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.
Being associated with the 1986 World Champion New York Mets was like a golden ticket for many players. The National League fans’ 1988 All-Star selection of Gary Carter was not as egregious as Terry Steinbach, but he still was not the best choice. Lance Parrish of the Phillies would have been a better fit to start according to the players.
The results of the USA Today players poll for NL catchers follows:
The National League took six outfielders from four teams to the midsummer classic in 1988: starters Darryl Strawberry, Vince Coleman, and Andre Dawson, and backups Willie McGee, Rafael Palmeiro, and Andy Van Slyke.
I love the nicknames of the 1980s. The Straw, Vincent Van Go, The Hawk…the nicknames of players today just don’t have the same panache.
Not everyone liked their nickname, though. Case in point, Willie McGee hated the name “E.T.” He hated it so much, it became a national news story. The New York Times reported in 1982, “Willie McGee won’t elaborate on his dislike for the nickname. Perhaps he thinks that it’s a racial slur since E.T. is dark-skinned. Perhaps he’s embarrassed because he has the hooded eyes and pinched nose similar to that of the little creature; he also wobbles when he walks, as E.T. does in the movie. Whatever the reason, Willie McGee is entitled to prefer his name to that nickname, even though he has virtually landed in the World Series from another planet.”
If Palmeiro had a nickname, what would it be? “Finger-pointer”?
Kirk Gibson is the only difference between the players’ top six and the actual roster. Gibby was the eventual National League MVP and had one of the most dramatic home runs in World Series history, but his invite to the 1988 All-Star Game was evidently lost in the mail.
- Darryl Strawberry 118
- Andre Dawson 100
- Willie McGee 71
- Andy Van Slyke 57
- Kirk Gibson 37
- Rafael Palmeiro 32
- Vince Coleman 25
- Tim Raines 25
- Barry Bonds 20
- Tony Gwynn 10
- Dale Murphy 8
- Gerald Perry 7
- Eric Davis 5
- Will Clark 3
- Tom Brunansky 3
- John Shelby
- Candy Maldonado 2
- Brett Butler 1
- Dave Martinez 1
- Casey Candaele 1
- Jeffrey Leonard 1
- Danny Heep 1
- Kevin McReynolds 1
- Keith Moreland 1
- Mike Aldrete 1
- Gerald Young 1
- Albert Hall 1
When I saw this photo pop up a few weeks ago, I knew I had to make a baseball card out of it. For some reason, I got a very 1983 Fleer vibe from it, even though Keith Hernandez didn’t wear the Captain’s “C” until 1987.
“No Respect” is, of course, the late Rodney Dangerfield‘s catchphrase. But it can easily be applied to Mex, one of the greatest defensive first basemen in baseball history. Despite his fielding excellence, coupled with a solid offensive career, Hernandez was shunned by the BBWAA when it came to Hall of Fame consideration. He received more than 5% of the vote from 1996-2003 to stay on the ballot, but dropped to 4.3% in 2004.
Is he a slam-dunk Hall of Famer? Obviously not, but he certainly wouldn’t be a bad choice either. Hopefully the Veterans Committee will do the right thing and induct Hernandez when he is again eligible for consideration. The only question then is whether he would wear a Cardinals cap or Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Yogi, spring training is over.
BASEBALL STARTS TOMORROW.
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.
The trade of Tom Seaver to Cincinnati in 1977 caused riots in New York. Shea Stadium was nearly destroyed. Marshall Law was in effect in the Big Apple. The persons responsible for the trade were more despised than the Son of Sam.
After a handful of seasons with the Reds, Tom returned to the Mets in 1983, then moved on to the American League to finish out a terrific career.
Mike Piazza, drafted as a favor to Tommy Lasorda, was never expected to make the majors. He was never even expected to sign. His dad had to badger the Dodgers to give his son a contract, and it’s a good thing he did. Piazza became one of the greatest catchers of all-time. Not only could he hit for power (427 home runs), but he hit for average too (.308 lifetime average). The 1993 NL Rookie of the Year was named to 12 All-Star teams in his 16-year career, and his 396 home runs as a catcher is the most by anyone at that position.
A lot of people call Pete Rose‘s hit total or Cal Ripken‘s game streak the most unbreakable baseball records, but I have a feeling Nolan Ryan‘s 5714 strikeouts will never be approached. The second guy on the list is Randy Johnson, who finished his career with 4875, nearly 1000 fewer K’s. The current active leader is CC Sabathia with 2846, and we all know he ain’t hanging on long enough to sniff 4000. He’ll be lucky to get to 3000.
There were seven Hall of Fame inductees in 1999: three from the BBWAA and four from the Veterans Committee. Nolan Ryan narrowly missed the highest voting percentage of all-time; Tom Seaver received .05% more support in 1992. He still ranks third today, as Ken Griffey surpassed both in 2016 with 99.32%.