Thursday, February 27, 2014

#267 - Henry Cotto

What a card: This is Henry Cotto's rookie card, but he was already a Yankee by the time kids were pulling it from packs. The Cubs dealt Cotto, Rich Bordi, Ron Hassey and Porfi Altamirano to New York for Ray Fontenot and Brian Dayett in early December 1984.

My observation on the front: Who is that on deck? Leon Durham? It doesn't look like Gary Matthews. Other possibilities: Thad Bosley, Billy Hatcher.

More opinion from me: Sometimes you need to scan a card to realize it's miscut. Sheesh.

Something you might know: As unflattering as it is to Cotto, the thing that gets brought up the most about his career is the time in 1985 when Ken Griffey Sr. accidentally bumped into Cotto when he was using a Q-tip, bursting his ear drum. That incident always lands on those "wacky injuries" lists.

Something you might not know: When the Cubs won the NL East pennant in 1984, only two players on the team had spent their entire career in the Cubs organization. They were Lee Smith and Cotto.

My observation on the back: Ruben Blades, Topps. Bladessssssssss. With an "s'.

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture tab is updated.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

#266 - Frank Viola

What a card: This is Frank Viola's card after his big breakout season in the major leagues. After struggling with a 5-plus ERA his first two years, he went 18-12 for the Twins in 1984 with four shutouts.

My observation on the front: This photo looks like the completion of his wild delivery on his 1984 Topps card.

More opinion from me: When you get to be my age it's odd to see players you followed as a youngster disappear for awhile and then reappear in a whole new role. After years of not knowing what happened to Viola after his career, I suddenly saw him sitting in the stands rooting for his daughter who was diving in the Summer Olympic Games in London in 2012.

Something you might know: Viola was a integral part of the Twins' 1987 World Series championship team, capturing Series MVP honors after winning Game 1 and Game 7.

Something you might not know: Just a few days after Viola was named MVP, the family was celebrating Halloween in their Minnesota home. Viola's wife found some photos of Frank and thought it would be a good idea to hand them out with the candy. Viola autographed pictures and handed out candy for two hours until the photos were gone. But there was still a mob of people showing up for Viola's autograph. So he signed for a little longer then turned out the lights and pretended not to be home. But the people stayed. Until the Violas called the cops.

My observation on the back: Stein was a legendary scout based in New York. In the 1990s, he tried to convince the Twins to sign Manny Ramirez, but did not succeed.

The blog wants to speak now: The Music category is updated.

Friday, February 21, 2014

#265 - Juan Samuel

What a card: This is Juan Samuel's first base card in a Topps flagship set. He appeared in the 1984 Topps Traded set. He also appeared earlier in this set as a record-breaker.

My observation on the front: Still disappointed with the photo selection of one of the biggest rookies of the 1984 season. First, an unflattering head-and-shoulders shot for the record-breaker card and now a boring fielding photo. The guy set a rookie record for stolen bases. Get him running!

More opinion from me: I don't know if I could get used to wearing a red belt.

Something you might know: Samuel was known to strike out -- a lot. He led the league in strikeouts four straight years (1984-87), which tied a record.

Something you might not know: When the Phillies traded Samuel to the Mets in the deal that brought Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell to Philadelphia, Mets manager Davey Johnson actually said this about Samuel: "He reminds me of Barry Bonds. People don't realize what kind of impact player he is."

My observation on the back: I was curious about Fernando Samuel because I had never heard of him. Turns out he played one year for the Gulf Coast Blue Jays in 1983, batting .189.

The blog wants to speak now: The Movies category is updated.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

#264 - Joe Sambito

What a card: This card marks Joe Sambito's return to trading cards after Topps, Donruss and Fleer all left him off their 1984 sets. Sambito missed the 1983 season due to Tommy John surgery.

My observation on the front: Sambito appears to be warming up in the bullpen, which is appropriate since he started just five of the 461 games in his pitching career.

More opinion from me: Sambito is 6-foot-1, but he looks rather tiny in this photo.

Something you might know: Sambito was one of the Astros' most successful relievers for a short period of time, excelling in 1979 and 1980 before arm problems derailed is career.

Something you might not know: Sambito was knocked around by the Pirates in his major league debut in July 1976, giving up three runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. After the game, catcher Skip Jutze went up to a reporter in the locker room and asked him to talk to Sambito, who was sitting alone in front of his locker. Jutze wanted Sambito to feel wanted because he didn't think he would be around very long.

My observation on the back: Since Hough's 17 complete games in '84, only three other pitchers have led the league with more -- Bert Blyleven (24, 1985), Fernando Valenzuela (20, 1986) and Roger Clemens (18, 1987).

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames category is updated.

Monday, February 17, 2014

#263 - Mel Hall

What a card: This is Mel Hall's first flagship card with the Indians. He's featured in the 1984 Topps Traded set with the Indians. In fact, it's another batting cage shot, which makes me believe both cards are from the same batting practice session.

My observation on the front: The three people in the stands don't seem to focused on what's going on in the cage. Judging by the way one of them is squeezed into the seat, they must be looking at the hot dog vendor ... OK, that was unnecessarily mean.

More opinion from me: Knowing what I know about Hall now, it's hard for me to look at any of my Mel Hall cards. Doing research on him gives me the shivers.

Something you might know: The former Cub, Indian and Yankee left the major leagues for Japan at the relatively young age of 32. He is now serving at minimum 22 years in prison on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Something you might not know: When Hall and Deion Sanders were teammates with the Yankees, Sanders asked Hall to be the godfather of one of his children. Eesh.

My observation on the back: I never knew Hall was born in upstate New York until writing this post. In fact, he was born in the same town as Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim.

The blog wants to speak now: The News category is updated.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

#262 - Greg Booker

What a card: This is Greg Booker's rookie card. He received a card after appearing in 32 games for the National League champion Padres in 1984. He even appeared in the World Series, although he walked four batters in one inning.

My observation on the front: I don't remember the Padres wearing "S.D." varsity letter jacket-style jerseys. I'm guessing it's a spring training- or batting practice-only deal.

More opinion from me: Booker's showing off his farmer's tan.

Something you might know: Booker's claim to fame during his career as a long reliever was that he was the son-in-law of Padres general manager Jack McKeon. Fans in San Diego used to harass Booker for that and he was eventually traded to the Twins.

Something you might not know: Booker was the pitching coach for the Syracuse Chiefs in 2010 when super sensation Stephen Strasburg passed through Syracuse on his way to the major leagues.

My observation on the back: Sadly, Olympic Stadium is now home of fairs, shows, exhibitions, concerts and Canadian football. Those are all well and good. But they're not baseball.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames category is updated.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

#261 - Checklist, Cards 133-264

What a card: This is the second of six checklists in the set, and I already feel myself running out of things to say about this card.

My observation on the front: There is a streak of three Yankees in a row at cards 179, 180 and 181. I wonder what the longest such streak is with any team? I'm sure with the way Yankees acquired players in the '80s, three isn't even close to their best.

More opinion from me: Tilted rectangles are big part of 1985 Topps, I still don't know if I like it all that much.

Something you might know: Four names on the checklist front are now in the Hall of Fame.

Something you might not know: I'm just noticing that the colored outline is green on the top and on the right and bluish on the left and the bottom. I am now going to check if all the checklists in the set are like that.

My observation on the front: That's a lot of capital letters. It's like the checklist is shouting at you.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames and News categories are updated. Baseball stuff, good and bad.

Friday, February 7, 2014

#260 - Dave Righetti

What a card: This is Dave Righetti's first card after he was transformed into a relief pitcher. After pitching his first three full years with the Yankees as a starter, the team moved him to the bullpen, citing a surplus of starters. Looking back, Ray Fontenot, Dennis Rasmussen and Joe Cowley is not a surplus. But Righetti saved 31 games.

My observation on the front: Those action shots of players on the mound at old Yankee Stadium always get me. They look like they're standing in the middle of the coliseum. How do they block all that out?

More opinion from me: Righetti was one of those Yankees that I couldn't get worked up over. Sure, I wanted him to lose, but he was so inoffensive. Then he had to attach himself to the other team I hate, the Giants, and there was no forgiving him.

Something you might know: Righetti threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox on the 4th of July in 1983. It was the first -- and probably only -- no-hitter I listened to on the radio.

Something you might not know: Righetti's sister-in-law, serving as a surrogate for Righetti and his wife, gave birth two months early to triplets. All three of the Righetti triplets suffered complications, including cerebral palsy and hearing impairment, but are in their early 20s now and doing well.

My observation on the back: Righetti's father, Leo, attended the pennant-clinching game against the Oakland A's in 1981. During the strike that season, Leo Righetti, who was a minor league player in the 1940s and '50s, set up a pitching schedule for Dave so he'd be ready to go when the season resumed.

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture tab is updated.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

#259 - Gary Allenson

What a card: This is Gary Allenson's last card issued during his playing career. He signed as a free agent with the Blue Jays in February 1985 and was released by Toronto six months later.

My observation on the front: The background behind Allenson looks like a water color painting.

More opinion from me: The late '70s/early '80s Red Sox were a focal point in our house and anyone on the team who did not match a modest level achievement received ridicule. Allenson was one of those guys who didn't measure up.

Something you might know: Allenson has been a minor league manager and major league coach for several years. He recently was named the manager of the Triple A Buffalo Bisons. Allenson made the internet rounds in 2011 for video of him climbing an outfield wall in protest of an umpire's call.

Something you might not know: Allenson was one of several Red Sox signed by scout and former major league all-star infielder Ray Boone. Also signed by Boone were Curt Schilling, Marty Barrett, Sam Horn and Phil Plantier.

My observation on the back: Of course the trivia question is true. What kind of jerk would write 54 RBIs instead of 55 and then say, "ha, ha! False!"

The blog wants to speak now: The News category is updated.

Monday, February 3, 2014

#258 - Mike Brown

What a card: This is Mike Brown's final card with the Angels (he had just two). He was dealt to the Pirates in August of 1985.

My observation on the front: Oh, this card annoyed me almost as much as my off-center Roger Clemens card from the set. Brown was pulled out of the box of a purchased complete set vastly off-center from top to bottom. You can barely see a bottom edge to the card.

More opinion from me: I had never heard of Mike Brown at the time, but I found him irksome for having such a miscut card. On the good side, it helped me distinguish him from another Mike Brown in the majors at the time, a pitcher for the Red Sox and Mariners.

Something you might know: Brown was acquired by the Pirates with some other Angels prospects in a trade dump of veterans George Hendrick, John Candelaria and Al Holland. The three were perceived as troublemakers by Pittsburgh, which was reeling from the drug trials at the time, and they wanted to clean house. Brown did quite well to start, hitting .332 in 205 at-bats for the Pirates. But with the arrival of Barry Bonds and Andy VanSlyke, his days were numbered.

Something you might not know: Brown said part of the reason that his playing time fell off with Pittsburgh was because he didn't get along with the new management, which was manager Jim Leyland and GM Syd Thrift.

My observation on the back: Check out Brown's 1983 season for Edmonton.

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture tab is updated again.