Dusty Baker 1986 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for July 31, 2017


With Hall of Fame Weekend over, we get back to the business of baseball. Now I am a Red Sox fan and I am still hoping they can win this year. Although I am getting less and less confident of their chances.

If they can’t win, I hope the Washington Nationals can. There are many reasons for that. Friend of the podcast Sean Doolittle is now on the team. The city of Washington has not had a pennant since 1933 nor a World Series champ since 1924 when the Senators were there. The fact that I have to phrase that so specifically makes me want to simplify it.

It would be the franchise’s first title, including the time as the Montreal Expos.

And oh yeah, I believe it will put Dusty Baker into the Hall of Fame. And Dusty Baker being enshrined as a Hall of Fame manager will be great for the game and wonderful is seeing all the people it will drive crazy.

Johnnie B. Baker Jr. is a California native who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1967. In 1968, the 19 year old Dusty made his debut in the majors. He had brief cameos in 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1971 in Atlanta before finally becoming a regular outfielder in 1972. He batted .321 with an OPS of .888 in 503 plate appearances, swatting 17 homers along the way.

Throughout the mid 1970’s Baker was a solid offensive performer for Atlanta, being a 20 homer and 20 steals man in 1973. He was on deck when Henry Aaron his home run number 715.

As good as he was in Atlanta, he became a star in Los Angeles when he arrived as a Dodger in 1976. He went to the Dodgers in a trade involving Lee Lacy, Tom Paciorek, Jim Wynn, Ed Goodson and Jerry Royster.

In 1977, he smoked 30 homers, batted .291 and had an OPS of .876. In 1980, he finished 4th in the MVP vote. He made the 1981 and 1982 All Star Teams, winning the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in 1981.

He excelled in October. Over his 4 NLCS appearances, he batted .371 with an OPS of 1.047 in 17 games He was less successful in the World Series, posting only a .579 OPS over 18 games. But he was part of the 1981 World Championship team.

The end of his career saw him bounce between the Giants and the A’s. His final manager was Tony LaRussa, a skipper with whom he would clash later in his career.

After his career ended as a player, he found himself in Roger Craig’s coaching staff for the Giants.

Eventually he would be named manager. With the arrival of Barry Bonds, he would win 103 games in his first year at the helm. It would be the first of three Manager of the Year awards he would win in San Francisco.

The Giants would win the 2002 pennant as well as Division Titles in 1997 and 2000 under Dusty. They would also play to the final weekend or sometimes the final day in 1993, 1998 and 2001.

Since then, he has brought the Cubs, Reds and Nationals to the post season. There is no denying that teams have played well under him. If he wins a World Series, then this amazing resume will be prologue.

Of course there have been some collapses in his career. I do not count 1993 as a collapse. The Giants played winning ball down the stretch and won 103 games. The Braves simply won so many games that there was no stopping them. Plus Atlanta should have never have been in the West.

But the Giants did indeed collapse in the 2002 World Series. And the image of Dusty Baker giving the game ball to Russ Ortiz in Game 6 when the Giants had a 5-0 lead was embarrassing premature celebrating.

Forget Steve Bartman. His handling of the Cubs pitchers and his bullpen management with a Cubs pennant on the line in 2003 was borderline insane.

The Reds blew a 2-0 lead going back home in the 2012 Division Series. They would end the 2013 season with a 6 game losing streak and fall in the Wild Card Game. Also his pitching management in last year’s Division Series loss to Los Angeles was, um, interesting.

And oh yeah, he puts together a lineup evidently by throwing darts at a dart board. Baker dismisses the importance of on base percentage by saying he doesn’t want to clog the bases. This has made him a target for the sabermetrics crowd.

While Baker has won playoff spots everywhere he has managed, talk to the fans of those teams. My dad, a rabid Giants fan, has his face blanch when I mention his name. We agree that letting his 3 year old son run onto the field during the 2002 World Series was nowhere NEAR his dumbest decision that October.

And with all that in mind, I want him in the Hall of Fame. Dusty Baker is a great character and beloved by his players. And all of those things that make him a POOR manager in so many people’s eyes makes me want to have fun and get him a plaque.

So Go Nats! If the result will be Dusty Baker is in the Hall of Fame and people everywhere shake their heads and think “Oh man, I can’t believe it”, then it will all be worth it.

Larry Andersen 1991 Fleer – Sully Baseball for July 30, 2017


With Jeff Bagwell going into the Hall of Fame this year, Larry Andersen will be mentioned often.

Bagwell was traded for Larry Andersen and an all time bad trade was pulled off.

Let me try to justify the trade.

Larry Andersen had a long and solid career as a reliever. After bouncing around the Cleveland and Pittsburgh systems throughout 1970s, he finally broke through with the 1981 Seattle Mariners. He was a part of the Phillies bullpen when they won the 1983 pennant and pitched in the thrilling 1986 NLCS for Houston.

In 1990, the Red Sox were aiming for a Division Title and possible ALCS rematch with the A’s. They looked like they were finally getting some breathing room against Toronto with an 8 game winning streak that padded their Division lead to 6 1/2 games. Roger Clemens was having one of his best seasons ever and Mike Boddicker was a reliable number 2 starter.

But the rest of the rotation consisted of overachievers like Dana Kiecker and Tom Bolton. And the bullpen was hardly deep. Closer Jeff Reardon was the only reliever to finish the season with an ERA under 4.00. If Boston would have any hope to hold off Toronto for the Division and beat Oakland for the pennant, they would need pitching depth.

Andersen came over from Houston on the last day of August and pitched well in September. In his 15 games and 22 innings pitched, would strikeout 25 while walking only 3. He posted a 1.23 ERA, earning a save against the Yankees on September 21st. Andersen would not allow a run in his first 11 appearancesfor the Red Sox. As it turned out, they needed every bit of help in the pen. Boston finished the season 13-17, but winning the Division on the final day of the season.

They got clobbered in the ALCS. Andersen lost a game in relief as Oakland swept the Red Sox in 4. He would leave Boston and sign with San Diego.

Acquiring the bullpen depth for the stretch run did not cost Boston a single player on the major league roster. And native New Englander Jeff Bagwell looked expendable. He was a fine hitting prospect, but farm hands Tim Naehring, Mo Vaughn, Scott Cooper and Phil Plantier all looked more promising. Besides, Bagwell was a skinny kid without a lot of home run power.

Transformed in Houston he became the Rookie of the Year in 1991 and NL MVP in 1994. The idea of giving up a native New England 1-2 punch of Bagwell and 1995 AL MVP Mo Vaughn tortured Red Sox fans.

Anderson pitched for four more seasons and earned a save in the 1993 NLCS for the Phillies. He finished his career during the 1994 strike, logging 14 plus seasons in the majors.

Andersen is now an announcer with a great set of pipes. It is safe to say he is not one of the most beloved former Red Sox of all time. Hopefully 3 recent World Series titles will heal that wound.

(Part of this was originally posted as part of a blog I wrote on January 6, 2015.)

Razor Shines 1986 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for July 29, 2017


Maxim magazine once declared that Razor Shines had the most badass name in sports history.

Who am I to argue with Maxim?

Very few players who never really made the big leap to regular status in the major leagues had a cult following the way Razor Shines had. His name was no small part of it.

His middle name was Razor. He was quite wise to not go by his first name of Anthony. Tony Shines doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Shines was an 18th round pick by Montreal in the 1978 draft. He joined the organization just as the team was developing into a contender.

A relatively late bloomer, his minor league career took a turn in 1982 when the 25 year old Shines developed his power and average at AA Memphis.

In 1983, he put up excellent numbers at AA and AAA before finally getting his shot in the majors. He only appeared in 3 games for Montreal but he seemed ready to make the leap for good.

In 1984, the Expos moved their AAA club from Wichita to Indianapolis. That would be the city that would embrace the Razor. Year in and year out, he would put up solid numbers for Indianapolis. And year in and year out, those numbers would not translate in the major leagues.

As he regularly hit 20 homers at AAA, he never hit one at the big league level. Andres Gallaraga settled in at first and Tim Wallach at third and Shines chance to become beloved in Montreal faded away.

He played 9 seasons for Indianapolis. When Indianapolis shifted from being an Expos team to being a Reds team, Shines rejoined Indy.

As his playing career ended, Shines developed into a successful minor league manager and coach on several major league teams. He has been the skipper for Birmingham and Clearwaer, Great Lakes and Chattanooga and Tulsa. He was a member of the White Sox and Mets major league coaching staff.

He was honored by Indianapolis when he returned as the manager of the Charlotte Knights.

Now why hasn’t he got a shot to manage in the big leagues? He only has years of experience and respect from people all around baseball. Maybe he can be like Jim Leyland or Sparky Anderson, players who never made it in the majors but excelled as a big league manager.

Either way, Expos fans could have had the combination of Tim Raines and Razor Shines if he had clicked in the big leagues. Winning by Raines or Shines would have been a copy writer dream.

Raines is in the Hall of Fame this weekend.

Maybe Shines will get in as a manager.