Friday, June 19, 2009
1990 Upper Deck #701 702 703 704
Rookie Threats - Delino DeShields, Marquis Grissom, Larry Walker
For starters, you can click on the photos for larger versions. The card backs are down toward the bottom.
Three things catch my eye about this set of photos. Firstly, it's tough to ignore the trio of young Expos on the card, with the bonus Brave walking in the background. Secondly, it's striking to see Willie Randolph in an Oakland uniform. I can accept Yankees, Dodgers, Brewers (due to his great 1991 season) and Mets, but Oakland slips under the radar. Thirdly the back of the Pena card (see below) deserves a more detailed look.
I should mention that I'm not crazy about the use of quotation marks around the words "Rookie Threats." That's not a correct use of this punctuation.
Here's an awesome stat I just found to kick things off. Since 1981, just 3 pitchers have at least 7 career shutouts and 70 career saves. Who are they? John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersely are the easy ones. The tough one? Alejandro Pena. Go back a little futher and Bob Stanley joins the list.
BEST IN 1990
Willie Randolph was not very good in 1990 and looked finished, but as mentioned he rebounded to have an awesome season with the Brewers in 1991. Jim Gott was solid in 1990, as was Pena. But the best has got to be one of the Expos. Walker and Grissom had yet to really get going, and DeShields had the best year of the three. In terms of value, DeShields wins but he's probably just a smidge ahead of Gott.
Rookie threats = Shakier tooter
Alejandro Pena = A jalapeno nerd
Willie Randolph = A downhill peril
It's clear that the only contenders among this set are Larry Walker and Willie Randolph. Willie was a solid player, part of 5 teams that went to the World Series and 2 champions (although he didn't play in the 1978 post-season) and he also recently managed the Mets for 3 1/2 seasons with some success. Walker, on the other hand, had a fantastic career (helped only somewhat by Coors Field) although had less success in the post-season. Still, based on Walker's strength as a player, he gets the nod here.
So we need to see that photo on the back of Pena's card. Here it is:
Right away this is a very unusual photo. It's not immediately clear which guy is Pena, although I have to assume he's the fellow looking into the camera. It's unusual (or at least was unusual in 1990) to see a card photo that is so casual, i.e. a guy wearing a towel on his head. And who else is in the photo? I assume these are all members of the bullpen, since these guys appear to be sitting on chairs or a bench down one of the lines. You can see arms from a fan in the background. The guy in the foreground appears to have a uniform number starting with a 5 and a name starting perhaps with a P. My first thought was Bill Pulsipher, was this photo was far too early, as Pulsipher didn't debut until 1995. The only Met pitchers with a 5 in their uniform number that year were Sid Fernandez (50) and Ron Darling (15) and clearly it's neither of those guys. Hmm. Could be a bullpen catcher or a coach maybe. The guy all the way on the left is easy to identify...That's Julio Machado.
OK so here we have a poll to decide which of these 4 cards should continue on in our quest to find the best card in this set. There are no rules on what criteria to use for voting. You can vote for the best player, the best photo, the best-looking card, or whatever else tickles your fancy.