Friday, July 31, 2009

Tournament settings

The total number of runs scored on Tuesday was 199. That means the cards get ordered by decreasing length of the player's name.

So here are the 25 cards as well as which reader is assigned to each card.

1 #702 "Rookie Threats" madding
2 #777 Keith Hernandez Carl Crawford Cards
3 #761 Gary DiSarcina White Sox Cards
4 #745 Dave Winfield dayf
5 #783 Mark Langston D a V e
6 #737 Carlos Baerga Don
7 #708 Tom Brunansky T-Dog
8 #786 Cecil Fielder Real_Name
9 #742 Mike Fetters AceWild
10 #711 Dave Justice Captain Canuck
11 #791 Hubie Brooks FanofReds
12 #749 Oil Can Boyd Stormy
13 #726 Todd Hundley Kevin
14 #714 Glenn Braggs Fuji
15 #729 Jeff Reardon Bo
16 #758 Nick Esasky Brian
17 #766 Dave Parker steveisjewish
18 #774 Gary Carter Rod
19 #797 Randy Myers Drew
20 #723 Jim Leyritz Mmayes
21 #718 Greg Myers Luke
22 #754 Joe Carter mmosley
23 #793 Kevin Bass skoormit
24 #734 Nolan Ryan night owl
25 #771 Fred Lynn RoofGod

Night owl, you damned nearly got yourself either Joe Carter or Kevin Bass (both Giants on these cards.) They missed only because "Rangers" comes alphabetically after "Giants".

These cards are going to be posted in 5 sets of 5 starting next week. Remember, the readers assigned to the card that wins the entire tournament will win the entire set, so get ready to argue on behalf of your card.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tournament order

Our tournament of the 25 best 1990 Upper Deck High # series is going to start soon.

I'm going to order the 25 winning cards based on the total number of runs scored during Tuesday's games. I'll add up all the runs and then take the last digits. For example, if the total is 125 runs, then the number I'll use is 5.

Here's a list of the 10 possible numbers and the way I'll order the 25 cards. Then I'll assign the cards to the numbers you chose. This makes it all fair and square.

0: increasing by card number
1: decreasing by card number
2: increasing by name alphabetically
3: decreasing by name alphabetically
4: increasing by team name then player name alphabetically
5: decreasing by team name then player name alphabetically
6: increasing by age
7: decreasing by age
8: increasing by length of player's name then by team name alphabetically
9: decreasing by length of player's name then by team name alphabetically

Monday, July 27, 2009

Moving day

My family and I are moving to a new home today and tomorrow so I'm not sure if I'll be posting very much.

But in the meantime, here's a little game for you.

The street number of our new home is one of major significance in baseball history. Guess the number and its baseball significance and I'll send you some free cards. Post your guess below and enter as many times as you like.

1990 Upper Deck #797 798 799 800



Randy Myers
Chris James
Bill Gullickson
Upper Deck Checklist 701-800

BEST PHOTO

The James card is similar to Keith Hernandez's card and has an equally nice batting-cage shot on the back. Overall, a very nice card. The Gullickson card is neat too. On the front, he's sitting in front of that wood paneling in front of which many Astros have posed. On the back is the final picture of the set, and it's a sloppy-haired candid photo.

But let's not ignore the checklist...I really like that mottled yellow background on both sides and how the checklist is self-referential, listing itself on the back.

BEST STAT

Chris James hit pretty well against HOF pitchers except for Nolan Ryan. He also hit multiple homers off Randy Johnson and Tom Glavine and a single homer off Roger Clemens. He also homered once against Randy Myers, also pictured in this group. Plus he was 4-for-9 against Bill Gullickson with a triple.

BEST IN 1990

Chris James had his most playing time in 1990 and put up his best season. Gullickson had a typically average season.

But it was Randy Myers who had the best season in 1990. He was, of course, the leader of the Nasty Boys with the 1990 champion Reds. He had 86 innings, 98 strikeouts, and a 192 ERA+.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Randy Myers = Many dryers
Chris James = Jams riches
Bill Gullickson = Bill sucking - LOL!

BEST CAREER

James and Gullickson had some good seasons but Myers is clearly the best of the bunch.



Friday, July 24, 2009

1990 Upper Deck #793 794 795 796



Kevin Bass
Bryn Smith
Juan Samuel
Sam Horn

BEST PHOTO

I like the Smith card. It's two photos probably from the same spring training game but taken from very different angles. On the front, the guy in the background is a 3B, probably Todd Zeile even though he was primarily a catcher that year. On the back, the background player is probably 2B Jose Oquendo.

I dig the Kevin Bass photo card, too. The posed shot on the front is unusual and neat. But, he stole Terry Kennedy's bat (#16).

Nice smirk for Juan Samuel, too, and an action shot showing him do what he did best (run, I mean, not get thrown out...heh.)

BEST STAT

Juan Samuel led the universe in strikeouts from 1984 to 1987, including leading the NL each of those years. My eye tracks down that list to #5 Gyrates Tip Gary Pettis, who managed 496 strikeouts in 4 seasons despite hitting only 9 home runs. Yes, NINE!

BEST IN 1990

Hmm, this is a toughie. Bryn Smith had a down year in 1990 and Bass and Samuel both had slightly below-average OPS+ numbers. I'm going with Sam Horn, who had 14 HR and 45 RBI in just 79 games. The knock on my choice is that he played only those 79 games.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Kevin Bass = Vans & bikes
Sam Horn = Harm son (of Sam Horn..?)

Tough anagrams here as the short names "Bryn Smith" and "Juan Samuel" aren't very fertile material.

BEST CAREER

Another very tough decision. Bass, Smith, and Samuel finished with slightly above-average numbers. Horn finished with really good numbers except for perhaps the most important one: games played. I can't pick a batter with just 389 career games as having had the best career. Nobody had much post-season experience, with Bass and Samuel just getting a whiff each. (No pun intended on the use of the word "whiff" although we could certainly apply that term to Samuel and Horn both.)

Anyway, at the end of the day, I'm going with Juan Samuel. He was runner-up for Rookie of the Year, a 3-time All-Star, topped 40 steals 4 different times and twice led the league in triples.



Thursday, July 23, 2009

Burleigh



BURLEIGH GRIMES, 1960 FLEER


What, were you expecting me to post about a different "Buerhle"?

Incidentally, Sean from Baseball-Reference.com told me in the 4PM hour today, Mark Buerhle's page on his site achieved 6,000 hits. That's 100 hits per minute for just 1 of the more than 50,000 pages that update daily. Wow.

MLB Network (and a contest)

Earlier this week I got a tour of MLB Network in Secaucus. I was invited by a group that had some business there.

I got to see the studio, production room, offices, as well as the areas where all the research and graphic design are done. In one of the main hallways is a section of wall where many of the former ballplayers who have visited have signed their names. One area has all Hall of Famers (including Bob Gibson, Goose Gossage, Cal Ripken, Tom Lasorda, and Bill Mazeroski) while another area has many other star players.

I can't go into any deatil about why I made the trip or who else was there, but suffice it to say that there were some interesting discussions. A number of ideas were floated around and perhaps there will be a collaboration.

Anyway, my hosts passed along to me this MLB Network cap.



It's brand new, made by New Era, and has an adjustable strap in the back. If you want it, just enter here as follows:

1. Comment on this post to enter the contest.

2. To win, you must be a follower of this blog to enter (you can do so using the Following widget on the right sidebar.)

3. In your comment, include a brief statement about your experience with MLB Network. Does your cable company carry it? Do you watch it? If not, why not? If yes, what do you like or dislike about it? I'm not asking for a paragraph here, just a sentence or two.

4. Also, guess the total number of runs scored by all teams in the games scheduled for this Sunday, July 26th. The closest person wins the hat, assuming you've done #2 and #3 above correctly. Rained out games or games that are make-ups of previous rain-outs don't count.

5. Make your comment posting before games start on Sunday. Ties are broken by whoever posted their guess earlier, so you best not duplicate someone else's guess or you've already lost.

So a valid entry, assuming I'm a follower of this blog, would be:

- I get MLB Network on Comcast in my area. I really enjoy how they cut to live games then cut back to studio for immediate analysis by the former players on what just happened.

- I predict 135 runs scored.

1990 Upper Deck #789 790 791 792



Lloyd Moseby
Ron Kittle
Hubie Brooks
Craig Lefferts

BEST PHOTO

No doubt the Hubie Brooks card is something special. The pose on the front is pretty commonly seen these days, with especially the 2009 O-Pee-Chee set coming to mind (much more on this to come.) Back in 1990, it was very cool, particularly with all the clouds in the background. The back photo is a fantastic action shot, making great use of the portrait-style photo. The outfielder-throwing-the-ball action shot is one of the rarest birds.

The rest of the cards and pretty ho-hum. Kittle's card is especially bad with not one but two right-facing-profile photos. At least Moseby is shown in both home and away uniforms.

I have to make mention of Craig Lefferts, who got a card in this set by virtue of signing with the Padres as a free agent, coming back to San Diego after having been traded to the Giants in the interim. The Padres would go on to trade Lefferts away again in 1992 for Erik Schullstrom and Ricky Gutierrez. Gutierrez, however, was later packaged and traded away by the Padres along with Derek Bell, whom the Padres had obtained in a series of trades after the first time they traded away Lefferts back in 1987.

It's pretty weird but I explained it all back here.

BEST STAT

From 1984 to 1991, Kittle had 140 HR (44th place), Brooks had 127 HR (53rd place), and Moseby had 124 HR (57th place). But here's the difference between these guys. Ranking instead by RBI over that period, Brooks jumps up the 26th place, while Moseby sticks at 51st and Kittle falls to 110th. Kittle had a high rate of hitting HR but didn't play enough to bat in lots of runs by other means. Moseby was average. Brooks didn't have a lot of power but did produce a decent number of runs by other means.

BEST IN 1990

Interestingly, all four of these guys had pretty good years in 1990. They were all above-average players with the 3 hitters all posting OPS+ values over 100 but less than 110. The best season was probably had by Lefferts who was used exclusively as a reliever and posted a 2.52 ERA (152 ERA+) over 78.2 IP, picking up 23 saves in the process.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Lloyd Moseby = Boomed slyly (or, if you prefer, "belly sodomy")
Hubie Brooks = Bookish rube (or, if you prefer, "huskier boob")
Craig Lefferts = Greater cliffs (or, if you prefer, "fecal frig, rest")

BEST CAREER

This is a tough call. All of these guys are interestingly similar. They all had some excellent years and were pretty steady performers. They all ended up a little over league-average for their careers, except for Brooks who ended with an OPS+ of exactly 100. They all had careers that were not very long--they all either started a little late in the majors (age 25 or older) or ended early (by age 33.)

If I had to pick one, I'd go with Lefferts, giving him the nod by virtue of more post-season experience including two World Series. Overall, he pitched pretty well in the playoffs too.



Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Poll added

The poll for the most recent post has been added. Click here to vote.

1990 Upper Deck #785 786 787 788



Dave Hollins
Cecil Fielder
Matt Young
Jeff Huson

BEST PHOTO

That Huson photo is great. He is perfectly still and it could easily be a posed shot, if not for that ball careening towards him from the left.

It also appears that Fielder discarded his bat right into the catcher's mouth as it's sticking straight out from back there.

Otherwise, these photos leave something to be desired. The Hollins photos are obviously taken from the same at-bat, as are the Fielder ones likely. Only Young is sporting two different jerseys.

BEST STAT

Not a stat so much, but Hollins was involved in 3 very interesting transactions:

December 4, 1989: Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies from the San Diego Padres in the 1989 rule 5 draft.

July 24, 1995: Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Boston Red Sox for Mark Whiten.

August 29, 1996: Traded by the Minnesota Twins to the Seattle Mariners for . The Seattle Mariners sent David Arias (September 13, 1996) to the Minnesota Twins to complete the trade.

Hollins was one of the best Rule V Draft pickups ever, at least until he fizzled after only a couple of really good years. Later, he was traded for a much better player in Mark Whiten. Still later, he was traded for a WAY better player, although that time David Arias was totally unknown. In fact, he still hadn't started using the last name we all recognize today. Click on Arias' name above to see him called by his more recognizable moniker.

BEST IN 1990

I cannot emphasize this enough. Not only was Cecil Fielder the best in 1990 but that season was one of the greatest seasons in baseball history, not only due to his excellent performance but also because of its phenomenal surprise and impact.

Fielder came almost literally out of nowhere, having been an unknown major leaguer who played in Japan in 1989. His return to MLB in 1990 was not a story--few people recognized his name and even fewer cared. Then he hit 7 HR in April and a few eyebrows were raised. Then he slammed 11 more homers in May and suddenly all eyes were on him. Collectors were scurrying to find his rookie cards. Turns out he had an 1988 Topps card. But wait, he also had a 1987 Topps card...and holy crap! He also he a 1986 Topps card!

Fielder rolled into the All-Star break with 28 homers and people started to ask: could this unknown slugger break the 50-HR barrier? At that point, it had been done just once since 1965, and that was all the way back in 1977 by George Foster. Many people were skeptical that Fielder could keep it up. Lots of folks said that once the scouting reports caught up with him, his numbers would dwindle.

But then something funny happened--his numbers didn't dwindle. He finished July with 7 HR, giving him 33 for the season. Surely he'd slow down in August? Nope. Nine more homers, giving him 42 heading into the final month. He reached 48 homers in his team's 153rd game on September 23rd. Then he reached 49 homers in his team's 156th game on September 27th. Then he went homerless--1 game, 2 games, 3 games...5 games without a homer, and the 162nd and final game was upon Fielder.

Many people doubted that Cecil Fielder would homer on that final day. Just like Dawson and McGwire in 1987, many suspected, he'd finish 1 homer shy of the 50-HR barrier. Many, many people tuned in to watch his final game that year, coming against the Yankees on October 3rd.

Fielder batted second in this game, I assume in an attempt to give him an extra at-bat in this game. He batted second only twice in 1990. In the first inning, he was walked and the Yankee fans booed. He scored on a Gary Ward grand slam and batted again in the second, this time lining out. After two outs in the 4th, Tony Phillips did what he did best and walked. Four pitches later, Fielder launched his 50th home run of the season into the left field stands. Insanity reigned as the Yankee crowd cheered.

Then, to erase any trace of the memory that Fielder's 50-HR season was ever in doubt, he launched a 3-run bomb in the 8th inning, this a line drive that also reached the left field stands.

And so it stood. An unknown slugger with huge biceps and an even larger smile broke the 50-HR barrier and Big Daddy was born.

In the years that followed, Fielder's accomplishment was tarnished, not by him (he hit 44 HR the following season and 30+ homers 4 additional times) but by the rest of baseball. Enter steroids and 9 different 50-HR seasons from 1995 to 1998. Fielder's season became a memory forgotten by many, but not by me.

After all, I was at Yankee Stadium on October 3rd, 1990. I brought my glove, and had the great fortune of catching Fielder's 50th home run ball in the left field stands. It remains my most prized possession.

OK, I made that last paragraph up, but everything else is true :)

BEST ANAGRAMS

Dave Hollins = Handles viol (of banned substances, perhaps?)
Cecil Fielder = I feel circled
Matt Young = Gutty moan

BEST CAREER

All 4 of these guys did some good things in the big leagues but Fielder had the best career. Aside from what I've already mentioned, he was a major contributer to the Yankees' World Series win in 1996, amassing 14 RBI in 14 post-season games that year. Add to that his big smile and massive influence, and this guy was one of baseball's brightest stars in the 1990s.



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

1990 Upper Deck #781 782 783 784



Mike Marshall
Billy Jo Robidoux
Mark Langston
Paul Sorrento

BEST PHOTO

It's kind of weird seeing Marshall in a Mets uniform. His career tanked as soon as he went to the Big Apple. (In case of newbies, do not confuse this guy with the pitcher Mike Marshall, who had a much better playing career than the guy whose card is pictured here.) But the photo on the back is quite cool, capturing Marhsall's leg kick in profile.

BEST STAT

The two Mike Marshalls were both in the big leagues in 1981 but they did not face each other. The batter got a September 1981 callup but his team didn't face the Mets, which is whom Marshall the pitcher was with at the time.

I talked about this elsewhere, but I recall this Mike Marshall once making all 3 outs in an inning--he made a conventional out as well as hitting into a double play in an inning in which his team batted around. A reader thought this was a spring training game...does anyone remember for sure?

Marshall hit way more homers off Bob Knepper (7) than he did against any other pitcher.

BEST IN 1990

This is a tough call. Robidoux barely played in 1990, Marshall was awful, Sorrento was pretty bad in an early call-up, and Langston had the worst year of his career (10-17 record, 4.40 ERA which was an 86 ERA+)

But I'll give it to Langston because he did pitch 223 innings, which was definitely a big help to his team. Amazingly, he had such a bad year for him and yet gave up only 13 home runs.

The other three cards show the player wearing the same uniform on front and back, which sucks, and in particular Sorrento's card leaves a lot to be desired with a so-so posed shot on the front and a candid shot of him slowly giving himself oral cancer on the back.

But talking of leg kicks, how about Langston's awesome one on the back of his card? It's such a great photo that I can almost forgive Upper Deck for using a photo with most of his face obscured.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Mike Marshall = A hammer kills
Billy Jo Robidoux = Job: I idol burly ox
Mark Langston = Ram long tanks


BEST CAREER

No doubt it was Mark Langston, who finished 179-158 (.531) despite pitching the first 5.5 seasons of his career with a veyr bad Seattle team. He still led the league in K's 3 times and topped 200 a total of 5 times. He ended up being a very important player for the Mariners franchise as he legitimized them in the 1980s and then was traded for 3 guys including Randy Johnson, who reached his HOF potential with the Mariners.

May 25, 1989: Traded by the Seattle Mariners with a player to be named later to the Montreal Expos for a player to be named later, Gene Harris, Brian Holman and Randy Johnson. The Seattle Mariners sent Mike Campbell (July 31, 1989) to the Montreal Expos to complete the trade.

I'm a little shocked by his neutralized pitching numbers, though. They have him at 153-161 (.487) for his career and never winning more than 16 games in any season (he actually won 19 twice and 17 once.)



Monday, July 20, 2009

1990 Upper Deck #777 778 779 780



Keith Hernandez
Billy Hatcher
Marty Clary
Candy Maldonado

BEST PHOTO

Wow, the Hernandez card is absolutely shocking--both photos on the card are very unusual and quite awesome. (In my opinion, this is THE BEST card in the set, but of course time will tell in our tournament.) The front photo, featuring Mex in the batting cage, is a very unusually close shot and gives a great view of Hernandez's face and swing. (I believe #25 is coach Dom Chiti, but I'm not sure about that.) The back photo is equally interesting. Let's count the ways:

  • Hernandez, perhaps the best fielding first baseman of all time, has just made a fantastic over-the-shoulder catch.
  • He is off both feet, with a nice puff of dirt.
  • The fans immediately behind him are in wheelchairs, which (due mainly to the low percentage of fans in wheelchairs at any given game) is unusual to see on a card.
  • A few of the fans look pretty damn scared!
To be honest, I don't know if a card gets any better than this. The card is great and Hernandez was a great player.

The Hatcher card is pretty nice, too, although far more ordinary. We have Hatcher's name and number on the front and a nice action-running shot on the back showing him holding both batting gloves in his right hand (and the entire bottom of one shoe visible.)

Maldonado appears to be levitating his bat on the back of his card...sweet!

BEST STAT

Maldonado never homered to win a game but he did have 4 walk-off plate appearances: two singles, a walk, and a sac fly.

BEST IN 1990

The choice here is actually very clear--but do you know the answer? It's Maldonado, who had his third-best season in 1990, launching 22 HR while collecting 92 RBI and a 116 OPS+. His best season was 1987 with the Giants and #2 was 1992 with the Blue Jays as a totally forgotten member of that championship team.

Hatcher wasn't fantastic during the regular season of 1990 but came up big that year in the postseason. I know I wrote about his post-season recently somewhere but I can't find it. Oh well.

Hernandez and Clary were both in the final year of their big-league careers in 1990.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Keith Hernandez = Harkened zenith
Billy Hatcher = Chilly breath
Marty Clary = Clay martyr
Candy Maldonado = Lady and a condom

BEST CAREER

We have 3 guys who were key parts of championship teams and they all did good things in the post-season. But Hernandez did a lot more in the regular season than Hatcher and Maldonado, and that's saying something because those guys were no slouches.



Sunday, July 19, 2009

Baseball-Reference.com

Read all about it right here.

I'm very proud to be a guest writer on B-R.com's blog. I get a lot of questions about this so let me clarify: as of the moment, I am an unpaid guest contributing solely through invitation from Sean. I have no ownership, no say in what goes on, and no knowledge of the workings of the site other than some minor stuff around the blog.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mike Fetters winner

The readers have spoken, and metsthoughts has won the Mike Fetters contest. I think he had a bunch of friends log on and vote for him, which is fine by me.

I just noticed that these patch cards are worth quite a bit...I probably wouldn't have given one away for free had I known it!

1990 Upper Deck #773 774 775 776



Wow, this grouping is full of kids. Three youngsters and one Kid.

David Segui
Gary Carter
Rafael Valdez
Glenallen Hill

BEST PHOTO

Three things stick out about the fronts: how young Segui looks, how you can see a bit of Carter's brain by looking up his nostrils, and how Valdez seems to be struggling to write on a baseball with a Bic pen.

The card backs are all nice changes of pace from their fronts, but not so nice to show Hill looking at a pop-up.

BEST STAT

In just 3 career games, Valdez gave up 4 home runs. That's not quite the record, as 4 guys who appeared in no more than 3 games gave up more homers. All good players hit those homers off Valdez.

BEST IN 1990

Not a single guy here played a full season in 1990. Nobody appeared in as many as 100 games. I guess I pick Carter, who in 92 games with the Giants hit 9 HR with a 104 OPS+. Hill showed some promise as he put up 12 HR and 32 RBI in 84 games, but batted just .231.

BEST ANAGRAMS

David Segui = Guide divas
Gary Carter = Racy garter (heh) = Great carry
Rafael Valdez = Rave fall daze
Glenallen Hill, Blue Jays = A jellybean selling hull = Hell bells: A ninja gulley

BEST CAREER

Clearly Gary Carter had the best career. David Segui is one of those guys really hurt by being linked to steroids. He wasn't a fantastic player and the casual fan chalks up whatever he did well in the game to steroid use, which I doubt is a fair analysis. From 1995 to 2001, Segui was a well above-average player even though his HR and RBI totals didn't rank him high among first basemen. Again, had he played outfield instead of 1B, I think he'd be more highly-regarded these days. Oddly enough, Glennallen Hill is in exactly the same boat as Segui. Hill finished with a 112 OPS+ and had a handful of great seasons as a part-time player. But nobody is going to remember that now.

(Incidentally, I just saw a video of Hill homering onto the roof of a building across from Wrigley in 2000. Pretty amazing...I'm sure it's on YouTube. Go check it out.)



Thursday, July 16, 2009

You down with O-Pee-Chee?

(Yeah, you know me!)

OK I have collected a little over half of the 2009 OPC base set and I'm ready to do some trading. I've got lots of doubles, as well as black parallels, mini-parallels, a Wladimir Balentien auto, and a bunch of other stuff. Whatever team you like, I've got stuff for you.

If you have 2009 OPC cards to trade me, please see my want list here, then email me to let me know what you've got, where I can find your want lists, etc.

Also, as a special bonus, I will send you the return postage for all trades--that's right--I'll send my stuff first, and send you the stamps to return your package to me.

Email is 88topps at gmail dot com.

1990 Upper Deck #769 770 771 772



Pascual Perez
Gary Pettis
Fred Lynn
Mel Rojas

BEST PHOTO

Well it ain't Pettis' photo. Upper Deck nicely shows him missing a bunt, with the baseball whizzing by. On the back, it looks like he just received news about the death of a loved one.

I really like the Perez photos. His front shot captures him making one of his typical funny moves. You might remember that he did a lot of fist-pumping and other gesticulating on the mound. There are also bonus chunks of dirt flying between his legs. On the back, we can see that the Yankees were playing the Braves that day.

It's sad and odd to see Lynn wearing a Padres uniform. After all those great years with Boston, California, and Baltimore, Lynn was reduced to half his former self by 1990, his last year in the big leagues.

BEST STAT

Perez really could have been great if not for the injuries. He has the most seasons all-time for a starting pitcher with an ERA under 4.00 but also fewer than 100 innings pitched. The guy just couldn't stay healthy but was was good when he did pitch.

BEST IN 1990

Well this is a tough call. Perez, Lynn, and Rojas all played partial seasons in 1990--Perez due to coming back from injury, Lynn because he was winding down his career, and Rojas because he was just coming up as a rookie. Pettis is the only guy who played a full year and he wasn't all that good. I really don't know who to go with here, but I guess I'll take Rojas, who pitched fairly well that year.

I also didn't know until just now that Rojas is the nephew of all 3 Alou brothers. I guess his mother must be their sister. (And, somewhat less shocking, he is not related to Cookie Rojas.)

BEST ANAGRAMS

Pascual Perez = A supple craze
Gary Pettis = Gyrates tip (hell YES!)
Fred Lynn, OF = Fondly fern
Mel Rojas = Jam loser

BEST CAREER

Freddy Lynn. Over 300 HR and 1000 RBI, career 129 OPS+, 1 MVP, ROY, 9 consecutive all-star appearances, and several gold gloves. Overrated in Boston, underrated everywhere else.



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ichiro

What a classy guy.

Contest: 1990 Upper Deck High Numbers CHALLENGE

OK, time to start assembling contestants for our 1990 UD High # Challenge. This is going to be a tournament-style competition where each of you will be assigned one card. The card that wins the poll as the best in the set shall determine the winner, and the winner receives this entire set.

Right now, we have polls up for each post of 4 cards, paring down the number of cards for the tournament from 100 to 25. We still have 8 more posts to go to run through all 100 cards. If you want to vote in past polls, please look at the Blog Archive over on the right. Any post that starts with "1990 Upper Deck" contains a poll at the end that allows you to vote on that set of 4 cards. Please take a few minutes to go through and vote if you haven't done so already.

Once all 25 semi-finalist cards have been decided, I am going to put them in a particular order, using a system that I will reveal later (it might be card number or alphabetical order, for example.)

Here's what you do to enter: add a comment to this post, picking a number between 1 and 25. Make sure that nobody has picked your number so far. Later, when I order the cards, you will be assigned one of the 25 finalist cards, and it will be your job (if you wish) to argue on behalf of your card to try to get it to win the reader polls and the tournament. Note that if you want to enter this contest but not bother arguing for your card, you can do that (but it probably decreases your chances of winning.)

As a fun little extra, when you pick your number below, can you relate it to some piece of baseball trivia, such as a stat or uniform number?

1990 Upper Deck #765 766 767 768



Wilson Alvarez

Dave Parker
Mike Blowers
Tony Phillips

BEST PHOTO

The Phillips photo is pretty neat, although it almost looks posed, like the ball is just sitting there on the ground. I like his open hand about to close down on the ball, though.

The photo on the back of Parker's card was almost certainly taken on April 9, 1990, since the Brewers opened their season at Chicago and there is red, white, and blue bunting. Looks like the Brewers and White Sox played an interesting home-at-home series at the beginning of that season, playing one game in each city.

BEST STAT

Check out the list of all-time leaders in most seasons with 100 walks and 100 runs scored. I bet you never would have guessed Tony Phillips would come in so high, on the level with Wade Boggs and ahead of lots of great players.

BEST IN 1990

This is another pretty easy call. Dave Parker had his last really good season in 1990, finishing with 21 HR and 92 RBI and a 118 OPS+. Alvarez wasn't in the majors, Blowers only played part of a season, and Tony Phillips was just starting the renaissance that lasted for the second half of his career.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Wilson Alvarez = Razes own villa
Dave Parker = Repaved ark
Mike Blowers = Be like worms
Tony Phillips = Sloppily hint

BEST CAREER

Dave Parker had the best career of this lot, but he did have some competition. Tony Phillips went from being a very average player to one of the best leadoff hitters in the game. Wilson Alvarez had a lot of talent but injuries ruined his career.



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

1990 Upper Deck #761 762 763 764



Gary Disarcina
Wayne Edwards
Pat Combs
Mickey Pina

BEST PHOTO

Well these are some boring photos. That's Brian Downing in the background of DiSarcina's card. On the back, that might be 3B Jack Howell but it's impossible to know. Edwards looks fairly doofy on both the front and back of his card.

BEST STAT

Since 1992 DiSarcina has 2 of the 21 worst seasons for runs produced (which is R + RBI - HR) minimum 500 plate appearances.

BEST IN 1990

Wayne Edwards was clearly the best of this lot in 1990. It was his only full season and it was a good one, with Wayne pitching 95 innings, surrendering only 81 hits and 41 walks while earning a 3.22 ERA.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Gary DiSarcina = Airy cardigans
Wayne Edwards = Wayward needs
Pat Combs = Stomp cab
Mickey Pina = Me, I panicky!

BEST CAREER

Well, clearly Gary DiSarcina is the best of this group since he was the only guy to stick in the majors for more than 4 seasons. Mickey Pina never even made it to the majors, making it quite surprising that he had a card in this set.



Monday, July 13, 2009

Lack of posts...

Sorry about no posts dating back to Friday. My actual real job has been keeping me busy and today my daughter is sick so we're spending the day together.

I think I've decided to collect 2009 O-Pee-Chee, mainly because I'm a little too far out of touch with today's game.. Would you believe that I never, ever watch baseball on TV? Not a lick of it. And I let my gameday audio subscription expire too because of no time to listen. But for a few reasons, including my continued blogging at Baseball-Reference.com, I think I need to get back into the daily details of the game.

Anyway, I really like the OPC set and will start blogging each card. If you have some to trade email me at 88topps at gmail dot com.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Want list 2009 O-Pee-Chee

Email me at 88topps at gmail dot com to discuss a trade

Still needed for 2009 UD O-Pee-Chee base set:

5 A.J. Pierzynski
13 Kyle Lohse
31 Martin Prado
35 Chase Headley
52 Gil Meche
57 Bobby Crosby
64 Chone Figgins
66 Brian Giles
67 Khalil Greene
72 Jhonny Peralta
74 James Loney
79 Raul Ibanez
81 Joel Peralta
98 Jeremy Sowers
133 Cristian Guzman
135 James Shields
145 Alex Gordon
154 Edwar Ramirez
155 Jair Jurrjens
162 Cha-Seung Baek
181 Cory Wade
194 Adam Jones
201 Brett Myers
234 Fernando Rodney
262 Kelly Johnson
265 Chad Billingsley
267 Brandon Moss
269 Jose Arredondo
273 Luke Scott
274 Scott Feldman
279 Lyle Overbay
290 Carlos Delgado
297 Luis Castillo
317 Akinori Iwamura
318 Hideki Matsui
320 Miguel Cabrera
322 Jack Wilson
323 Jeremy Reed
324 Chris Coste
345 Bobby Jenks
351 Livan Hernandez
376 Kevin Kouzmanoff
378 Brian Fuentes
379 Mark Reynolds
396 Marlon Byrd
400 Evan Longoria
413 Marcus Thames
418 Justin Duchscherer
421 Peter Moylan
433 Adam Lind
447 Kelly Shoppach
448 Eric Hinske
451 Miguel Tejada
453 Ryan Zimmerman
463 Chris Perez
465 Dan Uggla
472 Travis Buck
484 Hunter Pence
489 Wilson Betemit
491 Ryan Garko
521 Tampa Bay Rays

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bartolo watch

This is the most ridiculous story of the year. Not the pat about Colon not checking in, but rather Guillen's theory that he's depressed about the death of Michael Jackson.

1990 Upper Deck #757 758 759 760



Alex Sanchez
Nick Esasky
Stan Belinda
Jim Presley

BEST PHOTO

Hey, look! This foursome features not one but two guy who went to the Braves and were totally washed up! (In Esasky's defense, a medical condition ruined his career.)

For a guy who appeared in just a few major league games, we've seen enough of Alex Sanchez already. His 1989 Topps ML Debut card is on this blog, and his 88 Topps O-Pee-Chee card is back on the 88 Topps Cards blog.

Esasky is rocking the porn 'stache and looks like a total doofus. Somebody needed to tell Nick that it wasn't 1982 when they took that photo.

Sanchez and Belinda are both shown with ball in mid-flight on the backs of their cards, although the Sanchez photo is a horizontal cheat from the photo on the front of his card.

On the back of Presley's card--holy crap--ANOTHER duffel bag! And a guy who looks like he's wondering what happened to 1985.

BEST STAT

From 1983 to 1988, Nick Esasky was the only player in MLB to have double-digit homers every year without ever appearing in more than 125 games in any season.

BEST IN 1990

Given that Presley was washed up, Esasky was unable to play, and Sanchez didn't appear in the majors after 1989, Belinda was the best by default, having a pretty decent season. Read more about him here.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Nick Esasky = Icky snakes! = Kinky cases
Jim Presley = Simply jeer = Limp jersey

BEST CAREER

This is also a tough call. I think it's clear that Esasky was the best player, but he played only one full season in the majors (1989 with Boston, where his 30 HR and 108 RBI earned him a big free-agent contract with the Braves that led to absolutely nothing due to vertigo.) Presley put up some big HR numbers but was generally not a very productive player. Belinda had by far the longest career and also a little post-season success. Belinda was also good enough to be traded for 3 pretty good players: Jon Lieber, Dan Miceli, and Dante Bichette (traded with Jeffrey Hammonds.)

So, I guess I'm going with Belinda.



Is scheduled publishing still broken?

My posts scheduled for publishing still are not publishing...I am shocked that this problem is continuing. Are others still having this problem as well or am I missing something?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

1990 Upper Deck #753 754 755 756



Howard Farmer
Joe Carter
Ray Lankford
Sandy Alomar Jr.

BEST PHOTO

It's so rare to see so much of an umpire as we do on Alomar's card. I believe that's Ken Kaiser--can someone confirm?

Farmer's ball is right there on the corner of the card...I love the 3D! I should mention that I think he's the only player in this set of whom I hadn't previously heard.

Carter looks so casual, but man that photo looks like Joe Carter. He had a great smile and seemed to flash it often. I'm about to rip his ability below, but I cannot rip his enthusiasm or energy. Upper Deck captured his spirit on this card. (No truth to the rumor that Carter sued UD to try to get his spirit back.) Hell, Joe's even smiling on the back of his card AND giving a thumbs up.

Finally, the photo on the back of Lankford's card is pretty unusual. This is our second straight post showing a duffel bag.

BEST STAT

I'm straying a bit from our regular stat format to point out 2 interesting things:

Two of these players (Joe Carter and Sandy Alomar) were actually traded for each other. The Indians' trade of Carter to the Padres was an absolute classic, with them picking up not only Alomar but also Carlos Baerga (plus Chris James.) Alomar and Baerga were franchise cornerstones for Cleveland and brought that team back from the brink.

Also, Carter was involved in trades (almost exactly a year apart) with both Alomar brothers. One day shy of a year after he was traded for Alomar and Baerga, Carter was traded with Alomar to Toronto in the most famous trade of 1990:

December 5, 1990: Traded by the San Diego Padres with Roberto Alomar to the Toronto Blue Jays for Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff.

BEST IN 1990

Here's a source of a great debate. In 1990, his only year with the Padres, Joe Carter hit 24 HR with 115 RBI. Knowing that Alomar is the only other player in this group to play more than 40 games, you'd think that I'd pick Carter as best in 1990. But Carter's year was quite deceptive. His OPS+ was only 85, meaning he was actually quite below average productivity. That's because he batted only .232 and hit only 28 other extra base hits (27 doubles and 1 triple.) If you check out his advanced batting stats you can see that he actually contributed to -1.5 of the Padres' wins that year, meaning he actually cost them wins, not helped them win.

Anyway, I've written a lot in other places about how overrated Joe Carter was. If he hadn't hit that Series-winning homer in 1993, I think more people would realize this.

In 1990, Sandy Alomar played in 132 games, drove in 66 runs, had an OPS+ of 108, and won Rookie of the Year. He's the best player in 1990.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Howard Farmer = Armored wharf
Joe Carter = Jeer actor = Or, a reject?
Ray Lankford = Dry anal fork
Sandy Alomar Jr = Any major lards

BEST CAREER

Wow, this is by far the toughest call so far.

I'm not a Joe Carter fan but the guy did hit 396 career homers (currently 47th all-time) and was a big contributor on two World Series championship teams.

Sandy Alomar was a below-average hitter despite a couple of great years, but was an excellent catcher for many seasons. He played in 10 post-season series and performed especially well in 1997, driving in 19 runs (HOLY SHIT!) in that post-season, including 10 in the World Series.

But we also can't skip over Ray Lankford. He was pretty much finished by age 35, but before then he had 10 straight years with an OPS+ above 110 and was one of the top power-speed players in the game.

To tell you the truth, I'm having a pretty difficult time choosing among these 3 guys. I guess we can rank Lankford 3rd just because his career was a little shorter and he didn't play as much in the post-season. But it's not a distant third, and I have no clue how to rank Carter and Alomar ahead of him.

How would you rank these 3 guys?



Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Poll to determine Mike Fetters contest winner

There were a lot of funny entries for the Mike Fetters contest and I have picked my favorites. Please vote in the poll below. The author getting the most votes wins the prize.

MMayes entered:

"Dear 1972 Mike:

Things are going good now that you're 8. You've got a cool little glove here. Hang in there, even though things might get tough and you might get tempted to quit baseball for girls. You're going to make it as a big leaguer and have a long career, so don't let the girls distract you (except for Jenny Griggs in 1984...she'll be worth it).

Best wishes

1990 Mike"


RoofGod entered:

On lineup card:

"1B Ben Dover"


metsthoughts entered:

Dear photographer,
Sorry for stepping on your nuts.
Mike Fetters


D a V e entered:

Dear Diary,

I have a new best friend, his name is Devo. That is short for Devon White. He is such an Angel - that's it... a movie! Angels in the outfield. Must pitch movie idea to Disney tomorrow. Secondly must pitch tomorrow.
Remember Mike, I deserve good things, I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am an attractive person. I am fun to be with. I am Mike Fetters.




Just about all of the entries made me laugh, with the exception of dayf's because I really hate Naked Gun and other movies of that genre. (Nothing personal, dayf!)

I liked RoofGod's entry because of the idea of writing on a lineup card, and metsthoughts' entry because it took into account where the photographer was when taking Fetters' photo.

Anyway, here is the poll. You vote, and somebody wins.

1990 Upper Deck #749 750 751 752



Oil Can Boyd
Mike Benjamin
Alex Cole
Eric Gunderson

BEST PHOTO

This is a weird mix of card. The two Giants cards are both boring except for the wicked wrist bend that Gunderson is sporting. The Boyd card is a ripoff as Upper Deck used very similar photos on the front and back. The only saving grace is the top-half crop on the back photo with the use of the horizontal layout.

The Cole card, though...whoa. We could talk about this one all day. The front is a very unusually casual shot with Cole carrying his own bats and duffel bag. I assume that's his bag, as nobody wore #18 for the Padres in 1990. Yes, nobody--not even Cole. That's because he didn't play for the Padres in 1990. Upper Deck obviously had this photo and decided to issue a card for Cole based on his great rookie season with the Indians, which started after the Padres traded him to the Indians in July 1990.

BEST STAT

Here's a good one. Cole's 1990 performance ranks in the top 25 all time for fewest plate appearances for a player scoring at least 43 runs. Note that almost every other instance on the list is either from way, way back in history or from the Steroids Era (1993-present), when scoring is up. The only exceptions are Wilson in 1978, Cangelosi in 1987 (although that was a very screwy year), Terrell in 1974, and Cole.

BEST IN 1990

Benjamin and Gunderson barely played in the majors in 1990. Boyd was the best, posting a 10-6 record along with an excellent 2.93 ERA. Special mention should go to Cole, though, who played in only 63 games but scored 43 runs thanks in large part to a .379 OBP.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Oil Can Boyd = I can bloody
Alex Cole = Axe cello
Eric Gunderson = Reduce snoring = Endure scoring

BEST CAREER

This is sort of a sorry lot. Cole and Gunderson both ended up with below-average numbers although both guys did some good things in the majors. Mike Benjamin was way below-average offensively but did play more than a season's worth of games at each 2B, 3B, and SS. In the end, I guess I have to go with Dennis Boyd. After all, the guy pitched professionally in 2005 and attempted a major-league comeback this year at age 49!



Monday, July 6, 2009

1990 Upper Deck #745 746 747 748



Dave Winfield
Delino DeShields
Dann Howitt
Tony Pena

BEST PHOTO

Two different players here are holding up two fingers. DeShields is doing it on the front of his card while Howitt is doing it on the back of his. Of course, they're doing it for totally different purposes. DeShields is telling his waitress he wants two more shots of Jagermeister while Howitt is showing just how big a fan of Ozzy Osbourne he is.

I would be remiss not to mention the photo on the back of Tony Pena's card. This might be the best photo in the entire set. They made use of the space to show a horizontal shot, allowing them to capture Pena's leg stuck out while catching, something unusual for a catcher which Pena often did. Simply fantastic.

BEST STAT

Winfield had an OPS+ of at least 105 in every season he played from 1973 to 1993 (he missed all of 1989 due to injury.)

BEST IN 1990

DeShields and Winfield both had good seasons in 1990 but Big Dave takes the cake.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Dave Winfield = Flawed divine = Waved infield
Delino DeShields = I diddle no less, eh?
Tony Pena = Neat pony!

BEST CAREER

HOF Dave Winfield



Saturday, July 4, 2009

Contraction

Several years ago, King Bud was talking about contracting a few teams in MLB that couldn't cut it financially. I came up with a way to cut out half the teams in baseball by combining teams as follows:

Minnesota Twindians
Florida Marliners
Tampa Bay Blue Rays
Washington Cardationals (try "keeping up with" them)
Baltimore Oroyals
Altana Padraves
Los Angeles Rangles of Arlington
Chicago CubSox
Cincinnati RedsOX
Houston Piros
New York Phillets
Oakland GiA's
Colorado Yonkies
Los Angeles Brewgers
Arizona Tigerbacks

Friday, July 3, 2009

Contest: What is Mike Fetters writing?

Check out today's card post right here. Mike Fetters appears to be writing something. Post a comment below saying what you think he's writing, and what he's writing it on. I'll pick the few best entries and make a poll to decide the winner. I'm going for humor.

YOUR PRIZE if you win is an unopened bonus pack from a 2009 Series 2 Topps blaster containing one of those baseball legend historical commemorative patch cards.

UPDATE: Yeah I am an idiot. It's a 2009 pack, not 2008 (corrected above.)

1990 Upper Deck #741 742 743 744



Hector Villanueva
Mike Fetters
Mark Garnder
Matt Nokes

BEST PHOTO

First things first. The Fetters photo is fascinating, and I'm posting a contest about it. Save your thoughts about this card until you see the contest.

I'm getting a little tired of the Wrigley batting shots, as Villanueva's is the 4th or 5th already in the first 40-some cards of this set. The photo on the back of Hector's card is unfortunate too. Villanueva was not a thin guy but by putting him right in front of a chubby umpire I think he looks even heavier than he was.

The Nokes photo is also very odd. It's so weird to have a closeup from such a high angle, plus his eyes are almost invisible. It's nice, though, to see the "1" on Nokes' sleeve, which all the Yankees wore that year to honor Billy Martin, who died in Christmas day 1989.

Finally, another odd photo on the back of Gardner's card. His glove hand is strangely twisted with the ball inside the mitt. His pullover is also twisted around, allowing us to the tag with the number "40" written on it, which was indeed his number that year.

BEST STAT

Villanueva's K/BB performance in 1990 is among the 50 most-recent seasons with at least 27 Ks and no more than 4 BBs among non-pitchers.

BEST IN 1990

This is a toughie. None of these 4 guys was great in 1990. Nokes had an off-year as he was traded from the Tigers to the Yankees. Fetters was just getting started and didn't fare too well (but went on to have a great career--see below.) Villanueva barely played, getting just 120 plate appearances, but he hit pretty well, swatting 7 homers. (Never mind that 27/4 K/BB ratio, heh.) The best, though, was probably Gardner, who pitched 152.2 innings with a good 1.245 WHIP and 107 ERA+. He went only 7-9 that year and in fact this was only 1 of 2 seasons when he had a better-than-average ERA+, the other coming in 2000 with the Giants.

BEST ANAGRAMS

Hector Villanueva = A helluva contrive = Unclothe a revival
Mike Fetters = Meekest rift
Mark Gardner = Grand remark
Matt Nokes = Takes most (not to mention "monk teats" and "meat knots")

BEST CAREER

I wrote about Mike Fetters previously on this blog right here. He had the best career out of this bunch.

I do want to make special mention of Matt Nokes, though. This guy had a pretty good career playing as a half-time or sometimes full-time catcher. He always hit pretty well. The thign that really hurt Nokes is that first full season he had with 32 homers. Had he hit 22 instead of 32, expectations for him would have been more reasonable and his career would be viewed better than it is.