Saturday, January 17, 2009
Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Bobby Tolan. That was the top of the lineup for the Reds. Those guys could fly (well, Rose could run hard, but it's a stretch to say he could fly) and they had gap power. That put plenty of runners in scoring position of Johnny Bench and Tony Perez. No wonder they were second in the league in runs/game. This was Bobby’s last really good year. He was coming off a ruptured Achilles that kept him out all of 1971 and I suspect that, and bad blood with management in 1973, led to a downward spiral with Ken Griffey eventually taking his spot in the order and in right field. However, 1972 was rosy for Tolan. He doesn’t really show it here, but I remember him holding his bat really high in his batting stance, not as high as Yastrzemski, but the opposite of Roy White.
Sadly, his 23 year old son, Robbie Tolan, was recently shot by police in Bellaire, Texas, near Houston. Robbie played independent minor league ball in 2008. The Tolans are claiming this was a case of racial profiling. The case is now being investigated and initially it looks like he was mistakenly accused of driving a stolen vehicle because of a mistake in reading the numbers on the plate. In any event, thoughts and prayers to Robbie and his family as he recovers.
Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, Space Invaders, Halo, Grand Theft Auto, RBI Baseball. They're all recognizable video games. Do you remember how it all got started? If you went to an arcade in 1972, you'd see a lot of pinball games. But you wouldn't see any video games. Until Atari released the original video arcade game: Pong. When this came out it was so cool to get to play something on a screen. I think the only special feature it had was that you could adjust the size of the paddles. I might be wrong. There's an arcade nearby that has a Pong machine along with all your favorites from the 80's called 1984.
I guess you can say we've made progress. But in the beginning, there was Pong. And it was good.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I'm a set collector first and foremost. Except for a few cards I lack (less than 25 each) from the 1971 and 1972 sets, I've got everything back to 1971. I'm short about 15 on 1964 and I've started on 1970 (about 40%) through it. I loved the sets from the 70's and 80's because they put all the players in it. Now, they didn't put everybody that spent a day on the 25-man roster, but Topps was very representative of showing us not only the superstars, but also the role players at the end of the bench. Take the 1972 Cardinals for example. We got Joe Torre, Lou Brock and Bob Gibson, but we also got Dennis Higgins, Marty Martinez and Art Shamsky. Therefore, the first thing I want is a solid flagship set with most of the players included.
Card stock is another thing I've seen change over the years. In the 70's, we got a cardboard stock that was very conducive to creasing and soft corners. In the late 80's, the quality of the cardboard improved and you don't see the corners getting soft on those cards. Then came 1989 and Upper Deck putting cards on photo-quality paper. I'm all for a quality stock that doesn't crease easily or develop soft corners, but I can do without the gloss on the front that Topps and UD have done lately. I can understand UD doing it with their superior photography and full card coverage (no borders). I prefer the finish of Heritage. This is probably because secondarily I like to collect through the mail autographs and the gloss hinders signatures. The second thing I'd like is a flagship set with a flat finish.
In the 80's I was collecting all sets. I've got all the Fleer, Donruss, Score, Upper Deck, Bowman, Leaf, Ultra and update sets produced through about 1991. At that point I had to back off. Now I'm just at Topps. I know we're down to Topps and UD now, but I'd like to see them weed out some of the sets. I like Bowman (including the Draft Picks/Prospects....guess what I think about Chrome) and Heritage. I like the Allen & Ginter and Goudey, but I haven't bought any. I agree with everyone that says there are too many superfluous sets. However, if the card companies need to produce X or whatever to provide enough of a profit margin to give us a good base set at a decent price, go ahead. In fact, load those sets up with the chase cards that "high end" collectors want. I don't need that. The third thing I'd like is a flagship set and a secondary set largely free of chase cards.
As a set collector, and especially since I'm getting ready to go after sets in the late 60's, it's really difficult to think about paying premium prices for role players just because they're high numbers (those were yesteryear's short prints). It's even more difficult when it's a rookie card of a Hall of Famer that falls into the short prints. Throw us a bone and have an even collation and equal printing in the flagship set. If they want to have the gimmicks and short prints in some of the secondary sets -- go for it.
I understand that profit is important for the card companies. Some of the things I want aren't going to be possible because of the need to make money. However, I'd like it if the card companies really looked long at all of the secondary sets to see if there are some that are a drag on their profits and get rid of them. However, if I have to put up with some of the stuff I don't want in order to have a quality photo on a quality card (contrast with the 1968 set -- photography looks like Napoleon Dynamite's friend Deb might have done it), then so be it.
One thing I've learned. I may not like what the card companies do, but I just can't see me not buying the Topps flagship set for that year. If you haven't figured it out, a lot of my requests could be accomplished by the card designers getting into a DeLorean at 88 mph. I like the older sets more than I like the modern cards. However, I'll always be there. I'm looking forward to 2009, but for now, it's back to 1972.
Bill Virdon took over managing the team in 1972 from Danny Murtaugh. Murtaugh ended up coming back when the Pirates were disenchanted with Virdon. Virdon went on to become the first manager fired by George Steinbrenner, but he was amazing with the Astros in 1980. The Pirates had 3 future Hall of Famers on this team (Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski). Clemente was the only Gold Glove winner. Stargell started the All-Star Game in left field and the Pirates were also represented by Clemente, Steve Blass, Manny Sanguillen and Al Oliver. The Pirates won the NL East by 11 games over the Cubs and met the Reds in the NLCS. They were 3 outs away from a second consecutive World Series, but that belonged to the Reds.
There were a few teams from 1972 that I would play when I'd get in the vacant lot next door. The Cardinals were my favorite team, so they always played. The Reds played a lot as did the A's and Orioles. The Pirates were usually in the mix. I saw those teams play a lot on the Game of the Week and knew their lineups forwards and backwards.
As we go through this blog, we'll visit some of these events in detail and a few more.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I've read Andy's blogs on the 1988 set and the 1978 set. I really enjoyed them and, while I understand his decision to suspend the 1978 blog, I've been inspired by what he's done. For those of you familiar with his blogs I'm going to use something of the same format in that I'll go through the set card by card. I'm nowhere near the stats guru he is, so I'll just have anecdotes about the player on the card, and some historical references (history is one of my other passions) to the world at large and the sports world in 1972.
I'm not trying to be a copycat and this is not going to be the same quality. I'm not trying to join the pantheon of baseball card blogs. I'm just trying to have some fun. I don't know how regularly I'll post and certainly can't make any representations about the quality. Just like anyone else, my personal views will spill over into the writing, so if you don't agree with my viewpoint, politics or faith, that's OK. I really just hope you have some fun, too. I welcome your commentary. Let's go back to the first baseball strike, Richard Nixon's landslide, Earl Morrall riding to the rescue and 787 funkadelic cards.