Friday, April 30, 2021

John Kruk: 1991 O-Pee-Chee

Sacre bleu! 1991 OPC, like 1990 before it, is somewhat hard to distinguish the OPC name didn't appear on the front of the card? No, instead you have to look at the copyright line on the card back. Or, possibly, French. Or both.

This was a re-do as I realized I was missing the OPC version of the card. I am sure I had it at one point, but likely got ride of it thinking it was a dupe. Because I'm a dope.

And, finally, the AL West players that I like:  (just wish he was healthy)
Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles Anaheim California: Anthony Rendon
Houston Assholes: I guess Michael Brantley? But, really, no one.
Oakland Athletics: Mike Fiers, I guess, but really no one. 
Seattle Mariners: Kyle Seager, I guess
Texas Rangers: Nate Lowe (we share a birthday)

Ugh, sorry for the above. It's a largely bleh division. 

Thanks for stopping by!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Darryl Strawberry: Class of '88

Spring Training Photograph Alert!  Spring Training Photograph Alert!

Looks like an elementary school field they are on.

I do not have anything more to say.  

So, here are the players I like AL Central:

Chicago White Sox: Lucas Giolito
Cleveland Indians: Terry Francona
Detroit Tigers: Jonathan Schoop
Kansas City Royals: Michael A. Taylor
Minnesota Twins:  No one jumps out. 

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Monday, April 26, 2021

HOF Enos Slaughter

This is the last Topps base card for Enos Slaughter. His picture kind of is like "leave me alone" or "I don't give a bleep." 

Enos is another guy to be elected by the Veterans Committee. This happened in 1985, about 26 years after he stopped playing. Topps had to SQUEEZE his career on the back of the 1959 card and combined his military service years in one line, providing a range of dates rather than listing them each row by row. 

Slaughter was a 10-time All-Star and was on 4 World Series winning teams (twice, each, with St. Louis and New York. He had a fifth appearance but it was a Loss). He played most of his career with St. Louis (13 years) and New York (six years), but had stops in Kansas City and Milwaukee, too, in-between stints in the Big Apple.  He earned MVP votes in 8 of his 19 seasons, finishing second in 1942, and third twice in 1946 and 1949. Not bad. Like John Kruk he was a career .300 hitter.

Players I like AL East:

AL East: 
Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini
Boston Red Sox: Absolutely no one. So, I'll say listen to 98.5 The Sports Hub
New York Yankees: DJ LeMahieu
Tampa Bay Rays: Austin Meadows?
Toronto Blue Jays: It's an uninspiring team for me. I guess Joe Panik?

 Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 23, 2021

John Kruk: 1991 Medford

If you are like me, you had no clue what Medford was. A town in Massachusetts, sure! But in 1991, John Kruk got a Medford card. But, this is most certainly not related to a town outside of Boston.

According to the card back, Medford was the maker of quality foods since 1864. Seems to have been a DE, PA, NJ regional thing. Not sure if they are still in business in part because as I am a vegetarian I pay ZERO attention to anything meat related. 

Love the full career stats on the back and the acquisition information, too.  Card front is pretty simple. Nice, readable name plate in the bottom right and a full color action shot of Kruk showing off his agility. A solid card, don't'cha think?

Players I most like, National League Central:

Chicago Cubs: Anthony Rizzo
Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto
Milwaukee Brewers: Daniel Vogelbach
Pittsburgh Pirates: Gregory Polanco
St. Louis Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Darryl Strawberry: 1987 Press Box

Two cards I needed for my Darryl Strawberry collection were printed by The Press Box. It's a Broder-type card. Simple photograph on the front and minimal information on the back.

There are two other cards they put out in 1987 but I do not have them yet. I'd like them.They are part of my chase for 1,000 unique Strawberry cards! 

Pretty sure these are spring training games? In the bottom photo, it kind of looks like the Reds? The Mets and Reds did play four times that spring, so it's possible? 

Do you have any cards from The Press Box in your collection?

Players I most like, National League East:

Atlanta Braves: Frederick Freeman
Miami Marlins: Brian Anderson
New York Mets: I cannot find anyone I like
Philadelphia Phillies: Andrew McCutchen
Washington Nations: Max Scherzer

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Monday, April 19, 2021

HOF Larry Doby

In 1998, the Veterans Committee elected Larry Doby into the Hall of Fame. Doby had a 14 year career in which he played for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, and Detroit Tigers. He broke into the Major Leagues in 1947, the same year as Jackie Robinson. He was the second black player to play in the Major Leagues and the first to do so in the American League. 

Doby was a seven time All-Star and was on the 1948 World Series winning team which saw his Indians beat the Boston Braves. 

His final Topps card: 

Larry Doby earned MVP votes in three seasons, finishing second behind Yogi Berra in 1954. 

New Series! Players I like on each squad. This might be harder than that the players I dislike! We'll do it in reverse order to my most disliked players! So, here is the NL West...

Arizona Diamondbacks: Kole Calhoun
Colorado Rockies: Ryan McMahon
San Diego Padres: Joe Musgrove 
San Francisco Giants: Buster Posey
Los Angeles Dodgers: AJ Pollock 

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 16, 2021

John Kruk: 1990 Topps Tiffany

Does being in the 90th percentile of Hard-Hit rate and Sprint Speed get you aroused? If so, please leave this blog right now.

I discovered sometime recently that I had NO Topps cards for John Kruk, not a base and not a Tiffany. Rather, I had TWO O-Pee-Chee's!  So I went out and got the super bright happy Tiffany version and the more sedate, dulled base version. 

This captures Kruk in his number 11 jersey for the Phillies in 1989. He'd switch in 1990 a few times to number 19 and then again to number 28, ultimately settling on 29 in 1991.

So a nice card, overall (specifically, the Tiffany). 1990 isn't my favorite set in the world, but I think it's fine. It's just fine. I'm fine. Are you fine? 

Final installment of Players I most dislike: National League West:

Arizona Diamondbacks: Madison Bumgarner
Colorado Rockies: Daniel Bard
San Diego Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr
San Francisco Giants: Gabe Kapler
Los Angeles Dodgers: It's practically the whole team. Largely unlikable group of guys. But runner-up is that dink Trevor Bauer. Cody Bellinger wins. 

And, wherever he is, Yasiel Puig has to be mentioned. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Darryl Strawberry: 2021 Topps Living

 Today I'll share my first 2021 card: Darryl Strawberry's Topps Living Set card. I hemmed and hawed about this after P-Town Tom DM'd me about it on Twitter. I've hated the set since it was announced & begun, but I knew even back then that once they did a Strawberry that I'd probably buy it. Fortunately, this card is relatively harmless in it's representation of the player. And I particularly love that they seem to have used a non-Topps image of Strawberry for it. Like they couldn't pool from an image they had the rights too?

The image of Strawberry may be sourced to several cards. Most notably the 1990 Wonder Bread and 1990 Post (see this, er, post). But I feel like this image shows a much younger Strawberry than he was in 1990. Possibly many years earlier as a similar outfit, complete with white undershirt, appeared on his 1984 Donruss baseball card. Or from his 1985 Topps First Round Draft picks era.  You get the point. 

The card back is problematic, namely for the Dugout Quiz. Why would Topps include a quiz on the back of a black player whose answer is Kenesaw Mountain Landis less than six months after Landis' name was removed from the MVP award?  Topps just cannot keep out of their own way and I'm willing to bet there are at least twenty million other baseball related quizzes they might have done instead. 

Players I most dislike, National League Central:

Chicago Cubs: Craig Kimbrel
Cincinnati Reds: Nick Castellanos 
Milwaukee Brewers: Jackie Bradley Jr.
Pittsburgh Pirates: N/A
St. Louis Cardinals: Yadier Molina

I feel a failure about the Pirates but I'm just so completely unmoved by their lineup. Plus, they have a beautiful ballpark.

Monday, April 12, 2021

HOF Pee Wee Reese

Today's Final Topps card for a Hall of Famer is Pee Wee Reese! Reese retired after the 1958 season but wasn't enshrined in the Hall until the Veteran's Committee voted him in in 1984.  Like many, Reese missed time in the early-to-mid 1940s due to the War. Not WAR, but the War. 

With the exception of his final year in Los Angeles, Reese played his entire career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was a 10-time All-Star and was on the 1955 World Series winning team. His 1953 Bowman card is amongst the best cards ever made. It should be a required card in every collector's collection, along with the 1957 Ted Kluszewski.

I'm not totally in love with his career stats, to be honest. Offensively speaking. I looked at his fielding and he wasn't really that impressive either. Created a lot of errors. Compared to Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, he made more than 100 more errors in three fewer seasons. And looking at his "Similarity Scores" on Baseball Reference, he's average. There's only one other Hall of Famer in the top 10 similar players: Alan Trammell, and he's a questionable Hall of Famer, himself.  So...

This week we'll focus on the National players I dislike the most: National League East:

Atlanta Braves: Dansby Swanson
Miami Marlins: Jesús Aguilar
New York Mets: Michael Conforto
Philadelphia Phillies: Jean Segura
Washington Nations: Erick Fedde

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 9, 2021

John Kruk: 1994 Fleer Extra Bases

Hello! Happy Friday. This is the 1994 Fleer Extra Bases card for John Kruk. A nice mix of home and away photographs here, both showing Kruk at the plate. 

I had never heard of this set before. It's a 400 card set of oversized cards: 2 1/2" x 4 11/16".

The patch on Kruk's sleeve is the 125th Anniversary patch for MLB, which was issued for the 1994 season. Which means these images were likely taken early in the season. Extra Bases was issued in August 1994. There were articles that ran on the set that were published in the Daily News and the Baltimore Sun, to name two newspapers. The Sun even had a Card of the Week feature!

Tell me, do you have any of these cards in your set?

Least Favorite Player: AL West
Houston Astros: Alex Bregman
Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim: Jose Iglesias
Oakland A's: Elvis Andrus
Seattle Mariners: Brock Holt
Texas Rangers: It was Rougned Odor when I drafted this post, but the Rangers got sense and pawned him off on the Yankees, who will DFA him by the All-Star break, so I'll go with the poor-man's Dansby Swanson: Charlie Culberson. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Darryl Strawberry: 1998 Pacific Online

When I first heard of 1998's Pacific Online card, I thought it was one of those hideously stupid digital cards, like Bunt. But, I was wrong because it's a physical card and I was taken back to 1998 myself when I thought Netscape and Yahoo were the most amazing search engines. I guess there was no place to go but up.

This is Darryl Strawberry's card for that set. 

I love the url listed on the card but it's not secure. Sheesh. And the url isn't even valid any longer. Using the Internet Archive's Way Back machine, I visited the site. There were three captures in the year 2000, but none of them was very revealing. There were 17 captures for the base website But, again, nothing was really loading so it was really disappointing.  Maybe I wasn't doing something right? 

Least Favorite Players AL Central:

Chicago White Sox: Adam Easton
Cleveland Indians: Cesar Hernandez
Detroit Tigers: Nomar Mazara
Kansas City Royals: Andrew Benintendi
Minnesota Twins: Josh Donaldson

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 5, 2021

HOF Bob Lemon

Bob, short for Bobert, Lemon was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame on his twelfth ballot in 1976. He retired after 13 seasons, all with the Cleveland Indians. He hung up his cleats in 1958 and this is his 1958 Topps card. Lemon was a seven time all-star, earning the honor in seven consecutive seasons from 1948 to 1954. And he was a member of the 1948 winning World Series team, the last time the Indians can say they did that. 

Lemon might have had a longer career but Baseball Reference has "Did not play" for 1943 to 1945 due to military service. It's the first time I can recall seeing a player with that to start his career, though I'm sure there are many others. 

He lead the league in several categories in his prime but not in really meaningful, dominating stats. For example, he gave up the most hits three times.  And those against the Pitcher Win will scoff that he lead the league three times in that stat, too. (But I think Wins matter.)

Another guy that I feel like...was he an all-timer? I'm not so sure. What do you think?

Over the next six blog posts, I'm going to go through each division and list my least favorite player on each team. Should you feel so inspired, please list yours! These are players at the Major League Level; suspended players are included. Some of the teams were really hard as they are relatively harmless/innocuous, so sometimes I just picked someone at random.

AL East: 
Baltimore Orioles: Matt Harvey
Boston Red Sox: JD Martinez; David Ortiz has emeritus status.
New York Yankees: Aroldis Chapman 
Tampa Bay Rays: Willy Adames
Toronto Blue Jays: Steven Matz

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Cards passing in the night

Night Owl and I unknowingly traded RAKvPWE (Random Acts of Kindness via Plain White Envelopes). The cards were passing, like ships, in the night. A Kershaw and a Kruk. The Kershaw I sent was a penultimate card before a milestone: his 799th unique Kershaw. Nice timing by me! Go me! The Kruk I got in return was my 311th unique one. 

So now it's my turn to show off a card I did not know existed. It's a blue border parallel to the 2016 Topps Archives set. This is SN 177/199. And it's really nice. And another nice thing about this is that I got to add the image for this card to the Trading Card Database. Always kind of a thrill to do that. 

SN'd cards are fine and fun but often I find them infuriating. I think I prefer them on the back of the card rather than the front, but is it too much of an ask to desire the numbers to be on a completely solid space? None of this merging into/onto/over lines & other design elements. Is that unreasonable? Do you care where the SN appears and what it may or may not be covering up?

I'm terrifically grateful for this card and now that I know there is at least a Blue border variation, do I go out and find the others (Black, Red).

Thanks Greg!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

My First Tattoo

For the longest time, I've told myself if I was ever going to get a tattoo it was going to be of a map of the London Underground on my back (it's the biggest, most blessedly hairless part of my body and that map is big and convoluted). I love London. I love the Underground. And I really love maps. Heck, I put on Waze on my drive almost every day even though I know largely where I am and where I am going. The other thing I'd get a tattoo of, possibly, is of the MLB logo because I love that too. Like, a lot. I wish, in fact, if you'll allow for a tangent, the first perhaps of many, that MLB sold more merchandise with just its logo. I bought a shirt a few years back that's just the log and I love it more than just about anything. 

Anyway. I'm a big fan of Emily Dickinson's line of poetry "All but Death, can be Adjusted —" (Poem 749). Because really that's as true today as it was the 1800s when she wrote that line in her poem, which is here in full:

"All but Death, can be Adjusted — 
Dynasties repaired — 
Systems — settled in their Sockets — 
Citadels — dissolved — 

Wastes of Lives — resown with Colors 
By Succeeding Springs — 
Death — unto itself — Exception — 
Is exempt from Change —"

Love out of copyright/public domain stuff!

Baseball stats can be adjusted. Especially in this age of analytics, where people can literally make up a stat and nerds run with it. And ruin it. And because they can be invented, often using adjustments which seem, only, to all of a sudden make a suck-bag player be, seemingly, befitting of enshrinement of the Hall of Fame. And social media peer pressure get's 'em in! (I'm talking about you Tim Raines and Larry Walker!) (Not that either was a suck-bag player. But be honest, peer pressure got them both in.) But this post isn't about that. No. It's about a tattoo. My---gulp---first. And it's actually in honor of Darryl Strawberry who was my favorite player growing up!!

The first pitcher the rookie Darryl Strawberry faced was 1983 All-Star Mario Soto of the Cincinnati Reds . It took place on May 6, 1983. The 13-inning game featured a 9-inning performance by Soto! Which is just one of the 18 he had that year, which lead the league. 

Overall, Strawberry went 0-4 with three strikeouts, two walks, a stolen base, and a run scored. Though not all against Soto. In the bottom of the 13th, Strawberry walked, stole second, and then scored the wining run on a walk off homer by George Foster. Hot damn! Welcome to the Bigs! Darryl would go on to score 897 more runs. He got 1000 career RBI. I wonder how many players scored more runs than that with 1000 RBI? 

Soto was selected as the starting pitcher of the All-Star game that summer of 1983 for the NL in Chicago, at Comiskey.  He was the losing pitcher, going 2 innings, giving up 2 hits, two runs, two walks, and got two strikeouts. Yet his ERA for the game was 0.00 because the defense behind him stunk. (There's an advanced stat for that!) Atlee Hammaker, who came in after, had an ERA of 94.50. Ouch. 

Anyway, in early March I was on antibiotics for an infection, got my second, doozy of a COVID vaccine shot, and, whoops! drank a bit too much wine one night. I ended up at a tattoo parlor! (My wife wanted to see if I had the guts, so she went along with it.) As I had had been reading Hard Learnin', a 1990 book authored by Darryl Strawberry, in which he writes about his first at bats in The Show against Soto, and how he took him deep a year later for some revenge, I decided that I needed to commemorate Strawberry by getting a Soto tattoo! Shut up, it's logical if you're drunk and in pain. 

In the parlor I Googled Mario Soto baseball cards and, being partial to the Topps Glossy All-Star cards, decided on the spur of the moment to go for this one: the 1984 Glossy All-Stars card #21, commemorating the 1983 All-Stars.

Do I have a bit of remorse? Of course! But you have to admit that the tattooist did an amazing job! Don't you think? This is on my upper arm, in the region of my, I have to admit, bodacious biceps.

And if I ever really, really, really regret it, well... a tattoo isn't death! It's more like a baseball stat: it can be adjusted. 

Thanks for stopping by!