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Posted on: January 4, 2013 4:12 pm
 

An Addled Mind

The addled minds are those of some of the members of the BBWAA who will be deciding who will or will not be inducted into Cooperstown this summer.  It is only a few more days before the outcome of the voting is shared with the public and this has to be the most controversial new group of candidates ever.  But this not about whom they will or will not vote for nor is it about my opinion about who is or is not qualified, it is about the reason that they give for why. 

I cannot give you every voter’s name, but where I have it I will.  My first are two voters who offer the same rational yet very opposite ballots.  They both object to being put in a position of being judge, jury, and executioner of the candidates.  It is understood that the candidates in question are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa as well as Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, and Jeff Bagwell.  All of these former players have been suspected of using PEDs.  The level of suspicion is less developed with the latter three.  One of our voters is not going to vote at all while the other will vote for Clemens and Bonds. 

The criteria given to the electorate by the Hall of Fame is as follows.

The players record

Playing ability

Contribution to the team

Integrity

Sportsmanship

Character

Our third voter has only one name on his ballot because the only player that fits his definition of character and integrity is Dale Murphy.

Richard Justice is a MLB insider who covers the Astros, so he does have Bagwell and Biggio on his ballot.  He also has 8 more including Bonds, Sosa, Clemens, and Rafael Palmerio.  Mr. Justice also doesn’t want to judge and is concerned if he doesn’t include the highly suspected (although in concedes that they used PEDs) and yes even those who have passed from suspected to ‘got ya’ he will feel badly if at sometime he finds out that someone he voted for is revealed as a PEDs user and he excluded the Bonds, Clemens etc. of the world.  Mr. Justice also regrets having only 10 spaces on the ballot and needed 5 more spaces.

My final name is Rod Rapaport who is now retired as an active writer in Philadelphia.  Mr. Rapaport will also be voting for Bonds, Clemens etc. despite also feeling that they are guilty of using PEDs.  Mr. Rapaport’s reasoning is that he is doing it for the Hall of Fame so that those who saved baseball after the strike of 1994 are not excluded.  He credits the home run battle between Sosa and McGwire, the eclipsing of Hank Aaron’s mark and the 4 CYAs of Clemens after his departure from the Red Sox as acts that saved the game and created record revenues, new stadiums and increased the value of the league.  Although he acknowledges the use of steroids, it was the player’s performance and not the steroids that accomplished this.

I will edit and add more as it becomes known and please comment with your examples of addled minded thinking. 

    

Posted on: January 2, 2013 3:33 pm
 

Crack of the Bat

Your team’s best hitter is at the plate with the winning run dancing off second, you hear the crack of the bat and see the ball laced to the left of second base and a potentially lethal shard of maple helicoptering toward the seats behind the visitors dugout.   The introduction of maple as a bat composition is credited to Joe Carter in 1991.  Some 50 years earlier ash had replaced hickory as the wood that bats were made from.  Maple wasn’t illegal, but when the obvious danger was recognized it should have been universally banned by MLB and the MLPAA, but it wasn’t.

The players and fans had seen the potential for injury or worse.  Pirates coach Dale Long hit in the head with the barrel of a broken bat.  Tommy Lasorda knocked to the ground.  Then Cubs player Tyler Colvin, whose arm was speared by a 15-inch shard of maple while trying to score from 3<sup>rd</sup> base and Dodgers fan Susan Rhodes, struck in the face at Dodger Stadium.  Players spoke out but little was done.

"I'm not so much worried myself,"  Scott Rolen said.. “The bats are a hazard for fans more so than players."

 Alex Rodriguez, "I've never seen anything like it. Even if I'm 140 feet away [at third] base I'm in danger. Why not ban them”?

 

In 1991 the level of distrust between baseball and the Players Assoc. was at a level red.  Brewers owner Allan Huber Selig and his ‘gang of six’ were undercutting Commissioner Vincent Fay with a vote of no confidence.  Fay’s crime was telling ownership that it is their continued collusion against the union that has poisoned the relationship.  In 1985, the Commissioner Peter Uberroth encouraged owners not to compete for other team’s free agents, this continued until 1987 when the Players Assoc. and Donald Fehr brought charges in Federal Court.  The MLBPA was successful and MLB was fined 280 million.    Selig replaced Fay and the independent authority of the office of Commissioner and office of Commissioner became a toady for the owners.

In 2008 it was estimated that 60% of the major league players used maple and the incident of shattered bats was one per game.  It was then that MLB met with scientists knowledgeable about the properties of wood and bat manufacturers. The MLBPA was not invited to participate.  Recommendations were advised and incorporated.

Today the percentage of players using maple has dropped slightly to 55% and the incident of bats breaking is down to .53 per game.  Selig feels that this is an acceptable risk.

"I think we've made a lot of progress and we continue to make progress. The union and everybody has been involved," Commissioner Bud Selig said last month at his annual All-Star FanFest question-and-answer session. "You can't have enough emphasis on it. We've done everything we possibly can." Quinn Roberts, MLN.com,  8/3/12

That acceptable risk translates into 1300 maple bats exploding into potentially lethal projectiles.  With Michael Weiner having replaced Fehr as Executive Director of the MLBPA and a thawing of the decades old contention, Selig sits back and gives up.

Tom Verducci SI.com 6/19/08 was a reference source.    

Posted on: December 11, 2012 2:58 pm
 

Class, My Ass

Actually it should read Classic, my ass.  I felt that my application of artistic license was a better title.  This blog is about the World Baseball Classic, which is rapidly approaching, and my perspective as a fan and a fan of the Mets.  Don’t stop reading if you are a fan of another team and just happened to stumble across this piece.  It applies to you and I will enlist your input at the end. 

2009 was the last WBC, which someday in the future it may be referred to as WBC II, if Commissioner Allan Huber Selig’s plan comes together.   Selig speaking at this years Owner’s meeting was quoted as saying “ This is important.  This is going to be the biggest World Baseball Classic we’ve had.  If we do our work properly, you won’t recognize this sport in five years.”

Hopefully, you are not naive enough to believe the intent of the WBC is to globally showcase baseball to ultimately develop a World Series in the literal sense.  Selig and the 30 team owners are not the Christian missionaries of 400 years ago spreading the Gospel among the heathens of the New World.  The 16 teams scheduled to participate in March of 2013 know what baseball is even if many of them relegate it to minor status in their culture.  The WBC is about money. 

MLB is the organizing foundation of the WBC and profits from the sale of merchandise to the participating countries including the sale of its season telecast package on the MLBN (network).  These profits generate 20-25 M dollars of revenue for each team annually.  This year MLBN will telecast all the games from the venues in Taipei China, Japan, Puerto Rico and the US.  The MLB revenues to the 30 clubs are expected to reach 50 M in 2013.  This will make the Commissioner and owners happy.  This windfall revenue will also drive player salaries going forward, making players and agents happy.  The most important component to the industry of baseball, fans, will not share in the revenue windfall but will see the cost of going to a ballgame increase as team salary budgets climb to new heights.

Assessing collateral damage takes us back to 2009 and the fallout which may be

MLB’s cost of doing business.

 The Mets had 11 players from the 40 man roster spread across the International spectrum. 

Jose Reyes, (Dominican Republic) missed 126 games in 2009.

Oliver Perez, pitched for Mexico.  His two outings lasted 6.2 inns. And he gave up 7 earned runs.  When he returned to the Mets after 16 days, the undisciplined Perez had gained weight.  He went on to make 14 starts for the Mets and pitch to a 6.82 ERA, 1.92 whip in 66 inns.  Unfortunately Perez had signed a 3 yr. 36 M contract less than a month before the WBC.  His total contribution to the Mets under that contract was 3-9 112 inns, 6.81 ERA and whip of 1.99.

Carlos Delgado, Puerto Rico.  Despite a history of chronic hip weakness, Delgado played in the WBC.  25 games into the season went on the DL and had career ending hip surgery.

Carlos Beltran, Puerto Rico. Played a total of 81 games in 2009 as the result of a knee injury.

Francisco Rodriguez, Venezuela.  K-Rod closed 5 of his teams 7 games.  Team manager Luis Sojo, who was a low-level minor league manager for the Yankees, twice used him more than one inning.  If he had done the same with Mariano Rivera, the Yankees would have fired him.

JJ Putz, United States. Saw his ERA jump from 3.88 in 2008 to 5.22 by late May.  His last three outings were 1.1 inns. 9 hit allowed and 7 ER.  He had elbow and forearm surgery and missed the rest (110 gms) of 2009.

David Wright, United States.  Was kneed in the head and was removed from the game with dizziness.  2009 was by far the worst year of his career to that point.

There is not an absolute cause and effect relationship between the WBC and the subsequent injuries and poor performance.  But the risk of introducing players into a playoff atmosphere after only two weeks of spring training is unquestioned.  The Tigers are another team who had players injured.  Please let me know of the collateral damage that your team may have suffered fueling Selig’s egomania.

Posted on: November 29, 2012 2:23 pm
 

Show me the Money

Yesterday the ballet for the Hall of Fame was released and three names have already created controversy; Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa.  All are highly suspected of PED use, but none were proven to have used.

Yesterday Boston Globe writer Pete Abraham announced that he is changing his mind regarding Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa and now will vote for them.  Abrahams on MLBN Hot Stove explained that he doesn’t know how to figure out if they used or not and it’s unfair of the Hall of Fame to put him in the position of judge, jury, and executer.  Both Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci both responded alike.  Judge, jury and executioner is what being a voter is.  For Abraham’s sake I will apply the sniff test.
Sammy Sosa 

Age          Team               BA       HRs           RBIs

21-22         CWS             .227       14               56


23-34         Cubs             .284       45              109

35 (2005)   Balt.              .221       14                45

 


23-34         Cubs             .284       45              109

35 (2005)   Balt.              .221       14                45

 Barry Bonds

21-34        Pitt.-SFG       .288        32                93

35-39           SFG            .339       52                109

2005

40-42           SFG            .273       27                 72

Roger Clemens 

 

Age            Team                W-L       ERA    Whip      Inn.     Ks

21-29           Bos                152-72   2.80      1.11      226     208

30-33           Bos                 40-39    3.77      1.29      186     179

34-42          Tor.-NYY         149-61  3.22      1.19      214      212

42 (2005)      Hous.

 

The year 2005 is identified as it is the year that testing for PEDs began.  Sosa played two more seasons with the Rangers for the league minimum averaging 248 ABs, .250 BA, 11 Hrs and 48 RBIs.

Clemens pitched his last two seasons by starting his first games in June, he had a good half season with the Astros and finished with a 4.18 ERA with the Yankees.

I believe that each did it for different reasons and a common reason.

Sosa needed performance enhancing drugs to stay in the majors.  Clemens career was cratering with the Red Sox, and Bonds was jealous of the play that McGwire and Sosa were getting.  The common denominator was money.  The 124 M that Sosa was paid as a fraud.  The 151 M that Clemens was paid over his career by extending it another 11 years after the Red Sox  let him go. 

If Bonds didn’t start sticking a needle in his ass in 1999 do the Giants sign him to a 6 yr. 105 M dollar contract in 2001 that will bring his career money to 188 M.  The other commonality was they didn’t care about the Hall of Fame when they loaded their needles and I don’t give a damn about any of them now and neither should any voting member of the BBWA. 

That’s your sniff test Abrahams,  smells like dog crap doesn’t it.

 

Posted on: September 17, 2012 6:34 pm
 

The Day that Baseball Died

Sitting behind the big desk at MLB headquarters in NYC is the ninth commissioner, Allan Huber Selig.  The position of commissioner dates back to 1920 when baseball ownership decided it needed an independent party to handle the threat of gambling and the Black Sox scandal of 1919.  The first Commissioner was a former Federal Judge, Kenesaw Mountain Landis who only accepted the position if he was given the absolute authority to act in the best interests of baseball and without means of appeal.  Ownership accepted the conditions and established the parameters of the Office of the Commissioner.  Landis served 25 years and was replaced by a formerUSSenator.  Others to fill the position included a retired Air Force General and the President of Yale University.  Each of these men while not perfect served until death or until they choose to step down.  That is until Fay Vincent who was ousted by ownership in 1992 by a group that included Selig. 

Selig became the acting Commissioner and that became permanent in 1998.  It was also the end of the criteria of an independent commissioner acting in the best interests of baseball, ownership now owned the Commissioner.

This week, Sept. 12-19, 2012 Bob Nightingale writing in Sports Weekly on the issue of PED’s and their impact on post season awards and achievements.

Last year during the post season Ryan Braun tested positive for testosterone, Braun appealed the finding and has a result of the sample having not been handle by the protocol won his appeal and did not start this season with a 50 game suspension. 

The handling of Braun’s sample did not affect the validity of the test, but created a loop hole that Braun slithered through.  Braun who won the NL MVP last year and is in a position to possibly win it again is quoted by Nightingale as “having been exonerated”.  Having a guilty verdict overthrown by a technicality is not exoneration.

This brings us to the steroid era and the criteria of the Office of the Commissioner as established by Kenesaw Mountain Landis. 

Selig has served as Commissioner for what is commonly known as the “Steroid Era”.  A time during which the single season home run record was surpassed by Mark McGwire twice, Sosa three times, and by Barry Bonds who is sitting in first with his 73 illegitimate home runs.  Roger Maris and the 61 home runs he hit in 1961 now stand seventh. 

Bonds also passed Hank Aaron’s 755 career home runs with his 762. 

Selig has been obsessed with his legacy and the infrastructure of baseball will give him straight A’s.  Owners have made fortunes and so has alphabet city; ESPN, MLB, Fox, and TBS.  The players are signing ever larger and longer contract which in turn makes the agents and the Players Association happy.  When the home team is winning the casual fans fill the seats.  But Selig fails on a much bigger front.  The invested fans have seen the game bastardized.  Interleague play is a Selig creation and this year every team will play more interleague games that they will against any team in their division.  They will also play three times more interleague games than they will against any non division team in their league.  How old does your son have to be to watch a game starting at 8 PM on a school night?  But Selig’s biggest failure is not having the strength of character to say to those who cheated the game that made them wealthy, cheated their peers who played the game without breaking laws and cheated the legacy of Roger Maris, Hank Aaron, Matt Kemp who should have been last years MVP in the NL.  The names Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, Sheffield, Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, Ortiz, Manny,Colon,  Melky Cabrera and every other player who has perverted the game should have their names and records removed from the chronicles of baseball. 

Landis who accepted the position as the first Commissioner of Baseball did so only with the absolute authority to act in the best interests of baseball would have cleansed baseball of cheats and did so with the Black Sox.  He passed those criteria on to Happy Chandler and on to each of the subsequent Commissioners until Selig overthrew the Office of the Commissioner and took the job for himself.  The greatest game ever created ended up in the hands of a gutless weak failure, the damage is done.  There will never be another man who will serve as Commissioner who is independent and has the strength and morale fiber to fix what Selig has ruined. 

Posted on: June 2, 2012 9:13 am
 

Damned if you do, Damned if you don't

Several days ago thomasam arguably the most respected member of the Mets board shared that at age 30 he shed tears when longtime voice of the Mets Bob Murphy passed away.  My understanding of that was it was as much the loss of a familiar and constant link to the Mets and his boyhood as it was Bob Murphy himself.  This past long slow winter without baseball I came to the understanding that as much as anything I wanted Gary, Keith, Ron and Kevin back in my life. 

As the players raced to the mound to encompass Johan last night my eyes welled up and I shed tears as well.  It was for me from that first game in April of 1962 against this very same franchise, the Cardinals until last night to see a Mets pitcher throw the first no hitter.  I was happy for Johan Santana, and to see the joy on the field and in the stands.  The monkey on the back of Mets fans everywhere was finally gone.  It wasn’t until hours later that I realized what the truths were for me.  The tears may have been a creation of the relief of tension as well as joy.  My feelings of Johan and the no-hitter hadn’t changed, what did was there never was the burden of a monkey on my back. 

My team went to and won their first World Series in their 8<sup>th</sup> year.  There were 4 World Series and 2 World Championships in our first 39 years.  We have had great players; great managers and we have great fans.  We never had a batting champ until Jose Reyes did it last year.  That had never been a burden either. 

Last night as the booth wrapped up Keith Hernandez said to Gary Cohen (who as a lifelong Mets fan has the job this fan would want more than being wealthy, famous or powerful) “hey Gar you are getting emotional”.  There were a lot of tears shed last night for varies reasons by the Mets faithful last night.

Terry Collins, in my mind shed the worse kind.  At the post game interview he fought them back as he talked about the struggle he had about letting Johan go back out for the eighth inning.  Reportedly Johan told him “I’m not coming out” and Terry responded “you are my hero”.  Sometime last night, hours after the game either in his office or at home Terry shed the tears of anguish.  The non existent burden of the no hitter is now a very real burden that Terry Collins will have to deal with as he waits until he knows that his decision to let Johan exceed the post surgical imposed pitch count will not have an adverse affect.   Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

 

Posted on: May 23, 2012 1:00 pm
 

Wall to Wall

Allen Huber Selig “loves” interleague play.  Selig whose title on “Rounding Third” is Angel of Death works at MLB headquarters on Park Ave. in Manhattan; he occupies the office once held by Faye Vincent who was the last independent Commissioner of Baseball.  Selig and his minions arranged the removal of Vincent in 1992.

For those not familiar with mid-town Manhattan, Park Ave. is one block removed from Central Park East, RadioCityMusic Hall, the Empire State Bldg. and the Guggenheim Museum.  It is among the most expensive real estate on the planet and it takes serious money to put that address on your business card.  Money is what “Toxic” Selig is all about.  Selig likes being called “Bud”, pencil-necked geeks love nicknames, it makes them feel like one of the guys.  Hope he likes his new one. 

One of his ventures during his twenty years of selling America’s Pass Time to any and all with a fist full of cash was Interleague Play which he introduced at the height of the steroid era in 1997. This years mating of the leagues began this past weekend and FOX moved its Game of the Week to prime time and renamed it to Baseball in America.  FOX and Toxic gave us a meeting between two last place teams, the Phillies and the Red Sox.  Captivating… hardly.  Missing were Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Kevin Youkilis, Carl Crawford, closer Andrew Bailey and Jacoby Ellsbury.  Was there a better choice?  I believe that a game between two first place teams like the Dodgers and the Cardinals should have gotten the prime time spot.  But I’m not Toxic, I don’t “love” interleague and Alphabet City (FOX) doesn’t own me.  Incidentally a USA Today poll reported in Sports Weekly last year reported that 71% of baseball fans would favor eliminating or reducing interleague play.

Next year Toxic will give us wall to wall Interleague play from April until seasons end, any day with a full schedule will have interleague games.  Perhaps some Mondays and Thursdays will be pure.  There is one reason to look forward to next year; it will be Toxic Selig’s last year as Angel of Death.  Seems we have heard that before though. 

 

 

Posted on: April 25, 2012 5:45 pm
 

Say it ain't So

In the sixteenth century the explorer Ponce de Leon sailed to the new world in search of the Fountain of Youth.  He landed in what is now called Florida. 

I am not a Yankees fan, I am not a Derek Jeter fan, but as a baseball fan I could separate Derek Jeter the man and Yankee ballplayer from the ability of the player.  I didn’t have to admire the ability but I could and did acknowledge it.

Could we as fans be so naive to look at Jeter’s offensive play today and say “no, he never would use PEDs”?  If you don’t think so, where you in early Sept. 1998 when Mark McGuire hit the then record breaking 62nd home run.  Sammy Sosa, who was engaged in a home run battle with McGuire, was there in Right Field.  Sosa congratulated him, as did the family of Roger Maris.  McGuire’s son was there as well.  Those of us watching were thrilled by the spectacle of a baseball hero who took less money to stay with the Cardinals set a new record.  Yea, we were that naive. 

A year ago on June 13th Derek Jeter who was hitting .260 with a .324 OBP went on the DL, while rehabbing in Tampa he worked on his swing and returned on July 4th.  Five days later, Jeter got his 3000th career hit.  From his Independence Day return until the end of the regular season Derek Jeter hit .331 with an OBP of .384

If you meld his 2010 season and the first part of 2011, the combined BA and OBP are .267, .335.  Jeter was 36 and it happens.

Now take the end of 2011, add in the torrid start to this year and you get .349, .394.  Jeter is approaching 38 and it doesn’t happen.

In 1998 a baseball hero cheated, this past off season we learned that Ryan Braun tested positive, but beat the 50 game suspension on a technicality.  Between McGuire and Braun we have had some of the biggest names in the game come up dirty.  Can anyone be trusted to play on a level field and if not, Jeter would be no exception?  And if not what does it mean to the game?

Unless Jeter found that Fountain inTampa.

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