Blog Entry

Love Letters: The Pujols, Braun and Santo Edition

Posted on: December 16, 2011 6:50 pm
Ho, ho, ho, and all we're missing is the 'w'! How ... how am I ever going to get to my Christmas cards when I'm so far behind on Love Letters? Let's go, Rudolph:

FROM: Shashi R.
Re.: Let's Ease Up on MLB negativity based upon Braun, Pujols stories

Mr. Miller,

Thanks for your piece on cutting out the negativity regarding baseball. When it comes to PEDs and professional sport, the entire public discussion has been a joke for years. Of course MLB players used and use PEDs, but for some reason fans, Congress, and, yes, the media have given the NBA and NFL a ridiculous pass for precisely the same behavior. For every 20 stories or comments regarding MLB and PEDs, maybe we see one story regarding the NFL. I'll never understand the hypocrisy. Either it's cheating or it's not, irrespective of the sport involved.

True dat. My feeling is, people have higher expectations for baseball because it means more to them. The old,"to whom much is given, much is expected." And I will say, that's not a bad thing either.

FROM: Charles S.

Hey a--hole, calling someone Mr. [Pujols] is s sign of respect and also because your colleague does not know Pujols personally and therefore should not call him by his first name. That's call being polite you jerk-off. Your colleague is not Pujol's best friend. Who the f-- are you to be castigating anyone for addressing someone like that. Didn't your parents teach you anything. Idiot.

Obviously, we need to tighten our firewall so Neanderthals like you can't get past it. You're going to lecture me about respect while using language like this? I fear for our country -- low-lifes like you bring our national IQ down with the monkeys. Go crawl back under the rock from where you arrived.

FROM: Mike M.
Re.: Pujols' arrival in Anaheim perhaps a call from higher up


I love your work, but this one was way off base. Of course he left St. Louis for the money. It was solely about the money. That's common sense, Scott. He got offered 30 million dollars more than what the Cardinals offered, that's why he left. He didn't go there because God wanted him to. Please don't write dumb articles again. You're usually pretty good, but you're better than this one.

Come on now. What I wrote was, there were other reasons aside from money why Pujols left St. Louis. And after the 99.9 pecent that covers the finances of the deal, there are. Trust me.

FROM: Eric
Re: Pujols' move leaves St. Louis in shock, Anaheim in awe

"It was a performance that, on one stunning and astounding December day, instantly turned bittersweet for anyone rooting for the Cardinals." Good column, but you're accusing Cardinals fans of something that isn't true. Did yesterday's signing change the score of Game 3 and alter the final result of the World Series? I think Cards fans still recall that Game 3 and the rest of this series with good memories.

I'll give you that. But isn't it going to be bittersweet from the standpoint that as years pass and Cards fans revisit that game and World Series, it always will be accompanied by the sting of the way Pujols left?

FROM: John D.


Grow up. We in St. Louis are not in shock. We have had a year to get used to the idea that Albert may be gone. Our franchise is far bigger and greater than any one player, even one who, had he stayed like Stan and Bob Gibson could have achieved true baseball immortality. In the end Albert will be associated with California, also known as the land of fruits and nuts. No offense. I have a feeling our little franchise here in St. Lou will do just fine! Let me know if you think otherwise, else I'll assume you agree and are just another coastal hack writer like so many others.

Inferiority complex? I never for a minute said or implied that your "little franchise ... in St. Lou" would not be fine. Last I checked, the Cardinals rank only second to the Yankees in World Series titles. I love that there's so much history that you only needed to refer to "Stan" -- no last name required. Everybody knows. Let me know if you think otherwise.

FROM: Jonathan G.

I assume you have received your ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame. I hope you will consider Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, Don Mattingly, Tim Raines, and Alan Trammell for enshrinement this year. I also hope my note finds you well and you have a Happy Holiday season.

Ballot is sitting right here on my desk. Each of those names will be strongly considered. I'll write about my Hall of Fame choices probably the week between Christmas and New Year.

FROM: Court
Re.: Finally voted to Hall of Fame, Santo a lesson on never giving up


Beautifully written column about a beautiful man. You really did Ron Santo justice with this piece. To echo your comments about a man's greatest legacy lying in his ability to continue to teach from the grave, perhaps what Santo has taught us, or perhaps more accurately reminded us of, are those rare moments in life when all bitterness, jealousy, hate, and recrimination fall from our hearts and we accept everything as it is and as it will be, and our empathy for others, even the seemingly worst among us, runs thick and deep. A man who lives with passion and heart is never forgotten. Santo was surely one of those. My sympathies and joy to his family and the great city of Chicago.

Beautifully said, Court. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.


Since: May 18, 2011
Posted on: December 23, 2011 9:46 am

Fruits and Nuts


It is not all of California that is known as the land of fruits and nuts.
That is Southern California. Northern California is known for fruits and wines.


Since: Aug 23, 2008
Posted on: December 22, 2011 7:06 pm

Love Letters: The Pujols, Braun and Santo Edition

He only exceeded 25 HR and 85 RBI once in his 19 year career, how do you spout off that this is a typical Larkin season?

Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: December 21, 2011 11:01 pm

Love Letters: The Pujols, Braun and Santo Edition

Who is the most overrated shorstop of all time?  Please tell me you are not referring to Ozzie?  If so, then maybe you should pick up a new hobby cuz you dont know jack about baseball??? Larkin should be in the Hall too, no question.

Since: Feb 22, 2008
Posted on: December 19, 2011 4:07 pm

Love Letters: The Pujols, Braun and Santo Edition

I agree, Larkin would be no brainer if Ozzie Smith could not do a back flip while running onto the field, most overatted short stop ever.

Since: Jul 28, 2009
Posted on: December 19, 2011 12:45 pm

Love Letters: The Pujols, Braun and Santo Edition

I say emphatically yes! for Larkin, but admit that I am a Reds fan.  I suppose my bias wouldnt matter anyway b/c if one looks at his career numbers, I believe that you will find he is a top 10 shortstop all time, in the pre roids era that is.  now we have a rod and other sluggers at SS, but for many years it was not a power hitting position.   a 295 ave. 25 homers, and 85 rbi, a typical larkin season, were very good numbers for a SS in the era that he played in.  If Larkin doenst end up in the Hall I would say it could be due to several factors:
1.lack of a 'moment.'  he was on a champ team, but it was eric davis, joe rijo and the catcher who stole the show.
2.early career overshadowed by the acrobatic, amazing ozzie smith.
3. lack of being a Yankee.Wink

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: December 19, 2011 12:44 pm

Love Letters: The Pujols, Braun and Santo Edition

Mistakes in the Hall of Fame voting aren't just recent occurances. No offense (pun intended) but look at Phil Rizzuto, and tell me shortstops Barry Larkin, Allan Trammell, and Dave Concepcion for that matter, don't belong.

Since: Aug 5, 2011
Posted on: December 19, 2011 4:25 am

Love Letters: The Pujols, Braun and Santo Edition

Barry was the league's best and most consistent shortstop for years.  He was classy and a gentleman at all times.  His numbers speak for themself.  Forget the trash, put a true gentleman and class act into the hall.

Since: Dec 30, 2006
Posted on: December 19, 2011 4:23 am

Love Letters: The Pujols, Braun and Santo Edition

Fans like you are what's sad and sorry about baseball today and not to mention the way you probably view all sports. You buy so much into your fantsy sports teams and players and think you're a stats guru and define every player's career through numbers on a sheet! You don't realize there's more to that especailly in baseball. Despite the devestating stain of steroids on the game, I feel baseball has historically always recognized character when considering HOF candidates. Was the man a leader? Did he give everything he had and leave it on the field (a.k.a passion and career longevity)? Did he encourage teammates and make others better? Was he overwhelmingly popular amoung fans, playes, and coaches? Those are bigger picture questions that should be asked. It's pronounced Hall of Fame, not Hall of stat stuffing dominence. All of those players: Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, Don Mattingly, Tim Raines, and Alan Trammell fit into all those catagories without blemish.
Barry Larkin was the Derrick Jeter of his generation, he just didn't play for the Yankees, he played for the small-market Reds instead. Plus are you faulting a guy for not having the at least nine more Gold Gloves he would have won had he not been playing in the same league and era as the greatest defensive shortstop of all-time: Ozzie Smith (and he still got three despite Ozzie's presence in Larkin's prime)? That's harsh. 
Barry Larkin single handedly won a division for a mediocre Reds team in 1995, and was the NL MVP that year. He was the star and face of the '90 world championship team, hitting .353 for the series. He was a Roberto Clemete and Lou Gehrig award winner, a 12-time All Star, 9-time silver slugger winner (he was an all around SS, before there was such thing as an all around SS, heck he had a 30-30 year in '96, the first SS to ever do that!). Barry Larkin ranks 10th all-time in WAR for shortstops. The only shortstops ahead of him in career OPS are Alex Rodriguez, Derrick Jeter, and Nomar Garciaparra. Ironically they were all part of the younger era of athletic hitting shortstops that Larkin helped to usher-in by revolutionizing the position. (Since you love battng stats) he ranks 9th all time on the SS home run list. He ranks 37th in all time career fielding percentage (oh yeah being good in the field is someting the Hall considers too besides batting stats, shocking I know). 
Then there's Alan Trammell, another good hitting and fielding shortstop when offense was still a rarity at the position. A 6-time All-Star, 3-time sliver slugger winner, 4-time Gold Glove winner, and the 1984 World Series MVP!
To say a do-it-all player like Mattingly doesn't deserve to be in the hall is insaine! He's one of the more popular Yankees not named Babe Ruth, Lou Gerhig, Mickey Mantle, Yoga Bera, Derrick Jeter, or Joe Dimaggio (phew, there are a lot of popular Yankees)! But I know, I know, popularity doesn't count for the Hall of FAME, only stats. I know you think anyone good a fielding shouldn't be in the Hall because fielding dosen't = Home Run on the stat sheet, but Mattingly did dominate the field with 9 Gold Gloves! A six-time All-Star, he was the AL MVP in 1985 as well as the Major League Player of the Year! Three silver sluggers and the 1984 batting champ prove he got it done at the plate as well. 
Then there's Jeff Bagwell, who you suggested was the most dominate player on this list (despite having the fewest personally accolades outside of Tim Raines, he's just a more recent player who you remember hitting it out of the park, still he's definitely if not more deserving of the Hall). Bagwell was a team leader who lead the Astros to one of the best winning percentages in the '90s! Character and leadership don't count as 600 home runs though (in your book probably the only guys you would let in). He was the '91 Rookie of the year as well as the '94 MVP. He also added four All-Star apperances, one Gold Glove, and three Silver Sluggers, to go along with a .297 career AVG and 449 home runs (there are players with lesser stats than that in the Hall). He got it done on the bases too (I know, running, what a joke right! I mean it's not hitting!) He is the only first baseman in Major League history and one of 12 players all-time to reach 400 home runs and 200 stolen bases. He is one of only 12 playes with at least 400 home runs as well as a .400 OBP or better (but getting on base isn't 200 more career HRs). He is one of five players in history to collect 30 home runs, 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored in six consecutive seasons (1996-2001). Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Albert Pujols are the others. He is the only player in history to record 30 home runs, 100 RBIs, 100 runs scored and 100 walks in six consecutive seasons (1996-2001). I guess a six-year streak of dominence never before or since experienced can be described as brief. Bagwell should get in on the uniqueness of his batting-stance alone.
Tim Raines had a career that spanned the parts of four decades playing from 1979-2002! He was only 5'8" 160 lbs, so genetics killed any chance of him hitting 600 home runs before he even held a bat (thus eliminating him already from the Hall in your book). The truth is that outside of Charlie Hustle or maybe Ricky Henderson, there may have been no other player who worked harder and gave more of himself than the little Raines! The Hall of Fame isn't a popularity contest despite having fame in the name and really truely being a popualrity contest since its inception in 1936. Raines was a more than popular player, he was a seven-time All-Star and the 1987 All Star Game MVP! He was one of the best players ever at getting on base, leading the majors in '83, '84, and '86 and was second in '85. He won the '86 Silve Slugger for outfielders (Only 3 OF in each league can win, and a 5'8" 160lbs Raines actually won it one year!) From '81-'86 he never stole less than 70 bases, stealing 90 in '83! Tell me that's not dominance on the base path! The five years that followed he consistently averaged between 40-50 steals! Time Raines ranks fifth all-time in stolen bases. Only Ty Cobb, Lou Brock, Billy Hamilton, and Ricky Henderson have stolen more, and all of them are already in the Hall. He's 52nd all-time on the games played list, and professional baseball's been around since 1869 (that's a lot of 40-man rosters of guys to compete with to be 52nd all-time!) Career longevity and dominate base-running means nothing though, if you're not smashing home runs. 
Will all these guys make the Hall this year? No. Will all of them eventually make it? Probably not, however, they each have a stronger case than this ignorant comment would suggest:

If that's the top of the list for HOF - Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, Don Mattingly, Tim Raines, and Alan Trammell - I don't think anyone's going in.  All good players, but only Bags came close to being dominant and then only briefly (dominant) and under some suspicion. 

I'm glad you don't have a vote scaevola. You're an ignorant baseball fan too in love with stats and power at the plate (if Bags is the only player you'd define as dominate in this group, I'm making the safe assumption you're evaluation is on offensive prowess alone). What a sad, sad, and unmajestic Hall it would be if everyone shared your opinions. There would be no field of dreams, just a batting cage of them, since the field doesn't matter as long as you can hit! The game of baseball became is America's past-time because it is a thinking man's game where fundamentals once dominated. I doubt you'd put a guy like Ty Cobb or Honus Wagner in your Hall. You're just too in love with the long ball and don't get the little things. You're someone I'd call a cheap fan of the game. So guzzle your beer, shove your hot dog down your throat, and hope someone jacks it out of the park. 

Since: Nov 1, 2009
Posted on: December 19, 2011 1:31 am

Love Letters: The Pujols, Braun and Santo Edition

If that's the top of the list for HOF - Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, Don Mattingly, Tim Raines, and Alan Trammell - I don't think anyone's going in.  All good players, but only Bags came close to being dominant and then only briefly (dominant) and under some suspicion. 

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