A couple of weeks ago I got an e-mail with the simple yet effective subject "trade???". It was from a guy in New Jersey named Jeff who had an offer I couldn't refuse - a pile o' Braves in exchange for a pile o' Mets. Jeff is a Mets fan (it can happen to the best of us) and he's also a writer for The Trentonian. (editor's note - the front page for 2/28/08 is absolutely insanely incredible, but be careful who's around when you click it - consider this a warning) The motivation was simple - he can get a bunch of cards from his favorite team and a column out of the deal. It sounded great to me, I'll take any Braves cards I can get my hands on. Getting rid of some Mets in the doubles pile was a happy bonus. I accepted the deal and went scrounging for some New Yorkers to unload.
I got a nice big pile of Metropolitans together and was about to start packing them when I received Jeff's package. I opened it up and was pleasantly surprised. You know that movie? The one with Keanu Reeves? The one where he says "whoa"? Well that's what I did. I said "WHOA." Some nice stuff in that package, stuff I didn't expect as you will soon see. I sweetened the pot a little bit, packed them up and sent them off. The heated Braves - Mets rivalry compelled me to make sure my package was every bit as good as his. As long as some card collecting Philly fan doesn't one-up the both of us, we should be good on this deal.
Jeff sent a pile of Braves loose in a bubble mailer. In the spirit of true collecting, he made sure the cards arrived safely with no plastic surrounding them. Jefferson Burdick didn't need top loaders and by God, neither did Jeff! I myself am far too neurotic for such idealism and while I respected his wishes for no fancy Ultra Pro supplies, I figured some snack-size ziploc bags would be acceptable. I'm pretty sure I got unused ones. If not, I think Jeff enjoyed any leftovers he received. He didn't complain at any rate. An article in The Trentonian with Jeff's reaction to my side of the trade is now online. Here are my choices for the top 20 cards out of the lot I received from Jeff.
#21 1991 Score Deion Sanders
This list was supposed to be only 20 cards, but why not give Deion #21. This card is from 1991, the same year I witnessed Deion run back a touchdown in a game against the Seahawks. I was watching from the nosebleeds and someone got an interception and lateraled it to Prime Time. All of a sudden it was like Jesus playing Tecmo Bowl. Deion completely schooled everyone on the Seahawks organization, from the general manager down to the waterboy and waltzed into the end zone. Easily one of the top five most amazing sports-type things I've seen in person.
#20 2007 Bowman Chrome Kala Kaaihue
Setting aside the awesome name, Kala is a pretty solid first base prospect that might end up a fallback option for the Bravos if Teixieira ends up signing with the Yankees for 87 zillion dollars this offseason. The name is pretty frickin' sweet though.
#19 1999 Bowman John Smoltz
Check out the "Now and Then" pics on the back of this card. Oh my God. Whatever happened to that Babyfaced Johnny we traded Doyle Alexander for? And just think how much more grizzled Smoltzie has gotten since then.
#18 1989 Fleer "Double Trouble"
Perry and Galarraga - a current and future Brave from 1989.Gerald Perry was actually a pretty good player, he just had the misfortune of playing for the Bravos during the Dreadful Times. Andres only played here a couple of years, but Atlanta fans still love the Big Cat.
#17 Richard Petty
I'm not a big NASCAR fan and I have no earthly idea what set this is from (1992 M.P.A.?? or something) but this card rocks hard.
#16 2005 Topps Fan Favorites Sid Bream
Sid Bream 1992. How sweet it is. I'll never forget the home crowd chanting "Sid!" over and over at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. I'll also never figure out how they managed to pronounce the word Sid using three syllables. A nice quirk of these Archive/Fan Favorite sets is the photo often doesn't match the period of time of the card design. There's quite obviously a Florida Marlin in the background of what is supposed to be a 1992 card there.
#15 1990 Upper Deck Dale Murphy
1990 is the last year Dale Murphy cards were produced. Anything after that just doesn't count.
#14 1991 Score Dave Justice
And now Murphy's replacement. It's hard to replace a Legend, but Dave sure did. It does put some perspective on the state of the Braves going into the 1991 season when a rookie is declared "The Franchise".
#13 1997 Bowman Tom Glavine
Great photos of Tommy like this one almost make me forget that little bit of unpleasantness that occurred from 2003-2007. Almost.
#12 2005 Topps Gallery Andruw Jones
This is a parallel card from the '05 Gallery set, but I don't remember what it was called. Mostly because I just flat out couldn't find any Gallery from that year. I think Topps turned it into a super premium product or something and knocked it out of my price range. A shame because it was usually one of my favorite Topps sets.
#11 2005 Upper Deck Classics Eddie Mathews
How did one franchise get blessed with both Eddie and Chipper at the Hot Corner? Insanity. Boxes of this stuff are dirt cheap and I still haven't figured out why I haven't picked one up yet.
#10 1991 Upper Deck Rookie Force Checklist
This card shows the Falcons' draft class of 1991. They kept Bruce Pickens, Moe Gardner, Mike Pritchard and Erric Pegram and let that other guy sitting down go. If you'll excuse me I need to be sick just a little bit. I didn't send Jeff any football cards because I wasn't exactly sure which team he rooted for. I didn't want to send a bunch of Giants cards to a Jets fan - or worse, an Eagles fan. My in-laws live in Long Island and I know damn well not to get favorite teams mixed up.
#9 2000 Chipper Jones Topps Finest
Chipper Jones - MVP. And don't you forget it.
#8 2008 Upper Deck SP Rookie Edition Jeff Francoeur
Classic Frenchy with smeared eye black and his trademark focused batting grimace. SP Rookie Edition was one of those Upper Deck sets I might have collected, but I just couldn't justify dropping 5-6 bucks a shot on an 8 card pack. Not with Allen & Ginter and Goudey both on the shelves at the same time.
#7 1983 Donruss Action All-Stars Phil Niekro
My favorite player from my favorite 80's oddball set.
#6 2004 Topps Chrome Greg Maddux Refractor
Ok, now we're getting into the serious cards. This card is a little piece of perfect. The greatest pitcher of his generation (sorry Roger, ya blew it) in the awesome '74 throwback unis on a shiny Chrome refractor card. Plus the photo shows the pitch as it was just released, the ball just hanging in midair. I'm starting to seriously rethink making this card #6 on the list.
#5 2006 Bowman Heritage Chipper Jones Jersey
2006 Bowman Heritage was a complete flustercluck of a set what with the phantom white parallels and purposely atrocious design, but I still like it for some crazy reason. Topps really nailed the feel of that set in many ways and this picture of Chipper would fit in perfectly in the middle of the original 1949 set. Well, except for maybe the A on the cap that is. This card gets bonus points for actually having a piece of a jersey in a card that says "Authentic Game-Worn Jersey". People familiar with this set know what I'm talking about.
#4 2007 Bowman Heritage Greg Alan Maddux Bat
Ahh, Greg Maddux batting. Chicks dig the longball. The 2007 edition of Bowman Heritage is heads and shoulders above the '06 version, but they screwed up one little thing. You see, the Bowman Heritage logo looks like a little guy batting inside a star with "Heritage" next to it. It has looked like a little guy swinging a bat inside a star since they first used it in 2001. However, when Topps decided to put a king sized version of the logo on the relic cards and use the little guy's silhouette for the relic window, they had to smooth out the edges on him or there would be no way to create a die cut that wouldn't result in little bits falling off the card when you actually pulled it from a pack. So now instead of a little guy swinging a bat, the logo looks like the piece of Greg's bat is flipping him off. And NOBODY flips off Greg Alan Maddux if I have anything to say about it. I shall now be forced to travel to Duryea, PA and soundly thrash those responsible for this travesty. The crew at the Topps design team need a refresher lesson in negative space.
#3 2007 Turkey Red Chipper Jones Chrome Refractor
I am on record in stating that I do not like 2007 Turkey Red. I have also stated much more loudly that I really don't like the Chrome cards in Turkey Red. However, any combination of Chipper Jones and refractor is a win in my book.
#2 2007 Bowman Brian McCann Orange parallel
I really, really like McCann, especially since he is locked up through at least 2012.I also really, really like this card and not just because it's numbered to 250. I think it's the way the day-glo orange horribly clashes with the red border.
#1 2005 Topps Chrome Andruw Jones Red Xfractor
My first reaction to this card was simply, wooooooo shiny! Later on I flipped it over , saw the 20/25 serial number and about choked. What is it with people sending me unsolicited cards numbered to 25? Not that I'm complaining mind you, keep 'em coming! Seeing numbers that low gives me the willies though since I still remember when any serial number under 100 was a huge deal. Heck, I remember when a card numbered to 10,000 was the height of scarcity. I'm old. You'd think I would have gotten over low serial number shock after several years of Donruss and their Parallelapalooza.
Nice haul from Jersey Jeff! Those Met fans aren't bad guys after all, even if they do root for the wrong team. I'm really looking forward to seeing how Jeff likes his pile o' cards.