Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, April 2015
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4/1/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2013 Topps #6 Ryan Howard, Phillies
More Ryan Howard Topps Cards: 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2014
Ryan Howard seemed on a one-way express trip to Cooperstown as recently as 4-5 years ago; he'd just wrapped up one of MLB's most productive four-year runs ever for a team that—non-coincidentally—annually challenged for the championship (winning in 2008 and near-missing in 2009).
In this writer's opinion, Howard supplanted the post-surgery Barry Bonds as the NL's most dangerous hitter—he could change a game with one swing better than just about anybody in the late 2000's. (Of course, that's subjective—don't start an argument if you disagree.) His MVP 2006 season ranks right up there with the best by any slugger ever.
Since the turn of the decade, when he was signed to a 5Y/$125M extension to begin in 2011, the 2001 5th-rounder out of Missouri State has been in statistical decline, at least by the elevated standards he'd set. (The structure of that sentence is for timeline purposes—not to suggest Howard has been dogging it.)
While 95% of big leaguers would collapse with joy over 64 homers and 224 RBI over a two-year period—as Howard accumulated 2010-11—those numbers represented a comedown for the now-32-year-old. Adding injury to insult, he blew out his Achilles in what wound up Philadelphia's last play of the 2011 season, marking two years in a row he made the postseason's final out with an opportunity to tie or win the game.
Here, Howard has made a second-half return from his injury for a Phillies team going through hard times (10 games below .500) in his absence.
THIS CARD: I'll never get accustomed to "slim" Ryan Howard; it just seems like a phase he's going through a la Charles Barkley. His numbers began to dip the year after he dropped 30-something pounds. Just sayin. And I know I'm far from the first to notice.
Howard's first two Topps cards as a Phillies regular (2006-07) depicted him afield; this is the first and only one since.
The 2013 Topps set (including Update) features about 10 guys in the throwback Phillie uniform. Not sure if this look is trotted out by the Phils with regularity—my Giants went through a period of regurgitating their early 80s look once or twice a month—but if not, that's too many Turn Back The Clock pics in one set. Less is more in this case.
(Note: Research showed Howard sporting this look in several other cards from the 10s—if variations are included—so they must be regular alternate uniforms. Our bad.)
(flip) 240-pound Howard checked in at 275 prior to 2009. To be fair, it should be noted Howard initally came back swinging and missing initially (eight K in first 15 AB). Sorry, we're sticklers.
AFTER THIS CARD: The big first baseman missed half of 2013 as well; a torn meniscus ended his year three months early. He spent all of 2014 healthy, but slugged an embarrassing .380 with 190 K and just 23 homers in 153 games. The now-rebuilding Phillies have been trying to move him for some time, but with no takers for his large salary.
Ryan Howard has appeared in Topps annually since 2005; 2005 being a shared Prospects card with Cole Hamels.
4/6/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps #437 Yoshinori Tateyama, Rangers
More Yoshinori Tateyama Topps Cards: n/a
Back in the 1990's, it was fairly easy to track the transplanted Asian pitchers in MLB—there was Hideo Nomo, Chan Ho Park, Hideki Irabu, Mac Suzuki...and that was pretty much it. These days, hurlers are imported from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, etc. left and right. I admittedly can't track them all because they all seem to have the same profiles.
Mid-late 30's, a decade in (insert nation), usually as closer. Average build, funky delivery, good but not great stuff. They generally last 2-3 years and are gone as fast as they came, with marginal impact. Guys like Koji Uehara and Junichi Tawaza bucked the trend somewhat, but for every one of them exists about four Yoshinori Tateyamas.
This particular pitcher was a sidearming righty with average stuff, but good command. He pitched from 1999-2010 for Nippon—as mostly a setup man; his high in saves was 15. (Tateyama also started about 40 games over the years.)
Texas brought him in on a one-year, $1M deal with options. Here, the 35-year-old makes his lone Topps appearance, having wrapped Year One in the States.
THIS CARD: Tateyama's sidearm delivery is on full display here. It's probably just me, but I see a little Bruno Mars in his face. Of course, I'm really into the song "Treasure" right now, so I may be subconsciously seeing Mars everywhere.
(flip) Is there some rule rookie cards can't feature MLB stats? The guy made 39 major league appearances, and we're stuck with his 14 from AAA? Tateyama boasted a 2.37 ERA after his first 32 appearances, but was tagged for 12 earned runs in his final six innings and finished at 4.50.
On the positive, he went on to walk 11 of 181 batters—about one of every 16½, a good ratio.
Yu Darvish, a longtime teammate of Tateyama with Nippon—and another RHP—soon became the fifth Japanese Ranger. OF Shin-Soo Choo has also suited up for Texas, breaking the RHP pattern; not sure if he's the sixth Japanese Ranger and not interested in researching.
AFTER THIS CARD: Tateyama took one for the team in May 2012, allowing eight runs (six earned) over 0.2 IP in a 21-8 Mariners massacre. Stuck at AAA Round Rock in '13, he was sold to the Yankees about a year later without ever returning to the bigs. He retired after the '14 season, pitching his final eight games for Hanshin of the Japan League.
CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, Texas Rangers
4/9/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #114 Daryl Boston, Yankees
More Daryl Boston Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
Upon selecting Boston for COTD, it took three tries before locating the club he's featured with in '95 Topps (I organize my albums by teams, then subsets, etc.). Even though I knew it couldn't be right, I even tried the White Sox! Suddenly, it hit me—Boston was a Yankee in '94, his final major league season.
Fleet afoot as a youngster, Boston was selected #7 overall by the White Sox in 1981, out of high school in Cincinnati. He racked astronomical K totals as a prospect, supplemented by good power/speed numbers (he was 20/20 in 1983 and swiped 40 bags with 19 triples for AAA Denver in 1984). Boston didn't make it to the majors for good until 1988—hitting only .217 (albeit with a .434 SLG).
He'd move on to the Mets in 1990, putting together a generally productive three-year Shea stint in a part-time role (Boston accumulated less than 140 official AB versus lefties as a Met). Then came a year helping the expansion Rockies settle in before signing with the Yankees.
THIS CARD: Boston stays ready, waiting his turn in the cage with helmet already in place. Idle shots such as this aren't frequently seen in today's Topps—players killing time, having a laugh, etc. Modern-day Topps—as quality as it continues to be year after year—leans way too heavy on action shots.
(By the way, Daryl, the son of your ex-teammate Eric Young was injured last season while chillaxin' in the cage...so keep your head up.)
Boston was primarily a pinch-hitter in 1994; he only played 68 defensive innings (when did the Yankees join the National League?) At no point that year was he above .222, even though all but one of his season AB's were against RHP.
(flip) 6'3", 210? Sell that all you want...not buyin' it.
Imagine Boston and friends pulling that stunt today—once the TMZ video aired, they'd be forced to apologize and donate $$$ to any and every vision-impaired organization in their state. Even if Stevie himself had no problem with it.
Not that I'm unhappy to have Boston represented, but how a pinch-hitter at .182 on his way out of the bigs received a base card while full-time contributors—even stars—like Zane Smith, Tom Henke, Dave Stewart, Tony Fernandez and others had to wait until the Traded set doesn't add up. (BTW I carry an almost-irrational bitterness over Juan Samuel, Tom Brunansky and Jose DeLeon being completely excluded from 1995 Topps...but that's another story.)
AFTER THIS CARD: Basically nothing; Boston went unwanted after 1994 and spent a couple of years in the Independent League before fading away. Since 1998 he's worked in the White Sox organization in some capacity; he has been the parent club's first base coach since 2013.
Daryl Boston appeared in Topps annually from 1985-1995.
CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, New York Yankees
4/14/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Topps #48 Danny Patterson, Rangers
More Danny Patterson Topps Cards: 2001 2002
(If the current pattern of COTD selections doesn't deviate, Dave Stapleton or Damian Jackson will be the next pick. Notice the pattern?)
It's amazing how time can alter perceptions/memories. I recollected Patterson as a tall, flamethrowing intimidator who never got to close full-time due to circumstances. The truth—Patterson was a smaller (6'0", 180 lb.) sinker/slider guy who was hardly a flamethrower (he operated mostly in the upper-80s and thrice posted K/9 under five).
Patterson was a 47th-rounder who, after seven minor-league seasons, made the Rangers roster as a 26-year-old rookie and went on to top 50 appearances for each of the next five seasons. Here, he's just wrapped that first season—a promising one in which he'd be named Rangers Rookie Of The Year (to be fair, Fernando Tatis was his only real competition).
THIS CARD: This is the first Randomized 1998 Topps selection—we hand-picked Tony Gwynn's card in the wake of his 2014 passing.
This is also the second Ranger of the past three selections. TSR has restrictions on random set selection, but not player or team—we could randomly select five Don Mattingly cards in a row and they'd all be posted, although it'd probably bore our visitors to tears and freak the s--- out of us.
The downsized late-90s Topps sets almost never included non-closing relievers unless they were youngsters with closer potential—enter Patterson. He wasn't about to unseat John Wetteland in Texas, however.
There's basically nothing interesting about his image, unless you deem Patterson being only the second Ranger to ever wear #56 during the regular season as interesting (Mark Petkovsek was first, in 1991; a host of others have since claimed it.)
(flip) Patterson's sinker is referenced in the blurb, though I'm not sure how immunity to pressure breaks hearts.
Note Patterson's 1991-92 seasons: 30 of his 34 appearances were as a starter. In 1992 he completed three games yet averaged under five innings per start.
Since he wasn't getting battered (3.59 ERA), was he completing five-inning rain games over and over again—those do count—or was it a 1993 Athletics/2013 Rockies situation in which the manager pre-designated the pitching assignments and Patterson was making a bunch of three-inning starts whether effective or not?
And what was UP in that 1989 draft? Patterson was a #47 selection. Jason Giambi, Jorge Posada and Eric Young Sr. were all selected #40 or later in that same draft!
AFTER THIS CARD: Patterson's once-promising career never stayed on course for long—of his nine MLB seasons, 2001 would be the only one spent entirely off the DL and out of the minors (he was even plagued by migraines for a while.) He'd be involved in the Juan Gonzalez megatrade with the Tigers following the 1999 season (joining Gonzo in Detroit).
In April 2002, Patterson—weeks into a new 3Y/$7M contract—underwent season-ending MCL surgery. He never recaptured his prior effectiveness and was cut in late 2004; subsequent minor-league deals with St. Louis and San Diego never materialized into more—at 34, Patterson was through. TSR was unable to find a trace of him post-2006; he seems to have left baseball completely behind.
Danny Patterson only appeared in 1998, 2001 and 2002 Topps.
4/21/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps Traded #30 Riccardo Ingram, Tigers and 2006 Topps #496 Jose Capellan, Brewers
More Jose Capellan Topps Cards: 2004 2007
Sadly, once again TSR deviates from the random selection process to remember two ex-players who recently passed away. Neither player enjoyed lasting MLB success or made many Topps appearances—this is Ingram's lone card—so we've decided to combine their selections in the interests of space.
Ingram, picked #4 by Detroit in 1987, showed respectable pop in the minors (68 homers from 1991-96). In fact, he batted .348 and slugged .522 with 43 doubles and 12 bombs for AAA Salt Lake (Twins) in 1995. But he only garnered 35 career plate appearances in the majors (1994-95)—Ingram made his name as a longtime coach in the Twins system.
Capellan, a Braves product who went to Milwaukee in exchange for the deposed Dan Kolb, lasted a few seasons in the 00's—primarily with the Brewers, for whom he made 85 of his 99 MLB appearances. 61 of those games came in 2006, second on the Brewers.
THESE CARDS: Ingram's is the rare card to carry the same image front and back. Topps will usually have the player turn slightly, change expressions, undo a button—anything to differentiate the two pics. So not only did Ingram only receive one Topps card...he only received one Topps photograph.
In reference to the unconventional spelling of "Riccardo", I was close with a "Ricardo" for many years—people have a harder time than you think spelling that with the conventional lone "C", let alone two.
Capellan's groin somehow stays intact despite this elastic follow-through. No clue where he's pitching at—the background looks more like a blue tin roof than empty seats. Not even the mid-00s Brewers would have stands this empty.
(flip) Ingram ultimately finished 1994 batting .287 for AAA Toledo, falling to third among Tiger farmhands with 300+ plate appearances (Rudy Pemberton .303 for Toledo, Frank Catalanotto .325 for A Fayeteville).
"Hotshot" can be both approbative and pejorative—personally, I wouldn't like the term applied to me. Makes me think of egotistical lawyers.
In case you don't feel like crunching Capellan's numbers, he was a combined 14-4, 2.32 at three levels in 2004, but converted to closing during his first season in the Brewers chain.
Rather than highlighting Capellan's 18 K—already viewable in his pitching record—with no context, Topps could have noted his career 6.8 K/9 ratio. This is about the only positive major league stat he could claim to that point.
AFTER THESE CARDS: Ingram's pro career ended in 1997; he then embarked on a 16-year managerial/coaching career in the Twins organization (all in the minors). The well-respected former outfielder succumbed to a second occurrence of brain cancer in late March 2015, aged 48.
The hulking Capellan, as alluded to, worked extensively for the 2006 Brewers but failed to make the team in 2007. Angry, and clearly feeling one season of adequate pitching cemented him as major-league worthy, he asked to be traded—and temporarily went AWOL from AAA Nashville when one didn't materialize immediately.
Most guilty of Capellan's violation would have been cut, but since that's what he wanted, the Brewers kept him around a while longer before shipping him to Detroit. He would only make 11 more major league appearances.
Following several years in foreign pro leagues, Capellan died of a heart attack in April 2015, at only 34. It is unconfirmed what, if anything, may have contributed to said attack.
Jose Capellan appeared in 2004 Topps Traded, and 2007 Topps Update; this was his lone Topps base card.
4/28/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps #302 Randy Myers, Padres
More Randy Myers Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1994 1995 1996 1997
I don't pretend to know Randy Myers, but if you want any sort of insight as to what type of dude he was, David Wells' book Perfect, I'm Not tells the following from Myers' Orioles days: President Clinton visited the Orioles clubhouse, necessitating a sweep of the premises by the Secret Service.
In Myers' locker was a stash of grenades, machetes, knives and other weapons they were forced to confiscate, over a livid Myers' protests. But not before he spent considerable time tormenting his teammates with a cattle prod.
Another comes from 1995; an idiot fan charged Myers on the field after he gave up a crucial home run vs. Houston. Myers busted out martial arts and subdued the man with little trouble.
What's my point: Myers was not just some run-of-the-mill flaky lefty reliever.
He came up with the Mets and was a contributor to their 1986 World Championship team (though he didn't participate in the playoffs). Eventually, Myers succeeded Jesse Orosco as Mets' closer.
Later, he'd be traded to the Reds (the Mets supposedly feared Myers' weight-lifting habit would ruin his arm—he had no serious arm problems until late 1998). There, he teamed with Norm Charlton and Rob Dibble to form the infamous "Nasty Boys" bullpen of the 1990 championship team.
A year later, with Cincy's rotation wrecked by injuries, Myers made a late-July switch to the starting rotation. Although he'd been a full-time starter in the minors, these would be the only 12 starts he'd ever make in the majors.
Here, Myers has just completed his first Padres stint. The younger, cheaper Dibble had emerged as Reds' closer during Myers' rotation foray, and San Diego desperately needed bullpen help—hence a swap for OF Bip Roberts.
THIS CARD: Nothing much to report about the front, other than Myers' delivery giving him the appearance of being five inches shorter than he really is, and a base being on the pitcher's mound. Looks like he's coming with the two-seamer.
(flip) Myers' reverse image looks zero like his front image; I can't tell if that's a shadow, his mouth or a mustache. He was another of those "SPEC" (secondary-phase) draft picks detailed on our 3/5/15 Card Of The Day.
The save referenced had to mean a little more to the ex-Red. The Padres went up on a Darrin Jackson in the 9th off Jose Rijo—who threw an uncommon complete-game loss. Myers K'd young Reggie Sanders, walked Paul O'Neill, and induced a double-play grounder from Jeff Reed. He did not face Roberts.
AFTER THIS CARD: Myers moved on to the Cubs as a free agent after the season; he set a then-NL record with 53 saves in 1993 and remain thru 1995. He'd then spend 1996-97 with Baltimore—they made the playoffs both years—and be inexplicably excluded from 1998 Topps despite leading the league with 45 saves and making the 1997 All-Star team.
In Year One of a 3Y/$18M deal Myers signed with the Blue Jays that winter, the Padres claimed (the unwanted) reliever to block a trade with Atlanta that had been worked out. But the four-time All-Star was not effective this time around, underwent rotator cuff surgery, and was out for two years as San Diego's already-precarious budget took a $12M hit.
Nearing 40, brief comeback attempts in the Mariners and Yankees systems petered out.
Randy Myers appeared in every Topps set 1987-1997. His 1998 exclusion continues to gnaw at me to this day.
CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps, San Diego Padres