Friday, March 30, 2012

#32 - Chuck Porter

What a card: This is the second card in a Topps Chuck Porter trilogy. Porter had cards with Topps in 1984, 85 and 86, and that was it.

My observation on the front: I believe the setting for this photo is old Tiger Stadium. I liked the look of Tiger Stadium. I'm guessing it was a dump by this time, but it had a nice, old-style feel.

More opinion from me: For the second card in a row, we have a rather exaggerated motion -- this time for the pitcher. Porter looks like he's aiming to fire that ball into the 18th row.

Something you might know: Porter gave up the winning hit in the longest game in major league history on May 8, 1984. He surrendered a solo home run to the White Sox's Harold Baines in the 25th inning for a 7-6 defeat. The game lasted 8 hours and 6 minutes.

Something you might not know: Porter was part of a powerhouse pitching staff in the All-American Amateur Baseball Association tournament in 1973. Pitching for the Baltimore team, Porter joined a staff that also included future major league pitchers Paul Hartzell and Joe Kerrigan. Other future major league pitchers in the tournament that year were Joe Beckwith, Terry Leach, Bob Owchinko, Andy Replogle and Mark Fidrych.

My observation on the back: Going back nine years to 1976 for a highlight? That's an insult.

The blog wants to speak now: The TV, Pop Culture and News categories have been updated. Farewell Van Lingle Mungo and Coach.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

#31 - Terry Whitfield

What a card: At last! A Dodger card! This is the first Dodger card in the set. And it's a card of someone that I associate mostly with playing with the Giants. Bleah.

My observation on the front: Good gosh, that has to be one of the strangest swings on a baseball card. What was the trajectory of the ball that Whitfield hit? Or maybe he missed it entirely.

More opinion from me: I am a fan of the colors that Topps gave the Dodgers in the 1985 set. The mid-1980s was a return to sanity as far as Topps' team color choices went. Blue slowly became the predominate color used on Dodger cards.

Something you might know: Whitfield disappeared off of Topps cards after the 1981 set because he left to play in Japan at age 27. He stayed there through the 1983 season. This is Whitfield's first Topps card since '81.

Something you might not know: Whitfield is the inventor of "Terry Toss," a self-propelled machine for batters.

My observation on the back: Two things would have intrigued me about the card back as a youngster. First, the 1976 Yankees season in which Whitfield had no batting average. I loved that. Second, the gap between 1980 and 1984 when Whitfield was in Japan.

The blog wants to speak now: The Music, Movie and Pop Culture categories have been updated. Unfortunately, I had to add a scan of one of my least favorite songs ever. But that was balanced out by mention of The Breakfast Club and a well-remembered magazine cover of Paulina Porizkova.

Monday, March 26, 2012

#30 - Cal Ripken

What a card: Through the first 30 cards in the set, this is the most expensive. At most, you'll pay $2.50 for an '85 Topps Cal Ripken. But you should be able to find it for mere pennies.

My observation on the front: This is a nice-looking, nicely balanced action card. Pulling a Ripken card from a pack at this point was still a huge thrill -- three years removed from his rookie card. That's what I think of when I see this card.

More opinion from me: Is Ripken playing against the Expos? It's difficult to tell.

Something you might know: Ripken entered the Hall of Fame with the third highest percentage in history (98.53%). I can't fathom how someone would not vote for him.

Something you might not know: Ripken's son, Ryan, committed this past fall to play college baseball for South Carolina.

My observation on the back: Interestingly, Babe Ruth League baseball changed the name of its largest division (age 4-12) from "Bambino" to "Cal Ripken Baseball."

The blog wants to speak now: Just a quick update of the Ballgames tab. I'm getting a little tired of all the basketball highlights. It'll be a lot more fun when I get to the spring and summer months and baseball begins.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

#29 - Odell Jones

What a card: With this card, Odell Jones had appeared on a baseball card for three straight years. It would be an all-time best for him. Even though his first card appeared in the 1978 Topps set and his last showed up in 1989 Upper Deck, there were plenty of gaps in between. Jones made a lot of stops in the minors during his big league career.

My observation on the front: It looks really warm wherever he is, although it appears that Jones is wearing long sleeves.

More opinion from me: The No. 21 on his uniform looks freakishly large.

Something you might know: Jones came within two outs of a no-hitter in 1988 while pitching for the Brewers against the Indians. It was broken up by current Rangers manager Ron Washington. It was one of only two games Jones started that year.

Something you might not know: Jones won four strikeout titles while pitching in Triple A.

My observation on the back: You can see that he was signed by the Pirates in 1971. He started his pro career in the Pittsburgh organization in 1972. Twenty-years later, he was pitching for the Angels' minor league team in Edmonton in 1992. That's a long career for someone with a 24-35 major league career record.

The blog wants speak now: No updates tonight. Got to get up early.

Monday, March 19, 2012

#28 - Dann Bilardello

What a card: Dann Bilardello had just completed his sophomore year in the major leagues, appearing in 68 games in a platoon with Brad Gulden and Dave Van Gorder. A long way down from Johnny Bench.

My observation on the front: This off-center beauty is actually a perfect demonstration of how you present a major league player without any logos showing. ... Well, except for the giant Reds logo in the design.

More opinion from me: Bilardello drew interest from me because I thought he would be the heir to Johnny Bench as the Reds' starting catcher. I know Joe Nolan and Alex Trevino were the first guys to replace Bench -- who had moved on to first and third base -- but I disregarded them as true contenders for some reason. Of course, I don't know why I held Bilardello in such esteem. His career batting average over eight years was .204.

Something you might know: Bilardello managed in the minor leagues for six years, winning a league championship in his first season with the Great Falls Dodgers in 2002. He's now a catching instructor in the Cardinals' organization.

Something you might not know: Bilardello was a quote machine during his playing days. Some samples:

On his role as a backup to the Padres' Benito Santiago:

"It's a great situation for me because I don't have to go out and show my skills too often."

On being able to grow facial hair after being traded to the Expos from the Reds, where mustaches and beards were banned:

"In Cincinnati we were lucky if we were allowed to have eyebrows."

On his lack of offensive ability:

"I want my stats taken off my baseball card. That's my goal."

My observation on the back: Sparky Lyle won two games in the 1977 ALCS against the Royals.

The blog wants to speak now: OK, I updated the Ballgames, TV and Pop Culture categories this time around. Someday I would like to reverse each category so that the most recent information is the first thing you view, but we'll see. Updating the tabs is time-consuming as it is.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

#27 - Bruce Berenyi

What a card: Bruce Berenyi had just completed his first season with the Mets when this card hit store shelves. He appeared as Met in the 1984 Topps Traded set, too (as well as the '85 Fleer and Donruss sets).

My observation on the front: Looks like a cold day on the mound for Bruce.

More opinion from me: Whenever I see those stripes going down the shoulders of Mets players in the '80s, it looks so dated. The funny thing is I don't think I was even aware of those stripes when they wore them.

Something you might know: Berenyi was a hard-throwing right-hander who could mow down batters, but he suffered a torn rotator cuff, which basically abbreviated his career.

Something you might not know: Berenyi was (maybe he still is) a collector of Beatles memorabilia.

My observation on the back: Ned Garver was a pitching great for the Browns and Tigers and born on Christmas. ... The trivia question is out of date. Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds are also N.L. players who have hit at least 49 home runs in a season.

The blog wants to speak now: Thunderstorms kept me up all night last night -- that's right, thunderstorms in the Northeast in the middle of March. So I'm too tired to research any of the tabs.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

#26 - Roy Smalley

What a card: Welcome to Roy Smalley's only Topps card as a member of the White Sox. It was not a fun year. He hit .170 in his only season in Chicago.

My observation on the front: Smalley kind of had a Ray Romano thing going in the face, which as a kid I found off-putting for some reason. I was always happy when Smalley's card featured him in an action shot. No close-up poses please.

More opinion from me: I have heard many people slam this particular White Sox logo, specifically citing the way the batter is holding the bat. It really is bizarre when you focus on it. Nobody holds the bat like that with any hope of hitting a fastball.

Something you might know: Smalley comes from a baseball family. His dad, Roy Jr. (he's Roy III), played 11 years for the Cubs, Braves and Phillies. His uncle, Gene Mauch, played for nine years in the majors but was more well-known as a manager for the Phillies, Expos, Twins and Angels.

Something you might not know: Smalley is a portfolio manager and wealth advisor for a major financial firm, as well as being a TV commentator for Twins broadcasts. He also has definite viewpoints on health care and global warming, and if you're left-leaning on those issues, you probably won't like his opinions.

My observation on the back: The type is too damn small, but Smalley's 1979 season made me a fan of his for life (except those few years he spent with the Yankees). In the late '70s, the Twins were something of a mystery team out there in the dark wilds of Minnesota. It was cool for someone besides Carew to have a break-out season.

The blog wants to speak now: I updated a few of the tabs on Sunday. News, Pop Culture, Movies. I even downloaded a picture of Kim Kardashian. No, I'm not proud of that. In fact, I think I need to wash my hands.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

#25 - Steve Bedrosian

What a card: Steve Bedrosian was about to embark on the only season of his career in which he was strictly a starter. In 1985, he pitched in 37 games and started all 37. He would never start another game for the rest of his major league career, which lasted through 1995.

My observation on the front: It looks like someone got a little frisky with the magenta setting on the color on this card. There are pink splotches on Bedrosian's cap, and the hollering Indian on the Braves logo is abnormally pink.

More opinion from me: I always got the mountain man vibe from Bedrosian. All that facial hair and the dark, swarthy look.

Something you might know: Bedrosian is one of nine relief pitchers in major league history to win the Cy Young Award. He won it with the Phillies in 1987.

Something you might not know: Bedrosian's son, Cameron Bedrosian, was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in 2010, but he missed all of the 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

My observation on the back: Ha, ha! Billy Martin has the most championship series losses! I don't even care if that's no longer true! I don't care if some of those losses came with other teams besides the Yankees! Billy Martin was a Yankee and he lost! Ha, ha!

The blog wants to speak now: It has been a crazy long week. No updating of the tabs until I feel like it. Maybe on Sunday.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

#24 - Jesse Barfield

What a card: Jesse Barfield was about to embark on the best three-year period of his career. The 1985, '86 and '87 seasons were his best by far. In fact, if you take those three years out of his 12-year career, there isn't very much left.

My observation on the front: Jesse's caught a glimpse of something lovely.

More opinion from me: When I ordered the 1982 Topps Traded set back in '82, I was thrilled to have the Cal Ripken rookie and Ozzie Smith's first Cardinals card. But there were other cards in that set that seemed to be just as big a deal at the time. Jesse Barfield's rookie card (not that stupid 3-player thing in the regular '82 set) was one of those cards. Oh, I really thought I had something great with that card.

Something you might know: Barfield's No. 1 asset was possibly the best arm in the major leagues. In fact, during the 1980s only Andre Dawson and Bo Jackson could come close to the strength and accuracy of Barfield's arm.

Something you might not know: Barfield's son, Josh, who also played in the major leagues, was born in Venezuela. Barfield's wife was visiting him during winter ball between the 1981 and 1982 season and had the baby then.

My observation on the back: Look at Barfield's stats. He hadn't even cracked 100 hits through four years. That was all about to change. But his offense declined again after 1987 and the Blue Jays suckered the Yankees into trading Al Leiter for Barfield in 1989.

The blog wants to speak now: Some minor updates to the Ballgames, TV, Pop Culture and News categories. Still running behind on scans.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

#23 - Bret Saberhagen

What a card: Here is the first of several notable rookie cards in the 1985 Topps set. Bret Saberhagen pitched in 38 games for the Royals during his rookie year in 1984, starting 18 of them. He went 10-11 and picked up the only save of his career.

My observation on the front: How sneaky of Coca-Cola to get its subliminal message across on this card.

More opinion from me: I was fascinated with Saberhagen's seeming ability to have good seasons in only odd-numbered years. Of course, he won Cy Youngs in 1985 and 1989 and also enjoyed very fine seasons in 1987 and 1991. But his tenure with the Mets blew that theory. He hobbled along before having his two best remaining seasons in even-numbered years, 1994 with the Mets and 1998 with the Red Sox.

Something you might know: If you were watching the 1985 World Series there was nothing about Saberhagen you didn't know. The 21-year-old was a sensation, pitching a shutout in Game 7, winning MVP honors, and his wife gave to a son the day of Game 6.

Something you might not know: Saberhagen was drafted out of high school by the Royals in 1982 in the 19th round ... as a shortstop.

My observation on the back: OK, let's go to the trivia question. It states, "In 1980, this player registered baseball's first game-winning hit." What does that mean, you're saying. Did every run prior to 1980 score on passed balls?

No, no. The trivia question could have been more clear, but this is a reference to the "Game-Winning RBI" statistic, which was implemented in 1980. The stat lasted only until 1988 on an official basis, but was featured in boxscores for awhile there.

The blog wants to speak now: Just a quick update to the Music tab today. I still haven't gotten to adding a couple more scans. March is way too busy already.

Friday, March 2, 2012

#22 - Duane Kuiper

What a card: This is the final card issued of Duane Kuiper during his career. The Giants released Kuiper on June 28, 1985. Kuiper spent a little over three years with San Francisco, backing up Joe Morgan and then Manny Trillo at second base.

My observation on the front: Not a photo you see every day. Cradling a helmet with one arm while putting on his batting gloves. Looks like he's getting ready to pinch-hit. Nice.

More opinion from me: I don't have pleasant things to say about Kuiper. He's well-noted as a San Francisco Giants broadcaster, saying nice stuff about the Giants, acting like they're an actual team with actual fans that people actually care about. We all know that's not true. He's a low-voiced propagandist.

Something you might know: Kuiper holds the record for the most career at-bats with only one home run. He finished his career with 3,379 at-bats and a single home run with the Cleveland Indians in 1977.

Something you might not know: A few cards ago, I mentioned that Chet Lemon held the third worst stolen base percentage for players with at least 100 attempts at 41.8 percent. Well, Kuiper is right down there with Lemon at 42.2 (52-for-123).

My observation on the back: Where do they get the "greatest baseball thrill" tidbits? Are the players actually asked or does a Topps writer just look at the player's bio and say, "well THAT had to be a thrill"? (The no-hitters were pitched by Dennis Eckersley and Len Barker).

The blog wants to speak now: Just about every tab, except "Music," "TV" and "Other Cards," has been updated. I need to get some scanning done to add some pretty pictures to some of the timelines.