Posts Tagged ‘2010’

Check You Out on the Flip Side: Jason Marquis

A stathead…er…An untrained observer with a working knowledge of the National League for the last eight years who stumbled upon the back of this card would likely assume that some combination of Roy Oswalt, Brandon Webb, Jake Peavy, Carlos Zambrano and Aaron Harang would fit the bill as the top starters in the National League from 2004-2009.

Not so fast! Marquis and his 9.5 WAR (Fangraphs) but amazing winability (80 Ws) is clearly involved, as noted by this fine 2010 Topps card.

Never mind that his 4.9 K/9 rate was the fifth lowest among starters with significant innings from that era (it was worse than Woody Williams, Kris Benson, Cory Lidle, Dave Bush, and many others). In addition, his ERA (4.49) was similarly amongst the worse, as were his FIP (4.84, which only bested Jeff Suppan) and xFIP (4.68). Like Jack Morris (who I revere), Marquis just pitched to the score. Right…

While that’s a lot of negativity, we can say that Marquis was durable (and averageish). He threw 1,177.1 IPs during that stretch, the fourth most behind Oswalt, Harang and Zambrano. Of course, that took its tool as he started the 2010 season late and struggled to win just two games. Apparently, it’s hard to pitch to the score when the Nationals are involved.

He pitched better on the surface in 2011, good enough to look like an innings eater to the Diamondbacks. Unfortunately, shortly after he was traded to Arizona, he broke his fibula and missed the rest of the year.

Regardless, Marquis has come a long way from Staten Island and the Little League World Series. In case you don’t remember, Marquis was on the third-place little league squad in 1991. He even beat Chad Pennington.

Pitching and winning must have seemed real easy in little league. It probably seemed harder but not impossible from 2004-2009. I imagine wining seems a lot more difficult now after struggling with losing teams and injuries.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: David Freese

So, I pulled this card out awhile ago and almost wrote about it a dozen times. Now, Joe Buck’s monstrous head and Tim McCarver’s repeated idiocy have rendered it pointless.

Yes, the decision was fated to benefit the Cardinals. As did Roy Halladay’s friendship with Chris Carpenter…or something like that.

Still, I can quibble with the whole “Rookie of the Year” candidate thing right? I mean he was as much a candidate as Ron Paul is for president in 2012.

Last I checked, the top NL rookies of the year were Buster Posey, Jason Heyward and Jaime Garcia.

Heck, among NL rookies, Freese’s 0.5 WAR was behind those above and Starlin Castro, Neil Walker, Ike Davis, Jose Tabata and Jonny Venters and tied with Gaby Sanchez.

Freese had a fine 2010, but appeared in just 70 games. His .296/.361/.765 foretold of future success if he could stay healthy. Good for him that a whole heaping lot of that success happened in the grandest stage of them all.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Nick Markakis

I love the back of this card. That said, I’m not quite sure that being able to “hit like crazy, run well, swallow up everything in right field (and where was Anna Benson?) and throw 90-mph-plus” is unique to Markakis. Although it should be noted that he was viewed as much as a pitching prospect as a hitter…and was drafted two times before being selected #7 overall by the Orioles in 2003.

While chin balancing is not unique (I have a friend who can balance almost anything as well, although he specializes in lacrosse sticks), it’s cool. In the grand scheme of things Markakis appears to be a down to earth guy who loves playing baseball and goofing around. The fact that he wanted to share the chin balancing factoid on his 2010 Topps card makes me like him a lot more – anytime I see players being “kids” or at least normal (and not approaching the game like a job, even though it is) warms my heart like apple pie a la mode. There’s something wholly sweet and honest about it, and I give kudos to Markakis for it.

Outside of the above, I have a hard time thinking/writing about Markakis – and it took awhile to write the above and even select this card for Flip Side inclusion.

Quite simply, I’ve expected so much of him given his early success and high draft pedigree that his plateau has left me disenchanted. On the other hand, he’s a great teammate and a phenomenal person – he and his wife have truly embraced Maryland (my home state) and really give back.

Since reaching the majors in 2006 at 22, Markakis has been a full time player. In his second full season he would hit 23 HRs, steal 18/24 bases and post a .300/.362/.485 line. He’d follow that up with arguably his best year (20 HRs and a .306/.406/.491 line). Clearly his 2008 (5.5 WAR) during which he walked 99 times would be the turning point in his career. Right?

Well, I hope not. Since 2008, Markakis’ slugging has dropped off significantly and he isn’t walking as much as one would like. Still, we must remember that Markakis will only be 27 during the 2011 season. I think people (especially myself) have expected too much too fast of Markakis.

He does own a .298/.368/.463 line in five full seasons with 89 HRs and has accumulated 18.3 WAR. For comparison sake, Carl Yastrzemski, by age 26, had played six relatively full seasons. Entering his age 27th season, Yaz had a .293/.373/.458 line with 95 HRs. Yaz had been worth 21.2 WAR at this point.

At 26, Yaz hit 16 HRs. At 26, Markakis hit 12 HRs. At 27, Yaz hit 44 and would average 37 a year for the next four seasons. I’m not saying Markakis will be Yaz, I’m just saying that the book isn’t closed on Markakis.

Maybe we’ll see Markakis stand on his head over the next few years. A Markakis in his prime makes the Orioles line-up pretty dynamic…

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h2h Corner ~ Kevin Brown, the Hall of Fame & Some Immortals, a Conversation

It all started with a relatively benign link and two sentence e-mail. What ensued was a long (pointless) discussion on which MLB pitcher Kevin Brown is most like, his Hall of Fame chances (none), whether he should make the Hall (sort of) and some other Dodger pitchers (greats).

Before looking at the exchange, which of the below are Hall of Famers in your mind – post in the comments section:

Guy1: 3.80 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 8.9 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 2.6 BB/9, 6.8 K/9, 2.63 K/BB, 1,965 Innings, 1,494 Ks

Guy2: 3.28 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9, 6.6 K/9, 2.66 K/BB, 3,256.1 Innings, 2,397 Ks

Guy3: 2.95 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 8.1 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 2.2 BB/9, 6.5 K/9, 2.91 K/BB, 3,432 Innings, 2,486 Ks

Guy4: 2.76 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 6.8 H/9, 0.8 HR/8, 3.2 BB/9, 9.3 K/9, 2.93 K/BB, 2,234.1 IPs, 2,396 Ks

h2h Corner:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/should-kevin-Brown-be-in-the-hall-of-fame/

Been a lot of talk about it lately — not sure what I think. I believe in all of the metrics, but it’s just odd – still he was damn good during one of the craziest offensive explosions ever and pitched in some unforgiving places.

DJK:

Kevin Brown has no chance to make it.  And, despite the strong underlying numbers, I think that’s right.  Brown was good for about 5 years (’96-’00).  I exclude ’01 in that grouping b/c he only pitched 115 innings and 1992 cuz that’s before the ball was juiced, the players were juiced, etc.  I can see a strong argument for ’92 if you want to put it in there.  Anyway, a 5-6 year career of near dominance is certainly something to consider.  He shouldn’t fail to get the 5%, though I imagine he will.  Anyway, I remember Brown over that span and he was amazing.  I particularly remember his three straight postseasons which were fairly incredibly.  Still though, over those 5-6 seasons Brown never won the Cy Young and never came closer than 16th in MVP voting.  Clearly not determinative, but instructive.

I think Brown is hurt by a few things.  The first and foremost is that he was kind of a douche.  That never helps with this voting.  The second is that he wasn’t really that good in LA (no matter how that blog post tries to defend him).  He had a nice year in 2003 (a very nice year, actually), but that’s about it.  Not only did he not put up great numbers at a pitcher’s park, but he got hurt constantly.  The third is – and I haven’t read anything to support this so it’s simply a hunch – but I bet a number of writers suspect him of steroid use.  For a guy to fall off and get injuries all of the sudden, especially in the juiced age, it just seems to align a bit too nicely.  Fourth, and just as a minor postscript, but his time with the Yankees may also hint to some folks that he couldn’t cut it in the AL and only survived pitching against lesser competition in the senior circuit.  Sure he pitched well with the Rangers, but that was pre-strike when offense was down.

h2h Corner:

Let’s set aside what will happen–he’ll share the same fate as Lou Whitaker….But isn’t this a sort of test case for new metrics? Or, at least, a useful thought exercise for myself?

I believe in most statistical advancements (don’t fully grasp the defensive ones yet). But if the metrics I believe say Brown is Hall worthy, then, don’t I have to agree? At first, I can’t really stomach Kevin Brown as a Hall of Famer — but that’s mostly due to my memory of his 1995 campaign with the Orioles. I projected a lot of pain onto him for that campaign (I was just 13), but in reality he was a very very good pitcher. While he only went 10-9, he posted a 3.60 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 2.44 K:BB rate – not bad.

He would then run off an incredible span from 1996-2001, during which he averaged a 2.53 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 221 IPs, 194 Ks, a 3.98 K:BB rate and 6.2 WAR. These numbers come from Baseball Reference, not Fangraphs.

For his career, Brown amassed roughly 65 wins above your average replacement player. That is more than Jim Palmer, Juan Marichal, Jim Bunning, Dennis Eckersley, Mordecai Brown, Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax, Red Ruffing, Bob Lemon, Hoyt Wilhelm, Dizzy Dean, and a ton of other players who aren’t Hall of Famers like those gentlemen mentioned above.

The knock on Brown seems to be his lack of continued excellence. So let’s look at Sandy Koufax. Koufax amassed his 54.5 WAR in 12 seasons. Brown pitched in 19 seasons. Brown threw over 180 innings 11 times, and added two 170+ IP seasons – he averaged 171 innings a year.

Meanwhile Koufax threw over 180 innings five times and averaged 194 innings a season, owing to back-to-back 320+ inning seasons. Still, Kevin Brown pitched almost 1,000 more innings total than Sandy Koufax.

Furthermore, Koufax was worth over 7.8 WAR each season from 1963-1966. Brown was worth over 5.8 WAR each season from 1996-2000. Koufax clearly was more dominant at his prime, however during their “peaks,” Brown amassed 34.6 WAR, while Koufax amassed 37.6 WAR. Not a sizeable difference and not a big enough one for me to toss aside Brown’s innings and declare Koufax clearly the better pitcher.

In short, I don’t think I can say that Koufax had a better career than Brown. I think they had comparable careers – with Brown’s being longer. Sure, Koufax was greater at certain points, but not a whole lot greater and certainly not for a longer period.

I think a more apt comparison for Brown is to another Dodger pitcher: Don Drysdale. Drysdale pitched 14 seasons, He threw over 211 innings 12 times. He averaged 245 innings a season. He finished with a 2.95 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 2,486 Ks and a 1.85 K:BB ratio.

So Drysdale pitched just 200 more innings than Brown and struck out just 89 batters more. Drysdale never had a peak so high as Koufax. However from 1960-1964 he would be worth 31 WAR. I think it’s safe to say that at his best, Brown was slightly better than Drysdale at his best.

I think Drysdale was a better pitcher than Kevin Brown. I don’t think he was a much better pitcher. Certainly not enough that Drysdale is a surefire HOFer and Brown will not get above 5% of the vote.

My contention: if you think Koufax and Drysdale are Hall of Famers, so is a less elevated Dodgers pitcher: Kevin Brown.

DJK:

Ok, while clearly not a perfect comparison (again, Koufax was DOMINANT for his peak 5/6 years) I think I’ve come up with the best modern day comparison I can.  Remember, we’re playing in a live ball era with smaller stadiums (so ERA and WHIP have to be adjusted up).  Also, we’re playing in the era of the professional bullpen, so guys don’t pitch as many complete games (or as many games period — not as many wins).  Anyway, if this guy were put before the hall today, would he be in?

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/carpech01.shtml

I’m kind of swamped at work so I can’t respond to this as completely as I’d like.  But, I’ll give you a few choice snippets to nibble on and see what you come back.  The first is that I’m not convinced that Sandy Koufax is an apt comparison for anyone when it comes to HOF consideration.  The man had five incredible years.  And they were incredible.  His raw numbers aside, he won the CY Young 3 times, the MVP once (finishing second twice), and was a continued All-star.  Perhaps there is an argument for including his 1961 season in this discussion (he did finish 18th for the MVP vote), but it doesn’t seem likely.  Regardless, five years of dominance, one year of good (’61), and then four years of not so good (excluding ’55 and ’56 cuz of the limited IP’s).  I’m not convinced that if Koufax came up for the Hall today (under a different name of course) that he would garner the requisite votes.  Those five years were great, otherworldly even, but does five years make a career?  Especially when the only World Series he won was in ’55 when he barely contributed?  It’s something to think about; honestly, I don’t think he would have made it.  At least not with the current group of voters that hold the Hall to be something sacred and especially difficult to get into.

h2h Corner:

Wow- it’s unbelievable the resemblance between Chris Carpenter’s and Kevin Brown’s rate stats.

Carp: 3.80 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 8.9 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 2.6 BB/9, 6.8 K/9, 2.63 K/BB

Brown: 3.28 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9, 6.6 K/9, 2.66 K/BB

However, that’s kind of where the comparison ends. Quite simply, while people think Brown wasn’t durable, Carpenter is fragile Fred Taylor compared to him. In parts of 13 seasons, Carpenter has pitched 1,965 IPs and missed all of 2003 due to injury.

In his first 13 seasons, in which he pitched a major league inning, Brown pitched 2,430.2 IPS. That’s about 2+ years more than Carpenter. Furthermore, Brown averaged 171 IPs per season in his career. So far, Carpenter has averaged just 151. In total, Brown has pitched 1,291 more innings (about six to seven seasons).

This accounts for the dramatic difference in WAR (Brown: 64.8, Carpenter 28.6) even though their rates are so similar. Furthermore, Carpenter never had a stretch like Brown’s from 1996-2000. Only twice has Carpenter been worth more than 4.9 WAR in his career. Brown was worth over 4.9 six times.

Brown’s innings (which were excellent) count. If Carpenter continues to pitch at this level for six more years without injury, he, too, might have a good Hall of Fame case.

I think people are discounting the breadth of Brown’s career. He pitched a lot and was well above average most of the time. Was he great? Yes, for 5 years he was superb.

Lastly, I’ll note that Brown has more innings pitched than Hall of Famers: Mordecai Brown, Whitey Ford, Hal Newhouser, Bob Lemon, Lefty Gomez, and (yes again) Sandy Koufax.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Steve Sparks

sparksbackI told you that I knew a lot about John Milton. Further proof: he wrote: “Truth never comes into the world but like a bastard, to the ignominy of him that brought her birth.”

It’s not often (although maybe it is) that you see, perhaps the second greatest English poet, have something in common with a journeyman major league pitcher.

Clearly, Sparks deserved to be disgraced for dislocating his shoulder trying to tear a phone book in half. When your body is your moneymaker, let’s try to treat it nicely. I mean there is a reason contracts have strict clauses in them — you can thank the Steve Sparks of the world, also Clint Barmes, Jeff Kent, etc.

While the dislocation breakdown is interesting, Sparks is one of the rare modern-day knuckleballers. As the card notes, its likely Sparks would have made the club in 1994 as a 28-year-old (knuckleballers are notoriously late bloomers).

This is all by way of saying that in his first taste of major league action, Sparks, 29, lead his club in innings pitched. He threw 210 in 1995 and would have his best season for a long time in the majors. While his ERA (4.63) and WHIP (1.46) leave a lot to be desired, on account of his sheer amount of innings, he finished 9th in rookie of the year voting and was worth 3 WAR.

It’d take three years before Sparks was that valuable again. In 1998, he posted a 4.34 ERA and 1.46 WHIP for the Angels in 128.2 IPs. Not great, but still about 2.8 WAR.

He finally put it altogether in 2001 as a 35-year-old for the Detroit Tigers. He threw 232 innings, posted a 3.65 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP and was worth 4.2 WAR. He would be out of the majors just three years later.

Still, for a guy who didn’t get to the majors until he was 29 (partly because he was an idiot), he amassed 1,319 innings and was worth, on average, roughly one win per year above a replacement. Not bad for Mr. Phone Book.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Jim Traber

traberbacktraberfWhile Raul Mondesi comes to the plate with his music blaring, I believe Jim Traber has one-upped him. On the night of his Major League Debut (9/21/84), Traber sung the national anthem at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. That’s pretty cool.

I loved Memorial Stadium – sort of. I grew up going to games there. The seats were cheap, it was always hot, and the Orioles always lost. There was a two-year stretch where I didn’t see a win in 30+ games. But my favorite memory is being at the last game at Memorial Stadium.

Given that it was such a hot ticket, my seat was directly behind a massive support column, so I sat on my parent’s lap during the game.

Mike Flanagan got the last out and no one left. They moved home plate to Camden Yards and players filled the field. Eventually they would start throwing balls into the stands. When this started, I hoped up on my chair, but was dwarfed by standing grown-ups. Anyway, at one point I saw a ball flying toward me…I was never more prepared for a pop-up in my life. Alas, the guy in front of me reached up and snagged the ball out of the air. That is the closest I have ever come to getting a game-used ball. It was also the only time I’ve stayed at a sporting event long after it was over. The atmosphere was electric. Unfortunately, the other chance this might have happened was ruined by Armando Benitez (Tony Freaking Fernandez!?!?).

It’s unlikely I was at the Traber national anthem game (I was 2 1/2) and I don’t really remember him at all. He is simply one of the myriad of Orioles I’ve forgotten in my lifetime.

Traber showed real promise (albeit mostly in low A ball) from 1982-1984. He routinely posted OBPs in the .380-.400 range and slugged over .500 three times. He only got 24 major league plate appearances in ’84 and didn’t do much (.238/.292/.238). He wouldn’t return to the majors until two years later and didn’t have much success either (.255/.321/.472).

He was then sent back to the minors for the duration of 1987 and part of 1988. He hit decently (.285 AVE and .479) before returning to the majors for his longest stint: 376 PAs in 103 games in 1988. Traber returned to his no slugging ways (.222/.261/.324) and was out of professional baseball one year later.

Still, you can’t take away the glorious afternoon of September 21, 1982. Traber went 1/4 as the starting DH as Oil Can Boyd (FLIP SIDE HERE) pitched a complete game shut-out.

Regardless Traber is both an accomplished professional singer and ballplayer – not many people can say that!

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Mark Gubicza 2.0

gubiczabackThe more I read about Mark Gubicza, the more I like him/his career. And he became the first two time Flip Sider (first appearance: here).

In this Donruss Triple Play card, we learn about another hobby of Gubicza’s (if you remember, his hobby in 1986 was “being music”). While I was confused by the phraseology in the past card, I wholeheartedly support players who approach the game like a fan (see also: Richard, Chris).

It is super cool to me that, even though Gubicza had played nine season in the majors at this point, he collects sports memorabilia and autographed baseball cards. I imagine he was able to get some really cool autos — maybe even a few George Brett’s?

Anyway, my second look at Gubicza has me investigating his career a bit more. The two-time All-star led AL pitchers in WAR in 1988. That year, he won 20 games with a 2.70 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. He added 183 Ks and a 2.20 K:BB rate. Unfortunately, he’d get little Cy Young recognition, finishing behind Frank Viola and Dennis Eckersley in voting. The next year he’d lead the league in starts (36) and do it again in 1995 (with 33 starts).

gubiczabackfront

Given his durability, it isn’t surprising that he owns a few dubious Royals records, most notably: walks allowed (783) and hit batsmen (58). But you gotta be good to be able to hit that many guys. Let’s hope he parted amicably with the guys he hit and maybe even got their John Hancock on a baseball card.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Herb Perry

perry1bperry1b2I’m going to use a 2002 card to prove a 1996 card somewhat inaccurate. Watch me now.

Almost rightly so, Herb Perry thought his June 17, 1995 game against the New York Yankees would be the finest of his life. He was the main source of power in a three-run victory over the Yankees.

Coming out of the University of Florida, Perry was a second round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 1991. He’d blossom in 1994 in AAA, hitting 13 HRs in 102 games and posting a .327/.397/.505 slash line. Coincidentally (or not) he got his first sniff of the majors that season. He went 1 for 9. Next season would see Perry perform decently in the minors, but, again, get few MLB at bats, although he would show promise, posting a .315/.376/.463 slash line in 184 plate appearances. However, in 1996, he would see just 13 at bats.

In comedy, timing is mostly everything, in another era, Perry might have had a nice early career. The problem with his timing is a future Hall of Famer by the name of Jim Thome, who was both younger and far better than Perry. Not surprisingly, the Indians didn’t protect Perry in the 1997 expansion draft. He was the 68th pick in that draft by the Rays.

After that, he bounced around between Tampa, the White Sox and Texas.

Finally, in 2002, the clouds parted and Perry saw his first full season and he didn’t disappoint: 132 games and a .276/.333/.480 slash line. However, the success would be short lived as he’d appear in only 60 games over the next two seasons before leaving professional baseball.

It’s amazing how Perry peaked relatively early in his career. Most notably the two homerun game against the Yanks, which he called “the greatest day of his life.” However, I’ll counter and suggest that the day, in 1996, that he purchased a thousand-cow dairy farm from his parents was the greatest. In one fell swoop he was able to provide for his parents and own land. There is nothing finer than owning an acre, I believe that is what is called manifest destiny. I imagine his favorite time working on the farm during the off-season was the fall of 2002 – at that point anything must have seemed possible.

Alas, he’d finish his career not soon thereafter with a .272/.335/.436 slash line in 1,889 plate appearances. Along the way he picked up $6.1 million and a dairy farm. Not bad at all!

As a complete non sequitur what is with the name Chan? I don’t get it. Chan Perry would taste only 25 MLB plate appearances and collect only two hits, but he does own a .292/.345/.454 line in 10 minor league seasons. The brothers Perry sure did alright by themselves and their folks!

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perry1fperry2fFor the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Chris Hammond

hammond1bac2 hammond1bacI was going to write about the 1996 Chris Hammond card awhile ago, but it got lost in the shuffle. Over Thanksgiving, I was at my parents house and rummaged through a few boxes of old cards and stumbled upon this 1992 Studio Club card of Hammond that seemed equally interesting. As the Spice Girls said tonight is the night when 2 become 1!

At first, my inclination with Hammond was to prove another sample size issue that was frequent in baseball as little as just 14 years ago (see also: Johnson, Mark). It is in fact true that Hammond posted a pretty nice slash line in 1995 (.271/.364/.375) – a line that would make Russell Martin blush at this point. He also hit one of the four HRs of his career that season. Oddly enough he hit two dingers in 1993, his slash line that year: .190/.292/.317.

So what happened in 1995? Hammond got a pitcher’s typical 40+ ABs, and anyone can look like Mickey Mantle in 48 ABs. When you blow out Hammond’s career (238 ABs) you get a typical pitcher Mendoza-line triple slash: .202/.285/.290. The lesson, as always, one season and a scant number of ABs does not make a career.

Other than his 1995 year at the plate, it was an altogether forgetful career – think of him as a Rheal Cormier doppleganger, or if you prefer akin to Dan Schatzeder (who loves home video!).

However, personally, he seems like an interesting dude. Like Mark Johnson (see above link), he has an affinity for deer. He also, oddly enough, collects matches. I assume this should read matchbooks. Right? I mean there is nothing different about matches, they aren’t snowflakes. Now, matchbooks can remind people of where they have been and the histrionics that ensued somewhere. I still have a matchbook from a formal in college, for instance.

Lastly, I assume Hammond is a fan of the band, Alabama — and really who isn’t – not the state. The band has some phenomenal songs paired deliciously with fantastic beards. Although, Hammond did live in Birmingham, so maybe he’s just a fan of the state. That’d be kind of odd – maybe they have a lot of matches there? Or at least some choice match factories?

Speaking of odd things and Hammond: only 20 times has a lead-off home run won a game 1-0. Hammond, on September 14 1993, gave up a lead-off round tripper to Carlos Garcia. The Marlins lost 1-0 and Hammond joined Walter Johnson, Frank Tanana, Gaylord Perry, Randy Johnson and others in the record book as the only pitchers on the losing end of this type of a game.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

hammond2fronthammond1front

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Dan Majerle/Mark Price

marjlefrontpericefI’m a little out of my element with this one as basketball is not my Forte (get it!?!?). I’ve watched less and less of both college and pros (although I won’t miss March Madness) as I’ve grown older and lost free time.

However, I was riffling through some old cards and these were back to back. It was startling to me to see how similar both were. Apparently Majerle’s and Price’s trademark move is the same poetic jump shot.

marjlebackMajerle was a sweet shooter, knocking down the 19th most threes (1,360) in NBA history. He also swished eight treys in one play-off game in the 1992-1993 season to set the Suns record.

The most fascinating thing to me about Majerle is the trade he was involved in 1988. The Cleveland Cavaliers gave the Phoenix Suns a first round pick in 1988 (which turned out to be Majerle), Kevin Johnson (the mayor of Sacramento and a first round selection by the Cavs in 1987), two other players and second round picks in ’88 and ’89 for Larry Nance, Mike Sanders and a 1989 first round pick which became Randolph Keys. Not a shining moment for the Cavs.

As for Mark Price, he has the 23rd highest three-point shooting percentage (.4020) in the history of the NBA – higher than the likes of Peja Stojakovic, Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Brent Price, among many many others (also Manut Bol).

pericebPrice also is the all-time leader in free-throw shooting percentage: .9039. It’s a real shame the sweet-shooting guard out of Georgia Tech couldn’t stay healthy. He played 80 games just once in his career and five times he failed to play in 70 games.

Still, I find it crazy that their form is so similar – even the backs of the cards are strikingly alike. “Bombs Away” is really just another way of saying “Good for Three.”

Either way, it’s clear I should stick to writing about baseball.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

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