Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, October 2017
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10/3/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2014 Topps #278 Tommy Medica, Padres
More Tommy Medica Topps Cards: 2015
I, Skillz, am a Giants fan of nearing 30 years. And because of that, on occasion, our Card Of The Day leans a little Giant—sometimes I just gotta talk to "my" peeps.
Surely, Giants fans remember last season (2016) when 28-year-old rookie Padre Ryan Schimpf helped ignite the team's second-half collapse by going 2-for-3 with a homer, triple and two crucial RBI against Jeff Samardzija shortly after the break. He smoked two more hits the next night, leaving us staring at our screens like "Who IS this guy?"
Three years ago, Tommy Medica (MEDD-uh-cuh) was that guy—an unknown, inexperienced Padre taking it to Giants pitching. It was the final series of 2013 when Medica, with all of 16 games of MLB experience, smacked five hits in 11 AB over three games, adding an RBI in each one.
The last thing we Giants fans needed was for San Diego to unearth a young star, but Medica looked capable of becoming just that...for a brief time.
THIS CARD: Figuring out a photo's locale is easy when the player only visited four ballparks that year—even easier when one such park, AT&T, is one you know almost as well as its builders. Medica volleys the baseball at PNC Park, identifiable by the green-railed dugout as well as the golden-sleeved Pirate behind him. (Plus, squint and you can make out Pirates gear on a couple of the fans.)
Medica and friends visited the Bucs 9/16-19, and though he was only 2-for-11, San Diego won the first three games...then got blown out in the finale.
There was no typing error; this is our second consecutive Card #278. I don't know how that happened, and I'm not sure I want to.
(flip) Medica originated where TSR did: San Jose, CA. Santa Clara is located immediately to the west; SCU straddles the border.
Medica was drafted as a catcher; the only other member of his draft round to reach MLB to date is journeyman P Nick Tepesch.
Not sure why Topps felt it necessary to use the word "first"; those were the only MiLB games Medica played in 2013.
Subbing for injured Yonder Alonso, Medica started at 1B full-time from 9/11 on, hitting in 12 of 18 games overall and batting .290 with three jacks and a .449 SLG. Of course, Topps can't be bothered to print any rookie MLB stats anymore.
Kevin McReynolds (1983) Jason Bay (2003) and Eddy Rodriguez (no, not that one; 2012) were the first three Padres to homer in their debut. Thanks to Patrick Kivlehan for joining the club in 2016, leading www.sandiegouniontribune.com to post this otherwise-unattainable info. (BTW, Cliff Lee served up Medica's bomb in a 4-2 Padres loss at Philly.)
AFTER THIS CARD: Surprisingly, not much. Having added left field to his resume, Medica did make the 2014 Padres roster (incumbent Alonso was back healthy at 1B) but was back in AAA by month's end. He returned in June to again sub for Alonso, and one week after the game of his life on 8/2 (5-for-5, two homers), Medica was beaned by A.J. Burnett.
Though he returned the next night, Medica—batting .272 at the time—hit .141 from that point on (34 games) and spent all of 2015 in AAA. Miami signed and released him prior to Spring 2016, and he hasn't been heard from since.
Tommy Medica appeared in 2014-15 Topps.
10/7/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2011 Topps #127 Chris Volstad, Marlins
More Chris Volstad Topps Cards: 2005U 2008U 2009 2010 2012
One of many reasons for our Card Of The Day feature—which is slowly becoming a Card Of The Week feature, to my regret—is "catching up" with onetime promising youngsters who enjoyed success in MLB...but somehow slipped off the tracks and wound up as journeymen (if they were even able to stay in the league.)
Ex-Marlins righty Chris Volstad—best known as the guy acquired by the Cubs for Carlos Zambrano after the 2011 season—is one such dude. One of few pitchers in the league larger than Big Z (6'8"), Volstad jumped to Florida from AA Carolina in 2008; he pitched exceptionally well as a 21-year-old, posting a 2.88 ERA and allowing only three HR in 84 innings!
The young righty remained in Florida's rotation for 2009, but struggled so badly from August on he was farmed out for 10 days and twice sent to the bullpen (though both times he wound up making fill-in starts anyway.)
Here, Volstad has wrapped a yo-yo of a 2010 season. Despite adding a slider to his repertoire in Spring Training, Volstad's command issues and 4-8 record earned him a midseason demotion to AAA. And near season's end, he triggered a brawl with Washington by throwing at Nyjer Morgan—who some would say deserved it, but still—in separate at-bats and was suspended. However, Volstad was still only 23, won 12 games, threw his first career shutout and cut his home run rate by almost half.
THIS CARD: The more time elapses, the more I dig 2011 Topps. Many of the players featured haven't appeared in Topps before or since, and the set's photos aren't overly tight and gritty as today's have become.
Volstad is a sinkerball pitcher who also snaps off a hard curve, slider to RHH, and changeup to LHH—I'm guessing the changeup is being delivered in this pic. Though Volstad throws in the low 90's, his career-best K/9 is 6.4—below the career mark of even Barry Zito, who could reach 85 with favorable wind gusts and a friendly gun.
This is the third straight year Volstad is shown in the black alternate jersey.
(flip) We mentioned the shutout; how awesome if he'd thrown it three days later on his birthday...
We also mentioned the slow start; though his other numbers did not improve all that much, Volstad was 8-1 after returning from the minors. I'm going to assume rookie Giancarlo "Mike" Stanton heated up and got him some wins.
Volstad was the #16 overall pick in '05 out of Palm Beach Gardens High. Among the scrubs chosen ahead of him: Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Troy Tulowitzki, Jay Bruce, Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Braun, and Ryan Zimmerman...what were these GM's thinking?! What a find for the Fish!
Chet Lemon was a star outfielder for the White Sox and Tigers in the 1980's. Man...don't those insets make you want to rummage through loose baseball cards?
AFTER THIS CARD: Volstad lasted one more season in Florida's rotation, a shaky one more like 2009 than 2010—he even spent two-and-a-half more weeks in AAA and ultimately finished 5-13. Traded for Zambrano straight up and armed with a 500% salary increase for 2012 (holy arbitration), Volstad did not take to Chicago and ultimately spent two months in the minors. He finished 3-12, 6.31 in 21 starts.
Since his Cubs tenure, Volstad has made 15 major league appearances—seven with the '13 Rockies before a 10.80 ERA and Roy Oswalt displaced him; one scoreless LRA with the depleted '15 Pirates; and seven with the September 2017 White Sox—a truly back-from-the-dead story for the 31-year-old who'd labored for AAA Charlotte since the start of 2016 (and not exactly dominated).
Chris Volstad debuted in 2005 Topps Update as a Marlins Draft Pick, reappeared in 2008 Topps Update having reached MLB, then appeared annually in Topps 2009-12. He's depicted as a Cub in the 2012 set.
CATEGORIES: 2011 Topps, Florida Marlins
10/11/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1996 Topps #416 Bryan Rekar, Rockies
More Bryan Rekar Topps Cards: 2001 2002
Bryan Rekar was a kid pitcher for the Rockies during the opening season of Coors Field. A 1993 #2 pick out of Bradley, Rekar was promoted to Colorado after going 10-5, 1.89 at two minor league levels to begin the '95 season—capped by a 4-2, 1.46 run at AAA Colorado Springs during which he allowed zero homers in 48 innings! (Granted, their park didn't have hitter-friendly dimensions, but it's still over 6,000 frikkin' feet above sea level.)
Naturally intrigued by Rekar's achievements in high altitude, the Rockies called him up after seven AAA starts, hoping if not expecting him to be unfazed by Coors Field. Uh...oops.
THIS CARD: Good GOD Bryan...that strain alone should shave 0.50 off your ERA.
This must be Rekar's September 4 start at Wrigley; he went seven innings and only allowed two UER (1B Andres Galarraga's error was followed by Sammy Sosa's two-run HR). But Frank Castillo put up nine zeroes.
Unless he's really trying to sell the changeup, I'm going to assume Rekar's coming with the heater. Not that it was all that hot (hi-80's, but with sink). Rekar also snapped off a curve.
Rekar's original Rockies number was #38; he then became the first of nine Rockies to wear #56. Franklin Morales wore it for part of six seasons in Denver; star closer Greg Holland had it in '17.
(flip) Christ, he's making the same face on the back.
Of those four wins, three came in Rekar's first three MLB starts—to date, Jason Jennings is the only other Rockie to ever do that.
More than one publication I used for research mentioned Rekar's windup; one even compared it to that of fellow 1995 "rookie" Hideo Nomo.
Pete Bercich was a Vikings special teamer/reserve LB 1995-00. He later coached and announced for the team as well.
Oaklawn is described as both a village and a suburb of Chicago. I feel like I've done that one before.
AFTER THIS CARD: Though he did decently enough when on the road, Rekar just couldn't manage anything resembling adequate results at Coors Field, and he was left unprotected in the 1997 Expansion Draft—with a 10.80 career home ERA, the Rockies had no choice.
Rekar didn't debut with Tampa until July '98 and turned in an uneven, but not terrible, performance going forward. He went on to spend most of 2000-01 in the D-Rays' rotation, but only went a combined 10-23 in 52 starts. To be fair, those two teams—devoid of both defense and offense—combined for 192 losses.
Released after 2001, Rekar's career hung on life support...until he made two ghastly starts with the 2002 Royals and the machines were shut off. He did enjoy brief success as an Independent Leaguer in '03 before the bottom fell out a year later, ending his pro career.
Bryan Rekar appeared in 1996, 2001 and 2002 Topps. He also showed up in 1998 Upper Deck.
CATEGORIES: 1996 Topps, Colorado Rockies
10/15/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps #177 Paul Konerko, White Sox
More Paul Konerko Topps Cards: 1995 1996 1997 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
If I were to stack my some-odd 30,000 baseball cards in order of least-liked to most-liked, I'd have to stand on a chair to place this particular Card Of The Day. Paul Konerko wasn't an idol of mine or anything like that—he's only what, three years older than me—but I dig guys who play (virtually) their whole careers in one city, don't demand ridiculous salaries, act like they've been there before and avoid controversy/trouble.
So by definition, I suppose I am something of a Konerko fan (which wouldn't be possible had he stayed with his original team, the Los Angeles Dodgers). And as such, I have to be at least a little moved by this card's image—obviously the farewell game for the 17-year veteran who as a White Sock hit 432 homers, drove in 1,383 runs, made six All-Star teams and helped break an 88-year title drought.
THIS CARD: Konerko was a part-timer in his final season, supplanted at 1B by newcomer Jose Abreu. He got the 9/28 start vs. Kansas City and went 0-for-3, then was removed in the 6th by manager Robin Ventura shortly after taking the field (with rookie Andy Wilkins taking over.)
This allowed for a deserved and lengthy standing ovation and curtain call—it wasn't quite David Ortiz saying goodbye at Fenway after the 2016 ALDS, but it was enough to leave some Chicagoans teary-eyed. Konerko was clearly awed and possibly even a little embarrassed by it all.
"King" graces our COTD presence for the second time; his 2010 card was featured on 10/18/14. TSR is building a true archive!
Again, I must laud Topps for giving Konerko a farewell card, while at the same time wondering why others like Craig Biggio, Cal Ripken, Barry Bonds and Chipper Jones did not. Must be some MLBPA legal garbage.
(flip) Konerko was the 13th overall pick in 1994, sandwiched between Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Varitek. Without that trio, this goes down as one of the worst first rounds ever—Ben Grieve had the best career aside from them.
Konerko was traded straight-up for CF Mike Cameron. The latter had fallen out of favor in Chicago after a disastrous 1998 season, while the former was blocked in Cincinnati—who'd acquired him from the Dodgers in '98 for RP Jeff Shaw—by rising star 1B Sean Casey.
"One of these years is not like the other"—Konerko had to surge after the break to get those 2003 numbers that high.
This card has a Cooperstown Collection stamp rather than the MLB/MLBPA stamps shown on the other 2015 Topps cards we've featured. I do not know why—they're all from the same factory set.
AFTER THIS CARD: Uh...a lot of golf? Actually, Konerko told NBC Sports that a return to baseball wouldn't happen until his kids grew up, and that he lacks coaching interest.
Including his Draft Pick and Prospect days, Paul Konerko appeared annually in Topps 1995-2015, except 1998—which was odd considering '97 was the year of his MiLB eruption and MLB debut.
CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps, Chicago White Sox
10/18/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2014 Topps Update #330 Daniel Webb, White Sox
More Daniel Webb Topps Cards: n/a
I wish I could blame our second consecutive mid-10's White Sock to a Randomizer failure, but I can't because Webb is not a random selection—the onetime Sox reliever (2013-16) died on October 14, age 28. As is our custom, TSR sidesteps the random selection process in memory of Webb, who spent most of 2014-15 working out of the White Sox bullpen.
One of two prospects Toronto surrendered to re-acquire Jason Frasor from Chicago in 2012, Webb—an unsuccessful starter his first two pro seasons—was in MLB by the end of 2013, with Derek Jeter as his first hitter faced! (Jeter walked and eventually scored). Webb made the team out of Spring Training 2014 and especially enjoyed a fine first half, racking up 57 appearances overall with a 3.99 ERA.
THIS CARD: Since this is an Update card, I can't use the throwback uniform to pinpoint what game this image is from, at least not without more effort than I'm willing to spend—it could be from 2013 or 2014. Chicago has been using this 1980's throwback regularly for a few years now, though not on a set schedule (i.e. every home Saturday, like the Cardinals).
Webb gears up to throw either his up-to-98-mph fastball, mid-80's slider, or a sparsely-used changeup. He had an ordinary motion, no trickery or oddities whatsoever.
(flip) As you see, I need to clean my scanner.
This card #330 is the final card in the 2014 Update set.
Note Webb's #18 draft status—he was signed by Toronto for $450K, thrice the going rate for #18 picks. He spent one year at Northwest Florida State College—of the 11 alumni to play professional baseball, Webb was the only one to reach the majors.
That one-pitch win? On 4/15 vs. Boston, with a 1-1 tie, two out and two runners on, Webb was called upon—he promptly retired Mike Carp via 1-3 groundout. Minutes later, Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts threw away Marcus Semien's grounder, giving Chicago—and Webb—the victory.
AFTER THIS CARD: Webb couldn't throw enough strikes to remain effective for long; he did not make the 2015 White Sox out of camp and spent essentially the first two months in AAA. With practically all of August lost to a back strain, Webb ended up with just 27 major league appearances in '15, with a grisly 6.30 ERA.
In June 2016, Webb underwent Tommy John surgery; Chicago—for whom Webb pitched just once in '16—cut him the following winter. The Kentucky native was fatally injured in an ATV crash in Waverly, Tennessee.
This is Daniel Webb's lone Topps card, and pretty much lone anybody card.
10/25/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps #448 Dustin Moseley, Padres
More Dustin Moseley Topps Cards: 2003T 2007U 2011U 2013
Did you follow the 2017 MLB season at all? You did? Good. Then you likely saw the lowlight of Milwaukee's Jimmy Nelson hurting his pitching shoulder diving into first base. Did you follow MLB last year? Yes? Okay, then you might remember Boston's Steven Wright being hurt in a similar way. I remember Santiago Casilla of my Giants charging down the line on a slow roller as if a World Championship was riding on it...and landing on the DL with a bad hammy pull back in '14.
The difference between those pitchers and Dustin Moseley is that when their careers end, people will look back on the pitching of Nelson, Wright and Casilla first and their injuries later—whereas Moseley might be best known for the bad shoulder injury he suffered swinging the bat during the 2011 season outlined on this card.
Moseley, picked #34 overall by the Reds in 2000 (Tampa Bay sacrificed the pick so it could pay Juan Guzman $12.5M to pitch once), joined the Angels in the Winter 2004 Ramon Ortiz trade. Despite little MLB experience, he began 2007 in LA's rotation in place of injured Jered Weaver...and shined, turning in back-to-back six-inning, one-run outings! Moseley remained with the team that entire year starting, relieving, and even pitching in the postseason.
Named the Angels' 5th starter for '08, Moseley was bounced from the rotation a month later, disabled, demoted, and not all that effective upon returning. He again won a spot in the '09 rotation, but after three starts, was shut down with forearm pain—later compounded by mystery neck pain. Moseley didn't pitch again in '09 and was let go that winter.
Following a half-year with the Yankees (whose postseason roster he also made), Moseley hooked up with the Padres and had finally established himself as a consistent, reliable starter when he took that unfortunate swing.
THIS CARD: Not much to discuss here—we know the ballpark, no way to guess the opponent, nothing special about the photo. So since he's about to throw, I'll tell you a bit about Moseley's arsenal—he featured a low-90's fastball and an adequate changeup, but his curve was his go-to pitch. Perhaps most importantly, since he was not overpowering: Moseley could command his pitches. (With the Yankees in 2010, Moseley added something of a slider/cutter hybrid.)
(flip) Those 27 innings covered four full starts and part of another—San Diego was shut out in each of his first three starts. On the year, Moseley received 2.55 runs of support per game by his teammates; pre-injury, eight of Moseley's 13 starts were quality yet he was just 2-6.
Texarkana is a couple of hours southwest of Little Rock; use I-30.
AFTER THIS CARD: Moseley's left shoulder was dislocated on that swing; he only missed 11 days but dislocated it again a month later as he attempted pitching through the pain (making that three career dislocations). As it turned out, Moseley also suffered a torn labrum and stretched capsule and underwent off-season surgery.
Hoping to ward off further shoulder woes, the Padres worked with Moseley on a new batting stance for 2012—but little did they know that his pitching shoulder would be the villain that year. Extensive damage to Moseley's right rotator cuff and labrum ended his year, and career, after one start.
Dustin Moseley debuted with a Traded card in 2003, received Update cards in 2007 and 2011, then closed his Topps run with 2012-13 base cards. Yes, he got a 2013 card...surprising, but cool.
CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, San Diego Padres
10/29/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #536 Terry Mulholland, Giants
More Terry Mulholland Topps Cards: 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1999T 2001 2002 2003
The old axiom "if he's left-handed, and he's alive, we'll take him" was created with guys like Terry Mulholland in mind. After spending the early 1990's among the better lefties in the National League, Mulholland embarked on a new career as a journeyman swingman.
Every year, MLB officials would take Mulholland's pulse to confirm he was indeed still alive. Once that was proven, he'd be asked to throw for three full minutes with his left hand. When both tests completed, Mulholland would continue his voyage through MLB for another year. It seemed he'd last til age 50 (43 isn't too bad consolation prize.)
Back in 1987, however, Mulholland was just another unproven kid coming off a 15-game stint with the '86 Giants. Though the rookie won only one of his 10 starts and posted a ghastly BB/K ratio, he allowed just one home run and a .229 BAA in his first 43 innings while producing one of the season's top highlights on September 3.
THIS CARD: Mulholland fires off a splitter at The Stick, aka Candlestick Park—he also threw a sinker, changeup and slider, none of which lit up the radar gun. The tall lefty relied greatly on deception; his delivery hid the ball well and he was the best of his time at holding runners, setting a record with 16 pickoffs in 1992 and enjoying a seven-year stretch of only six steals allowed!
At Candlestick Park in 1986, Mulholland excelled with a 3.13 ERA over six games (five starts). He allowed just 22 hits in 31 innings...but did surrender 19 BB.
(flip) Ironic that a guy who relied on deception and mixing speeds worked at a gas station.
Mulholland the avid collector could not be pleased with his absences from Topps during the dark era (1996-2000). He's from Pennsylvania, the same state where Topps is based—you'd think he'd have gotten a little more love than that.
That no-hitter was Forsch's second, having also fired one in 1978. He struck out six and walked none; two runners reached (hit-by-pitch and error). I have no idea what September 26 has to do with Mulholland, but there you go.
Note how in 1987, Topps spelled out "Drafted", but in ensuing years it'd be abbreviated to "Drft", which makes no sense. It's long since been restored to full spelling, thankfully. Topps lists him here as a #2 pick erroneously; he was actually the 24th overall pick—compensation from Detroit for signing free agent Darrell Evans. It was not corrected until his final Topps card 16 years later!
AFTER THIS CARD: Mulholland pitched too many years for too many teams to fully detail here. I will tell you that after being packaged in a trade to the Phillies for RP Steve Bedrosian in mid-1989, he blossomed into Philadelphia's ace pitcher for a time—even dropping a revenge no-hitter on the Giants in '90! After helping Philly reach the 1993 World Series, he was traded to the Yankees for '94; it didn't go too well.
Mulholland chose familiarity by alternating between the Giants and Phillies 1995-96, respectively (he closed '96 with Seattle, but since he lacked a 1997 Topps card despite 33 starts, I'd totally forgotten about that.)
Now 34, Mulholland made 25 starts for the 1997 Cubs before being claimed on waivers by...yet again...the San Francisco Giants, at least partially to keep him from division rivals. Mulholland pitched mostly relief in SF Stint #3.
From there, Mulholland served as swingman for the Cubs, Braves, Pirates, Dodgers, Indians, and Twins—finally finishing up in 2006 as a gray-haired Arizona Diamondback. (By the way, I remembered most of those teams in order, only screwing up the Pirates. Back pats for me.)
This is Terry Mulholland's debut Topps card; he went on to appear in Topps 1989-95 before disappearing...until 1999 Traded (Braves). He'd close his Topps run with appearances in the 2001-03 base sets. 1997 Fleer and Collector's Choice feature Mulholland with the Cubs, while 2006 Upper Deck depicts the veteran as a Diamondback.
CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, San Francisco Giants