Saturday, March 24, 2018

Starting Lineup Talking Baseball: NL All-Stars

In November 1988, I turned 13, and for my birthday, I received the electronic Starting Lineup Talking Baseball game.  It came (either built in or with a cartridge, I'd have to check -- the game is still at my Mom's house) with two teams you could play, the AL All-Stars and the NL All-Stars.  You could buy additional cartridges, and I believe I only ever got one of these, with the Pirates, Phillies, and Mets.  Each team that you could play came with baseball cards.  The front of the card says that the copyright is held by KPT; this appears to stand for Kenner Parker Toys, as the game was branded Parker Brothers, which by then had been merged with Kenner, maker of the Starting Lineup figurines.
Eric Davis.
Eric Davis card back.
You can see from the plain red cap on the head of Eric Davis that the cards are logo-less.  The card backs are pretty plain, with a few lines of stats, the position played, and a few other pieces of information.  For some reason the AL team has 20 players and the NL team has 19.  Computer memory used to be very limited, so perhaps they could only fit 39 players onto whatever storage system they used.

Eric Davis was a big deal at the time, and his 1987 stats shown here make clear why -- 37 home runs was a lot back then, and was fourth in the NL at the time.
Todd Worrell.
Steve Sax.
In 1986, Todd Worrell won NL Rookie of the Year with his league-leading 36 saves.  He followed that up in 1987 with 33, which was third behind Steve Bedrosian and Lee Smith.  Steve Sax was still with the Dodgers back then, and had his fielding problems, but was still something of a star.
Jody Davis.
Andre Dawson.
Jody Davis, catcher for the Cubs, was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 1986.  In 1987, Andre Dawson of the Cubs had a monster year, leading the NL with 49 home runs and 137 RBI, becoming the NL MVP, making the All-Star team, and winning both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.  It's too bad that all this talent didn't translate into more success for the Cubs, who finished in last place with a 76-85 record in 1987.
Ozzie Smith.
Dale Murphy.
This set really seems to capture my childhood well.  Ozzie Smith was the perrenial All-Star, Gold Glove winner, and fan favorite.  I loved anytime I could see him run onto the field doing his flip.  Dale Murphy, in his prime with the Braves, was a great slugger.  When he got to the Phillies, he was sliding downhill, unfortunately.  But he had been great, and it was nice to see him play in person a few times at the Vet.
Darryl Strawberry.
Gary Carter.
Of course there are a bunch of Mets, since this was 1988, and the 1986 championship team was largely still together.  The young Darryl Strawberry was something; too bad he got derailed.  Reading about the 1986 Mets (in The Bad Guys Won!), you get the picture that Gary Carter was a smug, self-promoting jerk.  He was really good, though.  I didn't like the Mets one bit, in part because they were divisional rivals for my Pirates and my Phillies, but also because Mets fans would come to Mets games at the Vet and start fights with the Phillies fans.  Like a number of other baseball players (Tug McGraw, Darren Daulton, John Vukovich, Johnny Oates, Ken Brett, Bobby Murcer, Dan Quisenberry, Dick Howser), Carter died of brain cancer.
Fernando Valenzuela.
Ryne Sandberg.
I'm always happy to have more Fernando Valenzuela cards.  I slightly regret not paying more attention to his career at the time, although I do remember that he seemed unbeatable in the early 80s.  In addition to being a Hall-of-Fame second baseman with the Cubs, I'll remember Sandberg for his undistinguished time as Phillies manager.  They say that he was frequently frustrated that his players weren't as good or as disciplined as he was as a player.  Maybe Hall-of-Fame players don't make the best managers; I'm sure there are exceptions, though.
Mike Schmidt.
Tim Raines.
Mike Schmidt!  I've been entering my collection on Trading Card Database, and so far, I have more Schmidt cards than anyone else.  Because I've given him the most space in my recently developed player collections, I suspect that won't change.  I like Tim Raines, too, since I'm fond of the base stealers.  I remember watching the 1987 All-Star game, and him being named MVP after hitting a triple to knock in the winning runs (the only runs of the game) in the 13th inning.
Dwight Gooden.
Jack Clark.
Back to the Mets, we have Dwight Gooden, who is, in the public eye, inextricably linked to Darryl Strawberry.  They both had a lot of talent and both had a drug-related downfall, but stayed in the majors and went on to return to their status as World Series victors, but with the Yankees.  Jack Clark was a big star when I was watching baseball closely in the late 80s.  In 1987, with the NL-pennant-winning Cards, Clark led the NL in on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Mike Scott.
Nolan Ryan.
Here we have teammate pitchers Mike Scott and Nolan Ryan, who helped lead the Astros to the 1986 NL West title.  Scott was a mediocre pitcher until he learned to scuff the ball, apparently, and then became dominant.  You might have thought Nolan Ryan would have been at the end of his career by 1988, but he still had years to go.
Buddy Bell.
Keith Hernandez.
Finally, we close out this post with third baseman Buddy Bell and first baseman Keith Hernandez.  They had similarly strong careers, both ending just short of Cooperstown.  Bell had 2,514 career hits to Hernandez' 2,182, and 1,106 RBI to Hernandez' 1,071.  Hernandez had a higher batting average at .296 to Bell's .279.  They were both 5-time All-Stars, but Hernandez won more Gold Gloves (11 for Keith, 6 for Buddy) and Silver Sluggers (2 for Keith, 1 for Buddy).  Bell also didn't win the World Series, while Hernandez did twice, with the Cardinals and the Mets.

Next Saturday, we'll see the AL set.  Thanks for reading!

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