I was just about to tweet out a congratulations to the Seattle Mariners and CEO Howard Lincoln for walking away from negotiations when Jay Z allegedly changed the terms of a nearly agreed upon 9-year deal by requesting a 10th.
But before I could get to my desk to start typing, news emerged that the parties were back at the table and that Cano would, in fact, get his 10th year — and $240 million to boot.
Way to hold firm, Mariners. Continue reading
The Steroid Era began with millions of fans cheering monster homeruns and seeing pitchers and hitters defying age. The one hit wonders, the all stars, the superstars, and even arguably some of the most talented players in the history of the game all seemed to be using them. Then the bubble burst, and morality set in. We were betrayed by our heroes. Lied to, and we were outraged. Players were ostracized, and players who put up HOF numbers were one hit wonders on the ballot box to be left in infamy forever.
I will spare you the history. We’ve all lived through it. We still are, as a matter of fact. That was evident earlier this offseason when we hit a new low. Continue reading
The Minnesota Twins last won the World Series in 1991. In 1992, they fielded a very competitive team, but were undone by the loss of ace pitcher Jack Morris, and one bad pitch to Oakland Athletics reserve outfielder Eric Fox.
In 1993, the Twins thought they would again be right in the mix, signing hometown hero Dave Winfield to anchor a lineup that included Kirby Puckett, Chuck Knoblauch (before he lost his mind), Shane Mack and Kent Hrbek. The Twins lost 90 games that year. Management appeared to be blindsided and dumbfounded by the lack of production, and it put the franchise into an eight-year tailspin of tragedy, turmoil and ineptitude. It wasn’t until they decided to hand the franchise over to a core of young players who had mostly come up together in the Twins farm system that the team began to win.
The pitching staff of that renewed team was anchored by the “Big Three” of Brad Radke, Eric Milton and Joe Mays. Having recognized the complete lack of leadership on his team after the loss of guys like Kirby Puckett and Rick Aguilera, GM Terry Ryan sought out veteran pitchers, probably past their prime (and certainly affordable) who’d had success and could pitch a lot of innings, but who, most importantly, could mentor his young pitching prospects. So, in came the incredibly soft throwing Bob Tewksbury, and the very, very, very, (very) well -traveled Mike Morgan.
Ryan’s plan took some time, but it paid off. In the end, none of the “Big Three” became Hall of Famers, or even made a single start in the World Series, but they were significant pieces in the Twins return to the playoffs and respectability.
Cut to 15 years later.
Philadelphia has always been considered the City of Brotherly Love, but the Atlanta Braves are now the Uptown Boys with the Upton brothers. After the excellent signing of BJ Upton earlier this off-season they have finalized a deal last week with the Arizona Diamondbacks to pick up his brother Justin.
Teaming with the Upton brothers is Jason Heyward, giving the Braves the best outfield in the National League East, and quite possibly the second best outfield in the entire NL (behind the Dodgers trio of Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Carl Crawford).
This isn’t the first brotherly combo in a major league outfield. And it is nothing like the Alou brothers — Felipe, Matty, and Jesus – who played together for the San Francisco Giants. The Uptons likely do have higher upside than the last brother combo to patrol an outfield: In 2010 San Diego Padres had Scott and Jerry Hairston Jr, a pair of solid role players who are lacking in star power.
As talent goes the Upton brothers bring enough talent to the table where it is likely they will be spoken about as one of the greatest brother duos in the game when they are done. (Thanks to the Society of American Baseball Research website, which was an excellent reference point.)
Talent wise Barry Bonds should not only have been a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee, he should have challenged for the highest percentage of anyone who has ever been elected. Because he cheated, knowingly or unknowingly, he was not. For that I am glad.
We can find plenty of players who have done worse than what Bonds is accused of who are in the HOF, including Ty Cobb, who killed a man, and Cap Anson and other racists who helped keep the game segregated for decades.
We can find others who were questionable personalities: Reggie Jackson, Eddie Murray, Jim Rice and Bert Blyleven were all considered media unfriendly. Roberto Alomar spit in an Ump’s face. Kirby Puckett had his demons and Gaylord Perry was famous for his spitball, which was banned before he was even born. Continue reading
While a lot of purists are sitting smug in their cocoons of self imposed perfection I look at this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame vote as a crying shame of self-righteousness. We can look at the facts, and we can look at the implications of perceptions, but we have to be careful when we start playing God over others.
Craig Biggio had more than 3000 hits, and he played over 250 games at catcher, second base and centerfield. He’s the only player to do that. Biggio also won Silver Sluggers at catcher and at second base; he is the only player to have done that. He stole 414 bases and is fifth all time in doubles.
All but two players with over 3000 hits who are retired are in the hall of fame and Rafael Palmeiro was busted for steroids after speaking to Congress. The other is Pete Rose who broke the only commandment of baseball: Don’t Bet on Baseball.
I’ve seen some who have ranked Biggio among the top five second basemen in the game’s history. I’m not sure I’d go there because off the top of my head that’s Roberto Alomar, Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg, Jackie Robinson and Eddie Collins. But this link will take you to a list of all the second basemen in the HOF as of today… I’ll let you decide where he ranks, but there is not much question that he belongs with them.
Biggio was never besmirched with rumors of steroids and if you contact the Houston Astros to talk about Biggio’s charity works with the community during his tenure with the team you will get a long list. The facts don’t lie. His numbers are deserving of enshrinement. Even if we wanted to play God, we can’t get him on his integrity. He was a Roberto Clemente Award winner for best citizen to the game in 2007, and a Branch Rickey Award winner in 1997. There are no police reports for beating a wife, being a drunk, beating up fans or anything else. I couldn’t even find a speeding ticket on him.
There is zero reason that he shouldn’t have gotten 75 percent of the vote or higher.
To see who Brad would have voted for, check out his Unofficial Hall of Fame ballot.
Here is a list of the official ballot results for the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame. You can see my articles on Craig Biggio Got Robbed, and the Writers Playing GOD coming shortly as we kick off the 2013 writing campaign, but as of right now I want to post what my list would have been had I had the opportunity to vote.
Please remember the rules state that we can vote for 10 players.
My guess is that you think this is an open letter to the Major League Baseball Officials and Umpires, but it’s not. It’s to you, the cynical fans out there (like me) who thought that the second wild card team was utterly and ridiculously stupid and terribly-flawed idea.
WE WERE WRONG!
I’ve been reading and watching a lot lately about the Washignton Nationals and their plans to shut down Stephen Strasburg for the season – including any potential playoff run – after 160-something innings.
I come away with three observations.
1 – I can totally understand why teammates, fans, former players and even Strasburg himself might be upset by this situation (though it’s arguable just how upset they are). Players’ careers are short and chances to go deep into the playoffs don’t come along every year. Look how often the Atlanta Braves of the 1990s appeared to be the league’s best team only to falter in the postseason. Continue reading
Commissioner Bud Selig has argued the last few seasons that Major League Baseball has solved its competitive balance issues by levying a luxury tax against teams that spend too much, but local television deals may be bringing those issues back with a vengeance.
Teams on the West coast with new ownership groups, television contracts and competition for popularity were the biggest winners of this year’s non-waiver trading period, which ended a few hours ago.
In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants competed for the top honors, trading respectively for outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence on deadline day. I’ll give the trading period edge to the Dodgers due to their additional acquisition of Hanley Ramirezfrom Miami.
In the American League, the Rangers trumped the Dodgers at the deadline by acquiring Chicago Cubs starter Ryan Dempster. But the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had already made their big rotation move, adding Zack Greinke.
One similarity among all those teams is HUGE new television contracts that are dwarfing the numbers being housed by teams in the Midwest. The Dodgers were purchased for $2.15 billion in March by Magic Johnson and Mark Walter in a deal that stunned sports industry observers.
Part of what made the deal work, according to the Wall Street Journal, is the opportunity the team will have in 2013 to either launch a regional sports network in the second largest market in the country or “hold an auction for the rights to telecast Dodgers games.”
Recent rights deals signed by the Angels and Rangers are reportedly worth $150 million a year. Lee Berke, a sports media consultant, told the Journal the Dodgers’ status as the top brand in the market could command even more than $150 million annually – perhaps as much as $300 million annually, according to the Journal’s story.