The One Where Your Narrator Reveals Himself To Be A Dolt…

Well, let’s see:

1. I made a horrific error (now fixed) on the previous post.

2. I was commenting on someone’s blog about having “Voodoo Child” by Hendrix as a theme, and at first said “Shouldn’t it be ‘Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)'” but then realized that the 15-minute song is “Voodoo Chile” and the song everyone knows is “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”.

3. I have to do a newsletter for the association I belong to, and I asked for some info that I already had.

So this is how I feel:

So, here’s what you can do for me.

1. Revel in a young, hungry Craig Biggio.

2. Show disdain or contempt for his eye black, since it looks pre-made (stick on) and not honest to goodness eye black.

3. Listen / watch to the following tune. Try to work out the time signatures.

Jeff Pico – 1990 Donruss

January 7, 2011

“Oh, Pico…Piiiico…Piiiiiico…Because Pico”

September 1990
Chicago weather fine
It was business as usual
On the mound – one more time

(Yes, I realize that conflating a martyr to the cause in South Africa with a two-bit reliever for the Cubs is, well, a bit much. But hey…what else do I have to work with?)

You wonder why he moved up as quickly as he did – he wasn’t a bat dodger in the minors. His 2.24 ERA in 1988 was helped by 11 unearned runs in 68 1/3 innings. In 1987, he gave up 192 hits in 172 2/3 innings in AA and AAA.

But he was a Cub for three years. He wasn’t awful. He just wasn’t…anything. But he was a good enough organizational guy that he’s now the minor league pitching coordinator for the Diamondbacks, replacing Charles Nagy, who was promoted to the big league staff, replacing Mel Stottlemyre, Jr. the brother of this guy that I just wrote about.

Funny how it’s all a circle in the end, isn’t it?


A Small Factoid About Stan Belinda…

…will have to suffice. I just got back from Chicago (interesting developments on the work front, fingers crossed) and have to get up early to go across town for a 7AM meeting.

And, I’m out of cards that I have scanned, so I will do that post-haste tomorrow PM.

But here’s the background on the factoid.

I love playing quizzes on Sporcle. There was one user quiz that asked to name every player that played in the majors in each year of the 1990’s (1990-99). The hints were basically a listing of each team the player played for.

Of course, some were easy – others a bit tougher – like Lenny Webster, Pat Borders, and…

Stan Belinda!

That blew me away.

Who knew?



Terry Leach – 1990 Score

December 29, 2010

Sidewinder, Side-armer, Submariner…

It seems that lately there are some pitchers that throw sidearm or submarine and also throw hard.

That wasn’t always the case.

It used be guys like Leach and Todd Frowirth and Mark Eichhorn – guys who threw that way as the last chance to make it. It was one step away from knuckleball-dom.

Leach was an unlikely story to begin with – a non-drafted non-foreign free agent that made it to the bigs and had a sustained career.

What’s even more amazing is that he actually started in the ill-fated Gulf States League, and gave up 43 hits and 12 home runs in 19 innings. Somehow, he got a tryout with the Braves and was signed in 1977. He moved up in the chain, but I guess they weren’t impressed by a 1.95 ERA in AA and AAA because he was released in mid-1980. The Mets immediately signed him and he was in the bigs in 1981. In 1982, he spent more time in New York.

But the Mets didn’t trust him. He didn’t get back to the big club in 1983 and didn’t pitch well in AAA and was traded to the Cubs after the season. The Cubs moved him to the Braves, who released him in May of 1984. But the Mets snagged him right away and sent him back to AAA. At age 30, he was stuck in Tidewater.

He did get back to the bigs in 1985 and 1986, briefly, but somehow stuck it out and made an opening day roster for a first time in 1987 at age 33. His patience was rewarded (and the Mets’ patience as well) by going 11-1 with a 3.22 ERA as a swingman.

Though never a closer, nor a full-time member of the rotation, he was quite a valuable pitcher for the Mets, Royals, Twins and White Sox until 1993.

And if you were one of the few fans in Baton Rouge in 1976, you’d never ever have thought that Leach would have made a Class A team the next season.

Baseball is just one of those games…

Rich Yett – 1990 Score

December 28, 2010

Pitching To Contact…

Oh, my. It’s Rich “NOT” Yett.

One of the poster boys of the Indians of that era.

I have no freakin’ idea why he was in the majors. His stats in the minor weren’t great, and his peripherals were not good.

He was the “player to be named later” in the Bert Blyleven trade – after the Indians got Jay Bell and Curt Wardle.

His ML debut was April 13, 1985.  It’s odd because that’s his only appearance for the year, and he didn’t last long. Two errors kind of screwed him though. But he never appeared in the majors again, then he was in the Blyleven trade.

It wasn’t ALL bad – just nothing that stood out on why he was supposed to be a major league pitcher.

He did have a decent 1988 – 73% quality starts. But his ERA+ that year was 89. So say what you will. If he could have built on that – or if the Indians would have let him build on that, he may have been OK. But he’s just another train wreck of the Indians 80’s staffs.

By 1990, at age 27, he was back in Minnesota’s organization. And, well, he didn’t do well. At Portland he was 4-6, 6.17. He pitched OK for the Twins at the start of the season, but he was sent down – and I guess he didn’t take it well.

And he was done…done in by ground balls and liners that got through – because he didn’t have a strikeout pitch and had to pitch to contact – and the Indians were NOT a team to do that with.


Felix Jose – 1990 Score

December 24, 2010

“Wait, So It’s Not Junior Felix Jose?”

From a set that I named “Slanted, Yet Not Enchanted” at Night Owl’s, I bring you a player that at times confused me. Not only because of his name, and his sobriquet’s closeness to Junior Felix, but as someone who should have been in the league a lot longer than he was.

Or at least I thought so.

At the time, if you recall, Oakland was the Tiffany franchise. They were loaded with good, young players and crafty vets. The only weakness they had was in right field, where Stan Javier just wasn’t up to snuff. So in 1990, Jose looked like an excellent replacement after a couple of solid years at AAA. He seemed to be an all-around player.

With the Hendersons, Canseco, and Jose it looked like the Oakland outfield would be solid for a few more years. Of course, in pennant races, all bets are off, and even though the A’s were pulling away from the rest of the AL West, LaRussa and company pulled the trigger on some late August deals, obtaining Harold Baines from the Rangers for two pitchers who wound up with short careers (Joe Bitker and Scott Chiamparino) and then the big deal was snagging Willie McGee from the Cards for Stan Royer and Jose.

Baines and McGee were headed for free agency after the deal, but still those deals looked like highway robbery for the A’s.

Royer didn’t pan out, but Jose did at first. In his first full year in St. Louis, he hit well, got on base, stole a few bases, and played a competent outfield. He made the All-Star team and was arguably the MVP of the team.

He had another fine year in 1992, and again it seemed he would be part of a young outfield that would last a long time. Gilkey, Lankford and Jose were all 27 or under, and all had multiple skills.

Except the Cards packed him off to Kansas City for Greg Jefferies at the beginning of Spring Training. Jefferies tore up the NL in 1993 (much to the chagrin of Mets fans everywhere) while Jose struggled back in the AL.

And I mean struggled. He lost his discipline and most of his power. He only slugged .349. It was a train wreck of a season.

Jose rebounded in 1994 – he hit .303 with a .362 OBP. His power was back. Then, the strike hit.

And then Jose became the baseball vagabond.

He signed late after the strike was settled, and released a month later. The Cubs signed him, sent him to Iowa and released him soon after.

Two years ago he was the centerpiece of a big trade. Now, he was fighting for his baseball life, and he just turned 30.

Felix just dug in, and played wherever he could. The minors, South Korea, Mexico, winter ball. He did get back to the bigs in 2000 with the Yanks and 2002-03 with Arizona, but most of the time was out of the US (heck, out of the continent) playing outfield.

He still was at it as late as 2009. Playing for Schaumburg in the Northern League he hit .306 with an .833 OPS. Now, it’s just a lower-level independent league, and he was only the DH, but give the guy a break – Jose was 44 years old.

I just finished clearing the ice and snow off of our driveway and sidewalk, and I hurt in about 42,198 places. I just turned 45. Jose could probably go 2-4 with a double today at age 45.

He may be doing that now somewhere!

As I said, this Score series is what I called “Slanted & Not So Enchanted”, so here’s a bunch of Pavement from the album “Slanted & Enchanted”. Now go and slack…

The Safety Droid

When I was a wee pup of a man (old enough to drive, screw, drink and cuss until 6AM, and young enough to think I could do said activities in various combinations and permutations – also known as COLLEGE) I worked at the local radio station a few nights a week.

I was a DJ, I was what I played. And I had believers believing (yes, a fan club of 12-year olds – much to my chagrin) even though we played the safest adult contemporary and some oldies. I did almost every job there – engineer, farm reporter, sports, news reporter – but my two main duties during my time as a part timer were making sure the Sunday Morning religious programs were ready (the God Squad had to be ready to go at 7:00A sharp Sunday morning – they were paying customers!) and also dub over the latest PSAs to use as filler during breaks.

Which we needed – because being a local station that went directional at night there wasn’t much call for ad spots at 10:30 at night.

Now, there are some of my friends (TC and the Jew – yes he went like that – he was 1/2 Jewish in our small town in Indiana and we weren’t exactly all nicey-nice in nicknames to our best buds) that can vouch for me 100% – so I kid you not when one of the PSAs from the Ad Council about 1987 was about safety and it featured the robotic tones of something called Lloyd The Safety Droid! Those two were beside themselves when they first heard this – it was an even more nebbishy C3PO clone nagging kids not to impale themselves running with scissors.

Our station also broadcast the Cincinnati Reds game, and who was a strapping rookie third catcher / corner infielder / corner outfielder / pinch hitter? One Lloyd McClendon.

Now I don’t know when – but at some point during the season a group of us were at my apartment watching a Reds game and up to bat stepped Mr. McClendon.

The first thing I blurted out was “Lloyd The Safety Droid”! TC and the Jew doubled over in laughter that lasted for five minutes. The others in the place wondered what the hell we were on (which was normal).

Thus, a nickname was born. A few others caught the “Safety Droid” fever, and it has stuck for our little group.

In fact, some of us were in Pittsburgh in 2002 for a titanic matchup between the Pirates and Rangers at the then new PNC park. We brought along our baby girl Katie (who didn’t last every long in the crowd, sadly) and had a great time. We stayed in the same hotel as the Rangers – on Sunday my wife said that she was in an elevator with three guys and then another trip with one luggage cart filled with huge bags.

And you know, when they announced the lineups and said, “…then manager of YOUR Pittsburgh Pirates…Lloyd McClendon” – we screamed out “THE SAFETY DROID!”

Looks? Yeah, we got some. But who cares?

Quite The Contraption There, Scott

I have a thing for some backup catchers. They were part of my rotiss / fantasy theory that if you couldn’t get one of the catchers like Piazza, you are best served with backups that can hit a little bit, or at least hit the occasional home run, but don’t get enough at-bats to hurt your average if they slump.

Geno Petralli, Bill Haselman, and Scott Bradley were my main men. It’s nice to see Bradley succeeding as the head coach at Princeton.

I was quite pleased when I recently got this in one of those grab bag assortments at Target. Very nice. It was one of those cards that brought back a flood of memories.


I don’t have many ‘heroes’ and I really don’t think that baseball players would be heroes. Guys like Bradley I admire despite their flaws – probably because of their flaws.

I love music, but there are no musician ‘heroes’ of mine either. They all have flaws. One artist I did respect (well, his musical craft – he was a weird freaky controlling SOB of a person) recently passed away – actually today. Captain Beefheart (real name Don Van Vliet) made confounding, challenging music that started out from the blues and ended up way, way far away from it. However, while musically it’s intense and sometimes makes no sense, it’s powerful stuff.

Beefheart definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but his music was mine. Same with backup catchers like Scott Bradley.


On another note, but just as shocking, scientists altered the Periodic Table of Elements. It seems like the real world doesn’t like to fit inside the straight black and white world we like to put it in. And what we know about the elements, the basic building blocks, may surprise you.

Forget gold, buy some rhodium. It’s $2280 an ounce! (Actually, it’s gone way down from its historic high of $10,000 an ounce. But rhodium isn’t the rarest element around – actually that’s astatine, with less than one ounce on earth. Of course, it’s a byproduct of the decay of other radioactive elements like uranium and thorium and is extremely unstable, and toxic. It moseys on to become polonium about as fast as you can blink, as it sheds alpha particles like dandruff.

You science geeks need to buy this book!




Who Let The Bat Boy On The Field?

Wow, Curt looked a LOT younger then, didn’t he?

You look at his early career, and it really could have turned out quite differently for Mr. Schilling. He was traded three times before really establishing himself, and in 1992 was just another reliever on a bleah Phillies team until May 19. If I recall, Tommy Greene, Ben Rivera and Kyle Abbot were the hot young pitching studs – the up and comers. Schilling had talent but again, this was his fourth organization already. Teams seemed to like him enough to trade for him but not enough to keep him.

By the time May 19th rolled around, the rotation of Terry Mulholland, Greene, Danny Cox, Abbott and Andy Ashby was already in disarray. By early May Cliff Brantley replaced Ashby. Then Greene’s turn was skipped a couple of times and Brad “Season On The” Brink stepped in. Finally, after an Abbott start (he would go 1-14 with a 5.13 ERA in 1992) Schilling got his chance, replacing Cox in the rotation.

Even spending six weeks in the pen, Schilling wound up the season second on the Phillies in starts, with 26. He had 22 quality starts.

He never again left the rotation on any team he pitched, except for injury. Not bad for someone who was the #8 option for the rotation. And just think if the Phils brass thought Ben Rivera was truly ready in mid-May of 1992…would the Phillies have made the WS in 1993? Or what if they had more patience with Brink, Abbott or Brantley? What if Greene didn’t get hurt…again?

Just one small decision like that had a huge impact on a franchise.

Matt Nokes – 1990 Topps

October 18, 2010

“No, This Is Not A Staged Photo! No, Really, It’s Not!!”

Yes, I’m collecting 1990 Topps. I bought a box of wax at a local card shop (my third favorite, only due to the fact it takes a 1/2 hour to get there since it’s in Roseville and I’m in Eden Prairie. Take a gander at the Twin Cities and you’ll see why it’s tough to get there…) along with others from the junk wax era. Of all of the 1990 sets, I like this one the least.

For some reason, the photos reminded me of the early Fleer sets with their lack of resolution and clarity. At a time when Score and Upper Deck were producing nice cards, and Donruss was going red (I like it, OK!) and Fleer was about to go yellow (I really like that – so shaddap) Topps came out with a clinker, quality wise.

In this shot, it seems Topps paid homage to their roots by staging an action shot. It is unique because it’s a catcher’s action shot ‘catching’ a foul pop, instead of a pitcher ‘pitching’. Nice try, but it’s still staged and a bit cheesy.

I’m sure some prefer the 1990 Topps to the other sets, but not me. Of course, I’m the guy that eschews chromes and relics and trades them like candy so I can get more, more, more commons and regular dudes. Like Matt Nokes.

(And I’m a guy who uses the word ‘eschews’ in a baseball card blog. I’m also a guy who really needs an editor. When I write client reports, I pore over them after the first draft. Here, though…I don’t care if I read like a dinglephwatt, I’m here for the moment…man. Though if some publisher wants to give me money, I could use an editor!)

Anyway…Nokes, a regular dude? “Hey, I remember him! He was good!” you say.


He had a great 1987. Of course, 1987 was the year of the ‘helium’ ball where everyone hit dingers. You’ll have real flukes once in a while, like Bert Campaneris’ 1970, but 1987  was definitely a juiced ball year.

Nokes’ season is an exhibit for the prosecution. 32 home runs in 1987. 36 home runs totals in 1988, 1989 and 1990.

He had 24 and 22 home runs in 1991 and 1992, respectively, but he was a decent hitter, for a catcher, with modest power.

The trouble is, he wasn’t much of a catcher. Most of the time, he had negative fielding runs for the year.

He didn’t even get a ‘Yankee bump’ because when he was Yank, they were pretty bleah. He was being phased out by 1993, when Buck Showalter got them over .500 for the first time in a while. Mike Stanley caught the majority of the games.

(Sidenote: Stanley, Nokes and Jim Leyritz as the catchers. You wonder why the Yankees pitchers didn’t revolt!)

So Nokes is remembered for his rookie year, and that’s about it. He did parlay that into a nice career, length wise, but he was one of those flukes that happen all of the time in baseball.

Which is another reason to love the game!