Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, August 2015
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8/4/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps #116 Omar Infante, Braves
More Omar Infante Topps Cards: 2005 2007 2008 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
A July selection came within five card numbers of being the first TSR repeat random selection; this pick falls within three of our 3/1/15 selection (#119 Craig Counsell). Not sure how we'll treat a repeat selection yet. Guess we'll all find out together!
Omar Infante is the classic example of the lasting effect an early label can have on a good player—because of his versatility and early use as basically a jack-of-all-trades even when playing regularly, Infante still seems like a utilityman fill-in to me even after many years as a regular 2B (but fortunately, not to the five teams that have employed him—their opinion carries a tad more weight than mine.)
As a prospect, Infante played SS full-time, but was used all over the diamond upon being promoted to Detroit. In 2003—a famously disastrous season for the Tigers—Infante won the starting SS job, but was benched for a lack of hustle in June and demoted two weeks later. Still, he was called upon to fill the 2B void left by Fernando Vina's bad hamstring.
Infante showed no power in the minors, so when he exploded for 16 home runs that year, an epidemic of double-takes spread across boxscore porers nationwide. But the Venezuela native fell to .222 the next year, was benched again for a lack of hustle and spent the rest of his (first) Tigers stint primarily as a reserve/fill-in.
After the 2007 season, the Tigers acquired veteran OF Jacque Jones from the Cubs for the small price of Infante—the Cubs wanted to dump the salary of a guy who underperformed and was booed in his home park, and the Tigers needed OF depth.
Chicago quickly swapped Infante to Atlanta that same winter; here, the 26-year-old has just completed his first year as a Brave—unremarkable overall, but he did set a new career high in average (.293).
THIS CARD: You wonder why shinguard use isn't more widespread (new potential blog topic). Of course, guys that do use them manage to pelt every unprotected part of their lower leg with regularity.
You also wonder why more guys, especially in the steroid era but even still today with loads of inexperienced AL pitchers bunting now, don't break their fingers bunting (fortunately). Personally, I never really tried to learn to bunt effectively because your fingers are just...so...vulnerable.
Even skilled professional bunters could "square up", only to have a 93-mph sinker or cutter bear in on them at the last minute. Just ask Ryan Vogelsong. Or Collin Cowgill, who once hurt more than his fingers trying to bunt.
The "Braves" script with the black fill color looks like a regular Braves jersey that's faded after too many washes without ColorGuard.
(flip) Infante's new career-high average has been referenced. He played 10 or more games at 2B, SS, 3B and even exceeded 30 games in LF!
Through 8/5/2015, Infante's highest averages against—10 PA or more—are Vogelsong (.667, 10-for-15), and three guys tied at .625 (5-for-8). Against the now-retired Garland, Infante finished at .378 (17-for-45), never again faced Hernandez, and has fallen to .286 against Lee (10-for-35).
AFTER THIS CARD: Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, salivating over Infante's versatility, named Infante to the 2010 All-Star team even though he wasn't a regular for his own team. Since then he's been a regular second baseman for the Marlins, the Tigers (again) and since 2014, the Royals—though he misses at least 15 games per year from injuries (not to mention a 2014 pitch to the face).
Now 33, Infante is not having a quality 2015 season; his OBP has fallen from an already-ugly .295 to .242 to date and he didn't hit his first home run until the last week of July.
Omar Infante has appeared in either Topps or Topps Update every year since 2005, except 2006.
CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, Atlanta Braves
8/7/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps #637 Greg Myers, Angels
More Greg Myers Topps Cards: 1990 1991 1992 1994 1997 2003 2004
Myers came up with Toronto, sharing time with Pat Borders 1990-1992—until being acquired by the lowly Angels just before Toronto won their first World Series. Fail.
He was a lefty-hitting catcher who lasted parts of 18 seasons, mostly as a platoon/backup (Myers never started more than 91 times in a season, although he might have exceeded that in 2004 had he not wrecked his ankle a week into the season). Myers didn't have great offensive numbers in the minors, but he had some pop and threw out just under 1/3 of would-be base-stealers in the majors—topping 39% four times!
Here, the 26-year-old Myers has just joined the Angels after nine years in the Blue Jay organizaiton. He left a winner for a loser, but was afforded an opportunity to play more than he would have in Toronto.
THIS CARD: Not much to say except that's a little close. Myers looks a lot like former Jays teammate Jeff Kent here.
If you view the card with your eyes unfocused, the "A" on Myers' cap looks to be wearing a sombrero rather than a halo. Fiesta!
(flip) Myers looks 36 instead of 26 on the front. On the reverse he looks 46.
The trade referenced was with Toronto, obviously—back in 1993 Topps didn't list the other club involved. The Jays also sent OF Rob Ducey to the Angels to bring Eichhorn back north.
Armed with this information, you just know any Megan, Amanda and/or Randy Myers in a US school were hassled by Topps-collecting classmates: "Is your dad Greg Myers? Can I get an autograph? Can I get tickets?" In this heightened identity-theft/cyberspace era, it is wise for Topps—from a liability standpoint—to no longer provide such details.
AFTER THIS CARD: Myers lasted all the way to 2005, ending his career where it started with the Blue Jays. In between he suited up for several other clubs, playing in four postseasons and two (losing) World Series. His best year was 2003, when he hit .307 with 15 homers in 121 games for the Jays...at age 37, no less.
For all intents and purposes, Myers' career ended in rather inglorious fashion. In April 2004 at the Metrodome, Myers raced around third to score on a double by young Orlando Hudson. But he severely sprained and bruised his ankle in the process, collapsing to the turf and being tagged out (the lost run didn't cost Toronto, who still won comfortably).
Carted off the field, Myers didn't play again in '04, was forced to win a spot with the '05 Jays—and was cut about two weeks after doing so. No other team signed Myers, closing his career at 39.
Greg Myers appeared in 1990-94 Topps, returned in 1997, then was absent until a 2003 Traded card (like me, Topps probably couldn't keep track of which team he was with during this period—there were many.) He received a final base card in 2004.
CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps, Los Angeles Angels
8/10/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps #442 Dave West, Twins
More Dave/David West Topps Cards: 1989 1990 1991 1993 1994 1995
(We know we've been a little heavy on early-90s Topps recently. It's all the Randomizer. We may make the executive decision to give 1991-93 Topps a small hiatus in the name of variety for TSR visitors. Chime in if you feel one is necessary (or not).
When the Twins dealt star lefty Frank Viola to the Mets in 1989—not the last time they'd deal a star lefty to the Mets for a caseful of kids—they received Kevin Tapani, Rick Aguilera, two nobodies who were done within a year, and Dave. An intriguing 6'6" lefty from Tennessee, West threw hard...and erratically. In fact, as a 20-year-old in A-ball, he allowed 84 hits in 122.2 innings...with 136 walks.
But by 1988, a 24-year-old West was flourishing in AAA with dramatically improved command, and debuted in the majors that year. Upon joining Minnesota in '89, he was used as a reliever...it didn't take, as West allowed at least two runs in all five appearances. Then he ran off four consecutive quality starts in a row, winning three of them!
Here, West is coming off a 1991 season interrupted by injury. He'd spent nearly all of 1990 in the Twins' rotation and was slated to do so again, but muscle injuries and rehab held him out of the majors until Independence Day.
THIS CARD: We've been low on Twins selections, random or otherwise. 2002 Brad Radke in November '14, 1991 Carmelo Castillo in January '15, now West...that's it.
All the card companies referred to West as "Dave" in his Twins days, except 1991 Donruss which went with "David". Topps didn't use "David" until his (final) 1995 card—and even then on the front only. Notice how—gasp—his jersey is buttoned to the top! Today's players could learn something from Mr. West, as I mini-ranted about in a recent blog.
Isolated light tower, open skies...this is obviously a spring training shot.
(flip) Ugh, another ballpark pic. Topps had to know these would become redundant, unless folks went around collecting one card from each team. Angles should have varied, and an exterior shot or two wouldn't have hurt. In the Metrodome's case...shoot from the bottom up and capture the roof!!!
(A part of my childhood died when the Metrodome did...Target Field should have had a Hefty Bag facsimile.)
Anyway, back to West—that outstanding performance was his season debut (as mentioned) and only his eight innings of one-run ball thrown at Seattle 8/9 topped it.
In the 7/4 game—an ALCS preview—West beat Jimmy Key, allowing two hits, striking out five and walking two. Catcher Junior Ortiz drove in the lone run with a fielder's choice grounder that scored Pedro Munoz.
As you can see, West walked just 28 men in his 71 innings. As you can't see: he gave up just 66 hits. So why such a high ERA? The 13 homers he surrendered in his first 58 innings—including three in one game to Oakland's Dave Henderson.
AFTER THIS CARD: West appeared in the 1991 World Series (his Twins beat the Braves), but his old familiar wildness returned in 1992, and he couldn't shake it in the majors or minors. The Twins swapped him to the Phillies after the season (for RP Mike Hartley).
Now 29, West blossomed as a bullpen force for the 1993 NL Champion Phillies; he also appeared in the 1993 World Series. He resumed starting in May 1994, but underwent major shoulder surgery the next year that was supposed to sideline him until 1997—if not permanently. A determined West made it back in late 1996—well ahead of schedule. But after a year in Japan and a short, rough stint in the Boston bullpen, West was done at 34.
Dave West appeared in Topps annually 1989-95.
CATEGORIES: 1992 Topps, Minnesota Twins
8/13/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps #159 Brad Arnsberg, Yankees
More Brad Arnsberg Topps Cards: 1990T 1991
Arnsberg put up some impressive minor league stats, the kind you'd expect from a #1 pick—which he was in June 1983. (He'd been drafted three other times, but never signed.)
Using a slider and tough fastballl, the lanky RHP served as a swingman in two cups-of-coffee with the Yankees in 1986-87 (at the time he was willing to relieve, though he expressed displeasure about it later on.)
Here, Arnsberg has just closed what would be his final stint with New York. He won an important game upon being called up...one in which he even picked off two runners!
THIS CARD: It could be just me, but Arnsberg resembles a young Roger Goodell, with less prominent brows.
In this era, Topps almost never match card color graphics with the actual team colors. Who knows why. The Yankees don't even feature red and yellow on their hot dog toppings.
(flip) Now we know what the SPEC in the draft section means—not an acronym, but an abbreviation for "Special". A previous COTD raised my curiosity; I'd incorrectly assumed SPEC stood for Secondary Phase something something.
Look at those gaudy minor league win totals. Throw out '87 and the guy was 38-12 in three seasons, and he did it without striking out a ton of guys. (BTW if you can do math, you understand Arnsberg could not have gone 18-12 in 28 starts in 1987...he was actually 8-12.
Did Topps actually go to Arnsberg and confirm that pitch as his most memorable moment, one must wonder. In that game, he entered down 7-0 to the Angels. The first batter, Jack Howell, struck out. The second, George Hendrick, homered. Game on. (New York lost 9-2.)
AFTER THIS CARD: Arnsberg lost 1988 to elbow surgery, but by 1990 he was a Ranger and working out of the bullpen full-time (funny how one's attitude about relieving changes when one is fighting for his career). He had a good year, especially at the start, but ran into more physical problems and was done in the majors after 1992.
The Marlins, Blue Jays and Astros each hired him as pitching coach in the 00's...his divorce from Florida was far from amicable.
Brad Arnsberg appeared in 1988, 1990 and 1991 Topps, with 1990 being a Traded card.
8/16/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #382 Calvin Pickering, Orioles
More Calvin Pickering Topps Cards: n/a
When you think Calvin Pickering, you think size. The guy was big and strong, capable of hitting baseballs very far. And he did—accumulating 255 homers between the minors, the Independent League, and Korea from 1994-2008. But whenever an opportunity to stick in the majors presented itself...fate struck Pickering down like a tiny mosquito.
Here, the young Orioles masher is fresh off his first MLB trial, and makes his first and only Topps appearance.
THIS CARD: What's this, an actual glossy card? The Randomizer was holding us hostage in the pre-gloss era...although a couple selections ago it did try to assign a 1997 card that didn't exist.
No catcher, no ump, no ball—it looks like Pickering is out there alone, swinging at a pitch that hasn't been thrown. 1999 Topps is full of isolated shots like this one, unfortunately.
(flip) Pick and Kendrick Perkins, separated at birth? And why is he wearing shift boots under his jersey?
Topps makes two mistakes in the blurb—the Eastern League is actually AA ball, and Pickering's streak of homers came in 16 games, not at-bats. If a guy essentially hit three homers in a game four straight times, I'm sure word would have gotten around.
His second home run came off Pedro Martinez.
Also, Pickering was actually born in Texas rather than the VI—the Army stationed his father there just long enough for the future slugger to pop out. This revelation, according to the reputable SABR, didn't happen until well after Pickering retired...but it isn't sourced. (Maybe Kendrick Perkins can confirm?)
The actual Eastern League average leader in 1998 was Twins prospect Doug Mientkiewicz of New Britain at .323. And according to Pickering's 1999 Stadium Club card, his 31 HR/114 RBI set Bowie BaySox records. They were only six seasons old at the time, but still. (The RBI record still stands, but Walter Young hit 33 homers in 2004.)
AFTER THIS CARD: Misfortune. Raffy Palmeiro leaves the O's after the 1998 season, seemingly clearing a path for the #35 pick...but Baltimore signs Will Clark. Clark is traded in mid-2000...but Pickering is sidelined with a torn quad. He moved through other organizations without impact—even being jettisoned for not fitting any uniform pants—before missing all of 2002 after tearing the other quad.
Finally, in '04, Pickering seemed to have a true shot with the Royals; he closed 2004 starting 34 of their final 42 games and slugging .500! Sadly, Pickering struck out 14 times in his first 27 at-bats of 2005, was cut...and was done in the majors at 28. One wonders what he could have done in the bigs if left in the lineup for 500 at-bats.
Pickering currently serves as hitting coach for Aberdeen (short-season A, Orioles).
CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, Baltimore Orioles
8/19/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps #158 Jose Guillen, Devil Rays
More Jose Guillen Topps Cards: 1998 1999 2000 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Guillen had loads of skillz and did put up All-Star-caliber numbers for a couple of years. But he was no franchise player, didn't have the greatest reputation, and never stayed in one city for very long (he nearly made three years with the Royals but...no.) We remember his insane throw from RF to 3B in 1998, his Cincinnati breakout, his bizarre feud with manager Mike Scioscia, his continuing feud with ex-manager Mike Scioscia, his role as an original Washington National, and the puzzling end of his career.
Here, the 24-year-old is coming off a bounce-back season of sorts. In '99 he'd been demoted and later traded to TB for two catchers—both of Pittsburgh's got hurt fairly close together. But in early '00 Devil Ray RF Dave Martinez was traded, and most of the RF playing time fell to Guillen.
THIS CARD: A good-looking follow-thru from young Jose. The old D'Rays jersey looks a bit less garish with the passing of time. Using the dark jackets of the dugout occupants as a clue...I still can't tell who the Rays are playing.
(flip) We covered practically the entire blurb in our opening paragraph. That trade netted the Pirates veteran Joe Oliver and youngster Humberto Cota; it went down shortly after Jason Kendall's infamous ankle break and Keith Osik's hamstring pull.
Hard to believe Guillen was/is only 5'11". He seemed at least 6'2".
The blurb opens with one of the most creative lines I've ever read in any form. I'm tempted to inhale this card in hopes of spreading those enrichment skillz to my own writing.
Hitting .423 and slugging .923 in 19 games with Durham—homering nine times in 78 at-bats—sure classifies as "sparkling" in our book.
AFTER THIS CARD: Guillen would emerge as a star in 2003, batting .311 with 33 home runs for the Reds and A's that year (his trade to Oakland netted the Reds future default ace Aaron Harang). Not bad for a guy thrice released over a 16-month period pre-Cincy. Of course, he was alleged to have been using PEDs during this time...
He kept it going in Anaheim the next year—at least until the insulted outfielder flipped over being pinch-run for by manager Scioscia late in a game. His ensuing reaction got him suspended for the playoffs and traded to the Nats in the off-season.
Post-Anaheim, Guillen produced a bunch of 20-homer seasons for bad teams—Washington, Seattle, KC—before catching on with anaother winner, the 2010 Giants.
It was an August deal, and Guillen barely had time to unpack before becoming the focus of a federal investigatiion of PED shipments in September, having been previously mentioned in the Mitchell Report of 2007. The veteran RF never returned to the Giants or MLB and was done in a flash at 34.
Jose Guillen appeared in Topps every year 1998-2011, with 2003 being a Traded card and 2007 being an uncorrected error photo of teammate Yuniesky Betancourt.
8/22/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #369 Joe Crede, White Sox
More Joe Crede Topps Cards: 2000 2001 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
The slugger's 2008 Update All-Star card was featured on July 28; he's back for more via 2004 Topps. Here, the sky was the limit for young Crede—he'd just completed his first full big-league season after annual trials in 2000-02.
THIS CARD: Crede's back is perfectly parallel to the ground. I mean, perfectly. Manager Jerry Manuel, if so inclined, could have de-spiked Jose Valentin and positioned him on top of Crede to guard the lines at the end of games—who knows, maybe this tactic helps defuse the kid's future back problems.
As a former softball third baseman, even if my stomach wasn't in the way, I'd have a better shot at levitating than holding this position throughout a defensive sequence.
Note: Crede's 2004 Topps Total pic almost matches this one, right on down to the armband. Only a batting glove in his back pocket on the Total card distinguishes their timelines.
Even the wrinkle on Crede's right pantleg shows up in the silhouette...now that's detail.
(flip) More specifically, Crede hit .326 from July 29 until taking an oh-fer on the season's final day. In just under 200 at-bats, he drilled nine homers and slugged .569 in that stretch. Quite a turnaround for a guy whose 0-for-21 streak to begin June left him at .206 and in danger of increased "rest" periods.
Crede, today, is still only 37—aside from a partial season from Kevin Youkilis, Chicago hasn't gotten much punch at third base since Crede's troublesome back torpedoed his production and hastened his departure. With good health, he could have still been holding down 3B for the White Sox here in 2015.
Card #369 was the second card of 2004 Topps Series 2; #368 Sammy Sosa kicked it off.
AFTER THIS CARD: Crede exploded for 30 homers, 94 RBI and a Silver Slugger award in 2006, but his back problems limited to 144 combined games in 2007-08 (though, as alluded to, he still made the '08 All-Star roster), after which Chicago decided to cut ties and go with former #1 pick Josh Fields at third base.
Crede hooked up with Minnesota for one (interrupted) season, spent a year out of the game, and retired after failing to win a spot with the 2011 Rockies in the Spring.
Joe Crede appeared annually in Topps 2000-09, with 2000-01 being shared Prospects cards.
CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, Chicago White Sox
8/25/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Topps #156 Kevin Stocker, Phillies
More Kevin Stocker Topps Cards: 1994 1995 1996 1997 2001
Here's some irony: after a month in the majors, Stocker was playing regularly and hitting over .400—but exactly zero of those hits came in his 20-inning major league debut in July 1993.
After that first game, getting mustard stains out proved less challenging than getting Stocker out—he actually semi-slumped to his season-ending .324 average! Especially remarkable considering Stocker was batting .233 in AAA when called up.
Unfortunately, Philly's newest star never came close to shining so brightly again. His 1994 was disrupted by a torn wrist ligament. He fell to .218 in 1995, never cracking .230 after May 5. And in '96, it took a month-long AAA demotion to turn around his .186 average—Stocker hit .291 after returning.
Here, the 1991 #2 pick has completed his fifth and final year with Philadelphia, who stayed with him as their #1 shortstop in spite of his issues at the plate. Stocker stayed healthy in 1997 and enjoyed his best season since that magical 1993, setting several new career highs.
THIS CARD: Three of our past five COTD selections have numbered in the high-150s. Just a pointless observation of a meaningless random pattern.
This is Stocker's fifth Topps card, but the first depicting him batting on the front. His previous two showed him afield, and his first two were non-action shots.
)flip) Most of the blurb has been alluded to above, sans the Paula Abdul reference.
I forgot Stocker was a switch-hitter...somehow, over the years, came to believe he only batted lefty. In Stocker's first two seasons, his E6 rate was almost exactly one per five games—about half of what a MLB SS should total. But remember, he was positioned on the Veterans Stadium turf half the time, as opposed to dirt.
Topps, get that logo off his thingie!
AFTER THIS CARD: In what wound up ranking high on the Lopsided Trades Of The 90's list, the Phillies sent Stocker to brand-new Tampa Bay in exchange for prospect Bobby Abreu. The latter was taken in the expansion draft from Houston solely to acquire Stocker, who'd become expendable with younger, cheaper Desi Relaford on board.
Abreu went on to star in Philadelphia for 8½ years; Stocker—who signed a three-year, $7.5M deal upon joining the Devil Rays—struggled thru a nightmare 1998 (.208, season-ending broken wrist), saw a bad knee end his 1999 in July, and was released in May 2000. The 30-year-old finished 2000 with the Angels.
Stocker pinch-ran once for AAA Las Vegas (Dodgers) in '01 before deciding to retire from baseball; he later admitted his heart was no longer in the game. Since then, he has worked as a broadcaster mostly for CBS Sports, and was considered for an opening with his familiar Phillies in 2015 (but lost out to Ben Davis).
Kevin Stocker appeared in 1994-98 Topps, didn't receive a card in either of his full Devil Ray years, and got one final card as an Angel in 2001.
CATEGORIES: 1998 Topps, Philadelphia Phillies
8/28/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2006 Topps #638 Brian N. Anderson, White Sox
More Brian N. Anderson Topps Cards: 2009
From 1993 on, the major leagues have been represented by a Brian Anderson of some type—the left-handed pitcher for the Angels, D'Backs, Royals and others 1993-05 was the first. Journeyman catcher Bryan Anderson is the most recent. In between: this guy, an outfielder who was the #15 overall draft pick in 2003 out of Arizona.
Noted for his superior outfield defense, Anderson was no slouch with the bat as a prospect, either—by 2005, he was in the majors. This card (his first from Topps) represents that first taste of the majors for the 23-year-old—who backed up his promise on August 26 by taking fellow touted rookie Felix Hernandez deep twice in one game!
THIS CARD: Two of three COTD selections have been notable White Sox of the mid-2000s; August 22 selection Joe Crede played parts of four seasons with Anderson on the South Side. No word as to whether or not they actually liked each other, but reports are Anderson was/is an easy guy to like.
Surprising because he was on the big league radar for so long, but this is one of only two Topps cards for Brian Anderson, who entered the league just as Topps (and all companies) were ordered by the MLBPA to cease producing cards of players before they've reached the majors. Still, Anderson could have received a Draft Pick/First-Year player card in 2004 or 2005 Topps—didn't happen.
Hmmm...U.S. Cellular Field must have been under renovations here; the fence is missing padding and a miniature jungle is where the seats should be!
(flip) We alluded to those home runs above; they came in a 5-3 victory. It was the fifth major league game for both Anderson and Hernandez, and took place 10 years and a day before this posting.
The cartoon: Great Falls is in the Pioneer (rookie) league; Anderson's cycle—in his sixth pro game—keyed a 10-2 win over Ogden (Dodgers). No word if he got an actual cycle like the toon subject.
Strange...our previous COTD, Kevin Stocker, played an entire 20-inning game in his MLB debut. Anderson played an entire 16-inning fest in his first game.
AFTER THIS CARD: Liking what they saw in the kid, the White Sox felt confident in sending incumbent CF Aaron Rowand—a skilled and respected talent in his own right who'd just helped Chicago to a championship—to the Phillies in a trade for star 1B/DH Jim Thome. But
Anderson's bat never came around and he lost his job in mid-May.
He spent most of 2007 demoted, then injured. By 2009, still unable to reclaim a regular job, Anderson asked for a trade and was moved to Boston near the deadline (for Mark Kotsay). To date, he hasn't returned to the majors.
Unable to make the 2010 Royals roster, he converted to pitching that year, but his arm didn't respond well and he gave it up in '12—in 27 career appearances at all MiLB levels, Anderson allowed not a single homer and posted a 1.74 ERA.
Following two years out of pro baseball, Anderson (now 33) unsuccessfully auditioned for the 2015 White Sox roster.
Brian N. Anderson appeared in 2006 and 2009 Topps, somehow being excluded from both 2007 base and Update despite over 400 plate appearances over 134 games in '06.
CATEGORIES: 2006 Topps, Chicago White Sox
8/31/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #313 Ramiro Mendoza, Yankees
More Ramiro Mendoza Topps Cards: 2001 2002 2003 2004
Long before Yusmeiro Petit was firing 8.2 perfect innings in a spot start and chewing up six innings of an 18-inning postseason game for the champion Giants, Mendoza filled that same role for the 1998-2000 champion Yankees—only with heaps of ancillary pressure fastened to each pitch.
Having signed Mariano Rivera out of Panama in 1990, the Yankees dipped into that well once more in 1991 to snag this slight teenager (though he didn't pitch in their system until 1993 for reasons we couldn't uncover.) By 1994, Mendoza was a 12-game winner for Tampa (A).
In 1996, Yankee starters David Cone, Scott Kamieniecki and Melido Perez missed gobs of time—up came Mendoza. It didn't go so well for the rookie pitcher that year...but he soon figured it out and became a staff mainstay.
Here, Mendoza (making his Topps debut) has just wrapped a 1998 season that goes down as his personal finest—and, due in part to his efforts, an all-time league finest for his club. The young sinkerballer earned credit for 10 of the 114 Yankee wins in '98.
THIS CARD: Official ballpark guess: Not Yankee Stadium. (Probably not any park in Texas or Florida, either, given the sleeves.)
Mendoza doesn't seem as small as he allegedly was (154 lbs). Maybe it's just the angle but that mound looks awfully damn low.
(flip) Mendoza opened 1998 in the Yankees' rotation, accounting for 11 of those 15 starts. One of the six wins as a starter was a 7-0 shutout at Minnesota on May 10—a precursor to teammate David Wells' perfect game against those same Twins one week later. One of the four wins as a reliever was the division clincher September 9—Mendoza threw three superb innings in relief of El Duque Hernandez while his teammates mounted a comeback win at Boston.
Mendoza resembles a juxtaposition of teenage Alex Rodriguez and former Law & Order: SVU actress Diane Neal.
AFTER THIS CARD: Mendoza's versatility helped NY to a repeat in 1999. Still, he was nearly traded in the spring of 2000 and sat most of the second half with a soon-to-be-sliced shoulder. But the now-veteran bounced back with two years of long relief—during which time his salary grew to $2.6M.
Prior to '03, 30-year-old Mendoza joined the Red Sox but was limited by knee/shoulder injuries to an aggregate 64 appearances in 2003-04. (He did pitch twice for the historic '04 Red Sox in the ALDS—if I ever knew this, I didn't know it when I woke up today.)
Following another shoulder operation, Mendoza made one final MLB appearance with the (September) 2005 Yankees. He appeared in the 2006 WBC for Panama and closed his pro career with an Independent League stint in 2009—months after failing a Brewers physical.
Ramiro Mendoza premiered in 1999 Topps, lapsed in 2000, then appeared annually 2001-04.
CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, New York Yankees