Friday, November 29, 2013

Newbies

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?
Yes.

Why?
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.

Why?
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.

Why?
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.

Why?
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.

Why?
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.

Why?
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

Victory!

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.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

PSA

Man, not posting on here as much as I'd like.  Well, that's okay.  Just a quick post today to let you know about the countdown going on over at Red Cardboard, a Reds baseball card blog.  Matt, the author over there, is doing a countdown of the best Reds cards ever.  While there have been many great pieces, there has been only one (that I'm aware of) card from the 1991 Fleer set...

This one right here of Reds second baseman Mariano Duncan.

Why does this matter?  Well, because his countdown is one where reader input is valued - there is voting to see which cards advance to the next round!  Believe it or not, I think that Mr. Duncan is poised to advance into the third round (at last check), but every vote counts.  Going up against cards from the 50s is a tall order, but if you head over there, Vote Yellow!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bream, a Brave Buc

If I was a more knowledgable fan, I would probably have already known that Sid Bream spent half of his twelve year career with the Pirates.  Since I'm not, I had to find out by flipping through the good ol '91 Fleer binder.

Like many fans, when I think of Sid Bream, I think of "The Slide" that helped the Braves get to the World Series in 1992.  He was a Brave then, so that's how I've always thought of him.

But here's the proof!  He was a Pirate!  In December of 1990, he signed with the Atlanta Braves, so he didn't play with the Pirates in 1991.  I guess it is probably just me, but it seems strange to see Bream and his mustache in the black and yellow of the Bucs.

I wonder if he was a Pirates fan growing up, seeing how he was born in Pennsylvania and has it listed as his "home".  Again, probably something that I could look up, but there's no time for that now.

Bream's time in Pittsburgh saw him play for some really up and down teams.  The '85 team that he landed on after being traded from LA wound up losing 104 games, and they went on to lose 98 the following year.  However, of his six years there, they had above a .500 win percentage twice, both resulting in first round losses.

As you may have heard, the Pirates finally broke the streak of losing more games than they won each season.  I am very happy for them, and I'm sure that Sid Bream is as well.

Anyways, to satisfy those who are still weirded out by seeing Bream as a Buc, here is his card from the Update set...

Seems to be a little more settling, doesn't it?

I wonder how it must've stung for the Pirates to get beaten by one of their own on such a big stage?  It still irks me when Adrian Gonzalez faces the Padres, but he's never faced them in any games of "real" consequence, much less the playoffs.

Best of luck to the Pirates this year, as they are the official National League playoff team of Yellow Cardboard.  It is policy for YC to support any and all teams wearing yellow, so here's hoping for an Oakland/Pittsburgh World Series.  You know, once the Padres leave town and stop knocking the Pirates out of the race.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Parents, Man.

Parents, man.  You can't live with 'em when you're a kid, and embarrassed to be living with 'em when you're an adult.

I recall a conversation with my mom (who doesn't seem to recall it at all) that we had after I got back from a two-year mission for my church, in which she told me that she expected me out of the house in a year.  I was gone 51 weeks later (worked, saved money, did some community college stuff, was engaged and married before heading up to "real" college).  She insists that if she did say something like that, that it was just a joke.

Anyways, while we're on the topic of parents and throwing people out...

Mark Parent, current bench coach for the White Sox, was ejected from a game last week while exchanging lineup cards before the game even started!  Pretty wild, right?  I guess he had a beef with some calls from the two previous games and vented a little too much to crew chief Jerry Layne.

I don't mean to stereotype or anything, but Parents seem to think that they're always right.

As far as Mark goes, the dude is on some pretty sweet pieces of cardboard.  Though I love this one, obviously, my all-time favorite Parent card would have to be from '91 Score.  Look it up.

In '91, Parent was no longer a Padre (there's a joke there somewhere, but who's got time to figure it out?), as he had been traded to the Rangers for Scott Coolbaugh, who also went on to become a coach. Mark played in only three games for Texas, striking out in his only appearance.  He'd go on to play for the Orioles, Cubs, Pirates, Tigers, and Phillies before playing the last season of his career in 1998.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rynager

Ok, while not as clever as "Brangelina" (the power-duo of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), "Rynager"is the combination of Ryne (as in Sandberg) and Manager.  It's been a little over a week since the Phillies fired Charlie Manuel and Sandberg made his big league managerial debut for the Phillies.  In that time, he has gone 5-3 and is currently on a three game winning streak.

In 1990, Sandberg and Cecil Fielder led their leagues in home runs, with Ryne rocketing 40 whilst Cecil smacked 51.  As a kid, I always thought these "sluggers meeting by the batting cage" cards were cool, especially when they were in different leagues.  Not really as interesting now that we have inter league play, however.  Still, this is a sharp looking card, Ryne in Cubbie blue and Fielder in the Detroit grays.

I'm not sure how well Ryno will do as a manager, but he is one of the greats, so it's cool to see him still in love with the game.  I often think of him as being a lifetime Cub, forgetting the first 13 games of his career, spent as a Phil.  At the very least, he's just a "two-club" guy.  Not really sure what Chicago saw in Dale Sveum that made him so awesome that they wouldn't even consider Sandberg as a managerial possibility.  But I'd be lying if I said that I knew anything at all about Sveum, either.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Grizzly Adams Rotation

If you're like me, you just grew a beard because you wanted to see how long it could grow during summer break.  Even if you're not like me, you may have noticed that it seems like more and more baseball players today are growing beards as well.

It begs the question:  Was this a prevalent style in the 1991 Fleer set?

To answer that question, I have compiled what will hereby be known as The Grizzly Adams Starting Rotation.  To make the cut, players are judged not by their numbers, but on the quality of their beard.  It's only a four man rotation because, let's face it, with a rotation as manly as this one, nobody needs an extra day of rest.

#4 Starter - Rick Aguilera
Rick Aguilera grows a solid beard.  As a kid, I can't remember him without his face-warmer, but he managed to make it still look pretty cool.  By 1991, he had been put into a bullpen role, but for this instance, we'll toss him back into the rotation spot that he had in the late 80s as a New York Met.  In any other set, he would be ranked much higher than number four, but...

this is the picture on the back of his card.  What happened Rick?  Didja lose a bet?  More than likely, this could be a Spring Training photo, and Florida heat + thick beard = more than a little toasty.

#3 Starter - Bert Blyleven
As the lone Hall of Famer in the Grizzly Adams rotation, Blyleven's credentials (287 wins and 3,701 strikeouts) are of little help to him here.  While his beard is certainly a trademark, the Dutchman's close cropped look is only good for our #3 starter.

#2 Starter - Ron Robinson
My only memories of Ron Robinson are on baseball cards, and most of them seemed to be from his Reds playing days.  The Reds uniform with his red beard and large stature (6'4") led me to think of him as "Big Red Ron Robinson".  If the Grizzly Adams rotation was to see playing time in 1991, Robinson wouldn't have been considered a workhorse by any means.  In the third game of the season for the Brew Crew, he lasted 4.1 innings and gave up 3 runs before leaving with an elbow injury.  It would be his only game of the season, and he would retire after 8 more in 1992.  But here, his massive beard makes him a massive #2 starter.

Ace of the Grizzly Adams staff - Jeff Reardon
What?  How can a closer (who led the AL in saves in 1985) be the "ace" of the staff?  Well, if Rick Ankiel can go from being a pitcher to an outfielder, Reardon could go from the bullpen to the Opening Day starter.  Obviously he would need some good coaching to help him make the transition, but his Paul Bunyan-like beard would be more than up for the job.

While his ERA might suffer in the early part of the season, his FPcm (follicles per centimeter) would easily lead the rest of the league.  By putting more faith in his beard than his arm (or rational thinking), Reardon would become a legend, and his scruff would win MVB.

Of course, if you have a starting rotation as manly and tough as these four, you can't have some limp wristed pansy calling the game behind the plate.  But who would you call on to make up the other half of the battery?

While his name might be Junior, that is certainly a Major League beard.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Peña? Alejandro Peña?

I am currently sitting in my classroom at school and in serious need of a break.  I changed grade levels and classrooms (from 5th grade to 1st grade), which means lots of packing, lots of rearranging, and lots of... well, lots of other stuff.

To take this break, I'm utilizing a technique that I use in class pretty frequently: a timer.  What you are about to read (well, including what you've already read) will only take five minutes of my time.  I better stop introducing this and just get to the meat of this post.

When I was in high school Spanish class (I'm thinking my sophomore or junior year, but I could be wrong), our teacher told us that since we'd be speaking Spanish, we needed to have a "Spanish" name. Now, for my name, the most literal translation would be "Marcos".  Choosing this name would've made it pretty simple for my friends outside of class to know who other were talking about if we were in fact using these adopted Spanish names.

But who wants to do that?

I decided to go with "Alejandro" as my Spanish name, after Alejandro Pena.

Don't ask me why in high school I was still thinking about Alejandro Pena.  His last game in the majors was in 1996, and I graduated in 2002.  But for whatever reason, when I thought of "cool Spanish names", Alejandro popped into my head.

Crap, the timer just went off.  Adding another five minutes (my kids aren't lying, that does go fast)!

Pena is probably most known for being part of a combined no-hitter against the Padres when he was playing for Atlanta, as commemorated on a 1992 Donruss card.  No time for links, look it up yourself.

On the back, we have a carefree looking Alejandro, large eyebrows raised as if to say, "Me?  You want to take a picture of me?"  Reminds me of school photos where the photographer is trying to get you do do a particular head turn or look in a weird direction, and you just want to say, "TAKE THE PICTURE".

Pena was traded from New York to Atlanta during the 1991 season.  No time for stats or anything, I can see my time is almost gone.

Anyways, there is the story of me and Alejandro Pena two guys named Alejandro.  Happy Friday.

TIME!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Best of the Set - Blue Jays

When I first started this blog, I wondered how it would impact my "blogging life".  As you may know, my main blog is All The Way To The Backstop... which focuses on the rest of my collection, and is heavily Padre influenced.  I post on there pretty frequently (almost daily, depending on the week), but I wasn't sure if another blog would fit into my schedule.

Well, after almost a whole month, of which I have posted eight times, I gotta say that it fits in pretty well.  Kind of nice to do some more relaxing posts and not feel the need to write all the time.

Anyways, onto another leisurely card post: Best of the Team Set #2 - Toronto Blue Jays

In case you're not aware of how this works, we're deciding which is the "best" card for each team set from 1991 Fleer, and you the voter determines the criteria.  Choose two of the players on the sidebar, most votes is our champion.

When baseball fans think of John Olerud, there are probably some that immediately think of the Blue Jays.  Others probably remember him more for the helmet that he wore while he was playing defense.  From what I've gathered, he was advised to wear it in college to avoid getting hit in the head (duh), which would've further complicated the brain hemorrhage and aneurysm that he suffered during a workout.  It then became a habit that he continued the rest of his career.  That may or may not be accurate.  Still, there is no denying there is a unique quality to all of Olerud's cards of him on defense.

Both the Felix and the Williams became finalists for their backgrounds.  With Junior, we have a few uniformed Jays and some spectators watching his follow through.  I almost didn't see his bat, which is almost hidden behind his right hand.  Current White Sox general manager Ken Williams' card is less cluttered, as we can see the makeup of the stadium in the background with fans watching from a bit further away.  Seems like a very relaxing portrait.

Didja know that Glenallen Hill likes to hustle?  I'm not talking about just a few lines of dirt on his uniform, but he also hustles so much that he sometimes loses his helmet on the base paths.  He doesn't hustle so much that he loses track of where the ball is, however, as he is looking to see if he can advance to the next bag or if he'll have to hold up.  For the longest time, I've alway thought that he was coming from second and pulling into third, but after taking a closer look at the seats in the background, they are most likely fans on the first base side, making him heading from first to second.

Gotta show a little love for the pitchers, here.  If you were one who thought "helmet" when you saw Olerud, you probably think "glasses" when you see Tom Henke.  While not as noticeable here, they are quite prominent on other cards.  Dude was also a pretty imposing 6'5", so I can't imagine that you would be making fun of him unless you were buddies.  Stottlemyre makes the cut because he's the only Jay in the set who's wearing the dual color blue & white cap.  A few wear the pattern on their batting helmets, but I think those are pretty slick looking, and he's the only one wearing it in wool (or whatever fabric they were made of at the time).

If you know me, you know that I'm a big Fred McGriff fan.  This is a good looking shot of the Crime Dog patrolling first base (Olerud and McGriff - talk about an embarrassment of riches at first base), with the second baseman lurking in the background.  I think of him more fondly as a Padre, but he had some great years and great cards as a Blue Jay.  Fleer did a good job in showing plenty of catchers in their gear in this set, so here is Greg Myers decked out in blue protective gear, with a Ranger (Rafael Palmiero?) in the background.

Well, there you have it, another week, another "Best of the Set".  Voice your opinion on the left!  Two votes, one week!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Stan the Man

Stan Belinda was drafted by the Pirates in 1986 and made his debut with them at the end of the '89 season.  He was always a bullpen guy, making appearances in 585 career games, but never starting a game.  He recorded 79 saves in his twelve year career, also playing for the Royals, Red Sox, Reds, Rockies, and Braves (though he didn't save any games in Atlanta in his last year in the bigs).  He retired  in 2000 with a decent 41-37 record and a 4.15 ERA.

As a kid, I seemed to get lucky pulling cards of Stan Belinda and Jose Lind, both on the Pirates at the time.  Though I didn't get this one until recently, it was of particular interest to me (not just to be able to finish the set, of course).  Not for the less-than-thrilling action shot, or because I'm jumping on the Pirates bandwagon now that they're in first place.  It's because...

We share the same birthday!

Okay, so you probably can't see it, but he was born on August 6th, 1966, 18 years exactly before me.  Happy 47th Stan!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Common Theme

Just a quick post today.  As I was flipping through the wondrous pages of the Yellow Binder, I came across a few cards that seemed to have a few things in common...


Seems that the common theme was to have Dodgers middle infielders getting Padre runners out.  Bip Roberts is doing his best to break up a pair of double plays, first by leading with a helmet to the groin, then by hitting the dirt as the fielder moves to his right.  

Joe Carter also appears to be out on this one, though it looks like Harris had to apply the tag.  Caught stealing?  Trying to stretch a single into a double?  Who knows.

Judging by the outfield wall, I'm guessing that the Griffin and Harris cards might've been from the same game, while the Vizcaino was taken on a different date.

By the way, the poll is now closed for the first "Best of the Set" vote, and Marquis Grissom will be representing the Expos.  Congrats to Mr. Grissom.  Trying to figure out what team to do next.  Will be taking any and all suggestions, first come, first served.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

H.O.F. Class of '99

When talking about great baseball card sets, many people will cite the number of Hall of Fame players that were on the checklist.  This will be the first in a series of posts on the Hall of Fame classes that featured players who also had cards in the '91 Fleer set.

Given that it came out in 1991, the earliest that Fleer's "Sunshine Set" could've possibly had a Hall of Famer would've been in 1997 (assuming that '91 was their last year, and after five years of retirement - '92 - '96).

In '97, there were a few guys that made the ballot, but weren't inducted.  Terry Kennedy, Garry Templeton, Mike Scott, and Fred Lynn made their only appearance on the Cooperstown list, all getting less than 5% of the vote.   Dwight Evans and Dave Parker received 5.9% and 17.5% of the vote, respectively, allowing them to qualify for the next ballot in 1998.

The following year, Evans and Parker saw spikes in their votes, getting 10.4% and 24.5%, respectively.  There was also a fresh batch of "one ballot wonders" that missed the 5% cut, including  Brian Downing, Carney Lansford, Willie Randolph, Pedro Guerrero, and Jack Clark.  A fresh faced Bert Blyleven placed second of the '91 Fleer alumni with 17.5% in his debut ballot.

While it took a few years for the first crop of Hall of Fame inductees, 1999 was a pretty solid one class, including three first-ballot HOF'ers.

Robin Yount received 77.5% of the vote in his debut ballot.  While barely squeaking over the requisite 75% bar, there is no doubting his Hall of Fame status.  The powder blue Brewers uniforms from the good old American League days look harken back to a simpler time, and the follow-through swing pose is one that is definitely befitting a player of his caliber.

Yount was definitely no spring chicken in '91, the 18th of his 20 seasons, all spent in Milwaukee.  That year, he hit a solid .260 with 10 homers and 77 RBI.  He got 131 hits in 130 games - not too shabby.  He would finish his Hall Of Fame career with 3,142 hits, one more than future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.  Speaking of Gwynn, he and Yount both wore number 19, the last on their respective teams to do so, as they have since been retired.  Yount went on to be a coach for the Diamondbacks and Brewers, as well as pitching an all natural lemonade brand called Robinade.

Speaking of members of the 3,000 Hit Club who spent their entire career with one team, our second inductee is George Brett.  He cruised into Cooperstown easily, with a whopping 98.2% of the vote.  His card is eerily similar to Yount's - a follow-through swing shot, in a powder blue uniform during a spring training game.  Only difference is that Brett is doing it from the left side, while Yount was a right handed hitter.  Solid looking card.

Not a bad head of hair for somebody who was entering their 19th season in the bigs at the age of 38.  The previous year, he won the AL Batting Title with a .329 average, his third such award.  I wasn't aware that he hit a ridiculous .390 in 1980, the year he also won the AL MVP.  1991 would be a tough year for Brett, as his average would drop 74 points to a career low .255.  For a guy who was a 13 time All-Star, he wasn't on the All-Star team the last five seasons of his career.  Since switching over from third to first, guys like McGwire, Mattingly, Fielder, Palmiero, Olerud, and Thomas took the slots.  He would end his career in 1993 with a .303 batting average, 317 homers, 1,596 RBI, and 3,154 hits.  Uniform number 5 has been retired by the Royals, the number he wore since his second full season in Kansas City.

Brett currently is the hitting coach for the Royals and has three sons, Jackson, Dylan, and Robin, who was named after the aforementioned Robin Yount.

Nolan Ryan managed to top Brett's induction numbers, posting a 98.8% on the ballots.  As high as that is, I'd like to meet the 1.2% of the voters who didn't vote for him.  Being a child of the 90s, my memories of the Ryan Express are with the Rangers (and in Advil commercials), but he also pitched for the Astros and Mets during his 27 year career, which ended in '93.  This card is one of my favorites of Ryan, in the classic rear-back-and-let-it-fly pose.  In '91, he would lead the league in WHIP, as well as record his 7th and final no-hitter on May 1st against the Blue Jays at the age of 44.  The final out of the game would be a strikeout of future Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, one of the 5,714 strikeouts he would record in his career.

Like Brett, the hairline is receding just a bit, but it just reflects the veteran experience that would help Ryan become one of the best pitchers in the history of the game.  One stat that jumped out at me is his 222 career complete games, or an average of 10 per 162 games.  Can't imagine today's pitchers getting anywhere near those numbers.  He ended his career being the all-time leader in walks, strikeouts, and hits per nine innings.  The Angels retired his number 30, and the Rangers and Astros both retired his number 34.  Ryan is currently the owner of the Texas Rangers.

Out of those three players, there are three great legacies, as well as some post-playing careers that are still going strong.

There were other '91 Fleer alumni who didn't make the cut in '99.  The one-time balloteers were Mike Witt, Frank Tanana, Charlie Leibrandt, Mike Boddicker, John Candelaria, and George Bell.  In their third year of eligibility, Dave Parker slumped to 16.1%, while Dwight Evans sunk to 3.6%, dropping him off the ballot.  Blyleven's second year saw him dip to 14.1%, just behind Dale Murphy's debut of 19.3%.  Carlton Fisk's debut of 66.4% saw him just barely miss induction, but was a very strong showing.

Well, there you have it, the very first Hall of Fame induction class from the 1991 Fleer set.  Many more posts to come, especially considering that there are some players that are still on the ballot