Posts Tagged ‘1987’

h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: Tim Lollar

I don’t know if I want to see a little bit of Ron Swanson in everyone, but clearly, if you major in Forestry, you have a bit of Swanson in you. According to the College Board, “If you go into forestry, you’ll have to balance growing trees for wood products with preserving the variety of living things in an area.” Apparently 119 colleges offer degrees in forestry, including SUNY Morrisville, which is near my alma mater.

Lollar had a meandering career for a guy who spent just seven years in the majors. He was drafted in the fourth round in 1978 by the New York Yankees, made his major league debut two years later and was traded the subsequent year to the San Diego Padres in a deal that brought our man and fellow flip sider, Ruppert Jones to the Pads.

He did his best and worst work for the Padres. By far, his two best seasons were 1982 and 1984. Unfortunately, his 1984 post-season experience was horrible. He started one game in the NLCS and World Series. In the NLCS, he pitched 4.1 innings and gave up three runs. He’d be mightily worse in the Series, going just 1.2 innings and giving up 4 runs.

After the season, he, Ozzie Guillen, Bill Long and Luis Salazar were traded to the White Sox for LaMarr Hoyt, Kevin Kristan and Todd Simmons. This wasn’t a particularly good trade for the Padres. Guillen was worth 14.9 WAR for the Sox and Long was worth 2.1 WAR. Salazar (-0.5 WAR) and Lollar (0.4 WAR) cancelled each other out. Meanwhile, Hoyt was worth 1.7 WAR and pitched for the Padres for just two years. Neither Kristan nor Simmons made the majors.

Aside from being part of the deal that brought Guillen to Chicago, Lollar is likely remembered for his hitting acumen. He finished with a .234/.286/.377 line, but hit 1.000/1.000/1.000 in his last year in the majors.

He did hit eight round trippers in just four seasons in the NL. And, somewhat bizarrely, he pinch hit for position players twice in the American League. The first was August 13, 1985, when he hit for Jackie Gutierrez (who finished with a .237/.261/.285 line).

The second was on August 12, 1986, when Lollar hit for Rey Quinones (another no-hit shortstop who finished with a .243/.287/.357 line). Lollar actually singled off Dan Quisenberry, but that no-hit slacker Wade Boggs grounded out afterward to end the game.

At least Lollar went out on top, singling in his last MLB at bat.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out on the Flip Side: Ray Searage

I understand that baseball is the national pastime so someone probably thought it was cute to equate most leisure activities to pastimes for the 1987 Topps set, but scuba diving? A pastime? How is that possible? I mean the majority of equipment required for scuba diving are generally more modern inventions.

Now, carpentry, that’s truly timeless. People been building stuff with wood and whatnot since opposable thumbs.

Searage’s career wasn’t exactly timeless. He was drafted in 1976 and wouldn’t make the majors until 1981 at 26 with the New York Mets. He pitched 36.2 innings and posted a 3.68 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. Not bad, eh? Well, he had a 0.94 K:BB rate, yikes. Still, he finished the year 1-0 and went 1/1 at the plate. The Mets traded Searage to Cleveland in 1982 for Tom Veryzer. This made Searage the only Met in history to have a spotless record and 1.000 batting average.

After 1981, Searage would toil in the minors, not reaching the majors again until 1984. He was now 29 and pitching for Milwaukee. He again had success (0.70 ERA and 0.94 WHIP) in limited innings (38.1). However, his success wouldn’t continue, as in the same basic amount of innings, Searage had a 5.92 ERA and 1.05 WHIP the following season.

He performed similarly poorly in 1986, so the Brewers traded him to the White Sox for Tom Hartley and Al Jones. He pitched well for the White Sox to wind down 1986, but showed very little in 1987. He was out of baseball in 1988, but came back in 1989 with the Dodgers at 34.

He pitched two season and 69 innings for the Dodgers, finishing with a 3.18 ERA and 1.28 WHIP for the club. He called it quits after 1990, arguably his best year.

With all the shuttles from the minors to the majors, it was good Searage could find work as a carpenter, maybe he even worked on erecting billboards in minor league parks. Anyway, I think he’s moved on to better pastures. And we also got more facts about Hoyt Wilhelm with this one!

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h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: Gary Gaetti

I write a lot for a living and for fun. So I get caught up in wording – both incredibly awesome turns of phrases and the unsuccessful. So, I ask, is it possible Topps got a computer to write the anecdotes for the backs of the 1993 cards? I’ve never heard of anyone enjoying the distinction of something – it sounds like one of those auto-Fantasy team name generators.

Regardless of how the card was worded, it’s a pretty cool footnote on a career to score the 20,000th  run in a franchises’ history.

But it’s just a footnote, because what a career Gaetti amassed. When it was all said and done, he appeared in the 43rd most career games (2507) in baseball history – just behind Bill Buckner.

He finished with the 36th most doubles by a righty, oddly 36 more than Barry Larkin, Steve Garvey and Luke Appling. He also tallied the 42nd most RBIs by a righty — more than Mike Piazza, Hank Greenberg, Hugh Duffy, and others.

Of course, the bane of longevity is the GIDPs – Gaetti created two outs from one hit the 32nd most times in MLB history. He put in play a twin killing 236 times – one more than George Brett. He also swung and missed a lot – the 21st most times in MLB history. Still, with great Ks, comes great power: he has the sixth most HRs by a 3b in MLB history.

In all those games, he ended up participating in the 15th most losses in MLB history and ended 116 of the 1314 games he lost.

In addition to his milestone run scores, Gaetti was part of the seventh most triple plays in MLB history and was part of two in one game!

Still, he is most known for the 1987 post-season. He was the MVP of the American League Championship with a .300/.348/.650 line with two HRs, which happen to be the first time in MLB history that a player hit homers in his first two postseason plate appearances.

Gaetti had a long meandering career worth 37.9 WAR. Hey, he was even used as a reliever twice, by two different teams. He finished with a 7.71 ERA and one strikeout in three appearances.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out on the Flip Side: Ruppert Jones

I’m pretty sure I picked this card out of the thousands I go through because I thought Ruppert was misspelled (it isn’t) and the name makes me chuckle. It probably makes me chuckle because of Family Guy, but, in my head, Ruppert is really Higgins from Magnum PI – the mind does funny things.

I figure I also liked the rather mundane factoid as well. He enjoys both karate and racquetball (presumably not at the same time). I don’t really like either. Karate wasn’t my thing and I’m not a fan of Martial Arts movies (unless it is Mortal Kombat or stars JCVD). Racquetball I enjoyed a little, but it reminds me of old fogies with short shorts and smelly socks. I also hate squash (the game, not the food, acorn squash soup is delicious).

Anyway, the reflexes and agility required by both enjoyed activities must have helped Jones during his career. In 1977, he made 465 putouts, the 27th most in a season ever. In a game on May 16, 1978, Jones recorded 12 putouts, thereby tying the major league record for putouts by an outfielder in an extra-inning game. He batted fourth in the contest, went 1/6 with two Ks and his average stood at .213. Former flip-sider Shane Rawley took the loss.

The following year, 1979, Jones recorded 453 putouts, the 44th most ever in a season. The man could track down balls (even though his defensive abilities seem suspect – 2.2 dWAR for his career).

Even before all that, Jones was the first pick in the 1976 expansion draft by the Seattle Mariners, after being selected in the third round of the amateur draft by the Royals in 1973.

His 1977 season made the Mariners look like geniuses. He went .263/.324/.454 with 24 bombs – he was worth 3.3 wins above a replacement player.

However things wouldn’t progress. Aside from his record setting put-out game in ‘78, his season was a disaster. But he bounced back and played well for the Mariners in ’79, finishing his career there worth 6 WAR.

He’d spend one year with the Yankees and then three with the San Diego Padres. He played his best ball for the Padres (7.5 WAR), but they granted him free agency after the 1983 season. He signed with the Detroit Tigers.

He appeared in just two games for the Tigers in the postseason that year, didn’t contribute much, but was part of a win in the World Series against the Padres.

The majority of his post-season experience came the year before this card was printed. He went 3/17, but walked 5 times for the Angels against the Boston Red Sox. And that would wrap his last real season in the majors.

He came back in 1987 but couldn’t buy a base hit. He played another year in Japan before hanging it up and focusing on Karacquete, a new sport that never quite caught on.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Greg Minton

Here is where my “city boy” roots come out. I hate horses. They scare the beejesus out of me. My tiny girlfriend (who grew up in the country owning horses) thinks it’s hilarious that I wont go near a horse (and don’t get me started on donkeys).

I imagine riding a horse hurts. Occasionally, at the dog park, an eager young pup will jump on me as I stand there. Occasionally a paw will strike a testicle. That really hurts. Why would I want to pogo up and down on my testes while traipsing through nature on the back of a horse? I’ll use my own legs thank you very much.

Sure horses are beautiful, but god invented glasses so I can see a horse from a few feet away, ideally with some sort of fence between us.

So what is there to like about a horse that I can’t enjoy from afar? They snort (scary), they kick (scary), they neigh (or whatever it’s called when they get up on their hind legs) (also scary), and they fill in the blank: “Wild ___.” Unless it’s 80s “mental,” I don’t like anything wild. Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Mike Bielecki

While Bielecki loved to collect records, he didn’t really like to collect base hits. Bielecki is tied for the 10th lowest batting average by a pitcher (min 200 abs) in MLB history. He hit .078. So did Bill Hands and Ben Sheets. Such notables as Aaron Harang (.066), Doug Davis (.071), Clem Labine (.075), and Ryan Dempster (.077) have all been worse.

But I want to focus on Loyola College Baltimore – My dad went there, so did Tom Clancy – I love Tom Clancy and am shocked his masterpieceWithout Remorse has not been made into a great Hollywood film yet. I was a philosophy minor in college (to go along with an English with an emphasis in creative writing major – can’t you tell?) and grew found of John Stuart Mill. Working my way through the greatest happiness principle and Bentham and reading Without Remorse, which, essentially, is about a highly trained ex-military person taking out his revenge on a group of drug dealers and pimps – kind of like McNulty. Anyway, it’s an interesting yarn that makes you think about what is and isn’t moral.

Oh well, that was a bizarre tangent. The reason Loyola College caught my eye is that, along with Memorial Stadium, my earliest sport memories are of watching soccer games at Loyola. It was always simple and fun. Their stadium was a lot like a high school’s so it was intimate, you could see all the action, kids could misbehave or play on the sidelines and it was cheap and it was in Baltimore. I love Baltimore – it’s just the way it is, kind of why I love the United States.

To date, I thought there was only one famous person to graduate from Loyola and now there are two (even if Bielecki gets no billing on Loyola’s wiki page).

For a guy worth just 6.8 WAR, Bielecki certainly had an interesting 14-season career. He finished inside the top-10 for Cy Young once (1989). He was worth 4.1 WAR that year (only two other times did he earn over 1 WAR), his sixth season and second with the Cubs. It was a magical season that saw him post an 18-7 record with a 3.14 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. There wasn’t much unique about that year (outside of him topping 200 IPs for the only time in his career), he allowed pretty much the same HR/9 that he always did, ditto for BB/9, K/9; however he somehow allowed far fewer hits per nine innings than he typically did. Well, he had a .272 BABip in 1989, which was well below his career line of .291.

Outside of his horrendous batting ability and his 1989 season, he was, unfortunately, most known for his connection to Little Lake Nellie. As the story goes, Bielecki was supposed to accompany Steve Olin, Tim Crews and Bob Ojeda on the un-Gilligan-like fateful voyage. The day after the incident occurred, Bielecki was picked up by Jim Thome and Roberto Alomar – yet he was unaware of the tragedy.

At that time, I was an avid listener of local sports talk radio (when it existed). I was as glued to the radio that day as I was later during Columbine (and I am by no means equating the two). It was a singular point in my life that I remember vividly – it occurred nine days after my 11th birthday. I had barely heard of the players involved but, by being major leaguers, they were heroes.

I’m glad the Bielecki wasn’t on the boat – this would be an even sadder “In Memmoriam”-esque flip side. Instead, hopefully this celebrates Bielecki’s ninth place Cy Young finish, his ineptitude with the bat, and his teammates who met a tragic end.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Rance Mulliniks

mullinkis backmullinkis frI feel like I am incredibly qualified to comment on the back of this card. See, my full name is Albert Leroy Lang III.

The name Albert stands out…and not in a good way like the name Dylan (stupid 90210) does. Furthermore, with a middle name like Leroy (even if it means ‘the King’ – and I do nominate we call LeBron LeBroy) there isn’t much to fall back on. So, for most of my life, I kinda sorta didn’t like my name.

But that began to change as I began to age and standing out of a crowd was much better than fitting cozily inside a fence. My name, while unoriginal, is original. But, more importantly, it represents the history of my family on my father’s side. Plus my initials spell a word – take that haters/younger me!

The original ALL was a hilarious and generous man who never graduated high school. He was a decorated member of the Baltimore City fire department and started his own plumbing business. He was a fierce Baltimore Colts fan and could pick a crab cleaner than Ozzie Smith could a ground ball.

The sequel would be my father, who went to local Loyola College, became a mathematician and NSA employee, got some MBAs, grew to understand the wave of the future (computers) and met my mom! Not bad…he was also a devoted Baltimore Colts fan…who has grown into a reasonable Washington Redskins fan.

I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan. The one thing all three iterations have in common – outside of our name – is a love of the Baltimore Orioles. I & II are the reasons I can recite the great Balmore teams of the Robinsons, Paul Blair, Boog Powell, Len Sakata, Apparicio, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and the immortal Earl Weaver.

So, when I first checked out the back of Mulliniks card, my initial reaction was why would your ever name you kid Rance? But just like with Bert Blyleven, initial reactions betray us; the card quickly lead me to thoughts of my own lineage. Thoughts I’m incredibly proud of.

Hopefully Rance II is as proud of his father’s accomplishments – he should be. Mulliniks would see his first major league action in 1977 as a 21 year old with the California Angels. However, he’d be used sparingly (appearing in just 150 games over three years with the major league club).

In 1979, he’d be traded with Willie Aikens to the Kansas City Royals for Al Cowens, Todd Cruz and Craig Eaton. Unfortunately, it’d be the same ole same ole for Mulliniks, as he’d see action in just 60 games over the next two seasons.

Then, at age 26, he’d be traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Phil Huffman. Primarily a shortstop/utility man for the Angels and Royals, the Blue Jays would make Mulliniks a third basemen and he’d take off (sound familiar, Jose Bautista – well sort of).

In his first season, he received 353 plate appearances, and would post a decent slash line (.244/.326/.363) – this was 1982 after all. Then, in what should be called his second full season, Mulliniks would go .275/.373/.467. He clearly understood the point of the game was to avoid making outs. From 1983-1988 (his 26 through 32 birthdays), Mulliniks averaged a .374 OBP and only once had an OBP lower than .371.

He’d be out of the majors three years later, but not much could beat that prime of his – of course except for the opportunity to pass along one’s namesake.

When it was all said and done, Mulliniks posted the 16th highest batting average as a pinch hitter (min. 150 ABs) in MLB history.

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