Sunday, March 03, 2019

Dennis Eckersley 1992 Pinnacle

Sometime in the last year or so I received this card but I'm not sure if it was from the Baseball Card Bandit (BCB):

There are a few things that separate me from a professional athlete: innate ability, hand-eye coordination, a desire to practice and hone a skill, a killer instinct, the ability to always want to win. But another thing is that when I played sports and I screw up, with a strike out, missing a free throw, clanging a ball off the cross bar, I'd let it fester and bother me. And that would compound the error because inevitably, I'd think so much about the last miscue, that I'd make another. I couldn't get over things easily when I was competing. 

Sports isn't about perfection because no one can be perfect all the time. All athletes who compete at a high level understand this. So when they screw up, the acknowledge it and move on. Some guys get the yips, but it's rare. Perseverance and a short memory is the key in athletics. The quicker you understand that, the better you'll do. 

No one understands that more than Dennis Eckersley. 

If you were to sit down and have a few drinks (actually, how about a few club sodas) with an ex-major leaguer, I don't think that you could do better if you were swapping stories with Dennis Eckersley. The dude has lived many lives and the fact that he seems like a genuinely good guy without much bitterness is pretty amazing. 

His life had more twists than a bag of spicy curly fries. 

Eckersley grew up with Rick Manning. They played on the same high school baseball team, got selected by the Cleveland Indians in the same draft and were on the same minor league team together. They were inseparable, as was Eck's girlfriend, turned fiancé, turned wife. They climbed the ladder of the Cleveland organization together and by the mid-70s were the best pitching and hitting prospects the Indians had. 

Eckersely was brash, arrogant and loud. He had a fastball that was explosive and an attitude that matched. Which was fine for Cleveland because they hadn't had anything to cheer for in years. Eckersley and Manning were going to lead the Indians into 1980s domination. A funny thing happened on the way to multiple World Series, Manning developed feelings for his best friend's wife. And she reciprocated. Next thing you know, Eckersley is on the outside looking in as Manning has a new wife.

Fearing that this would destroy the clubhouse, the Indians had a choice to make: trade the stud centerfielder or the stud pitcher. They sent Eckersley to the Boston Red Sox for a handful of prospects, none of whom ever did much for the Tribe. Catcher Bo Diaz played well for the Phillies and Reds--he was an All-Star selection--but wasn't great in Cleveland. 

Eckersley immediately dominated as a Red Sox and the fans loved him. As the 70s turned into the 80s, Eck began to lose his edge. No one was really sure why, but that fastball that blew everyone away became really flat and hittable. Turns out, Eckersley had developed a taste for the sauce and was out partying every night and not really taking care of himself. So Boston shipped him to the absolute worst place you can send an alcoholic to: Chicago, specifically the Cubs for Bill Buckner. 

Everyone loves Wrigley Field, especially before they added lights in 1988. Every home game is a day game, which means you have your nights free to do what you want. And that's precisely what tripped Eck up. He was a major league baseball player living it up in a place where he could drink all night and deal with the consequences in the morning. He stayed a few seasons in Chicago before the Cubs got sick of putting up with his stuff and released him. 

Eckersley was in danger of getting drummed out of baseball if he didn't control his drinking problem. There was one team that offered him a job: the Oakland Athletics. Manager Tony LaRussa said that Eckersley would be a part of the bullpen (he was a starter for his entire career) and if he wanted more than that, he'd have to earn it. Thus began one of the biggest comebacks in baseball history. 

Eckersley didn't just earn his spot in the Oakland bullpen, he flat-out dominated. Year after year after year, his ERA was ridiculously low, his WHIP lower than that and his save percentage was higher than anyone's had ever been. Ever since he stopped hitting the sauce, he got his swagger, and more importantly, his fastball back. He was pointing to people and yelling at them when he struck them out like he did when he was young buck. Apparently when he was with the Indians, Eckersley was in the midst of throwing his first no-hitter and with one down in the ninth, started yelling at what would be the last hitter of the night (he was on deck), saying that he wanted no part of him, that he sucked and that he was going to strike out. That batter did. 

From 1987 through 1992, Eckersley's ERA was never above 3.00 and in 1990, it was a ridiculous 0.61. The pinnacle of Eck's career was 1992 when he won the American League Cy Young and MVP award. From 1981 through 1992, relievers Eck, Rollie Fingers and Willie Hernandez each won the MVP and Cy Young awards in the same year, while Steve Bedrosian and Mark Davis won the NL Cy Young awards. Since Eck's double-dip, only one reliever, Eric Gagne in 2003 has won either award in either league. Which says something. I'm not sure whether writers in the 80s and early 90s were blown away by relievers and that writers now don't care, but there seemingly was a market correction. 

It wasn't all good times in Oakland, as Eck gave up one of the most famous homers in postseason history in Game One of the 1988 World Series to Kirk Gibson. And he didn't shy away from the goat horns either, he answered question after question after question after that game, during the winter of his discontent and 30 years later with grace and aplomb. If there was a time for a man to turn to drink, that would have been it, but Eck stood resolute. In 1989 he recorded the final out of the 1989 World Series, though he was uncharacteristically shaky in the 1990 World Series loss to the Cincinnati Reds. 

Eck stayed with the A's through the 1994 season before joining his former A's boss in St. Louis. He pitched for a few years there before coming home to Boston for his last season. 

Eckersley was elected into the Hall of Fame in his first ballot and has continued to be a popular broadcaster on Red Sox telecasts, while also doing work for his home-town Oakland Athletics. 

When you're kicking ass, life is easy to handle. But when the tables are turned and life starts handing you a beat down, whether it's your best friend stealing your wife, drinking too much or giving up a game-losing home run to a broken down gimp who was waiting for your backdoor slide, that's when people can see what you're made of. 

Eckersley is a tough dude, amigos. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Deion Sanders 1989 Upper Deck

Sometime in the last year or so I received this card but I'm not sure if it was from the Baseball Card Bandit (BCB):

To me, this doesn't even look like a baseball card. It looks like the photographer was at Atlanta Falcons practice and snapped a pic of Deion Sanders without his helmet. 

It was always strange to me that Deion Sanders debuted with the Yankees. Strange might not be the right word, because Yankee owner George Steinbrenner really wanted to sign Bo Jackson, so drafting and promoting Sanders wasn't a crazy idea. What was weird--to me at least--was how much Sanders wasn't a typical Yankee. He was cocky as hell, but so was Reggie Jackson and practically any other person that wears the interlocking NY, right? Yes, but Reggie and his ilk came with a pedigree and was considered a winner. 

But when Sanders came to the majors, he was full of jheri-curl and gold and that's about it. His flash was seen as part of new generation and something that a Yankee would never do. Before every plate appearance, he'd draw a dollar sign in the dirt; something that bugged Carlton Fisk so much that he got into a shoving match with the brash outfielder that set off a mini-revolution of old school versus new. 

A Yankee could be brash and cocky, arrogant and dismissive, but in order to be those things AND be a Yankee, it had to be done the right way. In other words, there had to be two things to back that attitude up: either that person had to be a part of a winning team or that person had to put up huge numbers. 

Sanders did neither. And, unlike Jackson, it was obvious that baseball wasn't his number one sport--he even said as much referring to football as his "wife" and baseball as his "girlfriend". I think that the Yankees were at some sort of a cross road with Sanders, which was to either agree with the player that there is a new, very untraditional Yankee way of doing things and that Yankee baseball wasn't the number one thing in everyone's life or let him go. Sanders didn't hit very well in his year and a half in the Bronx, so that--plus his request for $1 million--an easy decision for General Manager Gene Michaels, and the Yankees let Prime Time expire. 

Sanders found a baseball home in the same city where he played football: Atlanta. He famously did double duty with the Braves and Falcons, even (trying) to play football and baseball on the same day -- something that hadn't been done before. Sanders played a 1:00 game against the Dolphins in Miami then flew to Pittsburgh to help the Braves defeat the Pirates in the NLCS. Atlanta General Manager John Schurholz and manager Bobby Cox weren't crazy about this idea and kept Sanders on the bench for the game. 

Which kind of sucks, because that would have been a cool thing to see. But I understand their reluctance to allow Sanders to do this. 

Sanders always had sparks of brilliance on the baseball field, but it never translated into a consistent success that he had in football. Aside from the Braves and Yankees, he toiled with the Reds and Giants too. Never much of a power hitter, his speed was his main weapon. When that went, so did Sanders' career. 

Sanders lasted longer in the NFL than he did in Major League Baseball, playing with the 49ers, the Cowboys (winning a Super Bowl with each of those teams) before finishing up with the Redskins and the Ravens. 

I'm not sure whether it was because he was the second person to play two sports, but I never thought that Deion Sanders captured the American public's imagination like Bo Jackson*. And it's unfortunate for Sanders to be compared to Jackson because Bo was the first, though one could argue that Sanders was probably better. 

* Before he went to Florida State, Sanders was originally drafted by the Royals. Can you imagine Bo and Deion in the same outfield?

I think primarily because he was the first and also because of his raw power, both on the football field and baseball diamond, Bo was lauded more than Sanders. Sanders would scratch out a single, steal two bases and then score on a sac fly. Bo would hit a mammoth home run. They both count as one run, but one had better optics. Same thing in football, Bo would knock over Brian Bosworth and score a touchdown. As a defensive back, Sanders would hang back and then pounce on an unsuspecting receiver, snatch the ball away and score a touchdown. 

I guess Sanders made things look easy, effortless. Bo was a gifted athlete, and he was hurt a bunch, but that worked for him. People thought that Bo gave more to the games than Sanders did, that he somehow worked harder. I don't think that's fair. Yes, Sanders, whether he was Neon Deion or Prime Time, was way flashier than Vincent Jackson, but to do what he did, you can't convince me that he didn't work harder. 

In subsequent years, guys like Brian Jordan and DJ Dozier would try their hand at dual sports, but they never made the impact that Bo and Deion did. Jordan came close, but couldn't do it like these two did. And if you think about it, playing two sports at a professional level is insane. It's hard enough to be good at one thing, never mind two. Former Patriots receiver and Red Sox outfielder Greg McMurtry couldn't do it. Michael Jordan couldn't do. Tim Tebow is having a tough time.

So while Deion wasn't the first, he was still one of the best of all times. He also dumped a bucket of water on Tim McCarver's head, which was pretty great too. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Mike Boddicker 1989 Topps

Sometime in the last year or so I received this card but I'm not sure if it was from the Baseball Card Bandit (BCB):

On July 29, 1988; Lou Gorman made a trade that worked out well for both teams sending Red Sox prospects Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling to the Baltimore Orioles for veteran right hander Mike Boddicker. Anderson was a big time prospect and broke camp with the big-league at the beginning of the year and was sent back to Pawtucket by May. Schilling was a wild righty with good stuff, but a five-cent brain. At the time, no one really expected Schilling to do anything but Boston fans were nervous about losing Anderson. 

Anderson didn't have his breakout year until four season later in 1992 and became a three-time All Star with O's for the rest of the 1990s. Curt Schilling has a very good shot of making the Hall of Fame (if he can shut his mouth for more than five minutes) but didn't reach his potential until after the Houston Astros (who acquired him from an exasperated Orioles club) sent him to Philadelphia. In the City of Brotherly Love and with the Arizona Diamondbacks and back to the Red Sox, Schilling took off and became a perennial All-Star as well as one of the more dominant pitchers for the next 15 years. He lead his teams to four World Series, winning three of them -- including two all timers in 2001 and 2004. 

Mike Boddicker played with the Sox for two-and-a-half seasons compiling a 39-22 record before signing a free agent deal with the Kansas City Royals in the winter of 1990 and played for the Brewers in his last season. 

Why did this deal work out for both teams? The Orioles received two players that had they used patience with BOTH former Sox prospects would have seen a better return on their investment. But they only stuck with Anderson and he proved to be a player to wait for. Anderson had one of the strangest home run years in 1996 when he 50 round trippers, he never hit more than 24 before or after that year. When the O's began a mini renaissance in the Charm City, Anderson was one of their better players. 

Boddicker was the perfect fit for the Sox needs from 1988 through 1990. In July of 1988, the Sox were hot as hell flushed with Morgan Magic. They had Roger Clemens and Bruce Hurst to lead them, but after that, the pitching staff was pretty bleak. Gorman got Boddicker and he was the perfect third man in the rotation, going 7-3 with a 2.63 ERA for his new team. Not too bad. 

And with Hurst departing for San Diego that winter, he fit in nicely behind Clemens as the number two man on the staff winning 15 and 17 games in the next two seasons before taking off to KC. 

The reason why this trade works out for both teams is because where they were at at the time. The Sox were in the middle of a pennant race and couldn't afford to waste time on players that might be good in two, three or in Schilling and Anderson's case, four to five seasons down the road. Baltimore, on the other hand, had nothing but time. That year they started 0-22 and were in the midst of a full-fledged rebuild--wasting Cal Ripken's prime in the mean time--they had nothing else to do but see if the kids they had in their minor league system would hit. And some did. 

Most of the time, baseball trades aren't that big of a deal, they really don't change a team too much. Every once in awhile there will be a steal of a deal (like when Gorman sent Jeff Bagwell to the Astros for Larry Andersen in 1990) but those are few and far between. Even more rarer are the trades that help both teams, like this one. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Joe Morgan 1991 Topps

Sometime in the last year or so I received this card but I'm not sure if it was from the Baseball Card Bandit (BCB):

This is a cool card of Morgan. I like the design, I like the shot, everything is just great about it. 

Until Terry Francona showed up, Joe Morgan (not that Joe Morgan) was probably the best Red Sox manager of my life as baseball fan. That lineup includes, chronologically:

1. Ralph Houk -- I don't remember much about him, but from what I've read he was pretty much on autopilot from the moment he showed up in his first spring in Winter Haven. 

2. John McNamara -- seemed like an asshole who got swallowed up in his biggest moment. 

3. Butch Hobson -- so out of his league, that his firing was almost a mercy firing. 

4. Kevin Kennedy -- thought he was the smartest, coolest guy in the room. He was not. 

5. Jimy Williams -- the exact opposite of Kennedy and was incredibly confounding with rules, line-ups and starting pitching. Was pretty good with his bullpen though. 

6. Joe Kerrigan -- lasted about three months and was so over his head as a manager, that it wasn't funny. 

7. Grady Little -- like McNamara, except without being an asshole. 

Morgan was named interim manager after McNamara got the gate in 1988. He was supposed to last a day or two at the most, the Sox were negotiating with Bob "Buck" Rodgers* I believe (for some reason I want to say Whitey Herzog was also in the mix, but that has to be wrong), but Morgan brought a breath of fresh air to the team and they kept winning. And winning. And winning. They ended up winning 12 games in a row and were practically unbeatable at home. Red Sox GM Lou Gorman had no choice but to name Morgan the permanent manager for the rest of the season. 

* Wikipedia said the Sox were looking at Joe Torre and Lou Piniella as their skippers. Which would have changed the course of baseball history.

Morgan's team -- and it was truly Morgan's team that year, he got in Jim Rice's face when he sent Spike Owen to pinch hit for the beleaguered slugger, yelling "I'm the manager of this nine!" -- ended up winning the American League East only to get demolished in the ALCS by the Oakland Athletics 4-0. 

People liked Morgan because he was from the area, he hailed from Walpole drove a snowplow in the offseason, but he also weird things, "Six, two and even" -- which I guess is a sign off from the Dick Tracy radio programs, often managed on hunches and didn't kiss anyone's ass, see the Rice example above. 

He ended up finishing third in 1989, winning the AL East in 1990 (where they were again swept by the A's in the ALCS) and finishing second in 1991. The 1991 season was an underrated heartbreak as Jeff Reardon gave up a late season, game winning homer to New York Yankee Roberto Kelly that sent a previously surging Boston team into a tailspin for the last two weeks of the year. Sox brass had seen enough as he and his career win-loss record of 301-262 were shown the door. In one of his exit interviews, he told reporters that the team wasn't very good and he was right, they finished last in 1992 under new manager Hobson. 

Morgan played with the Kansas City Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals where he was a no-hit gloveman who bounced around the field. He was also a member of the Milwaukee Braves and would often come to the Boston Braves Historical Association's (BBHA) annual get togethers. I work with the BBHA and from what I've been told, he was awesome. A lot of times, he acted as the emcee for the dinners and was really cool. He told great stories, was funny and would hang around to talk to the fans. He truly seemed like a good guy.

For most of the 90s and into the 00s, many current Sox managers were compared to Morgan. Fans would call up Sports Radio begging for Morgan to be given his job back. I think that a lot of that had to do with him being a local guy. Even though New England is known as a place where a lot colleges are and has a reputation for being liberal and educated, there are a lot of people who like that blue-collar, no bullshit kind of guy. And Joe Morgan was definitely that. He would very matter-of-fact tell people his assessment of a player or the team and if it wasn't what they wanted to hear, so be it. 

I think that kind of honesty wears on folks you work with after awhile and maybe that's why Morgan got the gate. I know that Gorman said that Hobson was an up-and-coming minor league manager and even invoked the unholy boogey man that the Yankees were thinking of hiring him, but I think that was bullshit. My guess is that the front office just couldn't deal with a manager who didn't give a shit to what they wanted him to do and was incredibly popular with the fans. 

Six, two and even, indeed. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Joe Price 1990 Fleer

On December 24, 2018 I received this card from the Baseball Card Bandit (BCB):

On Facebook, I wrote: A new BCB came on Friday and my brother in law John Manasso has the privilege of opening up the envelope. 

Today’s card is Joe Price, who is not to be confused with his name doppelgänger David Price. Joe hasn’t made the amount of money in his whole career as David gets in a quarter of the season, but he also hasn’t has the same success either. 

I don’t recall much about Joe. He was with the Sox for a little more than half the season and he was just there. He wasn’t anything special at all. He wasn’t really good and he wasn’t really bad. He just was. 

He finished his decade-plus career with the Orioles the following year. 

What’s interesting about Joe Price is the philosophical debate he encapsulates. Price was released by the Giants in May 1989. San Francisco went on to the World Series five months later—this is one of my favorite teams BTW. Kevin Mitchell, Will Clark and Matt Williams made up a killer middle of the order. 

I digress. 

When Price settles in to watch the Series, who did he root for? The team that he once belonged to, the one with some of his friends still on the roster? Or did he root against the team that rudely released him on the way to a special season?

We’ve all been fired or dumped or told that you aren’t worth it and it sucks. No matter how much you want to take the high road, there’s a gnawing feeling that you want to see that organization or person fail without you around. And no matter how strong of a relationship you have with the person/people who left you behind, it can be tough to see them succeed without you. 

Did you hold them back? Was it your fault they didn’t reach these heights? Thoughts like that run through your head. 

But these are guys you competed with day after day. You sat in the bullpen with them and swapped stories, learned about their families and spit sunflower seeds at them. They didn’t release you, upper management did. Why should you root against them? They didn’t do anything to you. 

It’s a quandary. 

Joe Price, a really ordinary pitcher but a nice Rorschach Test on how one feels about rejection and putting things behind you. 

Merry Christmas, everyone.

2019 Notes: This is the last card that I received from the BCB. It's been about two months and I'm not sure if I'll ever get another one. But fear not! I found four more cards that I've picked up that I'll write about as if they were sent to me by the Baseball Card Bandit. Just know that they weren't. 

As far as Joe Price goes, every time I think of him (which isn't too much) I think of one of the last Spider-Man stories that Steve Ditko drew. It was called, "Just a Guy Named Joe" and that's kind of how I look at Price. He played for the Reds for a while, the aforementioned Giants and Red Sox before finishing his career as an Oriole. 

He debuted with Cincinnati after the Big Red Machine broke up, yet he played with a lot of the guys that dominated that team, only they were shadows of themselves. Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, among others were all teammates of Price. I wonder what that was like, playing with men who you expect to be great but because of age, just weren't the same as they used to be. 

And imagine being a pitcher managed by Rose when he was heavily betting? I'm surprised there hasn't been a class-action suit against him. 

Price was as ordinary as his first name, he never led the league in anything, didn't appear in an All-Star Game and got into two games in the 1987 National League Championship series, winning one. It appears that he stuck around long enough to get a pension, which is something pretty cool. But his career was just okay. 

And like I keep saying in these blogs, a mediocre or even poor career in the big leagues is a huge success. To be able to compete with the best of the best at a high level with the scrutiny of your team, the press and the fans; that takes a lot of mental toughness to finish four games below .500 in the win-loss column (Price's career record is 45-49). 

Joe Price was a major league pitcher for ten years. That's a pretty incredible thing to say. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Kevin Romine 1990 Fleer

On December 21, 2018 I received this card from the Baseball Card Bandit (BCB):

The BCB sent this bad boy a few days ago.

2019 Notes: This card is the definition of a "bad boy". Look at Romine there, the start of a mullet, mustache (even though by that time a mustache is passé) the squinted eyes staring off into the distance. Romine had all the swagger of a late 80s pro ballplayer. When someone asks you what a late 80s/early 90s back up outfielder looks like, show them this card. 

The passage of time is often times subtle. One day you notice gray hairs, wrinkles on your face and a little more cushion around the stomach. Time has a way of sneaking up on you and screaming “You’re old!” loud enough so that everyone hears. 

Sports is different. Sure there are still subtleties, like your favorite outfielder can’t quite catch up to a fastball anymore or your team’s quarterback can’t throw the ball more than 20 yards at a time. But, like life, then there are the big signs like when age sneaks up and yell at you, like when a player you remember as a rookie has two kids in the major leagues. 

Kevin Romine was a fourth or fifth outfielder for the Red Sox for most of his career. I remember him fighting Randy Kutcher for playing time for a majority of his career, which isn’t how he probably thought his career would end up. But his two kids, Yankee Austin and Tiger Andrew have each played in the league since 2011. 

That’s a long time.  

Anyway, Kevin didn’t have much of a career filled with notoriety. About the only real moment he had was in 1988 he hit a walk off dinger—his first major league homer—off Royals reliever (and future Red Sox) Steve Farr in the midst of Morgan Magic. 

I remember exactly where I was when this happened, when I was a kid I worked for my church. I was an altar boy and I opened the church. When I didn’t have to serve I usually sat in back of the sacristy and listen to my Walkman. Usually Kiss or Poison would be in the tape deck but this day I was listening to the ball game. 

When Romine hit his homer, Mass was still being said and I recall letting out a loud “YES!” which may have disrupted the celebration. 

As far as I know that’s about the only real obvious net positive effect that Romine had on a Sox game even though he played with them four more than four seasons. Yet every time I hear about him or his kids, I think about being an altar boy and then it hits me: that was 30 fucking years ago. 

Time flies, my friends. One day you’re cheering for Kevin Romine and the next your rooting against his kids.

2019: I was talking with my friend the other day and I said that if you ran up to me and asked me what year it was, I'd reflexively say that it was 1998 or something. It actually takes me a moment or two to remember that 2000 was 19 years ago. That there is a generation of kids who don't remember 9/11 or when the Patriots were horrible. Time passes by fast, more quickly than my mind can process sometimes.

I wonder what Romine is most proud of: his career in the majors or that two of his sons have had long careers in baseball? I bet that if push came to shove, he'd say the latter. Wouldn't you?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Dennis Lamp 1990 Fleer

On December 14, 2018 I received this card from the Baseball Card Bandit (BCB):

On Facebook, I wrote: A few days ago I received this illuminating card from the BCB. If you aren’t a fan of the 1985 Toronto Blue Jays, you might not remember Dennis Lamp. However, that was the year he put it all together and allowed him to have a career that spanned three decades. 

2019 Notes: "Illuminating", I've never met a pun I didn't love. I'm shocked that I didn't use the Brick Tamland quote, "I LOVE LAMP!" in this entry. I don't care what anyone says, "Anchorman" is still really funny.

I usually hate doing this because what does any profession really look like, but Dennis Lamp doesn't look like a ballplayer. He looks like a fireman or a driving instructor. I bet that, even now, he could kick my ass in anything athletic.  

In 1977 he made his debut with Cubs as a starter and was traded across town to the White Sox. Funny thing is that the Cubs and White Sox worry less about intercity trades than other franchises — hell, the Sox sent the Cubbies Sammy Sosa for a broken down former member of the 85 Blue Jays, George Bell. 

Tangent: I bet it would be cool to be traded from one side of the city to another. So much less work. You can keep your own house!

Anyway, Lamp went to the White Sox, started a bit and moved into the bullpen. After the 84 season he moved on from the Sox only this time it wasn’t across a city but from one country to another. 

This is when he had his career year going 11-0 with three saves and a 3.32 ERA. Yes, wins are a dumb stat especially for someone coming out of the bullpen, but 11 straight wins is pretty impressive. And it got him some MVP votes, ultimately finishing 20 spots behind winner Don Mattingly. 

The 1985 was the high water mark for Lamp and he never approached those numbers again. Already a journeyman, Lamp bounced around to four different teams before calling it quits in 1992. 

I’m not sure how Lamp had such a magical season in 85. He didn’t have overpowering stuff or a funky delivery. I don’t remember a devastating curve or a wackadoo slider. He was just the best Dennis Lamp he could possibly be that year. 

And when he was with the Red Sox, he was fine. He didn’t inspire dread like Calvin Schiraldi nor did he bring confidence like Lee Smith. Sometimes he’d extinguish the fire but other times, he’d make it worse.

That was Dennis Lamp. And he was okay. 

Sports is unlike most other professions in that one's worth can be measured in neat time capsules. If you have enough good years, people will think you’re good. Have enough bad years and you’re out of a job. But an outlier year like 1985 makes people scratch their heads. And it provides hope for GMs to offer you another job.

“Can he catch lightning in a bottle again and go 11-0? I don’t know. Let’s find out!” 

Lamp played 16 season and finished with a 96-96 record which means that without 1985, he’d be 11 games under .500. And maybe without that amazing year he doesn’t hang on for another seven seasons. 

The moral is all you really need is one really good year to stay employed. And that seems like enough.

2019: Like yesterday's Tom Bolton entry, I don't have a heck of a lot to add. During the last few entries, I guess I was more wordy on the Facebook entries. Aside from the two Sox, Cubs and Jays; Lamp also found his way into the Athletics and Pirates organizations. 

Lamp never made an All-Star team (and if he was, it would be 1985) or pitched in a World Series. 

I know that I spent a lot of words talking about how must've looked at Lamp and wondered if they could recapture his 1985 record, but I wonder when that stopped (aside from 1992 -- his last year in the Majors)? At some point it had to dawn on everyone that Dennis Lamp was who he was, a below .500 pitcher who got really lucky one year. I wonder if in 1985 Lamp thought that he was fooling the league and waiting for the other shoe to drop or whether he thought that he was finally reaching his full potential. 

Knowing that baseball is a game obsessed with pessimism, my thought is that while 1985 looked like a lot of fun for Lamp; I bet that it wasn't. And then spending all winter wondering whether he could keep it going, I bet it drove him nuts. 

Dennis Lamp had to look at himself every day and think, "I'm not an 11-0 pitcher. Nowhere close. Why is this happening to me?" And then the following year when he ended up 2-5, with an ERA almost two runs higher than it was the previous year, he probably had to talk more and more about how 1985 was an anomaly and that he was always who he was. That's a monkey paw wish that must've been maddening. 

"I don't know why people are hitting me so hard. I don't understand why I'm not undefeated. I'm doing all of the same stuff."

Success can be a curse, you guys.