Friday, April 24, 2009

new banners, you decide!

After Gimping around for a few hours, here's two pretty rough drafts for possible banners. I like the second one a lot, but not all the clutter in the middle, text needs to move around a bit, but I like the "At their best" banner and the day/night doodad.

Number 1:

Number 1b:

Number 2:

Number 2b (I cleaned up some clutter):

Number 2c:

Let me know what you think. I'll probably post this over at '88 Score as well.

I'm an impatiend little feller

Impulse got the better of me and I went ahead and ordered a box of '88 Fleer. Well, I got a good deal on it ($10 + $4.99 shipping), so I couldn't pass it up. So hopefully by the end of next week, this place will be the 1988 Fleer Blog. I'm gonna work on a few banner ideas tonight and let the readers decide which to use.

Graphics editing has never been my strong point. I had to learn Page Maker in college, but never worked with PhotoShop much. So I'm just a' learnin'. I used GIMP for the Bowman banner and I must say I think it came out pretty well. So hopefully I can do as well with an '88 Fleer banner.

I may have to call this place "8889 Fleerman" until the Bowman set is complete though.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

1989 Bowman want list is up...

I've gone through the whole binder and stack of doubles to make sure I didn't miss anything. So here's the final want list for this set, and here are the doubles I have for trade if anyone needs anything.

And for those who are interested, 1988 Fleer is going to be next. Next Saturday is my birthday, so a box of 88 Fleer is going to be my birthday present to myself. I'll order it sometime in the next several weeks.

Once again, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pack Thirty-Six

Well, here we are at the end of the box and I've got a few things to say before we get to the cards.

First, I want to respond to Andy's comment about Griffey in yesterday's post. I think what I was after when I called Griffey a "pure hitter" was a slightly more eloquent way to say he didn't stick needles in his bum. So I didn't exactly mean pure hitter in the Ted Williams/Tony Gwinn kind of way. But Andy is right, Griffey certainly isn't the best "pure hitter" in the purest sense of the word. His .288 career average is certainly very good, but not phenomenal.

My poor choice of words did bring up an interesting debate in my head this afternoon when I read Andy's comment though. Who is the best pure hitter of this generation? To be more specific, in this post-Tony Gwinn era? It's a hard question to answer because of the focus on the home run hitter over the past ten to fifteen years. Sometimes a guy who hits .340 with nine home runs and 76 RBIs goes unnoticed in favor of the the .269/45/115 guy.

A pure hitter is certainly a patient hitter, but a high walk count doesn't always equate to patience. Neither does a low strikeout total. In my mind, a pure hitter would be a guy with a .320+ average, a high OBP but not necessarily a high slugging percentage (doubles type hitter) and therefore an average OPS.

I'll see who I can come up with.

Moving along.

I've been holding back on this post for a few hours to see what the Braves can do tonight. They loaded the bases in the top of the 9th but were only able to score one run (on a walk to Kelly Johnson) but it was enough.

My prediction of a 9-6 record looked promising until the bullpen collapsed about a week ago. Tonight's win puts them at 7-8. Not what I'd hoped for. But it's only April. Gotta keep telling myself that. It's only April. Only April...

And finally before we get to the cards. I really enjoy these pack by pack box breaks and I hope people reading them enjoy it too. I'm interested in new cards, and I'm looking forward to Topps Series 2 to come out, but these nostalgic breaks are something I hope to continue doing. And I don't want this site to die just because the box is empty. I'm going to keep updating this site until I complete the set, but I'm thinking I'll keep this place and use it for future box breaks. I'll of course change the title and banner.

So where do I go from here? 1989 Bowman won out over 1989 Score for the next break, and I still want to go back and take a look at '89 Score. But right now I'm thinking about doing box breaks and trying to put together the major sets from 1988, the year I started collecting. With Score complete, that leaves Topps, Donruss and Fleer.

Since Andy just recently did 88 Topps, I want to hold off on it for a while. The fun for me in doing these are to see cards that I've never seen before. So I want to give myself a bit of time to forget 88 Topps before I rip open a box of it.

So that leaves Fleer and Donruss. Please don't groan. I do like '88 Donruss, in the same way I like 1950's sci-fi. I know it's bad, but I can't help myself. From the looks of things on Amazon and ebay, boxes of 88 Donruss are plentiful, and hell I could probably just post my name and address at every trading forum on the internet and just sit back and wait for people to gladly and gleefully dump boxes and boxes of it on my doorstep. And I may do that "WILLING TO GIVE 1988 DONRUSS A GOOD, LOVING HOME."

But I'm kinda interested in Fleer. I didn't see too much of it back in '88, so I'll probably start poking around looking for a box within the next several weeks. We'll see what happens... maybe a box of '88 Fleer will be a nice birthday present for myself.

NOW we can look at some cards.

Pack 36 +12
462 Jerald Clark
364 Rex Hudler
15 Steve Finley
27 Rich Gedman
465 Kelly Downs
12 Billy Ripken
344 Willie Randolph
109 Keith Moreland
329 Bill Doran
410 Jeff Robinson
323 Rick Rhoden
79 Rich Yett

I'm overjoyed that there were no doubls in my final pack. So my speech about doubles and whatnot from yesterday still applies.

Bowman should have put Cal and Billy next to each other in the checklist, but they're separated by Randy Milligan and Juan Bell. I've got something to say about the Orioles in this set, but I'm going to wait until I have them all, just to make sure I can still say it and be accurate. But the card I'm going to post today is an Oriole, and if you go back and find any other Orioles I've posted you can probably figure out what I want to say.

Who is that Oriole?

Steve Finley. If it weren't for rookie cards of Griffey and Smoltz, I think it may be safe to say that Steve Finley had the most successful career of all the rookies in this set.

Finley was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 11th round of the 1986 draft but chose to finish his college career at Southern Illinois University (where he graduated with a degree in physiology). He was drafted again by the Orioles in the 13th round of the '87 draft and did sign.

He hit a combined .303 in his first professional season split between Newark and Hagerstown. He continued to hit well in '88 and most of '89, though his numbers for Triple-A Rochester weren't great. But 1989 also saw his first shot at the Major Leagues and aside from a few rehab games here and there, he stuck in the bigs until 2007.

Finley possessed good speed his entire career and in 2006 at the age of 41 he legged out twelve triples.

He's most likely not a Hall of Famer, but Baseball Reference's similarity scores put him in some good company (Roberto Clemente, Bernie Williams, Dwight Evans to name a few).

Steve Finley was a two time All Star and the winner of five Gold Gloves and has one World Series ring to his name (2001 Diamondbacks).

Well, that's about all I've got to say.

I have a few clerical things to get caught up on. My doubles list isn't completely up to date, and I'll have a wants list made up sometime in the next 24 hours.

Thanks everyone for reading, and stay tuned for more to come. Hopefully I can get this set completed before too long.

Thanks again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pack Thirty-Five

Pack 35 +12
123 Kevin Seitzer
435 Tony Pena
230 Scott Fletcher
220 Ken Griffey, Jr.
444 Tom Brunansky
253 Fred McGriff
158 Gary Gaetti
383 Kevin Elster
405 Juan Samuel
217 Darnell Coles
204 Tom Niedenfuer
267 Tom Glavine

This is a nice way to wind the box down. No doubles. I hope the final pack is the same. I had my share of frustrations with my '88 Score box, but the only real let down was the final pack.

The blocks of doubles have certainly been frustrating in this box, but there haven't been any of those major let downs, so all in all, I'm going to say of the four old boxes that I've opened since I got back into the hobby last summer this one has been the most fun.

Now I realize that my feelings could change completely tomorrow upon opening the final pack, so maybe I should have saved this speech. Oh well.

This is a pretty good pack. Fred McGriff has always been among my favorite players, and there's a very young Tom Glavine. But we're going to focus on the rookie of this pack. I don't know if anyone's ever heard of this kid, but he had a pretty good career for himself, and he even started off the 2009 campaign with a bang.

Ken Griffey, Jr. was the first pick of the 1987 draft by the Seattle Mariners and made his professional debut at Bellingham, where his 14 home runs led the team. 1988 saw a promotion to High-A San Bernardino and then to Double-A Vermont, as the back of the card tells us.

On April 3, 1989 Junior made his Major League debut going one for three with a walk. His first big league homer came a week later off of White Sox pitcher Eric King.

His 1989 performance was good enough for third place in the Rookie of the Year voting. Gregg Olson won for his 1.69 ERA and 27 saves.

Injuries have slowed Griffey down considerably over the past decade and his once brilliant outfield play has become somewhat of a liability (his last Gold Glove came in 1999), but he's still a threat in the DH role.

It would have been nice to see him in a Braves uniform and the way things are going in the outfield right now, his inability to run out some flyballs probably wouldn't make much of a difference, but in the end I'm glad to see him back in Seattle. Even if it is for just one or two more years, it'll give him a chance to end his career where it all started, and as much as I hate the DH rule, it'll give a great player a little more time to shine.

In the end, Ken Griffey is arguably the greatest pure hitter of his generation. When all is said and done, and the time comes to look hard at the steroid era, Griffey, Manny Ramirez and Chipper Jones will come out on top as the greatest pure, clean hitters of their time.

Griffey is without a doubt a first ballot Hall of Famer. There's really no point in putting his name on the ballot, just make a bronze bust and put it in its place. They might as well do it now. If Greg Maddux isn't the first to get 100% of HoF votes (and I'm pretty sure he will be), Griffey certainly will be.

There aren't enough good words to describe Griffey's career and what he has meant to baseball. When I think back to 1994 and the strike, I'm always reminded of a picture of a young Griffey on the cover of Newsweek magazine with a broken back and a sad expression. He had helped to revitalize baseball before the strike, and he certainly did his part after the strke.

I was beginning to worry that this box had been searched for this card because a few (no more than four or five) of the packs were no longer sealed and a few looked like they'd been resealed. But I guess 20 years doesn't do much for the seal on wax paper.

A little part of me wishes I'd grabbed the other pack first. This one would have been a great way to end it. But we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pack Thirty-Four

Pack 34 +6
(duplicates are indicated by bold text)
440 Pedro Guerrero
241 Mike Flanagan
118 Mike Macfarlane
46 Dick Schofield
122 Frank White
200 Dave Henderson

441 Milt Thompson
309 Chris Sabo
249 Bob Brenly
439 Tim Jones
76 Greg Swindell
87 Mark Lewis

Here's an interesting block of doubles. The Guerrero was first pulled in pack 25 and it's all alone here. The next five cards were pulled first from pack 29. Strange.

The only rookie of the pack is Mark Lewis.

If you had told me that Mark Lewis stuck around in the Major Leagues until the 2001 season, I don't know that I'd have believed you. Honestly the only thing I remember about Mark Lewis is a grand slam he hit during the '95 play offs against the Dodgers while a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

Thanks to the power of Baseball Reference...

Heading into the bottom of the 6th on October 6, 1995 at Cinergy Field in Cincinnati, the Reds had a 3-1 lead over the Dodgers. LA had Hideo Nomo on the mound due to face Hal Morris, Benito Santiago and Bret Boone.

With a one and one count, Hal Morris hit an infield single. A wild pitch to Santiago moved Morris to second and Santiago's single to left put runners at first and third, thus ending Nomo's night.

Kevin Tapani came in to face Bret Boone and walked him on six pitches, loading the bases. Mark Guthrie was brought in to replace Tapani with no outs and the sacks full o' Reds.

At this point, Jeff Branson was scheduled to hit, but was pulled in favor of Mark Lewis. With the count even at two balls and two strikes, Lewis homered to left center, giving the Reds a 7-1 lead.

The next inning, this time facing John Cummings, Mark Lewis was intentionally walked. He later scored when pitcher Mike Jackson hit a three run double. Strange game.

Cincinnati won the game 10-1 to complete the three game sweep and advance to the NLCS where they faced the eventual world champion Atlanta Braves.

Doing a little more digging around, I found that Mark Lewis' pinch hit grand slam was the first in post season history. Have there been others since then?

Two packs left, and if you recall that I predicted the Braves would be 9-6 the day the box was finished. That means they have to sweep the series with Washington that begins tonight. Here's hoping...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pack Thirty-Three

Pack 33 +6
(duplicates are indicated by bold text)
265 Paul Assenmacher
92 Frank Tanana
23 Wes Gardner
142 Gary Sheffield
68 Ivan Calderon
185 Gene Nelson

472 Royce Clayton
285 Paul Kilgus
332 Willie Ansley
264 Derek Lilliquist
335 Jay Howell
168 Lance McCullers

Nothing too special here. A second copy of the latest member to join the 500 home run club, and I also pulled another Gil Hodges reprint card which gives me two complete reprint sets.

There are three rookie cards to talk about today though, so let's jump right in.

Derek Lilliquist showed some potential with the Braves in 1989, posting an 8-10 record and a 3.97 ERA. That, combined with his less than two walks per nine innings, led him to a fourth place finish for Rookie of the Year. Despite his potential, the Braves traded him to the Padres for Mark Grant on July 12, 1990.

After spending most of the 1991 season at Triple-A Las Vegas, Lilliquist was taken off the waiver wire by the Indians where he pitched until the end of the 1994 season. At that point he was selected off waivers by the Braves in November, but released just over a month later.

He was picked up in late April '95 by the Red Sox but was released in July. On August 1, Derek signed with the Dodgers and spent the remainder of the season at Albuquerque but was granted free agency after the season. He signed on to play with the Reds in '96 and then with the Royals in '97 but never saw action with the Royals and retired.

Royce Clayton was the 15th pick of the 1988 draft by the San Francisco Giants and made his way to the Major Leagues on September 20, 1991.

I'm trying to find something good to say about his career, but nothing really jumps out. He was an above average player who stuck around for seventeen seasons, you can't really say much that's better. He was an All Star in 1997 with the Cardinals.

Willie Ansley was the seventh pick of the first round of the 1988 draft by the Houston Astros out of Plainview High School in Plainview, Texas. His first stop in the pro ball was for my local team, the Asheville Tourists when they were an Astros farm team. In 103 games for Asheville in 1989, Willie hit .309 with 6 home runs and 55 RBIs. Those numbers were good enough for a promotion to Double-A Columbus for the final 30 games of the 1989 season.

He spent the entire 1990 season in Columbus, and split 1991 between High-A Osceola of the Florida State League and Double-A Jackson of the Texas League. His numbers in both places left a bit to be desired and he spend some time in '92 with the GCL (rookie league) Astros in what I can only assume was extended spring training. The rest of his playing time in '92 was a Jackson.

In 1993, at 23 years old, he played for Triple-A Tucson of the PCL and hit relatively well (.262/5/61 in 125 games), but injuries had taken their toll over his short career and he called it quits.

After his playing days, he made it his life's missions to help other young ball players reach their dreams. There's a nice article about him here, from Lubbock Online, it's a few years old.

We're getting close. T minus 3 packs.

Pack Thirty-Two

Pack 32 +12
117 Mark Gubicza
388 Kevin McReynolds
331 Glenn Davis
208 Dave Valle
333 Gerald Young
250 Rance Mulliniks
312 Todd Benzinger
259 Ken Griffey
40 Bryan Harvey
399 Steve Lake
39 Jim Abbott
445 Walt Terrell

Look over in the upper right corner. See it? This pack pushed me to my goal of 70% completion and there's still four packs to go. By the end of next week I'll have a want list for '89 Bowman up on 1988 Score and hopefully I can complete this thing pretty quickly (and get rid of some doubls while I'm at it... I hope).

On to the cards.

The rookie of this pack is truly an amazing man.

His win/loss record doesn't look so great at 87-108 and his 4.25 ERA is just average. But for what Jim Abbott had to overcome in his life to make it to the Major Leagues without spending a day in the minors is remarkable.

He was given the James E. Sullivan Award in 1987 as the best amateur athlete in the country, and then won a gold medal at the 1988 olympics. Pretty impressive considering he was born without a right hand.

1991 was statistically his best year in the majors. He went 18-11 with a 2.89 ERA and placed third in the Cy Young race (Roger Clemens won on the power of his 241 strikeouts that season). His ERA in 1992 was even better than '91, but his win/loss record suffered from playing on a team that lost 90 games.

After the 1992 season, Abbot was traded to the Yankees for Jerry Nielsen, J.T. Snow and Russ Springer. It was with the Yankees that on September 4, 1993 he no-hit the Indians. He walked five, but thanks to double plays, faced only three over the minimum.

A horrific 1996 season (2-18/7.48 ERA) led him to briefly retire, but he came back with the White Sox in '98 and then he signed with the Brewers for the 1999 season but was released midway through and retired for good.

I really can't see why he chose to sign with the Brewers, who were a National League team by that point. At least in the American League, thanks to the DH, he never had to bat. In 21 at bats in 1999 he picked up two hits (both singles) and drove in three runs.

These days he's a motivational speaker.

We're nearing the end. Four packs to go.