Friday, December 5, 2008


This Saturday, the 5th-ranked USC Trojans will take on their crosstown rivals, the UCLA Bruins, at what will hopefully be the first of two straight games at the Rose Bowl. I didn't attend USC, but I grew up watching them. My brother and uncle both have graduate degrees from the school, so that adds to their appeal. I graduated from UCSD, but since my school has no D-1 sports, my fandom of USC continued.

I am very happy about the decision made by Pete Carroll, to wear cardinal jerseys on the road, meaning the rivalry will feature the reds versus the blues for the first time since 1982.

Since this is a rivalry game between the two schools, I figured this would be a good time to pit Trojans against the Bruins from the 1987 Donruss set.


Tom Seaver - #375: Tom Terrific, the 3-time Cy Young Award winner (he probably could have won a handful more too) and slam dunk Hall of Famer, is the jewel of this group. I don't know how close the Dodgers came to dealing Don Sutton straight up for Seaver in 1977, but I can't think of Seaver without thinking of what might have been in blue. Also, thanks to the back of his 1987 Donruss card, he was once traded straight up for current Dodger announcer and one-time pants-dropper Steve "Psycho" Lyons!

Mark McGwire - #46: Who knows if Big Mac will ever see the Hall of Fame (I personally would vote for him), but in this card he has the look of a man about to shatter the rookie record for HR.

Dave Kingman - #425: For a one-dimensional basher, Kingman sure hit a lot of bombs. He hit 35 HR in what would be his final MLB season in 1986. Ask Tommy Lasorda what he thought of Kingman (skip to about the 1:23 mark).

Fred Lynn - #108: Growing up, when I thought of Fred Lynn I always thought of his HR off of Atlee Hammaker in the 1983 All-Star game. Upon further review, he was a very good to great player. I go back and forth on this, but you could make a case he was the best of the 3 young outfielders that guided the 1975 Red Sox to the World Series. That had to be the best young OF of all time.


Tim Leary - #232: Leary will always have a special place in my heart for winning 17 games for the 1988 Dodgers, my favorite baseball team of all-time. He will be remembered for two memorable performances: 1) his 9th-inning, pinch single to beat the Giants in August 1988; and 2) his 3 innings of shutout relief in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, keeping the Dodgers in the game before...well, you know.

Ron Roenicke - #412: He got a ring with the 1981 Dodgers, and he had his best career game in 1986 against LA, getting 4 hits and a HR in a June game.

Pat Dodson - #44: Unlike his fellow "Rated Rookie" 1B McGwire, Dodson didn't do much in the majors.

1986 .417/.533/.833, 265 OPS+
Post-1986 .172/.282/.368, 73 OPS+, 3 HR

1986 .189/.259/.377, 77 OPS+
Post-1986 .263/.395/.590, 163 OPS+, 580 HR

Don Slaught - #136: Thanks to the thoroughness of the folks at Donruss (or Leaf, Inc.), we find out that Slaught was involved in a 4-team trade in January 1985 with Tim Leary. While Leary went from the Mets to the Brewers, Slaught was sent from the Royals to the Rangers.

Pat Clements - #390: Yet another sweet Pirates hat! Clements, a career reliever (only 2 of his 288 appearances were starts), ended up with a 17-11 career record (a nice .607 winning %), but was 0-6 as a Pirate. Maybe the hat didn't suit him.

Dave Schmidt - #182: Schmidt wasn't a bad pitcher. In fact, only seven pitchers in the 1980s had more 100 ERA+ seasons than the eight produced by Schmidt (in the first 8 seasons of his career).

If we look at this as a competition, USC easily takes the cake, quality over quantity. The four USC players above combined for 33 all-star appearances, 3 Cy Youngs, 1 MVP (and McGwire should have won over Sosa in 1998), and 1 HOF (perhaps one day a 2nd in McGwire). The six Bruins, however, combined for a big goose egg.

Back to football, my prediction for Saturday is that USC will win 41-3.

On to the count...

The Set: 12 of 660 (1.8%)

HOF: 2 (+1 with Seaver)

Former Dodgers: 2 (+1 with Roenicke)

Future Dodgers: 2 (+1 with Leary)


night owl said...

I'm still mad at Whitey Herzog for leaving Hammaker in too long in the '83 All-Star Game. Hammaker should've been long gone by the time Lynn came to the plate. Herzog looked like he didn't even care about that game.

In my more dramatic moments, I like to blame Herzog for ruining the NL's domination in the All-Star Game and opening the door to the recent AL run of success. But I don't really think that's true.

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