The strange 6 – 1 week. Is Mac back? Is Uggla back? The private ceremony for Chipper at Citi Field. And the end of Strasburg’s season.[...]
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Barry Zito came through in one of the most important outings in his San Francisco tenure, pitching the NL West-leading Giants past the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0 on Sunday night to extend their division lead to 5½ games.
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The Colorado Rockies dropped both games of Sunday's doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies. John Mayberry delivered a walk-off single in Philly's 3-2 victory in Game 1, while the Rockies' defense laid an egg in Game 2 as the Phillies won the nightcap, 7-4.
Tyler Chatwood started the first game, and somehow lasted five innings despite walking four batters and getting into several deep counts otherwise. He wasn't all that hittable, surrendering two runs on three hits, with Ryan Howard doing most of the damage via a two-run double in the third inning. Offense was at a premium after the early innings, as the Rockies scored both of their runs, as well as had four out of their six total hits, in the second inning. Still, they had a chance to break a 2-2 tie in the ninth as Jason Giambi led off with a walk and Charlie Blackmon, who pinch-ran for Giambi, advanced to second on a sac bunt from Chris Nelson. However, Jordan Pacheco struck out with one out, and DJ LeMahieu ended the inning with a lineout to right field.
The Phillies would give Jonathan Papelbon the win in the bottom of the ninth, as Jimmy Rollins' one out single turned into a run after two passed balls and a bloop single from John Mayberry Jr. that Carlos Gonzalez was unable to secure during a diving attempt.
The Game 2 recap, as well as the usual stuff, can be found after the jump.
Game 2 gave those who are vehemently opposed to Project 5,183 a valid argument, as Drew Pomeranz was pulled after four innings and 77 pitches, despite allowing just one run on four hits and a walk while striking out three. Josh Roenicke came on in relief, and promptly began the process of blowing the three-run lead that the Rockies had built, as he allowed a two-run single to Ryan Howard in the fifth and a solo home run to Ty Wigginton in the sixth. After Roenicke was pulled, Matt Reynolds allowed an infield single to Kevin Frandsen, which plated the go-ahead run for the Phillies. They wouldn't look back from that point, as they added a couple more against Will Harris while the Rockies' offense was stymied for the remainder of the game.
The only argument I have in favor of Project 5,183 -- as far as just this game is concerned -- is that no matter who was on the mound, the result likely would have been the same due to the atrocious defense that the Rockies played in Game 2. Chris Nelson, who hit a three-run homer as part of the Rockies' four-run fourth inning, basically forfeited his contribution by committing two fielding errors. Meanwhile, Jonathan Herrera made two errors of his own, and Jordan Pacheco also added one in for good measure. That's five errors. For a major league team. Ouch.
The Rockies finished their season against the Phillies with a record of 2-7, and completed their seven-game eastern road swing at 1-6.
56 - 83
Rockies T.B. Of The Day: Dexter Fowler, who had four hits and two walks in two games.
Rockies L.B. Of The Day: A tie between Josh Rutledge (0-for-4, 3 K in Game 1) and DJ LeMahieu (1-for-8 on the day, although BABIP was a factor).
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The Rockies begin a three-game series on Monday at Coors Field against the San Francisco Giants (yippee). Ryan Vogelsong (12-7, 3.29 ERA) will bring his shitty magic to the mound, and will be opposite Alex White (2-8, 5.31), who will surely possess his own brand of shitty voodoo.
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In Chipper Jones' final game in New York, the Braves won 3-2 in extra innings to sweep the Mets. Tommy Hanson was solid, but matched by Chris Young as each starter allowed 2 runs. The Braves finally cashed in with runners in scoring position in the 10th inning, as the suddenly-hot Brian McCann hit a game winning sacrifice fly for Atlanta.
Tommy Hanson started for Atlanta and, despite laboring a bit at times, pitched well for the Braves. The Mets struck first in the 4th inning, as Ike Davis scored Daniel Murphy on an RBI infield single. The Mets would score their only other run in the 6th, when a David Wright double scored Murphy again. Wright's RBI double would chase Hanson, but Hanson kept the Braves firmly in the game. His final line was 5.2 innings pitched, 2 runs on 4 hits with 1 walk and 5 strikeouts.
Atlanta scored two off Mets' starter Chris Young as well, scoring once in the 5th when Michael Bourn singled home Jose Constanza, who had doubled to lead off the inning. Atlanta struck again in the 6th when Brian McCann gave a Young pitch a ride into the rightfield bleachers for his 20th home run of the year. It was McCann's second game in a row with a homer, and he appears to finally be starting to grind out good at-bats and square up balls. Truly a great sign for the Braves chances moving forward.
After 6, the score was knotted at 2-2, and stayed that way until the 10th inning, despite several opportunities for both teams. Martin Prado led off the 10th inning with an infield single, and moved to second on a groundout by Jason Heyward. Bobby Parnell then intentionally walked Freddie Freeman to bring up Dan Uggla. Uggla put together an awesome at-bat, running the count full and fouling pitches off before drawing a walk to load the bases with one out. That brought up Brian McCann, who drilled a deep fly ball for the game-winning sacrifice fly.
Peter Moylan pitched a scoreless 10th for his first save in years. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth in what was a rare move by Fredi Gonzalez. The move worked like a charm however, as Kimbrel was able to shut down the heart of the Mets order.
Early in the 1997 season, I left my home in Columbus, Georgia for a job in the Chicago area. Starting with the 1990 season, I attended around a dozen Braves games a year. I may have hit a few more during the incredible 1991 and 1992 seasons, but a dozen was usually my minimum. When I made the decision to leave for Chicago, I knew I was going to miss my family and my friends, and I did. Terribly. Still, I may have very well have missed my visits to Atlanta to see the Braves play more. I hope none of them are offended by me admitting this.
In Chicago, I moved to the Lincoln Park neighborhood about a mile south of Wrigley Field, on the same street as the stadium, Clark Street. I was working as a consultant at a company in downtown which allowed me a simple four day work week. We often worked more than our standard 10 hour days on Monday thru Wednesday which allowed us to leave early on Thursday. As most baseball fans know, Thursday’s are a very common off-day on the schedule. If it wasn’t an off day, if the Cubs were playing on a Thursday afternoon, a group of us would pile onto a Red Line car, get off at the Addison Street exit, and spend the afternoon downing a few bears in the upper deck at Wrigley.
It pains me to admit this now, but I was a Cubs fan, and not a small one at that. Make no mistake, I have never been a bigger Cubs fan that I was a Braves fan, but while I lived there, they were my local team. Truth be told, I was a fan before I even moved to Chicago. As a young kid, especially during summer break from school, I would watch as many baseball games as they would televise. That meant I got the Cubs on WGN during the afternoon before the Braves game that night on the Superstation.
In addition to Thursday afternoons at Wrigley, I would also hit as many Friday afternoon games as I could. Other than the Thursday and Friday afternoon games, I really didn’t go to Wrigley that often otherwise. Well, unless the Braves were in town. I got to see the Braves play often at Wrigley. I saw them play regular season games there. I saw them win the 1999 National League Division Series at Wrigley Field. When Eddie Perez blasted that grand slam in the 8th to ice the game, I was the only person down the first base line that was screaming his head off.
Let there be no doubt: I was still a Braves fan. Back then though, it was more work than I was willing to put in to follow my favorite team as closely as I always had. There was no MLB.TV. If there were any Braves blogs or fan sites operating, I wasn’t overtly aware of them. I’d glance at box scores in the Sun Times when taking the El to work in the morning. I’d watch SportsCenter those evenings I remembered to turn it on. When I’d get in after dinner in the evening, I’d flip on TBS occasionally in time to see Kerry Lightenberg shut down the opposing team. I was, of course, glued to my television set for every post-season game.
The point of all the above is that as a Braves fan, I missed much of the 1998 and 1999 seasons. Most of my Braves memories are filtered through my experience of seeing them play the Cubs at Wrigley. I can remember Chipper Jones blasting a home run to right off Kevin Tapani in the final game of a series where the Cubs swept the Braves subjecting me to the ridicule of my Cubbie loving friends. I can remember Chipper walking with the bases loaded to drive in a run during that same season when the Braves were attempting a ninth inning comeback that would fall short. I can remember him hitting a home run off Steve Traschel for the Braves only run on a day when Maddux just didn’t have it. I can remember him hitting a single between Bret Boone and Brian Jordan home runs for an 8th inning comeback in the only regular season game I saw the Braves win at Wrigley.
So those are my memories of Chipper Jones 1998 and 1999 season. Those are the things I saw. What did I miss? I missed Chipper nearly murder the Mets. I missed most of his MVP season. I missed the first peak of Chipper’s career. I all but missed the two years where Chipper established himself as one of the best players in all the game and showed baseball fans everywhere that he might be on him way to the Hall.
I had already stopped collecting cards when I moved from Georgia to Chicago. My cards were placed with care into well insulated moving boxes and there they would stay for three years. When the boxes were stacked up in my dining room, it would elicit questions from any guests I had over. I would tell them the boxes are filled with baseball cards. They would say that it looks like a lot, and I would agree with them. They would tell me that they must be worth a lot of money. I’d roll my eyes and laugh.
The story has been told before, but the baseball card market was already showing signs of stagnation and possible collapse before a strike ended the 1994 season. With this single work stoppage, there was no longer a chance for the industry to overcome its other problems. I think it is safe to say that the hobby will never again be as popular.
Production of baseball cards slowed down significantly during the 1995 and 1996 seasons, but the industry began its comeback in ernest in 1997. All of the earlier trends continued unabated. There were more manufacturers and they were creating more and more sets. If the industry couldn’t attract new people to the hobby, they could certainly sell more and more product to those that were left.
So, Chipper Jones went from having a few dozen cards released each season to having, quite literally, hundreds released each year. Chipper may have never been the hobby darling that guys like Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols or Stephen Strasburg have been, but he was a pretty big deal from the start. Obviously, he was going to be featured in every base set, even those that weren’t that large. (The best example might be his Score card. Score was great because the designs were always solid and easily identifiable.) It also seemed as though he was in every insert set that wasn’t dedicated to pitchers. Chipper was everywhere.
It was also during this period that the manufacturers stopped using autographed cards as an occasional gimmick and instead made them a main feature of a set. The 1998 Donruss Signature Series set is one of the best examples. Chipper’s auto from the set is particularly nice. His 1999 Topps autograph is every bit as beautiful as well. The overall design of the card, including the full bleed photography, is reminiscent of an early 1990s Stadium Club set. Chipper’s signature, including his ever present uniform number, is simply perfect.
This was only the beginning of Chipper Jones cards of course. With the addition of relics, and an ever increasing abundance of sets, he would have thousands of cards released over the remainder of his career. More on that as the season winds up.
Cards Featured in this Post
- 1998 Score #27 (Less than $1.00)
- 1999 Topps Autograph #A2 ($40.00 - $60.00)
- 1998 Donruss Signature Series Millennium Marks Autograph ($30.00 - $50.00)
- 1999 Pacific Prism Holographic Purple #13 ($1.00 - $2.00)
- 1998 Fleer Ultra Notables #12 (Less than $1.00)
- 1998 Pinnacle Performers Launching Pad #10 (Less than $1.00)
- 1998 Upper Deck #300 (Less than $1.00)
- 1998 Fleer Ultra #202 (Less than $1.00)
- 1998 Topps #305 (Less than $1.00)
- 1999 Pacific #32 (Less than $1.00)
- 1999 Upper Deck Black Diamond #8 (Less than $1.00)
- 1999 Upper Deck Retro #8 (Less than $1.00)
?30-YOC Top Ten Lists? ? Top Ten Active Hitters Most Likely To Reach The 3,000 Hits Plateau I think about this often, so it is time to put pen to paper, actually fingers to keyboard, and hammer this one out. No … Continue reading →
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No Steve Duer this week. He had something come up so we've pushed back his appearance several weeks, while we kick off our Minor League reviews the next several weeks.
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Ernesto Frieri’s 18th save required four outs, 38 pitches and tense showdowns with every batter in the heart of the Detroit Tigers’ powerful lineup.
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SEATTLE (AP) — Jonny Gomes hit a three-run home run, Tommy Milone worked six strong innings and the Oakland Athletics finished off a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners with a 4-2 victory Sunday.
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