Saturday, November 1, 2008

#98T Chris Sabo

IMPACT FACTOR 6/10: Sabo was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1988, played a big part in the 1990 World Series victory (batting .563 with 2 HR and 5 RBI in the 4-game sweep), and was a very good player for the Reds for 6 years before leaving as a free agent. Unfortunately, he was never an effective player after leaving Cincinnati.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Taking trade offers

So I'm ready to start trading away the Tiffany 1988 Topps Traded cards you've seen posted on this blog (as well as the box they came in.) Remember these are the tiffany (super-glossy) version of the cards. I should also mention that they are not mint. This box was obviously handled a bit roughly before I bought it, and some of the cards have a minor ding or two on a corner. All cards in the set are available, although I have yet to post the last 30 or so.

I'm thinking that I'd like to break up the cards by team set, and also break out the Olympic set by itself although I'm open to other options.

At this point in time, I'm most interested in Don Mattingly GU bat, GU jersey, or auto cards. Now, I don't think this is much of a fair trade. If somebody wants to try to trade for the entire traded set, maybe that would work.

Anyway, if you have ideas, email me at 88topps at gmail dot com.

Tournament poll #8

Here's our final matchup of the first round, and it ain't an easy one either.

Leading off is #4 Eddie Murray Record Breaker. In 1988, this was a bad-ass card featuring a bad-ass player. The double shot of Murray taking both a lefty and a righty swing was inspired, and nobody could see this card without looking at it carefully. The solid red background that Topps chose for the record breakers this year was a very nice way of setting these cards apart from the rest of the set. (Usually, they made their record breakers in very similar style to the rest of the set.) Also throw in the fact that this card had an error version, creating even more interest. Finally, there aren't too many examples of cards featuring two HOFers who are the same guy!

Murray's competition this time comes from #759, Athletics Leaders. While the careers of both McGwire and Canseco ended in controversy, these two guys were just about the hottest players in baseball in 1988. Mark McGwire had just won Rookie of the Year honors by hitting 49 HRs in 1987, and Canseco (himself two years removed from the ROY award) became the first player ever to hit 40 HR with 40 SB in the same season in 1988. These guys were at the top of everybody's hot list in 1988 and their cards were extremely sought after. If I remember correctly, this card booked for as much as $2.00 back in 1988, totally unheard of for a team leaders card.

Tough choice, my readers. (Don't be mislead by the fact that my scan for the Murray card is pretty low quality!)

#97T Cookie Rojas

I love the reflective sunglasses! As I've mentioned before, they are so common these days, but back in the late 1980s it was rare to get a card where you could see some stuff reflected like that.

IMPACT FACTOR 1/10: Rojas managed the Angels to a fairly even record in 1988 before being replaced by Moose Stubing near the tail end of the season. Rojas managed only one other game as an interim skipper for the Marlins in 1996. He has had a much more significant post-playing career as a coach than as a manager.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

#96T Frank Robinson

IMPACT FACTOR 3/10: Robinson took over the 1988 Orioles from Cal Ripken Sr. but wasn't able to do much with the team. Mind you, they had a terrible roster when he was there, and he helped oversee the development of some young players such as Chris Hoiles, Mike Mussina, Ben McDonald, and Mike Devereaux who ended up being key parts of some playoff teams for Robinson's successor, the late Johnny Oates. I'd like to think that Robinson had some impact on his Orioles teams beyond just wins and losses.

Hall of Fame count: 47

It's been a while since we've had a HOF card, but Robinson surely fits the bill.

Tournament poll #7

This card, #250, is the top card number Topps gave to a pitcher in the 1988 Topps set, telling you that they thought Ryan was the top pitcher in the game at this time. There is a lot to like about this card, aside form the fact that it features a Hall of Fame pitcher who holds an almost innumerable number of pitching records. The Astros color scheme is one of the best Topps managed in 1988 (I would have chosen to make the name banner background a slightly darker blue to better match the uniform blue, but that's only a minor quibble.) It's not too often that you see a pitcher with dirt on his uniform, but there's a big patch on Ryan's knee. He was a rough and tough player, so it's not so surprising.

This is Maddux's first regular issue Topps card (his rookie card appeared in the 1987 Topps Traded set.) Maddux is one of just a handful of players from this set who is still active (a list that includes Tom Glavine and Jamie Moyer.) Anyway, there's plenty to like about this card. I've raved about the red-white-and-blue color scheme of the Cubs 88 Topps cards before, and using a warmup shot of Maddux (wearing the all blue warmup jersey) adds even more to the appeal of this card. Seeing his jersey number full-on is nice. The only dig I can take at this card is that it would have been nice to see the ball in his right hand, but unfortunately that got cut off.

#95T Doug Robbins

This card is pretty cool because of the mention of scout Ed Sprague Sr. on the back. Sprague was a major league pitcher and father to a future major leaguer whose card we will be seeing very soon. Stay tuned.

IMPACT FACTOR 0/10: Robbins never made it to the big leagues. Checking out his full minor-league stats, he did hit pretty well, batting over .300 in a few stops and finishing with more career walks than strikeouts.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

#94T Luis Rivera

IMPACT FACTOR 2/10: Rivera was a no-hit shortstop for Montreal who wasn't terribly great with his glove either. They did pick up Spike Owen in a trade for Rivera, and Owen did some good things with Montreal.

Tournament poll #6

This is the toughest vote in the entire tournament!

We start with card #300 of Don Mattingly, in my opinion easily the best card of the entire 1980s. It's an iconic photo that is quite different from all the other photos in this set, as they deliberately got a much closer-up shot of Mattingly in the act of batting than is seen on other cards. We get a great shot of the Yankee road gray uniform. Add in that, at this time, Mattingly was king of the baseball world coming off a monster 1987 season, and I don't see how this card cannot win this tournament. (But that's why we're voting...!)

If any card can beat Mattingly, this is the one: #495 Eddie Murray. This is one of two Murray cards to make it to the final tournament. It's a great motion shot, with Murray's powerful legs propelling him out of the batter's box. His striped front leg, back lag, right arm, and bat were all captured at identical angles, which is simply astounding. His left fist pumping and the forwarding-facing orange chevron on his sneaker are all adding to the motion of this card. Add in the great orange color scheme that Topps used for Orioles cards this year, plus the fact that Murray was an incredible Hall of Fame player, and he might just be the guy to take Mattingly down.

#93T Earnie Riles

IMPACT FACTOR 5/10: Riles gets a pretty high score thanks in pat to playing well in 3 part-time seasons with the Giants. He was then traded for Darren Lewis, who patrolled center field for the Giants for 5 years. The biggest knock against Riles for his Giants career was his 0-fer in the 1989 post-season.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tie poll!

So, poll #4 (Andre Dawson vs Tommy Lasora) tied even with 27 votes for each card. I have just re-opened the poll for a few more days to break the tie. If you haven't voted yet, click here.

#92T Jose Rijo

IMPACT FACTOR 8/10: Rijo was a so-so major league pitcher until he joined the Reds, when he was a dynamite anchor of their rotation for years. After 8 seasons, he disappeared due to injury but came back after missing 4 seasons to pitch quite effectively in a brief stint in 2001. He was a big, big reason why the Reds won the 1990 World Series, holding the Athletics to 1 earned run over 15.1 innings in two starts. In short, Rijo was the kind of ace pitcher every baseball fan should want his team to have, with the possible exception of his injuries.

Tournament poll #5

Whoa, this is a tough matchup!

Coming in at a very surprising 5th place is card #543 Kent Tekulve. There's a lot to like about this card, including a wonderful photo that captures Tekulve's submarine delivery as well as the late 80's Phillies' team colors. Tekulve was a massively underrated pitcher who excelled for many years and is among the career leaders in games pitched. Topping it all off are his signature dark glasses, a rarity back in 1988.

Cal Ripken Sr comes back with card #444, beating out his own son to make this final tournament. (Well, I guess I should say he beat out both his sons!) This is a great manager card, with the tip of cap and smile looking very classy in comparison to just about every other manager's card ever made. The orange and black colors match the team color's perfectly, making this a great all-around card.

#91T Dennis Rasmussen

Nice to see that by the time this photo was taken, Rasmussen had given up on trying to grow a decent mustache. Also, can anybody figure out what writing or symbols are visible through his mesh jersey?

IMPACT FACTOR 4/10: Rasmussen was awesome for the Padres in 1988 when he came over mid-season in a trade for Candy Sierra (who was not a stripper, amazingly.) After that, he had two pretty mediocre seasons as a starter and then walked as a free agent.

Monday, October 27, 2008

#90T Rafael Ramirez

This is a pretty cool card. For starters, they actually put a light on Ramirez's face so he wouldn't be in the shadows. Plus they got some nice spring training action in the background. The only odd thing is that they apparently told Ramirez to look out of the corner of his eyes at something way off camera. I can't think of another baseball card with a player looking so far askance.

Does anybody know what's up with Ramirez' odd 1987 Donruss card? See this post at A Pack a Day for a scan of it.

IMPACT FACTOR 3/10: Ramirez had one good year with the Astros in 1988, managing a 97 OPS+ over a full season, which was very nice for a middle infielder back then. He had 4 more decidedly mediocre (and that's being charitable) years after that with Houston.

Tournament poll #4

We're talking The Hawk here, folks. One of the baddest looking dudes to ever swing a bat, Dawson had both great power and great speed. Topps always reserved card #500 for the best power hitter and this man smacked 49 homers in 1987 to earn the spot. Over 400 homers, over 300 stolen bases, over 500 doubles, over 1500 RBI...need I go on?

There's a lot to like about this card. Aside from being one of the best managers of the 1980s, Lasorda was an icon around this time, in particular due to his spokespersonship for Slimfast. The fact that he wasn't afraid to look heavy both physically and philosophically on this card is amusing and lovable. To top it off, it's just a great spring training photo. This card captures a whole lot of what baseball was about in 1988.

#89T Ted Power

IMPACT FACTOR 2/10: Power pitched poorly in part of one season for the Royals and was then traded for two young players who did very little for KC. The only reason he gets a 2 instead of a 1 is because he was involved in the trade that brought Kurt Stillwell to KC, not that Stillwell was a wonderful player or that it didn't cost KC a lot to give up Danny Jackson.

I imagine He-Man holding this card and yelling "I HAVE THE POWER!!!!"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

#88T Jim Poole

IMPACT FACTOR 1/10: Poole appeared briefly in the majors with the Dodgers in 1990 before being traded for two guys who never made the show. He did, however, go on to have a pretty nice 11-year major league career.