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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(May 14, 1977 – November 7, 2017)
Roy Halladay perished in a plane crash today in the Gulf of Mexico. He was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation, winning 203 games and striking out 2117 batters in his 16-year career with the Blue Jays and Phillies, 1998-2013. Halladay was an 8-time All-Star, 2-time Cy Young Award winner, and finished in the top 5 for the Cy Young five other times. In 2010, he threw the second no-hitter in postseason history as the Phillies topped the Reds in the NLDS.
We are saddened by the tragic news that Roy Halladay, 2-time Cy Young Award winner & 8-time All-Star, has died in a plane crash. He was 40. pic.twitter.com/SOFv3bOLyt
— MLB (@MLB) November 7, 2017
Phillies statement on the sudden & tragic passing of Roy Halladay: pic.twitter.com/gGhv7JUKv0
— Phillies (@Phillies) November 7, 2017
Statement from the Blue Jays organization on the tragic passing of Roy Halladay: pic.twitter.com/Ih8D0RQE9p
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) November 7, 2017
Roy Halladay's cap and ball from his 2010 perfect game. His legacy lives on in Cooperstown. Rest in peace, Doc. pic.twitter.com/PqASdhK8bf
— Baseball Hall ⚾ (@baseballhall) November 7, 2017
Such a sad day. We lost a great ball player but an even better human being. Many prayers to Brandy, Ryan, & Brayden. We will miss you Roy.
— Ryan Howard (@ryanhoward) November 7, 2017
We lost another member of the Phillies family way to soon! My prayers go out to Doc’s wife and kids and his entire family! RIP Doc!
— John Kruk (@JohnKruk) November 7, 2017
We were together in this journey as Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers, now you are gone. RIP Roy Halladay pic.twitter.com/x5Vv0r8djx
— Vladimir Guerrero (@VladGuerrero27) November 7, 2017
Heart is broken to hear about Roy Halladay .great friend, teammate, father and husband. One of the best teammates ever! You will be missed !
— Roy Oswalt (@royoswalt44net) November 7, 2017
Absolutely stunned & saddened by news of Roy Halladay passing.Amazing guy & toughest pitcher I’ve ever faced. Unreal.Praying for his family.
— Sean Casey (@TheMayorsOffice) November 7, 2017
Rest In Peace Doc Halladay. One of the best to ever do it. You will be missed.
— Dallas Keuchel (@kidkeuchy) November 7, 2017
I wanted to be Roy Halladay. I’m heartbroken, rest easy Doc.
— dan haren (@ithrow88) November 7, 2017
I only own like 5 signed jerseys, and I was so scared to ask him. He wrote that he liked watching ME pitch. What an honor pic.twitter.com/ufj4G8u5DD
— dan haren (@ithrow88) November 7, 2017
Gone too soon my friend!!! Blessed to have shared the field with you as a teammate, competitor, friend and more importantly a brother. Praying for Brandy, Ryan and Brayden🙏🏽
— Shane Victorino (@ShaneVictorino) November 7, 2017
Doc Halladay the Ultimate Warrior the hardest working teammate ever! I'm blessed to have spent time training with you!! #Trueleader
— Frank Thomas (@TheBigHurt_35) November 7, 2017
In shock over the terrible news about Roy Halladay… a pitcher I grew up admiring & rooting for. Praying for his family & friends. #RIPDoc
— Mike Trout (@MikeTrout) November 7, 2017
My pic from Halladay's introductory press conference with the Phillies. pic.twitter.com/jh43gfcloB
— Sooz (@yanxchick) November 7, 2017
“You wouldn’t know what Roy did because Roy would never tell you what he did. And that’s the legacy of a great man.” — Sheriff Chris Nocco
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 7, 2017
Every pitcher tried to imitate him, no hitter wanted to face him, and everybody liked him. RIP Roy Halladay
— Joe Posnanski (@JPosnanski) November 7, 2017
I have been sitting on this post for absolutely no reason other than laziness. I bought a handful of fifty-cent packs when I was in Orlando at the beginning of the month, and scanned a handful of them, even uploaded the scans, but just haven’t been motivated to post them. I have nothing else planned for today, so let’s see what I got…
First up is Eric Davis from the 1987 Fleer Star Stickers set. These cards are very similar to the 1986 set, but with a green border instead of maroon. Either way, the border clashes with the red jersey.
The 1988 Fleer Star Stickers went with a gray border sprinkled with colorful stars. This Don Mattingly is the best card I pulled from that pack.
Back to 1987, and a pair of Reds in a pack: the best centerfielder and the best relief pitcher of the second half of the decade. John Franco is criminally underrated.
I bought a couple of packs of 1990 Donruss. Don’t look at me like that. I did not have any Grand Slammers cards, and I wanted a couple. I pulled the Todd Benzinger from one pack, and Will Clark from another. If I had found another pack with Bo Jackson on top, I would have bought that one too.
I did not know the 1992 Fleer “The Performer” cards came in packs of their own. I assumed they were inserts. In a five-card pack, I pulled Nolan Ryan and Frank Thomas. And probably some ‘roiders, I can’t remember now.
Art cards will always be my weakness. I’m not sure why I picked up a pack of 1992 Score, but I was happy to pull these bad boys.
Also from the same 1992 Score pack.
There it is. I knew there had to be something cool showing on the top of a 1992 Score pack for me to buy it, even at only fifty cents. Jim Thome is the man.
Kirby Puckett from 1996 Pinnacle Denny’s. Not sure why I bought this one-card pack. Oh well, at least it’s a Hall of Famer.
Think this candy is still good from 1991?
Finally, a couple of 1990 Baseball Buttons. I already have several of these, so I probably shouldn’t have bought them, but it was only fifty cents.
Jake Arrieta‘s no-hitter was awesome. Max Scherzer‘s 20-strikeout performance was epic. But neither of those events approached the magnitude of “The Punch.” After a supposedly “dirty slide,” Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor clocked Toronto superstar Jose Bautista and Twitter absolutely EXPLODED. Everyone was talking about “The Punch,” putting both a positive and negative spin on it. Even non-baseball fans were engaging in the discussion. IT WAS GREAT.
The record for most Topps Now cards sold so far is 8,826, featuring 42-year old Bartolo Colon hitting his first big league homer. No other card has reached a print run 4,000. Only two others have sold more than 2,000 (Max Scherzer and Noah Syndergaard). I am confident that “The Punch” would have exceeded 10,000 orders. It was an exciting play, and whether you like Odor or Bautista or not, it generated baseball discussion and interest in the sport.
To me, it was a throwback. It immediately made me think of the Eric Davis/Ray Knight scuffle in 1986. Others made reference to the Will Clark/Jose Oquendo/Ozzie Smith fight in 1988. Perhaps the most famous fight between a fielder and runner happened in 1973 when Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson went at it during the 1973 NLCS. And who can forget the time Nolan Ryan hit Robin Ventura with the ball, and then put him in a headlock and went to town when Ventura charged the mound? Twitter wasn’t around during any of those fights, but they persist in our memories. Topps Now didn’t exist back then either, and to my knowledge Topps never created a card to immortalize these fights. But today, with on-demand ordering, the opportunity was there…and Topps did nothing.
Has there ever been a fight depicted on a Topps card? Topps employee Sooz (@yanxchick) asked this question on Twitter, and so far no one has come up with an actual baseball card showing a fight. There was a hockey card in the 1970s, and several fan-made creations, but nothing official from Topps baseball.
I don’t blame Topps. They want to promote a good image for baseball, and bench-clearing brawls don’t exactly do that. But they are exciting. And where Topps is silent, bloggers and Tweeters are loud and sometimes obnoxious. Here are a few of the Odor v. Bautista cards that I saw floating around yesterday:
- Baseball and More went with the 1987 Topps style.
- Gummy Arts went hand-drawn with a design reminiscent of 2011 Topps Lineage.
- Bean’s Ballcard Blog utilized a Gypsy Oak design.
- Victor Ayala went with the 2016 Topps flagship.
- Topps Now was not ignored by the custom card makers, as Ernie Breakfast shows.
- The best, hands-down, was Baseball Card Breakdown’s use of the SuperStar Special subset from 1990 Fleer.
Of course, the 2016 TWJ set doesn’t shy away from violence on the basepaths either. One of my favorite GameCube games is MLB SlugFest 2003, so of course I wanted to include a card of “The Punch” in the TWJ set. You can see a slightly larger version at TWJ cards on tumblr, along with more than 80 other 2016 TWJ baseball cards.
I mentioned a couple of days ago that I went to a Tampa Bay Rays game on Saturday. As a friend said, I was making lemonade this past weekend. I was presented with an opportunity to attend a pretty awesome music festival in Orlando, and booked a non-refundable airline ticket and hotel room. Much to my chagrin, the concert was cancelled. Since I couldn’t recoup my expenses, I decided to make the most of the situation. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
I rented a car for the weekend and made the trek from Orlando to Tampa (actually St. Petersburg) Saturday night to catch the Rays host the Toronto Blue Jays. Not only did I get to see a pretty spectacular game, complete with Jose Bautista and Evan Longoria longballs and a walk-off bottom-of-the-ninth hit, but I got to take home this very awesome Chris Archer “K-Counter” bobblehead. I’m not really a bobblehead collector, but I don’t turn them down when offered, and I love being able to take something home with me after I go to a ballgame.
Not only did I see a great ballgame and take home a cool souvenir, I also visited a pretty sweet museum called the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame. The museum is located in the centerfield area of Tropicana Field.
There are also a number of guys who are in the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame who have not made it to Cooperstown—at least, not yet—like Alan Trammell, Pete Rose, and George Foster. It was cool to see all of this baseball history on display.
I also got to see one of my favorite American League players, last year’s Most Valuable Player, Josh Donaldson. Even if I think his haircut is quite ridiculous, he is fun to watch. And I did enjoy hearing all the Tampa fans mocking his rat tail.
I sat next to a gentleman from British Columbia, and was very entertained by his accent and constant use of “eh?” at the end of each sentence. I always though comedians exaggerated the whole “eh?” stereotype, but it’s really true how much some Canadians use it. It was difficult not to laugh every time he said it, but I managed.
I did have a smile on my face nearly the whole game. It was just such a neat experience, although really weird to watch a baseball game played indoors. And I got to cross another major league stadium off my list. I have now seen a game in nine current parks (Baltimore, Boston, Tampa, Chicago AL, Washington, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago NL, and Cincinnati), and seven that are no longer with us (New York AL, Chicago AL, Cleveland, Detroit, New York NL, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati).
After the game, I drove back to Orlando. On Sunday I visited a local church and ate supper with a cousin I don’t believe I had previously met. She grew up in Florida, and said her family did come to Ohio once when she was younger, so it’s possible we met way back then, but neither of us can remember for sure. It was great to connect with her on a non-Facebook level.
On Monday, I killed time by walking around the Florida Mall and stopping by a baseball card shop. They didn’t have any dime or quarter boxes, but they did have fifty-cent packs. I’ll show off a few of those cards in a future post.