Monday, May 6, 2013

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #24 JOSE RIJO


HE THREW ONE MEAN SLIDER.




I'LL BE DAMNED, ANOTHER REDS CARD.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • In one magical postseason in 1990, Jose Rijo was truly king of the hill. In four starts, he was 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA, 27.2 innings and 29 strikeouts. He was the ace of a Reds team that throttled the powerhouse Athletics in a shocking World Series sweep. Rijo, the World Series MVP, possessed an explosive slider and gunman's persona to become one of the top pitchers during the first half of the '90s before elbow troubles cut short his career.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • After shutting out the Athletics over seven innings in Game 1, Rijo got his second start on Oct. 20 to nail down the title. He grabbed the opportunity like a hungry gator at a petting zoo. He twirled 8.1 innings of two-hit one-run ball with nine strikeouts to outduel ace Dave Stewart in a 2-1 victory. Just like that, the Athletics' dynasty was over.

DEFINING SEASON

  • Despite winning only 14 games the year this card came out, Rijo was firmly in the upper echelon of hurlers. He started a major-league leading 36 games, posting a 2.48 ERA in 257.1 innings and an NL-leading 227 strikeouts. He led the NL in strikeouts per nine with 7.9. Because of a lack of offensive support, he lost nine games. He finished fifth in the Cy Young voting.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Signed by the Yankees in '80 and was rushed to the majors in '84 at the age of 18 because George Steinbrenner, jealous of the Mets' success with #113 Dwight Gooden, wanted to steal their buzz. Predictably, Rjio was knocked around in five starts and sent back to the minors and then traded in the off-season to the Athletics as part of the #86 Rickey Henderson deal.
  2. In '86, Rijo struck out 16 Mariners in one game and 14 in another (remember Seattle fell victim to #104 Roger Clemens' 20 K's that season). But Rijo was largely inconsistent with Oakland.
  3. He was on the move one last time in December '87 when he was traded to the Reds for basically Dave Parker.
  4. After blowing out his elbow in '96 at age 30, Rijo was out of action for five seasons before returning in '01 as a reliever with the Reds. He made a few starts the next season before hurting his elbow a final time in '03.
  5. Last July, he was charged in the Dominican Republic for laundering money for a suspected drug trafficker. 

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