Saturday, September 27, 2008

#42T Mark Grace

Here's another great rookie card from the set.

IMPACT FACTOR 9/10: Grace was a fantastic player for the Cubs, playing the first 13 years of his career with them before heading out to Arizona. He had the most hits of the 1990s. The only thing that keeps Grace from getting a 10 is that the Cubs didn't have any post-season success with him. In 1989, that wasn't Grace's fault. In the 5 games against the Giants in the NLCS, Grace had an 1.800 OPS (not a typo) with 11 hits and 8 RBI.

I'm sure that Cubs fans will push for Grace to get into the HOF, but he falls quite short, actually.

Friday, September 26, 2008

#41T Rich Gossage

IMPACT FACTOR 2/10: Gossage came to the Cubs in a pretty meaningless trade. Only he and Keith Moreland had lengthy major-league careers and both were past their primes by this time. The Goose had one below-average year for the Cubs before moving on and having several good years with other teams to close out his career.

Finally, here is our first HOFer in the traded set!

Hall of Fame count: 46

#40T Kirk Gibson

IMPACT FACTOR 10/10: Gibson is our first perfect 10 performer for impact factor. This card is OH SO RIGHT featuring Gibby in Dodger blue on a 1988 card. Gibson gets his perfect score for, of course, the greatest home run that most of us will ever see in our lifetimes, winning Game 1 of the 1988 World Series against Oakland. I suspect that Gibson's regular-season MVP award in 1988 would be much more harshly criticized if he hadn't played that post-season.

I could go on and on about that homer, but let me leave you with this. Sit back, relax, and remember the sound of the late Jack Buck's voice, making what is easily the greatest home run call in broadcast baseball history:

"Gibson swings, and a fly ball to deep right field! This is gonna be a home run! Unbelievable! A home run for Gibson! And the Dodgers have won the game, 5 to 4; I don't believe what I just saw!"

#39T Ron Gant

This is one of the best rookie cards in this set.

IMPACT FACTOR 5/10: Gant was a big part of Braves' return to contention, although it was a rocky beginning for him. As a 2B in 1988, he made 26 errors in 122 games. Think about that...this is a second baseman, we're talking about. Wow. The Bravos moved him to 3B where he was pretty much just as bad, but to keep his bat in the lineup they moved him to OF, where he remained for the rest of his career. They were rewarded in 1990 with his first 30-HR season. I can't rate Gant higher than a 5, though, because although he was present for two trips to the World Series, he personally didn't hit well in the post-season (contribution to the Braves losing those series) and he was never really even the best player on the team. Even in 1990 he was slightly out-produced by newcomer David Justice.

Gant ended up leaving Atlanta when he broke his leg while riding a motorcycle, missing the entire 1994 season. He came back strong in 1995 and was a productive player the rest of his career.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

#38T Mike Fiore

IMPACT FACTOR 0/10: Fiore never made it to the majors. I can barely find any info on him other than his BR Bullpen page. There was a major leaguer of the same name who perhaps is his father, but I have no information either way about that.

#37T Tom Filer

Very interestingly, just like the card before (Cecil Espy) Filer appeared in the big leagues briefly several years before he saw long-term time there. He appeared in 8 games in 1982, 11 games in 1985, and then 19 games in 1988.

IMPACT FACTOR 2/10: Filer put together a couple of decent years for Milwaukee and was then released. Only one guy ever hit more than 1 homer off Filer. Say it ain't so, Jose.

#36T Cecil Espy

IMPACT FACTOR 3/10: Espy was picked up by the Rangers through the Rule V draft and played parts of 4 seasons for the club. He was pretty bad with the bat and not too good with the glove either. I give him a 3 since he did stick with the club for a while.

I remember Tom Seaver, then broadcasting for the Yankees, continually mispronouncing his last name as "Epsy" instead of "Espy."

There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that the ESPN awards (The ESPYs) are named for this guy.

#35T Richard Dotson

IMPACT FACTOR 2/10: Dotson's good year were behind him by the time he got to the Yankees, and they gave up Dan Pasqua to get him.

I distinctly remember watching a Yankees game on WPIX in 1989 where Dotson threw a pitch that bounced in the dirt about 2 feet to the right of the plate with a left-handed batter up. Nobody, from the players to the broadcasters, had any reaction, except Tom Seaver, who simply said "Nice pitch, Rich."

Giveaway #11

Sorry I have fallen behind here, in terms of giveaways and polling of the best card in the set.

Anyway, here is what I think will be the final giveaway for this blog.

You're getting cards #651 through #792 of the 1988 Topps set. Included are Fernando, Tom Glavine, Dave Stieb, Ruben Sierra, Lou Whitaker, Mike Scott, A's Leaders with McGwire and Canseco, Bo Jackson, Kevin McReynolds, John Franco, Danny Tartabull, Tim Raines, Daaaaa-ryyyyl, Fred Lynn....and a whole bunch more.

You're also getting packs I recently ripped over on A Pack A Day. They are a 2006 Topps Bazooka pack, a 2007 Topps series 1 pack with some seriously dinged cards, a 1983 Fleer Cello pack with a bunch of HOFers, as well as a 1988 Fleer cello pack and 1988 Topps jumbo pak. These last two packs have been ripped and will post to APAD in coming weeks.

So, to win this swag, you need to pick the last name from which you can assemble the best team of players from the regular 1988 Topps set (not traded.) This contest is the same as the one from last time except that you are limited to last names only. Check the previous contest for rules on how to do it. I'm looking for the best collection of talent, not necessarily the most complete team. I'll leave this contest open through Monday 9/29 and declare a winner from the comments.

#34T Jose DeLeon

DeLeon had a couple of good years for the Cardinals, but they gave up a lot to get him, in Ricky Horton and Lance Johnson. Horton wasn't very effective after leaving St. Louis, but Johnson was a pretty decent player.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

#33T Mike Davis

I guess Davis got contact lenses in between the time his regular issue 1988 photo and this photo were taken. He's wearing glasses in the former.

IMPACT FACTOR 5/10: Davis did very little with the Dodgers in the 1988 and 1989 regular seasons. He did, however, draw one of the most unlikely walks in the history of baseball, right ahead of the one of the most unlikely home runs ever hit. He gets big points for that, a moment in the sun more memorable than the achievements of many, many players with more talent.

In case you're some kind of baseball newbie and don't know what I'm talking about, click here and here.

#32T Chili Davis

As compared to the preceding card, Davis looks pretty thrilled to be joining the Angels.

IMPACT FACTOR 4/10: Davis came and left as a free agent, playing three effective years for the Angels from 1988 to 1990. In his impact factor, I'm not counting his 4 future years for the Angels in 1993-1996, when he was actually even better.

Interestingly, despite playing 7 seasons with the Angels, Davis probably had more impact with every other team he played for (Giants, Twins, and Yankees) except for the Royals. He helped all those other teams either get to the post season or to win championships.

#31T Henry Cotto

Holy crap, Cotto looks pissed about joining the Mariners!

IMPACT FACTOR 4/10: Cotto was an adequate part-time outfielder for 6 years for the Mariners. He stole a good number of bases at a high rate of success. But what does the trade at the end of his career say about his value? The Mariners traded with him with Jeff Darwin to the Marlins for Dave Magadan. Then, 4 months later, they traded Magadan back to the Marlins for just Darwin (minus Cotto.) Hmm...

#30T Pat Combs

IMPACT FACTOR 3/10: Combs stuck with the Phillies for parts of 4 years. In 1989, he went 4-0 in a September call-up, giving Phillies fans a bit of hope that the franchise might be coming out of their dark period. After a mostly-mediocre 1990, he showed more promised in September of that year, with 4 straight wins. But that was it for his major-league success. However, I do think the excitement he caused did help out the Phillies organization a little bit, bringing back some of the fans.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

#29T Kevin Coffman

Oh yeah, Coffman's in the necklace club. I love this shot, with the stands disappearing into infinity like the horizon at dusk.

IMPACT FACTOR 1/10: Coffman had two pretty ineffective years before being traded with Kevin Blankenship to pick up Jody Davis at the end of his career.

#28T Jack Clark

IMPACT FACTOR 5/10: Clark signed with the Yankees as one of the big free agent prizes between the 1987 and 1988 seasons. He had an OK year with the Yankees, but they then traded him (with Pat Clements) to San Diego for Lance McCullers, Stan Jefferson, and Jimmy Jones. McCullers was useful and was eventually flipped to Detroit for Matt Nokes. Stan Jefferson barely played for the Yanks but was flipped for John Habyan, a very good reliever. Habyan himself was traded away in a 3-team deal that brought Paul Assenmacher to the Yankees, who himself was traded for Brian Boehringer. Finally, they got 4 ABs from Bobby Estalella after acquiring him for Boehringer.

All in all, they didn't get a fantastic value from Clark, but they did get a bunch of useful players and some production.

#27T Rick Cerone

Who knows what stadium this is?

IMPACT FACTOR 3/10: Cerone came to and left Boston as a free agent, playing with them in 1988 and 1989 as a decent backup catcher. He didn't play in the 1988 postseason, but I'm giving him a 3 on the assumption that a guy with his experience must have been helpful with the pitching staff.

#26T Jose Cecena

IMPACT FACTOR 1/10: Cecena had one below-average season as a reliever for Texas in 1988 and then never resurfaced in the big leagues.

#25T John Candelaria

IMPACT FACTOR 3/10: Candelaria signed with the Yankees as a free agent and had a very nice year for them in 1988, helping them have a respectable year during an otherwise down time for the franchise. The next year, the Yankees flipped him for Mike Blowers, who didn't play much until he was later traded for a minor leaguer to the Mariners.

Monday, September 22, 2008

#24T Sil Campusano

Wow, this is a great photo. It's a great pose by a fresh-faced rookie, and we can see a lot of the spring training facility in the background.

IMPACT FACTOR 1/10: Campusano lasted half a season with Toronto before going back to the minors and being being Rule V drafted away by the Phillies.

#23T Jim Campanis

IMPACT FACTOR 0/10: Campanis never made the big leagues after being drafted by the Mariners. Both his dad and his grandad played in the bigs, though.

#22T Brett Butler

Holy crap, what a scary photo!

IMPACT FACTOR 6/10: Butler signed with the Giants as a free agent after the 1987 season and stayed there for 3 years. He got MVP votes all three years and was a key player on the team that went to the World Series in 1989. He scored 6 runs in the 1989 ALCS against the Cubs.

#21T Jay Buhner

IMPACT FACTOR 2/10: Buhner was picked up by the Yankees from the Pirates and then traded early in his major-league career to the Mariners. It's hard to fault the Yankees for this trade, as Ken Phelps was an excellent underused player. Unfortunately, Phelps didn't produce at the same level for the Yankees. Years later, when Buhner was hitting 40 HRs per year for Seattle, this trade was cited as yet another example of the Yankees acquiring a veteran for a young player who ended up as a star (such as Fred McGriff, Willie McGee, and numerous others.) However, in this particular case, I think the Yankees took a great shot that just didn't work out.

#20T Tom Brunansky

IMPACT FACTOR 5/10: Brunansky was a good value for the Cardinals. They gave up Tom Herr, who was past his prime, to acquire him. He hit well for a couple of years, and then they flipped him to Boston for Lee Smith, who damn near won a Cy Young award as a reliever with the Cards.

#19T Jeff Branson

IMPACT FACTOR 4/10: Branson took a while to get to the big leagues. He was a decent part-time player for the Reds and then got packaged with John Smiley to pick up 4 players, including Danny Graves and Damian Jackson. Graves was a very effective reliever for the Reds and Jackson ended up being part of a trade that brought Greg Vaughn.

#18T Phil Bradley

IMPACT FACTOR 2/10: Bradley cost the Phillies a lot to acquire, including Mike Jackson, who became one of the top relievers in baseball. He had one reasonable year with the Phillies, and then was traded away. Ken Howell came back to the Phillies, who pitched OK for them.

Bradley got robbed of a bit of history. Late in 1988, Bradley homered leading off what was supposed to be the first night game at Wrigley Field, but rain washed the game away.