Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, May 2017
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5/5/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #88 Charles Nagy, Indians
More Charles Nagy Topps Cards: 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1998 1999 2001 2002 2003
Happy Cinco De Mayo! Today, TSR breaks the standard Card Of The Day random selection process for the longtime Indians ace P Nagy—no, he didn't die; today marks his 50th birthday.
We originally planned to regularly "honor", if what we do can be described that way, players from my youth on their milestone birthdays—Doc Gooden and Ozzie Smith received such COTD in the past—and other notable events from their careers (i.e. the Steve Lyons "pants" game). But over time, it's proven a challenge finding time to even randomly select players, let alone researching their milestone dates.
But we didn't have to research this one. Browsing through one of my albums (as I often do; why else keep them?) I gave Nagy's 1999 Topps reverse a glance...and BOOM! There it was, the perfect opportunity for a special selection.
Nagy had been Cleveland's 1988 first-rounder (#17 overall) and wasted little time in reaching the majors (June 1990). By 1992, with veterans Tom Candiotti and Greg Swindell traded away, Nagy was the team's undisputed ace—he led the team in everything, throwing 85 more innings than any other Indian, making the All-Star team, and earning Cy Young votes!
Then a labrum tear and subsequent surgery idled Nagy for most of '93. He returned to an Indians team with new uniforms, a new park, and new stars young (Manny Ramirez) old (Dennis Martinez, Eddie Murray) and median (Omar Vizquel) ready to bring the Tribe out of mediocrity. And BOY, did they.
Here, Nagy is fresh off a third straight year of personal and team triumph—he helped Cleveland to a second straight playoff run in 1996 with yet another 17-win, All-Star performance.
And though he got beat up in said All-Star Game (which he started) and said playoffs, Nagy's fine regular season included: zero errors, the AL's third-best ERA, and an 8-0 record against winning teams!
THIS CARD: This is our first 1997 Topps horizontal image, which at last gives me a chance to rant about the position of player names on the front.
Traditionally, to uniformly display Topps reverses in an album, horizontal fronts must be placed facing right. However, doing so for 1997 Topps' horizontals puts the front player name upside-down in the album—meaning Topps collectors had to choose between right-side-up front names or uniform reverses. My album has a random mixture.
Looks like Nagy is attacking with a sinker; he also featured a plus slider, changeup and curve. While not a true flamethrower, he could reach the mid-90's in his prime.
(flip) "Charlie" does not sound right. Topps' occasional nicknaming is fine for most, but for Nagy...thumbs down. Sounds even worse than Charlie Barkley.
Delving further into that 6-0 May: three of the wins came against the lowly Brewers and putrid Tigers, but still. Nagy threw at least seven innings in all but one start, and won four times on the road!
I dig that reverse image. More of that, Topps.
AFTER THIS CARD: In the unlikely event you were dead in October of 1997, we'll tell you that Nagy allowed Florida SS Edgar Renteria's infamous World Series Game 7 walk-off single.
The veteran racked up 32 more wins and another All-Star appearance over the next two years (largely aided by Cleveland's high-powered offense; Nagy's secondary numbers weren't exactly sparkling during that period.)
But surgery to remove bone chips in May 2000 permanently robbed the former ace of sustained health and effectiveness. By 2002, Nagy was reduced to mopping up games, and faded away following a handful of innings with the 2003 Padres.
Not done with the Indians, Nagy coached Cleveland's AAA pitchers in 2009-10 and was a Special Assistant for the club in 2015. He also has been a MLB pitching coach for the 2011-13 Diamondbacks and currently, the Angels (since 2016.)
Charles Nagy appeared annually in Topps 1991-2003, the finale as a Padre.
CATEGORIES: 1997 Topps, Cleveland Indians
5/8/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps Update #22 Brian Moehler, Astros
More Brian Moehler Topps Cards: 2001 2004 2006 2009
Brian Moehler was an apparent casualty of the 1994 baseball strike. You see, pre-strike Topps annually churned out sets of at least 792 cards—rarely were key players excluded (1986 Mike Witt, 1991 Bill Gullickson).
But post-strike Topps sets were up to 44% smaller, and not even full-timers always made the cut (1998 Rickey Henderson still pisses me off today). Moehler was among those players—he spent three full years in the Tigers rotation before his Topps debut (2001).
It wasn't a licensing issue—Moehler can be found in 1999 Stadium Club. Upper Deck included Moehler all three of those years, as did other companies, but Topps base sets disregarded the young righty for years. Stupid strike.
Perhaps if Moehler was a flamethrower who blew everybody away, he'd have gotten more love. But even as a youngster, he greatly depended on movement and location—even moreso following 2001 rotator cuff/labrum surgery and a 2003 elbow reconstruction.
Here, after a 2007 season spent exclusively in the Astros bullpen, the 36-year-old is a starter once again. Moehler wasn't making anybody forget Roger Clemens or Andy Pettitte, but he was the second-winningest Astro behind Roy Oswalt.
THIS CARD: Moehler returns to Topps after a year's absence. He receives a Spring Training photo, even though he was an Astro in 2007 as well. Doesn't matter, as long as he's included.
Maybe in 10 years Houston will dust off this throwback.
That could be Moehler's sinker grip. He had to sink, cut and locate the fastball to succeed, since by his final season he threw in the mid-80's. (You may have heard about that time Moehler tried too hard to sink and cut the ball.)
(flip) 2004 is missing because Moeher was in AA Greenville (Braves) that year, winning three of 20 post-surgery starts (though his secondary numbers weren't that bad.)
That one 2001 start was a 4/5 no-decision vs. the Twins; Moehler left with a 4-3 lead, but Minnesota tied it against Todd Jones and tacked on five more in extras. Then Moehler was disabled; three months later, he underwent his shoulder operation and sat out a year.
Rockingham is approximately 70 miles east of Charlotte.
AFTER THIS CARD: Not a whole lot. Though Moehler wasn't particulary effective (8-12, 5.47 in 29 GS) in '09, the rebuilding 'Stros excercised his 2010 option. Now 38, Moehler made 12 RA, then eight starts, then tore his groin throwing a pitch to Andrew McCutchen in the eighth start and never threw another.
Brian Moehler appeared in 2001, 2004 and 2006 Topps base, returning for 2008-09 Topps Update.
CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps Update, Houston Astros
5/11/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2002 Marlins #652 Marlins Team Card
More Florida/Miami Marlins Topps Cards: 2001 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2010 2011 2015 2016 2017
The 2001 Marlins were a force to be reckoned with...as long as their opponent was from the American League. The Fish won 12 of 18 interleague dips, but only managed a 64-80 (.444) intraleague mark.
John Boles—whose lone managerial skill, according to one publication of the day, was being "a very nice man"—was dismissed as manager for the second and final time after RP Dan Miceli, apparently speaking for the team, publicly expressed disapproval of his skipper. Tony Perez led the club going forward. (By the way, Miceli was especially brutal after the firing and was himself let go a month later, ironic since he'd repeatedly asked to be traded away from Boles.)
Additionally, one member of the 1997 title team returned (catcher Charles Johnson, who'd been with three other teams), but another could not—SP Alex Fernandez's previous rotator cuff injury proved insurmountable, and he retired near the end of the 2001 season after 17 months on the DL.
THIS CARD: MLB team photos are always interesting—because of the nature of the baseball season, no matter when you take it, somebody significant won't be present. Look at the 2016 Yankees, for example—do you gather the troops in July (when you still have Aroldis Chapman), August (when Alex Rodriguez is still around but no Chapman) or September (minus Chapman, A-Rod and others but in time for Gary Sanchez and a handful of unknowns) for your team pic?
August seems to be the popular photo month—you avoid a cluster of untried September call-ups clogging space, yet most of your initial and final team members should be on hand. (Unfortunately, in this case it meant no #61 Josh Beckett, who didn't debut until September.)
(flip) Florida was indeed five games back on August 11, but promptly lost eight straight, giving up 61 runs in doing so. Ultimately, the club finished 4th, 12 games behind Atlanta.
2001 goes down as the best statistical year of Floyd's career—he set career highs in runs, hits, RBI, average, OBP and slugging while making his only All-Star team.
AFTER THIS CARD: Two years and two managers later, Florida claimed championship #2 in six years, with most of the 2001 squad leading the charge (obviously, some—such as Johnson and Floyd—had moved on by then). But by 2006, zero of them were still around; even ownership changed hands.
CATEGORIES: 2002 Topps, Florida Marlins
5/14/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps Traded #117 Walt Terrell, Padres
More Walt Terrell Topps Cards: 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992
Terrell, one of the better inning-eaters of the 1980's, was part of two highly rewarding Mets trades—one of which doubled as arguably their most provocative—even before completing two full seasons in the bigs.
It began when the performance of Lee Mazzilli, Mets All-star/New York idol, slipped—the team opted to swap Mazzilli to Texas for two unknown young pitchers in early '82. One was Terrell. The other? Ron Darling, who eventually became a mainstay in the Mets rotation (even with a shaky relationship with his skipper.)
Three years later, Terrell—who by then had fully established himself in the Mets rotation and even enjoyed a two-homer game—was traded to defending champion Detroit for their switch-hitting masher Howard Johnson (both teams had incumbents coming off surgeries.)
Johnson, of course, aided the 1986 Mets championship run and eventually became an All-Star, home run champ and MVP candidate. Meanwhile, Terrell gave the Tigers four workhorse seasons, averaging 14 wins and 224 IP during that period—although he had trouble with free passes.
Here, Terrell has just been dealt to the San Diego Padres for OF/1B Keith Moreland (an offensive upgrade who hated San Diego and played like it) and 3B Chris Brown.
THIS CARD: There was a rule that every Tiger RHP of the mid-80's had to sport a Magnum P.I. mustache. Or so it seemed.
Terrell likely fires off a sinking fastball or slider; he also featured a tailing changeup to lefties.
(flip) That wasn't just any ordinary one-hitter—only Wally Joyner's 9th-inning, two-out hit prevented Terrell from no-hitting the California Angels that day.
Note the combined 12-29 record Terrell carried from 1988 through Padres 1989—the two offenses averaged just over two runs of support per game for him in that span. Not even Roger Clemens' record could fully withstand such offensive anemia.
Also note all those complete games 1986-88—his 11 in '88 only ranked sixth in the AL and in 1986-87, he didn't even place Top Ten. A lot has changed in 30 years, hasn't it?
Jeffersonville, Indiana is directly across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky—use the George Rogers Clark Bridge.
AFTER THIS CARD: Terrell was absorbing his second straight hard-luck year when the pitching-starved Yankees came calling—he finished '89 in the Bronx before joining the Pirates for 1990. There, he struggled, and was cut in July after refusing a minor league demotion.
Now 32, the veteran returned to old familiar Detroit, but Tigers 2.0 wouldn't be just like old times—Terrell briefly lost his rotation spot in 1991, then extensively lost it in 1992 (though after some swingman work he rejoined the rotation, finishing much stronger than he began.) That marked the end of Terrell's 11-year career.
Walt Terrell appeared annually in Topps 1984-1992.
CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps Traded, San Diego Padres
5/17/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2007 Topps #185 B.J. Upton, Devil Rays
More B.J./Melvin Upton Topps Cards: 2003 2004 2005 2006U 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
"B.J. Upton, Devil Rays". Not one, but two outdated monikers.
The artist currently known as Melvin Upton, Jr.—or just Melvin Upton to me; I don't use suffixes unless the father was involved in pro sports—was the #2 overall pick by the 2002 D-Rays out of high school. Within two years, the then-shortstop was in The Show, holding his own against major league pitching. Still, more defensive development was needed and Upton spent all of 2005 at AAA Durham.
Here, the 22-year-old has completed an extended audition for Tampa's third base position—he couldn't shake the error bug at SS. Starting full-time over the final two months of 2006, Upton scuffled a bit offensively, but did manage to homer off Randy Johnson on 9/23.
THIS CARD: Head down, eyes on the ball...just how you're supposed to do it, kid.
As you can see, Upton signed his actual name. Apparently, he was not known as B.J. in his personal life, and finally decided to drop the nickname prior to the 2015 season—he'd just stolen two years of (high) salary from the Braves; SOMETHING needed to change.
We're on the lookout for guys receiving the same card number in two different sets. So far, Upton is the closest we've come—he's #184 in 2015 Topps.
Behind Upton stands who I'm guessing to be a Seattle Mariner. I guess the ad to be neweracap.com (hat company...duh.)
(flip) Topps usually identifies all but the most famous people referenced in their blurbs—a new collector might not know Vaughn was a star slugger who played for Tampa Bay when Upton was drafted (and had retired by the time this set was released.)
Those 44 steals in '05 led the International League.
Topps lists the correct position for the former SS here, and also on his 2006 Update card. This is not always a given for the company.
AFTER THIS CARD: Upton had some very good years for Tampa Bay (including a sensational 2008 postseason) before moving on to the Braves (5Y/$85M). Though now united with his little brother Justin, B.J. never got it going in Atlanta, and they eventually paid him to go away just two years into his deal.
And away he went, about as far as you can go from Atlanta—San Diego. Injuries halved his 2015, but Upton finally started to show flashes of his former self in 2016, batting a combined .238 with 20 HR and 61 RBI for the Padres and Blue Jays.
Now three months shy of 33 and in the Giants organization, Upton has spent all of 2017 (to date) recovering from a thumb injury.
B.J./Melvin Upton has appeared in Topps annually, in some form, with some name, since 2003. (2006 was an Update card.)
CATEGORIES: 2007 Topps, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
5/20/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2013 Topps Update #264 Nate Freiman, Athletics
More Nate Freiman Topps Cards: 2014
It is interesting to have selected Freiman (pronounced Fryman) today—just a few hours ago, current Athletic Chad Pinder smoked a 483-foot moonshot at the Coliseum, a feat that precious few Bob Melvin-era A's besides Freiman could've hoped to match.
Freiman, a former minor league Home Run Derby champ, spent 2013 and part of 2014 with Oakland. Standing 6'8" and weighing 245 pounds, he was obviously an imposing sight at home plate...unless you threw with your right hand. Solid against lefties (.279, all nine of his career homers), Freiman managed a career .194 slugging percentage vs. righties—granted, the sample size was just 45 games, but that's still pretty ugly.
Here, Freiman is a new Oakland A, acquired off waivers from Houston in 2013 Spring Training. As a Rule V selectee, Freiman had to spend all year on the A's 25-man roster or disabled list—which he did, starting 50 games at 1B and DH.
THIS CARD: First of two Topps cards for Freiman, whose size is not done justice by this close-up image.
Since there's nothing else to explore with the card front, I'll use this space to delve into the A's elephant logo/mascot (shown on Freiman's sleeve.) It's not meant to be ironic—original A's manager/owner Connie Mack adopted the elephant in response to an unfavorable remark made by Giants manager John McGraw, and it's stuck off-and-on for over 100 years.
(flip) Just noticed that rookie cards, at least in 2013 Topps Update, do not list "Acquired" in the bio info, likely because most rookies featured are still with their original teams. Freiman's path differed than most, having been Rule V selected from San Diego by Houston, then waived, then claimed by Oakland (which is the true reason he "made" their Opening Day roster, Topps.)
Remember that early Simpsons episode when Marge wrote to her mom or whoever, giving family updates? She states everything Homer, Lisa and Maggie were up to, then she got to Bart...and drew a blank, able to only say "We love Bart." That's what this particular Career Chase brings to mind.
Amanda Blumenhurst was apparently a big deal at Duke before turning pro. That's as much time as I'm willing to spend researching women's golf. Sorry, call me names, but yawn. (Oh, and "despite of me" is bad syntax.)
AFTER THIS CARD: To date, not much. Though he had a decent rookie year, Freiman spent the first half of 2014 in AAA. Upon returning, he never really got going offensively—other than a two-game power explosion in Atlanta—and went on the majors/minors shuttle, which didn't help.
In Spring 2015, Freiman strained his back—ironically, it was Rule V draftee Mark Canha who capitalized on the roster opening. Canha remains an Athletic, while Freiman has bounced through two other organizations and the Independent League in a so-far unsuccessful effort to return to MLB. He's only 30...there's still hope.
(If the guy could bat against Dallas Keuchel every time, MLB would be falling over itself trying to land him—Freiman is 7-for-14 with two homers against the star Astros lefty.)
Nate Freiman has appeared in 2013 Topps Update and 2014 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 2013 Topps Update, Oakland Athletics
5/24/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2007 Topps #440 Mark Teixeira, Rangers
More Mark Teixeira Topps Cards: 2002T 2003 2004 2005 2006 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
I don't pretend to know Mark Teixeira as a person; I've never even met him. But I do not, and never have, liked him. He's annually been near the top of my least-liked major leaguer list (which used to be known as most despised, until I matured and realized it was silly to despise someone who hadn't "done anything".)
Though I've heard reports to the contrary, the guy just comes off as cocky, spoiled and above it all—the kind of guy who'd shove smaller dudes into lockers in high school, the kind of guy who'd tell a cop "Do you know who I AM?" after being pulled over.
Obviously, these are not accusations—we here at TSR are not in the business of slander. They're just the first impressions I got when Tex entered the league, and they never went away. In fact, when he once got ejected from a game against my Giants (arguing a foul call pre-replay), I openly celebrated. When he cried upon retiring, I told him to shut up. Say what you will about me—I'm consistent with my contempt.
Here, Teixeira has just wrapped his fourth major league season, and the final complete one he'd spend in Texas. The big first baseman's numbers were down from 2005—he saw far fewer pitches to hit—but he again played every game, led the Rangers in homers and walks (by a lot) and won his second of five Gold Gloves. Whoop-dee-do.
THIS CARD: Hiatus time: two 2007 selections in the past three.
To me at least, Teixeira looks a little late on this pitch—my official diagnosis: a foul pop somewhere.
Most of Teixeira's Topps base cards have him at-bat. This is one of four fronts depicting him batting righty (2004, 2013-14 are the others.)
The signature reads "Mark Tet".
(flip) These were the days of Topps including Rawlings Gold Glove cards in their sets. Today, they're not even allowed to reference them, using the term "fielding award" instead...WTF?
Teixeira reached the 30/100 marks in each of the following five seasons, and claimed three more Gold Gloves. Bow before him.
Severna Park rests eight miles north of Annapolis; hop on Route 2.
AFTER THIS CARD: As alluded to, Teixeira wasn't long for Texas—the Rangers chose to deal him to Atlanta in mid-2007 even though he wasn't set to be a free agent until after 2008. (I like to believe he was traded because everyone hated him.)
Atlanta kept him around for a year and, like Texas, didn't go anywhere, so they sent him back to the A.L. West via the Los Angeles Angels in July 2008. Sniffing those free agent dollars, Teixeira slugged .632 in 54 Angels games, and turned that into an 8Y/$180M deal from the Yankees.
Through 2011 (his age 31 season), Teixeira contributed his usual durability and production, but after that he dealt with repeated injuries and never topped 123 games again. When healthy, Teixeira continued to hit homers, but not much else—his aggregate batting average from 2013 on was .222 and he struck out in exactly 25% of his at-bats, over 5% higher than pre-2012.
At 36, having completed his megadeal with the Yankees (a rarity for any player/team) Teixeira retired after the 2016 season, only the fifth switch-hitter with 400 home runs.
Mark Teixeira debuted with a 2002 Traded card, received a shared Prospects card for 2003 Topps, then appeared annually in Topps 2004-16.