Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cubs Manager : Ryne Sandberg or Manager Cards That Never Were

Ok, I wouldn't wish the current crop of Cubbies on any manager, much less Ryne Sandberg. But it really would have been great to see him back at Wrigley Field. I hope they left the door open for Ryno to come back after the organization does a little house cleaning.  Meanwhile he is managing the Phillies' AAA club, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. They are currently in 1st place with a 46-32 record. No small feat considering all of the high profile trades the Phillies have made in the past few years. Also this is a team that has never finished above .500. This is a card I wish I could have pulled from a pack this year. But as we say in Chicago, "Maybe next year."

Cards That Never Were : 2011 Heritage Ryne Sandberg

In 1984 we all thought it was "next year" but despite having the better record, Major League Baseball gave home field advantage to the Padres because Wrigley Field was still solar-powered. That meant fewer prime time games on TV. Of course, the Cubs lost all 3 away games. Sandberg won the MVP that year. His teammates Rick Sutcliffe and Gary Matthews both finished among the top 5 in MVP voting. 

In 1973 the San Francisco Giants had Rookie of the Year Gary Matthews and All Star Game MVP Bobby Bonds on their roster.

Bonds started the 1978 season on the Chicago White Sox along with Designated Hitter Ron Blomberg.

Ron Blomberg was the 1st Major League Designated Hitter in 1973. His teammate on the New York Yankees, Gene Michael, would go on to manage both the Yankees and the Cubs.

In 1967 Gene Michael played on the L.A. Dodgers with outfielder Jim Hickman.

In 1971 Hickman and teammate Ron Santo guarded the infield corners for the Chicago Cubs.

From Cub Favorite Sandberg to Cub Favorite Santo in 6 Degrees.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Nationals Manager : Davey Johnson

Today Davey Johnson becomes the 3rd Washington National's manager of the season. He has managed 4 other teams including the 1986 World Series Champion New York Mets. His most recent stint was for the L.A. Dodgers in 2000.

He was an all star member of the World Series champion 1970 Baltimore Orioles. His teammate Boog Powell was voted AL MVP.

In 1976 Powell played for player/manager Frank Robinson on the Cleveland Indians.

Hall of Famer, Robinson spent the first part of the 1974 season with the California Angels before being dealt to the Indians. While on the Angels his teammate was Mike Epstein who was released by the Angels in May.

1969 was Epstein's best year hitting 30 homers with a batting .278, 34 points higher than his career average of .244. I'd like to think this card had something to do with that. His teammate, Frank "Hondo" Howard, hit a career high 48 dingers for the Washington Senators that year.

1964 was Howard's last year on the L.A. Dodgers and Jim Brewer's first.

In 1962 Brewer spend most of the year in Salt Lake City playing AAA ball but joined the Cubs long enough to get on this card and have a cup of coffee with Ron Santo.

From the 3rd Nationals manager this season to Ron Santo in 6 degrees.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nationals Interim Manager : John McLaren

Well, I was going to wait until Monday to make this blog, but it looks like Monday we will see a new Washington Nationals manger, Davey Johnson. McLaren took over for Jim Riggleman, who quit after winning 10 of the last 11 games, because he was "disrespected" by the Washington brass. This is McLaren's second managerial stint. His first took place under similar circumstances. The Seattle Mariners had just won 9 of their last 10 games when manager Mike Hargrove quit.  He claimed his "passion had faded".

McLaren never made the majors as a player and spent his entire minor league career in the Astros organization. In 1975 he was playing single A ball for the Dubuque Packers along with future big leaguer, Terry Puhl.

Puhl hit 62 homeruns, batted .280, and made one All Star appearance over his 15 years in the majors but it was enough to get him inducted to the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1981 he was teammate with a true Hall of Famer on the Houston Astros, Nolan Ryan. 

In 1973 Ryan threw a record 383 K's and 2 no-hitters while playing for the California Angels. His teammate Frank Robinson was still impressive with 30 homers and 97 RBI's.

Robinson won the triple crown and AL MVP in 1966 while on the Baltimore Orioles. His teammate and fellow Hall of Famer, Luis Aparicio led the league in singles and won his 7th Gold Glove.

While playing for the Chicago White Sox in 1962, Aparicio started both All Star games at shortstop, led the league in stolen bases and won his 5th Gold Glove. His teammate Juan Pizarro, led the AL in strike outs per 9 innings for the second year in a row.

10 years later, Pizarro would find himself on the North side of Chicago playing with Ron Santo and the Cubs.

From John McLaren to Ron Santo in 6 degrees.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cards That Never Were: 1974 Topps

1974 Topps Ron Santo Special

First of all, there must have been a twist in the time-space continuum that allowed for a 1974 baseball card to include a photo of a 1975 baseball card.  I know I could have used the 1986 Pete Rose Specials as a template but the Hank Aaron ones from 1974 looked so much better. Maybe one day I will re-do it to look like the O-Pee-Chee versions.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Washington Nationals Win 11 of last 12, Manager Riggleman Quits

Yesterday, after sweeping the Seattle Mariners, Jim Riggleman decided it was time to negotiate an extension with Nationals' brass. It didn't go so well. Today the Nationals named John McLaren interim manager. Riggleman felt that he was being used as a place-holder for somebody else and that his current contract was "disrespectful". With the National's recent success he felt it was a good time to discuss an extension but when the club refused, he walked. A fairly bold move for a manager with a career winning percentage of .445 in nearly 1500 games. He never won so much as a division title. His best year was 1998 when he led the Cubs to a wild card berth.

As a player Riggleman was unspectacular as well, spending most of his career at the AA level and never making the majors. In 1979 on the AA Arkansas Travelers he played with future big-leaguer Tito Landrum.

Tito was played in the 1985 World Series along with Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith on the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ozzie was originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1977 and in 1979 he was teamed with fellow hall of famer Gaylord Perry.

Perry made his major league debut in 1962 on the San Francisco Giants. His teammate, Jack Sanford, led the team with 24 wins and came in 2nd in Cy Young voting behind Don Drysdale.

In 1957 Sanford won the NL Rookie of the Year while on the Philadelphia Phillies where he played with Hall of Fame centerfielder Richie Ashburn. 

Ashburn spent 2 seasons on the Chicago Cubs playing with Ron Santo including 1961.

Starting with Jim Riggleman losing(?) a game of chicken and ending with Ron Santo in 6 degrees.