Robbie Wine – 1988 Topps

January 1, 2011

“Hmmm…”

It’s the new year (Happy 2011, everybody), and it’s the time for pensive reflection. Especially if you’re recovering after a night of debauchery. Go ahead, have a mimosa…

The Topps photographer caught Wine in a reflective mood. What could he be thinking?

A. The Astros used a #1 pick on me?

B. How can I be a worse hitter than my dad?

C. They gave me a card for playing in just 14 games?

D. Yeah, it’s real fun catching Scott’s scuffballs, Ryans heat, and Kerfeld’s jello.

D. Can I just flash forward 20 years from now where I’m comfortably in coaching at Penn State?

“Hand Me The Sphere, Kind Sir, And I Shall Attempt To Slay The Batsmen”

The noted Irishman McGaffigan strode to the mound with confidence. His nine were in a tough spot with the game all square at five a side late in the eighth frame. The Trolley Dodgers eliminated the Scotsman McClure from the game with a hard double off the bat of Hoffman, plating Shelby and advancing the elder statesman Garner to third.

The August night was comfortable, yet the Montreal nine were on pins and needles. The Californians had runners on second and third and the go ahead run was one dash away. Landrum stepped to the plate, as McGaffigan peered into his receiver Reed.

Parrett had started the inning on the hill for the Tri-Colors, but Shelby earned a free pass and Rogers came out of the bench area to wave in McClure.  Stubbs, the powerful, fooled all observers with a bunt that moved Shelby to the middle sack. McClure regained himself and allowed Trevino to fly out to Candaele at second, but Hoffman redeemed his fellow batters with his hard smash.

Now, McGaffigan was facing a tough customer in Mr. Landrum. Yet the tall Floridian yielded no quarter and asked the same, fanning the pinch batter in four pitches which stranded the Trolley Dodgers running and preserving the all square situation.

Holton kept the Expos in check in the ninth, and McGaffigan did the same, but Manager LaSorda opted to replace Holton with Crews, in thinking that a fresh arm would suffice in extra frames. Yet those plans were foiled as Galarraga, who plays with feline grace despite his ample girth, deposited a double past the elderly Garner at third. Foley strode the plate, and the Los Angeles pilot LaSorda may have opted to take his chance pitching to the normally soft hitting middle sacker.

But Mr. Foley was not to be denied, expertly splitting the gap to where neither Shelby nor Stubbs could catch it as it flew through the air, and Galarraga came around to dent the scoreboard for the visitors. The lanky Irishman McGaffigan saddled up again in the 10th aiming to notch another victory for the Tri-Colors.

Shelby led off with a ball expertly placed between Foley and Candaele. He thought second was ripe for the taking but Reed dispatched him with an expert throw down to Foley. The powerful Stubbs then drew a free pass, but McGaffigan took no more chances, eliminating Trevino and Garner for the victory. The season of sorrow for the defending champions grows, and the Montreal nine resolves to chase the Cardinal clad St. Louis squad with all speed.

(Don’t ya think Andy looks like a 19th century player in that shot?)

Al Pedrique – 1988 Donruss

November 27, 2010

The Pirates’ (Shortstop) Tale

This is why a franchise stanks….

Name great Pirates shortstops: Honus Wagner, Arky Vaughn, Dick Groat. I MAY give you Jay Bell for his age-27 year, but he didn’t become Jay Bell until he got to Arizona.

In most of the 2000’s, the Pirates settled on Jack Wilson – a fair field no hit guy. They SETTLED. Wilson’s a good guy to have on a team with a bunch of great players. But he’s not a decade long player for a building young team.

When the Pirates were the Lumber Company and the Fam-I-Lee, they had guys like Gene Alley, Frank Taveras, Tim Foli, and Dale Berra out there at short. Wilson would have been just as good for those teams, but no better really.

So I give you Al Pedrique. No, he’s not Sammy Khalifa. He hit better than Rafael Belliard and Felix Fermin.He hit .301 in 1987 for Pittsburgh, but it was an empty .301. The next year, he hit .180 and so Belliard was back at short. Fermin was dispatched to Cleveland to get Bell.

Pedrique is a baseball lifer with a capital “L”. By all accounts a nice guy and a great teacher. He spent 4 full seasons at Jackson in the Southern League, THEN played 10 years in AAA before and after major league stints. You have to have something else in your docket if you spend that much time in the minors.

But he’s a symbol of the Pirates problems. They couldn’t find a shortstop, and then when they find one, they SETTLE. Except for one season Jay Bell was settling (and bunting…wow…). Wilson was settling.

Between Bell and Wilson there was Kevin Polcovich, Lou Collier, Mike Benjamin, Abraham Nunez and Pat Meares. When Wilson was traded they got Ronny Cedeno to handle short.

Ronny Cedeno. Career OPS+ of 66. A WAR of -0.9 for his career. And he compounds his lack of hitting for sub-standard defense per the metrics.

Al Pedrique is 50 years old. He’s the bench coach of the Astros. And I bet he could do as well as Ronny Cedeno at short, right now. And if Cedeno is playing shortstop for the Pirates in 2012 and 2013, you know they’ve just settled…

John Franco – 1988 Topps

November 16, 2010

What The Heck?

Is Franco playing a joke on Chris Sabo, on the photographer, on society as a whole?

Or did he need to wear goggles as well for a stretch?

Franco was a great reliever, but had horrible timing. He was traded to the Mets before the 1990 season. That year, the Reds won the Series. Franco had to endure some ghastly Mets teams before finally getting his post-season chance – and then he was a set-up man after losing his job after an injury.

And while his stat numbers may get him into the HOF, he doesn’t have a stellar career WAR, and had some ‘interesting’ records (like 0-8 in 1998).

However, he was definitely valuable, and exuded Noo Yawk when he played for the Mets. And while the jury may be out on his HOF credentials, he definitely proved to be worth a lot more than Rafael Landestoy.

Wha’??

Yes, in 1983 the Dodgers traded Franco AND a minor leaguer to the Reds for Landestoy. Why?

Um…

Thinking….

Um…

Still thinking….

Did Franco get into a shoving match with Jack Fimple in Albuquerque?

No?

Um…..

Were the Dodgers really that worried about Sax’ fielding that they traded a future all-star closer for a generic middle infielder who posted an OPS+ of 32 for the Dodgers and went 0-2 in the post-season as a pinch hitter?

 

 

 

Doug DeCinces – 1988 Fleer

November 14, 2010

Not Airbrushed!?!?!?

Doug DeCinces played 1,645 games in the AL and four in the NL. Those were the last four games of his career.

They were at the end of the 1987 season as the Cards were gunning for the NL East title. I’m not sure why the Cards went out and got him, as Terry Pendleton wound up starting 158 games at third, including the last two of the season.

But you know, perhaps Whitey just wanted Doug to jump on a pile or two.

Doug was one of those under-rated players because of his low batting average. But Earl Weaver made room for him by gently shoving Brooks Robinson aside. And he rewarded Earl with patience, power and defense. Then he moved to the Angels and did pretty much the same thing. (Why the Orioles traded him for Dan Ford, I have no idea – but they did…)

But on September 23, 1987,  the Angels released DeCinces. Six days later he signed with the Cards, played four games in 1987. He spent 1988 in Japan and then hung ’em up.

Yet, this card from Fleer does not seem to be airbrushed. I’ve looked at it close and afar, and it seems that it’s DeCinces IN a Cards uniform.

Which of course makes a card like this even more outrageous…

A. That’s a particularly heinous airbrush job.

B. Brady Anderson moved from Boston to Baltimore on July 29th. There were over 50 games that Anderson played in  as an Oriole that they could have at least snagged a wire-service action shot or SOMETHING!

C. Did I saw how bad of an airbrush job that is? I bet the Topps artists (after they put down the bong) hated to have to draw that little Oriole on the hat (much like the old Blue Jays logo gave them fits as well). Well, unless they thought it was funny — “DUUUUDE! That Oriole is SMILING, man!”

Somehow, Topps survived awful cards and bleah designs, whilst Fleer who actually tried, it seemed, to get a player on the right team, took a dirt nap, was resurrected and again is swimming with the card fish.

 

 

Kent Tekulve – 1988 Donruss

November 12, 2010

“This May Hurt A Bit…”

How can you take an athlete seriously when he looks exactly like your orthodontist?

I started my orthodontic treatment with Dr. Hamilton in 7th grade. I had a contraption that widened my jaw, then I had four bicuspids removed, THEN I got my braces. Thank you bi-lateral crossbite!

I wore a retainer for about five years or so after my braces were removed. So it was until about 1986 that I saw Dr. Hamilton.

All the while, I thought he looked like Tekulve. But now, I think Kent looks like Dr. Hamilton.

“What? Sent Down? AGAIN??”

I have put my time in! This team was 10 kinds of lousy and awful and I sat in Rochester all year while Kennedy played every day. First, Honey Bear Rayford was the backup, but he ate the entire buffet at Golden Corral the other day. Then Van Gorder was the backup. DAVE MF VAN GORDER!!

Now I make it to the bigs in 1988, and we’re even WORSE! But the last two games I started, we MF’n won! We’re 4-25 and I caught two of the MF’n wins! Shit…what’s a brother to do to? They send me down for this Fruit Loop eating MFer, Tettleton. Last year he couldn’t hit for crap, and Oakland sent him to Modesto this season. I’m losing my job to a dude that started in the California Leauge this year? I know I’m not hitting, but who IS on this jive-ass team?

Kennedy’s hitting .194. Send his ass down! Billy Boy F-Face Ripken’s hitting .165. Ken Gerhart’s hitting .125 and batting FIFTH! Tito’s hitting .136. Schu’s hitting .200. Next Mike Schmidt my ass. Even Sheetsy’s hitting .210 and Murray’s at .218. And I’M SENT DOWN? For Fruit Loops?

Shit…

One In Every Pack

He’s one of THOSE guys…

You know, the one you seemingly get in every pack, no matter what the brand.

It’s not Bailes, per se, but it’s always someone, every year, that you always seem to get many duplicates of a player that is less than stellar.

We had a pretty darn deep AL Rotiss league (12 teams x 23 players bidding on 14 AL teams) and Bailes was hardly ever drafted, IF ever.

Why?

High ERA

High WHIP

He played for Cleveland – so wins were out the window.

You wonder why he stayed in the bigs, then you realize that he’s a lefty. Still, that doesn’t help YOU, does it.

Bailes was notable in that he was who the Pirates traded when they relieved the Indians of Johnny Disaster er LeMaster.

He also was traded for Jeff Manto from Cleveland to California, and ended a long big league stint in 1992 after giving up a tasty 59 hits and 28 walks in 38 2/3 innings. A 7.45 ERA isn’t going to cut it even IF you have a 3-1 record, son.

He then re-emerged after a long absence to pitch for Texas in 1997 and 1998. Again, he’s a lefty AND YOU GOTTA HAVE  A LEFTY! Or two. Maybe three. At any rate he came up on August 7 and pitched well. In 1998…um…not so much (61 hits in 40 1/3 innings).

Those brief glimmers of hope, and his handed-ness, allowed him to keep coming back. Sort of like the way Tony Fossas and Greg Cadaret never died. Heck, I still think Mike Myers is out there waiting for the phone to ring.

Some guys I get a lot of, and I don’t mind (Geno Petralli comes to mind), and others…well…I attract them for some reason.

Now, whenever I get some junk wax era cards, I guarantee ONE of them will be Scott Bailes.

 

 

Now Here’s A Professional Hitter

The term “professional hitter” is normally reserved for a pinch-hitting specialist, or a contact hitter.

You know the guys: Manny Mota, Jose Morales, Dave Magadan, Steve Braun, the Iorgs, Rance Mulliniks, John VanderWal, et. al.

Seemingly it’s a guy who can come in off of the bench and line a sharp single to right. Of course, that’s just perception, and while that is valuable, since these ‘professional hitters’ don’t have a lot of power or patience for the most part – their value is in their batting average.

It’s funny, because I heard someone refer to Greg Dobbs as a ‘professional hitter’ but not Matt Stairs.

But I present to you a guy who was a consummate professional hitter.

Charles Theodore Davis

2,435 games played – 1,186 in the OF, 1 at 1B, 1 at P (! – June 17, 1993 – 2 scoreless innings with only one blemish – he hit Jose Canseco with a pitch as he mopped up during an Angels 18-2 loss to Texas.

Chili was a decent OF early in his career. He played a lot of CF and RF for the Giants, but seemed to fall off of the defensive cliff at around age 28 or so.

So he became almost a full-time DH starting in 1990.

In fact, after 1990 he played just 10 games in the field and 1,126 as a hitter.

His OPS+ was 127 during his DH days. Not shabby at all.

He hit for power – he didn’t give away at bats. He played every day if asked.

Professional hitter!

I Didn’t Realize Milton Played Baseball??

“And I said, I don’t care if they lay me off either, because I told, I told Bill that if they move my desk one more time, then, then I’m, I’m quitting, I’m going to quit. And, and I told Don too, because they’ve moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were merry, but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn’t bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it’s not okay because if they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire…”