“Pass The Gravy”

Look at this physique. It’s one I can relate to.

This is something you see more in baseball than anything. (Well, in football you see this as well, but while Pat Williams has blubber, he also has the strength of a crazed rhino) In basketball there are some big men that are more big than anything, but you never see paunches in hockey, soccer, track and field, or other more athletic sports.

Even in golf, except for a select few, you don’t see too many beer guts.

Reggie Cleveland, immortalized by ESPN’s Sports Guy and now by his own namesake site, was a Canadian from Swift Current that had a decent career as an innings-eating starter for the Cards, Red Sox and others. I wonder if he played hockey, because Swift Current is one of those Saskatchewan towns that the grinders and muckers come from – the players Don Cherry loves!

After a lousy 1979 (if he wasn’t a vet, a 1-5, 6.71 ERA posting would get you on a one-way ticket to Spokane), he had a pretty decent 1980 season before winding his career up in 1981.

However, I think he enjoyed the beer and processed meat products in Milwaukee a bit too much.


(Sidenote to end all sidenotes, or is this an endnote? IN 1979 Cleveland was involved in a game that had three non-pitchers pitch for the Brewers. I guess when three professional pitchers give up 15 runs in 3 innings, and it’s a couple days before September call-ups and you are in a pennant race, you do what you do. My question is if Gantner or Bando were on pitch counts!)

Steve Renko – 1981 Fleer

October 17, 2010

The Epitome

Let’s see:

1. Blurry

2. Off Center

3. Unintentionally comedic pose

4. Error on the back (it says batting record, not pitching. I think all 1981 Fleer say that)

It’s the epitome of early Fleer (and Donruss, but Fleer mostly)!

Ross Grimsley – 1981 Fleer

September 22, 2010

“None More Black”

I didn’t see Night Owl post this on his night card set, and I don’t mean to impose on his space, but this card is night time personified.

It’s Spinal Tap “Smell The Glove” black.

Was pitching for the Cleveland Indians in 1980 like death?

Well, Grimsley pitched like death for them.

He was fabulous in ’78 for the Expos, struggled big time in ’79, and in ’80 was even worse. The Expos flipped him for Dave Oliver. So a 1978 All-Star was traded, just two seasons later, for someone with 29 career ABs in the majors, was hitting .268 in the PCL AND was out of the game the next season.

You think Grimsley’s peculiar laundry and hygiene habits got on the Expos nerves when his ERA was over 6? Yeah, me too.

So now he was Cleveland’s problem. The 1980 Indians finished 79-81, which was just meh. Dave Garcia must have done a nice job, since they were 8th in runs scored, last in ERA and had a pythagorean record of 73-87. But it was hard to get excited by the staff who were:

Barker, Waits, Spillner, Garland, Monge, Owchinko, Victor Cruz, (The Original) Mike Stanton, and Wihtol.

They also had John Denny, who was hurt mid-season, thus the need for Grimsley. But this wasn’t John Denny, ERA champ nor John Denny, Cy Young Leader. It was John Denny, blah pitcher for a blah team. Actually, Grimsley’s first game (a scintillating 4 ER in 2 IPĀ  performance in a 12-2 loss to Texas).

Denny’s injury forced the Indians to put Grimsley in the rotation, as they thought they had no other choices to keep themselves bleah instead of mega-bleah. He made 11 starts and, well, mega-bleah.

(Did Cleveland have internal choices? Well, they had just FOUR affiliates – AAA Tacoma, AA Chattanooga, A Waterloo, and short-season Batavia. Mike Paxton was at Tacoma, but he washed out in Cleveland earlier. They seemed to be committed for not allowing Tom Brennan a chance for the most part. Brennan had been at AAA since, oh, 1974!)

This card, though, is the epitome of the bleakness Grimsley and Cleveland were experiencing in 1980. A night game at Municipal Stadium. Grimsley pitched in 7 games at home. Two were back ends of double dips, and one was played in rain, so there are four games that this shot could be taken from.

I’m picking September 9, 1980 – The Red Sox at Cleveland. 5,104 stared, with great ennui, at the contest. Grimsley was facing Dennis Eckersley. Somehow, with Miguel Dilone leading off and a DP combo of Alan Bannister and Tom Veryzer, Grimsley left the game with a 3-1 lead after 5 1/3 innings. However, he left the bases loaded for Victor Cruz. Sac fly by Tony Perez and a single by Dwight Evans tied the game. Cruz lost the game in the 9th, long after Grimsley hit the showers (or not) and pulled on his ratty t-shirt and torn jeans.

Cruz lost the game after Don Zimmer used a sac bunt with one out in the ninth, so Gary Hancock could bat with a runner in scoring position.


Reggie Walton – 1981 Fleer

September 21, 2010

Art 203 – Contemporary Art & Photography Criticism

MWF 9:00 – 9:50 – 3 credits.


What is the most egregious thing about this photo:

1. The light standard growing out of the player’s head.

2. The off-center subject.

3. The blurred print job.

4. The lack of relevant action even though taken in an historic place.

5. The Mariners logo and uniform.

6. The fact that someone on-line is selling this card for $2.95!

Alas, poor Reggie had a short big-league career. I believe that this is his only solo baseball card. (He was featured on a 3-way rookie card with Dave “Music From The” Edler and Dave “Not Rickey, Nor Steve” Henderson.)

The early Mariners had nothing to lose, but continually messed up personnel decisions. Now Walton had some flaws – he had modest power, little patience, and wasn’t that great in the field. But he could hit, and certainly had a higher upside than Dan Meyer, Juan Beniquez, Leon Roberts, Willie Horton, Joe Simpson, Richie Zisk, Jeff Burroughs, Tom Paciorek and Bruce Bochte. Even though some of those players had fine seasons in 1980 and 1981, Walton definitely could have gotten some ABs and maybe be part of an actual winning baseball team in Seattle. I mean, the Mariners would have been hard pressed to lose any more than they did in 1980 and 1981.

But I guess Leon Roberts and Jeff Burroughs put fannies in the seats, right?

Steve Rogers – 1981 Fleer

September 18, 2010

You too can have the exciting life of a starting pitcher!!!

I’d love to have the backstory behind this picture.

There’s the scowl, the lean, the look. Was he bored? Upset? Was it in pre-game?

Steve Rogers assumed the mantle of Expos ace in the mid and late 70’s. Of course, that meant logging a ton of innings in front of not-so-good teams, and it showed (15-22 in 1974, 7-17 in 1976). If he was on a good team early on, and his managers didn’t have to rely on him so much, he could have had a few more years, had a better record, and made it to Cooperstown. He had that talent.

But that’s not the way it went down. Parc Jarry was a hitter’s park and the defense behind him was less than stellar. With better run and defense support, he would have definitely had better stats.

Maybe that’s why he’s scowling, or leaning, or bored, or something?


Now tell me if LeMaster doesn’t resemble Matthew McCongaughey’s character just a little bit. The baby moustache is the giveaway to me. I think LeMaster would drive a Firebird or something:

Let me tell you what Melba Toast is packin’ right here, all right. We got 4:11 Positrac outback, 750 double pumper, Edelbrock intake, bored over 30, 11 to 1 pop-up pistons, turbo-jet 390 horsepower. We’re talkin’ some fuckin’ muscle.”

“The older you get, the more rules they are going to try and get you to follow. You just gotta keep on livin’, man. L-I-V-I-N.”

“Say, man, you got a joint?
No, not on me, man.
It’d be a lot cooler if you did.”

“Aerosmith, 2 weeks. Don’t forget.”

“That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”

As far as LeMaster as a player goes, well, there’s the immortal take in the 1986 Bill James Baseball Abstract on how LeMaster single-handedly wrecked the 1985 Indians season. (Well, that’s a bit of hyperbole, since it took a team effort to go 60-102). But the Indians were 10-13 with Julio Franco at short and a resurrected Tony Bernazard at second. Bernazard was hitting .318 on May 7, and Franco was coming off a ROY season.

As James said:

1. Franco never played 2B, and was miffed at moving there in mid-May.

2. LeMaster was, well, “Johnny Disaster”, who avoided leading the league in errors only because he didn’t hit well enough to stay in the lineup.

3. LeMaster had conflicts with his manager in San Francisco.

So the Indians grabbed a player who played the same position as their all-star, was a head case for a horrible team and couldn’t hit OR field.

Bernazard said it best, “I don’t mean to be rude, but who the hell is Johnnie LeMaster?”

I’ll just leave that here…