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Showing posts from August, 2015

A decade in blue, who knew?

A week or so ago, someone floated a trivia question -- I can't remember who, I saw it on Jayson Stark's Twitter account -- asking which four major league players have played a dozen years with one team, and only one team.

The answer was Ryan Howard, Joe Mauer, Yadier Molina and David Wright.

In the process, a number of other wrong guess revealed other players who have played at least a decade with one and only team: Justin Verlander (11), Felix Hernandez (11), Dustin Pedroia (10) and a few others.

And then there was the surprise of the bunch:

Andre Ethier, with 10 years with the Dodgers and only the Dodgers.

Ethier started out with the Oakland A's, but never played for them, was traded in the 2005 offseason, and played his first game for the Dodgers in 2006. Since that time, dozens of players have come and gone in the Dodgers outfield, including the two players you see celebrating with Ethier up at the top -- Manny Ramirez and Matt Kemp.

A few other outfielders who wore o…

'56 of the month: Alex Grammas

I'm sure that even the young baseball fans know that managers Don Mattingly, Paul Molitor, Matt Williams and Robin Ventura were defined by their playing careers long before they became "known" as managers.

But what about managers like Clint Hurdle or Bruce Bochy or Lloyd McClendon? Does anyone under 30 think of them as a player first, manager second? I know I do. I grew up with those guys on the playing field. Same with Walt Weiss and Ned Yost and Joe Girardi.

But I understand the perspective. When I was a young baseball fan in the 1970s, I was perpetually surprised that these "old" men with bellies, waddling out to the pitchers' mound, were actually once players with -- baseball cards!

Time after time, once I discovered vintage, I stumbled across current managers as players. Chuck Tanner was a player! So was Jeff Torborg and Whitey Herzog and Joe Altobelli! Even Don Zimmer, for crying out loud, had baseball cards where he's fielding and hitting and stuff!

Night Owl's all-time Topps set countdown (12-9)

Now that I'm entering the top 10 in the all-time Topps set countdown, I'm wondering why the flagship set can't be as amazing as these sets are every year.

Although Topps seems to give us basically the same thing each year, I don't know how consistent they are from set to set. Maybe not for a lot of collectors, but for me, the progression from 1995 Topps to 1996 Topps is not just a step backward, but a step backward off a cliff. There are plenty of other cases like this, too. 1966 Topps is not 1965 Topps and 1990 Topps is not 1991 Topps. Some of this comes down to personal preference, but there are plenty of sets that the majority of collectors like while there are others that the majority do not like.

So, why is that? Was it just a bad year, or conversely a really good year? Did everything click? Was there a shake-up in research in development? Was the design team loopy on paint fumes? As collectors, we'll never know.

All I know is that some sets I love to my very…