New York Mets Team Picture 1981 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for December 28, 2017

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OK, what the hell is going on with this team picture? Is it just me or does it seem like there are a LOT of people in this picture.

Most team pictures are about 30 players (the main 24 plus some that are inevitably on the disabled list) 5 or 6 coaches, a trainer, a clubhouse guy, maybe the GM and a batboy.

There would be about 40, 45 people tops.

I do not know how many there are in this pic. Honest to goodness, I am going pause a little bit of my writing and I am going to count heads right now. I wonder if it is an illusion.

OK, there are 58 people in this picture. It looked like more, but still. That is 13 more people than my absolute roided maximum was for a team pic.

So who the hell is everyone? Did they invite every top minor leaguer into this pic.

There are 4 non player or coach people in the picture. And I will estimate 5 coaches and manager Joe Torre.

So that leaves 48 players in this picture.

48!

This picture MUST have been taken in Spring Training. Either that or they had 24 people on the disabled list at the time.

There really isn’t much to say about the 1980 Mets squad except that it was the year that Frank Cashen showed up and began rebuilding the team from the ground up. Darryl Strawberry was drafted that year.

Lee Mazzilli was still the team’s biggest star and their rotation still had no dominant ace to replace Tom Seaver. They went 67-95 in 1980.

In 1981, they finished under .500 in both halves of the season. Eventual World Champion Mets Mookie Wilson, Wally Backman and Jesse Orosco were all on the squad. By the end of the season Joe Torre was gone and off to Atlanta. If you had told anyone that in a decade and a half, Joe Torre would be putting together a Hall of Fame manager as a beloved figure in New York history, you would have been thrown into an insane asylum.

The Mets would build a solid team from the ground up. And, evidently, invite everyone involved in the rebuild to the team picture.

Philadelphia Phillies Team Picture 1979 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for December 27, 2017

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History is so easy to understand in retrospect. The narratives are so clean and the paths to the conclusion seem so obvious. And yet they can only be examined as something that happened in the past. And in many ways, tiny moments where history zigged instead of zagged could change what narrative we all know.

Take the Philadelphia Phillies. They are the last pre-expansion franchise to win the World Series. For the first half of the 20th century, they were the OTHER team in Philadelphia. As the Athletics won pennants and titles in the 1900’s, 1910’s, 1920’s and 1930’s, the Phillies were irrelevant winning two pennants between the 1903 and 1980.

Even when the Athletics left, the Phillies were mainly irrelevant except in 1964 when they had one of the great collapses in baseball history.

The Phillies franchise transformed in the mid 1970’s and by 1976, the won three straight NL East titles. In 1976, they were swept by the unstoppable Reds, so there is no shame in that.

In 1977, the team won 101 games and looked like a pennant winner. A controversial 9th inning in Game 3 of the NLCS against Los Angeles turned a potential 2-1 lead into a 2-1 hole which they lost in Game 4.

This card shows the 1978 squad, who again lost to Los Angeles for the pennant in 4, this time on a walk off single in the 10th.

When they finally won in 1980, as the narrative goes, the Phillies couldn’t win the big game. They were too loose, too cliquey and too disjointed. They needed two key changes. Danny Ozark was the wrong manager and Dallas Green, a “I don’t care what you think of me” hard nosed manager was the right fit. And they needed Pete Rose, the free agent pick up from the Reds who basically taught the Phillies how to win.

Of course had the Phillies won the Game 3 in 1977 or the Game 4 in 1978, they might have won the pennant and the World Series and the narrative would have been Danny Ozark had the right laid back approach.

The narrative would have said they were a close knit team that played off of adversity, because the narrative is always written in retrospect.

This team picture, showing the 1978 NL East Champs does not help their cause, I must say. It is a very strange team picture. No hats, sitting in what looks like a high school bleacher instead of the stadium. Clearly this was taken in Spring Training as there are palm trees in the background. I have been to Philadelphia enough times to know they have a big lack of palm trees there.

So instead of being in rough and tumble Rocky Balboa era Philadelphia, they are seen, caps off, relaxing in Florida.

Maybe the narrative WAS right. Maybe they WERE a little too laid back.

Toronto Blue Jays Team Picture 1980 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for December 26, 2017

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HAPPY BOXING DAY EVERYONE!

I guess Boxing Day is celebrated more often in Canada than in the United States, so I suppose it seemed appropriate to have a Canadian team on here.

I love the Toronto Blue Jays uniform design. I think it is as distinct as the Birds on a Bat uniform for the Cardinals, the English D of the Tigers and yes, the pinstripes of the Yankees.

There is little doubt what team you are looking at when you see that uni. And also remember, I started collecting cards in 1978 and following the game in 1979. So, in my baseball fandom, they were ALWAYS part of baseball.

This card represents in someway a moment of transition for the franchise. They were an expansion team in 1977. They were awful out of the gate. Manager Roy Hartsfield saw his club lose 107 times in their maiden voyage of 1977. In 1978, they dropped 100 games. Hartsfield’s final season was in 1979. The team on this card was the 1979 team. They lost 109 games that year.

They were pretty awful. That was the team that Danny Ainge played for before being a part of the Celtics. But two faces were on that team and in this picture that are worth remembering. Alfredo Griffin won the Rookie of the Year with Minnesota’s John Castino. And pitcher Dave Steib had his rookie year.

Both Griffin and Steib would be on the 1992 World Champion Toronto Blue Jays.

As the team made the transition from the 1970’s to the 1980’s, they developed players and a spectacular clip and aggressively signed players out of the Dominican Republic.

It didn’t happen right away. They lost 95 games in 1980 and didn’t have a winning record until 1983. But by then, the team that would win their first Division Title in 1985 was starting to take place.

The seeds were planted in that 1979 squad.

There is an odd thing about this card, taken at old Exhibition Stadium which had a unique seagull issue. Hartsfield was fired between the 1979 season, when this picture was taken, and the 1980 season, when the card was issued. Bobby Mattick replaced him as manager.

Topps would put a picture of the manager in the corner. Except where is he? Where the heck is the Bobby Mattick picture? Are you telling me they REALLY couldn’t find a single picture of Bobby Mattick to put in there? That is crazy.

Here, let me help you.

mattick

There. Glad to be of help.

Have a great Boxing Day.