Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Daryl Boston

boston backboston frontA guy with the last name, Boston, clearly has to have some music in him. I think Boston is an underrated band — they had several good tunes – all of which Detective Dan Stark would love!

However, that said, doesn’t everyone own a good impression of Stevie Wonder. All you have to do is stare off into space and move your head around melodiously while tickling some ivory.

Also the majority of people like popular music, it’s why it’s…ummm…popular and why Katy Perry has fantastic bosoms (or versa-vicea). Still, popular music in the 80s is a bit different than it is now, so I wonder (get it?) if he has remained a fan of popular music. It is kind of hard to see Daryl Boston grooving to Miley Cyrus like all the kids do. And, in all fairness, because I like Miley, Stevie Wonder had a much better groove than Cyrus does.

Boston was the seventh overall selection by the Chicago White Sox in 1981. He torched the minors as a 21-year-old in 1984 (.312 AVG and .533 SLG) before getting the call. His first two stints wouldn’t be as successful as Stevie Wonder’s career (heck they weren’t even as successful as Rat’s career) as he would post a .213/.254/.305 line in 130 games.

But the White Sox would stick with him and he’d show some glimmers of first-round talent, going .261/.317/.424 in 159 games from 1986-1987. Unfortunately that would be the height of his tenure with the Sox, and he’d be signed, sealed, and delivered off waivers by the Mets in 1990 after accumulating just 2.4 WAR over seven seasons in Chicago.

It was a timely acquisition for the Mets, as Boston was hitting his years 27 – 29 seasons. During that time he posted a .266./.338/.429 line – much more in line with his minor league trajectory. He was worth 3.9 WAR in just 382 games with the Mets – this span would be the high point of his career.

After the 1992 season, Boston would spend one decent year in Colorado and one unsuccessful year in Pinstripes before leaving baseball. Still, Boston most certainly found the Key to Life – he had an occupation he loved and a healthy fondness for music and comedy.

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)

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: Raul Mondesi/Ruben Sierra

mondesimondesi frontI thought I’d kick of “deck the halls (aka music)” week with a two-fer!

I am in awe of Mondesi’s info. First of all it is supremely awesome to step to the plate in any major league stadium. It must be infinitely more awesome to do so while your own music is playing. It’s like banging the hottest chick in the world on top of a billion dollars while your multi-platinum Barry White cover-CD is playing in the background (yes the one that Sade graciously sung back-up vocals for).

Any who, I kind of feel like I grew up with Mondesi a bit. I was 11 in 1993 and he was one of the first big rookies of my time. I kind of stopped following baseball intently when I hit college which is about when this card was printed. What people seem to have forgotten was how good Mondesi was with the Dodgers. Sure he flamed out in the AL East for the most part, but, for seven seasons in LA, Mondesi put up a .288/.334/.504 slash line. He also earned 21.3 WAR during his time out west.

Unfortunately for the Blue Jays and Yankees he would earn just 6.2 WAR combined with them over 4 years.

Still, Mondesi amassed some impressive numbers. He owns the 56th best slugging percentage in MLB history by a right hander — .485. He is tied with the great, yet somewhat forgotten, Joe Adcock.

sierra backNot to be outdone, six years before Mondesi’s 2002 Topps announced to the world that Raul is a better name then Enrique, Ruben Sierra released his second salsa CD. While that’s somewhat impressive (I mean Ron Artest has released like five million albums), what’s more astounding is that Sierra performed at Madison Square Garden. I would bet his performance was better than anything the WNBA has thrown out there (Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird notwithstanding).

sierra frontLike Mondesi, Sierra was also a hot prospect who put in some serious work for the club who first signed him. In his 10 years with the Texas Rangers, Sierra put up a .280/.323/.473 slash line with 180 HRs and 90 SBs. He was an 18.4 WAR player for them. While his early career resembled Justin Upton, Andruw Jones, and Adrian Beltre, when we look at the totality of it, his numbers look a lot more like Joe Carter and Bobby Bonilla – not bad, but eh.

So what happened? Well, in 1992, the Rangers traded him to spacious Oakland along with Bobby Witt and Jeff Russell for Jose Canseco. While Canseco is largely remembered as a flop with Texas, he was worth 3.4 WAR over three seasons and put up a .269/.363/.512 slash line. Meanwhile Sierra would stumble in his four years in Oakland (.253/.303./.435) and earn -1.7

Still, coming off the juice of his promise, the Athletics were able to turn Sierra into Danny Tartabul. In his first stint with the Yankees, Sierra was worth -1.4 WAR. After rejoining the Rangers in 2000 and posting a positive WAR (0.7) in 2001 for the first time since 1994, the Rangers would move Sierra to the Yankees again. This time it was for Marcus Thames and this time, again, Sierra would be worse than a replacement level player (-0.4 WAR).

In all, Sierra was traded four times and signed by eight different organizations. Outside of the Rangers, he was worse than a replacement level player for every single organization. I feel like there should have been a Mad TV lower expectations commercial about him.

Somewhat shockingly, given Sierra’s lack of non-musical value, he ended up with the 15th most at-bats by a switch-hitter and the ninth most doubles by a switch hitter (428). He also tied for 18th for the most seasons with a HR in MLB history. He hit a HR in 19 seasons, which was also done by Gary Sheffield, Craig Biggio, Barry Larkin, Gary Gaetti, Ken Griffey Sr., Alan Trammell, Willie Stargell, Enos Slaughter and Ernie Banks.

Lastly, let’s hope his salsa music helped soothe and relax him during his career as he ended up posting the 25th most career game-ending outs. Sierra ended a game 113 times (try finding a replacement player that can do that!), two more than Ricky Henderson.

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)

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!

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)

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: 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.

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)

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: Jesse Orosco

orosco backorosco front realInstead of the standard title, this epic could have been called “Ode on an Oroscan Urn.”

At the baseline, this card gives us even more evidence of Orosco’s love of the art of pitching. At one point, Orosco had to play semi-pro ball in Canada to make his dream come true. Semi-pro ball in the states was so devoid of luxury that one can only imagine the standard of living for semi-pro players north of the boarder. It is likely they lived in huts on frozen lakes and bathed in holes cut in the ground (what, that’s not the intent of the holes?).

Orosco was originally drafted by the Twins in the second round of the 1978 draft. However, in December, he’d be sent to the Mets in exchange for Jerry Koosman. He’d have his longest tenure with the Mets, win a World Series and appear in 372 games with a 2.73 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 2.11 K:BB ratio. He was worth 12.2 wins above a replacement player in his eight seasons in New York.

Unfortunately, one year after winning the World Series, he would be part of a massive trade that included Bob Welch, Alfredo Griffin, Jay Howell, Kevin Tapani and several others. At the end of the dealings, Orosco would be a Dodger. The year was 1988 and Orosco would be part of another World Series champion.

His time in Los Angeles would be only one-year and start his sojourn through both leagues. Ultimately, he’d pitch 12 years in the AL and 13 in the NL for nine different teams. He retired in 2003 with the Minnesota Twins, the very team that drafted him 25 years before.

In between draft and retirement, Orosco amassed the most career games by a pitcher in MLB history – 1,252, a bit more than one-time teammate John Franco. Franco and Orosco are also one-two when it comes to games by a left-handed pitcher. While Franco has the most saves ever by a lefty, Orosco has the 12th most in MLB history — 144 – just behind Willie Hernandez. Orosco is also tied for 26th all time for the most seasons with a win. He has 20 seasons with a win – the same as David Wells, Mike Morgan, Goose Gossage, Tom Glavine, Tom Seaver, and Warren Spahn.

Orosco finished with a 3.16 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 76.6% strand rate, .276 BABip, and a 2.03 K:BB rate. More notably, he possess the 26th highest K/9 rate in MLB history — just below Mariano Rivera. He also has the 310th most Ks in MLB History.

That aside, I’ll remember his time with the Orioles the most (1995-1999). He was a stabilizing player on the best Orioles teams of my lifetime. He’d be worth 5.3 WAR over those five seasons, during which he’d turn 42. If you think that wasn’t overwhelmingly valuable, the Orioles let Armando Benitez pitch 203.2 innings during that span. I hold no fondness in my heart for the years Benitez took off my life. After leaving the O’s Orosco pitched four more seasons in the Bigs.

Orosco, like Jamie Moyer, is truly a rarity that only the game of baseball can produce.

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)

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 Johnson

mark johnson backmark johnson frontThere are just all kinds of problems with the back of this card! For starters, would it really matter if Mark was in a relationship? It was a WIVES’ cookbook – not a married/engaged players’ cookbook. The distinction the card should have drawn is that Johnson is a player, not a wife. But, yeah, who doesn’t love a good venison jerky? I’ll submit that any cookbook without a good jerky recipe is just lame.

The second problem I have with the back of the card: 59 at bats do not make anyone good at any type of hitting...but 50% of the time it works all of the time. In the 409 plate appearances Johnson had in his career during the day, he posted a .221/.333/.303 slash line. That is pretty similar to his night slash line of .217/.302/.327. Shockingly (except, not really) Johnson’s career numbers look like .218/.314/.318. So, yeah, I guess he does perform somewhat better when the sun is shining…I near about fell in love).

In all, Johnson simply didn’t live up to his draft status (first rounder in 1994). He did show some promise in the minors, posting several awesome OBPs from 1994-1998. Of course, at age 22, he hadn’t advanced beyond AA.

In reality, outside of his wonderful cookbook appearance, the most interesting aspect of Johnson’s career was the trade he was involved in: him along with Keith Foulke and Joe Valentine to Oakland for Billy Koch, Neal Cotts and Daylon Hoyt.

Oh, and he led us to this wonderful video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_TwkupP1SA.

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)

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: Tony Pena

pen aqback pean front realReally? Lets bypass the fact that someone remembered Pena had 14 broken bat base hits during a road trip in 1985 (two years before this card was printed) and instead focus on the poor schmuk who had to calculate the amount of hits Pirate players got while also breaking a bat.

I know it became en vogue to have basketball managers tracking every little “hustle” play in a game, but why oh why was it ever important to track “hustle-like” plays in baseball. Certainly there was something more important than broken bat base hits. May I submit: broken bat homeruns? Or broken bat bunts? Or perhaps the number of times a player grounded into a double play (Pena did ground into the 35th most double plays (234) in MLB history — one behind George Brett and five more than let’s play two Ernie Banks).

One thing can be certain, 1986 would be the last year that the Pirates would tabulate the amount of broken bat hits Tony Pena would have on a road trip. From 1980-1986, Pena appeared in 801 games for the Pirates, he also hit 63 HRs, and posted a pretty good slash line for a catcher (.286/.327/.411). He accumulated 19.3 WAR in Pittsburgh. He’d actually be worth -0.6 WAR for the other 12 seasons in his career.

While the Pirates may have futilely tracked broken bat base hits, they smartly moved Pena to the St. Louis Cardinals at the high point of his value for Mike LaValliere, Andy Van Slyke and Mike Dunne. Pena would play three seasons in St. Louis and earn 1.4 WAR. LaValliere (making his second flip side appearance), was worth 10 WAR over seven seasons in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Van Slyke earned 31 WAR in eight seasons for the Pirates (never mind that they signed him instead of Bonds and missed out on all that PED WAR).

While the trade was real bad for the Cardinals, it in no way diminishes Pena’s career accomplishments. He caught the fourth most games (1950) by a catcher — behind Gary Carter, Bob Boone (FLIP SIDE HERE) and Carlton Fisk. He also posted the 10th best fielding percentage by a catcher in a season (.9973) in 1989. That year he recorded only two errors tied for third fewest in a season by a MLB catcher. Somewhat surprisingly, just three years earlier he recorded 18 errors, which is tied for 11th most in a season by a catcher. If that doesn’t shed light on what “errors” mean, I don’t know what does.

In all, Pena put together a career that stands up against Boone, Brad Asmus and Jim Sundberg – not bad company. Oh, and he earned upwards of $17 million. If he could have collected a few more broken bat base hits, he might have been a hall of famer…

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Frank Williams/Eric King/Danny Gladden

frank williams backfrank williams ftront

Man, the ’80s were different times. We’re only talking 23 years, but the world sure has changed.

For instance, Frank Williams had to work construction in the off-season. Could you imagine a player with decent major league experience being employed as something other than a “baseball player?” I wonder what his taxes looked like.

By the time this card was printed, Williams had pitched parts of three seasons for the Giants, totaled 231.2 innings, and posted a 3.22 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. Sure his K-rate declined every year (from 7.70 to 6.66 to 5.68) but he was worth 2.1 wins above a replacement player – not bad for a construction worker.

By 1989, Williams would have a pretty decent MLB line: 3.00 ERA, 471.2 innings, and a 1.38 WHIP. Unfortunately, a car crash would end his career and send his life spiraling out of control. He would die of a heart attack at 50 in 2009.

My hope is that Williams — wherever he is — gets to relive August 24, 1984. On that day, Williams recorded two relief wins against the Mets. Not a lot of people get to win a game in the majors, let alone two in one day. Congrats, Condolences.

I didn’t realize Williams’ tale was so tragic when I began this flip side. If you were thinking of someone who might have a dangerous motor vehicle accident (*ahem* Jeff Kent), you might have guessed it was Eric King. Like Williams, King was a construction worker in the off-season. Also similarly, King earned 1.5 WAR in his first season (going 11-4 with a 3.51 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 138.1 innings in 1986).

eric king backeric king frontHis next three seasons would show promise, but, ultimately, be pedestrian (3.90 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, just 5.4 K/9). However, he’d pitch real well in 1990 and 1991 (earning 5.3 WAR) and securing a million dollar payday (let’s hope there was no motorcycle clause in his contract). It was an odd career for King as he’d be out of baseball after the 1992 season. In all, though, he was part of some fascinating trades that included the likes of Matt Nokes, Bob Melvin and Cory Snyder. He’d retire with a 3.97 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 4.8 K/9 in 863.1 innings.

While it’s clear being a construction worker was a common occupation for ’80s ballplayers, apparently so was a love of motorcycles. Like King, Danny Gladden (who would later become a memorable golden retriever-like Twin) was a fan of motorcycles. He took it one step further by “[enjoying] competition water skiing and motorcycle racing.” I presume he took part in them, but maybe not.

gladden backgladden frontNot surprisingly, Gladden played the game with, what I remember to be, reckless abandon. He averaged 27 SBs and 11 caught stealings from 1984-1990. During that time, he would post a .277/.332/.385 slash line. Still that didn’t quite live-up to Gladden’s promise. He got to the majors late (becoming a full time player in 1984 at 26). That’d be, quite possibly, his best year as well: .351/.410/.447 in 86 games. He’d earn 3.4 WAR that season.

I was way too young to remember Gladden as a Giant. What I remember: Gladden was the Twins version of Lenny Dykstra. Gladden’s play in game seven of the 1991 World Series will be forever cemented in my mind: he stretched a bloop into a double en route to scoring the winning run on Gene Larkin’s base hit in the bottom of the 10th inning of Jack Morris’ game. When he was rounding first, his hair flying, you could almost see him revving his engine.

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)

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

chris richard backI’ve always liked Chris Richard- I can’t really explain why. Perhaps it is because he has a similar hobby to yours truly….namely a fondness for baseball cards. I love the make-believe involved in cards, the “kid at heart” feeling opening up a new pack and hoping to get a Griffey or Mauer or Posey rookie card. When it comes to hobbies, it doesn’t get much better than baseball cards – you can truly invent anything you want with them, rank them, trade them, write about them (what, you thought I’d link to myself?), look at them, etc.

As a 21-year-old, Richard was a 19th round selection by the St. Louis Cardinals out of Oklahoma State in 1995. He’d post pretty decent minor league numbers culminating in 2000’s AAA slash line: .277/.366/.469. Based on that, Richard would get the call and appear in 62 games for the Cardinals, putting up a .265/.326/.544 slash line.

However, in the middle of the year, the Cardinals traded him and Mark Nussback to the Baltimore Orioles for Mike Timlin. At the time, I was ecstatic. It looked like my team had secured a good young first basemen for the cost of a reliever, who, in my mind, simply blew games. Certainly Richard would be much better than Randy Milligan or Sam Horn (who went to high school with Mark McLemore – no joke). Unfortunately, Richard’s mediocre start would simply be his ceiling, as he posted a .262/.323/.445 slash line in 837 ABs with the Orioles.

chris richard frontIn 2003, the Orioles would move him to the Colorado Rockies for Jack Cust. Cust, a former first-rounder, had prodigious power. Again, I thought the Orioles had secured their first baseman of the future for the paltry some of an older player who never would fulfill the faulty promise I bestowed upon him. Unfortunately, Cust would get just 74 ABs in Baltimore before he left. He’d go on to have a pretty successful three year stretch for the Oakland Athletics.

But there is one thing Richard accomplished that Cust (and many others) certainly didn’t. In fact, only 24 players in MLB history ever did what Richard did, that being hit a homerun on the first pitch they ever saw in their career. This is by no means a great predictor of success, but the feat was also accomplished by such notables as Bert Campaneris, Jay Bell and Adam Wainwright.

I wonder what Richard’s favorite baseball card growing up was.

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Ed Wojna

wojna backwojna front (1)We have another entry for bizarre job a ballplayer did in the 1980s to make extra money.

We also have another entry for bizarre phrasing on the back of a baseball card. Why didn’t they just write: Ed has experience as a draftsman?

Anyway, if you were me reading the card, you’d think a draftsman was pretty cool. Of course, you wouldn’t really know what it was. In my mind, a draftsman is someone who pours a draft of beer, or potentially brews beer – either way, pretty cool jobs. Of course, now that I think about it, this would be another (redundant) name for brew master? Ok, I guess brew master is better. But draftsman isn’t half bad.

So what is a draftsman, if not a purveyor of fine hops and barley? It’s someone who turns a design idea into a physical picture. Typically draftsmen produce guides for builders – specifically pictures that are incredibly detailed and capable of being used as specifications for manufacturers. Apparently you have to know a lot of math to be a draftsman…the occupation gets lamer by the second eh?

As for Wojna’s career? Let’s just say it was good he acquired experience as a draftsman. He was a 5th round selection by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980. He was part of a deal from Philly to San Diego for Sixto Lezcano.

He’d put up iffy minor leagues numbers for the Padres from 1984-1987. He’d pitch best in ’86, going 12-7 with a 3.59 ERA and 1.37 WHIP and earn a promotion during which he pitched 39 innings and posted a 3.23 ERA and 1.49 WHIP with a 1.19 K:BB rate. Unfortunately, he’d only pitch 18.1 innings the following year in the majors and post some horrible ratios: 5.89 ERA and 1.69 WHIP. He was then shipped from the Padres to the White Sox for a player to be named later (Joel McKeon). Then from the White Sox to the Indians.

He’d pitch just 33 innings for the Indians before being released and never toeing the rubber on an MLB diamond again.

Maybe it was a good thing he needed to acquire experience as a draftsman!

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)