Thursday, August 27, 2015

#477 Jimmy Jones

About the Front: Even if we assume that Jimmy Jones is taking his pre-inning warmup throws, that's a surprisingly lackadaisical stance by the second baseman behind him. Heads up!
About the Back: Now there's a mugshot. Was this picture taken in the shower room?

Triple Play:

1. Jimmy made a powerful first impression, debuting on September 21, 1986 with a one-hit shutout at Houston. A third-inning triple by opposing pitcher Bob Knepper gave the Astros their only baserunner. Jones himself had singled off of Knepper an inning earlier in his first big-league plate appearance.

2. He finished his career in Japan, appearing in 20 games for the Yomiuri Giants in 1994 and 1995 and posting a 9-4 record with a 3.75 ERA.

3. Jones has coached in the minors for the Padres since 2009.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Jimmy Jones is the most generic ballplayer name this side of Joe Smith.

Bill James Said: "Has managed to keep his career record over .500 so far (43-39), and if he wants to keep it that way I would say it is probably time for him to retire."

On This Date in 1993: August 27. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. premieres on Fox. The Western/sci-fi hybrid stars Bruce Campbell and will last for 27 episodes, finishing its one and only season on May 20, 1994.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#476 Mark Voisard and Will Scalzitti

About the Front: Mark Voisard sort of resembles Michael Keaton. I hope some enterprising teammate nicknamed him "Batman" or "Beetlejuice".

About the Back: I never would've guessed that Voisard was 6'5" from his photo. After all, they cut him off at the waist. As for Scalzitti, he was a sixth-round pick in the 1992 draft. The most successful player chosen in that round was longtime Expos' second baseman Jose Vidro.

Triple Play:

1. In 1994, Voisard was 6-4 with a 1.70 ERA and 17 saves in 48 games split between Class A Central Valley and AA New Haven. But he stalled out there, and his last pro season was 1996.

2. Scalzitti's 1992 pro debut was also the peak of his career. Overall, he hit just .236/.287/.347 in five minor league seasons, and he too was out of baseball after 1996.

3. Fun fact about Will Scalzitti: he hit a grand slam for the Bend Rockies to clinch a win in the Colorado organization's first official game in 1992.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I never paid much attention to these expansion "future stars" cards. I couldn't have told you what position Scalzitti played, for instance.

Bill James Said: Nothing, since both guys were still in the low minors.

On This Date in 1993: August 26. Marlins reliever Richie Lewis earns a win the hard way, lacing a two-out walkoff single against Doug Jones in the bottom of the 13th inning in Miami. The Marlins beat the Astros 5-4 on the strength of eight and one-third shutout innings from their bullpen.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

#475 Jeff Reardon

About the Front: Right-handed pitchers are never described as "crafty", but Jeff Reardon is assuming a very crafty pose and expression.

About the Back: By the end of the 1992 season, Reardon was the all-time leader in saves, having passed Rollie Fingers' career mark of 341. But Lee Smith was just two saves behind Jeff, and would overtake him in 1993.

Triple Play:

1. He was the first pitcher in major league history to have 40-save seasons in both the National League and the American League.

2. Jeff pitched 4.2 scoreless innings in four appearances in the 1987 World Series and recorded the save in Minnesota's Game Seven victory with a perfect inning of work.

3. Sadly, Reardon's 20-year-old son died of a drug overdose in 2004. The ex-pitcher spiraled into depression and also had a pair of physical health scares in the months following. Late in 2005, he was arrested for committing armed robbery at a jewelry store in the Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Eventually, Reardon was found not guilty by reason of drug-induced insanity. It sounds like he's doing much better in recent years.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: The real shame of Reardon's 1993 stint with the Reds was that they compelled him to shave his trademark beard. Facial hair restrictions in baseball are stupid.

Bill James Said: "Pitched well the first half (2.08 ERA) but badly the second (6.67)."

On This Date in 1993: August 25. The Braves complete a three-game sweep of the Giants with a 9-1 blowout. Greg Maddux wins his 15th game by breezing through eight six-hit innings and Atlanta bashes six home runs, including two apiece by Fred McGriff and David Justice. San Francisco's once-comfortable lead over the second-place Braves in the NL West is cut to 4.5 games.

Monday, August 24, 2015

#474 Ozzie Guillen

About the Front: There's a rare site - Ozzie Guillen looking calm and placid.

About the Back: Ozzie collided with Tim Raines while playing the field on April 21, 1992, suffering a serious knee injury that ended his season quite prematurely.

Triple Play:

1. Guillen was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1985, earning 16 first-place votes compared to the nine for runner-up Teddy Higuera.

2. In 1989, he twice fell for the hidden ball trick, assuming both times that the first baseman had returned the baseball to the pitcher following a pickoff attempt, only to be tagged out the moment he removed his hand from the base.

3. Ozzie had a successful tenure as White Sox manager from 2004-2011, including overseeing the team's first World Series championship in 88 years in 2005. He went on to spend one controversial and disappointing season managing the Marlins, going 69-93 in 2012 before being shown the door.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Guillen was one of many declining veterans to join the Orioles in the late 1990s, but his stay was shorter than most. He collected one single and one walk in 18 trips to the plate at the beginning of the 1998 season before being released on May 1.

Bill James Said: "Doesn't it seem strange to you that nobody could ever convince Guillen, who is intelligent and approachable, to stop chasing bad pitches?"

On This Date in 1993: August 24. A rare good day for the '93 Padres, who jump all over Cardinals' rookie starter Allen Watson and reliever Todd Burns for 13 first-inning runs en route to a 17-4 win. Watson allows four hits and four walks and departs having retired just two batters. Burns tosses gasoline on the fire by yielding five straight hits upon taking the mound, capped by a Phil Plantier three-run homer. That's nine hits and four walks in total, with 16 men coming to the plate. San Diego wound up slugging five home runs; Tim Teufel also had a two-run shot in the first inning, and Phil Clark, Archi Cianfrocco, and Brad Ausmus all took Burns deep in a span of four batters in the sixth inning.

Friday, August 21, 2015

#473 Dave Henderson

About the Front: I think Topps was contractually required to depict Dave Henderson with his bright, gap-toothed grin on all of his cards. If they weren't, they should have been.

About the Back: Here's a fun fact - the 1992 Athletics had three players who were first-round picks in the 1977 draft. Harold Baines (first overall), Bob Welch (20th), and Henderson (26th). The Orioles' first-round pick in 1977 (19th overall) was Drungo Hazewood, who I mention just because.

Triple Play:

1. In Game Five of the 1986 ALCS, Dave rescued the Red Sox from the brink of elimination with a two-out, two-strike, two-run homer off of Angels closer Donnie Moore in the ninth inning to put Boston on top, 6-5. The Angels tied it in the bottom of the inning, and Hendu knocked in the winning run with a sac fly in the 11th.

2. On August 3, 1991, Henderson hit a solo home run in each of his first three at-bats against Twins pitcher David West, but Minnesota won 8-6.

3. He spent many years as a broadcaster for the Seattle Mariners.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: It tickled me that the A's had Rickey, Steve, and Dave Henderson at various points in the 1980s (Steve was in Oakland from 1985-1987, between Rickey's stints and before Dave's), and that none of them were related.

Bill James Said: "The A's are still playing him in center field, which is a joke, and still letting him bat cleanup." Hendu batted an anemic .220/.275/.427 with 20 homers and 53 RBI in 1993, his penultimate year in the majors.

On This Date in 1993: August 21. This week's number one song: "Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum. That's more like it.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

#472 Chris Gwynn

About the Front: Chris Gwynn's head looks enormous. Zoom out, guys!

About the Back: Gwynn also drove in two runs in his August 14, 1987 debut, including a sixth-inning RBI single that turned out to be the game-winner.

Triple Play:

1. On September 23, 1995, Gwynn batted for pitcher Ismael Valdes in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied, one out and one on. His two-run homer was the only walkoff blast of his career.

2. He spent the 1996 season with older brother Tony and the Padres, and went out with a bang in the final regular season game of his career - September 29, 1996. Pinch hitting for pitcher Dario Veras in the top of the 11th, Chris rapped a two-run double to lead the Padres to a division-clinching 2-0 win over the Dodgers.

3. After his playing career concluded, Gwynn worked for the Padres as a scout and moved on to be the Mariners' Director of Player Development.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: My favorite Chris Gwynn card was his 1994 Collector's Choice, which featured him trucking poor Tim Hulett on the basepaths.

Bill James Said: "He doesn't have power or speed, and hardly ever goes to bat against a lefthanded pitcher, but is a pretty good outfielder."

On This Date in 1993: August 20. Movie time! Hard Target, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, premieres in theatres. It is John Woo's American directorial debut, and it features Wilford Brimley as a Bayou-dwelling Cajun. What's not to like?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

#471 Dave Gallagher

About the Front: Dave Gallagher's #8 is written on his bat knob, unless that's an infinity symbol. You never know.

About the Back: After his strong season at the AA level in 1983 (which included a .461 on-base percentage), you would have expected Gallagher to be on a fast track to the majors. But he spent the bulk of the next three seasons at AAA Maine, batting .247 and .242 before posting a .292 average in 1986 to finally earn his first callup.

Triple Play:

1. He was the center fielder on Topps' 1988 All-Star Rookie team, thanks to his .303 average and league-leading .994 fielding percentage.

2. On May 19, 1991, Dave went 5-for-5 with three RBI and a pair of runs scored in a 10-2 Angels rout of the Orioles.

3. After his playing career, Gallagher founded the Dave Gallagher Baseball Academy in North Trenton, NJ.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: If I looked at Gallagher's career with a critical eye at the time, I would've noticed that he batted .216 with one double and two RBI in 23 games with my Orioles, who promptly traded him to California for a pair of minor league scrubs, only to see him hit .293 with a .355 on-base percentage the following year. The O's made a lot of false steps at the beginning of the 1990s.

Bill James Said: "A useful player in the Henry Cotto/Stan Javier/Doug Dascenzo mold; when you have one you think they're a dime a dozen, but when you don't have one you'll notice it in a hurry."

On This Date in 1993: August 19. Expos lefty Jeff Fassero improves to 8-3 with a 1.89 ERA in a 10-2 win over the Cubs. He tosses a complete game, allowing six hits and three walks and striking out nine. Journeyman infielder Randy Ready and catcher Darrin Fletcher hit home runs for Montreal.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

#470 Rob Dibble

About the Front: Oh man, that is an absurdly high leg kick. Do you think Rob Dibble was easy to steal against? Well, the numbers say that opposing runners stole successfully 99 times in 118 tries, for an 83.9% he practically turned every would-be base thief into Tim Raines.

About the Back: If you want to quibble over Dibble, he didn't pitch enough innings to qualify for any strikeouts-per-nine single-season records. The threshold is one inning per team game, or 162 IP in most cases. By that metric, Randy Johnson is the record holder with 13.4 K/9 in 2001.

Triple Play:

1. He was the co-MVP of the 1990 NLCS along with Randy Myers. In a six-game Reds triumph over the Pirates, Dibble allowed one walk and no hits in five innings across four games. He struck out ten batters and earned one save.

2. During his career, Rob frequently let his explosive temper get the best of him. Most famously, he brawled in the Reds' clubhouse with manager Lou Piniella after a game in 1992. However, he also hurled a ball 400 feet into the center field seats in Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium in April 1991 following a game. The ball struck a woman in the elbow, and he was suspended for four games.

3. He lasted less than two years as a color analyst on MASN for telecasts of Nationals games, getting the boot in September of 2010 after suggesting on-air that pitcher Stephen Strasburg should "suck it up" after the former #1 draft pick missed a start with a sore elbow; shortly thereafter, it was revealed that Strasburg needed Tommy John surgery.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Rob Dibble has been a running personal joke in my family for more than 20 years. My uncle got caught up in the great baseball card boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s, with his most foolhardy speculative purchase being 50 - yes, 50 - Rob Dibble 1989 Topps rookie cards. For this reason, I bought a Dibble Starting Lineup figure when I saw it on sale at a Kay-Bee Toys around this time. Years later, my uncle passed most of his now-devalued collection on to me, including that brick of precious Dibble commodities.

Bill James Said: "Had injuries and lost some off his fastball, got burned on changeups and bad sliders, finally lost command of the strike zone altogether." Yep. 6.48 ERA, 9.1 BB/9 IP in 1993, then he missed the 1994 season and had a 7.18 ERA and 46 walks in 26.1 innings in 1995, his swan song in MLB.

On This Date in 1993: August 18. The Kapellbrucke wooden covered truss bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland is mostly destroyed by fire. The bridge was originally built in the 14th Century. It would be restored in the years following the blaze.

Monday, August 17, 2015

#469 Dave Hansen

About the Front: I like to imagine that Dave Hansen just fell butt-first into a sinkhole in Wrigley Field and he's asking for a helping hand.

About the Back: Hansen fared much better than high school outfielder Michael White, the player the Dodgers chose ahead of him in 1986. White spent seven seasons in the minor leagues, reaching AAA for just a single game in 1992.

Triple Play:

1. Hansen's best overall season was 1993, when he batted .362/.465/.505 in 127 plate appearances in a bench role for the Dodgers.

2. In 2000, Dave set a major league record with seven pinch hit home runs, six of which either tied the game or put the Dodgers ahead.

3. In recent years, he has served as hitting coach for the Dodgers and Mariners. He is currently the Angels' assistant hitting coach.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I'm sure I was very impressed by Dave's high batting average in 1993, especially considering that he batted just .214 the previous year. Apparently a back injury in 1992 hampered his performance.

Bill James Said: "Had a great year as a pinch hitter, and may have earned another shot at the third base job, which has been up for grabs since Ron Cey was traded in 1983."

On This Date in 1993: August 17. The Orioles sign 16-year-old Aruban pitcher Sidney Ponson as an amateur free agent. He will pitch in the majors from 1998 through 2009, accumulating 91 wins, 113 losses with a 5.03 ERA (89 ERA+) and three arrests.

Friday, August 14, 2015

#468 Matt Whiteside

About the Front: Say what you will about the changes in baseball fashions over the past two decades, but at least the jackets look nicer now.

About the Back: It's good to see such drastically different composition in the front and back photos. At least Matt Whiteside is facing in the opposite direction. So, which is his good side, do you think?

Triple Play:

1. His nickname is "Whitey", proving once again how inventive ballplayers can be when it comes to monikers.

2. Matt was a guest judge for the 1996 Miss USA Pageant.

3. Whiteside now lives in Missouri and is a pitching instructor and owner of All-Star Performance Baseball Camps and Clinics.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I seem to recall confusing him with Dan Smith, another Texas rookie pitcher with a dull card in this set. We'll see him on card #607.

Bill James Said: "Excellent control, best pitch is a sinking fastball, doesn't throw 90."

On This Date in 1993: August 14. The Smashing Pumpkins play their entire Siamese Dream album live in concert at the Cabaret Metro in Chicago, IL.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

#467 Lee Stevens

About the Front: Lee Stevens is rocking a sweatshirt underneath his jersey, so I'm guessing it's pretty chilly wherever he is. (Cleveland?) Maybe that accounts for the near-total lack of fans in the bleachers behind him.

About the Back: "Mark Snipp" sounds like a Harry Potter character. He needs a more outlandish first name though. I'd suggest Maurelius Snipp.

Triple Play:

1. After batting .262/.325/.495 with 43 home runs and 136 RBI in 222 games with Japan's Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1994-1995, Stevens returned to America and played another seven seasons for the Rangers, Expos, and Indians.

2. He hit 144 home runs in the major leagues, including three in one game against the Tigers on April 13, 1998...but never had a walkoff homer.

3. Lee has been the hitting coach for the Rookie-level Grand Junction Rockies since 2013.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I never had the opportunity to wear eye black in Little League. I have a hunch that the visual effect would have been hilarious.

Bill James Said: Nothing, since Lee spent the 1993 season with Toronto's AAA Syracuse club, batting .264/.328/.449 in 116 games.

On This Date in 1993: August 13. Johnny Gaudreau is born in Salem, NJ. In 2014, he would be the NCAA's Hobey Baker Award winner, recognized as the top collegiate hockey player for his efforts at Boston College. He would join the NHL's Calgary Flames that same year, making the All-Star team as a rookie.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#466 Mike Felder

About the Front: Mike Felder looks somewhat embarrassed to be running to first base. "Is it even worth running out this little dribbler?"

About the Back: Felder's bases-clearing triple on May 27, 1992 came in the top of the ninth with two outs and the Giants clinging to a 2-1 lead, so it was pretty crucial. He scored San Francisco's sixth run on a Willie McGee single, and the Giants went on to win 6-2.

Triple Play:

1. Mike was the National League Player of the Week for May 26-June 1, 1991. In seven games over that span, he batted .467 (14-for-30) with two doubles, two triples, six runs scored, five RBI, and three steals in as many chances. He had five multi-hit games out of the seven.

2. He was the recipient of the Willie Mac Award in 1992. Since 1980, the Giants have honored one player each year who best represents the spirit and leadership of Hall of Famer Willie McCovey. The Giants' players and coaches vote on the award.

3. Mike last played in the majors with the Astros in 1994, but continued his career in various independent leagues and in Mexico through the 1998 season.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I couldn't tell you much about Mike Felder, but after all these years, I still remember his nickname - "Tiny". Such are the indignities of the 5'8", 160-pound athlete.

Bill James Said: "Felder signed with Seattle as a free agent, and opened the season as their regular left fielder, in which role he was a miserable failure (surprise, surprise, isn't this like the fourth time we've learned this?)." I'd say Bill was being needlessly cruel, but Felder's .211/.262/.269 line (43 OPS+) with one homer, 20 RBI, and 15-for-24 stolen bases makes me wonder how in God's name the Mariners allowed him to collect 374 plate appearances in 1993.

On This Date in 1993: August 12. The number one song in the U.S. is UB40's cover of Can't Help Falling in Love. Man, I never liked those guys.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

#465 Tony Fernandez

About the Front: Great picture, with Barry Bonds barreling into second base in an attempt to break up the double play and Tony Fernandez suspended in midair, completing the relay throw to first. My crack research shows that this shot was taken during the May 17, 1992 game in Pittsburgh. In the bottom of the first, Bonds was hit by an Andy Benes pitch to load the bases. Gary Varsho slapped a grounder to second baseman Tim Teufel. Teufel threw to Fernandez to force Bonds at second base, but Varsho beat out the relay to first and Orlando Merced scored from third. Ultimately the Padres won 6-5, with Fernandez collecting a pair of singles, a walk, an RBI, and two runs scored in five plate appearances.

About the Back: Tony's 17 triples in 1990 blew away the competition, with National League leader Mariano Duncan totaling 11 three-baggers and American League runner-up Sammy Sosa notching 10.

Triple Play:

1. Fernandez won four straight Gold Gloves at shortstop, 1986-1989. He also made the All-Star team in 1986, 1987, 1989, 1992, and 1999. The 1999 season saw him reach career highs with a .328 average, .427 on-base percentage, 41 doubles, 75 RBI, and a 125 OPS+ at age 37.

2. Tony batted .327 in 43 career postseason games, and drove in nine runs for Toronto in the 1993 World Series.

3. To date, he is the Blue Jays' all-time leader in Baseball Reference's defensive WAR (11.9) as well as games played (1,450), hits (1,583), and triples (72).

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I didn't like Fernandez when I was 11 and he helped those blasted Jays beat the Phillies in the World Series. But I REALLY developed a distaste for him four years later when he jumped on a first-pitch slider by Armando Benitez with two outs in the top of the 11th in Game Six of the ALCS, sending the best Orioles team of my lifetime home for the winter without a ring. Lousy bum.

Bill James Said: "It is assumed at this writing that Fernandez will leave the Blue Jays for greener bank accounts, leaving Alex Gonzalez to play short for Toronto." Tony did indeed sign with the Reds as a free agent, but for just half a million dollars plus incentives.

On This Date in 1993: August 11. The Cubs blow leads of 5-0, 7-5, 10-7, and finally, 11-10 on the road against the Marlins. Randy Myers hands Florida a walkoff win in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with one out on a walk, a single, a stolen base, and an intentional walk. Jeff Conine's sacrifice fly ties it up, and Gary Sheffield ends the game with an RBI single.

Monday, August 10, 2015

#464 Greg Colbrunn

About the Front: What's up with the blank white panels on the wall behind Greg Colbrunn? My guess would be that Topps is covering up advertisements, but I'm not sure that they've ever done that.

About the Back: The Expos actually brought Greg up to the majors in September of 1990 so he could work on his defense as a catcher. He blew out his elbow throwing to second base, and missed the entire 1991 season.

Triple Play:

1. Colbrunn did his best work as a part-time player with the Diamondbacks later in his career, batting .310/.384/.527 (126 OPS+) in 337 games over parts of five seasons. He started at first base for Arizona in Game Six of the 2001 World Series, going 2-for-5 with a walk, two runs scored, and an RBI in a 15-2 rout of New York.

2. On September 18, 2002, he hit for the cycle against the Padres, going 5-for-6 with a pair of homers and four RBI.

3. He coached for the Yankees' Single-A Charleston club from 2007-2012, including a stint as the team's manager in 2010. Greg was the Red Sox' hitting coach in 2013-2014, resigning due to health concerns. In 2015, he returned to the Charleston coaching staff.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Colbrunn was one of the weak links on the Expos team that I favored in the SNES Ken Griffey, Jr. baseball game, probably due to his .255/.282/.392 batting line in 1993.

Bill James Said: "Although he hits well for a catcher he doesn't hit enough to be a regular first baseman, and when Cliff Floyd showed up the Expos released him."

On This Date in 1993: August 10. Mets pitcher Bret Saberhagen admits to having sprayed bleach at three reporters on July 27, and agrees to donate $15,384.61 - one day's pay - to the Eye Research Foundation.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

#463 Scott Aldred

About the Front: I'd like to imagine that Scott Aldred is pitching to a raccoon and receiving signs from a grizzly bear in a catcher's mask.

About the Back: Aldred didn't even have particularly impressive minor league numbers. I wonder what it was that compelled the Rockies to tab him in the expansion draft.

Triple Play:

1. Scott was a winner in his big league debut on September 9, 1990, somehow keeping the Brewers from scoring despite walking five and yielding four hits in five innings.

2. Aldred hung around for parts of nine major league seasons, with his best overall performance coming in a lefty specialist role out of the Devil Rays' bullpen in 1998 (3.73 ERA, 128 ERA+ in 31.1 innings and 48 games).

3. He has spent the last decade coaching in the Yankee farm system, including six seasons in his current position as pitching coach of the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre club.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I don't think it ever occurred to me just how strange it was to stage baseball card photos in the middle of the forest.

Bill James Said: "A hard-throwing lefthander who knows as much about pitching as a giraffe knows about NAFTA." Ouch. I guess the first part of that sentence answers my question about why the Rockies drafted him.

On This Date in 1993: August 6. Cecil "Tex" Hughson, a three-time All-Star who pitched for the Red Sox from 1941-1944 and 1946-1949, dies of kidney failure at age 77.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

#462 Felix Fermin

About the Front: Cameo alert! Is Joe Carter safe or out? Either way, it's a great photo. It's always fun to see the cloud of dirt kick up.

About the Back: That's right, it took Felix Fermin 4,234 professional plate appearances to hit his first home run. The unfortunate victim was White Sox reliever Donn Pall.

Triple Play:

1. In 1989, Fermin was the runaway American League leader in sacrifice bunts, amassing 32 for the Indians. Be still, my heart!

2. His son Andy was a 32nd-round pick of the Blue Jays in the 2010 draft. He has a career batting line of .267/.346/.379 in six minor league seasons.

3. Felix has managed in the Dominican Republic and in Mexico, and has won a record five Dominican Winter League championships. In 2007, he also helmed the Mexican League champions, Sultanes de Monterrey.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: His name is much more amusing when you pronounce it like "vermin".

Bill James Said: "Led American League in errors, with 23, was last in fielding percentage for a regular shortstop (.960)." And somehow the Indians flipped him and Reggie Jefferson for Omar Vizquel. Nice trade, Seattle.

On This Date in 1993: August 5. Magic: The Gathering, a fantasy-based trading card game, is released.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#461 Steve Reed

About the Front: Steve Reed is lost in the inky black abyss.

About the Back: What does it take for an undrafted submarine-style pitcher to make it to the big leagues? Just five-plus seasons in the minors with a sub-2.00 ERA - including his 12.1 scoreless innings at AAA Colorado Springs in 1993, Reed had a career earned run average of 1.99 and 110 saves in 261 appearances in the minors.

Triple Play:

1. His personal-best season was 1995, when he appeared in a career-high 71 games for the Rockies, going 5-2 with a 2.14 ERA and three saves. He struck out 79 batters in 84 innings and had three scoreless appearances in the NLDS.

2. Reed earned his first big-league save on July 11, 1993. He relieved Gary Wayne after the latter had allowed an RBI pinch single to Mark Whiten, cutting Colorado's lead to 2-1 with no outs in the eighth inning. Danny Sheaffer threw out pinch runner Ozzie Smith attempting to steal second, and Reed struck out four of the final five St. Louis batters.

3. Steve lives in Golden, CO with his wife and two sons. He enjoys golf, fishing, and hunting.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I'll defer to 20-year-old Kevin, who had the misfortune of watching a 40-year-old Steve Reed run out of gas with the 2005 Orioles. That year, the reliever posted a 6.61 ERA in 30 appearances, allowing 24 runs on 41 hits and 11 walks in 32.2 innings. The O's released him in mid-July, signalling the end of his career.

Bill James Said: "If anybody can succeed despite this park, he's the man." In seven years with the Rockies, Reed had a 3.63 ERA and a 140 ERA+. Once you account for the offense-heavy era and ballpark in which he played, he was 40% better than the league average.

On This Date in 1993: August 4. Happy anniversary, Robin Ventura! It's been 22 years to the day since your ill-advised mound visit with Nolan Ryan.

Monday, August 3, 2015

#460 Randy Johnson

About the Front: I think the horizontal format was necessary in order to fit Randy Johnson's massive wingspan on the card.

About the Back: Later in his career, the Big Unit topped that 18-K performance three times, culminating in an MLB-record-tying 20 strikeouts against the Reds on May 8, 2001.

Triple Play:

1. Johnson no-hit the Tigers on June 2, 1990, scattering six walks. On May 18, 2004, he hurled a perfect game against the Braves, striking out 13 batters.

2. An exhaustive yet non-comprehensive list of Randy's accolades includes: a 303-166 record, 3.29 ERA (135 ERA+), 100 complete games, 37 shutouts, and 4,875 strikeouts (second only to Nolan Ryan). His 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings is the best career ratio in MLB history. The towering lefty led his league in winning percentage and ERA four times each and was a nine-time league leader in strikeouts. He won five Cy Young Awards (including four straight, 1999-2002), and was runner-up in three other seasons. He was co-MVP with Curt Schilling in the 2001 World Series, when he earned the win in three of the Diamondbacks' four Series wins and allowed two runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out 19 batters in 17.1 innings. Just last month, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

3. After retiring from baseball, Johnson took up photojournalism, and can be seen plying his trade at rock concerts and NASCAR events.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: On June 5, 1995, I sat in Oriole Park at Camden Yards and watched Randy hurl a three-hit, one-walk, 12-strikeout gem against Baltimore. He got 18 straight outs to end the game.

Bill James Said: "His control has improved dramatically, his walks per game dropping by 49% in the last two years."

On This Date in 1993: August 3. 45-year-old Charlie Hough's knuckleball confounds the Cardinals, as he tosses eight scoreless innings while allowing six hits and a walk and whiffing five. A Benito Santiago home run off of Donovan Osbourne accounts for all of the scoring in a 1-0 Marlins victory. Bryan Harvey pitches a perfect ninth for his 32nd save.