Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mr. Padre

Yesterday, the Padres and the rest of the baseball world lost one of their best.

One of their best players.  One of their best people.  One of their best ambassadors to the game.

Tony Gwynn IS baseball in San Diego.  From being convinced to try out for the team while attending San Diego State, to being drafted in the 3rd round of the '81 MLB Draft by the Padres, to leading the Padres in almost every single career offensive category.  His career culminated with a Hall of Fame induction ceremony, as well as time spent coaching college baseball.  Where did he coach?  At San Diego State, of course.

The SDSU Aztecs play at Tony Gwynn Stadium.  Petco Park, where the Padres play, borders on Tony Gwynn Drive.  While many San Diegans cannot name any players currently on the Padres, everybody knows Tony Gwynn.

He spent 20 years with the same team, something that didn't happen too often then, and is even more rare now.

In 1991, however, he was smack dab in the middle of his 20 year career, and smack dab in the middle (well, sort of) of the 1991 Fleer set.

Do you see many baseball cards of hitters looking at umpires?  I don't think I do.  Usually when a player is looking at an umpire, it's because he's disagreeing with the call.  In 1991, Tony struck out 19 times.  In 569 plate appearances.  Let that sink in.  As of last night, there were 318 players who have more strikeouts than that this season. We are in the middle of June.  Of all of Tony's impressive stats, the ones involving his strike out numbers are my favorites.

At this point in his career, the most strikeouts he'd had in a year was 40 (in 1988), which would remain his career high.  When all was said and done, he'd strikeout 434 times in 20 years (10,232 plate appearances).  He only struck out three times in a game once, in 1986 against Dodgers pitcher Bob Welch.  He faced Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez a total of 143 times and never struck out.  Nolan Ryan struck Gwynn out the most times in his career (9), though Gwynn still batted .302 against him.

In 1991, Tony Gwynn would go to his seventh of fifteen All Star Games.  Five times, he was the lone Padres representative.  At all times, he represented the city that he loved with class, grace, and a smile for all who were around.

For Gwynn's low strikeout numbers, he also rarely walked, only exceeding 60 walks in a year once (82 in 1987).  Just goes to show you how much you can accomplish when you take that bat off your shoulder and take some hacks.  Put the ball into play and run.

Thank you Tony for your loyalty and dedication to the city of San Diego, it's people, and the baseball fans who loved you around the world.  You will be missed, but you will never be forgotten.

Monday, June 9, 2014


Spurred on by a walk off win by my Padres over the weekend (though we'll say nothing of yesterday's game) here's another post on my neglected little blog.

I received this card in an package a month or so ago, and I can't remember who sent it, but was one of my favorite cards in the bunch.  While one of the best things about the '91 Fleer set is it's marvelous yellow borders, many of you will know that not all of the cards featured the iconic border.

Some of them were black.  Among them, this card:

Benito Santiago is the only Padre that got the "'91 Fleer All Star Team" treatment.  Even though Tony Gwynn was only snubbed from the All-Star team once between 1984 and 1999 (sixteen year span, marred by the 1988 season when he led won the batting title and got MVP votes), I don't mind Benito getting a little cardboard love here.  Benito was a five time All-Star ('89-'92, then again in 2002) and is while he might not be the greatest catcher in Padres history (statistically, that title might go to, uh, Terry Kennedy), he was easily the most exciting.

I remember trying the "throw from your knees" move when I was in Little League.  Wasn't great at it.

Here's the back.  Nice trophy shot of Benito.  Hold it up high!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Kick In The Pants

I wonder how many blogs have the line "I can't believe it's been so long since my last post" as their final post.  Hopefully this isn't one.  The last time I posted here was late November, so… Hey there!  It's Yellow Cardboard!

It's Sunday night and I wanted to watch the Padres v. Dodgers game, but it's blacked out on MLB.tv, so I'm listening to the Padres broadcast.  Hoping the Pads can climb out of the 1-0 they're currently in, but in the meantime, here's a post.

My good buddy Mark from This Way To The Clubhouse… sent me a recent package with the usual great stuff, mostly Padres.  But he also included a pack of the good stuff.  Figured this would be a way to get back on the horse.  Man, isn't that pack purdy?

Here's the first card of the pack.  The rest aren't in order, but the first is important, right?  Ben McDonald was a cardboard hero of mine as a kid.  My grandpa's name is Ben, and he (at least in my mind) had a rural upbringing, kind of like a farmer.  The only farmer I knew was Old McDonald, so the combination of the name was pretty cool to me.  Plus, they even kind of look similar.  You know, when he was younger.

Here are two double play cards that the pack offered up.  Both great shots, and both different enough to  still be interesting side by side.  Jerry Browne is pirouetting and looks like he just threw a dart, while Jeff Blauser is doing his Matrix impression as the Dodgers' Stan Javier slides around his knee.  Oh, and they're both on teams named after Native Americans.  

This Dale Murphy was my favorite of the pack.  I wish I could've seen Murph at the height of his career, during his glory days with the Braves.  But my only memories are of him as a Phillie (and later, for a brief moment, a Rockie).  Not an action shot, but still a solid card of the should-be Hall of Famer.

Here are two other notable guys for me.  Tom Brunansky lives in my hometown, and his son plays for Poway High with my cousin Nathan.  I can't remember if I've met him or not (probably not), but I guess it's cool to know that he's a Poway guy.  Not that I necessarily like that many people that are still there, but whatever.  Bobby Thigpen was a guy I really liked as a kid as well.  He was the first big closer that I remember.  I found out about guys like Lee Smith and Dennis Eckersley later on.  And I really dig the cursive "C" on the early 90s White Sox hats.  Oh, and these are both teams that are named after socks.

Here are some notable photos.  I think Alex Fernandez has a great shot here, being able to see the stadium grandstand in the background.  Bill Haselman was the only guy in catchers gear in the pack.  Looks like he's along the line near the stands.  Maybe in a bullpen or something.  Lots of blue in this card.  And yellow, of course.

Here are the rest of the cards in the pack.  The Rangers lead the pack with three total cards.  Ten of the fourteen cards are from the American League.  The bottom three and the Brunansky are the ones that featured guys swinging.  Nothing much else to say about these.

But don't forget!  It's 14 cards and a sticker!  This is a pretty good one.  Love how the Astros reverted back to a more retro logo in 2013, after spending a while with those ugly rust colored jerseys.  More than the sticker on the front, I like the "Top 10" stats on the back.  Good touch.  

There have been some changes in the leader board since 1991.  Roger Clemens is now the ERA leader with a 2.40 mark (in exactly three more innings pitched than Joe Sambito).  Moises Alou and Jeff Bagwell are now the Batting Average leaders (with marks of .297 and .331, respectively), and the Killer B's (Bagwell, Berkman, and Biggio) lead the home run march.

Thanks a lot for the pack of cards, Mark!  Just the kick in the pants I needed!

And now the Padres have taken a 3-1 lead!  Awesome!

Friday, November 29, 2013


I guess I'm starting a tradition of only posting around the holidays, seeing as how my last post here at Yellow Cardboard was on Halloween.  Things are going strong over at my "regular" blog, but I've been neglecting the Yellow.

Anyways, enough about that.  'Tis the season to be thankful, and while I have a lot to be thankful in my life, I'm going to take a look at the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot that was recently released and take a look at some of the players that fans in 1991 were thankful to see, and who should just be thankful to even be on the ballot.

While there are plenty of players on last year's ballot who had cards in the '91 Fleer set, here are the six new guys on the block.  I've listed them the order they appeared in the set.

First up, The Big Hurt, Frank Thomas.

Is he Cooperstown worthy?

In his 19 year career, he was known for his power (521 career home runs, had eleven seasons of 100+ RBI, including eight years in a row), but looking at his numbers, I was really surprised by a few things. First, he had a career batting average of .301.  I knew he was a good hitter, but I thought it would've been a bit lower.  Also, he led the league in OBP four different times, due in large part to leading the league in walks three times and winning the batting title once (in 1997).

In 1991…
He was showing promise after a great rookie season in 1990.  He made his first appearance on the MVP ballot, coming in third behind Cecil Fielder and the eventual winner, some guy named Cal Ripken Jr.  He led the league in walks (138), OBP (.453), and OPS (1.006).  Those stats would've led the majors in 2013, except OPS (Miguel Cabrera's is .072 higher).  I do not know enough about OPS to know if that is a little or a lot.

About the card…
A swinging Frank Thomas is a great sight.  Also makes me remember how much I love those early 90's Sox caps with the cursive "C".

Next up, The Gamblin' Man.

Is he Cooperstown worthy?
Sorry Kenny, it's just not in the cards.

A twenty year career that resulted in… four All-Star appearances?  A very pedestrian 4.27 career ERA?  His perfect game in 1994 isn't enough to get you into Cooperstown, but he's still in the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame, and that's nothing to sneeze at.

In 1991…
Not the greatest of years for K-Rog.  A 10-10 record isn't horrible, but his 5.42 ERA wasn't anything to brag about, though he would go on to have three more seasons with a higher mark.  He only started in nine games, so he was still coming out of the bullpen pretty frequently, as the Rangers had Nolan Ryan, Kevin Brown, and Jose Guzman at the top of their rotation.

About the card…
Pretty generic pitchers shot here, with the blue fence in the background, not much to say about it.

Alright!  Three players in an row with some type of nickname!  On to The Mad Dog!

Is he Cooperstown worthy?
If this is even a question, it is clear that you know nothing about baseball.

Greg Maddux is one of the greatest pitchers ever, and the greatest pitcher that I have ever seen in person (sorry Trevor).  I almost hesitate doing the whole "stat rundown", because if 355 wins, a career 3.16 ERA, and 109 complete games is something that needs to be said to sway your opinion, you are not worth my time.  I've heard that some players with big numbers get docked because they weren't "dominant" during their time, but no pitcher in the early 90's was more dominant than Greg, as he won the NL Cy Young Award four years in a row ('92-'96).  He would also finish in the top five for four years after that.  Okay, I need to move on, because the "why" for Maddux' entrance into Cooperstown could go on forever.

In 1991…
Maddux won his second Gold Glove and led the league in games started (37) and innings pitched (263).  This would've led the majors in 2013, as Adam Wainwright led all pitchers with 241.  Maddux was by far the ace of the staff, as he was joined in the rotation by names like Bielecki, Boskie, Castillo, and Sutcliffe.  The Cubbies would finish 4th in the NL East, six games below .500.

About the card…
Another pretty generic pitching card, though I think it's a better angle than the Rogers card.  There are a bunch of pictures from this set that were taken at Wrigley Field, but seeing as how Maddux spent half the season there, it makes sense.  It is so ingrained into my brain that Maddux is a Brave, so it always kind of weirds me out to see him as a Cub.

Next, a man who etched his name into postseason history, Luis Gonzalez.

Is he Cooperstown worthy?
That's a big no for Gonzo.

With a 19 year career, you're going to need to distinguish yourself in one area or another, and 2,591 hits, 354 homers, and a career batting average of .283 is not going to get it done.  He made five All-Star teams, or rather, he didn't make 14 All-Star games.

In 1991…
He was getting regular playing time after only playing 12 games in the previous season.  He responded by hitting .254 with 13 homers, 69 RBI, and 101 strikeouts.  Not a bad rookie season at all, but he failed to garner any Rookie of the Year votes.  The Astros finished last in the NL West, 32 games below .500, or 14 games better than this year's Astros.

About the card…

While the Fleer company had the foresight to include this future All-Star into their Update set, I'm not sure how highly they thought of him, only granting him this "stand still and don't smile" card with an empty stadium as a background.  A pretty forgettable rookie card, if you ask me.

Well, it looks like the string of nicknames is broken.  On to another Braves pitcher

Is he Cooperstown worthy?
Most definitely.

Unfairly, Glavine's case for the Hall might need more explanation for some, since a large chunk of his career was spent playing second fiddle to Maddux.  He led the league in wins five times, the same number of times he was a 20+ game winner.  He had 305 career wins, which is 50 less than Maddux, but he had 24 fewer losses (205).  When you win 100 more games than you lose, that seems pretty special.  Despite all of that, he only won half as many Cy Young's as Maddux, though he was named to  ten All-Star teams

In 1991…
Glavine was at the top of his game, making his first All-Star game, while winning his first Cy Young as well as his first Silver Slugger (he'd go on to win four).  He'd lead the league in wins (20) and complete games (9), while the Bravos would win the NL West, beat the Pirates in the playoffs, and lose to the Twins in the World Series.

About the card...
No generic pitcher's shot here, this is one of the best cards in the entire set, the only one showing a pitcher sliding into home.  A Hall of Fame caliber card for a Hall of Fame caliber player.

The last player new to the ballot didn't actually make it into the '91 Fleer base set, but was included in the Update set.

Is he Cooperstown worthy?
I pretty much only know of Mike Timlin from baseball cards, and seeing as how it's called a Hall of Fame, well, it doesn't bode well for Timlin.

While he had a long career (18 years) and a decent ERA (3.63), he was a bullpen guy who only got more than 20+ saves twice and never was chosen for the All-Star game.  He is easily the biggest head scratcher on this ballot.  He does, however have the most MLB wins for any alumni from Southwestern University (Georgetown, TX, which is a beautiful campus a few minutes away from where I used to live in Round Rock).

In 1991…
He placed sixth on the AL Rookie of the Year ballot, and had a crazy 11-6 record, starting three games and finishing seven (three saves).  That would be the only time that he'd have double digit wins in his career.

About the card…
Once again, generic but not necessarily boring shot of a pitcher who looks like he's throwing out of the stretch.  Sometimes I'm surprised by how far apart a pitcher's legs can be before they even bring the ball up to throw.  Digging the Blue Jays blue caps with the white front panel.

Well, there you have it, there's the rundown of six of the new guys on the All-Star ballot.  Not included in the 1991 set were other newbies Mike Mussina, Jeff Kent, Moises Alou, Ray Durham, Hideo Nomo, Richie Sexson, Paul Lo Duca, Armando Benitez, Sean Casey, Jacque Jones, Eric Gagne, J.T. Snow, and Todd Jones.

For what it's worth, of the new guys, the only ones that I'd consider "first ballot" would be Thomas, Maddux, and Glavine.  If I was granted a vote this year, I'd also include:

* Craig Biggio (2nd year)
* Jack Morris (15th year)
* Mike Piazza (2nd year)
* Tim Raines (7th year)
* Lee Smith (12th year)
* Edgar Martinez (5th)
* Fred McGriff (5th)

That'd be a full ballot of ten players.  Hopefully somebody gets elected to the Hall this year.

EDIT: At first, I wrote that Gonzalez had been included in the Update set, when in fact he was a part of the base set.  My bad.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Here at Yellow Cardboard, the preference for borders is almost always, um, yellow.  But on Halloween, we make exceptions and mix things up.  

A spooky looking Doc Gooden is made even more intimidating by the jet black borders of the Pro-Visions set.  The flaming glove and eerie night sky might be a little unnerving to any potential batters as well.

Even though the borders on this Barry Bonds card are white, the message from the picture is that he's got a deadly bat.  Looks like a witch might've been stirring a poisonous brew with it to give it power over pitchers.  Or maybe it was injected with steroids.

Happy Halloween everybody!  And special thanks to Tom from The Angels in Order for sending me these beauties!  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Best Of The Set: Mets

Round three of "Best of the Set" y'all!  Metropolitan edition!  

Ok.  Woah.  Too much excitement there.  It's Sunday after all, just a quick post to start the week.  Relaxing to the soothing yellow glow of '91 Fleer.

After rounds 1 & 2 where we visited Toronto and Montreal, we're heading back to the good old U.S. of A.  The results of the voting for the best cards from the team sets are on the left.  Congrats go out to Misters Grissom, Galarraga, Olerud, and Hill.

Anyways, I've got a few blogger friends who are Mets fans, so I'll be interested to see their input on "the best" Mets cards from the set.

On a side note, how many sports teams are there that have a nickname for their nickname?  Two of 'em are in New York (the Metropolitans and Knickerbockers).  Have the Reds officially changed their name from the Redlegs, or is that one that gets automatically gets shortened as well?  Don't even get me started on the Diamondbacks.

Alright, onto the cards, as we've already started with Frank Viola at the top.  As a kid, I always thought that Frank Viola and Frank Tanana had really cool names.  I think I attributed it to their last names, but maybe I just like the name Frank.  Hmmm...

Alright, here is an impressive duo of cardboard.  Strawberry's card is neither the first nor the last to depict the 1990 Home Run Derby.  I personally am not a fan of Darryl, but the high leg kick san helmet is a pretty cool looking one.  Man, Dwight Gooden was awesome.

David Cone AKA Mr. Perfect Game is not in Yankee pinstripes but in the good old orange and blue.  John Franco has no perfect game on his resume, but he is fourth on the all-time saves leader board, coming in with 424.  He played on the Mets from 1990 - 2004, missing one season in between due to injury.  What a Met.

There are not many teams that still have the stripe that runs all the way down the jersey of a uniform onto the pants, and those that do tend to have a slightly slimmer stripe.  Gotta love the (early) 90's.

Our last two entrants aren't quite as well known as the previous ones.  I remember Chuck Carr more as an inaugural Marlin than a Met, but he was a rookie with them (4 games) in 1990.  He makes the list because I appreciate the "one batting glove, one bare hand" look, especially with the third base line seats in the background.  Todd Hundley makes the cut because I'm a sucker for shots of catchers in their gear, and you don't see many of them trying to throw out runners from behind first base.

Okay, in reality, he's most likely just warming up the pitcher, but still, you don't usually see that much green behind a "catcher in his gear" card.

Well, there it is!  In three months, I've done 16 posts and three editions of Best of The Set.

I know what you're staying: "Slow down, man!"

Please vote for two.  Right side of the page.  Poll closes sometime this week.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


If you haven't checked out the poll results from Red Cardboard's Round 2/Group 2, I'll go ahead and spoil it for you now...

The yellow is moving on!  Along with some other, less yellow cards, from 1953, 1973, and 1994.

I need to start posting on here more often.  My powers of persuasion and obvious popularity demand it. I'll see what I can do.

You're welcome, Mariano.