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Thanks to Flip Flop Flyball

LL Cool..G?

Anytime I see jheri curls, I think of the 80’s. And yes, I know LL Cool J was not jheri-curled, it’s what I thought of first thing.

Much like when I see open collared shirts and tight jeans I think of this…

Everybody karaoke!

Was it just me, but did the players from the Dominican adapt the jheri curls later than the US culture? Because to me, the jheri curl was mid-80’s. Of course, I could be wrong – there wasn’t a lot of urbanity in central Indiana.

Berroa was almost a candidate for “Too Many Cards In The Junk Wax Era”, since he never played for the Jays. This shot could have been taken at a late-spring game in a major league park or during an emergency call-up where he never saw action.

Geronimo could hit. But it took forever to get a chance. He hit 36 bombs as a 22-year old in AA, but struggled a bit in AAA the next year. Atlanta took a chance on him in the Rule 5 draft and he hit .265 in limited duty in 1989. But it was back to the bushes in 1989, and then he hopped over to Seattle, who sold him to Cleveland during spring training. A year in Colorado Springs re-established him, but teams weren’t sold on the guy. So he went to the Cincinnati organization and hit .328 with 22 homers at Nashville.

Expansion in 1993 brought another chance, but after playing well in Edmonton he barely saw time in Florida. Oakland took a gamble, and he made the club.

I don’t know if it was the weather, the relative peace and quiet in Oakland, or the lingering effects of Al Davis in the Coliseum, but something worked for Berroa. Tony LaRussa (and later Art Howe) penciled him the lineup and he hit. From 1994-1997 he had an OPS+ 0f 120 as the regular DH (including a trade to Baltimore in late 1997).

He signed a contract with Cleveland in 1998 but lost his stroke suddenly. He was out of the game by 2000.

Maybe he ran out of activator.

Here’s To You…Mop Up Man

I remember seeing one of Geoff Geary’s first appearances in the big leagues. He came in, not exactly toned and fit, with kind of a hang-dog expression. As a rookie, he already looked world weary.

Well, he should be kind of world weary. He was 26 and making his debut in 2003, having spent part of 2001, and all of 2002 and 2003 in Scranton.

By looking at his stuff, his expression and his stats, you knew he wasn’t destined for the closer role. Well, not groomed at least. If he was going to become a closer he was going to have to back his way into that role. (Which almost all closers do, but that’s besides the point…)

For some reason, here was a player that I decided I would follow, for no reason but because he wasn’t really supposed to ‘make it’ – he was an organizational soldier sacrificed to the AA and AAA rosters in the name of developing the stars.

In 2004 and 2005, he spent some time in the minors but most of the time in the majors. In 2006, he stayed up all year, expanded his role, and pitched well. But baseball being baseball, and relievers being relievers, he struggled a bit in 2007 and was demoted for a skosh to get things right.

Then he was traded to Houston with Michael Bourn as part of the Brad Lidge deal. He pitched well in middle relief in 2008 but crashed and burned as kidlets across the nation pulled this card from their Upper Deck 2009 packs.

Geary wasn’t asked back to Houston after 2009 because of his struggles in Houston and Round Rock, and last year it wasn’t any better in Oklahoma City or Albuquerque.

He’s what’s known as ‘fungible’. He did pitch well for stretches and while he had just one big league save, he compiled 42 holds. That’s wasn’t easy since many of his appearances were in low-leverage situations.

Where Geary will wind up this year is unknown. At age 34, he may just retire with his pension and his memories. But he’s got those.

“AAAAAAH!”

The scan doesn’t allow you to really see this card.

It’s scary. I mean, really scary!

It’s Heritagized, airbrushed, and uglified, all in one.

And now they’re gonna do it again, since Garza was traded to the Cubs. He’ll be in Bowman, Heritage and Opening Day, at least, and his base card will be in Series 2 (it’s not in Series 1).

The Perfect Card For The Mariners Of The 80’s

My friend at Emerald City would agree, no doubt.

In this, we find Matt Young, head down, getting an earful from…someone. Meanwhile, the catcher (Kearney?) looks to the bullpen for help.

I don’t think it’s Dick Williams. I think it’s Phil Regan, the pitching coach, that’s telling young to keep the ball down, throw strikes and don’t get so cute out there.

Since it’s a blurry shot, I can only guess at where – but it’s a road day game. Young was in the rotation, then yanked, then became the ‘closer’.

Could this be May 17, 1986? Young as the starter in New York? Put back into the rotation after pitching seven shutout relief innings of Milt Wilcox (he was still active?), Young gave up five hits, three walks, and two homers in 1 2/3. Though only two of the eight runs he gave up were earned, he no doubt was told, “I don’t care if they’re all unearned – they still count!”

Young gave up a grand slam to Dave Winfield (Mr. May strikes again!) and solo shot to Gary Roenicke (back-to-back jacks) before his untimely exit. And while Alvin Davis’ error prolonged the inning, Young walked the bases loaded in the second before the error.

Sure, that may not be the game in question, but for the Mariners, it’s fitting to have their “Leaders” card in the 1987 series depict such an event.

Luke Scott – 2009 Topps

January 24, 2011

Luke, We Need To Talk…

Seriously, dude. When I was in Baltimore in 2009 I bought one of your t-shirts for my daughters to use as a night shirt. I loved how this card looks.

And you come out and say, that you’re a ‘birther’? You have ‘questions’ if Obama was born in this country?

I’m going to direct you to four sites:

Bad Fiction

Oh, For Goodness Sake

Obama Conspiracy Theories (Currently on vacation, but the archives are lush)

Native & Natural Born Citizenship Explored

And here’s another for some history: What’s Your Evidence

I know many baseball players are probably conservative, but I didn’t expect any of them to be insane like this. Ok, sure, Show, Dravecky and Thurmond were in the John Birch Society but I think it was more of a passing thing than hard-core allegiance to their wacky theories. Some of these birthers (especially the ones Bad Fiction writes about) are dancing close to sedition and treason with calls for armed revolts and the like. Of course, they call for armed revolts from the safety of their computer desks, whilst reaching for the nachos. Just like me, except I’m not trying to foment revolution – I’m just here to talk about cards.

Luke, you disappoint me, man. Live up to your name (your last, my first) and don’t be a nutball.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Behind the specs and mild-mannered demeanor lies a ticking time bomb.

Is there any more polarizing non-superstar player than Kyle Farnsworth?

I mean, as a recovering Cubs fan, I hated the guy for crap like this.

Thanks to MLB scrubbing You Tube, that’s about the only Farnsworth fight video I could find. But he’s had a few scraps. To me, he’s the new Rob Dibble. Yes, you can fight and back up your teammates, but when Farnsworth gets into hit, blood spills, teeth fly and damage is done. He’s more of a hockey enforcer – like a David Koci or Derek Boogaard.

In 2001, he was lights out for the Cubs and I thought he should be a starter.

In 2002, he was an arsonist and I thought he should be banished to Iowa. There were rumors that Kyle, an LDS member from Georgia, did not or could not control himself in the Windy City when it came to the various temptations of life. It would make sense.

Since then, he’s been enthralling then infuriating fans, managers and GMs for every team he’s played for. He lets a lot of inherited runners score, and a plurality of his appearances are in low-leverage situations.

But he’s got that arm. He still throws gas.

I just wouldn’t want him on my team.

 

“So When’s The Meat Raffle?”

“Yeah, I’m thinking of building a new ice house this year. Gonna have double-decker bunks, a built in cooler and a cubby for the Coleman.”

“Sure…yeah…love to. We won’t be playing in October, so we can hit the pheasant opener. And then swing up for the last part of moose season. The ducks will be there after that. And then after Thanksgiving I’ll get my muzzle-loader out.”

“Yeah, that jerky was great, wasn’t it.”

“Well, I gotta go take BP. After the game let’s hit Manny’s. They have a double porterhouse and I’ll get some loaded mashed potatoes.”

 

Steve Sparks – 1996 Topps

January 23, 2011

Knuckled Under By The ‘Master Of Sparks’

If you recognize the name Steve Sparks at all you know that:

A. He’s one of the few knuckleball pitchers post-Niekro.

B. He’s the idiot who dislocated his shoulder trying to rip a phone book in half after a spring training pep talk.

Now, where I grew up the phone book was a thin little thing. Even though it did have the listings for the entire county, as well as Clarks Hill and Stockwell, it wasn’t much to rip it in half.

Phone books are kind of passe now, but I’ve seen the Minneapolis West Suburban White Pages. You could kill a burglar with one fell swoop.

Sparks was a bit inconsistent, but in 2001 he was ‘the master’. Well, at least for a 66-96 Detroit team he was. He went 14-9 with a 3.65. That gave him a 2-year $7.5 million deal, and somehow as he signed that deal his magic fingertips lost their mojo.

Still, he’ll always be remembered for the phone book thing.

But what’s more idiotic – trying to rip a Phoenix-area phone book, or to see a pickup truck with a metal cage tied to the back of their truck whilst out in the sticks, and get INTO the cage and allow them to drive away. Yes, Billy Gibbons says that’s a true story in the song.

I say it’s 50-50. At least you could win a Darwin Award in the cage.

 

Best Season? At 37?

Back when I started reading Bill James, he had data that showed that batters peak at age 27. Pitchers, of course, aren’t so predictable, but the bell curve (not Jay, nor Albert, nor even Buddy or David – just a bell curve) shows that 27 is the year hitters peak.

Perhaps that has changed – the last data I saw was that it was still 27 but that was in the early 2000’s. With players playing longer, it may have moved up a tick.

No matter if it’s 27 or 28, it’s a long cry from 37. Yet Eisenreich’s best years as a major leaguer were right when this card was released.

In 1995, at age 36, his OPS+ was 121. His OPS+ was 122 in 1989 at age 30. Of course, you should know the story on why he wasn’t in the bigs during his age 27 year, and he really struggled in 1988 so his excellent 1989 is a story in itself.

In 1996, while kidlets were ripping the foil packs that contained this card, he compiled an OPS+ of 135, by far his best year.

Now, his WAR in 1989 was higher, because he became a platoon player for the Phils. However, one could say that his best offensive two year stretch were 1995 and 1996.

And with that, his sad beginning of his career is even sadder, since he coulda been a contender for stardom or more.