Wednesday, May 31, 2017

#665 - Don Mattingly

What a card: Don Mattingly was coming off a breakthrough season when this card was issued. He showed his abbreviated 1983 season was no fluke, pounding pitching for a .343 average, 207 hits and 110 RBIs in 1984.

Can ya dig it: The second-year card is way underappreciated. That is a future post, by the way.

Right on: I don't remember Mattingly being known for his baserunning. An interesting choice.

Something you might know: Say it with me: "The greatest Yankee to never play in a World Series."

Something you might not know: Mattingly, now the manager of the Miami Marlins, is at the bottom of the majors in terms of successfully challenging umpires' calls so far this year. As a fan of the Dodgers, the team that once employed Mattingly as a manager, this does not surprise me.

 My observation on the back: That .167 average amid all those .300s sure is shocking. But not as shocking to me as seeing five years worth of minor league stats. This is Donnie Baseball!

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

Monday, May 29, 2017

#664 - Steve Farr

What a card: After seven years in the minors, Steve Farr appeared in his first major league games in 1984, throwing 116 innings in 31 games. But the Indians cut him in March, 1985.

My observation on the front: I like rookie cards like this because it shows him with a team with which he's not commonly associated.

More opinion from me: Thank goodness there are no visible pit stains.

Something you might know: Farr was a productive relief pitcher for the Royals and the Yankees. He saved at least 20 games four times in his career.

Something you might not know: Farr now runs a trucking company in his name in North Carolina.

My observation on the back: Farr had some control problems early in his career. Check out his walk-innings pitched totals in 1978.

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

#663 - Luis Aguayo

What a card: Luis Aguayo was coming off the most playing time of his career up to this point. He played in 58 games for the Phillies in 1984.

My observation on the front: Aguayo has a Michael Jordan thing going here, sticking out his tongue as he completes his swing.

More opinion from me: Sometimes it takes scanning a card to know that it is off-center. I had no idea beforehand.

Something you might know: Aguayo was a utility infielder for eight years with the Phillies. He didn't hit much, but in 1987 he struck for 12 home runs in 209 at-bats, despite a .206 batting average.

Something you might not know: Aguayo was going to be part of the Phillies trading of Larry Bowa to the Cubs. He and Dick Davis were supposed to head to the Cubs in exchange for Ivan DeJesus and Bill Caudill. But the deal was restructured. Aguayo and Davis were dropped by the Phillies and Ryne Sandberg was added (in exchange for just DeJesus).

My observation on the back: Gooden's 245th strikeout tied the rookie record of strikeouts in a season, set by Herb Score. Gooden would strike out Marvell Wynne later in the same game against the Pirates for the record-breaking 246th strikeout.

The blog wants to speak now: The blog's pretty tired tonight. It doesn't feel like speaking.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

#662 - Mike Heath

What a card: Mike Heath played in a career-high 140 games in 1984. After spending the first six years of his big-league career in a platoon role, he was a regular starter in 1984 and 1985.

My observation on the front: That catcher-third base-outfield position designation isn't one you see often.

More opinion from me: Heath started out with the Yankees but played with the team just one year before being traded (in the big deal that sent Sparky Lyle to the Rangers for Dave Righetti). I always liked it when players "broke free" from The Bronx.

Something you might know: Heath is probably most remembered for his time with the Tigers in the late 1980s. He hit a home run against the Twins in the 1987 ALCS and was known as possessing one of the best catching arms in baseball.

Something you might not know: Heath's financial advisor was former Tigers teammate Dave Bergman, who died in 2015.

My observation on the back: The newest major league stadium at the time of this card doesn't exist anymore. Neither does the Kingdome. And the Astrodome, pardon the expression, is a shell of its former self.

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

#661 - Steve Crawford

What a card: Steve Crawford was coming off his first season as a reliever when this card was issued. Hyped as a promising starter in the Red Sox chain, Crawford struggled until moving into the bullpen for good in 1984.

My observation on the front: This is another card with "snow" on it. Steve seems as distressed by this as I am.

More opinion from me: Early '80s Red Sox pitchers mean a lot to me. That was the period when I really started getting into baseball, knowing upcoming players, etc. After the crushing disappointment of 1978, my brother and I rooted for every new Red Sox player and I focused on the pitchers.

Something you might know: Crawford received the victory in Game 2 of the 1986 World Series. He also won Game 5 of the '86 ALCS, which was the game in which Dave Henderson hit the two-run home run to highlight the Red Sox's comeback against the Angels.

Something you might not know: Crawford was mentioned in the Wade Boggs-Margo Adams scandal when Adams told all in two Penthouse articles. In those articles, it was revealed that married reliever Bob Stanley was photographed in a hotel room with a stripper by Boggs and Crawford. The players said Stanley was set up as part of a joke. Adams, who added that she had the negative, said they did it because they were mad at Stanley for being a blabbermouth.

My observation on the back: Crawford indeed took less money to sign with the Red Sox because Yastrzemski was his idol. It all began when he received a Yaz model bat when he was a kid. He had no idea who Yastrzemski was at the time.

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

#660 - Tony Gwynn

What a card: Tony Gwynn was coming off his first full major league season when this card was issued. The '84 season was a good one. Gwynn led the league with a .351 average and the Padres made the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

My observation on the front: This is one of my favorite Gwynn cards. It may not be the most flattering, but it is definitely distinctive. There can't be a lot of up-close candids of players wearing sunglasses.

More opinion from me: If you stare at the photo a long time, Gwynn looks like a creature from outer space. Or maybe that's just me.

Something you might know: Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007, Gwynn has won more batting titles (eight) than everyone except Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner.

Something you might not know: When Gwynn attended San Diego State, he would go to Padres games and thought the team's uniforms were "the ugliest ... I've ever seen in my life."

My observation on the back: The first player to 300-300, of course, was Willie Mays. Bonds' son, Barry, also joined the list, as have Andre Dawson, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Reggie Sanders and Steve Finley.

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

#659 - Checklist, Cards 529-660

What a card: This is the fifth of six checklist cards in the set.

My observation on the front: There is a streak of three players who wore Dodger blue listed on this card, 570 Darryl Strawberry, 571, Charlie Hough and 572, Tom Paciorek. I also mentioned that on Paciorek's post, which shows you how little I have to say about these checklists.

More opinion from me: I prefer that these checklist posts come after work nights. I could use the break. But I'm posting this after a day off. Seems like a waste of an easy post.

Something you might know: "C. Washington" at card No. 540 is Claudell Washington.

Something you might not know: There was a major error in the title to the previous checklist post that went uncorrected for more than a year until I just noticed it. I'm stunned no one pointed it out.

My observation on the back: Only one card on this entire checklist has not been featured yet on the blog. But you'll see it in a couple days. It's a very familiar one.

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

#658 - Mike Stenhouse

What a card: This is Mike Stenhouse's first solo card in a Topps set. He appeared in 80 games for the Expos in 1984.

My observation on the front: I tend to notice rows of Expos in the dugout more than rows of any other team in the dugout.

More opinion from me: This is the second card of Stenhouse in this set. You're living right if you're batting .171 for your career and feature two cards in the same set.

Something you might know: Stenhouse was a highly touted collegiate player from Harvard who ripped up the minor leagues but struggled to hit in the majors with the Expos, Twins and Red Sox.

Something you might not know: Stenhouse founded and is the CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a think tank focused on public policy in the state.

My observation on the back: It's nice to see a trivia question that focuses on the team that's being featured on the rest of the card. This isn't 1968 Topps in which that happened all the time.

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#657 - Jim Slaton

What a card: Jim Slaton had just completed his first season with the Angels after a long tenure with the Brewers (and one year with the Tigers) when this card was issued.

My observation on the front: There's a lot of snow on that card that I never noticed until scanning it.

More opinion from me: He's pitching in front of nobody isn't he?

Something you might know: Slaton is the Brewers' career leader in victories (117). He won Game 4 of the 1982 World Series against the Cardinals.

Something you might not know: Slaton and former Orioles manager Dave Trembley are good buddies. Slaton attended Antelope Valley College and later would spend MLB offseasons working out there. Trembley coached the baseball team at Antelope in the mid-1980s and he was a stickler for rules. Slaton left his glove on the field after one workout and it was discovered by Trembley. He gathered his team, held up Slaton's glove and said "Slate, that's five." Slaton proceeded to run five laps to the delight of the team.

My observation on the back: Names of colleges and towns out west are so much more fun than what we have in the east.

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

Friday, May 5, 2017

#656 - Chuck Cottier

What a card: This is Chuck Cottier's first card as a manager. He was named as a replacement for Del Crandall with 27 games left in the Seattle Mariners' 1984 season.

My observation on the front: Gee whiz, an up-close shot of an old dude without a cap? If I was 9 when this set came out this would be my least favorite card.

More opinion from me: I had no idea until I started writing this post that the man on this card is the same guy. And I've had both of these cards for decades.

Something you might know: Cottier managed the Mariners for all of the 1985 season, but was replaced early in the 1986 season. After a one-game stint by Marty Martinez, Dick Williams took over.

Something you might not know: Cottier and Crandall played on the same Milwaukee Braves team in 1960. In fact, Crandall tried to get Braves manager Fred Hane, to call up Cottier from the minors in 1959. The Braves were in a pennant race with the Dodgers and the Braves' starting second baseman Red Schoendienst was out with tuberculosis. None of the fill-ins were working, but Haney didn't call up Cottier and the Dodgers wound up going to the World Series. Twenty-five years later, Cottier was replacing Crandall.

My observation on the back: Cottier was Seattle's third base coach when he was hired as manager.

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

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

#655 - Joaquin Andujar

What a card: Joaquin Andujar was coming off a major comeback season when this card was issued. After a post-World Series letdown in 1983 (and 16 losses), Andujar led the league with 20 victories for St. Louis.

My observation on the front: You can see the medallion Andujar is wearing. He used to wear medallions and chains on the mound, which distracted hitters. He was often told by umpires to remove them.

More opinion from me: Andujar is the central figure in the single worst meltdown I've seen on a baseball field. His Game 7 tirade in the 1985 World Series got him suspended for the start of the following season. I thought he was stark-raving loopy.

Something you might know: Andujar was a World Series star for the Cardinals in 1982, winning two Series games to help St. Louis to the championship. But he's probably most known in baseball circles for saying: "there is one word in America that says it all, and that word is 'you never know.'"

Something you might not know: While with the Astros, he once got into a physical fight with teammate and best friend, Cesar Cedeno. "I was only trying to keep my heavyweight championship," Andujar said afterward.

My observation on the back: Some of the abbreviations on card backs are comical. San Pedro de Macoris, Puerto Rico, is abbreviated as S.P. De M., D.R.

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

Monday, May 1, 2017

#654 - Dave Anderson

What a card: Dave Anderson was coming off his first full major league season when this card was issued. In 1984, he was the first Dodger besides Bill Russell to get the majority of starts at shortstop in a decade.

My observation on the front: You can see Anderson displaying the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games patch on his jersey sleeve.

More opinion from me: I remember when Anderson played in his first games with the Dodgers. He was not on my radar as one of the leading prospects for L.A., so I wondered who this guy was with the wonderfully pedestrian name. (He probably should have been on my radar as the Dodgers made him their No. 1 draft pick in 1981).

Something you might know: Anderson might be best known for standing in the on-deck circle before Kirk Gibson came on to pinch-hit in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Anderson was there to hit for the pitcher as Mike Davis batted. But when Davis walked, Gibson came to the plate instead of Anderson and the rest is history.

Something you might not know: Anderson and pitcher Fernando Valenzuela were both injured late in the 1988 season, but were each eligible to be activated for the World Series when the Dodgers got there. Anderson was activated instead of Valenzuela. Pitching coach Ron Perranoski believed Valenzuela's sore shoulder wasn't ready although Valenzuela disagreed.

My observation on the back: A couple of things:

1. That is not a gum stain. My '85 set was purchased complete in a vending box, so I don't know what that is.

2. The Los Angeles Times spelled Anderson's wife's first name as "Jina". I believe the L.A. Times over Topps.

3. The multiple choice answers for the trivia quiz has a "one of these things is not like the other" feel. Gee, do you think it's Don Hahn?

The blog wants to speak now: The Other Cards tab is updated.