July 26, 2009

Thoughts about Rickey being Rickey

With all the Hall of Fame talk there has been the last week or so...I've found my favorite Rickey Henderson tribute and it came from none other than Kevin Kaduk over at Yahoo.

Two years ago, when the Hall of Very Good was just some random Myspace posts tossed out willy nilly to whoever would read them, I shared some of my own memories about Rickey Henderson.

Today...I've kicked the cobwebs off that post and thrown it back up here on the interwebs for you to read. Again.

Enjoy!

I'm on a baseball kick…it's true. Even more true…I like stats and I love comparing them.

I had a conversation over the weekend about who I thought was the "best ballplayer" I had ever seen. Now granted…I started watching baseball in 1981, but still, the choice was an easy one.

Rickey Henderson.

Here's the thing about Rickey that is the most fun to point out…people HATED him.

He was arrogant, self-centered and flashy. He was the first player that I remember to play wearing an earring, Oakleys AND a Jheri-curl…all at the SAME TIME!

Rickey's Hall of Fame credentials are unmatched when it comes to current players that are eligible for the Hall, but have yet to get in. Even better…he hasn't OFFICIALLY retired! Yet…Henderson stands to be the first player elected to the Hall WITHOUT having retired. Sure, some players didn't retire and made it in due to death (I'm looking your way Roberto Clemente)…but never (that I know of) has someone who hasn't retired been selected.

Statistician Bill James was asked if he thought Henderson was a Hall of Famer…his famous reply was "if you could split him in two, you'd have two Hall of Famers." As a baseball fan and memorabilia collector…that makes my lone run-in with Rickey all the appropriate. I was waiting for the Yankees bus to show up outside the Pfister in Milwaukee when, long before the bus showed up, Rickey showed up in a taxi. On his left arm was a white girl…on the right, a black girl.

Apparently Rickey found a way to make himself two Hall of Famers…at least for one night.

Another great Henderson story comes from one of his FOUR stints with the Oakland A's. Team bookkeepers could not account for a ONE MILLION DOLLAR discrepancy in their finances. Eventually, this was traced to Rickey…he had a check for one million buckos framed and hanging on his wall.

Classy.

Let's look into the stats. Sure, Rickey was an All-Star in ten of his first twelve seasons, the MVP of the 1990 season (he SHOULD have been the MVP in 1981 as well) and the career leader in runs and steals…but the guy was more of a stud than even those stats imply.

Here's a gem. On July 29, 1989, Henderson stole FIVE bases off of Randy Johnson. This ended up being Rickey's career high (Henderson had eighteen FOUR steal games during his career), and one shy of the single-game steal record. Add to that…he was 0-0 in the game with four walks.

By the way, Rickey used to hold the record for most walks in a career too…that was until the world decided to stop pitching to Barry Bonds.

In 2002, Henderson suited up for his eighth team (he played for nine), the Boston Red Sox. Incredibly, from 1979-2001, Rickey Henderson had stolen more bases than the Red Sox had managed over the same time span: 1,395 steals for Rickey, 1,382 for the Boston franchise.


Not surprisingly, Henderson is one of two players to have stolen bases in four separate decades, along with Ted Williams. Strangely, Williams only had 24 stolen bases in his entire career.

In 1982, Rickey swiped 130 bases…good for the most in a season. That season he had more steals that EIGHT American League teams did as a team! Currently, Kenny Lofton is the active leader for stolen bases…a mere 800 behind Henderson. Lou Brock, the former record holder for steals in a career…is 500 behind Rickey.

Steals aside…Henderson also had 81 lead-off home runs. Think about that for a second…27% of Rickey's home runs led off a game.


Also, his career total of 297 is more than some notable Hall of Fame outfielders (Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Hack Wilson, Robin Yount and Kirby Puckett).

His 3055 hits rank 20th all-time. The only three players with more hits that aren't in Cooperstown…Pete Rose, Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn.

I'll stop now, but suffice it to say…Rickey SHOULD garner the highest percentage of votes since George Brett and Nolan Ryan in 1999.



BallHype: hype it up!

Steroids and the Hall of Fame

As fans await the Hall of Fame speeches by Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson, the big topic all weekend in Cooperstown is the same as it has been since, unfortunately, Mark McGwire hit the ballot for the 2007 ceremony…steroids.

As part of the HOVG “Mustache May” celebration, I had the opportunity to talk with Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins and Rollie Fingers and, wouldn’t you know it, the talk of steroids and the Hall of Fame did indeed come up.

Here is what they had to say.

HOVG: With the talk of steroids all over the sports channels and what not…what are your feelings going to be when a player who has admitted use, and it’s bound to happen, gets elected to join you in Cooperstown?

FERGIE: I don’t think (it’s bound to happen). Whoever has the vote, the Hall of Fame committee…the 500 plus reporters, they’re not going to vote for them. Guys like (Sammy) Sosa might not make it. Neither will (Barry) Bonds or (Mark) McGwire. A-Rod might not make it.

ROLLIE: I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. The sportswriters are pretty sticky about that. It’s pretty obvious with the numbers that Mark McGwire has gotten. If you’re known to use or if they figure you’ve been using, I don’t see that person getting voted in.

FERGIE: Once you get that particular black mark on your record, they are not going to give you the required amount of votes. You have to get 75 percent. McGwire only got 22 percent. He’s not even close.

HOVG: If someone that is suspected of steroids makes it in, like Roger Clemens, are you on that stage when they're inducted?

FERGIE: I don't know, I'd have to wait and see. I know Bob Feller voiced his opinion already. There's a few guys who voiced their opinion and said they wouldn't go. (Al) Kaline probably wouldn't go. Some of the guys who are staunch advocates of playing the game clean...they probably wouldn't show.

ROLLIE: Yes…simply because the sportswriters voted him in. If they felt as though he warranted going into the Hall of Fame, I am not going to shun him. I would stay on the stage. But like I said before, I don’t think that it’s going to happen. Roger Clemens says he doesn’t care, but I guarantee you…Roger Clemens cares.

HOVG: We can all blame Jose Canseco.

ROLLIE: (Laughs) I tell you what…everyone gets on Jose Canseco, but you don’t see too many people suing him. If he hadn’t have written the book, who knows where we’d be at today with steroids and the number of guys using them. It would probably be out of hand. At least right now, they’re taking care of the problem. The worst thing you can do is to let kids see that it is okay to use this stuff and get by. You have to show kids that this is not the right way to go and clean it up.

If you’ve been following the HOVG Hall of Fame previews this past week, you know that the Class of
2010 looks relatively clean. The same can’t be said of 2011 however, as Rafael Palmeiro hits the ballot for the first time. Of course, the biggest test of all will come in 2013. Feel free to check out 2012 and 2014 and leave your comments!

If you are unable to catch any of the Hall Induction Ceremonies, Steve Light, the Hall of Fame's manager of museum programs, is blogging
HERE.


BallHype: hype it up!

July 24, 2009

Talkin' baseball with Dick Drago

With the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony going down this weekend, thoughts turn to baseball, mustaches and the Boston Red Sox. Since Jim Rice is apparently too busy to talk with the HOVG, another former player fit the bill...former Sox hurler Dick Drago.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Dick about, you guessed it...baseball, mustaches and Jim Rice.

HOVG: Dick…your career has pretty much run the gamut. You were a successful starter in Kansas City, then, after making the move to Boston, became a successful closer. But your success started BEFORE you made the bigs. When you were with Double-A Rocky Mount, you threw a no-hitter in the first game of a double-header. In the nightcap, your roommate Darrell Clark threw a no-no of his own. Did that make it more special…or do you feel it diminished your accomplishment?

DICK: No…I was on the bench rooting for Darrell to pitch one also. It was more special because I don't think it had ever been done before or since.

HOVG: Your next stop was with your hometown Toledo Mudhens. What was it like playing in the city that you grew up in, in front of friends and family every night?

DICK: It was a big thrill to pitch in my hometown and to share my success with a huge family. It was great to have all the support.

HOVG: Not to get off topic, but I mentioned your transition from starter to closer. Since that walk to the mound is so much part of the show now…what song would you have blaring throughout the stadium if you were closing today?

DICK: Tough one! Toss up between “Eli's Coming” by Three Dog Night and “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. Close behind are “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar and “Celebrate” by Kool and The Gang. (Laughs)

HOVG: A high point in any player’s career would have to be playing in the World Series. You had the opportunity to play in one of the best in 1975. Let’s do some word association. I’ll mention some players (both teammates and opponents) and you give me your thoughts.

HOVG: Joe Morgan.

DICK: Consummate professional player.

HOVG: Johnny Bench.

DICK: Gifted.

HOVG: Dave Concepcion.

DICK: Perfect compliment to all that talent on the Reds.

HOVG: Luis Tiant…Hall of Famer or no?

DICK: Best teammate ever! Hall of Fame…yes.

HOVG: Carlton Fisk.

DICK: Best catcher I ever pitched to…serious about his job and hard worker.

HOVG: And of course, the latest player to call Cooperstown home...Jim Rice.

DICK: Tremendous hitter with the strongest wrists I've ever seen. Put some unbelievable numbers up for several years in a row and should have been elected to the Hall much sooner in my opinion.

HOVG: What is it like taking the bump knowing that you have an all-world outfield of Jim Rice, Dwight Evans and Fred Lynn behind you?

DICK: Having that outfield made it much easier to pitch. I always challenged hitters anyhow so seeing these three behind me gave me much more confidence on the mound.

HOVG: Following the 2007 season, Rice was asked if any of the 2007 Red Sox could replace anyone on that 1975 team. His response was an odd one. He said…“the only one that would’ve made it, maybe (Jonathan) Papelbon because we had Dick Drago out there, Papelbon has a little more velocity than him.” What do you think he meant by that?

DICK: (Laughs) I would pick Papelbon over me also because he throws harder than me. The only thing different is I had to pitch more than one inning most of the time to get a save like most of the closers back then like (Rollie) Fingers and (Goose) Gossage.

HOVG: Alright…enough Jim Rice. Of the players that are out there today, who is one guy that you would like to battle against?

DICK: Alex Rodriguez would be a great challenge along with Albert Pujols.

HOVG: Of the guys you faced off against, who was the toughest out?

DICK: The toughest hitter I faced was Tony Oliva

HOVG: Who was a surprisingly easy out?

DICK: I was most success against Gorman Thomas and Cecil Cooper in their prime in Milwaukee.

HOVG: Hank Aaron had 3 hits in 4 plate appearances. Sure, you struck him out, but it is the home run (number 755) that you gave up that people remember. What was it like to be joined arm in arm in the history books with the home run champ for 30 years?

DICK: At the time it didn't mean much as it happened in July, but being linked forever with one of the greatest hitters of all-time is an honor.

HOVG: Lastly, pictures of you in Kansas City show you relatively clean shaven whereas, it seems, once you hit Boston…out came the ‘stache. Was it peer pressure, a sign of the times or were you taking advantage of the game’s ultimate performance enhancer…the mustache?

DICK: I started the mustache in 1973 along with the longer hair while still with KC. It was just the trend started by the Oakland A's and the fad at the time throughout the 70's.


Dick Drago is a native of Toldeo, Ohio and currently calls Tampa home. During his playing career, he found himself suiting up five teams...Kansas City, Boston (twice), California, Baltimore and Seattle. Earlier this year, Royals Review named Drago one of the 100 Greatest Royals All-Time.


Lastly, Drago has teamed up with Bob Salomon to help spread the word of "A Glove of Their Own". Anyone interested in learning more about the book can contact Salomon by emailing him at agloveoftheirown@aol.com.


BallHype: hype it up!

The Hall of Fame Class of 2014

While it is way, way too early to even think about Mark Buehrle and the Hall of Fame…there is one pitcher on the 2014 ballot with a perfect game and another that can match Buehrle’s two no-hitters.

That aside…it’s hard to imagine ANY pitcher competing with the credentials displayed by Hall of Fame shoe-in Greg Maddux.

Which brings me to…

IN.

Greg Maddux.
What can be said about Maddux that everyone doesn’t already know? 355 wins compared to 227 losses, a career 3.16 ERA and 3371 strikeouts. Add to that four straight Cy Young Awards, 18 straight Gold Gloves, eight All-Star Games, having his number retired by two teams…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!


“The Big Hurt” is still out there trying to find a ride for the remainder of the season, but honestly…does he need to? With a career batting average of .301, 521 home runs, 1704 RBI and close to 2500 base hits…there is no reason the two-time MVP needs to suit up again as his legacy is locked and loaded. Did you know…Thomas is the only player in baseball history to have seven consecutive seasons of a .300 average, 100 runs, 100 RBI, 20 home runs and at least 100 walks? Yup, the guy was Albert Pujols before Albert Pujols was.

Jeff Kent.
Kent and his lip curtain have a long road ahead of them. Is his legendary prickliness toward the media enough to keep him on the bubble…or do his numbers as one of the best second basemen ever win out? The 2000 National League MVP amassed 2461 hits, 377 home runs and a .290 batting average. Four times a Silver Slugger, five times an All-Star and for six years…playing in that long shadow of Barry Bonds. I put him in, not because of the womb broom…but because he is just THAT much better than Ryne Sandberg and Joe Morgan.

OUT (in random order).

Kenny Rogers.
“The Gambler” tossed his perfect game 15 years ago NEXT Tuesday (July 28, 1994), so it is only appropriate he gets brought up as a 2014 Hall candidate. Unfortunately, he’s going to be watching from home like the rest of us. The guy was a wizard on the bump…five Gold Gloves, 219 wins and close to 2000 strikeouts, but what is most impressive is that he is the all-time leader in pickoffs with 93.

Moises Alou.
Alou had a much better career than a lot of people realize, but just because he is underrated...he doesn’t deserve a plaque in Cooperstown. Over his 17 year career, Alou boasted a .303 career batting average, just under 2200 career hits and 332 home runs. Considering he finally got his crack at the bigs at age 25…it’s hard to imagine what kind of numbers he would have had if he broke in five years prior.

Ray Durham, Richie Sexson, Shannon Stewart, Armando Benitez, Steve Trachsel, Mike Timlin, Keith Foulke, Todd Jones, Mark Grudzielanek, Esteban Loaiza, Freddy Garcia, Jon Lieber, Damion Easley, Trot Nixon, Jacque Jones, J.T. Snow, Jose Vidro, Matt Morris, Jay Payton, Paul Lo Duca, Jose Cruz Jr., 2003 National League Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne, Paul Byrd, Sean Casey and Scott Hatteberg.

ON THE BUBBLE.

Mike Mussina.
To me, “Moose” is an interesting case. On paper, you see a HUGE winning percentage (.638), a brilliant 270 and 153 record and 2813 Ks. His career ERA is 3.68 and one could argue that had he not toiled for more than half of his career in Baltimore…he would be as much of a Hall candidate as Tom Glavine. However, Glavine had five seasons with more than 20 wins. Mussina, while he’s hit double digits in wins seventeen straight years, only his 20 once. The Cy Young award has eluded Mussina as well. Unfortunately, six top five finishes and no hardware doesn’t make for the best Hall of Fame case.

Jim Edmonds.
If the eight-time Gold Glove recipient proved anything last year with the Cubs is that he can still play. “Jimmy Baseball” entered 2009 with 382 home runs and no job. Should he never play again, those 382 bombs are more than Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio, Ralph Kiner and Tony Perez. Edmonds also has a .284 career batting average with five seasons above the .300 mark. And, oh yeah…the guy could go down as the best fielding center fielder during his time.

Luis Gonzalez.
In 2001, “Gonzo” hit .325 with 57 home runs and 142 RBI and led the Diamondbacks to a World Series title. Still serviceable last season at 41, Gonzalez was an every day player for the Marlins and is still looking for work. With 354 home runs, it isn’t likely that Gonzalez will get to 400. That being said, he is nine hits from 2600 and 61 RBI from 1500. Only one player that is Hall eligible (Harold Baines) has more than 1500 RBI and has yet to be enshrined in Cooperstown. There are no Hall eligible players with more doubles than “Gonzo” that have yet to get called to the Hall. If he never plays again…Gonzalez is a tough call.

Hideo Nomo.
Ask anyone what they think of Nomo and his Hall chances and they’ll likely laugh in your face. However, he is the guy who is credited with paving the way for Japanese players to make their way to the Majors. After a brief, yet successful, career in Japan, Nomo hit the states and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1995. He’s the only Japanese player to have thrown a no-hitter (he threw two…one in each league) and finished his abbreviated MLB career with four seasons with more than 200 strikeouts and a 123-109 record. But…without Nomo, there would be no Ichiro. Let’s not forget how he took the league by storm in 1995 and made it okay for Major League teams to take a chance on Asian players.

It takes being out of the game five years to be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Over the last week, you’ve been brought up to speed on each of the next five years of eligible, potential inductees. If you’ve missed a year or have a comment to make…check them out here:

Monday…
2010.
Tuesday…
2011.
Wednesday…
2012.
Thursday…
2013.

Check back today after 12:00pm CST for another special Hall of Fame preview.


BallHype: hype it up!

July 23, 2009

Perfecto!

With a big thanks to Dewayne Wise, White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game today. You might remember, Buehrle also threw a no-hitter April 18, 2007 against the Texas Rangers.

And how good (read: "lucky") was Buehrle? Three times he went to a three ball count. Not too shabby.

But why waste your time reading MY thoughts...read what the Chicago Tribune has to say about it.
One last thing...I'm pretty sure Jim Parque would like to personally thank Buehrle for officially knocking the White Sox beat writers off his back this afternoon.

BallHype: hype it up!

The Hall of Fame Class of 2013

The BBWAA have tried to draw a line in the sand regarding NOT voting someone in who has been linked to PEDs by not giving Mark McGwire more than a quarter of their vote.

In 2011, they’ll get their chance to blackball someone who was found guilty in the form of Rafael Palmeiro.

In 2013, it is possible that three of the best players to ever suit up and take the field might be left out in that Cooperstown cold. But here’s the rub…as of now, none of them have been found guilty of using any banned substances.

NOPE (regardless of what they did “before they started using steroids”).

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa.

IN.

Craig Biggio.
To the casual fan…the words “Craig Biggio” are synonymous with “consistency”. And it’s true, the dude was…to the tune of 3060 hits, 668 doubles (good for fifth all-time) and a career .281 batting average. His seven All-Star appearances, five Silver Slugger Awards and four Gold Gloves pale in comparison to one of his greatest/oddest achievements…the 285 times (two shy of the record) he was hit by a pitch.

Mike Piazza.
Earlier this year, rumors started swirling that the 1993 National League Rookie of the Year was a user of PEDs. Fortunately for the 12 time All-Star, the idiom “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” has (seemingly) not been fully investigated. As it is, Piazza finished his career with a bloated .308 career batting average, nine straight seasons with an average of .300 of higher, 427 home runs, including eight straight seasons with 30 or more and 1335 RBI. Not bad for a guy who was taken as a favor in the 62nd round of the draft.

OUT (in random order).

David Wells.
“Boomer” finished his career with a 239-157 record and 13 seasons with ten or more wins. Add to that his perfect game, two World Series rings and three All-Star appearances and you have a very, very good pitcher…but not a Hall of Famer.

Roberto Hernandez and Jose Mesa.
Easily confused as the same dude, Hernandez had 326 saves (12th all-time) and Mesa notched 321 (13th all-time). Hernandez is 11th all-time in games played with 1010, while Mesa is tied with Lee Smith with 1022…ninth all-time.

Mike Stanton.
After Jesse Orosco, Stanton is second on the all-time games pitched list with 1178.

Steve Finley, Shawn Green, Jeff Cirillo, Jose Valentin, Reggie Sanders, Jeff Conine, Royce Clayton, Bob Wickman, Ryan Klesko, Aaron Sele, Woody Williams, Rondell White, Mike Lieberthal, Tony Batista, Sandy Alomar Jr., Damian Miller and Todd Walker.

ON THE BUBBLE.


Curt Schilling.
When he finally hung up his bloody sock and called it quits, plenty of people were already willing to hang up Schilling’s plaque. Sure, his post-season performances are legendary, but his overall body of work was just very, very good. Sure, he won close to 60 percent of his decisions and won 216 games. Sure, he topped 3000 strikeouts with 3116, but did you know that he finished his career second all-time with a 4.38 strikeout to walk ratio? Yeah…me neither.

Kenny Lofton.
Ask anyone if Lofton is a Hall of Famer and they would say (without hesitation) “no”. And they’d probably be right. However, if you compare his stats to “could be HOFer” Tim Raines, they stack up. Raines has 2605 hits, carries a .294 career average and scored 1571 runs. Lofton finished his career with 2428 hits, a .299 average and 1528 runs. Throw in six straight All-Star appearances and four straight Gold Gloves and the case for Lofton looks halfway decent.

Julio Franco.
Franco is on the bubble for the simple reason that he was his generation’s Satchel Paige. If you believe what he told you…he played until he was 48. Some folks suggest that Franco was older though. He holds the distinction of being the oldest player ever to hit a grand slam, pinch-hit home run, two home runs in one game and to steal two bases in a game. But this is why I like Franco and why he is “on the bubble”…combined, throughout his career, he has more than 4200 hits joining Ty Cobb and Pete Rose. The breakdown: Major League Baseball-2586, Minor Leagues-618, Mexican League-316, Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball-286, Dominican Winter League-267 and South Korea's Korean Baseball Organization-156. Not too shabby!

Tomorrow marks the end of this preview fest, but if you want to check out the look ahead to 2010, 2011 or 2012…be my guest. Also tomorrow at 12:00pm CST, watch out for a Hall-worthy Q&A with a former player who has quite the history with one of two men being inducted Saturday.



BallHype: hype it up!





July 22, 2009

Hall of Fame Class of 2012

They come completely by accident, but every few years, the Hall of Fame throws us a year where they can play catch up.

In recent years, the Hall took a breather so guys like Carlton Fisk and Tony Perez (2000), Bruce Sutter (2006) and, most recently, Goose Gossage (2008) could take their place among the immortals.

Well…2012 will be no different as there is not a soul among the first ballot guys who belongs.

IN.

None.

OUT (in random order).


Javy Lopez.
A while back I would’ve made the argument that Lopez was on his way to something. Then, well…I am not sure what happened to the guy. He ended his career with a respectable .287 batting average and 260 home runs.




Ruben Sierra.
20 years ago, Sierra was, along with Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Pete Incaviglia, THE future of baseball and you would have been hard pressed to find anyone to agree with you. Now, after 306 home runs and 1322 RBI…he’s an interesting footnote to an era that has long since passed.

Vinny Castilla.
Was Castilla a very good third baseman or another one of those who was helped by the much ballyhooed Coors Effect? Both?!? Any way you slice it, his 320 home runs and near perfect hair doesn’t get him through the doors of Cooperstown without a paying first.

1993 American League Rookie of the Year Tim Salmon, Brad Radke, Edgardo Alfonzo, Scott Erickson, Jeff Fassero, Joe Randa, Jeromy Burnitz, Eric Young, Brian Jordan, Bill Mueller, Matt Lawton, Jose Hernandez, Phil Nevin, Alex S. Gonzalez, Pedro Astacio, Carl "the Bible never says anything about dinosaurs" Everett, David Bell, Rick Helling, Jose Vizcaino, Terry Mulholland, Jeff Nelson, Danny Graves and Dustin Hermanson.

ON THE BUBBLE.

Bernie Williams.

So, I’ll be honest…I through Bernie on this list to please some of the Yankees fans that I know bump around the HOVG. Here’s the thing with Williams…if it’s not likely that the Yankees will retire his number, it isn’t likely the Hall will welcome him. Sure, his .297 career batting average, eight straight seasons of .300 or more, 2336 hits and 22 post season home runs are things of recent Yankee legend…they are nothing but a blip on the radar of what gets mentioned alongside the names of those in Cooperstown.

2010, 2011 and now 2012 are in the books. On the horizon…2013 and 2014. Then, if everything works out in my favor…something special for Friday.



BallHype: hype it up!

July 21, 2009

Hawk for the Hall?

With the Hall of Fame Induction sneaking up on us, it is time to start looking SPECIFICALLY at those who are up for enshrinement next year and beyond.

And while The HOVG is focusing on those on the ballot for the first time, one site is trumpeting the cause of just one...Andre Dawson.

Asked why he is doing it, Charley Beatley says "I have been a die-hard Cubs fan all of my life. Of all of the Cub players through the years, no player has played the game with more dignity and respect as 'The Hawk'."

Check out Charley's site HERE!


BallHype: hype it up!

The Hall of Fame Class of 2011

I’ve been saying this for a few years and I’ll say it again…the BBWAA will have their hands full when it comes to the 2011 election.

In the mix will be one guy who was found guilty of taking performance enhancing drugs and another that just about everyone and their mother thinks did. Add to that combo a few of “good guys”, a prick or two and you’ve got the recipe for a great vote.
Buckle up.

IN.

John Franco.
Why not start with one of the “good guys”? Here’s the rub with Franco, while I believe he is most certainly Hall-worthy…I can’t put him in until Lee Smith gets his number punched. Franco compiled a huge number of saves over his 21 year career. His 424 saves rank him fourth all-time behind Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera and, you guessed it…Smith. He is third in games finished behind, again, Hoffman and Smith. Franco was a four time All-Star and twice brought home the Rolaids Relief Man Award. A quiet closer, he compiled a 90-87 record (decent considering his role…Hoffman’s career mark is 57-67) and a 2.89 ERA.

Jeff Bagwell.
Here’s the deal with me and Bagwell…I always ADMIRED Bagwell, but was never a huge Bagwell guy until AFTER he hung up his spikes. I respect the Hell out of the man for leaving the game after only 15 seasons. He could have very well hung around to pad some numbers to his already bloated 449 home run and 1529 RBI totals. But he chose not to. He could have left Houston a number of times. But he chose not to. His .948 OPS is 23rd all-time and the only Hall eligible player that is higher on that list and NOT enshrined is Mark McGwire. Bagwell was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1991 and followed it up three seasons later with the National League MVP award. A career .297 hitter, Bagwell also appeared in four All-Star Games and was twice (yes, TWICE) a 30-30 man. And...he had a bitchin' goatee.

OUT (in random order).

Kevin Brown.
Brown’s 211-144 record isn’t as impressive as the .594 winning percentage it carries with it. Of course, that is only the tip of the iceberg for the hot and cold hurler. A 3.28 career ERA, 2397 Ks and 13 seasons with ten or more victories makes Brown a hard choice to NOT put on the bubble. One ring, six All-Star Games and seven Gold Gloves…sorry Brown. If David Cone can’t sniff the halls of Cooperstown…you can’t either.

John Olerud.
The College Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time World Champion isn’t going to get much love from Cooperstown. While his .295 career average and 2239 hits is impressive…he was WAY overshadowed by other great first basemen throughout his career. Here’s a fun fact…Olerud is one of only TWO players to hit for the cycle in both leagues. Can you name the other?

Tino Martinez.
Another overshadowed first baseman (and probably rightfully so), Martinez is only mentioned here because there are some out there (I’m looking your way Yankees fans) that think guys like Tino, Bernie Williams and Paul O’Neill deserve a spot up on the wall. But here’s the thing…none of them hold a candle to Don Mattingly, and last year, “Donnie Baseball” couldn’t muster more than 11.9%.

BJ Surhoff, Marquis Grissom, Bret Boone, Al Leiter, 1987 National League Rookie of the Year Benito Santiago, Carlos Baerga, 1994 National League Rookie of the Year Raul Mondesi, Bobby Higginson, Wilson Alvarez, Rey Sanchez, Charles Johnson, Jose Offerman, Ugueth “currently serving a 14-year prison sentence” Urbina, Ismael Valdez, Dan Wilson, Paul Quantrill, Cal Eldred, Kirk Rueter and Steve Reed.

ON THE BUBBLE.

Larry Walker.
Good friend of The HOVG, David Allan is going to KILL me for putting Walker “on the bubble” and Bagwell in the Hall of Fame, so here’s the deal…read what he had to say about Walker back in January and make up your own mind.


Juan Gonzalez.
Possibly the hardest player to characterize on this list is Gonzalez. I’m a fan, through and through. I always bought into the “Juan Gone” hype, the two MVP awards and the monster long balls. His 1996-1999 stretch is, arguably, one of the best of the 90s and in any other era…he’s in. But was the dude clean? Are his numbers going to go the way of McGwire and be pushed to the side in favor of steroid allegations considering some of his teammates?

Which brings me to…

Rafael Palmeiro.
Beautiful mustache or no...it’s hard to look at Palmeiro’s numbers and not get pissed off. 3020 hits, 569 home runs, 1835 RBI…all spectacular, albeit wasted, numbers. His 5388 total bases ranks him tenth all-time and the afore mentioned hits and home runs total makes him one of only FOUR players to have 3000 hits and 500 dongs. That being said, there isn’t a snowball’s chance that a guy who pointed his finger to Congress and proclaimed “I have never used steroids, period” gets in a mere six years after being found guilty of doing the opposite.

Yesterday, I looked at the 2010 ballot and in the next couple of days…2012, 2013 and 2014 will be chronicled.


BallHype: hype it up!