Thursday, March 29, 2012

1969 new york mets

this post covers the 1969 new york mets and cards number 57 to 60 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
what team is this?: 1969 new york mets

why this team?: the amazin' mets, led by gil hodges, won the world series in their 8th year of existence, defeating the heavily favored baltimore orioles.

which players are featured?: ed kranepool, jerry koosman (who gets a 'memorable moments' card thanks to the fact that he pitched the game 5 clincher in the fall classic), nolan ryan, tom seaver

why these players?:  ed kranepool is mr. met (not the one with the big baseball head), jerry koosman and tom seaver were the aces of the staff, and nolan ryan won his only world series title during his short time in new york.  let's take a closer look.

ed kranepool was just 17 when he debuted for the mets in 1962.  he held down the first base spot for at least part of 18 seasons for the mets, and spent 112 games there in their championship season of 1969.  he hit only 11 homers and his average was just .238, but he could play the field well.  when the postseason rolled around, kranepool hit .250 in the 3 games against the braves and managed just one game played in the world series.  he went 1 for 4, but his lone hit was a home run.

jerry koosman, in just his second full season, won 17 games for the mets in 32 starts.  he struck out 15 padres in a 10-innings stint in may, and then struck out 13 cubbies in a big 3-2 win against their nl east rivals.  koosman also made the all-star team and pitched 1.2 scoreless innings in the contest, including a bit of foreshadowing that came when he struck out the orioles'  brooks robinson.  in the postseason, koosman struggled in his only start of the nlcs against the braves, but then won games 2 and 5 of the world series, coming just one out shy of hurling two complete games.

nolan ryan split his 1969 season between the bullpen (15 appearances, 1 save) and the rotation (10 starts, 2 complete games).  he spent the postseason in the bullpen, but was only called upon twice.  in game 3 of the playoffs, he threw 7 innings in relief to get the win and then in game 3 of the world series, he closed out the mets' 5-0 victory with 2.1 innings to earn the save.  this outing was memorialized in the 1970 topps set with the 'ryan saves the day' card.

tom seaver won the first of his 3 cy young awards in 1969 (he finished second in the mvp voting, too) as he was 25-7 with a 2.21 era.  he also threw 18 complete games (8 of which came in his final 8 starts of the season) and 5 shutouts (3 of which came in the 8-start stretch). on july 9, tom terrific was perfect for 8.1 innings against the cubs before allowing a single to jim qualls. he retired the next two batters for a one-hit shutout, but i don't believe he ever came as close to perfection again.  seaver was not dominating in his lone nlcs start, although he earned the win in game 1.  he took the loss in his next start - game 1 of the world series - but then bounced back with a 10-inning complete game victory in game 4 to give the mets a 3-1 series lead.

the stadium on the back is...?:  shea stadium which is where the mets were playing in 1969.  however, the photo is not from 1969 as evidenced by the diet coke sign.

did upper deck get it right?: i have no problems with the players chosen, although it would have been nice to see jerry grote, and maybe cleon jones or ron swoboda would have made sense, too.  the photos, however, are all over the place.  kranepool's photo obviously comes from much later in his mets tenure - 1978 or 1979 based on the collar.  koosman and ryan seem appropriate, especially given that nolan ryan was only around through 1971.  seaver, however, is shown during his second go-around with the mets which was in 1983.  and, as i mentioned earlier, the stadium is correct, but it's not an era-appropriate photo on the backs of the cards.

is this team timeless?:  no doubt about it.  they were 'amazin!'

Monday, March 12, 2012

1969 chicago cubs

this post covers the 1969 chicago cubs and cards number 50 to 56 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
for the first time, the set includes a team that didn't qualify for the postseason.  this presents a problem for me as i have been labeling these posts with the level to which each team has risen, such as 'american league champions' or 'world series champions'.  what do i call the 1969 cubbies?  i should note that wrigley wax has already covered a lot of the info i expound upon, and here's his dissertation.  i'll borrow from it a bit as well.

what team is this?:  the 1969 chicago cubs

why this team?:  the cubs famously 'collapsed' and allowed the mets to win the national league east in the first year of divisional play.  this is the only cubs team included in the set, and i would argue that the 1984 team may have been a better choice.  but what do i know...

which players are featured?:  billy williams, randy hundley, ernie banks, fergie jenkins, jim hickman, ken holtzman, and ron santo who gets a memorable moment card for clicking his heels.  weird.

why these players?: this is a pretty good representation of the 1969 cubs - four of the eight regulars plus two of the three top starters with a total of four hall-of-famers.  let's take a closer look.

billy williams had a pretty good season in 1969 as the cubs' left fielder.  the first hof'er to be featured led the league (again) in games played with 163.  the extra game was due to a game the cubs played against the reds which was deemed a tie for some reason.  not sure how that works - maybe someone out there can shed some light?  williams posted a line of 21/95/.293 with 103 runs scored.  one of those homers was the second to last home run that don drysdale gave up in his career.

randy hundley caught in 151 of the cubs' 163 games in 1969, including 136 complete games.  he had his last solid full season that year, hitting .255 with 18 homers and 64 rbi.  he also made the all-star team for the only time in his career.  perhaps the highlight of his season, however, was the birth of his son and future dodger double dipper todd in may.

ernie banks enjoyed what was really his last hurrah in 1969.  hof'er number two played 155 games at first, and hit 23 homers while driving in 106.  mr. cub finished 12th in the league mvp vote and made the all-star team for the last time in his career.  in the game, both he and willie mays pinch hit in the fifth inning and made outs.

fergie jenkins won 20 games or more for the third year in a row, posting 21 victories while leading the league in starts (42) and strikeouts (273).  still, he got no love from the mvp or cy young voters, nor was he named to the all-star squad.  the third hall-of-famer on this team would go on to win 20 or greater in each of the next three seasons. 

jim hickman was the cubs' right fielder in 1969, and he put up some fairly pedestrian numbers that year.  he did manage to hit 21 homers, but he only drove in 54 and hit just .237.  he did much better in 1970, when he slugged 32 long balls and drove in 115 for the cubs while batting .315.  hickman, of course, was an original met and played for them from 1962 through 1966, and i can't imagine how he felt to be passed in the standing by his old team.

ken holtzman was the third starter on the 1969 cubs behind jenkins and bill hand who won 20 games.  holtzman wound up with 17 wins in 39 starts.  holtzman threw three straight shutouts in may, and then threw a no-hitter against the braves in august.  strangely, he walked three in that game and struck out none.  it was his only game of the season in which he failed to strike anyone out.

ron santo is the fourth hall-of-famer featured in this team set.  not sure if he was clicking his heels like charlie chaplin or judy garland, but his 1969 season was pretty solid - 29 homers and a career high 123 rbi along with a .289 batting average.  he walked 96 times just as he had the previous two seasons, however in 1969 that wasn't quite enough to lead the league as he had in 1967 and 1968.  santo made the all-star team and ultimately placed 5th in the league mvp voting. 

the stadium on the back is...?:  wrigley field.  the cubs have played there since 1916, so that's good.  however, i don't think the rooftop seats showed up until the 1990's.

did upper deck get it right?:  well, this team was the one that got all the cubbie faithful excited about a possible return to the world series for the first time since 1945.  it is iconic, if not timeless.  the players all make sense, so no complaints there, althoughi suppose bill hands and phil regan (their closer) would have been good players to feature as well.  it's the photos where they really missed the mark. 

as wrigley wax demonstrates, the banks photo is from the 1950's, the williams is from the 1970's, and the jenkins is from the 1980's.  the santo and the hickman are potentially from 1969, and the hundley and holtzman photos are indeed from 1969, thanks to the centennial patches each player is wearing.

is this team timeless?:  perhaps.  up by 9 games in early august and 5 on september 3rd, the cubs lost 8 in a row and 11 of their last 13 games while the mets were surging.  cubs fans had their hopes dashed, so this team resonates with a lot of people.  it's the only cubs team in the set, and only a couple of the players (ken holtzman and billy williams) appear on other cards in the set.  i still don't get is why they didn't feature the 1984 team in the set.  to me, that team was just as timeless as this one, and they actually made the postseason.  plus, we could have had some additional bill buckner, ron cey and davey lopes cards.  what do you think?