Thursday, April 28, 2016

#528 - Bill Krueger

What a card: Here is the card foretold by the checklist in the previous post. Was it worth the advance knowledge?

My observation on the front: So much green. I like it.

More opinion from me: Bill Krueger arrived in the majors in 1983, one year before the first "Nightmare On Elm Street" movie, starring one of the most famous slasher characters of all-time, Freddy Krueger. Both Kruegers continued to work through the '80s and into the '90s. I'm guessing that Bill was called "Freddy" at least once. That claw hand could have helped him develop a new pitch.

Something you might know: Krueger pitched for 13 seasons with eight different teams. After struggling for years to stay in the majors, he enjoyed success with the Mariners during the early '90s.

Something you might not know: Krueger went into cardiac arrest after stepping off an elliptical machine at the Pro Sports Club in Bellevue, Wash., in 2012. Several staff members, who were trained in emergency situations, revived Krueger and tended to him until emergency responders arrived. Krueger later credited the club workers for saving his life.

 My observation on the back: I wonder if he took photos of basketball?

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#527 - Checklist, Cards 397-528

What a card: We've arrived at the 4th checklist in the set. Not much to see here though.

My observation on the front: After some colorful borders on the first two checklists, the second two have featured solid black. I have a feeling all of the borders were supposed to be black.

More opinion from me: Can you imagine someone pulling this checklist before realizing there was a U.S. Olympic team subset? "Who the hell is John Hoover?"

Something you might know: Two players on the front of this checklist went on to be major league managers (Bud Black, Mike Hargrove).

Something you might not know: Oddibe McDowell was the most insignificant player to appear at card number 400 in a Topps flagship set up to this point. And he wouldn't be challenged for that honor until Henry Rodriguez, struggling to get into the Dodger lineup, was placed at 400 in the 1995 set.

My observation on the back: The previous checklists have given you a decent glimpse of the cards to come in the set. But this checklist appears so late that you get a peek at only the next card to come.

The blog wants to speak now: Not tonight. Gotta get up way too early.

Friday, April 22, 2016

#526 - Dave Palmer

What a card: Dave Palmer returned to the Topps set in 1985 after being left out of the 1984 set due to missing the entire 1983 season with another injury to his right elbow. He missed all of the 1981 season because of an injury to the same elbow.

My observation on the front: There's Palmer straining that right elbow now.

More opinion from me: Palmer is from Glens Falls, N.Y., which also produced major league pitchers Dave LaPoint and Randy St. Claire at around the same time. This is puzzling because Glens Falls is a very small city north of Albany and the weather in upstate New York is rather hostile toward high school baseball.

Something you might know: Palmer pitched a five-inning, rain-shortened perfect game against the Cardinals on April 21, 1984. The game was removed from the list of MLB no-hitters in 1991 because it was not a full, 9-inning game.

Something you might not know: The famed clip of Palmer "tripping himself" and falling face first over third base was called "the blooper of the year" by Rafael Palmeiro.

 My observation on the back: You hear a lot about the maximum number of players on a roster, but not a lot about the minimum. I just had to search around for a few minutes to find mention of the 24-player minimum.

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture tab is updated (sometimes the updates aren't right at the top. This one is a couple dates down).

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

#525 - Darrell Porter

What a card: Darrell Porter had just completed what would be his final full season as a starter and was entering his final year with the Cardinals when this card was issued.

My observation on the front: It would not be a Darrell Porter card without those famed frames. I could find only one card in which he's not wearing glasses. It's his 1973 Topps card.

More opinion from me: If Porter's story isn't the biggest deterrent to doing drugs, I don't know what is.

Something you might know: Porter won the MVP award for both the 1982 NLCS and the World Series. He won three World Series titles, one with the Royals and two with the Cardinals.

Something you might not know: When Porter died in 2002 from the effects of cocaine use, it was just before the Cardinals were to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their 1982 World Series title. The manager of that team, Whitey Herzog, called Porter on Monday about the dinner and golf tournament and then Porter died on Wednesday. All of the members of the team showed for the reunion and put his number on their golf shirts.

My observation on the back: Porter's agreement with the Cardinals made him the highest paid catcher in the game at the time.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames category is updated with perhaps the most famous ballgame of 1985.

Monday, April 18, 2016

#524 - Rob Wilfong

What a card: Rob Wilfong was coming off basically his last productive major league season when this card was issued. He'd hang on for a couple more years thanks to his glove, but he struggled through them on offense.

My observation on the front: I don't hold much nostalgia for the Angels, but I would like the "state" logo to return. I suppose that's not realistic since they're not the "California Angels" anymore. But if the team can take credit for being from both Los Angeles and Anaheim, they can make this work, too.

More opinion from me: Wilfong was one of those "forever mustache" guys. Wilfong wearing a mustache on his baseball card was one of the few guarantees in life in the 1980s.

Something you might know: Wilfong's one-out base hit in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS scored Ruppert Jones with the game-tying run for the Angels against the Red Sox and the two teams went to extra innings tied 6-6. Wilfong's hit came after Dave Henderson's famous 3-run home run in the top of the inning that brought the Red Sox back from trailing 5-2 to leading 6-5 entering the inning. Henderson would later drive in the winning run in the 11th on a sacrifice fly.

Something you might not know: Wilfong, a scout with the Angels, joined team scouting director Ric Wilson in choosing pitcher Jonah Dipoto on the final day of the baseball draft last June. Dipoto is the son of Jerry Dipoto, who was the Angels' general manager at the time. Jerry Dipoto is now GM of the Mariners. Jonah is a freshman at the University of California San Diego.

My observation on the back: Nice of the trivia quiz to have an Angels-centric question on an Angels' player's card. Don't know why that couldn't have happened on the previous card.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2016

#523 - Candy Maldonado

What a card: Candy Maldonado had finally reached 100 games in a season in 1984 after kicking around between the minors and majors for four years. He was still a part-time player though, which is all he would be for the Dodgers.

My observation on the front: I wouldn't call that a "bat flip." It's more like a "bat shove."

More opinion from me: Obviously as a young fan of the Dodgers (I was around 16, 17 when I first heard there was someone named 'Candy Maldonado' in the Dodgers' organization), I was quite intrigued with Candy. But he was another one of those Albuquerque stars who didn't deliver on the wild expectations.

Something you might know: Maldonado had better success with the Giants and Blue Jays, playing in the World Series for both teams and delivering the game-winning hit in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 1992 World Series for the Jays. It was the first walk-off World Series hit struck outside the United States.

Something you might not know: Maldonado lost favor with the Dodgers for what was perceived as a lackadaisical attitude in the field, making unnecessary throws during games just to please the fans, etc.

My observation on the back: That's a mean trivia question to put on the back of a Dodger card.

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

#522 - Paul Molitor

What a card: Paul Molitor was coming off a forgettable 1984 season in which he played just 13 games and missed the rest of the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Topps responded by giving him a non-hero number (a card number that doesn't end in "0" or "5") for the first time since the 1980 set.

My observation on the front: Molitor is demonstrating the finger-wiggling he did as he gripped the bat just before he began his swing.

More opinion from me: Topps should have kept the hero number for Molitor, or at least given him a number ending with a "5." If it was good enough for Matt Young and Jim Beattie, it was good enough for Molitor.

Something you might know: The Hall of Famer is the only major league player to hit a triple for his 3,000th hit.

Something you might not know: Molitor's wife during his playing career, Linda (they divorced in 2003), was such a presence on Brewers road trips early in his career that teammates referred to her as the "26th man."

My observation on the back: To update the trivia question a bit, "WP" also stands for "well-played."

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

Friday, April 8, 2016

#521 - Rick Dempsey

What a card: When this card was issued, Rick Dempsey was coming off a 1984 season that was much like his 1983 season -- except that the Orioles didn't win the World Series and he wasn't named World Series MVP.

My observation on the front: I don't know what is so fascinating in the upper deck there, Rick.

More opinion from me: Until Dempsey finally started to get some decent playing time in the late 1970s, his stats were atrocious. My brother and I enjoyed pointing them out to our little brother, who was an Orioles fan.

Something you might know: Dempsey played in three different World Series (1979, 1983, 1988) for two different teams (Orioles, Dodgers).

Something you might not know: Dempsey once decked Lenny Dykstra at home plate with his glove hand, setting off a brawl between the Dodgers and Phillies in 1990. Dykstra was upset at the umpire about an earlier called strike and blamed Dempsey for "buttering up" the ump. Dempsey said Dykstra advanced toward him, dropping his bat, and he punched Dykstra before he could do anything. Dempsey was suspended for a game.

My observation on the back: I didn't know Dempsey's rain-delay performances had a name. I just know I was not that amused. I suppose people willing to sit out in the rain would be pleased with just about anything.

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

#520 - LaMarr Hoyt

What a card: LaMarr Hoyt's 1984 season for the White Sox didn't go nearly as well as his 1983 season. He went from winning the most games in the American League (24) in '83 to losing the most games (18) in '84.

My observation on the front: Pitching gut!

More opinion from me: Out of all the ridiculous uniforms of the '70s and '80s, this is the one that I felt the most sorry for the players who were wearing it, even worse than those silly shorts the White Sox wore.

Something you might know: Hoyt won the Cy Young Award in 1983, helping lead the White Sox to its first pennant since 1959. He was the All-Star Game MVP in 1985 while pitching for the Padres.

Something you might not know: When Pete Rose was going for the all-time career hit record in 1985, Hoyt wanted to be part of major league history and asked his catcher, Terry Kennedy, what kind of pitches Rose liked so he could throw one that Rose could deliver for the record-breaking hit. Hoyt grooved his pitches to Rose, but Rose went 0-for-4 and the Padres won 3-2. The next night, Rose got a hit on his first at-bat against Hoyt's pitching mate, Eric Show.

My observation on the back: Hoyt's pinpoint control was legendary. His 31 walks in 260 innings in 1983 came just four walks short of the all-time record for 250-plus innings, set by Cy Young in 1904.

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

Monday, April 4, 2016

#519 - Doug Rader

What a card: Doug Rader was entering his third season as manager for the Rangers, but by the time most kids pulled this card from packs, Rader was gone. The Rangers fired him 32 games into the 1985 season.

My observation on the front: I'd like to know what's on that orange piece of paper Rader is holding.

More opinion from me: This is now the third set blog in which I've written about Rader (it's happened for a few other players, too). I'm running out of stuff to say, even for someone as colorful as Rader.

Something you might know: Rader was a steady performer at third base for the Astros in the early 1970s. He won five straight Gold Glove awards.

Something you might not know: When Padres manager Ray Kroc famously apologized over the stadium speaker system for his players' poor performance on Opening Day against the Astros in 1974, Rader was offended by Kroc's words, saying, "what does he think we are, a bunch of short-order cooks or something?" When the Astros came back to San Diego later in the season, the Padres held "Short-Order Cook Night," inviting cooks to attend the game for free. Rader played his part, taking the lineup card out to the umpires while wearing a chef's hat and apron and flipping the lineup card in a skillet as he walked from the dugout.

My observation on the back: (*Sigh*). The Rangers finished dead last in the AL West in 1984. Sure, Rader led the Rangers to 146 wins in 1983 and 1984 but he also led them to 177 losses.

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