2013-14 O-Pee-Chee – Jarome Iginla
So, here’s the thing. Jarome Iginla played for the Calgary Flames for a long time, and he was pretty good at playing hockey for them. That’s the way everyone should remember him. Tonight, their fans all got to stand up and cheer about how much they loved him, and they played an emotional video and all that stuff. It was actually kind of good.
Sure, he was drafted by Dallas (Calgary got him and Corey Millen for Joe Nieuwendyk, who was also pretty good) and now he plays in Boston, where they have a pretty good team. But most people will probably remember him playing for the Flames, and leading them to within a few inches of the Stanley Cup in 2004. The thing people might not remember is him playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins, for 13 regular season and 15 playoff games in 2012-13.
The weird twist to the Pittsburgh story is that everyone thought he’d been traded to Boston, including, in fact, the Boston Bruins (and quite possibly the Calgary Flames). But then, when the dust had settled, he was on his way to Pennsylvania to join Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Pens ended up losing to those very same Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final. Then, in the offseason, the Bruins signed Iggy as a free agent. Make sense? Not really? Well, the point is, he played for Pittsburgh for a while and I don’t think many people will remember that. Try to pay attention.
1994 O-Pee-Chee – Mitch Williams
Where have I been, you ask? Don’t worry about it. I’m back.
So, earlier today I was introduced to the following trailer: http://vimeo.com/65751635
This got me thinking about Mitch Williams. As it turns out, that low and inside pitch that he threw to Joe Carter was the last pitch he ever threw for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Even though he pitched more career games and innings for the Texas Rangers, Mitch will always be a Phillie to me. I will certainly never think of him as a Houston Astro, as he appears on the lovely piece of O-Pee-Chee cardboard above.
To be fair, I’m not sure the Houston Astros want to remember Mitch Williams all that much either. He was about as good there, consistently, as he was on his pitch to Carter in Game Six. He had a 7.65 ERA in 25 games, six saves and a walk rate of 10.8 per nine innings. All of that for just $2.5 million. In 1994 dollars. Good deal!
At least he still had that great mess of a mullet. It’s almost worth a roster spot on its own.
1999-00 Upper Deck – Wendel Clark
The 1999-2000 season was Wendel Clark’s last ride in the NHL, and it ended as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs and a 6-game series loss to the New Jersey Devils, which included one of the greatest ovations I’ve ever seen in his last game at the Air Canada Centre. A lot of Leaf fans remember that one.
A lot of fans, however, don’t remember his 13-game stint with the Chicago Blackhawks earlier that season – and I think we’d probably not remember that. Actually, let’s just forget about Quebec, the Islanders, Detroit and Tampa Bay as well, and watch this video instead:
And also this hockey card:
1990-91 Bowman – Wendel Clark
There, that’s better.
1981 Fleer- Maury Wills
Maury Wills is remembered as a Dodger – one who stole a lot of bases, played some decent shortstop, and helped them win three World Series titles in 1959, 1963 and 1965.
He’s not often remembered as a Major League Manager, nor is he remembered as a Seattle Mariner. However, he was in fact the Mariners’ Manager for 83 glorious games in the last part of the 1980 season and the early part of the 1981 season. In his book entitled “Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders,” author Neyer writes that Wills might have been the worst manager of all time. That’s saying something. There have been some bad managers.
Wills also played a little bit for Pittsburgh and Montreal, but something about seeing him in a Seattle uniform just doesn’t work.
2001 Topps – Juan Guzman
Juan Guzman was one of the Blue Jays’ best pitchers in the early 1990’s. From 1991 to 1993, he compiled a record of 40-11 with a 3.28 ERA and 482 strikeouts in 540.1 innings pitched (8.0 K/9). Not a bad few years. He’s definitely remembered as one of the keys to Toronto’s success throughout that time, including some great postseason performances in the ALCS and World Series. His success in a Blue Jays uniform makes this card of him with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays fairly disturbing – for more reasons than just the fact that he was lacking his classic Guzman flow.
Here are a few interesting facts (to me anyway – this is about me, not you) about the last few years of Guzman’s career, after he was traded from the Blue Jays in 1998:
-He pitched 32 games in Baltimore, 12 in Cincinnati and just one in Tampa Bay
-In his one and only game in Tampa, he allowed 8 earned runs in 1.2 innings for an ERA of 43.20.
-He was traded in 1999 by Baltimore to Cincinnati for Jacobo Sequea and some guy named BJ Ryan, who would eventually end up in Guzman’s original MLB home in Toronto. Ah, the circle of life.
-He was paid $6 million by Tampa Bay in 2001 to play 2 games with their AA affiliate in Orlando and 10 with their AAA affiliate in Durham.
So there, now you know a bunch of new stuff.
1993 Upper Deck – Kelly Gruber
In 1993, Kelly Gruber took his fantastic flow to Anaheim to play 18 games for the California Angels. These are the same California Angels who were once the Los Angeles Angels, and were later the Anaheim Angels and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Their next obvious natural evolution: The Anaheim Angels of the Los Angeles, California Area.
As for Gruber playing for anyone other than the Blue Jays, it’s just wrong. Check out the great Gruber nostalgia over at Mop Up Duty, and you’ll understand what I mean. He might have gone just 2 for 19 in the 1992 World Series – but oh, what a 2 it was.
Gruber also spent some time with the Orioles organization in 1996, but he never cracked the Majors outside of Spring Training, and never wore that goofy orange bird on cardboard, thank God. The Blue Jay is the only bird for Kelly Gruber… well, other than this one, maybe.
1991 Donruss - Lloyd Moseby
I don’t like the Detroit Tigers. Like Sidney Crosby’s feelings about the Philadelphia Flyers, I just don’t like them. They have a great history, a fantastic ballpark, and a pretty good team this year (although they do get to beat up on some shitty teams a lot to inflate their record), but that doesn’t mean I have to like them.
Maybe that’s why Lloyd Moseby looks so strange to me in a Tigers uniform. It’s just not right. He should be rocking the baby blue and ruining his knees on the plastic carpeting they used to call Astroturf at Exhibition Stadium.
1985 Topps - Lloyd Moseby
See, isn’t that better?
2010-11 Score - Chris Chelios (Highlight)
This is going to be one of those things that people look back at in ten years and say, “really? Chris Chelios finished his career in Atlanta?” Yes, friend, he did. He was 48 years old. And yes, Atlanta used to have an NHL team. Twice, in fact. And both times, they lost their franchise to cities in Western Canada – Calgary, then Winnipeg. Take whatever you like from that.
Now, just to add some perspective to this, Chelios was not the oldest player ever to suit up in an NHL game. That honour belongs to Gordie Howe, who played in the NHL until he was 52. Fifty-two. It might not sound like that big a difference, but consider this: the Detroit Red Wings published a story in January of 2008 when Chelios, then playing for the Wings, became the second oldest NHL player ever, a few weeks before his 46th birthday. In order to eclipse Howe, the story says, Chelios would have had to play until February, 2014 – another six years from that point. Chelios was able to eke out a couple more years of pro hockey, including most of 2009-10 in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves, but 52 was still a long way off. People say Gretzky’s 50 in 39 might be the toughest record to break, but I’ll bet that one gets broken before someone else plays in the NHL at 52.
I’ll bet Atlanta gets another team before then too.
1999-00 Upper Deck - Grant Fuhr
I had completely forgotten that Grant Fuhr played for the Calgary Flames. Then, I came across this card, and I was reminded of something that would have been deemed unthinkable ten years earlier by those in both Edmonton and Calgary.
You may recall that this was a pretty dark era for the Flames, one they didn’t really come out of until their (almost) Cup run in 2004. The team almost left, nobody watched the games, and the on-ice product was, well, a lot like fans should expect this season. Even 1987 Grant Fuhr couldn’t have saved them, and 1999 Grant Fuhr definitely couldn’t.
1990 Bowman - Ernie Whitt
With this week’s interleague Toronto-Atlanta series, I want to point out that Ernie Whitt looks out of place with the Atlanta Braves, with whom he appeared on 1990 Bowman. Ernie Whitt actually belongs in Canada.
Whitt was a key member of the Toronto Blue Jays throughout the 1980’s as they built themselves into one of the best organizations in baseball. He became an advocate and supporter of Canadian baseball, and eventually, he actually ended up becoming a Canadian citizen. He also managed the Canadian National Team for several years, and was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
Take that, Atlanta.