Monday, December 17, 2012

1980 philadelphia phillies

this post covers the 1980 philadelphia phillies and cards numbered 191 to 197 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
it' a new franchise to the set! with the return of the memorable moments subset (with a dickie noles appearance) and four players being featured for the first time.

what team is this?:  the 1980 world champion philadelphia phillies

why this team?:  this was the first philadelphia baseball team to win a world series championship.  ever.  and the last of the 'original' sixteen franchises that were in existence when the world series began in 1903.  they were 91-71 in the regular season (winning the national league east by one game over the montreal expos). they beat the houston astros in the nl championship series 3 games to 2, and won the world series by beating the kansas city royals in six games.

which players are featured?: bake mcbride, bob boone, dickie noles, manny trillo, mike schmidt, sparky lyle, and steve carlton.

why these players?:  we've got the league mvp, the league cy young award winner, and five other guys.  let's break it down.

bake mcbride was the phillies' regualar right fielder in 1980, the final season in which he would be a regular in the big leagues.  mcbride hit .309 with a career high 87 rbi in the regular season, and then hit .304 with a home run and 5 rbi in the world series, doing most of his damage in the first two games of the fall classic.

bob boone's 1980 season is probably best remembered as the year that he dropped frank white's pop up, only to have it caught by pete rose near the first base dugout.  that play occurred in the 8th inning of the decisive sixth game of the world series.  during the regular season, boone (who had won two straight gold gloves coming in to the 1980 season) pretty much matched his offensive totals from 1979, although his batting average dropped by almost 60 points.  he caught all 11 postseason games for the phillies, including four extra inning games, missing only one inning in the nlcs. boone hit .412 in the world series with 2 doubles and 4 rbi.

dickie noles was in his second big league season in 1980, in which he appeared in 48 games, 45 of them in relief.  he had a record of 1-4 with 6 saves during the regular season, and made two scoreless relief appearances in the nlcs against the astros.  in the world series, he made just one appearance, as he was called into relief in game 4 after starter larry christenson got knocked around by the royals.  he gave up just one run (a solo home run by willie mays aikens) and struck out six in his 4.2 innings of work, but his appearance is best remembered for one pitch that he made to george brett.  as the back of his 'memorable moments' card attests, noles threw a brushback pitch to brett in the fourth inning with the phillies down 5-1.  although the phillies lost the game and the series was tied at two games apiece, some feel that noles' pitch was a turning point in the series.  me, i'm not so sure, but the phillies wound up winning so i guess they can see it however they want.

manny trillo won a silver slugger award as the phillies' second baseman in 1980. he hit .292  and scored a career high 68 runs in 141 games that year.  trillo hit .381 in the nlcs against the astros, but the royals held him to a .217 batting average in the world series.

mike schmidt set career highs in home runs (48) and rbi (121), and led the league in both of those triple crown categories - the first of four times that he would do so in his career.  as a result, he earned the national league mvp award, as well as the gold glove and silver slugger awards, and he was voted to start the all-star game (although he missed the game with an injury).  his 48 home runs were the most ever by a third baseman, and he hit his last two of the season when it mattered most - in a division-deciding series with the second place expos.  schmidt hit 2 more home runs with 7 rbi in the world series, and was named the mvp of the fall classic.

sparky lyle was acquired by the phillies in september of 1980.  luckily for kevin saucier, the deal was for a player to be named later, so he was able to pitch in the world series and get a ring before he became a texas ranger in november.  as for lyle, he made 10 appearances for the phillies down the stretch, posting an era of 1.93 with two saves, but was ineligible for the postseason due to his late arrival in philly.

steve carlton was 24-9 in 38 starts during the regular season, with a 2.34 era.  he led the league in wins and strikeouts (286), and was second to don sutton in era.  still, his cy young award was not unanimous, as one voter put jerry reuss at the top of the ballot.  carlton was named to the all-star team, but did not pitch in the game.  i always found it odd that carlton's 1981 topps card featured the all-star banner, when it was jr richard who started the game for the national league.  anyway, carlton made 2 starts in each the nlcs and the world series.  the phillies won each of those games, and carlton earned the victory in three of them, including games 2 and 6 of the fall classic.

the stadium on the back is...?:  veterans stadium.  home to the phillies from 1971 through 2003.

did upper deck get it right?: with pete rose being ineligible, the only regulars not included in the set are larry bowa, greg luzinski, and garry maddox.  and, i would suggest that bob boone is as deserving as any of those three to be included, so i think upper deck did ok with their player selection.  besides, boone will show up later with the 1986 california angels.  as far as pitchers go, dick ruthven would have been a good choice, but i don't have much of a problem with dickie noles.  tug mcgraw would have been an obvious choice, but he passed away in january of 2004 - i assume prior to the finalization of the set checklist.  kudos to upper deck for not giving us a tim mccarver card just because he was already part of the set.  mccarver played in only a handful of games for the phillies after being signed to a contract in september of 1980, and did not appear in the postseason.

regarding the photos, the uniforms are all correct (as is steve carlton's perm) as far as what the phillies were sporting in 1980, although i would guess that the boone photo is from sometime earlier in the 1970's.

is this team timeless?:  yes.

Monday, December 10, 2012

1980 new york yankees

this post covers the 1980 new york yankees and cards numbered 184 to 190 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
no memorable moments, just one player new to the set (rudy may), and a bunch of crafty veterans.

what team is this?:  the 1980 new york yankees, winners of 103 games and free of billy martin for a full season for the first time since 1974.

why this team?:  the yankees won the american league east in 1980 after a one-year hiatus.  they returned to the american league championship series for the fourth time in five years, but lost to the kansas city royals (the team they had beat in their three previous alcs appearances) in three games.

which players are featured?:  rudy may, brian doyle, bucky dent, jim kaat, lou piniella, luis tiant, and tommy john.

why these players?:  aside from the fact that they work with the set checklist, these guys accounted for 45 of the team's wins and 8 of their 189 home runs.  so, yeah - why these players?  let's break it down.

rudy may returned to the yankees in 1980 after three-plus seasons away.  he split his time between the bullpen and the starting rotation (41 appearances, 17 starts) and wound up leading the american league in earned run average (2.46).  he was 15-5 on the regular season and got the start in game 2 of the alcs. he pitched a complete game (of the 8 inning variety) but was done in by a 3-run 3rd inning for the royals.

brian doyle was unable to parlay his 1978 world series success into success during the regular season.  he appeared in only 34 games for the yankees in 1980, and did not play in the alcs at all.  he did hit his lone career home run in 1980, however; a solo shot off of the indians' len barker.  while including doyle with the 1978 team made sense, he is only included here as easy checklist fodder.

bucky dent was the starting shortstop for the american league in the 1980 all-star game at dodger stadium (he was 1 for 2 in the game).  he hit .262 during the regular season with 5 home runs and 57 runs scored.  he was just 2 for 11 with no runs scored or extra base hits in the 1980 postseason, however.

jim kaat makes even less sense here than doyle.  he appeared in 4 games for the yankees in 1980, going 0-1 in five innings of work.  his contract was purchased by the cardinals at the end of april, and his brief yankee career which began less than a year earlier was finished.

lou piniella hit .287 in 116 games for the yankees in 1980.  he hit only 2 home runs with just 27 rbi, however.  in the alcs, he started in left field in games 1 and 3 against southpaws larry gura and paul spilttorff, but did not play in game 2 against dennis leonard.  he hit a home run in his first at bat in game 1 (the second in a back-to-back sequence with rick cerone) but was held hitless for the remainder of the series.

luis tiant joined the yankees for the 1979 season, and went 13-8 with a 3.91 era.  in 1980, his era rose by almost a full run (4.89) and his win-loss record was 8-9.  with the yankees being swept in the playoffs, tiant did not get a start in the series.

tommy john did get a start in the alcs - game 3 to be exact (ron guidry started the first game of the series).  he left with two outs in the 7th inning with the  yankees leading 2-1 and the tying run on base.  a couple batters later, goose gossage gave up a 3-run homer to george brett, and the yankees' season was all but over.  during the regular season, john won a career high 22 games to lead the team.  he finished 4th in the cy young voting, and was named to the all-star team for the third straight year and the fourth time in his career.  that was the year he gave up the home run to ken griffey at dodger stadium for which tommy lasorda takes all the credit.

the stadium on the back is...?:  yankee stadium, but that's not a photo from 1980.

did upper deck get it right?: this might be the worst roster representation in the set.  upper deck completely missed the boat with brian doyle and jim kaat, especially.  i am a kaat fan, but it is pretty obvious that he was included because he previously appeared in the set with the 1965 minnesota twins.  reggie jackson (41 homers and a .300 average in 1980!) is probably the most obvious miss (again, wasn't he an upper deck employee? how hard would it have been to get him in this set?) along with ron guidry and goose gossage.  rick cerone, willie randolph, and bob watson would have made sense, too.  heck, even eric soderholm would have made more sense than kitty kaat.  

let's take a look at the photos.  the yankees wore a black armband for the entire 1980 season in honor of thurman munson who died in 1979.  that means that the doyle, dent, and piniella photos are definitely not from 1980.  tommy john is the only one with a visible armband, so his photo may be from 1980, or it could be from 1979 or 1981 (for elston howard) or even 1986 (roger maris).  rudy may's photo looks like it could be from his first stint with the yankees, and the photos for tiant and kaat would both be from either 1979 or 1980 - the only seasons they were with the yankees.

as for the team itself, it would have been nice to have the royals in the set, especially since this was the year that they finally beat the yankees in the playoffs.  but again, the checklist dictates that the yankees and these players make the set.

is this team timeless?:  no.  it's way overshadowed by the 1977 and 1978 teams, and probably even the 1981 yankee team.

Monday, December 3, 2012

1980 los angeles dodgers

this post covers the 1980 los angeles dodgers and cards numbered 175 to 183 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
after a sub-.500 season in 1979, the big blue wrecking crew is back to kick off the 1980's with a few new faces. upper deck gives us nine players, three of which are making their set debut, but no memorable moments card.

what team is this?:  the 92-71 1980 los angeles dodgers

why this team?:  good question.  the dodgers did force a 163rd game in 1980 thanks to their dramatic 3-game sweep of the division leading astros in the final weekend of the season (they won each game by one run), but lost in the tiebreaker game 7-1 and missed the postseason.

which players are featured?:  bill russell, steve yeager, don sutton, dusty baker, jerry reuss, mickey hatcher, pedro guerrero, ron cey, and steve garvey

why these players?:  these guys, with the exception of hatcher and guerrero, were all regulars on the team - 3/4 of the infield, the catcher, left fielder, and the two aces of the staff.  let's break it down.

bill russell played in 130 games for the dodgers in 1980, and like many of his teammates, he was voted onto the all-star team despite having had perhaps his worst full season since 1971 (he hit just .264 with 34 runs scored and 38 driven in).  russell was 0 for 2 in the midsummer classic, and found himself injured towards the end of the season and was unable to play in the series agains the astros.  he was replaced in the lineup by derrel thomas and pepe frias.

steve yeager appeared in 96 games for the dodgers in 1980, but started only 66 games behind the plate. the dodgers also had joe ferguson and a young mike scioscia to handle the catcher's position that year, although yeager still started the most games of the three.  at the plate, he hit .211 with a couple of home runs and 20 rbi.  he made just one appearance against the astros in that final weekend series, getting a single in his lone at bat in the 8th inning of game 162.

in what would be his final season as a dodger (at least the first time around), don sutton was 13-5 with a league leading 2.20 era in 31 starts.  he also had a save, which came in game 162.  in that game, steve howe had pitched the 8th inning, and was allowed to bat and stay in the game after the dodgers took the lead in the bottom of the frame.  he allowed a couple of singles, and with two outs and two runners on, sutton came in and coaxed denny walling to ground out to end the game.  it was the fifth and final save of sutton's career.

dusty baker had a huge year in 1980. he hit 29 home runs with 97 rbi and a .294 batting average. he finished 4th in the league mvp voting, and won a silver slugger award.  he welcomed nolan ryan back to the national league by hitting a home run off of the hall of famer in ryan's first start as an astro in april, and then took him deep again later in the season.  i point this out because it was baker who ryan retired to seal his fifth career no-hitter in 1981.  ryan held baker hitless in four at bats in game 161 - in fact, baker was just 1 for 12 in the three game series against houston, and then went 1 for 4 while scoring the dodgers' only run in game 163.

jerry reuss outdueled ryan in game 161, scattering 7 hits and a walk to get the complete game win.  the win was reuss' 18th of the season, matching his career high.  he led the league in shutouts with 6, pitched a no-hitter against the giants (he was a 1st inning bill russell error away from perfection), and was the winning pitcher in the all-star game.  it all added up to a 2nd place finish in the cy young voting behind steve carlton.

mickey hatcher was in his second big league season in 1980, playing mostly right field and third base.  he hit 1 home run with 5 rbi on the season, and saw most of his playing time come towards the end of the season.  he was used in both games 161 and 162 against the astros, and then got the start at third base for the injured ron cey in game 163, going 1 for 3.  the dodgers traded hatcher to the twins the following spring for ken landreaux.

pedro guerrero hit .322 for the dodgers in 1980 as the back of his card mentions.  he played in just 75 games, but saw action everywhere but shortstop, on the mound, and behind the plate.  he hit 7 home runs on the year, the last of which was a big extra-inning bomb that beat the giants during the series that  preceded the season ending three game set against houston.  in those three games, guerrero was 3 for 11 as the dodgers' center fielder.  he did not play in game 163 as rick monday got the start instead.

ron cey saw his average drop to .254 in 1980, but his power numbers didn't suffer.  he matched his home run total from 1979 (28) and hit more doubles than he had the previous year.  cey finished behind mike schmidt in the all-star voting for third basemen, and was left off the roster even though schmidt was unable to play - probably due to the already large number of dodgers on the team.  against the astros at the end of the season, it was the penguin's two-run home run in the bottom of the 8th inning of game 162 that forced the one game playoff.  unfortunately, cey had fouled a pitch off his foot in that at bat and was unable to play in game 163, giving hatcher the start.

steve garvey had his standard season in 1980.  he hit over .300 (.304), had 200 hits (exactly), hit 26 home runs, drove in over 100 runs (106) and played in all 163 games.  he finished 6th in the mvp voting and was selected to start at 1st base at the all-star game, although he went 0 for 2 in front of the home crowd.  after going 5 for 12 in the final weekend series against the astros (with a big home run off of nolan ryan in the second game), garvey was 0 for 4 in the decisive game 163.

the stadium on the back is...?:  dodger stadium.  home of the dodgers since 1962, but it's that same photo from the 1990's (at the earliest) that is used on the card backs.

did upper deck get it right?: i realize that this team was included in the set because of the player checklist, but it doesn't really belong from a performance or 'timeless' standpoint.  featuring the division winning 1980 houston astros (with nolan ryan and joe morgan, both of whom have already been featured in the set) would have made more sense, but as a dodger collector, i'm not complaining.  the inclusion of hatcher over someone like davey lopes is interesting, and certainly reggie smith or bob welch would have made sense with this team.

as for the photos, the easiest way to tell if the image is from 1980 is to look at the left sleeve of the jersey.  the dodgers wore round patches to commemorate the 1980 all-star game which was played at dodger stadium.  mickey hatcher's card is the best, and perhaps only, example.  jerry reuss has some sort of patch on his sleeve, as do baker and guerrero, but i would guess that these are from 1981 (the city of los angeles celebrated its bicentennial that year) or some other season.  the other guys look to be without patches, so their photos come from years other than 1980, with sutton's early to mid 1970's photo being the most obvious.

is this team timeless?:  as much as i loved watching those games over the final weekend of the season, this team is rendered somewhat meaningless due to the fact that they didn't make the playoffs and then won it all in 1981.