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?