I grew up watching Ryne Sandberg man second base at Wrigley Field on WGN every day after school. From 1984 to 1993, he was an All-Star, and in 1984 was the NL MVP. It blew my mind when Sandberg didn’t even receive 50% support his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot. Perhaps coming out of retirement after one year hurt his status with the writers; it certainly didn’t help his statistics very much. On his third try, Sandberg received 76.2% of the vote.
Topps posted a bunch of photos of 2014 Topps Heritage on their Facebook page yesterday. In general, I like Topps Heritage. But there are some things that I definitely don’t like.
I like Derek Jeter. I don’t like that his card is a “high-numbered base card” in the 2014 Topps Heritage set. The same goes for Yasiel Puig, Miguel Cabrera, and Max Scherzer. Seriously, is there any reason to buy a pack if all of the superstars are in the high numbers?
|I am glad that Heritage includes managers in the set. It’s neat to see Ryne Sandberg, Don Mattingly, John Farrell and other former big leaguers still involved in the game.
I don’t like that there are only seventeen managers who will get cards in the set. Where is Bryan Price? No, he never played major league baseball, and he has never had a baseball card. But he (and the other twelve non-card managers) still skippers a team and should have a card if seventeen other managers have a card.
|Back to Puig. He wasn’t an All-Star last year. Maybe he should have been, but he wasn’t. Maybe he will be this year, but we really don’t know yet.
I don’t like that Topps took it upon themselves to either correct last year’s manager or predict the future, whichever is the case here.
This isn’t the first time a non-All-Star has been called an All-Star by Topps. One of the most egregious examples is Tony Bernazard from the 1987 Topps set; Bernazard was not an All-Star in 1986, or 1987…or ever.
First things first, I don’t like Tim McCarver. But this isn’t a post about Tim McCarver. This is a post about 2014 Topps Heritage. And I don’t like that they cut up a 1981 Fleer card and put it in a 2014 Topps set.
Topps used a Fleer product in their set.
Let that sink in.
First things first, I absolutely love Bo Jackson. He was one of the most exciting baseball players and one of the most exciting football players. He was an all-around athlete and was fascinating to watch. Jackson was born in 1962. His baseball career started in 1986 and ended in 1994. I don’t like that he is included in the 2014 Topps Heritage set, which is supposed to be an homage to the 1965 issue.
I like the concept of Topps Heritage. I don’t like the execution.
I picked up two rack packs of 1983 Donruss last night at the Redsfest for $1 each. I thought surely they were just in the wrong place on the table, but no…$1 each. And with a Reggie Jackson Diamond King showing on top, how could I resist?
Keep in mind that we are only considering major league baseball when I say this: Jackie Robinson is not in the top ten. Also remember that we are not including the unquantifiable “athletic ability,” else Robinson would no doubt leap into the discussion. No, since we are only talking about statistics and awards, Robinson’s short career works against him. Now that we have established that, let’s look at the top ten second basemen in history.
The top spot goes to Rogers Hornsby (289.45), and it’s a clear victory for Rajah, scoring nearly 40 points more than Eddie Collins (250.98). Big Red Machiner Joe Morgan (247.92) is next on the list, followed by Charlie Gehringer (244.05), Nap Lajoie (236.45), Frankie Frisch (231.98), Ryne Sandberg (228.87), Rod Carew (226.78), Jeff Kent (222.25), and Roberto Alomar (219.56) rounding out the top ten.
Kent is the only non-Hall of Famer in the top ten, but he hasn’t appeared on the ballot yet. He may have to wait a few years considering how crowded the ballot will be over the next few years, but he should eventually be allowed entrance into Cooperstown. Overall, it seems the voters have done a pretty good job with this position, but that impression fades a bit when we continue down the list.
Craig Biggio was denied his reward last year, despite being a 3000-hit club member and scoring 215.79 in this project to give him the #11 spot among all second basemen. But the #12 guy is an even bigger omission. Lou Whitaker, scoring 208.57, was summarily dismissed from the ballot in his first year with only 2.9% support. When removing the awards and All-Star seasons from my project, Whitaker jumps up to #10 on the list above Alomar and Carew (Biggio also moves up the list to #8).
In 1986 Topps teamed up with Quaker to issue a 33-card set full of superstars, including a nice handful of future Hall of Famers. This week, we’re looking at the cards in the set; today we have cards 10-18…
This page almost looks like a dream line-up of 1980s stars…first baseman Don Mattingly, second baseman Ryne Sandberg, third baseman Mike Schmidt, shortstop Ozzie Smith, outfielders Darryl Strawberry and Tim Raines, and pitcher Fernando Valenzuela. Pete Rose was nearing the end of his career, having just broken Ty Cobb‘s hits record in September 1985. Many thought Nolan Ryan‘s best years were behind him, but he would actually pitch two more no-hitters in the next decade.
The Hall of Fame count for this group is four: Ryan, Sandberg, Schmidt, and Smith. Raines will probably join that group eventually, and really should already be there. As the premiere leadoff hitter in the National League, Raines was a seven-time All-Star for the Expos and is currently fifth on the career stolen base leaderboard. He received 52.2% of the vote in 2013 for Cooperstown, more than double the support he received in his first year on the ballot.
The Essential Games of the Chicago Cubs
New Video, 2012
Approx. 10 hrs., 12 mins.
The Cubs have a rich history of great games and great players, even though postseason success has eluded the franchise. Consider some of the great players that have worn the Chicago uniform: Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, and Fergie Jenkins. In fact, all four of those Hall of Fame players are featured in the 1969 game that comes in The Essential Games of the Chicago Cubs. Also included is a 1984 gem featuring a young Ryne Sandberg in the middle of his first MVP season, leading the team with a 7-RBI performance over the Cardinals; the game which also featured Willie McGee of St. Louis hitting for the cycle on the losing end.
Though the Cubs have not found their way to the World Series since the early twentieth century, they have flirted with postseason play on a few occasions. In 1998, Mark Grace and company battled the Giants in a Wild Card tiebreaker, and in 2008 the team clinched the NL Central against the Cardinals.
After another disappointing season in 2012, The Essential Games of the Chicago Cubs could be a soothing reminder that the team has enjoyed success in the past, and there’s always next year.
Games included in the set:
- July 12, 1969, vs. Philadelphia Phillies – Hall of Fame Showcase
- June 23, 1984, vs. St. Louis Cardinals – Sandberg’s Comeback Shocker
- September 28, 1998, vs. San Francisco Giants – NL Wild Card Tiebreaker
- September 20, 2008, vs. St. Louis Cardinals – NL Central Division Clincher
Only one Hall of Famer in this group, though there is quite a lot of support among fans for Donnie Baseball.
Willie Horton, Detroit Tigers
A member of the 1968 World Champion Tigers, Horton spent the first fifteen seasons of his career in Detroit. He went to the All-Star Game four times and finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting twice. His 325 home runs were not enough to keep him on the Hall of Fame ballot for very long though; he was one-and-done in 1986 with only four votes. His Wikipedia entry says, “Sources show that he gives great hugs according to his young nephew.” He also has the misfortune of sharing a name with a convicted murderer.
Don Mattingly, New York Yankees
Ryne Sandberg, Chicago Cubs
I love custom cards, or “fun cards” as I call them. The White Sox Cards blog posts “Cards That Never Were” and “WSC Birth Year” cards quite often, and Steve always does a great job with them. Bob Lemke’s Blog quite often features customs of older baseball and football issues. The Infinite Baseball Card Set is a spectacular resource for vintage players on custom cards.
I like to make my own custom cards as well, and decided after this post on Capewood’s Collections that I wanted to do a 1982 Sandberg card, with Ryno pictured as a Phillie. But I didn’t want to use the same photo that I see on almost every other Sandberg Phillies card. Even eTopps used the same photo for their own 1982 Sandberg mock-up. Surely there has to be more photos of Sandberg wearing a maroon uniform, right?
Ryno made his debut for the Phils in September, 1981, and was packing his bags for Chicago in January, 1982. He appeared in 13 games, making six plate appearances and got on the field six times defensively. Five of those times was as a shortstop, only once as a second baseman.
In 1982, a lot of the photos used by Topps were posed shots. Not much action (unless it was an “In Action” card). So the photo I decided to use for my custom card worked pretty well, I think.
This is turning into a weekly journey. Ever since I found the place, I want to go every chance I get. Today I went with one player in mind: Dave Concepcion.
To call Concepcion a “Star” is an understatement.
Even to call him an “All-Star Étoile” misses the mark, since those only play one game a year.
I would have settled for “Super Star,” but Kellogg’s said, “No, he’s more than that! He’s a 3-D Super Star!” Honestly, why this guy is not in the Hall of Fame baffles me. He ruled the shortstop position until Ozzie Smith arrived, and though he didn’t do any somersaults, I would pick Davey over the Wizard any day of the week.
What surprised me was that he came out of retirement in 2004 to play in the Red Sox/Cardinals World Series. I’m not sure which team he played for, though, because they let him wear his old Cincinnati uniform. Sadly, I was not following baseball in 2004 so I had no idea this was going on.
Of course, I didn’t stop at Concepcion. I also picked up a 1962 Cincy shortstop…
A few 1983 Topps Reds stickers…
Wait for it…
Oh yeah, baby…a 1963 Rookie Stars featuring the Reds legends…
Sammy Ellis and Jesse Gonder. What, you were expecting someone else?
In addition to these, I got a few packs of randomness, out of which I pulled this oddball Sandberg…
It’s not a Baseball Cards Magazine card like I expected. There is no manufacturer info at all on the back, just Ryno’s 1986-1990 stats. But wait, there’s more! I also got this extremely oddball Bo Jackson…
The flipside actually has another photo of Bo. Again, no manufacturer details, so no telling where this card came from. Maybe Bo knows?
And finally, I took a trip down to the actually baseball card shop as well and picked up a few more packs of 1992 NFL Game Day. I don’t know why I am drawn to these cards. Maybe it’s the 50-cent price tag.
Out of these packs, I got a radio host and a kitchen appliance…
A couple of great 1980’s quarterbacks…
And a couple of highly touted youngsters who never lived up to their potential…
I remember how everyone made a big deal about Dan McGwire, little brother of Mark, but he never really made a mark on the league, did he? And Klingler, of course, was the first in a long line of terrible Bengals QBs. I don’t blame Klingler for his poor play in Cincinnati; I blame the Bengals for throwing everything on one young man’s shoulders and giving him no support whatsoever. Like they did with Akili Smith. And Jeff Blake. And Carson Palmer. Although Palmer has handled it admirably so far. So…far….
I finally got around to writing an article for the Baseball Legends site. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click that link and you’ll figure it out. The first Legend featured was Ryne Sandberg. I think that may have been the most difficult task: deciding who to write about first.
We still need writers and voters in the BLA. Especially voters. I can handle a good chunk of the writing myself, but we are in desperate need of voters. If you think you could do better than the BBWAA in choosing Hall of Famers, MVP winners, Cy Young winners, and Rookies of the Year, then the BLA is for you! All the details are on the site, including the application to join. If you’re not sure if you are already a member, you can either e-mail me or just send another application.
I fully expect every reader of this blog to join BLA. That includes YOU!!!