After an unexpectedly busy week here at home, I am excited to get the blog back to normal somewhat and get Rating the Rookie Cups out on time. I am slowly trying to get a regular schedule down and get myself used to posting on that regular schedule. I have done pretty good on with this feature on Fridays along with my trade bait posts on Sundays. I am getting used to the Mailbag on Monday. I hope to get a regular Wednesday feature going within a week or two and save the other three days for a combination random posts, non-weekly features, or simply a day off for me. I'm getting there and I appreciate you guys hanging with me.
But let's get into the reason for the post, the 1981 Rookie All Star Team as shown on 1982 Topps cards. Several things about this particular team stand out. The most obvious is the omission of the actual cup on the cards. As I mentioned a few weeks back, 1974 was the first year missing the cups, but not the last. Starting in 1979 and going all the way through 1986, there were no cup cards at all. This is a shame because some of the designs in those years would have been fun with cups involved. But we can still honor the teams even without the cups on the card.
A weird quirk about this team is that 9 of the 10 players on the team were playing in the National League. I'm not 100% sure, but that has to be a record. Only Cal Ripken Jr kept this team from being an All Senior Circuit team.
Another thing that stand out is this is the first of two appearances on the Rookie All Star Team for Cal Ripken Jr. He is the only player in history to make the team twice because the first time he made it he did not get enough plate appearances to lose his rookie status. Position players lose their status after 150 plate appearances and pitchers after 50 innings pitched. There was some kind of special caveat added for the 2020 season which changed, but I am not 100% sure of what that is right now. We shall soon see if he was deserving of the spot this time.
But probably the most enduring thing about the 1981 team is that it was the first of three seasons in the Rookie Cup era significantly shortened for some reason. We all know why 2020 was shortened. In this case along with 1994, it was due to a labor stoppage. Unlike 1994 which ended the season early, 1981 had a strange split season which divided the season into two halves. The pre-strike and post-strike seasons led to strange things such as the team with the best overall record in the NL (Reds) not being one of the 4 NL teams to make the playoffs because they did not have the best record in the division in either half. It also led to 50 lost games for each team. A by-product of that is that the season ranks for these All Stars are very low (in most cases) in comparison to other years.
As far as the 1982 Topps set goes, it has always been the "hockey stick" set to me. It just seemed like it belonged as an NHL set instead of an MLB set. It would be like having a goalpost or a rim/backboard combo as the key design element for a baseball set. In other words, it just doesn't fit. The random color scheme I don't really mind that much. I enjoy a team based color scheme as much as anyone, but every now and then it is kind of fun to stuff like green on a Braves card or purple on a Pirates card. Mixing it up occasionally is very cool.
Let's take a look at the 1981 Topps Rookie All Star Team.
Tony Pena - C - Pirates - Season Rank (54 of 61) - Career Rank (15 of 61)
Tim Wallach - 1B - Expos- Season Rank (60 of 61) - Career Rank (17 of 61)
Juan Bonilla - 2B - Padres - Season Rank (55 of 61) - Career Rank (58 of 61)
Tim Raines - OF - Expos - Season Rank (96 of 184) - Career Rank (6 of 184)
Mookie Wilson - OF - Mets - Season Rank (165 of 184) - Career Rank (79 of 184)
Rufino Linares - OF - Braves - Season Rank (180 of 184) - Career Rank (182 of 184)
Bruce Berenyi - RHP - Reds - Season Rank (48 of 50) - Career Rank (37 of 50)
Fernando Valenzuela - LHP - Dodgers - Season Rank (4 of 49) - Career Rank (7 of 49)
Strongest Team Members (career) - Tim Raines, Cal Ripken, Fernando Valenzuela
Weakest Team Members (rookie) - Cal Ripken, Rufino Linares, Tim Wallach
Weakest Team Members (career) - Rufino Linares, Juan Bonilla, Bruce Berenyi
Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 0 (several players were active and bouncing around in the mid 90s, but none landed in Colorado)
Best Card (IMHO) - Tim Wallach (a few good cards here, but you can't beat the classic pornstache)
Worst Card (IMHO) - Cal Ripken (almost chose Fernando's uber sad face, but multi-player cards are horrible for rookie cups)
NEXT WEEK'S PREVIEW
The 2003 team pictured on 2004 Topps cards.
Thanx for reading.