlier in July). Having cards of Freddie or Julio weren't all that surprising I guess, but the latest player to get the Topps Now treatment. I never would have seen this one coming.

After a home game on July 16th, Chase d'Arnaud took the stage at Turner Field and "sung" with his band in a post-game concert. I watched the game on the 16th and left the television on so I saw some of Chase's performance. Well let's just say I'm glad he gets a decent paycheck as a baseball player because his music career probably won't be going anywhere soon!

The next day, July 17th, the Braves hosted the Colorado Rockies again at home. I watched the entire game and the innings went by quickly as neither team could muster any real offensive attack. In the bottom of the 9th however, Chase hit a single to left centerfield and Ender Inciarte made home for the game winning run. It was great seeing this utility guy get the game winning hit and to see him mobbed by his teammates on the base paths. 

When I checked Topps' site the next day sure enough he had a card and I plopped down the $10 to add it to my Braves collection. Once the initial 24 hour window had closed, only 180 cards were printed. As of today, 07/27/16, this card still has the lowest print run of all 287 cards that have been made thus far. I don't know if it'll end up having the lowest print run by the end of the season, but none the less I'm glad to have another great Braves Topps Now card to add to my team collection.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Box Break: 2016 Topps Stadium Club (Part 1)

It's been awhile since I've shared a box break on my blog. Heck, it's been a long time since I've opened a full fledged hobby box period! 2015 Stadium Club had me hooked again with the brand's signature photography and basic, clean design. When I saw the preview images for 2016 I decided I would build the set again so I sought out the best deal on a box. After a short delay, the box has arrived and it's time for me to get some packs ripped.

This year's release (at least the Hobby variety) has an insert or parallel falling one per pack, with a total of 8 cards per pack. Parallels include Gold Foil (1:3), Black Foil (1:8) and Black & White Orange Foil (1:48). Rainbow Foil are serially numbered (1:70), First Day Issue & Members Only parallels return, also serially numbered. Base card variations (1:123) feature alternate pictures such as Clayton Kershaw batting. Inserts include Beam Team: (1:16), Gold versions (1:256), Autographs (1:10,984); Trimvirates: Luminous (1:16), Luminescent (1:64), Illuminator (1:256); Legends return from 2015 and feature a die-cut design (1:16), Gold (1:2,078); Instavision (1:256), Gold (1:966); Contact Sheet is another carry over from 2015 (1:8), White Foil (1:638), Gold Foil (1:1,261), Orange Foil (1:1,684); ISOMetrics (1:8). Gold (1:256); Autographed (on card) base cards (1:10); Autograph parallels: Black Foil (1:72), Gold Foil (1:148), Orange Foil (1:3,662). Lone Star Signatures (1:2,262); Lone Star Signatures parallels: Gold (1:5,626), Orange (1:46,132). Co-Signers: (1:10,984); Autographed 1993 Buyback (1:4,708); Buyback cards (1:126)

I'm going to break this up into two (or more) parts, mainly because time isn't something I have a lot of right now. When I'm done, I plan to put together a want list with the hope I can find some trading partners. Until then, enjoy the pack by pack break down.

Pack 1
#114 David Ortiz
#007 Edwin Encarnacion
#259 Aroldis Chapman
#017 Raul Mondesi RC
#295 Aaron Nola RC
#227 Robin Yount
#263 J.D. Martinez
#CS-3 Josh Donaldson - Contact Sheet

Pack 2
#198 Roberto Osuna
#211 Didi Gregorius
#108 Omar Vizquel
#254 Dustin Pedroia
#066 Catfish Hunter
#140 Gio Gonzalez
#098 Ian Kinsler
#LDC-1 Robin Yount - Legends

Pack 3
#074 Maikel Franco
#202 Daniel Murphy
#026 Steven Matz
#192 Delino DeShields
#002 Garrett Richards
#031 Brett Gardner
#213 Fernando Valenzuela
#CS-8 Buster Posey - Contact Sheet

Pack 4
#112 Curt Schilling
#179 Lou Brock
#134 Adrian Gonzalez
#165 Zach Lee
#242 Collin McHugh
#079 Marquis Grissom
#283 Rougned Odor
#BT-24 Giancarlo Stanton - Beam Team

Pack 5
#151 Stephen Piscotty
#224 David Wright
#068 Raisel Iglesias
#279 Joe Panik
#200 Jose Fernandez
#040 Kyle Waldrop
#166 Freddy Galvis
#019 Marco Estrada - Gold Foil parallel

Pack 6
#219 Kevin Plawecki
#268 Jordan Zimmermann
#090 Jason Kipnis
#139 Matt Harvey
#064 Lucas Duda
#239 Shelby Miller
#SCA-KS Kyle Schwarber RC - Autograph
#032 Bob Feller - Black Foil parallel

Pack 7
#037 Yadier Molina
#187 Johnny Cueto
#015 Ozzie Smith
#092 Max Scherzer
#132 Carlos Correa
#246 Josh Donaldson
#255 Wade Davis
#073 Chris Tillman - Gold parallel

Pack 8
#067 Yu Darvish
#039 Michael Brantley
#190 Erasmo Ramirez
#257 Joe Morgan
#056 Yordano Ventura
#206 Josh Hamilton
#050 Whitey Ford
#I-02 Mike Trout - ISOMetrics

So far I'm liking what I've seen of the photography, the inserts and my first of two autos ain't half bad either. However I'm going to call it quits here. I've got to get my bags ready for a long weekend at the beach. I'll continue this the first of next week. Thanks for dropping by!

P.S. - Yes, that Kyle Schwarber RC auto will be up for grabs.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

2016 Topps Now: Julio Teheran #163 (291 print run)

Wow, with the season the Atlanta Braves are having who would've thought they would already have their 2nd player represented in 2016 Topps Now? This Braves fan didn't think it would happen! I felt it appropriate to share this card today since it was announced last night that Julio Teheran would be chosen for the 2016 All-Star game this weekend. While his W-L record may not be the best, he's had a low ERA for most of the season. The problem for Teheran and other Braves pitchers is the lack of run support. This team just can't score runs on a consistent basis and that is hurting the chances of so many of their pitchers.

However on June 19th, Father's Day and my 39th birthday, Julio pitched a fantastic game against the Mets. He went the stretch for the complete game and limited the Mets to just one hit in a shut out. All this on a road game too.

I'm really enjoying this new program by Topps and I've already got my 3rd Braves Topps Now card (another Freddie Freemen), but I am bummed I forgot to check over the 4th weekend to grab the card of the Braves/Marlins game played at Fort Bragg...even if the actual performance of the Braves in that game was lackluster. If anyone bought multiples of that card and can hook me up please let me know!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Uncirculated Cards...Keep Them Slabbed or Free Them?

While doing some work with my Rey Ordonez collection (you know, for my awesome new Rey Ordonez Super Collector blog!) I came across this Uncirculated Refractor from 2003 Topps Chrome. This was one of those cards that I had to wait a long time to find and now I'm at a crossroads of what to do with it.

Do I leave the card slabbed as is? Or do I pop the holographic sticker seal and put the card in it's rightful spot in my Rey Ordonez binder?

Prior to buying this card, the only other Uncirculated cards like this that I had was a similar card in my Todd Hollandsworth collection and a oddball Topps Pristine Pete Incaviglia. Personally I don't see the draw in these, but then again most of my cards in my collection are loose...not even in top loaders. 

I have a very good feeling this card will eventually be freed from it's slab prison so it can join his "brothers" in my album.