Sunday, January 3, 2010

#72 - Walt Terrell

On nearly every card I've seen of Terrell, he looks about 5'6". This one is no exception. And of course, it surprised me to find out he's listed at 6'2". I didn't like Topps' choice for the logo for Detroit. I much prefer the "D" to the silly tiger head that looks too much like a Bengal.

Only four batters had more than 10 RBI against Terrell: B.J. Surhoff, Harold Baines, Mel Hall and Gary Gaetti. Why is this interesting? It's not, but there's over 700 cards in this set so leave me alone.

#71 - Mike Aldrete

Blech. I hate this shot. Aldrete looks like he's trying to be model here. I'm assuming the photographer was female. Plus, Topps cut off the tip of the barrel of the bat. I'm getting really sick of their cropping decisions.

Aldrete was another one of those guys who was a perfectly average hitter, but never got much of a chance to play every day. Interestingly, he hit 2 homers off only three guys: Jeff Reardon, Mike Scott and Roger Clemens. Not bad at all.

#70 - Charlie Hough

FINALLY! Thank you, Topps, for giving us a full body shot. Hough looks like, well, Hough in this shot, just finishing his release on that knuckler he threw for 25 seasons. The photo gives us a nice look at the stirrups and the "TEXAS" across the jersey, a look I always liked.

Hough was an interesting story. He didn't become a full time starter until he was 34. AND THEN STARTED 400 MORE GAMES. That's pretty amazing. And it's not as if he wasn't an effective pitcher to that point. He had several good seasons out of the pen for LA but didn't get a chance to start regularly until he was sold (yes, sold) to Texas. From there he churned out start after start, even starting 40 games 1987. He was remarkably consistent, winning between 10 and 18 games every year from '82-'90, never having an ERA+ better than 128 or worse than 91. He finished his career with the expansion Marlins, even acting as Florida's opening day starter in '93 and '94 (at 46 years old).

#69 - Lonnie Smith

Lonnie Smith is officially the happiest guy in the set. And why not? His card is balanced and fun. Except for the guy's head in the background.

Lonnie Smith was an underrated player. He hit for average, got on base, swiped bags, and even almost won an MVP in 1982. He also had one of the great fluke years in 1989 for Atlanta when hit .315 with 21 homers (his only double-digit homer year) and a finished with a .948 OPS (.791 career).

#68 - Tony LaRussa

I don't know what anyone else thinks, but this doesn't look like LaRussa to me. The stubble, the lack of glasses...just looks like a different guy. And what the heck is he looking at? Is someone injecting someone with something?

Few managers have had as much success for as long a period of time as LaRussa. (And no one has aged less visibly.) He's won two World Series (one in each league), 5 pennants, topped 100 wins 4 times, 90 wins 11 times, and has won a division with three different teams (White Sox, As, Cards). Not too bad.

#67 - Bill Swift

Decent shot during what looks like pre-inning warmup tosses. The apathetic look on Swift's face gives that away. The photo gives us a good look at those old Seattle unis with the blue and yellow stripes and a hint of that ugly "Mariners" typeface on the jersey. And wow, is that one blurry crowd or what?

On the back of the card, we're treated to the nugget, "[Bill] is one of 15 children." I assumed (probably stupidly) that he was from Utah, but nope, good ol' Maine. How many bathrooms do you think his childhood home had? Oh wait, he was from Maine. How many outhouses do you think his childhood home had?

Swift was a decent pitcher, who began his career as a starter without much success, then transitioned to the pen and was fantastic. In '92 he was traded to San Francisco and became a starter again. That ended up being a great decision as Swift led the league in ERA in '92 and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting in '93 (21-8, 2.82).

#66 - Marc Sullivan

No, that's not a stain running down Sullivan's leg, it's a stain on the card. So that's why I'm not commenting on it. Even though I just did. This is a pretty boring shot, as the five people in the stands clearly understand.

Sullivan did absolutely nothing in his career. The rumor was (completely justified) that he was only on the Sox because his father was Haywood Sullivan, who was a part owner of the team in those days. His stats bear that out completely. 397 career PAs with an OPS+ of 32.