Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The newest Hall of Famers...

Not Rice or Henderson.

This weekend, April 4, Metallica is being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I've been a hardcore Metallica fan since i was ten years old.

I began to lose my faith in them when St. Anger came out (the absolute worst record I've ever heard by any band), but Death Magnetic reaffirmed that faith.

My congratulations go to Metallica for everything they've accomplished and my eternal thanks for keeping me sane for seventeen years.

Where Are They Now? Randy Milligan

Randy Milligan was drafted in the first round of the 1981 amateur draft by the New York Mets. The three games played listed in the stats on the back are the only games he played as a Met.

His Major League debut came in the 7th inning of a 8-1 loss against the Cardinals at the old Busch Stadium on September 12, 1987. He went hitless in his one at bat pinch hitting for pitcher Bob Ojeda.

In that game, Doc Gooden lasted only two innings and Greg Mathews got the complete game victory.

He had a short career, but not a bad career. He knew how to take a walk and walked more than he struck out and his .391 on base percentage isn't too terrible (127 OPS). And in the field he was right at league average.

These days he's a scout in the Baltimore Orioles system.

Monday, March 30, 2009

What's next?

Now the both Series 1 and 2 of 1988 Score Young Superstars are behind me, what should I do now?

I mentioned a long time ago that when my 88 Score set was finished I'd do a run down and of the '88 Score Rookie Prospects. But I was worried that there would be too much overlap with the Young Superstars. Well, there wasn't much overlap.

Since I really enjoyed having a daily feature (and I hope all you readers enjoyed it too), starting tomorrow, we're going to have a high school reunion of sorts. Where are They Now? How did these top prospects fare in their major league career? While there were a few flops in the Young Superstars sets, those were for the most part prooven players who had one or two good years under their belts. Get ready for a lot of "I've never heard of this guy," with the Rookie Prospects.

These will be cards number 623 through 647 of the 88 Score base release.

Check back tomorrow for the first rookie.

1988 Score Young Superstars Series 2 recap

Well, here we are, at the end of the second series. Once again, we're going to go through the series by division and see who had cards and who didn't.

In series 2 more teams were left out. In the American League, the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins and Oakland A's were without cards. If you'll remember, the first series was pretty A's heavy, so it's not too surprising that there are none featured in Series 2.

In the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are without cards. Again, Series 1 was Giants heavy (with five cards).

AL East:
Baltimore Orioles - 1
Boston Red Sox - 1
Cleveland Indians - 2
Detroit Tigers - 0
Milwaukee Brewers - 3
New York Yankees - 1
Toronto Blue Jays - 3

AL West:
California Angels - 1
Chicago White Sox - 1
Kansas City Royals - 3
Minnesota Twins - 0
Oakland Athletics - 0
Seattle Mariners - 2
Texas Rangers - 3

NL East:
Chicago Cubs - 1
Montreal Expos - 2
New York Mets - 5
Philadelphia Phillies - 0
Pittsburgh Pirates - 3
St. Louis Cardinals - 2

NL West:
Atlanta Braves - 1
Cincinnati Reds - 3
Houston Astros - 1
Los Angeles Dodgers - 0
San Diego Padres - 1
San Francisco Giants - 0

In 80 Young Superstars, there were no Dodgers or Twins. Looking back a few years though, both teams were very mature. The Twins won it all in '87, so they weren't lacking in talent, they just didn't have a lot of young players coming up. Kirby Puckett is just about the only player that could conceivably be included here, but he'd already been around for a while.

The Dodgers were in the same situation. And though they were a good team in '88, there really weren't any young guys tearing up the league.

Well. That was fun. Be sure to stay tuned here for more of my rambling, and keep visiting 1989 Bowman for my pack by pack break of '89 Bowman.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Young Superstars II #40 - Kevin Elster

Every one seemed to be really high on Kevin Elster in 1988. Both Topps and Score gave him a Future Star and Rookie Prospect card, and here he is as a Young Superstar.

This isn't a good way to end the series, the photograph isn't very good. I think Kevin's tracking a fly ball.

Read the scouting report. Right there is a good example of how much the game has changed over the past 20 years. These days shortstops are expected to produce offensively; but back in the late 80s a power hitting shortstop was a rare thing.

Elster's main problem was staying healthy and in the line up. He had a good year in 1996 with Texas, going .252/24/99 in 157 games.

He briefly attempted a comeback in 2000 with Los Angeles, hitting .227/14/32 in 80 games.

Kevin Elster's career statistics

2009 Topps Series 1: The end.

Yesterday the final three cards I needed to complete '09 Topps Series 1 came in. The cards came from Kris of Free Fantasy Baseball Magazine. I didn't realize that the cards were coming from Canada, and there was another nice surprise included. We've all seen the cards, so I'll show the other thing.

It's a nifty program/schedule/brochure/thingy from the '09 World Baseball Classic that Kris picked up at one of the games. I watched a lot of the '09 Classic and really enjoyed it, so this is a nice little treat.

I didn't get to see much of the '06 Classic because I never could catch the games on TV. I've been interested in international baseball since going to a game at the '96 Olympics in Atlanta (where I got to see a very young Kosuke Fukudome play for Japan).

There's the schedule for round one. On the other side is the schedule for the rest of the tournament and on the inside is a seating chart for the Rogers Center... SkyDome.

So I'd like to thank Kris for finishing my set and for the WBC schedule thingy. Now I can concentrate on '89 Bowman and maybe '09 Heritage while I wait for Series 2.

Young Superstars II #39 - Greg Swindell

This is a pretty good picture of Swindell starting his delivery. You don't usually get to see the entire back of the player's uniform. Like Andy mentioned several times when going through the 88 Score traded set, Score could easily get away with shots like this because of the headshot on the back of the card.

Swindell spent the first half of his career as a started and then transitioned into a middle relief pitcher. He was an All Star in 1989 and put a World Series ring on his finger in 2001 as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Greg Swindell's career statistics

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Young Superstars II #38 - Eric Bell

That's future Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr in the background.

According to the scouting report, Eric had yet to find himself, and he never really did. Of his 152 strikeouts, Bill Schroeder was the victim five times (most of any hitter Bell struck out).

Eric Bell's career statistics

Young Superstars II #37 - Scott Bankhead

If it wasn't for the position of the Red Sox first base coach, this card is identical to the base release. Scott is throwing the same pitch, at the same point in his delivery.

For the first three seasons, Bankhead was just an average pitcher (24-26), but he had a good year in 1989. After only pitching in four games in 1990, he was used as a reliever for the rest of his career.

Scott Bankhead's career statistics

Friday, March 27, 2009

Young Superstars II #36 - Shane Mack

Another Wrigley shot. Look to the right of the knob of Shane's bat. It looks like a fan wearing a pith helmet. Maybe he's going on safari after the game.

Mack had a pretty good nine year career and won a World Series ring in 1991. He didn't perform particularly well at the plate in the World Series, but did well in the ALCS against the Blue Jays.

The base card was taken at the same time, but the guy in the pith helmet isn't as visible.

Shane Mack's career statistics

Young Superstars II #35 - Greg Mathews

I'm not sure what the smear on the card is. It's ink of some sort because it's not raised above the finish of the card and wouldn't come off with a bit of wiping.

An 11-11 record in 1987 was good enough to put him sixth in voting for the Rookie of the Year. Aside from posting an 11-8 record in '86 (he didn't pitch enough innings and was still considered a rookie in '87 because something wierd was going on) he never posted a winning record.

He pitched reasonably well in the 1987 postseason.

Greg Mathews' career statistics


There's something interesting going on here. Mathews shouldn't have been considered a rookie in 1987 because the qualifications for rookie status are (from Baseball Reference's Bullpen Wiki):

Currently a player is considered to be a rookie, and thus eligible for the award, if the player has accumulated in prior major league seasons:
Fewer than 130 at bats or
Fewer than 50 innings pitched
Fewer than 45 days on the active roster, excluding time on the disabled list, in military service, or time when the rosters are expanded (currently after September 1)

BloggerDK from 1987 Topps provided these two links to stories about Mathews and the Rookie of the Year voting. Thanks to him for that.

So what's happening here? A mistake by, presumably, one voter? He only got .01% of the voting share and no first place votes, so if a voter wrote him in on the ballot that could explain all of this. But it doesn't explain why that vote was allowed to stand for a player whose rookie status had long expired.

Strange all the way around.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Young Superstars II #34 - Barry Larkin

Most likely, we're looking at a future Hall of Famer. And on top of that, our third MLB Network analyst in the last four cards.

Again we see the 50's sci-fi spacesuit Reds uniform. Since they're all wearing away jerseys, I'll say there's a pretty good chance that all the Reds cars we've seen were taken at the same game. This one shows us the third base dugout and a view of some cameramen.

Not sure where they were taken. Turf field with a blue wall. It's not Montreal because you can see the sun reflecting on his helmet.

Larkin has an impressive resume: 12 time All Star, 3 Gold Gloves, 9 Silver Sluggers, NL MVP in 1995 and a World Series ring from 1990. To top it all off, he spent his entire career in Cincinnati.

Hall of Fame? I think so.

Barry Larkin's career statistics

Young Superstars II #33 - Juan Nieves

Our second Brewer in a row.

Nieves only stuck around for two years and posted a 32-25 record.

The crowning achievement of his brief career came on April 15, 1987. The Brewers were off to an 8-0 start when Nieves took the ball on the 15th. That day, against the Orioles, Nieves threw to date the only no hitter in Brewers history. His line for the day reads: 0 hits, 7 strikeouts, 5 walks. Not too bad.

His career stat line isn't that bad.

Juan Nieves' career statistics

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Young Superstars II #32 - Dan Plesac

Here's our second MLB Network analyst in a row.

I haven't said this lately, but I really like the old Brewers logo.

Not sure where this one was taken, but the photo from the base set was taken during the '87 All Star game.

Plesac was used as a closer for the first five seasons of his career with the Brewers, but was used as a spot starter in 1991 (ten starts) and recorded only eight saves. Doug Henry was the primary closer for the Brew Crew in '91 but he saved only 15 games. Plesac made four starts the following year.

After leaving Milwaukee, Dan was used as a setup man for the remainder of his career.

Dan Plesac's career statistics

Young Superstars II #31 - Mitch Williams

Here's Mitch finishing up his... wacky delivery. As wacky as this one is, have a look at his base card:

They were taken at the same time, in Oakland. A lot of the Rangers cards in both the base release and the Young Superstars seem to have been taken at the same time in Oakland.

Mitch was fun to watch as long as you weren't a fan of the team he pitched for. You could never guess where the next pitch was going to end up. But despite his strange delivery and well known wildness, he only threw 44 wild pitches in his career. He did hit a lot of batters though.

Wild Thing was involved in the trade that sent Rafael Palmeiro and Jamie Moyer to Texas.

These days he's an analyst on the new MLB Network. He does a fair job

Mitch Williams' career statistics

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I got another box of targets, ie '09 Heritage

I can never seem to go to Wal Mart for anything normal. Last time it was envelopes. I found myself there this evening because I needed roach traps. After living here for three and a half years and never seeing a roach, my cat as chased at least ten of them around this past week. My house is spotless, I don't know where they're coming from.

But I decided to grab one more blaster of Heritage while I was there. This one will be the deciding factor in whether or not I pursue the set or not. If I do decide to go after the set, I'm going to wait until packs are readily available, or I'm gonna save some cash and buy a hobby box online.

You can hear the gum inside the box shaking with fear because they know what I did to their friends this afternoon. heh heh heh

Actually, I'm glad I picked this up because it was the last one they had. When I bought the first one there was a shelf full. I'm hopefull that this will show who ever does the order that it sells pretty well and they'll order some boxes of loose packs. Again, I don't want to be spending $20 at a time and there were no jumbo packs that others have reported finding.

The first blaster netter three short prints, one chrome and two inserts. This one provided two more short prints, one chrome and no inserts, which is good since all but the chrome will add to the base set.

We'll get the shiney out of the way first. I kinda like these chrome cards.

Sorry, I'm still new to today's baseball card world and this is only the second chrome card I've ever touched.

Unless disaster strikes, I think Randy will be the last pitcher to win 300 games for a very long time.

Aside from set building, the other joy in collecting baseball cards for me is getting cards of your favorite team. I was happy when I completed the Braves team set from Series 1, and I think I'll be looking forward to also completing the team set from Heritage. And it's always nice to pull your favorite player too (Chipper). My only complaint with the Chipper card is that they used that goofy shot from '08 A&G for the little black and white picture. Oh well, at least it makes me laugh.

And finally, here's a kid that I've been rooting for for a long time. Well before his Marlins days, well before his Tigers days, well before he was on the national map as a top prospect.

Maybin is from Asheville, NC, about 45 minutes from where I live. All the local papers gave him a lot of attention when he was in high school and after he was drafted. He's a very talented player and I hope he goes on to have a great career.

I think I'll be building this set. No more blasters though, so I don't know how long it'll take, but I'm in no hurry.

Young Superstars II #30 - Jeff Musselman

Back in the '80s I remember buying these little rubber people in a plastic cup. Most of them were pink, but I think there were some other colors. I think they were called mussle men, but I can't find a damn thing online about them. They came from Dollar General or some such place.

Not a lot going on in the photo, and not a lot happened in Jeff's career. In 1876 (woops) 1987 he led AL relievers with 12 wins, but that's about it in the highlight department. He only stuck around until 1990.

According to Wikipedia, he currently works for Scott Boras.

Jeff Musselman's career statistics

Gum vs Gun

A battle for the ages!

Ladies and gentlement, welcome to Tuesday Afternoon at the Fights!

First we had dinosaur verses penguin, then shark verses lion, then man verses robot, and then a rematch between dinosaur and penguin. But today, all of these pale in comparison. Today the world will witness gum verses gun.

Yes that's right. If you thought the battle between shark and lion was intense, just watch as two brave sticks of gum go head to head against a gun. Who will come out on top? 1989 Bowman gum? 2009 Heritage gum? Or the underdog, the .177 caliber round?

In our first match, filmed in black and white, we have the twenty year veteran, 1989 Bowman Gum. He's spent the last two decades stuck to the back of John Dopson and hasn't seen the light of day in 20 years. The seclusion has left him tough as kevlar and hard as a ballistic trauma plate. This is his moment in the sun.

What an upset! The hardened veteran will never be the same again.

In our second and final match, this one filmed in dazzling color for your viewing pleasure, we have the fresh faced rookie, just two months into his career. Will his overwhelming freshness and flexibility be enough to help him dodge the round coming towards him at close to 500 feet per second from a scant eight yards away? Watch and find out.

Another upset! He tried to get out of the way and took the first shot off the edge. But after our ill-prepared gun man had a chance to reload and gather himself, the second shot prooved fatal.

The clear winner here is the gun. But in this announcer's opinion, 2009 Heritage Gum didn't perform up to expectations.

Join us next time there's something to be shot for another episode of Tuesday Afternoon at the Fights.

Young Superstars II #29 - Mark McLemore

Nice shot with the ball coming into the frame on the right side. McLemore has a goofy look on his face though.

The headshot is another good one for Dinged Corners, it seems like there's a lot more smiles in this series than the first.

I honestly didn't realize that McLemore played as long as he did. In Seattle's magic 2001 season, McLemore, at the age of 36, stole 39 bases. Good for fourth in the league.

Mark McLemore's career statistics

Monday, March 23, 2009

Young Superstars II #28 - Fred McGriff

That looks like either a spring training or pre game shot on McGriff based on the alternate jersey. The headshot on the reverse with the empty stands makes me think pre-game and the ammount and color of the seats makes me think SkyDome.

One of my best friends growing up was named Fred, but he looked exactly like another one-time Brave, Marquis Grissom.

McGriff put up some great numbers and hit over 30 home runs seven straight years. When I think of the Crime Dog, my first thought is of the fire at Fulton County Stadium the day of McGriff's arrival in Atlanta. My second thought were those silly Tom Emanski baseball training videos that you still see on ESPN from time to time very late at night.

Hall of Fame? The numbers are good, but I think he flew just a bit under the radar and wasn't a very outspoken player. In 19 seasons he hit .284/493/1550. As a first baseman, he sat right at league average.

He hit very well in his postseason appearances and has a World Series ring from 1995 with the Braves.

Fred McGriff's career statistics

Finally got my hands on Heritage.

I went to Wal Mart this morning because I needed envelopes. I had no intentions of going anywhere near the cards because I was just sure there was nothing new, and if there was something new it was probably from 2007. But I had to park on one side of the store and envelopes are on the other, so I had to pass right by the card section.

At first glance nothing looked new. There was the typical '07-'08 basketball cards, the full tray of '09 Topps cereal boxes, still no '09 Upper Deck. But on the second shelf where the blasters are I saw red with a big white dot on it.

I went closer, and there they were, finally, blasters of Heritage. I grabbed one and checked out.

I'd thought about opening the box one pack a day, but I've waited so long for these damn things that I opened all eight.

I like them. A lot. I'm not sure if I'll be collecting the set or not though. If Wal Mart gets packs, then maybe, but I don't want to have to spend $20 at a time for a blaster. Or I may just wait until the end of the year when they're on closeout or hobby boxes are cheap online. I don't know. I really want to make this set, I really ike these cards.

The gum on the other hand is an atrocity. It made me want to cry. I think the gum in my '89 Bowman box probably tastes better.

I only got one Brave (Kelly Johnson), and one very shiney card. The only thing I don't like is that the cards feel very awkward and upside down to me, especially the vertical cards...

For example. If this is the correct orientation for the backs of the card...

Then when you flip them over to put them into binder pages, this happens...

Since I assume that the news flashback is an insert set, it doesn't really matter, but it irks me a bit.

I really need to clean my scanner...


Well, thanks to Nachos Grande's comment, I had a look and it is the manager cards that are upside down, not the inserts. That's infinitely more irritating because now I'm really lost as to how to store these cards if I choose to build a set. I'd prefer to have them in a binder, but don't need the managers pointing the wrong direction. And what happens if I want to read the back of the cards? Maybe I'll mount the binder on a Lazy Susan.

Young Superstars II #27 - Oddibe McDowell

The highlights second on the back mentions his stolen base percentage. Interesting because due to their vertical orientation, Score had to sacrifice a few stat categories that horizontally set cards usually include. One of those categories sacrificed was stolen bases. So good for Score for at least telling us how many steal he had and how many times he was caught.

I'm not sure where this photo was taken, but the base release was taken in Oakland like so many other Rangers cards in the two Young Superstars series.

Oddibe was just an average player at the plate, but was above average with the glove.

He played for Texas, Cleveland and Atlanta over the course of six seasons. In 1994 he attempted a comeback with Texas and batted .262/1/15 in 183 at bats.

Oddibe McDowell's career statistics

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Young Superstars II #26 - Jeff Treadway

Here's another shot of the old sci-fi looking Reds uniforms.

Treadway's career isn't very remarkable, but one Saturday at Veterans Stadium, Jeff had game to remember.

In the top of the third inning on May 26, 1990, with runners on first and second, Jeff hit a Pat Combs pitch over the right field wall. The Braves went on to score five runs that inning.

But Treadway wasn't finished yet. In the top of the fifth, this time facing Don Carman with the bases empty, Treadway sent another ball over the right field wall. Then again in the top of the seventh facing Darrel Akerfelds with a runner on first, he did it a third time.

Three of his 11 home runs in 1990 came in that one game. His six RBIs were half of the Braves' 12 runs as they defeated the Phillies for their 16th win of the season (but by that point, they were already 13.5 games out of first).

After his playing days were over, he coached at the Stratford Academy in Macon, Georgia.

Jeff Treadway's career statistics

Young Superstars II #25 - Gary Thurman

Well, well, well. Look who's here. I don't think there's a chance in the world I could compete with Andy in a post about Gary Thurman. If you haven't seen it, have a look and see what happened at the old 1988 Topps blog when Mr. Thurman came up.

Since I don't have a whole lot to add, let's look at the card. It's another card with good pictures on both front and back. The photo on the reverse is nearly identical to the base release, but the photo on the front of the base card shows Gary taking a lead off first.

Gary Thurman's career statistics

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Young Superstars II #24 - Vince Coleman

The photo on the reverse looks like it was taken just seconds before or after the headshot from the base issue.

hmmmmm... I wonder. The photo on the front was probably taken during the same game as well. Actually, all three Coleman cards from 88 Score look to have been taken at the same time. See what you think:

Coleman had blazing speed his entire career. For three straight years, starting his rookie year in 1985, he stole 100+ bases. His stolen base output dropped considerably after 1990, though he did steal 50 in 1994.

Despite relatively low offensive output, Coleman's speed led to a lot of runs. If you want to put a lot of stock in sabermetrics, he is estimated to have created 688 runs, or 4.3 per game.

Vince Coleman's career statistics

Young Superstars II #23 - Roger Clemens

What do you think? Is this our first potential Hall of Famer? His reactions and attitudes after the steroid allegations are suspicious, at best. But he had a remarkable career.

Is that a Mariners away jersey standing on first base? The number looks like 38, but Jerry Narron wore 38 for four games with the Mariners in 1987, and that's not him on base. It could be the first base coach. Any ideas?

By the time this picture was taken, Clemens was already a highly decorated veteran. By 1988, he'd already won two Cy Young awards (on his way to winning six), an MVP award and made the first of his eleven trips to the All Star game in 1986 where he won the All Star MVP.

His two World Series rings came as a member of the Yankees and in 2004 while pitching for Houston, he picked up a National League Cy Young award.

The numbers are really astounding. 354 wins against 184 losses, 4672 strikeouts in 4916+ innings and a 3.12 career ERA. His numbers are comparable to Maddux, though Clemens walked over 500 more men than Maddux (but also picked up 1300 more Ks). Clemens' ERA was just a hair lower than Maddux's, though his WHIP was just a bit higher.

I think he's a Hall of Famer. I don't particularly like him, but I think he'll be in.

Roger Clemens' career statistics

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mail Day: '09 Topps down to three, and two unexpected cards.

Three of the final six '09 Topps I needed came today by way of Jeff at Card Junkie. I'm thinking this is at least the fifth trade we've made and they've all been wonderful. As I'm sure you all know, he's another one of the good guys to trade with.

Here's three of the final six. Now I only need 41, 100, 330.

My parents also came up for a visit today and my mom brought a tin of cards that she found in my closet. In side was an unexpected find.

1990 Upper Deck #65 - The Steve Avery collection is now upto 14 cards. I'd forgotten all about this card. It was still in a top loader and I'm not sure why it wasn't with the rest of my cards when I dug them all up last summer. But I won't complain.

Also in the little box was a card that I need to complete my '88 Revco League Leaders set. Yes, I'm still chasing down a 20 year old drug store odd ball set. But it's a nice little set. I only need the McGwire to finish it. I'll probably tack that onto my next SportLots order.

My thanks to Jeff for the '09 Topps and to my mom for finding a stack of cards that I put in a strange out of the way place fifteen years ago.

Young Superstars II #22 - Ivan Calderon

Is that old Comiskey in the background?

He's another guy that had already spent time with more than one team before 1988, and the first in Series Two who is no longer with us. He was murdered in 2003, shot multiple times in the back and head in a bar in Puerto Rico.

For a big guy Calderon was fairly speedy. In 1990 and 1991 when he was healthy and played regularly, he stole 32 and 31 bases, being caught 16 times both seasons.

His best season came in 1991 where he went .300/19/75 and made the All Star team.

Injuries shortened his career and he was finished by 1993 at the age of 31.

Ivan Calderon's career statistics

Young Superstars II #21 - Rick Aguilera

Here's our third Met in a row.

It's likely that this photo was taken on the same pitch as the base release. The photo was taken at Candlestick and judging by the blurs in the crowd, it was taken at the same game as the Rick Reuschel card that appeared just two cards before Aguilera in the base release.

Aguilera made only two starts against the Giants in 1987, and only once he went up against Reuschel.

On August 30, 1987, Aguilera carried a 5-1 lead through eight innings. The bottom of the ninth started with a strikeout of Joel Youngblood, then Matt Williams and Bob Brenly both homered making the score 5-3. Jose Uribe then flew out to center, after which Eddie Milner walked. Thus ending Aguilera's night. Roger McDowell came in and induced a ground ball from Chris Speier to end the game.

Reuschel didn't fare nearly as well, lasting only a third of an inning, giving up all five Mets runs. It was his shortest outing of the season and only his second start after being traded to the Giants from the Pirates.

Aguilera will be remembered by history as a very good closer. As of the end of the 2008 season, his 318 saves are good for 15th all time. But before becoming a closer, Aguilera was a good starter, going 31-17 in his first three seasons.

He was used as a starter again in 1996 during his second stint with the Twins, going 8-6.

In 1991, Rick saved 42 games and pitched very well against the Braves in the World Series. In four appearances he went 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA and two saves.

Rick Aguilera's career statistics

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Young Superstars II #20 - Darryl Strawberry

This is a great shot on Strawberry concentrating on the pitch. He had one of the nicest swings in baseball.

Who's that on deck behind him? It's most likely Kevin McReynolds.

We all know the tragedy of Darryl Strawberry, so I won't get into it. He was a great player who gave up a lot.

He's one of only three players who have played for all four original New York teams (Yankees, Mets, Dodgers and Giants).

Darryl Strawberry's career statistics

Young Superstars II #19 - Lenny Dykstra

I'm trying to figure out what's going on in the background. There's a person on the left side shielding their face from something. There's also a white spot and I can't tell if it's a ball or lense flare.

I kinda doubt that it's a ball, considering Lenny's getting ready to hit and there shouldn't be any other baseballs flying around. There seems to be a lot of non-players in that area back there. Press pit?

Lenny was a hardnosed player: he played hard, drank hard and partied hard. He was part of that blue collar Phillies team of the early 90s with John Kruk and Darren Daulton.

He'll probably best be remember for the car accident he and Daulton were involved in after leaving John Kruk's bachelor party on May 7, 1991. He wouldn't play again until July 15. Daulton fared a bit better and was back in the line up on May 25 (but for only two games and was then out until June 18).

In December 2007, Nails was named in the Mitchell Report and by Jason Grimsley.

Lenny Dykstra's career statistics

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Young Superstars II #18 - Shawon Dunston

Our first Cub.

Looks like Shawon has swung and missed in this picture. Striking out is something he was pretty good at. He liked it so much in fact that he did it one thousand times in 5927 at bats. He didn't like to walk, only doing that 203 times in 18 seasons. His distaste for the walk led him to one of the worst career on base percentages around, .296, despite a batting average of .269.

He was still a lot of fun to watch and never seemed to grow up as a player. He made the same mistakes at 33 that he did at 23.

He did manage to make two All Star teams, and always seemed like he was having a lot of fun playing the game. It's hard not to like Shawon Dunston.

Shawon Dunston's career statistics

Mailday: 1987 Topps, the end.

First a clerical note. It looks like Blogger fixed whatever problem they were having with pre-scheduled posting, and I think I've sorted out my email issues. So all is right with the world for now.

I got home this afternoon and there was a box sitting on my front porch, but more on that later. In the mail box was an envelope from Howard from In Purple I'm Stunning with five cards.

We've traded a few times and he's a great guy to trade with. Go check out his site if you haven't and in his latest email, he told me to have anyone who's needing '09 Topps drop him a line and see if you can work something out.

Anyhoo, on to the cards. The three that I was missing were Gary Carter, Barry Bonds and Scott Bradley. It's always nice to get new old cards that you've never seen before. We've all seen pictures of the Bonds rookie online, but the other two are completely new to me. And I have to say, I think I have a new favorite '87 Topps card.

Look at it! Just look at it. In an era where Topps gave us things like this, this card is a breath of fresh air.

Ok, so it's not up to the standards of modern photography and the players in the background are kinda blurry, but Carter's about to try and gun down a runner at second. In the background we see Luis Aguayo at the plate, Rick Schu on deck and I can't figure out who that is in the dugout. The uniform number looks like 38, but that's clearly not Dave Stewart. So it could be a blurry 33, in which case there are two possibilities on the '86 Phillies, but only one of those possibilities was white. So I'm going to assume that that's pitcher Tom Gorman standing in the dugout.

It may be a Met, but that doesn't matter, catchers in full gear look badass no matter what team they play for.

The Scott Bradley card is more typical of Topps photography from the late '80s.

Also in the envelope were two little oddball releases.

The first is an odd, ball shaped (hehehe, see what I did with words) Chipper Jones from 2003 Fleer Hardball. I've never seen these before since 2003 was nearly ten years after my first round of collecting. What's interesting about this card is that it lists Chipper as an outfielder. In 2002 and 2003, the Braves brought Vinny Castilla back at third and stuck Chipper in the outfield. He did reasonably well out there, but I was so much happier with him at third and a platoon in left. But you gotta hand it to Bobby for trying something new with a superstar player.

Next is something that I've heard of before, but have never actually seen in person. Topps released a small set of mini cards in the UK to explain baseball to the Brits.

ugh... now I may have to collect the rest of the set so I can find out what the other strike factors are.

So once again I want to thank Howard for helping me finish, after 21 years, my 1987 Topps set. I'm looking forward to sliding these last three cards into the binder and then taking a stroll down memory lane and looking through the set now that there are no gaps.

I also look forward to more dealings and trades with Howard in the future. Again, go check out his site.

Now... that box that I mentioned...

Check out 1989 Bowman later this afternoon for pack one.