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.
The lineup for this week’s Topps TBT set has been announced, and as usual I only want one card. I checked eBay, and that one card is more expensive than I want to spend. Maybe there are others in the same boat, so I thought I might try to organize a set break. If you’re intersted, read on…
I’m claiming Nick Senzel, you can have any other player pictured above…$3.88 shipped PWE. Luke Voit, Tim Anderson, Fernando Tatis Jr., Willson Contreras, Carter Kieboom are available. The set is $19.99, divided by six and add 55 cents for a stamp, that’s $3.88 each. This way there is no need to order the full set if you only want one card. Claim in the comments, or on Twitter, or via e-mail. First claimed, first served.
UPDATE: All cards claimed!
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.
Rich “Goose” Gossage was a reliever for the majority of his career, but in 1976 the White Sox used him as a starter. Despite a 5-7 record as the All-Star break, he was still recognized as a great pitcher due to his 2.91 first-half ERA and was named an All-Star. He was traded to the Pirates after the season, returned to the bullpen and never started a game again.
Rollie Fingers played for the Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, and Milwaukee Brewers. But he was also a member of two other organizations for a grand total of seven days, though he never played a game for either team. The A’s sold him tot he Red Sox in 1976, but three days after the deal the
dictator commissioner of baseball Bowie Kuhn voided it and ordered the reliever back to Oakland. He ended up leaving Charlie Finley for San Diego that off-season.
In December 1980, the Padres traded Fingers to the Cardinals, who then traded him four days later to the Brewers. He would finish his career in Milwaukee…but might not have, had Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott lifted the facial hair ban on her players. Fingers considered signing with the Reds, but opted to retire when he was told he would have to shave his famous handlebar mustache.
Gaylord Perry was a much better pitcher than people remember. Yes, he used the spitball, but does anyone really care about that? 300 wins, 3500 strikeouts, and the 13th highest career WAR for pitchers. If my math is correct, at the time of his retirement, he was 8th all-time. Since then, he has been passed by Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Phil Niekro, and Bert Blyleven.
P.S. The Mariners really need to bring back the trident as their primary logo. So much more character and charm than the current borefest they wear.
A lot of athletes are hyped up while in college, but perhaps none as much as Dave Winfield in the early 1970s. Winfield was the best hitter and pitcher for the University of Minnesota Gophers’ baseball team, and was a star power forward for the basketball team. He was drafted fourth overall by the Padres and never spent a single day in the minor leagues.
The Atlanta Hawks tried to persuade him to try his hand at professional basketball, drafting him in the 5th round of the 1973 NBA draft. Add to that the ABA’s Utah Stars selection of Winfield in the 6th round of the 1973 ABA draft.
Winfield never played a single football game in college, but the Minnesota Vikings were impressed with his athleticism so much that they used their 17th round draft pick on him.
I’m glad Winfield chose baseball.
One of the biggest questions of the 2018 Hall of Fame class was Trevor Hoffman. The debate rages on the value of relief pitchers, but Hoffman proved himself over a long 18-year career that he was worthy of serious Cooperstown consideration and the BBWAA deemed him worthy of the honor in 2018. His 601 saves rank him second to Mariano Rivera on the all-time list. However, the JAWS system ranks him the 21st best reliever in history, behind a bunch of guys I’ve never even heard of.
In his rookie year as a manager, the Red Sox won the pennant. He won two World Series in three years with the A’s. And he led the Padres to the NL Pennant, winning the Manager of the Year Award in 1984. Though he never spent more than five seasons with a single team, Dick Williams was a highly respected skipper and an obvious choice for the Hall of Fame.
What can be said about Tony Gwynn that hasn’t already been said? He never batted under .300 with the exception of 1982, when he played only 54 games. In the strike-shortened 1994, Gwynn hit at an amazing .394 clip. He finished his career in 2001 with a .338 lifetime average and 3141 hits, spending his entire 20-year career with the San Diego Padres.