Posts Tagged ‘1987’

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).

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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: 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.

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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: Thad Bosley

bosleybackbosleybackfrontContinuing my week of music, that somehow I neglected to get Katy Perry to sponsor, we have Thad Bosley. Like Ruben Sierra and Raul Mondesi, he recorded his own album – this was before it was super ShagFu cool to do so.

Of course, he wasn’t a salsa man, but a gospel singer. So what is it with athletes and music? I mean I guess it has moved more to basketball players lately — but between the salsa twins (Sierra, Mondesi) and Bosley, we have a heck of “a making of the band.” Not surprisingly, Bosley was also a member of a funk group called Ballplayers which featured Lenny Randle…yes THE Lenny Randle (h/t to Wikipedia).

At this point in his career, Bosley had earned at least $1 million, making it easy to finance “Pick Up The Pieces.” But did he deserve the riches and album cover bitches? Absolutely, he was worth about 2.7 WAR from 1977-1986. This translates to about $10 million in free agent value.

Before the funk and gospel, Bosley was a fourth round draft pick by the California Angels in 1974. He hit .326/.359/.433 in 69 AAA games in 1977 before getting the call. He appeared in 58 games for the Angels and looked promising (.297/.346/.363). Of course, the power was absent and his BABip was .346 (for his career that average rested at .315). In the off-season, the Angels traded Bosley along with Bobby Bonds and Richard Dotson to the Chicago White Sox for Brian Downing, Dave Frost and Chris Knapp.

Downing was the real get in the trade, he was worth 37.7 WAR in California and added an additional five WAR for the Texas Rangers. Bosley would be worth only 0.4 WAR for the White Sox as he posted a .262/.310/.323 line in 172 games. However, Bosley would stick around for 9 more seasons and finish with a career line of .272/.330/.357 with just 20 HRs in 784 career games. So why did he last so long? He was perceived as a pinch-hitting asset – think of him as the 1980s version of Lenny Harris.

In fact, Bosley is one of only 26 people in MLB history to pinch-hit a home-run and hit another homer in the same game. He did so on August 12, 1985. There are some other notable players who have accomplished this “feat”: Frank Howard, Jeff Bagwell (who somehow did it before the next guy), Kirk Gibson, Robin Ventura and Ryan Howard. Bosley also put together one of the best pinch-hit seasons in the history of the game: He had 20 pinch hits in one year, the 20th most ever.

Given he was basically a “career hitter,” it’s not overly surprising that Bosley was named hitting coach for the Texas Rangers on November 23, 2010. In all, Bosley did nothing overly spectacular, except, when infrequently called upon, he went up to the plate and made a good at bat. In reality, that’s pretty darn impossible to do.

Lastly, hold for my diatribe against poetry. I’ve taken an insane amount of poetry/literature courses, including: Milton, the English Elegy (more Milton), Victorian Poets and Essayists, Romantic Poets and Essayists, Creative Writing: Poetry, Poetry 101, etc. I like some poetry and find the puzzle older poets presented in their verse fascinating. However, I write to express myself. I think hiding one’s meaning in writing kind of defeats the purpose (unless you are Nietzsche, in which case it is the purpose). Poetry is beautiful but subjective, I prefer more objective writing stylings…like Katy Perry lyrics.

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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: 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.

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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: 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…

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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.

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