Saturday, October 12, 2013

Backside Appreciation

As a kid, I didn't have Wikipedia or Baseball-Reference so the card backs told me who was good (League Leader in Italics), who bounced around (I'm looking at you Mike Morgan with your 12 different teams), and got me interested in some geography (where are all these minor league teams?). They gave me anecdotes and cartoons and demographics. Eventually, there were even full color photos.

Then I got out of the hobby and when I came back as an adult, I was more interested in making sure I had them all instead of appreciating each individual card. Now I've split the difference and collect just the Cubs (less is more as my wife likes to say) with a few complete sets sprinkled in to satisfy the completionist in me.

But back to the point. I've seen lots of "appreciation" posts that focus on various features on the fronts of baseball cards but aside from Night Owl's tweets about the cartoon on the backs of cards, I don't see much love for the reverse side. With the budget tightening heading into the holiday season, a lull in new releases, Wrigley Wax having shown off just about every other Cubs card already, I thought I'd try something new.

Since I started making my own custom cards, I've redeveloped an appreciation for the backsides once again. And since I'm also scanning all of my Cubs cards, front and back, I've come across some real doozies. I don't know if I'll focus on layout/design at all but this is a crazy amount of statistics. Awkward/funny/weird photos. Blurbs that are funny, hyperbolic or just flat out wrong in hindsight.

I don't know how often I'll do these or if it'll be a recurring theme but I've put a couple in the "draft" folder for future use just in case. Plus, I'm curious to see what kind of google referrals I'll get from the old fogey gentlemen types who use search terms like "backside appreciation"....

I'll start off with a quick one that is somewhat relevant.

2003 Topps Kyle Farnsworth

The blurb on this card is what caught my attention. I like Kyle Farnsworth, don't get me wrong.

"Kyle will be a dominating closer," predicts Cubs catcher Joe Girardi.

This is one of those hindsight things I was talking about. I had to go to Baseball-Reference to see if Farnsworth did indeed become a dominating closer because to be honest, I lost track of him once he left the Cubs. Since this card, he played two more years for Chicago, went to Detroit, Atlanta, the Yankees, back to Detroit, Kansas City, back to the Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. More power to him as he has stuck with it. But in his 858 career Major League games, he has finished only 277 of them. And of the 277, Farnsworth has earned 54 career Saves. Not exactly dominating closer material.

And to tie in the relevancy, the quote came from someone who the Cubs just recently had an interest in leading the team to the next level. I don't have any statistics to support my theory but catchers turning into managers seems to be a logical step. They're involved in every play, calling pitches, directing traffic, etc. Hopefully, for the Yankees sake, Girardi's talent scouting has improved in the past ten years.

Also, the last line of the blurb is probably a throwaway, but I'd like to know where it came from.

And his ability to throw strikes consistently turned around his career.

Maybe this is referring to a long-before-this card-in-his-minor-league-days issue, but I do not see a big career turnaround. His ERA dropped significantly from 2000 to 2001 but had a career high in 2002. His K/9 also improved greatly but the following year was right back where it began.

Maybe this is only interesting to me...

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