January 30, 2008

Brady Anderson is a pimp (maybe...no?)

Earlier this month, former Oriole outfielder Brady Anderson parlayed the support Hall of Fame support he received from former teammate Cal Ripken, Jr. into zero (yes, ZERO) votes.

In the five years between his last Major League at bat and the Hall voting, Anderson has been named in the Mitchell Report, had his sexuality questioned, sired some bastard kid with a Bulgarian supermodel, became co-owner of the ABA Hollywood Fame and is rumored to be part of the upcoming cast of Dancing with the Stars (he's not).


His latest antics (click on the picture) take the cake I'm afraid.

Let me get this straight...this guy could walk into a club and get ANY girl he wanted, but instead he's throwing his junk around Los Angeles and trying to bed anything that will answer a text message? Is he the only player besides Barry Bonds to have had both a 50 home run season and a 50 steal season (he is) or a fraternity president?

Personally, I still think of him as part of the trade (along with Curt Schilling) that brought Mike Boddicker to Boston in 1988. I'm lying...I'll always remember him for the bitchin' sideburns.


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January 27, 2008

Pitching might have been better in 1971

***Note: E is back. Check out his normal ramblings HERE!***

The other day, I just happened to catch a replay of Game Seven of the 1971 World Series on ESPN Classic. As I wasn't born at the time, I really didn't know anything about this series, but as I enjoy watching old baseball games, back in the days when TV sports broadcasting was so primitive, I sat and watched the thing.

During the seventh or so inning of the game, the play-by-play guy mentioned that there were two Baltimore starters warming up in the bullpen for relief. He said that, at that time, Baltimore's three 20-game winners were all pitching at the same time (Mike Cueller was in the game, with Pat Dobson and Dave McNally in the pen).

"Three 20-game winners?" I thought to myself. "That's a TON!"

What I didn't realize (and the announcer didn't mention) until I looked into it further is that Baltimore actually had four 20-game winners, the fourth being some young punk named Jim Palmer.

I know: Who is THAT?

Four 20-game winners.

Wow!

Mind you, those Orioles teams of the late '60s/early '70s were some great teams. They went 318-164 from '69-'71, a win total some teams have trouble hitting in four season, much less a mere three. Those three teams never had any fewer than two 20-game winners on them (two in '69, three in '70). And, '71 was the whopper year with four. For comparison, in 2007, there was one 20-game winner in all of baseball. The '71 Orioles had four on just that one team. I'd say the pitching quality has maybe decreased over the years, wouldn't you?

Now, the instant rebuttal to the four 20-game winners is the fact that that staff rolled with a four-man rotation, which means the pitchers ended up getting more starts per year. If Jake Peavy (second with 19 wins in '07) had four or five more starts, maybe he would have broken 20 wins, as would a number of other pitchers. But teams nowadays run with five starter rotations: fewer starts means fewer win opportunities. Maybe if today's pitchers went with four man rotations, they could have four 20-game winners. So, maybe that's not all that impressive.

But I suspect that all those wins didn't come from just having a lot of starts.

Pitchers back then were a lot more durable than today's guys. Between them, the four Orioles starters had 70 complete games. For comparison, in '07, both leagues combined had 112. That's four guys with 70 versus at least 30 times as many guys with 112. The individual leader in '07 was Roy Halliday with seven. The least any starter on the '71 Orioles could manage was Dave McNally with 11. So, maybe the Orioles pitchers had so many wins because they were able to pitch it all the way through, something almost unheard of these days.

It's gotten so bad, that we have a stat, the "quality start," which has basically replaced the complete game.

But complete games don't mean anything if you go out there and pitch like shit. Oh sure, you pitched nine innings, but you gave up 15 runs. Kinda makes those complete games irrelevant. But that wasn't a problem with the '71 Orioles. The four Orioles starters had a combined ERA of 2.89, with Jim Palmer's 2.68 the best on the team.

The best in '07 was Jake Peavy's 2.54. If that's the best ERA in both leagues, I'd be hard pressed to believe that you could come up with any four starter combinations from any team that could top that 2.89 ERA. Hell, the '71 Orioles team ERA was 2.99.

The best '07 could muster was the Padres' 3.70.

It should be noted that 17 of the 24 teams that existed in '71 had team ERAs better than the '07 Padres.

What it comes down to is four guys on the same team who were better than anyone we got pitching today. And the fact that at least three of those guys put up the same stat line year after year only strengthens the case. Everyone seems to blame the past two decades' increase in power on all the hitters being juiced up. I think it's because the pitching stinks. And, the fact that we now have five man rotations means we have more shitty pitchers than they did back in the day.

I may be wrong, but I don't think so.


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January 16, 2008

Better late than never I suppose

At some point last Tuesday night, I lost part of a filling. I’ve gotta admit, chewing on food and then (all of a sudden) biting down on a piece of amalgam is startling. It didn’t hurt…I’m getting it fixed.

Earlier in the day, Goose Gossage became the lone inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame and somehow, losing a filling was the most exciting thing that happened on the that day. Hell, it was the most exciting thing to happen all last week to be honest!

Frankly…I’m not surprised.

I’ve posted it here that Goose being voted in was pretty much a foregone conclusion. As I’ve said before, I don’t think he is a Hall of Famer, but since SOMEONE seemingly had to get in…why not Goose, right? Dig your Gossage jerseys out from the mothballs, kids! Wait...what number was his? Did/do people even OWN Goose jerseys?

It was the vote totals that surprised me though.

After nine years on the ballot, 85.8% of the writers ALL OF A SUDDEN believe that Gossage is a Hall of Famer. In that same nine years, Dave Winfield (84.5%), Eddie Murray (85.3%), Dennis Eckersley (83.2%) and Paul Molitor (85.2%) all made the Hall of Fame with LESS support than Goose got this year.

That’s right, all of a sudden, more Hall voters feel that Gossage is more worthy than each of those players who (at the time they were elected) BURIED Gossage in the voting.

I try understand how it works...I really do. What can’t be stressed enough is the importance of who you are stacked up against.

Which brings me to…

Jim Rice (72.2%)
Many expected that this would be the year that Rice FINALLY made it to Cooperstown given the lack of competition. But even though he fell only 16 votes short, I don’t see it happening next year either. Basically, it’ll be hard to induct the guy that, this year, many proclaimed the “best leftfielder not in the Hall” when Rickey Henderson is up for election.

Andre Dawson (65.9%) and Tim Raines (24.3%)
No love for the Expos I guess. Hawk not making it in is not as surprising as Rock getting less than a quarter of the vote. Dawson will be one of those guys like Tony Perez who, after a number of years on the ballot…voters will say “why not”. HOWEVER...Perez didn’t have the competition that Dawson likely will. We’re about to see a slew of Hall worthy players coming up before the voters, folks.

Raines, on the other hand, shocks me…I figured he would have gotten at least double the votes he did. Maybe voters are planning a Henderson-Raines induction next year. I mean, why not induct the best two lead-off hitters of their time in the same year? It won’t happen, but the speeches would be awesome.

Bert Blyleven (61.9%), Jack Morris (42.9%) and Tommy John (29.1%)
Plenty of wins and Ks from this trio, but all in all…there’s not likely to be any Hall calls here. Blyleven has (for some reason) become the sexy pick as of late. Like Gossage, he’s been vocal about the Hall of Fame and that has drummed up some support for his inclusion. Morris, while I’ve made the case for him, is about to be overshadowed by some big name pitchers on some upcoming ballots. Sorry Jack…it probably won’t be happening for you.

And speaking of “not happening”…Tommy John is still on the ballot?!? I’m pretty sure, John has been on EVERY ballot since about 1984. I will say that, like his career, John has been VERY consistent with Hall voters. The lowest percentage of votes he’s gotten…18.7. The most…29.6.

Mark McGwire (23.6%)
Next…ain’t happenin'..

Alan Trammell (18.2%), Dave Concepcion (16.2%) and Don Mattingly (15.8%)
Apparently Detroit, Cincinnati and New York have between 15.8 and 18.2% of the vote. I know that math isn’t right…but you get what I mean.

Harold Baines (5.2%)
28 voters think Harold Baines is a Hall of Famer. That’s it? In his first year on the ballot (last year), 29 voters were on the side of Baines. So…who changed their vote?!? C’mon guys…three years ago, 26 of you thought that Willie McGee should be enshrined. If the argument for Blyleven is that he has the most wins or most Ks out of ANYONE that isn’t enshrined…Baines’ hit total has to mean more than 5.2% of the voters think he is worthy of the Hall of Fame.

Rob Nen (2 votes)
I kinda thought Nen would get more than 2 votes considering he was lights out before his arm fell off in 2002. Nen had 315 saves in nine seasons as a closer…yikes!

Brady Anderson and Jose Rijo (0 votes)
The man with the 90210 sideburns and the Playmate wife had the support of Hall darling Cal Ripken Jr., is one of two players (Barry Bonds being the other) to have stolen 50 bases and hit 50 home runs and STILL couldn’t buy a vote. Incidentally, in 2004, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer suggested Anderson’s 50 jack season was steroid influenced. Not a chance I say!

I only mention Jose Rijo because in 2001 (the FIRST time Rijo was Hall eligible), he received one vote. How that ONE writer decided seven years later (after Rijo retired AGAIN) to NOT vote for Rijo again is beyond me.

The big question…how did Todd Stottlemyre get a vote?


***Note: Following the Hall of Fame voting, I posed the question..."who else should have been elected?" Overwhelmingly, NO ONE garnered much support. Andre Dawson was just under 50% with 48% of the vote. After that, Tim Raines (43%), Jim Rice (39%), Bert Blyleven (35%), Harold Baines (30%), Mark McGwire, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell (26%), Dale Murphy (17%), Tommy John, Dave Parker and Lee Smith (9%), Dave Concepcion and Don Mattingly (4%). "Other" received a whopping 13%...thanks gang!***





Ballhype: hype it up!

January 5, 2008

Mr. Blyleven, it's your time...maybe!

I was sitting around with the fellas the other night and we got talking about the Hall of Fame. As expected, all the usual names came up.

Tim Raines.

Andre Dawson.

Jim Rice.

Goose Gossage.

And since the Mitchell Report is still in the news (thanks Roger Clemens!)…Mark McGwire’s name even got a mention or two. Not a bad crowd of potential Hall of Famers. Hell, two or three of them might soon wake up to the pleasant sound of Cooperstown calling them home.

But you know who DIDN’T get mentioned…Bert Blyleven. That’s right. The darling of the online 2008 Hall of Fame discussions (I've even casually endorsed him in the past both here and here) is rarely ever REALLY brought up outside of Googling “Bert Blyleven+Hall of Fame” from your laptop.

Why is that?

Here’s a guy that PLENTY of writers are pimping for enshrinement, but for some reason, people out in the “real world” aren’t really bringing his name up in polite conversation. The guy played professional ball in four decades (Bert was drafted in 1969, but didn’t make the bigs until June 1970) for five different teams (twice with the Twins). He even has two World Series rings…and both times, one could argue that he was his team’s "go to" guy!

All-time, Blyleven’s stats stack up wonderfully to some of those already in the Hall. Over at Baseball Reference, his top ten comparisons feature eight Hall of Famers. The two that aren’t…Tommy John and Jim Kaat.

And let’s be honest, someone COULD make a case for both of them.

Fifth all-time in strikeouts has to account for something right? I mean, 3701 is nothing to sniff at. Only Nolan Ryan, Clemens, Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton have more. Of the players with 3000 Ks or more, you could almost say that all of them WILL be enshrined, even if the jury is still out on Curt Schilling. Not bad company to be in if you ask me.

When making the case for the Dutchman, EVERYONE mentions Blyleven’s low ERA (3.31) and points to his career 60 shutouts as a contributing factor. To put that into perspective…Ryan and Tom Seaver each have 61. Clemens is 26th all-time with 46…Blyleven is ninth. Allow me to go one step further…there are only TWO pitchers eligible for Hall induction that have thrown more scoreless games than Clemens. Luis Tiant is one…he has 49. Blyleven, obviously, is the other.

The magic number for career victories is 300. EVERY pitcher (all 20 of them) eligible for the Hall of Fame that has more than 300 victories is in there. But that’s where it falls off…275 to 299 victories must not mean as much. Blyleven’s career total resides at 287. Say what you want to…had there not been a strike in 1981 or had he not been hurt in 1982, Blyleven might have gotten to 300.

But he didn’t.

Heck, had he retired following his last good year (1989), he would have topped off at 271. Again, he didn’t and therefore falls into the “almost…but not quite” company of John and Kaat.

All that being said, his career numbers are, if at the least…”Hall worthy”. So, I’m confused…how do people NOT know who this colorful character is?

The layman’s argument for Blyleven’s inclusion sounds impressive when you lay them out over the span of a “normal” career…but Rik Aalbert Blyleven pitched longer than Christ walked the Earth. He was also durable…which means even if he was slightly above average (at best), his numbers would STILL pile up. And they did.

Let’s start with wins.

No one seems to mention that fact that of those 287 victories…only ONCE Bert topped 20 victories. And that was in a season where he went 20-17. 20 wins is great, but 20-17 is a record only Wilbur Wood would be proud of. Once at 20, another time with 19…then what? Five seasons of 17 victories? Is that how we’re judging “greatness now?!?

It should be noted that in that “magical” 1973 season when Blyleven was 20-17, his Twins were 81-81. It wasn’t like he played for the 1962 Mets. He was a slightly average pitcher on an average ballclub. I won’t even mention the fact that there were TWELVE American League pitchers with 20 or more victories in 1973.

Wait, I just did.

Let’s face it…a .534 winning percentage isn’t all that spectacular, even if you played for some lousy teams. A Hall of Famer (to me) is someone who elevates his team to be better than they should be. And, admittedly, perhaps Blyleven’s record isn’t indicative of his worth. He did, of course, pitch his team to FIFTEEN 1-0 victories. Granted, he lost ten others…but you can’t blame a guy for lack of run support.

3701 is a tremendous number when it comes to strikeouts and Blyleven reaching 3701 Ks is an equally tremendous feat. The fact that eight times scattered throughout an almost 21 complete seasons, Bert topped 200 Ks is good…but not an eye popper. I’m not comparing the two, just using him as an example, but Pedro Martinez topped 200 Ks in ten out of eleven years during his climb to prominence…and twice he surpassed 300! That, to me, is the example of someone out there killing the opponent.

And of those years where Blyleven racked up some quality strikeout figures, did he ever blow away the competition and lead the league?

Once…in 1985 he bested Floyd Bannister by 8 strikeouts. 206 compared to 198 AND Bert pitched in almost 90 MORE innings…not really dominant.

“Dominance” shouldn’t be judged the number of times a guy leads the league in strikeouts, right? Basically, when I think of a “strikeout pitcher”…I think of a guy like Randy Johnson. Not a guy who benefited from a four-man rotation instead of the modern five.

But that’s okay.

I mean, let’s look at the bigger picture…how many times did Bert lead the league in ERA? Wins? What about winning percentage?

How many Cy Young Awards did this cat bring home?

Zero.

He was an All-Star twice, but c’mon…so was Esteban Loaiza. And frankly, when do you suppose the last (or first) time someone NOT named “Blyleven” uttered the words…”I sure do hope Bert’s on the hill today” on their way to the ballpark?

Plenty of writers will give a sympathy nod to Blyleven by labeling him “unlucky”. Unfortunately, these are mostly the same guys who blast writers for calling Jim Rice the “most feared hitter of his time”. So what opinion is most valid…we’ll soon find out when that sleepy little town in New York comes a callin’ for some new blood.


Drop me an email at hallofverygood@yahoo.com and who knows…your words might just end up on this website!


***Note: There is a really, really great site out there (Bert Belongs) that makes a great pitch (pun intended) for Bert's inclusion...you should check it out!***



Ballhype: hype it up!