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: June 21, 2011 11:39 pm
LOS ANGELES -- Detroit's rotation could keep Justin Verlander from pitching in next month's All-Star Game, but an early look at the top pitchers in each league shows few other conflicts right now.
Unless weather fouls things up, both Boston's Josh Beckett (last projected first-half start: Friday, July 8) and the Angels' Jered Weaver (Thursday, July 7) should be available options for American League manager Ron Washington to start the July 12 game in Phoenix.
And in the NL, Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (both would start Wednesday, July 6) would be available to manager Bruce Bochy, as would the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (Thursday, July 7) and, possibly, Philadelphia's Cole Hamels.
Hamels currently is projected to start on Tuesday, July 5, and the Phillies have an off day on July 6. If manager Charlie Manuel stays on rotation, Hamels would not pitch again until, possibly, the All-Star Game. If Manuel decides to skip a starter on an off day Thursday (unlikely), then Hamels could wind up starting on Sunday the 10th.
The problem for Verlander, who has one no-hitter and a couple of near-misses this year, is that, barring rainouts, he'll start the Tigers' final game of the first half on Sunday, July 10.
Looking both to keep pitchers healthy and to give All-Star managers real options, baseball last year instituted a rule prohibiting anybody pitching Sunday from working in the All-Star Game. Those pitchers named to the team are still All-Stars and can be in uniform in the dugout, they're just not eligible to play.
Really, it's a no-brainer that for a manager not to juggle his rotation to accommodate the All-Star Game, and that's essentially what Tigers skipper Jim Leyland said this week. His first responsibility is to win games for the Tigers, period.
"Our schedule is what it is," he said. "Our rotation falls the way it does."
Though his Dodgers are buried in fourth place in the NL West -- unlike the Tigers, who are battling for the AL Central title -- Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly says he will handle Kershaw the same way Leyland is handling Verlander.
"I think if his spot comes up Sunday, he pitches Sunday," Mattingly said. "I don't think we can start shifting things around because of the All-Star Game.
"It's an honor to be chosen. If a guy is chosen and he's not able to pitch, you have enough slots [to replace him] and it's still an honor."
Posted on: April 8, 2011 9:15 pm
Nevertheless, they were sad, disappointed and stunned -- stunned at Friday's news, and surprised that whatever system of checks and balances Manny uses, that he would put himself in a position to get zapped again.
"That's bad," said shortstop Rafael Furcal, a teammate of Manny's from 2008-2010. "Oh my God.
"I promise you, he does not want to retire. I don't know what happened.
"For me, it's sad."
Ramirez abruptly retired Friday, just five games into Tampa Bay's season, rather than face the penalty for a second drug bust: A 100-game suspension.
Throughout the game, people were adjusting their views of what he accomplished during his 19-year career, which now includes becoming the first (and, so far, only) player to get popped twice for failing PED tests.
"A little bit," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, Ramirez's hitting coach in Los Angeles from the time he landed on July 31, 2008, until the club allowed the White Sox to take him as a waiver claim last Aug. 30. "It's hard not to wonder what's what.
"You just don't know. That's the hardest part."
Part of not knowing the "what's what" with Ramirez, from the Dodgers' perspective, now includes his torrid run two-month run immediately upon joining the club in '08 during which he pretty much carried the Dodgers into the playoffs.
"I think you look at all guys, when it comes out like that," Mattingly said. "You wonder about the last seven or eight years. You wonder about Boston [where Manny played from 2001-2008].
"You wonder about all of it."
Though echoes of Ramirez's Dodgers past continue to reverberate in the organization, it's not like he left behind many close friends. Outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier both said they texted some with Manny during the winter but had not heard from him since spring training started. Furcal said he hasn't been in contact with Ramirez since he left Los Angeles last August.
"I didn't think this would happen again," Ethier said. "I don't think if this hadn't happened, [retirement] would be his decision.
"Unfortunately, circumstances forced him out of the game. I don't know if he felt uncomfortable, or he didn't have the confidence, to be the old Manny."
Or, perhaps, the skills.
"I don't even know what to say," Kemp said. "I haven't talked to him in awhile."
Furcal said the news "caught me by surprise" when a reporter told him what had happened with Ramirez shortly after the shortstop's arrival in the clubhouse Friday afternoon.
"That's bad," Furcal said. "He's still young. He's only 38 years old. He can still play.
"You never know what happens in other people's minds."
The Dodgers still owe Ramirez roughly $20 million in deferred salary through 2013. That is money still owed that will not be affected by his retirement.
Posted on: April 2, 2011 1:10 am
LOS ANGELES -- For the Dodgers, the most important thing to kick off their season was so subtle you might have missed it if you don't know your history.
Matt Kemp was 1 for 1 on Thursday -- with three walks.
Now. That's not exactly as dramatic as Ramon Hernandez's game-ending homer for Cincinnati on Thursday. Or John Mayberry's game-winning single Friday as Philadelphia crushed Houston in its last at-bat.
But for Kemp, coming off of a season in which he batted .249 and his on-base percentage fell 42 points, the plate discipline during those walks was all the action the Dodgers needed to see.
"We know what he's capable of," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We've talked about just be focused, you know? ...
"We know the upside with Matt. Matt knows the upside with Matt."
But in 2010, Kemp's concentration was in and out, like the reception on an AM radio.
Now, there is no guarantee that he can or will repeat his opening-day focus 160 more times.
But in the Dodgers' 4-3 win Friday in their second game of the season, Kemp keyed a three-run rally in the sixth with a beautiful, heads-up base-running play, streaking from first to third on a grounder to third. Of the Dodgers' first four runs this season, Kemp scored three and knocked in the other.
As Los Angeles general manager Ned Colletti often says (along with many others), the Great Wall of China wasn't built in a day. It was built by laying one brick, and then another, and then another. ...
As for Thursday's season-opening 2-1 win, Kemp had never walked three times in any of the previous 626 games in his career.
He did, though, set a franchise record with 170 strikeouts last season ... after previously setting a franchise record of 153 whiffs in 2008.
Kemp scored both runs in Thursday's 2-1 win after reaching base via a walk. Two of his three walks were drawn against ace Tim Lincecum.
"Definitely he was more patient," Lincecum said. "I think he's trying to be more aggressive on the pitches he wants than on the pitches the pitchers want."
Exhibit A came in the sixth inning of Thursday's game when Kemp managed to lay off of a full-count Lincecum slider that broke just outside of the strike zone.
"He threw me some really good pitches," Kemp said. "That 3-2 pitch was a really good slider. I almost bit, but I laid off of it.
"The key for me to be good is to be consistent."
Right now, the sample size is way too small to draw final conclusions. But early evidence in 2011 is that, perhaps as he enters what will be his fourth full season, Kemp, at 26, might have the experience now not only to formulate a plan with each plate appearance, but to stick with it. In his first two games, he's now 3 for 5 with three walks, three runs scored and an RBI.
"You've got to have a plan up there every time," he said. "When I don't get my pitch, don't swing."
As Mattingly said, everybody -- Kemp included -- knows his upside.
"But sometimes that's the curse we talk about," the manager said. "It can be a curse, too: 'If you do all of this, you can do that. And if you do all of that, what else can you do?'
"We expect more and more. But it's day to day. That game's over. Worry about today."
Kemp does that, the Dodgers will have much less to worry about themselves.
Likes: Final Four Saturday. Go Butler! ... Vin Scully in the Dodger Stadium press box. Still. ... Day baseball in April. When you've been starved for baseball all winter, nothing like being able to watch baseball during the day before the night games. Highly entertaining Astros-Phillies game Friday. ... I have a whole bunch of favorite places to run while on the road, and right there among them is the route through the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, along the Rose Bowl and then next to the golf course. A beautiful run, with mountains surrounding, and so peaceful through there. Great run midday Friday before Giants-Dodgers game. ... Bob Seger back on tour and breaking out Shinin' Brightly from the Against the Wind album. One of his most underrated songs from one of his greatest albums.
Dislikes: Aside from the legendary organist Nancy Bea Hefley, most of the in-game production stuff in Dodger Stadium is brutal, and has been for the past three or four years. Pounding music, awful mash-ups of songs, too much noise for the short-attention span crowd and Thursday they brought the fan who acts out the lyrics to Journey's Don't Stop Believin' onto the roof of the Dodgers dugout to do it. Total amateur hour. Entertainment capital of the world, my eye.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Roll down the window, put down the top
-- Randy Newman, I Love LA
Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:07 pm
PHOENIX -- The Dodgers now face the unpleasant duty of becoming the latest team in baseball to re-plan its rotation after an MRI exam confirmed that right-hander Jon Garland has a strained left oblique and will be sidelined approximately a month.
Veteran Tim Redding and John Ely become the top two candidates in line for rotatoin temp work until Garland's return. Manager Don Mattingly said trainer Stan Conte told him that Garland likely will be sidelined 30-32 days.
As things line up, the Dodgers do not need a fifth starter until April 12. The Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) and Brewers (Zack Greinke) also have been scrambling after significant pitcher injuries this spring.
Garland has not been on the disabled list in a decade, has not missed a start in nine years and has worked 190 or more innings for nine consecutive seasons. It was this durability that led the Dodgers to Garland after they were seriously short of pitching behind Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley last season. Vicente Padilla was their opening day starter in 2010, and journeyman knuckleballer Charlie Haeger even made a start during the season's first week.
Padilla, expected to be out with a sore elbow until sometime in April, lines up as the long man out of the bullpen in 2011.
Realistically now, by the time he heals and re-builds arm strength, Garland, who was 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA in 200 innings pitched for San Diego last summer, probably won't be able to start for Los Angeles until at least late April.
"I've had it," Mattingly said of an oblique strain. The first seven or eight days, you don't want to turn wrong in bed, or cough. There's not a whole lot you do where you're not using that (oblique)."
Ely, a 24-year-old right-hander who went 4-10 with a 5.49 ERA in 18 starts for Los Angeles last season, is having a very good spring. In six scoreless innings, he's 2-0 with seven strikeouts and no walks. Redding, in camp as a non-roster invitee, has thrown eight scoreless innings. An eight-year veteran, Redding, 33, finished last season pitching in Korea after pitching for the Mets in 2009.
"Both of been good down here," Mattingly said of Ely and Redding. "We've seen John last year when he was really good early, and then he struggled toward the end of the year. Down here, he's been back to how he pitched early.
"Tim is a guy who knows how to pitch. He knows what he's doing. You've got a pretty good idea of what you'll get with him."
Posted on: February 18, 2008 6:48 pm
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Reclusive Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax has an aura about him that I've seen from very few others. Muhammad Ali, certainly, when he made an appearance at the Los Angeles Angels' camp last spring in Tempe, Ariz. Other than that, I'd have to think a long time to come up with someone else.
What's interesting when Koufax appears at Dodgertown, as he usually does a few times each spring, is that the players react almost like fans themselves. And that's partly how it was Monday morning when Koufax showed up for a special tutoring session with a couple of Dodgers pitchers.
"I didn't know anything about this stuff until this morning," manager Joe Torre said. "It's a treat."
Koufax, tanned and trim in a lime green golf shirt and khaki shorts, spent 30 minutes or so working with reliever Scott Proctor and non-roster invitee Chan Ho Park on some back mounds just off the Dodgers clubhouse and administrative buildings.
"Park and Proctor both asked about it when they saw him here," Torre said. "He's aggreable to helping out when he can, but he's got a schedule."
Koufax has a good relationship with Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and appears to have a comfort factor with Torre. The two have known each other since the 1960s, when Koufax was at the top of his game and Torre was breaking into the majors. Both men are from Brooklyn, which gave them something in common, and each played in the National League, which sometimes put them on the same turf.
"I remember a Saturday in Milwaukee when he was pitching against us," Torre said. "I was 20, 21, and went up to hit and he struck me out three times in a row.
"The fourth time I said, 'I'm not going to let him strike me out this time' and I popped up. All you wanted to do against him was not strike out. He put that in your head.
"That night, we happened to be in the same restaurant, and that was the first time we talked socially."
Koufax sent Torre a telegram when the manager won his first World Series with the Yankees in 1996, and when Torre was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999, he said Koufax was one of the first people who called.
"He's been a very special friend," Torre said.
After that '96 World Series win, appearing in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York, Torre remembered it was raining so hard that his leather jacket was ruined and he looked like "a drowned dog."
"I get home and the phone rings, and it's Sandy," Torre said. "He didn't even say hello. He just said, 'I bet you're glad you said yes to that, huh?'"
Torre said that he expects Koufax to drop by to visit, help coach or offer tips a handful of times this spring.
Likes: I like Andy Pettitte, I really do. But he needs some time to pass and he needs the season to start. That's going to do him a whole lot more good than Monday's press conference. ... Don Mattingly in Dodgers camp and, hopefully, for now, the troubles with his estranged wife in his rear-view mirror. Mattingly, thought to be Torre's eventual successor as DOdgers manager, will be a special assignments coach this year. He was going to be Dodgers hitting coach but personal issues -- which came to a head when Kim Mattingly was arrested for public intoxication and refusing to leave his property -- interrupted that. ... Tommy Lasorda back as Dodgers manager for a week in March when the other half of the club is playing exhibition games in China. ... Who knew there was a Burt Reynolds Museum in Jupiter?
Dislikes: Eric Gagne's tepid "apology" to his Mitchell Report appearance. ... Disappointed in Shelby Lynne's new disc Just a Little Lovin' covering some of the songs of the legendary Dusty Springfield. My first mistake probably was in not simply cutting to the chase and picking up a Springfield disc insteada. Lynne's effort is intentionally stripped down, but there's no grit. No soul. It's like the music of Dusty Springfield for Lovers of Elevator Music.
Sunblock day? Odd mix of morning rain and mugginess yielding to a hot Florida sun meant you'd better have the sunblock within reach. Zoomed up into the upper 80s today despite the stiff breeze.
"There ought to be a law