Advantage, Cardinals

Since St. Louis won Game one of the World Series tonight, they have a historical edge over the Rangers from here on out. After the players’ strike wiped out the 1994 postseason, there have been 15 World Series played, and 12 times out of 15 the winner of Game one has gone on to win the Series.

It’s not impossible for Texas to come back, but the record of the Game one loser in Game two is just 6-9 over the past 15 World Series. In other words, if you lose Game one, chances are that you’ll lose Game two as well.

The just-completed NLCS was a rematch of the 1982 World Series, and I came across an interesting card for the Cardinals’ starter in Game one of that Series. Bob Forsch was a good pitcher for the Cardinals for over a decade. He threw the only no-hitters that the Cardinals had in the old Busch Stadium. He won 20 games one year. And twenty-nine years ago this month, he started and won the World Series opener. Seems like a good career to me.

Score was a baseball card company that printed cards from 1988 to 1998. This would have been the second set that they released, and the design is a very colorful one. Cardinals’ red is always easy to see, and the splash of it at the bottom and around the border of the card’s front is the no different. The word “Cardinals” also spreads out very nicely across the diamond at the bottom of the card. But the back of this card is where the intrigue lies.

The stats on the back of the card are impressive, especially so with major leaguers whose careers don’t have to include their minor league stats as well. But the last line of the text at the bottom tells the tale. If it’s hard to read on the scan, here’s what it says: “He proved valuable as both a starter and a long reliever for both the Cards and the Astros, to whom he was traded August 31. (emphasis added)

So let me see if I understand this. Forsch was with the Cardinals for a long time, and was traded to the Astros at the trading deadline, and in the following year he’s still a Cardinal? Was something going on here? I had to look into this one some more.

It turns out that Forsch became a free agent after his short time with the Astros in 1988, but he also signed a contract in November of that year to return to Houston for the 1989 season. Apparently nobody informed the Score people of this, since they knew all about the Forsch trade and still considered him a Cardinal for the 1989 season.

The closest contemporary example I can think of for this would be Colby Rasmus. He was traded away from the Cardinals to the Blue Jays a few months ago, and nobody expects him back with the Cardinals next year. If the Topps company–the only big card producer anymore–decided to make Colby Rasmus a Cardinal again for next year, and even went so far as to report his trade  to the Blue Jays on the back of his card, a few people might have a good laugh, and Topps would come off looking pretty silly.  And who knows, somebody might even point it out a few decades later. Dumber things have happened, right?

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