Random Team Review: 1980 Topps Cleveland Indians

The 1980 Cleveland Indians had a 79-81 record and finished 6th in the AL East ahead of the 4th year Blue Jays (67-95).  Finishing a couple of games under .500 *and* in 6th place says a lot about how strong the AL East was (and how many bad teams were in the AL West).

The Indians were a young team, with a starting lineup which featured three 25-year-olds and nobody over the age of 31.

Best Offensive Player:
This was a tough call because there were several players who had very good seasons, but nobody who truly dominated offensively. I finally let Baseball Reference’s 1980 Cleveland Indians page make the decision for me; they have Toby Harrah as the top player with a 4.4 WAR.

Harrah played 160 games at third, batted .267 with 100 runs scored and 72 RBI.

The only candidate for “Best Offensive Player” who doesn’t get featured elsewhere in this post is Jorge Orta, who was the team’s representative at the All-Star game.

Best Pitcher:
Len Barker went 19-12 with a 4.17 ERA and a 1.336 WHIP.  He also lead the league with 187 strikeouts.

Best Name:
Andre Thornton missed 1980 due to a knee injury, but he’s got the best name on the team.

Best Nickname and Best Full Name:
Mike Hargrove used to take forever (relative to the day) to get ready for each pitch, thus earning the nickname “The Human Rain Delay”.

His full name is Dudley Michael Hargrove, and he was also a candidate for best offensive player (.304, 85 RBI, 86 runs)

Favorite Card:
Nothing much to say about this Bo Diaz card, just a nice candid shot.

Best In-Game/Action Shot:
This team set is not full of tremendous action shots, but I like this shot of Duane Kuiper ready for action in Yankee Stadium II.

Best Rookie Card:
Hassey was the starting catcher in 1980, and still batted .318 with 65 RBI.  He was also a candidate for “Best Offensive Player”.

Hassey would play for 14 years with 6 different teams.  He caught two different perfect games (Len Barker in 1981, Dennis Martinez in 1991) and between December, 1985 and July, 1986 he was traded from the Yankees to the White Sox, traded back to the Yankees and then traded back to the White Sox.

Best Cartoon:
The cartoons in 1980 Topps were kinda short on goofy appeal, but I liked this Tom Veryzer cartoon that shows him winning half a trophy.

Best player not on a card:
“Super Joe” Carboneau had a breakout year in 1980, won the A.L. Rookie and captured the attention and imagination of Cleveland.  He was also a candidate for “Best Offensive Player”. This is his rookie card in 1981 Topps:

“Super Joe” batted .289 with 23 homers, 83 RBI, 76 runs, 17 doubles and 2 triples..  Due to back problems his celebrity faded as quickly as it came and he became the early 1980’s cautionary tale towards investing in rookie cards.  In 1981 he batted .210 over 48 games, his numbers dropped further in 1982, and then he was gone from Major League baseball.

Best player pictured with another team:
When I was looking at Baseball Reference’s “Top 12” players from this team, I was surprised to see Miguel Dilone in there with a 3.0 WAR.  As it turns out, Dilone was purchased from the Cubs on May 7th and went on to have a career year.

Dilone batted .341 (3rd in the league), stole 61 bases (also 3rd in the league) and finished tied with Tony Perez for 22nd in the AL MVP voting.

Most Notable Airbrushing:
I was about to write off this category completely and declare that there is no airbrushing at all in this team set… and then I took a closer look at Bobby Cuellar on this card:

Even though he looks to be wearing the same uniform as his card-mates, the logo on his cap looks a bit odd… So I’m going to venture that he’s got an airbrushed cap because he’s wearing the cap of an Indians farm team.

Contrast And Compare: Three From 1980 Burger King Sets

It’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these “Contrast And Compare” posts. Today I’m going to feature three cards from 1980 Topps and the three corresponding 1980 Burger King cards which act as “updates”.

Now I’m saying “Burger King” because all of the cards were issued through Burger King restaurants, but they don’t all come from the same set. One was part of a regional Phillies team set, and the other two came from the nationally-issued “Pitch Hit and Run” set done in conjunction with the youth skills competition of the same name. The Phillies set appears to be identical to Topps on the front, while the PH&R set features a Burger King logo and “COLLECTOR’S EDITION” text instead of the pennant used for the player’s position.

Kevin Saucier’s 29 games in 1979 (27 in relief) were not enough to get him his own card in 1980 Topps; instead he had to share it with Ramon Aviles and Dickie Noles.

However, when Topps created a regional Burger King Phillies set, Saucier did manage to kick out his roommates.

The 23-year-old Saucier would make 40 relief appearances in 1980, compiling a 7-3 record with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.400 WHIP. After the season he’d be sent to Texas as the Player To Be Named Later in a deal for closer Sparky Lyle, and just under a month later he’d be flipped to the Tigers, with whom he’d pitch another couple of seasons.

Moving over to the BK “Pitch, Hit And Run” set… One thing I hadn’t realized for a while is that the checklist for Pitch, Hit and Run” was divided into “Pitch” (cards 1-11), “Hit” (cards 12 -22) and “Run” (cards 23-33) sections.

Ron LeFlore, who twice lead the league in stolen bases, was featured under “Run”. Here’s his Topps card:

On December 7th, 1979, LeFlore was traded to the Expos for pitcher Dan Schatzeder. As it worked out, he got traded to another team with the same color scheme in 1980 Topps-created sets.

LeFlore would get a career-high and league-leading 97 SB’s in his lone season with the Expos. After the season he signed with the White Sox as a free agent, but would play just 173 games in his two years in Chicago.

Bobby Bonds was well-known as a “30-30” guy; he hit at least 30 homers and stole 30 bases in five different seasons. His final 30-30 season came in 1978 and he fall short with 25 homers and 34 stolen bases in his one-year stint with the Indians in 1979.  He was allso featured on a “Run” card.

On the same day as the LeFlore trade, Bonds was traded to the Cardinals for John Denny and Jerry Mumphrey.

I tend to think of Bobby Bonds with the Giants, but when you look at his career he’s the king of the “Short-Term Stops”. Bonds spent one season (1975) with the Yankees, one season (1978) split between the White Sox (26 games) and the Rangers (130 games), one season (1979) with the Indians, one season (1980) with the Cardinals and one season (1981) with the Cubs. His 1978 Hostess card is the only one which attempts to show him in a White Sox uniform; 1978 O-Pee-Chee lists him with the White Sox, but he’s shown in an Angels unform.

The Votes Are In, And The Design I’ll Use For The 2017 WBC Customs Is…

Voting on the design to be used for my 2017 World Baseball Classic custom set has finished and the winner is… The 1980 Topps design!
2017-tsr-wbc-preview-1-david-wright
David Wright certainly seems pleased… He must have been one of the 19 people to vote for 1980 Topps.

The voting was tight for most of the week, with 1986 Topps hanging tight and 1976 Hostess and 1976 Wonder Bread hanging in there until the end. Here’s the final count out of 65 votes cast::
1980 Topps Baseball: 19 votes
2017-wbc-prototype-7-jason-marquis

1986 Topps Baseball: 16
2017-wbc-prototype-6-1986-topps-ichiro

1976 Wonder Bread Football: 14
2017-wbc-prototype-4-oliver-perez

1976 Hostess Baseball: 11
2017-wbc-prototype-3-miguel-cabrera

1966 Topps Hockey/Football: 4
2017-world-baseball-classic-prototype-1966-topps-hockey-ike-davis

1960-1962 Bazooka Baseball: 1
2012-13 Hot Stove #17 - Jose Mijares

I’ve begun the necessary preparations for the 2017 WBC custom set, and I’m also brainstorming on ways of keeping things interesting. As one commenter pointed out, the design for 1980 Topps (henceforth abbreviated “80T”) has been used twice in Topps Archives, so I’d like to bring some new elements into the mix.

One “innovation” that will be introduced is horizontal player cards, something that wasn’t done in 80T. I’m trying to decide if I want to do this by rotating the border 90 degrees and rearranging the pennants, or if I want to base it more on team cards like this one:
1980 Topps Philadelphia Phillies

A favorite trick of custom card makers is to take subsets from the original and repurpose them for other uses… but 80T is a little short on subsets, so that makes it something of a challenge.

I’ll definitely work the “Highlights” cards into the mix… maybe just replace the year 1979 with “WBC”.
1980 Topps Del Unser Highlights

The Future Stars subset has some potential, but I’m not sure what I would do with it.
1980 Topps Jays Future Stars Edge Kelly Wilborn

League Leaders seems less promising, but it’s there should I need it
1980 Topps HR Leaders

One thing I’d really like to do is to somehow figure out a way to work 1980 Burger King “Pitch, Hit and Run” cards into this.
1980 Burger King Tom Seaver

I’m open to suggestions on all of this, so if you’re sitting at your desk pretending to work, you can think about 1980 Topps instead of whatever you’re paid to do.

One other factor I’ve given thought to (because I am a nerd and I like to do these things). There are 16 teams in the WBC, but only 14 color combinations used in 80T. It’s quite likely that this won’t end up being a problem, as I don’t know that I’d make customs for all 16 teams anyway. Other possibilities include doubling-up teams with two of the existing color combinations (which was done in 80T anyway) or creating new combinations of colors which weren’t used in 80T.

For those of you keeping score at home, the colors I’d used for Israel were used for the Expos and Tigers in 80T, and the colors used on the David Wright USA custom above was originally the Dodgers and Indians.


COMC BLACK FRIDAY!

COMC promotions are already going on, but the main event starts on Black Friday.  You can read about it here, but to summarize there are three different promotions:  The preview sale (going on now), Black Friday (Friday through Sunday) and Cyber Monday.

Here’s the self-serving portion of this announcement:  I’m participating in Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but didn’t get my act together in time for the preview sale.  You can check out my inventory here, but nothing will be discounted until the Black Friday promo kicks in.

I recently added 100 new cards to my inventory, including recent inserts and Heritage SP’s, 1979 Topps Soccer Stickers, 1980 Burger King Pitch Hit And Run, 1980 Burger King Phillies, and other fun stuff. All proceeds go towards enhancing the world-famous Shlabotnik collection!

Good luck with whatever Black Friday plans you might have!

A (Shoebox) Legendary PWE Puts Me Close To A Complete 1980 Set

After a prior post about how I’d obtained a Rickey Henderson rookie and was going to try to finish off the 1980 Topps set, the illustrious Shane from Shoebox Legends suggested I send him a list of cards I needed, just in case he could help me reach my goals.

…And boy, did he, because after receiving a PWE from him shortly afterwards, I was only 5 cards away from a complete set (and as I write this I’m ThisClose to finishing it, but more on that in a bit).

I’m not going to feature all 12 cards he sent, I’m going to save the 5 “Rookie Stars” cards for a return of my “Are We Not Stars?” series… but that still leaves 7 cards full of 1980 goodness.

J.R. Richard was the first of 6 major leaguers to go by “J.R.”… He was followed by Phillips, House, Towles, Murphy and Graham (although John Ryan Murphy apparently never wanted to be called J.R.)
1980 Topps JR Richard
Richard was a dominant pitcher of the late 1970’s who’s career was cut short by a stroke during the 1980 season. Before that he’d had two seasons with over 300 strikeouts, and a 20-win season followed by three straight 18-win seasons.

I think you know the Philadelphia Phillies. Phillies, readers. Readers, Phillies.
1980 Topps Philadelphia Phillies
Dallas Green managed the Mets in the mid-1990’s, and to this day he’s the Mets manager I regard with the greatest of disdain. I’m not going to get into why, but I’ll just say I didn’t agree with the way he handled certain young players.

During the 1970’s, there were three players to lead the NL in stolen bases more than once… Lou Brock, Davey Lopes and Omar Moreno.
1980 Topps SB Leaders
Moreno would set a career high of 96 stolen bases in 1980, but the league leaders that year were Rickey Henderson (100 SB’s) and Montreal’s Ron LeFlore (97). Omar tied the Pirates season record in 1978, broke it in 1979 and broke it again in 1980… a record he still holds.

No shortage of Astros’ “Tequila Sunrise” uniforms in this PWE!
1980 Topps Terry Puhl
I feel safe in saying that Terry Puhl is the greatest baseball player to come out of Saskatchewan… Although 1970’s pitcher Reggie Cleveland probably gives him a run for his money.

This is a lovely bit of airbrushing which eluded me for 35 years…
1980 Topps Bill Madlock
Even though Madlock had been traded from the Giants to the Bucs halfway through the 1979 season, and put in 85 games (plus 10 postseason games) with the “We Are Family” Pirates, they still had to photoshop him into a pillbox hat… and they didn’t even give him a “Stargell Star”!

Del Unser is the son of Al Unser… but not THAT Al Unser, not the four-time Indy 500 winner, but Al Unser the former Tiger & Red.
1980 Topps Del Unser Highlights

Kong and Stormin’ Gorman.
1980 Topps HR Leaders
Dave Kingman lead the league in homers two times, 1979 and 1982.

Gorman Thomas lead the league in homers two times, 1979 and 1982.  Holy coincidence, Batman!

And that wraps up the PWE, at least for now. Thanks, Shane!

Oh, I was going to fill you in on the complete set thing, wasn’t I? This past weekend I decided that as long as the five remaining commons were reasonably priced on COMC, I was going to finish off the set during the Black Friday promotion… but wouldn’t you know it, one of the cards was only available as a graded card.  Freakin’ figures. Fortunately I have a Plan B and a Plan C, so shame on me if I don’t complete this set by the end of the year.

1980, Here I Come! Right Back Where I Started From…

Something which has been a mild source of embarrassment for many years is the incomplete state of my 1979 and 1980 sets.

To explain why it’s a mild source of embarrassment, I have to give you a little personal history.

I started collecting in 1974 and eventually completed a master set from that year, including the Traded set, “Washington Nat’l Lea.” cards and all of the other variations.
1974 Topps Luke Walker

1975 was the year I fell hard for collecting, completing the baseball set…
1975 Topps John Hiller
…And getting about 75% of the Football set (which I finally completed a couple of years ago).
1975 Topps Football Ken Houston

Back in the day, I also completed the ’76, ’77 and ’78 sets in relatively short order.

1979 was a different story.
1979 Topps Denny Martinez
I didn’t like 1979 Topps as well as as I had liked the prior sets, plus I was a teenager and my friends had moved on to other things. 1979 was the first year I actively collected cards yet didn’t complete the set.

1980 Topps was a similar story…
1980 Topps Dave Parker
At the time, I’d dismissed the set as a warmed-over 1974 design, and while I bought a bunch, I didn’t get close to completing the set.

The introduction of competition in 1981 rekindled my interest and I completed both the Topps and Fleer sets. I lapsed again in 1982 and didn’t complete another Topps set until 1988, but I’m not as concerned about those sets.

For years I’d been saying “If I stop screwing around and complete those two sets, I’d have a run of complete Topps sets for my first eight years of collecting”, but it wasn’t until a year or two ago I decided that my mild embarrassment needed to be counteracted with a similarly mild push to complete both of these sets, with greater focus on 1980 because it’s grown on me over the years.

The biggest obstacle I faced for the 1980 set was the Rickey Henderson rookie.

Last year I bought a box that contained someone’s childhood collection of late 1970’s and early 1980’s cards. I filled a number of 1979 and 1980 wants with some musty, fairly-well-loved cards… But naturally, there was no Rickey.

At a show this past spring I picked up a couple of stars (like the Dave Parker featured above) and even found a 1980 wrapper for $2.
1980 Topps baseball wrapper
But, again… No Rickey.

Finally, a couple of months ago, I found what I was looking for on COMC… A G/VG Rickey for under $10. Condition’s never been of primary importance for me, so I pounced.
1980 Topps Rickey Henderson
It’s got a big ol’ crease in the upper left, but the crease doesn’t touch Rickey himself;  otherwise the card’s seen a fair amount of action but is in decent enough shape.

…And now I’m out of excuses.  Guess I should move my 1980 Topps effort a notch or two up from “mild”, huh?

Got The Time Tick-Tick-Tickin’ In My Head…

Monday evening I had a post ready to go, but when I came back to it Tuesday morning to post it, it seemed a little more mean-spirited than what I’d intended, so I shelved it and ran one of my “reserve posts” in it’s place.

But it also threw off my schedule for the week… I’ve got a couple of posts in the works, but none are ready.

That got me thinking that I could write up something new, but I’d need time…Where would I find the time?

That’s when I decided to do another one of my playlists, this time featuring songs that include “Time” in the title.

There are a heck of a lot of songs with “Time” in the title.  Even after I took out the lesser songs and songs with compound words like “Summertime”, “Sometime” or “Anytime”, I had a bunch. I then cut out songs that had “Times” in it (i.e. “Where Have All The Good Times Gone”), and I ended up with 44 songs.

Here they are, in alphabetical order.  Feel free to add anything I forgot or just didn’t know about.

Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More – The Allman Brothers Band
All Kinds of Time – Fountains of Wayne
Any Time At All – The Beatles
Bad Time – Grand Funk
Big Time – Peter Gabriel
Born at the Right Time – Paul Simon
Borrowed Time – John Lennon

1970 Topps Mike Lum

1970 Topps Mike Lum

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? – Chicago
Falling for the First Time – Barenaked Ladies
Feels Like the First Time – Foreigner
Foreplay/Long Time – Boston
Get It Right The First Time – Billy Joel
Got the Time – Joe Jackson
Have a Good Time – Paul Simon

1993 O-Pee-Chee Kirk McCaskill

1993 O-Pee-Chee Kirk McCaskill

Long Time – Cake
Long Time Gone – Crosby, Stills & Nash
Lovers in a Dangerous Time – Barenaked Ladies
Night Time – J. Geils Band
No Time – The Guess Who
No Time This Time – The Police
Not A Second Time – The Beatles
Not Enough Time – INXS

1980 Topps Bert Blyleven

1980 Topps Bert Blyleven

Once Upon A Time In The West – Dire Straits
One More Time – Joe Jackson
One Piece At A Time – Johnny Cash
Right Place, Wrong Time – Dr. John
She’s Right On Time – Billy Joel
The Longest Time – Billy Joel

1979 Topps Mike Schmidt

1979 Topps Mike Schmidt

The Time Warp – Rocky Horror Cast
This Is the Time – Billy Joel
Time – Pink Floyd
Time – The Alan Parsons Project
Time After Time – The Hooters (Their version of the Cyndi Lauper song)
Time After Time (Annelise) – R.E.M.
Time and Time Again – The Smithereens
Time Has Come Today – The Chambers Brothers
Time Is On My Side – Rolling Stones
Time Is Tight – Booker T. & the MG’s
Time of the Season – The Zombies
Time the Avenger – The Pretenders
Time To Let Me Go – Gloriana
Time To Run – Lord Huron
Twilight Time – The Moody Blues
Your Time Is Gonna Come – Led Zeppelin

1972 Topps Bobby Heise

1972 Topps Bobby Heise

Off-Topic And Buying Time: My Bottom Ten Beatles Tracks

What are the 10 weakest Beatles tracks? That’s precisely the question I asked when I started pondering ways to write a quick post.

For the record, I’m limiting this to official releases through 1970. No “Free As A Bird” or “What’s The New Mary Jane” here.

1994 Topps John Franco

Revolution 9, from the album “The Beatles” (a.k.a. The White Album) – I can still remember the first time I heard this, I spent 8 minutes and 22 seconds waiting for the actual song to start… and then it was over.

Good Night, “The Beatles”  – As far as I’m concerned, the White Album ends with Paul’s little doodle after Cry Baby Cry:  “Can you take me back where I came from, can you take me back…”

The Inner Light, B-Side to “Lady Madonna” – I first heard this in the early 1980’s, when I found the 45 at a yard sale. When I got it home and listened to it, the disappointment was palpable.
1972 Topps Paul Schaal

Till There Was You, “With The Beatles” – A show tune? Really? Well, I guess they needed something to play for the Queen.

Honey Pie, “The Beatles” – I would be far from the first person to state that The White Album is a tremendously uneven effort.

Mr. Moonlight, “Beatles For Sale” – The song doesn’t live up to John’s introductory wail.

1980 Topps George Brett

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, “The Beatles” – Years ago, this song would’ve fared much better. It has not aged well.

Bad Boy, originally on the U.S. album “Beatles VI” – not a bad song, but a relatively weak effort.

I Wanna Be Your Man, “With The Beatles” – This Lennon/McCartney song was recorded and released by the Rolling Stones a few weeks before the Beatles version.

A Taste Of Honey, “Please Please Me” – Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass is a guilty pleasure of mine, and I have to say that Herb’s version is far better. Heck, I even prefer the version by The Hassles, a Long Island “Blue-Eyed Soul” band from the 1960’s that featured a young Billy Joel.

1993 River Group Beatles Collection #145

Please note that some decidedly odd tracks like “Wild Honey Pie” or “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” did not make the cut. Sue me, I like them….

…And I freakin’ love “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)”!  Let’s hear it for Dennis! HA HEY!

So tell me I’m an idiot. Tell me I’m deranged. Tell me what Beatle-y travesty I missed while quickly whipping this post together.