Tuesday, February 22, 2011

1976 Topps

April 20, 1975, Dennis Eckersley makes his home debut facing Hank Aaron with the bases loaded.  Indians are up by 6 runs in the 8th inning.

Eckersley BALKS scoring future HOF member Robin Yount from third base.

Of course, this was Hank Aaron at 41 years old. But I supposed for a rookie, facing a legend can be nerve wracking.

Eckersley went on to have an incredibly good rookie season that was completely ignored by the BBWAA in the ROY balloting. 

The perils of playing in Cleveland for a losing ball club.

About the Card

The least interesting design of the mid-70s Topps production. Very basic. However, these colors work well with the photo. The cartoon position player is wholly uninspired and rehashed from the 1973 set.

This card was recently graded MINT by Beckett and it looks every bit of it. Sharp edges, 50/50 centering, tight corners, I'm guessing the surface with a few print dots on it is the reason it didn't receive a GEM MINT grade but regardless it's an incredible card.

It's currently being sold by the guys at Pristine Paper. They're asking for $750.00 - in theory that's a good price but Eck isn't popular enough to command that price. I would think even a PSA 9 would have trouble fetching that price. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

1989 Fleer

Gary Sheffield said, "The thing about the Mitchell Report is that I cringe about it because the guy who wrote the report didn't talk to me," Sheffield said. "If he talked to me I would respect that no matter what. But I cringe on that because he didn't." NY POST, February 17, 2011

Now read what Gary said on this matter February 26, 2007  in USA TODAY “The (players) association told us this is just a witch hunt. They don't want us to talk to them. This is all about getting (Bonds).
"If this was legitimate and they did it the right way, it would be different. But this a witch hunt. They're just trying to collect a lot of stuff that doesn't make any sense and throw the shit against the wall."

If Gary had never talked to George Mitchell how does he know "They're just trying to collect a lot of stuff that doesn't make any sense..."?

Furthermore, George Mitchell said he sent a letter to Gary on February 1, 2007. Gary said he never received it. But isn't that an acknowledgement that he did try to talk to you?

Is Gary Sheffield a Hall of Famer? Yes. Will he be inducted having been implicated in the Mitchell Report & admitting to using a steroid unbeknownst to him? No. Don't cry Gary because you will be inducted on the first ballot in the steroid wing!

About the Card 

Is there any wonder why 1989 Upper Deck took off the way it did? Look at Fleer's entry for their 1989 design. It makes you wonder how bad were the alternates that this design got the go ahead.

Gray back with white stripes. No thank you. They also showcase the photo in the exact same parallelogram design as 1986 Donruss. Then they leave this white negative space to slap on their plain logo but all it does is draw your eyes to that spot because of the unevenness. 

1989 Fleer is a disaster. 
For a player with such a ferocious swing and monster stats Gary Sheffield was never a hobby star. His volatile personality didn't endear him to anyone. Combine that with poorly timed injuries and being traded a lot Gary never got the hobby love  that a player with his abilities deserved. His rookie card slabs can be had for less than $20. I can't say it's a good investment because there won't be any revisionist history telling you how great he was to see play. 

That being said Gary is still one of my favorite players because he was a bad man with a bat in his hand. He never gave an at bat away. His autobiography Inside Power is a candid look into his life as pro ball player and growing up with pitching legend Doc Gooden. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

1987 Comparisons

1987 was the apex of the modern day baseball card.

For the first time all 3 companies simultaneously had a brilliant design. Not only were the designs distinctive from one another but also they were a lot better than their recent output.

The only similarity is that they all used the same official team logo. But that’s nitpicking when comparing.

More importantly was the fact that you had an incredible rookie card crop.  It was no hype either these players were legit.

A little more than the two-dozen players who had a rookie card in 1987 went to have distinguished careers.

Larkin, Maddux & Bonds in particular had spectacular careers. If Larkin not had been beset with injuries for most of his career he would have been inducted this past year.

About the Cards

1987 Fleer – Never has the use of blue been so prominent on a card before. I suppose the daytime sky was the concept. Clean borders. The photos were cropped so that the player’s head came over the top giving it a semi three-dimensional appearance.

1987 Topps  - The wood was a great choice because anytime you can incorporate a part of the game into the designs – you’ve done well. Essentially, what you have is a photo laying the barrel of a bat.

1987 Donruss – Back again with a black border this time Donruss had used a rounded border and put a Louis Vuitton inspired accessory design behind it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

1982 Fleer

How good was Mike Schmidt? In 1982 he lead the league in Walks, OBP & SLG & said “I guess I was in a slump this year” [1] in comparison to his two prior MVP seasons. Had he not gotten injured in April and placed on the 15-day Disabled list Schmidt could have easily lead the league in HR as well.

But Mike finished 6th in the MVP voting in 1982 because in the pennant race of September Schmidt couldn’t buy a hit.

Going into a pivotal 3 game series staring September 13th at St. Louis the Phillies were just 1 game back in the loss column.

From that series on Schmidt batted .126 (9-71) with just 5 RBI. Ugh.
Obviously, blaming it all on Schmidt is too simplistic a view but it didn’t help.

About the Card

1982 Fleer is about as boring a baseball card can be. It’s efficient with the information of player, team & position but at the same time its embarrassed to tell you what company it is.

You are looking at a true gem mint BGS slab of the card. In 2002, BGS had the sub grades on the back, which ideally is where it belongs but I’m assuming the market dictated that the subs needed to be in the front for easier resale purposes.

1. Kashatus, William C. (1999), Mike Schmidt: Philadelphia's Hall of Fame Third Baseman, McFarland & Company, pg. 83