Rick Parker – 1991 Topps

January 21, 2012

Epitome Of Scrubness

You think Kevin Mitchell or Brett Butler would be squatting down in the outfield?

Parker played 163 games in his career and had just 251 plate appearances. He started only 34 games in his career and played in the field in just 96.

But in 1990, Roger Craig played him at second, short and third and as a shortstop he made two plays in the field with no errors.

But heck, Parker was just happy to be there. It’s not every day that a 26-year old hitting .237 in AA with no power and 17 of 30 as a base stealer winds up in the bigs the next year.

His other claim to fame was as the PTBNL in the trade that sent Steve Bedrosian to San Francisco for Dennis Cook, Charlie Hayes and Terry Mulholland.

Fame? Well, of interest. Well, of note. Well.

Heck, he was a big leaguer and got his picture on a few cards. That’s fame enough. Even if he was the ultimate scrubnee.

Clay Parker – 1991 Topps

December 15, 2011

The Pride Of Pistol Thicket, Louisana

The back of this card offers this scintillating prose:

“A football fan growing up, Clay’s favorite team was the Miami Dolphins. His favorite player was Larry Csonka. His favorite entertainer is Randy Travis”.

Larry Csonka!

ROWSDOWER!

(Had to do that! No, I had to!)

James Clayton Parker, you should be ashamed though. You’re Louisiana born and bred, and you rooted for the Dolphins! I know the Saints were horrible, but c’mon man!

 

 

 

Cory Snyder – 1991 Fleer

December 13, 2011

I’ve Had Better Days…

So why not post one of the most infuriating players in history?

Time and again, fans, managers and fantasy players relied on Snyder to be a big dog!

His versatility was appealing. His arm was supposed to be terrific. His power potential, awe-inspiring. His mullet, classic.

Yet, he never progressed.

His defense was always problematic. Yes, he could play right field. He could play shortstop. But technically, I could play shortstop, and that’s going to be a problem. His lifetime DWAR was -4.7.

Many players can’t field, and a -4.7 DWAR over a career isn’t a dealbreaker. If you can hit.

If you can hit.

Technically, he could hit – that’s what scouts said. As a rookie in 1986, he had an OPS+ of 115, which for a 23-year old rookie isn’t so bad. In 1988, his OPS+ grew to 122 and his WAR was 2.5 (including defense). And in 1992, for the Giants, his OPS+ was a very respectable 118.

Technically, he could hit. Practically, he didn’t.

1987 – He hit 33 bombs, but walked just 31 times against 166 strikeouts, and didn’t even slug .500 (or even .475) with those 33 dingers. An 89 OPS+ and with his defensive issues, he was sub-replacement in WAR. How odd was that? Only seven seasons have a war less than 0.0 with over 30 home runs. (The leader in the clubhouse? Dante Bichette’s -2.8 WAR for 34 HR and 133 RBI in 1999. Thank you pre-Humidor Coors).

1989 – Snyder hit a whopping .215 with a .251 OBP and just 18 home runs.

1990 – He improved (?) to a .672 OPS, but had just 14 home runs. Cleveland said, ‘Goodbye To You’.

He was traded to the White Sox for Eric King and Shawn Hillegas. The winner of that trade were the agate type junkies, other than that…

The White Sox soon tired of him, and flipped him to Toronto for immortals Shawn Jeter and Steve Wapnick.

Yikes. From SI cover boy to Steve Wapnick.  Oh, and he asked for over a million in arbitration from the White Sox before the season. Back when a million was a million, you know.

The Jays released him and the Giants took a flier. It paid off, and then the Dodgers took him on.

The Dodgers got a right fielder who slugged less than .400 in over 570 plate appearances in 1993. In 1994, he came off the bench and performed just as poorly. After a brief appearance in Pawtucket in 1995, that was that, as it were.

But in his ‘hey day’ (as it were) – the fantasy bidding wars for Snyder were fierce. THIS IS THE YEAR!

Cleveland was always convinced. THIS IS THE YEAR!

The Dodgers, of course, were buoyed by his year in San Francisco. THIS IS THE YEAR!

It never really was the year.

(Note: Since I read Bill James’ books religiously before the Rotiss drafts, I never bid Snyder unless to bid him up for some sucker. Trust me! Honest!)

I think the most telling comment was on the back of this here card:

“Long heralded savior of the Indians, has yet to reach full potential.”

Ouch babe!

Does it make me feel better to laugh at Snyder’s failings? Well, kinda. Those wacky Germans and that schadenfreude, they knew what they were talking about. I do feel better.

But just maybe it was the pizza, too. Mmmm…pepperoni!

Was Chris James Pulling Our Leg?

First, I’m almost ready to start updating lists here and beginning the Spring Cleaning. I have bindered up the sets and cards I want to keep and now will sort the others into teams, doubles and sets. Yes, for some of my larger sets with multiples I’m going to send out a grab bag there as well. So if you’re behind on a set, just ask for it. You’ll get it. Heh.

Second, I’ve enjoyed writing for Bad Wax. Some of the readers over there, though, have said they do not like it when I dabble in poetry or other frivolities. I tell you what, if Dan Quisenberry wrote poetry then poetry is OK by me. Besides, poets get more chicks than neanderthal douches. But haters, they gonna hate.

Now, on to our main feature…

Studio, I think, was rather star-crossed. It was a good idea for perhaps an insert but maybe not for huge sets. Then it got kinda out of control (but yet, I’m trying to collect the “Credit Card Set” from Studio. Go figure…) with the poses and stuff. Early on, though, it was just pretty simple head shots or portraits.

The back wasn’t filled with the usual stats (which would have been a turn-off for me) but facts – much like you would find in the media guide. The back of this set had headings of PERSONAL, CAREER, and HOBBIES & INTERESTS. It’s funny that this card does not mention that James’ brother was Craig James, the famed SMU running back who was in the backfield with Eric Dickerson and later has become a football analyst on TV.

James was a journeyman’s journeyman. He was not drafted but signed with the Phillies in 1981 as a free agent. Usually, that’s a ticket for a season of rookie ball, extended spring training, and then a pink slip. But James started to hit, and was in AA by 1983 and AAA by 1984. In 1987, he received ROY votes and had a 10-year major-league career. Mostly he was a fourth outfielder / DH / pinch hitter type but he had a few seasons as a regular.

In this card, his personal and career seemed normal, but then we get to Hobbies & Interests.

Most of it is sadly predictable and generic. He likes hunting, country music, Coach (the TV show), the Cowboys and the Rockets.

But there are two things that stand out.

He likes hunting…cows. Cows? I didn’t know that the East Texas woods were full of wild, feral bovines.

That can’t be much of a sport. Cows in a field just kind of stand around, mooing and chewing.

But then, we get a note that his hero is…

Richard Nixon.

NIXON?

Nixon did some good things, but he did many bad things. Unless you like your government unaccountable and corrupt, then you have to admit that Nixon shouldn’t be anyone’s hero.

James, of course, may be playing people for a fool. But it wouldn’t surprise me that a Dick Nixon fan would like hunting cows.

 

Spider Man, Spider Man…

On an AOL Cubs’ fan board (remember those?) I got into huge arguments with those who I decided were stats neanderthals (basically Glen Beckert was their ideal second baseman because he didn’t strike out) about the value of Glenallen Hill.

The uproar started when I said that Hill was defensively challenged, a platoon player and was losing his speed. They took that as an affront to his manhood, especially when I said he was losing his speed. To them, I said he didn’t hustle. I didn’t say that. He was getting slower and no longer stealing bases or using his speed. (Little known to us, he was juicing (he admitted it) and the bulk cut down his speed.)

They saw Hill playing full blast all the time and thought he was what the Cubs needed – hustle. Never mind he was getting slower. Never mind that he played defense “aking to watching a gaffed haddock surfacing for air”. He was what the Cubs needed. Yes, he could mash the ball – but he wasn’t a good fit and getting older. When his bat went, he was out of the league quickly.

At times, the Cubs played an outfield of Henry Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa and Glenallen Hill. Can you count the doubles to the gap during those games, children? It’s probably a very big number!

My retort was that those guys wanted the young Hill, not the Hill that was playing in Wrigley in 1999. But no matter, I was a stats geek-o (though part of my argument was that Lou Piniella got sick of him and released him in 1998, so that wasn’t so empirical was it?)

The Hill in this card was that player. He  was fast, could hustle, he just didn’t hit as well as he did later in his career.

And why the nickname Spiderman? Turns out when he was a youngster in Toronto, he was sleepwalking and dreaming about spiders and fell through a glass window.

Fred Lynn – 1991 Topps

March 18, 2011

That’s Just Wrong

Fred Lynn as a Red Sox – Perfect.

Fred Lynn as an Angel – OK. He wanted to play in California, and the Angels basically stole him.

Fred Lynn as an Oriole – Nope. He wanted to play in SoCal, and so when he became a free agent he went to…Baltimore?

Fred Lynn as a Tiger – Double nope.

Fred Lynn as a Padre – Just wrong.

Now people have speculated that if Fred Lynn played in Boston for his entire career, that he’d be in the Hall of Fame.

I don’t think so.

Reggie Smith is the player that he is most similar to. Excellent player – underrated even. Lynn was underrated after Boston.

But his most similar by ages tells the tale:

Ages 25-27: Dave Parker

Age 28: Bobby Abreu

Ages 29-31: Mike Sweeney

Ages 32-35: Ellis Burks

It’s rather remarkable that most all of these players were, at some point in their careers, overrated and underrated. Much like Lynn.

Just Chillin’

First things first.

A. I am binderizing my complete and near complete sets, and some cards that I thought I had have turned up AWOL. I am not panicking yet since I have been in transition somewhat and I may have stashed a package somewhere. Nothing too rare or anything, but kind of annoying. But it leads to…

B. I am going to organize my doubles, and all of my cards are now under one roof. But soon I’ll need to cut down on my doubles and my singles of sets that I’m not collecting. (Sounds familiar, eh?) So I’m going to donate some cards and also have something called:

SMED’S GRAB BAG!

You’ll get a box with a few parallels, relics, weird cards and other cards. If you have a team you follow I’ll throw more in there, but this is a grab bag, ya know. You take your 1988 Donruss with you 2011 Heritage Stamps 14/65.

More details later.

Now, onto the card…

I’m going to refrain from the Berman-esque nickname. That one got played out quickly. (Actually, the only one I really like is Rick “Innocent” Lysander, but that’s just me…)

McDowell is one of the first college baseball players I remember, thanks to ESPN’s coverage of the College World Series. He was also one of the first players I really remember as “he looks so good, why isn’t he producing?”

At age 23, he had an OPS+ of 106 and a WAR of 3.0. He was labeled a disappointment because he only hit 18 home runs. From then on, his career devolved. My guess was that he was pressing to hit with more power and that screwed up his swing. He had a monster half-season for Atlanta in 1989, but tailed off badly in 1990, and at the time most players peak, he was back in the minors.

Did this card express a casual manner that McDowell displayed on the field? I doubt it, baseball is a sport where you need to pass time. There’s a lot of waiting in baseball. But of course, you need a little levity in each job, and even the President needs to fill out his brackets. (Obama’s probably glad Rahm Emanuel is gone, because that mother*$#^! probably intimidated everyone in the White House…”Biden, Gibbs, YOU ARE GOING DOWN YOU C*#$*&@ERS!”)

At any rate, McDowell wasn’t the first player to look good and play not-so-well, and not the last, but he’s the first one I really remember his entire career.

 

“Ensuring ISO 9001 Compliance”

With compliance office Smith on the case, the Pirates will achieve ISO and Six Sigma certification.

 

I’m In The Big Leagues, Right??

Well, here I am. The big leagues. And I even got mt own card. Not bad for a 20th round draft pick is it? I can’t believe it. This season was a whirlwind.

I had a bad start in Scranton but the Phillies needed help and called me up. I even hit my first big league home run against Juan Agosto, an opposite field shot. Next thing I know, I’m sent down because the Phillies got the great Dale Murphy.They got him for Jeff Parrett and a player to be named.

Then, I realize I’m the guy they traded for Dale Murphy! So I spend the last two months in Atlanta. They’ve got Lonnie Smith and Ronnie Gant in left and center, and they’re moving that kid Dave Justice to right field. So I didn’t play a lot but I’m in the big leagues! Right?

Can’t wait for next season. I feel there are good things ahead for the Braves.

Oh, what’s that you say?

The Braves put me on waivers? Took me off the roster? And the Padres picked me up?

San Diego is in the big leagues, right?

Well, at least I was traded for Dale Murphy. It’s not everyone who’s traded for a future Hall of Famer. And Murphy will be.

Right?

Never As Good As The First Time

This Ol’ Yeller card shows Petry as the Prodigal Tiger, returning after a stint as a California Angel.

His first stint was decent; he was a good compliment to Jack Morris. But he was always a finesse guy and vulnerable to the aging of his teammates defensively. He also gave up a lot of taters.

Petry had two pretty rotten years with the Angels after two pretty rotten years with the Tigers in 1986 and 1987. But nostalgia can be a driving factor in baseball decisions, so Petry was resigned by the Tigers for the 1990 season, leaving the Angels to wonder why they gave up Gary Pettis for him.

The Tigers used smoke, mirrors and Geritol to finish third in 1990. Petry did go 10-9 but had an ERA+ of 90 and walked more than he struck out. Neither is a good sign.

But Detroit saw 10-9 more than the other peripherals, so they resigned him for 1991. By mid-season, he was out of the rotation and in Atlanta, traded for non-entity Victor Rosario. That was the year of the Braves resurgence, and Petry was relied upon for veteran stabilization. He didn’t help much, and was soon moved to Boston for a used rosin bag and a box of sunflower seeds (also known as minor leaguer Mickey Pina). He finished the year with the Red Sox and then hung ‘em up.

Both Detroit and Boston finished with identical records in 1991 (84-78). Petry was -0.4 WAR with Detroit and -0.5 WAR with Boston. Had either team not flirted with Petry they may have finished in second by themselves.

Baseball fans, players and executives are nostalgic. The sport leads itself to such wistful thinking of the days gone by. Yet baseball itself has no nostalgia, and decisions made partly because of nostalgia backfire. The game moves on. For most players in a city, it truly is never as good as the first time.

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