Tuesday, April 28, 2009

1987 Fleer #23

For a second, I was thinking about skipping to the end of my Darryl Strawberry card binder where I store all the odd ball cards, simply because I knew what was next - and there was no way it could live up to the wood grained goodness of '87 Topps. But I figured it was best to treat this card like a removing a band-aid: pull it off as quick as possible so as not to prolong the inevitable pain.

With that, I present to you Darryl's 1987 Fleer, #23.


This is easily one of the blandest card fronts of my whole collection. It's a boring shot of Strawberry, framed by a boring border, topped off with a boring font. And like the '86 Donruss I posted earlier, there's simply far too much blue.

Let's quickly move to the back:

At first glance, it seems almost as bad as the front. You've got the generic font for Strawberry's background info, and only half the card is filled with stats. The rest is open space filled with nothing but a strange candy-cane striped back ground - made even more strange by the fact that the thickness of the stripes is uneven.

Something I love, though, is the "How's He Hitting 'Em" feature at the bottom. It's overly simplistic, but it seems appropriate for the era. Hitters were classified in to one of four categories: dead pull hitter, power hitter, spray hitter, and singles hitter.

I'm guess spray hitter must be for those with "gap power", the 15 homers a year types?

Clearly, Darryl is labeled correctly as a power hitter.

The "pro scouts report" shows Strawberry's hot spots for the three types of pitches: fastball, breaking ball, and off-speed. The analysis? Fast ball low and away: In the cheap seats. Breaking ball over the plate: Darryl's trotting to first. Off-speed anywhere close to the plate? See ya! According to scouts, Strawberry could hit absolutely anything.

That's exactly how I remember him.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

1987 Topps #601, All-Star

Today's a sad day for Darryl Strawberry Fields. I've had a lot of fun revisiting my Strawberry card collection, but today's entry marks the end of an era.

With the posting of 1987 Topps #601, Darryl's All-Star card, I've reached the end of my cards with a faux wood border - but this one is the best of the best.

The front:

Lots to like here. It's nice to see the player name in a different location, written at the top of the card in yellow font over a red background. I always considered the league logos in the upper left corner a "bonus". I mean, I have 700+ '87 Topps cards (and that's NOT counting duplicates, of which I have thousands) with standard team logos. But a National or American League logo?? That's pretty cool... even if only to a five year old.

I especially like the "All Star" in the bottom right corner in nice thick font over sweet red, white, and blue stars. A nice, all-American tribute to what was once the country's undisputed pastime.

On to the back:

Makes sense to have a list of league RBI leaders, especially since Darryl was one of them. Having Mike Schmidt's name on the card seems like it should automatically increase its value. Strawberry came in at a solid seventh place for RBIs in '86 - certainly not shabby. Some other stats that Strawberry nearly led the league in that year (1986): Slugging percentage (.507, 2nd); On-base plus slugging (.865, 4th); Home runs (27, T-5th); Hit by Pitch (6, T-6th); Sac flies (9, T-4th).

Of course, I should also mention that he was tied for second in strike outs with 141.

And with that, I'm done with my "wood bordered" cards, and I ended with my favorite of the bunch. Upon closer inspection, this card suspiciously appears to be air brushed (as was common on jerseys and hats back in the day), but I can't think of any legitimate reason why Topps would have to do it. Could just be the lousy print quality.

I own over 20 of these cards.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

1987 Topps #331, Mets Leaders

With another opening day having come and gone, I can't help but think about how much the game has changed over the years. And what better way to take a glimpse at that change than a 1987 Topps Mets Leaders card?

OK, not a Darryl Strawberry card per se, but Darryl is on the card, so I count it as part of my official collection. Gotta love the bonus shots of Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez, too. Not too sure what to think of the double high five, fingers-interlocking hand slap that Carter and Strawberry are engaged in, but I'll look past that for now. They're not looking at each other, and I'm not sure if that makes the picture more or less awkward.

Looking at the stats of the leaders is what shows how much things have changed in the past 20 years. Strawberry led the team with 27 home runs. That's not bad for the 2008 San Fransisco Giants, but by most teams' standards that's a paltry amount. The rest of the offensive stats seem reasonable, but it's the pitching categories that get crazy.

Dwight Gooden's 250 innings is high, but not completely absurd. Bob Ojeda's 18 wins are fine. Two guys (Sid Fernandez and Dwight Gooden) with 200 strike outs is a luxury. Now for the crazy: Dwight Gooden led the '86 Mets with 12 complete games! That's insane. And not only that, but the Mets had three guys with two complete game shut outs... a team would be lucky to get just one complete game shut out from one guy this season, let alone two.

The save clearly wasn't highly regarded as a stat by the Mets (and still shouldn't be, in my opinion), as Roger McDowell led the '86 Mets with just 22 of them - though perhaps that was just a case of not many save opportunities being available on this stacked team.

I always liked the team leaders cards, probably because it was like getting two (or three, or sometimes four) cards for the price of one. So many superstars on just one "wood" bordered card! Who doesn't love that?