Saturday, January 24, 2015

1980 Pittsburgh Pirates (3rd): 83-79, 8GB

Despite an 8 game losing streak to close out August the Bucs still helf a 1/2 game lead in the NL East divisional race.  A 13-17 September dropped them out of contention.  A huge 6 game losing streak starting on September 25th ended all hopes of a repeat.  It is a true testament to Chuck Tanner's managerial skills that he was able to keep this team in contention until mid September.  What made the Bucs so good a year earlier was the inspirational play of their leader, Willie Stargell, who won a share of the NL MVP.  By 1980, "Pops" was an old 40 and his numbers began to decline hard.  Playing in only 67 games meant the Bucs lost their chief long ball threat and inspirational leader.  His replacement, John "The Hammer" Milner was dreadful.  At 30 he should have been in his prime.  Instead he looked older than Pops out there.  Bill Madlock, who was their key aquisition at the trading dealine a year earlier, slumped to .277 with very little pop.  29 year old Dave Parker, who was coming off 2 HOF caliber years, hit only .295 with just 17 homers.  Only Mike "Killer" Easler (.338-21-74) had the kind of year that was expected.  The pitching was just middle of the road.  Takng Jim Bibby (19-6, 3.32) out of the mix, you had a starting staff that didn't had 3 starters with sub .500 records including future HOF'er Bert Blyleven (8-13, 3.82).  There was no discernable drop-off in the pen with Tekulvie (21 saves) and Romo (11 saves) both doing their part.  This was just an old team that was getting older as the long season wore on them.

14 new cards were created to round out the set

Andy_Hassler_PITBernie_Carbo_PITBob_Beall_PITChuck TannerEddie_Solomon_PITJesse_Jefferson_PITKurt_Bevacqua_PITMark_Lee_PITMatt_Alexander_PITMickey_Mahler_PITPascual_Perez_PITRod_Scurry_PITTony_Pena_PITVance_Law_PIT

As usual, most of these gr8 shots came from my friend T.Y. and his bud over at the OOTP forum.  I’d say 75% of the photos used came from them and the other 25% were found by me and airbrushed.  In the Mark Lee photo is an airbrushed minor league card photo.  Bernie Carbo played less than a handful of games with the Bucs that year, so all we could find was a grainy B&W photo, which wasn’t easy to colorize, so I took another photo and did my version of a horrible Topps airbrush, which I think would look quite consistent for the era.  If anyone finds a clean photo of him in a Bucs cap get it to me ASAP and I will update for sure.  Who doesn’t love that pose Chuck Tanner has?  He’s definitely looking toward the heavens asking for divine intervention to stop that September swoon.

For the record, those pillbox caps that the Bucs wore were my favorite.  Even though I’m not a Pirate fan I actually owned one that I used to wear while playing whiffle ball back in the late 70’s.  I would alternate between that cap and my Dodgers cap.

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