I Got A Guy On The Other Line About Some Whitewalls

By Nacko Ball

I was at the doors of Crew Bar & Grill when they opened at 11:30 the morning of Opening Day.  A scant 25 minutes later, when Barack Obama pulled his Sox hat out of the Nats warmup jacket he was wearing, Spring had sprung like a bear trap.  For yet another season, I was caught.  And, as with a bear trap, if you want to free me from the clench of baseball before poachers or other predators come upon me you will need to sever a limb.  It’s the only way.

Throughout the day I watched six games.  Folks, things could not have gone better for us here at the blog.  Cards win.  Phils win.  White Sox win.  Cubs lose.  Oh my did the Cubs lose.  Zack Greinke pitched a gem against Verlander and the Tigers.  He was forced to watch on as the Royals’ bullpen blew the two run lead he had provided.  Some things don’t change.  King Felix suffered the same fate, but the Mariner’s managed to pick up the win thanks to some shaky bullpen work and shoddy defense from the A’s.

Tim Lincecum demonstrated that he has every intention of earning a third consecutive Cy Young award.  He mystified the Astros through seven innings, striking out seven, surrendering only four hits and zero runs.

Roy Halladay looked shaky in the first inning of his inaugural outing for the Phillies.  After the one run first, however, Halladay settled in and made it clear that Lincecum is going to have to put in a lot of work to garner sufficient Cy Young votes in 2010.  Poy pitched seven innings, struck out nine, walked two, allowed seven hits and issued two walks.  The single run in the first was the only the Nationals would tally as they were clobbered 11-1.

Down on the Southside of Chicago, roughly 13 miles as the ball flies from my barstool as I watched the game, Mark Buerhle made one of the most amazing plays you could ever hope to see a pitcher make.  He also combined with the White Sox bullpen to deliver a 6-0 victory over the Indians.  I’ll tell you, if that lineup can turn it on, the White Sox pitching staff looks like it will be able to hold out for a lot of wins this season.

That is, obviously, not everything that happened on Opening Day 2010.  Hopefully other moments stick our in your mind from what you saw.

Good baseball.

That Was Beautiful What I Just Did

By Nacko Ball

With that holiest of days, Opening Day, less than one full week away and my heart all aflutter it is time to start salivating over all there is to look forward to.  Which is quite a bit.  This is a wonderful time for baseball.  The parity in the league will surely grant a number of hot divisional races.  For the first time in recent memory it looks like the Angels are not a lock to win the AL West.  I predict they will be fighting for second.

The 2009 season was the first full-length season in history to end without a single pitcher cracking the 20 win barrier.  2010 will likely not duplicate that dubious feat.  Zack Greinke had four starts that the Royals bullpen failed to hold for him and six losses or no-decisions in which he gave up one or fewer runs.  He ended the season with 16 wins.  On almost any other staff he would have got over the hump.

Greinke is just one of a cadre of low-aged, high-talent pitchers that make me want to hibernate until Sunday night.  It is those fine gentlemen which serve as the genesis of this post.  I will not be going through all of the handsome young hurlers out there, just the ones that strike my fancy.  So, don’t get upset if I skip over your favorite blessed-armed youngster.

Out in the AL West, Felix Hernandez managed to make me watch a few Mariners games, which is quite a feat.  At 24 years old he already has 58 big league wins.  Last season he put 19 fresh notches in the ‘W’ column for himself and failed to garner the AL Cy Young.  As impressive as he was blowing that fastball by hitters, I have to think that he will have motivation to try even harder this season.  Which should have the rest of the league worried.  Also, with the addition of Cliff Lee (assuming his health stays intact) Seattle will no longer be a one pitcher town.

Most of Oakland’s pitching staff appears too young to shave, but there are no real standouts in the starting rotation.  That may change this season, but there is no way to be sure with the advances the rest of the division made in the off-season.  Andrew Bailey garnered the AL Rookie Of The Year in 2009 as a closer.  Any 25 year old who can notch a sub 2 ERA and a strikeouts-per-nine approaching 10 in over 83 innings as a closer is worth taking note of.  You can tell because I just did.

In the AL Central the Tigers have a pair of young starters (young meaning my age or lower, in case you are curious as to my criteria for the designation).    Rick Porcello is the less proven of the two.  2009 was his first season and he handled himself well.  I will withhold further praise on the off-chance he hits a sophomore slump.  Justin Verlander had his worst season in 2008 and recovered by getting, like Felix, 19 wins in 2009.  He also can hurl a triple-digit heater, like Felix.  And, like Felix, he did not win the AL Cy Young.  If he has a chip on his shoulder about that, like I would, expect big things from the Kitties’ ace.

Zack Greinke probably has the most raw talent of any pitcher lacing up spikes today.  The only question is whether he can maintain a level head and interest in the game long enough to be as dominant as most baseball fans believe he will be.  His legendary start to the season in 2009 is the type of pitching he is capable of every time he toes the rubber.  He did not surrender an earned run until his fifth start of the season.  If mental problems don’t get in his way (or his likely lackluster supporting staff) expect even more incredible things from the reigning Cy Young winner who has vowed to work even harder.

Out in the AL East it is tough to come up with story lines to cover, but I will do my best.  In Boston they have this kid, Jon Lester, who beat cancer at 22 and fought his way up to the big leagues where he beat pretty much everybody.  If his win percentage isn’t enough to convince you that he is worth keeping an eye on, he also tossed a no-hitter at 24.  It was against the Royals, but they are still a professional(ish) team.

Over in the NL West, the Giants have three youthful starters of promise.  Jonathan Sanchez (who, in the interest of full disclosure, is older than I am) may not look like much from the stats, but he did pitch a near-perfect game in 2009.  Any man who can dominate a game like that is bound to show, at least, flashes of brilliance as he matures.

There is also the doughy wonder Matt Cain.  Last season he really seemed to come into his own.  He showed much better control than he had previously and gobbled up 200+ innings.  Which has become a standard affair for him over the past three seasons.

Probably worth mentioning is Tim Lincecum who, at 26, has the chance to become only the third pitcher in league history to win three consecutive Cy Young awards.  Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson, whom you may have heard of, being the other two.  This kid’s pitching motion baffles hitters by itself.  Add to that his mid-to-high-nineties heat plus a devastating curve and you get… well a guy who has lead the National League in strikeouts two seasons running.  His changeup is nothing to sneeze at and I am hearing from my inside sources that he might be learning a cutter.  They might want to institute a rule to prohibit this kid from improving any further, in the interest of fairness.  I have heard a lot of talk that his motion will lead him to be injury prone and shorten his career.  He hasn’t missed any time yet, so right now it is just talk.  I wonder if the same people saying that are the ones who said that Mark Prior had perfect mechanics.

The Dodgers also have a bevvy of spring chickens taking up the residence as the first part of their on-field battery.  Chad Billingsley did not fare so well after the all-star break in 2009, but there is little reason for concern.  Even veterans can fade down the stretch and Billingsley is no veteran.  As a Phillies fan I spent much of 2009 combating an ulcer named “Bad Lidge”.  Over the season, I grew jealous of any team with a consistent closer.  Jonathan Broxton is certainly that.  Look at those stats.  114 strikeouts in 76 innings pitched and a .165 opponent average.  Take a minute to really let that sink in.

I don’t have much to say about Clayton Kershaw, save that he is the youngest pitcher in this entry.  Read about him yourself.  I apologize for
not doing it, but it just doesn’t sit right hearing so many people around baseball (you in particular, Mr. Torre) dropping some hard “Koufax” bombs discussing this kid’s talent.  Maybe when he has thrown a no-hitter in the World Series… or, say, compiled a winning record, I will see the light.

In the NL Central, the Brewers have Yovani Gallardo.  He pitched well enough in 2009 that I learned to properly pronounce his name.  The numbers aren’t staggering, but to borrow an expression from my father, “Man, that cat can flat-out ball.”  When he is on, he is really on.  This season may not show much of an uptick in his winning percentage as he will likely be the number one starter for the Brew-Crew, but pull up a chair for a start or two and you should see the potential this youngster has. 

 

Finally, the NL East.  In Florida, Josh Johnson has been a special little guy for the Stink Fish over the past two seasons.  In 2008 he showed quite a bit of promise.  2009 showed that this was not a fluke.  And, I do not think I will be called bragadocious for saying, the NL East is a tough division in which to pitch.

Down in Hotlanta, the Braves have a pair of young righties getting deserved attention.  Tommy Hanson did not pitch a full season in ’09, but gave a good account of himself through 21 starts.  I wish him personal health and success moving forward, but professional failure.  It will be interesting to see how his arm manages a full campaign.

Jair Jurrjens, unlike Yovani Gallardo, did not stand out enough for me to learn how to pronounce his name properly.  So, don’t ask.  Maybe it is because he plays for the Braves.  Maybe it is because of my concern that his trend of lowering his ERA season to season will continue.  But, my guess is that I will make a point of intentionally misprouncing this promising youngsters name for so long as he shares a division with the Phils.

Stephen Strouselborgendorfer is the most talked about player never to have played the game.  I’ve never met him.  He has never pitched lights out against my team.  I hate him.  I hate him already.  In an exhibition against the Tigers during spring training he struck out Miguel Cabrera on three pitches.  No middling accomplishment even when the stats do not count.  Later that same frame, in a 3-2 count, he froze the batter on a called strike curveball low in the zone.  There were two men on base.  I do not trust any pitcher with that kind of confidence in his hook.  Let alone a 22 year old pitcher facing major league hitters for the first time.  Yep.  I hate him.

Now is the time on Wild-Thing Crash Nuke Mayday where I swoon.

 
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Colbert Michael “Dream-Weaver” Hamels

Cole had well reported problems in 2009.  A lot of writers and even some traitorous Phillies’ fans were saying that 2008 had been a fluke.  You have to overlook a lot to really believe that.  His NLCS and WS MVP’s, for example.  The injury problems he dealt with leading up to and in the early months of the ’09 season, for another.  The clear frustration that the combination of his inflated personal expectations and lack of early success led to.  Phillies’ pitching coach Rich Dubee indicated that believes Cole pitched angry for a lot of 2009.  Angry is not a good place from which to pitch.  Rich and Cole worked on a lot during this off-season.  Cole’s mental approach was a big focus.  As well as a cut-seam fastball.  Look at that lovely mug and tremble, National League.  I don’t know what will buckle more hitters’ knees; his changeup, his cutter, or his smile, but I guarantee that knees will buckle.

There you have it folks!  Some tasty morsels to digest in what little time remains before the theoreticals become tested.  I hope you found this edifying or at least interesting.  Though, if you are still reading at this point in what has become a novella… I assume you are interested.  I will be spending Opening Day at Crew Bar & Grill, the best sports bar Chicago has to offer.  All are welcome to join.  Barack Obama throws out the first pitch of the Phils-Nats game around noon.  I will be there for it and I will stay until the dollar domestic drafts force me to leave.

If you can’t spend it with me, I hope you spend it watching your favorite team win and enjoying your favorite bottle of suds. 

Hey, Milton. What’s happening?

By Ted Gunn

Can we take a minute here to discuss one of my favorite players in the game today? 
Of course we can!

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Who’d you think I meant, Malbert Hoopols?

Much like Kanye West, Milton Bradley brings more than his fair share of entertainment value to his chosen profession.  (see above).  In fact, don’t you think it’d be just swell if he had his own talk show, especially if his co-host was one Mr. Ozzie Guillen?  It’d be like if Jerry Springer and Howard Stern knew a ton about baseball! 

His performance this Spring has been at least better than his regular season with the teddy bears last year (.267 BA so far, as compared to a full ten points lower for the season with the Loveable Losers).  Not only this, but apparently he’s getting along with his teammates.  Awww, our little Milton’s growing!

Now, to be fair, the man has a history of saying things that infuriate the easily infuriable, but fair’s fair; the man’s not often far from the truth.  For today, I’m just going to focus on one instance and hope it’s a large enough sample to convince you that the man’s got a bad rep, truly a victim of circumstance!
Remember last year, when Mr. Milton Bradley dared to suggest that the bleachers at the “friendly confines” occasionally resemble a pinstriped Klan rally?  I believed him then, and I believe him now.  This is Wrigleyville we’re talking about, where many fans are seen clad in t-shirts with slant eyed, buck toothed, thick-framed glasses wearing Cubs logos with the words “Horry Kow!” over Kosuke Fukudome’s number.  And who can forgot those classy “Pujols Mows My Lawn” tees sold for $20 on the corner of Waveland and Addison?* 
I mean, these are Cubs fans we’re talking about.  Coping with feelings of impotence from a lack of winning, a bit of a drinking problem, and a massive inferiority complex to the St. Louis Cardinals (which, speaking as someone who’s spent considerable time in both cities, is silly because at the end of the day living in Chicago is at least 10,000,000,000,000,000 times better than living in St. Louis), it’s no wonder Cubs fans can get a little nasty when it comes to high-priced underachievers.  I’ve even been sitting next to a man at Wrigley who yelled “C’mon Milton!  Do it for papa!”  If you know Bradley’s life story, you understand why that’s just plain mean.

So yeah, I like Milton Bradley because at least he doesn’t fill his post-game interviews with the same sappy cliches and catch phrases that most poorly educated athletes try to pass off as “insight.” 

And here’s the best part!  I really just wanted to talk **** on the Cubs and their fans!  Happy 2010, losers!

*Fair’s fair, those were in response to a version of the same shirt making the rounds at Busch Stadium claiming that Carlos Zambrano operated a lawn care business on the side.  But none the less, can we rise above yet?!

(Extra special thanks to Seth Deahl for the fantastic photo)

I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astro-turf and the designated hitter.

Here’s a few Pennys for thought from your old pal Ted Gunn…

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The White Sox are un-retiring Luis Aparicio’s number so that Omar Vizquel can wear it.  First of all, Omar Vizquel is ninety years old.  Why isn’t he retired and in the hall already?  And speaking of, you’re going to un-retire (a concept which, by the way, is so stupid spellcheck doesn’t even recognize it) one of your franchise’s all time greats’ number and give it to a player that’s going to wear a division rival’s hat once he gets in the HOF?  That’s almost as stupid as signing a forty-something shortstop.

So Ronnie Washington did coke.  Woo woo.  Let’s just hope he didn’t do it in front of Josh Hamilton.  That would be rude.

Speaking of dead, if Albert Pujols doesn’t resign with the Cardinals that’s exactly what I’ll be inside.  Dead.  (Also, Johnny Mo’s life expectancy will drop significantly, and the Cards will introduce new “mourning black” caps for the 2012 season).  In fact, that would give credence to all the end-of-the-world hooplah associated with said year.

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Even Florida gets cold in March.

Ahem.

If your only job on the team is to ride the pine until it’s your turn to bat, you’re not a baseball player, you’re a professional hitter.  Likewise, if you pitch but don’t know how to lay down a bunt or run the base paths, you are not a baseball player.  You’re Chien-Ming Wang.

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(And a side note: please forgive me for all the guess work in this entry.  It’s a beer night and I just don’t have the motivation to go stat hunting for exact numbers at the moment.  What?  You’re perfect?  Unless your name rhymes with Malbert Hoopols I really don’t think so).

Juuuust a bit outside.

OK! 

I just flew home after spending a whirl whind couple of wheeks scouting all thirty Major League clubs.  Know what I learned?

The Washington Nationals will win the National League Wild Card.

No joke.

No, I’m serious.

Seriously, guys, stop laughing.

They will!  Need proof?  Good!  I was hoping you’d say that!

Well first of all, why not?  It’s the wild card, *******.  How many games did Jesus win in ’06?  

76, you say?  Ok, so that’s marginally better than the 59-103 Nats of yesteryear.  With Ryan Zimmerman rapidly ascending to his rightful place in the baseball hierarchy, and the additions of Chin Ming Wang and Pudge Rodriguez, as well as the inevitable midsummer call up of Ryan Strausseldorferbergenschteiner and what I am sure is going to be a special year for Nyjer Morgan, the Nats are putting the exclamation point on the immense depth the NL East possesses.  Top to bottom, it’s hard to find a team in the division that wouldn’t be at least in contention if it were in either of the other two.   Philly is definitely the cream of the crop, but after that it’s a short race to the bottom (and then somewhere beyond that is your NL Central champion).  But, I digress.  The point is, after the Phils the rest of the NL East are all pretty bad, and that is to say good enough to be better than the second place club of any other division. 

But my real reason for believing these Nats are going to capture the hearts of the nation and get swept out of the first round of the playoffs?  Jason Marquis.
Now with Washington, the Ever Durable One is playing with his fifth team.  A brief, mathematical look at his career reveals a remarkable pattern…
Marquis + Braves = Playoffs
Marquis + Cardinals = Playoffs (and a World Series ring, boosh)
Marquis + Cubs = Playoffs (no ring, suck). 
Marquis + Rockies = Playoffs
Marquis + Nationals… Well, in the words of Jim Mora, “Playoffs!?”

Stranger things have happened!  Who can forget the ’89 Indians?  Viva!

On top of all this, the Washington Nationals can boast the fact that they are managed by none other than… um… Hmm.

Say, who is their manager, anyway?

Jim Riggleman????  Jim Riggleman!!! 

Nevermind, these guys are #$%@*^!

She May Be Wooly

For the last two weeks I’ve been locked up in my basement in a self-imposed hunger strike until pitchers and catchers officially report.  I could really go for a Chicago-style hot dog right now.

In my solitude I fear I swung and missed on a golden opportunity to make a great baseball joke.  I could wait another year… but I won’t.  Just pretend it’s Sunday again.

Ahem,

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HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Johnny Always Says You Can Just Drink So Much And Screw So Much…

By Nacko Ball

Worthwhile news has been scant in the past few days.  My associate Mr. Gunn has already made a reasonable list of division winners so any hypothesizing I might do in that direction would be superfluous.  With that, let’s talk Phillies.

Over the past two weeks Philadelphia avoided arbitration with Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, and Carlos Ruiz.  It is easy to understand why Ruben Amaro and the Phillies might want to dodge another hearing.  Signing Victorino, Blanton, and Ruiz also signals a continuation Philadelphia’s recent trend of investing in the future and a willingness to spend the money won over the past two sesons. 

Keeping Blanton under contract ensure that the top four starters (Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, Happ) will be there through 2012 unless trades are made.  Ruiz has a dangerously over-looked bat, especially in the playoffs, and has shown himself capable of handling the Phillies pitching staff.  At less than $3 million a season for three seasons, he is a steal.  And Shane Victorino?  Well, he can fly.

To suture the sucking chest wound late inning relief pitching had a tendency to turn into last season Amaro signed Danys Baez.  Baez is not an intimidating presence in the closer’s role, but does have previous work experience.  That will be especially helpful as the Phillies  are looking to begin 2010 without the services of Bad Lidge (spelling mine) and JC Romero.  To replace Chan Ho Park, Amaro also brought in journeyman Jose Contreras.  I almost typed it without cracking a smile.  Almost.  Contreras will be asked to come in when the team needs a reliever to work multiple innings and might be a spot starter.  At 52 years old, he is probably still up to the task.

The Phil’s lineup will remain intact (swapping Placido Palanco for Pedro Feliz at third).  Even if you believe the pitching situation will deteriorate from 2009 to 2010, Philadelphia remains the leading contender for the NL East crown.  It’s anyone’s guess how the batting order will work itself out with the addition of Palanco and the wane Ibanez went through after his groin injury in the middle of the 2009 campaign.  However Charlie Manuel chooses to shape it, rest assured, the Fightin’ Phils will remain a nightmare for pitching in the National League.

Hats for bats

By Ted Gunn

This is how he good  had it.  In the aftermath of Barry’s highly public and highly strange flax seed oil fetish, about to break the mother of all sports records, (and therefor all achievements of consequence), against the NATIONALS for crying out loud, the opposing pitcher supposedly softballs it in there?  Amazing. 

Only in America. 

It’s kind of like when you play a video game and enter a cheat code to make that game really easy, and it let’s you keep going but you’re punished for it in some way.  Like there are certain items you can’t get, or your character’s genitals turn hot pink, or YOU DON’T GET TO KEEP YOUR @#%$ING HIGH SCORE.  

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How about that America?

 

Heaven and Iowa

By Ted Gunn

A month before Spring Training, time to declare winners from each division.

Yankees, Twins, Mariners, Phillies, Cardinals, Giants

Yeah, you heard me.

Alright, so we know they’re going to win so those teams get a bye for the first 162 games. 

Now for the only race that matters, the true mark of a champion, the real pennant race.  The race for the title of craziest, wiliest, silliest team of the year.  The team that crashes the playoff party, hits on the prettiest girl, then drinks too much and throws up all over her.

 The team nobody wants to hitch a ride with.

Sometimes the Wild Cards make such a mess of things all the other party guests go home early.  Roving hordes of primates and PED swollen hat sizes carry the day.

What intrigues us about the Wild Card (at least, the NL Wild Card) is that from year to year it’s been wildly unpredictable.  The races generally stay tight until the end of the season, and one injured player at the wrong time or a bad start by an ace can cost a team a shot.  Reason enough to keep an eye to the out of town scoreboard.

Really, to predict a wild card winner this absurdly early in the year is about as worthy an exercise as this.

But in the spirit of Dynamic Inertia I’m gonna’ say Texas and Los Angeles.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go get the image of myself at the keyboard tattooed to my arms. 

Yeah? Well Normal Is F****d!

By Nacko Ball

 

As prophesied, this is my tour of the league to determine which players in the mix today are Hall Of Fame caliber if they never played another game.  This means that their career, right now, must span at least ten seasons and in those ten seasons they must have displayed such excellence as to warrant  an immortal place in  baseball history.  Before doing any research on the subject I could only think of five names that stuck out with such distinction.  How many did you think of?

To give the list some structure I will go team-by-team, starting in the NL East and finishing in the AL West.  First, the Phillies.

Roy Halladay is the only member of my favorited franchise that has already destined himself for Cooperstown.  The fact that he played for Toronto and we have still heard of him speaks to that.  Add the pair of 20 win seasons with his annual league leading number of complete games and you got yourself the most dominant right-hander in the game over the past, let’s say, seven seasons.

Chipper Jones became a model of consistency at the plate back in the mid-90’s and has not looked back.  Unless it comes out that he used steroids (which in this era cannot be ruled out) he punched his ticket for ever-lasting glory three or four years ago.  Though he never won nor deserved any gold gloves for his play at third, he is not a liability in the field.  It also seems like he will finish his career with the team that drafted him, the Braves.  That earns him extra respect in my estimation.  Add to that his 1999 NL MVP and the quiet diligence with which he plays the game and he gets himself a plaque.

I will include free-agent John Smoltz as a Brave since his likeness in the Hall of Fame will don a Braves cap.  This one is a no-brainer.  Smoltz is the only pitcher other than Dennis Eckersley to have both 50 saves and 20 wins in a season.  It was a relief when Smoltz and his scary bald head left the NL East.

Ivan Rodriguez has, if you were not aware, made the baffling decision of joining the Washington Nationals.  Who are, if you were not aware, still a baseball team.  Ivan is probably the fifth or sixth best hitting catcher to have played the game.  Behind Josh Gibson, Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, Carlton Fisk, and possibly Victor Martinez.  Of the men listed Rodriguez’s catching abilities only top Piazza’s and possibly Martinez’s, but that won’t stop him from getting into the Hall of Fame.

That does it for the NL East.

In the NL Central there are no position players that I can call guaranteed.  Trevor Hoffman has earned his plaque.  Having watched the Phillies intently this past season I can attest to the importance of a reliable closer.  To call Trevor Hoffman reliable would be a laughable understatement.  I had written him off before this season started.  I thought that he was too old and would not have the same kind of stuff which had shut the door so often over the past 16 years.  I was right about the latter, not the former.  He did not have the same stuff, but I underestimated his wile.  So, expect that speech five years from whenever the hell Hoffman chooses to retire.

Now is the time when I reveal that I harbor very strong negative feelings towards the Colorado Rockies.  The Mile-High Jesus Freaks just rub me the wrong way.  That said, they are fortunate enough to have Todd Helton.  Helton is the religious man’s Chipper Jones.  Except his play at first base has earned him a few gold gloves.  So, Helton will get into the Hall despite that mullet he used to rock.  To Hell with the Rockies.

That does it for the NL, now onto the AL.

There exists, as I am sure you are aware, a team in New York City known as the Yankees.  Their active roster contains almost as many future Hall of Famers as the entire National League.  Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter.  I will not be going through much individual description for the same reason that the Yankees don’t put names on the backs of their jerseys; you know who they are, you know what they do.  Pettitte will make it even though he has admitted to using PEDs because his reasoning for doing so was as close to a legitimate excuse as you can get.  Also, as the article indicates, at the time he was not breaking league rules.  For you stat nuts out there, Pettitte has also started more World Series games than anyone else since 1980.  Alex Rodriguez will not (fingers crossed) make it into the Hall of Fame because he does not have anything like a legitimate excuse for being a PED user and ****** bag.

Jason Varitek deserves a place in the Hall.  He has caught more no-hitters (4) than any other catcher in league history.  Each with a different pitcher.  One with Hideo Nomo(??????????).  There was a time when he was a pretty good hitter.  That time is not now.  Varitek’s offensive lackluster won’t keep him out.  He will end up the only Red Sox position player from their championship teams who makes it.  Ortiz and the Man-Ram eliminated themselves through cheating.

I will include Pedro Martinez here using the same logic that put Smoltz with the Braves.  Pedro’s pitching from 1998-2000 is the stuff of legend.  If anyone reading this is aware of a pitcher who had a more dominant three season stretch, please let me know.  Martinez also once pitched a nine-inning perfect game and taking a loss for his efforts.  But, such is life as a Montreal Expo, I suppose.

Without Roy Halladay, that takes care of the AL East

I am going to include Jim Thome as a White Sox.  Because he may end up coming back to Chicago and he is a White Sox in my head.  Also, if I didn’t, there wouldn’t be anyone to list from the AL Central.  Thome’s inclusion requires little explanation.  He is a power-hitter.  In Major League Baseball if a player hits more than 500 home runs in their career without having their name associated with steroids or other PEDs that player gets into the Hall of Fame.  Plain and simple.

On to the AL West.

It may (but shouldn’t) be a surprise that I am including Bobby Abreu on this list.  A look at his career statistics should dispel any doubts as to his Hall of Fame credentials.  If he has two or three more seasons left in him he will end up with 300+ home runs and 300+ stolen bases.  I rest my case.

Last, but certainly not least, Ken Griffey, Jr..  Griffey was the face of baseball in the early and mid 90s.  When he retires, I believe they should replace the current H
armen Killebrew MLB logo with a Ken Griffey, Jr. logo.  Jr’s swing is, in my opinion, the sweetest.  In his prime, I don’t ever actually remember seeing the bat go through the zone.  One second he was in his stance awaiting the pitch, a blink of an eye later he was at the end of his motion watching a baseball rise as quickly as the pitcher’s head was dropping.  You don’t have to bother telling Ken it is a sweet swing.  He got it tattooed on his right arm.

That does it, folks.  Those are my picks for the Hall as of right now.  It is worth mentioning that as soon as they play one game this season Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki, and Mark Buerhle will join the list.

If you had half as much fun reading this entry as I did writing it, then I had twice as much fun writing this entry as you did reading it.

Go baseball!

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