Saturday, June 6, 2015

Chipper Jones JUMBO Card!

Now that I'm done with classes I'll have some time to share some stuff with you guys. First on the list is a card from 2001 Upper Deck Home Run Explosion. I got this roughly three or four years ago at a sports store that's somewhat close by, but I don't go there much. One day I walked in and randomly saw this card. This is still the only jumbo card that I have but I'll have to see if I can find some more Braves. They had a few others but I was only interested in this one. Vintage Chipper, couldn't pass it up.

If anyone is interested, I suggest checking out ebay. I saw a few listings on there and with shipping included, you could get this card for $2-$4 (or even less). I got mine for a dollar, so I'm set.



Monday, April 6, 2015

2015 Braves Season Outlook

If you follow the Braves then you should know by now the changes that were made in the offseason. There's been a few trades and free agent signings that were eye-opening. John Hart has said that the Braves have gone into a rebuild but that it's more of a short term rebuild. When he traded Justin Upton and Heyward, although it was hard to see them go, I could see what the new direction was.

I've seen many people complain about the Braves....quite a lot, actually. Some of the moves were hard to accept, I understand, but for the most part they needed to be done. With Upton's contract (Justin, that is), it would cause a problem to try resigning. I'm just glad we got something in return for him (hello Jace Peterson, first hit of the year for the Braves), as opposed to rolling the dice on trying to resign him just for him to go elsewhere that offers more money. The Heyward trade brought in Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins while the Gattis trade brought in Foltynewicz, Rio Ruiz, and Andrew Thurman. I know some will say that the minor league system isn't that great but it's definitely better than last year....it is. It's been rounded out and we've got just about every position added to in-depth with prospects, which wasn't the case over the past few years.

The Kimbrel/Upton trade was surprising. I heard about the trade while I was halfway through with writing this, that's why I'm talking about it separately. I knew this was going to happen, so I was prepared. I just wasn't expecting the trade to happen so soon. I know Kimbrel signed that contract extension but I figured they'd try keeping him for at least another year or two while still under control. At least they free up a TON of money by getting BJ's contract (I'll still gonna call him BJ) off the books which I'm sure everyone in baseball never thought could happen. But it's done. As you can guess, Kimbrel was the main part of that deal going through, so it definitely came with a price, which the Padres now have to worry about. Especially with all of their offseason moves, the Padres have a lot of pressure to be good this year, so it's interesting to look at it from their perspective. IF the Braves are to be mediocre this season, then might as well sell when value is high. Also, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I do believe that Kimbrel will be on the decline (I can say this openly now that he's gone). I've felt it was only a matter of time before TJ surgery catches up to him, or something serious happens to his arm when consistently throwing high 90's. That might not happen for a few years from now, but I do believe something will happen. With the Braves' history of TJ surgeries, it's nice to see them get ahead of that trend (even if they were more focused on freeing up salary). That's just something to think about, so keep that thought in mind for now.

2015 Braves outlook:

Although I have the Braves finishing fourth in my prediction of the 2015 standings, I do believe they could surprise people. You can call it being overly optimistic, but as a fan sometimes you have to be. I'm not sure about first place but second place could be possible, third definitely possible. All it takes is a few injuries on other teams and/or underachievement. Earlier in the year I wrote a post about the Braves' season statistics from last season and it may or may not surprise you. Considering they were towards the bottom of the league in offense, would trading guys like Heyward, Justin Upton, and Gattis really make that much of a difference? Even with those guys they still didn't do well offensively, and with the offseason additions, hopefully the team will be more contact-oriented. If they can strikeout less and put the ball in play more (not too many double plays) then they can still be a decent team. I understand it was hard to see some fan favorites go. I'm still a little bummed Heyward is in a Cardinals uniform and Kimbrel is off to San Diego, but it's time to move forward.

Final thoughts:

The Braves aren't expected to be competitive until "2017" and all that, but I still believe they can be a good or at least decent team. They may not win 90 games. They may not win 85 or even 80. But these guys aren't going to mail in a whole season just because a few players got traded, and we as fans shouldn't give up on them. People are already jumping ship before we've even set sail. For those still mad about the trades, take a deep breath and chillax. Baseball is finally back and we get to see Freddie make cringe-worthy stretches at first and Andrelton make some vacuum-like plays at shortstop, so it'll be great to see everyone again and get acquainted with the new additions to the team. The Braves may surprise people.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Prediction: 2015 MLB Standings


*Teams with a "WC" are Wild Card winners

World Series: Dodgers vs Red Sox

World Series Champions: Red Sox

National League:

For the NL, there's a few teams I'm curious to see how they do for the year and they are the Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Cubs, and Mets. The Dodgers, coming off a loss to the Cardinals in last year's NLDS, will look to capture their first World Series berth since 1988 when they last won it. With the Padres making some big moves over the offseason, they will look to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and win their first World Series title in team history. Since the Giants win the World Series every two years, they won't win again until 2016 (joking, of course....or am I?).

The most intriguing division might be the Central. With the Cubs looking to contend with their young stars we've heard so much about, it'll add more competition to a division that has seen the Cardinals and Pirates have the recent success. As a baseball fan, it'd be nice to see the Cubbies reach the playoffs, but I think it'll be just out of their reach.

The most difficult division for me to predict was the East. We all know the Nationals will win it, and the Phillies will finish last, BUT the other three teams brought out my curiosity. The Marlins definitely got better in the offseason, the Braves sold some value and got younger talent we'll see in the next 1-3 years, and the Mets pretty much stayed the same (Harvey's back but Wheeler is now lost for the season). Considering the Marlins only needed three more wins to move into second place last year, I'm putting them second for this season; they made some good moves. Normally I'd probably put the Mets as fourth, but with the Braves' outlook, the Mets will probably take third in the division (moving in the outfield fence yet again should help, after all).


American League

The Royals had a great run last season but fell just a little short. If their team can stay healthy I believe they can make another run for a title with the young group of players they have. The East division won't be all that great, and you could probably flip-flop the Orioles and Blue Jays, so that was debatable.

I wanted to put the Indians in at least a Wild Card spot, but I just wasn't feelin' it to be honest. I believe the Royals can at least get a Wild Card spot. The Tigers have owned the division over the past few years so seeing them finish second (or even worse) would be surprising. I was hesitant giving the Mariners a Wild Card spot, though they finished last season with an 87-75 record so they could repeat that again and make the playoffs. I wanted to go with the Orioles or possibly the Indians for a Wild Card, but we'll see what happens. My overall feeling is that the AL will probably be a little more unpredictable than the NL, as there's a few teams that I'll have my eyes on (mostly the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Indians as potential playoff teams). I'm banking on a few teams to overachieve or underachieve, so although anything can happen, it's sort of a way to predict a surprise or two. The Indians seem to be a World Series favorite so who knows, maybe they'll finally win it.

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You may have noticed the differences in this year's post as opposed to last year's standings predictions post (I also realized I was a little too generous for total wins). I'm not the best when it comes to making graphic layouts (or else you'd be seeing fancier graphics more often) but we'll settle with this jaw-dropping design I made on Microsoft Paint. I'm actually surprised it worked as well as it did, nice and simple. The hardest thing was probably lining everything up the best I could. At least the picture is clearer and since it's not stray text it won't bunch together if you read from a mobile device. So those are some positives, for sure.

I hope you all enjoyed reading over these predictions (and the better picture quality) as much as I did. We are only a few days away from Opening Day so the wait is almost over. Baseball is back!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Upcoming Blog Plans

Hey, guys. Opening Day is getting closer and closer, and I had some things I wanted to share with you about what my upcoming plans were. As you can see, I haven't been as active as I'd like to be. Since classes started up it's been difficult to find the time to write up posts. Here's a few things I'll be focusing on:

Standings predictions:

As I did last year, I plan on posting a prediction for the standings for this upcoming season. Although I've only done one so far, it's a lot of fun. It's mostly just a bunch of guessing and it's cool to see if any predictions made turn out to be correct when the season ends.

Season/player predictions:

This sort of ties in with above, but I had an idea of trying something a little different this year and write a separate post about any season and player predictions I had. I'm still thinking whether or not I want to write up a separate post for my Braves predictions (knowing me I probably will) but I'll have to think about it. It'll come down to whether or not I think I'll have the time or not. If I don't, I'll just include it with my overall predictions post.

New blog look:

It seems like only yesterday I figured out how to get the background picture the way I wanted it, and the primary blog colors the way I like them. But I do have an urge to try something a little different, so I'll look around and make a few adjustments if I see any I like. Some blogs on here have much cooler layouts and look very neat, so I'll look to see if I can find one that may be more efficient, or I'll just leave it the way it is and possibly make some minor changes. I suppose it depends, but I'm keeping an open mind. So within the next few weeks, you may notice some changes to the layout, design, features, etc.

Page/tab updates:

On my blog I have pages (or you can call them "tabs") that I haven't updated in quite a while, and by "while" I literally mean IN A WHILE. The only thing I've edited and that's up to date would be the Map Of Sales/Trades page. It's very neat and I've listed all the places I've shipped cards to. As for the other pages I have minimal content, and they seriously need to be updated. There's a few different ways to go about it like list every card I have of a certain player, list my favorites with a total at the top, or link past posts I've made of a certain player. I'm just not sure. Whatever I choose will be time-consuming, so it may be considered a work in progress. I do need to update my Who I Collect/Want List page. Who knows, I may create a new page to separate them, I'm not sure.

Make more trading buddies on Blogger:

I know, it may seem cheesy but I'd really like to get to know others by making new trade partners and interacting with more people on here (after all, that's how people build collections, right?). I've gotten to know a few of you well enough to consider a friend, but it's always nice to make new friends when possible. Although my favorite team is the Braves, I know people that like others teams, too. So whether you've collected cards/sports memorabilia forever or are just starting out, let me know! I love talking sports (especially baseball) and seeing what others consider their prized possessions!

* * * *

You can also follow me @TomahawkEmpire! I've met quite a few bloggers on there already, and it's a great place to start trades. Since I haven't been able to make daily posts on here, it's a good way to keep in touch and interact with others in the sports community.

Anyways, I just wanted to give everyone an update. My posts have been spaced out, and again I do apologize. I'm still getting ideas for new posts and still looking through cards so there's plenty of topics I can write about in the future. The semester is halfway completed, and over the next couple of weeks I'll try working ahead if/when I can so that I can free up some time towards the last few weeks of the semester. I've already got my standings post started and hope to have that posted sometime soon. Keep an eye out!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Trade With Alex

Here is my first "official" trade with Alex from ChavezRavining. We completed a trade in the past but it was before I created this blog, so technically this can be considered our first trade (or first documented trade). I am extremely late with this one as I've just transferred colleges and have started classes. I received his cards a couple of weeks before I had to pack up and go and I wasn't able to find any time to write a post until now. So cutting to the chase, here are the cards I received in the trade with Alex.


For the first two pictures I believe I already have them all, though I'm not sure about the 2014 Topps (pictured bottom left in second picture). As for the bottom picture, I had seen this card before but never had one until now (now have two!). So this was a fun surprise to see. I believe those two would be my favorites I received just because of Smoltzy's expression - makes me smile every time I look at them. These two cards are from 2014 Topps Stadium Club. Great picture.


I tried grouping cards together depending on the players, and it worked perfectly between Freddie Freeman and T-Rex (Julio Teheran) since I got three of each and was able to fit them on one picture. I've got a good collection of Freeman (I'm not sure on the total number, but I'll have to count them up). The gold Freeman is #'d 1030/2014, and I think I have another gold one but I'm not sure. As for Teheran my collection is still fairly small, but is gradually growing. The Future Stars card you see in the middle is #'d 216/2014.


These are the Kimbrel cards I received. Taking this picture was tricky just because of the two landscape cards and the mini. I thought the two red cards would be numbered but they are not, however the gold one is #'d 1365/2012.


The final picture is of Tom Glavine and a lone card of Andrelton Simmons. Before I forget to mention, Alex also sent some Mets cards for my brother that aren't pictured. There were some Mets prospects my brother has been following and some David Wright cards he didn't have, so thanks for sending those. And also, thanks again for all the cards (especially Smoltz!).

I know some of you have noticed that I haven't been as active the past few weeks and college tends to do that to people. But I do have some ideas in mind, including my 2015 baseball predictions. Thankfully I still have plenty of time before the season starts, so I'll have to try working ahead in my classes so I can free up some time in the upcoming weeks. Either way keep an eye out for posts in the near future!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2014 Atlanta Braves Season Statistics

During the All Star break, I wrote a post about the Braves' midseason statistical ranking (Midseason Report: 2014 Atlanta Braves), which makes for a good comparison from then until now. I'm sure that if you're a Braves fan, you're just as disappointed as I am with how this season has transpired. I even wrote a post back in March of how good the Braves could be after all the extensions they made to their young players (The Hunt For Choptober). But moving on, here's a look at how the Braves ranked across the MLB.

2014 Atlanta Braves season statistics:

Hitting:

.241 average (26th best)
.305 on-base percentage (24th best)
545 rbi (29th best)
1,316 hits (26th best)
240 doubles (tied with Astros for 28th best)
123 home runs (tied with Red Sox for 22nd best)
573 runs (29th best)
472 walks (14th best)
1,369 strikeouts (4th most)
95 stolen bases (16th most)

Pitching: 

.251 opponent average (18th lowest)
.312 opponent on-base percentage (16th lowest)
547 earned runs (5th lowest)
1,369 hits allowed (13th lowest)
121 home runs allowed (5th lowest)
597 runs allowed (6th lowest)
472 walks allowed (tied with Orioles for 16th lowest)
1,301 strikeouts (9th most)
3.38 earned run average (5th lowest)
54 saves (2nd most)


As you can see, I'm a bit late with this. I had this in my drafts and didn't finish it, then I ended up forgetting about it. But now that I have remembered, we can compare this to the team statistics at the All Star break, and then how the Braves finished the year. As you can see, the offense was....well....anyways, moving on. The pitching wasn't too bad, as the Braves were typically ranked in the upper half of all MLB teams. The Braves are usually pretty good when it comes to pitching, as I'm sure you guys know. So that's not much of a surprise. 2015 might be an interesting year, especially with some new faces on the team, so we'll see how that goes. More posts will come as the new season draws closer!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

John Smoltz, Welcome To The Hall Of Fame

Photo from www.ajc.com
I haven't even completed the first sentence yet and I'm already getting goose bumps. John Smoltz is being inducted into the MLB Hall Of Fame. My favorite player in the history of everything, inducted. Words really cannot describe how happy I am, as with this, many opportunities arise. The main one is that I'll have the chance to finally meet him after all these years. Unfortunately I've never been able to watch him play in-person, only on tv. I almost got to see him during his Triple-A stint with Pawtucket, but at the time I wasn't even old enough to drive. Considering that Pawtucket was going to be playing in Syracuse, Syracuse was the closest Triple-A team to where I live, even if it was two hours away. I almost went to the HOF induction last year and I might've been able to meet him then, but I just couldn't make it. I've been to the Hall Of Fame before, but not the ceremony. When I went in 2007 it was a week or two after the ceremony (something like that, I don't really remember). The first ceremony I'll ever attend will be with Smoltz, and I find that quite fitting.

I'm not sure who's more excited about the induction, Smoltzy or myself. Both of our childhood dreams come true, with him being inducted into the Hall Of Fame and me actually being able to see him in-person with my own eyes, hopefully meet him, and maybe even get something signed by him. You may or may not be able to tell just how excited I am. For comparison, think of your favorite athlete. You think highly of them in many regards, whether it because of their personality, athletic accomplishments, or perhaps they're the face of your favorite team. Have you been able to meet him/her? For me, it's a feeling of pure excitement. Being from a small town, the closest MLB team to me would probably be the Blue Jays. I would've driven to see him play but my parents wouldn't let a 17/18 year old kid drive 6+ hours to either New York City or to Toronto. And my dad was never up for traveling. So I was SOL.

I could've talked about his statistics or how he went from starter to closer and then back to starter, but this was more of a personal blog post for me. I've looked up to him for years. I've collected hundreds upon hundreds of cards, autos, bobbleheads, and other sorts of memorabilia of him. To see him be recognized as now a Hall Of Fame player is truly a remarkable feeling. I don't want to take away from the others that were elected including Pedro Martinez, Craig Biggio, and Randy Johnson, so congratulations to them as well. For me, though, Smoltz shines above them all. I was so confident that he'd make it in that I started writing this post before the official announcement and this last little bit is all I've written since it became official. Just a year a part, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux will be joined by John Smoltz. Seeing the "Big Three" united in the Hall, along with Bobby Cox, gives me chills.

A childhood dream was answered for Smoltz today, and for me, mine will be answered this summer when I'll be in the presence of my all-time favorite player for any sport, and my hero that I've looked up to for so many years in my young adult life. I can now look forward to hearing his speech and hopefully meeting him over the summer. I'll be able to see his plaque in the Hall Of Fame for the rest of my life and tell my future children that I was there to see his induction. Congratulations John, from perhaps your biggest fan in the world. See you in Cooperstown.

Photo from www.braves.com