this post covers the 1978 new york yankees and cards numbered 153 to 161 in the set. here are the fronts:
what team is this?: the 1978 new york yankees, who defeated the los angeles dodgers 4 games to 2 to win their second straight world series title.
why this team?: the 1978 yankees won 100 games, including a one-game playoff with the red sox to claim their third straight american league east pennant. what's more, they overcame a 14-game deficit in july to force the game 163. in the postseason, they beat the royals for the third straight year to win the pennant, and then beat the dodgers to win the title. also, because they are the yankees.
which players are featured?: we've got all the players that were featured as part of the 1977 team, except for don gullett whose career came to an end during the 1978 campaign, and we've added brian doyle and rich "goose" gossage to the checklist.
why these players?: let's find out, shall we?
brian doyle was a rookie in 1978 who appeared in all of 39 games in the regular season. he hit .192 with an obp to match, and was without an extra base hit. in the postseason, he and fred stanley were called upon to replace the injured willie randolph at second base. doyle responded by hitting .286 in the alcs and .438 in the world series with 2 rbi and 4 runs scored.
bucky dent gets a memorable moment card for his game 163 home run that beat the red sox. he had only four other home runs in 1978 before he hit the 7th inning, three-run blast off of mike torrez. he hit only .200 in the alcs, but won the world series mvp award thanks to a .417 average and a team leading 10 hits.
chris chambliss had the opposite results in the postseason. he hit .400 against the royals, but just .182 against the dodgers. during the regular season, he hit .274 with 12 home runs and 90 rbi. he also won his first (and only) career gold glove.
ed figueroa won 20 games for the only time in his career in 1978. he was 20-9 with a 2.99 era in 32 starts. he won 8 of his last 9 starts, the final one being a 5-hit shutout of the indians in game 161 that preserved the team's one game lead over the red sox in the east. figueroa's late season success didn't translate to the postseason as he took the loss in game 2 of the alcs, giving up 5 runs (3 earned) in 1+ innings of work. he didn't make it out of the 2nd inning in game 1 of the world series, either, giving up 3 runs on home runs by dusty baker and davey lopes (with rick monday on base) in the second inning. figueroa returned to start game 4 of the world series, and gave up a 3-run home run to reggie smith in his 5 innings of work. he left the game trailing, but thanks in part to reggie jackson's hip, the yankees chipped away at the dodgers' lead and wound up winning the game.
graig nettles was an all-star and won his second straight gold glove at third base in 1978. he hit 27 home runs with 93 rbi and a .276 batting average during the regular season. he was 5 for 15 with a triple and a home run in the alcs, but went just 4 for 25 with no extra base hits in the world series.
lou piniella hit .314 for the yankees over 130 games while splitting time between left field, right field, and dh. he had 7 hits in the world series, but they were all singles. still, he had 4 rbi and even stole a base in the fall classic.
roy white was one of the few yankees who was consistent in his play throughout the entire postseason. after appearing in 103 games and hitting .269 in the regular season, white hit .313 with a triple and a home run in the yankees' four game series against the royals. he then hit .333 in the world series, scoring 9 runs and driving in 4 over the six games against the dodgers.
rich "goose" gossage joined the bronx zoo as a free agent from pittsburgh prior to the 1978 season. in his first season as a yankee, gossage was 10-11 with 27 saves (the most in the league) and a 2.01 era over 134.1 innings of work. after a shaky postseason debut in game 3 of the alcs (he blew the save but earned the win), gossage saved game 4 with a perfect inning of work to send the yankees to the world series. there, he pitched in 3 games (he earned the save in game 4) and gave up just one hit and one walk in 6 innings of work.
sparky lyle was the reigning cy young award winner in 1978, but he was replaced as the team's closer with the arrival of gossage. still, lyle appeared in 59 games (all in relief, of course) and posted a record of 9-3 with 9 saves. he made just one appearance in the postseason - a 1.1 inning effort in game 2 of the alcs in which he allowed 2 runs on 3 hits. that would be his last appearance in the pinstripes (so to speak - the game was in kansas city), as the yankees traded lyle to the rangers after the postseason.
the stadium on the back is...?: yankee stadium, although not a photo from 1978.
did upper deck get it right?: i can understand why the royals (the team the yankees beat in the alcs in 1976, 1977, and 1978) weren't featured - the franchise was completely ignored by the set - and the 1977 and 1978 phillies are pretty similar teams to the 1980 team that we will see later on, but i think a case could have been made to feature the 1978 red sox. they were a bucky dent home run away from making the postseason, and the beantown franchise has already been featured in the set. also, i personally would have been ok with the 1978 dodgers being featured in the set, even though the players would likely be identical to the ones featured for the 1977 team except for the super cool bob welch memorable moment card that would have been made to commemorate his strikeout of reggie jackson to end game 2 of the world series.
as for the players, once again ron guidry should have been included. he was 25-3 in 1978 for goodness sakes. reggie jackson's absence is again conspicuous, and willie randolph and mickey rivers are probably the only other two guys who could have been featured but weren't. kudos to upper deck for not going for a weak checklist grab and adding reserve outfielder paul blair (previously seen in the set with the orioles) or rawly eastwick (seen earlier in the set as a cincinnati red) to this team. especially eastwick, as he started the 1978 season with the yankees, but was traded to the phillies during the season for jay johnstone. i would have been ok with johnstone being included, however, as long as he would have also been included with the 1981 dodger team. but, he wasn't added to the checklist of either team, so it doesn't matter.
now let's talk about the photos. doyle was with the yankees for parts of three seasons - 1978, 1979, and 1980. for part of 1979 and all of 1980, the yankees wore black armbands, so there is a good likelihood that doyle's photo comes from 1978. that same possibility exists for bucky dent, although i am disappointed that upper deck didn't use a photo from the actual home run he hit to beat the red sox. that game was played at fenway park, so he shouldn't be in the yankee pinstripes. the photos for chris chambliss, roy white, and sparky lyle are definitely from before 1978, and the images for graig nettles and rich "goose" gossage are from later because of the black armbands. that leaves ed figueroa and lou piniella, but there's no real way to tell what year it was that their photos were taken.
is this team timeless?: when i think of the yankees, i think of the 1977 team - not this 1978 squad. still, the 1978 team is the one that won the second title in a row, so i guess this team is timeless. what do you think?