Tag Archives: Roger Clemens

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

“TOP BASEBALL PLAYERS OF PAST 60 YEARS!” A Mathematical Study.

This is the third year we’ve published this study by Dr. Don Davis.  It’s one of our most popular blogs and we’re happy to be able to share it again with you.  Be sure to link to his website  for additional information, changes and criteria he used in compiling his study.

“2011 Baseball Players Mathematical Study, written by Don Davis, Department of Mathematics, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA., and printed here with his permission.”

Pos’n First team Second team Third team Fourth team Fifth team
P,1 Roger Clemens, 266.0 Tom Seaver, 181.1 Bob Gibson, 140.4 Juan Marichal, 107.9 Curt Schilling, 85.1
P,2 Randy Johnson, 202.1 Warren Spahn, 167.5 Sandy Koufax, 137.8 Gaylord Perry, 102.8 Phil Niekro, 84.9
P,3 Greg Maddux, 197.5 Bob Feller, 157.6 Robin Roberts, 136.5 Roy Halladay, 102.1 Johan Santana, 84.6
P,4 Pedro Martinez, 187.5 Steve Carlton, 143.5 Jim Palmer, 133.2 Fergie Jenkins, 87.2 Nolan Ryan, 83.7
C Johnny Bench, 111.2 Yogi Berra, 92.9 Gary Carter, 75.6 Mike Piazza, 74.8 Ivan Rodriguez, 71.0 Continue reading

Mistrial Declared in Roger Clemens Case!

Clemens leaving courthouse today!

Wow!  Talk about change of events.  Take a look at this report from Craig Calcaterra’s blog just a few minutes ago.   The Twitter report he refers to is really interesting and is reported in real time.  Fascinating stuff in this day of electronics.

“UPDATE: On day two of what was supposed to be a long, arduous criminal trial of Roger Clemens, the judge has declared a mistrial. It’s over. For now anyway.  A hearing has been set for September 2nd when the entirety of the case will be revisited, but now everyone goes home.

The judge was plain as day when he ordered a mistrial. He said “it was caused by the government.”  How so: the government played a video in which the affidavit of Andy Pettitte’s wife was read, in she said she remembered Pettitte telling her that Clemens had admitted using steroids. The judge had specifically forbade them to play this video because the testimony was inadmissible as about 18 layers of hearsay.  That was a serious transgression. Inexcusable, really, and could have been caused by only (a) extreme incompetence; or (b) contempt for the judges’ order.

The prosecution will likely continue to pursue this case when the matter is revisited in September.  But at this point, between the Bonds’ acquittal and this blunder, I suspect that the fates are trying to tell the government something about the wisdom of pursuing high-profile perjury prosecutions regarding professional athletes and steroids.

UPDATE II:  If you’d like to see an excellent real-time account of what happened, go to Les Carpenter’s Twitter feed here, scroll down to the tweet that begins “Judge Walton is checking his Blackberry,” and read up.  Fantastic reporting by Carpenter. Totally captures how Twitter can be used in reporting this kind of story.

11:26 AM: Roger Clemens’ lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has moved for a mistrial.  And this just isn’t a case of Rusty being Rusty: the judge said that he will probably grant the request, ending this trial before it truly began.

Reports are still preliminary, but apparently the prosecution played a video to the jury with Andy Pettitte’s former testimony on it. Testimony that the judge has already ruled was inadmissible in this case. Hardin went crazy — you can’t practically ask a jury to disregard something they’ve heard, even though it happens often — and according to those in the courtroom, the judge had no small amount of sympathy for Hardin’s position.  Which he should, because such conduct by the prosecution is, quite frankly, inexcusable and is terribly prejudicial to the defendant.

There’s a recess going on now while the judge considers the mistrial motion.  If he declares a mistrial, we start all over again.  Likely many months from now.”

 

MLB Draft Begins Today ….. What Does it Mean?

Bobby Crocker, Cal Poly, 2011 Draft hopeful

Here’s an article plucked from the maze of blogs this morning I found interesting.  Just being picked first in the draft, or even in the first round for that matter, doesn’t really mean a lot when it comes to measuring the  future success of a major league ball player.  Take a look at this article published this morning by Shawn Anderson,  Hall of Very Good, a favorite blogger we’ve fancied before:

A year ago, the Washington Nationals made Bryce Harper one rich fella by taking the teenager number one overall in the MLB Draft.

Just a year prior…they did the same for Stephen Strasburg.

This year, however, the Nationals don’t have the first pick and, frankly, as deep as you’ve heard the draft is…there is not a clear-cut number one pick.  But let’s not kid each other, being drafted number one doesn’t necessarily mean success.

Consider this. Since the draft started in 1965, it has produced only 23 Hall of Famers.

That said…here are ten other things you might not have known about the Hall of Fame and the MLB Draft. 

510
Hall of Famer second baseman Ryne Sandberg (then, Spokane, Washington third baseman Ryne Sandberg) was taken in the 20th round by the Philadelphia Phillies. Of the 510 players taken before him…fellow Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., World Series hero and Arizona Diamondbacks skipper Kirk Gibson and one of my all-time favorites, Kent Hrbek.

381
In 1966, Reggie Jackson was taken second overall by the Kansas City Athletics. With the first pick, the New York Mets opted to take Steven Chilcott. The catcher from Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, California bounced around for seven seasons, playing in 331 minor league games, managing a career .248 batting average and 39 home runs. 

19
As previous stated, being drafted first overall might not always guarantee success, but for Cal Ripken Jr., being selected 48th overall was just what the doctor ordered. The “Iron Man” went on to appear in 19 All-Star Games…the most by any Hall of Famer drafted since 1965.

18 years, 6 months and 19 days
After a brief 64 game stint in the minors, 1973’s number three overall pick Robin Yount was six months shy of 19 when he made his debut as the Milwaukee Brewers starting shortstop on April 5, 1974

12
The pride of Alvin, Texas, Nolan Ryan, was selected by the New York Mets in the inaugural draft in 1965. He’d end up compiling more strikeouts than anyone else who ever took the bump (5714) and pitching well past his 46th birthday. 

7
Of the 23 Hall of Famers selected in the MLB Draft, only seven (Carlton Fisk, Reggie Jackson, Paul Molitor, Kirby Puckett, Jim Rice, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount) were taken in the first round. And of those seven selected in the first round all but one was taken in the top ten. Who didn’t go top ten? Rice was taken 15th overall in 1971.

6’6”
At 6’6”, Dave Winfield (selected fourth overall in 1973) is built more like a basketball or football player than a Major Leaguer. Well…following college, Winfield was drafted by four teams in three different sports. Not only did the San Diego Padres select him, but both the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and the Utah Stars (ABA) selected him. And even though he never played college football, the Minnesota Vikings (NFL) selected the future baseball Hall of Famer.

3
Sure, the MLB Draft has produced 23 Hall of Famers, but, since the draft was implemented in 1965, 26 players have been enshrined. Of those 26…three (Tom Seaver in 1966, Bruce Sutter in 1971 and Roberto Alomar in 1985) were left undrafted. Thankfully, they did find themselves on the receiving end of a free agent contract just after the draft.

3
Since its not a guarantee that winning multiple MVP or Cy Young Awards (I’m looking your way Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens) can ensure you a ticket to Cooperstown, Mike Schmidt and Tom Seaver know that three is enough. Schmidt has more MVP Awards than anyone else drafted since 1965 and Seaver, well, drafted or not, he has more Cy Young Awards.

0
So, yeah, 23 Hall of Famers were taken in the MLB Draft since it began in 1965, but of those 23…did you know that not one was taken number one overall? Reggie Jackson was selected the highest (second overall in 1966) and Ryne Sandberg was selected the lowest (in the 20th round in 1978). So the big question…when will this drought end? It’s pretty safe to say that when Ken Griffey Jr. takes the stage in July of 2016, he’ll be the first number one overall pick to do so. Following in his footsteps will be Chipper Jones. 

Top Baseball Players of Past 59 Years!

“2010 Baseball Players Mathematical Study, written by Don Davis, Department of Mathematics, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA., and printed here with his permission.”

(GFBB Note:  I found this  information fascinating and posted the 2009 study last August.  This is the 2010 updated version with a few variations.  You can view the entire study here:  http://www.lehigh.edu/~dmd1/baseball.html    It explains the  criteria used and the history behind the study as well as a wealth of other information related to it.  You can contact Dr. Davis directly for more information regarding the list@ dmd1@lehigh.edu )

Pos’n First team Second team Third team Fourth team Fifth team
P,1 Roger Clemens, 266.0 Tom Seaver, 181.1 Bob Gibson, 140.4 Juan Marichal, 107.9 Phil Niekro, 84.9
P,2 Randy Johnson, 202.1 Warren Spahn, 167.5 Sandy Koufax, 137.8 Gaylord Perry, 102.8 Johan Santana, 84.6
P,3 Greg Maddux, 197.5 Bob Feller, 157.6 Robin Roberts, 136.5 Fergie Jenkins, 87.2 Roy Halladay, 84.1
P,4 Pedro Martinez, 187.5 Steve Carlton, 143.5 Jim Palmer, 133.2 Curt Schilling, 85.1 Nolan Ryan, 83.7
C Johnny Bench, 112.9 Yogi Berra, 94.9 Gary Carter, 77.3 Mike Piazza, 76.6 Ivan Rodriguez, 72.7
1B Albert Pujols, 158.9 Jeff Bagwell, 99.9 Eddie Murray, 91.6 Willie McCovey, 88.4 Harmon Killebrew, 80.8
2B Joe Morgan, 140.6 Rod Carew, 100.5 Ryne Sandberg, 94.8 Jackie Robinson, 93.8 Roberto Alomar, 81.1
3B Mike Schmidt, 184.1 George Brett, 120.9 Eddie Mathews, 112.2 Wade Boggs, 110.5 Brooks Robinson, 105.1
SS Alex Rodriguez, 151.9 Cal Ripken, 121.6 Ernie Banks, 97.6 Robin Yount, 88.2 Derek Jeter, 83.4
OF,1 Barry Bonds, 270.7 Stan Musial, 208.6 Frank Robinson, 141.2 Al Kaline, 119.2 Reggie Jackson, 111.5
OF,2 Willie Mays, 243.2 Mickey Mantle, 208.3 Rickey Henderson, 138.4 Ken Griffey, 117.1 Pete Rose, 99.4
OF,3 Ted Williams, 219.8 Hank Aaron, 201.3 Carl Yazstremski, 131.8 Roberto Clemente, 112.1 Tony Gwynn, 97.1
DH Frank Thomas, 101.0 Paul Molitor, 58.8 Edgar Martinez, 53.4

 

Best Players in Past 58 Years ……. A Mathematical Study!

I came upon an interesting study a few months ago.  It was written by Don Davis, Mathematics Professor at Lehigh University, Bethleham, PA.   There’s a lot of criteria used in determining different aspects of this study, but for the most part the players names are all recognizable and only a few to make the list are surprises.   The following table lists the top five All Star Teams, using 4 pitchers per team.    It also lists the overall rating percentage by player.   Take a look:

Pos’n First team Second team Third team Fourth team Fifth team
P1 Roger Clemens, 266.2 Tom Seaver, 166.9 Bob Gibson, 129.2 Jim Palmer, 106.4 Johan Santana, 85.4
P2 Greg Maddux, 203.9 Warren Spahn, 160.5 Robin Roberts, 128.3 Gaylord Perry, 96.1 Tom Glavine, 84.8
P3 Randy Johnson, 202.4 Bob Feller, 143.7 Sandy Koufax, 126.0 Phil Niekro, 96.1 Curt Schilling, 80.7
P4 Pedro Martinez, 185.7 Steve Carlton, 140.7 Juan Marichal, 109.5 Fergie Jenkins, 91.7 Bob Lemon, 79.9
C Johnny Bench, 115.5 Yogi Berra, 97.2 Mike Piazza, 82.2 Ivan Rodriguez, 77.7 Gary Carter, 75.5
1B Albert Pujols, 145.4 Jeff Bagwell, 103.2 Eddie Murray, 95.2 Willie McCovey, 92.1 Harmon Killebrew, 86.4
2B Joe Morgan, 140.3 Rod Carew, 94.5 Ryne Sandberg, 92.4 Jackie Robinson, 82.4 Roberto Alomar, 81.1
3B Mike Schmidt, 173.2 George Brett, 119.2 Eddie Mathews, 111.7 Wade Boggs, 108.0 Brooks Robinson, 88.4
SS Alex Rodriguez, 145.4 Cal Ripken, 113.6 Robin Yount, 93.0 Ernie Banks, 90.7 Derek Jeter, 81.6
OF1 Barry Bonds, 270.7 Stan Musial, 205.2 Frank Robinson, 145.3 Ken Griffey, 114.2 Tony Gwynn, 100.3
OF2 Willie Mays, 226.8 Mickey Mantle, 198.3 Rickey Henderson, 141.5 Al Kaline, 110.1 Pete Rose, 99.7
OF3 Ted Williams, 213.4 Hank Aaron, 195.6 Carl Yazstremski, 127.5 Reggie Jackson, 108.9 Roberto Clemente, 99.3
DH Frank Thomas, 115.0 Edgar Martinez, 64.4 Paul Molitor, 62.4 David Ortiz, 43.4  

Are you kidding me?  Can you even begin to imagine a game with all of these guys on the same team?  What was particularly interesting to me is  that mathematically Roger Clemens is the highest rated pitcher and Barry Bonds is the highest rated batter.   These  ratings are through the 2009 season,  and personalities and private lives are not taken into account.   This is just  using good old fashioned baseball statistics.  

I found the study intriguing and spent a lot of time viewing the criteria used in coming up with the lists.  Rather than go into all the particulars here, you can view the study yourself @ Lehigh University   http://www.lehigh.edu/~dmd1/baseball.html  

 This information is being used with the permission of Professor Davis.