Throwback Thursday: Juan Pizarro

1959 Topps #188 Juan Pizarro Front
A Pizarro playing for the Braves?

Why we like him: Well, isn't it obvious? With a name like Juan Pizarro, you know he was effective against the Indians and the Braves. The truth is that Pizarro had a pretty interesting career. He played for 18 seasons  and 8 differents teams (and, yes, he had stints with the Indians and Braves). He was also a two-time All Star in '63 and '64, and in that '64 season, he won 19 games in 33 starts. The coolest thing about Pizarro was that he could pitch at any point during any game for any duration. He had seasons in which he posted both a save and a complete game 9 times.

Ladies and gentlemen, Juan Pizarro, ballplayer.

Rated Random: Willie Greene

1993 Donruss #143 Willie Greene Front
A 3B who wears #56? A can't miss prospect.

Why we like him: Willie Greene never looked like a ballplayer. He always looked a little to wormy and dorky out there. However, he wasn't terrible. Well, at least he wasn't for a little while.

He was drafted in the 1st round of the '89 draft by the Pirates and was involved in the trade that shipped Moises Alou from Pittsburgh to Montreal. He broke into the majors at 20 and batted .269 in just 29 games for the Reds in '92. His next three seasons: .160, .216, .105. The Reds stuck with him though, and Greene actually got a little better every year. He even finished 1997 with a line of .253-26-91. The next season Greene was batting .270 when the Reds decided to sell high and trade him to Baltimore for Jeffrey Hammonds. He batted .150 for the O's for the rest of that season. The next year Greene played in Toronto and hit .204, and signed with the Cubs in 2000 where he batted just .201. And that was it for Willie's career.

Ladies and gentlemen, Willie Greene, ballplayer.

Rated Random: Roger Salkeld

1992 Donruss #7 Roger Salkeld Front
Potentially awesome.

Why we like him: Roger Salkeld was a super-duper prospect for the Mariners. He was the 3rd overall pick of the 1989 draft and had a good frame and good stuff. Salkeld battled injuries in the minors, but cracked the major league roster for the M's in 1993, starting 2 games and finishing with no decisions and a nice 2.51 ERA. However, things spiraled out of control after that. in 1994, Salkeld started 13 games, going 2-5 and posting a putrid 7.17 ERA. He was traded to the Reds for Tim Belcher but missed all of the 1995 season. He returned in 1996, finishing 8-5 with a 5.20 ERA for Cincinnati, but he never pitched again. So much for potential.

Ladies and gentlemen, Roger Salkeld, ballplayer.

Rated Random: Derrick May

1991 Donruss #36 Derrick May Front
"Don't look dumb in your photo, Derrick. Aw."

Why we like him: Derrick May was definitely not a bad corner outfielder for most of his career, but there were always other guys available who just happened to do everything he did just as well and something else slightly better. After all, he was a career .271 hitter who played his last MLB game at 30. The main problem was that he didn't hit for very much power (52 homers in 10 years) or have very good speed (30 career stolen bases). If could have rectified one of those problems or the other, he probably would've amounted to more than a spot sub. For what it's worth, I do remember that he was a good player.

Ladies and gentlemen, Derrick May, ballplayer.

Rated Random: Eric Anthony

1990 Donruss #34 Eric Anthony Front
Got two first names? This guy does.

Why we like him: Eric Anthony was supposed to be really good. He was a fairly hyped Astros prospect for most of the late '80s and early '90s, but as it turned out, the guy just couldn't hit. He was a fairly competent defensive outfielder, but he never got anything going at the plate. He had his best season in Cincinnati when he batted .269 in 134 at-bats. He was even purchased by the Rockies in1996, and that didn't even improve things. In the end, Eric Anthony was just an athlete with a little upside, a career .231 hitter, and a guy with two first names.

Ladies and gentlemen, Eric Anthony, ballplayer.

Rated Random: Alex Sanchez

1989 Donruss #47 Alex Sanchez Front
Baseball card or Glamour Shots? You decide.

Why we like him: Just check out his career stats (which are all from 1989): 4 appearances, 3 starts, 11.2 innings pitched, 0-1 record, 10.03 ERA, 14 walks, 4 strikeouts. Rated Awesome.

Ladies and gentlemen, Alex Sanchez, ballplayer.

Rated Random: Jeff Treadway

1988 Donruss #29 Jeff Treadway Front
Every team needs one of these guys.

Why we like him: Jeff Treadway was one of those guys that every manager needed to have on the bench. He could play 2B or 3B and was a good pinch hitter. The guy could rake until about 1995 when he apparently forgot how to hit altogether. He batted .320 in 306 at-bats for the Braves in 1991, but by 1995 with the Expos/Dodgers, his average was down to .209. He never played another major league game after that season.

I'll always remember him as a decent, yet for some reason unlikable Braves player. He did pull off the ol' "hidden ball" trick for a cheap out once though.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jeff Treadway, ballplayer.

Rated Random: Randy Myers

1987 Donruss #29 Randy Myers Front
Randy Myers in an empty stadium.

Why we like him: Another reliever. Randy Myers bounced around the majors for 14 years, stockpiling 347 saves. He even led the league in save three times (53 in 1993, 38 in 1995, and 45 in 1997).  He was also a 4-time All Star. He began his career with the Mets in 1985 and pitched five seasons before being traded to Cincinnati in a deal that would bring John Franco to Queens. In 1991 after saving 81 games over the previous three seasons, the Reds even experimented with making Myers a starter. He started 12 games, but posted a 6-13 record over that season. His career as a closer bloomed after he signed with the Cubs as a free agent in 1993.

Ladies and gentlemen, Randy Myers, ballplayer.

Rated Random: Todd Worrell

1986 Donruss #43 Todd Worrell Front
That 'stache is no rookie.

Why we like him: Pure relief pitchers generally don't have much of a shelf life, so the fact that Todd Worrell hung around for 11 years is a testament to his slightly-above-average-ness. He won Rookie of the Year honors in 1986 after recording 36 saves and posting a 2.08 ERA, yet somehow having a 9-10 record (19 decisions for a guy who finished 60 games?). Worrell was even a career reliever. He never started a single game in the majors, and he even averaged a little over one inning per appearance. At age 37, he finished career with the Dodgers in 1997 (only one year after finishing 5th in Cy Young voting) with 256 career saves. He was also the (much) older brother of pitcher Tim Worrell.

Ladies and gentlemen, Todd Worrell, ballplayer.

Phil Plantier

1993 Donruss #3 Phil Plantier Front
The most career home runs by a player born in New Hampshire.

Why we like him: It's one thing to be a big-time prospect, but it's another thing altogether to be a big-time Red Sox prospect. Phil Plantier exploded onto the scene in 1991 when he batted .331 with 11 homers in 53 games for the Sox. And thus the expectations were set. After a 1992 season that saw him bat .246 with just 7 dingers in 108 games, Plantier was traded away to San Diego as a failed Boston hope. In his first season as a Padre, Plantier batted just .240 but slugged 34 home runs and drove in 10 runs. He spent the last four seasons of his career bouncing around both leagues and generally not hitting very well. However, his 91 career homers are good enough to crown him the home run king of all players ever born in New Hampshire. So he's got that going for him.

Ladies and gentlemen, Phil Plantier, ballplayer.

Marty Cordova

1996 Score #299 Marty Cordova Front
The 1995 AL Rookie of the Year. And nothing else, really.

Why we like him: I actually never did like him when he played. Marty Cordova always looked like such a jerk for some reason, and I could never embrace his skill as a ballplayer because of it. I also probably resented the face that he never really lived up to the expectations he set for himself with his breakout rookie season and the year after. He won the 1995 Rookie of the Year award after posting a .277 average with 24 homers, and he followed it up with a .309-16-111 in 1996. He pretty much disappeared into overall average-ness for the next few seasons before popping up for a .309-20-69 season for the 2001 Indians, but played only one more full season before elbow problems forced him out of the big leagues.

Perhaps the thing I'll remember most about Cordova is that he missed time with the Orioles during the 2002 season because he fell asleep in a tanning bed.

Ladies and gentlemen, Marty Cordova, ballplayer.

Special: The Top Mustaches in Baseball History

In honor of Movember, here are some of the finest lip-ticklers the game has ever produced. Enjoy.

1977 Topps #523 Rollie Fingers Front
Rollie Fingers - I guess all discussion about baseball mustaches must begin with Fingers. His wispy curled handlebars were as perplexing as the man's stuff on the mound. This was the Alpha and the Omega of baseball facial hair.

1988 Donruss #217 Don Mattingly Front
Don Mattingly - That's a 'stache that batted .307, won an MVP award, and played great defense before injuries took it away from us after 14 solid years. It's also a 'stache that deserves to be the Hall of Fame.

1986 Donruss #249 Dwight Evans Front
Dwight Evans - There it is. "The Bionic Dirt Squirrel" to go along with his "Bionic Arm." Dewey's numbers may not be able to cut it in Cooperstown, but his nose neighbor is worthy of any Mustache Hall of Fame.

1988 Topps #388 Wade Boggs Front
Wade Boggs - Boggs' ginger cookie duster was one of the more iconic baseball fashion accessories of the '80s. You know you're good when people say you had a down year in 1984 and you batted .324.

1990 Fleer #223 Kevin Bass Front
Kevin Bass - He may not have been a great player for, well, pretty much all of his career except for 1986, but the "Bass-stache" was truly worthy of greatness whenever it made an appearance. This thick, bushy, dark, and powerful lip hat was one of the better parts of watching the 'Stros during my childhood.

1981 Topps #636 Al Hrabosky Front
Al Hrabosky - This man was crazy. His facial hair decision was crazy as well.

1988 Topps #293 Doug Jones Front
Doug Jones - Few relievers have ever rocked the mullet-and-mustache combo as Doug Jones. He was a five-time All Star, and racked up 303 saves during his career, all due in large part, I'm sure, to that 'stache.

1976 Topps #660 Davey Lopes Front
Davey Lopes - That was one bushy lip toupée. It could also motor around the basepaths a pretty healthy clip. Lopes carried that thing around the dirt tracks for 557 stolen bases and 1,023 runs scored during his 16-year career.

1983 Donruss #405 Eddie Murray Front
Eddie Murray - Now that's some mighty fine switch-hittin' lip spinach. Murray compiled 504 career homers as a switch hitter, and he also rocked one of the coolest mustache-sideburn-afro combos in baseball history.

1980 Topps #240 Dave Kingman Front
Dave Kingman - The King Kong cookie duster.

Guy Hecker - Hecker posted one of the most dumbfounding and incredible pitching seasons in baseball history in 1884. Even more dumbfounding and incredible was how classy that "old judge" on his upper lip truly was.

1990 Bowman #404 Robin Yount Front
Robin Yount - There's a lot to love about Robin Yount. He loved the Brewers so much that he wore their trademark gold all over his upper lip.

1989 Donruss #117 Keith Hernandez Front
Keith Hernandez - His pregame ritual of crossword puzzles and cigarettes is a well-known fact. A lesser known fact is that his 'stache helped him win his 11 Gold Gloves with its excellent ability to knock down grounders. And, hey, speaking of the Mets and grounders...

1984 Fleer Update #18 Bill Buckner Front
Bill Buckner - Bill Buckner will forever be known for...his two mustaches, of course. He had one seriously impressive soup strainer above his lip, sure, but he also had an amazingly fantastic 'stache above his eyes as well. Truly epic.

1987 Donruss #36 Greg Maddux Front
Greg Maddux - Mad Dog didn't rock the whiskers for very long, but when he did early in his career, he looked more like Captain Morgan than The Professor. His wispy lip locks and little patch of chin fabric are more than worthy of a spot on this ridiculous list.

1985 Topps #254 Pete Vuckovich Front
Pete Vuckovich - I don't remember much about Vuckovich, but I'm fairly certain that his look was the basis for the character of Kenny Powers.

1985 Fleer #33 Rich Gossage Front
Goose Gossage - Since this list is coming to a close, we might as well finish up with some of the game's best closers. Goose's facial goose feathers were an iconic image of the '80s, and his look paved the way for the modern era of ridiculousness that has been ushered in by the Giants' bullpen. Which reminds me...

1993 Topps #604 Rod Beck Front
Rod Beck - Long before Brian Wilson was trying to grow hair on his entire face, this dude was the death knell for Giants opponents. Rod Beck just always looked dirty. If one was to take a look into the inner realms of his 'stache, I'm sure you could find 286 career saves and an entire unopened can of tobacco.

1989 Topps #370 Dennis Eckersley Front
Dennis Eckersley - Every head mop needs a good snot mop to go with it, and Eck's was fantastic. His 'stache was thick and dark and made the man look more like a used car salesman than a closer sometimes.

1989 Donruss #132 Kirk Gibson Front
Kirk Gibson - You didn't really think we'd end with Eck, did you?

Honorable Mentions: Jack Morris, Ron Guidry, Dennis Martinez, Sal Fasano, Gorman Thomas, Bobby Valentine

Forgotten Teams: 2000 Cleveland Indians


CF Lofton
SS Vizquel
2B R. Alomar
RF Ramirez
1B Thome
3B Fryman
LF Sexson
DH Justice
C Alomar

The Cleveland Indians have never really been known for their historic dominance. In fact, overall they've been pretty terrible-to-below average for most of my lifetime. However, during the mid '90s to the early '00s, they trotted out a solid squad that could play. They made it to the World Series in 1995 and 1997, but the 2000 group of the fighting braves of the Cuyahoga were downright scary and one of the most underrated offensive juggernauts in baseball history.

Say what you want about the steroids era, but '00 Indians featured a relentless lineup of big boppers (and then Omar Vizquel) whose worst hitter who saw regular time was probably Russ Branyan, who could still hit a baseball to Neptune on the right pitch. They usually started things off with the running rabbits of Kenny Lofton, Vizquel, and Roberto Alomar to get on base for the meat of the order that featured Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, and Travis Fryman.

Ramirez batted .351 in 2000, his last year before bolting for Boston, and smacked 38 homers and drove in 122 runs. Thome added 37 home runs and 106 RBI. Fryman had a career year, batting .321 with 22 dingers and 106 RBI himself. They also got some good power and production from Dave Justice and Richie Sexon (who played left field) that season.

Starting pitching was probably the downfall of the Tribe. While Chuck Finley and Bartolo Colon were worthy starters, the rest of the rotation was a borderline disaster. Guys like Dave Burba (who won 16 games that year), Charles Nagy, Jim Brower, and Jason Bere couldn't consistently deliver despite some good run support. The bullpen, however, featured some pretty solid relievers who spent time as closers at some point in their careers (Steve Karsay, Justin Speier, Paul Shuey, Ricardo Rincon, ).

The Indians ultimately finished the season in 2nd place in the AL Central 5 games behind the Chicago White Sox. I'll still remember them though.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2000 Cleveland Indians, ballplayers.

Pedro Muñoz

1992 Pinnacle #139 Pedro Munoz Front
Looks comfortable.

Why we like him: "Whatever happened to Pedro Muñoz?" I've asked myself that a few times for no reason whatsoever. He looked so promising. He was once an up-and-coming hot prospect for the (then World Series champion) Minnesota Twins. He hit for a good average with some decent power (.301 with 18 homers in 1995). However, he was never given more than 418 at-bats in a single season. He signed with Oakland as a free agent before the 1996 season, and batted .256 with 6 home runs in 121 at-bats and was lost in the outfield shuffle as the A's made room for young outfield prospects named Jason Giambi and Matt Stairs. Oh well.

Ladies and gentlemen, Pedro Muñoz, ballplayer.

Juan Guzmán

1992 Fleer #330 Juan Guzman Front
Demonstrating the proper "Dominicurl" hairdo.

Why we like him: Every now and then, a pitcher comes along that scouts and fans mysteriously agree will be "the next big thing" in the majors, only it doesn't quite pan out for whatever reason. Juan Guzmán had this label smacked on him somewhat back in the early '90s in part because of some semi-gaudy strikeout numbers and a plus-fastball. He took the league by storm in 1991, compiling a 40-11 record from '91 to '93 with a 5-1 record and 2.44 ERA in the postseason.

I have no real idea what happened to the guy's stuff after those three seasons though. Guzmán's ERA ballooned to 5.68 in 1994 and then 6.32 in 1995. He did turn it around in 1996 going 11-8 with a 2.93 ERA, but he never could recapture the magic of his early years for his remaining four seasons. In all, Guzmán finished his career in 2000 with the Devil Rays (don't they all) with a 91-79 record and 4.08 ERA for his career. For the first few years, at least, this guy looked like the real deal.

Ladies and gentlemen, Juan Guzmán, ballplayer.

Ray Lankford

1991 Donruss #43 Ray Lankford Front
The key to a good career is a good Rated Rookie card.

Why we like him: Ray Lankford is a guy a lot of real baseball fans will remember. He wasn't particularly great or anything, but he was brutally consistent for most of his 14-year career. If you weren't a fan of the Cardinals you just knew Lankford was going to hurt your team. I have plenty of memories about Ray Lankford coming through in the clutch against my favorite teams and how infuriating it was.

My favorite memory of Lankford was on "Opening Day" in 1994. It was April 3 (a Sunday), and there was only one game on that day, which happened to be aired on ESPN.  I always watched the first games of the season on ESPN as a kid religiously. Opening Day was always so exciting if for no other reason than the fact that we had been deprived of baseball for the previous five months. St. Louis's Lankford was the first batter of the new season (He was a pretty good leadoff man when he needed to be despite his propensity for striking out.). He was facing Cincinnati's Jose Rijo, and Lankford worked a full count. He then blasted Rijo's 3-2 offering over the wall in left-center field. I remember how cool it was that the first batter of the year went yard. I even thought it was cool enough to write down that it happened just so I wouldn't forget. That might even be the moment when I realized that I probably loved baseball a little too much. Anyway, the Cardinals won the game 6-4 and Lankford went 3 for 5, but I'll never forget that first at-bat that day.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ray Lankford, ballplayer.

Nick Esasky

1991 Topps #418 Nick Esasky Front
Alfred Hitchcock's Nick Esasky.

Why we like him: Nick Esasky signed a 3-year deal with the Atlanta Braves in 1990 that was considered "lucrative" at the time because Esasky was going to earn just under $2 million per year. Those were the days. It even seemed like pretty semi-smart money on Atlanta's part at the time as well. He was a 29-year old first baseman with some pretty good pop, and he was coming off a .277-30-108 season for the Red Sox. Not too shabby, but not quite enough to make you dizzy (more on that in a second). Before that, he turned in a few decent seasons with the Reds. I even remember hearing the buzz about this guy when I was a kid.

All that made me wonder what was up when he disappeared so abruptly. The truth is that Esasky, weirdly enough, was diagnosed with vertigo, and only managed to play 9 games for the Braves in 1990 (.171 with no homers, mind you) before calling it quits for good. The Braves continued to pay him for two more years just to fulfill the contract, but I'll always remember Nick Esasky as a Braves star who wasn't.

Ladies and gentlemen, Nick Esasky, ballplayer.

Throwback Thursday: Bob Shaw

1964 Topps #328 Bob Shaw Front
That hair, or lack thereof, is epic.

Why we like him: Everyone loves a journeyman starting pitcher, and Bob Shaw was definitely the embodiment of the term. He played for 7 different teams during his 11-year career, and he never stayed in one place for more than 3 full seasons (Chicago with the White Sox from '58 to the middle of '61). Shaw did manage a single All Star appearance in 1962 with the then-Milwaukee Braves, and also finished third in Cy Young Voting behind his White Sox teammate, Early Wynn, and the Giants' Sam Jones in 1959 after posting an 18-6 record (a league-leading .818 winning percentage) and a 2.69 ERA en route to winning the pennant. After bouncing around more than a grounder to Jose Offerman, Shaw finished his career with a 108-98 record.

Shaw does, however, have his name atop a major league record. On May 4, 1963, while with the Braves, Shaw set the record for balks in a game with five against the Chicago Cubs.

Ladies and gentlemen, Bob Shaw, ballplayer.

Dave Stieb

1991 Score #30 Dave Stieb Front

Demonstrating the proper "slider face."

Why we like him: Dave Stieb was once an almost, almost unhittable pitcher. Granted he did have exactly one  career no-hitter, but I'll always remember Stieb as the guy who tossed a whopping and yet still impressive five career one-hitters. If that wasn't heartbreaking enough for the guy, three of his one-hitters were blown to smithereens with two outs in the ninth. All that aside, Stieb did put together a pretty good career, posting a record of 176-137 and a career ERA of 3.44.

Ladies and gentlemen, Dave Stieb, ballplayer.

Dwight Evans

1985 Donruss #294 Dwight Evans Front
How a ballplayer should look before he gets dirt all over himself.

Why we like him: Dwight Evans looked the way a ballplayer ought to look. He also played the way a ballplayer ought to play. He had it all: great offense and defense, eye black, stunning mustache... And "Dewey" was one of the premier players of the '80s, and he's continually underrated by fans to this day. He was a 3-time All Star and finished in the top ten in MVP voting four times. He hit 385 home runs during an era when 385 home runs still meant something. He won 8 Gold Gloves with help from his legendary and cannon-like bionic arm in right field.

The question I've often pondered is whether or not Evans was good enough to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. His numbers are certainly borderline at best, but when you look at him alongside other candidates from his time in the league (and even his own team), you could make a decently compelling case for Dewey. Let's have a look.

Dwight Evans: 20 years, .272, 385 HR, 4 MVP top tens, 8 Gold Gloves, 127 OPS+, nice guy.
Jim Rice: 16 years, .298, 382 HR, 6 MVP top tens, 0 Gold Gloves, 128 OPS+, jerkapottamus.

I'm not saying Evans was better than Rice, but they were certainly comparable. Dewey deserves a lot more credit than he gets for his career.

Ladies and gentlemen, Dwight Evans, ballplayer.

Mark Portugal

1991 Bowman #552 Mark Portugal Front
Just west of Spain and just north of .500.

Why we like him: I've always had a soft spot for journeyman starting pitchers, and especially ones with a single inexplicably fantastic season. I'm talking about that wonderful year of 1993. That season Portgual, then with the Astros (the team for which he's probably most well-known), smoked the National League to the tune of an 18-4 record and 2.77 ERA in 33 starts. That season was good enough for 6th place in the Cy Young voting. And just so you know, that's one spot behind Tommy Greene who finished at 16-4 with an ERA of 3.77. Talk about an uneducated vote.

Even better, Portugal took his frustrations out on the rest of the league's pitchers the next season (which was strike-shortened), rolling off a .354 batting average and even earning the Silver Slugger Award for pitchers. He wasn't a bad hitter for his career either as he brandished a semi-respectable (in pitching circles) .198 career average over 15 seasons. He even batted .260 in 1998 at the age of 35. He finished his pitching career at 109-95, just north of .500.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mark Portugal, ballplayer.

Dickie Thon

I miss gigantic stirrups.

Why we like him: With a name that sounded like an annual race in work khakis, Dickie Thon was a pretty consistent offensive infielder during the low-output 1980s and early 1990s. A good-hitting shortstop was somewhat of a luxury in those days, and during the 1983 season with the Astros, Thon batted .286 with 20 homers and 79 RBI (all personal bests) and he even finished 7th in MVP voting. He was a career .264 hitter, and he never really veered too far away from that average in any season. He just consistently went about his business at the plate and in the field for an unremarkable but respectable 15-year career.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dickie Thon, ballplayer.

Throwback Thursday: Fred Dunlap

Rockin' the sure shot.

Why we like him: Fred "Sure Shot" Dunlap was a machine in 1884 for the St. Louis Maroons. He also had what was arguably the fourth-best offensive season any player has ever had (if you go by the ever silly and contrived OPS+ stat). He led the league with balmy .412 batting average, and he also led the league in homers (just 13, but still), hits, and runs. All of that was good enough for a "Bondsian" OPS+ of 256, which is, like I said, the fourth-best mark ever just behind three Bonds seasons and even just ahead of three seasons by some guy named Ruth.

The crazy thing about Dunlap's career is that he never did anything else remotely remarkable (Okay, he did lead the league in doubles with 27 in 1880 as a rookie). He finished up his 12-year career at the age of just 32 as a lifetime .292 hitter. He even played in (and won) the 1887 World Series for the long defunct Detroit Wolverines against the St. Louis Browns, batting just .150 for the series.

Ladies and gentlemen, Fred Dunlap, ballplayer.

Turk Wendell

Oral hygiene is more important that fastball command.

Why we like him: How can you not like him when he's quoted as saying stuff like this:  "I only wanted a few things out of life -- a wife, children, to play baseball and to hunt deer." Well okay then!

He was also renown for being one of baseball's most superstitious players of all time. He made Mark Fidrych look ordinary and made Darren Daulton look sane. Here's his single-inning routine:
  • Chew four pieces of black licorice
  • After the final out, spit them out
  • Take a flying leap over the baseline on the way back to the dugout
  • Brush teeth
  • Repeat until the manager yanks you
What did ritualistically following all those superstitions get him? A 36-33 career record, a 3.93 ERA, 33 career saves, and a .070 batting average just for fun.

Ladies and gentlemen, Turk Wendell, ballplayer.

Throwback Thursday: Ross Barnes

Like a boss.

Why we like him: Ross Barnes had one of those special seasons in 1873, and I mean really special. He led the league in every important offensive category (that people cared to track) except for home runs and RBI. Here's a little glimpse of his numbers that season: He led the league in games played (with just 60!), had a .431 BA, hit 31 doubles and 11 triples, stole 43 bases, and walked 20 times (while striking out just twice). All of those were league bests that season, and it was good enough for the 10th best park-adjusted OPS+ season on the books.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ross Barnes, ballplayer.

Ramon Martinez

Sweaty dude.

Why we like him: Ah, yes, (this) Ramon Martinez. He'll probably forever be known as Pedro's lousy older brother, and to that, I say, "Not so fast, amigo." For for a stretch in the late '80s and the early '90s, Ramon was the Martinez everyone thought would be remembered as one of the all-time greats, and to be honest, looking back, he compiled a pretty impressive career. He went 135-88 with a career 3.67 ERA and won 15 or more games in a season on four separate occasions. Surprisingly, he was an All Star selection only once, which was in 1990 when he went 20-6 with a 2.92 ERA and lost out on the Cy Young Award to Doug Drabek who had just slightly better numbers. He was nowhere near the pitcher his younger brother was, but Ramon Martinez was still very, very good.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ramon Martinez, ballplayer.

Mike Young


Why we like him: Mike Young actually had a couple of respectable seasons in the bigs before mysteriously vanishing in 1989 at the age of 29 (Relax. He went to Japan.). In 1984, his first full season, Young batted .252 and belted 17 homers to finish fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting, and he followed that up with a 1985 campaign which saw him bat .273 with 28 dingers. For the time, those were serious numbers.

What's really great about Mike Young is whatever is going on in that photo in the card above. Is he running hard? Is he stumbling? Is he even in the baseline? Did some invisible entity steal his helmet and put it on to chase him around the ballpark? Could Score not find a photo with his face in it? What's the red, glowing thing in the background? Awesome.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mike Young, ballplayer.

Throwback Thursday: Ted Kluszewski

"This ain't the California penal league..."

Why we like him: His nickname was "Big Klu" and he was just 6-foot-2. If he played today, his nickname would've been "Klu." Or maybe just "Ted." Either way, this sleeveless wonder (He said the sleeves inhibited the movement from his bulging biceps. Why doesn't Prince Fielder just run around shirtless since the shirt would inhibit movement from his entire body?) was somewhat of an offensive dynamo for a short stretch in the middle of the 1950s. His impressive 1954 campaign (.326, 49 HR, 141 RBI) even saw him finish second in MVP voting behind some guy named Willie Mays. Even more impressive is that even with all that power, Kluszewski wasn't that much of a strikeout threat. He finished his 15-year career with 492 walks and just 365 Ks. Not too shabby.

Though his career was cut short by a seemingly constant stream of injuries, he still managed to put together a pretty nice career. Based solely on his '54 and '55 seasons, he also probably deserves to find a way into the discussion regarding the most feared hitters of that decade.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ted Kluszewski, ballplayer.

Kevin Belcher

Nothing about this photo is anything less than absolutely awesome.

Why we like him: Let's just take a look at what made Kevin Belcher awesome:

  • His last name, Belcher, is awesome.
  • He's so awesome that just one color of wristbands is not enough. 
  • That giant pendant around his neck just oozes awesome.
  • The only way you can see the true amount of sheer awesome he emits is through those glasses.
  • That tiny trace of a mustache is just utterly awesome.
  • My old Little League stirrups.
  • Only someone who is amazingly awesome could ever be photographed in an athletic position like the one on display here.
  • Tight breeches.
Ladies and gentlemen, Kevin Belcher, ballplayer.

Throwback Thursday: Rockey Bridges

Rocky Bridges just ate the entire infield turf at Tiger Stadium.

Why we like him: I don't even know if Rocky Bridges was good or not. I guess he was. Maybe. He was an All Star one time during a season in which he batted .268 with 5 homers. But the reason why he's a classic in my mind is because every picture I've ever seen of the guy, he's got an entire 6-acre tobacco crop in his cheek. Rocky played for 7 different teams over the course of his 11-year career, presumably because he would eat all the ruffage on the playing field and subsequently force an irate general manager to trade him someplace else instead of keep him around to enhance the desertification of the infield. Or something.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rocky Bridges, ballplayer.

Sunday Double Header: Brad Pounders & Jerald Clark

Double the talent. Double the fun.

Why we like them: There are are some exciting little known facts about these two forgettable and laughably bad excuses for major league "prospects." See how you do on this little quiz:

  1. Which one of these guys is actually albino?
  2. Every time one of these guys got into his batting stance, he'd experience a slight fannyburp, and he'd always smell it. Which one is it?
  3. Which one of these guys was a lousy major leaguer?
  4. Which one of these guys was a lousy minor leaguer?
  5. Which one of these guys always had dumb all over their face?
  6. Which one of these guys' mothers misspelled "Gerald" on his birth certificate?
Answers: 1. It doesn't matter. 2. It doesn't matter. 3. It doesn't matter. 4. It doesn't matter. 5. It doesn't matter. 6. It doesn't matter.

Ladies and gentlemen, Brad Pounders and Jerald Clark, ballplayers. Sort of.