February. Marking the earliest game thread in Cole On LA history.
February. Marking the earliest game thread in Cole On LA history.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Matt Kemp’s labrum, Carl Crawford’s elbow. Healthy and ready when the bell rings? Will they or won’t they? And what about that Luis Cruz-as-the-regular-third-baseman idea?
Oh, and can Hanley Ramirez get the ball from short to first before Pablo Sandoval, batting right-handed and slipping coming out of the box, beats the throw?
These are the questions – the only questions – of concern re the lineup the Dodgers expect to field come Opening Day, April 1, San Francisco at Los Angeles.
Upon the publication of my bullpen blog last week, I was accused by a surprisingly baseball savvy Giants fan (yes, they have them) of perhaps being a tad “overly optimistic.” He was talking about my sunny assessment of Brandon League in particular, but point taken.
My response? I’m being “intentionally optimistic,” but not overly optimistic. There’s a difference. It happens every spring, as they say, I make no apologies, and you can expect more of the same below, and in my upcoming bench post in a few days.
Carl Crawford is coming off two 2012 surgeries, a left wrist in January and left Tommy John in August. The Rays’ former All-Star left fielder says he’ll be able to hit the cutoff man by day one, which will make him more capable than an at-full-strength Juan Pierre. It also means there’s a chance of a disabled list stint to begin the season. Or the opponents take some extra bases early on. We’ll live either way.
Who knows about the wrist, but like I said, I’m being optimistic. Let’s recall that Jayson Werth missed a good chunk of 2005 and all of 2006 with a difficult-to-fix wrist injury, and returned a better player than he was to begin with, not that I want to dredge up the 2008-09 National League Championship Series or anything.
It may take him some time, but I’m looking for Carl Crawford to show us plenty in 2013. Say, .285, .350, 100 runs, 60 RBIs and 40 steals. And I absolutely think he can hit leadoff in Los Angeles. In fact, I can’t wait to see it.
Before we go any further, and of course, barring injury, this is how I think Don Mattingly’s first lineup of the year will shake out. And it’s a prediction; mind you, not necessarily a recommendation.
Carl Crawford – LF
Mark Ellis – 2B
Matt Kemp – CF
Adrian Gonzalez – 1B
Hanley Ramirez – SS
Andre Ethier – RF
Luis Cruz – 3B
A.J. Ellis – C
Clayton Kershaw – P
While there’s been no discussion of Mark Ellis losing at bats against right-handers publicly, before long this might be as close as we’ve come to seeing a straight platoon out of Don Mattingly. Although he’s done better in previous seasons, Ellis hit just .228 against righties last season. He hit .321 versus left-handers. Skip Schumaker – bats left, throws right – hit .295 off righties in 2012.
Ellis is 35, has been banged up a bit in recent years and Schumaker is solid in the field, so it makes sense. Just don’t expect to see it right away.
Kemp will be the third man Matt Cain faces in 2013, and it’ll probably be 1-0 one way or another, before Adrian Gonzalez steps in. The man is a complete stud, he’s in incredible shape and the non-throwing shoulder won’t be a problem going forward. He’ll still be able to crash into the occasional fence without issue. .310, .375, 30 and 100, piece of cake.
Gonzalez is going to be the team MVP, however; and an absolute monster. He’ll play 155 games, hit .300 against southpaws and lead the team in runs batted in (and yes, RBIs still matter). They’ll be important RBIs too. And he’ll win a Gold Glove. Next.
Speaking of Gold Gloves…uh, never mind. Hanley Ramirez is a considerably-below-average shortstop, who seems like he can run the ball over to first faster than he can throw it there. Dee Gordon could surprise with a great spring, forcing a move of Ramirez to third, and the Dodgers might yet acquire someone special for the left side of the infield, but it’s too soon to count on any of that.
Do count on Hanley hitting the crap out of the ball, however, and enough to make up for the runs he allows at short. For the time being. Look for .285, .345, 25, 95 and 25 stolen bases.
Andre Ethier recorded an almost unwatchable .222 against left-handers last year, and a .220 in 2011. In 2010 and 2009 it was more of the same, with the right fielder struggling to the tune of .233 and .194 versus southpaws respectively. But he did hit .243 off them in 2008, .279 in ’07 and .351 in 77 at bats of his rookie season of 2006.
So the skill is in there someplace, and maybe new batting coach Mark McGwire can bring it out of him. I’m confident that if Ethier can eke out a .260 – or even a .250 – against left-handers, we’d all take that gladly.
I’m also confident a trade for a solid right-hand hitting fourth outfielder type is coming eventually. But in the meantime all Mattingly has to do is sit Ethier against whatever lefties give him the most trouble. Not a platoon; just spare him his worst matchups, and keep him fresh in the bargain.
Predicted numbers: .285, .350, 20 and 80 in the sixth hole, which is just fine. Ethier’s going to benefit from the move down in the lineup, along the decreased expectations.
(This just in: Ethier rakes in his first spring at bat against a lefty, tripling off White Sox reliever Leyson Septimo at Camelback. Problem solved.)
There’s not a person inside baseball who knows what to expect out of incumbent third baseman Luis Cruz. Outside of baseball either, for that matter. He could hit .350 in the spring and .150 in April, or just as easily the other way around. And they still won’t know. But L.A. can afford to give him his shot, and unless there’s a better offer coming from another club, Cruz gets the nod Opening Day.
Much to the chagrin of Dodgers bloggers everywhere, Mattingly likes A.J. Ellis and his .369 career on base percentage (.406 in the minors) batting eighth. Draw a two-out walk, get the pitcher out of the way and start the next inning with your leadoff man. He’s not going to hit higher than seventh regardless, so why not eighth if that’s what the skipper prefers?
Mattingly also says he’s going to rest his number one catcher more in 2013, but Joe Torre said the same thing about Russell Martin every spring, and ran him into the ground without fail anyway. If he starts 125 games behind the plate, which would be great for all concerned, Ellis will be the exact same hitter he was last season. Say, .270 and .370, with 13 homers and 60 RBIs.
Kershaw gets his first sacrifice attempt of the season down perfectly and drives in a run on Opening Day. Seven innings, four hits, one earned, one walk, 10 strikeouts and the victory. Dodgers 1-0, Giants 0-1. Magic number 161.
Optimistic, but not overly optimistic.
Next up, the Dodger bench. And remember, glove conquers all.
Say what you will about Ned Colletti and the best laid plans of mice and men. The Dodgers general manager pulls off an inspired move from time to time, and his buy-low pickup of Brandon League qualifies as a good example.
The common criticism about League’s having had “only one year as an effective closer” is silly, especially since the year was 2011, and it was an All-Star, 37-save, 2.79, 1.076 season while pitching for an awful 67-95 Seattle Mariners squad. You can’t excel in a position before you’ve been given the job, and 2011 was League’s first real opportunity.
In his attempt at an encore, he saved six, while blowing a couple last April, had a horrible May, blew two games in an up and down June, and lost his closer’s role in the process. Knowing all about his 2012 struggles, Los Angeles acquired League in a deadline deal for Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom July 30 hoping to fix them. It took them all of three weeks, in which League allowed nine hits and six earned in five innings of work, for whatever Rick Honeycutt and company were preaching to kick in.
From there on out, League was a lights-out closer. He picked up six saves and two holds the rest of the way, striking out 22 in 22 innings over 22 appearances in a month and a half, with all of one run crossing home plate. But numbers don’t tell the story. You had to watch him throw – the man was absolutely unhittable.
So $22 million for three years is a bit much. League will be 30 March 16, is accomplished enough, and at 414 career innings doesn’t have a ton of mileage on his right arm. And he wants to be a Dodger. I think you’ll be convinced as the season goes along, but Ned deserves credit for the find now.
With the ninth inning handled, Don Mattingly can run out Kenley Jansen and Ronald Belisario (despite his more-than-occasional weirdness) with confidence for the eighth and seventh respectively. And the National League will not like it. Come to think of it, with interleague play an everyday thing now, the American League won’t be pleased either.
Balking at 37-year-old Randy Choate’s contract ambitions (the Cards succumbed and are paying him $7.5 million over three years), Colletti signed 30-year-old J.P. Howell, late of the Tampa Bay Rays, to fill a lefty bullpen spot instead. $2.85 mil for 2013. Chalk up another one for Ned.
I’m not a fan of out-of-options Scott Elbert particularly, and if and when he comes back from two recent surgeries, with Paco Rodriguez in the picture, and if there’s a decent return, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the club deal him. Southpaws come and go in bullpens all the time. Elbert can go.
With four off-days scheduled the first three weeks of the season and their history generally, you’d expect the Dodgers to go with seven relievers on Opening Day, April 1, at home versus San Francisco. Depending on how the rotation holds up – and the disposition of potential surplus starters Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Ted Lilly – we might be looking at an eight-man bullpen for a time. Either way, the only four who would seem to be locked into their roles now are League, Jansen, Belisario and Howell.
Perhaps Capuano fills the second lefthander / long-man position, although L.A. rarely carries a long-man. Or perhaps Lilly gets that job, assuming he’s at full strength when the bell rings, which is no sure thing. Or perhaps Chad Billingsley blows out his elbow early and one of the above, or Harang, steps into the rotation. Maybe someone gets traded. Who the hell knows?
Non-roster invitees abound, and include former major leaguers Kevin Gregg, Greg Infante, Mark Lowe, Peter Moylan and Matt Palmer. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them – probably Lowe or Moylan – make the final cut. Or not.
Also hanging around are Matt Guerrier and Javy Guerra – either of whom could be dealt during the spring (or not) – Shawn Tolleson, who I like a lot, and a number of minor leaguers you may have heard of. Or not.
The Dodgers turn over their relief corps all the time, both in the winter and during the season, and are consistently good at finding the right mix. Things may take a while to sort out, especially with those extra bodies and accompanying salaries, but the bullpen is a strong suit, and I’m not a bit concerned. In fact, I’m excited.
Raise your hand if you’re sick of hearing about the money the Dodgers are spending. Stomp your feet if you’ve had just enough talk of great expectations, about how it’s the World Series or else, and are simply aching to get onto the actual game of baseball already.
Now tell me if you’re going to kick something, lose control of your bodily fluids and otherwise throw a bleeping hissy-fit if you hear one more syllable re chemistry, about how you can’t buy chemistry, and about the inane suggestion that since your guys are making a ton of money logic must hold that they can’t possibly have good chemistry, and therefore in conclusion, maybe Los Angeles should just trot out the 1962 Mets instead, and pay them in 1962 dollars to boot. Or, cleat.
And God help us, that’s the last we’re going to touch on the subject we all stunk at in high school between now and October. That’s October and not September because, yes, of course, it’s the World Series or bust. You’re bloody well right it’s the World Series or bust.
But not to worry because your Los Angeles Dodgers have been well-constructed, and on this glorious day when – say it with me now, pitchers and catchers report – we begin our look at 2013 where all L.A. Spring Training looks should begin, with pitching. Starting pitching.
Clayton Kershaw truly is a Dodger among men. Predicting pitching is at best a challenge and at worst a total shot in the dark, with the vast majority of major league hurlers being up one year and down the next, up one month and down the next. And when it comes to starters, there are only a handful of men you can count on to provide legitimate ace performance from Opening Day to season’s end. Thankfully, Mr. Kershaw is one of those few.
Whether he likes it or not – and by this time he probably likes it – all comparisons to Sandy Koufax are on the table. No-hitters are fine; wonderful, actually, but what’s missing from Kershaw’s resume is big-time success in the Fall Classic. I don’t know about the 15 strikeouts, or about a Series clincher on two days rest, but I believe we’re going to see some form of postseason history from the young man in 2013. Health permitting.
While I wasn’t on board with the Zack Greinke-to-L.A. rumors at the start, now that it’s happened and we’re setting sail on Spring Training, I’m glad he’s here. Much has been made about a starter transitioning from ace-under-pressure to reliable number-two man, and about how that can benefit him, and it’s a good theory. We’re going to see just such a thing with Greinke (and Josh Beckett too, for that matter).
Forget the very old news about his anxiety disorder. As a full-time National Leaguer, with all that comes from an organization that values pitching above all else, and the large NL West ballparks, Greinke will be just fine. Better than fine. Look for something like a 16-10 record, with a 3.25 ERA and 200 Ks in 200 innings.
Much like Greinke, one would think Chad Billingsley would also benefit from going down a peg in the rotation, from the two-spot to the three. But which Chad Billingsley are we to expect this year? Is it the winless 5.52 of last May and the five straight losses and 20 earned runs in 29 innings of June 16 to July 7, or the six consecutive Ws and six earned in 41 2/3 of July 23 through August 19?
Is he the 2.63 May or the 6.48 June of 2011? Or the 6.11 June of the 2.79 July of 2010? And more importantly, is Bills healthy enough to make it to the All-Star break, or even Opening Day? Anyone who tells you he has the answers to those questions, and to the last one in particular, is as full of it as full of it can be.
In hoping to avoid Tommy John surgery for a partially-torn ligament in his right elbow Billingsley had a platelet-rich plasma injection last August, says he’s doing fine, and from all appearances PRP is an amazing feat of sports science. Smartest-guy-in-the-room kind of stuff. But it’s far from a guarantee, and independent of how well he throws today, regardless of the life on his fastball in March, it’s no sure thing he makes a single pitch come April.
Josh Beckett is back in the NL to start a season for the first time since 2005, and should be just fine pitching in the fourth spot. Better than fine. I’m not worried about him one bit.
I’m not exactly worried about Hyun-Jin Ryu either, but I haven’t a clue what the Korean Baseball Organization import will do in the big leagues. I trust the Dodgers generally when it comes to international deals, and it’s great that all it cost them is $62 million (six years for $36 mil and the rest as a posting fee) and no draft pick, as signing Kyle Lohse would have, but expecting anything more than a .500 season and an ERA under 4.00 would seem to be a stretch, if you ask me. But it’s not my money, so I’ll keep an open mind.
In Chris Capuano ($6 million), Aaron Harang ($7 million) and Ted Lilly ($12 million), Los Angeles has a ton of dough invested in surplus starting pitching. And while the trading of one or two of their extras for say, a right-handed bat off the bench or a proven catcher sounds good on paper, so does a five-man rotation throughout the long season.
Between Billingsley’s elbow, Kersh’s hip (which I haven’t mentioned thus far for fear of jinxing) and attrition which occurs normally during a typical year, the Dodgers might just need all three veteran arms. I can’t remember the last time L.A. has carried a long man, but minus three pitching injuries during camp, they probably will in 2013.
Capuano seems like the likeliest choice for a variety of reasons, none the least of which is the value he’d add as an extra lefty in the pen, with Lilly being the least likely. Harang is somewhere in between.
We’ll have our answer soon enough, as Spring Training Camelback Ranch is officially open as of today.
I don’t know how exactly, but we have made it through another offseason. Next up: the pen. And remember, glove conquers all.
He’s a younger version of me, and maybe a cooler one. Fine, he’s a cooler version of me.
He’s seen every Los Angeles and Brooklyn-related exhibit at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, he’s worn his Dodger cap proudly at 11 big league ballparks (plus three minors), and while his girlfriend and partner in baseball travels, Chantelle, is an Angels fan, there’s a chance she’ll covert to Blue should they one day tie the knot.
An MLB press release sums up the Fan Cave program this way: “Major League Baseball [on February 14] will select 30 finalists based on fan voting, quality of the original submissions, and the ability of the contestants to generate buzz and interest in their campaigns. These 30 finalists will earn a trip to Spring Training in Arizona later in the month, where they will compete in a variety of challenges to determine the final group of Cave Dwellers. These winners will begin the season in the MLB Fan Cave (4th Street and Broadway in New York City’s Greenwich Village) with the goal of watching all 2,430 MLB games while chronicling their experiences online through videos, blogs, and social media. Along the way, they will be eliminated or remain in the MLB Fan Cave based on the quality of their contributions, with one eventual winner crowned before the end of the World Series.”
Roberts “goes to Spring Training every year to get a little more up close and personal with the players.” He lists his in-person viewing highlights as “Dodger games where Andre Ethier, Dioner Navarro, Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez have won a game with a swing of the bat.
“Walkoffs are incredible. You can feel the electricity in the air. My worst memories are the back-to-back NLCS losses to the Phillies a few years ago. Jonathan Broxton giving up a walkoff double with two outs in game four of the 2009 NLCS was very bitter pill to swallow. Then there’s always Frank McCourt. You can take your pick of bad memories with him.”
And why, you wonder, would a 28-year-old high school substitute teacher want to spend the 2013 season in a cave?
“The MLB Fan Cave is the ultimate dream for any baseball lover. You live in an amazing space in Greenwich Village and get to watch every single baseball game in front of a wall of 15 TV’s. Throughout the season you meet star players and film video content with them and various other celebrities. Musicians and bands also come perform for you, all while you talk about it through social media. It’s incredible, and I can’t think of a better experience for a baseball junkie like me.
“[While] it does seem a little daunting to live in New York for the season and be so far away from my family and friends, the good FAR outweighs any bad. I mean, come on! You get to watch baseball every day and be a part of Major League Baseball. Your favorite players will shake your hand. You get to share your thoughts and perspective with the rest of the baseball world. Sounds pretty amazing to me. Plus, you’re not like a prisoner or anything. You get your own living space and are free to roam the city when there aren’t any games on.
I asked Roberts how he handles being a Dodger fan living in Huntington Beach.
“It’s a little tough to be in a sea of Angel Red when you bleed Dodger Blue, especially when your girlfriend is an Angels fan. We make it work, though. You’d be surprised at how many True Blue Believers are out there in the OC, and I’m leading the charge.”
And how can we best support your efforts?
“The main thing to do to support me is go to the MLB Fan Cave website and vote for my video. A huge part of campaigning is social media, so I’d love it if everyone would come be my friend on Twitter @Bertsball, Instagram @Bertsball and Facebook.com/Bertsball.
How can you not love this guy? Let’s vote him into the finals, shall we.
I am so pissed. Baseball has yet another performance enhancing drug scandal to deal with, and I cannot believe I have to trot out my just-say-no speech one more time. Actually, I can, which pisses me off even more.
You couldn’t have missed it because you were mesmerized by Super Bowl media day, certainly, but if you were busy with more pleasant things, the Miami New Times, a part of Voice Media Group (as in the Village Voice, LA Weekly and nine other papers) published a story Tuesday about a sleazy Miami anti-aging clinic, PEDs and a number of famous athletes.
The “director” of the clinic, known as Biogenesis, was a guy named Tony Bosch; his most prominent client slash patient being Alex Rodriguez, of the always clean New York Yankees (and yes, that is sarcasm.) In some 5400 words Tim Elfrink details Bosch’s career as a non-doctor, the trail of unhappy and unpaid associates and employees, and ala the Balco scandal which ensnared Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, etc., log books listing the various substances sold to baseball players.
The other current major leaguers – well, current as of this very day, anyway – exposed in the report are previously-PED-busted as a San Francisco Giant and now Toronto Blue Jay Melky Cabrera, previously-PED-busted Bartolo Colon, of the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers’ Nelson Cruz, Washington Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez and previously-PED-busted Yasmani Grandal, of the San Diego Padres (see updated Steroid Zone).
Whether all hell breaks loose over this, leading to suspension, vehement defense, arrests, prosecution, and an actual fix to the drug problem in the game remains to be seen, this much is sure. One, the story is going to cast a pall over Spring Training, and we’re going to be talking about it for a lot longer than we’d care to be.
Two, another cleat is sure to drop, and God help us if a local player is involved.
Three, the Yankees can moralize all they like; not a baseball savvy (wo)man among us doubts for one second that if A-Rod were a younger, healthier and considerably better ballplayer than he is now, we’re not hearing a peep of complaint out of the Bronx about the voiding of his contract.
Four, Major League Baseball will say emphatically that the drug testing program it has in place today is, if not a rousing success, working, and will point to the fact that these latest guys were caught as evidence of the statement.
And five, no matter what these men do, however insidiously they may cheat, regardless of the harm they’ll cause to themselves and to the game, there will always – always – be people there to defend them. To make excuses for them. To explain it all away.
I apologize for the segue because I admire the writer, but if Gonzalez has been unfairly linked to the others in the New Times story because no banned substances were listed next to his name, as Grantland’s Jonah Keri suggests, the Nationals’ lefthander is an adult capable of defending himself. He should be fine in the long run if he’s done nothing wrong.
Due process is not a concept to be ignored in our PED discussions, but I’m skeptical of Gonzalez, and if other players knew exactly who they were dealing with in Bosch, Gonzalez should have too. It’s not that complicated. I get the guilt by association idea; I’m just not all that concerned about it.
And what was Elfrink to do? Gonzalez’ name was found in the logs he was provided, he listed the substances as he they appeared, and included the obligatory denial from Gio’s father, Max, who was also named in the report.
What’s missing from this PED discussion, what is usually missing from the PED discussion, is the thing that to me ought to be most prominent, and that’s the following: This is drug abuse right out of the textbook. The stuff these guys are putting into their bodies is as bad or worse than everything your parents told you to avoid when you were a teenager.
They’re not just taking the drugs, they’re abusing them in a not too dissimilar way that a recreational user would his poison right off the street. They’re doing it for selfish reasons, out of greed, and almost entirely without the supervision of a genuine medical professional, instead relying upon a thoroughly under-qualified marketing man operating out of his own selfish and greedy motivations.
Good grief, people; the sponsors of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (and organizations like it) aren’t making egg-frying commercials for the fun of it. They’re not dedicating their waking hours to the prevention of drug abuse (and the extension of lives) because of junk science. This isn’t about temperance, OK?
Please don’t tell me this stuff is harmless. There is plenty of study to be done on the frequency, the quantities, and mixture of and the long-term use of the substances involved. And that’s if common sense isn’t enough for you. What it tells me is that these are really really really bad drugs we’re talking about here. We’re going to see stroke and heart attack and cancer decades down the line, and maybe sooner. Early unexplained death and suicide too, and for all we know, webbed feet.
Really really bad drugs; drugs that provide a type of high and taken by cheaters – yes, cheaters with a serious problem – who will lie and deny and lie some more because that’s what drug abusers do, and sold to them by scum bags. Total and complete scum bags.
Baseball’s brain is on drugs. An emphasis on the seriousness of the drug abuse is what’s required most. Policing the sport is important, obviously, should continue in concert, and it will. Worrying about hurt feelings and the defending of players comes in a very distant third.
While it’s not exactly General MacArthur returning to the Philippines, it’s pretty damn close. And without a shot being fired, the Dodgers have their best man.
The club announced the hiring of Sandy Koufax this morning, with the 77-year-old lefthander accepting a position as Special Advisor to Chairman Mark Walter. The organization is excited as can be, emphasizing in glee-like fashion with an all-uppercase email subject heading – KOUFAX RETURNS TO DODGERS.
So, what will L.A.’s most precious resource be doing for his old team? Well, Koufax will work with pitchers, of course. As he has many times in the past, he’ll impart his wisdom during Spring Training, teaching anyone who will listen. Expect a long line of pupils beginning February 12, when you-know-who reports to you-know-where.
And it won’t be just pitchers who benefit. Sandy’s going to hold court. He’ll attract attention from position players, coaches, fans, the media, stadium employees and probably an umpire or two. He’ll talk about the Dodger way to play baseball, he’ll talk about what it means to wear the uniform, and he’ll talk about winning.
He’ll talk about the World Series – make that World Series, plural, as in 1955, 1959, 1963, 1965 and even 1966, despite what happened in that one. He’ll talk about Don Drysdale and Walter Alston, about Maury Wills and John Roseboro, about Tommy and Willie Davis, and about Jackie Robinson. And he’ll talk about Clayton Kershaw. He’ll rave about Clayton Kershaw.
Look for Sandy to get together with Vin Scully for a great interview, probably the first telecast Vin works at Camelback. My best guess for a date is Sunday, March 17. One of the split-squad games versus the Brewers.
And maybe just maybe, Sandy will pose for that statue we’ll all been waiting for. You know, the one outside the executive offices at Dodger Stadium, where a row of ceramic flower pots sit now; the one I’ve been talking about for the better part of a decade. Like, what, you were thinking I was going to let that one slip by unmentioned? Yeah, right.
If you haven’t signed the e-petition yet, please go ahead and click Statue for Sandy now. Or sign a second time, and let me know what you think.
With all the Dodgers have done in the last couple of months, it turns out their greatest acquisition of the offseason comes out of the blue, with this morning’s announcement.
Old Dodgers never die, remember, they just get traded away. Or they retire to Paso Robles and find their way back to Los Angeles, one way or another. Welcome home, Sandy. We can’t wait to see you.
With a couple of days to reflect on Wednesday’s Hall of Fame shutout, and the subsequent near-revolutionary call for BBWAA heads-on-a-platter, I’m ready to chime in. And despite the implication of the headline, if what you’re looking for here is yet another in a long line of Cooperstown bashing diatribes, prepared to be disappointed.
Watching the furor build before commenting has helped me to gain a little perspective, and I’m reminded of a Season 3 episode of “Get Smart.” What can I say? I’m a weird guy, but indulge me a minute.
In “Don’t Look Back,” first aired February 10, 1968, Agent 86 is framed and convicted for murder, and ala “The Fugitive” escapes in search of vindication and the guilty one-armed man. View the episode here.
Facing a mountain of evidence and an incompetent lawyer unable to defend him, Maxwell Smart is given a chance to speak on his own behalf, and begins like this:
“Your honor, ladies and gentleman of the jury. For the last 20 minutes I have sat idly by while my worthy opponent, the prosecuting attorney, has stood up here and made a complete jackass out of himself. Now it’s my turn.”
Well, after watching some of my earnest colleagues tiptoe right up to and in some cases cross over the line into jackassness, now it’s my turn. And I have to say first, can’t we all just get along? I mean jeez people, what do you say we get a bit of grip here. A 2013 Hall of Fame induction ceremony without a living inductee to celebrate is a shame. There were deserving candidates, it’s unfortunate, certainly, but it’s not the end of the baseball world as we know it. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again, and we’ll all live, I promise you.
And more importantly, while the BBWAA is an exclusionary, rather old-guard, slow-to-adapt organization very much in need of a kick in the pants, its members are not a bunch of incompetent boobs intent on bringing down the game, one pillar of greatness at a time.
As the director of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA), in a position to advocate for dramatic change to the system, especially now, while the iron is hot, I’m not about to do that. Not now. Read more…
Los Angeles – In its 2013 Hall of Fame election the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) selected Mike Piazza, with 79.10% of the vote. While no other player managed the required 75% threshold, Craig Biggio was closest with 64.18%.
Roger Clemens finished in third place, with 52.24%. Jeff Bagwell and Barry Bonds tied for fourth at 50.75%.
The IBWAA selected Bert Blyleven in 2010 and Roberto Alomar in 2011. No player tallied 75% in 2012. Though he was elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) in 2012, Barry Larkin remains on the IBWAA ballot.
Beginning with this election, the IBWAA added voting for “special consideration” candidates, those normally associated with the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Veterans and Era Committees. This year’s candidates were Buzzie Bavasi, Gil Hodges, Tom Kelly, Marvin Miller, Danny Murtaugh and Vada Pinson.
Complete 2013 voting results are as follows:
Among others, IBWAA members include Barry Bloom, Chris Haft and Jim Thomas, MLB.com; Thomas Bonk, Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports; Jim Caple, Mark A. Simon and David Schoenfield, ESPN.com; Fred Claire, former General Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers; Jonah Keri, Grantland; Joe McDonnell, FoxSportsWest.com; Tom Hoffarth, J.P. Hoornstra and Jill Painter, Los Angeles Daily News; Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times; and prominent baseball authors Paul Dickson, Peter Golenbock, Josh Pahigian, John Rosengren and Dan Schlossberg.
The IBWAA was established July 4, 2009 by Howard Cole, of ColeOnLA.com, to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the BBWAA.
Association membership is open to any and all Internet baseball writers, with a yearly fee of $10, or $20 lifetime. Discounts for groups and scholarships are available.
Contact Howard Cole, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any speculation about the Los Angeles Dodgers trading right fielder Andre Ethier should be accompanied by the following caveats.
First and foremost, baseball agents have agendas, and if it helps to have a client’s name attached to a particular trade rumor, that’s reason enough to float the information. And second, a fair percentage of what you read about this player or that going to Team A or Team B is pure fiction.
Clubs have agendas too, of course, but if you pose a direct question to a team official, you’re likely to get a useful answer, even if some parsing may be required.
FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal got the Ethier ball rolling this morning with an article entitled, “Are Dodgers shopping Andre Ethier?” In it, Rosenthal quotes “one official with knowledge of the Dodgers’ thinking” as saying, among other things, that Los Angeles has “zero intention” of trading Ethier. And depending on whom you believe Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton have no intention of running for president in 2016. Right now, today, at this very moment.
Read the full post at Yahoo! Sports.