Posted on: January 9, 2012 7:13 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 7:19 pm
The 2012 Hall of Fame election -- by the numbers, and with the skinny. ...
Barry Larkin, 495 votes, 86.4 percent: Many numbers tell the tale, such as Larkin becoming the first 30/30 (homers/steals) shortstop in history. But how about in 1988, when he led the majors with only 24 strikeouts in 588 at-bats?
Maybe next year (or the year after)
Jack Morris, 382 votes, 66.7 percent: Great chance next year (which will cause massive coronaries in Sabermetric community), but he could run smack into wall via overloaded ballot that includes Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa.
Jeff Bagwell, 321 votes, 56 percent: Start forging plaque after big jump from 41.7 percent last year.
In need of GPS
Lee Smith, 290 votes, 50.6 percent: A decade on the ballot and it's like he's trapped in a Republican debate. No traction.
Tim Raines, 279 votes, 48.7 percent: Criminally unsupported for guy who ranks second all-time in stolen base percentage (300 minimum attepts), though up 11 percentage points over last year.
Edgar Martinez, 209 votes, 36.5 percent: Fighting the designated hitter uphill battle. If you don't have 3,000 hits, it helps to have worn a glove at some point during your career.
Alan Trammell, 211 votes, 36.8 percent: Heading in the right direction after 24.3 percent last year, but still undeservedly playing the "bye" to the voters' "good."
Fred McGriff, 137 votes, 23.9 percent: CSI investigators -- or are those PETA reps? -- checking for pulse as Crime Dog's 493 career homers get no love.
Larry Walker, 131 votes, 22.9 percent: Even the Canadian exchange rate doesn't favor Cooperstown.
Mark McGwire, 112 votes, 19.5 percent: Big Mac Fan Club not allowing new members. Remarkably consistent from last year's 115 votes, 19.8 percent.
Don Mattingly, 102 votes, 17.8 percent: Just three more years left on the ballot. Hope Donnie Baseball's managerial stint with Dodgers outlasts that.
Dale Murphy, 83 votes, 14.5 percent: A Hall of Fame man, and even if he can't be in Cooperstown, I hope baseball somehow involves him more.
Rafael Palmeiro, 72 votes, 12.6 percent: Did this guy or his career really exist? Outside of wagging a finger at Congress, I mean?
Bernie Williams, 55 votes, 9.6: To those who support Bernie and Jorge Posada: How about we just put every Yankee who played between, say, 1996 and 2001, into the Hall?
No soup -- or future ballots -- for you
Juan Gonzalez, 23 votes, 4 percent: The Rangers had a homecoming ... and no Hall of Fame supporters showed up for Juan-Gone.
Vinny Castilla, 6 votes, 1 percent: Six votes?!?! Vinny had one Hall of Fame moment. That came near the end of his career when he walked into the stadium past me as I was arguing with a security guard who wasn't buying my press pass, stopped, grinned, then approached me in the clubhouse wanting the scoop ... and complimenting me for getting in the guy's face so spiritedly.
Tim Salmon, 5 votes, 0.9 percent: Not Cooperstown worthy, but easily could join Dale Murphy in the all-time good guys' Hall.
Bill Mueller, 4 votes, 0.5 percent: The guy won a batting title (AL, 2003), but I think somebody mis-read Mueller's moving receipts for Hall votes.
Brad Radke, 2 votes, 0.3 percent: I'm assuming the two who voted for Bad Brad are refugees who watched him, incredibly, win 12 consecutive starts while going 20-10 for an absolutely miserable Twins team in 1997.
Javy Lopez, 1 vote, 0.2 percent: Had the Braves allowed him to catch on nights when Greg Maddux started, he may have earned two votes.
Eric Young, 1 vote, 0.2 percent: Very cool. Had no idea Eric Young's mother was in the Baseball Writers' Assn. of America.
Jeromy Burnitz, 0 votes: Yeah, but he'll always have that starting berth for the NL in the 1999 All-Star Game in Boston on his resume.
Brian Jordan, 0 votes: Coincidentally, no votes for the NFL Hall of Fame, either.
Terry Mulholland, 0 votes: No votes, but gets points for being part-owner of the Dirty Dogg Saloon in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Phil Nevin, 0 votes: On the other hand, his managerial career (Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens) is taking off.
Ruben Sierra, 0 votes: Whatever happened to the Village Idiot?
Tony Womack, 0 votes: The New York precinct refused to consider him following that game-tying, Game 7 double against Mariano Rivera to set up Luis Gonzalez's game-winner in the 2001 World Series.
Tags: Alan Trammell, Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Orioles, Barry Larkin, Bernie Williams, Bill Mueller, Brad Radke, Brian Jordan, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Dale Murphy, Detroit Tigers, Don Mattingly, Edgar Martinez, Eric Young, Fred McGriff, Houston Astros, Jack Morris, Javy Lopez, Jeff Bagwell, Jeromy Burniitz, Juan Gonzalez, Larry Walker, Lee Smith, Los Angeles Angels, Mark McGwire, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Twins, Montreal Expos, New York Yankees, New York Yankees, Oakland A's, Phil Nevin, Rafael Palmeiro, Ruben Sierra, San Diego Padres, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Terry Mulholland, Texas Rangers, Tim Raines, Tim Salmon, Tony Womack, Toronto Blue Jays, Vinny Castilla
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
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.
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.
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.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 6:14 pm
Talk about a golden autumn for general managers. Billy Beane goes Hollywood in "Moneyball." Theo Epstein is about to go Wrigleyville in "Cubbyball."
Posted on: October 6, 2011 1:53 am
Edited on: October 6, 2011 9:50 am
Like Doyle Alexander back in 1987, Doug Fister cleared the way for the 2011 Tigers to win their division and steam into the playoffs.
But, Game 5 Thursday night in Yankee Stadium? That's where the Tigers need the comparisons to come to a screeching halt.
The Yankees, meanwhile, will do just fine if the striking similarities continue for one more night.
"Fister is a really good pitcher," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said on Wednesday's off day in New York. "I have no idea what's going to happen. [Ivan] Nova is a good pitcher. He beat us in the first game here. ...
"Both of them are very good pitchers. It's one game. I don't know what's going to happen. Somebody can get a good bounce or a bad bounce. Somebody can hit a dramatic home run. Somebody can make an error. I can't predict that."
You couldn't predict the amazing mirror images that Fister and Alexander have provided in Tigers history, either.
Bill Lajoie, the gruff and brilliant baseball man who passed away last December, was the general manager of the Tigers when they traded a young John Smoltz to Atlanta for Alexander in mid-August of '87.
To this day, it remains a deal hotly debated by Detroit baseball fans because, while Smoltz blossomed into a certain Hall of Famer, the deal still accomplished perfectly what the Tigers needed at the time. And I do mean perfectly: Alexander went 9-0 with Detroit, and the Tigers needed every single one of those victories as they fended off the Blue Jays on the last day of the season.
Fister, meantime, went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA for the Tigers after GM Dave Dombrowski acquired him from the Mariners on July 30. More importantly, the Tigers went 9-2 in games Fister. Before his arrival, when that spot in the rotation came around, the Tigers had been 4-17.
Colleague Danny Knobler was combing through some statistics recently, and came up with this: Fister's 1.79 ERA came in 10 starts. The only Tiger in the last 38 years to make that many starts in a Detroit season with a lower ERA than that? Try Alexander, with a 1.53 ERA in 11 starts in '87.
Separated by 24 years, the parallel paths of Alexander and Fister continued into the postseason.
Alexander, in his first postseason start in '87, was hammered by Minnesota in the Metrodome in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series. He served up six earned runs and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings and allowed two home runs, both to Gary Gaetti.
Fister, technically, has not made a start in this year's Division Series because of the odd Game 1 rainout that resulted in a suspended game. Fister "started" the next day, on Saturday, and was cuffed for six earned runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked two. He balked. Ugly, ugly, ugly.
Leyland hopes to see a sharper curve from Fister tonight.
"I didn't execute a few things," Fister said of his Saturday start in New York. "A good lineup makes you pay for it. That's what they did the other night. It's going to be a new fight [Thursday] night. I'm still going to go out there and approach the game the same way that I did before. I'm going after hitters and using my defense and obviously letting the offense do the work."
Back in '87, things did not improve for Alexander in his second -- and final -- postseason outing for the Tigers. With Sparky Anderson's club facing elimination in Game 5 in Tiger Stadium, the Twins clobbered Alexander again. In just 1 2/3 innings, he surrendered four earned runs and six hits. By the time it was finished, his smoldering ERA was resting at a vastly imperfect 10.00.
Fister? If the weird trend continues, the Tigers are doomed.
Likes: You can't beat three of the four Division Series going the full five games. Last time that happened? How about 2001, when Seattle (which beat Cleveland), the Yankees (Oakland) and Arizona (St. Louis) each won Game 5. ... The cheeseburgers at Miller's Bar in Dearborn, Mich. As good as they get. ... Detroit Beach Restaurant and Pizzeria in Monroe, Mich. ... Running through the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village grounds. Beautiful. ... The hints of orange and yellow now streaking the leaves in the Midwest.
Dislikes: Sleep well, Steve Jobs. What a legacy.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"As pretty as you are
"You know you could`ve been a flower
"If good looks were minutes
"You know you could have been an hour
"The way you stole my heart
"You know you could have been a crook
"And baby you're so smart
"You know you could have been a school book"
-- The Temptations, The Way You Do The Things You Do
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:47 pm
DETROIT -- The scariest sentence of the summer for Yankees fans turned into the most surprising sentence of the year.
From "The season depends on A.J. Burnett" to "Good Lord above, look who saved the day!" in 81 pitches on a gorgeous night at Comerica Park for everything and everyone but the Tigers.
Mark it down. Burnett rides in on a white horse. The Yankees blast Detroit 10-1. This Division Series is headed back to New York even-steven at two games apiece, with the winner Thursday spraying champagne.
All hail A.J.
Maybe it was his 2009 World Series victory frozen in time inside of his laptop that spurred him. Perhaps it was getting kicked one too many times while he was down, getting taunted one too many times in public, getting spurned one too many times from the Yankees' brass.
Whatever it was, after a wobbly first inning in which he loaded the bases with walks -- including an intentional pass to Miguel Cabrera -- Burnett was, dare we say it, ace-like. He lasted 5 2/3 innings, the perfect amount for a bullpen that includes Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera.
And the thing is, after New York's six-run eighth, the latter two weren't even needed.
"You can't count me out," Burnett had said on the eve of his latest make-or-break start. "I'm going to bring everything I've got and just let A.J. loose out there."
Good thing for him, they let Curtis Granderson loose, too. That bases-loaded first inning? Two out, and Don Kelly smoked a screaming liner dead ahead to center field. Granderson broke in at first, then quickly recovered, scrambled back and made a leaping stab that ended the inning.
It was a spectacular catch made possible by an initial misread. Bottom line, it saved Burnett at least two runs and possibly an inside-the-park grand slam.
Granderson would make another sensational catch to end the sixth. But, by then, the Yankees led 4-1 and thanks to Burnett, they were out of the rough.
"I've been proving people wrong my whole career, it seems like," Burnett had said on Monday evening. "People are entitled to their opinion.
"Obviously, I give them reasons here and there do doubt."
In Game 4, Burnett gave them reasons neither here nor there to doubt. The dude was stellar, just in the nick of time.
Tuesday was a very, very good night for the Yankees also in that the blowout allowed Robertson and Rivera to watch idly from the bullpen and maybe get some crucial rest for what should be a terrific final act to what has been a riveting series.
Posted on: October 3, 2011 11:53 pm
DETROIT -- Now comes the scariest sentence of the summer for the Yankees: Their season depends on A.J. Burnett.
Hide the women and children. Stock up on the Tums. Get a good night's sleep. As this high-octane series sprints toward Game 4, the Yankees have no room left for mistakes because they probably made their biggest in getting a 5-4 Yankee clipping in Game 3 here Monday.
That mistake? Failing to take advantage of two unexpected windfalls against Tigers ace Justin Verlander:
A two-run first inning that momentarily knocked Verlander and the Tigers off-balanced was given back by CC Sabathia in Detroit's two-run third.
Then, Verlander was absolutely sensational from the second through the sixth innings, the Yankees clawed back from 4-2 to tie the game at 4-4 in the seventh. And set-up man Rafael Soriano immediately gave it up when Delmon Young crushed a one-out fastball in the bottom of the seventh to make it 5-4.
It wasn't quite the classic battle between Verlander and Sabathia that most of us expected. Sabathia was wobbly from the beginning, walking three Tigers in the first, another in the second and one more in the third. But the Yankees turned three double plays behind him in those three innings to atone for his sins.
Verlander, after that two-run first, savagely mowed through the Yankees over the next five innings. He hit 100 m.p.h. several times. He sent curve balls that bent like bananas. He threw changeups somewhere in between. He was sensational during this time. He fanned four consecutive Yankees during the fourth and fifth, then stretched it to seven in a nine-batter stretch through the seventh.
With two out in the seventh, Jorge Posada stunned him by fighting back from 0 and 2 to walk. Then Verlander drilled Russell Martin with a 100 m.p.h. fastball in the ribs. Ouch.
What undoubtedly stung Verlander just as much, Brett Gardner lashed a 100 m.p.h. heater for a game-tying double after that.
Before the Tigers could fully digest that, Young was depositing a Soriano pitch over the right-field fence -- and the Tigers were depositing the Yankees to the brink of elimination.
With Burnett headed to the mound to start Game 4 Tuesday night.
Posted on: September 30, 2011 8:10 pm
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Who needs a triple play when you've got the left arm of the brilliant Matt Moore?
Who needs to bother worrying about needing to storm back from a 7-0 deficit when you've got a kid like him?
This time, the Tampa Bay Rays found another improbable avenue to victory: Making just the second big league start of his career, Moore led them there. He was brilliant in pitching seven shutout innings during Tampa Bay's 9-0 Game 1 Division Series romp over the stunned Rangers.
And suddenly, following the liftoff Moore gave them, the Rays have seized Texas' home-field advantage and, maybe even more impressive, carried their season-ending momentum straight into the playoffs after the emotional high of Wednesday night.
No other pitcher in major league history had started his team's first postseason game with just one big-league start under his belt. And Moore, 22, became the youngest AL pitcher to start Game 1 of the postseason since Oakland's Vida Blue in 1971.
The way he dominated one of the game's best lineups, you could have sworn that he cut his major-league teeth long ago. Same as his only other start, when he tamed the New York Yankees, shutting them out over five innings and fanning 11. Last pitcher that young to fan 10 or more Yankees in New York? Hal Newhouser of the Detroit Tigers in 1943.
This guy throws 97 m.p.h. with the ease of you and I playing catch. His curve is terrific. And manager Joe Maddon especially loves his changeup.
That's 17 strikeouts in 12 big-league innings so far against the Rangers and Yankees.
Posted on: September 14, 2011 5:16 pm
The incredible streak roars on.
No, it maybe isn't record-setting in major-league annals. But when Detroit won its 12th consecutive game Wednesday, a 6-5 come-from-behind job over the White Sox, it reached way back into history: No Tigers team has won that many in a row since ... gulp ... 1934.
The Tigers right now can do no wrong. They hit. They've got starting pitching. They've got a lockdown bullpen. Jose Valverde converted his 44th consecutive save opportunity, a club record for a single season.
And before that, when it all looked hopeless, Ryan Raburn drilled a solo homer in the 9th inning to pull the Tigers to within 5-3. Then All-Star Alex Avila crushed the first pinch-hit homer run of his career, a game-tying, two-run homer.
What once was a tight AL Central race now is a shambles. The only question left is when the Tigers will clinch, and that looks almost certain to be this weekend in Oakland. Their magic number over the White Sox now is one game. It's three over Cleveland.
And as of now, winners of 12 in a row, Detroit has another magic number: 1934. It's incredible to think that no Tigers team has won that many in a row since the Mickey Cochrane days. But these Tigers right now are just that, incredible.