Baseball is an incredible game

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Fun Cards: 1982 Fleer Mike Trout

Mike Trout 1982 Fleer

Today is a league-wide day off in baseball. I wonder how many ballplayers are going fishing? I listened to the Baseball Beyond Batting Average Podcast over the weekend*, and the ‘casters made reference to a few players with fishy names. That got me to wondering if I could fill a team of players with fish-themed names. Sure enough, I came up with quite a roster that includes Hall of Famers, All-Stars, Gold Glovers, Silver Sluggers, Most Valuable Players, and even a Cy Young Award winner. Unfortunately, I don’t have any lefties in the bullpen.

Without further ado, here’s the fishiest team in major league history, complete with WAR and honors.

1B: Sid Bream 11.1 — No All-Star teams, but you remember the slide, right?
George “Catfish” Metkovich 4.9

2B: Johnny “Crab” Evers 47.7, MVP, HOF — Gonzalez-to-Evers-to-Chance doesn’t have quite the ring as the traditional Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance, does it?
Johnny Ray 24.2
Bob Fisher 6.8

3B: Melvin Mora 28.3, 2xAS, SS
Matt “Carp” Carpenter 26.2, 3xAS, SS — Is “Carp” really a nickname?

SS: Alex “Sea Bass” Gonzalez 9.2, 1xAS — I’ve never heard him called “Sea Bass,” but it’s on his Baseball-Reference page!
Bobby Sturgeon 1.3

LF: Jesse “Crab” Burkett 59.6, HOF
Ralph Garr 14.8 1xAS
Mike Carp 1.6
Showboat Fisher 1.4 — Low WAR, but what a name!

CF: Mike Trout 70.1, 8xAS, 2xMVP, ROY, 6xSS — Three Hall of Famers on the team, but this guy is by far the best and he’s not even done playing.
A.J. Pollock 19.5, 1xAS, GG
Lip Pike 14.3 — Could double as the team’s manager.
Snapper Kennedy -0.1

RF: Tim Salmon 40.6, ROY, SS — Never made an All-Star team. Unbelievable.
Oscar Gamble 22.9 — The ‘fro.
Kevin Bass 14.8, 1xAS
Oscar Mercado 0.8 — He’s the “Rated Rookie” of the bunch, the youngster is batting .281 in his first season with the Indians.

C: Oscar Stanage 4.0 — Catcher is truly the weakest position.
Ed Whiting 2.7
Hank Conger 2.1
Gus Fisher 0.4

RHP: Dizzy Trout 49.6, 2xAS
Jim “Catfish” Hunter 40.9, 8xAS, CY, HOF — If he didn’t already have a plaque in Cooperstown, I’m not positive I would support his induction. But I don’t go against the voters very often.
Ray Fisher 20.8
Cherokee Fisher 15.5
Jeff “Shark” Samardzija 12.6, 1xAS
George Haddock 9.9
Jack Fisher 4.4

LHP: Steve “RainbowTrout 13.3
Robbie Ray 8.9, 1xAS
Roger Salmon -0.4

RP: Eddie Fisher 10.1, 1xAS — He had a very good year in 1965 and finished 4th in AL MVP voting. Probably didn’t deserve quite that much support, though.
Art Herring 3.2
Brian Fisher 0.8
Brad Salmon 0.3
Anthony Bass 0.0

Down on the farm: Zander Clarke (1B, LF) — Currently in the Giants’ organization. He attended UCLA.
Zander Wiel (1B, LF) — A product of Vanderbilt, Wiel was a 12th round pick for the Twins and is currently in Rochester with the AAA Red Wings. He has a bit of pop in his bat; I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Minnesota next year.

* If you don’t listen to the Baseball Beyond Batting Average Podcast, you’re missing out. A lot of great, entertaining baseball talk. They are currently doing some team “Mount Rushmore” themed shows, which is really fun to think about. The show is available on just about every podcast app, so search in whichever player you use.

Random Awesomeness (part 2019.13)

Random Awesomeness


Purchase the soundtrack for Yesterday
featuring a bunch of Beatles songs performed by Himesh Patel!

 

Fun Cards: 1990 Topps All-Star Jack Armstrong

Armstrong

I love the All-Star Game. To see the game’s brightest stars and the surprising stars and the soon-to-be has-beens all together on the field, it is one of the greatest spectacles in all of baseball.

My beloved Cincinnati Reds (who are absolutely killing me this year and I refuse to even wear my Reds hat until they get back to at least .500) have two All-Stars on the roster this year, pitchers Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray. I am of the opinion that Castillo should be starting the game, but that honor is going to Dodgers hurler Hyun-Jin Ryu tomorrow night. I hope that Castillo and Gray see some time on the mound, especially since the game is again simply an exhibition and not the decider of home-field advantage for the World Series.

The Reds have had a number of pitchers on All-Star rosters through the years, but it has been 29 years since a Reds pitcher started the game. Not Jose Rijo or Tom Browning or Danny Jackson, but Jack Armstrong was the starting pitcher for the 1990 National League All-Stars at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Armstrong had an insane first half with 11 victories and a 2.28 ERA.

He finished the year with 12 wins.

You read that right. In the second half of 1990, the All-Star starter won only one more game.

1990 was Armstrong’s only winning season, and his only full season with an ERA lower than 4.00. He finished his career with only 40 wins and a 4.58 ERA. But in the first half of 1990, he was one of the baseball’s top pitchers.

Armstrong

For more 1990 Topps All-Star goodness (or nonsense, if that is your opinion of the design), check out the latest post on The List of Fisk.

Goodbye, Jared Lorenzen

(February 14, 1981 – July 3, 2019)

Lorenzen

Former University of Kentucky and New York Giants quarterback Jared Lorenzen passed away today from an acute infection complicated by heart and kidney problems. He was 38. He was also a graduate of Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, a few years after me. The card above was created by TWJ contributor Patrick several years ago.

Fun Cards: 1988 All-Star Managers

Kelly

Kelly

Tom Kelly and Whitey Herzog led their teams to the World Series in 1987, but 1988 was not as kind to either manager. Kelly did get mentioned in the AL Manager of the Year voting, but the Cardinals’ 5th place finish in 1988 ensured that Herzog would be ignored at the end of the season. Kelly was at the beginning of his managerial career; he stayed with the Twins through the end of the 2001 season. Herzog was nearing the end in 1988; he was dismissed after 80 games in 1990 and never managed in the big leagues again.

Herzog

Herzog

I have enjoyed making these “fun cards” and researching the players that appeared in the 1988 All-Star Game, one of the first I remember and one of the most fun because of how close it was to me.

Fun Cards: 1988 National League All-Star Pitchers

Gooden

Gooden

The National League was absolutely loaded with starting pitchers in 1988. At the end of the year, it was a three-man race for the Cy Young Award, but at mid-season the field was wide open. Dwight Gooden got the starting nod. You would not have convinced me in 1988 that he would never be on another All-Star team.

Knepper

Knepper

Next up was Houston’s Bob Knepper, the only Astro on the team. I shook his hand during the All-Star workout the night before. I didn’t have anything to get signed with me, and he was the only one that acknowledged my existence.

Cone

Cone

David Cone is another one of the borderline Hall of Fame cases. I wouldn’t vote for him, but there are a lot of Coneheads who believe he was snubbed by the voters.

Gross

Gross

I never would have guessed that Kevin Gross was an All-Star. He did have 10 wins at the break, though, and 2.47 is a pretty good ERA. He just doesn’t register as an All-Star in my brain.

Davis

Davis

Mark Davis got a hefty raise after his 1989 Cy Young season, but he never pitched like he did in 1988 and 1989 again.

Walk

Walk

As names go, “Walk” may be one of the worst for a pitcher. “Homer” beats it, but “Walk” is not far behind. Fortunately, Bob Walk never appeared in the top ten for walks.

Hershiser

Hershiser

Orel Hershiser spent 18 years in the majors, winning 204 games for the Dodgers, Indians, Mets, and Giants. 1988 was his greatest season, winning the Cy Young Award, the NLCS MVP, and the World Series MVP.

Worrell

Worrell

Just as Tom Kelly chose his closer for the American League roster, Whitey Herzog named his closer Todd Worrell to the National League team. Worrel actually got into the game and retired the side in the top of the 9th: George Brett, Cal Ripken Jr., and Don Mattingly.

Maddux

Maddux

Greg Maddux made his first of eight All-Star teams in 1988, but didn’t pitch in the game. Am I the only one who thinks eight is way too low of a number for one of the greatest pitchers ever?

Jackson

Jackson

Danny Jackson was one of three Reds on the roster, but didn’t get to play in the game. There should be a rule that all players from the host city get to play. Jackson only made one more All-Star roster; while with the Phillies in 1994, he faced Scott Cooper, Kenny Lofton, and Will Clark without getting an out. He allowed two inherited runners and one of his own to score.

Thirty-five Years Ago Today: Dio avoids the “sophomore slump”

Dio Last in LineIn 1983, Ronnie James Dio released an epic debut album called Holy Diver. In 1984, he recorded with the same core lineup of Vivian Campbell, Jimmy Bain, and Vinny Appice, adding keyboardist Claude Schnell to the mix, and unleashed The Last In Line. The album reached #23 on the Billboard 200 charts, and three singles—“Mystery,” “We Rock,” and the title track—received a lot of attention from rock radio stations in the United States. The album was certified platinum in 1987.

Campbell, Bain, Schnell, and Appice used the name of this album to form a new band in 2012, teaming up with vocalist Andrew Freeman to perform Dio classics and write new material. The group has released two albums so far, Heavy Crown in 2016 and II in 2019. Sadly, Bain passed away in 2016; Phil Soussan took over bass guitar duties.

Goodbye, Tyler Skaggs

(July 13, 1991 – July 1, 2019)

Skaggs

Tyler Skaggs passed away in his hotel room in Texas this morning. Police are investigating but report that foul play is not suspected. Skaggs began his major league career with the Diamondbacks before joining the Angels after the 2013 season via the Dan Haren trade.

Several teams and players have posted condolences and memories on Twitter.

Fun Cards: 1988 American League All-Star Pitchers

Sweet Music

Sweet Music

“Sweet Music” Frank Viola was 14-2 at the All-Star break in 1988, making him the easy choice to start the game for the American League. He pitched two innings and earned the victory.

Clemens

Clemens

“The Rocket” Roger Clemens was next up for the AL, and retired all three batters he faced.

Gubicza

Gubicza

Mark Gubicza was the first American League pitcher to enter the game that didn’t have a cool nickname. He was also the first (and only) to let the National League score; Vince Coleman came home on a wild pitch in the 4th.

Stieb

Stieb

Should Dave Stieb be in the Hall of Fame? I think not, but there are a lot of Stieb stumpers out there. He appeared in seven ASGs in his career, but only tallied 176 victories over 16 seasons.

Russell

Russell

Jeff Russell was the “player to be named later” in the 1985 Reds-Rangers trade that saw Buddy Bell come to Cincinnati.

Cleveland Jones

Cleveland Jones

Doug Jones had a breakout season in 1988; it was the first of five seasons in which he saved at least 30 games, and his first of five All-Star Games.

Plesac

Plesac

When I started collecting baseball cards, Dan Plesac seemed to be in every discount store box set. He had a solid 18-year career, but nothing that would have warranted his inclusion in so many “Young Superstar” and “Hottest Players”-type sets.

Eckersley

Eckersley

Dennis Eckersley was the only Hall of Fame pitcher on the American League roster. Of course, Clemens would have been enshrined long ago if he hadn’t derailed his chances by getting caught using performance enhancers.

Reardon

Reardon

Two pitchers were on the American League roster but didn’t get into the game. The first is the manager’s own closer, Jeff Reardon. I wonder if players get mad when they don’t get to play, or if the experience of being there is enough.

Alexander

Alexander

Doyle Alexander started his big league career in 1971 and was named an All-Star for the first time in 1988. He did not get an opportunity to take the mound.

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