During a Twitter discussion earlier tonight, the topic of year-end highlights baseball sets came up. I immediately thought of the Donruss Highlights sets which were issued from 1985-1987. I’m disappointed this set did not continue beyond 1987, and wondered what a 1988 edition might look like. I tried to go with a gold border with silver in place of the red gradient. It is similar to the “Baseball’s Best” set, but not quite as orange. Since I don’t have the font Donruss used in 1988, I simply copied-and-pasted the nameplate from an actual 1988 release.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mark Davis got a hefty raise after his 1989 Cy Young season, but he never pitched like he did in 1988 and 1989 again.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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What I’m Reading Right Now: Firefight: The Reckoners, Book Two by Brandon Sanderson. (Yes, still working on it.)
Don Sutton is often cited as a prime example of a “compiler,” a guy who is able to stick around for a long time and keep padding his statistical record while never truly dominating. And to that accusation (if you want to call it that), I say, “So what?” If he’s good enough to stick around, let him stick around.
Even though he was only named to four All-Star teams and only won 20 games once in 23 seasons, he had five straight top-five finishes for the Cy Young Award from 1972 through 1976. Outside of that brief brilliance, though, Sutton never received much recognition for his abilities. Even when it came time for Hall of Fame consideration, it took five ballot cycles for the BBWAA to decide to induct a 300-win, 3500-strikeout pitcher.
One other interesting note about Sutton: he attended four different colleges in three states. He started at the Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Florida, then went to Mississippi College in Clinton. From there, he went to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and finished up at Whittier College in Whittier, California.
Is Eddie Murray the most underrated Hall of Famer? 500 homers, 3000 hits, eight All-Star Games, five consecutive top-five finishes for the AL MVP. How is he so often forgotten when talking about the greats of the past 40 years?
Don’t get mad at me. These are “fun cards.” If I want to make a card of Mike Piazza wearing a Marlins uniform, I will. So what if he only played five games for the Fish?
Honestly, the Dodgers never should have traded this guy. He was the franchise in the 1990s, and they were foolish to let their relationship deteriorate. Yes, he is wearing a Mets cap on his Cooperstown plaque, and statistically, that’s what it should be. But it shouldn’t, because he never should have worn a Mets cap as a player. He should have been a career Dodger.
Juan Marichal is most remembered for his 14 seasons with the Giants, winning all but five of his big league victories with San Francisco. As his career wound down, however, he found himself pitching for Boston and then Los Angeles in 1974 and 1975. He debuted on the Hall of Fame ballot in 1981 with 58.1% of the vote; in 1982 he was a mere seven votes away from immortality. Finally, Marichal was elected in 1983 with 83.7% and was inducted with Baltimore legend Brooks Robinson.
I love the Cincinnati Reds, but even more than that, I love baseball. Rookie Walker Buehler pitched six hitless innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Monterrey, Mexico, Friday night. Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia, and Adam Liberatore followed, each pitching an inning of no-hit ball against the San Diego Padres to complete the first combined no-hitter in Dodgers history. What a night, but in the States, another historic moment occurred…
While I love the idea of a set containing all the Hall of Famers, I would die a little inside every time I opened a pack and found an executive. Walter O’Malley was the Dodgers owner from 1950 to 1970 and moved the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958. Yawn.
With only one 20-win season, Don Sutton is seen by many as the ultimate example of a compiler. After 23 years, Sutton retired with 324 victories and 3574 strikeouts, both considered “magic numbers” is the pre-steroid era. He debuted on the Hall of Fame ballot in 1994, receiving 56.6% of the vote, and his support went up every year until his induction in 1998 when 81.6% of the BBWAA considered him and his glorious hair worthy.