Friday, January 29, 2021

Top 5 Tribute: Don Sutton

Dodgers fans were dealt a double blow this month. Shortly after the death of Tommy Lasorda, news came that all-time great pitcher Don Sutton had also passed. I present my top 5 favorite Sutton cards from my collection.

1973 Topps #10

The earliest card of his in my collection, Sutton was at the top of his game in 1973. He made his second All-Star team and finished 5th in Cy Young voting.

1981 Topps #605

Suttoning (verb, origin unknown): To pose for a picture by getting down on one knee and crossing your arms over the knee that's up.  Don apparently liked posing this way.

1986 Donruss Highlights #16

Like many baseball greats of the 70's, Sutton was on the back end of his career when I was getting into collecting. Young me remembers him as some grey-haired pitcher on the Angels. He wasn't appearing on All-Star cards or Record Breakers. He wasn't being talked about in the same breath as Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, or Tom Seaver. If you never looked at the back of his card and saw those career stats, it would take a card like this to make you do a double take and say "Wait? This guy was that good?"

1987 Ralston Purina #6

The town I grew up in has a Purina plant. There were often times that particular neighborhood smelled like cat food. This has nothing to do with Sutton, but seeing it again reminds me of my childhood and therefore I think I need to complete the run of sets Purina produced in the 80's.

2016 Topps Archives #16

We'll cap things off with this great Archives card. As I said before, I remember Sutton in the tail end of his career. Seeing a fresh faced Don Sutton - before the grey hair, before the perm, before the greatness - still seems weird to me. 
Rest in Peace, Mr. Sutton!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Repack Haiku #189 (Don Slaught)

Founded RightView Pro
Video analysis
System for baseball
1992 Stadium Club #545 Don Slaught
After Slaught's professional baseball career ended, he started up his own company, which became the first video analytics system to be licensed by both the MLB and MLB Players Union.

Monday, January 25, 2021

2021 Obligatory Hall Of Fame Post

Tomorrow, we'll find out who gets to join last year's inductees Derek Jeter and Larry Walker  in next summer's Hall of Fame festivities. I enjoy this time of year, especially as voters reveal their ballots. I actually like reading about these votes, and the thought process each writer makes in choosing who they think is worthy. I wish more writers gave us a inside look at their choices. It's fascinating.

Last year, I wrote about who I felt deserved to get elected. I decided to do that again this year as well. Pardon me while I copy and paste from part of my original post from 2018:

I obviously do not have an official vote, but I too have thought about who is worthy and who would make my unofficial ballot. Before I list my choices, a few clarifications into my voting process:

  • I'm a "Big Hall" type of guy - I believe that the Hall's main purpose is to reflect the history of the game. I'm not going to cross a guy off just because he's not an inner circle type.
  • As far as PED users go, I generally don't have a strong opinion. Again, the Hall should reflect this era of the game. To be honest, I have genuine reservations as to how much PED usage affects a player's overall stats. That being said, those guys are placed in the back of the line. As much as I may feel Manny Ramirez deserves to get in, if there are at least 10 other worthy candidates, he won't make my ballot.
I'm going to categorize players into 3 groups - definitely worthy, probably worthy, and maybe worthy. (Real scientific, I know...)

Definitely Worthy

These are the guys I don't have to think hard about. They belong, and that's all there is to it. Obviously, because of the PED issue, it's possible that not all of these guys may make my final ballot.

Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Manny Ramirez
Curt Schilling

2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces #90 Curt Schilling

You know the world is a crazy place when the one guy NOT associated with PEDs is the most controversial figure...

Probably Worthy

These players have strong cases, but not airtight. There are usually some reservations. However, if they get elected, I won't have a problem with it.

Todd Helton - There's a significant gap between his home/road splits. Should that matter? I haven't really decided.

Jeff Kent - Greatest power hitting 2nd baseman of all-time, at least until Cano becomes eligible.

Scott Rolen - Ive started coming around on him. He never struck me as a superstar, but his career shows that he might belong.

Gary Sheffield - He may not have been the most likable person, but he was a scary hitter at his peak.

Billy Wagner - He was dominant on the field (more so than Trevor Hoffman), but pitching under 1,000 innings in his career is a tough hurdle to jump.

1993 Score #534 Gary Sheffield (DT)

Maybe Worthy

I'll be honest, I'm not convinced these guys belong. They have genuine cases though, and I'll have to put more thought into it.

Bobby Abreu
Mark Beuhrle
Tim Hudson
Torii Hunter
Andruw Jones
Andy Petite
Sammy Sosa
Omar Vizquel
Barry Zito

None of this year's first timers have a strong case. A part of me wants to bump Torii Hunter up a level, just because he was so fun to watch and was an amazing defender. Sosa and Petite were borderline candidates at best, and that was before the PED allegations. Abreu never struck me as a Hall of Fame player during his playing days, and seems to be a candidate just because he was consistent Andruw Jones built his entire case on the front end of his career, and if he didn't have such a mind-boggling drop-off we would be talking about a cartain all-time great. I'm going to just flat out say it - Omar Vizquel may be one of the great defensive shortstops in history, but he is not a Hall of Famer. It takes more just defense to make the Hall, and I'm not yet convinced that he belongs.

1997 Ultra - Gold Medallion
#G153 Andruw Jones

My Ballot

Here's my unofficial 9 player ballot:
  1. Roger Clemens
  2. Barry Bonds
  3. Todd Helton
  4. Jeff Kent
  5. Manny Ramirez
  6. Scott Rolen
  7. Curt Schilling 
  8. Gary Sheffield
  9. Billy Wagner
Bonds, Clemens, Ramirez, Sheffield, Petite and Sosa are held back due to their PED connections. That leaves just Schilling from the Definitely Worthy list and 4 guys from the Probably Worthy list. Five spots remaining, but I only need 4 to add those remaining from my Definitely Worthy and Probably Worthy lists. For the first time since I started doing this, I'm not using up all 10 available spots.

In the end, I expect Schilling will be the only one who has a reasonable shot. Lucky for him, his latest political controversy happened after most ballots were submitted. I do think it'd be funny if he, Clemens and Bonds squeak in this year, just because it'd provide an interesting contrast to have them inducted along-side Jeter and his untarnished image.

No matter how it shakes out, it'll be another fun and exciting Hall class! (I'm just not looking forward to reading/hearing about how great Jeter is all over again.)

Friday, January 22, 2021

Top 5 Tribute: Tommy Lasorda

I have a confession. I was all but certain 2020 was going to take Tommy Lasorda. He had been sick for awhile, and I was thinking that 2020 line-up of deceased Hall of Famers was going to get their manager. It almost seems fitting Lasorda gave 2020 the bird and held out to 2021. Still, it's sad to lose one of MLB's most colorful characters. As I've been doing far too often, I honor his memory with my top 5 favorite cards in my collection:

1978 Topps #189 

1978 Topps has the best manager cards, and it's not even close. The then-and-now motif with a black-and-white postage stamp for their playing days is fantastic!

1981 Fleer #116

 In Lasorda's first two full seasons as Dodgers manager, he lead the team to back-to-back N.L. Pennants. In both years his team fell to the Yankees in the World Series. In 1981 however, Tommy and his boys got sweet revenge, beating those same Yankees. 

1988 Topps #74

Any Lasorda tribute that doesn't include his iconic golf cart card isn't a proper tribute. If I had a year like Lasorda's Dodgers had in 1988, I'd have a big smile too!

1990 Topps #669

It's been mentioned many times over but other collectors better than me, but Lasorda really does have the best cards of any manager out there. This one gets a big thumbs up from me!

1992 Topps #261

 If the 1988 Topps card isn't Tommy's best, than this one is. It's not often you see the field general actually leading his troops!

Rest in peace Mr. Lasorda, your legacy will live on!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Repack Haiku #188 (Darrell Porter)

World Series hero
Could not overcome drug use
Died at age fifty
1981 Topps Traded #814 Darrell Porter


Monday, January 18, 2021

Time Travel Trading Update #49

When I create these update posts, I try to prepare the next month's update in advance. I'll copy over the trade stack, and update things as the cards come in. That was a little harder to do this time around with the holidays and Covid, as I just didn't have the energy to stay on top of it. Needless to say I was scrambling a little to get this in. Hopefully next month will be easier as things get back to normal, but for now let's see what new additions are available!
My last update featured a great trade from Chris (The Collector/The 1993). He had mention during the trade that he wanted to send a little something extra, and just before the holidays he sent a PWE with some serious star power!

That Stan Musial card is fantastic, and I have a gut feeling this entire group will not last long in my trade box. Thanks for the extra cards, Chris!

Next up as a trade from Brendan, proprietor of the blog The View From the Third Floor.  This was an unusual trade, in that we had a difficult time communicating for some reason. He commented on my blog about wanting to trade and provided his email for me to contact him. I did, twice, but for some reason he never got the messages. I commented on his blog and gave him my email, but never got any messages either. Out of the blue, I received some cards from Brendan, along with a list of cards he was hoping to get in return. I was more than happy to send off some cards in exchange for what he sent me:

Thanks again Brendan!

I did get one more trade in, but it was close to when I wanted this post published and I didn't have time to take pics of the cards. I'll save it next time. I also have a pending trade which I hope to complete by then as well.

Let's start the year off with some trades! All cards listed below are available for an older card!

The Time Travel Trade Stack:

2018 Stadium Club
#52 Paul Goldschmidt

2018 Topps
#502 Xander Bogaerts

2017-1018 Pocket Schedule
Carolina Hurricanes

2017 Bowman
#12 Trea Turner
2011 Topps Lineage
#182 Frank Robinson

2008-09 O-Pee-Chee (hockey)
#128 Tim Thomas
2004 Donruss Studio
#184 Stan Musial

2003 Donruss Classics
#24 C.C. Sabathia

1998 Score
#68 Scott Rolen
#74 Mark McLemore

1994 Sportflics
#113 Pete Harnisch
1993 Leaf
#271 Jay Buhner

1993 Classic Draft Picks (basketball)
#33 Will Flemons
#67 Bennie Seltzer

1992 Fleer Ultra
#594 Dave Righetti

1991 Upper Deck
#778 Dave Righetti

1990 Fleer
#629 Jose Canseco (POD)

1990 Upper Deck
#626 Frank Viola

1990 Pro Set - Theme Art (football)
#10 Super Bowl X Pittsburgh Steelers / Dallas Cowboys 

1989 Score
#495 Larry Parrish
1987 Donruss
1987 Topps
#313 Roberto Clemente (TBTC) 
1986 Topps Major League Leaders Minis
1981 Donruss 
#374 John Candelaria
#409 Carney Lansford
#420 Tommy Lasorta (MGR)
#421 Charlie Leibrandt (RC)
#531 Jerry Koosman
#565 Ken Landreaux

1981 Fleer
#27 Tim McCarver
#268 Rod Carew

1981 Topps
#151 Claudell Wahington
#182 Bob Grich 
#350 J.R. Richard
#363 Geoff Zahn
#414 John Pacella
1978-79 Topps (basketball)
#37 Mike Gale
#66 Lonnie Shelton
#76 Brian Winters

1978 Topps
#148 Andre Thorton
#458T Jim Ray
#496T Tom Murphy

1973-74 O-Pee-Chee (hockey)
#53 Richard Lemieux

1973 Topps
#23 Dave Kingman

1969 Topps
#66 Orioles Rookies
#139 The Cards Celebrate! (WS) - PENDING!
#178 Dalton Jones
#307 Barry Latman
#352 Alex Johnson (RC)

1965 Philadelphia (football)
#193 John Paluck

1964 Philadelphia (football)
#172 Ken Gray (RC)

1964 Topps
#18 Billy O'Dell

1963 Topps
#155 Bill Stafford

1961 Fleer Baseball Greats

1959 Topps (football)
#80 Joe Perry
1958 Topps

1958 Topps Zorro (non-sport)
#83 Rude Awakening

1957 Topps
#138 Minnie Minoso
#284 Ike Delock

1956 Topps Flags of the World (non-sport)
#70 Jordan

1955 Topps
#45 Hank Sauer

1954 Bowman
#16 Jim Wilson - PENDING!
#73 Don Mueller

1954 Bowman Power For Peace (non-sport)
#91 USS Coral Sea (CVB43)
1953 Topps
#35 Irv Noren - PENDING!

1952 Bowman
#57 Clyde Vollmer

1938 Church & Dwight Useful Birds Of America Tenth Series (J9-6) (non-sport)
#2 Black-throated Green Warbler

1922 Church & Dwight Useful Birds Of America Third Series (J7) (non-sport) 
#7 Prothonotary Warbler

1915 Church & Dwight Useful Birds Of America First Series (J5)  (non-sport)
#1 Quail

The Time Travel Trading Project is simple in concept. I started out with a random pack of 2018 Topps Series 1 baseball cards. My aim was to trade every card in that pack for something older. Each card I receive in turn is then made available for trade, with the goal to get the oldest card I can get.

Number of trades completed: 78 (1 pending)
Unique trading partners: 41

Number of cards mailed out: 269
Year of oldest card mailed out: 1955

Number of cards received: 507
Year of oldest card received: 1915

Friday, January 15, 2021

Top 5 Tribute: Phil Niekro

I'm still playing catch-up, but I wanted to get this tribute in before it got lost in the shuffle. 2020 decided to take one last Hall of Famer when knuckleballer Phil Niekro passed away the day after Christmas.  As I have done way too many times these past few months, I offer my tribute of the Top 5 favorite cards in my collection:

1976 Topps #435

 This is the oldest card I have of his. Who doesn't love those 70's Braves uniforms?

1980 Topps #205 (1979 Victory Leaders)

I was 4 years old in 1979, so I have no idea how this unusual sibling rivalry played out. It's one of those little baseball quirks that two brothers tied for the NL lead in wins. I can only imagine what the phone conversations between the Niekro brothers must have sounded like. Fittingly, Phil and Joe would go on to have the most career wins by a pair of brothers in MLB history.

1986 Topps #204 (Record Breaker)

As much as I don't want to highlight a Yankees card, this record deserves recognition. Any time a player gets mentioned in the same breath as Satchel Paige, you know they must have done something noteworthy! (Coincidentally, I must add that he was 46 in this picture. I'll turn 46 this year, and it does my ego good to know I don't look anywhere as aged as Niekro does!)

1987 Fleer #626 (300 Game Winners)

I don't know how many times in MLB history a pair of 300-game winners faced each other in a game, but Fleer decided to highlight a game in June of 1986 between recent milestone-reachers Niekro and Don Sutton. Both pitched well, but neither got a decision in the game.

1988 Score #555

How could I not end this tribute with this glorious sunset card? Niekro was born on April 1st, which made him an ideal candidate for a blog prank I coordinated last year. For one day, 25 bloggers showed off this final tribute to one of baseball's greats.

R.I.P Mr. Niekro, and thanks for the memories.