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Dave Sheinin will now be posting his MLB musings on Nationals Journal.
On this HOF ballot, it’s lonely at the top for Mark McGwire
There are two caveats that must be mentioned before I reveal my Hall of Fame ballot, in advance of Monday’s announcement of the Class of 2012. First, this is only a hypothetical ballot, since my bosses do not allow me to cast a vote, even though I am an eligible voter. (Yeah, that policy stinks for me, but I can appreciate the underlying reason — that, as a journalist, it is my job to report the news, not to influence it.)
Secondly, I am an avowed, unabashed elitist when it comes to the Hall of Fame. As you’ve probably heard me say before, if it were up to me I’d kick about 50 players out of Cooperstown before I put one more player in. I mean no offense to the players in question, nor to the many voters who listed them on their ballots, but I believe there is an appreciable difference — one that frequently gets obscured — between a true Hall-of-Famer and a merely great player who had a great career. There is a place to celebrate those in the latter group; it just isn’t Cooperstown.
I would not have voted for Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Jim Rice or Bruce Sutter — to name four greats voted into Cooperstown in the previous five elections. Again, no slight intended to those men. I can acknowledge and appreciate the greatness of their careers. I just don’t see them as belonging in the same realm as Ruth, Aaron, Mays, Gehrig, Mathewson and Feller — or Ripken, Ryan, Brett and Henderson, for that matter. Those are transcendent players.
Obviously, by definition, at least 75 percent of my voting brethren disagreed with me about Blyleven, Dawson, Rice and Sutter, and I don’t have a problem with that. Seventy-five percent is a high threshold to reach. It requires you to have the support of a cross-section of voters, not just one voting bloc. Despite the snark from the many cynics and smarter-than-thou types who believe that there is only one correct answer for each candidate — theirs — and that anyone who disagrees must be an idiot, it is the sheer intensity and the variety of opinions within the Cooperstown debate that makes the voting so compelling. I’m perfectly fine with the notion that the vast majority of voters disagrees with my viewpoint.
My basic definition of what constitutes a Hall-of-Famer — “basic,” in that I leave a little room for exceptions — has two components: A player had to have been the best player (or very close to it) at his position during his era, and he had to have been considered one of the dozen or so best players in the game overall during that era.
With that in mind, my (hypothetical) ballot contains only one name: Mark McGwire.Continue reading this post »
Why the Ryan Braun PED case is so important
It’s tempting to wave a dismissive hand at the news that Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, subjecting himself to a possible 50-game suspension in 2012. It’s tempting to shrug our shoulders and go back to speculating about Prince Fielder’s landing spot, or the Washington Nationals’ chances of signing Yu Darvish. Since the steroids hysteria of the mid- to late-2000s, baseball fans have had a severe case of steroids fatigue. Who really cares anymore?
But the Braun case is different. It’s big – arguably bigger than any PED-related revelation since the advent of testing. And it’s worth watching, as the appeals process runs it course – with the Braun camp, naturally, proclaiming his innocence, and others speculating that Braun will not succeed in beating the charge.
Here are just a few of the reasons the Braun case is so explosive:
1. It is of the moment. This isn’t a retired Mark McGwire being dragged before Congress. This isn’t a magazine report revealing Alex Rodriguez’s positive test five years after the fact. This isn’t a washed-up Manny Ramirez failing a couple of PED tests. This is one of the biggest stars of baseball’s new generation — a 28-year-old, in-his-prime, face-of-the-game type of player, who just last month was named MVP of the National League — and he won’t just be conveniently riding off into the sunset in a couple of years.Continue reading this post »
Albert Pujols: Angels shock baseball with 10-year, $250 million deal
The news Thursday morning may have been absolutely stunning – Albert Pujols, the premier player baseball, to the Los Angeles Angels, on a 10-year free-agent contract worth somewhere worth a reported $250 million – but the Angels’ motivation was perfectly logical.
The Angels had been slipping. After a six-year run from 2004 to 2009 during which they won five AL West titles and averaged 95 wins, they had missed the playoffs two straight years, and could see themselves being left in the dust by the Texas Rangers’ frighteningly efficient player-development machine, which had produced back-to-back World Series appearances for the Rangers.
And there were other motivations: The awful state of the Dodgers, which leaves dominance of the Los Angeles market up for grabs. The many times in recent years when the Angels had been runner-up for one elite free agent or another.Continue reading this post »
Losing Jose Reyes hurts the Mets, but not as much as what is to come
For New York Mets fans, the worst news to emerge on Sunday, on the eve of baseball’s winter meetings, wasn’t the fact that shortstop Jose Reyes jumped ship via free agency and signed a six-year, $106 million deal with the division rival Miami Marlins – although that was plenty bad.
No, the worst news for Mets fans was what came out of General Manager Sandy Alderson’s mouth in the aftermath of Reyes’s deal with the Marlins. In addressing the loss of one of the Mets’ cornerstone players, Alderson revealed the team had lost some $70 million in 2011. If it’s true, the Mets’ plight may be far worse than anyone imagined, and the downsizing may have only gotten started.
It isn’t difficult to see how the Mets lost money last season – with a bloated payroll, a sharp drop in attendance, a hefty revenue-sharing payment and the looming threat of a lawsuit stemming from the Bernie Madoff scandal. But $70 million (again, if it’s accurate) is a staggering figure – larger than the total payrolls of a third of all Major League teams.Continue reading this post »