Saturday, February 2, 2008

#102 Barry Larkin

Why this card is awesome: Because Larkin is another Red with the Cincinnati trifecta: born in, lived in, and played in. That must have been great.

Cool stat: Larkin is one of just 7 players since 1901 to have 900 R, 900 RBI, and 300 SB for one team. He hit the most homers of his career off Jim Deshaies. He had 21 4-hit games, including one 5-hit game. Larkin also had one career 3-HR game. Guess who he hit those 3 homers off of? That's right! Jim Deshaies.

#101 Allan Anderson

Why this card is awesome: Because of the mention of baseball lifer Floyd Baker.

Cool stat: Anderson was simply awesome in 1988. He had just one of 12 seasons in the 1980s with 200 IP and an ERA+ of at least 160. Any list a player can make along with Bret Saberhagen, Jimmy Key, Mike Scott, Roger Clemens, Dave Stieb, John Tudor, Dwight Gooden, Orel Hershiser, Steve Carlton, and Don Sutton can't be bad!

1988 O-Pee-Chee #88 Delino DeShields

Why this card is awesome: Because if you thought Minchey's hat looked goofy, you didn't know that this was coming. I figure inside that hat, Delino has his wallet, a brown-bag lunch, and either car keys or a bus pass. I also find it a bit odd that they put half a space between the "De" and "Sheilds" in his last name. It's all one name, just with the "S" capitalized. It's no different from McDonald.

Cool stat: DeShields has always reminded me of a poor man's Roberto Alomar. Just like Alomar, DeShields had several 3-5 year stints with a number of teams. But Delino did not hit like Robbie. He hit very well against some very good pitchers, including Sid Fernandez and Bret Saberhagen, but he was thoroughly owned by a lot more, including Tom Browning, Fernando Valenzuela, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Mike Hampton, and many more.

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Friday, February 1, 2008

1988 O-Pee-Chee #6 Nathan Minchey

This is one of four cards in the 1988 O-Pee-Chee set that isn't in the regular Topps set.

Why this card is awesome: Because he's wearing what looks like a cheapie adjustable cap, like any 18-year-old kid should be. But wait until you see the next card.

Cool stat: Minchey, like all the other three draft picks in the 88 OPC set, made it to the big leagues. He was sent by the Expos to the Braves as part of the Zane Smith trade, and then sent by the Braves to the Red Sox as part of the Jeff Reardon trade. His first career major-league game was his best, a complete-game effort allowing just 1 ER with no walks and 5 K's.

1988 O-Pee-Chee diversion

Hey, let's take a look at the 1988 O-Pee-Chee set. For those who don't know, O-Pee-Chee was a Canadian company that produced baseball and hockey cards, candy, and other things. For their baseball cards, they had a licensing arrangement with Topps, and the cards were usually very similar.

So there's the O-Pee-Chee Chili Davis card on the left and the Topps Chili Davis card on the right. (I made that scan on the bottom [or right] a while ago when I was making crappy quality scans...the picture quality on the two cards is actually the same.)

So, notice a couple of the differences. First, there's the O-Pee-Chee logo instead of the Topps logo. And, as Davis changed teams in the off-season and O-Pee-Chee printed its cards later than Topps, they added a note saying that he was traded.

The back is even more different, including almost everything in both English and French.

This card back has all the same info as the Topps card, but it's written in a smaller font so that both language versions fit on there.

Here are the other differences between the 1988 Topps set and the 1988 O-Pee-Chee set:
  • The O-Pee-Chee (OPC) set has just 396 cards as compared to 792 cards for the Topps set.
  • OPC has no Record Breakers
  • OPC has no All-Star cards
  • OPC has no Team Leader cards
  • OPC has fewer checklists since it has fewer cards
  • OPC has manager cards for just the Expos and the Blue Jays. These cards (for Bob Rodgers and Jimy Williams) are pretty similar to the Topps versions, including team rosters on the back.
  • OPC doesn't have cards for many lesser players. If you look at the checklist below, you can see that most of the players are better known players who got more playing time.
  • OPC does have four cards that the Topps set doesn't have: the top two draft choices for the two Canadian teams. I'm going to feature each of these four cards on their own pages because they are pretty interesting.
So here's an example checklist from the 88 OPC set:

Anyway, there you have it. 1988 O-Pee-Chee.

Stay tuned for two things:
  • I'll be posting the four top draft-choice cards
  • And of course, I'm giving away this entire set. Keep your eyes out. This time, everybody's going to get a chance to get their hands on some of these cards.

88 Topps Cards Giveaway #4: JACKPOT!

Here's giveaway #4, entitled Jackpot! in honor of card #100, Jack Clark.

This is a simple giveaway. I want to finish it quickly so we can move onto the next one, which is a lot more interesting.

The prize this time around: Cards 51 through 100 of the 1988 Topps set.
Click back through the last 50 posts to refresh yourself. Some of the highlight cards are Rickey Henderson, Ken Caminiti, Roger Clemens, Joe Carter, and Dale Murphy.

To enter, all you need to do is the following:
  1. Go to Jack Clark's page. Pick out any number appearing anywhere on that page.
  2. Add a comment on this post indicating your guess.
  3. While we're at it, why don't you also tell me your favorite team? For some of you, I know already (Steve comes to mind, heh.) I like to throw in a few extra cards when I send them out, so I'll try to pick ones from your favorite team.
  4. Post your comment by Monday, Feb 4, at 5 PM eastern.
  5. I am picking a number from Jack Clark's page, and the closest person to my guess wins. Averages count as decimals. For example, a .300 batting average is 0.3, not 300.
  6. If you win, I'll mail you the cards at no cost to you (not even a SASE!)
For those of you who haven't participated in a giveaway here yet, here's how it works:
  1. One entry per person. If you make more than one guess, I will count only your first one.
  2. This is basically a random drawing. You have no way of knowing what number I've selected, and so this contest can't really be tested for fairness. It's my blog, so just deal with it.
  3. My decisions on this contest are final.
  4. The contest closes Monday 2/4 at 5 PM eastern time. Comments must be timestamped by the blog before then.
And, as always, feel free to click some ads to help cover costs!

#100 Jack Clark

Why this card is awesome: Because of the strange people on the field in the background. In particular, who is that person standing on the right wearing blue jeans and a muscle shirt?

As you can see below in Clark's Gallery of Champions card, that person (as well as the others) was immortalized in embossed aluminum.


Cool stat: Since 1901, just 21 players have at least 1200 walks and 1400 strikeouts, and they are many of the best power hitters of all time. Surprising names on that list include Tony Phillips and Rickey Henderson. Had Clark played 5-10 years later than he had, he might have been a massive superstar, and he would probably have hit as many as 100 more career HR than he did.

#99 Chuck Finley

Why this card is awesome: Because you can't look at this card without laughing. Finley looks like a 19-year-old college student with a fake mustache trying to convince a liquor store cashier to let him buy a six-pack of Bud Light. Finley's also got a great name for a Spoonerism.

Cool stat: Finley was really hurt by being on an Angels team that was pretty crappy for many of his years there. His real career record is 200-173 (.536.) His neutralized career record is 208-156 (.571.) Just 8 more wins, but also 17 fewer losses. Oh, and he was money for St. Louis at the end of his career in 2002, helping them go 9-5 in 14 games he started. Oh, and he was also once married to her.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

#98 Rene Gonzales

Why this card is awesome: Because Gonzales is MR. 1988 TOPPS, wearing uniform number 88 long before high numbers were ever seen with regularity in baseball. I also dig the batting cage pose.

Cool stat: Gonzales had just 19 career homers, but he hit them off a lot of quality pitchers, including 2 off Dave Stewart, and 1 each off of Wilson Alvarez, Tom Henke, Ben McDonald, Jose DeLeon, Rick Honeycutt, Mike Jackson, Kevin Tapani, Dave Stieb, Frank Viola, and Kent Mercker. Not too shabby.

#97 Scott Garrelts

Why this card is awesome: Because of how Garrelts' arm is rippling right through the Expos logo. I also like the half-outfielder we can see at the ready in the distance. The card also notes that Garrelts threw a no-hitter with AAA Phoenix in 1983, meaning he had already appeared in the big-leagues before throwing a no-hitter. That must be a fairly rare feat (since most minor-league no-hitters happen in the lower minors way before pitchers ever get called up.)

Cool stat: Garrelts was injured a lot and had a short career. Unfortunately he got bombed in the post-season on the Giants teams that got eliminated in 1987 and 1989. However, his 1989 regular season was fantastic, and he squeaks into the top 10 for lowest WHIP in a season in the 1980s with at least 190 IP.

#96 Todd Benzinger

Why this card is awesome: Because Benzinger appears to be wondering, "Man, who made that f&#%ing smell over on Lance Parrish's card?" But seriously, folks: what I love is the great shot of the mostly-empty spring training stands behind him.

Cool stat: Benzinger had 7 career 4-hit games, and his team won 6 out of 7. In that game his team lost, something odd happened in Benzinger's last at-bat. Before he grounded out, Lenny Harris scored a run on defensive indifference. Weird.

#95 Lance Parrish

Why this card is awesome: Because this might be the most hilarious picture in the 88 Topps set. Let me tell you what Parrish said right before this photo was taken. To Von Hayes, sitting there on the left, he said, "Did you make that f#&%ing smell?" And right when the photo was snapped, Hayes was saying, "Oh man, see, I had this chili last night and, umm, and...yeah...anyway..."

Cool stat: Parrish had the most RBIs in a season by a catcher in the 1980s.

#94 Chuck Jackson

Why this card is awesome: Because this is the most rainbow-like card of ALL TIME. There's red on Jackson's shoulders. And we've got orange on his shoulders and in the "Astros" team name. We've got yellow also on Jackson's shoulders, in all the seats in the background, and in the border on the card. We've got green on the grass. We've got blue on the dugout and on the banner behind Jackson's name. And we've got colors like indigo and purple on Jackson's jersey, hat, and wrist bands. (But somebody needs to tell Jackson that when the pack has two wrist bands, one goes on each wrist, not two on one wrist.) Seriously, I love this card.

Cool stat: After cups of coffee with Houston in 1987 and 1988, Jackson disappeared but managed to make it back to the majors with Texas in 1994, getting two at-bats in a game. You can see what he did in the minors in between at The Baseball Cube. Jackson's two career homers came against Mike Capel and Dave Dravecky.

#93 Bob Sebra

Why this card is awesome: Because of the two very casual-looking Expos in the background. One guy near 2B (probably Vance Law) who's looking over at first base, and another guy who looks like he's boogieing down in the outfield. Also, I totally forgot that the Expos gave up Pete Incaviglia for Sebra. (And although Incaviglia was traded, he never played a day in the minors before debuting with Texas. But we'll come to Pete later in this set.)

Cool stat: Sebra bounced around a lot and managed only 1 season with an ERA below league average. But looking at his performance against individual batters, he did quite well against a few guys, including Darryl Strawberry (2-for-19), Wally Backman (o-for-18) and Jack Clark (2-for-14.)

#92 Len Matuszek

Why this card is awesome: Because of that very, very green tree/hill/shrubbery on the left side of the card.

Cool stat: Matuszek had 30 career HR, and 2 of them came in the same game. He also had a career post-season batting average of 1.000, thanks to a single in one career plate appearance in the 1985 NLCS.

#91 Joey Cora

Why this card is awesome: Because of the fascinating TV-insider moment of capturing a cameraman in action, sitting on a bright yellow pad of some sort, there on the left side of the card. Way to go Topps, going the extra mile to give us insight!

Cool stat: Cora, by all accounts a very nice guy, was a bad baseball player. Other than his fluke year of 1997, he didn't hit all that much, plus he wasn't a good fielder. Check out his defensive stats here, and notice that both his career fielding percentage and career range factor were below league average. From his career splits, we see he hit a lot better as a leader hitter than from any other slot in the lineup. Unfortunately, he wasn't a good enough hitter to really hit leadoff.

#90 Dale Murphy

Why this card is awesome: Because I think that's Ken Griffey we see right behind Murhpy in the on-deck circle. As you can see here, Griffey was the most common batter in the 5th slot for Atlanta in 1987, coming right after Murphy in the cleanup spot. But it might be Gerald Perry. What do you think? Also, I think it's kind of a travesty that Murphy got only card number 90. I probably would have given him a card ending in 25 or 50, personally.

Cool stat: Again lifting from an old post at the SOTD blog, Murphy was the five-year HR leader in MLB for the periods 1983-1987 and also 1984-1988. Like Joe Carter, though, he also has 2 out of 25 seasons in history with 20+ HR and a SLG under .400. Bonus stat: Murphy's most career HR came against Bob Knepper (8), Fernando (8), Ed Whitson (7), and the late Eric Show (6).

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

#89 Gary Thurman

Why this card is awesome: Because that's not Gary Thurman in the photo. It's actually late-night sensation, Arsenio Hall. If you agree, pump your fist in the air and make that stupid dog-bark call. What else makes this card awesome? The factoid on the back: two pregnancies, five children. Wow!

Cool stat: With a career OBP of .297, Thurman couldn't get on base to save his life. In fact, he had fewer than 250 total bases in his career. For players under that threshold, though, he has the third most stolen-bases of all time. See here.

RESULTS: Giveaway #3 for the 1988 Topps Gallery of Champions

Well, it's all over, and our winner is Casey B., who guessed 1.

I allowed my wife to pick the number this time, and for some odd reason she selected Bedrosian's 1984 batting average of .118. She's a bit of a baseball fan but knows nothing about statistics, and apparently picked the number totally at random.

Next closest was Tom T. who guessed 3.75, then David R. who guessed 6, and then Bo R. who guessed 7.

Interestingly, a lot of you guessed numbers from Bedrock's 1985 season as a starter, including 3 guesses of 37 and 2 guesses of 111.

Pissed off that you didn't win? Fear not. The next contest goes up on Friday for 1988 Topps cards 51 through 100. Then, starting next week, we have another special set going up (but giving you any more info would be telling!)

Thanks to everybody for your participation!

#88 Earnie Riles

Why this card is awesome: Because of the bizarre use of the name "Earnie." On most of his cards, he's Ernest Riles. So, not only did Topps see fit to give him a nickname (just like with Benny Santiago and Denny Martinez), but they didn't even call him "Ernie" but rather "Earnie." Bizarre. Oh and he was born in Cairo (Georgia, not Egypt.)

Cool stat: It tough to find much of interest about Riles' career, but looking at his best offensive numbers by pitcher, I noticed he had 7 RBI in 7 AB against Roger McDowell. They came on two homers.

#87 Mike Mason

Why this card is awesome: Before I tell you why this card is awesome, can you figure it out? Look really carefully at the card.

Give up? It's awesome because HOFer Ryne Sandberg is in the background. Am I adding him to the HOF count for this set? You'd better believe it.

Cool stat: Mason had one excellent year as a starting pitcher: 1984. He had 24 starts (36 appearances total), pitching 184.3 innings, allowing just 159 hits and 51 walks, with 113 K's. His ERA of 3.61 was good for an ERA+ of 115. But, he earned just a 9-13 record. If you neutralize his stats (go to this link and then click 'neutralize') with just average run support he would have gone 11-9 that year.

Hall of Fame count: 12

#86 Ron Karkovice

Why this card is awesome: Firstly, I am not sure if that purple blob on Karkovice's crotch is a printing error or what. Click on the card to see what I mean. Anyway, this card is awesome because Karkovice played in Hawaii in 1987. That's baseball + Hawaii, folks. I call it paradise. Read more about the Hawaii Islanders franchise right here. I'll also add that Karkovice has the most similar skin and mustache color I've ever seen.

Cool stat: Karkovice had 16 game-ending plate appearances, and they were all losses. He also had 77 go-ahead plate appearances, including 3 different games where he had 2 go-ahead jobs in the same game. One of those games was this crazy one, where he had two go-ahead plate appearances that were both reaches-on-error!

#85 Howard Johnson

Why this card is awesome: Because for all the color schemes Topps chose for its 1988 set, the Mets' was absolutely the best, perfectly matching the blue and orange of their uniforms. This HoJo is one of a series of 1988 Topps Mets cards that have great coloring. These days, when teams have 17 different jerseys they use during the year, HoJo's blue pullover doesn't look weird. Back then, though, it would mean that this photo was taken for sure during either batting practice or spring training.

Cool stat: Johnson didn't have a great or long career, but he is still one of just 4 guys with at least 3 seasons with 30+ HR and 30+ steals. Also, one time I saw him sitting on the team bus after a game, waved to him, and he nodded his head back at me.

#84 Cecilio Guante

Why this card is awesome: Because of the big "G" on his glove. Awesome!

Cool stat: Guante was a very good reliever, and I wonder why his career ended so early. Since 1950, he's one of just 6 relievers to pitch at least 500 innings, allow fewer than 550 hits, strike out at least 500, and have an ERA+ of 110 or better. (Active players excluded.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

#83 Jose Oquendo

Why this card is awesome: Because I swear it looks like Oquendo is standing on a farm.

Cool stat: Lots of interesting things about Oquendo's playing career. Firstly, he went to the Dave Magadan school of slugging, which teaches you NOT to slug. In fact, Oquendo's career OBP of .346 is nearly 30 points higher than his career SLG of .317. Wowsers. In fact, check this out: since 1901, for players with at least 3500 career PAs, Oquendo has the 10th lowest figure for total bases. And of the 9 guys ahead of him, all but 3 played at least part of their career no later than 1910.