Friday, August 12, 2011

Larry Gura: 1984 Topps #96

The 1983 Kansas City Royals finished at 79-83 which was good enough for 2nd place in the AL West that season, a mere 20 games behind the Chicago White Sox. The card pictured at right is from the 1984 Topps set, card #96.

Hal McRae, pictured at left on card, did indeed lead the Royals with a .311 batting average. He also drove in 82 runs, hit 41 doubles and scored 84 runs. He was already making his case to be a future hitting coach and possibly a Manager.

Larry Gura, on the other hand, also pictured at left on card, went 11-18 in 1983, finished with an ERA of 4.90 (as stated on card), struck out a whopping 57 batters in 200 innings, walked 76 and gave up 23 homers. So why is he displayed on this card as a team leader?

For one, he was the only one who qualified as a team leader since the ERA championship is usually for those with 162 or more innings pitched. Gura was the only Royal to pitch more than 162. Why he was allowed to pitch 200 is a mystery but the team evidently had some injury problems or some front-end issues. Bud Black and Paul Splittorff were good, but didn't end up with enough innings.

Even then, Gura should not be allowed to be presented with a smile and a "we'll get 'em next year" look. (He actually got worse in 1984). Gura should be pictured with a morose, apologetic frown with his head in his hands. Perhaps a bottle of vodka hanging out of his crumpled fingers. Or maybe, Topps should have used better judgement and changed 4.90 ERA to "not very good" or excluded that side of the card and put a pitcure of Gura with the caption (0 WP).  Yes, Gura, did not throw a wild pitch the entire season.

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