Did Somebody Say Scam?

Whew, I’m back in rainy South Florida, as opposed to Minnesota where the day of my daughters’ soccer practice it was 40 degrees and raining. Fun!

“Nails”, as you may know, is in the hoosegow for his scams, crimes and misdemeanors and has another trial this summer on federal charges. It’s not a good day to be the dude.

Why post Lenny’s card? Well, you may have seen this article on Deadspin. It’s a sad, cautionary tale about hijacking creativity and scamming folks who are creative and may not be the best business people in the world.

So, net denizens, be careful of who you’re dealing with if people offer you riches, fame and glory. Or free cards, or whatever.

(Note: I can give you my Paypal account info if you wish to make a fine donation to my card addiction…)

 

Out Of The Park 13 Brings Back Memories Of The Past

I’ve been in and out of card collecting but I’ve always had a soft spot for baseball simulation games.

Ever since I first got my hands on (from a garage sale) of an old Sports Illustrated game recapping the 1971 season, I’ve fallen for games that simulate the workings of a ball game from a managerial perspective. Sure, it may be fun to play a video game simulation, but for me, it’s always been playing baseball as a manager that has made me tick. I’ve had several dice games and now several computer games. Last year, I bought Out of the Park 12 for my iPhone and play it almost daily even though I’ve pulled the plug a few times on a game (getting to 2015 with the Twins just seemed a bit, odd, since at the time the 2011 Twins were flailing).

Brantley was the star of my APBA team one year, and in playing Out of the Park 13 I was in deep nostalgia mode. And while I enjoy the computer game I had loaded on my laptop I have been knocked out by the robust features of Out of the Park 13.

This product allows you to do almost everything strategically in regards to baseball. You can manage the team, be the general manager, be the farm director, draft players, listen (or ignore) scouts, waive players, trade players, designate players for assignment, you name it. You are in control. El jefe!

You can even create fictional players and fictional leagues, which can be dangerous if you have an inflated ego.

I’ve been playing the 2012 Marlins (since I’m now in Florida) and have been impressed with the options for game play. At times, the options seem a bit overwhelming, and until you get used to it navigating around is intimidating. One thing that is still an issue is navigating away from a player back to a team roster but that may be that I haven’t seen the hot button yet. (There are a lot of buttons and options everywhere – which is good and bad).

The only other quibble is the message that pops up between batters which distracts the eye, but that’s a quibble.

The actual game play is robust and inclusive. If you want to get hyper-granular, you can do that by going pitch-by-pitch and forcing pitchers to warm up. But you can also take a more relaxed view. You can simulate games or portions of games and have the system play them if you desire.

The neat part is the GM mode. You negotiate contracts, send players up and down, trade them, release them, the whole works.

At any rate, Out of the Park 13 is well worth the money and will give you weeks and months of enjoyment! It’s highly recommended for a baseball junkie who wants more than a simple video game.

Now, I’ll see if I can create the 1987 version of Mickey Brantley. The Marlins could use him!

 

 

Riddle Me This…

Does this look like the man that could ignite an entire community against him?

Wait, don’t answer that…

Kevin Elster – 1989 Topps

December 4, 2011

Does This Count As Game Action?

First, I just noticed, as I was looking for this card, that the Baseball Card Cyber Museum has added more than just Topps to it’s repertoire as I saw some of Elster’s Fleer cards in there. Check it out!

Second, I’m going through my doubles to sort them for some trades and have put some of those doubles into a bag. Yes, a bag. It’s the usual junk wax suspects, really that I had way too many of. But what I can do is go to the bag, pull out a card, and, write about it. Why not!

Third, I’m going to be emailing some of yas for trades during December. Be afraid, you know what that means!

But now I gotta write about Kevin Elster.

Well…

You’d think that he’d be a defensive wizard, but no. His dWAR was -2.0 for his career.However, he had one of the flukiest seasons ever.

After his Mets career ended after the 1992 season, he was a vagabond. In 1993, he was property of the Dodgers and Marlins but saw no big league time. He was signed and released by the Padres for spring training 1994. The Yanks picked him up and discarded him quickly, as did the Royals and Phils. The Rangers signed him for 1996.

He had 101 big league at bats in 1994 and 1995, but the Rangers made him the regular in 1996. On paper, it paid off. He was an improvement over Benji Gil, he socked 24 home runs and knocked in 99 runs and Texas won the AL West.

However, his OPS+ was only 90 even with those home runs, and his defense was less than stellar. Texas decided Gil was ready again and Elster was allowed to become a free agent.

He was a pennant-winning shortstop who hit 24 home runs and almost knocked in 100. What did that get him?

A ticket to Pittsburgh. Joy.

And You Want To Be My Hitting Coach?

I always find it interesting about players that become coaches. For instance, guys like Juan Samuel and Garry Templeton stayed in the game as coaches and managers, when as players they had stormy, tempestuous relationships with management, other players, fans, etc.

Sometimes, pitching coaches are quite interesting. Guys like Joe Kerrigan and Dan Warthen couldn’t get anyone out in the majors, but they were long-time pitching coaches.

Jim Presley is a well-respected hitting coach. He was a long-time coach in Florida (where players like Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera sing his praises) and is now on Buck Showalter’s staff in Baltimore.

As a player, though, you’d never thought of Presley as a coach-in-waiting.

His offensive WAR for his career was only 4.4, and that was due to one thing.

Strike zone judgment.

In his career, he walked 210 times and struck out 859 times. His All-Star year, 1986, was Mark Reynolds-esque. 27 home runs, 107 RBI, 172 whiffs.

And he’s a hitting coach? Well, it is true that Baltimore does whiff a lot, and whiffing isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world. But now I’m wondering about Presley’s lessons to Mark Reynolds.

“Do as I say, not as I do?”

Mark Eichhorn – 1989 Score

February 26, 2011

Sling It Sidewinder!

Many times, become a sidearm or submarine pitcher is akin to becoming a knuckleball pitcher. It’s the last resort before an exciting career in insurance sales or customer service for a siding contractor.

Those who can master the funky delivery get another life in baseball.

Eichhorn was a second round draft pick (albiet in the January draft) and he advanced rapidly up the chain one step at a time. Medicine Hat in 1979, Kinston in1980, Knoxville in 1981 and Syracuse in 1982.

It was after a 10-11, 4.54 mark as a 21-year old in AAA that Eichhorn was promoted for the September cup o’ Joe. Actually, he was called up in late August, but he was very much a typical “we’re out of it, let’s see what we got with these kids” callup. The Jays were on the rise, finishing at 78-84 and finally rid of the expansion garbage pitchers they carried for a few years.

Eichhorn struggled in the majors in 1982. He was 0-3 with a 5.45 ERA. But, he was a 21-year old kid, and four of his seven starts were ‘quality starts’. He was in the mix for the 1983 rotation behind Stieb, Leal and Clancy.

A funny thing happened on the way to Toronto. He didn’t make the club (Jim Gott was the 4th and later the Jays signed Doyle Alexander when the Yankees released him), and went into a funk. Or something. For two years.

1983, he was up and down between Knoxville and Syracuse to the tune of 6-17, 5.06. In 1984, it was Syracuse for 5-9, 5.97. Something had to be done, or Eichhorn would be out of the organization. So in the Instructional League he tinkered with a sidearm delivery.

It clicked.

He split time in 1985 with Knoxville and Syracuse but with better results. (7-6, 3.46). However, there still was skepticism whether Eichhorn could make it or not.

He made it. In 1986 he was one of the most valuable pitcher in the AL with a 6.4 WAR. He was third in ROY voting and sixth in Cy Young. He probably should have been the ROY, as he had double the WAR of Jose Canseco. Ah, well.

He never hit those heights again. He pitched a lot in 1987, which affected his arm in 1988. From then, he was a good, not great, relief pitcher for several years.

But he had a long career that would not have happened had he not been acting in desperation in the Instructional League in 1984 and decided to try a sidearm / submarine delivery.

 

 

Jim Eppard – 1989 Topps

February 22, 2011

You Had One Wally Joyner…Why Another?

You remember Wally Joyner. Wally World, and all that.

Joyner had modest power – totally inflated by the Superball of 1987, but really his power wasn’t what you required from a first baseman. However, he had other skills on offense besides hitting singles.

Eppard was a Joyner clone, except he also played left field.

I guess he wasn’t a clone at all. He was kind of like Joyner’s cousin.

Joyner’s slow cousin from the OTHER side of the family.

Eppard could rake singles all over the park in the minors. Once in a while he hit a double when he was feeling randy, but otherwise it was singles. He didn’t strike out much – didn’t walk much. He’d been a great #2 or #9 hitter (AL) if he was a middle infielder. But he wasn’t.

He played the ‘power’ positions. And yes while you can survive as a team without plus power at the power positions (see Mark Grace, Keith Hernandez or Wade Boggs), the player in question needs to compensate in other ways – getting on base and playing defense.

Eppard was up for most of 1988, being a pinch hitter and playing left and first on occasion. This was after a 1987 where he hit .341 in the PCL at age 27.

Of course, a cynic would say he was 27, and the PCL is a hitter’s haven, and he had 33 doubles, 3 triples and 3 homers and the rest singles.

What role could he play for the Angels, realistically? Joyner was at first, Downing the DH, Chili Davis in right. Tony Armas was in left but he still had some power. Eppard replaced Bill Buckner when the old man stopped hitting. George Hendrick was still wheezing around. Basically, he was there to pinch hit for Schofield or McLemore. Zzzzzz….

I don’t think roster construction was a strength of Cookie Rojas as a manager. There was no one on the bench that could supply some pop off the bench, no one to really play as the fourth outfielder that wasn’t old, and when they tried to force McLemore into the lineup, they moved Johnny Ray to left because Lord knows they needed another slappy in the lineup. (Ray’s defensive performance in left almost leads you to believe that a statue could have done just as well. I’d also like to see how much weight Devon White lost during the season playing between Armas / Ray and Davis.)

That wasn’t Eppard’s fault, per se. On the right team, with the right manager, he could have been a valuable asset.

Eppard wasn’t with the big club much in 1989, then hooked up with Toronto for 1990 to play first at Syracuse and be sure McGriff and Olerud didn’t get hurt. He hit .310 with limited power (of course) but had a .374 OBP (decent). In 1991, he was back in the Angels chain playing for Salinas.

Wait, you say, Salinas is in the California League. You would be right. Eppard went to Class A after being in the majors in 1990 (briefly but he was). He had a great OBP and hit .339, but had just three home runs.

In Class A.

One more year in Indianapolis, one year in St. Paul in the Northern League, and then it was off to the coaching ranks.

For the past eight seasons, and again in 2011, he was the hitting coach for the Salt Lake Bees in the PCL. That’s a good role for him. Obviously, he woke up hitting .300 so he knows the mechanics of hitting, and if he can communicate it to young players then all’s the better.

But hopefully he can give some advice to the players in AAA about being stuck in an organization where you are stuck behind players that you have no chance of moving besides injuries. Well, that and let’s hope he doesn’t give Mark Trumbo any shanks so he can ensure Kendry Morales can’t play first!

 

 

Carlton Fisk – 1989 Topps

February 5, 2011

Some Lesser Known Accomplishments By Fisk

A. Did not pummel Hawk Harrelson when he demanded Fisk play LF so they could catch Joel Skinner in 1986.

B. Won the Silver Slugger in 1988 despite playing just 76 games.

C. Tried to beat the crap out of both Thurman Munson and Lou Piniella. Not at the same time, unfortunately.

D. Told Deion Sanders, “If you don’t play the game right, I’m going to kick your ass right here.” after Sanders didn’t run out a pop fly. Sanders was later known as an excellent baseball teammate. It’s a wonder no one did that to him in football.

E. Was a spokesman for Copenhagen and took huge dips in the ads.

F. Was almost traded from the White Sox to the Yankees for Don Baylor. Can you imagine Fisk a Yankee?

G. Hit just .259 in the minors.

H. Is the pride and joy of Charlestown, New Hampshire, but was born in Bellows Falls, Vermont.

I. Stole 17 bases at age 37.

J. In his first game for Boston in 1969, caught Mike Nagy and Gary Wagner.

K. In his last game for Boston in 1980, he played DH against Toronto. His last game at catcher was as a defensive sub and he caught Bob Stanley (who pitched 9 1/3 innings of RELIEF!)

L. In his first game for the White Sox in 1981, he caught Britt Burns, Lamarr Hoyt and Ed Farmer.

M. In his last game in 1993, he caught Alex Fernandez and Donn Pall.

N. Probably should have endorsed Brawny paper towels.

 

Pete Rose – 1989 Topps

February 1, 2011

The Hit King Before The Fall

My opinion of Rose is this. Hell of a player. Bettor on baseball. The latter outweighs the former. Baseball almost died as a sport many more times because of gambling than because of steroids or labor strife. Even before there were ‘professional’ baseball players, there were players suspected of being on the ‘take’. The National League almost died in 1877 after four key members of the Louisville squad – the premier team that year – threw games and because of that 2/3 of the league dropped out due to the repercussions and other issues. They were lucky to have an 1878 season.

Yet I can understand why some were upset about Rose’s punishment. Baseball certainly has swept some gambling under the rug. There is a reason Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker ended their careers as Philadelphia Athletics in 1928, and not as a Tiger and an Indian, respectively.

At any rate, this is Rose’s last Topps card.  I really don’t think he looks happy about just being a manager. His Reds teams always finished second, and it could be reasoned that Rose’s love for his veteran friends, and his lack of skill in handling a pitching staff caused his Reds teams to fall short. The 1988 Reds, when this picture was taken, was 5th in runs scored and 5th in ERA.

Dave Concepcion, Dave Collins, Ken Griffey, Sr., Buddy Bell and Ron Oester received a total of 780 plate appearances for that team. The starting rotation was Jackson, Browning and a lot of frowning – even though Jose Rijo was about ready to break out. Something was..off…

The regulars were fine except for Bo Diaz. The bullpen was good. It was the bench and trusting the kid pitchers that put Rose in a bind, and led to another second place finish.

And Rose hated second place. Richard Petty said that second place was the first loser, and I think insanely driven people also think that way. But he had no idea how to turn the team from second to first, and indeed in 1989 it started to fall apart before he was suspended.

But the Reds weren’t going to fire Rose unless he matched the 1899 Spiders record AND killed Schottzie with his bare hands on national TV. Much like the Pacers aren’t going to fire Larry Bird from his post, even though it’s clear that the Pacers are mired in quicksand with a now-apathetic fan base now content to wear their Colts jerseys to watch Purdue or IU hoops.

This is why it’s never good to hire your icons as managers or executives. You may have to fire them. The Cubs did themselves a big favor by asking Mike Quade to stay instead of hiring Ryne Sandberg. If, in 2013, the Cubs are 70-92, it’s much easier to punt Quade than Sandberg. George Steinbrenner learned the hard way, many times, about firing Billy Martin.

Only certain fan bases can deal with firing a beloved icon. I do not remember wailing or gnashing of teeth when Bart Starr was fired as Packers coach in the mid-80’s. (Though, I think being Bart Starr got him an extra couple of years.)

Anyway, I feel sorry for the man, Pete Rose. I remember him fondly as a player, Pete Rose. But I despise what he did to the game, Pete Rose. Because gambling, more than anything else, can ruin the game.

Just What I Needed

Packages will be delayed, again. I’m not through sorting.

The job fell through – someone had cold feet and they didn’t get ‘consensus’. But I’m going forward and moving ahead and all that!

So finding and posting of a beloved 80’s utility man with a cheesy mustache is the tonic.

 

 

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