Sunday, September 30, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 8:40 PM | Permalink
Craig Biggio
Craig Biggio, 2007 Topps


Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Debut: 6/26/88
Final Game: 9/30/07

Career Line: .281/.363/.433


Craig Biggio played his final Major League game tonight. He went 1 for 4 and scored a run in the Astro's 3-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. His final hit was a double, the 668th of his career, and his 3,060th hit. He played 20 seasons in the Big Leagues, all with Houston. He was a quiet star, the kind that sportswriters love to write about--they use words like grit and hustle, and "playing the game the right way". And while I guess all those things are true, in the end, Biggio was simply a great ballplayer. He could hit, he could play anywhere in the field, and he excelled at a very difficult game, for a very long time.

Biggio is the type of guy that I will not be surprised to see in a Major League uniform sometime in the near future. Maybe as a hitting instructor or base coach. I think he is just too good of a baseball player for a team not to have around, helping young talent to develop.
 
Friday, September 28, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 9:15 PM | Permalink
Clinchers
The Red Sox clinched the AL East tonight, and the Cubs clinched the NL Central. Red Sox VS. Cubs World Series? It could happen.

The Cubs were helped out tonight by former starter Greg Maddux. The future Hall of Famer pitched 5 solid innings for the Padres, as San Diego knocked Milwaukee out of the NL Central race. The Orioles helped the Sox, beating the Yankees in extra innings, as Mariano Rivera blew another save. A sign of things to come? Perhaps.

What a great week of baseball this has been. And with the NL East and West division races coming down the wire, it is only going to get better.

Greg Maddux, 1991 Donruss


Carlton Fisk, 2005 Fleer Showcase
 
Thursday, September 27, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 1:06 PM | Permalink
Dante Bichette

Dante Bichette, 1989 Topps


Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Debut: 9/5/88
Final Game: 10/6/01

Career Line: .299/.336/.499

Dante Bichette was a 4-time All-Star. His best season was in 1995 with the Colorado Rockies. He smacked 40 HRs, slugged .620, and had an OPS+ of 130. He finished second in the MVP vote to Barry Larkin, whose numbers that year, were frankly, quite inferior to Bichette's.

In his 14 year career he played in one playoff series, the 1995 NLDS against the Atlanta Braves. He had a great series, going 10 for 17 with 1 HR, 3 2B's and an amazing line of .588/.611/.941. That's an OPS of 1.552! Despite his stellar series, the Rockies lost to the Braves, who went on to win the World Series.

That 1995 season was the best in Colorado history, until this year. As of today the Rockies are in the hunt for a Wild Card spot, which would be the team's first post-season appearance since Dante Bichette led them to the promised land in '95.
 
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 3:56 PM | Permalink
Julio Franco
Julio Franco, 1990 Topps (All Star)


Bats: Right
Throws: RIght
Debut: 4/23/82
Final Game: N/A

Career Line: .298/.365/.417

Julio Franco was sent down to the minors by the Braves this year after they traded for Mark Teixeira. Many people thought that was the end of his long career, but he was called back to the Show on September 1st to help Atlanta make a push for the post-season. He is 49 years old. I was 4 years old when Franco made his MLB debut.

In 2004, at age 45, he posted a line of .309/.378/.441 in 320 ABs. In 23 years of Major League Baseball, Julio Franco has never played in a World Series. He was the MVP of the 1990 All-Star Game, his 2-run double off Rob Dibble provided the only runs of the entire game.

If Julio can make an MLB roster for 2008, he will be just the fifth player in MLB history to play at the age of 50 or older, and the first since Satchel Paige played at the age of 59 in 1965.
 
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 7:03 PM | Permalink
Robin Yount
Robin Yount, 1990 Post


Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Debut: 4/5/74
Final Game: 10/3/93

Career Line: .285/.342/.430

I used to pull these cards out of cereal boxes. I have a handful of them, and I love the generic airbrushed uniforms. Robin Yount of course had a fantastic career. He is part of the Hall of Fame class of 1999. He played all 20 of his Big League seasons with the Brewers. In his only World Series appearance, in 1982 (the year he won the AL MVP) he posted a line of .414/.452/.621, going 12 for 29 with 1 HR, 3 2B, and 6 RBI. Milwaukee lost the series in 7 games to the St. Louis Cardinals.
 
posted by Grizzly Adam at 9:24 AM | Permalink
Guillen or Betancourt?
Jose Guillen/Yuniesky Betancourt, 2007 Topps


I noticed this little snafu while going through the Topps 2007 base set. I wonder if the Updates and Highlights set will fix it?
 
Sunday, September 23, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 4:20 PM | Permalink
Vance Law, Tony Pena, Pascual Perez
Pirates Future Stars, 1981 Topps


One of my favorite kind of cards are the "top prospect" sort. I especially like older ones, becuase I can look at them with the benefit of hindsight. I came across this card recently, and decided to take a look at what kind of career the 3 players had.

But first, a little background. I bought this card at a shop in Maryland when I was 11 years old. I was visiting my cousins, and my uncle who is a baseball fan, was eager to take me to a good shop near his home (I also attended my first MLB game on that trip, Orioles/Brewers) . I still have the cards I bought that day, a few of which feature either Vance or Vernon Law. The reason is that Vance Law was a local, and in fact I grew up playing ball with his nephew. We played together from Little League on up through High School. And every now and again I'd be lucky enough to be at his place when Vernon, his grandpa, or Vance was also at the house. The result is that I have several Vance and Vernon Law autographed cards, including a Father/Son card that they both signed.

I am getting a bit off topic. But I find it interesting that baseball cards can spark all kinds of memories from my childhood.

On to the the rest of the post...

Vance Law

Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Debut: 6/1/80
Final Game: 10/6/91

Career Line: .256/.326/.376

While Vance never turned out to be a star for the Pirates, he did go on to have a respectable MLB career. He was a reliable infielder, playing most of his career at third base, however he also played several games at shortstop and second. He finished his career with a .971 fielding average over 11 seasons. 1988 was his best overall season, posting a line of .293/.358/.412. Interestingly, that year he also had a career high in AB's, PA's, Games, and Hits. He made the '88 All-Star team, but only played half an inning. He never did get to bat. I distinctly remember being disappointed that Vance did not a get a chance to swing the bat that day. Today, Vance is the head baseball coach at BYU.

Tony Pena

Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Debut: 9/1/80
Final Game: 9/28/97

Career Line: .260/.309/.364

A 5 time All-Star, and 5 time Gold Glove winner, Tony Pena was one of the better catchers in the mid to late '80s. My memories of him are with the Cardinals, him literally sitting in the dirt when no men were on base. He played 18 seasons in the Majors. After his playing days, Tony managed the Kansas City Royals from 2002-2005. He was the 2003 AL Manager of the year.

Pascual Perez

Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Debut: 5/7/80
Final Game: 10/2/91

Career Line: 67-68, 3.44

I don't remember having ever seen Perez pitch. And to my knowledge, the above pictured card is the only one I have of him. However he did play 11 season in the Major Leagues. By the numbers he was a decent pitcher. He played for terrible Atlanta and Montreal teams in the '80s. But he struck out 822 batters, waling 344 over the course of his career. His best season was 1983 when he won 15 games. that year he was voted to the All-Star team. He had a career high 215.3 IP that year, posting a WHIP of 1.226.


A few things that stand out about these 3 players...

-Although they are featured as "Pirates Future Stars" on this card, none of them had significant season with the Bucs.
-All three of them played in at least 1 All-Star Game.
-Each of them played at least 10 seasons in the Majors.
 
posted by Grizzly Adam at 10:05 AM | Permalink
Mickey Hatcher
Mickey Hatcher, 1988 Topps


Bats: RIght
Throws: Right
Debut: 8/3/79
Final Game: 10/3/90

Career Line: .280 /.313/.377

I have basically one memory of Mickey Hatcher. He hit a home run in the 1988 World Series, and he literally sprinted around the bases. I think about that home run sprint whenever the '88 sereis is brought up. For me, it was nearly as memorable as Gibson's amazing HR to win game 1. In that series against the A's, Hatcher hit 2 home runs. In the entire 1988 regular season, he hit a total of 1.
 
Friday, September 21, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 8:04 PM | Permalink
Cory Snyder
Cory Snyder, 1986 Donruss


Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Debut: 6/13/86
Final Game: 8/10/94

Career Line: .247/.291/.425

Cory Snyder is still a whispered name around here. He was a legend at BYU, and so, being in Cougar country, he is still remembered for the towering home runs he used to blast into the thin air of the Rocky Mountains. His Major League career started well enough, finishing 4th in the RoY voting, hitting 24 home runs in just 103 games. He hit a career high 33 home runs in 1987, but after that year, his numbers slowly deteriorated. His great weakness as a hitter was his high strike out rate (once every 3.7 AB) and an inability to draw a walk. He walked once for every 17.4 plate appearances.
 
posted by Grizzly Adam at 12:34 PM | Permalink
Bob Walk, Ted power
Ted Power, 1988 Topps


Ted Power is a good name for a pitcher.

Bob Walk, 1988 Topps


Bob Walk is not a good name for a pitcher.

Ironically though, Bob Walk was a slightly better pitcher than Ted Power.
 
posted by Grizzly Adam at 9:26 AM | Permalink
Harold Reynolds
Harold Reynolds, 1988 Topps


Bats: Switch
Throws: Right
Debut: 9/2/83
Final Game: 8/7/94

Career Line: .258/.327/.341

The number 2 overall pick in the 1980 Amateur draft, Harold Reynolds was the definition of a mediocre singles hitter. In his 12 year career he totaled 1,233 hits. 929 of those hits were singles. In 1989 he had a career high of 184 hits. 151 of those hits were singles. He was known for his defense, much more so than for his bat. He won 3 Gold Glove awards, and ended his career with a fielding percentage of .979 while playing second base.

After a long career with ESPN as a broadcaster and analyst, HR now writes a column for MLB.com.
 
Thursday, September 20, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 3:11 PM | Permalink
2007 Kansas City Royals
The Royals have not been a good baseball team in a long, long time. Since 1995, they have one winning season, their 83-79 campaign led by Tony Pena in 2003. This year they once again have been the bottom feeder, sitting at 65-86 with just 11 games to play.

Recently I was going through my 2007 Topps base card set. A team photo of every Major League team is featured in the set, along with a manager card. Every team, that is, except the Kansas City Royals. And it isn't that the team portrait is missing. No, the card is there, but nobody is pictured.

Is this an underhanded way of Topps poking fun at the Royals, letting card collectors everywhere know that "the Royals have nobody"? Probably not, but if it is, it's hilarious.

I found this on ESPN's page 2, when Jim Caple asked the Topps people about the missing portrait:

"Every year Topps prints a team photo card for every club. Been doing it for decades. But this year, the Royals' team card is just a photo of the stadium in Kansas City. It seems that for some reason, a Topps photographer didn't shoot the team on photo day during spring training. So a Topps rep called the Royals to see if they could use their team photo instead. The only problem was, he says, Kansas City told him it didn't bother to take a team photo, either."

So it appears that not even the Royals themselves want to document the poor team they field everyday.

 
posted by Grizzly Adam at 9:24 AM | Permalink
Dave Stieb
Dave Stieb, 1990 Bowman


Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Debut: 6/29/79
Final Game: 9/25/98

Career Line: 176-137, 3.44

When I was a kid, the first Little League team I was on was the Blue Jays. So naturally I rooted for my Major League counterparts. Names like Garth Iorg, Tom Henke, Tony Hernandez, Rance Mulliniks, Lloyd Moseby, and of course, the great George Bell, still roam halls in the back of my mind. But before these names became so familiar to me, there was another one that captured my attention...

That first year of Little League was also the year I got my first "real" baseball glove. And there on the palm was the replicated signature of someone I had never heard of: Dave Stieb. Upon further investigation, I learned that he was a starting pitcher for the Blue Jays. "My glove is signed by a Blue Jay. I am on the Blue Jays!" Naturally Dave Stieb became my favorite player. It mattered little that I knew nothing about him. And in fact, I never really bothered to follow his career. At 9 years old it was enough that he wore the same hat I did, and that his name was etched into my glove.

Dave Stieb was a 7-time All-Star. 3 times he won 17 games, and once in 1990, his last significant season in the Bigs, he won 18. That season he struck out 125 batters, walking only 64, posting a WHIP of 1.16. It was in 1990 that he finally got a no-hit bid to stick, after losing 3 previous attempts with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the 9th. Including in consecutive starts in 1988.

He No-hit the Cleveland Indians September 2nd 1990.

5 years after being released by two teams over the course of the 1993 season, he signed as a Free Agent with the Toronto Blue Jays at age 40. He pitched 50.3 innings that year, striking out 27, and walking 17.
 
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
posted by Grizzly Adam at 6:51 PM | Permalink
Scott Fletcher
Scott Fletcher, 1982 Donruss


Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Debut: 4/25/81
Final Game: 9/29/95

Career Line: .262/.332/.342/.674

Scott Fletcher was the 6th overall pick in the 1979 Amateur draft. He played 2 seasons with the Cubs, and then moved South and played for the Sox over the next 3 seasons. In all he played 15 seasons in the Bigs. His best year was with the Texas Rangers in 1986 when he hit an even .300, had an OBP of .360 and posted an OPS+ of 105. He finished 1986 17th in the MVP voting. It was the only season he hit .300 or better.

The back of the card pictured states that the "...Cubs like his speed and his batting eye..." He stole 99 bases over his 15 year career, and was caught stealing 58 times. He was a good contact hitter, striking out just 541 times in 5,258 career at bats, once every 9.7 at bats. He drew 514 walks in 5,976 plate appearances.

Scott Fletcher is a great example of an average Major League Baseball player. He never stunk, nor stood out very much, but still managed a long career in the Big Leagues. He played in 1,612 games, and got 1,376 career hits. 34 of which were Home Runs.
 
posted by Grizzly Adam at 12:04 PM | Permalink
Bo Jackson
Bo Jackson, Topps 1987


In 1986, in just 25 Major League games, Bo Jackson had 4 game winning RBI's. He of course went on to become quite possibly the greatest two-sport athlete in history. He is remembered for two iconic accomplishments:

In the 1989 All Star Game, leading off the bottom of the 1st inning he launched a 480 ft home run off Rick Reuschel that bounced off the hitter's eye in center field. It set the tone for the rest of the game, as he played the thorn in the side of the National League, leading the AL to a 5-3 victory. It was the first time since '57-'58 that the AL won consecutive All Star games.

The other iconic moment in Bo Jackson's career came in his other sport, football. On November 30, 1987 Bo ran for 221 yards and 3 touchdowns. En route to that amazing performance, he barreled over Brian Bosworth, who was considered a premier defensive player at the time. It was probably the most embarrassing moment in the lackluster career of the eccentric Boz.

During his heyday I had Bo Jackson posters all over my wall. My favorite was this one, reflecting his dominance in both football and baseball.