I think that Nomar Garciaparra is as a first-year Dodgers color man on SportsNet LA. He was tentative and understated early in the season, but is evolving into an important element of the broadcast. Still a distant third in sheer volume of commentary, he takes cues from Charlie Steiner and is a capable banterer during typical on-air discussion. He also lends expertise as a contemporary (as opposed to an Old-Timer) of players, and is conscious of the viewer’s affinity for the Game, thus his ability to explain without condescending. Bravo.
Special shout to @nightowlcards (http://nightowlcards.blogspot.com/) for indirectly inspiring this post.
Ranking the Baseball Card Sets of the 1980’s
Based 99% on aesthetics and 1% on arbitrary & subjective judgement, I present my descending order of ‘nicest’ baseball card sets of the 1980’s.
#32 – 1981 Donruss. an absolute bush league attempt at a baseball card. Everything from the proto-dot matrix font to the generic stock border looks amateur. Extra points for stamping the year on the front of the card; as a kid I didn’t notice that and in retrospect it’s very cool.
#23 – 1989 Donruss. Donruss goes fully off the rails again. I love the color purple, but not on my cards. This was tough to differentiate from the Classic board game sets that came out a few years early, but at least these could legally utilize team logos. Really, just an ‘updated’ version of what they were doing when their cards were generic computer printouts in the early decade.
#20 – 1988 Topps. probably the most baseball card-y of all baseball cards. They nailed everything from the moment it came out of the wax pack. Colorful yet unpredictably colored team names; a horizontally diagonal stripe; the strong, thick-lined border; a scripted font for the position. Through all that, managed to set the standard for the Truly Generic. It’s not a bad-looking set, it’s just that it comes off like a Ford – it’ll get you to where you need to go but there’s nothing special about it. At all.
#4 – 1980 Topps. Pretty gorgeous, from the ribbon position/team design to the late 70’s cinematic color wash. The pictures were fairly low quality at times, but they did well capturing greatness – and one of the last true awesome rookie cards.
#1 – 1989 Upper Deck. You knew it was coming. So did I. The Griffey rookie took the baton from Donnie Donruss and armed with outstanding photography (Walter Iooss), post-modernism (Gary Pettis), a legendary error card (Dale Murphy RevNeg) and a sweet crop of players, this set blew everybody out of the water. And foil wrappers. And a baseline running down the side of the card. And $1/pack charge. These were the first cards that made the hobby a real business of Now. Unfortunately, it also was the impetus for making it a real business of yesterday as well. ’89 Upper Deck, you were fine, you were fun, and you made the hobby and subsequently ruined the hobby. Thanks for the memories.
In a recent email thread with my two closest baseball guru friends, we sent missives back-and-forth noting our favorite baseball players in recent memory. More specifically, in our lifetimes – for this project, that spans the 80’s, 90’s, oughts and 10’s. I’m curious to see your favorites – here are MY players. Not the best, just my dogs by position:
THE BRUINS ARE NOW 16-0 UNDER JIM MORA WHEN LEADING AT HALFTIME.*
Honestly, great game and a nice coda to what was truly the strongest season of UCLA football I’ve seen. Better than McNown/Toledo, better than the Olson, the other Olson, Paus, Cowan or other ‘eras.’ Suffice it to say it hasn’t been the greatest run since ’98 but there were some moments.
Thing is, this is no ‘moment.’ Mora really did stamp this program and elevate it back to where it was at least during my time as a student. The enthusiasm, toughness, connectivity with his players – it’s all very endearing and inspirational, and the players love to play for him. More importantly, they’re awesome. AND fun to watch.
I saying yesterday that whether the Bruins are on offense or defense, I don’t want to get up to leave because there is so much excitement with that vast talent base. Speed, strength, attitude – are these really the Gutty Little Bruins? No, they’re not. And if Hundley comes back we’re literally a top five team next year with two(!) Heisman contenders.
It’s a ton of fun, and it’s because of Mora. Peterson didn’t want the job, Sumlin didn’t need it, Al Golden, for chrissakes, turned it down. So our fourth choice, an NFL retread and the son of an NFL caricature (playoffs?!?!) ended up being the best man for the job. And damn I love watching his teams play. I’m SO very excited for next year, and actually have genuine confidence that the Bruins are building something for the first time under my ‘watch.’
Hell yeah. Go Bruins.
*(From Gary Klein’s article in LAT today (print), though for some reason I can only find Hiserman’s recap online (which also includes that same stat in a real-time ‘blog’ when prior to conclusion of game
Below you will find the link to the2014 Hall of Fame ballot names from Baseball-Reference.com, along with a full range of statistical measures for all players on the ballot. ‘Years on Ballot,’ % of Ballots named in 2013, Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor (HOFm – the system is flawed, 100 is ‘likely’ in this metric) and Bill James Hall of Fame Standard (HOFs, in which 50 is the ‘average’ Hall of Famer, a score that exceeds that is considered superior than Hall of Fame average). This is definitely one of the more ‘crowded’ ballots I can remember, so I’ll make my piece snappy.
My opinions have not changed dramatically from last year’s lackluster HoF class. This new crop is pretty incredible, though. Here’s my “ballot” for 2014:
with apologies to Jack Morris on his final attempt, the crop of:
are first year shoo-ins for me. I’m sure Glavine will have the most pushback, but 300+ wins and reinventing himself as a late-career pitcher help greatly.
My next wave of entrants are holdovers that were slighted for one reason or another:
Raines has been a lightning rod for a few years and I imagine he won’t get in for a while. That said, he’s one of the prototype leadoff hitters in the modern era and was completely overlooked in Montreal. The 80’s were a tough era for elites, and his measurables stack up well.
I think Jeff Kent and Mike Mussina eventually get in, but not this year. People hate Kent, but his numbers are top five ever as a second baseman. He’s in. Mussina is frustrating because he was never an Ace or even a Cy pitcher, but he racked up wins and had longevity in an era defined by arm injuries.
Curt Schilling is a total cusp guy for me, probably more than most, because of his postseason success as well as the few big years. I ultimately vote ‘no’ – because he’s an asshole? – because the stats just aren’t quite Hall-worthy.
Hideo Nomo will probably be enshrined eventually as a special contributor type, as he really ushered in the era of Asian crossover.
This crop deserves it’s own mention, because NONE of them receive my ‘vote’ in 2014 and they were all really good first basemen:
I could see myself likely ‘vote’ for McGwire in the future, but Bagwell – despite his similarities to the Big Hurt – just doesn’t have that brand recognition that I’d like. I’m probably shorting him and reserve my right to ‘vote’ him in down the road, but not now. My guess is he DOES ride with the first wave and get in this year, however. Mattingly somehow gets in on the Veterans Committee one day. His reputation as ‘everybody’s favorite player’ is just too strong, and when history shines back on him with the moustache in the pinstripes, he’ll be enshrined.
I refuse to listen to cases for:
because none of them were ever the best player at their position, much less Hall-worthy.
Regardless, good ballot and i’d love to hear your opinions.
Okay, I was on a phone call this morning developing my Laker take for the ’13-’14 season and I need one of you true Laker heads to talk me off the ledge. Here goes.
While I am certain that D’Antoni was the worst possible choice for the makeup of last season’s roster and the collection of Laker bodies looks abhorrent this season when viewing the roster, I believe that the combination of the two (D’Antoni + scrubs) can lead to a 50+ win season and a low-tier playoff series.
Obviously this will not happen with defense, and frankly there are no Laker superstars sans Kobe, but take a look:
Nick Young – points in a hurry
Jordan Farmar – kid can play uptempo, will be starting point guard by mid-season
Steve Nash – the proto-D’Antoni player, make him 6th man and hold him to 25 minutes a game, he’ll drop 12/6 a night.
Steve Blake – showed last year that he can play a good tempo, maybe the only guy that performed under D’Antoni.
Xaviery Henry/Wesley Johnson/Darius Johnson-Odom/Ryan Kelly/Elias Harris – one or two of these athletic, young players can turn into a Boris Diaw/Toney Douglas/Wilson Chandler type, just chipping in double digits in points per night.
Chris Kaman – old, creaky, but still a top 15 center. Just get a double double each night.
This is where it gets nuts.
Pau Gasol I love you but thank the man for the rings & his service, and TRADE him for more athletes in exchange for allowing him to chase a couple rings.
Kobe Bryant comes back slowly (for him) in November/December, turns into Jordan45 from January – March and then KobeII from April – playoffs. That means he’s holding steady at 20+/5/4 for his return, and that’s playing it conservative. I truly believe that Kobe will never be less than great – he won’t allow it, he’d leave if he became meager. Most importantly, he buys into the system which means OTHER guys fall in line, and because he’ll essentially be the Coach on the Floor, he’ll finally get to achieve that oft-referred ‘extension of D’Antoni’ that he grew up in Italy dreaming of. . .
Again, I realize it’s a gonzo theory, but could it happen? Somebody talk me off the Laker Ledge here.
In light of Juan Uribe‘s homerun last night (I would have LOVED to hear the Vin call, that’s another discussion), where does that rank in modern-era Dodger homeruns?
Obviously Kirk Gibson is number one.
For me, Steve Finley grand slam final day of season 2004 to give the Dodgers the NL West crown is memorable, as is the Four Straight Homeruns capped off by Nomar Garciaparra’s blast to win it in extra innings. Those were both regular season, though.
‘s off of Doc Gooden was actually the catapult for the ’88 playoffs in the Mets series, so that would have to be number two. . .
but are there any others in recent history that I’m omitting?