Thursday, February 28, 2013

776th Place - Doc Edwards

Card #374

Doc Edwards' face perfectly expresses how, as a kid, I felt opening a pack of cards with a manager in it.

The older I get, the more I appreciate manager cards.  There's a nice historical aspect to them.  The coaches I see today were the ballplayers I collected as a kid. 

Doc replaced Pat Corrales half way through the 1987 season, and made it through most of the 1989 season before getting canned himself.  His teams never finished higher than sixth.  The Indians were terrible in the late 1980's, and Doc never managed in the bigs again.

That must be such a conflicting feeling - to finally become manager of a big league club, but not be able to enjoy it because your teams stinks. 

Unless you're a die hard Indians fan, this is a forgettable card from a forgettable era in Cleveland...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

777th Place - Junior Noboa

Card #503

Let's start off with the positive:

Junior Noboa has a great smile!

He seems like a charismatic guy.  You can see the thrill on his face as the Topps photographer steals a shot.  He probably didn't realize how terrible the card would turn out.

I did some in depth research (about a minute of Google image searching) and it looks like the Topps printing press had some issues.  There is a green mole on his left eye that doesn't appear in different Noboa cards.  It must be an ink stain of some sort?  There are other marks near his hat and above the "d" and "n" of the Indians script, though that could be nicks in the  boring-as-all-get-out green wall in the background.  I'm fairly certain he's standing in an old Municipal Stadium men's room.

Before we lay this card to rest, we must address Junior's pullover jacket.  I'm not convinced it's officially licensed MLB gear.  There isn't an offensive Native American logo to be seen.  It's probably a generic knock-off from the local Wal-Mart.  C'mon Cleveland, utility infielders deserve uniforms too!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

778th Place - Bob Tewksbury

Card #593

It's weird to me to see Tewksbury in a Cubs uniform instead of a Cardinals jersey.  It's even weirder since that's not a real Cubs uniform.

That's right, in case you're legally blind, we have another airbrush disaster.

Tewksbury came to the Cubs during the 1987 season from the Yankees.  I give credit to the airbrush artist at Topps, because his jersey looks like honest-to-goodness Cubs apparel.  But you take one glance at the cap and the jig is up.  That letter "c" looks like a knock-off attempt you might see being sold by a shady street vendor outside of Wrigley.

This card also introduces a new label I'm adding to the mix:  nose hairs. 

I'm not sure why they're fascinated with the down-under camera approach, but this is hardly the last attempt we'll see of Topps trying to capture a nose goblin on cardboard.

Monday, February 25, 2013

779th Place - Rick Manning

Card #441

Those 80's-era Brewer uniforms are sweet.  The blue piping, the glove/m&b logo on the hats, just a classic look.

I'll bet you didn't notice any of that, though.

I'll bet you're staring at that awkward face Rick Manning is making. 

Sometimes Topps is just mean.  There's no way that could be the best photo in their film roll.  Was he picking his nose in the other shots?  I'm not sure if he's smiling or being examined by a dentist just off camera.  He seems to have a nice enough normal grin.  Maybe Topps was just a big Dennis Eckersley fan...

When you look at the back of Manning's baseball card, you're struck by how unspectacular his career was.  He played 14 seasons, mostly as a starter, and only once had a slugging percentage above .400.  In 1987, the year of the juiced ball, he didn't have a single home run in 114 at-bats.  He didn't walk that much, he's a career .257 hitter...he must be the shining definition of a "league average" player. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

780th Place - Dennis Rasmussen

Card #135

I don't get it, I really don't get it.

Back in the 80's, Topps saved the card numbers ending in 5 and 0 for star players.  How did Rasmussen earn his card number?  He did have 18 wins in 1986, but his other stats from that year hardly indicated he was anything other than lucky.

The longer I look at this card, the more I think I should have had him ranked lower.  Rasmussen came to Cincinnati from the Yankees during the 1987 season, but Topps showed no mercy on the airbrushing.  It takes a certain amount of guts to dye black to red.  You can also tell they cropped Rasmussen from his original background to the artificial blue.  I penalized Tito Landrum more harshly for a similar setup, but there's something about Dennis Rasmussen's earnest smile that bewitches me.  I might be turning into a softie.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

781st Place - Pat Perry

Card #282

Covert airbrush alert!!!

Pat Perry was traded from the Cardinals to the Reds in late August of 1987, and whereas our last few cards in this countdown have been obvious in their uniform alterations, Topps had the benefit of converting Perry from a red and white uniform to a different red and white uniform.  Focus in on that "C", though, and you can see the Frankenstein effects.

I'm making a concerted effort while writing this blog to minimize the attention I pay to a player's physical appearance.  None of us got to choose our respective gene pools, and making fun of the way somebody looks is shallow and bullying. 

All that being said...I'm fascinated by Pat's chipped tooth and faint moustache.  Did he take a line drive to the face?  Did he forget to shave his upper lip that morning?  Can I still sign up for his baseball academy?

Also, the placement of the Topps logo on this card almost looks like it's a patch on his uniform.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

782nd Place - Dave Dravecky

Card #68

Does anybody else think Dave Dravecky's airbrushed hat looks like a chalkboard, complete with chalk markings?

The hat is high, the background is dull, and Dravecky is staring off into space.  Is that a smirk we see?  Is he pulling a "Mona Lisa" on us?

1988 wasn't the year of bad baseball cards for Dravecky, it was the year they found cancer in his pitching arm.  The next season he experienced one of the most gruesome injuries anyone has ever witnessed on a field of play.

I couldn't watch it again myself, but here's a link.

Clearly Dravecky has found some perspective, as the injury and cancer resulted in having his arm amputated.  A terrible baseball card suddenly doesn't seem so tragic...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

783rd Place - Pascual Perez

Card #647

I feel terrible placing Pascual Perez this low on the countdown.  He was a well known, directionally-challenged, quirky personality during his time in the majors.  He was recently murdered, so I feel like a grade-A jerk...

...but this card is awful.

And it's mysteriously awful!  Perez didn't pitch in 1986.  In 1987, the most recent season on the backs of these cards and the general time frame these pictures would have been taken, Perez only pitched for the Expos.  So why the crappy airbrush?

It appears Perez didn't get called up by Montreal until August of 1987.  That must have been too late in the season for the sloth-like Topps photographers to go out and get a new picture.  Does that mean he was wearing a minor league uniform in the original photo?  Is it an older picture from his Atlanta Braves days?  Why didn't the photographer better incorporate his gold tooth?

We may never know the answers to these questions.  Rest in peace, Pascual.  Topps did you dirty.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

784th Place - Rick Honeycutt

Card #641

You can probably tell by now I'm prejudiced against airbrushing.

Rick Honeycutt was traded from the Dodgers to the A's in the middle of the 1987 season, necessitating once again a uniform change for the card.  And again, Topps held a coloring contest at the local elementary school where one lucky third grader's work was chosen to immortalize Honeycutt's new team.

As a kid, Rick Honeycutt always made me think of this.  That's probably because my mom would only buy non-sugary cereals when I was young.  Now that she's a grandmother, she's always trying to sneak sweet snacks to my kids whenever I turn my back on her.  I guess since she doesn't have to deal with disciplining kids hopped up on sugar she doesn't mind making them junkies.  Somehow I'm blaming Honeycutt for this. 

The Dodgers received Tim Belcher when they sent Honeycutt to Oakland, and Belcher helped pitch the Dodgers to their improbable World Series win in...1988.  Between that and the silly looking, hat-tipped-forward look Honeycutt is sporting on this card, there's more than enough bad mojo to earn Rick such a terrible ranking on this blog.

(To his credit, he did lead the AL in ERA back in 1983 - that has to be one of the more unusual seasonal ERA title holders in MLB history...)

Monday, February 18, 2013

785th Place - Dave LaPoint

Card #334

"LaPoint."  French for..."the point."

I was so close to putting this one in 786's place, but Topps managed to preserve the natural background before committing another hatchet job with their airbrush.

Once again the artificial enhancements are freakishly cartoonish.  The Chicago script on the jersey is placed too high.  The shadow across his right shoulder is a nice touch, if you're a fan of details in your airbrushing.

The worst offense on the card, though, is the cursive letter "c" on Dave's cap.  Besides being Chicago's worst ever uniform scheme (and boy, that's saying something), the Topps graffiti expert just couldn't get the right look to it.

And Dave LaPoint is laughing maniacally all the while...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

786th Place - Tito Landrum

Card #581

What grievous action did Tito Landrum commit against Topps to deserve a fate like this?

Topps has a long running fascination with airbrushing - something they're still doing in 2013 - and Tito here is the perfect example of everything wrong with it.  Mr. Landrum was traded from the Cardinals to the Dodgers during the 1987 season, which caused the need to grotesquely alter his uniform.  The blue of the hat overpowers the too-light white of the "LA" symbol.  I have no idea what the color of Tito's original jersey looks like, but the the after-effect looks like my four year old got a hold of a gray crayon with no concern for realism or believability.  The background is also fabricated.  Tito looks more like a cartoon than an actual ballplayer.

Here's what kills me about this card.  The "special effects" applied to it were somehow more convenient and less time consuming for Topps than just snapping a new picture.  For Pete's sake - he played in Los Angeles!  It's the second largest city in MLB, nobody could get a photo of him in one of the 51 games he played? 

Congratulations, Tito Landrum, you have the worst picture card in the 1988 set!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

787th Place - Checklist

Card #121

Thank goodness, the last checklist.

Tomorrow we'll start with actual pictures of players.  As I move forward, my rankings will take into consideration such factors as card appearance, quality of ballplayer, originality, uniqueness, historical impact, and numerous other x-factors.  Please feel free to argue vigorously or agree completely - there will be very little middle ground as my opinions will be swift and without mercy. 

On a completely unrelated it not utterly amazing that a player listed on this checklist - from 1988 - actually played in major league games last year!?!  That's a span of twenty-four years!!!  How fast can you spot the card? 

Notable names: Ryne Sandberg, Sparky Anderson, Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, Tom Lasorda, Barry Larkin, Dick Williams, Kirby Puckett

(Confession - I ranked these checklists numerically, not by quality, so I think it's funny the checklist with the most hall of famers on it was actually ranked highest...)

Friday, February 15, 2013

788th Place - Checklist

Card #253

Things you could find in a new pack of cards that are worse than checklists:

  • stale bubble gum

  • those theft prevention cardboard devices that are supposed to trigger alarms if you try and leave the store

  • some nonsensical promo urging you to enter an incomprehensible code for a one in a million giveaway that is clearly just an attempt to secure your email address and bombard you with spam

  • New York Yankee cards!  (ba-dum-bum)

Notable Names:  Bruce Sutter, Robin Yount, Goose Rich Gossage, Wade Boggs, Nolan Ryan

789th Place - Checklist

Card #373

I've seen some frenzied discussions related to the new series of 2013 Topps and the shorter run of cards in the completed set (somewhere around 660).  OK, maybe not frenzied, but some lively debate.

*cue old man voice*

"Back in my day a Topps set was a long, laborious 792 cards.  Every team was guaranteed their third string catcher would have a card!  Triple-A lifer with a cup of coffee the previous year?  Card!  If you suited up, you probably had a card.  That's the way it should be!"

*end old man rant*

I'll tell you one advantage of shorter sets:  fewer checklists.

Notable names:  Bert Blyleven, Tony Gwynn, Carlton Fisk, Wade Boggs

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

790th Place - Checklist

Card #528

One of the reasons I love 1988 baseball cards so much is because that was the year I remember card collecting ballooning in popularity among my peers.

I was in junior high at the time.  A friend of mine at school was an established collector like myself, we used to trade somewhat frequently (he was a Bucky Dent collector of all things - I still remember handing over my 1984 Topps Dent to him).  We would also bring our cards to school from time to time to share what we had gathered.

Anyway, one day it seemed like all these other kids were suddenly buying and collecting too.  The funny thing, though, was they knew next to nothing about collecting or even baseball in general.  Kids would come up to us with their latest pack purchases and ask us which cards were "good."  This was probably my first time experiencing the sensation that I was an authority figure.

At some point this blog will feature cards with player faces on them, I promise.

Notable names:  Ozzie Smith, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Andre Dawson, Dave Winfield

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

791st Place - Checklist

Card #646

The wise Night Owl was kind enough to inform me there has been another 1988 Topps blog:

I want to pay respects to my predecessor, as I hadn't realized it existed.  I'll go ahead and proceed with my version, since I'm "ranking" the cards from worst to first.  But please check the link above as it's quite outstanding.

A few years back, before my revitalized interest in baseball cards, I threw out thousands of "common cards."  The cardboard fodder wasn't good enough for binders, was cumbersome to move...I just got rid of them.  Surely checklist #646 was among the casualties.  Now I'm blogging about it!  I regret chucking those cards, that's for sure.

All that being said, checklists are still terrible.

Notable names: Gary Carter, Don Sutton, Mike Schmidt, Cal Ripken

Monday, February 11, 2013

792nd Place - Checklist

Card #776

Was there anything worse as a kid than saving up a few quarters, buying a pack of cards, and pulling a checklist?

As a kid my parents would buy me the newest Topps Factory set every year for Christmas.  I remember with my first set I actually pulled a pen out and started marking the checklist cards, but getting bored with it and abandoning the effort soon after.

I suppose they did play a practical role for the folks who were looking to complete a set via wax packs, but still, they're maddening.  Hang tight, there are four more to come...

Notable names:  Jim Rice, George Brett, Whitey Herzog

Sunday, February 10, 2013