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Category:MLB
Posted on: January 27, 2011 10:37 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:16 pm
 

A Change Up

If you have read “Rounding third” in the past you may get the idea that I’m a older fan who is not altogether content with the direction that one of my passions has taken over time.   If so, your impression is totally on target.  I have critized the inequity between the haves and have not’s, expansion, the power of the players association, and the impotence of the current commissioner.   It is time to take a break and lighten it up.  
 

You are ‘baseball’ old if you remember that the National and American Leagues had 8 teams and only one went to the postseason. 

You are ‘baseball’ old if you recall the World Series being over before mid October and every game during the day.

You are ‘baseball’ old if you could go over the days outcomes at dinner. 

You are ‘baseball’ old if you remember Sunday

Doubleheaders…every Sunday.

You are ‘baseball’ old if you rooted for the Dodgers….the Brooklyn Dodgers.

You are ‘baseball’ old if you remember MVP Yogi Berra in 1955 striking out 20 times in 615 plate appearances while catching 147 games in a 154 game schedule, and hitting 27 Hrs and driving in 108.

You are baseball old if you had a transistor radio confiscated by your teacher during a World Series game.

You are ‘baseball old’ if you can remember a time where pitchers hit…all pitchers. 

A lot of changes have taken place in baseball over the past 50 years, I could probably keep adding to my list but would like to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Category: MLB
Tags: Mets
 
Posted on: January 16, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 1:11 pm
 

Mutually Inclusive ?

How much is payroll a factor in making the playoffs in baseball.  You could focus on the Yankees who outspend every other team in baseball and by a ratio that can be 5-1.

For this entry, I went back nine years to 2003 which was the first year of the ‘Luxury Tax’.  The Luxury Tax is relevant to the topic as it is a threshold agreed upon by the players union and MLB as a point where those teams that spent over that threshold would pay a tax to the MLB (for the development of baseball and player benefits).  I looked for the number of teams in the top ten payrolls of each season that made the playoffs, and made the World Series.  In each season the spread from the NYY (#1) to the tenth team was an average of 2.1-1 an indication that even the tenth highest payroll was already at a major disadvantage.

In the nine seasons there were a combined total of seventy two playoff positions available,  Thirty eight (53%) of these went to teams in the top ten in payroll in those given years.   Of the teams that landed in the World Series in those nine years only six of the eighteen (373.3%) were teams in the top ten payroll bracket.  2009 was the only year that both World Series teams, the Phillies and the Yankees were top ten teams.   

Big spending teams tend to remain big spenders, the Yankees, Mets Red Sox, and Cubs are on the list for all nine years.  The Angels have made it eight times. 

Returning to the Luxury Tax, only four teams during the nine year history of this version of the tax have crossed that line in the sand, the Yankees every year, the Red Sox twice, Angels, and Tigers.   Of the eightAL components of the fall classic 50%, the Yankees and Red Sox twice each have gone to the World Series and then wrote a check to the MLB to pay the tax.  However going to the World Series is not the goal for the Yankees, winning it is.  In the past 12 years 2001- the Yankees have won one championship and have spent more than 2.5 Billion in payroll to do so.  That one championship was won in 2009 after the addition of Marl Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and 424 Million to the payroll.

A large payroll seems to give a team a better than even money chance to make the playoffs and a decent chance to reach the World Series.   Each of the other major sports in theUnited States, the NFL, NBA, and the NHL have a salary cap and equally important a salary floor.  MLB has a new CBA and while they don’t have and no one should have expected a salary cap there were some changes to the Luxury Tax.  The Red Sox who paid the tax at a percentage of 30% on salary over the 178 M threshold will move to the 40 % level while the Yankees will be taxed at 42.5 %.  The new CBA will allow a team that falls below the threshold (189 M in 2014) to reset its tax rate at 17.5 percent and also recover some of its revenue sharing cost.   For the Yankees with a 2011 payroll of 213 M and no relief insight that may not happen for many years.  The Red Sox who paid a tax of 3.4 M are far closer.  Their 2011 salary was 189 M and with the loss of Jonathan Papelbon and David Ortiz accepting arbitration may edge them close to the threshold.  Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeny obtained in a trade with the A’s will add less than 2 M to the 2012 payroll.   

 

Posted on: December 22, 2010 3:52 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:05 pm
 

From Bad to Worse

At the close of the General Manager meeting in Orlando last month Allan Huber (Bud) Selig offered up to the press his desire to add another wildcard and another round to the playoffs.  The response from the GM’s was favorable, but not for a one game playoff.  Selig did not expect that such a change would be in place until 2012.

Bud Selig is in a damage control mode as his time as Commissioner draws to a close.  He is widely thought of as the author of the ill will between the MLBPA and ownership, reverting back to the 280 M dollar payment by baseball to the players as the result of a court finding ownership guilty of collusion.

  He was acting Commissioner when baseball shut down in 1994 cancelling the World Series.  He was Commissioner when the steroid era flourished putting the records of a century of baseball in conflict.  He was the Commissioner when the All-Star game was played to a tie.  He was the Commissioner when the post season was first played in the month of November.

Selig has been a controversial figure; he has pumped more money into baseball than perhaps every Commissioner before him.  Certainly baseball owners have made money, although some will plead poverty as they cut salary on teams whose worth has escalated far beyond ownerships wildest dreams.  Players chase contracts that exceed 20 million dollars in some cases.  Virtually every player has an agent, negotiating those contracts and taking a percentage. .  Colleges today offer courses in ‘Sports Representation’.  The Media led by the alphabet soup of ESPN, MLB, in addition to the over the air FOX, ABC, etc. are paying huge premiums for the best packages.  A certain indicator they must be ekeing out a living. 

It would appear that ‘Bud has met every ones needs except for the fans.

Selig’s desire to repair his legacy will cost baseball in some unseen fashion as he negotiates the addition of another layer of playoffs.  In this arena, despite the benefits the Players Assoc. members have garnered under his appointment, Selig has been raw meat in a tiger’s cage.   The likely cost will be exposing fans to inclement weather even further in November than we have already visited. 

It wasn’t so very long ago that the World Series was played and over before mid-October.  Those were games that if you were attending you probably brought sunglasses.   You might have heard the voice of Mel Allen in any number of years telling you it was a beautiful day for a game.  Maybe it was Ernie Harwell or Jack Buck describing the shirt sleeve crowd.   If you go back far enough it might have been Russ Hodges or Red Barber setting the scene for a mid ‘50s’ Giants or Dodgers world Series.   Just maybe it was Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson or Ralph Kiner from Shea Stadium in 1969.  Every game played without lights, without an overcoat, without scarves, mittens, or hand warmers.   We know that New York and Philadelphia are cold at 8:30 pm in Nov., In years to come we will find out about Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, and maybe even Pittsburgh. 

No Commissioner has done so much to disenfranchise the fans than Allan Huber Selig. 

Posted on: November 5, 2010 4:39 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Change is Good.....Sometimes

It is commonly heard that what distinguishes baseball from the other sports (NFL, NBA) are the statistical records.  I always believed this.  The numbers 714, 60, and then 61 and 511 were as imbedded as my phone number.   It was held that Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs and the 61 of Roger Maris were cut from the same cloth and the subsequent numbers posted by McGwire and Bonds were also relevant.  

I have been a fan of the game for more than 50 years, actually closer to 60 years now.  It is just now that I realize the reason that baseball, encompassing the modern era 1901-2010, cannot be tied to its numbers.  It is a phrase that you and I have all used ‘level playing field’.   Granted, it is still 90 feet from home to first and the pitchers mound is still 60 feet 6 inches away, yet despite the dimensions, the field has been level for only a portion of the ‘modern era’.

One playing field was from 1901-1946, a field which excluded a segment of our country from playing in the Major Leagues.  During this period future Hall of Fame players were not permitted to compete at the Major League level, players whose abilities and skill was beyond question.  Names like Josh Gibson, Ray Dandridge and Cool Papa Bell.  Satchel Paige played in the Majors, but as a 42 year old rookie.  The courage of Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson removed the invisible but legible “Negros need not apply” sign above the door to the Dodger locker room on opening day 1947.  By the close of the decade the St. Louis Browns, Indians, and NY Giants had taken down their signs.  More than 12 years after Robinson set foot on the major league diamond, the Red Sox promoted a part time infielder Pumpsie Green from triple A and the task undertaken 12 years earlier was complete.

1947 ushered in the second playing field, a field that was open to all those with the skills to exceed.  It was a time when many of today’s fans got their first taste of the game that would last a lifetime.  It was a period blessed with great players whose names bring back memories.  Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Stan Musial, Ted Williams who had a foot set on both field 1 and 2, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Johnny Bench, Willie Stargell and Sandy Koufax.  It was also a time that brought a number of changes to the game.  Each fan has to judge for themselves if the changes were positive or not. 

Greener Pastures and Expansion;

Pay attention this part starts to get confusing.  Prior to expansion the Major Leagues embarked on a period of musical chairs.  The Braves moved to Milwaukee with the Browns heading east to Baltimore and renaming themselves.  The Brooklyn Dodgers and NY Giants headed for Hollywood and Fisherman’s Wharf and finally the Washington Senators moved to Minneapolis as the Twins.   Just as the Senators left town the new Senators arrived along with a team in Los Angeles, the Angels.  The Angels are still in California, but they are not sure if it is LA or Anaheim.  Meanwhile the Senators departed for Texas and a new name, Rangers.

In the year following Washington and Los Angeles giving birth to two new teams, Houston welcomed the Colt .45s and New York started a love affair with the Mets.  Perhaps Colt .45s was too violent a name, because 3 years later they became the Astros.  A few years passed and then the growth continued The NL added the Padres in San Diego and stepped across the board to Montreal to create the Expos.  The AL settled a team in Seattle, the Pilots, who would barely unpack before moving to Milwaukee to replace the Braves who had since moved to Atlanta.  The newly arrived team was now the Brewers.    This round of expansion brought with it another change to baseball, the eight team AL and NL were now 12 teams strong.  The Commissioner created two six teams divisions and a layer to the post season, the Championship Series.  The final expansion of the field two era was the addition of teams in Seattle and the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Other Changes;

Two additional changes took place shortly after the creation of the Championship Series, one was the introduction of World Series baseball under the lights which occurred in 1971 and the second was the separation of the rules as they applied to the AL and the NL.  This was the designated hitter rule.  

Baseball began play on this second field with 16 teams in 1947, during the 16 year expanse from 1961 to 1977 ten teams were added, baseball as it was played in the 50s’ went from 154 games to 162.  A second layer of postseason play was created as well as playing the postseason under the lights.  Finally half of baseball played with a DH and half didn’t.   Despite all the changes this was my Golden Era of baseball.  It ended at an undetermined time in the 1980’s when an undetermined player injected himself with a performance enhancing drug.

The closing of playing field two initiated the opening of field three, The Steroid Era.  The prominent names involved were among those on the baseball ‘heroes’ list of that time until the question which first was asked at the Congressional hearings surrounding the Watergate break-in was answered in the aftermath of the Congressional Baseball Hearings and the Mitchell Report

“what did you know and when did you know it”.   Prior to the Commissioner requesting George Mitchell to investigate PED use in baseball the Congressional Hearings into use of performance enhancing drugs convened in March of 2005.  Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmiero and Sammy Sosa were all questioned regarding their use of PEDs.  Canseco readily admitted using steroids, as he done on “60 Minutes” and in his book “Juiced”, Palmiero denied the use of PEDs although he knew at that time he had already failed a test which would become public knowledge within months.  McGwire and Sosa stonewalled the committee. 

Evidence collected from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-op (BALCO) added the names of Gary Sheffield and Barry Bonds to the growing list.  Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte have since admitted to use of PEDs, Roger Clemens who denies any involvement has been indicted and will go to trial next spring.  The number of players who used, and possibly still continue to use performance enhancing drugs will never be known.  There are 25 players who have hit 500 home runs including Reggie Jackson and Mike Schmidt in 1984 and 1987.  I personally using Schmidt as a threshold (he was number 14 on the list) of those whose 500 home runs are clean.  The remaining 11 played a significant portion of their career in the ‘steroid era’ and as the result of those who did cheat the game there will always be a shadow on Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Thome, and Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.  There has never been a single reference or rumor linking any of these players to PEDs.  They just played at a time when their peers did violate the trust.  It is probably naive to call the PED era over, but we now have another change in baseball. 

I don’t know when playing field four began, I know it is still with us and may be the field of the future for a long time.  The role of the African-American player has fallen in baseball.  This year the NY Mets did not have a single African-American player on its 40 man roster.  When the Mets won the World Series in 1969 Donn Clendenon, Ed Charles, Cleon Jones, and Tommy Agee all played significant roles.  In 1986 the arm of ‘Doc’ Gooden, the bat of Darryl Strawberry and the legs of Mookie Wilson took the Mets to the Commissioners Trophy.  A look around the majors reveals a trend of fewer black players in the game today.  The Phillies have Ryan Howard and Jimmie Rollins.  Prince Fielder is with the Brewers, also count potential Rookies’ of the Year Austin Jackson and Jason Heyward.  The Pirates have Andrew McCutchen, and the Yankees have Curtis Granderson and possibly will add Carl Crawford.   I’m sure there are more African-American players, but these are the few that come to mind.

There is no question that there are fewer black players electing to play baseball today, the options that were not as available 30-40 and 50 years ago are today.  Besides the obvious expansion of the NFL and the NBA, Educational experiences have introduced black student athletes to opportunities in careers that have drawn them away from playing ball of any nature.  The expansion of scouting in the Caribbean, Central America and the Far East has increased competition for roster spots and fewer draft selections.  Most will look at the opportunities afforded to black athletes today and see progress and social change and they are right, but some part of me wants to return to the past when Mays and Aaron played, when Maury Wills and Rickey Henderson terrorized pitchers, when Bob Gibson put the fear of God in any batter foolish enough to dig in on him.

All of these changes and periods that the game has gone through is why I came to accept that the home run hit by Babe Ruth has nothing in common with one off the bat of Roger Maris or Aaron.  And is certainly unrelated to Barry Bonds residing on field three…..contaminated field three. 

My perspective is a product of my life experience, my age, and my circumstance when growing up.  Your opinion on my view on baseball may differ a little or a lot.  That’s OK, tell me why and thank you.

 

Posted on: September 22, 2010 1:41 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:08 pm
 

Turn out the Lights

If you are 30 years old, it is likely that you have no memory of ever have seeing a World Series game played during the day.  If you are 50 yrs. old or younger, you son or daughter has probably not ever seen a World Series day game.  It has been that long since the last one, game 7 of the 1987 World Series.  The 50 year old fans were probably among the 10’s of thousands of us who had a transistor radio confiscated at school and sent home with a note for Mom and Dad.  It was worth it to surreptitiously try and catch the score while the teacher was distracted by taking someone else’s radio away.

The decades of potential fans whose baseball interest was diminished and stunted have the tri-headed monster of greed to blame.  Bud Selig, the alphabet soup of networks (ABC-CBS-NBC-ESPN-FOX-TBS-MLB) and the 30 team owners that picked over the carcass of “America’s Pastime”.  Relegating it to secondary status behind the NFL.

Selig, in his desire to serve his pimps sold the product for the highest price available, viewing in Prime Time with the intent of higher rating and greater revenues for the pimps.

Baseball has been losing a generation of kids and other fans who are in bed during the game's biggest moments. Last year's rain-delayed Game 3 between the page/PHI">Phillies">Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays began at 10:06 p.m. ET — and didn't finish until 1:47 a.m. The series' late starts and finishes in chilly, rainy weather contributed to record-low TV ratings for the 2008 World Series.                                                                                                                                    

The Phillies and Rays players who wore ski masks and ear flaps to ward off frigid temperatures in last year's series would support the idea, says former Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe, now an ESPN analyst. Some players complained they couldn't feel their fingers or toes, he said. With this year's World Series possibly starting at the latest date ever, nobody wants to see freezing, even snowy weather help determine winners from losers. - By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY 8/2009

 

It is apparently time to pay the piper; four of the last five World Series have posted lowest television ratings in the past 25 years. As the television contracts expire with MLB, renewed contracts will likely reflect the reality of the falling ratings.  Revenues will fall and a generation of what might have been stronger fans will not be there to shore up the falling rating.  The golden goose died.

 Former page/NYM">Mets">New York Mets pitcher Ron Darling, now with SNY and TBS, said MLB and Fox may be "underestimating" the audiences and ad dollars an old-time day game could command.

"It would be such an anomaly that everyone would get on board. If the corporate partners are forward thinking, they'd want to be part of a historic event," Darling said. "At some point, you have to generate new viewership, new fans. These kids have so many things to watch these days that it's a step in the right direction to have kids and their dads and moms sit and watch a game together. I think it would be unbelievable."- By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY 8/2009

Ironically, the second highest rated game of the last twenty five years was the 1987 day game between the Twins and Cardinals.  It finished behind the 1986 game 7 between the NY Mets and the Boston Red Sox.  Despite being played on a Monday night opposite the Redskin and Giants game, the World Series drew the highest single game rating of all time.  One year later, the lights went on and have not gone out since.

There are four teams from the northern tier states contending for the World Series; Yankees, Twins, Reds and Phillies.  This raises the probability that cold November weather will be an element for the fans and players to deal with.  Two western teams, the Giants and Rangers suggest later game starts and games in the EST zone finishing tomorrow. 

 

These are my perceptions of the folly of having relegated the World Series to the interests of the Networks and the owners instead of the nurturers of the game, the fans.  My perceptions may not be your reality.  If you agree let me know, more importantly if you don’t agree, let me know.  

 

Posted on: July 24, 2010 10:12 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:18 pm
 

Hall Of Fame Needs a Repair

I recently polled the fans of all thirty teams on the cbssports mlb boards.  I regard this as the most expert panel available considering that they represent all teams and every venue of Major League baseball.  I was welcomed on every board and the poll question that I submitted was whether the Hall of Fame vote should remain in the hands of the BBWAA or should existing Hall of Fame Members determine who should stand beside them in the Hall.  Some of the comments I collected I have added with attribution.

 

 


I feel strongly that the only people who can truly recognize a hall of famer is a hall of famer. This is an elite member of people and collectively they should be the only ones who decide to be one of the baseball immortals. Baseball writers tend to vote on likability and not always on performance. Southside Pride, White Sox

 

Since when were baseball writers an inherently higher authority on baseball, or the best interests of baseball?

Maybe a century ago the media had dignity, integrity, and the good sense to know the difference in reporting a story and inventing one, but I would contend that species is nearly extinct.

I wonder how many baseball writers have placed a bet on baseball. Taken illegal drugs? Evaded taxes? Had multiple DUI's...and still kept their job, and their privacy.
Who better to decide who makes it to the top of the mountain than the people already there?  The advantage that a member has over a writer is experience.  A writer doesn't know first hand what it takes to be in the Hall of Fame.  They have never had to face the pressures of Aaron chasing the home run title or of Ripken playing hurt and gutting it out.  I'm not questioning the writer’s knowledge of the game but you don't see a baseball player deciding who gets a Pulitzer Prize. –Gnotoriuos1, Braves

 

A player that has played the game and has met the criteria to be a Hall of Famer is best suited to judge who stands beside him. I don't know why writers were ever given the honor (power) in the first place. Maybe way back when, the writers actually knew what they were doing, but that is clearly not the case anymore. –rokketmn, Red Sox

 



My problem with the voting is where you have a once in a lifetime player, even by HOF standards, and some fool won't vote for him on the first ballot.  No one has ever been a first ballot unanimous choice.

Here are some examples, Ty Cobb was left off four ballots, and Nolan Ryan wasn’t on six, Hank Aaron on nine, Babe Ruth on 11 and Willie Mays on 23. Joe DiMaggio needed to appear on the ballot three times to get in, receiving 44 percent and 69 percent in his first two tries That alone tells you the system is flawed.-USC FAN IN OKA

 

To me it's ridiculous the way it is. In any award given because of voting, who knows better than peers what the qualifications of greatness are?-darkcloud

 

Many of baseball's problems are the same ones we have in society, largely self inflicted, but excused away as the responsibility of some other party to be responsible for. I would say that the Baseball Writers as a whole are as flawed as anyone that has played the game, but are exempt from scrutiny by their media peers, and the people that stand in judgment by them. It is ironic that the writers get to vote on the all time greats, with the ability to admit or deny using any criteria they wish, objective or subjective, when they in fact have had the opportunity to paint those players public image the way they wanted them to be seen. Artfully or arbitrarily, they all get a vote.

 

When I started the poll I was biased, toward the Membership vote.  I don’t believe that in any way I led or steered the vote.  My initiative was that with all of the obviously great ball players of the past century that the Baseball Writers of America Association never found one worthy of a unanimous vote.  I believe this to be biased and flawed thinking and grounds for replacement as fair arbitrators of those eligible for the Hall.  There were of course those who voted for maintaining the system as is.  The repeating reasons given were “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” or it “seems fine the way it is”.   I and the majority of fans polled felt it wasn’t fine and that in fact it was broken.

 

THE VOTE

BBWAA………….68

Hall Members…..253

Category: MLB
Tags: Mets
 
Posted on: March 10, 2010 4:02 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:10 pm
 

A Short List

The New York Daily News has recently begun a baseball promotion called “Modern Yankee Heroes”.   I am not a Yankee fan, but I don’t diminish the accomplishments of the players cited,  but I thought about the use of the word ‘Heroes’ and felt it wasn’t appropriate to call multimillion dollar ballplayers heroes because they have huge contracts, hit .300 or drive in 100 runs.  The phrase ‘Hero’ should be reserved for those who truly stand out in their field and distinguish themselves in the face of aggression.

In the arena of major league baseball only two names come to mind whom I would call a ‘Hero’ 

Ted (Teddy Ballgame) (The Kid) (Splendid Splinter) Williams played 21 years with a career BA of .344 and hit 521 HRs.  His BA is the highest for any hitter with 500 home runs and he is also the last (1941) to hit .400. Williams also homered in his last at bat in September 1960.   Williams also won two MVPs, two Triple Crowns, and six batting titles.  What makes him a hero in my mind is his service to his country in two wars as an aviator in the Navy and Marine Corp.  His military service covered over five years of his baseball career.  He was the wingman of future astronaut John Glenn and was honored by General Douglas MacArthur.  "To Ted Williams - not only America's greatest baseball player, but a great American who served his country. Your friend, Douglas MacArthur. General U.S. Army."

Although he only played ten years and the record books are not full of his name, Jackie Robinson is the other ‘Baseball hero’. Jackie Robinson made his debut April of 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodger and was the first black man to play in the Major Leagues.   Robinson left UCLA just short of graduation in 1941 and was drafted into the Army in 1942 after the outbreak of WWII where he was commissioned as an officer.

Jackie Robinson was selected by Branch Rickey as the man to ‘break the color barrier’ because he felt that Robinson could passively stand up to the expected racism.  Robinson more than passed that test, he opened the door for African-Americans to compete in the greatest of all games.  He did that while also winning Rookie of the Year, an MVP, playing in six All-Star games and being elected into the Hall of Fame.

Both of these men were in a way connected, while Robinson was the first African-American in the Major Leagues, the last team to integrate was Ted Williams’ Boston Red Sox.  Pumpsie Green was the first black man to wear the Red Sox uniform and was openly welcomed by Ted Williams when he joined the team.  Ted Williams was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966.  His induction speech on that day included a wish that Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and the other great players of the Negro Leagues who never had the opportunity to play Major League Baseball would someday be welcome at Cooperstown.  That day began five years later with the induction of Satchel Paige.

When I wrote the blog entry ‘A Short List’ I focused on two ballplayers that legitimately could be called heroes Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson.  A fellow poster (jbellows) on the Mets board commented that Roberto Clemente should be on that list.  He was right, I was remiss, and now my omission is corrected. 

Although all three members of the short list are in Hall Of Fame it wasn’t their baseball prowess that qualified them as candidates for my list, it was the peripheral qualities that were the attraction.

Roberto Clemente died on Dec. 31 1972.  He died in a humanitarian effort to help the people of Nicaragua who had suffered an earthquake one week earlier.  The aid packages that Clemente had sent in three previous flights had been confiscated by the corrupt Nicaraguan government.  Roberto Clemente accompanied this relief flight in hope that his presence would ensure that that the relief aid would reach the people affected by the earthquake.  His plane crashed shortly after takeoff and his body was never recovered.  Roberto Clemente was born in Puerto Rico and died trying to assist those in Nicaragua.  I believe that he didn’t allow National boundaries to prevent him from reaching out a hand.

In 1973 Roberto Clemente became the first Latino to be elected to the Hall Of Fame.  He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the first Presidential Citizens Medal.  In 2002 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  In 1973 the Pirates retired # 21 and erected a statue out side Three Rivers Stadium.  That statue is now outside PNC Park. 

Few in any walk of life can match Roberto Clemente’s love for his fellow man.

 

Anytime you have an opportunity to make things better and you don't, then you are wasting your time on this Earth" --Roberto Clemente

 

 

 

There have been players who have played despite extreme physical handicap such as Pete Gray, Bert Shepard and Jim Abbott.  They certainly are heroes to overcome their limitation, but Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente are the top of my very short list.

Posted on: March 3, 2010 12:57 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:11 pm
 

The Worst of Times

A number of years have passed since I watched my first ballgame, it was on a black and white screen, it was 1954 and the team was the NY Giants.  I wasn’t a Giant fan, but my father, an Irish immigrant, who never had played or rooted prior to 1954, decided the Giants were his team.   I had been a Dodger fan for perhaps, maybe, possibly, a whole year. 

Much has changed since those days of eight teams in the American League and eight in the NL.  The majority of games are now under the lights, including unfortunately the post season.  In the ‘50s’ the World Series ended roughly 10 days after the season ended.   One team from the AL and one from the NL finished the season on top of a field of eight, unless it was 1951 when baseball needed a three game playoff.  It sometimes happened.  There was not a divisional round (best of 5) or a Championship round (best of 7) to decide the contestants for the ‘Series’.  The 154 games stretching from April to the end of September were intended to do that. 

Many of the changes in the game happened before 1992, most in my opinion were not in the interest of the fans.  But what did happen in 1992, was the owners of the Major League teams installed Allan Huber Selig (Bud) as the interim Commissioner of Baseball.  Selig fit the profile of the Commissioner the owners needed, an owner himself and an avid opponent of existing Commissioner Fay Vincent.  After an 18-9 vote of ‘no confidence’ Vincent resigned and ‘Bud’ Selig was the Commissioner of Baseball.  The Baseball Barons had in the ninth Commissioner of Baseball one of their own. 

The change in the balance of power between the players and ownership led to the strike that cancelled the 1994 World Series and has had a great influence on the animosity between the parties that still exists today.  

One of the changes instituted under Selig was the restructuring of the leagues to accommodate expansion; the new division (Central) created a new component to the playoffs …the wildcard.   This is in my estimation a Selig win.

The largest failure of ‘Bud’ Selig was his failure to respond to the proliferation of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) that will always be the defining event of the Selig era as the commissioner of baseball (no caps intended).   Selig’s performance at the 2005 House Committee Hearings was an embarrassment to baseball, after 10 years of turning a blind eye to the proliferation of PEDs in the game, Selig stuttered and sweated his way to finger pointing at Donald Fehr and Gene Orza.  He absolved himself of responsibility by relating the minor league testing program instituted under his watch.   Was Selig right, yes, the MLBPA would have opposed any effort by the commissioner to initiate steroid testing.  Not even trying was the failure.  ‘Bud Selig’ is reaching the end of his time as the Baseball Commissioner, in my mind he has been without a doubt an owner’s toadie and the worst commissioner in the history of the game.  The division between Baseball and MLBPA is largely a result of his allegiance to the owners who own him.  During his last two years in office he has the opportunity to make restitution for his past 18 years, but what ever positive that he does accomplish will never balance the books on the damage done.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com