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!
Larry “Chipper” Jones addressed his teammates at the All-Star Game Wednesday night telling them what an honor it was to be in the same locker room and playing in the same game. Jones didn’t have to do tha, but the quiet, classy superstar was conducting himself at his eighth and final All-Star game the same way he generally has throughout his quiet, superstar career.
Jones is one of those rare baseball stars who truly warrant the farewell tour gifts he’s being given in most cities the Atlanta Braves pass through this season. And he’s likely just shy of six years away from having a bronze bust in Cooperstown.
That bust will be placed alongside those of several other players known more by their nicknames than by the name on their birth certificates, but unlike George Herman “Babe” Ruth, “The Mick” Mickey Mantle, “The Splendid Splinter” Ted Williams, “Mr. October” Reggie Jackson or even “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, who belongs in the Hall of Fame, but is apparently banned in his afterlife as he was during the latter days of his life.
Not many people know Chipper Jones by his real name. And because he’s generally kept such a low profile during his career, many also are not aware how much he also had game. He’s not going to be a 3000-hit club member, or a 500-homerun club member. He certainly won’t be next to Brooks Robinson, Roberto Clemente or Ozzie Smith, all of whom were known for their amazing defense as much if not more so than their hitting prowess. He’s only won one Most Valuable Player award and one batting title. He’s only won one World Series title. Continue reading
It is only human to look back and wonder what could have been. We all do it, and in the case of the 1998 National League Rookie of the Year award winner Kerry Wood, who retired earlier this week, it is a haunting epitaph on a career that could have led to Cooperstown.
His slurve along with a dominating fastball were practically unhittable.
I remember the first time I saw him pitch. It happened to be his 20-strikeout game on WGN. I was late for work because of it. The only hit he gave up in that game should have been an error. The wicked break of that slurve brought back shades of Dwight Gooden and Bert Blyleven’s curveballs. He won the Rookie of the Year award despite being shut down for the last month of the season with a tender elbow. Continue reading
We hear from managers all the time about how they are “hired to be fired.” Well, we’re still early in the 2012 season but here are a half-dozen who already have earned a pink slip and a free pass out of town.
Ozzie Guillen is a head-case. He has been a one his entire career. Combine that with his pro-Castro rant coupled with his penchant for being a loose cannon and his team playing terribly I don’t see him surviving the season — and I believe that baseball will be better without him.
Speaking of head-cases; Bobby Valentine was an epic mistake for the Boston Red Sox unless they were sure this team wasn’t going to be any good. Then hiring him was a genius move, because then they have a built-in scapegoat – all the team’s problems can be blamed on him and injuries. Valentine never had his players’ respect, and called out one of the best people in baseball in Kevin Youkilis earlier this season. Red Sox bloggers are universally against Valentine, the fans in the stands hate him and his players can’t possibly like him. Former MVP Dustin Pedroia already shot back at Bobby’s comments on Youkilis. I don’t expect Valentine to make it to the All Star Game.
Dale Sveum (Cubs), Bud Black (Padres), and Ned Yost (Royals) all need to be put out of their misery. Nobody deserves the headache that is Wrigleyville. Black may be scarred for life from having to watch that offense and defense every day. Yost may be a solid manager, but this is the Royals, and not even Yoda could mentor this many younglings into a winning team. I don’t believe any of them are currently on the burner so to speak, but these are three managers whose teams don’t have any chance of winning and who have little chance to see improvement from their teams’ collective weaknesses.
Then you get to former Manager of the Year award winner Ron Gardenhire in Minnesota. I get to listen to him throw rookies and young players under the bus often while having no accountability for his veterans. He has an incessant need to shuffle his lineups and to use players like Drew Butera, Nick Punto and Matt Tolbert.
Most recently, he plucked Clete Thomas off of waivers. He struck out 16 times in 28 at-bats before being cut for the May Waiver Wire Walking Dead signee, in Erik Komatsu. His roster consists of 13 pitchers and three catchers (one of whom is the third-worst hitting position player in the last 75 years of baseball in Butera on a 25-man roster.
The team went through a four-game stretch last week during which it was no-hit and one-hit and had a total of just nine hits, which Elias Sports Bureau confirmed was a historical achievement for futility. This is not the time to bring up a career .178 hitter with a.220 on-base percentage.
Wednesday night’s game where the Angels’ Jered Weaver no-hit the Twins may have been rock bottom, but the combination of a lack of talent and a coaching staff that has not been getting results over the last couple years could make no-hitters against the Twins a common theme.
I am committing a blasphemous act here in Minnesota by calling for his firing, but I’m not the first. The blog Fire Ron Gardenhire was created in 2005. I don’t think that the injuries were the only reason the team lost 99 games last year and is on pace to do even worse in 2012. His smoke-and-mirrors career is based more on having beaten up the American League Central. His winning percentage against the AL East is pathetic, and against the Yankees alone is 20-53 during the regular season. His record is 6-21 in the post season alone could have netted an axe. When you add his horrible coaching staff, a GM that has cut payroll, and added nothing to the pitching staff, nothing coming up in the minors for another year or two, and an owner that has always cared more about profits than winning, I expect Gardenhire to retire at the end of the season if he isn’t fired. But as a Twins fan I’m hoping to see the axe.
Albert Pujols was arguably one of the two best hitters to ever play for the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s against baseball etiquette to imply that a current player is better than a Hall of Famer, and since I am not old enough to have watched Stan “The Man” Musial play, I will give the all-time great his due.
Pujols, however, is the arguable number two. But while his former team has had a solid start to the 2012 season, Pujols has moved on to Los Angeles, where he is on a severe homerun drought, having gone zero-for-April in that category.
The Angels, meanwhile, are a little south of heaven and very far south of the Texas Rangers in the standings.
While it’s early, he’s certainly not resembling any of the greatest Angels of all time, most of whom include Tim Salmon and great players signed from other teams. If it were just Pujols’ homeruns that were lacking, nobody would be saying the sky was falling. It would likely just be “a matter of time” before everything would be okay. And given his track record, it probably is just that anyway.
But this is Albert freaking Pujols. And he’s batting .226 with four RBI for the entire month of April. This is arguably the best hitter in the game – a generational kind of superstar who is showing signs of having gone the way of Jim Rice.
I bring up Hall of Famer Jim Rice because he was a monster force in baseball until all of a sudden he wasn’t. There wasn’t a slow decline. With Rice it was a light switch. If this is the case with Albert Pujols now… would he be a Hall of Famer?
My guess is that if the poll were taken today, he would be enshrined. But he’s got 10 years and $254 million worth of criticism coming. If he were to retire today he would forfeit the remaining nine years. There’s no one that proud to walk away from that kind of money.
I’m getting way ahead of myself on that train of thought, but if you compare Rice and Pujols and take into account the eras in which they play, there’s a scary similarity. It’s a tough topic to consider, but because of that contract’s longevity, Pujols may be the first player to ever play himself out of the Hall of Fame.
This division is either the starting point or the finishing point for most things baseball being that it’s the home of the bitter rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. However, the Tampa Bay Rays have gone to the World Series in the last couple of years and have some amazing young talent. And the Toronto Blue Jays would be a thorn in the side of anyone outside of this division.
But being the best David doesn’t mean you’re likely to slay Goliath more than once and it hasn’t happened since Boston and New York started their spending and acquisition war. Baltimore, well, every division needs a cellar dweller and the Orioles are most likely DOA again this year. Good grief. They lost to a community college team to close spring training. Not a good sign. Continue reading
The AL Central is a difficult division to predict. The Indians have some talent, but choke. The Twins have some talent, but it’s always hurt. The White Sox have some talent, but the organization is run ass-backwards. Kansas City has a ton of young talent, but usually somewhere between drafting, the minors and the majors they find a way to fail. The Tigers have decided to spend on talent, and are everybody’s darlings, but they have massive flaws, as well. Any one of four teams could finish last. Continue reading
The American League West will get a lot more interesting next year when Texas and Houston will be in the early stages of developing an excellent rivalry. In the meantime, I’ll look at the division as it stands now for one last time – two teams competing for the division title and two teams that might be competitive in a Triple-A league.
The last time I thought the Seattle Mariners could win a division, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez and Jay Buhner were bashing balls around the Kingdome and Randy Johnson was big, tall, ugly and nasty as any pitcher that has ever thrown a ball.