December 31, 2010

Cooperstown 2011: Benito Sanitago

BENITO SANTIAGO
First Year on Ballot

PLAYING CAREER: San Diego Padres (1986–1992), Florida Marlins (1993–1994), Cincinnati Reds (1995), Philadelphia Phillies (1996), Toronto Blue Jays (1997–1998), Chicago Cubs (1999), Cincinnati Reds (2000), San Francisco Giants (2001–2003), Kansas City Royals (2004) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2005)

ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career batting average of .263 with 217 home runs.  1987 National League Rookie of the Year after putting together a rookie-record 34-game hitting streak.  Three-straight Gold Glove Awards (1988-1990) and five All-Star selections (1989-1992 and 2002).

HOVG THOUGHTS:  Likely one and done...Santiago looked to be, possibly, the next great catcher when he hit the scene in 1987.  Unfortunately, he was never able to re-capture the magic of his first few years in the league.


BBA Recommends Alomar and Blyleven for Hall of Fame

As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA), I take great pride in having been able to participate in their Hall of Fame vote the past two years.

This year, the BBA is recommending Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven be inducting in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Here's the official word:

Alomar, who is on the ballot for his second year, and Blyleven, looking at his fourteenth time, both finished just shy of the BBA's recommendation in 2010 at just a fraction under the 75% threshold. As was the case last year, both Alomar and Blyleven received the same amount of votes from the BBA membership in 2010, but this time it was enough to push them into the recommended status.

Both players received 117 votes out of the 154 ballots cast, resulting in a 75.97% approval rate. Again echoing the vote taken at the end of 2009, shortstop Barry Larkin was the third man in the balloting, missing selection by being named on just 70.78% of the ballots.

And since everyone else on the web is throwing their own theoretical picks out there, here are mine (along with links to their Hall of Fame capsules from this site)...Roberto Alomar, Jeff Bagwell, Harold Baines, Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff, Tim Raines and Lee Smith.

Last year, I left Raines off the pretend ballot, but after plenty of discussion...I've come around.  Honestly, I'm almost there for Mark McGwire as well.

Unfortunately, I still can't get behind Blyleven.  Sorry, gang.

Take a gander at the complete press release from the BBA and check out how all 33 players fared in the vote by clicking HERE.


A Year of Talkin' Baseball

'tis the season for plenty of things...returning Christmas presents, going back to work and, of course, year-enders!

The Hall of Very Good is no different.

Next week, following the Hall of Fame announcement (read as: I'm too busy/lazy to do it now), come on back for the Top Ten Stories of the Year.

Today...it's a year of "Talkin' Baseball".  That's right, the best of what has become my favorite part of doing this site...talkin' baseball with whoever will respond to the request.  Click the BOLD text to read the entire piece!

GAR RYNESS, aka "Batting Stance Guy" (February)

Manny (Ramirez) is great to me. I’ve done pre-game shows for visiting teams at Dodgers Stadium and Manny will always scream and whistle across the field while I’m filming. “Do Ethier! Do Ethier!” I’ll then hold up a finger, as if to say, “Hold on Manny, I’ll come over there after this.” The first time that happened the Cardinals TV staff said, “wait, do you know Manny?” That’s when it hit me how weird the last two years have been.

"Diamond King" DICK PEREZ (February)

As far back as I can remember, I had a desire to draw. On the margins around my school notebooks there were caricatures of school mates and images from my imagination. After I realized that there was no way I would ever achieve my real dream of becoming a professional baseball player, I concluded that I had to choose a real life career. I chose art.

Hall of Famer GARY CARTER (May)

The loss of my Mom was a huge impact on my life as we were a very loving family that went to church regularly. I didn’t understand why a loving God would take someone away as dear as her. It helped me to understand how fragile life is.

Author GEORGE CASTLE (May), Talkin' Andre Dawson (July) and Lou Piniella (September)

Sammy (Sosa) is still too raw for Cubs fans. Worse than alleged steroid use, he walked out on the team on the last day of the 2004 season. However, I don’t feel Sammy will be regarded in the same breath as Banks, Williams, Santo, Jenkins, Sandberg. His ego exploded as he got successful, and that will stain him forever.

Talkin' Ken Griffey Jr. with KEN GRIFFEY SR.JEFF MONTGOMERY and C.J. WILSON (June)

After announcing that I would retire at the end of the 1999 season, Junior asked me if I would give him a signed jersey…which I did. The next day in our clubhouse was an autographed Griffey jersey.

Competitive Eater PAT BERTOLETTI (July)

I usually spend most of the game wandering around trying to eat at all the food stands. I think the White Sox have the best food in the league. I would only go to a Cubs game if there were free tickets and Old Style involved.

Reality Show "All Stars" JONNY FAIRPLAY (September), ROB CESTERNINO (September) and RUSSELL KOOK (December)

If I were going to start an alliance with any past Mets, first on the list would be former (and hopefully future) manager Bobby Valentine. I also am very partial to both Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez and think they do a great job calling the game and are both really interesting guys and have great baseball IQ.. And Keith, on day one, would have the greatest mustache in "Survivor" history. Unquestioned.

Outspoken Pitcher JEFF JUDEN (October)

I would still like (a 1999 Yankees World Series ring) if they have any spare change left. I have room on my middle finger for it.

Former O.J. Simpson, nevermind...it's KATO KAELIN (November)

Airline ticket to Milwaukee…$450.00. Car rental…$150.00. Tickets to game…$55.00. Sitting next to Shawn from The Hall of Very Good…PRICELESS.

San Francisco Giants' Biggest Fan ASHKON DAVARAN (December)

I had a chance to meet Steve (Perry) before the World Series Parade, and he seemed to be pretty cool with it. I thanked him for writing one of the best songs of all time…he said thanks and that I did a good job with it.

All in all...a great year for talkin' baseball.  Sure, I'm biased and I wish I could add more of my favorites (for example DANIEL NAVA, GARRETT WITTELS and MATHER ZICKEL from "The Bronx is Burning"), but since most lists are "Top Ten" lists...I decided to keep it at ten.

Which was your favorite?  Please let me know below!


December 30, 2010

Rafael Palmeiro is Sticking to His Story

We're less than a week out from the 2011 Hall of Fame class being announced and Rafael Palmeiro is still sticking to the same "tainted vitamin shot" story he tried selling after he was suspended for failing a steroid test more than five years ago.

"I was telling the truth then, and I am telling the truth now," Palmeiro said in an interview with SI.com. "I don't know what else I can say. I have never taken steroids. For people who think I took steroids intentionally, I'm never going to convince them. But I hope the voters judge my career fairly and don't look at one mistake."

Following the 2004 season, Palmeiro appeared to be a lock for Cooperstown with 551 home runs, 1775 RBI and a mere 78 hits shy of 3000.

Thing is...he probably wishes now that he would have hung it up instead of returning for the rollercoaster ride that was 2005.

Prior to his 19th Major League season, Palmeiro was called out by former teammate Jose Canseco in his best seller Juiced. That was followed up by that pesky Congressional hearing in which the four-time All-Star (now) infamously proclaimed that he had "never used steroids, period".

In July, Palmeiro joined Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray as the only players in big league history with 500 homers and 3000 hits, but less than three weeks later, the potential Hall of Fame train seemingly derailed when Palmeiro tested positive positive for steroids.

After returning from his ten day suspension, he managed a paltry two hits in 26 at bats and couldn't find anyone to bid on his services for 2006.

It is uncertain why Palmeiro is choosing now to, again, proclaim his innocence since the minds of the BBWAA have probably already been made, but it will be interesting to see how he fares next week when the votes are announced.

So, without completely re-hashing the story of fellow (alledged) steroid user Mark McGwire, it warrants mentioning that Hall of Fame voters have denied the former slugger entrance in Cooperstown four times. 

Last year, McGwire received only 23.7 percent of the vote (75 percent is needed for enshrinement) and, frankly, early indications are that Palmeiro probably won't do much better.


Cooperstown 2011: Kirk Rueter

KIRK RUETER
First Year on Ballot

PLAYING CAREER: Montreal Expos (1993–1996) and San Francisco Giants (1996–2005)


ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career record of 130–92 (a .586 winning percentage) with an ERA of 4.27.  Posted double-digit wins from 1997 to 2003...averaging 13 wins and 32 starts a year during that span.  Giants all-time winner among lefties with 105.

HOVG THOUGHTS:  Seriously?!?

December 29, 2010

Cooperstown 2011: Tim Raines

TIM RAINES
Fourth Year on Ballot  (30.4%)

PLAYING CAREER: Montreal Expos (1979–1990), Chicago White Sox (1991–1995), New York Yankees (1996–1998), Oakland Athletics (1999), Montreal Expos (2001), Baltimore Orioles (2001) and Florida Marlins (2002)

ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career batting average of .294 with 2605 hits and 1571 runs scored.  Hit .300 or better seven times.  Led the National League in batting with a .334 average in 1986.  808 career stolen bases (fifth all-time) with an 85% success rate.  Led National League in stolen bases four times and twice in runs scored.  Put together six seasons with more than 100 runs scored.  Seven-straight All-Star selections (1981-1987) and two World Series championships (1996 and 1998).  Had number retired by Montreal Expos and holds their team record for runs scored, triples and stolen bases.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ON TWITTER:

@tomkrasovic:  Tim Raines always gets my vote for the Hall of Fame

@dougdrot:  I am usually generous on Baseball Hal of Fame but just can't say yes to Tim Raines. He was more Vince Coleman that Ricky Henderson.

@Sky_Kalkman:  I put Tim Raines in the Hall, but I think he's also a bit overrated by a segment of the saber community. You know, THOSE guys.

HOVG THOUGHTS:  I always kinda thought that Raines was one of the best out there. Along with Rickey Henderson, there were really only two guys you would want to lead off for you. With a nice peak throughout the 80s, 2605 career hits, a .294 batting average and 808 steals, Raines is the kind of guy that, frankly, should get more votes than he has.


Matt Kemp and Rihanna...Splitsville

I was certain that pop star Rihanna's relationship with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp was going to be this generation's (or at least BlackSportsOnline's) version of Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe.

Okay...not really.

The story of their recent break up was, um, broken (I guess) by US Weekly, but here's some random information from, of all places, The Huffington Post:

The singer and Los Angeles Dodgers star had dated for nearly a year; they first got together in Mexico in January. Unfortunately, their hectic lives made it impossible to stay together.

"He just can't keep up with her crazy travel schedule," one source the magazine.

"Matt's sick of always following after her like a puppy dog all over the world. He wants something more normal," the source adds.

Apparently, the break is relatively recent; "It happened over the last few weeks," the source said. "She basically was just over it."

This is the point in the story where I'm supposed to make some lame Chris Brown reference, but I won't.  Instead, I'll point out that the afore mentioned DiMaggio and Monroe marriage only lasted 274 days, so, you know...maybe the comparison is/was kinda apt.

No?

Perhaps distracted by his romance with the 22-year-old superstar, this past season was Kemp's worst since becoming a full-timer for Los Angeles three years ago.  Hopefully for Dodgers fans, the 2009 Silver Slugger can raise his .249 batting average and lackluster production to something a tad more respectable in this, the last year of his contract.

And now...the obligatory link to Rihanna's "Umbrella" video.




Mets Fans Want Jose Canseco

A couple of weeks ago, Jose Canseco took to the Twitters claiming he could, at 46-years-old, still play at the Major League level.

After a number of tweets that pretty much banged the same drum, he called out current New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.

Sandy alderson please give me a chance to play first base ,even just a tryout

Why Alderson?

Easy.  Alderson was with Oakland from 1983 until 1997 and helped build the Athletics into the powerhouse that brought the baseball world both Canseco and Mark McGwire.

For fun, Mike Silva over at New York Baseball Digest threw the question out to Mets fans..."Should the Mets bring Jose Canseco to Spring Training?"

Surprisingly...84% of those that responded said they would like the Amazins to bring the former Bash Brother to Port St. Lucie for Spring Training.

Canseco last played Major League ball with the Chicago White Sox in 2001.  The next spring, he was signed by the Montreal Expos but was released prior to the regular season. Canseco subsequently retired in May 2002.

He made a brief comeback attempt in 2004, but was not offered a spot with the Los Angeles Dodgers after a spring tryout.  The slugger ended his career with 462 home runs and 1407 RBI.

And if you're curious as to how the future Celebrity Apprentice cast member is looking in the batting cage nowadays...just watch!




December 28, 2010

Cooperstown 2011: Dave Parker

DAVE PARKER
Fifteenth Year on Ballot  (15.2%)

PLAYING CAREER: Pittsburgh Pirates (1973–1983), Cincinnati Reds (1984–1987), Oakland Athletics (1988–1989), Milwaukee Brewers (1990), California Angels (1991) and Toronto Blue Jays (1991)

ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career batting average of .290 with 2712 hits, 339 home runs and 1493 RBI.  1978 National League Most Valuable Player.  Six seasons (five consecutive) with a .300 or higher batting average.  Back-to-back batting titles in 1977 (.338) and 1978 (.334).  Four seasons with 100-plus RBI.  Two-time World Series champion (1979 and 1989), seven-time All-Star (1977, 1979-1981, 1985-1986 and 1990) and three-time Gold Glove Award winner (1977-1979).

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ON TWITTER:

@MLBreports:  Dave Parker's last year on the ballot. Hope you get in cobra.

@JeffFletcherAOL: Dave Parker doesn't get enough talk for his HOF credentials.

@DaneFletcher:  Dave Parker deserves spot in Hall

HOVG THOUGHTS:  If there was a “Badass Hall of Fame”, Dave Parker would have made it in long ago.  First ballot.  His toothy grin would surely be up on that stage praising Willie Stargell and condemning Marge Schott. Sitting behind him in whatever the “Badass Hall of Fame” requires inductees to wear (I imagine a blazer and a fedora…perhaps accented with a cane) would be such luminaries as Dick Allen and Albert Belle. 

As it stands, there are only seven Hall eligible players with more hits that Parker’s 2712…and three of them (Rafael Palmeiro, Harold Baines and Roberto Alomar) are on this year’s ballot. A seven-time All-Star, Parker hit 339 home runs and knocked in 1493 runs. Only Baines, Palmeiro and another member of this year’s ballot, Fred McGriff, have more and are Hall eligible.  Unfortunately, this is Parker’s last time that he’s appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot and he's never even approached a third of the votes needed for induction.  So, until that “Badass Hall of Fame” gets built…we’ll have to just wonder what the career .290 hitter would have had in store for us when he gave his speech.


December 27, 2010

Garrett Wittels Charged with Rape

It's the type of story that, when you see the headline, you're hoping that it doesn't involve the one dude at Florida International University that you know.

But, unfortunately, it does.

Last Monday, friend of The Hall, FIU baseball star (and owner of the NCAA's second longest hitting streak) Garrett Wittels and a group of friends were arrested in the Bahamas and charged with the rape of two 17-year-old girls.

According to online reports, the incident happened at the Atlantis Resort and Casino in Paradise Island on December 20. Wittels and his two friends were each released on $10,000 bond after a court hearing Thursday.

"Anyone can accuse anyone of anything at any time," Wittels' father Michael said in a piece that ran in The Miami Herald. "He's not doing well, obviously. He's blown away. He's devastated that someone would accuse him of this."

According to The Miami Herald:

Garrett (Wittels) and his friends met the girls in question at the Bahamian casino, and they later followed the young men willingly to a private party. Surveillance video exists, Michael Wittels added, showing the girls, and not the accused, were the aggressors, at least in public. The age of the girls, who passed themselves off as students at the University of Arkansas and were drinking in the casino, is not an issue in the case. The age of consent for sexual activity is 16 in the Bahamas.

Wittels' family wants to make clear that it was a personal matter, and not one involving FIU, as the arrest occurred far off campus and during winter break.  As to what affect the arrest might have on Wittels' eligibility for the upcoming season...it's too soon to say.

And while it is way to early to speculate, if the 20-year-old is able to resume play February 18, he'll have a chance to tie and break the NCAA hit streak record of 58 games (set by Robin Ventura in 1987) when FIU opens its season in a three-game series against Southeastern Louisiana.

This past July, The Hall was able to catch up with the third baseman...you can read the interview HERE.


Cooperstown 2011: Rafael Palmeiro

RAFAEL PALMEIRO
First Year on Ballot

PLAYING CAREER: Chicago Cubs (1986–1988), Texas Rangers (1989–1993), Baltimore Orioles (1994–1998), Texas Rangers (1999–2003) and Baltimore Orioles (2004–2005)

ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career batting average of .288, with 3020 hits, 569 home runs, 1663 runs scored and 1835 RBI.  Ranks in the top 30 all-time in total bases (10th), home runs (12th), RBI (15th), at bats (15th), doubles (16th), games played (18th), hits (24th) and runs scored (30th).  Had a batting average of .300 or higher six times.  From 1995 to 2003, averaged 41 home runs and 120 RBI a season while carrying a .285 batting average.  Palmeiro is one of only five players in history to hit over 200 home runs for two different clubs (Baltimore and Texas) and is is history's most prolific home run hitter to have never won the home run crown.  Four-time All-Star selection (1988, 1991, 1998-1999) and three-time Gold Glove Award winner (1997-1999). 

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ON TWITTER: 

@Dukefrukem:  Rafael Palmeiro won't be inducted into the hall of fame right?
 
@Kanarisp:  3020 hits, 569 HR, .288 = Rafael Palmeiro non-hall of fame stats.
 
@MLBreports:  I have thought about this one. Palmeiro will not make the hall. Will not survive 1st ballot. You heard it here first. 
 
HOVG THOUGHTS:  Beautiful mustache or no...it’s hard to look at Palmeiro’s numbers and not get pissed off.  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.


What's Next for Manny Ramirez?

Earlier this off season, it was reported that Manny Ramirez would be open to playing for the Toronto Blue Jays, but, apparently, the feelings between him and Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos weren't mutual.

Then, it appeared as though the New York Yankees might have been looking to enlist the services of the 38-year-old slugger.

Now, according to a tweet by ESPN's Buster Olney...Ramirez won't be taking his sideshow to the Big Apple.

Heard this: The Yankees have no interest in signing Manny Ramirez. Jorge Posada will be the full-time DH, and they have three OFers lined up

On the flip side...Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times sees Ramirez as being a potential fit for the vacant Tampa Bay Rays DH hole.

In a real-life version of musical chairs, it would seem the Rays could score a good deal here given the number of openings vs. free-agent candidates. Possibilities include Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome, with (Dan) Johnson again a fallback option if they get a first baseman.

So what's next for Manny Ramirez and his lifetime .313 batting average and 555 home runs?

The guy can't play the outfield any more so the National League is out of the question and with more and more American League teams publicly saying "not interested"...can the one-time lock for Hall of Fame find a ride for the 2011 or will he be forced to sit it out?

Only time will tell.


Jamie Moyer Plans on Playing in 2012

A year from now, the discussion surrounding Jamie Moyer looks to be where he'll play again rather than "if".

You see, if you listen to the 48-year-old lefty...he's expecting to make it back from recent Tommy John surgery that will keep him out the entire upcoming season.

"It may be difficult to find a job at the age of 49.  Then again, it may not be," Moyer said in a recent interview with The Seattle Times. "I know where I stand: I'll probably get a spring-training invitation (rather than a guaranteed roster spot), and rightly so. I don't have a problem with that. Throughout my career, I've always had to earn the situation I've been in. I don't expect anyone to give me anything. It's never been that way, so why now?"

It's not uncommon for a pitcher to return and have success following Tommy John surgery.  But no one has ever attempted a comeback at Moyer's age.  And if/when he does make a comeback at age 49...he'll be only one of four pitchers (Satchell Paige, Jack Quinn and Hoyt Wilhelm were the others) to take the mound that close to the half century mark.

You'll remember that Moyer originally hurt his elbow this summer after leaving a game in July with elbow pain. A couple days later, it was determined that the lefty had both a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and a strained flexor pronator tendon in his throwing elbow.

Back in November, while Moyer was attempting a comeback in the Dominican Winter League, he re-injured the same elbow.

Moyer went 9-9 with a 4.84 ERA in 19 starts this past season.  For his career, he has compiled 267 wins...good for ninth all-time among left-handers.


December 26, 2010

Cooperstown 2011: John Olerud

JOHN OLERUD
First Year on Ballot

PLAYING CAREER: Toronto Blue Jays (1989–1996), New York Mets (1997–1999), Seattle Mariners (2000–2004), New York Yankees (2004) and Boston Red Sox (2005)

ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career batting average of .295, with 2239 hits, 255 home runs and 1230 RBI.  Hit .300 or better four times and is one of only 26 players to ever hit for the cycle multiple times in their careers.  Two-time World Series champion (1992 and 1993).  Three-time Gold Glove Award winner (2000, 2002 and 2003) and two-time All-Star selection (1993 and 2001). 

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ON TWITTER:

@WReedDarden:  someone asked me who my favorite baseball player of all time was, i answered quickly: JOHN OLERUD

HOVG THOUGHTS:  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?


December 25, 2010

Cooperstown 2011: Dale Murphy

DALE MURPHY
Thirteenth Year on Ballot (2010 - 11.7%)

PLAYING CAREER:  Atlanta Braves (1976–1990), Philadelphia Phillies (1990–1992) and Colorado Rockies (1993)

ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career batting average of .265 with 2111 hits, 398 home runs and 1266 RBI.  Bacl-to-back National League MVP in 1982 and 1983.  Hit 20-plus home runs 12 times, 30-plus six times and 40 or more...once.  Knocked in 100 runs five times and scored 100 runs four times.  From 1982 to 1985...hit .293, averaging 36 home runs and 110 RBI.  Shares Major League record for most seasons leading the league in games played by an outfielder with six.  Five-time Gold Glove Award winner (1982-1986) and seven-time All-Star (1980 and 1982-1987).  Had his number retired by the Atlanta Braves in 1994. 

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ON TWITTER:

@msimonespn:  Dale Murphy is the opposite for me. My gut says YES, the compiled numbers say eh...But for 6 yrs, he was best in NL/MLB. Is 6 yrs enough?

@Strikeoutlookin:  No way in Hell Rains gets in the Hall of fame and Dale Murphy not.. Its a TRAVESTY the Murph is outside looking in.


@Ben_Duronio:  Love Dale Murphy, but can't agree that hes a HOF'er over Blyleven.

HOVG THOUGHTS:  It’s hard to remember how dominant Dale Murphy was when he hit his peak in the mid-80s. Consider this…when he retired, his 398 home runs ranked 19th all-time. Now…he sits at 50.  After winning his back-to-back MVP awards in 1982 and 1983, Murphy appeared to be on his way to Cooperstown.  Now…not so much.


December 24, 2010

Cooperstown 2011: Jack Morris

JACK MORRIS
Twelfth Year on Ballot (2010 - 52.3%)

PLAYING CAREER:  Detroit Tigers (1977–1990), Minnesota Twins (1991), Toronto Blue Jays (1992–1993) and Cleveland Indians (1994)
ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career record of 254–186 (.577 winning percentage) with an ERA of 3.90 and 2478 strikeouts.  Three 20-win seasons, 11 seasons with 200-plus innings pitched and three seasons with 200 or more strikeouts.  His 14 Opening Day starts is tied for second best...behind only Tom Seaver's 16.  Held American League record for most consecutive starts (515) before being topped by Roger Clemens in 2001.  Four-time World Series champion (1984 and 1991-1993) and five-time All-Star selection (1981, 1984-1985, 1987 and 1991).  Threw no-hitter April 7, 1984.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ON TWITTER:

@mtmeyers:  Not to beat a dead horse, but Jack Morris never had an ERA below 3.00 for a season. Not once.

@bkabak:  If Jack Morris makes the Hall of Fame, they really should just call it the Hall of Baseball Players Writers Like. Need better standards.

@OverTheBaggy:  Like a Gallagher show, on days that Jack Morris pitched, women were warned that the first three rows would get wet.

HOVG THOUGHTS:  When someone brings up Jack Morris…people point to what some call (with all do respect to Don Larsen and Curt Schilling), one of the most memorable performances ever in the World Series.  It was his 1991 post season performance with the Twins (four victories scattered across five games), coupled with his 1984 and 1992 appearances, that make most people stand up and take notice of the mustachioed hurler.  But all those successes aside, it was in the 80s where Morris made a name for himself…not just in October. And it’s safe to say that if the Hall of Fame decides to start looking at pitchers who made their bread and butter throughout the 80s…Morris would be at the top of the list.

Morris had a pretty long stretch of brilliance.  From 1979 to 1992...dude managed to string together 233 of his career 254 victories...more than 40 more than Bob Welch and his 192.  And for the record, his 254 wins is more than Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal and Whitey Ford among plenty of others. In the 80s alone…Morris won a decade best 162 games, compiled a .577 winning percentage and exhibited his amazing consistency by finishing in the top ten of the Cy Young Award voting in half of the decade’s contests.  He finished in the top five in 1991 and 1992 as well.


Merry Christmas, Gang!

What's in a name this holiday season?

Since Major League Baseball was founded 140 years ago, close to 20,000 men have stepped between the foul lines and taken their turn at America's pasttime.

Thankfully, a handful of them have done their best to keep the spirit of Christmas alive throughout the baseball season.

So, with all apologies to my Jewish brothers (I'm looking your way Ryan Braun and Sandy Koufax) allow me to regale you with some thoughts on the longstanding partnership between baseball and December 25.  I mean, what would the dog days of summer be like without such popular holiday staples like Ebenezer "Ed" Beatin, Frosty Thomas or even George Bailey?
 
And what about Charles Dickens Bold?
 
I don't know if he could write a story, but I do know that in his only at bat with the St. Louis Browns...he struck out.
 
Perhaps the classics aren't your thing and you'd rather hear a song?
 
No, no, Burl Ives never played baseball professionally...but both Brett and Jamey Carroll are active and I'm willing to bet they could hum you a tune.
 
"Granny Hamner got ran over by a Rob Deer" anyone?  Anyone?!?
 
Maybe some jingling Bells ("Cool Papa" or Derek) are more your style.  To be honest, you could fill a team full of them.
 
You'd be hard pressed to find a Santa or a Claus that played ball (former infielder Billy Klaus comes closest), but let's face it...without his four-legged friends, he's kinda worthless.  And yeah, I'm talking about Dasher Troy, Rolff Dancer, the "Cuban Comet" Minnie Minoso, Cupid Childs and Joe "Blitzen" Benz
 
But what about "the most famous reindeer of all"?
 
No...not "Reindeer Bill" Killefer.  I'm talking about 152 game winner, and former Yankee hurler, Rudolph "Rudy" May.
 
Anyway, in the spirit of former catcher Steve Christmas...here are The Hall's Top Five Major Leaguers to remember this Christmas.
 
MATT HOLLIDAY, Outfield
Colorado Rockies (2004–2008), Oakland Athletics (2009) and St. Louis Cardinals (2009–present)
Holliday will enter 2011 with a career batting average of .317, 179 home runs and 691 RBI.  The four-time All-Star was, in 2007, awarded the National League Championship Series MVP.  Not too shabby.

J.T. SNOW, First Base
New York Yankees (1992), California Angels (1993–1996), San Francisco Giants (1997–2005), Boston Red Sox (2006) and San Francisco Giants (2008)
Known as a spectacular fielder, Snow won six-straight (1995-2000) Gold Gloves throughout his 16-year career.  His career numbers...a .268 batting average, 1509 hits, 189 home runs and 877 RBI.
 
IVAN DeJESUS, Shortstop
Los Angeles Dodgers (1974-1976), Chicago Cubs (1977-1981), Philadelphia Phillies (1982-1984), St. Louis Cardinals (1985), New York Yankees (1986), San Francisco Giants (1987) and Detroit Tigers (1988)
Perhaps the most noteworthy accomplishment of DeJesus (other than somehow lasting 15 years in the Majors and leading the National League in runs scored in 1978)...being the punchline to the question "who did the Phillies trade future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg for again?"
 
COOKIE ROJAS, Second Base/Manager
As a player...Cincinnati Reds (1962), Philadelphia Phillies (1963–1969), St. Louis Cardinals (1970) and Kansas City Royals (1970–1977)
As a manager...California Angels (1988) and Florida Marlins (1996)
Rojas was a five-time All-Star in his 16 year playing career...and even made it to four straight games (1971-1974) while with the Royals.  While with the Phillies, Rojas played at least one game at all nine positions in the field, including pitcher and catcher.  As a manager, he posted a career 76-79 record.
 
GUS/BUDDY/DAVID BELL
As previous mentioned...you could put together an entire team of Bells.  That said, Gus, Buddy and David make up a rare three-generation Major League family.  In his 15-year career, Gus Bell hit .281 and was an All-Star four times.  His son Buddy managed close to the same batting average (.279), while stacking up more than 2500 hits.  From 1979 to 1984, he brought home six Gold Gloves.  And lastly...David.  In 2004, he hit for the cycle while with the Phillies...joining his grandfather to become the only grandfather-grandson duo in Major League history to accomplish the feat.

 

December 23, 2010

Shake it Like a Snowglobe...the Video

Earlier in the week, The Hall posted Ashkon Davaran's new Christmas single.  You'll remember Ashkon as the guy who brought you the San Francisco's Giants playoff anthem "Don't Stop Believin'" a couple of months ago.

Now, two million YouTube views later...here's his new video.



Well...what do you think?  And since you're already here, why not check out the interview Ashkon did with The Hall of Very Good HERE.


Cooperstown 2011: Raul Mondesi

RAUL MONDESI
First Year on Ballot

PLAYING CAREER:  Los Angeles Dodgers (1993–1999), Toronto Blue Jays (2000–2002), New York Yankees (2002–2003), Arizona Diamondbacks (2003), Pittsburgh Pirates (2004), Anaheim Angels (2004) and Atlanta Braves (2005)

ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career batting average of .273, with 271 home runs, 860 RBI and 229 stolen bases.  1994 National League Rookie of the Year.  Two-time Gold Glove winner (1995 and 1997).  Twice eclipsed 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a season (1997 and 1999) to become only the tenth multiple 30/30  players and the first Dodger to accomplish the feat.  1995 All-Star selection.

HOVG THOUGHTS:  The current mayor of San Cristóbal Province hasn't a chance in the world to get a Hall of Fame vote.  BUT...I would've said the same about David Segui last year at this team and look at how he did.  One.  Vote.


December 22, 2010

Web Wednesday: The Diamond Report

Back on December 10, in conjunction of Baseball Bloggers Alliance Day, the announcement was made that "hump day" would now, officially, be "Web Wednesday" here at The Hall of Very Good.

So...what is "Web Wednesday"?

Basically, every Wednesday, The Hall will introduce you to a baseball blog or blogger that you might not know much about.  This week, it seems appropriate to kick off "Web Wednesday" with one of the co-founders of The Diamond Report and good friend of The Hall...John Saban.

HOVG: Alright, every site has a story behind it. Right out of the gate...what is the story behind The Diamond Report? How did it come about?

SABAN: The Diamond Report is a website created by a couple friends who have both loved baseball our entire lives and enjoy sports journalism.  The whole point of the site is to report accurate information to our viewers. We also occasionally give our opinion on the news around the baseball world.

HOVG: You've had a little bit of success since launching the site a couple of months ago. Have you had an "I've made it" moment yet or not? And if so...what was it?

SABAN: The site started as a blog, but was turned into a website after the first month, and the third day after converting to a website we had one article get over 2000 views just on Thanksgiving Day. That was encouraging to us, and we still joke about how fast everything has happened.

HOVG: In your experience as a blogger, what contacts have you made or what stories have you uncovered that you never thought that you would have been able to pull off?

SABAN: Well, we haven't broken any news on TDR yet, but maybe one day we will. As far as contacts go, we were very excited and appreciative that, through Twitter, we were able to get in touch with Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Craig Breslow and he was kind enough to do a TDR Exclusive for the site.

HOVG: Is there a particular piece that you're especially fond of?

SABAN: I was born and raised around the Philadelphia area, so lately it has been a baseball fan's dream to see the Phillies over the last couple seasons. My favorite piece that I have personally done would probably be the "Cliff Lee signing" article, not only because I am a Phillies fan, but I have never seen a free agent signing happen quite like that one.

HOVG: Now the fun stuff (to me)...we're counting down the days to the announcement of the HOF class of 2011. Do you have any favorites on this year's ballot?

SABAN: I think there are many worthy people of the honor up for election this year, but as far as I'm concerned I definitely think that Tim Raines and Bert Blyleven should get in.

HOVG: Are there any players you feel that should be in the Hall but aren't? Why?

SABAN: Well, to be honest, yes. I feel very strongly that Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. He gave 100% every time he was on the field, and was one of the best hitters in the game. I understand what he did was wrong, but we are coming up to the time where players who played in the "Steroid Era" will be on the ballotI am sure that some players who have even taken steroids once will find a way into the HOF.

HOVG: What's on the horizon for TDR?

SABAN: We are definitely still making improvements to the site. TDR is still fairly new so we are making adjustments and hope to one day be a place that people want to 'bookmark' on their computer, and check us daily for baseball news.

HOVG: Where can people find you online?

SABAN: People can find us on facebook (The Diamond Report) and on Twitter (@TDReport). We also encourage our fans to email us or tweet us we want to hear what you have to say.


Cooperstown 2011: Mark McGwire

MARK McGWIRE
Fifth Year on Ballot (2010 - 23.7%)

PLAYING CAREER:  Oakland Athletics (1986–1997) and St. Louis Cardinals (1997–2001)

ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career batting average of .263, 583 home runs and 1414 RBI.  Ranks tenth all-time in home runs, eighth in slugging percentage (.588) and tenth in on-base plus slugging (.982).  Led league in home runs four times (1987, 1996, 1998 and 1999), including a then-Major League record 70 home runs in 1998.  1987 American League Rookie of the Year.  1989 World Series Champion.  1990 Gold Glove Award winner.  12-time All-Star selection (1987-1992 and 1995-2000).


HOVG THOUGHTS:  Even without the steroids discussion, McGwire’s stats don’t warrant the positive lip service that everyone has given him.  Sure…“Big Mac” has a heap of home runs. With 583 under his belt, he is sitting tenth all-time. And while I’ve heard all the OPS+ arguments, you can take away his tremendous home run total and all you’ve got is a guy who played in a ton (if you consider 12 “a ton”) of All-Star games and had precious little to show for it.  Now, I’m not one of those guys who thinks that McGwire was basically a clone of Dave Kingman…I tend to give him a little more credit than that. When healthy (and McGwire played in 140 or more games in only eight seasons), he was one of the best out there.  The problem I have is that he wasn’t durable, wasn’t consistent and, frankly…was the baseball world’s equivalent to a Long Drive contest participant.  I mean, the fact that McGwire hit a home run once in every ten at bats (and yes, he is first all-time) is impressive. What isn’t is the .263 career batting average, 1626 hits and almost as many (1596) strikeouts.


Tim Lincecum...Sports Illustrated Cover Boy

Has Brian Wilson's 15 minutes of fame already expired?

Sure, the online effort to get him to host "Saturday Night Live" has grown to more than 75,000 fans across two facebook groups, but when it came to the year-end issue of Sports Illustrated...who was on the cover?

Not Wilson, his beard or "The Machine"...but, rather, team ace Tim Lincecum.

The cover (below) depicts the pitcher, decked out in a tuxedo, red bow tie and "Happy New Year" hat, spraying champagne...a familiar site to San Francisco Giants fans. 

According to the Giants website, the two-time Cy Young Award winner is one of ten athletes featured in a photo essay compiled by famed photographer Walter Iooss Jr., who focused on individuals who provided the most memorable moments of 2010.

This isn't the first time "The Freak" has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  He previously graced the magazine in July 2008.  The righty made the cover of Sports Illustrated for Kids a year later. 

The year-end issue itself hits newsstands today and will more than likely become another keepsake for Giants fans still cherishing their team's World Series triumph over the Texas Rangers.



Shake it Like a Snowglobe

The Hall has been following Ashkon Davaran's every move since he broke out his re-working of the Journey classic "Don't Stop Believing" a couple of months ago.

Well, dude is back with a holiday tune for everyone to enjoy.  This...from his facebook page:

Last week, YouTube announced that Ashkon's "Don’t Stop Believin" was the Bay Area’s most viewed video of 2010. When asked if his new video would be able to match the hype of it’s predecessor, Ashkon had this to say: “Last time out I was going for an anthem. This time I just want to see everyone out there shake it like a snow globe.”

Enjoy the tune...it's kinda catchy.  Be sure you check back soon, because when the video drops...The Hall will have it.



And since you're already here, why not check out the interview Ashkon did with The Hall of Very Good HERE.


December 21, 2010

Cooperstown 2011: Fred McGriff

FRED McGRIFF
Second Year on Ballot (2010 - 21.5%)

PLAYING CAREER:  Toronto Blue Jays (1986–1990), San Diego Padres (1991–1993), Atlanta Braves (1993–1997), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998–2001), Chicago Cubs (2001–2002), Los Angeles Dodgers (2003) and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2004)

ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career batting average of .284 with 2490 hits, 493 home runs and 1550 RBI.  Ranked 26th all-time in home runs and 41st in RBI.  Hit 30 or more home runs in seven straight seasons (1988-1994) and three more times in 1999, 2001 and 2002.  Five-time All-Star selection (1992, 1994-1996 and 2000).  World Series champion in 1995.  Was the first player to hit a home run at Toronto's Skydome...now known as the Rogers Centre.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ON TWITTER:

@sdsuaztec4: You know who the Padres should sign to play 1B? Fred McGriff.

@bluejaysbatboy: Fred McGriff career = under-rated. Bonus because he also brought Alomar to the Jays.

HOVG THOUGHTS:  The "Crime Dog" was the epitome of consistency for close to 20 years and there's no reason to think that he won't be on the ballot for a long, long time.  The problem with McGriff, however, is that he's going to be overshadowed on the ballow by some pretty big names and stands to never get his proper respect.  With 493 career bombs, he currently has the most home runs of any eligible player (not named Mark McGwire) not currently in the Hall of Fame.


December 20, 2010

Dropping Links: December 20

I'm pretty sure the last time the Milwaukee Brewers were making headlines...Pittsburgh's Randall Simon had taken a bat to one of the sausages that race around Miller Park.  That said...Tony Arnoldine has a couple more pieces on Zack Greinke.

The folks at Brew Crew Ball weigh in on the Zack Greinke trade, surmising (like most others) that the Brewers didn't have to give up too much to get the former Cy Young winner.

With Greinke off the market, the LoHud Yankees Blog looks at five other pitchers whom the Yankees could pursue.

The Red Sox continued stockpiling arms, adding Dan Wheeler to their stable of relievers this weekend.

Brendan Bowers has an interesting piece at Waiting For Next Year about the time he met the late Bob Feller.

The Rockies signed 1B Mike Jacobs to a minor league contract, giving the team depth and some insurance for Todd Helton.

Carlos Pena is the latest athlete to thank fans of his former team, taking out an ad to run in Monday's St. Petersburg Times.

Do you have a story you'd like to point out to Tony?  Drop him a line over at tdine05@yahoo.com. Also, be sure to follow him on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook to get your daily fix!