Monday, February 19, 2018

#222-221 A.L./N.L. Playoffs

Personal recollection of the Championship Series: None....I knew Oakland had ran away with the AL West but their destiny was a 3-0 sweep to the Orioles was the same result as the two prior years since the inception of the Championship Series....Orioles scored 5 runs in each and manhandled to upstart A’s....Most of the O’s staff rested, with Mike Cuellar and Jim Palmer carried most the work load with complete games....National League Playoff pitted SF Giants against the Pirates...The Giants were the only team that was coming off the only real pennant race of the season...San Francisco drew first blood with a Gaylord Perry complete game victory...notable in that it was the first time a team wasn’t swept in  the league championship playoff...Game 2 Pirates comeback with a vengeance shelling Giant starter John Cumberland...Pirates score 9 runs five of which came off of Bob Robertson’s 3 home runs.....pitching ruled in game 3 as Bob Johnson out dueled Juan Marichal the deciding 4th game neither Gaylord Perry or Steve Blass pitched well but the Pirates out slugged the Giants 9-5 to take the series....a swan song for the Giants whose franchise would be staggered by age, bad trades, and injuries in many coming years. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

#230-223 1971 World Series

Since 1959 Topps set aside cards depicting the World Series....1971 a close series, Pirates bent on upsetting and dethroning the 1970 champions, Orioles....Historic in that it  shone the spotlight on the legend of Roberto Clement 15 months before his untimely death.....Baltimore coming into the series  boasted 4 20 game winner...a feat likely never achieved again....Pittsburgh coming off a relatively sedate pennant race breaking persona of good but a also ran that dogged them for decade since their 1960 WS crown.....The start was a standard script of expectation...Game 1 the birds use their veteran savvy to overcome a 3 run defecit with five runs....second game an Oriole beat down at 11-3....A reprise of the 1970 WS is in the works....Historic with  the rescue work by Steve Blass who threw a 3 hitter and takes game 3 by a score of  5-1....Game 4 the first WS night game ever....Horrible start for Bucs and the victim is lefty Luke Walker who yanked after only two outs....enter rookie Bruce Kison who only allow one hit in 6 1/3 innings...Pittsburgh has now evened the series....Game 5 is a two hitter thrown by secret weapon Nelson Briles redeeming his season and his last WS performance....So far all home teams win....Series returns to Baltimore....Orioles pull out all stops, Palmer starts, Dobson middle relief, and McNally closes in a 3-2 extra inning win....Blass takes the hill in Game 7 against Mike Cuellar....Cuellar pitches well but surrenders a home to Clemente in the fourth and a run scoring double to Jose Pagan...Orioles come back with one run but it not enough....Pittsburgh take game and match...MVP Roberto Clemente who had a hit in every game (a feat he also did in the 1961 WS)....Not a miracle but unexpected result....personal recollection indifferent to 1971 baseball season in general (the Twins took a nosedive and no other team I had strong attachment with)....watched the last game of the series and went outside afterward and threw a baseball at my pitch back.  

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

#231 Casey Cox

Swingman sometimes starting sometimes relieving....started in bullpen circa 1966 but in later years never fully defined in a specific role....his dual role was a pleasant addition as Washington vaulted to a winning record his employer the triumph was short lived....1970 both Cox (now mostly a starter) and the Nats regressed....Casey’s ERA was 1.5 runs per higher than his career averager.....1971 returned mostly to the Pen in a fireman by committee situation....Packed his bags to Texas with the franchise but was in effect being phased out of MLB employment....acquired by Yankees for a few innings late in the 1972 pennant race....pitched one game for Yankees in 1973, mostly worked in AAA Wichita....Cool name.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

#232 Giants Rookie Stars

The trio spent the entirety of 1972 in the bigs to replace various vacancies....Chris Arnold was never more than a short term call up...played exclusively for Giants in 1971-76....hit well in the minors exceptionally at hitter friendly PCL slugged at a .343 clip in 1971....mostly was on the SF bench thereafter....Starting in 1978 played three years in Japan.....Jim Barr.....graduate of the famed USC baseball....drafted six times at various stages in his development....drafted same year as teammate Dave Kingman....workhorse type pitcher....pitched over 200 innings five consecutive years....1972 collected only 8 wins but a strong 2.87 run was 1974-76 the victor in 13, 13, and 15 games respectively.....lost effectiveness starting 1977....Angels invested free agency dollars on Barr in 1978 with poor to average dividends....returned to Giants in a middle relief role....won 101 games.....Giants rookie of greatest impact rookie of 1972 was Dave Rader.... took over the starting backstop due to the departure of Dick Dietz....voted #2 in NL ROY became a roller thereafter....hit poorly 1973 dropping 30 points....rebounded nicely for the remainder of his San Francisco days raising his cumulative BA by 19 points....each year played on different team in each of the next four years....St. Louis, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia, and Boston in that order....finished his last year with a .329 BA.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

#233 Jay Johnstone

Baseball’s equivalent to a class clown....sometimes labeled a flake but really more of a prankster or comic impressionist....good at all talents....favorite comic routine involved putting a pillow under his shirt which initially was an impersonation of Babe Ruth which then eventually morphed into LA manager Tommy Lasorda....decent hard working ball player at times... ...had ups and down and despite comedic tendencies adapted and overcame....nevertheless an extensive career of 15 full and 5 partial seasons....optimal performance came from a platoon role and being allowed to hit in natural line drive style.....Born November 20th 1945 same day as eventual teammate Rick practices were displayed in of the team’s best hitters mid 1974 to 1977 hitting over .300 and partook in 75% games....a slump in early 1978 started the frequent shuffle of teams with pinch hitting/part time status....stopped playing 1985.....broke the mold when Jay was active....started in the Angels organization.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

#234 Ron Taylor

Canadian born....lengthy, solid baseball career.... a doctor, after playing days were over.....Ron earned a doctorate, after playing days were Royal Gail Hopkins a highly educated man....Ron’s story begins in Cleveland’s organization with a cup of coffee 1962....traded to St Louis with initial good results increasing his rank as a bullpen specialist circa 1963....mediocre seasons followed and eventually sold to Houston....redemption care in the form of his acquisition by the Mets....instant impact and established himself as NY’s save leader for several years and viewed as the prime of his career....instrumental in Met unexpected playoff and World Championship 1969....awarded the first save ever in a NLCS, got the win in the second game....picked up save in game 2 of 1969 WS....while his work load and save total remained stable in 1970 his ERA crept upwards....1971 brought much of same sans save opportunities...sold to Expos but never played for them....released late in Spring training  and picked by the Padres who used him early on in 1972 eating innings blow out loses....hence the start of his second career.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

#235 Merv Rettenmund

Developed so well that the Orioles jettisoned valuable veteran Frank Robinson to LA....with good reason the prior two seasons output combined to a .320 BA....1972 looked bright but it turn out to be the arrestor hook of his career....a couple of injuries and his batting average plummeted to .233 with significant losses in home runs and runs batted in....was able to redeem 1974 to a .262 BA....with teammates like Don Baylor ascending, Merv was expendable and traded to the Reds....Difficult team to gain playing time and he placed at 5th outfielder....never hit well in the Queen City....spent later season in Southern California first San Diego then Angels mostly in a pinch hit role with some success....became one of the top hitting coaches in the 90’s and 00’ out of coaching for the past 11 years.