Friday, February 24, 2012

1969 baltimore orioles

this post covers the 1969 baltimore orioles and cards number 39 to 49 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
for the third time, we have a team without a 'memorable moment'.  we also have 11 players featured - by far the most we've seen so far.  all the players that were featured in the previous orioles post (1966) are still with the team and included in the set. 

what team is this:  1969 baltimore orioles

why this team?:  the '69 orioles won 109 games in the first year of divisional play.  they beat the minnesota twins in the american league championship series 3 games to none, but then ran into the amazing mets in the world series.

which players are featured?:  boog powell, brooks robinson, davey johnson, merv rettenmund, eddie watt, frank robinson, jim palmer, mike cuellar, paul blair, pete richert, and ellie hendricks

why these players?:  these guys were, for the most part, the core of the orioles' dynasty of the late 1960's.

boog powell was named to the all-star team for the second time, and finished 2nd in the league mvp voting (behind harmon killebrew) in 1969 thanks to his 37/121/.304 line.  he hit .385 with a solo home run in the alcs and then had 5 hits (none for extra bases) in the world series, batting .263 against the mets.

brooks robinson hit only .234 in the regular season, but still won another gold glove.  he hit 23 homers and drove in 84 runs along the way, and then hit .500 (7 for 14) in the alcs.  in the world series, he was limited to a single in 19 at bats for a lowly .053 average.

davey johnson was the orioles' second baseman and hit .280 in the regular season.  he was named to the all-star team for the second season in a row, and won his first gold glove.  johnson actually had a better postseason in 1966 (his rookie year) than he did in 1969.  maybe upper deck should have included him with that team instead of this one.  in the alcs he hit only .231 and then managed just one hit in the world series for an average of .083.

merv rettenmund's inclusion in this set with this team is kind of a headscratcher.  he wasn't a regular, appearing in 95 games and hitting .247 during the regular season. in the postseason, he made a single appearance in each the alcs and the world series, without an at bat in either.

eddie watt shared the 'closer' duties with pete richert.  he saved 16 games and had a 1.65 era in 56 appearances.  in the alcs, watt pitched 2 perfect innings.  after a scoreless two-inning outing in game 4 of the world series, watt wound up taking the loss in game 5 despite giving up just a single unearned run.

frank robinson was right behind boog powell in the 1969 al mvp vote, hitting .308 while slugging 32 homers and driving in 100 runs for the final time in his career.  he hit .333 with a home run in the alcs and added a solo shot in the world series, although his average over those 5 games against the mets was just .188.

jim palmer did not pitch in the majors in 1968 (he appeared in only 10 minor league games that year) but returned to the orioles' rotation for the 1969 season.  he wound up with a record of 16-4 in 23 starts.  he threw 11 complete games and 6 shutouts and also made 3 relief appearances.  he was 1-0 against the twins in the alcs, throwing another complete game, and then lost game 3 of the world series by allowing 4 runs in 6 innings of work.

mike cuellar was the al cy young award winner in 1969, although he didn't lead the league in any major pitching category.  he won 23 games (2nd in the league) and had a 2.38 era (third).  cuellar had a no-decision in his lone alcs start, and then earned the win in game 1 of the world series.  he returned to the mound a few days later to start game 4 which the orioles eventually lost in 10 innings.

paul blair won his second gold glove and made the all-star for the first time in 1969.  the orioles' center fielder posted a solid line of 26/76/.285, with the home run and rbi totals proving to be career highs.  he was the orioles' offensive star in the three game sweep of the twins, hitting a home run and driving in 6 runs while batting .400.  he hit only .100 in the world series, however.

pete richert was the left-handed complement to eddie watt in the orioles' bullpen.  he appeared in 44 games and saved 12 of them.  he pitched a single scoreless inning in the alcs, and then failed to record an out in his only world series appearance.  that appearance came in game 4, as richert was called upon in the 10th inning with runners on first and second and no outs.  jc martin pinch-hit and sacrificed, but was hit by richert's throw to first and the winning run scored.

ellie hendricks hit 12 homers for the orioles in 1969.  the catcher appeared in 105 games for the al champs and played in all three alcs games.  he had 2 doubles and 3 rbi in that series, but just one hit in the three games of the world series in which he appeared.

the stadium on the back is...?:  memorial stadium.

did upper deck get it right?:  the team is a good one.  the orioles' 109 wins were the most since the 1961 yankees won 109 and the most until the yankees won 114 in 1998.  the players featured include pretty much all of the key players except for mark belanger (d. 1998), dave mcnally (d. 2002), and don buford who is still around and would have been a good choice to include in place of merv rettenmund. 

the stadium on the back is appropriate, but the bird logo on the front is still wrong.  as for the player photos, boog's photo is not from 1969, but from anywhere between 1971 through 1974 when the o's went with the three stripes on their sleeves.  this is interesting because the photo they use for boog in the 1970 team grouping is more like what they used for the 1966 team.  strange. 

next, we have brooks robinson who is rocking the white panel helmet and the orange pullovers that the orioles wore in the mid-1970's.  not 1969 for sure.  davey johnson looks ok, but merv rettenmund has those tri-color stripes on his sleeve, so he's definitely not from 1969.  eddie watt and frank robinson both look good (although they would likely be showing the '100th anniversary' patch on their sleeves if the photos were from 1969.  jim palmer is rocking a post-1974 look and this may be a photo from the 1980s.  finally, mike cuellar is spot on with the patch!  the rest of the players are certainly shown circa 1969, but likely not from that specific year.  it's nice that upper deck didn't use a photo of ellie hendricks from his third go-around with the orioles in 1978.

is this team timeless?:  i suppose.  this may have been the best orioles team of that era, despite losing four straight games to the mets in the world series.  what do you think?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

1968 saint louis cardinals

this post covers the 1968 saint louis cardinals and cards number 34 to 38 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
i'm kind of relieved that we are back down to just 5 cards for a change.  this is also the first group of players that have each all been featured in the set previously, which makes sense since we last saw the cardinals of 1967 featured.

what team is this:  1968 saint louis cardinals

why this team?:  the national league champions lost the world series in 1968 to the tigers, another timeless team.  along the way, they won 97 games.

which players are featured?:  bob gibson, julian javier, lou brock, orlando cepeda, steve carlton

why these players?:  in the year of the pitcher, bob gibson was on another planet and the rest of the players featured contributed to the team's success in varying ways.

bob gibson was the national league's cy young award winner and most valuable player in 1968.  he was 22-9 in 34 starts with 28 complete games and 13 shutouts.  his 1.12 era, 268 strikeouts, and 0.85 whip led the league. in the world series, gibson once again made 3 starts and threw 3 complete games with a shutout, just as he had in 1967. this time, however, he was 2-1 as he took the loss in game 7.  still, gibson homered for the second series in a row and set a fall classic record with 17 strikeouts in his game 1 masterpiece.

julian javier's average fell to .260 during the regular season, but the cardinals' second baseman rallied to hit .333 in the series. he had a hit in each of the first 6 games of the series, but was 0 for 4 in game 7.
lou brock led the league in steals for the third straight season with 62.  he also paced the national league in doubles and triples, but his average dropped 20 points to .279.  still, his on-base percentage (.328) stayed steady from the .327 clip he posted in 1967 and he finished 6th in the mvp voting.  brock had another monster world series, too.  he had 13 hits, 7 steals, 2 homers, 5 rbi, a .464 average and an ops of 1.373 over the 7 games. he was involved in probably the biggest play of the series - in the 5th inning of game 5 he tried to bowl over tigers' catcher bill freehan rather than slide into home and was called out effectively ending a rally in a game the cardinals eventually lost 5-3.

orlando cepeda followed up his mvp season with a less than stellar line - even for the 'year of the pitcher' - of 16/73/.248.  his postseason in 1968 was better than it had been in 1967, however, as he slugged two home runs and drove in six runs over the 7 games.

steve carlton won 13 games during the regular season in 33 starts.  he had 10 complete games and 5 shutouts and made the all-star team for the first time.  he was relegated to the bullpen in the world series however, and made just 2 appearances.  in those games, carlton gave up 3 runs in 4 innings of work.  he wouldn't appear in another world series until 1980.

the stadium on the back is...?: 'old' busch stadium.  and it checks out, of course.

did upper deck get it right?:  we know the stadium is correct and the team itself is worthy.  plus, bob gibson is a no brainer as is lou brock.  nelson briles would have been a decent choice (he didn't pass away until 2005), and ray washburn, who was featured in the 1964 and 1967 teams, would have made sense here as he was 14-8 with a 2.26 era in 30 starts. not sure why upper deck left him out.  same goes for tim mccarver, who was still the cardinals' everyday catcher in 1968 and had a decent world series.  i don't have any complaints about the photos used except for steve carlton's image, which is from 1971.

is this team timeless?:  yes, even if only because of bob gibson's performance in the 'year of the pitcher'.

Monday, February 6, 2012

1968 detroit tigers

this post covers the 1968 detroit tigers and cards number 25 to 33 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
it's the largest team representation we've seen so far, with 9 players in the set.  plus two memorable moments cards - another first in the set.
 what team is this: 1968 detroit tigers

why this team?: they were the world champions! the tigers won 103 games in 1968 and beat the cardinals, another 'timeless team' in the fall classic 4 games to 3 after trailing in the series 3 games to 1.

which players are featured?: al kaline, bill freehan, denny mclain, dick mcauliffe, jim northrup, john hiller, mickey lolich, mickey stanley, willie horton

why these players?:  you can't think about the tigers without al kaline coming to mind, and the majority of the other the players featured were big parts of the 1968 championship run. let's take a deeper look.

al kaline had been named to the american league all-star team 13 straight years heading into 1968, and he had won a gold glove in 10 of those seasons.  unfortunately, kaline was able to play in only 102 games for the tigers that year, hitting .287 with 10 homers and 53 rbi. he was healthy for the postseason, however, and torched the cardinals in the world series to the tune of 2/8/.379.  he was also named the recipient of the lou gehrig award in 1968.

bill freehan won a gold glove, finished 2nd in the league mvp voting, and was named to the all-star team in 1968.  he pounded 25 homers and drove in 83 runs while throwing out 37% of the would-be basestealers that ran against him.  he tanked offensively in the world series, managing just 2 singles in 28 at bats for an average of .083, but he made a big play at the plate in game 5 tagging out lou brock to hold the cardinals' lead to just one run and squelch a potential rally.

denny mclain was the american league's pitcher in the year of the pitcher.  he won 31 games (a fact the memorable moments card celebrates) and won both the cy young and mvp awards.  in addition to his 31 wins, mclain led the league with 41 starts, an astonishing 336 innings pitched, and 28 complete games.  his 1.96 era, however, was only good enough for fourth in the league.  fourth!  in his first postseason, mclain was just 1-2, losing games 1 and 4 before bouncing back to win game 6 with a complete game on 2 days rest.

dick mcauliffe was the tigers' primary second baseman who led the league with 95 runs scored in 1968.  he finished 7th in the league's mvp voting, and contributed a homer and 3 rbi to detroit's offensive output in the world series.

it's funny about jim northrup.  his card from the 1968 team is in the blog header because when i was building the set, the last two cards i needed were both jim northrup cards.  for some reason, there were none available on sportlots or comc.  i think i wound up going through the beckett marketplace to score them.  anyway, northrup hit 21 homers and drove in a career-high 90 runs for the tigers during the regular season.  in the world series, he hit just .250 but had 2 homers (including a grand slam in the tigers' series record 10 run outburst in the 3rd inning of game 6), 8 rbi and a huge triple in game 7.  that hit broke a scoreless tie in the 7th inning and may or may not have been made possible by a curt flood misplay.

john hiller split the regular season between the bullpen and the starting rotation, putting up a record of 9-6 with 2 saves.  of his 39 appearances, 12 came as starts, and he threw 4 complete games with 1 being a shutout.  for the world series, however, hiller was used exclusively out of the bullpen.  he appeared in 2 games against the cardinals (both were tiger losses) and gave up 3 runs in his 2+ innings of work. 

mickey lolich was 17-9 in the regular season with a 3.19 era and 8 complete games in 32 starts.  he made 3 starts in the world series, and pitched a complete game each time.  he won games 2, 5, and 7, outdueling bob gibson on 2 days' rest in the clincher.  at the plate, lolich hit a home run in game 2 which proved to be the game winner.  for his efforts, lolich was named the series mvp, as we learn from his memorable moments card. 

mickey stanley had never played shortstop in his major league career prior to 1968, but that's where he played in the world series.  during the regular season, stanley was part of a 4-player outfield rotation with kaline, northrup, and willie horton.  in the postseason, manager mayo smith wanted all four bats in the lineup so he benched regular shortstop ray oyler in favor of stanley.  stanley had made just a handful of appearances at short in the regular season, a season in which he won a gold glove for his outfield play.  he did make a couple of errors in the world series, but they didn't amount to anything, while his .214 average in the series makes one wonder if smith's gamble really made a difference.

willie horton was an all-star left fielder for the tigers in 1968, leading the club with 36 homers.  he hit one more home run in the world series where he posted an ops of 1.013.  horton got the assist on the game 5 putout of lou brock at home plate that may have saved the tigers' season.

the stadium on the back is...?:   "the corner", also known as "old" tiger stadium.  it opened in 1912 (as navin stadium) and was the home to the tigers through the 1999 season.

did upper deck get it right?: there is no doubt that the 1968 tigers were a great team. they were the last of the 'pure' world champions, meaning the last to win the world series prior to the expansion of the postseason due to divisional play.  and, as i mentioned before, i think the players all make sense, although perhaps the checklist could have been pared down a little bit.  as for the photos, upper deck could have done better.

al kaline's photo is from the 1950's, as the tigers didn't use the script 'detroit' on their away grays in the 1960's.  the rest of the team, except for dick mcauliffe and mickey stanley, are appropriate with the block lettering on their away jerseys.  mickey lolich, however, appears to be sporting longer sideburns than one would expect from most ballplayers in 1968.  as far as mcauliffe and stanley go, their photos are from 1972 at the earliest, which is when detroit went to the pullover away jerseys with a touch of orange.

is this team timeless?:  yes.  they claim the last 30-game winner, a 100+ win season, and were only the third team in history to rebound from a 3-1 deficit in the world series.