Yesterday we learned that the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be enshrining four players this year. Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio will all be making the trip to Cooperstown. There aren’t any surprises in this group, as all four were expected to make the cut.
Despite this being among the largest groups to ever be elected, it can be argued a few others should be joining them. There are clear holes in the HOF voting process and I have some suggestions on how to improve them. They go for both the HOF committee and the writers themselves.
Allow the writers to remove players from the HOF
In fairness to the writers, I know the main fear many seem to have is electing a player into the HOF who is later found to be a known PED user. I understand this fear and feel something needs to be done to put their minds at ease. At the moment there is nothing in place for a player to be removed from the HOF. I believe an amendment (or whatever they would call it) should be asserted which would empower the same group of writers to vote players out under certain circumstances. I’ll leave the discussion as to what those circumstances would be for another time.
I know many would still vote skeptically and rightly so to a degree. But this ultimately should help both sides, as the writers know they have the ability to correct a mistake and a player will not be improperly punished. We already do this with such honors as the Heisman Trophy (think Reggie Bush) in sports, why not the MLB HOF? I know what a high regard the HOF is held in. It is the most prestigious in all of professional sports and this will allow it to remain that way.
Don’t limit votes
A problem many writers complained about this year was the inability to vote for all the players that they wanted to. Because the rules limit voters to no more than 10 players on a ballot some were forced to decide who to leave off. In my opinion, that rule is ridiculous. Either you are a HOF’er or you aren’t. There is no need to have a limit on something like this. I realize the ballots are crowded more than ever before. This is due mostly to inflated recent numbers and questionable past causing many to stay on ballots longer than expected (both problems caused by the steroid era).That shouldn’t be the case forever. But it will for be the foreseeable future.
It forces writers to make decisions that they shouldn’t be asked to make. This unfairly cost players who may be in their final years on a ballot to lose costly votes. Players like Alan Trammel, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines and Fred McGriff are borderline candidates who are not receiving their proper consideration because writers ballots are already maxed out. Time is quickly running out on them with the new 10-year limit.
In his first season on a ballot Carlos Delgado received less than 5% of the votes. This mean he falls below the requirement to remain on next years ballot. I’m not saying Delgado was a sure-fire HOF player, but his career numbers warranted him much more than one season of consideration. If a writer feels only one players deserves a vote, fine, vote for one player. But if they feel there are 15 players who deserve a vote then there is no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to vote for all 15. It’s hard enough to get 75% of the writers to agree on you, removing a maximum number of votes on ballots will not cheapen the HOF.
This one is for the writers. I have a problem with the way some went about using their votes. I’ll be the first to admit that the steroid era has put so much pressure to vote one way or the other for players in question. This has caused many to take a hard stance on letting these players (Bonds, McGwire, Clemens, Sosa, Piazza, Bagwell, Sheffield etc.) into the HOF. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong answer. The only thing I ask is that you be consistent. If you want to vote a known/suspected PED user into the HOF, that’s your prerogative. But, you shouldn’t be making exceptions and only overlooking the past of some. You must do that with all or none of the players in question.
Bonds and Clemens will continue to be the poster boys for this conversation so long as their names remain on the ballot. Neither gained any real traction this year but that could change as next years class is nowhere near as strong. If you are going to use votes on these two then you should also be casting votes for McGwire, Sosa, Bagwell, Piazza, Sheffield and anyone else that falls under this cloud. Whatever stance you choose to take, at least fully commit to it.
The voting process is far from perfect and my suggestions don’t fix everything. But I do know that they help improve what is currently in place. Baseball has always resisted change, on and off the field, but I believe something will be done in the near future to help correct some of the flaws in the HOF voting process.
Joe Torre, who was famously dubbed “Clueless Joe” by the New York Daily News, was enshrined into the baseball Hall of Fame yesterday. Turns out Torre DID know what he was getting himself into, and may have managed the last great dynasty we will see in baseball.
Many forget just how good of a player Torre was before his managerial career ever began. He was a 9-time all-star, who won the batting title and NL MVP award in 1971, while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite having a great 18-year career, it was as a manager that he really left his mark on the game.
Torre first got his chance to manage in 1977, as he served as a player/coach for the New York Mets in the final year of his career. Torre went on to coach the Mets for the better part of 5 seasons, where he received poor results, due mostly to the lack-luster roster he was given to work with. From there, he went on to coach the Atlanta Braves for three years and the St. Louis Cardinals for six years. There his teams improved, but was still unable to turn any of them into a real contender.
Cue 1996. The Yankees were coming off back-to-back strong seasons, and had a young core in place to build around. George Steinbrenner made a highly questionable move when he hired Torre in to take over at the helm, considering he had winning seasons in only 5 of his 15 years as a manager. Nonetheless, it quickly became apparent that he was indeed the right man for the job. In his 12 seasons with the Yankees, his teams won 10 division titles, 6 pennants and 4 World Series championships. All the while putting up with the daily scrutiny from the NY media and most importantly, Steinbrenner himself. Torres’ tenure with the Yankees will long be remembered as one of the greatest stretches in baseball history.
After moving on to manage the L.A. Dodgers to put an end to his stellar career, Torre finished with 2,326 games won as a manager, good for 5th all-time. Congratulations and welcome to Cooperstown, Joe Torre.
Watch his Hall of Fame speech in its entirety below:
The day has finally come Yankee fans, Robinson Cano makes his much anticipated return to The Bronx tonight. In quite the role reversal, the Yankees were outbid for the prized free agent this off season, as Cano took the money and ran to Seattle.
Cano was a bit of an Enigma during his tenure with the Yankees. He was undoubtedly the best all-around player on this Yankee squad for the past few seasons. But for whatever reason, he never reached the popularity of his fellow teammates. Cano was certainly well received among the fans overall, but he never truly received the complete love of the fan base.
As much as Cano will be remembered for his sweet swing, fans will also remember his lack of hustle. Too many times did Yankee fans see Cano barely step foot out of the batter’s box on a ground ball, or make a nonchalant effort defensively, it was enough to make any fan pull their hair out at times. Part of that is just Cano’s style, as he does things with such ease and grace, that it appears as if he isn’t even trying, but there are certainly times when that wasn’t the case and he was giving very little effort. It drove me nuts watching him on certain plays and I’m not even a Yankees fan. I can only imagine what was going through the heads of diehard fans every time they saw him giving a half ass effort. Continue reading
Mike Piazza and Mike Mussina’s dreams were shattered yesterday as both fell short in the 2014 Hall of Fame class voting. For Piazza, he could at least take away the fact that his voting total rose from 57.8% to 62.2% in his second year on the ballot. As for Mussina, he garnered only 20.3% of votes, leaving him a long way to go to reach the 75% of the votes necessary to reach the Hall of Fame.
If we weren’t live in the cloud of the “Steroid era”, you could argue it was an outrage Piazza was not a 1st ballot Hall of Famer, let alone 2nd. But now we will have to wait another year to see if the third time will be a charm for the game’s greatest hitting catcher. I can’t say I agree with the majority of voters when it comes to Piazza’s case.
It is very clear that writers are not voting for Piazza SOLELY on the suspicion or THOUGHT that he MAY have done PEDs. The only problem with this? THERE IS NO ACTUAL EVIDENCE. I realize the few that continue to not vote for him, who are trying to delay his inevitable enshrinement, are hoping something may eventually come out to answer any question that may remain. But if your job is to vote on the facts at hand, I do not know how in good conscious you don’t vote for someone who is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the very best of all-time.
In case you forgot just how truly great he was, he are some supporting facts. Piazza is a career .308 hitter, an unheard of number from a catcher, with 427 career home runs, 396 of which came while playing behind the plate. He was named the 1993 Rookie of the Year, went to 12 All-Star games and earned 10 silver slugger awards along the way. Simply put, his numbers speak for themselves.
Mets owner, Jeff Wilpon, released this statement regarding yesterday’s results:
“On behalf of the organization and our fans, Mike is a true Hall of Famer,” said Wilpon. “We proudly display his plaque in the Mets Hall of Fame, and we’re hopeful that he’ll soon have one hanging in Cooperstown.”
I have no doubt that Piazza’s day will come, sooner rather than later. To put it into some historic prospective here, this is how the names he is so often compared to fared on their HOF ballots. The gold standard, Johnny Bench, is the only catcher to ever go in on his first year of eligibility. Yogi Berra and Carlton Fisk each went in on their second try and the late Gary Carter, took 6 times before he got the nod. Assuming there is no new allegations brought against Piazza, I envision him receiving the necessary votes within the next 2-3 years.
Mike Mussina finds him in a far worse shape. It wasn’t that he was expected to be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but his numbers were startling lower than initially thought. The only pitcher I could find in recent memory that overcame a lower first ballot vote total was Bert Blyleven, who actually received a lower total than Mussina’s 20.3% with 17.5%. Blyleven, eventually overcame the odds and was voted in on his 14th try.
Mussina, does have fine career numbers, posting a 270-153 career record with a 3.68 era over his 18-years. Eight of which were spent with the Yankees, where he went 123-72 with a 3.88 era. He was named to five All-Star teams and won 7 gold glove awards in his career. Mussina also finished in the top-5 in the AL Cy Young voting 6-times, but never won the award.
He does possess a great career winning percentage of .638, with only 11 current Hall of Famers who can claim a better one. However, much of that can be accredited to playing on the talented Oriole teams of the mid-90’s and Yankees of the 2000’s. His 3.68 career era would give him the third highest among pitchers in Cooperstown, that notion doesn’t exactly excite the voters.
In a post by Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, Mussina gave us some insight on his thoughts from yesterday’s results:
“I think that’s an argument that people are going to have opinions on both sides,” Mussina has said. “There’s some nice things that I’ve been able to do. There’s both sides to the argument. My numbers match up well with guys that are in the Hall of Fame, and of course there are guys that have better numbers than mine.”
“To ask if I should be compared to Greg Maddux or to Glavine or anybody that’s played in this era, that in itself is an honor,” Mussina said. “People are going to talk about it any number of ways. I’m just glad that I’ve achieved enough and made enough of an impression that people are going to include me in the conversation.”
Although Mussina seems to be in good spirits, I wouldn’t hold my breath about him ever entering the hall. I know everyone wants to compare sabermetrics and other advanced statistical analysis we possess today, but sometimes you have to sit back and trust your gut instincts off of what you watched in front of you. If you ask me, Mussina does not pass “the eye test”. I watched the majority of his career, and NOT ONCE did I ever feel like I was watching an all-time great out on the mound. Nobody ever feared stepping into the batter’s box against Mussina and those factors should still mean something.
Even though we have Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Jack Morris coming off of next year’s ballot, there is good company joining the party in 2015. With the likes of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield and Carlos Delgado coming aboard, don’t expect many extra votes to be opening up for Piazza and Mussina.
With the All-Star just a few days away, I started to get excited about seeing David Wright come out with the starting line up and Matt Harvey potentially starting the game. Then I began to think about the Fox crew that will be calling this game, which I am not a fan of, and I thought to myself Vin Scully should be calling this game.
Scully is in the midst of what could very well be his final season in broadcasting. With the mid-summer classic being held in Citi Field, a building that was made in homage to where his career began, Ebbets Field, what better place to honor his storied career. This sounds like it is meant to be and I hope Fox has something planned to ensure Scully’s involvement. Whether it be as a narrator during the introduction video or a brief stint in the broadcast booth, It would only be fitting to have Scully’s presence felt in a game meant to promote Baseball’s biggest stars.
Vin Scully is a New York native, born and raised in Washington Heights. He later attended Fordham University, which is where he first began broadcasting. Scully split his time between playing center field for the baseball team and announcing the school’s football games on the WFUV radio station that he helped form. His initial goal was to call professional football games for a living, as that is what first drew him to Sports Radio. Red Barber, the man who had hired him at CBS radio, was so impressed with his early work calling college football games that he invited Scully to join his broadcast team with the Dodgers, he was just 22-years-old.
By 1953, at the age of 25, Scully became the youngest man to call a World Series game. After his two counterparts moved on for various reasons, Scully was left as the principal announcer for the Dodgers, a position he still holds to this day. in 1957, when the Dodgers made the decision to move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, Scully made the move with the franchise. In 1964, when legendary announcer Mel Allen retired, the Yankees offered Scully their lead play-by-play job for the historic franchise. Scully decided to turn down the offer and stay with the team that gave him his start. He is not only the voice, but also the face that has become synonymous more than any other with the Dodgers organization.
This is the 64th season that Vin Scully has been apart of the Dodgers broadcast booth, which makes him the longest tenured broadcaster with one team in the history of sports. Scully has been given numerous awards over the years and earned some of the highest honors possible for a broadcaster. In 1992, he was given the Ford Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame, which is the highest honor given to a Sports Broadcaster within the field. He has also been given a lifetime achievement Emmy, named the National Sports Broadcaster of the year three times (1965,1978,1982), given a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and named the Sports Broadcaster of the Century, just to name a few.
From the final game the Dodgers played in Brooklyn to their first game in L.A., Scully has called some of the most memorable moments in baseball. He has called Koufax no-hitters, Don Larsen’s 1956 perfect game in the World Series, “Fernando Mania”, Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, Kirk Gibson’s heroic World Series walk-off home run, The Buckner game and has called 28 different World Series. Scully is also the announcer in the movie “For Love of The Game”, where he may be the stand out performer as captures each in-game scene beautifully.
On top of that, Scully has also called some of the greatest moments in Sports, not just baseball over the course of his career. He has called the Master’s, golf’s most prestigious event, Tennis championships and NFL games for years. He was the lead play-by-play man during the 1982 NFC Championship game referred to as “The Catch” when Joe Montana found Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone to beat the Cowboys. It is his versatility to call more than just baseball that will have his voice living forever in the memory of all sports fans.
Vin Scully with go down in history as one of, if not the best, Sports Announcer in history. His ability to connect with fans and capture a memorable moment is unlike any other. Scully’s voice is the last remaining from a generation of when baseball truly was America’s game. In what could be his final season, why not use the game that is meant to promote the games biggest names, is there really any star bigger than Vin Scully left in the baseball? I think it would be only fitting to see Scully involved some how in this years All-Star Game to honor this all-time great in a place very similar to where his career began.
With each road trip this season teams have been presenting Mariano Rivera farewell presents, out of respect for the future Hall of Famer. I think these are nice gestures and all but I feel they aren’t completely necessary.
Unless the retiring great played for your team at one time, I don’t find it mandatory that you honor him with gifts during pre game ceremonies. I always felt a nice video tribute on the stadiums jumbotron is a more than suitable farewell, with the crowd giving him one last cheer before the game begins. With that being said, I loved the present that Twins gave Rivera last night.
Rivera was presented with a rocking chair made from shattered bats. This was a very original twist on an otherwise generic gift that is often given to retiring players. Rivera has made a career out of shattering bats with his famous cutter. The chair has two Twins logos on it with the phrase “Chair Of Broken Dreams” engraved across the back.
Hats off to whoever in the Twins organization came up with this gift. It’s nice to see some creativity put into these for once. I’m looking forward to seeing how the long time rival Red Sox honor Rivera when he Yankees make their final trip to Fenway.
Every single year people ask the question, will this be the year Mariano Rivera begins to falter? And every single year he defies the logic that baseball players, especially closer’s, will diminish with age. The 43-year-old has returned after missing the majority of the 2012 season and hasn’t lost a beat. He has gone 9-for-9 in save opportunities this season with a 1.80 era. Even in his 18th season, it appears Rivera will still be retiring while he’s on top.
Closer’s have always been one of the most unpredictable positions in baseball. Their careers have notoriously gone up and down, having an all-star caliber season, followed by a dreadful one. Some will even see multiple years in a row of success before faltering, but none have come even remotely close to putting a career together like Rivera. With the inability of so many to consistently close games out, especially on the biggest stages, Rivera has always been the great equalizer for the Yankees, giving them the edge in the bullpen in any game they play. He seems to be the rare exception as he just continues to build on his career that will one day land him in Cooperstown.
His opponents may very well be celebrating the idea of not facing Rivera in the near future. They will no longer will they have to deal with shattered bats,wondering, how this man has continued to get them out all while throwing mostly one pitch, the cutter. Although teams may be happy to see him go, he has garnered a great deal of respect around the league. You will never hear a bad word uttered about Rivera as he has played the game the right way all these years and been a role model for so many. Each road trip the Yankees go on this season teams will show their appreciation for the future Hall-of-Famer, plaques presents and tribute videos will be presented to honor him the last team he plays in each city. There is no greater form of respect than when your opponents, the same ones that you have dominated for years, take time to honor you in your final days.
Now I might be a bit old fashion, but I for one am not fond of how today’s game has become all about match-ups and pitch counts. We have starter’s who barely make it out of the fifth inning. If they make it through six innings allowing three runs? We mark that down as a quality start. But I’ll save that for another discussion. Then we get to the bullpen, no longer do we have closer’s who give you two or three innings to close out a game. Now we are lucky if we even allow a reliever to finish an inning. Too often do we see managers go through almost an entire bullpen in a nine inning game as they focus too much on lefty/righty match-ups.
I’m not trying to diminish what Mariano has accomplished in his career, it is what it is, the game is constantly evolving for better or for worse. The one thing I do know, despite how the game has changed, Mariano Rivera is far and away the best reliever to come out of this era and maybe ever. Soon enough Yankee fans will know the agony the rest of us feel, all to often, watching your closer with one eye open, praying they are able to hold on to that late inning lead. Unless he is closing out a game against your team, let’s enjoy his greatness while we still can.
The Yankees received terrible news yesterday regarding their captain, Derek Jeter. A CT scan revealed a crack in his surgically repaired ankle that he dislocated in last seasons ALCS. He will not require any further surgery, he will simply need to rest for 6-8 weeks and is expected back sometime after the all-star break.
Just when the Yankees thought things were moving along smoothly for all of their rehabbing all-stars, this news gets thrown at them. Thus far, the Yankees have been piecing the shortstop position together with Eduardo Nunez getting the majority of the playing time, while Jayson Nix backs him up. Defensively, they have held their own for the most part, making a combined three errors, but offensively, they have both struggled early on. Nunez, who is best known for his bat, is batting only .233 with two RBI, while Nix, is batting just .167. These numbers just aren’t going to cut it as they look to replace Jeter, who is a career .313 hitter, for an extended period of time.
For me, what they Yankees will miss most is the leadership Jeter provides, both on and off the field. Jeter, is well-known for his hustle, which is not something you can find in any box score. That may sound like something that should be a given for a professional athlete, but we all know it is more of a rarity these days. It’s play like that which sets the tone of what to expect from the rest of the roster, when teammates see their captain playing with that type of spirit, it becomes contagious. Someone will need to continue to set that type of tone for this team, it is not something easily done as Jeter, a future Hall of Famer, not something that just anyone can replace.
One aspect of Derek Jeter that I feel has been underrated/undervalued for years now is his ability to handle the media. For years it has been a given that Jeter will be in that locker room ready to answer any and all question in an effort to take the heat and pressure off of other in the locker room who may not be able to handle the responsibility. Many players have come to this city and faltered under the pressure of ever-present, New York media. This is something the Yankee locker room will sorely miss, now the likes of Robinson Cano and Mark Texeira, when he returns, will have to take more of the burden of being the teams spokespersons. It will be interesting to see how these other players handle it, as it will be new to some. Look for veterans Kevin Youkilis and Vernon Wells to increase their presence and become leadership figures on this team in the captains absence.
I have no doubt Jeter will be working hard once he is cleared to return as soon as possible. It remains to be seen just what his mobility will be on his surgically repaired ankle. The question has been asked for years now, when will Derek Jeter have to move from shortstop? This might very well be the injury that forces the issue soon for the Yankees if he is unable to return to his old form. But then again, I would never bet against Derek Jeter.