It's December. For many baseball fans that means winter meetings and trades. The folks on Twitter will work themselves into a froth about what deals may or may not happen, what they mean in their infinite wisdom, and how the moves will CHANGE THE FACE OF THE 2018 SEASON FOREVER.
But it rarely happens that way. There haven't been a lot of times when a team made a December deal in the offseason and then used that deal to win the World Series the following year. Meanwhile, trades during this month have been decreasing over the years.
The times a December deal paid off almost instantly often have been legendary.
In 1965, the Orioles acquired two players in deals one day apart in December. They then packaged those two players with pitcher Milt Pappas three days later on Dec. 9 to acquire Frank Robinson from the Reds. The Orioles swept the Dodgers in the World Series the following year.
To a lesser degree, in 1966, the Cardinals obtained Roger Maris from the Yankees on Dec. 8th in a trade for infielder Charley Smith. Maris was on the decline, but hit .385 for the Cardinals against the Red Sox in the 1967 World Series, which St. Louis won.
In 1970, the Orioles acquired Pat Dobson from the Padres on Dec. 1 and Grant Jackson from the Phillies on Dec. 16. They didn't win the World Series the following year, but they took the Pirates to seven games and those two pitchers were key.
This month is the 35th anniversary of the Phillies building their "Wheeze Kids" team that reached the World Series in 1983.
In 1982, the Phillies sent five guys to the Indians on Dec. 9th -- Jay Baller, Julio Franco, Manny Trillo, George Vukovich and Jerry Willard -- for outfielder Von Hayes. Five days later, the Phillies traded pitchers Mark Davis and Mike Krukow and minor leaguer C.L. Penigar to the Giants for pitcher Al Holland and second baseman Joe Morgan.
The rest is history. The Wheeze Kids were born.
In honor of that team (a team I don't like for obvious reasons, by the way), I thought I'd feature it through its 1983 Topps cards:
Nobody wants to sit next to Tony.
You may have noticed that this is some gigantic team set. It is 46 cards! Holy bananas!
That monster total is a combination of including the Traded set, the Super Veterans subset (and the Phillies having a bunch of super veterans), the all-star subset (same), three Manny Trillo cards (Manny Trillo!) and lots and lots of offseason moves by Philadelphia.
All right, let's break it down with the Joy of a Team Set tally:
Favorite card runners-up: 5. Pete Rose, Super Veteran; 4. Manny Trillo All-Star; 3. Mike Schmidt; 2. Porfirio Altamirano.
Favorite element on the back:
I love All-Star Game or postseason wrap-ups on the back of baseball cards. I especially love 1970s All-Star Game wrap-ups.
Famous error cards: None. 1983 Topps is relatively clean.
Team's claim to fame: The Phillies fired their manager (Pat Corrales) in July despite being in first place, and replacement Paul Owens (who doesn't have a card in 1983) took a veteran-laden team of "geezers" to the World Series.
Players I've talked to: none.
Most interesting card:
There's an argument that can be made for others but the obviously airbrushed uniform and hat of former Indian John Denny is oddly striking against the sky background.
Former or future Dodgers: Ivan DeJesus, Len Matuszek.
How often do you see a card celebrating an error? Also the write-up on the bottom card is all wrong. The error didn't break the record streak. It ended the record streak.
Favorite card in the team set:
Bo Diaz, of course.
Thanks again for joining me in Joy of a Team Set. Have fun following the December meetings. But don't expect much.