Tag Archive | "Fair Share"

The Purity Of The Pastime

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The Purity Of The Pastime

Posted on 01 March 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

The game of baseball is something that is near and dear to me. It has been passed down from family members and played since a young age. The game, along with the eventual bride to be, is two things that I am absolutely crazy about with the hopes of making baseball a career some day. Growing up, if the uniform was not dirty, everything was not left out on the field. Playing the game hard and the right way were core values given to me by some great coaches. The beauty of baseball can also be turned into life lessons as well.

RetroBaseball

Steroids are a delicate subject currently in baseball. It is a line in the dirt that has affected the game for the wrong reasons. However, it has not ruined the game entirely. Despite all of the reports, congressional hearings, PED’s, HGH, and any other abbreviations there is still much to be celebrated.

This past offseason, the latest report naming players that allegedly took substances was released with more high profile names included such as Ryan Braun again and Gio Gonzalez. The latest report appears to have a common factor of ties to the Miami area and university. The university has already had its fair share of troubles and this is seemingly being added to the list of dark clouds.

Since the mid 90’s, the game as been viewed as the “steroid era” and the image and commissioner have both taken a hit for that facing the questions of just how clean is the game? While the commissioner has implemented great things that have improved the game such as the Wild Card and instant replay, many believe the stance on drug use was turned the other way.

Some may even forget that these talks and questions really began to take shape in 2005 and 2006 when Jose Canseco released the book Juiced. The information published in that book caused a serious stir around the game. Denials of any and all claims mentioned became the thing to do and Canseco became an outcast. Fast forward nearly a decade and now many of the things written have been discovered as truths rather than fiction.

In baseball, much like the other sports has some bad that comes with the good. For someone that loves the true meaning of sports that is hard to accept. The beauty of sports should be that for those two or three hours that the game is being played nothing else should matter. The game should be the story, the heart, and hustle. There should be no back drop of steroids, or criminal allegations to clutter things. It is sad when the games fans love are taken advantage of, because who would not give anything to trade places with a professional athlete? We should take notice of the clubs and players doing things the right way as opposed to the select few that do not.

Inner circles use the terms like dirt bags or grinders. Guys that seemingly give every ounce they have for their team and leave it all on the field. Guys like Dustin Pedroia, Chipper Jones, and Derek Jeter often have uniforms where dirt is the primary color and earn that respect from their peers. Steroids are never brought up about guys like this. Rather, the effort and hustle are praised. They are just a few players that do not take the game for granted.

This year, for the first time in a long time no players were elected into the Hall of Fame. The question is what does that mean for future players? Will a few bad apples ruin it for the rest? I do not believe so. During the era, some players still did it the right way and will be honored. Upcoming Hall of Fame eligible players include Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, and Ken Griffey Jr. who should all be first ballot inductees.

No question, my favorite player is The Kid. Along with the on field talent, he brought that energy, that purity, and that smile to the game. He was a human highlight show and role model with the purest swing in the game. For the saber metrics, Griffey’s 1997 MVP season reads as a .304 batting average, 56 home runs, 147 RBI’s, and the most important number, 0. Zero being the number of steroid reports, PED’s, and accusations leaked.

The use of steroids should never be condoned, however the era should never be completely ignored or have an asterisk next to it either. It should be treated and accepted as apart of the game and just another chapter as good still emerged during the same period as well. The same time frame brought us stories such as the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks and Cal Ripken becoming the new iron man. History does not discount the dead ball era and in today’s game this should be no different. No asterisks are found on pitchers stats such as the great Bob Gibson prior to 1969 when the pitching mound was different and clean players today should not be discredited with accomplishments either.

The purpose of the Baseball Hall of Fame committee is to vote and elect the best players from the sport and enshrine them in Cooperstown. They are to be impartial and select only the few worthy players. As the game hopefully moves away from the PED’s and gets cleaned up, those players will still rise above the rest and become enshrined.

As Opening Day approaches, here is to the steroid cloud hopefully fading away. The game still has and will always have many things to cherish about it. The core is still pure. To borrow a line from a movie, “The game does not stink, it is a great game.”

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Huh?! Really?! That Guy?!

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Huh?! Really?! That Guy?!

Posted on 08 January 2013 by Will Emerson

DaleMurphy

Well, the 2013 baseball Hall of Fame votes are in, and on January 9th we will know who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this upcoming July. Now this is certainly a big year for controversy on the ballot as the big names in the PED era are front and foremost. Bonds, Clemens, Sosa and Palmiero, to be precise and name a few. And of course Dale Murphy and Jack Morris are always good fodder for debate as they close in on their last chances. And by close in, I mean reach, in Murphy’s case. But I am not here to discuss those folks, oh no, no. You can hear plenty about them in many, many, many, many (enough manys, ya think?) other forums.  No, I am not here to talk about those fellas, I wanna look at those on the ballot who, more than likely, will not appear on another ballot ever again, because most likely less than five percent of voters will cast votes for them. Those whose names you probably forgot and when even spotting their names on the ballot may inspire a giggle, if you are the giggling type, or, at the very least a “Huh?! Really? That guy?!” because at no point in there esteemed careers did you ever consider their names being mentioned in the same sentence as the words “Hall of Fame”. Now, I could start to go off on a rant about how the word “fame” is in “Hall of Fame”, so you need to be recognized as famous to get in. But, alas, I will not go on about that ( I don’t think), but rather just dig right into the Hall of Fame cases, or lack thereof, of a few of these fellas who are not so likely to get past this year on the ballot.

Jeff Cirillo - Yes, the Jeff Cirillo! Yeah, so I am doubting anyone remembers much about Jeff’s career and may have just forgotten about him altogether. Generally that would not be a good start for making your Hall of Fame case. Cirillo’s numbers though were somewhat respectable with a career .296 batting average and .796 OPS. Great numbers? Well, no, but they are certainly respectable. Now while JC never had much pop ( just 112 career home runs) he did manage to get on base (.366 OBP) a fair share and the lack of homeruns does make that .796 OPS a bit more impressive. But here’s something you all love, a blind player comparison with a fan favorite. Okay, half blind since I already gave part of it away by showing off Cirillo’s digits. So, here we go:

Cirillo: (14 seasons) .296 BA, .366 OBP, .430 SLG, .796 OPS, 36.4 WAR (season avg 2.6)

Player B: (19 seasons) .294 BA, .329 OBP, .446 SLG, .775 OPS, 42.5 WAR (season avg 2.24)

So, who is this mystery Player B that Cirillo is so comparable to? Why that would be Steve Garvey. Now it appears that Cirillo stacks up pretty well with Garvey, of course Mr. Garvey generally had better PR, a bit more pop,  a few more paternity tests and some Gold Gloves to push him over the edge, but the WAR difference generally accounts for the defensive prowess as well. Now this is not to say I think Jeff Cirillo belongs in the Hall, because basically I am iffy on Garvey being in there to begin with, but it is interesting that people would make much more of a case for Garvey over Cirillo. If you were to just ask a random baseball fan, my guess is that they would not think Cirillo belongs in the same conversation. And really Cirillo’s other problem is he played the hot corner, and there are only 11 third basemen in the Hall of Fame. Now during his career (1994-2007), he was number six amongst major league third basemen in WAR during that time period, which is something, sort of, but his career WAR is still below that of every Hall of Fame third baseman. So, while you can play the “if-then” game, as in, “if Garvey deserves to be in, then Cirillo shouould be in”, (and it is a fun game to play, I grant you) I think it’s safe to say Mr. Cirillo will not be headed to Cooperstown any time soon. If he is even on the ballot next year it would be a bit surprising, but oddly enough he may have one of the best cases of anyone in this post.

Royce Clayton- That same surprise and astonishment could be brought about if one Mr. Royce Clayton  received the necessary five percent of the vote this year. With a 21.7 WAR over 17 seasons Royce is not likely to garner much consideration, unless his parents somehow have votes we don’t know about. Now, that being said, he actually may receive a vote somewhere for who knows what reason, cause sometimes that happens, but in my opinion, it would be a bit ludicrous if he were to receive votes. Not necessarily because he was abysmal, but even if a writer is against the PED era players, there are still probably ten other players on the ballot who would be more deserving of a vote. WAR aside, because some writers are still not on board with that sort of advanced stat malarkey, he had a career .258 batting average, which is well, not so good. He did not seem to compensate for this in any other area, as he only topped 75 RBIs twice (once was while playing for the Rockies) and had a career 935 runs and 110 home runs. His defense was very respectable it seemed, but was really not great for an extended period of time according to shortstop range factors comparitive to other shortstops of the 90s. So, while he was excellent as Miguel Tejade in Moneyball, I would really be stupefied if Royce received even two percent of the vote.

Jeff Conine- While the nickname Conine the Barbarian was pretty nifty, and Jeff is a very likeable guy and player, his numbers do not really scream, “Hall of Famer”. If I were to ask you to describe Conine’s career, you would probably say, “solid hitter with a bit of pop”, but really his pop was not super. He had 214 career dingers over 17 seasons, topping 20 just twice, although he did that in back-to-back seasons, ’95 and ’96. He definitely had the potential, after a solid first four full seasons. In those seasons, his average numbers looked like he was on his way to a fine career. From 1993-1996, these were his average numbers:  .300 BA, .849 OPS,  20 HRs, 90 RBIs. Not too shabby! If he averaged these numbers for at least three to four more seasons, perhaps there would be a but more discussion surrounding his Hall of Fame candidacy. But, sadly, after 1996 he only topped an OPS of .787 once, he only topped 17 homers once and he only had a WAR higher than 1.9 once. Nice fella, but I don’t see “the Barbarian” hanging around on the ballot past this season.

Ryan Klesko- Similar to Conine, there were early flashes in his career that pointed to large potential for quite a fruitful hitting career. He had a decent peak from 1994-2003 when he hit 243 of his career 278 homers. I think had he eclipsed the 300 home run mark, maybe he garners a bit more attention in Hall of Fame talk, but he didn’t, so he probably won’t. But it also does not help that his nearly 300 dingers came at a time when balls were leaving the parks at an astounding rate. As such, his home run total in his peak 10-year span was only good for a tie for 30th with Jeff Kent, two more than Ellis Burks and four more than Eric Karros. Much like Cirillo, I could actually almost see Klesko and his career .800 OPS garner several, yes several, votes, but 5% seems highly unlikely.

Woody Williams- Gregory Scott “Woody” Williams. He was never, what I would consider a star. He was a solid guy and good pitcher, but we are not talking about the Hall of Goodness, we are talking about the Hall of Fame. With a career war of 19.8 (using FanGraphs calculations) he was never quite studly. In fact his 18 win season in 2003 was probably the only one that would be considered his best case. That year he was 18-9 and posted a 4.2 WAR, both career bests. However, as it should be, he did not gain a one Cy Young vote that season. That could be due in large part to the rather pedestrian ERA (3.87) and WHIP (1.25) he put up. Also, only twice in his career did he throw more than 150 strikeouts and he did not exactly blow past the 150 strikeout mark in thoese seasons with totals of 151 and 153. Surprisingly though, his career adjusted ERA+ is 103, puts him in a large tie, for 578th all time. Some other names in this, not so exclusive, 103 adjusted ERA+ club, include Pete Harnisch, Juan Berenguer and Shane Reynolds, none of which scream anything close to Hall of Fame picthers. For the record, Jack Morris, he had a career adjusted ERA+ of 105, just sayin’. Neither number is considered brilliant and as much as plain old ERA is a flawed stat, should a starting pitcher with an ERA over four be considered for the Hall? Not in my humble opinion.

Aaron Sele- Much like Gregory Scott up there, there is not much of a case for Aaron Sele receiving Hall votes. The most precious of starter numbers, for certain writers, wins, does not help Aaron’s case much. He notched 148 in his career, far from any sort of milestone. Now his career winning percentage of .569 is not too shabby, but really, the wins and losses are not the best indicator in my mind. He did have a fair run from 1996-2001, or so it would seem. This was his WAR heyday where he went 89-58. However his ERA in that same span, was nothing glamorous at 4.59 and only in 2001 did he have a WHIP below 1.24 and only in two of those seasons was his WHIP below 1.50.  For his career he had  a 4.61 ERA, 5.20 xFIP, 1.49 WHIP,  4 seasons of 15 or more wins, a sub 4 ERA four times and topped 137 Ks just twice. Three of those sub four ERAs were in in his first 3 seasons in the bigs, once in which he only appeared six times. So bottom line, Aaron Sele should be happy to just be nominated.

Jose Mesa-  Now I guess if you are someone looking to make a case for Mesa, you could point to his 321 saves. There has not really been a saves milestone or benchmark for the Hall of Fame status like, say  3,000 hits or 300 wins, but 300 saves is a decent number to start.  And in that regard, those 321 saves by Mesa are good for 14th all-time, which sounds somewhat meaningful, but saves, as you may or may not know, are a bit arbitrary and something of a fickle stat. Now no current closers who have not already surpassed the 300 saves (see Rivera, Mariano) are really close to that 300 mark. Does that make Jose a Hall of Famer? Some, not me, could make that point, I guess. his 1995 season (46 saves, 1.13 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and an 8.2 K/9) did earn him a 2nd place finish in the Cy Young vote, but he never received votes in any other season. But look at some other factors. Mesa posted a WAR over two, just twice in his career and in 15 of his 19 seasons in the bigs he had a WAR of 1.5 or lower. Yikes!  Not to mention his 3.95 ERA as a reliever is tied for Tood Jones for the worst ERA among the top 20 in career saves and the highest of any picther with over 300 saves. The next lowest? 3.42. Not really even close.  And as far as the 300 save club goes, only Jason Isringhause has a lower career WAR as a reliever. And Mesa’s career WHIP? Let’s just say his WHIP is not even among the top 700 qualifying relievers over his career. The saves are nice in a way, but not sure Mesa has one left to save him from being bounced off of the Hall of Fame ballot (see what I did there?).

Roberto Hernandez- When I actually saw a Roberto Hernandez on the Indians in 2012, there was this small glimmer of hope that this was the Roberto Hernandez. Alas, it was not. In any event, Hernandez is in the same boat as Mesa. Well, he is in a similar boat, in the same stream, maybe. Like Mesa, any sort of case for Hernandez is most likely based on his career save total. His 326 career saves puts him just above Mesa on the all-time list, at 13th. Hernandez was slightly better than Mesa when you look at the whole career. An ERA almost a run lower than Mesa and a WAR about 2 higher than Mesa. But let’s see what happens when he is stacked up against say, Bruce Sutter. Roberto’s ERA is almost a run higher and trails by about 7 in WAR. Hernandez did twice finish in the top 10 in Cy Young voting, but neither time higher than 6th and those, not so coincidentally, were also the years of his only two All-Star appearances. I mean, I guess you could make some sort of an argument for Mesa and Hernandez staying on the ballot, but as much as the stats tell us they probably don’t belong in Cooperstown, unless they are on vacation and taking a tour of the Ommegang brewery, you could also use that other trusted argument of “feel”. For you other folks who are not into advanced stats and such, ask yourselves this, did Jose Mesa or Roberto Hernandez ever “feel” like Hall of Famers? My guess, is most would answer in the negative.

So there you have it! A look at some players on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot who most likely will not make make another appearance on said ballot. But, hey sometimes it is an honor just to be nominated.

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Point and Grunt Baseball: Etiquette Lessons

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Point and Grunt Baseball: Etiquette Lessons

Posted on 09 July 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Available from Gadgetsin.com

Baseball has more than its fair share of unwritten rules.  Most of them make no sense and have absolutely no logical basis at all.  Maybe that explains the “unwritten” part, because nobody wants to be the foolhardy person who commits them to paper…or pixels.  Still, the notion that a team should not bunt to break up a no-hitter deserves to go the way of the Dodo.  So should some of the unwritten rules regarding how to properly represent as a fan at a baseball game.  Thus, I give to you the unwritten rules of fan attendance in written form.  Yes, this means that they are no longer “unwritten”.

  1. The “wave” is dumb.  If you stand up and throw your hands in the air as though you are unconcerned about anything, then you should probably just stay at home and watch the game on television.  Not only do you look like a moronic sheep, but you also are likely to block the view of someone who is not standing up and participating in the stadium equivalent of line dancing.  Sure, you might not be directly responsible for making someone miss a play on the field, but you are an enabler.  The “wave” represents a gateway move to bigger and dumber things like body paint and self-performed faux hawk haircuts.  Do not give in to temptation.  If you must be a sheep, at least take the time to learn some moves and join a flash mob.
  2. Nobody cares about your fantasy league team.  At the very least, the nice elderly couple seated next to you could care less about how you want the home team to win, but you need the opposing team’s pitcher to go 7 innings and strike out 14 in the loss.
  3. If you attend a game in a stadium that holds 40-45,000 people and only 20,000 people actually show up, you will probably not be struck by lightning, if you sit in an empty row of seats instead of your designated, ticketed location.  Seriously, why bother kicking a couple of little kids out of “your seats” when the row behind your seats has 23 empty spots?  Think about it.
  4. When the National Anthem plays, take off your freakin’ hat, cap, ski mask, twilby, skull cap, Kangol, sombrero, and/or favorite Lucha Libre mask.  Putting your hand across your heart or saluting remains completely optional.  Just show some respect.  Feel free to sing along, or at least pretend to lip synch during the anthem.  Alternatively, just stand there like a clueless dolt until everybody starts clapping at the end.  These rules apply to pretty much any National Anthem, even if you do not know the country of origin.  Even Canada deserves some respect, even if the game has a flyover by the Canadian errr……. Air Force.
  5. Unless the seat next to you remains unoccupied, you get 1 arm rest.  Period.  If your muffin top spreads out over the other arm rest, then suck it up and make sure the person next to you gets an arm rest.  Same applies to cup holders.  Figure it out.  Being considerate does not exactly require the brains of a rocket surgeon.
  6. Try to make the world around you a better place.  If you see an elderly couple suffering from the signs of heat stroke, offer them some cold water.  If military personnel are seated close to you, send them something as a show of support and as a way of thanking them for their service.  If the family of 6 in front of you consists of 4 obnoxious kids and 2 drunk parents, alert an usher and have them removed/arrested/deported.  Whether you believe in karma, paying it forward, or just being a good person matters not.  This planet becomes just slightly more tolerable for mortals when we witness random acts of kindness.
  7. Know the rules of attendance for any stadium you visit.  Follow them.  Also follow these written unwritten rules.  Listen to my voice and hear the Philly Phanatic’s face.  Also, do not re-enact scenes from any movie involving Charlie Sheen unless the movie happens to be Major League.
  8. Consider watching the entire game.  Oh, your favorite team cannot hold a lead?  The team trails by 2 runs going into the 9th inning, and the opposing team has the best closer in baseball?  So what?  Stay just in case you see a miracle.  If you want so badly to beat traffic, then stay home and watch from your couch.  I am not simply saying you should stay out of a love of the game or to be a “real fan”.  I am saying that you just might miss something epic, and that would be truly sad after all the money you shelled out for gas, parking, sherpas to get you to the gate, tickets, snacks, drinks, tips, and merchandise.  Live it up a little.
  9. Tip your vendor.  You think the sweltering heat of summer makes you uncomfortable?  Try lugging around a 50 pound container while smiling happily to pretentious jerks who do not tip worth a darn.
  10. Get loud.  Be heard.  Do not get obnoxiously loud to the point that the section below you hears you whistling and yelling “your mom” lines at the left fielder.  Keep in mind that there are indeed children in attendance, and try to act with at least a bit more maturity than they do.

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