The Week That Was in Baseball: December 27, 2010-January 2, 2011
Who's Next for the Hall of Fame? • Farewell to the Man Who Gave DFW Baseball
Oney Guillen's Latest Tweet Rage • Killer's Newest Foe: Cancer
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It's Hall Time
Speaking of performance enhancement, there’s plenty first-time big names appearing on the ballot that have been connected to steroids, and they should make for a whole lot of conversation before and after the final vote is released. Among them:
Rafael Palmeiro. The man ganged up 3,000 hits and 500 home runs over a 20-year careerand in earlier years, such numbers would have been automatic for Cooperstown. But not in the steroids era. We once made the argumentand we’ll make it againthat even if Palmeiro was clean, and in spite of all those stats, what do he really do? He never won a batting title, never led the league in home runs or RBIs, never won a MVP (his highest finish was fifth), never went to a World Series (let alone win one), and appeared in only four All-Star games. Palmeiro was never really the “star” of the teams he played for, never was the guy you had to get out to start the domino effect to shut his team down.
Everything is relative, and Palmeiro produced inflated stats in an era of statistical inflation, principally in two ballparks (in Baltimore and Texas) that are power-friendly. And of course for Palmeiro, there is the 800-pound elephant in the room that is the steroids issue; his capture for testing positive in 2005, mere months after defiantly pointing his finger at Congress and insisting he never took steroids, is embarrassing at best and smoking-gun incriminating at worst. We believe the Hall should be reserved for the greats. Palmeiro, in our eyes, was very goodperhaps chemically sobut not great.
Jeff Bagwell. Possessing one of the most violent swings ever seen, Bagwell twisted, turned and powered his way to 449 career homers and a .297 average over a 15-year career played entirely in Houston. He was frequently dominant if not monstrous, most especially in the strike-shortened 1994 season when he hit .368, belted 39 homers and knocked in 116 runs in just 110 games to win the NL MVPafter going .320-20-88 playing a full season in 1993. (Put the ’94 numbers more into perspective: Had Bagwell kept pace and the strike not intervened, he would have finished the year with 55 homers and 163 RBIs.)
Steroid allegations have followed Bagwell because of that sudden breakout in 1994 and other herculean numbers that followed over the next ten years, but he’s never been linked and received no mention in the Mitchell Report, so we’re giving him the benefit of a doubt. If we had to be pinned down and vote for one guy this year, it would be Bagwell; but nobody’s pinning us down and our mantra for Hall of Fame selection is that if you have to think whether somebody should be in Cooperstown, then he shouldn’t. With Bagwell, we’re thinking.
Kevin Brown. The surly, sometimes fiery pitcher had a distinguished career: A sharp 211-144 record, two ERA titles, a no-hitter and membership on two World Series teams, one a champion (the 1997 Florida Marlins). But he also appeared in the Mitchell Report, linked to receiving steroids via express mail from Kirk Radomski. Perhaps a forgiving Veterans Committee will give him entry down the line, but he doesn’t stand a chance in the general vote.
Larry Walker. A great talent never quite fulfilled, sort of. Injuries had much to do with ithe logged 140-plus games only four times in his 17-year careerbut as steroids will be the excuse against Palmeiro and Brown, voters will use Coors Field against Walker, as his three NL batting titles and 1997 NL MVP all came in the uniform of the pre-humidor Colorado Rockies. (During his tenure in Denver, Walker hit .384 at Coorsand .280 on the road.)
Juan Gonzalez. Two MVP awards, 434 career homers with five 40-plus seasons, a .295 lifetime averageand numerous links to steroids, some of which are airtight. Forget him.
John Franco. Baseball’s career leader in saves among left-handers with 424. He’ll get some votes for thick-skinned tolerance serving ten years as the closer of the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, but he wont make the final cut.
Tino Martinez. A likeable player much admired almost wherever he went, most notably with the championship Yankees of the late 1990s where he experienced his career year in 1997, clouting 44 homers with 141 RBIs. But he never batted over .300 and finished a relatively light .271 for his career, and his other lifetime figures339 jacks and 1,925 hitsjust aren’t enough in the steroids era. Here’s betting his personality helps him garner more votes than Brown, McGwire and maybe even Palmeiro.
John Olerud. A longshot to be sure, but still worth noting for being a genuinely tough out, as gifted for forging the walk (three times over 100 a season) as for knocking out the base hit, averaging .295 over a 17-year career. He also had a nose for the postseason, appearing in seven different League Championship Series and being a member of two World Series championship teams in Toronto.
The True Ace of Arlington
Twit of the Week
What's Next, the Fenway Bowl?
It's Only Two Bucks For Every Man, Woman and Child...
Hang in There, Killer...
Happy New...Don't Shoot!
Good Couple Gone Bad
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
|Baseball's Ten Most Memroable Home Runs
Our list of ten long balls that are the most deserving for their fame, importance and pure spectacle. Check it out now!
After Further Review: Making the Right Call on Replay