Category Archives: Hall of Fame

Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine enter the Hall of Fame

frank-thomas-plaque

This year’s baseball Hall of Fame class really had a special meaning to me. I grew up loving to watch Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and especially Frank Thomas.

On summer night’s a lot like this one, Thomas would fill the box scores I so often would cut out of the morning paper because he homered and drove in five. I remember being in the car with my uncle as a kid and him mentioning to me that ‘there are some people around baseball who think Frank Thomas could end up an all-time great with the start that he’s on’. I came back in amazement with a ‘really’ as most kids do – I had no idea what it took for a player to have Hall of Fame credentials at that point – I just knew that Frank Thomas was my idea of greatness. My uncle came back with some stat about Frank Thomas’ on-base average. This was long before WAR was a thing, and on-base percentage wasn’t viewed as the statistical goldmine it is today.

All these years later, the guys who seemed so great to me as a child and adolescent really were that special. Today is a day to remember them for their unique qualities and attributes.

I could look at the Hall of Fame plaques of each and every Cooperstown member all day long. If you want to see the new inductee plaques, head over to Hardball Talk.

Report: Mariano Rivera announcing retirement

There are many arguments when it comes to baseball history.  Who the best power hitter ever?  What is the best starting lineup?  Who is the best pitching mound fighter?  There is one question that has a quick, definitive answer.  Who is the best closer in baseball history.  That title undoubtedly belongs to Mariano Rivera.  Let’s just do a simple run down of simple stats. Career:  2.21 ERA, 0.998 WHIP, 608 saves ( all-time record),  8.3 K/9 and 52.7 career WAR.  Not bad.  As a measure, the second all-time saves leader, Trevor Hoffman, boasts a 27 WAR – almost half of Rivera.

So he dominates the stats for closers and has ridiculous numbers for any reliever.  But what really made Rivera stand out was what he did in the post-season.  His ERA in the postseason is only a little better than the regular season.  0.70.  Are you serious?  In the biggest moments, he pitched better.  He only saved 42 postseason games in his career…only.  The Yankees teams he was on had a severe level of talent, but Rivera was one of the best – helping them win 5 World Series.

And how did he go about doing this.  One simple yet devastating pitch, the cutter.  A few more details on the pitch after the jump. Continue reading

Frank Thomas: First Ballot Hall of Famer?

This is a slightly better background than my 3rd grade picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No.  Recently Frank Thomas said he thinks he should be a first ballot hall of famer.  He says that he did things the right way and has done enough to be in the first time.  For reference here is a short list of first ballot hall of famers:  Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron.  The worst player to ever be voted in the first time according the WAR was Lou Brock at 43 career WAR.  Thomas’s is 69.7 which is better than 10-15 first timers.  Of course that is ignoring the massive steroid cloud hanging over everyone who has played in the past 20 years.  I’ve already written that steroids use, especially when speculated, shouldn’t be considered, but it is.  I think Thomas will get in easily.  But he’ll have to wait it out just like most everyone else.

One more opinion on the Baseball Hall of Fame

If you pay attention to baseball, (which I assume you do, otherwise you may be here to purchase some USDA Choice) you’ve seen hundreds of articles and/or thousands of tweets about everyone’s opinion on the balloting for the Hall of Fame.  Well the results finally came out and  no one was selected to the Hall this year – the first time since 1996.  Considering the all-time home runs leader and the arguably the best pitcher from 1985 to 2005 were eligible, this would normally be somewhat unusual.  But since the early-mid 90s (and most likely earlier) some baseball players (maybe all of them) started taking the juice, beef ‘roids, “enhancers”, clear and the cream, and whatever else someone could speculate on.  This allegedly enabled them to unfairly perform at levels they wouldn’t have otherwise attained.  You know this story, as the refrain has been sung for the past five years or so.

Last year, I wrote my opinion on this and it hasn’t really changed.  Baseball writers have seemingly chosen to die on the hill of speculated steroid use.  Was Barry Bonds ever suspended by MLB for steroids?  Was Roger Clemens?  Hell, even if they were once, does that mean that nothing they accomplished means anything?  My answer to all those questions is no.  Baseball has been through many eras and each had their own dark sides.  Black players couldn’t play in the 1920’s and 30’s.  Does that mean that Lou Gehrig wouldn’t have accomplished what he did?  I have no idea.  And neither do any of the writers voting for the Hall.  If I had a vote for the Hall, (which I never will so it doesn’t really matter) I would vote for anybody who passed the test of “Was he one the best players at his position during the time he played?”  That’s who belongs in the Hall of Fame.  No more, no less.  To do otherwise is to change what it means to be inducted.

That’s my opinion – it’s worth what you paid for it.

Greatest Red of my lifetime goes into Cooperstown

Barry Larkin went into the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday.

I wrote a post dedicated to my Larkin love back in January when the news broke that he would be getting the call. I had to reserve this space in some way for the official event. No Cincinnati Red has been better longer than Larkin was. He was my first favorite Reds player, and no one can ever take that away from him.

When Cincinnati (and the ballpark gem that resided within it) was still this magical, mystical place that my family only traveled to on special occasions; Larkin was the king of that Camelot.

Stretched across an era that included a crazy female chain-smoking owner, mass exodus of players skipping town for the highest dollar, and steroids; Larkin doing his thing in a Reds cap on that old turf remained a constant. The guy was just something different. If you saw him play live you knew you were witnessing Hall of Fame caliber play.

Moron who Hall of Fame balloted B.J. Surhoff is outed

Yesterday, we were bitching and moaning about the guy who decided to give B.J. Surhoff a vote to get into the MLB Hall of Fame. Today, we have found out who that guy is.

His name is Barry Stanton. And whether it was a vote based on some kind of principle or a cry for help in a mid-life crisis; it was still fucking insanity. B.J. Surhoff would have a hard time getting into the Hall of Pretty Good let alone the heavenly grounds of Cooperstown.

I might be a blogger. I might make grammatical errors. I don’t follow new-age stats like I should and I don’t always back up my facts with supporting statements that make my arguments as great as they appear in my head.

But I am more qualified to have a baseball Hall of Fame vote than Stanton. And I don’t care that he’s obviously covered baseball the required 10 consecutive years required to gain him this right.

Someday, I predict that good boy bloggers (maybe the big whigs like Craig Calcaterra, or some of the SweetSpot network guys) will get enough respect to maybe get a vote. By then, a lot of these ‘writers’ will be forced to cross over into the world of blogs anyway to keep their readers anyway. But the guys I know who have a baseball blog are true custodians of baseball. They’re the die-hards. We do this for free. We do it because we love it. And usually we are armed with a pretty knowledgeable conscious as to what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in this great sport’s history and tradition.

But this isn’t about bloggers vs. writers. It’s just a simple point I’m trying to make that because you have covered the game for a long period of time at the professional level doesn’t necessarily qualify you to make good choices about something that is held in a very high regard as far as the game’s past and eternity will hold.

B.J. Surhoff. Guy spends most of his 19 year career hitting 6, 7, and 5 home runs a season and driving in 70ish and this guy wants to throw him in the Hall of Fame. Whoever this guy is–probably a reason we don’t know him better–good hire by ESPN.

Robby Alomar, Bert Blyleven head for the Hall of Fame

Roberto Alomar (90%) and Bert Blyleven (79.7%) have been elected to the Hall of Fame by the voters. Blyleven and Alomar will become the 294th and 295th members of the Hall of Fame, respectively.

As for the top two guys in the vote, I didn’t see a lot of Blyleven in my day but I certainly remember Roberto Alomar’s greatness on the playing field with the Blue Jays, the Orioles and the Indians. I’m fine with him getting in the Hall of Fame. He’s definitely a Hall of Fame talent when you factor in he was a great offensive player and clutch hitter as well as maybe the best defensive second baseman of all time.

Barry Larkin came in 3rd, getting around 62% of the vote. I started getting texts that ‘next year’ is the year that our former shortstop gets in. Yes, and no. It’s encouraging that he tallied that high of a vote but at the same time it is possible that he hangs around a while in the high 60’s range. The class also dilutes a little bit after this year so it might give Larkin a good chance at sneaking in. It’s by no means open and shut though.

On and by the way: who are the two bums who voted for B.J. Surhoff for the HALL OF FRIGGIN FAME? You’re telling me that there are four schlups who call themselves writers for this great game who voted that Marquis Grissom deserved to get in the Hall of Fame and I’m not worthy of a vote along with several other hundred die hard fans who write about baseball on the internet? We’re talking about Marquis Grissom here. How dare they disgrace the heavenly grounds of the Hall of Fame by trying to vote in Grissom and Surhoff for Gods sweet sakes.

Raffy Palmeiro got 11% of the vote and Mark McGwire got around 19%. Jeff Bagwell checked in around 41.7% and Don Mattingly at 13.6% to round out the notables.

Put Crime Dog McGriff in the Hall of Fame! But Freddy McGriff was a feared power hitter. As a kid you love that. I group him in with guys like Darryl Strawberry and Barry Larkin as first favorite players who shepherded me through my youth. He just looked cool in the batters box. I can still see his stance in my head. He also moved like a statue on the base paths. If first base wasn’t an option he would have not had a position to hide in (although he was a decent defensive first basemen)” [7th Inning Stache]

The Hawk could fuck you hard or he could fuck you so slow

We were recently reminded that Andre Dawson is up for the Hall of Fame. As a Chicagoan we work with said to us, how could we not react to this? If you grew up in the 80’s, you knew of The Hawk. You knew about him because in 1987 he hit 49 home runs and drove in 137 on his way to winning the MVP award. Back then, those were astronomical numbers. They’re still pretty big numbers.

But you knew of the Hawk because he was one of the first Topps baseball cards you ever owned. You knew of him because he wore the stirrups on those pole legs like no one else in the big leagues. You knew him because the sumbitch was ageless. Your father’s Andre Dawson was your Andre Dawson. He played from 1976 to 1996. He probably played with kids that he fathered.

So is he Hall of Fame worthy? We think so. Dawson played in an era where power hitters were really at a premium. He was dynamic; hitting nearly .280 for his career and stealing 314 bases. He made the All-Star list seven times. As we mentioned, he took home the MVP.

He’s basically Jose Canseco, only he had the big black king snake and he was clean. Put him in the Hall and let him start working on his speech. You know he is the strong-silent type; so it should be a good one.

Rickey's the best….Rickey's the best…..Rickey's the best

We always loved Rickey Henderson stories. Since Rickey might be about to get into the Hall of Fame, we’ve got to post these as part of the DH anthology. Special thanks to 100% Injury Rate for coming up with these initially.

1) In June 1999, when Henderson was playing with the Mets, he saw reporters running around the clubhouse before a game. He asked a teammate what was going on and he was told that Tom Robson, the team’s hitting coach, had just been fired. Henderson said, “Who’s he?”

2) Rickey… on referring to himself in the third person:“Listen, people are always saying, ‘Rickey says Rickey.’ But it’s been blown way out of proportion. People might catch me, when they know I’m ticked off, saying, ‘Rickey, what the heck are you doing, Rickey?’ They say, ‘Darn, Rickey, what are you saying Rickey for? Why don’t you just say, ‘I?’ But I never did. I always said, ‘Rickey,’ and it became something for people to joke about.”

3) In the early 1980s, the Oakland A’s accounting department was freaking out. The books were off $1 million. After an investigation, it was determined Rickey was the reason why. The GM asked him about a $1 million bonus he had received and Rickey said instead of cashing it, he framed it and hung it on a wall at his house.

4) In 1996, Henderson’s first season with San Diego, he boarded the team bus and was looking for a seat. Steve Finley said, “You have tenure, sit wherever you want.” Henderson looked at Finley and said, “Ten years? Ricky’s been playing at least 16, 17 years.”

5) This one might be my second favorite. This wasn’t too long ago, I think it was the year he ended up playing with the Red Sox. Anyway, he called San Diego GM Kevin Towers and left the following message: “This is Rickey calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball.”

6) This one happened in Seattle. Rickey struck out and as the next batter was walking past him, he heard Henderson say, “Don’t worry, Rickey, you’re still the best.”

7) Rickey once asked a teammate how long it would take him to drive to the Dominican Republic.

8) Moments after breaking Lou Brock’s stolen base record, Henderson told the crowd – with Brock mere feet next to him – “Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today, I am the greatest of all-time.”

9) Henderson once fell asleep on an ice pack and got frostbite – which forced him to miss three games — in mid-August.

10) A reporter asked Henderson if Ken Caminiti’s estimate that 50 percent of Major League players were taking steroids was accurate. His response was, “Well, Rickey’s not one of them, so that’s 49 percent right there.”

11) Henderson broke Ty Cobb’s career record for runs scored with a home run. After taking his usual 45 seconds or so around the bases, Rickey slid into home plate.

12) On being Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th career strikeout: “It gave me no chance. He (Ryan) just blew it by me. But it’s an honor. I’ll have another paragraph in all the baseball books. I’m already in the books three or four times.”

13) San Diego GM Kevin Towers was trying to contact Rickey at a nearby hotel. He knew Henderson always used fake names to avoid the press, fans, etc. He was trying to think like Rickey and after several attempts; he was able to get Henderson on the phone.Rickey had checked in under Richard Pryor.

14) I didn’t believe this one at first. However, I emailed a few contacts within the Sox organization and they claim it actually happened. This is priceless, it really is.The morning after the Sox finished off their 2004 World Series sweep against St. Louis, Henderson called someone in the organization looking for tickets to Game 6 at Fenway Park.

15) The Mets were staying in a hotel less than a mile from Cinergy Field in Cincinnati. While some players walked, most took the team bus. A few minutes after they arrived — again it was less than a mile – the last players off the bus noticed a stretched limo that had just pulled up.Of course, Rickey emerged from the back seat.

16) A reporter once asked Rickey if he talked to himself, “Do I talk to myself? No, I just remind myself of what I’m trying to do. You know, I never answer myself so how can I be talking to myself?”

17) OK, I know everyone has been waiting for it. Alas, according to both parties involved, it’s not true. I wish it were. Heck, both Rickey Henderson and John Olerud have said they wish it were true. But it just didn’t happen.The story went that a few weeks into Henderson’s stint with the Mariners, he walked up to Olerud at the batting cage and asked him why he wore a batting helmet in the field. Olerud explained that he had an aneurysm at nine years old and he wore the helmet for protection. Legend goes that Henderson said, “Yeah, I used to play with a guy that had the same thing.” Legend also goes that Olerud said, “That was me, Rickey.”Henderson played with Olerud on the Blue Jays and the Mets.

18) Rickey was asked if he had the Garth Brooks album with Friends in Low Places and Henderson said, “Rickey doesn’t have albums. Rickey has CDs.”

19) During a contract holdout with Oakland in the early 1990s, Henderson said, “If they want to pay me like Mike Gallego, I’ll play like Gallego.”

20) In the late 1980s, the Yankees sent Henderson a six-figure bonus check. After a few months passed, an internal audit revealed the check had not been cashed. Current Yankees GM Brian Cashman – then a low-level nobody with the organization – called Rickey and asked if there was a problem with the check. Henderson said, “I’m just waiting for the money market rates to go up.”

21) This is my all-time favorite. Rickey was pulled over by a San Diego police officer for speeding. As the officer was approaching Rickey’s car, the window went down a few inches and a folded $100 bill emerged. The officer let Rickey and his money head home without a ticket.

22) When he was on the Yankees in the mid-1980s, Henderson told teammates that his condo had such a great view that he could see, “The Entire State Building.”

23) During one of his stays with Oakland, Henderson’s locker was next to Billy Beane’s. After making the team out of spring training, Beane was sent to the minors after a few months. Upon his return, about six weeks later, Henderson looked at Beane and said, “Hey, man, where have you been? Haven’t seen you in awhile.”

24) To this day and dating back 25 years, before every game he plays, Henderson stands completely naked in front of a full length locker room mirror and says, “Ricky’s the best,” for several minutes.

25) In the last week of his lone season with the Red Sox, Chairman Tom Werner asked Henderson what he would like for his ‘going-away’ gift. Henderson said he wasn’t going anywhere, but he would like owner John Henry’s Mercedes. Werner said it would be tough to get the same make and model in less than a week and Henderson said, “No, I want his car.” Turns out the Sox got Henderson a Red Thunderbird and when he saw it on the field before the last game of the season, Rickey said, “Whose ugly car is on the field?”

Our favorite will always be the Olerud story, and we admit to being a bit somber when we found out it wasn’t true. But is there anyone more folk hero in modern baseball history then the all-time stolen base champion?