Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The most Hall of Famers, update 4


Every March I slip into a scanning funk. I am never more aware of how time-consuming scanning is than during the busiest month of the year.

Lately I've found myself trying to avoid scanning large amounts of cards, even though that is part of what makes Night Owl Cards so damn fun -- all the glorious scans!

Don't worry, I'll snap out of it soon, but meanwhile, here is a typically low-scan post.

It's been more than a year since I've updated my quest to find which Topps set features the most Hall of Famers. Since then, the Hall has added four more members. So it's about time that I updated any sets already featured that include those four players in the set, and also total the Hall of Famers in another set.

The only period that I have avoided focusing on so far -- outside of the last 20 years or so, when obviously there won't be a lot of Hall of Famers -- is the late 1980s. So I'm going straight for a darling of the Topps card past and see how many Hall of Famers are in the 1987 set.

I will include the '87 total in with the other sets that I have done already.



1956 (33): Hank Aaron, Walter Alston, Luis Aparicio, Richie Ashburn, Ernie Banks, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Roberto Clemente, Larry Doby, Bob Feller, Whitey Ford, Nellie Fox, Warren Giles, Will Harridge, Monte Irvin, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Sandy Koufax, Bob Lemon, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Willie Mays, Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, Robin Roberts, Jackie Robinson, Red Schoendienst, Enos Slaughter, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, Hoyt Wilhelm, Ted Williams, Early Wynn



1963 (35): Hank Aaron, Walter Alston, Luis Aparicio, Richie Ashburn, Ernie Banks, Yogi Berra, Lou Brock, Jim Bunning, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Clemente, Don Drysdale, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Whitey Herzog, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle, Juan Marichal, Bill Mazeroski, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Stan Musial, Robin Roberts, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Ron Santo, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, Willie Stargell, Joe Torre, Hoyt Wilhelm, Billy Williams, Dick Williams, Carl Yastrzemski



1968 (42): Hank Aaron, Walter Alston, Luis Aparicio, Ernie Banks, Johnny Bench, Lou Brock, Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Steve Carlton, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Clemente, Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson, Jim Hunter, Fergie Jenkins, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Tony LaRussa, Mickey Mantle, Juan Marichal, Eddie Mathews, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Willie McCovey, Joe Morgan, Phil Niekro, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Nolan Ryan, Ron Santo, Red Schoendienst, Tom Seaver, Willie Stargell, Don Sutton, Joe Torre, Hoyt Wilhelm, Billy Williams, Dick Williams, Carl Yastrzemski



1969 (47): Hank Aaron, Walter Alston, Luis Aparicio, Ernie Banks, Johnny Bench, Lou Brock, Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Steve Carlton, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Clemente, Bobby Cox, Don Drysdale, Leo Durocher, Rollie Fingers, Bob Gibson, Joe Gordon, Jim Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Fergie Jenkins, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Willie McCovey, Joe Morgan, Phil Niekro, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Nolan Ryan, Ron Santo, Red Schoendienst, Tom Seaver, Willie Stargell, Don Sutton, Joe Torre, Earl Weaver, Hoyt Wilhelm, Billy Williams, Dick Williams, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski



1970 (43): Hank Aaron, Walter Alston, Sparky Anderson, Luis Aparicio, Ernie Banks, Johnny Bench, Lou Brock, Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Steve Carlton, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Clemente, Leo Durocher, Rollie Fingers, Bob Gibson, Jim Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Fergie Jenkins, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Willie McCovey, Joe Morgan, Phil Niekro, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Nolan Ryan, Ron Santo, Red Schoendienst, Tom Seaver, Willie Stargell, Don Sutton, Joe Torre, Earl Weaver, Hoyt Wilhelm, Billy Williams, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski



1975 (43): Hank Aaron, Walt Alston, Sparky Anderson, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, George Brett, Lou Brock, Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Steve Carlton, Gary Carter, Rollie Fingers, Carlton Fisk, Bob Gibson, Rich Gossage, Jim "Catfish" Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Fergie Jenkins; Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Joe Morgan, Phil Niekro, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Jim Rice, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Nolan Ryan, Ron Santo, Mike Schmidt, Red Schoendienst, Tom Seaver, Willie Stargell, Don Sutton, Joe Torre, Earl Weaver, Billy Williams, Dick Williams, Dave Winfield, Carl Yastrzemski, Robin Yount



1983 (44): Sparky Anderson, Johnny Bench, Bert Blyleven, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Rod Carew, Steve Carlton, Gary Carter, Bobby Cox, Andre Dawson, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Carlton Fisk, Rich Gossage, Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Whitey Herzog, Reggie Jackson, Fergie Jenkins, Tony LaRussa, Tom Lasorda, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan, Eddie Murray, Phil Niekro, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Jim Rice, Cal Ripken, Frank Robinson, Nolan Ryan, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Schmidt, Tom Seaver, Ozzie Smith, Don Sutton, Bruce Sutter, Joe Torre, Earl Weaver, Dick Williams, Dave Winfield, Carl Yastrzemski, Robin Yount



1987 (35):
Sparky Anderson, Yogi Berra, Bert Blyleven, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Steve Carlton, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk, Rich Gossage, Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Whitey Herzog, Reggie Jackson, Barry Larkin, Tony LaRussa, Tom Lasorda, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Phil Niekro, Kirby Puckett, Jim Rice, Cal Ripken, Nolan Ryan, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Schmidt, Tom Seaver, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, Don Sutton, Earl Weaver, Dick Williams, Dave Winfield, Robin Yount



1996 (21): Roberto Alomar, Craig Biggio, Wade Boggs, Andre Dawson, Dennis Eckersley, Tom Glavine, Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Randy Johnson, Barry Larkin, Greg Maddux, Mickey Mantle, Pedro Martinez, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken, Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, John Smoltz, Frank Thomas


1987 Topps has just 35 Hall of Famers as there was quite a bit of turnover around 1983-85 when a number of established players retired. Also, '87 is one of the first years to be affected by PED use as players like Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire were just starting out. No coincidence, Jose Canseco's first flagship appearance is in '87 Topps.

There are two Hall of Fame players in the '87 set that weren't current players at the time. Roberto Clemente and Carl Yastrzemski are featured in the Turn Back The Clock subset. I didn't include those, although now that I realize I included Topps' Mickey Mantle tribute in the '96 set, I wonder if I should have.

The only set to be affected by the addition of the 2015 Hall class is 1996 and all four members of the class were in that set, so '96 jumps from 17 Hall representatives to 21.

I hope to pick up the pace on this series as I don't want to be adding one set a year -- I'll never end up with an answer if I'm going that slow.

But at least I scanned just two cards. Believe me, that's about all I can handle in March.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Clues


Each year, when I make the determination that I am not going to attempt to complete that year's Topps base set -- which has been every year lately -- I go about organizing the cards in order by team.

This way, it's easier for me to find cards if I am trading. Also, there is just something pleasing about categorizing cards by team that goes back to my childhood. You can assemble them by their respective divisions, in alphabetical order or by which ones you wish would die in a bear trap. The possibilities are endless.

And if the set is particularly colorful, as it is this year, you get the neat effect above. That picture is just as pretty as all get-out.

This is how I had assembled my cards for 2015 Topps, but all the while I had this nagging feeling that it wasn't quite the way they should be arranged.

Today, I decided to do something about it.

See if you can guess, by the pictures, what I am doing now.





That's right.

Yeah, I have no idea why I'm doing it.

I'll probably get bored of this by June, and then there's the whole matter of where the binder is going to go. There's no room in this house.

But Topps found a way to suck me in.

Stupid pretty colors.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Why I don't bother with Heritage minor league sets


Until a couple of weeks ago, this green-tinted parallel of Dodgers prospect Zach Lee was the only card I had from the debut set of Topps Heritage Minors in 2011.

Although I enjoy minor league sets, it's more for their kitsch value. The old cards, the wacky poses, the ball girls and trainers, spotting some well-known major leaguer just starting out in the bowels of professional baseball.

But Heritage Minors I'll probably never understand and definitely never purchase. The cards come at a bit of a premium because they're on Heritage card stock, yet they're still a bunch of nobodies. They don't deserve that fancy stock. That's for major league players.

Along with that, I'm being asked to spend my hard-earned money on a bunch of guys who will probably never amount to anything on an MLB level. Yeah, I know, prospecting is about finding that needle in a haystack, but I'm much too poor for that nonsense. So, all I've got then are guys who played ball pretty well but not well enough for the league I watch on TV and follow semi-religiously.

To help me demonstrate why Heritage Minors is not on my radar, Scott Crawford On Cards sent me several Dodgers prospects from that initial set from 2011 (he's probably going to wonder why he sent them to me after this).

Let's see how these guys are fairing these days:


Chris Withrow, Chattanooga Lookouts

Withrow is the most notable Dodger from this group, although he's in medical limbo now. Elbow and back surgery means it'll be midseason before anyone will see if he can recapture the overpowering stuff he showed in 2013 with L.A.



Nathan Eovaldi, Chattanooga Lookouts

Eovaldi is an established major leaguer but with the wrong team. He was traded by the Marlins to the Yankees in the Martin Prado-David Phelps deal a couple of months ago. The Marlins got him from the Dodgers in the Hanley Ramirez trade.



Allen Webster, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes

Webster has spent the last couple of years with the Red Sox, moving back and forth between the big-league team and the minors. He hasn't fared that well in the majors. I have a number of nice Webster cards from the heady days before he was sent to Boston in the big Adrian Gonzalez mega-trade. They don't mean a heck of a lot now.



Jake Lemmerman, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes

Lemmerman was dealt to St. Louis for Skip Schumaker back in 2012. Lemmerman last played in the Padres' organization last season, but he wasn't able to hit above .200.



Garrett Gould, Great Lakes Loons

Gould is still making the slow, slow climb in the Dodgers organization but was sidelined by Tommy John surgery in November and probably won't pitch this season.

There are still two Dodgers prospects from this set that I don't have. Brian Cavazos-Galvez is a career minor league in the Dodgers organization, finishing his sixth season in the minors last year. Kyle Russell last played independent ball in 2013.

And Zach Lee -- still need the regular old base card version -- remains the Dodgers' pride and joy, a potential spot starter for L.A. this year after his first season in Triple A a year ago.

If Withrow never returns, Lee could be the only guy from this set who settles in with the Dodgers, everyone else having moved on or even given up on pro baseball. Heck, even the Chattanooga Lookouts are now a Twins affiliate (the Dodgers' Double A affiliate is now Tulsa).

Fortunately, Scott also sent me some established Dodgers:


Of course, there's not guarantee with those guys either.

In four years I might be talking about Ryu's career as a Mariner and Kershaw chucking it all to become a missionary in Africa.

There are no guarantees.

But at least if they're in a Dodgers uniform, I feel better about the whole thing.

Friday, February 27, 2015

30 teams, 2015 edition

Welcome again to the Night Owl Cards ranking studios.

This is the seventh annual edition of "30 teams," my rating of each Major League Baseball team from my most favorite to the most unholy spawn of beezlebub.

Once again, I'm always happy when this tradition comes around again because it means that we're not far from baseball, spring, and a world in which I can see grass, sidewalks, roadside curbing, the fence in our yard, the bottom half of sign posts, and the vehicles driving down the street as I crawl inch-by-inch in reverse down the driveway to see out from behind the snowbanks, hoping that this won't be the day when I place a call to the insurance company.

But you just go right on visiting your spring training sites. I'll get you back when it's August.

Anyway, for this list I decided to focus on rookie mojo. For each team, I found a card that features a past rookie sensation from that team. It was pretty easy to find cards for most of the teams. Some, like the Dodgers and the A's in particular, have enjoyed abundant rookie stars. Others, like the Diamondbacks, well, it's just another reason why I'm wondering why they exist.

But I found a card for every team and now it's time to rank them. Once again, I remind you: this is the authoritative list. Make your own list if you wish. But this the original copy.


1. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (highest ranking on this blog: 1st, lowest ranking on this blog: 1st): The benefits of rooting for the Dodgers are never-ending. Last year I mentioned the abundance of gloriously old cards available for the Dodgers. This time it's how many fantastic rookies they've featured. I went with the very latest. Also, this is the only card that will be shown that is not a Topps card. The Dodgers are special.



2. KANSAS CITY ROYALS (highest ranking: 2nd, lowest ranking: 5th). I could have selected George Brett or Bo Jackson, but The Hammer is more interesting to me. The Royals firmly entrenched themselves in the No. 2 spot by fighting mightily against the evil Giants on the largest stage in baseball. Valiant battle, fellas, but there's only so much you can do against even-year bullshit.



3. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (highest ranking: 3rd, lowest ranking: 4th): This card is sure to get some Pirates supporters stirred up, but I don't care how many stats anyone cites, Steve Sax is still the 1982 Rookie of the Year. I mean, Johnny Ray to some people is the guy in the first line of the Dexys Midnight Runners song. And I'm pretty sure Eileen was a Steve Sax fan.



4. BOSTON RED SOX (highest ranking: 2nd, lowest ranking: 4th): I've been noting as I look through my 2015 Topps cards, how nameless the Red Sox seem to me. I know so few players on the team. This is vastly different from the mid-to-late '70s when the Red Sox were only slightly less familiar than the Dodgers.



5. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (highest ranking: 5th, lowest ranking: 17th): I was tempted to push the Orioles past the Red Sox this year. But the O's and Red Sox are the two teams that my brothers root for and back in those days it was known -- at least by two of us -- that the Red Sox were clearly more legitimate than the Orioles. So shall it be. Eddie or no Eddie.



6. TEXAS RANGERS (highest ranking: 5th, lowest ranking: 16th): I sense this team heading down in the rankings next year unless Adrian Beltre can do something to resurrect the entire team. At this rate, they'll be dragging another David Clyde out from the minors to attract some fans.



7. OAKLAND A'S (highest ranking: 5th, lowest ranking: 8th): Throwing a bone to the 30-something crowd. Canseco pissed me off in the late '80s.



8. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (highest ranking: 2nd, lowest ranking: 9th): Starting to feel sorry for the Phillies. That usually means a plunge down the list. But they did help the Dodgers get Jimmy Rollins.



9. HOUSTON ASTROS (highest ranking: 9th, lowest ranking: 16th): This is the first change in ranking from last year's list. The Astros soar up five spots for no other reason than I want them to win the American League title and then the World Series (provided the Dodgers aren't the other team) so people can talk about how the Astros appeared for both the AL and the NL in the World Series 10 years apart and everyone will see how clearly wrong that is and move Houston back to the National League.

It could happen.


10. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (highest ranking: 6th, lowest ranking: 11th): The White Sox drop one place because a certain owl's boss is a White Sox fan. I'm very, very sorry that he is in your camp White Sox fans. My condolences.



11. DETROIT TIGERS (highest ranking: 7th, lowest ranking: 11th): I've been doing a lot of thinking about other fans and the teams they choose as their favorites, trying to put myself in their place and understand why they root for them. I've always had a difficult time with why someone would root for the Tigers outside of growing up in Michigan. They seem almost generic. Mark Fidrych aside, of course. I don't mean to be mean, they just don't do anything for me.



12. MINNESOTA TWINS (highest ranking: 10th, lowest ranking: 13th): The mid-1960s Twins must have been fun. A team that could win without a dome.



13. CINCINNATI REDS (highest ranking: 9th, lowest ranking: 13th): I will never say I miss the Big Red Machine, but I do miss the old National League West of the Dodgers, Reds, Astros, Giants, Braves and Padres. Good times.



14. TORONTO BLUE JAYS (highest ranking: 13th, lowest ranking: 18th): Eric Hinske was the rookie of the year. Really. The Blue Jays don't seem to be known for their rookie star power. There's Dave Stieb and then what? Tony Fernandez? Alfredo Griffin? Jose Cruz Jr.? I've got to be missing someone. Jesse Barfield?



15. CLEVELAND INDIANS (highest ranking: 11th, lowest ranking: 17th): The best thing about Joe Charboneau was it got me to pay attention to the Indians, who were absolutely awful when I first started following baseball.



16. NEW YORK METS (highest ranking: 16th, lowest ranking: 21st): The player on the card has nothing to do with the team ranking, or else the sight of a 1986 Met would send this team plummeting into San Diego Padre territory.



17. MIAMI MARLINS (highest ranking: 13th, lowest ranking: 18th): The Marlins are interesting. I want to see what Dee Gordon does on that team. We'll see if I'm saying the same thing when I'm watching the Mets play the Marlins in that horrible ballpark for the 48th time this summer.



18. TAMPA BAY RAYS (highest ranking: 17th, lowest ranking: 23rd): No Joe Maddon. This team does not compute.



19. SEATTLE MARINERS (highest ranking: 18th, lowest ranking: 20th): Any team that has an immediate shot of doing harm to the Angels is OK with me.



20. ATLANTA BRAVES (highest ranking: 20th, lowest ranking: 24th): With the Phillies and Mets in the division you never know, but it looks like the Braves are gunning for the cellar this year. I'm hopeful, because it'll be like the old days. It'll be as if I saved videotapes of Skip Caray and Joe Simpson lamenting the bumbling late '80s Braves.



21. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (highest ranking: 21st, lowest ranking: 24th): I'll never forgive them for taking away the Expos, or for the back-to-back hobby hysteria of Strasburg and Harper, or for being unable to beat the Giants. But something tells me I'll be leaning on them to defeat some horrific team again next fall.



22. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (highest ranking: 10th, lowest ranking: 23rd): Thank goodness for the Pirates, because the NL Central is a cesspool. We're a long way from Harvey's Wallbangers, Robin.



23. COLORADO ROCKIES (highest ranking: 23rd, lowest ranking: 26th): Can you believe it? The Rockies have pulled away from the rest of the non-Dodger NL West teams! This is a testament to both their nonthreatening nature and the fact that some NL teams have lost what remains of their soul.



24. VINCE COLEMAN (highest ranking: 6th, lowest ranking: 24th): To wit. Mike Matheny has officially replaced Angel Pagan in the "Does he ever smile?" category. I don't understand why the Cardinals have such a difficult time hiring likeable managers. Herzog, LaRussa and now Smiley. And I'm only writing about this because I don't want to go on a rant about Adam Wainwright. Also, good heavens, Cardinals, you're only one step ahead of the ...



25. CHICAGO CUBS (highest ranking: 20th; lowest ranking: 25th): I am officially bracing for the Joe Maddon-Cubs lovefest. It's probably already started, but there's going to be a fever-pitch point this season and the Cubs are already filled with so much saccharin that adding media darling Maddon onto the sugar pile will throw me into a coma by July.



26. LOS ANGELES ANGELS (highest ranking: 25th, lowest ranking: 26th): What is it with the fact that two of the Angels' greatest rookie stars of all-time have fish surnames?



27. SAN DIEGO PADRES (highest ranking: 27th, lowest ranking: 27th): I know, you want Benito Santiago here. But I'm not going to do it. Because I don't like the Padres. Do some research on Butch Metzger. The Padres have landed a bunch of star players that ... hmmmmm, several other teams seemed much too eager to let go. But let's get all excited about the revamped Padres. As usual, I hope they are wildly unsuccessful.



28. NEW YORK YANKEES (highest ranking: 28th, lowest ranking: 29th): I know, I know. I could have put Derek Jeter or Thurman Munson here. But I just like reminding Yankees fans that they once really, really, really liked Joba Chamberlain. I should have sold this card for thousands (OK, 20 bucks) while I could.



29. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (highest ranking: 28th, lowest ranking: 29th): It is really difficult finding a rookie star with the Diamondbacks. I almost had to go with Conor Jackson. Arizona seemed to have calmed down a little from all of its nonsense of the last couple of years and then Dave Stewart started spouting about "true baseball teams", solidifying their No. 29 ranking.



30. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (highest ranking: 30th, lowest ranking: 30th): Montefusco is the perfect guy for this spot and this team. He played for nothing but teams I've despised all my life (Giants, Braves, Padres, Yankees) and he couldn't shut up about how much he disliked the Dodgers ("I hate the Dodgers. I'm from New Jersey and I've always been a Yankees fan." Well, that's at least two black marks right on your forehead, sir). But those were the good old days when it was just troll talk because the Giants sucked. Now they keep winning World Series and I'm still baffled as to how they keep doing it. These are dark, dark times for baseball.

Geez, I hated ending on that unhappy point. Maybe next year I'll start with the worst first.

Anyway, there you are, the rankings for 2015. As usual, keep this list next to your TV/viewing device so you know who to root for.