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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.

Steroids and the Hall of Fame

The use of performance enhancing drugs has thus far kept Mark McGwire out of the Hall of Fame. The general consensus is that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will also lose major support and probably miss the train to Cooperstown.

Now we have Alex Rodriguez, perhaps the biggest star of them all, the golden boy of all baseball writers. And baseball writers are the one who vote on the Hall of Fame. Will the steroids scandal hurt A-Rod?

Personally, I always thought he used. He was a teammate of Jose Canseco – and that alone puts one under the eye of suspicion. However, without the proof, he had my support (but not vote, since I don’t vote) for the Hall of Fame. The numbers are too big to ignore.

Now? He’s off my faux ballot. As well as Keith Hernandez’s imaginary ballot.

How about you?

The Republican candidates speak out

This video is a little old, but still worth watching. John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul all weigh in on one of the most important issues of the day…Roger Clemens. Dr. Paul was very wise in not offering an opinion, since he did not have all the facts; Huckabee and Romney both took the easy route saying in effect that they “hoped” he had not disappointed them. The other question asked dealt with the Super Bowl (which at the time of the interview had not been played), and Dr. Paul was the only one who said he usually pulled for the underdogs.

Why isn’t this man getting more support from the American people?!?!

Watch the video here: http://video.yahoo.com/watch/1884942

Fun cards, part 5 (new ones, part 3)

Just a couple new ones I did. The first is a “missed opportunity” for Topps, excluding Roger Clemens from their 1984 Topps Traded set. I have not found any good photos of Kirby Puckett to use from that era, and I’m still searching for an action shot of Eric Davis from 1984 (or so). The second is a request of George Brett on a 1965 Topps Kansas City Athletics card. I tried to change the patch on his uniform sleeve, but it didn’t turn out too well. Other than that, I’m happy with it. I hope you are too.

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Steroids vs. cocaine

Baseball is going through a crisis right now. Some of the brightest stars in the game over the past two decades have been implicated in the steroid scandal. The names of Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Roger Clemens are irrevocably associated with performance enhancing substances, some illegal under the law of the land.

It brings to mind the cocaine scandal of the 1980s. Several players were called before a Pittsburgh grand jury to provide testimony regarding their relationship with the drug. Some of the brightest stars of that time–Vida Blue, Dave Parker, Keith Hernandez, and Tim Raines–went on the stand and testified under oath to what extent they were involved with the drug.

Some say Parker’s chances for the Hall of Fame were harmed by his drug abuse. The former Pirates slugger received 24.5% of the vote in 1998, his second year on the ballot, but that is the highest level of support he has ever received. This year he came in at 15.1%, twenty votes more than he received last year, but still far short of the 75% needed for election.

The subject of the cocaine scandal has come up lately as Tim Raines appeared on the ballot for the first time. The former Expos star, who is fifth on the all-time stolen base list, received 24.3% of the vote in his first year, which is not a terrible showing. However, not many have risen from that level to induction by the BBWAA vote.

There are two main differences between the steroid scandal today and the cocaine scandal of 1985:

1) Steroids “help performance rather than hamper it, corrupting the legitimacy of results and records” (“Remembering the pain of the Pittsburgh Drug Trials”).

2) The players involved are immensely bigger stars and more likely Hall of Fame candidates. Who would you rather have on your team, Vida Blue or Roger Clemens? Keith Hernandez or Mark McGwire? Dave Parker or Barry Bonds? If you look at numbers alone, disregard what illicit activities they may have been involved in, the steroid users will get the nod nine times out of ten.

To read more on the Pittsburgh drug trials, check out the link above and the Wikipedia entry.

The original performance enhancer!

I guess “Charlie Hustle” wasn’t quite as clean after all…but at least he was upfront about it!

Cards that never were (but should have been)

If you followed any of my fun cards posts that I made over the last week, you know that my premise was to use current players on classic card designs. For instance, Kerry Wood on a 1990 Topps design, or Ichiro on a 1989 Donruss Rookies design. But what about all those missed opportunities that card companies missed out on in the past? In 1984, Fleer exhibited some foresight by including Roger Clemens and Kirby Puckett in their year-end update set, while Topps ignored them. Neither company made an Eric Davis card in 1984, despite a May call-up and a decent campaign (10 home runs) as a part-time player. Can you think of other similar examples?

I’ve got a Clemens card I’m working on, but I’m having trouble finding 1984 images of Puckett. I haven’t even begun looking for Davis yet. If you can point me in the proper direction, I would appreciate it.

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