March 28, 2006

Rick Schu Finally Drops

6 Pack Analysis: 1989 Donruss
Pack 6

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick to death of 1989 Donruss. The gradient fills, the boring-ass headshot to majestic action shot ratio leans way to far in the direction of the former and I really can’t get over that the distribution within this box is just horrendous. Seriously, between assessing Pack 5 and tonight’s Pack 6 I opened something like 14 to 17 packs and I think I got at least 10 Chris Browns and maybe something like 8 doubles of Pat Borders.

So while I’m relieved that this is Pack 6 and I can open the rest of the box tonight and file the cards away in my closet, I’ve been trying to approach getting a double the way I used to: if it’s a good player, that’s awesome because I can probably trade it, or, more probably, I can put one in a box in the closet where no light will hit it (and thus not decrease its precious value) and the other one in a binder in nothing less than an Ultra-Pro page (which I used to buy by the box and kind of—but not really—cherish the lame Stadium Club card that would come in it, either of Barry Bonds or Mike Piazza, both of whom would be snazzed up in a tux—I guess for no other reason than to propel the metaphor that because Bonds and Piazza are on their way to the prom, your cards will feel that way too. I wonder who they took with them to the prom…one guess each: Bonds took Sid Bream (to reminisce about glory Pirate days and because Sid told him once (just before slipping into a prolonged unconscious state after losing a no-holds-barred arm-wrestling match with R.J. Reynolds) that he knew Danny Aiello (when really what Bream meant was he liked that movie The Pickle, starring Aiello, and wasn’t it funny that he, too, was in a bit of a pickle, after unwisely deciding to arm-wrestle R.J. Reynolds). Bonds thought Aiello knew Spike Lee and Bonds really liked She’s Gotta Have It. Bonds thought he really connected with the ‘She’ in the title, only instead of him needing sex with men, he needed attention, which he could get if he arrived at the prom with Sid Bream. As for Mike Piazza, I bet that his first choice was Tommy Lasorda. You know, one of those ‘My teacher is the only one who understands me’ kinds of things. But then, when word got out, Lasorda felt kind of awkward, so he held a press conference and made up some shit about spilling Slim Fast on his tuxedo, and he didn’t want to rent. Then, to make it worse, Piazza overheard Tom Candiotti say that hall-monitor Orel Hershiser was going to ask Mike to go with him. So he quickly snapped out of his funk and asked Ramon Martinez. But Ramon said he could only go if he brought his younger brother Pedro. Piazza was angry but he relented after Pedro baked him a cake.)).

But if I get a double of a lousy player, it’s not just unceremoniously filed away (though that’s the only visible action). The card is mentally recorded and added to the Encyclopedia of Important Baseball Facts That Will One Day Prove Itself Useful in my brain, so that if I ever run into someone like Pat Borders on the street, I will outwardly say “You were awesome on the Jays,” while inwardly think “You totally screwed up my enjoyment of opening packs of 1989 Donruss. Because of you I had one less chance of getting a Ken Griffey, Jr., rookie. Thanks a lot, jerk.” I will feel good because I made Pat Borders feel special (if however briefly) and because I was able to rise above embarrassing him in public (no matter how many Griffey rookies he robbed me of). Similar things filed away while opening Pack 6: Jeff Robinson was actually considered worthy of being (and thus was) a Diamond King. I wonder if he owns the Perez-Steele painting of himself. I bet he hangs it over the fireplace, or better yet, has it in a hideous gold rococo frame and behind it keeps his safe, where all his valuable baseball cards and 7-11 souvenir Slurpee lid discs are safely hidden. Also, Dave Righetti does not have eyes. He only has eyebrows. Lastly, Jack Howell definitely had a thing for eye-black.

Pack 6

Rick Schu I don’t know if getting Schu as the first player is a good or bad omen for the rest of the pack. As I said before, I opened quite a few between Packs 5 and 6, so I know that Mike Greenwell’s Diamond King is a bad omen, Darnell Coles is not so bad and actually, for all the shit I beat down on Pat Borders, he’s not that bad a card to get first because you’ll invariably get a Fred McGriff Diamond King.
Gregg Olson Getting Schu means you’ll get Gregg Olson the Pitcher. 2 Gs was pretty great, much better than Greg Olson the Catcher, although you know it would’ve been great if somehow they ended up on the same team. Then one of the ace editors at Donruss would’ve done something great like ‘The Olson Twins’ or ‘Greg & Olson’ or something equally inane. I bet that not even the high school interns at Fleer would touch that combo with a ten-foot pole, they would’ve let Donruss have that one, just to watch with ironic glee as the Donruss editors congratulate themselves on a job well done. Who would’ve thought? Both Greg(g) Olsons on one team! A toast to you, fellow editor, another feather in the Donruss cap! Sad, just sad. On another note, I think it would’ve been better for Donruss to scatter the Rated Rookies across the set. It’s like they were scared that a rookie would get lost or something.
Paul Kilgus Snore.
Tony Gwynn Diamond King Am I the only one who thought that Tony Perez was the guy who painted these portraits? Also, what’s up with the James Bond opening credits thing going on behind Tony Gwynn on this card?
Danny Darwin You know, if he hadn’t been traded mid-way through 1986 in anticipation for the Astros’ play-off run, Darwin would’ve had 5 straight losing seasons. That’s saying something, because Darwin lasted a long time in the majors. And really, he was one of those guys where you gave him the benefit of the doubt when he was on the mound, even if his record sucked. I always thought that in the off-season Darwin was a cowboy. He always reminded me of a tall, background kind of cowboy, like the one who would’ve been another town drunk with Andy ‘Friar Tuck’ Devine in Stagecoach, tall and quiet and always twirling his gun (and if he lived in a city and was not a cowboy, then replace the twirling of the gun with checking his pocketwatch, adjusting his monocle and twirling his mustache in anticipation of his next safari).
Terry Leach Other players who’ve worn #26 on the Mets: Frank Viola, Alejandro Pena, and of course the immortal Dave Kingman.
Francisco Melendez Remember how if a player had a longer name than others, then the kerning would be tighter for his name, and/or the lettering would be thinner? I always thought that was kind of funny, because one of the great things about the 1986 Topps set was the larger, teach-yourself-to-read lettering used on the front. Except for Fernando Valenzuela’s card. I bet that if Melendez had had a card in that set, Perry White, the curmudgeonly old Topps editor (on leave from the Daily Planet), would’ve shortened his name to Franny Melendez (kind of like when they shortened Roberto to Bob Clemente. I kind of hated those Clemente cards where they called him ‘Bob’. It’s like calling Robert DeNiro ‘Bob’. You just don’t do it, unless you know the guy).
Dave Righetti Like I mentioned before, Righetti was born without eyes. Seriously, when you glance at Righetti, all you see are eyebrows, right? Am I the only one who sees this? And you know it’s only going to get funnier when he’s an old man. It’s like the guy’s a Muppet. It’s impossible for me to take this guy seriously.
Don Slaught I bet that the other Yankees called him ‘Sergeant Slaughter,’ and if they didn’t then shame on them.
Chris Brown No comment.
Will Clark MVP You know, no one ever really talks about when insert cards started, but I think that without going all the way back to the Sixties when Topps inserted everything imaginable into their packs (Topps Bucks, the Topps Game playing cards in the 68 set, a swatch from Perry White’s day-worn suspenders) a case can be made that Donruss and Fleer really energized inserts at the end of the 80s. Fleer had the über-cool All-Stars and Donruss had the sort-of-cool MVPs. I opened a lot of packs of the 1988 set and never really got any of the Donruss MVPs (I think I may have got the Mattingly MVP), but in 1989 there was just so many of them and they were printed as regularly as the rest of the set. Not really the best design, huh.
Jack Howell I would like an Angels fan to tell me if Jack Howell was any good, because I’m not entirely sure.
Jeff Robinson Diamond King It’s almost like a normal, non-baseball playing person won a contest and got to have their portrait painted by creepy old Tony Perez and Donruss was gullible enough to include it in the set.
Tom Gordon Nowhere does it say ‘Flash.’ But he does sport a prominent gold chain, he’s got good teeth and could probably, if he suddenly found himself on the Reds, shave off his mustache, then secretly shave off his eyebrows and paste them where his mustache once flourished. You know, for when he goes out on the town. This was one of the best Rated Rookies to get in 1989. It’s still a great card, if only because he looks just genuinely excited to be in the majors, even if it is with the Royals.
Andy Van Slyke MVP Man, that’s two MVPs in one pack. See what I mean about the distribution numbers being the same as the regular set? Also, it looks like his hat doesn’t fit him, like it’s a couple sizes to big. Why couldn’t they just take shots head-on; Van Slyke’s all bent out of shape in this photo, and 1988 was his career year. They really could’ve made these MVP cards more appealing.

Overall Analysis

So Rick Schu wasn’t that bad a card to get at the top of the pack. With 7 of the 15 cards being pretty good, that’s a 47% success rate. Also, it’s interesting that I got Chris Brown because this shows that his card was not one you’d get in a sequence. It may have been double- or even triple-printed, but its distribution was random, which I take to be a good thing. No Red Sox, again, which is giving more and more credence to the conspiracy theory I’ve come up with that a Donruss executive went through every pack and took out all the Sox cards, then ironed the packs closed again, like those shifty card dealers at the back tables of a baseball card show who charged really low prices for older packs. Oh, and I almost forgot, the puzzle piece wasn’t that bad either. I’ll give a more formal analysis of this box in my next post.


Russ said...

The only card created so far that comes close to the pinnacle of what could have been "Greg & Olson" is the 1991 Donruss Studio of Bud Black and Steve Decker when they were both on the Giants and labeling them, of course, "Black and Decker". Did the tool company sign off on this? Were any royalties ever given or did they just get the shaft?

The Rev said...

Rick Schu was the reason that the Phillies moved Mike Schmidt to first in the mid-80's. They wanted to give Schu a chance to play.

Of course, Rick Schu was also the reason they moved Schmitty back to third.

tonythegreat said...

Does anyone know the exact meaning of the phrase "Rated Rookie"? Does it mean a player who was "rated" by scouts/Donruss? And was this meant to be a good thing? Just because someone is "rated" doesn't mean they'll receieve a good rating. For example, Bernie Williams' arm was "rated" to be the poorest among big league centerfielders. That's not the kind of thing you want to advertise on a card. Does anyone have any ideas on this? I wish Donruss had used a clearer phrase for its rookie cards, like Topps' "Future Stars" (although those included such greats as Tim Pyznarski and Pat Dodson. Maybe Donruss was just trying to cover its ass to avoid going out on a limb like Topps and having it blow up in their face).

Eric Gregg said...

No way that Bonds puts up with Sid Bream's smug ass constantly reminding him of the time Barry's arm wasn't strong enough to beat Molasses Sid home at the end of the '92 NLCS. People talk about McGwire-Sosa in '97 leading to Bonds' steroid use, but the fact is that it was Sid Bream's exposure of Bonds' weak left-field arm.

Anonymous said...

Jack Howell was part of the Angels youth movement in 86/87, along w/ Wally Joyner and Devon White. Great expectations for all. As an Angel fan living through those years, i remember a few things about Howell. Could not hit for average, struck out a bunch. Also hit a broken bat homer out of Yankee stadium (no cork) and was the only one on the team whose guns were bigger than Brian Downing's. Think how big Downing and Howell would have been on the juice...scary.

TeeNutts said...

loved the analysis of the Gwynn Diamond King. my name is Gwynn, Tony Gwynn.

Mike C. said...

Schu and Melendez played for the Phillies farm club in Portland in the 1980s, the Portland Beavers. They had a sweet run of players. One of my friends got sick and tired of saying "Francisco Melendez," so he just called him "Bill." He'd cheer for Bill, but there were only a couple of us who went to games (we were kids) and knew what he'd be yelling about. So, your idea did actually exist in some form.

Jim said...

September 5, 1987 Jack Howell had the broken bat home run at Yankee stadium on the NBC game of the week. it was the year of the juiced ball, cork, everything was flying out that year.

MikeC said...

The amazing thing about Tony Gwynn is that he has the whitest sounding voice of all time. If I was told to listen to a clip of Ned Flanders and Tony Gwynn, that one of them was African-American and I had to pick from just their voices, Ned would win every time. This isn't a good or a bad thing, it has just always deeply fascinated me.

TeeNutts said...

update on Dave Righetti. i didn't know he was the Giants' pitching coach until last night when i was watching the ESPN2 Opening Night game. i looked up his picture on the MLB website and he actually has his eyes open. he looks like a totally different person.

dazang said...

89 Donruss is what I had the most of. This was the year I started collecting. And of course Donruss was my favorite because it was the cheapest besides Topps, and Topps 89 was the crappiest set of baseball cards known to man.