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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.

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How many “RC” rookie cards does one guy need?

Vladimir Guerrero Jr Rookie Card Overload

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his debut for the Toronto Blue Jays on April 26, 2019, less than two months ago. So far, he has at least twenty different cards designated with the “RC” logo (not including autographs and parallels). In less than two months. Eight of those are in the Topps NOW series. Three are Topps NOW Moment of the Week cards (and there have only been nine NOW MOW cards total so far this year). Three are Topps #TBT releases. Another two in the On Demand brand. So far, I’m counting only one each in Series 2, Total, and The Living Set. And then I got tired of counting. I probably missed a few.

  • Topps NOW = 8
  • Topps NOW MOW = 3
  • Topps #TBT = 3
  • Topps On Demand = 2
  • Topps Series 2 = 1
  • Topps Finest = 1
  • Topps Total = 1
  • Topps The Living Set = 1

Vladdy

Which one is his “real” “RC”? Am I the only one who thinks this who “RC” system is foolish? I do not believe Topps NOW, #TBT, The Living Set, etc. should be branded with the “RC” logo. That designation should be reserved for a player’s base card, whether that appears in Series 1, 2, or Update.

What confuses this old man even more is the different rules for Bowman releases. Ol’ Junior started appearing in Bowman products—wearing Toronto Blue Jays gear and identified as a Toronto Blue Jays player—way back in 2016. Back in the old days, the first time a player appeared in a major set, that was considered the player’s rookie card. Nowadays, Bowman doesn’t count; only Topps, and only after a fella appears in a big league game.

I’m so confused.

I’m glad I don’t chase rookie cards just because they are rookie cards. I’m glad I don’t collect Toronto Blue Jays or sons of major leaguers or Vladdy the Second. I’m too old to keep up with these shenanigans.

Now get off my lawn.

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Paul Molitor

Molitor

Paul Molitor took home the Hutch Award in 1987. While several superstars have won the award (including Mickey Mantle, Andre Dawson, Carl Yastrzemski, and Johnny Bench), it is not necessarily given to a big-name player. It has also gone to Ron Oester, Don Robinson, Dennis Leonard, and Mark Teahen.

According to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center website, “MLB teams have the opportunity to nominate one player from their team that exemplifies the fighting spirit of the legendary leader Fred Hutchinson. Former winners then vote on the nominees to select the next Hutch Award winner.”

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Dave Winfield

Winfield

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.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Roy Halladay

Halladay

A dominant force on the mound, the Blue Jays and Phillies relied on the late Roy Halladay to eat innings and win games. Halladay was the Cy Young Award winner twice, and finished in the top five for the trophy five other times. Eight times an All-Star, Halladay won 203 games and struck out 2117 batters in his 16-year career. The BBWAA recognized him as a Hall of Famer in his first year on the ballot, and he will be inducted this summer, less than two years after his untimely death.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals – SNUBBED” Fred McGriff

McGriff

This is the one I just don’t understand. Clean player, 493 home runs, 1550 RBI. Five-time All-Star. Three Silver Sluggers. If it weren’t for the strike in 1994, Fred McGriff would have certainly hit the magic number 500 home runs. This guy is, in my book, hands-down a Hall of Famer. Yet, in his first nine years on the ballot, he couldn’t garner even 25% support from the BBWAA. He is polling at 38.7% tonight, far short of the necessary 75%. I’m sure the Veterans Committee will set it right in a few years, but it is disappointing that the Crime Dog isn’t getting the support now.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals – SNUBBED” Jeff Kent

Kent

Jeff Kent probably doesn’t care that the BBWAA is overlooking his career. His 55.4 WAR isn’t overly impressive, but he retired as the all-time leader in home runs by a second baseman. He won an MVP award and made three All-Star teams, and his hitting statistics are solid: 2461 hits, 377 homers, 1518 RBI, and .290 average. Not bad at all, but his attitude toward baseball in general will likely keep him out, at least until until a Veterans Committee reviews his case.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Pat Gillick

Gillick

Pat Gillick served as the Toronto Blue Jays general manager from December, 1977, through 1994. The team that he put together won back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. He later worked with the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, and Philadelphia Phillies, and won his third World Series as GM of the Phils.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Roberto Alomar

Alomar

One of the first really big trades I remember was between the San Diego Padres and Toronto Blue Jays. The Padres received Tony Fernandez, who was probably the third-best shortstop in the AL at the time, and up-and-coming slugger Fred McGriff. The Blue Jays picked up Joe Carter, who would become a World Series legend, and future Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar. Of course, no one knew that Alomar would be headed to Cooperstown at the time. With only three years under his belt, he had made one All-Star team for the Padres, but there wasn’t a whole lot of competition at his position outside of Ryne Sandberg. In Toronto, however, he blossomed. At the end of his career, Alomar boasted 12 All-Star games, ten Gold Gloves, and four Silver Slugger awards.

His JAWS score ranks him as the 14th best second baseman in history, which seems a little low to me. Ahead of him are four non-Hall of Famers who have strong cases: Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker, the still-active Robinson Cano and the not-quite-retired-but-without-a-team Chase Utley.

Congratulations, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris!

The Veterans Committee voted today on the Hall of Fame “Modern Era” ballot. Several worthy candidates were included on the ballot, and ultimately two players were selected to join the elite in Cooperstown next summer.

Trammell

Alan Trammell manned the shortstop position for the World Champion 1984 Tigers, and was named MVP of the Series that year. Overshadowed throughout his career by Cal Ripken, Trammell was named to six All-Star teams and won four Gold Glove Awards. In 1987, Trammell racked up more offensive WAR than anyone else in the American League, and narrowly lost the MVP race to Toronto’s George Bell. In fifteen years on the BBWAA ballot, Trammell’s best showing came in 2016 with 40.9%. Fortunately, the Veterans Committee recognized his worth and decided he belonged among the legends.

Morris

Another star of the 1984 Tigers, Jack Morris had a reputation as a big game pitcher for Detroit and Minnesota. While his career totals are somewhat lacking, his postseason prowess put him over the top. He collected 254 regular season wins and struck out 2478 batters in eighteen seasons.

Trammell and Morris will join those who receive 75% support from the BBWAA ballot, to be announced next month.

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