Did I Make A Faulty Career Choice?

Oh, things were fine and dandy back in 1976. I went from Lehigh (got the ol’ engineering degree) to Quad Cities (not that much of a change, really) to Anaheim in less than a year. I was a swingman then, just happy to be in the big leagues. Sid Monge and I filled in the fifth starter role, picking up the scraps left over from Ryan and Tanana.

But the Angels kept yanking me out of the rotation in 1977 and 1978. It took Gary Nolan, Wayne Simpson and Gary Ross to crash and burn in 1977 and Ken Brett to be found wanting in 1978 for me to get the spot in the rotation I thought I deserved.

Then I was part of the Rod Carew trade. On paper, it was great for me and probably the best the Twins could do.

It didn’t work out that way. 6-10, 5.36 and an ERA+ 82. I went from sunny California to Minnesota, playing in front of indifferent fans on a team going nowhere. I stunk and they stunk.

Maybe I should have taken that internship…

You Call That A Chaw, Eh?

This is a chaw.

One thing about playing hockey is that you can’t have a chaw like this in your mouth. So when I left BC at age 16 to go play in Covington, Virginia I made it my mission to create the ultimate chaw. I’ll show those guys.

And well…what do you think, eh?

By Any Name, He Was A Stat Collector

Juan Oviedio, a/k/a Leo Nunez, was the former Marlins’ closer. Now they have Heath Bell, and Oviedo will get about six million to pitch in probably more crucial situations than entering in the ninth inning with the bases empty.

Will be up for it?

In his career, he’s let 38% of his inherited runners score, including 55% of those runners in 2008 when he was a set up man for Kansas City.

So if there’s a question, it’s how Oviedo will handle his new role.

It’s not about his name, or what his name was. Guys like Oviedo and the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona aren’t public enemy #1. They were just trying to get out of the Dominican and into baseball. You can’t really blame someone for trying.

So good luck, Mr. Oviedo.

BTW, I received this card from Ryan at Oh No! I also received a metric boatload of cards from Scott Crawford. And I mean a metric boatload! My want lists are being updated as we speak and I’m going to send out the new spreadsheets to others very soon!

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.

Dennis Blair – 1978 Topps

January 16, 2012

One Of Youse Guys Is Gonna Get This Here Card

Yeah, I’m sending cards out again. I went through my shiny / relics and doubles and made about a dozen care packages. Yes, some of the cards I’m sending people may have already but you can deal with it, I know. Besides,  a team / player collector can probably move a double to other team / player collectors they know, or just use the extra Donruss cards as a cheap wallpaper.

I am also debating what to do with my 2011 Topps 60th Anniversary Set. I have it. It’s unopened, and I think I may need to move it for cash or cards. Stay tuned! You could get it!

I am also debating what to do with my Bowman’s. I was disgustipated by the heinous job Topps did on their latest Bowman release (collation, errors, and numbering issues – I thought the regular Bowman release was nifty but this Prospects were just rife with errors) and because I may need to downsize all my Bowman cards may be up for cash or cards. Stay tuned!

As I hinted in the title, in one of my care packages this here card will be making its way to someone who needs it. Hopefully this card will be needed more than the Expos seemed to want Mr. Blair.

Blair rocketed through the Expos chain, hitting AA Quebec City at age 19 and then making the bigs after a 5-0, 1.83 start at AAA Memphis the next year.

All he did as a 20-year old rookie for a struggling team was go 11-7, 3.27 (118 ERA+). His only warning sign was walking 72 while just striking out 76.

Those 1974 Expos had a young, hungry staff (age 25.7 average). They were on the verge.

Montreal took a little step back in 1975, and Blair was the recipient poor run support and some control issues. His record was 8-15. But, his ERA was 3.80 (102 ERA+). His teammates scored just 2.8 runs per start. He walked 106 in 163 innings, which was his only black mark, and he was 21.

The Expos changed managers in 1976 and became even worse of a train wreck than their expansion years. Instead of allowing Blair to get more experience in the bigs, Montreal decided that guys like Don Carrithers, Steve Dunning, Dan Warthen and a out-of-gas Clay Kirby were the answers. They were just bigger questions.

Until September, Blair fumed down in AAA. I am assuming he was fuming. Why wouldn’t he be irate. He didn’t do so bad, considering he was pitching in Denver (4.50 ERA). He struck out more than he walked, but he waited and then pitched 15 2/3 lackluster innings in Montreal.

Back to the minors in 1977, the Orioles snagged him in mid-season. Technically, he was loaned to Rochester and not dealt until after September as the PTBNL in a deal for Fred Holdsworth.

Somehow, he got this card in the 1978 set, so Topps was hoping that Earl Weaver and his crew would give him a legit chance. Well, he may have gotten a chance but Blair didn’t respond. He didn’t pitch in the bigs, and was heinously awful in Rochester (0-6, 8.05). In 1979 he went from the Orioles to the Padres, and made his way back to the bigs in mid-1980.

He made one start (after a decent and awful relief appearance) in the second game of a double header against the Braves. Now, an Atlanta / San Diego double-header in 1980 wasn’t the most exciting way to spend a day, but it was a big league game and Blair did a big league job as the teams battled to stay out of the basement of the NL West.

He went 7 1/3 innings, leaving with a 2-1 lead, but John D’Acquisto let in the tying run, so Blair didn’t get a win. I bet he got an atta-boy or two.

Of course, this was Jerry Coleman’s Padres, and Blair didn’t get another chance to start. He had two desultory relief appearances (the first THREE DAYS after his start) and was sent back to Hawaii. After 1980, he retired.

Why wouldn’t you?

Twice, for no real reason except for ineptitude, he was sent to the minors in favor of inferior alternatives. It’s enough to make a guy consider the alternatives.

2012, What You Got?

Well, another year has come and gone, and another HOF election has come and gone. Barry Larkin deserved induction, but what do players like Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Alan Trammell need to do to get in? Knock off the old geezers in the BBWAA so people who understand how to compare players in a contextual manner can vote?

Anyway, people have been batting around what they’re going to do in 2012, so I guess I will.

First, I’ll follow my Manifesto. Unless I don’t. But mostly, I will.

Second, because of some tight money issues, I’ll need to really curtail purchases in the first half of 2012. Which means probably just going for Topps Base thus far. I’ll probably get to Heritage and either Gypsy Queen or A & G, and then Topps Updates. But no to Bowman, and no to Opening Day. At least for now.

Now, what to do about some of my older sets. I may want to rethink what I’ve got in my collection. Maybe I don’t need my Opening Day collections. Maybe I don’t need my Bowmans. But who would want them, and would I use them as trade bait or sell them outright? I need the cash but I’d love to get some more of my sets completed.

Think, think, think….

Unfortunately, some HOF voters don’t do that.

The Last Hurrah…

First off, I wrote something at Bugs & Cranks about the Carlos Zambrano acquisition. Read. Enjoy!


Jack Brohamer, a career barely alive.

He came into my consciousness sometime in 1975, I think. The Indians and Brewers were playing on the NBC Game of the Week, which I think was a rain game. In this game I remember Jack Brohamer and Gorman Thomas for their names, and that’s about it.

At any rate, Brohamer came up and played every day in 1972 as a rookie (moving up slowly but surely from a 34th round draft pick) and kept in the bigs thanks to his perceived steady defense and, well, why the heck else did teams keep offensive sink-holes like Brohamer in the bigs?

The big issue with Brohamer is that he played second and third. He never played short in the bigs. Not an inning. Ah, it was a different time, but he could have had some reasonable value had he been able to play short. But I guess he had good symbiosis with Frank Duffy, or something.

Brohamer was dealt to the White Sox in 1976 for the immortal Larvell “Sugar Bear” Blanks because they couldn’t fathom another season of Jorge Orta at second. And he responded with a decent season, for Brohamer (2.0 WAR). But in 1977, the Pale Hose said, “screw it”, cast defense to the wind, and went with a DP combo of Orta and Alan Bannister and thus Brohamer backed up Orta and Eric Soderholm. After that season, the Red Sox signed him as a free agent (and paid him well for the time).

Brohamer had to start the last part of the season at third because Butch Hobson’s fielding just became too much to handle. They won eight games in a row with Jack at third before the fateful game 163.

Time was running out for Jack, though. He was back on the bench in 1979 and after a few weeks in 1980, the Red Sox reunited him with Lake Erie and he closed out his career.

What is stunning about this shot is that it probably says “generic 80’s Cleveland Indians player” more than anything. The mangy hair, the scruffy beard, the look of resignation. That’s Cleveland Indians baseball, baby. Well, at least then…


Lightning In A Bottle

Before 1977, the only thing memorable about Lerrin LaGrow was that he was the recipient of a gift from Bert Campaneris in the 1972 ALCS. The gift? Campy’s bat. LaGrow didn’t accept it though, mainly because it was flying at his head.

That was a memorable incident. Of course, going 16-38 with a 4.51 ERA, an 87+ ERA, and giving up 45 unearned runs in the three seasons after 1972 didn’t really leave an impact on the baseball viewing public.

In the spring of 1976, the Tigers shuffled him off to St. Louis, who exiled him to Tulsa until September. He had some good appearances for the Cards and so next spring he was flipped to the rebuilding White Sox for Clay Carroll. Lagrow fit right in with that rag-tag bunch of Pale Hose. He was unwanted, unloved, and had a chip on his shoulder (just look at the photo). And he responded with 25 saves, a 168 ERA+ and a 3.5 WAR.

Of course, the next season was pretty much downhill and he was gone by 1980. But at least he wouldn’t be remembered as the guy that Campy threw the bat at.