what team is this?: the 1986 american league western division champion california angels.
why this team?: the halos returned to the postseason for the third time in club history after winning 92 games and the al west by 5 games over the texas rangers. plus, they should have won the alcs over the red sox. they were up 3 games to 1 when the red sox rallied to win game 5 thanks in part to a 9th inning home run by dave henderson off of donnie moore. the red sox won games 6 and 7 but lost the world series due to some misfortune of their own.
which players are featured: bob boone, bobby grich, brian downing, don sutton, terry forster, rick burleson, and wally joyner
why these players?: all of these players, except for terry forster (much to my disappointment) have already appeared in the set, so the economy of scale applies. still, boone, downing, joyner, and sutton were regulars on the squad. let's break it down.
bob boone enjoyed a career resurgence in anaheim. the angels purchashed his contract from the phillies after boone hit just .211 in 1981, and he immediately paid dividends. he returned to being a full-time catcher, and caught more games than anyone else in each season from 1982 through 1986. in 1986, the 38-year old was behind the plate for 144 games. he hit just .222 but won his fourth career gold glove. in the alcs, boone was the catcher for all 7 games, and as a bonus, he hit .455 with a home run and 2 rbi.
bobby grich, like forster, played his last big league game in 1986. he appeared in only 98 games during the regular season, hitting .268 with 9 homers and 30 rbi. he hit .208 in the alcs with a home run and 3 rbi. i am going from memory here, but i recall reading an article the day after game 5 against the red sox, wherein grich relayed that he had spoken with former teammate don baylor while on the bases late in that game. 'greatest game i've ever played in' was the quote. i really felt badly for grich that he didn't get a chance to play in the fall classic.
brian downing was the angels' left fielder since the early '80's when he was converted from catcher. as it turned out, 1986 would be his last season spent primarily in the field as he became a full time dh the following season. for the angels, downing enjoyed some good power seasons, and set a personal high in 1986 with 95 rbi. in the alcs, he hit just .222, but did have a home run and 7 rbi.
don sutton was 15-11 in his first full season for the angels. one of those victories, a complete game win, counted for the 300th of his career. sutton made two appearances in the alcs, including a start. he had an era of 1.86 in those appearances, having allowed 2 earned runs in 9.2 innings of work, but had no record in the series - the last postseason appearance of his career.
terry forster had been released by the braves right before the start of the 1986 season. the angels signed him to a free agent deal soonafter, and the 'fat tub of goo' went on to pitch in 41 games for the halos, compiling an era of 3.51 and a record of 4-1 with 5 saves. forster did not pitch for the angels in the postseason, and became a free agent after the season ended. although he signed on with the twins, he did not pitch in another major league game.
rick burleson returned from injury to play in 93 games for the angels in 1986. he served mostly as a dh and shortstop, hitting 5 homers with 29 rbi and a .286 average. in the postseason, rooster was 3 for 11 with a sacrifice in the four alcs games in which he appeared.
wally joyner exploded on the socal scene in 1986. he was the reason that rod carew was essentially kicked out of town by the halos, and angels fans quickly forgave gene autry and buzzie bavasi. 'wally world' was open all season, with the rookie of the year hitting 22 homers, driving in 100 runs, and hitting .290 over 154 regular season games. in the alcs, joyner played in only 3 of the 7 games due to injury, but he hit .455 with two doubles and a home run in those games.
the stadium on the back is...?: anaheim stadium. it's the right stadium, but the photo is pre-rams expansion so not as it was in 1986.
did upper deck get it right?: from a player standpoint, doug decinces is probably the biggest omission along with staff ace mike witt, while reggie jackson (once again) could have been featured. as much as i appreciated having a terry forster card in the set, i would have preferred, and it would have made more sense, for him to have been featured as a dodger in the 1980 or 1981 subset.
the photos all look pretty good, although i am not sure when the angels started to wear the blue bp jerseys. at any rate, 1986 was grich's last season, so the photo can't be from any later. the others, with the possible exception of the rick burleson photo, have the left sleeve state logo inside the baseball, which was new in 1986. forster's photo is for sure from 1986 as that was his only season with the angels.
is this team timeless?: for angel fans, yes. however, there was too much drama in the 1986 postseason for this team to resonate too far beyond southern california, so i will say no. what do you think?