Thursday, May 29, 2014

#224 Sid Bream

About the Front: Witness the intense gaze of Sid Bream in profile. Winter is coming.
About the Back: Carlisle, PA may ring a bell for its connection to great Native American athlete Jim Thorpe, who played halfback for the now-defunct Carlisle Indian School in the early 1900s.

Triple Play:

1. If you're familiar with Sid's big league performance, you might find his stat line for the 1983 Albuquerque Dukes hard to believe: .307/.415/.569, 32 HR, 118 RBI. You have to love the Pacific Coast League.

2. He is of course best known for lumbering home ahead of Barry Bonds' throw with the winning run in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS.

3. Sid Bream has never been very fond of his first name.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I mostly knew Sid Bream as the guy that got pushed aside when the Braves traded for Fred McGriff. If I had grown up in Pittsburgh, his name would probably be a curse word to me.

Bill James Said: "A consistent, well-rounded player and a good glove, he never did put up the big numbers that you would like from a first baseman, and, at age 33, isn't a candidate to become a full-time player."

On This Date in 1993: May 29. The first Life Ball takes place in Vienna, Austria. By 2011, it has become Europe's largest public HIV and AIDS charitable event.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

#223 Roger Pavlik

About the Front: I'm betting that's a tin of chewing tobacco in Roger Pavlik's back pocket. Yuck.
About the Back: I'm really enjoying finding familiar names on these card backs. Wayne Krivsky was the Reds' GM from 2006 to 2008, and later worked for the Orioles. He's currently a big league scout and special assistant to the GM for the Twins.

Triple Play:

1. Roger was known for his unorthodox delivery; his left (plant) foot landed facing third base instead of home plate.

2. On May 4, 1996, he gave up only one hit in a complete-game, 3-1 victory over the Tigers - a fifth-inning home run by Mark Lewis. This feat came one day after teammate Ken Hill threw a one-hitter of his own.

3. Pavlik was chosen for the All-Star Game in 1996 despite a lofty 4.82 ERA at the break; American League skipper Mike Hargrove was clearly swayed by his 11-2 record. The righty finished the season 15-8 with a 5.19 ERA. He won only four games over the next two seasons before a bum shoulder finished his career.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I don't think I've ever met anyone named Roger.

Bill James Said: "He pitched 88 innings after August 1 with a 6-1 record and a 2.45 ERA." That was part of Pavlik's surprising 12-6, 3.41 stat line in 1993.

On This Date in 1993: May 28. Eritrea and Monaco gain entry into the United Nations. Congratulations, guys!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

#222 Bernie Williams

About the Front: That's quite the expression on Bernie Williams' face. He looks like somebody just dropped a frozen turkey on his foot.
About the Back: That's the first time I've ever seen the word "Wallop" capitalized.

Triple Play:

1. He was trained on classical guitar, and later developed an interest in blues and jazz. He released an album, The Journey Within, in 2003.

2. Bernie spent his entire 16-year career with the Yankees, finishing with an overall batting line of .297/.381/.477 (125 OPS+), 449 doubles, 287 home runs, and 1,257 RBI.

3. By dint of his membership on the dynastic New York teams at the turn of the century, he collected 128 postseason hits, second-most behind longtime teammate Derek Jeter.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Buster Olney has claimed that the Yankees were prepared to part ways with Bernie after the 1998 season. But a potential deal with Albert Belle fell through when the Orioles threw big money at the mercurial slugger, and Williams turned down bigger offers from Boston and Arizona to remain in the Bronx. Of course my O's helped extend the Yanks' run of greatness. Ugh.

Bill James Said: "Like Pat Kelly, nobody is talking Cooperstown, but he's a good player now, and he's probably going to get better." In hindsight, it's pretty funny to see Bernie and Pat Kelly mentioned in the same breath.

On This Date in 1993: May 27. Scott Sanderson of the Angels holds Mariners hitters to five singles in a 5-0 Halos victory. With the shutout, the veteran righthander improves to 7-2 with a 2.82 ERA and ties Jack McDowell for the league lead in victories. Unfortunately for Sanderson, he goes 0-9 with a 6.23 ERA in his next 11 starts before being claimed on waivers by the Giants. He does right the ship in San Francisco down the stretch, however.

Friday, May 23, 2014

#221 Carlos Baerga

About the Front: I wonder who the blurry on-deck batter is. Carlos Baerga batted third in all 161 of his starts in 1992. Albert Belle was the cleanup hitter behind him in 151 games, with Paul Sorrento (seven), Mark Whiten (two), and Carlos Martinez (one) chipping in otherwise. Judging by the lightness of our mystery man's skin, it's almost certainly Sorrento. There were four Cleveland home games featuring the 3-4 combo of Baerga and Sorrento, but that's as close as I can come to identifying the specific game.

About the Back: "Rogers Hornsby was my manager, and he called me a talking pile of pigshit!"

Triple Play:

1. On April 8, 1993, Carlos became the first player in MLB history to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in one inning. In the bottom of the seventh, he clouted a two-run homer off of Yankee southpaw Steve Howe, and later in the inning switched to the left side and belted a solo shot against righty Steve Farr.

2. After many years in the wilderness, he had a one-year resurgence with the Diamondbacks in 2003, batting .343/.396/.464 as a part-timer.

3. As of 2014, he is coaching on the staff of the University of Northwestern Ohio's baseball team.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I can't believe how abruptly Carlos' career decline arrived. He batted .305/.345/.454 with a 115 OPS+ through 1995, his age 26 season. From 1996 through 2005, his final year in the majors, his line was .272/.313/.378 with an 80 OPS+.

Bill James Said: "If the Indians get any pitching they'll win that new division this year, which will give Baerga a chance to strut his stuff." Dennis Martinez, Charles Nagy, and Mark Clark all had good years for the Tribe in 1994, and the club was only one game behind the White Sox in the new American League Central Division when the strike halted play in August.

On This Date in 1993: May 23. Beginnings and ends, as the Angels sign 18-year-old Puerto Rican catcher Bengie Molina and the White Sox release 35-year-old former Blue Jays ace Dave Stieb. Stieb will make a surprising comeback in 1998, but we'll get to that in a future blog post.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

#220 Benito Santiago

About the Front: Ugh. It always drove me nuts when Topps called him "Benny". As far as I know, he was always known as "Benito".

About the Back: I was impressed by Santiago's 21 steals as a rookie catcher...until I looked him up and saw that he was thrown out 12 times. Whoops.

Triple Play:

1. In 1987, Benito set a rookie record with a 34-game hitting streak.

2. Santiago was famous for throwing out baserunners from his knees, and three times led the National League in assists by a catcher.

3. On May 3, 1996, he hit the first grand slam ever allowed by Greg Maddux, a ninth inning tiebreaker that spurred a Phillies win over Atlanta.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I thought it was odd that Benito wore the jersey number "09" from 1991-1994. Supposedly he switched from "9" because the strap on his chest protector rubbed against the number and bothered him. Adding the zero created space in between the two digits for the strap to rest.

Bill James Said: "Swung at the first pitch 49.4% of the time, the highest percentage of any major league regular."

On This Date in 1993: May 22. Toronto mascot B.J. Birdy is ejected by second base umpire Jim McKean for trying to incite the crowd against McKean. Get the bizarre details here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

#219 Bip Roberts

About the Front: Oh no! We've been Bipped!

About the Back: Yes, Topps namedropped 19th century star Big Ed Delahanty, who died after falling off a bridge and being swept into Niagara Falls. He had been travelling on a train and was ejected for being drunken and disorderly. You could look it up.

Triple Play:

1. In 1994, Roberts had a league-best 24-game hitting streak.

2. He spoiled Pedro Martinez's perfect game bid on June 3, 1995 with a leadoff double in the tenth inning.

3. Bip is now a TV analyst for Comcast Sports Network covering the Oakland Athletics, and coaches at Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I loved the commercial featuring Tony Gwynn mocking the worthlessness of Bip's rookie card.

Bill James Said: "Went on the disabled list with a sprained thumb on July 2, came back for a couple of weeks, and then broke his ring finger."

On This Date in 1993: May 21. Down 8-1 after five innings and 10-4 through seven, Oakland scores five runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth to rally past the White Sox, 12-11. Rickey Henderson homers, triples, and drives in five for the A's. Robin Ventura goes deep twice in a losing cause.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

#218 Ben McDonald

About the Front: This photo cuts Ben McDonald off at the knees, so you don't get a proper sense of his height. The former #1 overall pick is 6'7", with long, lanky legs.

About the Back: Yep, just your average alligator-wrestling, sardine-eating righthanded pitcher. Nothing to see here.

Triple Play:

1. His superlatives in 1989, when he won the Golden Spikes Award (best collegiate baseball player): 14-4, 3.49 ERA, 202 strikeouts in 152 innings pitched, and a season-opening 44 and 2/3 inning scoreless streak.

2. Ben made his first big league start on July 21, 1990, shutting out the White Sox on four hits and a walk and outdueling Jack McDowell.

3. McDonald now works as a TV analyst for ESPN's college baseball broadcasts, and also occasionally fills in on Orioles' TV and radio broadcasts.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: When Ben started the 1994 season by winning each of his first seven starts, I was sure he'd made a breakthrough. Of course he went 7-7 with a 4.56 ERA for the duration of the season. Oh well.

Bill James Said: "His strikeout rates, since his brief trial in '89: 3.7 per nine innings, 4.9, 6.1, 6.3, 7.0."

On This Date in 1993: May 20. The fourth-season finale of Seinfeld airs on NBC, wrapping up the season-long story arc of Jerry and George's television pilot for "a show about nothing". The pilot makes it to air, but the (fictional) NBC executives reject the show.

Monday, May 19, 2014

#217 Kevin Mitchell

About the Front: I wish I knew what was happening here. Is Kevin Mitchell clowning around in batting practice? Has he just been brushed back by a pitch and is preparing to toss it back to the pitcher himself in an act of defiance? Or is this part of Seattle's "Shakespeare in the Kingdome" performance?

About the Back: The Mariners acquired Mitchell in exchange for three pitchers: Dave Burba, Mike Jackson, and Bill Swift. As you can see, the outfielder missed over 60 games with injuries and failed to even crack double digits in home runs. Seattle traded him to the Reds for reliever Norm Charlton after that lone disappointing season.

Triple Play:

1. He was the National League MVP in 1989, and continued his torrid hitting in the postseason. He batted .353/.429/.706 with a pair of homers and seven RBI in the NLCS, then batted .294 and slugged .471 in the World Series.

2. In addition to more run-of-the-mill injuries, Mitchell also infamously strained a muscle while vomiting and broke a tooth attempting to bite into a chocolate donut that he had microwaved for too long.

3. His last great season came in 1994, when he batted .326/.429/.681 with 30 home runs and 77 RBI in 95 games before the players' strike.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: This photo reminds me of the way I used to play baseball in my back yard. I'd take a plastic bat and a tennis ball or something similar, toss the ball straight up in the air, and hit it. I'd imagine entire games between two major league teams, with full batting orders and least until the ball disappeared into the brush at the edge of our property.

Bill James Said: "He's the Danny Tartabull of the National League-a formidable righthanded power hitter who comes with enough baggage to require his own baggage handler."

On This Date in 1993: May 19. The Roots release Organix, their debut album.

Friday, May 16, 2014

#216 Mark Leiter

About the Front: Now that's an interesting windup. Both of Mark Leiter's arms as well as his left leg are parallel to each other, at a 45 degree angle to the field.
About the Back: Wow. How often does a pitcher miss three entire seasons of minor league ball and come back to have a long major league career? Two shoulder surgeries in the mid-1980s were the culprit for Leiter.

Triple Play:

1. His younger brother Al pitched for the Yankees, Blue Jays, Marlins, and Mets from 1987 through 2005. Mark Leiter, Jr. was a 22nd-round draft pick of the Phillies last June and is currently pitching for the Lakewood BlueClaws in the single-A South Atlantic League.

2. His best season in the majors was 1998, when he appeared in 69 games as a reliever for the Phillies, who had been his favorite team as a child. Leiter went 7-5 with a 3.55 ERA and a team-high 23 saves, just one year after leading the National League with 17 losses.

3. Mark currently offers private coaching to young pitchers.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: In April 1994, Mark's nine-month-old son Ryan died of Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, a childhood form of ALS. It's an incredibly sad thing that's always stuck with me when Leiter's name is mentioned.

Bill James Said: "Righthander, throws fastball with good movement, slider, and changeup."

On This Date in 1993: May 16. The Grand National Assembly of Turkey chooses Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel as the country's new president.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

#215 Pat Howell

About the Front: Blue wristband, orange and white gloves. That's some proper team-color coordination.

About the Back: You're looking at Pat Howell's entire major league career, complete with one extra-base hit and one RBI in 79 plate appearances. He grounded into a force play at second base against Danny Jackson, plating Dave Gallagher and giving the Mets a 2-1 fourth-inning lead on August 4, 1992. Heady stuff.

Triple Play:

1. How does a player as offensively challenged as Howell make it to the big leagues? He was incredibly fast in the outfield and on the basepaths. He was an astounding 79-for-90 in stolen base attempts with the Class A Columbia Mets in 1990, despite an anemic .298 on-base percentage.

2. He had three two-hit games in his brief time in the majors. Naturally, one of them came against Greg Maddux.

3. Pat last played in the affiliated minors in 1994, but extended his career another decade by playing in Mexico, Taiwan, and in the independent minors.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: As a kid, I failed to grasp the gravity of cards like this. If I had known that I was holding Pat Howell's one and only Topps card in my hands, would I have looked upon it with any more reverence? Hmmm...nah.

Bill James Said: Bupkus. Howell hit .209 while spending the whole 1993 season with the Twins' AAA Portland club.

On This Date in 1993: May 14. David Cone and Mark Langston have a nine-inning stalemate, as the Royals and Angels remain knotted 1-1 through regulation. Wally Joyner's bases-loaded walk off of Steve Frey in the top of the tenth gives Cone his first K.C. win after a hard-luck 0-5 start; Jeff Montgomery handles the bottom of the tenth for the save.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

#214 Danny Darwin

About the Front: Yep, it looks like Danny Darwin's skin was as leathery as I remember it being.

About the Back: Well, this is just plain weird. According to Baseball Reference, Darwin debuted on September 8, 1978. He retired the first three batters he faced, not four, and they were Mario Guerrero, Joe Wallis, and Bruce Robinson. September 24 was his first big league start, and he did retire the first four batters, all by strikeout. Top-notch fact-checking, Topps.

Triple Play:

1. His younger brother Jeff pitched for the Mariners and White Sox in the mid-1990s.

2. Danny's exceptional longevity (21-year MLB career) allowed him to team with a pair of fathers and sons: Sandy (1978 Rangers) and Roberto Alomar (1995 Blue Jays) and Bobby (1978 Rangers) and Barry Bonds (1997-98 Giants).

3. His 171 career wins are the most of any modern pitcher to never make an All-Star team nor pitch in the postseason.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I remember watching Darwin's August 18, 1993 no-hit bid against the White Sox live on ESPN. I was rooting for him because no-hitters are cool and he seemed like a veteran on his last legs. How was I to know that he'd hang around for another five seasons with varying degrees of effectiveness?

Bill James Said: "His control, always good, was exceptional, and he allowed only 9.7 baserunners per nine innings, best of any American League starter."

On This Date in 1993: May 13. George Brett hits a solo homer off of Cleveland's Mark Clark in the sixth inning of the Royals' 7-3 win. It is the 300th home run of his Hall of Fame career.

Monday, May 12, 2014

#213 Candy Maldonado

About the Front: It looks like Candy Maldonado is wearing a batting helmet without earflaps. Do you think he misplaced his own helmet and grabbed the one John Olerud always wore in the field?

About the Back: A 13-game hitting streak isn't particularly noteworthy; that's not even a quarter of the way to Joe DiMaggio's record.

Triple Play:

1. Since Topps had long since been superceded by Donruss in printing the player's full name on card backs, I'll answer the most pressing question. "Candy" is short for Candido.

2. He hit for the cycle on May 4, 1987 to help the Giants outslug the Cardinals 10-7.

3. Maldonado had just three hits in 19 at-bats in the 1992 World Series, but one of those was a walkoff single against Jeff Reardon in the bottom of the ninth in Game 3. He also hit a solo home run off of Steve Avery in the decisive Game 6, which Toronto eventually won in extra innings.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: This is yet another of the dozen or so cards that kept me from full completion of this set. When I was in middle school, I actually acquired it in a trade with my best friend, but as the transfer happened at school, I shoved it in my backpack and it got badly mangled in transition. Way to be responsible, younger self.

Bill James Said: "He's now 33, and not a good enough player that he is likely to last much longer than 35, plus the Indians have other players who will squeeze his playing time." Candy played his last major league game on September 29, 1995, a few weeks after his 35th birthday. Bill James may be a warlock.

On This Date in 1993: May 12. Hey, more TV nostalgia! The final episode of The Wonder Years airs on ABC after a six-season run.

Friday, May 9, 2014

#212 Rick Reed

About the Front: Rick Reed is giving the batter his best "disapproving parent" face. At least that's what it looks like to me.

About the Back: As you can see, Rick appeared in the majors with the Pirates every year from 1988 through 1991, totaling 31 games, yet Topps didn't get around to him until 1993. Kind of odd, especially since Donruss, Fleer, Leaf, and Score all featured him in their 1990 base sets.

Triple Play:

1. Reed was in camp with the Reds as a replacement player in the spring of 1995 during the MLBPA strike, and would have been the team's Opening Day starter if the work stoppage had not been settled.

2. He finally broke through with the Mets in 1997, going 13-9 with a 2.89 ERA. He made the National League All-Star Team in 1998 (16-11, 3.48) and again in 2001 (12-12, 4.05).

3. After retiring, he settled in Huntington, WV with his wife Dee to raise their daughter Madison and son Mason.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I just found out in a couple mouse clicks that Reed is the sixth-winningest pitcher born in West Virginia. Younger me would have killed to have a resource like Baseball Reference.

Bill James Said: "A 29-year-old minor league veteran, has a distinguished minor league record (67-37, 2.94 ERA), but has had difficulty getting major league opportunities because he doesn't throw hard."

On This Date in 1993: May 9. Mark Grace becomes the 14th player in Cubs' history to hit for the cycle, going 4-for-5 with three RBI in a 5-4 Chicago loss to the Padres.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

#211 Doug Dascenzo

About the Front: It's an always-exciting bunting photo! At least Doug Dascenzo looks like he's got good form.

About the Back: As we saw 35 cards ago, Darren Lewis broke the record mentioned on the back of this card. Sorry, Doug.

Triple Play:

1. In 1990 and 1991, the Cubs used Dascenzo four times as a pitcher; he totaled five scoreless innings with three hits, two walks, and two strikeouts.

2. On July 23, 1991, Doug laid down a squeeze bunt against doofus Reds' reliever Rob Dibble. Dibble deliberately chucked the ball at the outfielder as he ran down the baseline and was fined.

3. He spent many years coaching and managing in the San Diego organization, and is currently the Braves' third base coach.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I always liked the alliteration in Doug Dascenzo's name. It kind of rolls off the tongue.

Bill James Said: "Doesn't hit enough to play left/right field or be of much use as a pinch hitter, but can pinch run and play the outfield, which will keep him in the league if he can hit .250." He hit .199 with Texas in 1993, played 21 games with the Padres in 1996 (largely as a pinch runner and defensive replacement), and that was that.

On This Date in 1993: May 8. The Rockies experience some growing pains, blowing a 6-0 eighth-inning lead in an 8-7 loss to the Braves. The big blow is Sid Bream's pinch-hit, opposite-field grand slam to tie it, but the double-play combo of Vinny Castilla and Eric Young set the stage by combining for three errors in the span of two plays.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

#210 Mark Langston

About the Front: Check out all of those shadows falling over Mark Langston's body. There's no question that this photo was taken during a day game.

About the Back: Mark was excellent in his 24 starts with the Expos, but they paid a heavy price to acquire him. You may recall that one of the three pitchers Montreal sent to Seattle in the deal was Randy Johnson.

Triple Play:

1. In September of 1988, Mark had a 34.1 inning scoreless streak. Jim Sundberg broke the skein with a one-out RBI single in the ninth inning on September 29, 1988. For the final month of that season, the lefty allowed just three earned runs in 53.2 innings for an 0.50 ERA.

2. On April 11, 1990, he threw seven no-hit innings against the Mariners. Teammate Mike Witt earned a save and preserved the no-no with two innings of flawless relief.

3. Langston is now a radio color commentator for the Angels.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Here's a goofy one. When I was a kid, I thought that Mark bore a strong resemblance to Taran Noah Smith, the child actor from Home Improvement.

Bill James Said: "A marvelous pitcher, has pitched 220+ innings for eight straight years."

On This Date in 1993: May 7. Dave, starring Kevin Kline as both the President of the United States and a presidential lookalike, premieres in American theatres.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

#209 Jeff Parrett

About the Front: Jeff Parrett is sporting #38 in green and gold. Others who wore that number in Oakland before him include Rollie Fingers (rookie season only), Gene Tenace, and Jose Rijo.

About the Back: Paintsville is located in eastern Kentucky, as if you didn't already know that.

Triple Play:

1. Jeff did some impressive vulture work from 1987-1989, with all 31 of his wins in that span coming out of the bullpen.

2. He held Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg to four singles and a walk in 23 career meetings (.182 AVG and SLG, .217 OBP).

3. On August 10, 1989, he earned a relief win in a 16-13 Phillies triumph over the Cubs. Though the teams combined for six home runs, 11 walks, and 35 hits in total, Parrett tossed three perfect innings and benefited from Philly's four-run rally in the seventh. As you may have guessed, this one took place at Wrigley Field.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Jeff Parrett is another one of those names that never stops sounding silly.

Bill James Said: "Why a free agent pitcher coming off a 9-1 season would sign with an expansion team in a bandbox park, this I don't understand." Parrett joined the Rockies in '93 and saw his ERA jump to 5.38.

On This Date in 1993: May 6. Scott Sanderson of the Angels and Mike Witt of the Yankees are engaged in a 1-1 pitchers' duel through seven innings, but Steve Howe relieves Witt in the top of the eighth and promptly surrenders a walk to J. T. Snow and a two-run homer to Chili Davis, resulting in a 3-1 California victory.

Monday, May 5, 2014

#208 Mike Hartley

About the Front: I'm sure it's just the pose and angle, but Mike Hartley's arms look freakishly long.

About the Back: I wonder if Mike ever wrestled his teammates in the clubhouse, as Cal Ripken used to do.

Triple Play:

1. Hartley started only six big league games, but one of those was a shutout. On September 6, 1990 he three-hit the Braves to earn a 5-0 victory.

2. He did not take well to Japanese baseball, allowing 30 runs in 40.1 innings (6.69 ERA) for the Chiba Lotte Marines in 1994.

3. In recent years, Mike has managed professional teams in Germany and Italy. In 2008, he even pitched part-time for Heidenheim Heideköpfe in the German Bundesliga, going 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in eight games at age 47.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: When Hartley surfaced with the Orioles in September of 1995, I recognized him solely from his baseball cards. He made three relief appearances for Baltimore, gave up a single run in seven innings, and never pitched in the majors again.

Bill James Said: "Nobody who has him seems to want to keep him, which probably should tell us something."

On This Date in 1993: May 5. The final episode of the television series Quantum Leap airs on NBC.

Friday, May 2, 2014

#207 Paul Molitor

About the Front: Maybe it's a trick of the light, but this photo does a good job of de-emphasizing the dense thicket of fur on Paul Molitor's arms. I swear the guy was Robin Williams-level hairy.

About the Back: Caption: "HEEEEYYYY, you guys!"

Triple Play:

1. Molitor has admitted to using cocaine and marijuana early in his career, but has reportedly been drug-free since 1981. He subsequently visited schools to educate children about the dangers of drug use.

2. A partial list of his career highlights includes a 39-game hitting streak in 1987, a .418 batting average in World Series play, the 1993 World Series MVP (12-for-24 with a 1.000 slugging percentage, 10 runs scored, and no strikeouts!), 11 career steals of home plate, and 33 career home runs leading off games (third-most behind Rickey Henderson and Bobby Bonds).

3. Paul was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2004, having been named on 85.2% of all ballots cast. I can only assume that the 75 cretinous writers who didn't vote for Molly were either bozos who believed that nobody should be unanimous or they were moralizing scolds who didn't approve of his youthful indiscretions in his early twenties.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Molitor was a force of nature in his late thirties. The guy almost seemed to get better with age.

Bill James Said: "Is now almost certain to get 3,000 hits, and could become the seventh player to score 2,000 runs." Molitor got his 3,000th hit late in the 1996 season, his first with his hometown Twins; that year he led the league with a career-high 225 hits at age 40. He retired with 3,319 base knocks, tenth-most all-time. He fell short of 2,000 runs, finishing with 1,782. That's still good for 20th in MLB history.

On This Date in 1993: May 2. The Rangers stomp the Brewers, 13-2. Jose Canseco goes 3-for-5 with a double, a homer, and four RBI. Robb Nen earns his first big league win with six innings of two-hit ball, though he does walk five. Nen will make two more starts as a major leaguer before switching to relief and going on to save 314 games for the Marlins and Giants. Earning a goofy three-inning save is Jeff Bronkey, who keeps Milwaukee off the scoreboard the rest of the way. It is Bronkey's debut; to date, he is the only player in MLB history to be born in Afghanistan.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

#206 Henry Cotto

About the Front: This is the most majestic pose I've ever seen from a runner standing on second base. Henry Cotto is stylin' and profilin'.

About the Back: Though Henry was born in the Bronx, his family was from Puerto Rico and moved back to the island three months after his birth.

Triple Play:

1. This should make you squirm. In May 1985, Cotto was sitting on the bench during a game and cleaning his ears with a Q-tip. Ken Griffey, Sr. bumped into Henry, who suffered a punctured eardrum.

2. In 1992, Henry was 23-of-25 in stolen base attempts, a league-best 92% success rate.

3. He began a coaching career in 1996, spending many years instructing players in the Mariners organization.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I remember Cotto signing with the Orioles prior to the 1994 season, but he didn't make the club. Google tells me that he was on a minor-league deal, so the O's released him from his contract in February when the Yomiuri Giants offered him a million dollars to play in Japan.

Bill James Said: "He can play all three outfield positions fairly well, is an excellent baserunner, and has hit .293 against lefthanded pitchers over the last four years (177 for 605)."

On This Date in 1993: May 1. Former Prime Minister of France Pierre Beregovoy dies at age 67 shortly after being found with two bullet wounds in his head. It is believed that he has taken his own life.