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Prepping for the World Series


This World Series is the first World Series for which I can say that it involves two teams that also faced off in a game that I covered.

Since my game coverage was so long ago, now at 17 years and counting thank you very much MLB moving the Expos, I have never covered an interleague game, which eliminates any of my past covered games as being previews for the World Series.

But the Astros-Nationals ... well, the Astros-Expos, I've done.

In fact, it's the first Major League game I ever covered and, let me tell you, the two teams in the World Series were nothing like they are now in 1990.

The Astros were 32-49 when I covered them on July 7 and battling the Padres for last place. The Expos were better, but everyone knew them as a middling team that had no chance of catching the Pirates or Mets, the dominant NL East teams of that time.

The game progressed to form and the Expos won 3-1. Here is the boxscore from that game as provided by the Expos PR staff:


I didn't think I'd ever feel nostalgic for dot-matrix, yet here we are.

I was at the game to cover Jim Deshaies, a native of the area, but Zane Smith overshadowed him basically by getting out of jams repeatedly. The Astros were a terrible offensive club at the time.

Here are some of the stars of that particular game:


Larry Walker also hit a home run but I forgot to scan his card.

The game was not only my first experience with covering a major league game but also my first experience with writing on deadline at an MLB game and writing remotely ... from a different country!

Needless to say I was a bit nervous. But in re-reading the article I didn't do too badly under the circumstances. Here it is:


It was all from the Astros perspective because Deshaies was the only reason I was there in the first place. Probably should've thrown a quote in from the Expos manager, Buck Rodgers, as we did have Expos fans in the area at the time, but I know I was pressed for time.

So, anyway, that's about the last time I will be mentioning the Expos in this post. As I mentioned before, I don't consider the Nationals an extension of the Expos, except in factual, historical connections such as what I just wrote about the game I covered.

So that makes the Nationals a lot less interesting to me. I've always considered them pretty dull. They've finally grabbed an identity with Strasburg and Harper and all the postseason losses and now the World Series, but there's just not a lot for me to discuss for a team that started existing in 2005.

So to try to get a little more interested in this matchup, I went through to find some interesting cards from both teams that are in my collection. Just a few -- because I don't have the time, and I'm sure you don't either.

Let's start with my favorite 2019 card of each team that's in my collection.

Astros:


Of course. Any time you put Nolan Ryan in an Astros uniform, you have a running start.

Nationals:


Not a lot to choose from, mostly because I just traded away a bunch of Nationals to two different people. But you can't go wrong with the stadium shots in this year's flagship.

Here's the Astros one just for fair-and-balanced coverage:


I need to finish off this set and get the rest of the Series 2 stadiums.

OK, now how about the entire decade, what's a notable card for each team for the decade of 2010-19?

Astros first:


I remember when I pulled this card among the first packs of 2013 Topps that I bought. I also pulled the blue parallel version and showed them on Twitter and people Freaked Out. I didn't have that blue parallel for long.

Nationals:


Yes. Card #661 from 2010. I've lost track of how many versions of this card there are or how many Stephen Strasburg cards Topps issued in 2010, but I know this was a big deal at the time. COMC still wants you to shell out at least 2 bucks for it.

All right, let's go back one decade farther since the Nationals began between 2000-09. What are a couple notable cards for each team from then?

Astros:


I am a big fan of Craig Biggio basically because of his professional treatment of me during the same day I covered that Astros-Expos game. This is Biggio's last Topps flagship card and it's a fitting photo.

Nationals:

I love this card because the moment that a team is born should be documented in cardboard form always. I will always have a record of the Nationals' first lineup on cardboard thanks to this.

Whenever I am randomly pulling cards for a post with no direction (like this one, if you haven't noticed), I come across other cards and observations on those cards as well. I don't want to waste pulling them so here they are:


The switch from Expos to Nationals in 2005 led to some weird stuff in 2005 cards, like these two cards, one from flagship and one from Update with the same look but one team that is extinct and one that lives on.



Before the Astros ripped out the heart of my Dodgers in 2017, they laid waste to some of my childhood favorites who just couldn't get Houston to win during their manager days with the team. It's a terrible waste of Scrap Iron and Coop and I hold a grudge against the Astros for that and actually many things (their PR behavior yesterday was atrocious and unforgivable), going back to 1980, in fact.

Yet, somehow, I'll probably be rooting for them this week.



I have no trouble finding cards of Nationals manager Dave Martinez in my collection. In fact, people keep sending me this '89 Fleer card of him because I listed the wrong number in my want list.

I do have trouble finding cards of Astros manager A.J. Hinch in my collection because he played during a time when I didn't collect at all. Also, forget about finding cards of each person as a manager because the world has changed and licensing can be bullcrap.


It really is all about the hair. Don't let anyone tell you differently.



A couple of recent Astros who will be sitting and watching because they're no longer on the team, although McCann is supposed to be throwing out the first pitch tonight.



Probably my all-time-favorite Nationals card. It is sitting in my Night Card Binder and I feel at peace when I view it.


But in terms of team cards, you can't beat the Astros. This is how I knew them when I was a kid. Screw that vertical-stripes era. I can't get enough of the guy in the bow tie.



This card has taken on a life of its own as collectors who weren't even around for the Astrodome glory days gravitate toward it. I have to admit, I didn't know the Astros were posing on trolleys. Were those for tourists?



Finally, this World Series is all about the starting pitching matchups and it better damn well continue to be. With Strasburg and Verlander and Cole and Scherzer and Greinke and Sanchez, I don't want to see bullpens deciding games with their ineptness.

This would never happen to J.R. Richard, who probably scared managers from even coming out to the mound.

He was the single-most intimidating player on the Astros at the time. Perhaps Nolan Ryan took that crown when he came over from the Angels, but all I remember about other players' perspective about Richard is that they hated getting in the box when he was out there.

Here are the rest of Richard's solo cards that were issued during his all-too-short career:


OK, now I'm ready for the World Series.

Got to work during Game 1 but hoping to see most of Game 2.

Comments

I'm sorry, but you lost me in the card that featured "Terrmel Sledge".
I'll be rooting for the Nationals to win it all. It would be an awesome thing for Ryan Zimmerman who's been with Washington since the beginning. Plus, it's the closest we'll ever get to an Expos World Series win unless they return to Montreal.
steelehere said…
I'm rooting for the Nationals to win the World Series. I'm over the Dodgers' NLDS loss to them and honestly it's more Dave Roberts fault than anything the Nationals did. Plus, one of the Nationals' players, Kurt Suzuki, and his in laws live on my street.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that most of the Astros players come off as a bunch of jerks and the stadium they play in is a total joke.
Fuji said…
Totally forgot Cecil managed the Astros. I'm seriously started to lose my memory. Love that 1979 Astros team card. If I started a vintage Frankenset or a "cool card" Frankenset, I'd have to put that card in it.
AdamE said…
I have many many copies of that Astros team card (thanks to Topps Buybacks and all it's color parallels) and I never noticed they were sitting on trolleys.
Bo said…
It was fun reading your 1990 article. I could see elements of your current style even in a factual game report, like DeShaies's "repeated ritual" of retiring batters with runners in scoring position. "Last year will never return" was a harsh assessment - but accurate.
defgav said…
I like how the article breaks at "It's pretty tough to throw up

Yeah, throwing up sucks!
shoeboxlegends said…
Love the '90 Topps cards in the cardboard lead-off spot!
Jeremya1um said…
What set was that Nationals Inagural Lineup card from? I didn't know it existed.
night owl said…
It's from 2005 Topps Update.
After following NOC for years, I enjoyed being able to read your MLB debut.

I wonder why most fans (and generally the organizations themselves) don't give much recognition to the Expos, Browns or either Senators teams -- whereas the Dodgers and Giants do recognize their lineage.

I'm thinking it goes beyond simply taking a different name when they arrived in their new city. While the Dodgers and Giants both left town despite being local treasures with storied pasts, the others fled their original cities largely to survive. There's not much to celebrate with those teams' histories.

And yes, I hope we'll one day see a new version of the Expos playing in Montreal.
Commishbob said…
The trolleys on that Astros team card were used to ferry folks from the parking lots to AstroWorld amusement park. The park was across the freeway and shared parking with the Dome. Those 'trams' shuttled back and forth on a wide bridge over the freeway. You could also walk across using that bridge.

AstroWorld was a really fun place in the 60s and 70s but it really went downhill in the last decade of it's time. Poorly managed and maintained.

Jim Deshaies was a terrific color guy on Astros TV broadcasts.

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