Tagged: Fred McGriff

2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

The Winning Run will be turning five years old this year, which means we should technically be halfway to receiving an official Hall of Fame vote from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). Instead of waiting until we are voting for real, why not get some Hall of Fame voting practice in to work out the bugs.

There are 34 former players listed on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot this year. 15 players are returning to the ballot after receiving at least 5% of the vote during last year’s balloting. There are 19 new players appearing for the first time. Trimming the vote down from 34 players to no more than 10 is not an easy task. Some players are easier to exclude than other but there are about 15 players who demand a hard look and who are not easily removed.

lee-smith-2016-hall-of-fame-ballot
Will Lee Smith finally be elected in his final year on the ballot? (www.si.com)

As I have stated previously, I despise the use of PEDs in baseball and all other sports. Players, like Manny Ramirez, who have tested positive for these banned substances made my job a little easier to cull the list to just 10 players. On my ballot you are removed from consideration when you are suspended. Players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were also quickly removed from my list due to their own PED connections. Yes neither player ever failed a test, but the evidence of their use of PEDs is too great for me to consider their candidacy.

The process of reaching my list of ten players meant looking at players who sustained greatness. Having a few great seasons and a decade of mediocre seasons does not mean you get into Cooperstown. Players also had to have an impact on the game, such as redefining a position or raising a team’s profile. The National Baseball Hall of Fame should only enshrine the best of the best.

X

Jeff Bagwell Jeff Kent

X

Ivan Rodriguez
Casey Blake Derrek Lee Freddy Sanchez
Barry Bonds

X

Edgar Martinez Curt Schilling
Pat Burrell

X

Fred McGriff Gary Sheffield
Orlando Cabrera Melvin Mora

X

Lee Smith
Mike Cameron

X

Mike Mussina Sammy Sosa
Roger Clemens Magglio Ordonez Matt Stairs
J.D. Drew Jorge Posada Jason Varitek

X

Vladimir Guerrero

X

Tim Raines Billy Wagner
Carlos Guillen Manny Ramirez Tim Wakefield

X

Trevor Hoffman Edgar Renteria

X

Larry Walker
Arthur Rhodes

Tim Wakefield would receive an honorary vote this year because we love the knuckleball, the longevity of his career, and he was the topic of the first ever article on The Winning Run.

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Will Fred McGriff and his 493 home runs make it to Cooperstown? (www.espn.com)

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are the saddest cases concerning Hall of Fame voting and the steroid era. Both players had the talent and skill to be Hall of Famers without the chemical assistance of PEDs. Bonds is truly one of the greatest hitters to ever step into a batter’s box and Clemens is arguably one of the greatest pitchers ever, often compared to Walter Johnson. They would undoubtedly be in Cooperstown now if they had chosen to stay clear of PEDs. They were able to sustain their peaks and lengthen their careers through unnatural means, but at what cost? Players like Sammy Sosa, also on the ballot this year, did not have the talent to ascend to the Hall of Fame without PEDs.

Voting for the Hall of Fame, even if unofficially, is a difficult process. Many players deserve consideration for enshrinement in Cooperstown through their accomplishments on the diamond. The cases for enshrining many players who are not in the Hall of Fame are valid. However, the case that a player elected to the Hall of Fame is undeserving means the bar for gaining election to Cooperstown must remain high. Many players come close, but only the best earn admission into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

DJ

Restoring Old Leather…

This a three-part series on how I’ve come to recapture my love for America’s favorite pastime.

Ron GantDavid JusticeFred McGriff

Terry Pendleton

These are the names that make up some of the earliest memories I have for baseball. Unfortunately, my memories are scattered and it’s hard to put my most vivid memories into a good chronological order. That’s the nature of memory though. The best ones seem like yesterday and recalling the rest is like chasing fireflies at dusk. I hope you enjoy chasing fireflies with me.

Terry Pendelton and hit sweet swing. (Stephen Dunn/ALLSPORT)

Terry Pendelton and hit sweet swing. (Stephen Dunn/ALLSPORT)

I’m a New York Yankees fan. I should get that out in the open since it can be such a polarizing topic. So you may be wondering why a Yankees fan’s earliest memories involve the Atlanta Braves. Because they were the icons for his favorite team. Who is he? My friend, Josue.

Josue and I grew up for a time in the outer suburbs of Washington, DC. We were poor kids in an up and coming suburb (if not at the time, soon to be) surrounded by tech companies, defense contractors, and government security personnel who could no longer afford to live closer to DC. We didn’t have the Nats around then but it wasn’t likely that our parents could have afforded to take us to a game anyway. In our youthful rebellion against the growing wealth around us, we took to swiping things. Baseball cards from 7-Eleven were pretty easy pickings. I’m not proud of it but we didn’t have much nor much else to do. Especially in the summers between school years.

I did get to see a game in Camden Yards a year or two after it had opened though. Because the Orioles were in the AL East with the Yankees, I could see them play regularly. It was a summer day in June of ‘93 and my dad got tickets for his company’s box seats. I had an Upper Deck baseball card featuring Wade Boggs that I adored. He looked amazing mid-swing and he was one of the better players in my collection. When we got to the game, I saw that Wade Boggs was playing for New York Yankees that year. I was so excited to see him play in the flesh and to top it off, the Yankees won that day. It may have been the moment that cemented my love for the New York Yankees to this day.

Camden Yards and Wade Boggs will always connect me to baseball. (photography-on-the.net)

Camden Yards and Wade Boggs will always connect me to baseball. (photography-on-the.net)

We got to see a lot Braves games aired on TV as well. I think it may have been that the Braves were the only NL East team that was not a rival city to DC like Philly or New York. It also never really mattered to me. I think seeing such a great team like the Braves of the early 90s on TV may be why Josue was a huge fan.

Baseball has a way of sparking the imagination like no other sport. Why? Ghost runners. You can’t make believe a 40 yard throw to your number one wide receiver. However, you can move that runner on second to third after hitting a short hopper over the guy playing shortstop. Without make-believe, you can’t play a game with less than four to a side. So when you have to bike a few miles from your house to find people who want to play, coordinating schedules and parental permission is a soul-draining exercise in futility. Fortunately, imagination could fill that role.

We used that imagination as we stepped up to the plate, threw our ‘fastballs’ and ‘sliders’, or made diving catches to stop short hops.

“Here’s Nolan Ryan going in his wind up.” I would yell out.

“David Justice looking to hit this one into the upper deck!” He’d yell back.

This back and forth never stopped. Sometimes, Josue would go back and forth between his favorite players. After a while, he’d always settle on…

“Okay! Terry Pendleton coming to the plate hitting switch.”

It’s not like he hit better left-handed or that I had the sort of control over the strike zone to make that kind of difference. We did it because that’s what the stars in our lives did. It gave us a freedom from the restrictions imposed upon us by reality.

We threw like Nolan Ryan, at least in our imagination. (www.johnpaciorek.com)

We threw like Nolan Ryan, at least in our imagination. (www.johnpaciorek.com)

I read an article about how kids don’t wander around nearly as far as they did when I was a child. Strangely enough, I never thought I traveled far on my Huffy mountain bike until I mapped it on Google decades later. Sure enough, I generally strayed about three to five miles from my home almost daily to play with my friends. Then I looked at some of the other places that fell into this radius from my home that I never visited. Major highways blocking them all. I may have seemed an intrepid adolescent explorer but I wasn’t a dummy.

But this is what you did so you could have the privacy of living in your fantasy world. We didn’t have many of the things our neighbors took for granted. We didn’t think we were poor because we were doing things away from the judgmental look of exhausted parents. Parents who wanted us to dream but somehow keep it grounded.

I never played organized baseball. Josue did for a while but his parents could no longer make the time to drive him to the nearest team so he could play. We eventually played soccer together and our parents helped each other by carpooling to practice regularly. We played teams from areas with large Hispanic communities and I think that’s when Josue began to identify more strongly with his Mexican heritage. During the buildup to the ‘94 World Cup in the US, he wanted to be Jorge Campos. Now that I look back on it, we may have both been poor but he didn’t think he had the book smarts to succeed. So he looked for heroes where he could.

But no matter how long we practiced penalty shots and dribbling exercises, we always took some time to play some baseball…

BL