Tag Archives: Los Angeles Dodgers

The 1989 Project Day 7 – Eddie Murray

1989 Donruss Baseball's Best

This was a travesty. No, hell, this is a travesty. Eddie Murray was supposed to be like Cal Ripken and spend his entire career as an Oriole. Young O’s fans were devastated when this trade went down. I had thought that time, appreciation of Eddie’s career, and becoming a Nationals fan would soften the blow of contemplating Eddie as anything other than Oriole, but it’s still just as maddening as the day Mike Mussina went to the Yankees. Now, let me clarify, I don’t blame the Dodgers or hate them the way I hated the Yankees for the Mussina thing. If you had a shot to get a surefire Hall of Famer, wouldn’t you take it? Not to mention that Eddie wanted out of Baltimore, so the Orioles kind of didn’t have a choice.

1989 Donruss Traded

It’s interesting to look back at the potential packages that were batted around at the time as compared to what he was actually dealt for. He was actually dealt for Juan Bell (ugh), Ken Howell, and Brian Holton, but other names in the package included Mike Devereaux and Tim Leary. Of course, the O’s would eventually get Devereaux anyway at the end of 1989 Spring Training, but that’s a story for another day. Murray seemed happy with the deal too; LA is his hometown, and of course he was going to play for the then-Champions.

1989 Fleer Update

Eddie’s first year in LA, however, was not up to the par he had established during the rest of his career. He hit .247/.342/.401 with 20 home runs and 88 RBI. He especially started off lousy, hitting .210/.246/.323 with 2 homers in the first 16 games. He broke out on April 25th, going 3-4 with 2 doubles, at which point he started hitting again. Unfortunately, for the month of June, he hit .200/.326/.273 with 1 home run, and continued to bounce back and forth. Extremely streaky, which wasn’t really Eddie’s forte. But hey, he did hit a grand slam!

1989 Score Rookie and Traded

But all these numbers don’t really cover what Eddie meant to a lot of us. When you combined him with Cal Ripken, you kind of got this immovable iconography of Orioles fandom; the guys had led the team to a World Series victory, after all, in the years when the Orioles actually meant something. Even in the years when I didn’t know a whole lot about baseball, I knew about Eddie Murray. Even before I collected baseball cards, an Eddie Murray card meant something. I remember when one of my friends got the Eddie Murray rookie card…he might as well have scored an ounce of pure gold. Amazing stuff. I’m just sad I never got to see him play with the Orioles.

1989 Topps Traded

Ultimately, Eddie would only spend three years in LA. He had a damned great 1990, hitting .330/.414/.520 with 26 home runs and 95 RBI, winning a silver slugger. In all, he hit .278/.359/.440 during his time with LA, knocking 65 home runs. Compare that to his time in Baltimore, when he hit .295/.371/.500, and I guess I can live a little easier with what the Dodgers got from him. And, of course, they got his decline years, even though he was a LONG way from done; he hit .273/.329/.440 in his post-Dodgers years, which we’ll get to if the 1992 Project ever happens.

1989 Upper Deck High Numbers

The Orioles ended up retiring Eddie Murray’s number, despite a lot of rage about it, especially in 1989; fans felt he had betrayed the team by complaining and wanting out. In the meantime, Randy Milligan took Murray’s spot, and while Murray’s output was missed, we generally liked the Moose. I mean, he hit .268/.394/.458 in 1989. Look at that OBP!

But he was never Eddie. He was missed.

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Morning Coffee and the Blog Roundup 11/5 – Biznass Edition

It’s going to be one hectic day, that’s for sure.

Went with a friend to see Paranormal Activity 2 last night; she really wanted to go, we hadn’t seen each other in awhile, and I was open to the idea, even though I hadn’t seen the original. From how everyone described the first, it seems that the second was an improvement. It wasn’t blow-you-away great or anything, but it was a decent enough way to pass a couple of hours. Sounds like the first had some terrible acting, which might be worth checking out on its own merits.

Received the 1991 Score Rookie and Traded set in the mail yesterday, and what an odd little set that is. I can see why I didn’t bother with it back then. 1991 seemed like a transitional year for Score, anyway, and I never really cared for that design. I’ll be glad to get past it. It’s nice to add more Bagwell and Rodriguez rookies, though. Can’t go wrong with two sure hall-of-famers. Shame about it being in the midst of the junk wax era. Next up, I think, is the Leaf set.

You know, I didn’t even realize Jay Gibbons was back in the majors, much less with the Dodgers. So learning that he had re-signed with them was a shock. God, he was so infuriating to watch as an Oriole. Oh, I also guess Rick Ankiel and Lance Berkman saw their options declined. Glad to hear that about Berkman. I’ve always liked him, and it was frustrating to watch him on the Yankees.

Music Friday!

All right, let’s see what everyone else was up to…

Have an awesome weekend everybody!

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The 1988 Project Phase 2 Day 2: The Los Angeles Dodgers

It occurs to me that I should have covered the Dodgers first, as I’m trying to go in order of how the teams finished the year, alternating between AL and NL, but the AL was alphabetically first, so…anyway, sorry to the Dodgers fans out there. No disrespect meant here.

As with the A’s, we’ll start with the rookies first.

Tim Belcher is up first, and no matter how he did in the regular season (which was quite good), he served an important role in the 88 playoffs, important enough that he qualifies as a huge success already. But let’s look at the numbers for the former A’s farmhand.  He had a 12-6 record with a 2.91 ERA and a 7.6 K/9, good for a 4.1 WAR. That’s some good pitching!

Tim Crews was a former Brewers farmhand who made his debut in 87 like Belcher, and pitched in relief in 88, going 4-0 with a 3.14 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP (yikes), and a 0.7 WAR. I think he’ll mostly be remembered for being on the boat with Steve Olin and Bob Ojeda when both Crews and Olin passed away. RIP.

Tracy Woodson was a former third-round pick who also debuted in 1987. He never got a full season in the majors, but in 88 he got into 65 games, hitting .249/.279/.335 with three home runs and a -0.1 WAR.

And now for the vets…

Alejandro Pena’s inclusion in this set is confusing. He had been a long-time Dodgers player that apparently just missed the cut in the regular 1988 set, so we’re not going to look at him for the purposes of this set.

Alfredo Griffin came to LA from Oakland as part of the three-team deal I mentioned yesterday. He provided above-average defense but a .199/.259/.253 line in part-time play, good for a -0.2 WAR.

Jesse Orosco was moving around a lot in the late 80s. He came to the Dodgers with Alfredo Griffin, and also went straight into the tank like most of the other acquisitions. He had a 124 ERA+, but this just serves to illustrate why ERA+ is a flawed stat for relievers. Hell, even ERA, as he had a 2.72 ERA. The problem is that his BB/9 rose while his K/9 fell, both dramatically, and while he benefited from the Dodgers’ strong defense tremendously, his pitching outside of it was less than ordinary. It was just an off year, and a -0.4 WAR.

Mike Davis, a free-agent acquisition, was in the twilight years of his career, and was another disappointing pickup. He only managed a .196/.260/.270 line for a -0.7 WAR.

Jay Howell was the last piece in the trade that netted Griffin and Orosco. He would prove to be the most valuable in 1988, as well, going 5-3 with a 2.08 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and a 2.2 WAR. Not too shabby!

Rick Dempsey is our final player, and was another one nearing the end of his career, but he gave the Dodgers a good year after signing as a free agent at the end of Spring Training. He hit .251/.338/.455 with a 2.0 WAR as a backup catcher. That’s pretty damn good, and he had a few more years left in him for the Dodgers, Brewers, and Orioles.

Of course, the Dodgers won the 1988 World Series with a 94-67 record. What did these guys add? Well, surprisingly more than I thought looking at the numbers at an initial glance. It adds up to 7.6 wins above replacement, but we’ll round that down to about 6. That would put them at 88-73 without these guys. The funny thing is, that’s not too far off of their Pythagorean record (or what you would expect based on runs score vs runs allowed) of 91-70. So it doesn’t really matter, they still would have surpassed Cincinnati for the NL West crown.

All right! So tomorrow we look at the Red Sox.

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2002 UD Authentics #2

Time to take a break from National finds…

Say what you will about Barry Zito, I like this card a lot. It totally captures the spirit of 1989 Upper Deck, and the colors on his uniform mesh so well with the colors on the border. A card like this is why I think this design was begging to be re-used at least once.

I think this card also captures the spirit of 89 Upper Deck really well; the photography is a bit sharper than the 89 set, but the contrast of dark and light is so well-done that I think it’s what they were shooting for with some of those darker pictures and just weren’t able to capture. I think a lot of thought went into the shot selection for this set.

Here we get to the first mediocre shot of today. I’m not really sure what to say about it other than it’s A-Rod from his few years with the Rangers and was one of the more expensive cards of the set.

Man, there sure are a lot of Yankee logos on this card. But see what I mentioned in my last post about saying a player signed with a team when it’s abundantly obvious on the card? I mean, ABUNDANTLY. Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about these kinds of cards. The first example I can recall was Darryl Strawberry’s 1991 Donruss, Score, and Upper Deck cards:

I guess if you’re trying to beat the other guys to show him in his new uniform, I could see it, but it seems like a waste of a potentially good card. I also take the view that a given set is a historical record of the previous season, so these kinds of cards should be saved for update sets or later series. I don’t know. I’m not crazy about the Giambi, but I get why they did it. Thankfully, it’s the only one in the set.

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2008 Upper Deck Timeline 1992 Flashback Pt. 6

And we resume the series, closing in on the end…

Yes, there are two Nationals in this subset, and I wanted to save them for last (and next-to-last). Tyler Clippard has completely revived his career the last two seasons, pitching to a 157 and 126 ERA+ respectively with enough innings for those numbers to actually mean something. He hasn’t been quite as effective of late, but I suspect that has to do with overuse – the guy has already appeared in 50 games this year. I still have faith in Clip, and I have an autographed version of this card, as well:

I will forever associate Chris Duncan with the asinine crap that went down with his exit from St. Louis. For those unfamiliar, when St. Louis (rightfully) dealt him to Boston for being unable to hit water falling out of a boat, his dad, pitching coach Dave Duncan, and manager Tony LaRussa were very butthurt and gave the front office trouble about it. But come on, the guy really was underperforming and fans didn’t like him. It was time for a change. And yes, technically Chris is a National now, though he hasn’t suited up for them in an official game yet. Here’s a shot of him from Spring Training, though:

Duncan is hitting .191 in Syracuse this year, so don’t expect to see him in Washington any time soon.

I had never heard of this guy when I pulled this card, and I still haven’t seen him in a game. To me, Janish looks and smells like a AAAA player, and the numbers bear it out, though he has managed a 109 OPS+ in 37 games this year (small sample size caveats aside). I also did not realize he pitched in two games last year, but was less than impressive.

Russ was one of the last two cards I needed to complete this set. I had high hopes for this guy once upon a time. He looked like another in the tradition of good-hitting Dodgers catchers in the mold of Mike Piazza, but lately he’s looked more like a Paul LoDuca. I also have something of a grudge against him because I picked him up last year for my fantasy team as what I thought would be a steal and he completely tanked and has kept it up this year.

Finally, we have Clay Timpner, another player who was a mystery to me. So far he has appeared in only two ML games with two at-bats, striking out both times, and hasn’t returned since 2008. No wonder I’d never heard of the guy. He’s playing at AA Richmond this year, with a .707 OPS. Meh.

So far, while I like the design of the subset, the player choices leave me more than a bit underwhelmed. There are some good players to come, sure, but nothing that’ll wow you. Thankfully, we’re almost done and can get to something better – 2002 UD Authentics.

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The 1988 Project – Day Eight – Kirk Gibson


1988 Donrus Baseball's Best

The 1988 World Series was the first World Series that I ever watched. I was introduced to a whole new world…I had never actually seen the A’s in action before that postseason, and I was only marginally familiar with the Dodgers, but I was enraptured with the performance of one Orel Hershiser during that post season. One guy, however, rose above even Hershiser, and I wondered how the hell Kirk Gibson wasn’t a superstar in the game.

As the game progresses, Gibson walks back and forth, from the trainer’s room to the runway to the dugout, then back to the trainer’s room and clubhouse. As the Dodgers take the field in the top of the ninth inning, trailing 4-3, Gibson slips back into the trainer’s room and onto the trainer’s table.

“Well, the man who’s been there for the Dodgers all season, Kirk Gibson, is not in the dugout and will not be here for them tonight,” broadcaster Vin Scully tells a worldwide audience. Angry, Gibson slides off the trainer’s table and shouts back at the speaker from which he heard Scully’s voice, “Bull, I’ll be there.” He grabs an ice bag and straps it to his right knee in order to numb it. Then he pulls on his spikes and limps down the runway. (ESPN)

1988 Fleer Update

At some point I remembered that Gibson had been on some of those cards I’d bought. I dug him out, but…he was with the Tigers? I hadn’t yet learned about traded sets (in fact, this may have been my introduction to the concept, but that may be apocryphal), so my confusion was palpable. It was 1988…shouldn’t the player be with the team he played with in 1988?

He tells clubhouse man Mitch Pool to inform hitting coach Ben Hines and Lasorda that he’s going to get himself ready to pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth. Gibson knows the exact lineup situation: if anyone gets on base, pitcher Alejandro Pena is due up fourth. That’s exactly where Gibson intends to hit.

To test his knee, Gibson hits some balls off a tee, slamming one after another into the net. His knee is numb. He feels good, confident, strong. He feels he can give the Dodgers one good swing. He hobbles back down the runway. When he gets to the dugout, Hines nudges Lasorda, who turns to see Gibson at the end of the dugout. Gibson motions to Lasorda, who walks toward Gibson. “If you want to hit [Mike] Davis for [Alfredo] Griffin, I’ll be next in line,” Gibson says. (ESPN)

1988 Score Rookie and Traded

Then he hit the homer, and I was just amazed. This was baseball! I got why people liked it so much. In fact, I wonder if I would have continued to collect and appreciate baseball the way I do without that Gibson homer.

The A’s are retired in the top of the ninth, and as the Dodgers race off the field, out of the A’s bullpen emerges Dennis Eckerlsey, baseball’s best closer, who led the majors with 45 saves. This save looks like it’ll be one of his easiest of the season since he is scheduled to face the bottom of the Dodgers order — catcher Mike Scioscia, third baseman Jeff Hamilton and shortstop Alfredo Griffin.

As Gibson stands at the end of the dugout, his helmet pulled down over his eyes, up steps Scioscia. Eckersley gets him easily on an infield pop-up for the first out. As Eckersley strikes out Hamilton for the second out, Gibson angrily removes his helmet and turns his back to the field.

Down to the last out, Lasorda calls on Davis to bat for Griffin. Davis had played most of his career with the A’s. After a stellar 1987 season, he became a free agent and was one of the Dodgers’ key free-agent signings, along with Gibson. But Davis fell into an early-season slump and was never able to climb out of it. He was a horrendous bust, hitting just .196 during the season and .166 as a pinch hitter.

But if Davis is able to find his way on base, Gibson will hit next.(ESPN)

1988 Topps Traded

So, yes, Kirk introduced me to a lot of different baseball concepts: the solid-but-not-great-player who delivers at a key moment, the traded set, baseball in general. For that reason, I have a special fondness for his 1988 traded cards, or indeed any card of him in a Dodgers uniform. I mean, the guy continued on for years and had a good career, but there’s something magical about that period for me. The same goes for Hershiser as a Dodger, and I’m not even a Dodgers fan.

ibson steps out of the box again. The drama is thick. As he taps his helmet, he thinks back to what Dodgers scout Mel Didier said in his scouting report on Eckersley before the Series: At 3-and-2 against Eckersley, “look for the backdoor slider.”

Gibson limps back into the box. Dodger Stadium is tense. All the fans are up on their feet. Players and coaches in both dugouts stand. Hassey crouches. He gives Eckersley the sign: backdoor slider.

“We had been throwing him all those fastballs, and I felt we could freeze him with the breaking ball,” Hassey would tell the media afterwards. Hassey admits afterwards that he didn’t consider altering his pitch selection because of Gibson’s battered physical condition. But the fact is, Gibson is unable to catch up with Eckersley’s fastball. Eckersley doesn’t shake off Hassey’s call for the backdoor slider. “I figured I’d just throw the nastiest slider I had,” Eckersley would say.

The stadium is frozen as Eckersley wheels around and throws. As the pitch travels toward the plate, Gibson readies himself. The pitch hangs out over the outside of the plate. Using nothing but his wrists, Gibson reaches out over the plate, takes a quick cut and connects.

The ball explodes off his bat and sails through the night sky. As right fielder Jose Canseco races back, the ball keeps carrying . . . it sails over the fence and into the bleachers. As the ball disappears, the stadium explodes in celebration over the miraculous 5-4 victory, and Gibson begins his slow march around the bases. As he heads toward first base, he raises his arm and holds it aloft. He hobbles around the bases, limping heavily. (ESPN)

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Finds and Sales

Welcome to a new weekly column! I’m really excited to do this, as I’m something of a part-time eBayer. I hit up thrift stores, yard sales, and pawn shops for suitable items to sell on eBay and supplement my income. I think I do okay at it (even if July has been a rough month). I come across some very…odd items. And some very unique items, like this plaque of Crosley Field that ended up going for a decent price:

Found it for 80 cents.

I only just considered the idea of covering some of my sports-related finds on the blog, but I think there are some potentially very cool ideas lurking out there; for instance, I found a Wayne Gretzky autographed Upper Deck card and a sealed 1986 Donruss Rookies set on the same trip, so why not cover them here, as well?

I sometimes also try to check and see if some items have been listed on eBay for less than they’re worth, and have come across a few real gems that I’ve flipped, such as this Sweet Spot card that I got for 1.50:

Really, is that a great foursome or what?

I was very tempted to hold on to this baby, but business demanded it go. Really though, one of these guys is a lock for the HOF, at least Halladay is a pretty likely at this point, and I think Wagner may eventually make it. Not bad at all.

So what else have I found? How about this:

Yes, that's a Roger Maris bear.

I have no idea WHY a Roger Maris bear exists, but it does, and I found it last weekend at a thrift store. I’m putting it up for sale this week (no links, I’m not eBay whoring here), and I’m very curious to see if anyone wants it. I kind of doubt it, but who knows? I think it’s kind of a neat little find.


Yeah, it’s a Beltran McFarlane miniature figure. I have absolutely no idea why the label is upside-down, but it ended up selling for a decent price. I’ve actually found Beltran to be a fairly common thrift store find, for some reason. Could it be that he fell from grace with Mets fans or something? No idea.

I shipped this one out today; it’s an Andrew McCutchen “canvas wrap”. They gave these out a Pirates game back in May, and this thrift store had about four or five sealed copies. I ended up busting it open to see if I could clean that black smudge off the canvas, but no dice. It still sold for a decent amount, but I’m sure a mint, unopened would go for more. Too bad none were in that condition.

This was another eBay find, possibly one of the most exciting ones I’ve ever come across. I paid $1.50 for it, and regrettably it ended up going for a dollar. How? I don’t understand how a card with some of the best players in baseball could go for so cheap. It was frustrating, and I haven’t really dipped into that well since, as I’d have preferred to just hold onto it for that.

Finally (for this week):

That’s a limited Cal Ripken lithograph print that was sold at Camden Yards. I recognized it, as I have a similar Miguel Tejada. Just shipped this out the other day to a happy buyer.

But wait, you ask – haven’t you found Nationals stuff, living in the DC area?

Oh my, yes, I have, I’ve just kept that for myself…and I’ll cover that in a different column.

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