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Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Fergie Jenkins

Jenkins

The Cubs retired uniform number 31 in honor of both Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux in 2009; they were the first pitchers so honored by the club. The other Cubs players whose numbers are retired are Ron Santo (10), Ernie Banks (14), Ryne Sandberg (23), and Billy Williams (26).

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Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Andre Dawson

The Hawk

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are still without contracts*. Andre Dawson didn’t sign with the Cubs until March 9 in 1987. Of course, that was due in part to collusion, a self-imposed, under-the-table salary cap orchestrated by Bud Selig and his cohorts to keep contracts down. Is that happening this year? Honestly, I don’t care. I don’t care if Harper and Machado end up playing in Japan or Mexico or Timbuktu. If this leads to another strike, as Adam Wainwright thinks it will, that’s fine.

I love baseball, but I don’t need baseball. There are plenty of other things to keep me busy. A bunch of whining millionaires (I’m talking about both owners and players) doesn’t sit well with me.

* I wrote this last night, and might be asleep when it actually posts. I probably won’t come back and update it even if a deal with the Phillies or Padres or Yankees or Chunichi Dragons is announced.

Fun Cards: 1990 Topps BIG Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips Pawtucket Red Sox

Brandon Phillips played his first 15 big league seasons in Ohio, starting with the Cleveland Indians for four years and then eleven more with the Reds. He reached the All-Star Game three times with Cincinnati and won three Gold Gloves, but his skills were diminishing and his attitude started rubbing people the wrong way near the end. After exercising his no-trade clause when Cincinnati tried to deal him to Arizona and Washington before the 2016 season, he finally relented and accepted a trade to the Braves. On the last day of August 2017, the Braves traded him to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County of Southern California on the West Coast in the United States of America.

Despite hitting .285 with 13 homers and 60 RBI in 2017, Phillips was unable to secure a big league contract for the 2018 season. Last month, he signed a minor league deal with Boston and performed well in 6 games for the class A Lowell Spinners. He was then promoted to the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox, but in 8 games has only collected 5 hits, hitting .172. The Paw Sox have a nice selection of photos from Dat Dude’s time with the team on Facebook.

Will he make it back to the bigs when rosters expand, or is Pawtucket his last hurrah?

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Jim Rice

Rice

Jim Rice toiled for fifteen years on the BBWAA ballot before finally getting over the 75% threshold in his final year of eligibility. Rice was a feared slugger during his career, winning the 1978 AL MVP award and finishing in the top five during five other seasons. He finished his career with 382 longballs and 1451 RBI.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Wade Boggs

Boggs

It was pretty clear early in Wade Boggs‘ career that he would eventually be a Hall of Famer. He batted .357 or better five times in his career, collected 3010 hits and finished with a .328 average. Twelve times in 18 years Boggs was named an All-Star, and eight times a Silver Slugger. The JAWS rating system puts Boggs at #3 among third basemen on the all-time list, behind Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Carlton Fisk

Fisk

He is the fourth-best catcher in history (according to JAWS), but it took two tries on the ballot for Carlton Fisk to get into the Hall of Fame. Granted, 1999 was a pretty loaded ballot…but fourth-best in history! Eleven All-Star selections, 1972 Rookie of the Year, and that Game 6 homer in 1975 defined the original Pudge’s career.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Tom Seaver

Seaver

Tom Seaver was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 as a New York Met. I get that. His greatest success came in New York, and the first team that everyone associates him with is the Mets. He won the Cy Young Award three times—as a Met—and won 198 games with the team. There was no question that the Mets would be featured on his cap on the plaque.

But he also played for the Reds, and it’s really difficult for me to not make a “Baseball Immortals” for Seaver without a Reds alternative…

Seaver Reds

And while I’m at it, I might as well make a White Sox card…

And a Red Sox card…

Seaver Red Sox

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Ferguson Jenkins

Jenkins

Fergie Jenkins was the 1971 NL Cy Young Award winner for the Chicago Cubs, and nearly won the 1974 AL Cy Young with the Rangers. He received ten first-place votes for the award, while Catfish Hunter took twelve first-place votes. “Fly” was the first Canadian-born baseball player inducted into the Hall of Fame, gaining entry in his third year on the ballot in 1991.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Carl Yastrzemski

Yaz

If you can spell his last name, I’m impressed, but if you have to call him “Yaz,” I don’t hold it against you. Carl Yastrzemski was one of the best players in Red Sox history, which is saying a lot considering how many great players have worn the Boston uniform. It is fitting that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the same year as Johnny Bench, against whom he competed in one of the greatest World Series contests ever. Yaz only received eight fewer votes than Bench in the Hall of Fame vote, with 94.6% support from the BBWAA.

Yastrzemski’s career highlights include the 1967 AL MVP, the same year that the left fielder achieved the coveted “Triple Crown.” The Triple Crown had only been achieved fifteen times prior to Yaz’s 1967 season, and only once since (Miguel Cabrera in 2012). It is considered one of the toughest offensive achievements in baseball. His 12.4 WAR in 1967 is the most in a single season for any ballplayer not named Babe Ruth.

Yaz was no flash-in-the-pan, though. He was named to 18 All-Star teams while slugging 452 home runs and collecting 3419 hits in his 23-year career. I think Yastrzemski might be one of the most underrated players in history, perhaps because he followed Ted Williams, one of the greatest left fielders in history.

Goodbye, Don Baylor

(June 28, 1949 – August 7, 2017)

Baylor

Slugging outfielder and 1979 American League MVP, Don Baylor passed away today from multiple myeloma, a form of cancer of plasma cells. Baylor his 338 home runs in his career, was an All-Star in 1979, and won the World Series with the Minnesota Twins in 1987. He presided over the Boston Red Sox’s kangaroo court, and fined Roger Clemens $5 for giving up a single to Spike Owen on an 0-2 count during his 20-strikeout game in 1986. He was also the Colorado Rockies’ first manager.

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