Thursday, April 4, 2024

Faces of the team - American League West

The final, all-time and current face of the team. The American League West. This one should be the easiest with me being a fan of the World Series Champion Texas Rangers (gotta get in one more time!) being in the division. This one has an interesting twist with one of the teams. Let's get to it.

 Just for a quick reminder, my definition of the face of the team revolves around who is the one player that first comes to mind when a team is mentioned. I decided that I'd do my all-time faces of the teams, as well as the current face of the team.

Houston Astros

There have been a plethora of players who have had amazing careers that have come through Houston. Robin Roberts, Eddie Mathews, Joe Morgan, Nellie Fox, Don Sutton, Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan and Pudge Rodriguez all spent time in an Astros uniform on their way to the Hall of Fame. All of those players really made their name on other teams. For me, it came down to two players; Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. My choice is Biggio. It boiled down to two points for me. One, Biggio played his whole career in Houston and two, I loved his team first attitude. He went from catcher to infielder to outfielder and was still one of the top players of his time. 

The current face of the team has got to be Jose Altuve. I'm not a fan of Altuve at all. I don't think anyone could ever convince me he wasn't a big part of the sign stealing fiasco. When you think of Houston, you think of Altuve. I wouldn't be surprised if Altuve isn't the all-time face of the team before too long if he isn't already.

     

The '93 Topps Craig Biggio is my favorite card of his because, you guessed it, its an action shot. There's no doubt he got taken out on the play, but he stood in there to make the throw. Great picture on the card.

I chose the 2013 Topps Altuve because one, it's an action shot and two, those were my favorite Astro uniforms. Back in the day when I was playing ball, we had a version of that uniform, except ours was green. Maybe one day when I find a picture of that uniform I'll share it. Nah! 

Los Angeles Angels

I have been watching the Angels ever since the Rangers came to Arlington in '72. There are several players that I can name who went through the California-Anaheim-Los Angeles Angels team. None of the players, save one, made a lasting impression as Angel over their accomplishments on other teams. When it comes to the Angels, there is only one player who truly comes to mind and that is Mike Trout. This is the only team where the all-time and the current face team are the same person. I'm a huge Mike Trout fan. Even though he destroys my Rangers almost every time they play. I love the way he plays the game. 

I will say that had Ohtani stayed with the Angels I would have had two names for the Angels. 

     

The 2011 Topps Update is on my bucket list. It's a pricey one for this collector, but I've already decided that its down to the Trout rookie or a Mickey Mantle for my retirement gift to myself. Now, obviously that could change if I happen to get one earlier. Retirement is close but it's still a few years away. 

I picked the 2015 Topps card because I thought it was a cool pic and liked the fact that it was different from most of his other cards. 

Oakland A's

There are so many players who have played for the Athletics to choose from as the all-time face of the team. I could go with Reggie Jackson, but to me, it was his time with Yankees that I think of when it comes to Jackson. I remember Catfish Hunter and Vida Blue pitching for the A's. Sal Bando and Bert Campanaris on the infield and Joe Rudi patrolling the outfield. Who could forget Rollie Fingers with that mustache? Not to mention McGwire, Canseco and Eckersley. So many possibilities but for me, the all-time face of the team is Rickey Henderson. During his 23 year career he played for 9 different teams, but half of those years were in Oakland. Some of the teams he played for, I don't even remember him in those uniforms. Henderson changed the game with the stolen base and lead-off home runs.  

The current face of the team has to be Shea Langeliers. I wouldn't say that he has a firm grasp on the title, but he's just about the only established player on the team. There are some young guys that if they perform well could take the title away from Langeliers, but it hasn't happened yet.

     

My favorite Rickey Henderson card is his '80 rookie card. I remember when I got my first one back in 1981 just before the '81 cards came out. I paid a $1.00 for it. Rickey was a hot commodity in those days. 

There's not a lot of card choices for Langeliers. But seriously, how can you go wrong with a action shot of a catcher? The 2024 Topps card of Langeliers is a cool looking card. 

Seattle Mariners

This one was pretty cut and dried for me. Ken Griffey Jr. is the all-time face of the team. There has been some amazing talent come through Seattle like Ichiro, Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, and Felix Hernandez to name a few, but none had the lasting impact on the organization like Griffey Jr. did.

The current face of the team is another one that is pretty cut and dried. Julio Rodriguez is the current face of the team. This is the guy the Mariners are building a team around. 

     

The first choice for Griffey Jr. should be the Upper Deck rookie, but I'm sticking to Topps. There are two images that I have of Griffey Jr. One is him robbing someone of a home run by making a leaping catch at the wall and the other is his powerful swing. I think this '91 Topps is a great pic of his swing.

I went with Rodriguez's rookie 2022 Topps Update for two reasons. First, being a rookie in 2022 there aren't a lot of options and two, I really don't like the look of his 2023 card. 

Texas Rangers

At last, I get to my team. I really didn't plan for the Rangers to be last when I started this series. I just started with the National League East and worked my way West. All of the teams have been in alphabetical order within their division so it worked out. 

When it comes to the Rangers, no one epitomizes Texas and baseball more than Nolan Ryan. A legend of the game. There have been a crazy number of players who have come through Texas over the years, but almost always on the tail end of their careers. Nolan was the first player gave the Rangers a legitimate star player. Yes, the Rangers made history when they started David Clyde way to early and probably derailed his career. You will never hear me say anything negative about Buddy Bell, who spent 8 years in Texas. As much as I love and appreciate him, Buddy did not have the star power that comes with being the all-time face of the team. The Ryan Express changed baseball. He changed baseball for Texas Rangers. 

The current face of the team is Corey Seager. Not only did he sign the big contract, but he led the team to its first World Series title (as if I'd let anyone forget that!). The Rangers have a lot of star power on the current team in Adolis Garcia, Marcus Semien, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Josh Jung and the young guns Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford, but it's Seager that's the catalyst for the team.

     

My first choice for Nolan Ryan would have been my favorite Nolan Ryan, the '69 Topps card. Seeing how he was in a Mets uniform it doesn't really work. I went with the '99 Topps card because I will always remember that high leg kick when he was pitching. I heard him talking about pitching one time and he said that he was so balanced that he could just stand in that position (not exactly how he put it). Definitely one of the greatest.

Seager doesn't have a ton of Rangers cards, but I went with the 2024 Topps because I think it's a better pic on the card than '22 or '23. I'm not a huge fan of the city connect uniforms, but it's growing on me.  

Well, that completes my choices for the all-time and current faces of the teams. I enjoyed looking through all of the teams and remembering different players that I've long forgotten about and learning a few new facts about some players. I really enjoyed looking through all of each players' Topps cards to find my favorite. I'll have to revisit this in a few years and see if any of the current guys have supplanted the all-time face of the team.

Peace, 

Michael

Isaiah 40:31

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the series, I enjoyed them all.

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  2. IMO I would have Jim 'Sunny' Sundberg when I talk old school Rangers teams of the mid '70s through '84 then Pudge Rodriguez '91 to '02 then returning later on after playing with multiple teams. As for the current face I have to go with your choice of Seager

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  3. Enjoy your blog, I am also a huge Rangers fan and collector. Hard to move on from last season, right? Agree with you on your picks, Ryan and Seager are probably the most widely known names with the Rangers as we go from generation to generation.

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  4. Poor sad A's, who have Shea Langeliers as the face of their franchise.

    Not Adolis for Texas? I know that Seager is probably better, but Adolis feels like a career Ranger, while Seager's still the heartthrob of many Dodgers fans.

    thecooperstownadvocate.blogspot.com

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