Saturday, October 11, 2014

Who will win the ALCS

Game 1 of the ALCS is already in the books, and I haven't even told you who will win the thing yet.

Normally, I'd go through a careful position-by-position examination, presenting intricate mathematical formulas and graphs, simulated games and painfully detailed reasoning to come up with my prediction.

But sadly, I need cards of the present day players for that, and I don't do enough modern collecting to showcase a card of each starting player on each team.

What I can do is show you cards of each starting player from the last time each team was in a World Series.

Let's face it. The only reason the masses are more interested in the ALCS matchup than the NLCS is because it's been so long since the Orioles and Royals did anything in the postseason. ... Well, that and the NLCS is filled with satan spawn.

Outside of the Cubs and Pirates (and the teams that have never been to a World Series), no team has waited longer for another Series appearance than the Orioles and the Royals. People remember that good ol' O's team from 1983 and the lovable upstart Royals team from 1985. It's nostalgia that's causing people to root for these teams.

So what I'm going to do is compare the cards from the championship Orioles team of '83 with the cards of the championship Royals team of '85 and come up with your winner for 2014. In other words, this will totally random and not scientific or mathematical at all! But it will be fun!

So here is a card war between '83 Topps and '85 Topps. May the best-looking card -- according to me -- win:


Orioles: Eddie Murray
Royals: Steve Balboni

"Reasoning": Both guys look like they're going to set a new world speed record for launching a spherical object. Balboni, in particular, seems he's there for one reason and one reason only. But I can't get over the Murray stare, the black bat aimed toward the pitcher, and the far away look in his eyes in the inset -- in fact, he's looking directly at Balboni!

Verdict: Murray
Score: Orioles 1-0


Orioles: Rich Dauer
Royals: Frank White

"Reasoning": I dig White's worried gallop either toward or back to a base. But there is just too much intrigue in the Dauer photo. Will he catch the ball? Will he snag John Mayberry (yes, John Mayberry) wandering off base? And let us in on the joke, inset Dauer!

Verdict: Dauer
Score: Orioles 2-0


Orioles: Cal Ripken
Royals: Onix Concepcion

"Reasoning": This is the first Topps base card of Ripken. But that aside, it's a nice action shot of young Cal, and the orange jersey is pretty cool on a baseball card, just ask 1977 Topps Jim Palmer. Concepcion actually had more time at SS than World Series hero Buddy Biancalana, but the interest-level on this card is not high.

Verdict: Ripken
Score: Orioles 3-0


Orioles: Aurelio Rodriguez
Royals: George Brett

"Reasoning": Todd Cruz spent more time at third for the Orioles than Aurelio Rodriguez in 1983, but Cruz is with the Mariners in the '83 set. This Rodriguez is from the Traded set. But despite the double-hat action, I can't select Aurelio because it's miscut and throwing off the Brett card.

Verdict: Brett
Score: Orioles 3-1


Orioles: Rick Dempsey
Royals: Jim Sundberg

"Reasoning": A catcher in catcher's gear will always win over a catcher batting.

Verdict: Dempsey
Score: Orioles 4-1


Orioles: John Lowenstein
Royals: Lonnie Smith

"Reasoning": The Smith card is from the Traded set, but I'm not taking points off for that. The Lowenstein card features more action, but the fact that Brother Low is not wearing his trademark glasses in the inset photo is weirding me out.

Verdict: Smith
Score: Orioles 4-2


Orioles: Al Bumbry
Royals: Willie Wilson

"Reasoning": The Five-Tool Collector just displayed some 1983 Orioles cards and he described some of the photos in '83 as "grainy". But if '83 is grainy than '85 is downright foggy. The Wilson card features some good action but I feel like I'm viewing it through a haze.

Verdict: Bumbry
Score: Orioles 5-2


Orioles: Dan Ford
Royals: Darryl Motley

"Reasoning": Who remembers Darryl Motley? I do. But I'm betting all those people tweeting about the Royals don't. I don't think he's been mentioned since 1985. But aside from some overdue mention and the Expo in the dugout, it can't compete with Disco Dan's card. He looks like he just pelted an old lady in the stands with a foul ball. Geeesh!

Verdict: Ford
Score: Orioles 6-2


Orioles: Ken Singleton
Royals: Hal McRae

"Reasoning": I remember being unimpressed by the Singleton card when it came out. No batting for the DH? And all that emptiness behind him! Contrast that with a full crowd behind McRae. And McRae appears to be about to kill something.

Verdict: McRae
Score: Orioles 6-3


Orioles: Storm Davis
Royals: Bret Saberhagen

"Reasoning": My poor youngest brother, the Orioles fan, received a raft of shit about Storm Davis' first name. Keep in mind, we grew up between the flower-child era and the "name your kid whatever the hell you want let the teacher figure it out" era. Seeing someone named "Storm" was hilarious. However, the photo of Davis on the mound on his rookie card beats Saberhagen's droopy dog look on his rookie card. (Yeah, I know Coke is advertised in the background).

Verdict: Davis
Score: Orioles 7-3


Orioles: Scott McGregor
Royals: Charlie Leibrandt

"Reasoning": The McGregor card was one of the last ones I needed to complete the set. Because of that I've had to settle for some less-impressive conditioned cards, including this one. The Leibrandt card looks better all around.

Verdict: Leibrandt
Score: Orioles 7-4


Orioles: Tippy Martinez
Royals: Dan Quisenberry

"Reasoning": I'm not impressed with either of these cards. There are just too many '85 cards like the Quiz card. Straight posed shots -- some that work, most that look the same.

Verdict: Martinez
Score: Orioles 8-4


Orioles: Earl Weaver
Royals: Dick Howser

"Reasoning": Weaver's card is one of the greatest manager cards ever made. It must have taken some guts to go with that photo.

Verdict: Weaver
Score: Orioles 9-4

And that's all the matchups I have.

It looks like the Orioles will win this series. Not 9-4, of course, because there are only seven games.

Sorry, Royals fans. It's in the cards.

(P.S.: I want the Royals to win. No, I have no idea if they will win or not).

(P.P.S.: I am not doing this for the Cardinals and Giants).


  1. I couldn't stomach that many Cardinals & Giants cards in a single post...

  2. I think most of these Royals cards were all from the same Expos-Royals game. That's kind of crazy. When I was a kid, I hated it when cards showed an AL team playing an NL team, 'cause that just didn't happen in the regular season. I felt baseball cards should ALWAYS show regular season or postseason action. Otherwise they felt fake. They felt like exhibition cards.

    It's funny how the Royals weren't given beter shots on their cards, since KC was a top team back then.

  3. Great post NO. It's really hard to remember when the Royals were good. I think I was still in college

  4. As a long suffering O's fan, and now down 2 games to 0, I hope this post provides some much needed mojo...

  5. That's Bob Watson on the Dauer card, not John Mayberry. That's a spring training shot and Toronto didn't trade Mayberry to the Yanks until May.

  6. This is where my OCD thinking really bugs me. I have always equated the Topps set with the team from the year before rather than the current year. Sort of like a yearbook rather than a look ahead. I associate the 1985 set with the 1984 Royals, not the champs same with the Orioles. I have always thought of the 1986 set as the Royals championship team set and 1984 as the Orioles. It's just nitpicking, I know, but if I could turn it on and off it wouldn't be called obsessive compulsive disorder now would it.

    PS The thing I remember most about Darryl Motley is that he was the first card I ever saw with the "Now With..." label on the front that most people associate with the O Pee Chee brand. His 1987 Topps card just totally threw my 10 year old brain for a loop when I saw that card.

  7. It's a shame that Topps didn't end up using an action shot for the Quisenberry card.