#2 Todd Burns Random Thoughts: Burns had a brief but interesting career. He was one of those "catching lightning in a bottle" type call ups from triple A in the summer of '88 for Oakland. Out of nowhere he started 14 games at the back end of the AL champs rotation going 8-2 and showing much promise. He was one of those average prospects who benefited from being on a good team that was on a roll. Inexplicably, (but most likely because they found better candidates) Burns was pushed back to the bullpen in '89 and his numbers fizzled out before being signed by Texas in '91. After bouncing around for a few more years, Burns was cut by Seattle in spring training of '94 and his major league career was abruptly over.
The Card Itself: Not much to say about the photo again, just a run of the mill mug shot. But come to think of it, I miss average photography on cards lacking gloss and full color backs and foil stamping obscuring the design and player names and serial numbers and patches and autos. Maybe some day just plain old baseball cards will make a comeback.
Did You Know?: To give you some idea of how Burns' career numbers stack up, according to Baseball Reference, his stats compare with those of such luminaries as Manny Sarmiento, Joe Beckwith, Todd Frohwirth, Brian Holton and Scott Terry. Talk about a who's who of bummy 80's and 90's pitchers whose duplicates and triplicates haunted wax pack collectors of the era. Where Are They Now?:He currently runs the Todd Burns School of Baseball in Huntsville, Alabama.
Okay, first a little background. Ever since I started collecting cards again and started this blog back in September of '08 I promised myself that if I ever completed a set, I would do a card by card blog in loving detail much like the granddaddy of them all, the 88 Topps blog and also the excellent 75 Topps blog by Night Owl or the 72 Topps blog or the 80 Topps blog. So here goes. I'm just going to present the cards on my regular Card Junkie blog sporadically so I don't feel any pressure to keep this 90 Fleer thing going everyday which could doom me to quit like so many other card by card endeavors.
Now for a little background on my experiences with 90 Fleer. I remember when this set came out as a kid that it was the first Fleer baseball product that was readily available where I lived. You could always find Topps. By 1988 I could find Donruss at most places. But Fleer, Score and Upper Deck remained elusive until 1990, by which time you could find every brand of baseball card at every store you went thanks to the big baseball card boom. This was exciting even though I had a couple handfuls of old Fleer cards I got in trades, this was the first time I could get packs and packs of the stuff. I remember getting near a full set just from wax and cellos. I also remember several years later buying a sealed hobby set for a ten spot at a Toys 'R Us which would later get thrown in the trash. I actually liked the design and photography when this set came out (I was 14) of course I had no idea at the time but Fleer printed enough of this set to fill Yucca Mountain. That means today you can buy a wax box for roughly 5-6 bucks on eBay. Which is how I easily and cheaply completed the set once again. For my full remarks on 90 Fleer click here. For bonus points click here for my little soliloquy on why 90 Fleer looks strikingly like those old 80's M&M cards.
So let's begin...
#1 Lance Blankenship Random Thoughts: One of the cool things I liked about the old Fleer sets is that each player appeared in the set alphabetically and grouped by team. An absolute orgasm for set collectors. And each team appeared in the set based on their record the previous year. Therefore, the World Series winner would appear first. In this case, the '89 Champion Oakland A's lead off with, wait for it, Lance Blankenship. Yup, if you were a bench player for the Champs with a last name that started with an "A" or perhaps a "B", you were granted card numero uno honors by Fleer.
Lance Blankenship strikes me as one of those "marginal guys on a great team." For example, Blankenship probably could have started on a number of bad teams and got his 150 games, 600 at bats and hit .270 with 12 homers and 60 RBI. But on the A's he was a great "role player" and much more valuable in this sort of role. Look through the annals of baseball and you can find a million Blankenships who won rings on the bench, then signed big money contracts to start for poor teams and not quite have the same success.
The Card Itself: Not much to say about this photo. Obvi a spring training shot. Gotta love the yellow practice tops. Could be Canseco in the background but could be one of 60 guys in spring training. No one will ever know.
Since the backs of Fleer cards of this era have little "Did You Know?" blurbs who am I to change the title?
Did You Know?: Blankenship spent his entire six year major league career with Oakland and actually played on two World Series teams, one winner in '89 and one loser the next year. In five post season series Blankenship contributed four runs scored and two stolen bases.
Chris Berman dubbed him Lance "you sunk my" Blankenship.
On This Date: On January 20, 1990 Soviet troops occupy Baku, Azerbaijan, under the state of emergency decree issued by Gorbachev and kill over 130 and wound over 700 protesters for national independence.
In case you haven't heard the news burning up the airwaves and the net, Mark McGwire has finally admitted to using steroids and HGH. The main reason I believe he is doing this now is to avoid a media frenzy as he reenters baseball as the St. Louis Cardinals hitting instructor. A sort of "get this outta the way now" thing. The main question I have is, if he was afraid of indictment if he confessed this to Congress in 2005, what is different now? Is there a statute of limitations on this I don't about? As for the Hall of Fame, I don't think this admission means much. He probably went from a 5% share of the vote to maybe 25%, way short of what he needs to ever get in. Looks like the last two shoes to fall will be Sosa and Bonds but I'm not holding my breath. So what do you guys think about all this?
Now that 2009 is behind us I thought it would be cool to take a look back at my blog during the past year and conduct a little survey. After hours of careful consideration I have narrowed down a list of what I believe are my ten best videos of 2009. You can vote for your favorite in the poll listed up above. I will present the results in a special post next week. Thanks to everyone who has visited my blog during the past year with hopefully many more to come. And now, (Rod Serling voice) submitted for your perusal, my top ten of 2009...