Tag Archives: hall of fame

Baseball Writers ~ Who Cuts the Mustard and Who Cares?

This week the Baseball Writers Association of America has been in the news.  It’s been in the news a lot.   For only the second time in its history the Association has failed to name one eligible baseball player worthy of entering the Hall of Fame.  

So I’m pondering this little ditty thinking about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and their alleged partaking of performance enhancing drugs, and thinking about the BBWAA.  Who are these people?  What are their credentials?  Why does it matter what they think?   When I read their membership list I’m surprised that I only recognize a couple dozen or so names.  Most of the names that would have been at the top of my favorite baseball writers list aren’t even listed as members of  this association.  

The primary purpose of the BBWAA  is to assure clubhouse and press-box access, and to elect players to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  That’s it, at least according to Wikipedia.  All writers with 10 years membership in the BBWAA are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame.   It was founded in 1908 and as far as the baseball world is concerned, the sun rises and sets with this organization, and my question is “why”?

I compiled a list of  a few of my favorite baseball writers and tried to give a reason why, though sometimes it’s not apparent even to me.   These are good writers because what they write makes me want to read more, even after I’ve finished reading their articles.   Note that none of these have BBWAA associated with their names.  They might be a member, but it’s not known to me and honestly I could care less whether they’re a member or not.  

JON STEINER.  I discovered Jon back in April, 2011, while researching a piece I was doing on the Cleveland Indians and the lack of attendance at their beautiful ballpark.   His blog, “Waiting for Next Year” was written like I talk so it was an easy read and I was sorry when it ended.  I don’t know a thing about this guy, just that I’d buy his book if I ever found out he wrote one.   Here’s the April 5, 2011 article that made Jon the ultimate writer in my mind.  “Some Thoughts on the Indians’ Record Setting Attendance.” 

ALEX PAVLOVIC.  I’ve been following this writer for the past several years as he stood in the shadows of Andrew Baggarly at the San Jose Mercury News.  When Baggs left last year to join the ComCast News Group, Alex stepped up big-time.   I like writers who are  up-front, in your face, and don’t try to sugar coat interviews and the news.  You know, just put it out there and let me decide what my opinion is about the subject.   That’s what this guy’s about.  He writes a blog, “Giants Extra“, that I read on a regular basis and always look forward to his meanderings. 

BRYAN O’CONNOR.  My acquaintance with Bryan began when he made some astute comments on one of my blogs a few years ago, so I checked him out and my mind’s still whirling.  His blog is “Replacement Level Baseball” and I’m not sure why he doesn’t write professionally for the main stream media, but goodie for us that he doesn’t.  It gives him more time to overwhelm us with his baseball knowledge.  Warning:  He’s a Bill James sabremetrics fan and goes way over my head on occasion.   But here’s a recent analysis of his personal “Hall of Fame Ballot” vote, if he had one, that was especially entertaining.   

JONATHAN HACOHEN.  But of course Jonathan’s one of my favorite writers.  He was very generous with his review of my book “Garlic Fries and Baseball” and I’ve been reeling ever since.  But before the review I had already subscribed to “MLB Reports” that Jonathan founded in 2010.  He’s been writing baseball for over twenty years and if he had a specialty I’d have to say it was his in-depth interviews, done only as he can do them.  His website is growing leaps and bounds and I rather miss that he doesn’t personally write as often now, but I latch onto whatever he does write as soon as it’s posted to my “Inbox”.  

CRAIG CALCATERRA.   I really hate to admit that I like this guy’s writings so much because, to tell you the truth,  a lot of what he writes irritates the socks off me.   I rarely agree with anything he says.  But it’s the way in which he says it that kind of grabs you, hooks you and draws you in.   Usually when I read one of his articles I find myself running to Wikipedia or other resource material just so I can prove him wrong, which I rarely do, because most of what he writes is opinion as he’s quick to point out.  Craig writes for NBC Sports HardBall Talk  and I guess the reason he’s on my favorite baseball writers list is because, whether we agree or not,  I always look forward to reading whatever little morsel he decides to throw my way for the day.

HENRY SCHULMAN.   Hank Schulman writes “The Splash” for the San Francisco Chronicle.  He’s a full-fledged newspaperman, sports reporter and columnist, with sports jacket and everything.  When he starts off with “I just talked with Bruce Bochy “or whoever it might be that morning, it grabs my attention and I latch on to every word.  He’s that “if it’s written it’s real”  type of writer.   He’s one of those guys you’d most like to have dinner with, have a conversation with.  You know what I mean.  There’s a thousand stories in there somewhere and I’d like to hear them all.  But in the meantime I’m content with reading the morning paper with my morning coffee and telling my hubby, “Guess what Hank Schulman said today?”  My husband gets it. 

Baseball writers each have their own style of writing; some you like and some you don’t.  And that’s okay.   This year the BBWAA decided to make the Hall of Fame vote into a popularity contest and that’s okay too.  I mean if they want to tell us which players cut the mustard and which ones don’t, who the hell cares? 

Really, who cares, because baseball fans have always made up their own mind on this type of thing and, after all, in the court of public opinion, isn’t that what really matters?

UPDATE:  “Get the Media out of the Honoring Business” New York Times 1/15/13   http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/get-the-media-out-of-the-honoring-business/?smid=fb-share

“Juan Marichal: My Journey from the Dominican Republic to Cooperstown”

Garlic Fries and Baseball’s  Book Review

Juan Marichal: My Journey from the Dominican Republic to Cooperstown  By:  Juan Marichal, Lew Freedman  October 7, 2011

I was in sync with this book from the moment I first began reading it.  It was an easy read, which is exactly what I was in the mood for at the time.  The book is about Juan Marichal, a young Pitcher from the Dominican Republic whose talents earn him a trip to the United States to try for a spot in the major leagues.

Young Juan Marichal as a SF Giant

The book offers a different perspective; each chapter begins with a professional analysis of Juan’s life during that chapter’s specific time period and ends with Juan telling  his story, in his own words, to end the chapter.  He writes as he talks.  His English is that of someone who was born and raised in the Dominican Republic but has spent many years in the United States with his fellow Latinos and also with a wide variety of friends and teammates, speaking and writing with a bit of Latino character  which I found endearing.  He was very careful not to use curse words and was able to convey his message with some laughable moments to get his point across.  But some of the stories he shared from his early days in this country  were heartbreaking.

Marichal’s Trademark “High Kick”

Marichal talks in detail about the typical black-in-a-white country problems that his Latino teammates shared with him.  He was able to overcome those civil rights issues because he could play baseball.  He could play it better than the majority of the other ball players and he overcame the prejudice and intolerance because of that.  He writes with great humor sharing stories about teammates, victories, defeats and the genuine homesickness he felt when he first left his country for the United States, his baseball career with the San Francisco Giants,  the Hall of Fame and back home again.   The one regret during his career was the fight he had with Johnny Roseboro in a Giants-Dodgers game on August 22, 1965.  He writes painstakingly about the events that lead to the altercation, the remorse he felt for years afterwards, and the friendship that developed between the two men until Roseboro’s death in 2002.

Juan Marichal Today. Photo courtesy Mikemccan.blogspot.com

There’s much more in the book of course.  The one thing Marichal is most proud of besides his baseball career is his family and we’re allowed to meet them, his beautiful wife and children, through his stories and photographs .  I find Juan Marichal to be one of the most interesting baseball players I’ve studied, maybe because of that crazy baseball duel he pitched nearly 50 years ago against  Warren Spahn.  He writes about that game with great enthusiasm, obviously one of his favorite moments in baseball.   But he’s also one of my favorite athletes, probably because he’s a true gentleman and he remains truly humble after all the honor and accolades that have been given him.  And after reading the book I came away with the feeling he deserved each and every one of them ~ the honor and accolades I mean.

I enjoyed this book very much.  I’ve heard others  asked who they’d most like to have a long conversation with.  I think I’d like to visit with Juan Marichal.  Don’t you just know he’d have some interesting and wonderful stories to tell?  And I’d like to hear each and every one of them, but for now I’ll have to settle in and wait for another book.  It’ll be worth the wait it I’m sure.

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Bloggers Alliance Votes for Larkin & Bagwell For Hall of Fame

BBA RECOMMENDS LARKIN, BAGWELL FOR HALL OF FAME

In the annual polling of members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin and former Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell were recommended for induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  This is the third year the organization has conducted this survey of the membership.

Larkin, a 12-time All-Star who fashioned an .815 OPS over 19 seasons, received the largest percentage of votes, being named on 84.25% of the 148 ballots cast.  This is the highest percentage garnered by any player in the three years of BBA voting.

Bagwell, who hit 449 HR and had a .948 OPS in his 15 seasons in Houston, was selected on 115 ballots for a 78.77% rate.  As with the official voting done by the Baseball Writers of America, a player must be named on 75% of the ballots to be recommended by the alliance. Continue reading

Today in history 1984 …..Pete Rose passes Ty Cobb’s single hits record.

The record at that time was 3,053.   Pete Rose has a lot of major league records.   He’s the all time Major League leader in hits (4,256), in games played (3,562) in at-bats (14,053) and in outs (10,328).   Rose went on to hit another 162 singles and still holds that record of 3,215.  Pete Rose is one of baseball’s most controversial figures after publicly admitting in 2004 that he had bet on baseball and on his own team, the Cincinnati Reds. 

On  August 31, 1989, after weeks of  legal wrangling, Commissioner Bart Giamatti permanently bans Pete Rose from baseball for his alleged gambling on major league games. Although the five-page document signed by both parties includes no formal findings, Giamatti says that he considers Rose’s acceptance of the ban to be a no-contest plea to the charges

But here’s what’s interesting.   Rose played from 1963 to 1986.  That’s 24 years.  And these records plus others listed below still hold.   We’ve seen lots of talent in the past 50 years and still, Pete Rose holds all these records.  Think of baseball greats like Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Cal Ripken, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Rickey Henderson, Carl Yazstremski, Ken Griffey, Brooks Rob inson, and on and on.   I guess that’s why I find this day in history interesting and just a little disturbing.   I’m thinking particularly of  Baseball’s Hall of Fame.  Take a look at the following records that Pete Rose holds today:

Major League records:

    • Most career hits – 4,256
    • Most career outs – 10,328
    • Most career games played – 3,562
    • Most career at bats – 14,053
    • Most career singles – 3,215
    • Most career runs by a switch hitter – 2,165
    • Most career doubles by a switch hitter – 746
    • Most career walks by a switch hitter – 1,566
    • Most career total bases by a switch hitter – 5,752
    • Most seasons of 200 or more hits – 10
    • Most consecutive seasons of 100 or more hits – 23
    • Most consecutive seasons with 600 or more at bats – 13 (1968–1980)
    • Most seasons with 600 at bats – 17
    • Most seasons with 150 or more games played – 17
    • Most seasons with 100 or more games played – 23
    • Record for playing in the most winning games – 1,972
    • Only player in major league history to play more than 500 games at five different positions – 1B (939), LF (671), 3B (634), 2B (628), RF (595)
  • National League records:
  •  
    • Most years played – 24
    • Most consecutive years played – 24
    • Most career runs – 2,165
    • Most career doubles – 746
    • Most career games with 5 or more hits – 10
    • Modern (post-1900) record for longest consecutive game hitting streak – 44
    • Modern record for most consecutive hitting streaks of 20 or more games – 7

The National Baseball Hall of Fame honors  persons who have excelled in playing, managing, and serving the sport.  The Hall’s Motto:  “Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations”.    I don’t know about you, but I don’t think history’s meant to be “selective”.   I don’t have a problem with the asterisk crowd ~ oh, okay, go ahead and put an asterisk by the name and list what you want,  but for pete’s sake (no pun intended) list the accomplishments as accomplishments, and the small stuff  if you must.   But fame is fame and if the Hall of Fame is to be truly a Hall of Fame shouldn’t it  include those records and achievements that are so substantial they remain as unbeaten records 26 years later?