Friday, October 31, 2014

1974 Topps Style 2014 World Series Champs

Once again this year I tried to capture this season's Championship Series using the format of vintage Topps cards. In 2013, I began with a 1960 Topps World Series style card for Game 1and continued on through 1966. This year I picked up where I left off with the 1967 Topps World Series style card for Game 1 and ending with this 1974 style card. The 1967 - 1970 cards originally used black and white photos. I chose aesthetics over authenticity.

This was an exciting series to watch. The Series went seven games with the Giant winning 4 games to 3. The Royals skipped the post season for 28 years then came within 90 feet of tying up game 7 in 2014.

In Game 1 Hunter Pence homered in the 1st, doubled in the 4th, scored twice and had 2 RBIs. In all the Giants had 11 hits by 8 different players as they took an early lead in the series. 
Giants 7
Royals 1
Giants lead series 1-0

The Royals stormed back in Game 2. Omar Infante capped a 5-run 6th inning with a 2-run homer off Hunter Strickland. The frustrated Strickland then stared down Salvador Perez and exchanged pleasantries causing the Royals bench to momentarily clear.  Cooler heads prevailed and the game continued without incident.
Giants 2
Royals 7
Series even 1-1

In game 3 it was the pitching that made news. Specifically relief pitching. The Royal bullpen was awesome, quieting the Giants prolific bats. I'd write more about the game but with the newspaper format of the 1969 Topps card, it hardly seems necessary.
Royals 3
Giants 2
Royals lead series 2-1

The Giants bats were back with a vengeance in Game 4. 11 different players shared 16 hits including relief pitcher Yusmeiro Petit who also got the win. Joe Panik had 2 doubles and a sac-bunt. He also scored twice and had 2 RBIs. The Royals had 12 hits but were held scoreless after the 3rd inning.
Royals 4
Giants 11
Series even 2-2

Maddy Bum got his second World Series win in style, a complete-game shutout. He struck out 8 Royals giving up only 4 hits and no walks.
Royals 0
Giants 5
Giants lead the series 3-2

After giving their bullpen the night off in game 5, the Giants relievers were called into action in just the 2nd inning of Game 6. The Royals exploded for 10 runs after getting shut out in the last game. Mike Moustakas's 7th inning blast ended a 36 inning home run drought. The longest in World Series play since 1945. The victim once again was Hunter Strickland. Strickland had only 7 inning of regular season MLB experience. In the 2014 post season he gave up 6 homers in just 8 1/3 innings. 
Giants 0
Royals 10
Series even 3-3

With 2 days rest after his complete game shutout in Game 5, Madison Bumgarner took the mound for the final 5 inning of Game 7. Once again he held the Royals scoreless, earning the save and the World Series MVP. This game also had the first overturned call in World Series play.  Eric Hosmer was ruled out at 1st in a brilliant double play. Initially the umpire called him safe but manager Bruce Bochy successfully challenged the call. 
Giants 3
Royals 2
Giants win the series 4-3

Thursday, October 30, 2014

1973 Topps Style 2014 World Series Game 7

The Giants beat the Royals 3-2 in Game 7 of the World Series last night.  It was an exciting finish to a great World Series. You might even say a great post-season. Both teams were wildcards and had to overcome a single-elimination Wildcard Game, the Divisional Series and the Championship Series just to get here. 

For this card, I could have gone so many different ways. The most obvious choice would be the MVP Madison Bumgarner who came in on relief after pitching a complete-game shutout in Game 5. He ended up pitching 5 more shutout innings and got the Save after earning the Win in both Game 1 and Game 5.

Another choice could have been the "Kung Fu Panda" Pablo Sandoval. In Game 7 he was on base in every plate appearance. He had 2 singles, a double and was hit by a pitch. He scored 2 of the Giants 3 runs and even caught the last out of the series. A foul pop-up with a the tying run on 3rd.

Instead I went with the first call ever to be overturned in the World Series. In the bottom of the 4th Eric Hosmer drove the ball up the middle which was stopped by a diving Joe Panik, who turned out to be "Joe Cool". Panik flipped the ball out of his glove to shortstop Brandon Crawford who turned the double play attempt to Brandon Belt. Hosmer dove into first and was called safe. The Giants challenged the call and it was overturned. After seeing the relay from several angles, it was the right call. But the closeness of this call was really indicative of how close this series was.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

1972 Topps Style 2014 World Series Game 6

In Game 6 the Giants were shelled by the Royals 10-0 forcing a Game 7 in Kansas City. In the 2nd inning the Royals scored 7 runs on 5 singles and 2 doubles driving both the starter, Jake Peavy and relief pitcher, Yusmeiro Petit out of the game.

Mike Moustakas went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored. His homer in the 7th ended the longest homerless streak in World Series play since 1945. He homered off Hunter Strickland who also gave up the last World Series homerun 36 innings earlier in the 6th inning of Game 2. This was Strickland's 6th post season homer in just 8 1/3 innings.

Yordano Ventura paid tribute to his AA teammate and friend Oscar Taveras who died in an auto accident . He sharpied RIP O.T. #18 on his cap, glove and shoes. He then went out and pitched 7 solid innings holding the Giants scoreless.

Monday, October 27, 2014

1971 Topps Style 2014 World Series Game 5

Madison Bumgarner dominated the Royals in Game 5. Kansas City was held to only 4 hits, 1 each in the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 7th. Not once were the hitters allowed to advance nor did he give up a single base on balls. The Giants offense continued to take what they were given. The had 12 hits by 8 different players. Only one of which was of the extra base variety. With the series returning to Kansas City down 3 games to 2, the Royals will have their hands full if the continue to hit on all cylinders.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

1970 Topps Style 2014 World Series Game 4

San Francisco scored 11 runs to knot the series at 2 games each. 11 different Giants players had hits last night.  Joe Panik had a big game for the home team with 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, 2 runs scored and a sacrifice bunt.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

1969 Topps Style 2014 World Series Game 3

The Royals took a 2-1 lead in the series on the strength of their bullpen. Brandon Finnegan, who was pitching for TCU in the College World Series 4 months ago, was the Royals #1 pick in the June Draft. He was brought into the game ion the bottom of the 7th with 1 out and Hunter Pence on first. With the Royals clinging to a 3-2 lead, he got Juan Perez to fly out to Alex Gordon in left. He then struck out Brandon Crawford. The Royals then brought in Wade Davis who was perfect in the 8th. Then Greg Holland pitched a perfect 9th. The Royals' All-Star closer got his 7th save of the post season.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

1968 Topps Style 2014 World Series Game 2

The Royals' 5-run 6th inning evened up the series and also raised questions about San Francisco's bullpen.  Strickland's fast ball has virtually no movement. He made the jump from AA Richmond to the Giants where he pitched only 7 inning during the regular season. In the post-season he has given up 5 long balls in just 5.1 innings. After the damage was done, Bruce Bochy brought in Tim Lincecum for clean up duty. But Lincecum left the game with stiffness in his lower back. The Giants will try to find answers as the Series moves to San Francisco for Game 3 Friday night.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

1967 Topps Style 2014 World Series Game 1

For the 2014 World Series I plan on making a highlight card of each game. I began this last year. For Game 1 I used a 1960 Topps design, Game 2, 1961, etc. This year I picked up with the 1967 design. The Topps World Series cards from 1967-70 used black and white photos. I decided not to go for authenticity. I just think Topps could have used color photos for those cards. After all they had used color photos from 1960-1965.  Here is a link to a recap of last year's World Series Cards That Never Were.


When Hunter Pence went yard in the first inning, I was already thinking about those signs popping up in every ballpark. After he doubled and scored in the 4th my mind was made up. I had already committed to straying from the original 1967 Topps design in that I wanted to use color photos. Now I wanted the card to reflect the kind of signs that follow Pence around. It all began, like many other trends, in New York. A couple fans held up signs that said "Hunter Pence eats pizza with a fork" and "Hunter Pence puts ketchup on his hot dog".  Since then these meme-like ballpark signs have gone viral. They have even spawned their own twitter hash-tag #hunterpencesigns. 

Oh, by the way, the Giants dominated Game 1.  Madison Bumgarner gave up only 2 hits and no runs through 6 and 2/3 innings. With 2 outs in the 7th Salvador Perez homered off Bumgarner to give the Royals their only run. Pence had a 2 run homer in the first, doubled and scored in the 4th and was walked twice. The Royals lost their first post season game since October 23, 1985.  They lost Game 4 of the 1985 World Series to the Cardinals. They went on to win Games 5,6 &7. This Year they won the Wildcard game and swept both the Divisional and Championship Series. The Giants ended the Royals' streak at 11 straight post season victories.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Giants Batting and Pitching Leaders

N.L.C.S. Edition

The Giants host the Cardinals in Game 5 tonight in the NLCS. The Cardinals hope for an I-70 series is fading as they head into tonight's game down 3 games to 1.

The Giants' regular season batting leader, Buster Posey is hitting .295 in the 2014 post season up to now.

Madison Bumgarner led the team in the regular season with a 2.98 ERA. In the post season he has given up only 2 runs in 23 2/3 innings. He as had 3 solid outings. He's won 2 games and lost 1. In the game he lost to the Nationals he went 6 scoreless innings before he gave up 3 runs in the 7th (2 earned).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Royals Batting and Pitching Leaders

A.L.C.S. Edition

Weather permitting, the Royals will be hosting Game 3 of the ALCS versus the Orioles tonight. Last night's match was postponed by rain.

At this point in the postseason, Lorenzo Cain has been hitting .380 with 3 doubles, 4 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. He led the Royals in the regular season with a .301 average.

Yordano Ventura was the Royals pitching leader during the regular season posting a 3.20 ERA. He narrowly edged out James Shields who had a 3.21 ERA. Both pitchers had 14 wins during the season. In the postseason, Ventura has yet to get a decision in 3 games.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cardinals Batting and Pitching Leaders

N.L.C.S. Edition

Tonight the Cardinals host the Giants in Game 2 of the NLCS.

Cardinals first baseman, Matt Adams led the team in 2014 with a .288 average. He had just 3 hits in the Divisional Series but his 3rd hit was a 3 run homer off Clayton Kershaw. That proved to be the final nail in the Dodgers' coffin.

Adam Wainright led the Cards with a 2.38 ERA in the regular season. In game one of the Divisional Series Wainwright got crushed. He gave up 6 runs on 11 hits. He left the game after pitching just 4 and 1/3 innings with the Dodgers ahead 6-1. The Cards would come back to win 10-9 in a 26-hit slugfest. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Orioles Batting and Pitching Leaders

A.L.C.S. Edition

Tonight the Orioles host the Royals in Game 1 of the ALCS.  I'm keeping with the 1984 Topps theme for the Championship Series. I used only players that met the official minimum plate appearances of 502 and 162 innings pitched.

The 2014 Orioles Batting leader during the Regular season was Adam Jones with a .281 batting average. In the Divisional Series, Jones had only 2 hits for an anemic .182 batting average. 

Chris Tillman led the eligible Oriole pitchers with a 3.34 ERA. He won his only start in the Divisional Series. He went 5 innings giving up only 2 runs and striking out 6.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

1984 Topps Stadium Statues: Angels vs. Royals

A.L.D.S. Edition

The "Big A" in Anaheim is home to 2 statues related to the Angels. There is a statue of Michelle Carew, Rod Carew's daughter who lost her battle to leukemia in 1996. There is also a statue of Gene Autry, Hollywood's original "Singing Cowboy". Autry was the original owner of the 1961 expansion Los Angeles Angels. He ran the team until 1996 when he sold controlling interest to the Walt Disney company. The number 26 was also retired in his honor. "26" represented his contribution as the 26th man on the roster.

Dick Howser's statue in Kansas City shows him watching from the dugout steps. Howser guided the Royals to their only World Series victory which happened to be their last post season appearance. He was also an All Star shortstop for the Kansas City A's.

Friday, October 3, 2014

1984 Topps Stadium Statues: Dodgers vs. Cardinals

N.L.D.S. Edition

Dodger Stadium is another ballpark completely devoid of statues. To see a ballpark statue honoring Dodgers greats you would need to go to Brooklyn. Specifically, MCU Park, home of the Minor League Brooklyn Cyclones. Outside the park is a statue of Pee Wee Reese with his arm around the rookie Jackie Robinson. This famous gesture was recreated in the movie "42". Although Robinson played the majority of his career at 2nd, his rookie season was spent covering 1st. Robinson spent his entire MLB career in Brooklyn, retiring in 1956. Reese played one season in Los Angeles after the Dodgers moved West in 1958.

The latest Busch Stadium is surrounded by statues of Cardinal heroes;  Lou Brock, Dizzy Dean, Bob Gibson, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Enos Slaughter and Ozzy Smith. There is also a statue of Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck and 2 Hall of Famers from other St. Louis Teams. George Sisler the Browns and Cool Papa Bell of the St. Louis Stars. The Statue of Stan Musial was moved to its current location from the 2nd Busch Stadium where it stood since 1968.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

1984 Topps Stadium Statues: Orioles vs. Tigers

A.L.D.S. Edition

Camden Yards is home to a who's who of Oriole greats: Ripken, Murray, Palmer, Weaver, Brooks and Frank Robinson. It is also home to a statue of a young Babe Ruth who was born and raised in Baltimore and played for the 1914 Minor League Baltimore Orioles. I like the statue of Jim Palmer for not only the signature leg kick but also that great '70s hair.

Comerica Park in Detroit has statues of Tigers greats above their retired numbers along the left-center field wall; Gehringer #2, Greenberg #5, Kaline #6, Newhouser #16, and Horton #23.  There is also a statue of Ty Cobb who played before the Tigers had numbers on their uniforms. Missing is a statue of Sparky Anderson whose #11 was retire in 2011. 

I am a fan of Greenberg for more than just his Hall of Fame career. First he was part owner and Vice President of the 1959 pennant winning White Sox. Another reason to admire the man was his contribution in World War II.  In 1940 Greenberg was the AL MVP.  When he was initially drafted by the Army  he was listed as "4F" he requested to be re-examined and was deemed fit. He missed mist of the 1941 season then was discharged 2 days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He immediately voluntarily re-enlisted. He served nearly 4 years at the peak of his playing career. He returned to baseball in 1945 and hit .304 with 2 homers and 7 RBIs in the World Series helping the Tigers defeat the Cubs in what is still the Cubs' most recent Series appearance. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

1984 Topps Stadium Statues: Pirates vs. Giants

N.L. Wildcard Edition

PNC park in Pittsburgh is home to 4 statues of great Pirates players (5 if you count the sculpture of Ralph Kiner's hands), Roberto Clemente, Honus Wagner, Bill Mazeroski, and Willie Stargell. There is a bust of former Pirates president, Carl Barger and 5 statues of Negro League players who were members of the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays; Cool Papa Bell, Smokey Joe Williams, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston. With so many greats to choose from, I had to go with the first guy I associate with the Pirates, Roberto Clemente.

In San Francisco's AT&T Park there are statues of Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Orlando Cepeda. They also have a statue of a seal. This is a nod to San Francisco's minor league team from 1903-1957. The statue of Willie McCovey sits, of course, on McCovey Cove.