Damaso Garcia 1987 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for March 12, 2017


Sometimes the plans we have in our career seem to unfold perfectly. And other times they take an unexpected detour. When things don’t go your way, you can handle them with patience and grace, or you can handle them like Damaso Garcia.

Garcia was born in the Domincan Republic in the late 1950s and became a soccer and baseball star in his native country. Now the Blue Jays of the 1980’s became one of the major franchises (along with the Dodgers) who invested in scouting and training in the Domincan Republic. But Garcia actually was not part of their academy program.

He was originally a New York Yankee signing and he saw a little bit of playing time in the Bronx. But with Willie Randolph in place at second base, Garcia was essentially a trade chip. After the 1979 season, he was sent packing to the Toronto Blue Jays along with Chris Chambliss for Rick Cerone. (If you don’t remember Chambliss playing for the Blue Jays, don’t worry… Toronto flipped him to Atlanta before he played a game in Canada.)

Now without an All Star like Randolph blocking him, Garcia became a starter in Toronto. He finished 4th in the 1980 Rookie of the Year voting. Paired with the 1979 Co Rookie of the Year Alfredo Griffin, the Blue Jays appeared to have their middle infield set for a long long time.

By 1982, the 25 year old Garcia blossomed, winning the Silver Slugger at second base, batting .310 and stealing 54 bases. Back then a high batting average and stealing a lot of bases made someone an ideal lead off hitter. The team was starting to plant the seeds of a contender as Dave Steib and Willie Upshaw were also starting to develop.

Today, he would bat lower in the order. He seldom walked, taking only 21 the whole season, and was caught stealing 20 times. Think of that. He was caught stealing almost as many times as he took ball 4 and he was leading off. Just to show you, we look at stats differently now.

Garcia made the All Star team in 1984 and in 1985, the year the Blue Jays came within one game (and in Game 6 of the ALCS, one swing) of the World Series. So all looked like the best made plans of Blue Jays excellence were coming together.

However the tandem of Garcia and Griffin was broken up before 1985. Griffin was dealt to Oakland for reliever Bill Caudill. That seemed to affect Garcia as did his reputation of not taking advice from his coaches.

In 1986, he slumped badly and with Manny Lee and Garth Iorg and Kelly Gruber pushing for playing time, Garcia’s locked in spot in the lineup looked shaky.

He was dropped from the leadoff spot and found himself clashing with new manager Jim Williams.

So what did he do? He started a fire of course. Now depending on who you talk to, it was either him setting his uniform ablaze to burn away bad fortune or it was a temper tantrum where he set a lot of equipment on fire.

But in the end, does it matter? When someone asks “How does he deal with adversity?” the answer should never be “Well he starts fires.”

He was sent packing to Atlanta for 1987 and missed out in the Blue Jays glory from 1989 to 1993. (FYI, Alfredo Griffin, who never set stuff on fire, returned to Toronto for the 1992 and 1993 World Series years.)

After a cameo with the 1989 Expos and another shot with the Yankees, he finished his career. His post playing career saw him surviving a terrible brain tumor in the 1990s. After his recovery, he came back to Toronto to throw out the first pitch in a 1992 playoff game.

To my knowledge, he lit nothing on fire.


Giants have already reached a unique level of come backs

Soon the Giants will be playing Game 7 of the NLCS.
And if you thought that was going to happen a few days ago, you are a liar.

Hell, if you thought that when the Giants and Reds were tied going into extra innings of Game 3 of the Division Series, I would demand evidence.

The Giants have played five games where if they lost, they would be eliminated.

And because they are still playing, they are clearly 5-0 in those games.

They surpassed the 1981 Dodgers, 2003 and 2004 Red Sox and last year’s Cardinals who all won four do or die games.

(2003 was not a typo. The 2003 Red Sox won three elimination games against the A’s and Game 6 of the ALCS against the Yankees. Had Grady Little managed Game 7 a little differently, they would have had five.)

Only one team ever won six elimination games in the same post season: The 1985 Kansas City Royals wiped out 3-1 leads against the Blue Jays in the ALCS and against the Cardinals in the World Series (with a little help from Don Denkinger.)

A win tonight would have the Giants match the Royals.
If the Giants go on to the World Series and fall behind the Tigers, 3-1, how could any Giants fan be nervous?

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Royals pitchers who clinched a post season Series: From Quisenberry to Saberhagen

It may seem like 3 lifetimes ago, but the Kansas City Royals were once a powerhouse.
From 1976 to 1985, they played in a post season series 7 out of 10 seasons (including the 1981 Divisional Playoff against the A’s.)

6 out of those 10 years there were only 4 playoff teams all together. In other words they didn’t take advantage of a Wild Card to get in.

Alas in the 26 seasons that followed, the Royals haven’t played in another post season and have contended only once since the 1994 strike. In other words they have become the Pirates of the American League. Once mighty, now a farm team for the rest of baseball.

Now of course the team has a ton of young talent and if the small market Twins could turn things around and go on a playoff run, then anything is possible.

But as I continue my “Pitchers who clinched a post season series” I decided to check Kansas City off the list.

Because they’ve only won 3 playoff series in their history and I figured this would be a quick one to get out of the way.

Here are the pitchers, the game they pitched, and how was the last out recorded.

1980 American League Championship Series – Game 3
Royals 4, Yankees 2

October 10, 1980
At Yankee Stadium, New York

3 2/3 innings of relief Paul Splittorff for the win.
LAST OUT: Willie Randolph called out on strikes.

1985 American League Championship Series – Game 7
Royals 4, Blue Jays 2

2/3 innings of relief of Bret Saberhagen and Charlie Leibrandt.
LAST OUT: Lloyd Moseby grounds out to second baseman Frank White who threw to first baseman Steve Balboni for the out.

1985 World Series Game 7
Royals 11, Cardinals 0

October 27, 1985
At Royals (Kaufmann) Stadium, Kansas City

Complete Game 5 hit shutout.

LAST OUT: Andy Van Slyke flies out to right fielder Darryl Motley.

There you have it. The two pitchers who experienced that great post season moment for a once proud franchise.

To read the other entries, here’s the one for the Phillies and the Red Sox.

It’s been too long since a clincher, Royals.
I want to add Joakim Soria to this list.

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