I was flipping channels on the mlb.tv app yesterday, not really interested in the baseball games I was viewing, when I settled on the Olympic softball game between the U.S. and Canada, and that's where I stayed until the game was over.
I like viewing the Olympics. There are plenty of posts on here about past Olympic Games. And I'm really happy that baseball and softball is back in the Olympics for the first time since before this blog started!
Like most baseball fans, I don't have a lot of use for the Olympic bigwigs' recent choices for sports over the years. Passing over baseball and softball for BMX freestyle, skateboarding and artistic gymnastics is not a way to get me to watch the Olympics. I'm all for novelty at the Games -- I'll watch archery and field hockey longer than some pro team sports -- but ignoring baseball is downright insulting.
So it's nice that it's back (for however long these Olympics last anyway) and it's nice I get to see a traditional team sport in the Summer Olympics besides basketball and volleyball.
The U.S. Olympic baseball team competes directly with MLB on the schedule and is typically filled with up-and-coming players, minor leaguers and ex-MLBers whose best days are behind them. I thought it would be interesting to look at each of the players on the U.S. roster and provide a general idea of what they have for baseball cards.
So here are the team members, who will be managed by ex-Dodger Mike Scioscia (following in the footsteps of his former manager, Tommy Lasorda). There are Dodger connections all over this team. (Even the pitching coach, Dave Wallace, is a former Dodger pitching coach).
NICK ALLEN, IF
A Triple A member of the Oakland A's, Nick Allen's card residence has been Bowman ever since 2017. You can find him in Bowman products from 2017-21, along with Panini USA sets, and he made his Topps debut with a Prospects insert card in 2020 Topps Update, the ones that used the 1989 Topps design.
EDDY ALVAREZ, IF
Eddy Alvarez played in 20 games for the Marlins last season. He's now in Triple A for Miami. His rookie card is in 2021 Topps Series 1. Before that, he showed up in 2017 Bowman and that was about it.
TYLER AUSTIN, OF
A former touted Yankees prospect, Tyler Austin has been playing for Yokohama of Nippon Professional Baseball, so he's probably right at home playing in the Olympics in Japan. Austin's last major league time was with the Brewers in 2019. There are no shortage of Austin cards thanks to the Yankee hype machine. He began appearing with 2010 Panini Donruss Elite and 2011 Topps Pro Debut. His Bowman cards start in 2012 and there are ton of them between 2012-14. He pops up again in 2017, which is where his first Topps card are, and Topps started pairing him up with Aaron Judge that year. Looks a little silly now.
SHANE BAZ, RHP
Another haunting reminder for Pirates fans about the Chris Archer trade as Shane Baz, the Pirates' top draft pick in 2017, was sent to the Rays in 2018 to finish off the Archer trade that had already netted the Rays Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow. Baz first appears with the Pirates in 2017 Bowman and has remained in Bowman products through 2021. He's also in Panini USA products and Heritage Minor League.
ANTHONY CARTER, RHP
You have to go way back to 2011 Bowman Prospects, when Anthony Carter was part of the White Sox organization, to find anything other than a team-issue minor league card of Carter, who plays for Saraperos de Saltillo of the Mexican League.
TRISTON CASAS, INF
Triston Casas is a Red Sox prospect and in Double A. A regular member of Team USA, he began showing up in Bowman in 2018 and you can have your pick of Casas cards in Bowman all the way through 2021.
BRANDON DICKSON, RHP
Another veteran of Japanese baseball, Brandon Dickson is on Japanese cards from 2013-20. But his first Topps card is with the Cardinals in the 2012 Topps set. 2012 was also the last time he played for the Cardinals ... until this year! He's back with the St. Louis organization in Triple A.
TIM FEDEROWICZ, C
Ah, that familiar Federowicz photo that Topps beat Dodgers collectors over the head with in 2012. Federowicz starts showing up in Bowman sets with the Red Sox in 2008. (He's also in Razor, if you care). His first MLB cards are in 2012 products with the Dodgers -- basically the same snapshot (or a few frames later or earlier) on every damn card. He hasn't been in anything other than a minor league team issue since. But he's back in the Dodgers organization in Triple A.
ERIC FILIA, OF
Eric Filia plays in Triple A for the Mariners. Your choice of a Filia card is either a 2016 Everett Aquasox card, a 2017 Modesto Nuts card or a 2021 Tacoma Rainers card. That's it.
TODD FRAZIER, IF
Probably the most famous member of the 2020/21 U.S. Olympic team. Todd Frazier has played for seven or eight MLB teams (I'm losing track), but I associate him first with the Reds. TCDB says Frazier has 2,258 cards entered there and the first ones are Team USA cards. His first Bowman cards are from 2007 and since he goes back that far he's on weird stuff like Just Rookies and Tri-Star. His rookie card is in 2011 Update, which has practically every rookie card in the history of the world.
ANTHONY GOSE, LHP
Anthony Gose is pitching??? I'm apparently late to this news as he converted from outfielder to pitcher after the 2016 season. But his most recent Topps cards are from 2017, so all I've ever known is the outfielder. Gose pops up as a Phillies prospect in 2009 Bowman and by 2011 he's a Blue Jays prospect. His first Topps card is from 2013.
EDWIN JACKSON, RHP
No, Edwin Jackson wasn't pitching in 1914, but 2004 was long ago enough! Edwin Jackson is 37 years old and I could've sworn he was like 43. His MLB career started in 2003 and ran through 2019, unless someone picks him up, which always seems like a possibility. I have plenty of Jackson cards from his Dodger days as that's when he was a young "star." But you can also find him with the Rays, White Sox, Cardinals, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Diamondbacks, Tigers, Padres and A's. Couldn't find him with the Orioles or Blue Jays though. He spent part of 2017 with both teams.
Another former hot prospect who has bounced around from team to team. Kazmir's best days were long gone by the time this Dodgers card was made. But he's pitched most recently for the Giants this year and is in Triple A now. Kazmir's first major-release cards are in 2004 and 2005 sets.
PATRICK KIVLEHAN, IF/OF
Patrick Kivelehan was a top-five prospect for the Mariners in 2013, where his Bowman cards start. He's now in Triple A with the Padres. Just 164 cards of him on TCDB.
MARK KOLOZSVARY, C
Mark Kolozsvary plays in Double A for the Reds. He's got a handful of minor league-issue cards.
JACK LOPEZ, UT
Jack Lopez is a Triple A player for the Red Sox. All his cards are minor league issues.
NICK MARTINEZ, RHP
Nick Martinez was a fairly regular member of the Rangers' rotation between 2014-17. He's been playing in Japan since 2018 and pitched for the Ham-Fighters between 2018 and 2020. He now plays for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. Martinez's rookie card is in 2014 Topps Update. After a bunch of cards in 2015, they really tail off starting in 2016.
SCOTT MCGOUGH, RHP
A Team USA player who appeared in Topps USA cards in 2010, McGough also made his debut in Bowman in 2010. His rookie card is in 2016 Topps with the Marlins. That's where his MLB cards end though as he signed to play in Japan afterward. He now pitches for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Well that's convenient!
DAVID ROBERTSON, RHP
David Robertson was a relief pitching mainstay with the Yankees and White Sox for more than 10 years, finishing up with the Phillies in 2019. He pitched in 661 games with 137 saves. He first shows up in Bowman in 2008 and his first Topps card is in 2009 Update. His most recent card was in 2020 Topps.
JOE RYAN, RHP
Joe Ryan, a Rays prospect in Triple A, shows up in cards first in 2019 and then he's all over 2020 Bowman. (Update: He was just traded to the Twins this evening in the Nelson Cruz deal!)
RYDER RYAN, RHP
Ryder Ryan, in the Rangers minor league system, has just a few minor league issues. TCDB lists his most recent in 2019 with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies!
BUBBA STARLING, OF
Bubba Starling is playing for Triple A with the Royals but he was in 2020 Topps products (his diving catch on his Stadium Club card is quite the debut). He has plenty of Bowman cards between 2012 and 2016. And his Bowman card debut is with USA Baseball in 2010.
JAMIE WESTBROOK, IF/OF
Jamie Westbrook plays in the Brewers organization in Triple A. He first appeared with the Diamondbacks in 2014 Bowman and then pretty much vanished off cards.
SIMEON WOODS-RICHARDSON, RHP
Simeon Woods-Richardson began as a Mets prospect and first appeared in 2018 Bowman Draft. He's now in Double A with the Blue Jays.
And that's your 2020/21 U.S. Olympic Baseball team!
I could've made the players even more familiar by scaring up scans for everyone, but I kept it only to cards I had because researching and writing this took long enough.
After all, I have Olympic baseball and softball viewing to squeeze into all the regular baseball viewing I do for the next two weeks.