this post covers the 1980 new york yankees and cards numbered 184 to 190 in the set. here are the fronts:
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.