Time for some brutal honesty, men. Every one of you has taken a “C-list” woman on an “A-List” date just because you knew it dramatically increased your odds of breaking a “dry spell.” Picture the Washington Nationals as Mr. Dry Spell, and free-agent pitcher Chien-Ming Wang as the C-list chick and you get the idea.
But the Nats are soooo lonely. They haven’t had a taste since Montreal, so you really can’t criticize the Nats for dropping $2 million just to get some Wang back in their clubhouse. They’ve waited through two years of Wang injuries for this moment, and as Wang takes the bump tonight, here’s your chance to make a lot of dick jokes. A name like Wang takes the hard out of dick jokes. A name like Wang begs to be given head…lines.
That’s why were here at Dubsism have started our own hash tag on Twitter. Just head to #wangheadlines and hit us with your best shot.
“Not that there’s anything wrong with that…” – Jerry Seinfeld
If you’ve never been a fantasy baseball participant, this won’t make sense to you at all. In fact, most of this blog makes very little sense to most people, so you are far from alone. However, if you’ve known the joys of fantasy baseball draft day, and the near-suicidal despair of watching your first-round draft pick Ken Griffey, Jr. snap a hamstring in a spring game literally three hours after you drafted him, then you understand the concept of the Man-Crush.
Simply defined, the Man-Crush is all about being “in love” with a particular player. Just like love, sometimes you don’t know why you love them; you just do. You’ll do anything to get them on your team, and it will crush you when your love goes unrequited; your dreams unrealized.
My first fantasy baseball “man-crush” was Matt Stairs. I choke up a little bit just typing his name; given the fact the reason I’m writing this today – this is the day Stairs was designated for assignment by the Washington Nationals. Stairs is a unique guy who has had a unique career up to this point.
I can’t even bring myself to think this might be the end for Stairs; after all, he is 43 years old. I hold out hope that some other team, one whose uniform he has not yet worn, will see fit to give the professional pinch-hitter another shot. See, Stairs has played for damn near everybody.
- 1992-1993: Montreal Expos
- 1995: Boston Red Sox
- 1996-2000: Oakland A’s
- 2001: Chicago Cubs
- 2002: Milwaukee Brewers
- 2003: Pittsburgh Pirates
- 2004 – 2005: Kansas City Royals
- 2006: Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers
- 2007: Toronto Blue Jays
- 2008 – 2009: Philadelphia Phillies
- 2010: San Diego Padres
- 2011 (up to now): Washington Nationals
Stairs has worn 13 major-league uniforms, more than anybody in baseball history. Let’s be honest, guys that change addresses that often are either complete headcases or “Have Fastball, Will Travel”-type bullpen guys. The reason Stairs has been on so many rosters is he became a slugging pinch-hitter extraordinaire. Nobody has more career home runs coming off the bench than Stairs. Any team out there needing some thunder from the bench? Just call Matt Stairs.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone Stairs climbed his way into my heart with power. It all started back in 1996, and the first time I saw him as a young outfielder with the Oakland A’s. Specifically, it was the day in Minnesota I saw him hit two moon-shots off whatever slagheaps the Twins were offering as pitchers in those dark days of Dome-ball. Both of those shots arced majestically into the upper deck in right field and right into my heart. I was hooked.
He had a short, quick swing, forearms like Popeye the Sailor, and he was left-handed. Anybody who knows me knows I’ve always has a weakness for leftie Canadian sluggers. Corey Koskie, Justin Morneau…I even sneaked peeks at Larry Walker even though he belonged to another.
I saw all I needed to see that afternoon in the Metrodome. Stairs had He had all the hallmarks of a 30-homer, 100-RBI guy. But he didn’t look like your classic leftie slugger. He was only 5’9” and stocky, and he didn’t have that beautiful, smooth stroke most good left-handed hitters have. I didn’t care. His upper-cut swing was a thing of beauty to me.
But I wasn’t the only fantasy suitor whose eye he caught. Sadly, Matt would not be mine. Instead, I had to watch him blossom into that productive player while he belonged to another. Finally, in 2000, I landed Matt. He was coming off his career year, slugging 38 dingers and driving in 102.
That April was the sweetest month. Matt was off to a hot start, and things started to seem as though he was going to be the piece that was missing, finally elevating me out of the fantasy baseball doldrums.
But the honeymoon didn’t last.
Matt’s production tailed off; he never again would hit 30 homers, nor drive in 100 runs. But I clung to the hope that the salad days would return. My friends tried to tell me that the relationship was bad for me and I should end it, but just couldn’t do it. I didn’t see the pudgy, slowing outfielder they saw; all I saw was Matt.
It took three more years before I finally had to face the ugly truth; Matt was never going to be the light of my fantasy baseball life. Ending the relationship was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but ultimately, I was better off for doing it.
A lot of years have gone by since it’s been over, but I still have feelings for Matt. Who ever really forgets their first? Up until today, I would see him around every once in a while; it always did my heart good to see him doing well wherever he was. To this day, that bomb he hit against the Dodgers in the 2008 NLCS will always be a special moment; that rarest of highs when the addict finally catches the dragon he’s been chasing. But as the saying goes, eventually, all good things come to an end, and this is no different. Even though we’ll never be together again, it will be a strange day for me when Matt is eventually out of the league.
That’s the danger in fantasy baseball. It’s always fun until somebody gets hurt.
Do you live under a rock? Of course, its a bad idea.
Every time there’s a blown call in baseball everybody starts crying about how baseball needs instant replay. What nobody realizes is that these calls only ever come when it is a sympathetic character that gets “robbed.” Everybody was up in arms last year over the call Jim Joyce blew which cost Armando Gallaraga a perfect game. Everybody is up in arms over Jerry Meals’ rob-job of the Pirates the other night.
It is exactly this emotional, knee-jerk reaction that hides the fact instant replay hasn’t worked as intended in football, and it would be a disaster in baseball. Take a look at the following reasons why instant replay in baseball is a terrible idea.
1) It doesn’t solve the “bad call” problem.
Face it, this is the whole reason the call for replay exists; people are enamored with the idea of eliminating “bad calls.” By following the logic of the argument, one is led to the conclusion that bad calls have been wiped from the face of the NFL. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, replay allowed for the creation of silly rules which by their very enforcement are bad calls – such as the “Tom Brady Tuck Rule” and Calvin Johnson’s “Catch that wasn’t a Catch” last year. Wait until instant replay meets the “Balk Rule” in baseball if you want to see this kind of ridiculousness.
2) It makes the game longer.
Lengthening games is really the last thing baseball needs. Thanks to Fox, playoff games are already creeping north of four hours, and let’s be honest, with replay there will be greater scrutiny during the playoffs. As it stands now, every close play in foo ball gets reviewed, and reviews are now so common that referees take time to huddle before making the call on the field just so the call can be reviewed by replay.
Don’t even try to tell me try to tell me this won’t happen in baseball. Wait for your first NFL games this season and count the times play is stopped only to have the call on the field upheld because the video evidence is “inconclusive.”
3) In baseball, calls don’t automatically mean the end of play.
This the functional nightmare nobody seems to be thinking about when we talk about replay in baseball. In football, the referee’s whistle means the end of the play; there’s no other action happening on the field. That’ s not always the case in baseball. Take the following example:
There’s a runner on second and two outs. The batter hits a fly ball to deep center field. The runner is off on contact, but the second base umpire rules the center fielder caught the ball, ending the inning. However, replay shows the center fielder trapped the ball. Where do you put the base-runners? Does the umpire give the hitter second base and allow the run to score? Or is it runners at first and third with two outs? What if it’s the bottom of the ninth and that run means the ball game?
The point is that you cannot eliminate judgement calls with replay, and baseball has far more situation like that than football does, and baseball has tons of calls which don’t stop the action, which will only complicate the issue of “fixing” mistakes.
4) It doesn’t solve the root cause: Bad Umpires.
Here’s the big problem…Joe West with a replay screen is still Joe West. Country singin’, call-blowin’, manager-tossin’, Joe Fucking West. Major League Baseball is full of guys who have no business calling anything let alone a ball game, but the umpires are unionized so there no such thing as holding them accountable or hitting the eject button on such incompetents as Country Joe, C.C. Bucknor, Bob Davidson, or Angel “I gotta toss the guy who sang Take Me Out To The Ball Game” Hernandez.
Now, if we could only get Country Joe to be the singer Hernandez tosses.
5) “The Slippery Slope”
Generally, I disdain “slippery slope arguments” because they usually are incapable of distinguishing the first event on the slope from the last. This type of argument gets used in politics all the time, but replay in baseball presents a time when this type of argument fits. In case you’ve forgotten, replay already exists in baseball on boundary issues. So, by definition, the argument to expand replay is a “slippery slope argument.” First it will be catch/not a catch, then it will be safe/out calls on the base paths; ultimately the replay-o-philes will get this down to balls and strikes. The argument that sticks all the way down the slope is “we need to do as much as possible to get thing right for the proper outcome of games.” Well, name an official in any sport that has more control over the outcome of a game than the home plate umpire in baseball. If this happens, get ready for five-hour ball games.
6) Technology doesn’t change the fact people make mistakes.
Let’s says that we get every thing available to be reviewed by instant replay. Is the guy watching the replay monitor human? Do humans fuck up all the time? So, why does the concept of instant replay automatically get a pass on the inherent flaws it has? The only argument I’ve ever heard on this point is “replay is better than anything else.”
Here’s my question: if people make mistakes, and both systems inherently involve people, doesn’t it make sense to introduce a system that rewards making less mistakes and punishes making too many? In other words, as long as have a glut of bad umpires, you are going to have a glut of bad calls. As I’ve mentioned, that’s the fundamental problem with instant replay; it doesn’t even solve the problem it is intended to solve, in fact in several respects it complicates them. So, before we knee-jerk our way into a plan that solves nothing, introduces a host of new problems, and happens to have some serious practicality issues, wouldn’t it make more sense to make the first step eliminating the bad umpires?
Now, that sounds like a good idea.
Here’s time #8,756 I’ve said this – the NCAA is a joke.
It didn’t exactly take the Amazing Kreskin to see this coming when star quarterback Terrelle Pryor and three other offensive starters were cited by the NCAA last December for selling rings, jerseys and other memorabilia as underclassmen. But 6 months later, Ohio State vacates all 12 wins from the 2010 season, including the Sugar Bowl win, and placing itself on two years’ probation as penance for fielding multiple ineligible players. Now, they’ve announced Pryor would have been ineligible for all of 2011 and he has been banned from all contact with the team for 5 years.
The Buckeyes’ self-flagellation comes as part of their official response to accusations of major NCAA violations involving both the ineligible players; Pryor, running back Dan Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams, and reserve defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, not to mention disgraced former head coach Jim Tressel’s season-long cover-up.
Am I supposed to be impressed by this?
First of all, it’s about 6 months too late. When Ohio State first tried to keep their Bucknuts out of the NCAA deep-fryer last December, all they were doing was avoiding the inevitable. The thinking was if you let the NCAA get its pound of flesh up front it, they could get away with a slap on the wrist and maintain the hope the NCAA would be placated and not care to do anymore digging.
That means by its very nature it is disingenuous, and it didn’t work. Granted, they managed to keep the offending players eligible for the Sugar Bowl and they kept the regular seasons wins intact.
However, everything backfired once Jim “Cheatypants McSweatervest” Tressel got caught in a season-long cover-up, which is the only reason the NCAA even decided to return to the case at all.
Now, Tressel is gone, Pryor has been banished, and the Buckeye house of cards keeps falling. The first go-around at self-punishment was all about avoiding the record books being wiped clean. Well, that’s going to happen anyway, and it begs a question. By banishing Pryor, now what is Ohio State trying to avoid?
Think about it. Right now, Ohio State is still getting off light. Even if the 2010 season is erased from the books, they still get to pocket the cash those games generated. Plus, in light of the heavy scholarship losses and two-year bowl ban the NCAA dropped on USC last year for essentially the same kind of violations, an eraser to a record book is the aforementioned wrist slap.
Ohio State is again hoping it can avoid harsher (and deserved) penalties by looking “proactive” and by throwing Tressel under the proverbial bus. The problem is the NCAA seems to be buying this bilge. Ohio State is singing a big song to the NCAA to the tune of admitting major violations of NCAA regulations, but in the same stanza claims they should not face harsh punishment because no Ohio State official other than Tressel was aware of player violations.
Now for the big question: since when did “self-punishment” become acceptable? I ask because I really could have used this twenty or so years ago. There are plenty of times I would have copped to breaking curfew if it meant nobody found out what I was doing at 2 a.m. For me as a kid, that moment of truth always came when it was time to sneak back into the house. For Ohio State, they get to try to sneak into the house next month when they have a hearing in front of the NCAA. That will be the moment of truth; will the Buckeyes’ self-flagellation be enough, or will the NCAA actually hold them accountable?
I’ve held my tongue on this as long as I can. I’m two days into your “Lockout-is-over-gasm,” and I’m officially sick of your bullshit. I don’t care who you are, whether you are from ESPN, or some penny-ante blog like this one, the next person who says “thank God the NFL is back” will find me at their front door flattening their skull with a shovel.
It’s not that I don’t like the NFL; it’s not that I’m not glad we will have football this fall. But you people really have to stop with this line of thinking like you lost something because of this lockout. In case you didn’t notice, this whole affair took place during the off-season. This means the fans lost nothing of consequence; the only event 99.9% of football fans care about which occurs between March and July is the NFL Draft, and you even got that. In fact, you used that occasion to boo the shit out of Commissioner Goodell.
The only people who can legitimately claim to have been screwed by this lockout are those of Canton, Ohio. By cancelling the Hall of Fame Game, the NFL has cost the economy of that town the boost it normally gets from hosting that annual event. Of course, even that wrong has a simple way to right it: have a Monday Night game there as a neutral-site affair; the league can pick up any costs and/or defray any expenses incurred. Don’t tell me it can’t be done; if the Vikings can have home games in Detroit and in a college stadium because their roof caved in, this can get done.
So, that takes care of Canton…so what about the rest of you? Fuck you. You didn’t lose anything, so quit your whining. Go back and look at the labor stoppages of 1982 and 1987 too see what a true screwing of the fans looks like. The 1982 NFL season got a 57-day hole blown into the middle of it, forcing the reduction of the regular season from a 16-game schedule to 9. This led to a special 16-team playoff tournament; eight teams were seeded 1-8 based on their regular season records. The true horror for all of you who bitched about the Seattle Seahawks being in the playoffs despite their 7-9 record…under this format, two teams qualified for the playoffs despite losing records; Cleveland and Detroit were both 4-5 and in the playoffs.
The 1987 season offered all these horrors and one more: replacement players. Thanks to a 24-day players’ strike, the season was reduced from the usual the 16-game season to 15. The games that were scheduled for the third week of the season were canceled, but the games for weeks 4-6 were played with each team’s rosters composed of guys were were loading trucks the week before. There nothing like reading about how your starting quarterback can’t play on Sunday because he can’t get out of his morning shift at Denny’s.
Not to mention, recent memory is full of other work stoppages in sports which had a real cost; baseball lost parts of two seasons and a World Series, the NHL lost an entire season, and lord knows how ugly the current situation in the NBA is going to get. In other words, before you start crying about how wonderful it is to have the NFL back, ask yourself when did it ever really go away?
We’ve gotten to the point where you can’t have a discussion about the history of baseball without it getting mired into the “S-word”…steroids.
Yet, leave it to the outspoken Curt Schilling to add yet another log on the “get over it” fire that really needs to be lit under the collective asses of the “steroid moralists.”
The former six-time All-Star and World Series MVP talked steroids during an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia (via Hardball Talk). “There’s a lot of good young pitchers in the game right now, but far fewer players are cheating,” Schilling said during his interview. “One of the bigger reasons they all did (steroids) was it allowed them to be April fresh in September and that helped you hit home runs. Anybody who ever says performance-enhancing drugs didn’t help players produce offensive numbers is full of crap. There isn’t a team in the last 20 years that has won clean,” he said.
Those last two sentences are the key to the whole discussion. We’ve been arguing for years over the first; Schilling’s statement that steroids are the reason for the offensive explosion in baseball completely ignores so many other contributing factors. But the second sentence ironically drives my point about how the effect of steroids on the game has been hypocritically moralized.
You’ve got to follow me close on this argument, because I understand how the “S-word” drives a visceral reaction that leads to an emotional argument. First, go back to to my original thoughts on the role steroids played in baseball.
Tainting the integrity of baseball under Bud Selig is like shooting out all your lightbulbs so the sun will go down. The sanctimonious hand-wringing on the part of baseball writers that is still happening over this is almost too much to bear. Where were all these scribing Dudley Do-Rights when Mark McGwire suddenly gained 50 pounds of muscle and transformed home plate at Busch Stadium into a bigger launching pad than Cape Kennedy? They were conveniently were sitting on their pencils because the offensive explosion that occurred in the national past time in the late 1990′s and early 2000′s was exactly what they wanted.
Flash the clock back to 1995 when baseball was trying to resurrect itself from the fiasco of the previous year’s labor stoppage that killed a World Series. The writers were bemoaning the fact that baseball is boring, there isn’t enough scoring, and the fans won’t come back to the game after the strike. So, when the moon-shots started flying out of ballparks across the league, the writers could barely contain their overt giddyness. This led to fans flocking back to the ballparks, and Bud Selig couldn’t have been happier.
The part nobody wants to admit is that the whole steroid issue began as attempt by writers to disgrace Barry Bonds. Writers have a problem with players who won’t kiss their collective asses, and Bonds was notorious for treating scribes with utter contempt. When it became clear that Bonds would be the holder of the two sexiest records in all of sports (the single-season and the career home run marks), the press began its delving into Bonds’ connection with BALCO. But much like Dr. Frankenstein, they created a monster they couldn’t control. Next thing you know, we have Congressional hearings and the resultant “outrage” at the “cheaters.”
Now for the fun part…baseball has a long and storied history of cheating. Since day one, players have been stealing signs, corking bats, scuffing or greasing balls, and generally doing anything else they could to win. Steroids are no different. It is far too easy to “blame” the aforementioned offensive explosion on the hypodermic needle, but doing so ignores some key facts.
- In the 90′s, Major League Baseball expanded by four teams, meaning 50 pitchers who otherwise would have been in the minors now were plying their trade in ”The Show.”
- Several new stadia were constructed in the 90′s, and the vast majority of them have outfield fences and small foul territory making them very “hitter-friendly.”
- Of all the players caught using “performance-enhancing drugs,” half were pitchers.
In other words, the increase in offense has several possible contributing factors. The emptiness of the steroid argument becomes clear when one stops to consider that from the list of players named in the Mitchell Report, there wasn’t a case of a player who suddenly became a star due to his use of “performance-enhancing drugs.” Players who were stars before the needle were stars after the needle, and “role players” remained just that.
Shakespeare penned the correct thought on this scandal 350 years before baseball even existed: Much ado about nothing.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying steroids didn’t play a role. What I am saying is that the size of the contribution “performance-enhancing drugs” has been dramatically overstated. Just look at the aforementioned bullet points and tell me those were not factors.
There’s two big problems in the steroid moralist’s argument. First of all, if you believe use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) is worthy of exclusion from the Hall of Fame, at which point do you pound the stake in the ground which says “No PEDs Beyond This Point.” The argument already rings hollow because the “no Hall for you” treatment already has been applied to players accused of PED use before baseball had rules against it.
That leads to the second problem…the steroid moralists already have a double-standard as to who draws their rath. Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte largely have been given a pass; whereas Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds might as well have kidnapped and eaten the Lindbergh baby.
This becomes a major issue because depending on who you want to believe, PED use was rampant in baseball, estimates happen between half and three-quarters of players were using something during the “steroid” era. While that doesn’t mean it is acceptable to cheat and break the law? Of course not, but whether you like it or not, it has long been accepted that cheating, PEDs included, is part of the culture of the game.
Simply put, you can’t take new-found morality and use it to go back in time and right all your perceived wrongs. You can’t go back and change history to strip teams of titles just because it was retroactively discovered some of their players were cheating. If you did that, there wouldn’t be a championship team left on the books.
Now that we’ve made it past Baseball’s Hall of Fame Weekend, and since Bert Blyleven finally has been inducted, you may have thought you were safe from my annual Hall of Fame rant.
You were wrong. I have lots of rants when it comes to this institution.
So there’s no misunderstanding, there’s only one guy who will not be mentioned in the following discussion; Pete Rose. The guy did the one thing they tell you you can’t ever do; he bet on baseball.
That also means I’m going counter to the prevailing opinion amongst the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA); I don’t care about the steroid issue. I’m on record saying the whole issue is much ado about nothing, and I’ve stated my reasons for believing that on more than one occasion. Besides, if all the sudden moralists in the BBWAA want to exclude “cheaters'” then we have to go back and remove everybody in the Hall of Fame who ever corked a bat, doctored a ball, or stole a sign. If you were to do that, Cooperstown would be deserted.
Like it or not, the fact that all the “cheaters” we’re still trying to win. Any of the aforementioned types of “cheating” were all about gaining some sort of competitive advantage in the pursuit of victory.
But gambling on baseball enjoys no such harbor of “virtue;” gambling goes to the very heart of the integrity of the game. This is exactly why baseball has had its staunch anti-gambling stance ever since the Black Sox scandal. This is exactly why I will not consider Pete Rose. Don’t even try to make an argument to me otherwise.
The next five years or so should prove to be an interesting time for the BBWAA. All the blathering about steroids and the like will hit “put up or shutup” time. If the writers decide to keep the steroid guys out, there’s a long list of players who should be in Cooperstown.
I’ve dug up a list of the notable players who become eligible for induction in each of the next six years. Players who are eligible have played 10 seasons of Major League Baseball and have been retired from for five full seasons.
Players who are likely to be inducted or should be inducted are noted in red. Borderline players noted in green, and will be discussed further in Section II.
Section I – Soon To Be Eligibles Who Need To Be Inducted Within Five Years of Becoming So
Edgardo Alfonzo, Pedro Astacio, David Bell, Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Scott Erickson, Carl Everett, Jeff Fassero, Alex S. Gonzalez, Danny Graves, Rick Helling, Dustin Hermanson, Jose Hernandez, Brian Jordan, Matt Lawton, Javy Lopez, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Jeff Nelson, Phil Nevin, Brad Radke, Joe Randa, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Jose Vizcaino, Bernie Williams, Eric Young
Let’s face it…Bernie Williams is the all-time post-season RBIs leader, he’s got more regular-season RBIs than Gary Carter, Dave Kingman, and Kirby Puckett, and he was a Yankee in their “glory days” of the late 90’s. He’s getting in. Since it is theoretically possible for the writers to elect ten players, we will split the difference and say that five inductees is a reasonable number. Given that Williams is likely to be the only inductee from this class, we assume there’s room for four more to be inducted.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Kenny Lofton, David Wells, Julio Franco, Shawn Green, Steve Finley, Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Cirillo, Jose Valentin, Reggie Sanders, Jeff Conine, Jose Mesa, Royce Clayton, Bob Wickman, Ryan Klesko, Aaron Sele, Woody Williams, Rondell White, Mike Lieberthal, Tony Batista, Mike Stanton, Sandy Alomar Jr., Damian Miller, Todd Walker
This class is full. I’m voting for the steroid guys. If you have a problem with that, make your own list.
Even without the steroid guys, the real argument is Curt Schilling. What’s funny is this argument comes into play in a few years again because it really applies to Pedro Martinez as well. Now that Bert Blyleven has been inducted, no eligible pitcher with more than 3,000 K’s is not in the Hall of Fame. But most of Schilling’s other career number are borderline at best. Winning a World Series with the Red Sox will likely get him over the top.
But here’s the big question: We’ve let steroids diminish the importance of the home run numbers; why shouldn’t we do the same thing with career strikeout numbers for pitchers? First of all, half the guys who got caught using were pitchers, so the cheating was on both sides. Second of all , and most importantly, go look at how many hitters in the history of major league baseball have seasons with 150 or more strikeout. It’s happened 177 times, and less than 1/3 of them occurred before 1990
- Dick Allen, 150, 1965
- Nate Colbert, 150, 1970
- Ron Kittle, 150, 1983
- Don Lock, 151, 1963
- Greg Luzinski, 151, 1975
- Juan Samuel, 151, 1988
- George Scott, 152, 1966
- Larry Hisle, 152, 1969
- Dave Kingman, 153, 1975
- Rob Deer, Pete Incaviglia, Andres Gallaraga, 153, 1988
- Wille Stargell, 154, 1971
- Larry Parrish, 154, 1987
- Frank Howard, 155, 1967
- Jeff Burroughs, 155, 1975
- Tommie Agee, 156, 1970
- Tony Armas, 156, 1984
- Reggie Jackson, Dave Kingman, 156, 1982
- Danny Tartabull, 157, 1986
- Jose Canseco, Jeff Presley, 157, 1987
- Bo Jackson, 158, 1987
- Andres Gallaraga, Rob Deer, 158, 1989
- Dick Allen, 160, 1968
- Reggie Jackson, 161, 1971
- Butch Hobson, 162, 1977
- Juan Samuel, 162, 1987
- Donn Clendenon, 163, 1968
- Gary Alexander, 166, 1978
- Steve Balboni, 166, 1985
- Cory Snyder, 166, 1987
- Juan Samuel, 168, 1984
- Pete Incaviglia, 168, 1987
- Gorman Thomas, 170, 1980
- Bo Jackson, 172, 1989
- Dave Nicholson, 175, 1963
- Gorman Thomas, 175, 1979
- Jose Canseco, 175, 1986
- Mike Schmidt, 180, 1975
- Pete Incaviglia, 185, 1986
- Rob Deer, 186, 1987
- Bobby Bonds, 187, 1969
- Bobby Bonds, 189, 1970
The picture becomes even more clear when you break down those seasons by decade.
- 1950s and prior: 0
- 1960s: 7
- 1970s: 12
- 1980s: 23
- 1990s: 35
- 2000s: 91
You don’t need the supercomputer from NASA to calculate the trend here. The days when racking up a large number of K’s was taboo for a hitter are over. Guys now have no problem swinging out of their shoes far more often than ever before. Therefore, an argument can be made that a player who hurled 3,000 strikeouts in the past two decades really is not a fair comparison to a pitcher who did it before 1990.
Oh, and if Craig Biggio doesn’t get in, this article means nothing as the Hall of Fame will mean nothing.
Moises Alou, Armando Benitez, Sean Casey, Jose Cruz Jr., Ray Durham, Damion Easley, Jim Edmonds, Keith Foulke, Eric Gagne, Tom Glavine, Luis Gonzalez, Scott Hatteberg, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Jeff Kent, Jon Lieber, Esteban Loaiza, Paul Lo Duca, Greg Maddux, Matt Morris, Mike Mussina, Trot Nixon, Hideo Nomo, Jay Payton, Kenny Rogers, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow, Shannon Stewart, Frank Thomas, Mike Timlin, Steve Trachsel, Jose Vidro
If any of the three guys I’ve picked here don’t get in eventually, it will be Kent. Maddux and Thomas are locks, Mussina likely also gets in eventually.
So, the guess would be that Maddux and Thomas will go to Cooperstown with the next three guys who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone, Paul Byrd, Tony Clark, Carlos Delgado, David Dellucci, Jermaine Dye, Alan Embree, Darin Erstad, Kelvim Escobar, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Randy Johnson, Mark Loretta, Pedro Martinez, Ramon Martinez, Doug Mientkiewicz, Kevin Millar, Troy Percival, B.J. Ryan, Jason Schmidt, Gary Sheffield, John Smoltz, Julian Tavarez, Jarrod Washburn, David Weathers
Don’t start the Nomar stuff with me; his career numbers aren’t even close to Hall-worthy. Johnson is a no-brainer for the first ballot, and Smoltz should be in on the “Better than Eckersley” plan. See my prior discussion of Curt Schilling for my thoughts on Pedro Martinez.
Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark Grudzielanek, Trevor Hoffman, Andy Pettitte, Mike Sweeney, Billy Wagner
There’s no way Griffey doesn’t go in on the first ballot, and I would bet Hoffman goes in as well (at least within the first few tries) as the all-time saves leader, now that the writers love relievers. More on that later when we get to Billy Wagner and Lee Smith.
2017 and Beyond:
Derek Jeter, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez, Ichiro Suzuki
Jeter is a Yankee with multiple World Series rings and 3,000 hits. If there was ever a first-ballot lock, it’s him. Ivan Rodriguez is only 120 hits away from 3,000, he’s the active career leader in doubles, he has 300 career home run, 125 career stolen bases, and 13 Gold Gloves as a catcher – also a lock. Chipper Jones has 2500 hits, 400 home runs, 1500 RBIs, and a league MVP title, and is only out-classed as a switch-hitter by baseball immortals Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray. Jim Thome will be only one of only eight players with 600 home runs.
Section II – The Discussion Board
A) Players Who The Hall Cannot Be Complete Without – Cut The Crap and Induct These Guys NOW
1) “Shoeless” Joe Jackson
This is another reason why I am adamantly against Pete Rose being re-instated; it would make the injustice done to Jackson even more egregious. Jackson would have been in the Hall three-quarters of a century ago if he had been banishedas a result of the 1919 “Black Sox” World Series scandal.
The difference is that Jackson was acquitted in a court of law of any wrongdoing, but since Commissioner Kennesaw Mountian Landis was a heavy-handed, southern-fried tyrant, Jackson found himself banished largely because he played on the same team as the guilty parties.
As far as his credentials for Cooperstown are concerned, Jackson had a .356 lifetime batting average, and was only getting better when Landis gave him the boot.
2) Dick Allen
Allen spent the 1960’s as one of the premier hitters in baseball, and even though he languished in a lengthy mid-career slump, he still smacked 351 career homers and posted a .292 batting average. He also claimed the 1972 American League MVP award. But, he had a reputation for being an asshole and wasn’t well-liked by the writers, otherwise he likely would have been in Cooperstown 20 years ago.
3) Ron Santo
For most of the time when everybody was screaming that Brooks Robinson was the “best third baseman ever,” Ron Santo was better. Forget the fact the people who deified Robinson somehow never heard of Eddie Mathews, rather focus on the fact that Santo was a nine-time All Star and five-time Gold Glove winner. Plus, Santo was a better hitter than Robinson.
4) Rafael Palmeiro
Thanks to the hypocritical pseudo-moralism of the BBWAA, Palmeiro is the first member of the 3,000 hit club since 1952 to not be inducted into Cooperstown on his first ballot. So, thanks to a bunch of writers who have decided some forms of cheating are more acceptable than others, one of four players in history with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits gets stuck in Purgatory.
5) Tony Oliva
For a guy who played the majority of his career in the pitching-dominated 1960s, Oliva still netted three batting titles while lead the American League in hits five times between 1964 and 1970.
6) Jim Kaat
Two stats say it all: Kaat won 283 games and 16 consecutive Gold Gloves.
7) Mike Mussina
Mussina won 270 games, posting a .638 winning percentage. Only five other pitchers have that many wins and a better winning percentage. All five are in Cooperstown.
8 ) Mark McGwire
Here’s the fun argument for all you “steroid moralists” – everything Mark McGwire did in terms of performance enhancing substances during his career WERE NOT AGAINST THE RULES OF BASEBALL AT THE TIME. That means a player with 583 home runs and the first to capture the single season home run record in almost 40 years needs to be in Cooperstown.
9) Fred McGriff
Had Fred McGriff had stuck around for seven more home runs, I don’t think there would be much debate on his deserving enshrinement. That’s a minor detail; he’s only tied with Lou Gehrig for homers and ahead of Mickey Mantle in RBIs. He was also a five-time All-Star, a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and he was the first player in the “live-ball” era to lead both the American and National Leagues in home runs.
10) Alan Trammell
Trammell was quietly and consistently a solid defensive shortstop. But he was also one the best offensive shortstops in history, banging out 2,365 hits and a .285 career batting average. Trammell was a six time All-Star, won four Gold Gloves, won three Silver Sluggers for offense at the shortstop position, and was World Series MVP in 1984.
11) Dave Parker
Parker is another guy whose personal baggage inhibits his induction. Without getting into the details, the bottom line is this: if Jim Rice and Orlando Cepeda can get into Cooperstown, then you have to induct Parker because he was better than both of them. If you doubt that compare his career numbers in hits, doubles, RBIs, runs scored, and stolen bases to either Rice or Cepeda. He leads both of them.
12) Jeff Bagwell
While Bagwell may have been overshadowed by a glut of stars at first base during his career, he still put up Hall of Fame numbers, specifically 449 home runs and a .297 career batting average. Not to mention, his power numbers suffered from playing in the Houston Astrodome, a ballpark with dimensions only slightly less than that of a lunar crater.
13) Barry Larkin
Similar to Trammell, Larkin was a quiet, consistent shortstop, although Larkin had a bit more “star” power,” winning the NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1995 and belting 33 home runs the following year. You won’t find Barry Larkin on any of the All Time leaders lists in offensive categories, but a total look at his career will find a player who did everything well with no glaring weakness.
14) Dale Murphy
Murphy compares statistically very favorably to Duke Snider. He hit 398 home runs and won back-to-back League MVP awards. Don’t forget during his career, Murphy drew comparisons to Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio…seriously.
15) Tommy John
John won 288 games in his 26-year career and was the first man that underwent the ligament-replacement surgical procedure which is named after him. When he was injured, people said he would never be able to pitch again. When he recovered, he proved the skeptics wrong for the next 14 years. In fact, many of the best years of his career came after the surgery; he won 20 games three times after his return.
Obviously, he was one of the most durable pitchers of his time, but he was also one of the best. John was a four-time All-Star, yet he only received 31.7 percent of the Hall of Fame vote in 2009, which was his last year of eligibility. So, I’m looking at you, Veterans Committee…
B) Players Who Really Should Be In The Hall Fame – There’s More Reasons Why They Should Be In Than Out
1) Lee Smith
It is time to put it out there…relievers are getting the keys to Cooperstown whether you like it or not. The debate’s over; they’re getting in. Hoyt Wilhelm, the first releiver of note, is in…as well as Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Dennis Eckersley, and Goose Gossage. but a curious omission is Lee Smith and his 478 saves, which was the big league record when he retired.
2) Jeff Kent
In terms of offensive production, Kent was one of the best second-basemen of all time. Kent is in the top 10 for OPS+ for second baseman with a minimum of 1000 career games; it is important to note names like Roberto Alomar, Ryne Sandberg, Lou Whitaker, Craig Biggio, and Alfonso Soriano are not on that list. He was a 5-time All-Star, 4-time Silver Slugger winner, and he won the 2000 NL MVP. He is the only second basemen to have six consecutive seasons with 100 RBI and eight such seasons all-together. The only second baseman with more 100 RBI seasons is Honus Wagner.
3) Tim Raines
Tim Raines suffered from three problems. He was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson (who is arguably the greatest offensive player ever), the All-Star caliber years of his career were invisible in that baseball wasteland known as Montreal, and his well-documented cocaine problems. Despite all that, he racked up 808 stolen bases, 2,605 hits, 1,517 runs and a .294 career batting average.
4) Harold Baines
Here’s another one of those debates like the role of relief pitchers? Can a player who primarily played as a Designated Hitter be inducted into the Hall of Fame. If he’s one of the best, he’s one of the best. Face it, DH’s are to “Position players” what relievers are to starting pitchers. Relievers are getting their due, and it’s time for the DHs to get theirs. Not to mention, if the DH existed 80 years ago, tons of guys who are baseball icons now would have been DHs, and they wouldn’t have been excluded from Cooperstown.
Having said that, look at Baines career numbers and look where he stacks up against other Hall of Famers:
- .289 Career Batting Average – comparable to Billy Williams, Nellie Fox, and Travis Jackson
- 2,866 Career Hits – comparable to Babe Ruth and Mel Ott
- 384 Career Home Runs – comparable to Orlando Cepeda, Jim Rice, and Johnny Bench
- 1,628 Career RBIs – comparable to Mike Schmidt, Ernie Banks, and Tony Perez
Slice the bologna as thin as you want; this guy’s a Hall of Famer.
5) Lou Whitaker
Perhaps we could put Whitaker’s deserved Hall plaque next to his double play partner Alan Trammell’s deserved plaque. Trouble is that making that happen will fall to the Veteran’s Committee, which needs to live up to it’s mission of finding players overlooked by the BBWAA. Whitaker was one of the best second basemen of his generation, yet couldn’t 3% of the vote his only time on the writer’s ballot.
6) Minnie Minoso
Picture a 1950’s Caribbean version of Barry Larkin who also had a knack for “taking one for the team.” In addition to getting hit by pitched balls 192 times, like Larkin, Minoso did a little bit of everything well, batting above .300 eight full seasons, hitting 198 home runs, stealing 205 bases, and winning three Gold Gloves.
7) Ken Boyer
No position has less inducted players than third base. For some reason, third basemen don’t get the love they deserve, which is the only reason I can see why Ken Boyer is not in Cooperstown. After all, Boyer was seven-time All Star, five-time Gold Glove-winner, and the 1964 NL MVP.
8 ) Luis Tiant
Now that Bert Blyleven is in Cooperstown, it is time to unveil my new under-rated pitcher who hasn’t been given the respect he is due. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Luis Tiant. Tiant’s career numbers are just over the Cooperstown city limit in my book (229 wins, 3.30 ERA), still he was legitimately one of the best pitchers of the 1970s. Not to mention during his 19-year career, Tiant won 20 games four times and at various points, led the league in ERA, shutouts, WHIP, and strikeouts per 9 innings.
9) Dwight Evans
“Dewey” Evans might be the definition of borderline Hall of Famer. He’s a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, three-time All-Star, eight-time Gold Glove winner who posted a .272 career batting average with 2,446 hits (more than Mickey Mantle and Ryne Sandberg), 385 home runs (more than Jim Rice, Orlando Cepeda, and Ralph Kiner), and 1384 RBIs (more than Joe Medwick and Johnny Bench).
10) Jack Morris
Morris was one the dominant pitchers of his era. He post a mark of 254-186 lifetime with a 3.90 ERA. His dominance is best illustrated by his 10-inning, 1-0 shutout victory for the Minnesota Twins in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
11) Joe Torre
One way or another, Torre is getting into Cooperstown, most likely as a manager, but there’s an outside shot for him to go in as a player. Torre was an All Star catcher and first baseman, winning the 1971 NL MVP award 24 home runs, 137 RBIs, and a .363 average. He hit .297 for his career in a pitching-dominated era when .301 won batting titles. But as a skipper Torre notched 12 division titles, 6 AL Pennants, 4 World Series Championships, and 2,326 wins (5th all-time).
12) Ted Simmons
Simmons is another darling of the sabremeticians. I think he simply got overshadowed by the “big name” catchers like Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, and Carlton Fisk, which is unfortunate since his offensive numbers are very comparable to all three.
13) Bill Freehan
Freehan was one of the best catchers in baseball; he won five Gold Gloves and was an All Star 11 of his 15 seasons. So, how does an 11-time All-Star get overlooked? He has the same problem as Ted Simmons, they played in an era with a load of great catchers like Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, and Thurman Munson.
14) Deacon White
Speaking of catchers, throughout the history of baseball, those guys behind the plate have only been the offensive focal point of a team on very, very rare occasions. Now, imagine a guy who consistently drove in 50 RBIs (in a 60-game season) while catching bare-handed.
15) Larry Walker
Enter the following search in your web browser: “players who put up gaudy number’s in a hitter’s era in a hitter’s ballpark.” Three names you’ll get are Chuck Klein, Lefty O’Doul, and Larry Walker.
16) Paul Hines
He may be the greatest-hitting utility man ever. He had over 2,100 hits, a career batting average of .302, and a slugging percentage of .409 while playing every position except shortstop and pitcher. Despite that, you never heard of him even though he’s a triple-crown winner… probably because he won it in 1878.
17) Billy Wagner
Never led the league in saves while racking up 422 in his career. He was one the dominant closers of his time, and he belongs on the list of all-time guys in that role.
18) Gil Hodges
There’s a very large contingent of fans and former players who believe Cooperstown’s greatest omission is that of Gil Hodges. Perhaps the best defensive first baseman in big league history, with 370 home runs to boot, Hodges was a central figure of the Boys of Summer Brooklyn Dodgers.
19) Bill Dahlen
Nobody alive and reading this remembers Dahlen since he played at the turn of the last century. A longtime shortstop in a time where shortstops who could hit were as rare as albino water buffaloes, Dahlen hit .272 lifetime with 2,461 hits. He is a favorite of the sabremeticians and traditionalists.
20) Dave Concepcion
Concepcion played shortstop for 19 seasons, forming a cornerstone of those great Cincinnati “Big Red Machine” teams of the 1970s. Along the way, he picked up five Gold Gloves and made nine All-Star teams.
21) Juan Gonzalez
Two-time AL MVP, three-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 434 career home runs, 1,404 RBIs, and a career slugging percentage of .561, which is why he was arguably the most feared slugger of the 1990s.
22) Carlos Delgado
For hitters, I’m a big believer in “magic numbers” for induction – 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, or 1,500 RBIs. Delgado was close to 500 homers, but he’s over 1,500 RBIs. Plus, he’s a two-time All-Star and a three-time Silver Slugger winner in an era stocked with stud first basemen.
23) Javy Lopez
One of the best catchers of his era, and a legitimate offensive threat from the catcher position, but suffers from playing in the shadow of Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez.
24) Bobby Bonds
Speaking of guys in the shadows, let’s talk about Bobby Bonds. At first, shared an outfield with Willie Mays. In his final years, he remained a talented pro but was regulated to journeyman status bouncing around the league. Bobby Bonds was one of the great lead-off men of all time. He combined power and speed in ways that nobody had before and in 1973 he was a home run away from becoming the first ever 40 home run/40 stolen base player in baseball history. Bonds cracked the 30/30 mark five times in his career.
C) Players Who Really Shouldn’t Get Into The Hall Fame – There’s More Reasons Why They Should Be Out Than In
1) Edgar Martinez
The other side of the DH coin – Martinez’ career numbers of 309 home runs and 1,261 RBIs just aren’t good enough for a guy who doesn’t do anything other than hit. If you are a DH who wants my Hall of Fame vote, you have to produce – give me either 500 home runs or 1,500 RBIs.
2) Steve Garvey
Here’s a case where I totally agree with the BBWAA. Garvery’s days on the ballot bucked all the conventional wisdom. It is rare for a guy to get over 40% of the votes on his first ballot and not eventually be inducted. Garvey’s numbers actually went in reverse; he got 41.6% in his first year and 21.1% in his last year.
3) Andy Pettitte
To me, Pettitte was never dominant – rather, he was a guy who always pitched on good teams. He only won 20 games in a season twice, he never threw 200 strikeouts in a season, and his career WHIP is mediocre at best.
4) Darrell Evans
It speaks volumes that Evans hit 414 career home runs and only lasted on the writer’s ballot for a single year. This is likely due to his exceptionally uni-dimensional ability; he could slug and that was it. To understand what a liability Evans was on the field, find a copy of Game 4 of the 1987 ALCS.
5) Thurman Munson
A seven-time All Star, three-time Gold Glove-winning catcher, and AL MVP in 1976. But he died too soon.
6) Albert Belle
If Albert Belle a) weren’t unconscionable prick and b) had two more seasons at his career average performance (.295, 40 HR, 103 RBI) he’d be a lock. But a career cut short by injury and the fact everybody in baseball hated him means he has no shot.
7) Dwight Gooden
Gooden falls statistically into that same bucket as Dizzy Dean. Gooden’s 194 wins are better than Dean’s career total, but they both were dominant for similarly short periods of time. Plus, they both destroyed their careers through substance abuse.
By the way, I don’t think Dean belongs in Cooperstown either.
8 ) Kevin Brown
The best way to describe Brown is if Albert Belle were a pitcher. He had close to a decade worth of dominating seasons, but his 211-144 career record combined with the fact he was universally hated means he has no chance.
9) Orel Hershiser
The best way to describe Hershiser is if Steve Garvey was a pitcher. He’s got the same smarmy, “clean-cut” image that simply hasn’t been debunked yet like Garvey’s was, he’s got the same type of flickers of greatness in his career, but there just weren’t enough of them. Garvey’s not going to Cooperstown, and neither is Hershiser.
10) Keith Hernandez
He has eleven Gold Gloves, he was the 1979 NL MVP, and he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. He was a great fielder with no power at the plate playing a position suited to a slugger who can’t field.
11) Don Mattingly
Mattingly is another guy who just not great long enough. If he had tacked a few more seasons on his career like his early years when he bagged a batting title, an AL MVP award, and was a constant .300 hitter, he wouldn’t be in this section of the list.
12) Vada Pinson
Good for a long time, but never great. Pinson’s career showed the promise of a Hall of Fame career, but it proved to be a lot of unused potential. He racked up many hits (four times he compiled over 200 in a season), he had decent speed, but never the led the league in steals. He could field, but only had one Gold Glove.
13) Garrett Anderson
Essentially a latter-day Vada Pinson.
14) Ron Guidry
Another case of Hershiser Syndrome – flickers of greatness with one unbelievable season – 1978, when Guidry went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA, nine shutouts, and 248 strikeouts. For entrance to Cooperstown, he needed a few more 1978s.
15) Dan Quisenberry
It what has proven a theme on this list, Quisenberry was great for too short a period of time.
16) Maury Wills
Because he didn’t get to the bigs until he was 26, he simply didn’t have time to rack up hall-worthy number.
17) Roger Maris
One shining season in the sun just isn’t enough. But what a season it was…
18) Graig Nettles
He’s simply too much like another third baseman of his time, Darrell Evans. , Nettles had similar power and a similar lack of average (390 home runs and a .248 career batting average). In all fairness, Nettles won a few Gold Gloves. Maybe if he’d cracked 50 more home runs…
19) Johnny Damon
Since Damon is still active, this conversation revolves around what Damon needs to do for enshrinement. I posed this question to the chairman of the Dubsism Advisory Board, Dick Marple. According to him, Damon must:
- Get 3,000 hits
- End up high on the all-time runs scored list
- End up high on the all-time stolen base list (but he still needs the hits and runs)
- Offer a public apology for playing for BOTH the Red Sox and Yankees
- Get Mr. Marple membership in the BBWAA while having him serviced by an endless stream of Thai babes who claim to be Johnny Damon’s relatives
Let’s face it…No 3,000 hits, no Cooperstown for Johnny.
20) Dave Kingman
Like Darrell Evans, for the longest time Kingman was the only other player with 400 home runs who was not in the Hall of Fame. Why is that? Because Kingman was the only other guy as uni-dimensional as Evans.
21) Manny Ramirez
Here’s the guy the steroid moralists can use to get the pound of flesh they want. Who better than the guy who clearly defied the anti-PED rule at least three times. Forget about the guys who were allegedly juicing before it was no longer permitted in baseball, forget about the guys who got caught once. Where better than baseball for a demonstration of “three strikes and you’re out?”
There’s a few points that must be considered in terms of discussing this list.
The first is there are two types of people who are clearly screwing up what the Hall of Fame is supposed to be about. The first group are the “steroid moralists,” a group whose complete hypocrisy should of itself be enough to disqualify them from having any say in who belongs in the Hall of Fame. The same people who are wringing their hands about what steroids did the the “integrity of the game” are the same ones who cried about how baseball was “boring” in the 1990s and couldn’t wait to sing the praises of the offensive explosion of the late 90s.
The second group is the Hall of Fame itself; specifically the Veteran’s Committee. This group needs a significant structural change because it needs broader abilities to “fix” the mistakes made by the BBWAA. Even if you reject my position on the steroid issue, look at all the names in Section I who clearly belong in Cooperstown, but won’t get there because the Veteran’s committee has limited abilities.
Then, there is the whole matter of relief pitchers and designated hitters being in the Hall of Fame. Why should there be a class of player excluded simply because the “traditionalists” haven’t come to terms with the fact that we aren’t in 1934 anymore. Set standards for these guys, and appreciate the great ones like you would with any other players.
The bottom line: the Hall of Fame is about greatness on the field, not politics and B.S. from off of it.
Editor’s Note: For purposes of full disclosure, J-Dub is an alum of the University of North Dakota and is a fervent Fighting Sioux hockey fan. In fact, that’ s his real fat ass all Sioux-ed up. For Christ’s sake, the man has a Fighting Sioux shower curtain. We mention this only for purposes of stating up front this article may be written with a bit of a bias. If you disagree, feel free to comment, or start your own blog. Either way, you’ve been warned.
College football isn’t the only sport in the NCAA experiencing a tectonic shift in it’s conference alignments. Two of its oldest and most storied leagues are breaking up and re-forming a college hockey world that will look very different from the way it does today.
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) will celebrate its 60th anniversary this fall. The Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) turns 41. However, it is these two leagues which will be the most effected by the announcement yesterday that the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) will begin play in 2013-14 with some of the game’s most powerful programs as charter members.
Perennial power North Dakota, defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth, along with Denver, Colorado College,and Nebraska-Omaha are leaving the WCHA for the new league. These five schools have combined for a total won 17 national championships. Miami (Ohio) is departing the CCHA for the NCHC.
For those of you unfamiliar with college hockey, if such a shift were to happen in college football, it would be the equivalent of (current sanctions notwithstanding) USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State all announcing they are leaving their current conferences and forming their own.
“The WCHA has changed pretty dramatically over the years,” Colorado College athletic director Ken Ralph said. “As we look at the institutions that are most like us from a hockey perspective, the institutions our fans like seeing and the institutions that are providing national media for us, it became a pretty defined group.
Such a shift was inevitable once the Big Ten sponsored men’s hockey as a league sport. Once Penn State added hockey, the Big Ten had the needed six teams to form a conference once it gained Minnesota and Wisconsin from the WCHA and Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State from the CCHA.
This re-alignment will leave the WCHA with only five members: Alaska-Anchorage, Minnesota State, Bemidji State, and charter member Michigan Tech.
“Obviously, it’s a tough day for the WCHA and a sad one for me personally, and it’s not one that is easy to put into perspective,” WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod said. “We wish everyone well, but make no mistake, the WCHA is not going away. . . The WCHA has a short-term plan that we will implement immediately. In the long-term, we will formulate a strategic approach that will ensure the well-being of this Association and its members for the long run.”
The CCHA fares a bit better…for now. As it stands now, the league will have seven remaining schools, the most notable being Notre Dame. However, their is a strong possibility the Fighting Irish will join the Fighting Sioux in the new conference.
The league, which intentionally didn’t define itself with one region of the country, may expand by the time it starts. The National, as it was called by coaches and athletic directors at Wednesday’s introductory press conference, covets adding Notre Dame as a seventh team. If the Irish come aboard, an eighth team is possible as well.
The thing that all college hockey fans must remember that such big shifts are not new. Set the Wayback Machine for 1982 when Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Northern Michigan all bid farewell to the WCHA for the CCHA. Two years later, Boston College, Boston University, Maine, and New Hampshire were the vanguard of what became a seven-team defection from Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) to form Hockey East.
I know you are all wondering…what does does J-Dub, North Dakota alum and fervent Fighting Sioux fan think of this?
First of all, everybody thought 1982 was some sort of apocalypse; everybody thought all those teams leaving the WCHA (more importantly, the split of the North Dakota/Michigan rivalry) was the death knell of the WCHA. In fact, the opposite was true. North Dakota and Michigan continued to be the pre-eminent programs in the game, and both the WCHA and CCHA flourished as conferences.
The same held true for Hockey East. People thought it was bad for college hockey when Hockey East was formed and it strengthened the game in the East. Look at how many times Boston Fucking College has beaten the Sioux in the Frozen Four lately. That didn’t happen 20 years ago.
Not to mention, this will be good for the development of new programs. At the outset, we get a new Penn State program (fun for me, as I did some post-grad work there, and the Beaver Stadium experience is what hooked me on college football). Since I literally now live spitting distance from the Purdue campus, you know I’m going to be doing whatever I can to get them to move hockey from a club sport up to the level of competing with the big boys; I sure as hell don’t want to have to keep get my college hockey fix in South Bend or via satellite.
But beyond my myopic needs, this could bring the college game into a growth period. The calculus works like this: a period of more conferences smaller in size instead of the double-digit alignments of today means six-team conferences like the Big Ten and the new NCHC have slots for new programs. If I can get Purdue to pick up hockey, they are a no-brainer for the Big Ten. The non-regional nature of the new NCHC means it is rife with possibilities, ranging from adding members from existing, yet struggling conferences to welcoming newcomers.
Either way, the future of college hockey is at the same time different and bright. I for one look forward to it.
Perfect…this is just what we need. Over the next 24 hours, you can expect ESPN to overflow with lawyers numbing your brain about the legal nuances in play here. We here at Dubsism intend to do no such thing. Rather, we will expose you to what is being reported and then translate it into what it really means.
The judge in the Roger Clemens federal perjury trial abruptly declared a mistrial on the second day of testimony after the government inadvertently allowed the jury to hear statements from a U.S. congressman discussing the credibility of one of the key witnesses against the former All-Star baseball pitcher.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton was livid Thursday that a video screen was left on in the courtroom while he and the lawyers privately discussed an issue away from the jury, and yet the jurors could clearly see written comments by U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) during a 2008 House hearing in which Clemens testified he never used steroids or other enhancement drugs.
“Sadly, I have reached this conclusion,” Walton said.
Anybody who believes the government “inadvertently” let that evidence be seen by the jury, stand on your head. Let’s cut through the guano here, this piece of evidence cuts the knees out from under any assertion Clemens isn’t lying.
At issue was an earlier ruling in which the judge said he would not allow outside testimony or evidence from others about the credibility of certain key witnesses, including Andy Pettitte, a former teammate of Clemens.
Yet appearing on the screen was a transcript of comments by Cummings discussing Pettitte’s wife and Pettitte’s credibility as one of the lead government witnesses against the seven-time Cy Young award winner.
The government was supposed to have redacted such comments, and was instructed to keep them away from the jury of 10 women and two men so as not to prejudice their deliberations.
In other words, Pettitte comes off as a credible witness who contradicts anything Clemens says, and even legal novices like me can tell Clemens doesn’t need anymore shovels digging his grave.
“We’ll never know what impact that will have on how this jury decides this case, when we have a man’s liberty’s at stake,” said Walton, visibly angry. “I am troubled by this. The government should have been more cautious.”
He added, “I don’t see how I unring the bell” and keep the jury from considering what Pettitte’s wife said and what Cummings thought of it.
“In my view, Mr. Pettitte’s testimony is going to be critical as to whether this man goes to prison, and I can’t in good faith leave this case where a man’s liberty is at risk when the government should have assured we are not in this situation.”
If you don’t know by now that Pettitte’s testimony is the “smoking gun” in these proceedings, you likely also think a deal in the NFL lockout is imminent, that professional wrestling isn’t scripted, and that Casey Anthony isn’t a baby-killer.
Prosecutors said the error was inadvertent. But Rusty Hardin of Houston, Clemens’ chief defense attorney, seized on the problem and immediately asked for a mistrial.
There’s no way it was a mistake. The simple fact that now this information is now out in the media ensures any potential jury pool for a retrial has seen it.
On the screen were written comments from Cummings discussing how Laura Pettitte has said her husband “told me he had a conversation with Roger Clemens and Roger admitted to him using human growth hormones.” Clemens has insisted he never told Pettitte that he used HGH or steroids, even though his friend and former New York Yankees teammate has said otherwise.
Yet Cummings, from his comments, seemed to believe Pettitte over Clemens. Cummings’ comments were then addressed to Clemens, and his sworn statements that he never told Pettitte he used the drugs.
“If that were true,” Cummings’ comments continued on the video, “why would Laura Pettitte remember her husband telling her about that?”
There’s the million dollar question – one that Clemens has no answer for, and that his defense lawyer hoped to keep from being asked. So much for that.
Clemens had been charged with perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements in the latest criminal trial dealing with Major League Baseball players and steroids and other enhancement drugs.
The judge continued a gag order precluding Clemens and attorneys and prosecutors discussing the case — at least until a hearing on Sept. 2 to decide how or whether to jump start the case.
Clemens’ best hope at this point is the judge decides not to re-try the case, or that his lawyers can cut a deal with prosecutors before a new trail date is set. Otherwise, signs point to “The Rocket” getting convicted.
We all remember this. It was the perfect metaphor for a shitty stadium that houses a shitty franchise which has nothing but a shitty future. But at least stadium-wise, Minnesota’s long nightmare is over. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men found a way to put the HumptyDome back together again.
One of the last scars of our brutal winter is finally gone. The Metrodome roof is back up.
Heavy snow from a December blizzard caused the dome’s roof to cave in, but just a few hours ago, crews in Minnesota were able to inflate the new roof — along with patching a hole that’s been in the city’s skyline.
Stadium officials and construction workers had 20 fans ready to pump air into the dome. They started the process with 12 then went to just six. Going forward, only two or three fans will maintain the pressure.
Chief engineer Steve Maki says the process was problem-free.
“I guess I’m a little surprised it went as well as it did, because you always think of what could be the worst thing that could happen,” he said. “So I guess I’m pleasantly surprised that it all went well and I’m glad for it.”
The process to raise the roof was said to take about three hours, but in reality, it only took about 45 minutes.
Now the work begins to get the inside ready. Crews also started to pull back the wood that protected the turf, while the roof was deflated. But for those who work there everyday, after seven months things are starting to feel normal again.
Officials hope to have everything cleaned up and ready to go by Aug. 20, when the Sports Commission will host an open house.
Assuming the NFL Lockout is resolved by then, the Vikings are scheduled to lose their first home pre-season game on August 27th.
Naturally, the Vikings think this disaster will lead to the Purple getting a new stadium. Of course, in a state that is currently experiencing a government shutdown because the hunyuks that run that increasingly insignificant state can even agree on a simple operating budget, the odds of getting any dough for a new field are about as likely as getting through an entire Minnesota winter without a single inch of snow.
The Vikings are seeking a new stadium, but that effort has been stymied in part by the state’s budget deficit and government shutdown.
“We’re going to need to raise revenue to do this, and there really hasn’t been a lot of synergy on how that would happen at this point,” Mondale said. “So we’re waiting. But we’re working. We’re being creative, and we’re being solution-focused. I think there’s still a pretty good shot that we’ll have a good proposal ready for the elected leaders to take a look at — and hopefully in the right timeframe.”
In the meantime, start preparing yourself for the Los Angeles Vikings.