Tuesday, December 9, 2008

1978 Topps Cards #127 through #132

THE PLAYERS

#127 Chet Lemon
#128 Bill Russell
#129 Jim Colborn
#130 Jeff Burroughs
#131 Bert Blyleven
#132 Enos Cabell




THE DESIGN

Good: The three cards in the right column all use the photos to enhance the design. We have two script "Dodgers" in close proximity on Russell's card, a nice full "Atlanta Braves" on Burrough's card, and a block "Astros" and script "Astros" on Cabell's card. I love it.

Bad: Apparrently, Chet Lemon is a zombie. According to the back of his card, he doesn't "possess excellent speed" but rather he is "possessed with excellent speed." I believe the way to ward off that evil plague is to wear a brick on a chain around one's neck. Also, what does having a sure glove have to do with being a brilliant baserunner?


THE PHOTOS

Good: It's hard not to love the Lemon photo as an excellent example of the White Sox's uniform of the period.

Also, the Colburn photo is great since there must have been a woman pulling her top off in the upper deck, since that's the only reason Topps would have used such a dumb photo, since Colburn refused to look away from that spot.

Bad: If you've got a guy like Burroughs wearing Coke bottle eyeglasses, please try to shoot him from the front, not the side.

If you look quickly at Cabell's photo, you might think his little soul patch beard is sticking out quite a bit. But look more carefully: that's actually a person in the background, right along the edge of Cabell's face. Are you kidding me? What a terrible photo choice.




THE STATS


Russell once had 9 total bases in a game, and the Dodgers won 12-11. You'd think that Russell had 4 or 5 RBIs in that game, but with his triple, homer, and two singles, he got only that 1 RBI. Kind of amazing. That game was also the only time in his career that he got on base 5 times.

Colburn had one of the lowest strikeout rates in a 20-win season during the last 50 years.

When it comes to MVP awards, voters are usually seduced by big HR and RBI totals without much regard for the actual value of those numbers. Not so in 1977, though, where Burroughs hit 41 HR but finished 16th in the NL MVP voting. A big reason for that was George Foster's 52 HR the same year. But also, that season puts Burroughs in the top 10 for worst 40-HR seasons from an OPS+ perspective. To hit that many homers and still have an OPS+ under 130 is pretty difficult to do, unless you played at Coors field in the late 1990s (as was the case with 5 of the top 18 seasons on that list.)

I have already writetn tons online about Bert Blyleven. The guy belongs in the Hall of Fame without question. See here and here.

Enos Cabell had a pretty poor stolen base precentage. I'm surprised he isn't higher on this list of most times caught stealing for guys with no more than 250 career stolen bases. there are some really poor ratios on there, such as for Pete Rose and Alfredo Griffin.

THE COUNTERS

Hall of Famers: 15
(none)

Deceased: 4
(none)

Future managers: 11
(+1 for Russell)

Fathers and sons of major leaguers: 8
(+1 for Sean Burroughs, son of Jeff.)

Loyalty counter: 13
(+1 for Russell)

Rookies of the Year: 9
(none)

Total all-star appearances: 291
(+3 for Chet the Jet, +3 for Russell, +1 for Colborn, +2 for Burroughs, +2 for Blyleven)

Total MVP awards: 12
(+1 for Burroughs)

Total Cy Young awards: 6
(none)

14 comments:

fogus said...

That Lemon card is awesome. Lemon was one of my, not favorite, but admired players as a kid. He was not a star among stars, but for a (mostly) CFer he was quite respectable. His greatest skill was not his glove, nor was it his ability to hit the souble... it was getting plunked. If not for Don Baylor, Lemon would have run away with the HBP crown in the 80s. Lemon's first career HR was against Frank Tanana, whom he hit pretty well against, including 6 HRs during his career (the most).
-m

White Sox Cards said...

Burroughs strikes an uncanny resemblance to Randy Newman there.

I agree, the Lemon card kicks some serious butt!

zman40 said...

I think that might be the first time that I have ever seen Blyleven without a mustache.

MMayes said...

I may be the only person to like the Jeff Burroughs card, but this must have been the look on his face a few years later when he had a sure thing single up the middle and looked toward the middle of the diamond with a "How the heck did Smith get me out?" look.

The way you have these cards placed, both Colborn and Cabell are looking at the same chick in the stands. Colborn hasn't got it figured out, but Enos is sure enjoying his peek.

Andy said...

Even Russell is looking in the same direction!

I think Burroughs looks like Bob Horner.

Johngy said...

The Chet lemon card is a classic look at the bad uni's of the Sox at the time. That gets my vote.
I also like the Burroughs card.
I remember being annoyed about the Colborn card. It was his first (and only) card as a Royal and you can barely tell he is in a Royals uni.

I always liked the Russell card for its simplicity.

gcrl said...

let's hear it for bill russell! the man went nuts in the 78 post season batting over .400 in both the playoffs and the world series. his fielding (especially throwing) was much maligned, and made garvey look like quite a fielder when he dug the throws out of the dirt. i would suspect that quite a few e-3's were actually recorded as e-6's based on reputation.
it would be nice to know whether blyleven is wearing his "i love to fart" t-shirt underneath the jersey, though.
a couple quick dodger connections - cabell is a future dodger (one of many 3b to parade around after the penguin), and colborn a future dodger coach.

Kevin said...

From Enos Cabell's B-R page: "December 3, 1974: Traded by the Baltimore Orioles with Rob Andrews to the Houston Astros for Lee May and Jay Schlueter."

I'd make that trade every time. "LEEE!"

night owl said...

I'm thoroughly unimpressed by the Dodger cards this year. A whole bunch of what Bill Russell is doing. I didn't even realize that until I did a little '78 countdown on my blog and noticed none of the Dodgers were my favorite cards.

The Lemon card is easily the best.

Luke said...

Well, another Yankee is in the Hall. Joe Gordon. Way to go on getting the MVP (which Teddy BallGame should of won) in , what was it, '42?

Nice. Pfffffft. C'mon, HOF, put in Blyleven!!!

Jeffrey Wolfe said...

Gotta vote for the Lemon card here. I think this is the earliest Blyleven card I have ever seen, I had his '81 D-Russ, and he's long overdue for the Hall.

jacobmrley said...

random quotes from the moments captured on these cards:

lemon: brains! brains! wardrobe! wardrobe!

russell: why yes, i'd love to be the corporate sacrificial lamb served up after lasorda is pushed out, why?

colborn: ooooo a jet plane!

burroughs: have you seen my baseball?

blyleven: who farted? oh yeah, i did.

cabell: damn. do you see what those white sox players have to wear? makes me feel better about this...

***

worst MVP of the 70's - jeff burroughs. proof that rbi's impress retarded voters. reggie & joe rudi(!) had better numbers all around.

***

hall of fame travesty: Drysdale and Catfish over Blyleven. Kaat and John deserve it too. I fear these three will be dead and buried when in 2060 they get inducted en masse to rectify the slights of the current system.

MMayes said...

Bert Blyleven and the HOF is getting almost as controversial as P*** R***.

I'm not in favor of putting Blyleven in the HOF, although I enjoyed watching him play.
1. I don't think comparing him to the lowest common denominator HOFer is valid. I do appreciate your analysis showing he held HOF hitters to a roughly league average (or below) batting average.

2. My criteria on a HOF player is that he had to have decent career numbers, but also have been acknowledged as a dominator and one of the best at his position (if not the best) for a good amount of his career.

3. Blyleven had 1 20-game season, 1 19-game season and 5 17-game seasons. I don't see that as dominating.

4. Blyleven ranks #5 all-time with 3701 strikeouts, but only topped 250 once. That's fine if you're not a strikeout pitcher, but if that's the criteria for your HOF candidacy, it should be higher given his era.

5. Blyleven was an All-Star twice (although he should have made it in '84 when Andre Thornton was the token Indian). Think about guys who were dominators. Would you even think about excluding them from the All-Star team?

6. Blyleven was known as having one of the best curve balls around. That's something that should support his candidacy, but you can't base the candidacy on it.

In short, I think the debate is not so much about Blyleven's worthiness as what we want the HOF to be.

kevinb said...

Chet Lemon brings my '84 Tigers counter to 5.

As for MMayes analysis of Bert Blyleven above, I never heard it put that way, but that makes sense, what do you want the hall-of-fame to be?

Since this is a baseball card site devoted to cards corresponding roughly to the time I started buying cards (OK, I started in about '81, but most of the same players are here), I can share my theory of the wow factor of pulling a player out of a pack of cards on this site when applied to hall-of-fame arguments, which demonstrates the "fame" part. Sorry, I can honestly say I was never excited to get a Bert Blyleven card. Until all of the recent internet buzz and stat analysis regarding Blyleven, I thought of him amongst the many other pitchers like Jerry Reuss or Frank Tanana who were always on cards every year and had long careers. Steve Garvey, Dale Murphy, and Don Mattingly were awesome cards to get, but they will never get in and I really think they meant more to average fans from this time period than Bert Blyleven.

But hey, thats what makes America great, we can all have opinions and I respect the Bert Blyleven for the hall people.