Posts Tagged ‘Ken Griffey Jr.’

Good Bye to 2016

December 29, 2016
Hopefully I won't have to be this old before the Dodgers win

Hopefully I won’t have to be this old before the Dodgers win

Another baseball season is over. The winners are crowned, the loser mourned. The postseason awards are announced, the winter meetings are through, and the Veteran’s Committee has spoken. Here, in my usual nine things for nine innings format, are a few random thoughts on what we saw (and didn’t see) in 2016.

1. The Cubs finally won. It hadn’t happened in 108 years and the Cubs fans are joyous. But I wonder if some of the mystique that surrounded the Cubs wasn’t harmed. The “loveable loser” moniker is gone, as is the “sit in the sun, drink beer, and don’t worry about the score” motif of Cubsdom is over. Will it hurt the overall fan base, or not. I have no idea.

2. Can the Angels find a pitcher? They have Mike Trout, arguably the best player in the Major Leagues in a long time. They have Albert Pujols, a shadow of what he was at St. Louis, but still a formidable player (He had 119 RBIs and needs nine homers for 600). C. J. Cron is 26 and Kole Calhoun is 29. And they still can’t win. Maybe the problem is the staff, maybe it’s the coaching staff (Scioscia hasn’t led them very far in a while), but they just don’t win.

3. Sticking with the West Coast, but moving to Chavez Ravine, we say good-bye to Vin Scully who, for 67 years, graced us with his voice, his wit, his stories. I liked Jack Buck and Dizzy Dean. I liked Bob Prince and Russ Hodges, but there was only one Vin. Maybe he’ll be the first broadcaster elected to the Hall of Fame itself, not just to the broadcasters niche. And the Dodgers answered the question, “who needs an ace?” by rattling off a ton of wins with Clayton Kershaw injured.

4. I loved that Royals team that won in 2014 and 2015, but injuries and free agency have taken their toll. I’d love to see them back in the mix again, but I’m afraid it will have to be with a very different set of players. That’s a shame; they were fun to watch.

5. Then there’s Cleveland. They now have the longest streak of not having won the World Series (since 1948). It’s a good team with a very good manager and I’d like to see them break their streak (but not at the expense of my Dodgers). And sticking with the Indians, I hope the Terry Francona method of using his relievers in key situations, not just the ninth inning, catches on.

6. So Bud Selig is now a Hall of Famer. OK, I guess. There have been better choices and there have been worse choices. Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza also made it. They were better, and easier, choices.

7. We lost W.P. Kinsella this year. He gave us the book Shoeless Joe, which in turn gave us the movie Field of Dreams. We also lost Hall of Famer Monte Irvin and broadcast legend Joe Garagiola, and  current pitcher Felix Fernandez, among others.

8. Dan Duquette is an honest man. He told us that the Orioles weren’t interested in Jose Bautista because the fans didn’t like him. OK, I guess. It’s honest, but I don’t know how much baseball sense it makes. Thoughts, Bloggess?

9. Buck Showalter is getting another year. He’s a fine manager, but he’s gotta know when to bring in his relief ace.

And finally it’s time for my annual Dodgers rallying cry “Wait ’til next year.” Why change the cry now; it’s been good for 28 years.

 

Prospect?

November 29, 2016
Quad Cities Park

Quad Cities Park

I’ll admit to having a fault (“Just the one?” you ask). I’m something of a political junkie. I watch the various news programs more than is probably good for me. I tend to wander from one to the other gathering differing views. I head from lefty MSNBC to right-wing Fox and everything between. I then try to synthesize those views to determine what is real and what isn’t. I think it makes me a better judge of the political environment.

“OK, Genius, that’s great and everything; but what the heck has it to do with baseball?” you ask. Actually, quite a lot. Besides the obvious ability to look at differing stats and making differing determinations, it occasionally becomes directly important. In my wandering through the political overload that is Cable TV and I ran across a commentator who mentioned he was once a baseball prospect, but hurt his arm, changed fields, and is currently on TV. Well, I knew nothing about him so I looked him up both on things like Wikipedia and, more important for our purposes, on BaseballReference.com. Well, he did get into a dozen or so games in the very low minors and was gone after that. I’ll take his word for what happened to him (rotator cuff).

But the entire thing brought up to me the entire question of exactly what makes someone a baseball “prospect.” This guy never got beyond the lowest minors but considers himself a “prospect.” So I asked myself, “Self, was he?”

My final answer was “yes.” Simply put, if a person was drafted in the first round he’s a prospect. If he was drafted in the 10th round, he’s a prospect. If he’s drafted as low as Mike Piazza was, he’s a prospect. If he’s signed as a free agent, he’s a prospect. The fact the guy never panned out doesn’t detract from the idea he was a prospect. I base this theory on the simple reasoning that if someone somewhere on some Major League staff thought the guy was good enough to make the roster he must be a prospect. Why draft or sign him if he’s not? What a waste of time, ink, and money if you’re drafting or signing a non-prospect.

So you may disagree and tell me that Ken Griffey, Jr. was a prospect and someone drafted lower isn’t really. Sure he may make it, but the chances aren’t good and so he isn’t really a prospect. My answer is that if you’re willing to give him a chance, he’s a prospect.

Fell free to disagree. And this is as close to political commentary as I am likely to get.

 

Nine Thoughts on the 2016 Hall of Fame Class

January 7, 2016

As baseball uses nine men in the field and nine men in the batting order, here’s nine random thoughts on the just concluded Hall of Fame voting:
1. First and foremost, congratulations to both Ken Griffey, Jr, the second best player from Donora, Pennsylvania (behind Stan Musial) and Mike Piazza on election to Cooperstown.

2. Three people didn’t vote for Griffey, but his 99% of the vote is the highest percentage ever. I read a lot of stuff saying Griffey could be the first unanimous selection. Come on, team, Babe Ruth wasn’t unanimous and neither Joe DiMaggio nor Yogi Berra made it on the first ballot so who could possibly believe that anyone was going to be unanimous? It renews my faith in the writers. I’ve said for years that they’re a poor group to pick the Hall of Fame and the three guys proved me right again.

3. Piazza is by far the more interesting choice. There are the steroid rumors around him that are just that, rumors. But there is the possibility that they are true. If, in his induction speech Piazza were to say “Yeah, I used the stuff,” then it becomes much more difficult for voters to keep out players who acknowledge they used stuff (McGwire) or are accused (Clemens, Bonds), or who flunked a test (Palmeiro). It will be interesting to see where this goes. None of this is meant to imply that I believe Piazza used anything but coffee while playing.

4. The culling of the deadweight among the voters allowed for some interesting results. Major jumps by Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Mike Mussina, Curt Shilling, and Edgar Martinez are unthinkable without a change in the voters. It may be a signal that all are on the road to Cooperstown (or maybe not).

5. The loss of the “old guard” type voters helped both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, but not a lot. Neither went up as much as 10% and now we have six years left to see if they can continue gaining ground and how much of that ground they’ll gain. I was certain, until this vote, that the writers were going to kick them down the road to the Vets Committee and let them (the Vets Committee) make the hard choices. Maybe that’s changed. Next year will tell us much about how that’s going to work.

6. Jim Edmonds is not a Hall of Famer, the voters said so. OK, maybe he isn’t, but he’s better than 2% of the vote, a lot better. It’s a shame he won’t get another chance until the Veteran’s Committee has its say. Alan Trammell is not a Hall of Famer. At least he had 15 years and got 40% of the vote. I think they’re wrong, but now we get to see what the Veteran’s Committee says. And Mark McGwire is not a Hall of Famer although he had only 10 years to make his case. It appears he will be the test case for my kick it down the road to the Vets Committee theory (Geez, I’m writing about the Vets Committee a lot, aren’t I?).

7. Trevor Hoffman didn’t get in but got enough votes to appear a viable candidate for enshrinement on a later ballot. I think he needed that because I’m not sure he could sustain a long, gradual rise before getting over the 75% threshold. The problem is Mariano Rivera. When Rivera becomes eligible he should get in easily and Hoffman can no longer say he has the most saves of anyone eligible (and saves do seem to matter a lot to the voters). I was stunned Billy Wagner didn’t do better. At least he stayed on the ballot.

8. Next year adds Vlad Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, and Manny Ramirez (among others) to the ballot, making it again a large ballot. I do wish they’d dump the 10 vote rule. I wonder how much that hurt players like Edmonds?

9. All in all, with the exception of what happened to Edmonds and Trammell, I’m pleased with the results. Two worthy candidates got in, a handful of other candidates made major strides toward possible election. That’s not bad. Again congrats to Griffey and Piazza. Now I wonder which cap Piazza will wear on his plaque.

2016 Hall of Fame Ballot and My Take

November 16, 2015

As usual, I have an opinion on this year’s Hall of Fame voting for the Class of 2016. And as is equally usual, I’m more than willing to share that opinion with the rest of the world; a world that I know is deathlessly waiting to hear exactly what I think on most anything. There is humility in my family; I just don’t have any of it.

Here’s my ballot for the Class of 2016 (are you reading, BBWAA?). As there’s still a limit of 10 votes, I’m going to continue my policy of “If they’re going to give me 10 votes, I’m gonna take ’em.” Here’s my picks, new guys first, in the order they show up on the Hall of Fame website.

Ken Griffey, Jr.–You had that one, right? There’ll be a lot of worshipful commentary on him, but let me remind you that after he left Seattle he was something of a mild bust. He had some good years, but was also hurt a lot. A lot of people thought he would run past Henry Aaron on the home run list, and he didn’t even make it beyond Willie Mays. Still, he’s exactly what they envisioned as a Hall of Famer way back when they started the place.

Trevor Hoffman–when he retired he had the record for most saves in MLB history. He’s since dropped to second, but remains one of only two men with 600 or more saves. Against his enshrinement is the fact that he only led the National League in saves twice in 18 years, didn’t do particularly well in the postseason, and seemed to blow a lot of saves in critical situations. I think he needs to get in pretty quickly because of the impending arrival of Mariano Rivera on the ballot. If he’s not in by then, he could have a lot of trouble making it.

Jim Edmonds–I’ve seen a lot of center fielders in my day (stretching back into the 1950s) and Edmonds is one of the very best I saw. He is, to me, one of the 10 top center fielders ever (although others will disagree) and should be in Cooperstown. Having said that, I can’t imagine he’ll make it this time because the “first ballot mythology” will leave him out, which beggars the question how’d he get better six years after his retirement than he was five years after his retirement?

And now the holdovers, again in the order they appear on the Hall of Fame website.

Mike Piazza–Probably the best hitting catcher ever. Not noted as having a particularly good arm, but not an absolute bust of a defensive catcher. He’s been steadily rising in the voting and this may be his year, but the entire steroid issue may cause him to fall short again.

Jeff Bagwell–other than Albert Pujols, he’s the very best first baseman I ever saw.

Tim Raines–Why the heck isn’t he already in?

Curt Schilling–Staff mainstay on multiple pennant winners and multiple World Series champions. He was co-MVP of the 2001 World Series and is famous for more than his bloody sock. An early opponent of steroids, his lack of wins and his comments on politics will probably make it hard for him to get in.

Edgar Martinez–Still the best Designated Hitter ever. As long as it’s a position on the team, a person holding it down cannot be excluded from the Hall of Fame simply because he plays it.

Alan Trammell–His last chance. I’ve supported him for 15 years and am not about to stop now. One of the best shortstops ever, one of the best of his era (better with a bat than Ozzie Smith and not that much weaker in the field), and the top Detroit shortstop in team history.

Larry Walker–He’s going to be hurt by Coors Field, but the arm was great whatever field he occupied. He won batting titles (and a home run title) only with Colorado, but was an All Star with Montreal also. He was still darned good the last two years in St. Louis including an excellent postseason in 2004 (not so much in 2005).

That’s the list. If the Hall had added the two positions requested by the writers I would probably have gone with Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent (but don’t hold me to that).  Of the new guys I’d like to see several (Kendall, Wagner, Eckstein, Anderson) get enough votes to stay around for a while so we can get multiple chances to look over their qualifications. I really can’t see any of them getting in, but I’d like to see them hang around. And I hope Fred McGriff stays on too. It is the last chance for Mark McGwire and I fully expect the writers to punt him (and the other steroid boys) down the road for the Veteran’s Committee to make the final decision. It’s a lot less hassle for the writers.

Feel free to disagree with my list.

Good Bye, Junior

June 3, 2010

So Ken Griffey, Jr. is now retired. That’s one of those pieces of information I’m not sure how to take. On the one hand I’m sorry to hear it because he was such a wonderful player. On the other, it was time to go. By this season he was a shell of the great player we used to see.

I’ve been trying to decide where he fits into baseball history. He is, afterall, an historical figure. As a player he’s certainly a top 25 player, maybe higher. As a center fielder he’s well into the top 10 (he gets the six slot for me).  As a player from Donora, Pennsylvania he’s second (Stan Musial is first).

I will miss him, his personality, his joy, his swing, his racing across the field to catch a ball. They all have to go, but sometimes it’s a great shame. This is one of those.