Friday, August 13, 2010

Ranking Topps 1980's Baseball Card Sets: #9 - 1988

With much aplomb, we move to the second edition of our ten-part series ranking Topps baseball card sets from the 1980's. If you are unfamiliar with this groundbreaking series, allow me to direct you here for the first episode, which features an introduction to the series and a brief divergence into juvenilia. As I mentioned at the time, we intended this to be a weekly column. So, two weeks later, here is the second edition.

#9 - 1988

1988 was a simple time. Body Glove was cool, NBA shorts were short, Bob Ross and Remote Control ruled the airwaves and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince made us get jiggy before we knew what getting jiggy really meant. In the world of baseball cards, the momentum from 1987 was immense. The bubble was fully in effect and prices were inflated. So the highly anticipated 1988 Topps set was fairly disappointing. Visually, there wasn't a whole lot going on with the cards. We had bland font on top and a name banner on the bottom right. I would've preferred something spectacularly tacky that fit with the ethos of the period.

Pros
Here are the things we like about the 1988 set. First, it featured a 7 card "Record Breaker" series. The players featured were Vince Coleman, Don Mattingly, Benny (nee Benito) Santiago, Mark McGwire, Phil Neikro, Eddie Murray and Nolan Ryan. Not too bad a list here. Second, it acknowledged Dennis Boyd only as Dennis Boyd. No Oil Can. I found that slightly comical. Third, it featured Jay Baller (picture below). I have no idea if this is an actual player, or if some plumber's son in Ashtabula doctored a photo of his coked-out Dad from back in the day. All I know is that I don't want to do research and possibly become disappointed by the truth. I just want to think that this guy, and/or his chest pelt, was the inspiration for Kenny Powers. Seriously, did anybody ever hear of this guy? And could his name be any greater? No. No it could not.

While we're on the topic of 80's hair and mustaches, look at this hirsute disaster...

...and look at Dave Palmer's form. We now know who Tim Robbins mimicked when coming up with Nuke LaLoosh's pitching motion.


Cons
One big con was the Olympic team set from this year. Not a lot of the featured players became stars in the majors. Notable 1988 Olympians included Tino Martinez, Jim Abbott, Robin Ventura, Charles Nagy and Ed Sprague. Mehh. Another problem with the set is that the rookies from this year were pretty weak, and featured a lot of steroid-era figures. Here's a list of likely dirty rookies from 1988: Ken Caminitti, Brady Anderson, Matt Williams, Ellis Burks and Roberto Alomar. Other rookies included Tom Glavine and Al Leiter. A third hit on the set was the inclusion of manager cards. Getting those in a pack was about as lame as it got. For every Tommy Lasorda or Sparky Anderson, you'd get a John Wathan or a Jim Fregosi. But in all fairness, I will admit there was a stellar crop of managers in 1988: Lasorda, Sparky, Lou Pinella, Dick Williams, Davey Johnson, Tom Kelly, Pete Rose, Larry Bowa, Bobby Valentine, Jim Leyland, Whitey Herzog and Gene Mauch. Not bad. But getting a manager in a pack of baseball cards still sucked, almost as much as when you got a checklist card. A final complaint is that Topps was still sticking to its theory that putting multiple names and faces on one card was a good thing. Topps included a "Team Leaders" card for each team. So you can remind yourself that Spike Owen was one of the best hitters on the 1987 Red Sox. A lot of the pairings still hold up - Ripken Jr./Murray, Brett/Saberhagen and Bonds/Bonilla, but we don't need to celebrate Vance Law''s1987 season, when he hit .273 with 12 HRs. Leave Hubie Brooks on that Expos card by himself.

36 comments:

Dave said...

i did some fact checking. jay baller is a real person. i am going to achieve his look at next year's obft.

i love this series, as this is the only baseball discussion on g:tb that makes any sense to me-- i gave up watching the great american pastime somewhere in the nineties.

T.J. said...

Was Mr. Baller perhaps a shot caller?

d-train said...

a money shot caller perhaps...

random matt williams story:
-dan & owner in so. beach bar (the clevelander) many years ago, early eve
-group of tools show up wearing slacks and coats....
-tools are getting greased
-dan & boss do same
-dan & boss get into a conversation w/one of tools
-tools are money mgrs
-our tool was awaiting arrival of matt williams, whom he managed money for
-matt shows up
-3 hrs later we are heading to club w/matt, tools, and 5 flight attendants
-despite a line longer than heck, matty breaks out wad and greases door guy and gets all 10 of us in
-matt gets vip table
-matt asks us what we want
-bourbon
-club was hosting a calvin klein underwear show
-show was complete w/runway & supermodels
-danimal likey
-dan & boss left just before sunrise
-we liked the tools

zman said...

I think Jay Baller works at the Lukoil on Route 4 west in Englewood.

There has to be a joke about people taking Baller deep but I'm too tired to figure it out. Feel free to make said jokes at my mammy's expense.

Igor said...

I love this recurring segment, too. I hope it continues.

But there are going to be some pretty fired up Philly dwellers after you dissed Frego. Watch yourself, TR.

Dave said...

if anyone has time, can you critique my new invention idea over on sentence of dave?

squeaky doesn't seem to understand it.

thanks.

the catcher crouches down. baller rears back and delivers, a high hard one right up the slot. baller is bringing it hard and fast tonight, but is he going to have the stamina to finish out?

TR said...

The Mets traded Nolan Ryan for Fregosi. 'Nuff said.

On a totally unrelated note, I just learned that Green Day's drummer is named Tre Cool. I want to make fun of him, but then I remind myself that he's worth tens of millions of dollars.

Squeaky said...

Oh Dave, I understand it. You forgot the about the biggest pain in the arse part of laundry, folding the clothes. You still have to do that part of the equation with your 'invention'.

Igor said...

Hey, I'm a Mets fan, so Frego -- alongside Doug Flynn, Juan Samuel, and Carlos Baerga -- elicits dread upon being mentioned. But he took the Phils to the World Series with a bunch of redneck morons, so he has a place in Philly's heart.

TR said...

Good point, Igor. I'll watch out for folks vomiting on me the next time I watch live sports in Philthy.

Mark said...

I (am probably Igor) am disappointed that Dave Magadan's rookie card didn't make the cut, photographically or otherwise. Also, Bonds' card from this set us worth a look. He's Andre 3000 level skinny in his pic.

Igor said...

Back in the day, several people told me I look like Dave Magadan. He's a handsome man, but he's no Chris Chandler.

Jerry said...

The good thing about being a Mets fan now is that all our prospects end up sucking anyway. So when we trade a top prospect for a bum, it only sucks for a year or two. Then we realize that the young guy sucks, the old guy sucks, and that the team is just going to suck regardless of the trade that did seem to suck initially.

zman said...

whoa

http://tinyurl.com/3xfsr4d

d-train said...

multi-talented that guy barry...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5auvCKWvpE

jerome said...

Chaz Nagy - best Indians pitcher ever.

Igor said...

To Jerry's point...

December 11, 2001: Received Roberto Alomar, Danny Peoples, and Mike Bacsik from the Indians for Matt Lawton, Alex Escobar, Jerrod Riggan, Earl Snyder and Billy Traber. Stink. Stank. Stunk.

T.J. said...

Not to sound like a broken record, but Buzz is at it again...

Igor said...

Aldrin or Peterson?

T.J. said...

Lightyear.

TR said...

My oldest kid is in his "I love Toy Story more than breathing" phase. He carts around his Buzz Lightyear doll like Frodo with the ring. My wife saw Buzz and Woody sandals in a K-Mart and bought them for him. He wears them and is the happiest kid in the world and I'm conflicted. My inner snob is bummed at my kid loving life in Kmart shoes while the tired Dad side is happy that the kid is happy and I didn't have to do any work. Conundrum.

d-train said...

being able to check out what buzz is saying is very gratifying. thanks theteej and gtb for showing me the tweeter.
have yet to send out any tweeters. am storing them for later use. gonna go on a f'ing 3 day tirade that makes buzz look girly.

Igor said...

D-train, I think you are using the wrong vernacular, you Twitter newbie. You don't send out "tweeters," you send out "twats."

Saw Buck last night in OBX. He was amused that you have resumed using the D-train handle and explained that it was originally applied to you in high school because you once claimed that during a pickup game people said your moves were incredibly smooth like Dwayne "D-Train" McClain. Good stuff.

Dave said...

you saw buck last night in the obx?

is there a secret obft?

i can't believe i wasn't invited to the secret obft?

zman said...

Did you really just express disappointment that your toddler likes his Kmart shoes? Aren't you the same guy who once pulled a pair of Timberlands out of the 3rd floor garbage can and wore them for another 2-3 years despite the hole in the sole?

T.J. said...

There's a secret OBFT????

T.J. said...

My work here is done:
http://www.youswear.com/

d-train said...

so i amuse him? do i amuse him?

as humbly as i can say, my moves were sick. the name was gifted to be my then best friend in 9th grade, pre-winchester.

dave - buck is on a 2 week obft w/wife and his known off-spring

T.J. said...

Hey d-train, go get your shinebox...

Squeaky said...

TJ nice link. Looks like there are more than 25 FOG:TB on the site because it has crashed.

d-train said...

as is the case 35-40% of the time, i'm clueless. d-train knows no shinebox.

T.J. said...

http://bit.ly/b3ShWG

d-train said...

duh

TR said...

I think "C-Train" McClain would have been a more fitting nickname for Dwayne.

rob said...

osaka!

奕玲張奕玲張奕玲張 said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。............................................................