Sometimes When It Goes, It Goes Fast…

Baseball’s a game of micrometers. Not inches, not even millimeters.

One small, itsy bitsy thing can spell the difference between success and failure.

Allen is living proof that the thin line separating a strike and a ball can dictate how a career arcs.

Lloyd was a #1 pick of the Angels in 1968 and zoomed up the ranks quickly. By 1971, Allen, then 21, was the relief ace for the big club. That was no small feat, as Mel Queen, Eddie Fisher and Dave LaRoche were also around and having excellent seasons. Had those California Angels totally cratered on offense (a familiar lament) they could have really made noise in the AL West.

Allen regressed a bit in 1972 but so did the entire bullpen. In fact, the 1972 Angels had 16 saves as a team (and remarkably just seven holds and only 10 blown saves) as manager Del Rice trusted his starters to finish what they started. Still, at age 22 Allen could be tabbed as a rising flamethrowing star (if anyone paid attention to any other Angels pitcher besides Nolan Ryan, that is…)

There were troubling signs, though. In 1971 Allen whiffed 72 and walked 40 (eight intentionally). In 1972, Allen struck out 53 and walked 55 (five intentionally) in 9 2/3 fewer innings.

He needed to throw strikes. He didn’t.

Pitching five times for the Angels in 1973, he was mostly a mess. The worst of it was a game against Cleveland, his penultimate Angel appearance, where Buddy Bell and crew tattooed him for five runs in 1 2/3 innings.

Sent to Texas as part of the Mike Epstein / Jim Spencer deal, the Rangers were hoping he could solve their myriad pitching woes.

No such luck.

Given a start in his first game for Texas (because, why not), he gave up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings to Cleveland. Because, why not throw him back in there against the team he just was crushed by?

His next start was against Baltimore and he lasted 3 1/3 innings giving up seven runs.

His third start as a Rangers was against Texas. Two hits, two walks, one out, four runs.

Banished to the bullpen, he was clobbered by Baltimore again (three runs in 1 1/3 innings), gave up two unearned runs in an inning against Minnesota, and then ‘earned’ another start for Texas. The Royals clubbed him for six runs in 2 2/3, where he gave up five hits and walked five. His mark for the season at that point was 0-3, 14.40.

On July 3, the Rangers got stomped by Chicago in game one of a doubleheader. Allen relieved Pete Broberg in the second and lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up six runs (four earned) and his ERA dropped to 12.52. On July 7, he allowed the last seven runs (three earned) as the mighty Milwaukee Brewers crushed Texas 17-2 in one of David Clyde’s starts.

The next day, success, finally! Allen pitched three scoreless innings in the second day of a doubleheader.

That earned him another start, with predictable results. Allen was lit up by Detroit, giving up six walks and four runs (only one earned) in 1 2/3 innings as the Rangers lost 14-2.

His line for Texas from the trade to that point? 24 innings, 40 hits, 46 runs, 30 earned runs (16 UN-earned runs, boy that was a bad team on all fronts), 28 walks, 14 strikeouts.

He didn’t pitch for a month (disabled list?) and when he returned he calmed down a bit. He had three pretty rocky outings in September but had seemed to find something. Then came his last appearance of the year, on September 24. Billy Martin was now in charge instead of Whitey Herzog, but the team still stunk to high heaven. Still they had some fight in them as was shown on this night. Down 6-2 after Broberg was beat up by California, Texas scored seven runs in the top of the ninth off of Clyde Wright and Aurelio Monteagudo (I juts love typing that name) and held a 9-6 lead. Bill Gogolewski started the ninth in fine style, retiring Mickey Rivers and Ken Berry. Winston Llenas walked and Bob Oliver singled him to second.

Martin hands the ball to Allen. Facing Tommy McCraw, Allen uncorks a wild pitch then walks the vet. He then walks Richie Scheinblum to score Llenas and then walks Charlie Sands to score Oliver. Martin hooks Allen and Jackie Brown comes in. Lee Stanton doubles off of Brown sending Allen and the Rangers to yet another defeat. I can’t imagine how that clubhouse was after that loss.

It was an awful end to an awful year for Lloyd. 0-6, 9.42, 73 hits and 69 runs (again, tons of unearned runs) allowed in 49 2/3 innings, with 44 walks and only 29 strikeouts.

Incredibly, Allen doesn’t spend time in the minors and breaks camp with Texas in 1974, spending three months there before being waived by the Rangers and claimed by the White Sox with a 6.55 ERA. Over the next two seasons he pitches sporadically for Chicago and spends time in AAA for the White Sox and Cards. Lloyd had a good year in 1976 for Tulsa (11-6, 2.81) but never gets back to the bigs thanks to injuries (it looks) and ends his career after a lackluster year at Iowa in 1979.

From just looking at the numbers, Allen seemed to lose command of the strike zone between 1971 and 1973. He threw some wild pitches but not an alarming amount and wasn’t a headhunter. Strike one became ball one, and then of course it all snowballs from there. You get a rep for being wild, you don’t get the calls, and then you either walk people or groove fat ones.

The strike zone’s wafer-thin lines never seemed so big for Allen.

The Iconoclast Take A Few Days Off…

I’m getting ready to go on a long weekend with the new girlfriend to visit her peeps up in the UP (watch out Marquette!). I hope today to get some supplies at my LCS and get my grab bags from Spring Cleaning shipped out today or first thing in the AM. I also need to buy my box for Gint-A-Cuffs III and rummage through some singles.

In an email exchange with the Spastik Moose, I declared myself the “Collecting Iconoclast”.

Why?

Well, look at my Manifesto page…

(Unlike Larry, I like a nice medium rare, but what most people in collecting called ‘ruin’d’ I call good!

To wit:

I found cheap Hobby Boxes of 2009 Bowman and 2006 Fleer at Shop-Ko, just to try to complete sets (I’ll get my updated want list for 2006 Fleer posted soon). The ‘hits’ of the box dropped right into the grab bags. That’s just how I roll.

I also use Word Press and not Google, and instead of ‘following’ I read all my blogs on Google Reader (both on my iPhone and my laptop). I know how to find you, and you know how to find me! Easy peasy!

And I think the weirdest thing is that I’m a set collector, but with caveats (no chasing short prints, nor cards that aren’t just players (except for a few sets like Updates and ’99 SI). So you pick up my 1989 Topps binder, it won’t have the checklists, and I bet it’s missing a few Record Breakers, managers, all-stars and leaders. It’s OK by me…

My team’s on the floor!

Anyway, this is a long-winded way to say I’m outta here for a few days, and to thank EVERYONE for putting up with this iconoclast! MWAH!

 

 

 

There’s Baseball Lifers, And Then There’s Trader Jack…

Word out of Florida are that Jack McKeon will be hired to manage the Marlins on an interim basis. When you go 1-17 in a month, and aren’t named the Cleveland Spiders, then, yeah, you’re going to change managers.

But Trader Jack McKeon? He’d be the oldest manager that didn’t own the team he managed.

He never played in the big leagues. He was a minor league catcher that didn’t hit but must have caught the eye of baseball people.

During his playing career he played for teams representing Greenville, AL; Gloverville – Johnstown, NY; York, PA; Hutchinson, KS; Burlington – Graham, NC; Greensboro, NC; Fayetteville, NC; Missoula, MT; and Fox Cities (Appleton), WI. He hit just .210 with only 25 home runs in 10 seasons.

But at age 24, he started his managerial career in Fayetteville. After Missoula and Fox Cities (where he was a player manager), he managed in Wilson, NC; Vancouver; Dallas – Fort Worth; and Atlanta (IL) before becoming a scout for the Twins after his IL team in Atlanta finished 55-93 in 1964. Realistically, that could have been the end of the line for Jack before it began.

But the new Royals franchise hired Jack to manage their Carolina League team in 1968, representing High Point / Thomasville in NC. From there, he managed in Omaha for four seasons before becoming the Royals skipper in 1973. Finally, the big leagues.

But he lasted just 2 1/2 years in Kansas City, being fired in 1975 even though he was 50-46 at the time. He spent 1976 managing for the Braves in Richmond and then drew the short straw to manage the 1977 Oakland A’s. Somehow, Jack led that bunch of castoffs, has-beens and disgruntled goats to a 26-27 record before Finley fired him and hired Bobby Winkles. The A’s totally tanked, but in 1978 Winkles led the A’s out to an unbelievably fast start (24-15) and Finley fired HIM and hired McKeon. McKeon lasted the year (guess what, the A’s tanked because, well, wouldn’t you tank if your owner fired managers for succeeding) then went to manage Denver in 1979 and then scouted for the Padres in 1980.

He became GM of the Padres for the 1981 season and began the run-up of the good-to-great 1980’s Padres teams. He then decided to step down from the GM role and manage the Padres. There was some controversy in Padre-land during his tenure (Alan Wiggins’ dismissal, the John Birchers, McKeon accused of giving his son-in-law Greg Booker a roster spot for no damn good reason) but all-in-all he won games. He then managed the Reds to better records than they deserved in the late 1990’s, and of course took over the Marlins in 2003 and led them from a dead, dull franchise to a title in 124 games.

One bit of trivia is that Jack McKeon managed against Frank Robinson in 1977 in his last game as A’s manager that season. McKeon managed against Robinson next in 2003, setting the record for the longest time between games that managers faced each other. I probably wrote that weird, but you get the point.

He was fired in 2005 from that job, mainly because players thought he was inflexible and uncommunicative.

And yet, at age 80, the 2011 Marlins think he can help right the ship. The word is that he doesn’t like to talk to players, period. Shut up, do your job, no complaining you pussies. You’re either in the lineup, or you’re not. And if you’re not, it’s because you’re not doing your goddamn job. Suck it up and play better and then I’ll write your name on the card. And don’t you dare complain if I take you out of the game. You wouldn’t be out of the game if you got guys out. But you didn’t and now you’re in the showers.

Any man who rode the buses in the Pioneer League in the 1950’s has the right to say that to today’s players. Can you imagine what the clubhouse was like in Magic Valley, Idaho?

I post this in wonder and in awe. If McKeon indeed puts on the black and teal again and writes down a lineup for the Marlins in the next few days, that will be incredible.

But I wanted to post the lineup for McKeon’s first big league managerial game. It was April 6, 1973 and the Royals traveled to California to meet the Angels who were managed by…Bobby Winkles. (Wow, the circles are so concentric here…)

Nolan Ryan beat KC 3-2. Little did anyone know that 38 years later McKeon would still be writing lineup cards. Here was his first:

Freddie Patek SS

Cookie Rojas 2B

Amos Otis CF

John Maybery 1B

Hal McRae RF

Ed Kirkpatrick DH

Lou Piniella LF

Paul Schaal 3B

Jerry May C

Steve Busby P

McKeon also used Gail Hopkins as a pinch hitter, Carl Taylor as a backup catcher, and Bruce Dal Canton and Tom Burgmeier out of the pen.

Others of note on that team: Fran Healy, Kurt Bevacqua, Steve Hovely, Frank White (51 games!), Jim Wohlford, Buck Martinez, Paul Splittorff (RIP), Gene Garber, Doug Bird, Joe Hoerner, Ken Wright, Wayne Simpson, Steve Mingori, Mark Littell, Dick Drago and Al Fitzmorris. The team that would be the dominant team of the AL West in the late 70’s were formed and shaped by McKeon.

Oh, I forgot, some 20-year old third baseman got his first taste of big league coffee in 1973, being called up in early August due to injuries then in September when Omaha’s season ended. This third baseman did OK in AAA, hitting .281 with 8 home runs.  He started in the minors in 1974 before being called up for good on May 3 after Schaal finally showed his age and Frank White was stretched to play third base. For his first two years he wore #25 – it was tossed to him in 1973 and Richie Scheinblum wore #5 in 1974.

Yeah, Jack McKeon broke George Brett into the bigs.

The amazing name to me though Lou Piniella. The man who retired from managing the Cubs last season, and looked like he was 75 or so was managed in his PRIME by a man who may manage the Marlins this week.

Wow. Baseball is a weird, lovely game, isn’t it?

Bill Hands – 1974 Topps

September 26, 2010

“Huh-huh-huh-huh…Hands”

All of the primordial Beavis & Buttheads among us in the 1970’s (well, I was in 3rd grade at the end of the 1974 season and that’s about their intellectual level) seemed to always make fun of poor Bill Hands.

It’s kind of odd to be named a body part without some added letters (like Barry Foote or Greg Legg). Sure, there was Elroy Face, Ed and Ralph Head, but it’s still rare. And the plural? Well, that’s just outright odd.

Sorry, Rich…

Sidenote #1 before resuming the Bill Hands discussion: Thank God body parts aren’t really common names. I mean, think about Cesar Uvula, Christoper Epiglottis, or Lyle Pancreas. Though, Mudhoney front man Mark Arm would be a heck of a name for a pitcher. And, this gives me an excuse to post this:

Arm and Steve Turner’s combined noise is the best damn guitar sound, EVER! Period. Paragraph.

Sidenote #2: Bill Hands and Rich Hand were both in the AL in 1973. Bill for the Twins (as shown above) and Rich for both Texas and California. That was Rich’s last year in the bigs, after a meteoric rise (starting in AAA for Cleveland in 1969) and spectacular fall. At age 24 he split time between Salt Lake and Pawtucket (on a loan), then was traded as the PTBNL in the Orlando Pena deal, then….the trail goes cold. Well, except that his daughter played on the Oklahoma basketball team with the daughters of Vernon “Bubba” Paris and Hakeem Olajuwon and Ben Roethlisberger’s sister.

Anyway, on April 20, 1973 – Bill Hands faced Rich Hand in a pitching matchup. But only 4,600 braved the April weather at the Met in Minnesota to witness this epic appendage battle. Bill won 5-1 as the Twins pecked away at Rich over 5 innings.

Sidenote #3: Bill Hands’ nickname was Froggy. I ain’t askin’ why.

Sidenote #4: In researching sidenote #2, I found a late-season game where Hands pitched against California. Rich didn’t pitch, but Nolan Ryan did, going 11 innings in a 5-4 win. Ryan faced 49 batters, striking out 16, walking 7 and giving up 10 hits. I would bet Ryan threw over 200 pitches in game 159 of a season where the Angels finished a distant fourth.  Rich Hand was 8th on the team in appearances (16) and 7th in innings pitched (54 2/3). Basically Bobby Winkles used four starters and two relievers and the rest of the pitchers collected their checks and played pinochle.

Anyway, thanks for staying with me about Bill Hands after the diversions, sidebars, and rockin’ out!

Hands was a key member of the Durocher Cubs. From 1968-1972 he was a solid #2 or #3 starter. Minnesota was spinning its wheels as were the Cubs by 1972, so Hands and Joe Decker were sent to the Twins for Dave LaRoche. Because, as you know, YOU GOTTA HAVE A LEFTY!

So Hands is in Minnesota and according to the data, Calvin Griffith cut his salary right off the bat. Nice move there. The Twins had a pretty decent staff with Jim Kaat, Bert Blyleven, Ray Corbin, and Dick Woodson along with Decker and Hands. Youngsters Dave Goltz and Bill Campbell were waiting in the wings, and they got Ken Sanders from the Brewers in hopes that he would regain his 1971 form.

Bill started out in the rotation, and was 5-8 with a 4.65 ERA. Then Eddie Bane showed up, and Bill made one more start in 1973. Bane was Griffith’s answer to David Clyde. Fresh off of the USC campus, Bane went right to the bigs. It was just as big of a mistake as David Clyde’s first season.

Hands probably felt a bit miffed, as even after Bane washed out Goltz and Dan Fife got starts instead of him. One thing up his sleeve though was a new right the players received in 1973 after a spring training labor dispute. They were allowed to file for salary arbitration. Bill actually had a decent season after the bad start, so he didn’t think he deserved a cut in pay.

There is no doubt Hands had it up to here with the Twins already – they cut his salary and exiled him to the bullpen for a kid and when the kid failed they still left him to rot there. So Hands filed. He asked for a $1,000 raise. I don’t know what the Twins countered with, but Bill won.

That made Mr. Griffith very, very angry.

What was even worse was that Bill’s first start of the year in 1974 was an unmitigated disaster of the nth degree.

It started single, steal, single, strikeout, RBI single, strikeout looking. OK, two outs, two on, Cookie Rojas up.

2 RBI double, then RBI single, HBP, RBI single, and look here’s Fred Patek, the leadoff hitter again. He laced an RBI single.

Frank Quillici gets Hands. The Twins go on to lose 23-6. Every Twins pitcher that participated in the game left with an ERA of 9 and higher, led (?) by Hands’ FM frequency of 94.5 (they play the classic hits, and it’s always two for Tuesday)!

After four more starts, he was 0-4 with a 8.74 ERA and then exiled to the pen again. Griffith was irate, no doubt. But he was on the hook for his salary, so he stuck around.

Until it was September. In early September Griffith sold his $55,000 pitcher to Texas, who needed pitching depth if they were to make a run at Oakland. Bill pitched in two more games, but only one when the Rangers were in the race.

The next year, he got the same salary, pitched in 18 games, and his arm was done. He was 6-7 with a 4.02 but didn’t try to come back after his truncated season.

You wonder why players fought for their rights. He made the Twins owner irate, and the Twins buried him, because he got a very small raise.

Now, of course, the money is just astronomical. But, the stands are fuller (or at least the tickets are sold) and the TV deals are big for almost every club. So I don’t begrudge the players for making a lot of scratch. But they need to remember guys like Bill Hands, who was run out of Minnesota because of $1,000.

Ken Singleton – 1974 Topps

September 25, 2010

“Hello, Dad? I’m In Jail!”

Note: I do not think Mr. Singleton has ever been incarcerated. Even though he works for the Yankees, he is a very smooth and professional broadcaster now from what I have seen on the MLB network. So this is all in fun.

This is daylight and the card seems bleak because of the background. It’s either 20-year old middle school diamond or prison ballyard chic.

Even with the surroundings, Singleton had that LOOK – the look of a confident athlete.

Playing in Montreal, he put together a monster 1973. He scored and drove in over 100 runs, led the league in OBP and had an OPS+ of 148.

Montreal had three of the top OBP guys in the league in Singleton, Ron Fairly and Ron Hunt, and had Bob Bailey, who got on base and hit dingers and Hal Breeden slugged .535 off the bench. They could have scored a ton of runs.

But they were mid-pack in offense because the other guys (Boccabella, Foli, and Jorgensen) didn’t get on and Ron Woods didn’t have power and his low average offset his batting yet. Mauch was stubborn in platooning Jorgensen and Breeden and try as he might, Pepe Frias was even worse than Foli at the dish.

Same story with the pitching for the Expos. Steve Renko went 15-11 with a 2.81, and threw in a .273 BA with 9 RBI and 2 steals to boot. Steve Rogers went 10-5 with a 1.54 ERA after he was called up. Mike Marshall was insane (as usual) – throwing 179 innings out of the pen with a 14-11 record and 31 saves.

But…Balor Moore began his flameout at age 22 (7-16, 4.49). Mike Torrez’ control problems continued to manifest themselves (9-12, 4.46, 115 BB and only 90K in 208 IP). Ernie McAnally wore down. Bill Stoneman was done. The rest of the pen were mediocre, has beens, or never would bes.

The result was a 79-83 record and 4th place, but just 3 1/2 games behind.

So the 1973 Expos had a few issues, but everyone could see they were a team on the rise, right? And Singleton was the main offensive cog that would lead them to the new frontier. When they stole him from the Mets for Le Grande Orange, it was a coup d’etat. (Even if they had to take Tim Foli in the deal. I almost would have rather had a gaping void at short than Tim Foli, but that’s another card…)

1973 was a great year, as you can see in Singleton. 1974 would be better.

Er, no. His power dropped from 23 dingers to just 9. His average slumped to .276 to .302. He drew 30 fewer walks (but still had 93).  But the Expos were 79-82, 8 1/2 games back. A little hiccup, but with a couple more position players and a couple more pitchers, not to worry. Singleton was still the big cog.

He did have issues. He wasn’t fast and wasn’t a plus defender. He had back problems. Still, he was in his prime and produced lots of runs and was a solid citizen.

So, WTF did Montreal do?

They traded him – of course. To Baltimore. With Mike Torrez. For Rich Coggins and Dave McNally.

Sure, Mike Torrez was erratic and his control problems infuriating at times. But he would be a solid major league pitcher until the early 1980’s and went 20-9 in 1975. But he threw right and the Expos decided they needed a lefty.

In fact, after Balor Moore flamed out, the Expos had no lefties. And you need a lefty, right? YOU NEED A LEFTY! It’s a rule.

So let’s see – ah, Baltimore is calling. They have a lefty (McNally) who has won 181 games in the majors. Sure, he got hit a little bit harder last year than in the previous years, and threw a lot of innings during the 70’s. BUT HE’S AN EXPERIENCED LEFTY!

And the Expos weren’t fast, except for two players – Willie Davis and Larry Lintz. And Davis was older and on the block as well. But the Orioles were dangling this really fast guy who finished 6th in the ROY voting in 1973 in Coggins. He was an outfielder and he was FAST. And he played right field. Sure he slipped in 1974. But he was fast – you can’t teach that!

So the deal was made: Baltimore sent Coggins, McNally and a minor leaguer for Singleton and Torrez.

The grin on Earl Weaver’s face was noticeable from Gatineau to the Gaspe; from Chicoutimi to Quebec City.

You know the rest – McNally and Coggins don’t last the entire 1975 season due to injury and ineptitude. Torrez wins 20 (as I said) and then is dealt for Ken Holtzman and Reggie! Jackson. Holtzman then goes to the Yanks with a whole bundle of players for another whole bundle of players – included are Rudy May, Tippy Martinez, Rick Dempsey and Scott McGregor. May was then traded to…Montreal in 1978 in a package that included Gary Roenicke and Full-Pack Stanhouse.

So basically, the Orioles received Singleton, Martinez, Dempsey, McGregor, Roenicke and Stanhouse for players resulting from the deal that sent along McNally and Coggins – two players that were out of baseball by 1977. The sextet of players in the first part of the sentence were key cogs to the 1979 AL Championship Orioles.

Oh, and that 1979 season for Singleton? Just a 155 OPS+ and a runner-up finish in the MVP race to Don Baylor (only because of RBI’s – Singleton’s season beat Baylor in almost every key stat save that).

(Yes, George Brett or Fred Lynn really deserved to win the award in 1979, but hey…I’m on a roll…)

This brings us back to the photo in this card. Singleton has that calm, confident look. Perhaps he knows that in two seasons he’ll be on a team that won’t make stupid-ass trades and contend each year for a championship.

And I bet he saw they had a spring training complex that didn’t look like jail!

Jimmy Wynn – 1974 Topps

September 24, 2010

Popped him up!

It was kind of unusual to find an action shot of ‘failure’ before the 80’s. But here’s one. Jimmy Wynn, the Toy Cannon, a underrated player because of his home park (The Astrodome) and his skills (three true outcome in the speed / defense era).

Did you realize his OPS+ for his career was 128? That’s even with a totally horrific 1971 (.203 / .302 OBP / .295 SLG and a -0.9 WAR) and a bad final year in 1977. In 1976, he hit .207 with only 17 homers and still had a OPS+ of 107 and a WAR of 3.2.

His 1974 season with the Dodgers (32 bombs, 108 RBI, and 14 fielding runs) made him a legit MVP candidate (he finished 5th. Two teammates, Garvey and Marshall, beat him but Wynn had more WAR than both of them combined).

Put him in a uniform starting in 1993 and I bet he’d still be playing today – smashing homers, drawing walks, running a little bit.

Yet, the kids and collectors in 1974 saw him popping up in a game against the Giants in Candlestick. I wonder if Topps did that to anyone else?

Oops…

Danny Frisella – 1974 Topps

September 8, 2010

“Mama mia, that’s a-spicy fastball!”

I’m sorry – that’s the first thing I thought of. Danny looks like one of the Mario Brothers here. And about this time frame, Alka Seltzer had an ad campaign using ‘meatball’ instead of fastball. I realize that most all Italian-Americans do not have mustaches, speak in ridiculous accents, or work in a pizza joint, nor do they run numbers for Luigi the Squid.

Of course, I have no idea if Frisella was actually Italian, either!

He is, however, the epitome of the 1970’s relief pitcher.

Danny pitched out of the bullpen, and he normally handled the tough spots (140 high leverage appearances, as compared to 124 low leverage). Many times he had a decent ERA, but that ERA masked some issues.

He converted only 2/3 of his save opportunities, and had only 14 holds in his career. He also allowed 41% of his inherited runners to score.

His career was on the ropes during his two year stint with Atlanta, and he was exiled to San Diego, the Devil’s Island of the NL. That was the tonic, and he then was traded to the Brewers in 1976 (not much of an upgrade, but think of it as medium security instead of solitary). Frisella was 5-2 with 9 saves, sharing time in the pen  as closer with Bill Castro and Tom Murphy after Eduardo Rodriguez was moved to starter. I think Alex Grammas had a random-number generator to advise him on his bullpen usage.

Sadly, Frisella passed away in a dune-buggy accident on January 1, 1977. Mike Miley of the Angels was also involved in fatal dune buggy accident that off-season. If you’ve ever seen dune buggies, they were accidents waiting to happen. And lots of fun, of course.

The last two games Danny pitched, he gave up 2 runs in each appearance. Sad that he couldn’t come back in 1977 and redeem himself. But that’s baseball and life.

Vincente Romo – 1974 Topps

September 4, 2010

“This is not a glamor shot!”

When I first saw this photo, I thought maybe Topps, realizing they were missing Mr. Romo, put a drifter in a Padres uniform and snapped the picture. Vincente looks a little unkempt here.

Of course, the 1973 Padres were a little unkempt, and a drifter may have been a solid choice as a reliever for that team. Don Zimmer managed them to a 60-102 record, and a random dude wandering by Yuma could have probably done just as well as Rich Troedson, Gary Ross or Mike Corkins.

The 70’s were just a different era in many ways. You look at a last place team today (say, Pittsburgh) and they churn through players. The Pirates have used 26 pitchers already this year, including cameos from immortals like Hayden Penn, Brian Bass and Chan Ho Park.

The 1973 Padres used 12 pitchers, total. There was no relief from Bill Greif. Fans looked in the paper, and saw the same names over and over again (Kirby, Arlin, Caldwell) and probably resigned themselves to defeat.

This is another one of those jersey over the jacket photos. Were they working out in a jacket and then had to go grab a jersey and put it on over the jacket quickly? I’ve always been puzzled by that.

Vincente was a fine pitcher in the Mexican League. Ok, more than fine. He was one of the best ever in the Mexican and Mexican Pacific Leagues. But this is still a creepy picture.

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