Blog Bat Around
Over at Torren’ Up Cards, a new Blog Bat Around was proposed. Here’s the summary straight from the source:
About two years ago my collector friends in Japan did a fun little challenge where they constructed a starting nine/10 lineup with their best MLB/MiLB autographs at each position. Now “best” is subjective. Some people went with best in terms of the best on their favorite team at the moment, or possibly the best at the position in franchise history, or just go with the best in general regardless of team. In my case I went with players who were my favorites in general (so Luis Torrens was at every position).
This variety is what made the challenge so fun and gave people a chance to flex and show off some of their autographs.
I know that not everyone on our corner of the blogosphere is an autograph nut, but if you’re in this hobby long enough you’ll accumulate a decent number of them for one reason or another (usually because of the kindness of strangers). Anyway I wanted to revive this fun little challenge for my friends here on the blogosphere as my first Bat Blog Around.
This is a great idea and I’m glad I got off my ass to participate, even if it meant I spent a week NOT posting my Braves Card of the Day.
My Autograph Collection
I’ve never concentrated on collecting autographs, but two things have increased the number of autos in my collection: I buy into a number of group breaks and I try to get a single autograph of every player that comes through Atlanta. Of course, this has led to a ridiculous number of Hector Olivera, Christian Bethancourt, and Mallex Smith autos sitting in top loaders in my boxes.
That said, I believe I have an autographed card for every Braves great from the Milwaukee years on. Unfortunately, I can’t just pick one player for each position. So, I’ve got my winners and my runners up. Let’s dive in.
Winner: Freddie Freeman
The card you see below is Freddie’s first Bowman auto. It’s a beautiful signature from the Braves best player. From his first game in Atlanta, he’s been the favorite of Braves fans. I hope, I hope, I hope he plays for Atlanta his entire career. I hope he stays healthy. He’s in his prime. He’s a joy to watch.
Runner Up: Fred McGriff
It remains remarkable to me that the Braves were able to get to two straight World Series before Maddux and McGriff wore the Tomahawk across their chest. The mid-season trade for McGriff is the greatest mid-season trade in Braves history and without it, the Braves would not have been able to keep pace with the Giants in the West in 93.
Runner Up: Bob Horner
Bob Horner was fat. Bob Horner was often injured. Bob Horner was lazy. I loved Bob Horner.
Winner: Mark Lemke
Here are a few of the falsehoods you will hear from Braves fans about Mark Lemke. “He was a clutch hitter.” “He was an underrated bat.” He was neither. Every ounce of value provided by the Lemmer came from his glove. When his decline came, it came rapidly. No matter. Like every Braves fan of a certain age, I love Mark Lemke and I’m so glad that he has several auto cards.
Someday: Ozzie Albies
I’m calling it now. Albies will be the greatest Braves second baseman ever. He’s terrific in the field and his bat is legit. He’s one of the most fun players to watch in baseball right now.
Choice: Andrelton Simmons
Simba is not only my favorite shortstop in Braves history, he’s my current favorite player in all of baseball. Watching him field his position is enough to get me to turn on a baseball game. His web gems are baseball porn and I have a number of his autohraphs from his time with the Braves. I don’t believe he’s had a single auto in any set since his trade to the Angels.
Sometimes, you just can’t choose between two great baseball players.
Co-Winner: Chipper Jones
Chipper Jones is arguably the 2nd greatest Atlanta Braves offensive player. The only third baseman in baseball history that you can definitively say was better, without any controversy, is Mike Schmidt. Getting to watch him hit, year after year, is one of the singular joys I’ve had as a Braves fan. I can’t make this list without Chipper Jones.
Co-Winner: Eddie Mathews
Eddie Mathews is arguably the 2nd greatest Atlanta Braves offensive player. The only third baseman in baseball history that you can definitively say was better, without any controversy, is Mike Schmidt. It’s hard to believe that he was merely the second best player on those great Braves teams of the 50s. I can’t make this list without Eddie Mathews.
Runner Up: Terry Pendleton
It pains me to no end when I hear people dismiss TP’s 1991 MVP award as undeserved. (It was, but it still pains me.) I know this however, if the Braves don’t sign Terry Pendleton, they don’t make their miracle runs to the World Series in 1991 and 1992. They don’t sign Greg Maddux before the 93 season and they don’t trade for Fred McGriff during the 93 season and they don’t win 14 straight division titles. He’s one of my all-time favorites.
Winner: Brian McCann
This is one of those guys that no fan of the Braves ever wanted to see wear another uniform, even though we all new the Braves were right not to sign him to a big free agent deal. It tickles me to no end that he got a World Series ring with the Astros. I hope that last few years of his career are spent with the Braves. (As a backup, I hope.)
Runner Up: Javy Lopez
For many of those years the Braves won with Lopez behind the plate, Eddie Perez was the backup catcher. If I would turn on a game in progress, I would always have a hard time telling who was behind the plate until the catcher would stand up. Javy Lopez was a big, big man.
Winner: Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron is the greatest of the Braves and I’m thankful for the group breaks I occasionally participate in, and my father in law, otherwise, the only Aaron auto I’d own is a rather shitty in-person auto on a shitty K-Mart card from the 80s.
Winner: Dale Murphy
What Aaron was to the Braves in the 50s and 60s, and what Chipper was to the Braves in the late 90s and 00s, Dale Murphy was to the 80s. He was the best player on the team and he was the most popular player on the team and he was on every milk container for sale in Columbus, GA.
Winner: Andruw Jones
He’s the best defensive player I’ve ever seen, with the possible exception of Andrelton Simmons. On a team with Chipper, he was the most exciting player to watch week in and week out.
Runner Up: Tim Raines
One of my rare autograph purchases for no reason other than he’s one of my all-time favorite baseball players. He doesn’t make my list though because he wasn’t a Brave.
Runner Up: Stan Musial
Musial is one of my favorite “historical” baseball players and this card was a rather ghoulish purchase made within minutes of his death.
Runner Up: Tony Gwynn
Another favorite and another ghoulish purchase.
Runner Up: David Justice
I wanted to put Justice on the list above. He hit, after all, the home run that was the only run scored in the World Series clinching victory of Game 6, 1995.
Someday: Ronald Acuña Jr
I’m ready for the Acuña era to start.
Look at the name of this blog. I couldn’t include just one starting pitcher. I need a rotation and, as it turns out, I have a card for the five greatest pitchers in the history of the franchise that weren’t named Kid Nichols.
Winner: Greg Maddux
The best I ever saw.
Winner: Tom Glavine
Tom Glavine was a steely eyed son of a bitch. He was always my favorite and he pitched my favorite game of all time, the 1995 World Series.
Winner: John Smoltz
My opinions about Smoltz are complicated by the stupid shit he will occasionally spout, but he was so good, and he spent so much of his career throwing every pitch in pain. Terrific announcer too.
Winner: Phil Niekro
The only pitcher that mattered when I moved to Georgia and became a Braves fan.
Winner: Warren Spahn
Owning this card makes me so damn happy.
Runner Up: Steve Carlton
Before I got to see Maddux pitch every 5th game for a decade, I believed that Lefty was the best I ever saw. I loved those Phillies teams of the late 70s and he was my favorite player on those teams.
Winner: Craig Kimbrel
This guy is far too cool to be a damned Red Sox. This is one of the few Braves autographs I pulled directly out of a pack.