Blog Archives

R.I.P. Pete Van Wieren

(October 7, 1944 – August 2, 2014)

Pete Van Wieren Braves Broadcaster

A Braves broadcaster for over thirty years, known nationwide thanks to TBS television coverage, Pete Van Wieren has passed away from complications of lymphoma.

TWJ Cards keeps rolling on tumblr…

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Recently featured by TWJ Cards on tumblrEvan Gattis, Brandon Beachy, Glenn Davis, Cory Hahn, Tony Cingrani, and Chris Sale. Coming soon: Buster Posey, Ryan Zimmerman, Bo Jackson, Wil Myers, Mike Moustakas, and Dave Winfield. Are you following yet?

Photoset: Cincinnati Reds vs. Atlanta Braves (May 7, 2013 @ Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati OH)

Celebration

An exciting game with two bottom-of-the-ninth homers from pinch hitter Devin Mesoraco and centerfielder Shin-Soo Choo giving the Reds a walk-off victory over the Atlanta Braves. We didn’t get free pizza, but we got a great game.

Homer Bailey
Reds

Read the rest of this entry

Welcome to the Big Leagues by Dan Hettinger (2013)

Welcome to the Big Leagues book

Welcome to the Big Leagues:
Every Man’s Journey to Significance, The Darrel Chaney Story

by Dan Hettinger
Morgan James, 2013
280 pages

The Big Red Machine was loaded with All-Stars and future Hall of Famers, but for every player there was a backup. Darrel Chaney played the backup role to several of Cincinnati’s stars until his trade to the Atlanta Braves after the 1975 season. Though he was never on the track to Cooperstown, Dan Hettinger wanted to tell Chaney’s story and relate it to motivational principles in the spiritual world in Welcome to the Big Leagues.

Hettinger goes back and forth talking about Chaney in one chapter (the “top” of an inning), and then his own experiences as a religious leader in the next (the “bottom” of an inning). Welcome to the Big Leagues is not so much a biography, but aims to be more of a book of inspiration to those who may not believe they make much of an impact on the lives of those around them.

Theologically, I do not agree with Hettinger’s positions, but there are general principles that can be gleaned from these pages. I would not recommend the book as authoritative in religion. However, there are some interesting anecdotes about Chaney’s time in the majors, as well as Hettinger’s work in the religious world, and there are lessons one can learn about how to handle situations with maturity and patience.

Learn more about Morgan James.

Purchase Welcome to the Big Leagues: Every Man’s Journey to Significance, The Darrel Chaney Story by Dan Hettinger.

Does Dale Murphy belong in the Hall of Fame?

Dale Murphy should be a Hall of Famer

Tyson Murphy is a character artist at Blizzard Entertainment. He is also the son of 1980s superstar Dale Murphy, winner of back-to-back MVP Awards in 1982 and 1983, slugger of 398 home runs, driver-in of 1266 runs, hero of many youngsters that collected baseball cards in the 1980s.

Tyson Murphy recently used his art talents in tribute to his father, who is in his last year of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot for the Hall of Fame. Click here to see the full cartoon.

There are several other interesting articles, letters, petitions, and videos regarding Murphy’s candidacy:

I’ve never been shy in proclaiming my admiration of Murphy and my opinion that he belongs in Cooperstown along with other 80s greats, some already in (Mike Schmidt, Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith), and others not yet (Don Mattingly, Alan Trammell).

He won’t make it this year, I know. But I hope the Veteran’s Committee will take a fresh look at his career, at the impact he had on the game, and the positive off-the-field contributions he made to society at large.

TWJ 2012: Jason Heyward

I was a little disappointed in 2010 when Buster Posey beat Jason Heyward in Rookie of the Year voting. Their stats were very similar, but Posey did deserve the honor playing a more difficult position and posting those statistics in fewer games than J-Hey. After injuries limited his play last year, I am glad to see him back on track in 2012 having another fine season.

Atlanta outfielder JHEY

Large photo credit: The Palm Beach Post
Inset photo credit: Rich Addicks/AP

Baseball’s Greatest Games Collector’s Edition DVD boxed set (2011)

As American as baseball and apple pie

Baseball’s Greatest Games
Collector’s Edition DVD boxed set
New Video, 2011
11 discs; 29 hrs., 56 mins. total + extras

What are the greatest baseball games ever televised? While every baseball fan may give a different answer, there are a few games that will certainly appear on the majority of lists. In this 11-disc collection, New Video makes available ten of the greatest games ever played, dating back to the 1960 World Series and coming into the 21st century with playoff games between the Yankees and Red Sox.

Let’s make one thing clear: these videos are not “highlight reels” of the featured games interspersed with interviews. No, these are the actual games as they were originally televised (minus commercials), complete with the original television announcers and graphics associated with the broadcasts. The number of Hall of Famers that played in these games is astounding, from Roberto Clemente and Mickey Mantle to Roberto Alomar and Paul Molitor. Couldn’t get any better, could it?

Actually, yes it could…and it does. Perhaps there is a television announcer that you do not like. What do you do? Mute the TV and watch in silence? You could do that, or you could go to the “audio set-up” of the DVD and choose “radio call” to hear the game as hometown fans heard it, such as the legendary Jack Buck on the 1985 NLCS game (Cardinals vs. Dodgers, featuring Ozzie Smith‘s bottom of the 9th homer), synced up to the action on the screen.

The ten games featured in this collector’s edition include nine playoff games (five of those from the World Series) and one regular season game.

  • 1960 World Series Game 7 (Pirates vs. Yankees, Bill Mazeroski‘s walk-off homer to win the Championship)
  • 1975 World Series Game 6 (Red Sox vs. Reds, Carlton Fisk waving it fair in the bottom of the 12th)
  • 1979 Wrigley Field Slugest (Cubs vs. Phillies, a regular season game with a final score of 23-22, multiple home runs from both Mike Schmidt and Dave Kingman)
  • 1985 NLCS Game 5 (Cardinals vs. Dodgers, Ozzie’s walk-off)
  • 1986 World Series Game 6 (Mets vs. Red Sox, Mookie Wilson‘s dribbler that went in between Bill Buckner‘s legs to send the Series to a seventh game)
  • 1991 World Series Game 7 (Twins vs. Braves, proof that Jack Morris belongs in the Hall of Fame)
  • 1992 NLCS Game 7 (Braves vs. Pirates, amazing come-from-behind win sending Atlanta to the World Series)
  • 1993 World Series Game 6 (Blue Jays vs. Phillies, Joe Carter‘s dramatic bottom of the 9th blast)
  • 2003 ALCS Game 7 (Yankees vs. Red Sox, the 11-inning nail-biter featuring Aaron Boone‘s heroic blast)
  • 2004 ALCS Game 4 (Red Sox vs. Yankees, the beginning of Boston’s historic comeback after losing the first three games of the ALCS)

In addition to these complete broadcasts is an eleventh disc featuring interviews from players and coaches, many of them involved in the contests. Hall of Famers Whitey Ford, Mazeroski, Fisk, Gary Carter, Kirby Puckett and Rickey Henderson, as well as legends Pete Rose, Fred Lynn, Tug McGraw, and Dave Stewart are included in these interviews.

This boxed set is a fantastic addition to any baseball lover’s video collection, highly recommended to those who love to relive the classic moments from baseball’s history.

Learn more about New Video.

Purchase Baseballs Greatest Games on DVD.

Fun Card: 1988 Fleer “Super Star Special” Yadier Molina/Brian McCann

The All-Star Game is the perfect backdrop for this kind of card. Featuring Yadier Molina of the villainous Cardinals and Brian McCann of the not-quite-as-villainous Braves (they’re actually kinda boring nowadays to me…I used to hate them a lot more), here’s a “fun card” based on the 1988 Fleer “Super Star Special” subset.

Gypsy Queen – Mark Lemke

If you’re drafted in the 27th round, what are your chances to make the big leagues? To become a starter? To play in four World Series? To even win one? Mark Lemke‘s Braves fell to the Twins, Blue Jays, and Yankees, but they bested the Indians in 1995. To appear in four World Series in an 11-year career is pretty phenomenal, even if they only won once.

Did you know that after his big league career was over, Lemke tried his hand at pitching? In 1999 he won five games as a knuckleballer for the Northern League New Jersey Jackals. I haven’t found any photographic evidence of him pitching, other than the positional designation on his minor league issues. If you can point me in the right direction, there will be another Lemke Gypsy Queen card forthcoming.

Gypsy Queen – Deion Sanders

The first of the requested Gypsy Queen customs is Deion Sanders…and the second…and the third…and the fourth!

Neon Deion started his baseball career with the New York Yankees, playing 71 games over 2 seasons before being released after the 1990 season (and a .158 batting average). Then he took a turn with the Braves…

Prime Time came into his own in Atlanta, finally finding his stroke and raising his batting average to .304 in 1992 after two straight sub-.200 seasons. But he was much more famous for what he was doing on another field

I only remember Deion as a Falcon. He spent more time in Dallas, but I have blocked that out of my memory. He was also a 49er for a few games, and a Redskin, and a Raven?!?!? Nope…Deion was a Falcon on the gridiron, and that was it.

Of course, he also spent some time with another baseball team…

And the non-Cooperstown home of the Braves…

The Braves are the oldest team we have discussed thus far as a part of the NON-HOF project on Baseball Fever. It has also been one of the most difficult to get my head around, because I had to compare much older players which didn’t play the same game to guys of the modern age. You can see the discussion about the Braves by clicking here.

My picks:
C: Deacon White
1B: Joe Adcock
2B: Ross Barnes
SS: Johnny Logan
3B: Bob Elliott
LF: Ron Gant
CF: Wally Berger
RF: Dale Murphy
sub1: Bob Horner
sub2: Tommy Holmes
LHP: Steve Avery
SP: Lew Burdette
SP: Johnny Sain
#4 SP or RP: Jack Stivetts
sub3: Ginger Beaumont

The top picks of the BBF think tank:
C: Joe Torre/Deacon White
1B: Joe Adcock
2B: Ross Barnes
SS: Herman Long
3B: Bob Elliott
LF: Rico Carty
CF: Wally Berger
RF: Dale Murphy
Sub 1 and 2: Darrell Evans, Tommy Holmes
P: Steve Avery (LHP)
P: Tommy Bond
P: Jack Stivetts
P: Charlie Buffinton
P: Johnny Sain

While there were no unanimous selections, Barnes and Long missed by only one. Murphy is the guy that I think is the most glaring omission from Cooperstown, but he won’t get there by the BBWAA. It will be up to the Veterans Committee to right that wrong in a decade or so.

Operation Manuel Override

Charlie Manuel should be fired by Bud Selig.

Do something right for once, Bud. Get rid of that bum!
(And then resign yourself)

Vote Votto as the 34th man.

The pick of Omar Infante is puzzling…no. Puzzling doesn’t begin to describe to utter STUPIDITY of the selection.

Again, Charlie Manuel should be fired by Bud Selig.

I do NOT agree with Passan that Strasburg should be on the team.

But I DO agree that Infante should not be allowed ANYWHERE NEAR the All-Star Game.

At least not without buying a ticket.

FIRE CHARLIE MANUEL. Idiots shouldn’t be allowed to run baseball teams. Especially All-Star teams.

This isn’t even so much about Votto’s obvious snub. It’s about who was picked over him. 1) Ryan Howard isn’t better than Votto this year. 2) Omar Infante isn’t better than Votto EVER.

In my opinion, Votto deserved it over Brandon Phillips and Arthur Rhodes.

And I’m not really even comfortable with the Rhodes selection anyway, because the guy is a stinkin’ relief pitcher. At least he’s not the Reds lone selection though.

But Votto should be on the team.

Votto should have been the FIRST RESERVE PICKED for the team.

Seriously, if Votto isn’t picked as the 34th man then the vote should be taken away from the fans AND the coaches.

I understand why he isn’t starting. Albert Pujols is an amazing player. If it weren’t for Votto, I would have voted for Pujols. I get it.

But to leave Votto off the team altogether?

It’s worse than wrong.

Vote for Votto. Please. Let’s end world hunger…for the children.

(disclaimer: I stole “Manuel Override” from @Mileysthoughts via @OMGreds)

What do you do when a hero retires?

The first thing I did after reading this article was to surf over to the Cardboard Junkie blog. Call it morbid curiosity, but I wanted to see how our buddy dayf was taking the news.

Not a word.

I suppose there are a few reasons for this.

1) He hasn’t heard the news yet.

2) He hasn’t had time to process his thoughts into a coherent blog post yet.

3) He hasn’t accepted the truth.

I will be anxiously anticipating his reaction.

2010 Rookie Sensations: Heyward, Leake, Strasburg, Stanton

I know I’ll never own “the” Strasburg rookie card (which is a farce anyway), so I made my own…with added value in the former of should-be All-Star Heyward, should-be Rookie of the Year Leake, and a guy I had never heard of but Yahoo featured him in an article and every “Rookie Stars” card needs at least one no-name.

Heyward is having a fantastic season so far, which is no surprise to dayf. What is a surprise, at least to me, is Leake’s hot start. I heard on the radio (and everything you hear on the radio is correct </sarcasm>) that he is the first pitcher in major league history to start his first 10 career games without a loss. Any bbref’ers care to figure out if that is actually a correct assertation? 5-0 already, with 6 unfortunate no-decisions, and a fantastic 2.68 ERA…Strasburg has some catching up to do. Yeah, Stephen had a great first game (albeit against the hapless Pirates), and may do great tomorrow (against the just-as-bad-as-the-Pirates Indians; we’ll see how he does when he faces an actual major league team, though), but to start your career in the fashion Leake has is pretty awesome. Out of his 11 starts, 4 have ended in a Reds loss (thanks, bullpen!) and only 1 of those was by more than 1 run.

So which of these players will go on to Cooperstown, and which one will be the most recent Brien Taylor?

Package from Stats on the Back

On Friday, I received a nice surprise in the mail from Mark at Stats on the Back…a box full of Reds! I worked all weekend so I haven’t had the opportunity until today to post some of the goodies found inside…

1986 Hall of Fame inductee Ernie “The Schnozz” Lombardi (from the 1991 Sporting News Conlon Collection set)…

2010 Hall of Fame inductee (fingers crossed) Barry Larkin (1991 Studio)…

1988 NL Rookie of the Year Chris “Spuds” Sabo (1989 Fleer Baseball’s Exciting Stars…I love oddballs!)…

Rob “Nasty Boy” Dibble (1990 Donruss Baseball’s Best)…

Norm “Nasty Boy” Charlton, misidentified as Tom “Mr. Perfect” Browning (1991 Fleer Ultra)…

And a couple of Reds in different uniforms…

Mr. Senior (1987 Fleer…wearing a nasty Braves uniform)

Mr. Junior (1991 Upper Deck…wearing his former Seattle uniform, which I like better than his current Seattle uniform, although neither is as cool as the classic Seattle uniform…with Cubs great Ryne Sandberg, who should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer)

These were just a few of the many Reds (and former Reds) included in the box…a great addition to my collection and a large number that I needed! I don’t have time to update my checklists right now, but they will be taken care of soon!

Mark said he loved the 2009 Topps Retired Reds, and couldn’t wait for the Eric Davis card. Well, wait no more.

Griffey gone?

The ever-wise Ken Rosenthal (said with tongue firmly implanted in cheek) opines that Griffey will be sent packing, possibly back to Seattle, before July 31. The rumors have been floating around Cincinnati for months, some placing Griffey back with his first major league team, others flying him down to the Atlanta Braves where his father also played. I haven’t heard the Yankee rumor in a while, but that’s been volleyed about as well from time to time. Read the rest of this entry

Do you ever buy cards at K-Mart?

I worked at K-Mart when I was in high school and college. Three different stores, in fact. Wait, make that four. I also worked there part-time after graduating from college, to supplement my other (low) income. Anyway, I didn’t want to go to Wal-Mart tonight. I didn’t feel like driving all the way to Target. But there is a K-Mart within 5 minutes of my apartment. So I decided to swing by and see what they had.

The selection wasn’t great, but it was no worse than Wal-Mart. About a week ago, I went to Wal-Mart specifically looking to buy a box of 2008 Topps Heritage, but they were all out. But tonight, K-Mart had them, so I decided to try it. I knew they didn’t have the Dick Perez special pack, but that was okay. I just wanted some cards.

I opened the 4-card “bonus” pack first. I can’t even remember who was in it. One black back, and three green backs. Nothing special, no players to jump up and down about. So I proceeded to the first regular pack in the box. And I pulled this:

A Smoltzie jersey card…in a box from K-Mart!!! Needless to say, I was extremely happy (and I’m still on cloud nine). I’m not a Braves fan, but you gotta love Smoltz. The guy went from being a staff ace to the best relief pitcher in the bigs back to a solid starter.

I also pulled three Reds (Homer Bailey, Edwin Encarnacion, and Ryan Freel) and the Cubs’ ace (Carlos Zambrano), but without a doubt the Smoltz was the highlight of the box.

1971 All-Star Game, part 2

He said he would do it, and he did! YouTube user as888990 posted a couple more clips from the 1971 All-Star game!

The first clip is the top of the third inning, Vida Blue on the mound for the AL facing his pitching opponent Dock Ellis at the plate. Willie Mays was next up, and then Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. The announcer states during Aaron’s at-bat, “The All-Star game has not been Henry Aaron’s bag…Tonight he wants his first All-Star extra base hit.” Well, he got it with an upper-deck home run. At the time, Hank was 98 dingers behind Babe Ruth on the all-time list, and he was suffering from knee problems. He stuck around long enough to break the record a few years later, and even bettered it by 41. It will be a big deal when that record is legitimately broken.

The second clip starts with Rod Carew’s plate appearance against Dock Ellis in the bottom of the third inning, and continues with Bobby Murcer (third baseman Joe Torre caught his pop-up on the first base side of the mound), Carl Yastrzemski, and Frank Robinson of the Orioles. At the time, Robbie was 12th on the all-time home runs list according to a graphic flashed on the screen during the game. He finished his career fourth on the list, but has dropped to seventh after Bonds, Sosa, and Griffey passed him.

For those who are interested, there are “cameos” in these clips of Jim Palmer, Willie McCovey, and Bud Harrelson. If you want to see the box score and play-by-play of the game, click here. Thanks for posting these, as888990!

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