Saturday, March 1, 2008

#213 Albert Hall

Why this card is awesome: Because the shadow from Hall's cap is obscuring a good 50-60% of his face. Really, Topps? Really? And that first career homer he belted was one of 5, count 'em, 5 career homers.

Cool stat: Albert Hall had 1 game with 3 extra-base hits but zero games with 2 extra-base hits. Weird. In that game, Hall hit for the cycle.

#212 Greg Brock

Why this card is awesome: OMG where do I start with this card?!? Firstly, this is card #1 in COLA WARS, with a can of Pepsi being prominently featured in the background. Coming up soon, there's a can of Coke. (Anybody know which card, just curious?) Secondly, and more importantly, it appears that Brock put a little something extra in his Pepsi, as he appears mere milliseconds away from falling into an official drunken stupor. Thirdly, every copy of this card I have ever seen has two strange features: a bit of something shiny in Brock's mouth, like he has a gold tooth (did he?), and the fact that Brock is just a bit out of focus. Somehow, a drunk guy appearing a bit fuzzy seems totally right.

(As an aside, let me be clear that I am joking above and I have no reason to believe that Brock ever consumed alcohol at the stadium.)

Cool stat: Brock is 1 of 14 guys to have 2 or more seasons with 20 or more homers but no more than 66 RBIs.

#211 Frank DiPino

Why this card is awesome: Because you don't see a lot of cards with the player standing against a cinderblock wall. Nor do you see "Infielder-Outfielder" spelled out like that on many cards.

Cool stat: Make no mistake about it: DiPino was a mop-up guy. Since 1960, among pitchers with at least 200 career games finished, he makes the top 25 for fewest career saves.

Friday, February 29, 2008

#210 Willie Randolph

Why this card is awesome: Because of the unusual angle the photo was taken at, it looks like Randolph is about to clap his hands together under his right leg. Also, there are quite a few future manager cards showing up shortly.

Cool stat: Randolph is tied for 3rd all-time (a 16-way tie, mind you) in most seasons with 85 to 99 runs scored. With a little bit of luck, he could have had 1 or 2 100-run seasons (he actually had zero) and been remembered as a better player.

#209 Richard Dotson

Why this card is awesome: Because Dotson is so old that he was once traded for with Bobby Bonds.

Cool stat: That 1983 was a real fluke. Since 1960, Dotson had the 4th-highest WHIP for a pitcher winning at least 22 games. Plus, since 1960, he has had the 4th-worst K/BB ratio for a pitcher winning at least 22 games.

#208 Steve Lake

Why this card is awesome: Because of the funny mention of his first ML stolen base. That was a real sign that he was going to make a career out of burning up the basepaths.

Cool stat: We just saw Tom Lawless, another St. Louis catcher, and now here's Steve Lake. Lake cracks the top 25 for most at-bats for a non-active player (pitchers excluded) with exactly one career stolen base. Most of these guys are catchers.

#207 John Mitchell

Why this card is awesome: Because some of the people in the deck behind Mitchell are so large that they could potentially be recognized. It's fairly rare to see non-players, coaches, or other team personnel on a card that can be recognized. Imagine opening a pack, seeing this card, and having that guy on the right be YOUR grandfather!

Cool stat: Here is Mitchell's best game, his only career complete game, coming for the Mets against the Phillies in 1987.

#206 Domingo Ramos

Why this card is awesome: Because I love the fact that they correctly listed his BA and SLG as undefined in 1978 with the Yankees, since he didn't get at-bats. In college, I had a stupid roommate who asked the trivia question "When is the only time a pitcher can throw a no-hitter and the batting averages of the other team don't change?" She stupidly insisted that the answer was opening day, since all batting averages are "zero" to start with, and end at zero after the game. That's not true, of course. I tried to explain to her that the true answer was on the second day of the season, and only if there was also a no-hitter on opening day. Then, the averages really are zero going into the second game. But she was too dumb to get it.

Cool stat: Ramos has one career walk-off plate appearance, coming in this game.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

#205 Nelson Liriano

Why this card is awesome: Because this is a VERY old-school photo for this set. And a nice advertisement for Franklin batting gloves.

Cool stat: Liriano finished his career with more triples (27) than homers (25.) Here are non-active players who finished with 25 or more triples as well as 25 or fewer homers. Liriano is the 9th most-recent player to do it. Jerry Browne, whose card we saw recently, did it too.

#204 Paul O'Neill

Why this card is awesome: Because of that totally groovy lava lamp in the dugout. AWESOME!

Cool stat: What kind of home run hitter do you think of O'Neill as? Above average, but not a huge power hitter, right? A 20-HR guy, right? Damn right. O'Neill's got the most career seasons between 19 and 21 homers.


You've got to read this:

#203 Fred Toliver

Why this card is awesome: Because of the stylistic unity between the pinstripes on Toliver's uni and the light posts in the background.

Cool stat: Toliver had a fairly unremarkable career, except that after a dreadful 1989 with Minnesota and San Diego, he disappeared from the majors for 3 full seasons until coming back with a nice year with Pittsburgh in 1993. Toliver struck out 4 different guys three times: Jack Clark, Chili Davis, Bob Melvin, and Ryne Sandberg. We've seen all those cards already. Of course, those guys also hit a combined .375 against him.

#202 Glenn Hoffman

Why this card is awesome: Because although Hoffman looks like a dork here, it's a great shot of the stadium in the background. Who knows what the "MAC" patch is all about?

Cool stat: Ahh, it's the "other" Hoffman brother. For years, I didn't know that Glenn is Trevor's brother, given the age difference (9 years) between them. There isn't too much to say about Hoffman's playing career (or his managerial career, unfortunately, as short as it was) but here are his 45 go-ahead career plate appearances.

#201 Rangers Leaders

Why this card is awesome: Because you KNOW that Pete Incaviglia has just told a dirty joke. Who else is on this card? I think that's Steve Buechele on the right, right?

Cool stat: Wow, check out the performance of Texas DH's in 1988. A .197 BA and a .303 SLG. Designated poopy-pants is more like it. Larry Parrish led the way with a .190 BA in 247 AB as the DH, but other guys under .200 as the DH include Incaviglia (76 AB), Kevin Reimer (22), Larry See (18), Barabo Garbey (17), Ruben Sierra (4), Curtis Wilkerson (2), Jerry Browne (1), and Pete O'Brien (1).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

#200 Wade Boggs

Why this card is awesome: Because while it's a great shot, tied in beautifully by the red on Bogg's stirrups, this card is ruined by the fact that the catcher appears to be reaching between Wade's legs and adjusting his, umm, goodies.

Cool stat: Everybody knows that Boggs was an awesome hitter. But how about this? From 1983 to 1989 (when Boggs had at least 200 hits every single year,) he led baseball in hits with 1479. The second-place guy was Tony Gwynn, with 180 fewer hits. That's almost a full season's worth of hits extra for Boggs.

Hall of Fame count: 20

#199 Dave Meads

Why this card is awesome: Because of the bonus shot of the third baseman, whom I'm guessing is Ken Caminiti.

Cool stat: I wonder why Meads' career was so short. In 1988, he pitched a little bit above league average, plus he was a lefty. These days, if he pitched like that as a lefty, he could have a job on almost any team in MLB. He gave up 2 HR to one guy: Will "The Jackass" "The Thrill" Clark.

#198 Franklin Stubbs

We're 1/4 of the way through the set!

Why this card is awesome: Because he may be stubby, but he's showing tons of leg with those extra-long stirrups.

Cool stat: Stubbs' 1986 makes the top 25 all-time for fewest RBIs in a season with at least 23 HR.

#197 Lance McCullers

Why this card is awesome: Because, HOLY CRAP, Joey Cora is in the background again! He's already been on two other cards so far. Also, McCullers looks quite thin here. I think he might have eaten himself out of a career.

Cool stat: Only 7 times in history has a pitcher made no game starts, pitched at least 120 innings, and had at least a K per inning. McCullers has the most recent such season.

#196 Dave Engle

Why this card is awesome: Because he looks like Putty from later seasons of Seinfeld.

Cool stat: Funny how this stuff works sometimes. Engle hit his most homers (3) off Britt Burns, and also off Frank Tanana, whose card we recently saw. Engle hit Tanana extremely well, and they were teammates in 1986.

#195 Dan Quisenberry

Why this card is awesome: Because of the classic shot of the late Quisenberry about to go down under with a pitch.

Cool stat: Quisenberry's 1983 was insane. It was one of just 10 seasons with 100 IP, 200 ERA+ and a WHIP under 1.00.

Deceased players and managers: 7

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

#194 Tom Kelly

Why this card is awesome: Because of yet another batting cage pose. Compare this card to Dick Williams and Rene Gonzales.

Cool stat: Kelly played just one season in the majors before becoming a successful manager. He had 12 at-bats against HOFers and got 5 hits.

#193 Brian Fisher

Why this card is awesome: Because of that incredible stat on the back! 20 K's and no walks! Wowsers.

Cool stat: Fisher faced 16 Hall of Famers, including Tony Gwynn the most.

#192 Devon White

Why this card is awesome: Because of the weird red bat he's holding. This is also the first all-star rookie in the 1988 Topps set.

Cool stat: Devon White was a good choice for the all-star rookie team, although he was overrated. Devo tied for 5th most all-time seasons between 10 and 19 homers.

#191 John Cerutti

Why this card is awesome: Because if you look at Cerutti's minor league days, I feel like you can actually see him getting his training, moving up and down, performing better and worse, before finally sticking in the bigs.

Cool stat: Ron Kittle hit the most homers (5) off Cerutti.

Deceased players and managers: 6

Cerutti died unexpectedly in 2004 while working as a broadcaster for Toronto.

#190 Candy Maldonado

Why this card is awesome: Because the Giants got him for Alex Trevino. Nice steal.

Cool stat: My mother calls this guy Candy Bad Doughnuts. Maldonado hit a lot better on the road in his career. Check out his splits. OPS of .703 at home and .785 on the road. Actual 618 RBIs and neutralized 672 RBIs.

Monday, February 25, 2008

#189 Wes Gardner

Why this card is awesome: Because man, oh man, what a spring training shot. More people could sit in those trees in the background than could fit in the actual stands!

Cool stat: Gardner's best game was this start against Baltimore.