Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It would appear that someone has a bone to pick with Todd Walker

...based on some of the content in his Wikipedia page.

Thanks for the tip to Brian, who should probably be working on some cases right now.

The best player in the game today

It's Albert Pujols, and it isn't even close.

This is a 2008 Topps Target insert based on the T-205 design.

I just made a Photoshop action that allows me to create cool mirrored cards like this, although I got the idea from another blog, but I forget which. Can somebody remind me which blog displays cards like this?

1990 Upper Deck #729 730 731 732

Jeff Reardon
Mitch Webster
Brian Bohanon
Rick Parker


This is a pretty interesting group of photos. Reardon has a nice action shot on the front, and a fairly casual shot on the back. Webster, oddly, has squinted eyes on both the front and back. What's the deal there? Bohanon's photo on the front is very cool, with the ball practically coming off the card.

But I want to draw your attention to the Rick Parker card for a moment. Check out that photo on the front. Ignore the odd look on his face. I have to believe that this photo was taken at a moment when the ball got away from the catcher and Parker was considering dashing home from third base. Or perhaps he has just rounded third and is watching the throw into the catcher to see if he should continue. In any event, I've invented a fun game called "Pretend that Rick Parker has just rounded FIRST base". Then, it just looks like he's doing some bizarre hotdog action, daring the catcher to try to throw him out. And his facial expression becomes priceless.


Rick Parker didn't have a lot or particularly notable career but he did have a hell of a game in this 23-run beatdown the Giants handed the Braves. Parker's 3-run homer in the 4th inning put the Giants ahead to stay and he finished with 4 hits, 6 RBI, and 4 runs scored. This was the Braves' last year of ineptitude as they took first place the following year.

BEST IN 1990

Jeff Reardon was the best in 1990, despite having a lower-than-average save total for him. His next year, 1991, would be his last great year.


Jeff Reardon = Jar offender
Mitch Webster = Wet birch stem (neato!)
Brian Bohanon = Ah, Iran bonbon


Jeff Reardon, obviously, although both Mitch Webster and Brian Bohanon had some good seasons.

Monday, June 29, 2009

1990 Upper Deck #725 726 727 728

Scott Radinsky
Todd Hundley
Scott Hemond
Lenny Webster


Nice photos here for fans of catchers, although Hundley has managed to look pretty dorky on both the front and back of his card. Unusually for this set, the Radinsky card is the onyl one displaying two uniforms.


Hundley's 1996 is often cited as one of the all-time monster years for catchers, but it wasn't actually all that good. In fact, it ranks only 37th all-time for Runs Created in a season by a catcher. Many seasons both before and after rank quite a bit higher.

BEST IN 1990

None of these guys was noteworthy in 1990. Hundley, Hemond, and Webster barely played in the majors that year and Radinsky had an ERA+ of just 80 over 52.1 innings. Still, I guess he was the best. In case you were curious. Hundley hit just 1 HR in half a season in the minors that year.


Scott Radinsky = Dork's sanctity
Todd Hundley = Oddly hunted
Scott Hemond = Modest notch
Lenny Webster - I refer you to the anagram on his 1989 Topps ML Debut page.


Todd Hundley has one huge year in 1996 (41 HR 112 RBI) followed by an excellent year in 1997. He also had two seasons that he played only about half the year--1995 and 2000--that were really good. Otherwise, he was pretty damn forgettable and finished with a career OPS+ of 102. Although Hundley might have had more value on paper, I'm going to award this one to Radinsky, who had 5 seasons as a well above-avergage reliever and a handful of other decent years, plus came back after missing all of 1994 with Hodgkin's Disease.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Shopped Cards #19

Shopped Cards is back, baby!

You had better believe me--this one is TOUGH!

Yes or no questions only.


The crop was taken from the right side of the card, and then it was rotated and had its colors inverted.

Tony Gwynn Jr

Is it just me, or is it insanely cool to see Tony Gwynn Jr. kick ass for the Padres, hitting well over .300 just like his papa?

Anybody have some Gwynn JUNIOR cards to trade me? Email me at 88topps at gmail dot com.

1990 Upper Deck #721 722 723 724

Craig Grebeck
Shawn Boskie
Jim Leyritz
Bill Sampen


Of the photos on the front, the ones for Leyrtiz and Sampen are by far the most interesting, with a nice 3B-fielding pose for the former and an excellent shot capturing the stadium from head to toe in the background for the latter. Is that Stade Olympique?


Craig Grebeck hit only 19 career homers, but 5 of those came off Kenny Rogers and David Wells. Grebeck hit increidbly well off Rogers in particular, with 9 hits and 9 RBI in 29 at-bats. And, for what it's worth to you, I was at this game when he homered in the 7th inning.

BEST IN 1990

With the exception of Grebeck, none of these guys had a bad season in 1990. Sampen and Boskie both pitched 90-some innings with Sampen having the edge, coming in with a 2.99 ERA.


Shawn Boskie = Banishes wok = Swab honkies
Jim Leyrtiz, Yankees = Jerky senility maze
Bill Sampen = Nimple pals (or, OK, penal limbs)


None of these guys was a star although everyone except Boskie had at least one great year. Boskie was decent some years but managed to lead the league in HR allowed in 1996 despite pitching only 189 innings. Wow.

The best career here belongs to Jim Leyritz, although he's helped by playing mainly for really good Yankees teams. In the regular season, Leyritz was pedestrian, finishing with a 106 career OPS+. But in the post-season, the guy was cash money. He batted only .213 but he had--get this-- 8 HR and 20 RBI in 72 career post-season plate appearances. Think about those numbers for a minute.

Of course, the story gets a lot worse for Leyritz will his very serious issues over the last couple of years. I believe he is still awaiting trial on vehicular manslaughter charges.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Posts not publishing

Starting about 3 days ago, my scheduled posts stopped auto-publishing on time. Is anybody else having this problem?

Bud Bulling

Over the 83 Fleer Project, this card was just posted:

It's signed by Bud Bulling, the guy on the right. I'd never heard of Bulling before, and he certainly didn't have a particularly long career. I figured that he must be on this card for some reason, so I looked up the game mentioned on the card (from 5/6/82) and the box score is right here.

It appears that Bulling had what at one time would have been called the "game-winning RBI", a now-defunct stat crediting the player who drove in the run that put his team in the lead for good in a game. This game, Gaylord Perry's 300th win, is an example of why the GWRBI was a dumb stat. Yeah, Bulling's 3rd-inning single put the Mariners ahead 1-0, but it was guys behind him who built the score to 5-0 that prevented Perry from relinquishing the lead, as he did eventually allow 3 runs in the game.

Game-wining RBI was a stat that MLB kept and Topps actually displayed it on their cards for a while.

For example on the back of Eddie Murray's 1988 Topps card, just below his Major League Totals stat line, you can see GW-RBI for 1987 and GW-RBI for his career.

Topps continued to show it in 1989.

But in 1990 they stopped after MLB dispatched GW-RBI as an official stat.

Here are some older cards just so you can see the GW-RBI notations:

But going back to 1985, Topps didn't have the GW-RBI that year:

Interesting the the Baseball Trivia Quick answer is still the same, and probably will be for a long, long time.

I believe Topps cards even earlier than 1985 also did not carry the GW-RBI stat.

1990 Upper Deck #717 718 719 720

Tim Layana
Greg Myers
Pete O'Brien
John Candelaria


Upper Deck makes great use of the dual photos here by showing Myers in full catching gear, face obscured, on the front, but giving us a good look at the guy while batting on the back. My only beef is that both photos were taken at Comiskey, featuring him in the same road jersey. (Most of the cards in this set seem to feature two different jerseys in the photos.)

I have to say that I love the O'Brien card. It's got an action batting shot on the front and an action fielding shot (pretty rare for a 1B) on the back, plus he's rocking different uniforms. The front photo must be a spring training game since he's wearing a warmup jersey but there is no batting cage.

The Candelaria card here maintains his perfect streak of looking terrible on every single one of his baseball cards.


Greg Myers is one of three catchers to play every season from 1989 to 2005. Can you name the others?

BEST IN 1990

Interestingly, only one of these guys played a full season in 1990, and he was also the best that year: Tim Layana. In his only full season in the majors, Layana pitched to a 114 ERA+ over 80 innings.


Tim Layana = Anal amity
Greg Myers = Merry eggs
Pete O'Brien = Teenier bop = bee protein
John Candelaria = Nonracial jehad


I'll give special mention to Greg Myers, who was a good backup catcher for many years and had a very long career as a result. But the best player in this bunch is Candelaria, who was a good pitcher for many years and a great pitcher for a couple, notably 1977 with the Pirates. Also, except for 1 of 2 games in the 1979 World Series, he pitched excellently in the post-season and was part of the '79 championship team, combining with Kent Tekulve on a shutout in Game 6.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another Shopped Cards contest

If you liked my big Shopped Cards contest, be sure to check out this one over at The Writer's Journey.

1990 Upper Deck #713 714 715 716

Scott Ruskin
Glenn Braggs
Kevin Bearse
Jose Nunez


Wow can you imagine the excitement in the Bearse household? He finally gets to the big leagues and has his first-ever major league baseball card, and when they gaze upon it, they see little Kevin damn near sucking his thumb in the photo. AWESOME!

With the exception of the Nunez card, all the rest show players in both home and road jerseys between their two photos, which is exceptionally cool. The photo on the back of Braggs' card seems to be airbrushed to blur out the guy standing right behind him.


Of Braggs' 70 career homers, only 23 (33%) were tying or go-ahead, a below-average fraction.

BEST IN 1990

Another tough decision. Bearse barely pitched in the majors at all in 1990, his only year in the big leagues. Nunez was no good in 1990. Glenn Braggs was decent enough in 1990, and actually pretty darn good after his trade to the Reds mid-season. But in this group of guys, it was ScottRuskin who was best, splitting time between the Pirates and Expos after moving as part of this significant trade:

August 8, 1990: Traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates with a player to be named later and Willie Greene to the Montreal Expos for a player to be named later and Zane Smith. The Pittsburgh Pirates sent Moises Alou (August 16, 1990) to the Montreal Expos to complete the trade.

Lots of talent moving in the trade as all 4 guys had some good big-league years.

Anyway, in 1990 Ruskin pitched a total of 75.1 innings, compiling a very good 132 ERA+ while getting into 67 games.


Scott Ruskin = Rustic knots (or uncorks tits, if you prefer)
Kevin Bearse = Is breakeven, or bereaves kin
Jose Nunez = Nouns, jeez!


This is a bit of a sorry lot to choose from, and Glenn Braggs wins by default. All 4 guys had short careers, with Braggs' 7-season odyssey being the longest. He still finished a bit below league-average OPS-wise, but at least he was part of a World Series champ, even if he did manage just 1 hit (but 2 RBI) in the 1990 post-season with the Reds.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Did Glenn Wilson comment on my blog?

OK, here's a wacky story. Loyal readers will know that before this blog, I started off with the 88 Topps Cards blog. I got something like a thousand comments on that blog, and there was just one that I deleted.

My reason for deleting this comment was that I thought it was left by a troll who simply wanted to criticize card collectors as basement-dwellers and losers (which, no doubt, some of us are.) His comment included the assertion that I have personally never stepped foot on a baseball field which, while not technically true (I got to walk on the field at the Kingdome a while back), is true in the spirit in which the commenter meant it, in the sense that I'm not really in a good position to judge MLB talent.

Anyway, the comment was originally posted on my 88 Topps entry for Glenn Wilson, then of the Phillies. You might want to go read that first so you can full appreciate the rest of what I'm about to reveal here.

Now, here is the text of the comment that post posted to the page for Wilson's card.:

"You guys are too lame. None of you must have girlfriends, or all ugly wifes. Heres the deal. Andy, you have never stepped foot on a major league field, so how n the he!! would you know who is worthy of a all-star selection or not, and jred, that lame nick name arm could throw you out from the warning track with a 30 foot head start...... yall have fun!! "
Instantly, you can probably see why I deleted this comment. It really seemed to be a random troll. If the comment took serious issue with the content and made any type of actual counterargument, I probably would have let it stand despite its nastiness.

I often think back to this comment, remembering the ppoint about me having never stepped onto a major-league field. The commenter was right about that, and it makes me think twice about how I criticize players, since I really have only the numbers or what a player says in interviews to go by. I don't know these guys and I don't know what it's like to play baseball.

This morning, I went back to the email notification for the comment just to re-read it and remind myself of its lesson. Then I noticed the full text of the email:

glenndub1 has left a new comment on your post "#626 Glenn Wilson":

You guys are too lame. None of you must have girlfriends, or all ugly wifes. Heres the deal. Andy, you have never stepped foot on a major league field, so how n the he!! would you know who is worthy of a all-star selection or not, and jred, that lame nick name arm could throw you out from the warning track with a 30 foot head start...... yall have fun!!
It's from a user named "glenndub1" which I suppose is Glenn W, which I further suppose is none other than Glenn Wilson. If you click on his name above, you can see that the account was created just when I posted Wilson's card, so the author probably created the account expressly to comment on the Wilson card.

It seems to me fairly likely that the comment came from Mr. Wilson himself. His reaction to my criticism that he was not an all-star caliber player is exactly how I might expect that player to respond, by calling into question my credentials for making such a determination. The rest of his post was a shot at the rest of my community who seemed to agree.

Regardless, I want to tell the author that although I thought much of the content of his comment was overly harsh and irrelevant, I do see his point and have tried to incorporate its message into my approach.

1990 Upper Deck #709 710 711 712

John Franco
Mark Davis
Dave Justice
Storm Davis


There's something to like about all these photos:

Franco's headshot is kind of boring, but the "blue seats to infinity" behind him is cool, plus there's a nice action shot on the back.

Mark Davis' photo was taken at an unusual angle, allowing us to get some clouds in the picture. I couldn't quite figure out what he's signing--probably a game program.

Justice has a nice posed shot on the front and a nice look at his funky helmet on the back. I think he wore that only early in his career.

Storm Davis has no hat in both photos, which is quite unusual. He's totally rocking the Top Gun look on the back in another very casual candid photo. Personally I think this card would have worked a lot better with an action shot on the front to go with the candid sunglasses laugh on the back--it would have highlighted just how casual and off-beat the back photo was.


Of the 272 pitchers to throw at least 50 innings in 1990, Mark Davis had the 5th-worst WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched.) This from the guy the Royals just signed to a 3-year, $14 million contract at a time when the average major-league salary was still below $1 million per year.

BEST IN 1990

No doubt that Justice was the best in 1990, as Franco had a good (but average for him) year and both Davises had down years, with Mark Davis in particular being quite awful, one of the worst free-agent signings in the last 30 years.


John Franco, Mets = He confronts jam
Storm Davis = Smart voids
Mark Davis, Royals = He sucks bad free agent signing (ha! made you look!)


This is a pretty tough one to figure. John Franco finished 3rd in career games for a pitcher and 4th in saves. Those career rankings cannot be overlooked, as nobody gets that high in any category without having excellent talent, execution, and longevity. David Justice topped 300 HR and 1000 RBI and was one of the best power hitters of the 1990s. He played in an incredible 21 post-season series, benefiting from playing for all excellent teams (Braves 1991-1995, Indians 1997-2000, Yankees 2000-2001, Athletics 2002.) In just under 400 career post-season at-bats, he totaled 14 HR and 63 RBI, very good numbers for the playoffs.

In the end, though, I have to go with John Franco as the best of this group. Justice probably had more total value in his career (as closers are generally over-valued) but I can't fault Franco for how he was used. He did what his managers asked of him, and did it extremely well.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Loathing Fehr

Some great news today as Donald Fehr has announced his retirement as head of the Players' Association. With all his years on the job, I believe Fehr had become far too powerful and influential and is one of the main guys who prevented steroid testing (not to mention a salary cap.) I'm sure the new guy will be much the same (or have you not heard "Won't Get Fooled Again"?---Meet the new boss, same as the old boss...) but perhaps with less entrechment we'll see a slightly more modern and enlightened approach.

Cardboard Flunkie

Good ol' dayf from Cardboard Junkie sent me a package. Unfortunately, I was extremely disappointed that he chose not to enclosed a letter after my most recent package to him included a detailed description of some significant assets. Oh well, I can always hope.

Anyway, dayfid sent a pretty awesome little collection of things, including:

A Bobby Higginson card I asked about but still don't understand

Why is Bobby holding up a piece of paper with his name? Can anybody give me more info on this card?

And a 2009 Topps Adam LaRoche that I think is one of the best-looking photos I have ever seen:

and oh, a Mike Schmidt jersey card

Wow, what a sweet card. The black, white, silver and gold motif really works. I love the black Phillies logo. This card is very similar to a Phil Niekro one I sent dayf about 8 months ago. He posted it to his blog but now I can't find it.

And check out this Tino Martinez card:

A bit beat up but still very cool. Dayfid and I had been talking about 2002 Topps Traded relics, and I'm sure that's why he sent me this spiffy card (no, wait, he mailed them before we had that chat...wait a second...does he have spooky powers???) I'm looking for the Eric Young bat card from this set, if anybody has one to trade.

I find the graphic on this card a bit odd. Those 3 white lines connecting the patch to the image are strange. I get the third one--a bat. But the first one is a ball--do they really put hacked up little pieces of ball on some of these cards? And what is in the second image? Is that a glove? No idea. Cool card, though.

Lastly here is a sweet Robin Ventura jersey swatch:

The unorthodox shape of the patch is pretty cool and I'm one of just 3 people on earth who care about Ventura's time with the Yankees, so dayf nailed that one too.

Thanks dayf! Your awesomeness grows each year.

1990 Upper Deck #705 706 707 708

Tim Leary

Chuck McElroy
Gerald Perry
Tom Brunansky


For photos on the front, I think Brunansky's is quite clearly the best. It's simply a beautiful posed shot with the stadium nicely framing Bruno, in a warm-up jersey. Gerald Perry has a nice action shot, although a close-up of his head reveals a bit of a scary look:

Now, ok, I get that Perry has an overbite. I'm not the most beautiful person in the world and neither is he. But this photo makes it look like he's got goth makeup on around his eyes, plus his eyebrows and facial hair look painted on. What the hell is going on here?

The photos on the back reveal two priceless shots. First we see a whole lot of reflection in McElroy's glasses. If you look carefully, you can see the ass of another player in the lens on the left, and a whole row of players warming up on the right. But the real gem here is the back of Perry's card, with a journalist (is that Johngy?) carrying what was even for then a bit of an old-fashioned tape recorder. Not to mention that ridiculous microphone...

Oh, and there's a bonus shot of a very blurry Dwight Evans in the background behind Brunansky on the back of his card.

I've got nothing to say about Tim Leary's photos except....booooooring.


From 1986 to 1988, Brunansky is one of the 7 guys to get 20+ HR and 10+ stolen bases each year. The other 6 are all big names. Bruno hit a lot of triples in his career as a power hitter but finished with more caught stealings than stolen bases. I wonder what that means...fairly fast guy but not a good baserunner, perhaps?

BEST IN 1990

Let's see...that would not be Tim Leary, who led the league with 19 losses (although didn't actually pitch all that badly, as is true for most guys with big loss totals.) Turns out 1990 would be Leary's last fairly decent season.

McElroy didn't pitch much in the majors in 1990, and Perry actually had his worst full season that year (not that it was terrible.)

Out of this bunch, it was Brunansky who was best in 1990, especially once he joined Boston. Unfortunately it didn't carry over to the post-season, where Bruno managed just 1 hit in the 4-game sweep by Oakland in the ALCS.


Gerald Perry = Regard reply
Tom Brunansky = Bonny muskrat = brusk antonym
Tim Leary = Try email


In a bit of an upset, it turns out that Chuck McElroy had the best career of this group. Brunansky was almost certainly more valuable, but for what McElroy did, he performed the best, finishing with a career ERA+ of 111 over 739.1 innings.

It's also worth noting that Leary gets a bum rap because of that 19-loss season in 1990, but did have a handful of decent years where he threw a lot of innings. He's better than most people remember him.

Interestingly, Gerald Perry just lost his job a few days ago as hitting coach for the Cubs.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Curve ball

I found a really interesting demonstration of why curve balls may be so effective at fooling hitters. Try it out yourself right here. To me, this explanation holds a lot of water. It's not so much that a curve ball is curving that makes it tough for batters to hit--because over time batters can learn to track the path of a curveball and project where it will end up. Rather, it's essentially an optical illusion--a disruption to the optical sensing of the ball's location. It lasts only a split second, but of course even on a slow 70-mile-per-hour pitch, a momentary confusion over actual trajectory and location is enough.

This links up a bit to something I read in a recent issue of Wired Magazine (The May issue, also known as the Mystery issue) where a master pickpocket talked about some of his techniques. He talked about distracting the victim with one hand while making the heist with the other hand. His distracting hand, though, worked best when moved in an arc instead of a straight line. Apparently, a fairly recent manuscript published in the journal Nature (co-authored by a group of magician-type people) discovered through research that the human eyes cannot successfully track an object traveling in a curved path. When, by contact, an object moves in a straight line, we have learned to track its trajectory and then project to the eventual end point. Our eyes, it turns out, automatically move to the end point when we see something in linear motion. However, when an object is moving in a curve, the only way to discover the end point is to continue to track the object with the eyes--the eye-brain connection doesn't allow us (for fast-moving objects at least) to project the end point and automatically move our eyes to that location.

This, too, could help explain why a curveball or slider is so much tougher to hit than a straight fastball.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Shopped Cards: the contest

UPDATE: We have a winner already! Much more quickly than I expected, I got lots of entries, including 4 yesterday that were perfect. Please feel free to continue to work on the puzzle and email me your guesses if you like--I'll score them for you. I'll post the answers to this puzzle sometime next week.

Here's a special Shopped Cards contest!

This card is comprised of 24 different baseball cards. The only hint I'm giving is that they are all cards posted on my 88 Topps Cards blog.

To enter the contest, identify as many of the cards as you can. Use this key to identify your cards:

In other words, you should compile a list. #1 is XXX, #2 is YYY, and so forth. Email me your list at 88topps at gmail dot com by Sunday night, June 28th, 11:59 PM. I'm giving this contest a while to run to make sure that everybody has time to work on it.

The winner will be the entrant with the most total points. You get +1 point for each correct guess, -1 points for each incorrect guess, and 0 points for each blank. So, you're better off leaving a number blank than guessing at random. When you email me your entry, I will email you back to confirm. Once you email me your entry--that's IT--you cannot update/change it later. Ties will be broken by the earlier date/time of entry.

What's the prize, you ask? It's as follows:
  • The 1988 Score Rookie & Traded set
  • The 1989 Topps Major League Debut set
  • An assortment of a few hundred 2008 & 2009 cards
  • At least a couple of unopened packs
  • A few insert/short print singles
I'm disabling comments for this post because I don't want anybody to spoil things for anybody else. If you have questions, email me using the address above. If there is pertinent information for everybody, I'll post updates on this page.

Links/shoutouts on your blog to this contest page would be appreciated. And while your visiting my old blog, don't be shy about posting comments...I'll reply if they warrant a response.

1990 Upper Deck #701 702 703 704

Jim Gott
Rookie Threats - Delino DeShields, Marquis Grissom, Larry Walker
Alejandro Pena
Willie Randolph


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.

1989 Topps Major League Debut #151 & #152: Checklists

Well, here we are at the end of the 1989 Topps Major League Debut set. We go out with a whimper, not a bang, thanks to the set ending with two checklists.

But wait--these are hardly ordinary checklists. Given numerous choices, Topps made a great decision to list the players by debut date. They could have gone by card number (or name, which is the same order) but instead they chose to group the players by another interesting piece of information. I guess this would be infuriating if you were missing, say, card #42 and wanted to know which player that was.

But this way, you can see some neat stuff, like how Xavier Hernandez and Kevin Appier debuted on the same day, June 4th.

You can also see that many more players debut in the second half of the season. They fit the first 3.5 months of the season on the first card and just 2.5 months on the second card.

The first 13 days of September saw at least one major league debut...pretty neat.

Anyway, that's all for this set!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Frank Luccesi

Check out the most recent comments on my Frank Luccesi post at 88 Topps Cards.

1990 Upper Deck High # Series

OK here we go with our next set.

The 1990 Upper Deck High # Series (cards 701 to 800 in the set) comes in a pretty boring cardboard box.

It gets even worse when you open the box.

But the cards inside are pretty damn nice, far nicer than the 1989 Topps set we just saw.

Hold on to your hats. Starting on Monday, we'll be posting one post per day with 4 cards per post, as well as stats, commentary, and a poll. In a month, we'll blast through this entire set, determine the best card, and give away the entire set.

1989 Topps Major League Debut #150: Todd Zeile

Todd Zeile

PHOTO: This is the last player card in the set and it's a nice photo. The red teams (Reds, Cardinals, Phillies) had on-average the best cards in this set thanks to the red borders. This is also another of many, many photos in this set taken at Shea Stadium.

STAT: Among the 44 guys to amass 2000 hits since 1989, Zeile has one of the worst career OPS+ values. Of the guys worse than him, a few did it on longevity alone, while guys like B.J. Surhoff did it, like Zeile, with a mixture of longevity and some hitting talent.

ANAGRAM: Todd Zeile = I'd let doze

CAREER: 6/10

Zeile is a tough guy to grade. In his favor: above average hitter, played multiple positions, hit well in the post-season including stellar performances in the 1996 ALCS and 2000 NLCS, despite never making the leaderboard for hits in any season he's one of just 258 players to top 2000 hits, and he had a long career. Against his case: played in 150 games in only 8 seasons, above-average but few truly great seasons, never topped 300 total bases, topped 100 RBI or runs only once, stole 53 bases but thrown out 51 times, below-average defensively.

Want list

People keep asking me for my want list, so this is basically it.

These days, I'm only collecting bat or jersey cards. Here are the players I'm most interested in, although I will gladly take any player from the late 80s or early 1990s.

Harold Baines
Steve Carlton
Tony Clark
Carl Crawford
Julio Franco
Ken Griffey
Tony Gwynn
Rickey Henderson
Ryan Howard
Randy Johnson
Don Mattingly
Fred McGriff
Paul Molitor
Terry Mulholland
Tim Raines
Mike Schmidt
Bernie Williams
Eric Young
Robin Yount

Similar names would be considered too.

1989 Topps Major League Debut #149: Clint Zavaras

Clint Zavaras

PHOTO: Not a great photo, plus half bodies of two non-uniformed personnel in the background.

STAT: Zavaras didn't have great numbers but he allowed only 4 homers in more than 50 innings, plus only one of those homers wasn't a solo shot.

ANAGRAM: Clint Zavaras = Valiant czars

CAREER: 1/10

52 innings and a 5.19 ERA in his one major-league season

1989 Topps Major League Debut #148: Eric Yelding

Eric Yelding

PHOTO: OK, that's some serious bling around Yelding's neck. Does anybody know what that is? On the big image, it looks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

STAT: Yelding has the second-worst season, ranked by OBP, among guys with at least 25 caught stealings in that season. Yeah, that's bad. Oh, Omar Moreno.

ANAGRAM: Eric Yelding = Idly generic

CAREER: 2/10

Yelding is another in a long line of fast players who couldn't get on base. Fortunately, teams saw that he was so bad offensively that he didn't stick around nearly as long as similarly talented guys.

Interesting that he played more games at SS and in the OF despite being listed as 2B on this card.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shopped Cards #18

Yes or no questions only.