Monday, June 18, 2012

1974 oakland a's

this post covers the 1974 oakland a's and cards numbered 100 to 104 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
what team is this?:  the back-to-back-to-back world champion 1974 oakland a's

why this team?:  the 90-72 1974 oakland a's successfully defended their title as world champs for the second year in a row, becoming the first team to "three-peat" since the new york yankees of the late 1940's/early 1950's won 5 in a row.  in fact, the a's are the only franchise other than the yankees to have won as many as 3 titles consecutively.

which players are featured?:  bert campaneris, billy north, joe rudi, sal bando, and vida blue

why these players?:  we've seen all of these guys before - some in the 1972 subset, and some in 1973.

bert campaneris hit a career high .290 in 1974.  he stole 34 bases and scored 77 runs in 137 games as the a's shortstop.  he was the starter for the american league in the all-star game, and finished 15th in the league mvp voting.  he hit only .176 in the alcs against the orioles, but had 6 hits and two doubles against the dodgers in the world series for a .353 average.

billy north played in 149 games for the a's in 1974, and led the american league in steals with 54.  he also led the league in times caught stealing with 26.  on the year, north hit .260 and posted the lowest on-base percentage (.347) of any of his full seasons spent with the a's.  having missed the postseason in 1973, north made the first playoff appearance of his career in 1974.  unfortunately, he managed just 1 hit in each of the series for a alcs/world series combined average of just .061.

joe rudi played in a career-high 158 games in 1974, and led the american league in doubles (39) and total bases (287).  for the second time in three years, rudi finished second in the league mvp voting and was named to the all-star team. he also won his first career gold glove for his play in left field.  as the back of the memorable moments card indicates, rudi hit .333 against the dodgers in the world series, with a game 5 home run that was immortalized on this 1975 topps card.

although sal bando played in 'only' 146 games in 1974, he still hit 22 home runs and topped the 100-rbi mark for just the second time in his career.  he was an all-star for the final time (although he did not appear in the game), and finished third in the league mvp voting - his third top-4 finish in three years (with reggie jackson, the a's had three of the top four mvp vote getters, but jeff burroughs of the rangers took home the hardware).  he hit a couple of solo homers against the orioles in the alcs, but was held to just one hit (a single) in 16 at bats against the dodgers in the world series.

it was an even-numbered year, so vida blue didn't win 20 games for the a's (his 20-win seasons came in 1971, 1973, and 1975).  he probably should have, however, as he made 40 starts, posted a 3.25 era, pitched 12 complete games, and finished with a record of 17-15.   a quick review of his game logs shows that there were a few starts in which he took a loss despite pitching well enough to win, in my opinion.  in the postseason, blue out dueled the orioles' jim palmer to win game 3 of the alcs 1-0. blue allowed just two hits and struck out 7 in his shutout performance.  blue went on to make two starts in the world series, taking the loss in game 2 and having no decision in the game 5 clincher.

the stadium on the back is...?:  still the oakland alameda county stadium - the home to the a's since 1968.

did upper deck get it right?: the team is right, and we know by now that reggie jackson isn't going to show up in this set, but the player selection is still somewhat puzzling.  of the players upper deck previously featured in this set, ken holtzman, dick green, gene tenace, blue moon odom, and rollie fingers were all still a part of the a's in 1974 but were not chosen to represent the a's for that year.  the biggest headscratcher is the omission of rollie fingers, as he was the world series mvp in 1974 with 1 win and 2 saves in 4 games against the dodgers.  holtzman and odom each had a win in the series as well.

whatever, let's just look at the players upper deck did include.  all five of the players featured were starters on the team, and integral parts of the championship run, so i have no complaints.  the photos for the position players are certainly of the period, but i wouldn't be surprised if the campy photo is from 1973 (that looks like shea stadium in the background, and the a's played the mets in the 1973 world series).  as for vida blue's photo, while i like the action shot, the image comes from 1971 at the latest.

is this team timeless?:  a third consecutive title? well, then, yes.

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