Tuesday, May 29, 2012

1972 oakland a's

this post covers the 1972 oakland a's and cards numbered 80 to 84 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
what team is this?:  the 1972 world champion oakland a's

why this team?:  the 1972 a's won 93 games and were the first american league west team to appear in the world series.  they were only a few years removed from kansas city, and they won the first of three consecutive world championships by defeating the cincinnati reds.

which players are featured?:  that would be bert campaneris, john 'blue moon' odom, sal bando, joe rudi, and ken holtzman.

why these players?:  we have 2 of the team's starting pitchers who had very good seasons in 1972, and three of their everyday players (each of them all-stars in 1972), including the 1972 american league mvp runner-up.

bert campaneris was the a's all-star shortstop, although he didn't appear in the 1972 midsummer classic (earl weaver let his own shortstop, bobby grich, play the whole game).  campaneris led the american league in stolen bases in 1972 with 52, making it the sixth time in eight years that he had led the league in that category.  he also led the league in plate appearances, at bats, and sacrifice hits in 1972, and he played in 149 games.  in the postseason, he hit .429 in the alcs (although he only played in two of the five games) and then was just 5 for 28 in the world series.  to make things worse, he was caught stealing in his only attempt.

blue moon odom was 15-6 with a 2.50 era during the regular season for the a's in 1972.  but you knew that because you read the back of his 'memorable moments' card.  a card that is really more about the a's winning the world series than it is about any specific blue moon odom moment.  of course, his most memorable moment from 1972 would probably be not either of his two starts in the world series (he was 0-1 despite a 1.59 era in 11.1 innings pitched) but rather his pinch running performance in game 5.  odom was called upon to pinch run for gene tenace in the bottom of the 9th inning of game 5 with the a's trailing in the game 5-4 but leading the series 3 games to 1.  with one out, odom (who was often called upon to pinch run) was on third base and ill-advisedly tried to score on a short pop up that was caught by joe morgan.  he was thrown out to end the game but the a's wound up winning the series in 7 games so it's not really remembered like the merkle boner.

sal bando had been the a's everyday third baseman since 1968 - their first year in oakland.  he hit 15 homers with 77 rbi in 1972, and was named to the all-star team for the second time in his career.  his average dropped to just .236, however, and he had a lackluster postseason to match.  in the world series, he hit .269 with just one extra base hit (a double) and a lone rbi.

joe rudi played 147 games in left field for the a's in 1972, and wound up finishing second in the league mvp voting behind dick allen of the white sox.  rudi hit .305 with 19 homers and 75 rbi, and also led the league in hits (181) and triples (9).  he was named to the all-star team for the first time in his career and went 1 for 1 with a double off of tug mcgraw.  however, rudi's only extra base hit of the world series (in which he hit just .260) was a game 3 solo home run that gave the a's the second run in their 2-1 victory.

ken holtzman makes his second appearance on the blog, having been a member of the memorable and timeless 1969 chicago cubs team.  as such, he is the first player in the set to be featured on two different timeless teams. holtzman had been acquired in a trade with the cubs for rick monday after the 1971 season ended.  in his first year in oakland, holtzman was 19-11 with a 2.51 era in 39 appearances, 37 of which were starts.  he had 16 complete games and 4 shutouts.  in the postseason, he made two starts and another relief appearance during the world series.  he won game 1, got no decision in game 4, and then was called upon in relief in game 7.  he took over from catfish hunter with a 3-1 lead and pete rose on first in the 8th inning and promptly served up a double to joe morgan.  that was all for holtzman who was replaced by rollie fingers who eventually preserved the win and the championship for the a's.

the stadium on the back is...?: oakland coliseum - known in 1972 as the oakland alameda county coliseum.  currently named (but not known as) the o.co coliseum.  the a's have played there since moving to oakland in 1968, although the photo used on the cards is almost certainly not from the 1970's.

did upper deck get it right?:  this team certainly belongs in the set, but i am still wondering why the 1972 tigers were chosen instead of the 1972 reds.  many of the players on the '72 cincinnati team will show up later in the set, so it would have made some sense.  anyway, as far as the a's players are concerned, reggie jackson (who was injured in the alcs and missed the world series), rollie fingers, gene tenace (world series mvp) and possibly vida blue should have been no-brainers, and all but reggie are in the set with other teams.  that's weird because reggie, at one time at least, had a contract with upper deck.

for the players that were selected by upper deck, the photos seem to be a mixed bag.  campaneris' photo is from 1968 as that is the only year the a's went with the 'oakland' text on the front of their sleeveless jerseys.  odom's photo is from 1969 thanks to the all green hat and the capital 'a' on his jersey.  in 1970, the team went to yellow bills on the hats, and added the apostrophe-s to the jersey fronts.  the other three photos could all be legitimately from 1972 (we know holtzman's is no older than 1972) thanks to the different color combinations and the pullover jersey that the a's introduced that season.  if i had to guess, however, i would say that the bando and rudi photos are from 1973, as i don't think they were so scruffy in 1972.

is this team timeless?:  no doubt.  this was a team that started the dynasty (actually, the 1971 team that lost in the alcs to the orioles was the first a's team to make the postseason since the philadelphia days) and won the first championship for the franchise since the days of connie mack.

Monday, May 21, 2012

1972 detroit tigers

this post covers the 1972 detroit tigers and cards numbered 71 to 79 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
so, upper deck skipped 1971, saving us from yet another grouping of that great orioles team but also denying us our first look at the pirates (how cool would it have been to see the likes of dock ellis, al oliver, manny sanguillen, and vic davalillo in this set? the answer is very very cool).  alas, we'll have to wait a few years to see pittsburgh in the set.  other possibilities from 1971 would have been the a's (we will see plenty of them) and the giants (thankfully they are completely omitted from the set).

what team is this?:  1972 detroit tigers

why this team?:  the tigers won the american league east in 1972 with an 86-80 record.  they finished a half-game ahead of the boston red sox thanks to the fact that they played one more game as a result of the player strike that delayed the start of the season and wiped out a different number of games for different teams.  if you look at the final standings that year, you'll see that not every team played the same number of games.  that's pretty fundamental, one would think.  the tigers wound up losing the 1972 american league championship series to the a's in 5 games.

which players are featured?:  it's a repeat cast from the 1968 detroit tigers team (which makes sense from a set checklist point of view) sans denny mclain who was out of detroit by the time 1972 rolled around.  that means we get al kaline, bill freehand, dick mcauliffe, jim northrup, john hiller, mickey lolich, mickey stanley, and willie horton.

why these players?:  in addition to from ed brinkman, these were the surviving everyday players from the 1972 tigers team.  mickey lolich was the ace, and john hiller a key bullpen cog, although chuck seelbach would have made sense to have been included.

al kaline was 37 during the 1972 season.  he played in 106 games and hit .313 in just over 300 plate appearances.  he managed to hit 10 homers, the last of which started the scoring in the first game of the crucial season ending three game set against the second place red sox.  kaline finished 24th in the league mvp voting and hit .263 with a solo home run in the alcs against the a's.  that solo shot came in the top of the 11th inning of game 1 to give the tigers a lead.  unfortunately, they were unable to hang on and lost the game in the bottom of the inning.

bill freehan was named to the american league all-star team for the 9th straight year in 1972.  in the game, he started at catcher and was 0 for 1 with a walk and a run before being replaced by carlton fisk.  during the regular season, freehan hit .262 and slugged 10 homers in 111 games played.  behind the plate, he threw out 37% of the would-be base stealers who ran against him, but made an uncharacteristic 8 errors in  105 games as a catcher.  freehan hit .250 with a homer and three rbi in the alcs.

dick mcauliffe hit .240 with 8 homers and 30 rbi in 1972.  his home run total was the lowest since his rookie season of 1961. the tigers' primary second baseman also hit a solo shot in the alcs.

jim northrup also saw his home run total drop to 8 in 1972.  northrup actually had his power numbers drop across the board, slugging just .362 with just 25 extra base hits in 134 games played.  he hit .357 in the alcs, but had no extra base hits and just one rbi in the 5 game series.

john hiller triumphantly returned to the big leagues in 1972 after sitting out the 1971 season due to the health concerns.  he pitched in just 24 games but had 3 saves and a 2.03 era.  all three of his decisions came in his only three starts of the season - two losses and a complete game 5-hitter for the win.  hiller pitched in 3 games of the alcs, earning the win in game 4 and posting a perfect 0.00 era in 3.1 innings of work.

mickey lolich went 22-14 for detroit in 1972.  his 2.50 era was almost half a run lower than his era from the previous year when he won 25 games.  although his strikeout numbers were down, he still k'd 250 batters, good for second in the league behind nolan ryan.  as an aside, if mickey lolich didn't retire and miss the 1977 season before returning to the big leagues in 1978, would he have tallied the 168 strikeouts he ultimately needed to reach 3000? and, if so, is mickey lolich in the hall of fame?  back to 1972 - lolich made the all-star team that year and pitched 2 innings of scoreless ball in relief of the game's starter, jim palmer.  he also finished fourth in the league cy young voting and made 2 starts in the alcs.  in game 1, he pitched 10 innings and allowed just one run before he was sent out for the 11th inning with a one run lead.  he gave up back to back hits to start the inning and was relieved.  the a's scored twice and lolich got the loss.  he returned in game 4 and held the a's to a single run in 9 innings of work, but was replaced as the game went to extra innings and didn't get the win when the tigers eventually won in 11.

mickey stanley played center field for the tigers in 142 games during the 1972 season.  he hit .234 with 14 homers and 55 rbi.  he made only one start in the alcs, but appeared in four of the five games, hitting .333 with 2 singles in 6 at bats.

willie horton appeared in 108 games for detroit in 1972 as the tigers continued to work three players (horton, kaline, and northrup) across two positions (right and left field).  like the rest, horton's numbers dipped (11/36/.231) although i don't know if that was due to playing time or the strike or just some fine 1972 pitching.  in the alcs, horton was held to just one hit in 10 official at bats.

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?:  well, they tried i suppose.  i think that this is the first instance of a team being featured simply because of the checklist.  all of these players were part of the 1968 tiger team (definitely timeless) and so were already in the set.  so, it was easy for upper deck to have them sign some more cards.

as for the players, i think these are the right guys to be featured although hiller wasn't with the team the full season, and joe coleman and chuck seelbach would have been worthy additions to the set.

the photos are a mixed bag.  kaline is too young in his photo for it to have been from 1972, and freehan is sporting the anniversary patch that was worn in 1969, as is horton.  john hiller is also sporting the away grays that were last worn in 1971.  as for the rest, they are wearing the away jersey that was first donned by tiger players in 1972, so they could be legit, although i would guess that the northrup and stanley images are from later in the 70's.  not helping is the guy lurking in the background of northrup's photo.  that's long time tiger coach (and former dodger) dick tracewski.  he coached for the tigers from 1972-1995, so we can't narrow the timing of the photo down that way.

is this team timeless?:  although 1972 was the final postseason appearance for each of these players, i don't see much of a reason to include them in the set.  not timeless.

Monday, May 7, 2012

1970 baltimore orioles

this post covers the 1970 baltimore orioles and cards numbered 61 to 71 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
what team is this?:  the 1970 world champion baltimore orioles

why this team?:  they won the world series for the second time in their history, winning 108 games in the regular season and going 7-1 in the postseason.  they also boasted the league's mvp and three of the top five cy young award vote getters.

which players are featured?: all the same guys from 1969, as would be expected.  boog powell, brooks robinson, davey johnson, merv rettenmund, eddie watt, frank robinson, jim palmer, mike culler, paul blair, pete richert, and ellie hendricks.

why these players?:  these were the guys that made the o's tick in the late 60's and early 70's.

boog powell started at first base but went 0 for 3 in the all-star game in 1970.  that's ok, because after finishing 2nd in the league mvp voting in 1969, boog took home the hardware in 1970 with 35 homers and 114 rbi.  he hit 2 more homers and drove in 5 runs in the world series.

brooks robinson was the mvp of the world series in 1970 with 2 homers, 6 rbi and made some nice plays on defense, as his memorable moments card will attest.  otherwise, it was a typical year for the hall of famer, as he won another gold glove and was named to the all-star team.  speaking of which, robinson went 2 for 3 with 2 rbi in the all-star game as a reserve behind harmon killebrew at third base.

davey johnson won his second straight gold glove and started the all-star game at second base, going 1 for 5 in the game.  he hit .313 in the world series after hitting .364 with two homers in the alcs against the twins.

merv rettenmund hit .322 with a career high 18 homers as the orioles 4th outfielder in 1970.  he appeared in 106 games and played each outfield position in at least 30 games. rettenmund made two starts in the postseason (plus one appearance as a pinch-hitter) and he made them count.  he was 1 for 3 with 2 walks and an rbi in game 2 of the alcs and then went 2 for 4 with a walk, 2 runs scored, and a homer and 2 rbi in game 5 of the world series.

eddie watt was 7-7 with 12 saves for the orioles during the 1970 world series.  he made only one postseason appearance in 1970, and was saddled with the o's only loss for his troubles.

frank robinson went 0 for 3 as the starting right fielder in the all-star game, and posted a line of 25/78/.306 as the orioles' right fielder during the regular season.  it's worth noting that frobby hit two grand slams in a single game during the regular season.  he hit three more home runs in the postseason, including two in the world series.

jim palmer won 20 games for the first time in his hall of fame career in 1970.  he led the league in shutouts and innings pitched, and was named to the all-star team for the first time.  in fact, he was named the starter for the american league, and he pitched three scoreless innings in the game.  he also recorded three strikeouts - willie mays to start the bottom of the first, and then tony perez and johnny bench in the second inning.  palmer finished 5th in the cy young voting and went 2-0 in three postseason starts, including a win in game 1 of the fall classic against the reds.

mike cuellar led the league with 24 wins, 40 games started, and 21 complete games in 1970.  he made the all-star team and finished 4th in his attempt to defend his reign as the cy young award winner.  cuellar was knocked around in his lone alcs start, but he came back to pitch well in two world series starts, including a complete game victory in the game 5 clincher.

paul blair won a gold glove for the second straight year as the orioles' center fielder.  blair was held to just one hit during the alcs, but he came out strong in the world series and posted a .474 average with 3 rbi and 5 runs scored.

pete richert was 7-2 with 13 saves and a 1.98 era out of the bullpen for the 1970 orioles.  he pitched to just one batter in the postseason, but that batter was bobby tolan, and richert got him to line out to end game 1 of the world series with the tying run on base giving richert his lone career postseason save.

ellie hendricks matched his career high with 12 homers in 1970.  he appeared in 106 games as the orioles' primary backstop and helped guide the pitching staff to 60 complete games and three 20-game winners.  he hit .364 with a home run and 4 rbi in the world series.

the stadium on the back is...?: still memorial stadium, as it should be.

did upper deck get it right?: we know that the bird logo is not right, and that the players are appropriate to represent the team.  it would have been nice, perhaps, to have earl weaver included, and i would have understood if bobby grich were here as he shows up with the angels later in the set.  still, i am glad he is not, as he was not a big part of the orioles' 1970 team.

so, that brings us to the photos.  after using a later-era photo for boog on the 1969 card, upper deck reverted to an older photo for him here, similar to the one they used on the 1966 installment.  the uniforms look legitimate for powell, brooks, rettenmund, watt, frobby, blair, and richert.  davey johnson, however, is wearing a uniform that was introduced in 1971, as is mike cuellar.  jim palmer, on the other hand, is sporting the white front panel cap which wasn't introduced until 1975.  his photo looks like it is from the latter part of palmer's career - possibly from the early 80's.  and then there is ellie hendricks.  he is shown sporting the sleeveless jersey that was last worn by the orioles in 1969.  close, but no cigar.

is this team timeless?:  yes. the orioles in 1970 finished 15 games ahead of the yankees in the al east and dispatched the reds in the world series 4 games to 1.  they were the world champions at the time i was born, and that's good enough for me.