Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Three random 1984 Topps Traded baseball cards

Time to bust out a new feature here at TATB: Three Completely Random Baseball Cards From A Completely Random Year. Catchy title, eh?

Like many things we do here at TATB, we're adding this to the site's repertoire for two reasons: 1) We're dorky about baseball and old baseball cards. 2) We're wicked dorky about baseball and old baseball cards.

Actually, we do have semi-logical reasons for doing this beyond . . . well, you know. This is the evil spawn of two of our other recurring and most popular features: Guess That '70s Ballplayer and the Completely Random Baseball Card.

Since I'm about out of those goofy '70s mugshots (though we do have one grand finale planned), I figured this might be a fun way to sort of bridge that gap until I can come up with another stash. And you guys never seem to get enough of the random baseball cards, so this is a way to add even more to the site.

Also, it allows us to get something quick and hopefully entertaining posted on our busier days, so we don't go more than a day or two without a post. And it allows us to rant or share an anecdote about a player or topic that doesn't really warrant its own post. (See the Mark Langston item.)

We're starting with three 1984 Topps Traded cards. Why? The hell if I know - guess I just wanted to see if Pete Rose really was an Expo, or if that was all just a hallucination caused by eating too much of that "gum" Topps used to put in packs.

We'll be jumping around to a different set each time, and as always, your comments in the Suggestion Box are always welcome.

Sox fans remember Tudor as one of the talented lefties (Bruce Hurst, Bob Ojeda) the Sox developed in the early '80s, all of whom Don Zimmer, in all his infinite plate-headed wisdom, didn't think he could pitch at Fenway. Media members remember him as one of most guarded, confrontational jerks around. Pirates fans remember him as one of few players who weren't named in the infamous cocaine scandal in the mid-'80s (then again, he was only around briefly). And Cardinals fans? They might remember him for his infamous meltdown in the '85 World Series, but that would be a shame if that overshadowed his truly phenomenal season. Tudor went 21-8 in '85, with a 1.93 ERA, 14 complete games and 10 (ten!) shutouts. He had a WHIP of 0.93, having allowed just 209 hits and 49 walks in 275 innings, and he finished second in the Cy Young race to Mets flash Dwight Gooden. It was a hell of a season - and frankly, an aberration, for he never won more than 13 games again. But it's certainly worth remembering, because for one season, John Tudor was one of the greats.

It's been a while since I studied French. Tell me again how to say, "Dammit, Dawson, get the #$*$**%**# run home, will you? I've got two grand riding on this game!"

Check out this tribute to Langston, from former manager Dick Williams's autobiography, "No More Mr. Nice Guy":

"It was the ninth inning, and my ace Mark Langston was pitching with a 3-0 lead. Having allowed just two hits, he was damned near perfect. The Twins shortstop Greg Gagne, who batted just .265 that year, singled. And Dan Gladden, who batted .249, walked. Langston, who looked a little tired, was giving up. Despite having a two-hitter working - do you know how many pitchers dream of taking a two-hitter into the ninth inning? - he was still giving up. Because he was tired. Because he wasn't tough enough. How did I know this? Because all season he'd been taking himself out of games. He'd walk past me in the dugout and say, "I've had it," and be gone. Just like that. No regard for his teammates. No regard for winning.

". . . I saw the same thing happening all over again. After those first two batters reached base, I watched Langston on the mound contorting his face and shaking his head and all but shouting for me to take him out. (Expletive) him I decided. My duty is not to him but to the Seattle Mariners. He had to get tough, and his teammates had to get tough. So I would make him tough it out.

"But of course, he didn't. He threw up a fat pitch and was nailed for a three-run homer by Steve Lombardozzi, who finished that year with eight homers total. Unbelievable. I yanked Langston from the game without looking him in the eye, because I was too embarrassed. For the great game of baseball, and the great art of competing, I was embarrassed. We eventually lost the game.

"For the rest of my time in Seattle I perceived Langston as I feel much of baseball finally perceived him when he cost the Montreal Expos the pennant in the late summer of 1989 by choking on his final few starts. Gutless, that's how I perceived him. Gutless. Anybody can pitch for a loser, which Langston did very well for the Mariners before I arrived . . . C'mon, Langston. Let's see you pitch for a winner. Let's see you be a winner."

Suffice to say Williams didn't believe in pitch counts. Then again, a few years later Williams was arrested outside his hotel with no pants on, so he apparently didn't believe in a lot of things. As vicious as he was, though, he might have been right about Langston, who played a pivotal role in the Angels' epic collapse in 1995. I can picture Williams watching that Mariners-Angels one-game playoff in front of his TV yelling, "C'mon, Langston you *$**$**#&* crybaby. Boo-hoo! I was right about you all along, you ##@*$&#*@* sally! Whoa there . . . hey, anyone seen my Dockers?"

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