Friday, January 30, 2015

#367 Steve Sax

About the Front: Steve Sax looks like he's been hitting the Thighmaster. (Now there's a '90s reference for you.)

About the Back: "Verdict"?! That smacks of trying too hard. What's wrong with a 14-10 win, victory, or triumph?

Triple Play:

1. His older brother Dave was a catcher/outfielder who briefly played alongside Steve with the Dodgers in 1982-1983, and later had a few cups of coffee in Boston.

2. Sax was a five-time All-Star, and was the 1982 NL Rookie of the Year with the Dodgers. That year, he led his team in hits, runs scored, and steals.

3. His later pursuits include baseball analysis on TV broadcasts, financial consultancy, partial ownership of a nightclub/restaurant and a martial arts studio, and a one-year stint as first base coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Another member of Mr. Burns' ringer softball team at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. For the past 20 years, I can't think "Steve Sax" without thinking "and his run-in with the law".

Bill James Said: "He's 34, and after two straight off seasons it would be optimistic to expect him to bounce back." He played only seven games for Oakland in 1994, going 6-for-24 with a triple in the final season of his career.

On This Date in 1993: January 30. It's a Friday, so let's go back to the Calvin and Hobbes well.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

#366 Craig Wilson

About the Front: Craig Wilson wore #12 for his entire Cardinals tenure. One of the more prominent Redbirds to wear that number was Bill White, a five-time All-Star who played first base in St. Louis from 1959 through 1965. By the time Wilson arrived with the Cards, White was the National League President.

About the Back: Another Maryland-born player!

Triple Play:

1. Since Wilson debuted in 1989, there have been three Craig Wilsons in the major leagues. In addition to our guy (1989-1993), there was a utility infielder for the White Sox (1998-2000), and an outfielder/first baseman who played most of his career for the Pirates (2001-2007). It's weird that none of their big league careers overlapped.

2. Craig hit his only MLB home run in his sixth-to-last game, a two-run shot off of Joe Magrane on September 24, 1993.

3. He spent all of 1994-1995 in the minors before hanging up his spikes. He briefly resurfaced in the Mexican League in 2003, playing 14 games for the Oaxaca Guerreros.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Sure, the year I start collecting, Topps doesn't use a photo of Wilson juggling baseballs. (See his 1991 and 1992 cards.)

Bill James Said: "Traded to the Royals as part of the Jefferies/Felix Jose trade, Wilson made the Royals out of spring training, but went on the disabled list just as the season began with undisclosed personal problems." I couldn't find any more details about these mysterious problems, but Craig was arrested on drug charges three years later.

On This Date in 1993: January 29. Matinee, a comedy set in Key West, FL and starring John Goodman, premieres in theatres.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

#365 Tom Candiotti

About the Front: Tom Candiotti is pitching in San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium, where he made three road starts in 1992. He posted a 1-2 record with a 4.43 ERA in the Murph that year, allowing 10 runs (and five home runs) in 20.1 innings.

About the Back: The "Victoria" team that signed Tom in 1979 as an amateur free agent was the Victoria (British Columbia) Mussels of the Northwest League. They were one of two unaffiliated clubs in the low-A minor league. After he went 5-1 with a 2.44 ERA in 12 games, the Royals signed him the following year.

Triple Play:

1. Candiotti underwent Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in 1981. When he debuted with the Brewers in 1983, he became the first player to pitch in the big leagues after having that surgery since Tommy John himself.

2. Tom had a brief cameo in Billy Crystal's movie 61*, which chronicled Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle's 1961 race to break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record. He portrayed Hall of Fame knuckleball pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm.

3. In 2007, he became the second celebrity inducted into the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum, following ex-Steelers running back Jerome Bettis.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I didn't know just by looking at this card that Candiotti was a knuckleballer. There's no mention of his rare pitching style, and the photo on the front doesn't really capture his delivery.

Bill James Said: "His offensive support, 2.53 runs per nine innings, was easily the worst in the major leagues." That's how Tom went 8-10 with a 3.12 ERA (122 ERA+) in 1993.

On This Date in 1993: January 28. British actor Will Poulter (The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Maze Runner) is born.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

#364 Trevor Wilson

About the Front: Trevor Wilson's five o'clock shadow says, "My name may be Trevor, but don't be fooled. I am a very dangerous man.".

About the Back: That June 7, 1992 two-hitter was the last shutout of Wilson's career. In the ninth inning, he struck out Jeff Bagwell, Eric Anthony, and Rafael Ramirez on three pitches each, making him the 27th pitcher in MLB history to record an "immaculate inning".

Triple Play:

1. On June 13, 1990, he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning but had it spoiled by a Mike Pagliarulo leadoff single. Wilson retired the next three Padres batters to seal the shutout.

2. Injuries cost Trevor three full seasons (1994, 1996, and 1997) before he closed out his career with a 15-game stint out of the Angels bullpen in 1998.

3. Wilson has been a minor league coach for the Giants and Angels for more than a decade.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I might have assumed that he was related to a fellow lefty of his era, ex-Dodgers pitcher Steve Wilson.

Bill James Said: "Went on the DL three times with tendonitis and inflammation in his throwing shoulder, and pitched only 20 innings after the All-Star break."

On This Date in 1993: January 27. Legendary pro wrestler and actor Andre the Giant (born Andre Roussimoff) dies of congestive heart failure at age 46.

Monday, January 26, 2015

#363 John Smiley

About the Front: John Smiley is not smiling. Talk about false advertising!

About the Back: Smiley wound up being a one-year rental for the Twins, signing a free agent deal with Cincinnati prior to the 1993 season.

Triple Play:

1. He was a three-sport athlete in high school - football, basketball, and baseball. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

2. On September 22, 1996, John tossed the last of his three career one-hitters, with only a leadoff single by Royce Clayton in the fourth inning spoiling a would-be perfect game. He struck out eight Cardinals hitters.

3. After a midseason trade to the Indians in 1997, Smiley suffered a career-ending injury, breaking his left humerus while warming up prior to a start. That's a gruesome way to go.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: When I read that John Smiley had beaned Cal Ripken during the latter's career-worst 1992 season, the lefty pitcher made my enemies list.

Bill James Said: "Developed a bone spur on his elbow, and had his most difficult season."

On This Date in 1993: January 26. Actor Cameron Bright (Birth, Thank You for Smoking, X-Men: The Last Stand) is born.

Friday, January 23, 2015

#362 Luis Gonzalez

About the Front: Luis Gonzalez high-stepping it down the first base line in Shea Stadium is not the hippest-looking thing in the world.

About the Back: Gonzo's 24-homer effort at Columbus in 1990 shows that he always had power potential, but if you predicted he'd hit 57 four-baggers in 2001, you might have been on crazy pills.

Triple Play:

1. Luis was a high school teammate of future Yankee slugger Tino Martinez at Jefferson High in Tampa, FL.

2. On July 5, 2000, he became the first Arizona Diamondbacks player to hit for the cycle, boosting the Snakes in a wild 12-9 win at Houston.

3. Of course, his most famous hit delivered the walkoff win for Arizona in Game Seven of the 2001 World Series, and he hit that single up the middle against Mariano Rivera, who was quite good at baseball in his own right.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I always thought Gonzalez was a bit strange looking, with his narrow face, long nose, beady eyes, and everpresent toothy grin. He grew into his looks a bit as he aged, though.

Bill James Said: "He's a lefthanded hitter with a good, level stroke who makes contact, doesn't chase pitches over his head or a foot outside, doesn't bail out against lefties, runs well and hits the ball hard."

On This Date in 1993: January 23. At the 50th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Scent of a Woman wins for Best Film (Drama).

Thursday, January 22, 2015

#361 Scott Bankhead

About the Front: Cincinnati is probably one of the most frequently misspelled city names in the country. Luckily for Scott Bankhead, whoever lettered the Reds' away jerseys was on point.

About the Back: Scott tied John Hoover, the Orioles' first-round pick in 1984, for the Southern League strikeout crown in 1985. But Hoover's big league career consisted of a cup of coffee with the Rangers in 1990.

Triple Play:

1. 1984 was a great year for Bankhead, as he went 11-0 for the University of North Carolina and 1-0 with an 0.93 ERA for the USA Olympic Team.

2. The Royals traded him to Seattle in the deal that sent Danny Tartabull to Kansas City.

3. Scott was the only Mariners pitcher to win double-digit games in 1989, when he went a career-best 14-6 with a 3.34 ERA.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: "Bankhead" was a name that tickled my funny bone. It's like somebody just mashed together the first two things they saw. Try it. Gary Booknose. Joe Mugphone.

Bill James Said: "A useful pitcher in a middle relief role, could probably be a starter if his arm and back would hold up, but they won't."

On This Date in 1993: January 22. The Reds sign Jamie Quirk, 38-year-old veteran catcher. He will not make the club, and will end his 18-year big league career.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#360 Ivan Rodriguez

About the Front: Zeroing in on the details again, we can see Ivan Rodriguez's number 7 on the knob of his bat. He wore #7 for his entire career, save for partial seasons late in his career with the Yankees (#7 retired for Mickey Mantle) and Astros (#7 retired for Craig Biggio).

About the Back: The Rangers had some interesting batteries in 1991, with teenager Rodriguez catching 44-year-old starting pitcher Nolan Ryan and 39-year-old reliever Goose Gossage, among others.

Triple Play:

1. On September 11, 1997, Ivan homered in three consecutive at-bats against the Twins, driving in five runs in a 7-0 Rangers victory.

2. Rodriguez was the American League MVP in 1999, when he batted .332/.356/.558 with career highs of 35 home runs, 113 RBI, and 25 stolen bases (while being caught 12 times, so he probably should've been given the red light). There were many worthy candidates, but my vote would've gone to Pedro Martinez (23-4, 2.07 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 313 K).

3. He retired after the 2011 season with an all-time record for games caught, squatting behind the plate for 2,427 games in all. He racked up 13 Gold Gloves and threw out 45.7% of would-be base stealers; in nine different seasons he led the American League in caught-stealing percentage

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: It used to annoy me that people called Ivan "Pudge", because that was already Carlton Fisk's nickname. I felt like he should have to go by something more original. Then people started calling him "I-Rod" at some point, and that was much, much worse.

Bill James Said: "He is still young enough and strong enough to develop 20-home-run power, but then I would have said the same thing about Tony Pena at the same age." From 1996-2004, Rodriguez averaged 22 homers and 83 RBI a year. Of course, offense was in a boom period during those years, for a variety of reasons.

On This Date in 1993: January 21. Here's an especially cynical daily strip from Calvin and Hobbes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

#359 Mike Stanley

About the Front: Mike Stanley settles under a pop-up with a proper two-handed technique.

About the Back: Stanley hit 26 home runs in a (then) career-high 491 plate appearances in 1993, more than doubling his career output in one season.

Triple Play:

1. He is a member of the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame, and is still the Gators' all-time leader in runs scored and RBI.

2. Stanley hit a career-high 29 home runs in 1998, splitting the season between Toronto and Boston.

3. In 2005, Mike coached the Maitland, FL team in the Little League World Series. The roster included both his own son Tanner and Dante Bichette, Jr., son of Mike's former Red Sox teammate.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Because it slightly predated my years as a fan, it was always odd to see card depicting Stanley as a mustache-wearing Texas Rangers catcher.

Bill James Said: "The new Stan Lopata." Unlike 1950s Philly backstop Lopata, Stanley stayed healthy beyond his breakout season and posted a 120 OPS+ in his remaining seven years, primarily as a first baseman and DH.

On This Date in 1993: January 20. Bill Clinton is inaugurated as the 42nd President of the United States.

Friday, January 16, 2015

#358 Kevin Wickander

About the Front: I could be wrong, but it looks like Kevin Wickander is pitching at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. There weren't many American League parks with green fence padding in 1992. If I'm right, this is probably the Sunday, August 9 game. Wickander came on in the eighth inning of a tie game to face Brady Anderson, retiring him on a groundout to second base. He was then replaced by Ted Power, who was charged with the loss in the tenth inning when his runner scored on a walkoff Cal Ripken single.

About the Back: Cleveland's first-round pick in 1986 was Greg Swindell, so in hindsight they had their draft order straight.

Triple Play:

1. The scout who signed Kevin was Eddie Bane, who had pitched parts of three seasons for the Twins in the mid-1970s.

2. He earned his first big league save with 2.2 innings of one-hit, four-strikeout relief against the Rangers on May 6, 1992.

3. Wickander was deeply affected by the death of friend and teammate Steve Olin in a boating accident in the spring of 1993. He struggled to pitch as effectively as before, was out of baseball by 1996, and became addicted to meth. He served time in prison early last decade, but in a 2008 interview, former manager Mike Hargrove said that the ex-pitcher had turned a corner.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I never gave Kevin Wickander much thought beyond, "Hey, that guy has my name!".

Bill James Said: "He has three good pitches, a fastball, a curve, and a cut fastball, but his control record is so bad that I question whether he should be in the majors."

On This Date in 1993: January 16. Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain has something of an onstage meltdown at the Hollywood Rock Festival in Sao Paolo, Brazil. The bizarre details (and video) are here.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

#357 Phil Stephenson

About the Front: I wonder if Phil Stephenson ever dressed as John Kruk for Halloween.

About the Back: This is Stephenson's entire major league stat record, as he never played in the bigs after 1992. With those dreadful numbers in his last season, it's no wonder.

Triple Play:

1. He played at Wichita State University for his older brother Gene, who was the Shockers' head coach for 36 years.

2. Phil set an NCAA record (later broken by Robin Ventura) with a 47-game hitting streak.

3. Stephenson managed the independent Texas-Louisiana League's Abilene Prairie Dogs to a championship in 1996, and also spent a year the Cape Fear Crocs, a low-level affiliate of the Expos. In 2006, he took a head coaching job at Dodge City Community College in Kansas.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: If I had researched Phil's collegiate career as a kid, I would've been shocked to learn that this dumpy-looking guy once stole 87 bases in a season.

Bill James Said: He did not say, as Stephenson split 1993 between AAA Omaha and the Mexican League.

On This Date in 1993: January 15. Musician Sammy Cahn, who cowrote "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!", "Love and Marriage", and "High Hopes", among others, dies in Los Angeles at age 79.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

#356 Freddie Benavides

About the Front: Is Freddie Benavides that small, or is the lettering on the back of Cincinnati's jerseys that large? I wouldn't expect a nine-letter surname to spread into a player's armpits.

About the Back: He had to have one heck of a glove in order to spend any time in the big leagues. As a minor league player, Freddie had a career batting line of .234/.287/.300.

Triple Play:

1. Benavides was taken by the Rockies with the 28th pick in the 1992 Expansion Draft, sandwiched between the Marlins' choices of outfielder Carl Everett (from the Yankees) and pitcher David Weathers (from the Blue Jays).

2. Freddie had only four career home runs, none bigger than his go-ahead three-run shot off of the Phillies' Roger Mason in the bottom of the eighth inning on August 19, 1993. It capped a five-run rally in a 6-5 Colorado win.

3. He has coached and managed in the Reds' organization since 1999, primarily serving as the minor league infield coordinator.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I always loved the name "Freddie Benavides". It's just lyrical, rolls off of the tongue.

Bill James Said: "In Colorado, he hit .387 with a .591 slugging percentage; on the road, .208 and .258." When the major leagues came to Mile High Stadium in 1993, it truly was unlike anything contemporary fans had ever seen.

On This Date in 1993: January 14. The Athletics trade DH Harold Baines to the Orioles for a pair of minor league pitchers.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

#355 Brady Anderson

About the Front: The sideburns. That's all you need for a classic Brady Anderson card.

About the Back: I lived in Silver Spring for a few months in my mid-twenties. It was also the birthplace of standup comedian Lewis Black.

Triple Play:

1. In 1996, Brady had one of the great fluke home run seasons in history, slugging 50 homers and also reaching career highs in runs (117), RBI (110), and batting average and slugging percentage (.297/.637). He had only 210 total home runs in his career, and otherwise his season high was 24 in 1999.

2. He played 1,759 of his 1,834 career games in Baltimore, and ranks in the top five on several of the team's offensive leaderboards. His 307 stolen bases are the most by any Oriole.

3. Anderson is currently the Orioles' Vice President of Baseball Operations. He has an active and varied role with the team, weighing in on player training and fitness, personnel decisions, and more.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: All of the ladies fawned over Brady. I mean, how many big leaguers had a beefcake poster like this one?

Bill James Said: "Not a big star, but with a .363 on-base percentage, 57 extra-base hits, some stolen bases and good defense in left, he's the kind of multi-faceted player who wins championships."

On This Date in 1993: January 13. The space shuttle Endeavour launches from the Kennedy Space Center, leaving Earth for the third time.

Monday, January 12, 2015

#354 Jay Bell

About the Front: Here I'd thought that players wearing a single long sleeve was a more recent development, but Jay Bell took the field in just such a manner back in 1992. Maybe he was a trendsetter.

About the Back: Yes, Jay was an Air Force kid. He mentions it in this excellent interview/article.

Triple Play:

1. The Twins traded Bell to Cleveland as part of a four-player package that netted future Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven. The infielder made his big league debut with the Indians on September 29, 1986, facing Blyleven and Minnesota, and took Bert deep in his first at-bat.

2. He was a two-time All-Star, earning honors in 1993 (.310/.392/.437 in 154 games, with a Gold Glove to boot), and then again in 1999 as part of an anomalous year of power production with the Diamondbacks (.289/.374/.557, 38 HR, 112 RBI).

3. Jay retired after the 2003 season, and served as Arizona's bench coach in 2005-2006. He's also been hitting coach for the Pirates (2013) and bench coach for the Reds (2014-present), and in between did some coaching for Team USA in amateur competitions.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: My best friend Joe wasn't a huge baseball fan, but he dabbled in card collecting in the early 1990s. He used to complain about how often he pulled Jay Bell from packs.

Bill James Said: "I had him rated as the third-best shortstop in baseball last year, but since Larkin gets hurt all the time, Ozzie's pushing 40, Fryman's defense didn't come around, Blauser's only done it once, and Ripken goes through long slumps without coming out of the lineup, I guess he's got to be the man."

On This Date in 1993: January 12. 1960s British rock group Cream, fronted by Eric Clapton reunites to perform at their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ceremonies take place in Los Angeles; other artists enshrined include Creedence Clearwater Revival, Ruth Brown, The Doors, Van Morrison, and Sly and the Family Stone.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

#353 Buddy Groom

About the Front: The dugouts in Tiger Stadium were in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint in 1992.

About the Back: Here you see evidence of the first dozen of Buddy Groom's eventual career total of 786 games pitched, and yet this was the only base set card that he ever got from Topps. Heck, he even holds the record for most career games without a single plate appearance. Say it with me: LOOGYs are people too!

Triple Play:

1. After losing his first nine career decisions, he finally earned a win in his fourth big league season, with 5.2 innings of one-hit ball against the Rangers on May 12, 1995. He also walked four and struck out only two, but who's counting?

2. As I hinted above, Buddy found a niche as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen, primarily for the Athletics and Orioles. He averaged 70 appearances (and 59 innings pitched) for those two clubs from 1996 through 2004.

3. Groom signed with the Yankees in 2005, but was shipped out in July after crafting a 4.91 ERA and 1.52 ERA in 24 appearances. He bashed manager Joe Torre on his way out, complaining that he was only used for mop-up work because he wasn't one of "Joe's boys".

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I can swear that I saw his named misprinted as "Bubby" Groom somewhere, whether it was a Beckett checklist, a card itself, or something else. I was very amused.

Bill James Said: "His real name is 'Wedsel', which is a good excuse to skip Mother's Day."

On This Date in 1993: January 9. British track and field Olympian Katarina Johnson-Thompson is born in Liverpool.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

#352 Pete Schourek

About the Front: Did I say that Ellis Burks' photo was unflattering? Because Pete Schourek looks like he has jowls in this mid-delivery picture.

About the Back: Falls Church is in Northern Virginia, which is one of my least favorite destinations for driving because I need to brave the horrors of I-495 to get there. I've had rehearsals for community theatre plays at Pete's alma mater.

Triple Play:

1. His father Joe was a teacher and high school baseball coach for 33 years before retiring in 2008.

2. The only shutout of his career came in his fourth start, on September 10, 1991. He gave up just one hit (a fifth-inning single by Kenny Williams) and two walks, and struck out seven Expos batters.

3. He hit two home runs as a major leaguer, both off of pretty good pitchers - Ramon Martinez and Curt Schilling.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Schourek came out of nowhere to finish second in NL Cy Young voting in 1995 (18-7, 3.22 ERA, 1.07 WHIP for the Reds)...and promptly returned to nowhere. He was injured and ineffective for much of the remainder of his career, retiring after spending the 2001 season as a reliever for Boston.

Bill James Said: "He just got confused, like all of the Mets, and went three months in mid-summer without pitching any good games." That's how Bill cheekily explained Pete's 5-12 record in 1993, which included the following monthly earned run averages from June onward: 7.11, 6.95, 7.94, 4.23.

On This Date in 1993: January 8. The Braer Storm of January 1993, the most intense extratropical cyclone to ever hit the northern Atlantic Ocean, begins as a weak frontal wave.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

#351 Ellis Burks

About the Front: This is not the most favorable photo of Ellis Burks. He looks like the love child of Derek Bell and Willie McGee.

About the Back: Burks was taken in the now-defunct January phase of the amateur draft, 20th overall. It was a good move by Boston, considering that the only other player chosen in that round who accumulated more than 0.6 WAR as a major leaguer was pitcher Bob Milacki, who decided not to sign with the Padres and was taken by the Orioles in the second round of June's draft.

Triple Play:

1. On August 27, 1990, he hit two home runs in the fourth inning against Cleveland, victimizing Tom Candiotti with a leadoff shot and Colby Ward with a two-out, three-run blast.

2. In a career plagued by shoulder, back, and knee injuries, he peaked with a 156-game effort for the Rockies in 1996. That year, Burks led the National League with 142 runs scored and a .639 slugging percentage, and batted .344 with a .408 on-base percentage. He also totaled 45 doubles, 40 homers, 128 RBI, and 32 steals in 38 tries.

3. After returning to the Red Sox for a career-ending 11-game stint in 2004, Ellis joined the Indians front office as a special assistant to the GM.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I have a random memory of White Sox fans chanting "EL-LIS, EL-LIS!" during the 1993 ALCS. Can anyone corroborate? He was one of the better Chicago hitters in that series, with a line of .304/.407/.478 that included a two-run single to provide Game Three's margin of victory.

Bill James Said: "Healthy for the first time since 1990, he settled into the right field slot, batting fifth and sixth, and produced at a respectable level, short of the MVP season that we once looked for from him." His aforementioned 1996 season landed him a third-place MVP finish, actually.

On This Date in 1993: January 7. Bert Blyleven signs a free-agent deal with the Twins, but will end up retiring just shy of his 42nd birthday after failing to make the 25-man roster.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

#350 Joe Carter

About the Front: Today's conspicuous logo placement comes from Joe Carter's Easton wristband. Easton was also the brand of bat on Preston Wilson's draft pick card a few hundred posts ago.

About the Back: "Walloped" is an excellent piece of cheesy baseball lingo.

Triple Play:

1. He was the Sporting News college baseball player of the year in 1981, when he batted .411 with 24 home runs and a then-record 120 RBI for Wichita State.

2. Joe was an All-Star in five of his seven seasons in Toronto. As a Blue Jay, he slugged .473 with 203 home runs and 736 RBI.

3. Carter retired after the 1998 campaign with a career total of 396 home runs, still 55th-highest in MLB history.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Joe was one of several ex-Toronto players who landed in Baltimore in the late 1990s, and one of the biggest flops. He lasted 87 games with the O's in 1998, batting .247/.297/.424 (87 OPS+) with 11 homers before being passed off to the Giants for a minor league pitcher.

Bill James Said: "Joe is the kind of player that statistical analysts will tell you is badly overrated, but no GM will ever be able to resist." Translation - lots of homers and RBI, but low batting average and on-base percentage (.259 and .306 in his career, respectively).

On This Date in 1993: The Bombay Riots escalate in India, with assailants stabbing innocent victims as part of increased hostilities between Muslims and Hindus.

Monday, January 5, 2015

#349 Hipolito Pichardo

About the Front: Hipolito Pichardo looks like he could blow right off the mound on a windy day.

About the Back: Pichardo lasted in the majors for ten seasons, but never surpassed his 9-6 record as a rookie. Only twice more would he make more than one start in a season.

Triple Play:

1. On July 21, 1992, he one-hit the Red Sox, with only a sixth-inning double by Luis Rivera stopping him from tossing a perfect game.

2. After missing the entire 1999 season due to elbow surgery, he found a place in Boston's bullpen the following year, posting a 3.46 ERA in 38 appearances.

3. His last pro season of record was 2003, when he saved 13 games with a 1.05 ERA in 24 contests with the Mexican League's Saltillo Saraperos.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I liked the fact that he was a pitcher who nearly had the word "pitch" in his name. Sometimes it's that simple.

Bill James Said: "Pichardo is not a bad pitcher; he throws strikes and he throws ground balls, so he can get a lot of people out quickly when he is in a groove."

On This Date in 1993: January 5. Westley Allan Dodd, also known as the Vancouver Child Killer, is executed by hanging at his own request in Walla Walla, WA. The 31-year-old Dodd had been convicted of three first-degree murders of local children, all committed in 1989.