Wednesday, January 29, 2014

1987 minnesota twins

this post covers the 1987 minnesota twins and cards numbered 272 to 274 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
this is the smallest team subset so far, but features two new players to the set - kent hrbek and kirby puckett.  that blyleven card is in the blog header - a nod to my adopted hometown(s).

what team is this: the 1987 world champion minnesota twins.

why this team?:  the twins went from worst to first under rookie manager tom kelly to win the world series over the saint louis cardinals 4 games to 3.  it was the first title for the twins and the first for the franchise since walter johnson led the senators to the crown in 1924.

which players are featured: bert blyleven, kent hrbek, and kirby puckett.

why these players?:  well, let's break it down

bert blyleven was three years into his second stint with the twins when he went 15-12 with 8 complete games and a shutout.  of course, he also led the league for the second straight year in home runs allowed.  the 36-year old hall of famer to be was also the only guy on the team who had been on the twins previous division winner, way back in 1971!  in between stints as a twin, blyleven had earned a world series ring with the pittsburgh pirates for whom he appeared games 2 and 5 of the fall classic.  in 1987, he was the winning pitcher in both game 2 and game 5 of the alcs against the tigers, and he also earned the victory in game 2 of the world series.  he took the loss in game 5 of the fall classic despite giving up only 2 earned runs in 6 innings.

kent hrbek was the hometown boy straight outta bloomington when he took over the first base duties in 1981.  by 1987, he was firmly entrenched in the lineup, and was one of three twinkies (tom brunansky and gary gaetti were the others) to hit over 30 home runs that year.  he hit only .150 in the alcs against detroit, and only .208 against the cardinals in the world series, but he did deliver a grand slam at the metrodome in game 6 to pad the twins' lead and force the decisive game 7.  that granny is the subject of the memorable moment portion of hrbek's card.

kirby puckett was in his prime in 1987.  he hit .332 during the regular season while leading the american league in hits with 207.  it was the second of four straight seasons in which he would surpass the 200 hit mark and hit .328 or higher.  he also fell just two home runs short of 30, which would have given the twins the first foursome to reach that mark since the 1977 dodgers did it with dusty baker, ron cey, steve garvey, and reggie smith.  in the postseason, puckett hit .208 with a home run and 3 rbi against the tigers, but then in the world series he hit .357.  he did most of his damage in the last two games with a 4 for 4 game 6 in which he scored 4 times and then with a game tying double in game 7 to turn the tide in favor of the twins.

the stadium on the back is...?: the hubert h humphrey metrodome, which was deflated (on purpose this time) a couple of weeks ago and is in the process of being demolished.  not sure when this photo was taken (maybe the 2002 alcs as the huge banners/seat covers are not being used so there were a lot of tickets sold for this game), but at least it's the right stadium for this team.

did upper deck get it right?: world series mvp frank viola, gary gaetti, and tom brunansky (and why not manager tom kelly?) would have been good choices for this team, in addition to bert, herbie, and puck.  kudos, by the way, to upper deck for not including steve carlton in this team subset (yes, he pitched for the twins in 1987) even though he was already included on the checklist with various phillie and cardinal teams.

the photos are all wrong, however, as the twins switched to their pinstriped uniforms in 1987, complete with a 'm' logo on their hats and helmets.  no more baby blues or 'tc' logo for a while.

is this team timeless?:  yes.  here in minny, they never forget their first.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

1987 detroit tigers

this post covers the 1987 detroit tigers and cards numbered 265 to 271 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
this may be the first team subset without a black and white photo on the front.  i'll have to check.  i'm back.  nope, the 1979 cincinnati reds lacked a black and white photo, too.

what team is this:  the american league east champion detroit tigers, who won 98 games in 1987.  they swept the toronto blue jays in the final series of the season to tie and overtake the jays and win the division, but lost to the twins in the alcs.

why this team?: good question. the team featured many of the same players that helped to win the world series in 1984.  i recall when the '87 tigers lost to the twins in the playoffs that there was a sense of underachievement regarding this team.

which players are featured?:  alan trammell, dan petry, chet lemon, sparky anderson, jack morris, kirk gibson, and lou whitaker.

why these players?:  this is a pretty good representation of the team, but let's break it down.

alan trammell finished second behind george bell in the 1987 american league mvp voting.  he hit .343 on the season (third behind wade boggs and paul molitor).  he also hit 28 home runs and drove in a career high 105 runs while scoring 109 times, also a career best.  his single in the bottom of the 12th inning of game 161 beat the blue jays and put the tigers one game up with one to play.  unfortunately, trammell hit just .200 with only a couple of rbi in the tigers' 5-game loss to the twins in the alcs.

dan petry went 9-7 for the 1987 tigers with a 5.61 era.  primarily a starter, petry was moved to the bullpen in august.  in the alcs, he made one appearance giving up an unearned run in 3.1 innings of work in game 4.

chet lemon hit .277 with 20 homers and 75 rbi in 1987.  it was his last year as the tigers' center fielder, as he moved to right field in 1988.  lemon hit 2 home runs with 4 rbi in the alcs.

sparky anderson was the manager of the 1987 tigers, obviously, and they were the 7th team that he had led to the postseason.  they were also his last, even though he managed the team through the 1995 season.  he won the 1987 al manager of the year award, the second time he was so honored.

jack morris was the ace of the staff.  he won 18 games and his 3.34 era was good for 5th in the league.  he threw 13 complete games during the regular season, and then threw one more in the alcs.  unfortunately, it was of the 8-inning variety as the twins scored 6 runs off of him en route to a game 2 victory.

kirk gibson moved to left field from right in 1987, hitting .277 with 24 home runs and 79 rbi.  gibby was one of the few bright spots for the tigers in the alcs, hitting .286 with a home run, four rbi, and 3 steals against the twins.

lou whitaker scored a career high 110 runs in 149 games for the tigers in 1987.  he hit .265 with 16 homers and 59 rbi as well.  he had 4 lead-off home runs during the season, including the 100th homer of his career, and had two walk-off bombs as well.  in the alcs, he hit just .176 with a solo home run and a stolen base.

the stadium on the back is…?:  tiger stadium.

did upper deck get it right?:  aside from the checklist conveniences, there is really no reason to feature this team instead of the 1987 saint louis cardinals.  upper deck could have added bill madlock to this subset (he was already featured in the set with the 1979 pittsburgh pirates), and matt nokes or frank tanana would have made sense, too (moreso than dan petry, especially since tanana's shutout (along with larry herndon's home run) in game 162 won the division for the team) but for the most part this is a decent player selection.

the photos are mostly from the correct era, but hard to pinpoint the exact year.  i don't know when the tigers wore the navy bp jerseys (so morris's photo may or may not be timely), but the 1987 team wore button up jerseys at home (like petry's) and button up away jerseys on the road (like whitaker's).  the other players (trammell, lemon, and gibson) and their manager are sporting pullovers that were last worn in 1984.

is this team timeless?:  no.  i would say that the team is too similar to the 1984 squad which is much more memorable.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

1986 new york mets

this post covers the 1986 new york mets and cards numbered 255 to 264 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
it's all downhill from here - these 10 players represent the largest remaining team subset.  and, with 9 new players (plus ray knight), we get a boost to the checklist.

what team is this?:  the 1986 world champion new york mets

why this team?:  the 1986 mets won 108 games en route to the nl east title, beat the astros in an epic 6-game nlcs, and then defeated the boston red sox in dramatic fashion to win their second world championship as a franchise.

which players are featured?:  darryl strawberry, dwight gooden, gary carter, jesse orosco, keith hernandez, lenny dykstra, mookie wilson, ray knight, wally backman, and sid fernandez.

why these players?:  this is a good representation of the 1986 team.  pretty much all of the regulars (no rafael santana, though) plus three of the main pitchers on the staff.  still, let's break it down.

darryl strawberry was just 24 in 1986, yet it was his fourth full season in the majors.  he went 20/20 for the third straight year, with 27 homers and 28 steals.  on the down side, his batting average was just .259 and he struck out a career high 141 times.  he hit .227 with 2 homers in the nlcs against the astros (one off of nolan ryan), and .208 with a solo shot and 3 steals against boston in the world series.

dwight gooden had strawberry beat - he was just 21 in 1986, his third season in the majors.  after posting an insane 1.53 era and a 24-4 record in 1985, gooden came back to earth a bit with a 2.84 era and 17-6 record in 1986.  he made 4 postseason starts, two in each series, but was 0-3 overall.  he lost game 1 of the nlcs 1-0 against mike scott (who was named series mvp despite being on the losing end), and then pitched 10 innings in game 5, allowing just one run. the mets eventually won that game in the 12th inning.  in the world series, however, gooden didn't pitch as well.  he was the losing pitcher in both game 2 and game 5, allowing a total of 8 earned runs in 9 innings of work.

gary carter had joined the mets in 1985, and in 1986 he finished third in the league mvp voting.  he drove in over 100 runs for the third year in a row and the last time in his career.  the 1986 postseason was the first time carter had returned since the 1981 nlcs in which his expos lost to the dodgers.  he hit .207 against the astros in the nlcs, and then had 2 homers (both in game 4) and 9 rbi against the red sox in the fall classic.  his biggest hit may have been his two-out single in the bottom of the 10th in game 6 to start the mets' unbelievable comeback.

jesse orosco is the all-time leader in games pitched.  he was also the oldest player in the majors for a few years.  and, he was a dodger double dipper.  despite all that, jesse orosco is probably best remembered as the reliever who threw his glove to the sky at the completion of game 7 of the 1986 world series.  during the regular season, orosco was the southpaw part of a closer platoon with roger mcdowell.  he saved 21 games to mcdowell's 22, and had 2 more in the world series, including the game 7 clincher.  orosco also won 3 games in the nlcs, thanks to all the extra innings and late inning met heroics.

keith hernandez finished fourth in the league mvp voting, behind mike schmidt, glenn davis, and teammate gary carter.  he won his 9th straight gold glove (his streak started after steve garvey had won four straight), and also hit .310 with a league-leading 94 walks.  he hit .269 and .231 in the nlcs and world series, respectively, but that's ok - he's keith hernandez.

lenny dykstra was a 23-year old spark plug for the 1986 mets.  he hit .295 with 31 steals during the regular season, and in the nlcs the leadoff hitter hit .304 with 3 extra base hits and 3 rbi, including what turned out to be the series winning rbi in game 6.  he also hit .296 with 2 home runs in the world series.

mookie wilson made the move from center to left field in 1986 to accommodate dykstra.  he is best remembered for hitting (as vin scully said) 'a little roller up along first' that got 'through buckner' and allowed ray knight to score the winning run in game 6 of the world series.  he hit just .115 in the nlcs and .269 in the world series otherwise.

ray knight, as mentioned above, scored the winning run in that wild 10th inning of game 6.  he was also the mvp of the world series, hitting .391 with a home run and 5 rbi.  1986 was his third (and final) season with the mets, but the only season in which he was their full-time third baseman.

wally backman, the mets' second baseman, hit .320 in 124 games during the regular season.  in the postseason, he hit .238 in the nlcs and .333 in the world series.  despite the low average in the nlcs, backman contributed some key plays.  his bunt single in the 9th inning of game 3 sparked the game winning rally, although it was not so much of a rally as it was a two-run walk-off homer by dykstra, and backman also scored the winning runs in games 5 and 6.

sid fernandez won a career high 16 games in 1986.  nicknamed 'el sid' which is spanish for 'the sid' (thank you for the inspiration, chris farley), fernandez lost his only nlcs start (game 4) and then was moved to the bullpen for the world series.  after allowing a run and 3 hits in a third of an inning in game 2, fernandez was lights out.  he pitched 4 innings of shutout ball while striking out 5 in an appearance in game 5, and then turned in a key 2 and a third innings of hitless relief in game 7.

the stadium on the back is...?:  shea stadium.  in the 1969 mets post, i just noted that the photo wasn't from 1969 due to the presence of the diet coke sign.  let's try to figure out just when that photo was taken.  using the scoreboard, we know that the mets are hosting the astros.  it's 3:05 in the afternoon, and the game is in the top of the 6th.  it looks like the mets have only 1 hit and have yet to score, and the count is 1-0 on ed taubensee with 1 out.  ok baseball reference, do your thing! money is on april 11, 1993.

did upper deck get it right?: it's hard to argue with the player selection - sorry rafael santana.  certainly, bob ojeda and ron darling were also strong starters on the team (ojeda led the staff in wins and era), and roger mcdowell led the team in saves. any of those three would have also made sense.  the biggest headscratcher in terms of personnel featured however is davey johnson.  johnson was the manager of the team, and was included in the set with one of the orioles teams.  i am not sure why upper deck didn't add him to this team subset as well.

as for the photos, most of them match with the uniforms the mets were wearing in 1986.  in fact, backman's card shows what i believe to be a photo from the world series.  same for orosco.  there are two cards, however, whose images don't work with 1986.  keith hernandez's image is from no earlier than 1988 (that's when the team introduced the away grays with 'new york' on them, according to baseball reference), and mookie wilson's photo comes from 1980, 1981, or 1982 based on the collar and the lack of striping on the sleeves.

i would have liked the 1986 astros to have been included in the set, but you can't disagree with the angels, red sox, and mets.  still, with nolan ryan and personal favorite davey lopes already in the checklist, upper deck could have made it happen.

is this team timeless?:  no doubt about it - the '86 mets are a timeless bunch.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

1986 california angels

this post covers the 1986 california angels and cards number 248 to 254 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
we see seven players for the halos, including a memorable moment card.

what team is this?: the 1986 american league western division champion california angels.

why this team?: the halos returned to the postseason for the third time in club history after winning 92 games and the al west by 5 games over the texas rangers.  plus, they should have won the alcs over the red sox.  they were up 3 games to 1 when the red sox rallied to win game 5 thanks in part to a 9th inning home run by dave henderson off of donnie moore.  the red sox won games 6 and 7 but lost the world series due to some misfortune of their own.

which players are featured:  bob boone, bobby grich, brian downing, don sutton, terry forster, rick burleson, and wally joyner

why these players?:  all of these players, except for terry forster (much to my disappointment) have already appeared in the set, so the economy of scale applies.  still, boone, downing, joyner, and sutton were regulars on the squad. let's break it down.

bob boone enjoyed a career resurgence in anaheim.  the angels purchashed his contract from the phillies after boone hit just .211 in 1981, and he immediately paid dividends.  he returned to being a full-time catcher, and caught more games than anyone else in each season from 1982 through 1986.  in 1986, the 38-year old was behind the plate for 144 games.  he hit just .222 but won his fourth career gold glove.  in the alcs, boone was the catcher for all 7 games, and as a bonus, he hit .455 with a home run and 2 rbi.

bobby grich, like forster, played his last big league game in 1986.  he appeared in only 98 games during the regular season, hitting .268 with 9 homers and 30 rbi.  he hit .208 in the alcs with a home run and 3 rbi.  i am going from memory here, but i recall reading an article the day after game 5 against the red sox, wherein grich relayed that he had spoken with former teammate don baylor while on the bases late in that game.  'greatest game i've ever played in' was the quote.  i really felt badly for grich that he didn't get a chance to play in the fall classic.

brian downing was the angels' left fielder since the early '80's when he was converted from catcher.  as it turned out, 1986 would be his last season spent primarily in the field as he became a full time dh the following season. for the angels, downing enjoyed some good power seasons, and set a personal high in 1986 with 95 rbi.  in the alcs, he hit just .222, but did have a home run and 7 rbi.

don sutton was 15-11 in his first full season for the angels.  one of those victories, a complete game win, counted for the 300th of his career.  sutton made two appearances in the alcs, including a start.  he had an era of 1.86 in those appearances, having allowed 2 earned runs in 9.2 innings of work, but had no record in the series - the last postseason appearance of his career.

terry forster had been released by the braves right before the start of the 1986 season.  the angels signed him to a free agent deal soonafter, and the 'fat tub of goo' went on to pitch in 41 games for the halos, compiling an era of 3.51 and a record of 4-1 with 5 saves. forster did not pitch for the angels in the postseason, and became a free agent after the season ended.  although he signed on with the twins, he did not pitch in another major league game.

rick burleson returned from injury to play in 93 games for the angels in 1986.  he served mostly as a dh and shortstop, hitting 5 homers with 29 rbi and a .286 average.  in the postseason, rooster was 3 for 11 with a sacrifice in the four alcs games in which he appeared.

wally joyner exploded on the socal scene in 1986.  he was the reason that rod carew was essentially kicked out of town by the halos, and angels fans quickly forgave gene autry and buzzie bavasi.  'wally world' was open all season, with the rookie of the year hitting 22 homers, driving in 100 runs, and hitting .290 over 154 regular season games.  in the alcs, joyner played in only 3 of the 7 games due to injury, but he hit .455 with two doubles and a home run in those games.

the stadium on the back is...?: anaheim stadium.  it's the right stadium, but the photo is pre-rams expansion so not as it was in 1986.

did upper deck get it right?:  from a player standpoint, doug decinces is probably the biggest omission along with staff ace mike witt, while reggie jackson (once again) could have been featured.  as much as i appreciated having a terry forster card in the set, i would have preferred, and it would have made more sense, for him to have been featured as a dodger in the 1980 or 1981 subset.

the photos all look pretty good, although i am not sure when the angels started to wear the blue bp jerseys.  at any rate, 1986 was grich's last season, so the photo can't be from any later.  the others, with the possible exception of the rick burleson photo, have the left sleeve state logo inside the baseball, which was new in 1986.  forster's photo is for sure from 1986 as that was his only season with the angels.

is this team timeless?:  for angel fans, yes.  however, there was too much drama in the 1986 postseason for this team to resonate too far beyond southern california, so i will say no. what do you think?

Monday, October 7, 2013

1986 boston red sox

this post covers the 1986 boston red sox and cards number 241 to 247 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
what team is this?: the 1986 american league champion boston red sox

why this team?:  in 1986, the red sox returned to the world series for the fourth time since their last title. and, for the fourth time, they lost the series in seven games.  before that, however, they won 95 games and orchestrated one of the greatest postseason comebacks in the alcs against the california angels.

which players are featured?:  bill buckner, bruce hurst, dave henderson, dwight evans, jim rice, tom seaver, and wade boggs.

why these players?:  well, we have three red sox legends, a couple of guys remembered for their 1986 postseason play, a hall of famer on his last legs, and bruce hurst.  let's break it down.

bill buckner joined the red sox during the 1984 season, and so missed out on the cubs' return to the postseason that year.  two years later, he was still with the red sox as thier primary first baseman, and helped them get back to the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons.  he hit .267 with 18 homers and 102 rbi during the course of the regular season, and then hit just .214 and .188 in the alcs and world series, respectively.  the memorable moments card, of course, highlights the error in the bottom of the 10th of game 6 of the world series in which mookie wilson's ground ball went through buckner's legs to allow ray knight to, in the words of vin scully, 'come around to score and the mets win it!'  never mind that it was calvin schiraldi who gave up three straight singles and failed to get the third out after retiring the first two batters, and bob stanley whose wild pitch allowed the tying run to score and knight to move into scoring position during wilson's at bat that were the real goats of the inning, not buckner.  in my opinion, anyway.

bruce hurst was 13-8 with a 2.99 era over 31 starts (and four relief appearances) for the red sox in 1986.  he made two starts against the angels in the alcs, winning game 2 with a complete game and then holding the angels to three runs over 6 innings in the big game 5.  he started games 1, 5, and 7 in the world series, winning the first two before getting a no-decision in the red sox's game 7 loss.

dave henderson was acquired by the red sox during august of 1986 in a trade with the mariners.  he played center field for the red sox down the stretch, but hit just .196 with 1 home run in his 36 regular season games.  in the alcs, henderson was held out of the starting lineup for the first 5 games, getting just one at bat in game 4 before he entered game 5 as a defensive replacement for tony armas in the 5th inning.  hendu struck out in the 7th inning, but then hit a two-out, two-run, go-ahead home run off of donnie moore in the top of the 9th inning to save the red sox's season.  after the angels tied the game in the bottom of the 9th, henderson's sacrifice fly in the 11th plated the winning run, and the red sox lived to play another day.  although henderson did not get another hit in the series (he was 1 for 11 overall), his home run was enough to propel the red sox into the world series. in the fall classic, henderson was reinstated to the starting lineup and hit .400 with 2 home runs and 5 rbi in the seven games.

dwight evans was boston's everyday right fielder for the last time in 1986.  he played all 149 of his games that year in right, before splitting his time between right and first base and eventually designated hitter for the sox in future years.  overall, he hit .259 with 26 home runs and 97 rbi during the regular season, and then hit .308 with two homers and 9 rbi in the world series.

jim rice was once again manning left field for the red sox in 1986.  he played in 157 games (only one of which saw him not in left) and hit .324 with 20 homers and 110 rbi.  he finished third in the league mvp voting, and was named to the all-star team for the 8th time in his career.  in his first taste of postseason action, rice hit .161 against the angels in the alcs, although he had 2 homers and 6 rbi, and then hit .333 against the mets, although he was without a home run or rbi in the world series.

tom seaver finished up his hall of fame career by spending the last part of the 1986 season in boston.  acquired by trade from the white sox in late june, tom terrific was 5-7 with a 3.80 era in 16 starts for the bosox.  seaver suffered a knee injury late in the season and did not appear in any games for the red sox during the postseason.

wade boggs won his third batting title in four years in 1986, although his league leading .357 clip was the lowest of his five total career titles.  he had over 200 hits for the fourth straight year (he would have three more of those to follow), and led the league in walks and obp as well.  the angels held him to a .233 average in the alcs, and even the mets kept him below .300 (.290) in the world series.

the stadium on the back is...?:  fenway park, home of the red sox since 1912

did upper deck get it right?:  the elephant in the room as far as player selection goes is tom seaver.   he was not a big part of this team's legacy, but he was already on the set checklist thanks to the 1969 miracle mets.  roger clemens, the team's ace, was still active in 2004 and so was not a candidate for the set which is comprised solely of retired players.  with that, the biggest absence then is don baylor.  baylor could have been a part of the 1979 angels subset, as well as the upcoming 1987 twins subset.  not sure whether upper deck tried to get him for the set or not.

the photos all look good for 1986 (it's tough to tell with the red sox unis).  the henderson and rice photos both come from the 1986 world series, and the seaver is definitely from 1986 since that is the only season in which he wore the red sox uniform.

is this team timeless?:  yes, but not for the right reason.  timeless in an 'oh so close' way - a cautionary tale of sorts.

Monday, September 23, 2013

1985 new york yankees

this post covers the 1985 new york yankees and cards numbered 236 to 240 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
the yankees are back!  they failed to make the postseason in 1985, but did have a better record than the royals who won the al west and the world series.  i am sure george steinbrenner was pretty ticked about that.

what team is this?:  the 1985 new york yankees

why this team?:  the yankees finished second in the al east in 1985, two games behind the toronto blue jays.  they were 6.5 games ahead of the aforementioned royals, but those were the breaks.

which players are featured?:  we get a few hall of famers, plus a couple of very solid performers.  dave winfield, don mattingly, ken griffey sr., phil niekro, and yogi berra.  berra is the first manager not named sparky anderson to be featured in the set.

why these players?:  well, let's break it down.

dave winfield hit 26 home runs with 114 rbi in 1985.  he also scored 105 times and stole 19 bases, but his batting average fell from .340 the previous year to .275.  i am sure that george steinbrenner wasn't happy.  still, winfield was an all-star, won a gold glove and silver slugger, and finished 12th in the league mvp voting.

don mattingly, in his second full season in the majors, won the american league mvp award thanks to his 35 home runs, 145 rbi, and .324 batting average.  like winfield, he was also named to the all-star team and won both the gold glove and silver slugger awards.  his rbi total led the majors, as did his totals in extra base hits, doubles, total bases, and sacrifice flies.

ken griffey sr. was the yankees' primary left fielder in 1985.  he hit .274 with 10 home runs and 69 rbi in 127 games.  griffey's card is one of my favorites in this set, by the way.  and, i believe that the photo comes from the yankees' game against the red sox on august 19, 1995.  with the yankees fighting to keep pace with the blue jays in the standings, griffey robbed boston's marty barrett of a game-tying ninth inning home run.  here's a link to a story about that game.  the game came just a few days after clubhouse man pete sheehy's death, and the team added the memorial black armband to their uniforms in his honor.

phil niekro won 16 games for the yankees in 1985, same as he had done for them in 1984.  however, his era was up about a run in '85, and he led the league in bases on balls.  the biggest highlight of his season came on his fifth try, and in his final start of the year, when he won his 300th game by shutting out the toronto blue jays on 4 hits.  he would re-sign with the yankees after the season ended, but was released during spring training.

yogi berra was the manager of the 1985 yankees for all of 16 games.  the team went 6-10 and he was fired by george steinbrenner and replaced by billy martin.  berra went on to coach for the astros starting the following year.

the stadium on the back is...?:  yankee stadium, of course.  no chance for upper deck to blow that one.

did upper deck get it right?:  clearly, the blue jays, royals, cardinals, or dodgers would have made more sense to represent 1985 in the set than the yankees.  and, as far as the players/manager, berra doesn't really belong, although it is cool that there are on-card autos of yogi out there thanks to this set.  i don't think any of the players used are bad choices, but willie randolph, rickey henderson, don baylor, and ron guidry had decent years (rickey's was more than decent), and all but henderson could have been featured as parts of other teams in the set.

the photos, well, it's tough with the yankee uniforms.  the winfield, mattingly, and niekro photos could well be from 1985.  or, they could be from any other year that they suited up for the yankees (in niekro's case, there is a 50/50 chance that the photo is from 1985).  i am pretty sure that yogi is hitting fungoes in dodger stadium.  that would mean that the photo would be from 1977, 1978, 1980, or 1981.  assuming, that is, that berra was a coach on the al champion teams of '77, '78, and/or '81, or was a coach on the al all-star team in 1980.  i think it is doubtful that earl weaver would have named berra to his coaching staff for the 1980 all-star game, so the photo is likely from berra's stint as a bench coach from 1976 through 1983.  we can eliminate 1981 since there is no armband for elston howard on his sleeve.  so, it looks like the yogi photo is from either 1977 or 1978, not 1985.  however, i believe that the griffey photo, as noted above, is definitely from the 1985 season.

is this team timeless?:  no.  when's the last time you thought about the 1985 yankees?

Monday, August 12, 2013

1984 detroit tigers

this post covers the 1984 detroit tigers and cards numbered 229 to 235 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
it's the third appearance for the detroit tiger franchise, but these are all new faces.  well, in a tigers' uniform, anyway. 

what team is this?:  the 1984 world champion detroit tigers

why this team?:  the 1984 tigers began the season by going 35-5 in their first 40 games.  they wound up winning 104 games and led the american league east from start to finish.  the team also featured the league's mvp and cy young award winner, although he is not included in the set.  more on that later.

which players are featured?:  we have the ace, three-fourths of the infield, two-thirds of the outfield, and the manager.  that would be jack morris, alan trammell, howard johnson, lou whitaker, chet lemon, kirk gibson, and sparky anderson.

why these players?:  let's break it down.

alan trammell had a big year in 1984.  he matched his career highs to that point in doubles, triples, and home runs, and set a new personal best in rbi.  he hit .314 over 139 games and finished 9th in the al mvp race.  he also was named to the all-star team and won a gold glove.  he hit .364 in the alcs against the royals, and a huge .450 in the world series against the padres.  in the fall classic, he had 2 homers, 6 rbi and won the mvp award for the series.

chet lemon was in his third season as the tigers' centerfielder in 1984.  he hit .287 with 20 home runs and 76 rbi, and was a starter in the all-star game that year.  unfortunately, lemon was 0 for 13 in the alcs, but he did rebound to hit .294 with a couple of steals in the world series.

howard johnson began the season as the tigers' third baseman, but was replaced by marty castillo by the time the world series came around.  he did get one at bat (as a pinch hitter) in the fall classic, and reached on an error.  he was traded to the mets shortly after the series ended.

jack morris went 19-11 for the tigers in 1984.  he threw a no-hitter in his second start and was 5-0 at the end of april.  at the end of may, morris was 10-1 with 7 complete games in 12 starts.  he was 3-0 in the postseason, including 2-0 in the world series with wins in games 1 and 4.

kirk gibson played in right for the 1984 tigers.  he appeared in 149 games and hit 27 homers.  he drove in 91 runs and scored 92 times himself (the most on the team).  gibson hit .417 in the alcs and was named the mvp of that series.  he did well in the world series, too, hitting 2 home runs with 7 rbi and posting a .333 average.  both of his home runs came in the deciding game 5 - a 2-run home run in the first inning to start the scoring, and a mammoth 3-run shot off of goose gossage in the 8th to put the game away.  gibson also scored another run in the game, hustling home on a short sacrifice fly by rusty kuntz.

lou whitaker hit .289 with 14 homers and 56 rbi in 1984.  as the tigers' second baseman, whitaker played in 143 games, was the starter for the american league in the all-star game, and also won the gold glove and silver slugger awards.  he hit .143 in the alcs, and .278 in the world series.

sparky anderson won his fifth career pennant and third world championship with the tigers in 1984.  he was named the american league's manager of the year in his seventh season in detroit, and he would remain their manager for 11 more seasons.  so far, sparky is the only manager to appear in the set, and he's shown up twice.

the stadium on the back is...?: tiger stadium.  as it should be, although it's tough to tell when the photo was taken.

did upper deck get it right?: no doubt that this team, above all others (even steve garvey's 1984 san diego padres) deserves a spot.  still, it would have been good to see the padres represented in the set.  garvey, goose gossage, and graig nettles were all big parts of that team and are already on this set's checklist.  plus, dick williams would have been a good add (and he could have been featured with some of the early oakland a's teams in the set).  oh well.

as for the players, the obvious omission is willie (guillermo) hernandez.  he had pitched in a league leading 80 games during the regular season, compiling a 9-3 record with 32 saves.  he was also voted the american league mvp and cy young award winner.  he should be in the set.  lance parrish, their catcher, is another one conspicuous by their absence.  parrish led the team in home runs and rbi in 1984 and would have been a better choice than howard johnson for the set, even though hojo shows up again with the 1986 mets.

i don't see too much with the photos that make me think they are not from 1984 or the immediate era, but the tigers don't mess with their uniforms too often.  having said that, the whitaker photo is from no earlier than 1985, as that was the year that the team went to a button-up road jersey, as opposed to the pullovers that lemon, hojo, and morris are wearing.

is this team timeless?:  i believe so.  they were dominant from the start of the season, and gibson's home run off of gossage is fairly unforgettable.