Around Major League Baseball
Last May, I drew up a team of former Indians that were still active Major League ballplayers and created an entire lineup, rotation, bullpen and bench out of them. My conclusion at the end of the piece was that the 2013 AL Wild Card winning Tribe had a better squad than a team that was banished to the Cleveland-version of the Island of Misfit Toys.
This year, with the Indians struggling for much of the year and a few new faces to add to the mix, I wanted to see if the 2014 Tribe can defeat their former mates again. The team is based on positional need as well as the player’s statistics from the current year.
Though the Indians’ bullpen woes have been felt this season, their struggles after losing key, relief pitchers during the off-season pale in comparison to the loss suffered by the Cincinnati Reds during Spring Training. Their two-time All Star closer, left-hander Aroldis Chapman, has been off the field since the night of March 19 when, during a game against the Kansas City Royals, a line drive off the bat of Salvador Perez hit Chapman in the face.
Chapman immediately went down following the hit and was rushed from the game to the Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center, where a titanium plate was inserted above his left eye to stabilize the facial fractures he suffered from the impact of the hit.
If Indians fans remember Jackie Price at all, it’s for the stunt that got him thrown off the team in 1947.
Price, a fan of snakes to the point where he would use a live one as a belt, turned loose a snake in the dining car of a train headed from Indians training camp in Arizona to an exhibition game in California. The ensuing ruckus led Lou Boudreau to send Price home.
But Price, in his own way, was a gifted man. He was one of people who used his skills in baseball as a sideshow for the game. But Indians owner Bill Veeck (who knew a little something about entertainment and real talent), said Price wasn’t a clown; he was an artist.
This past week in Major League Baseball had two major storylines that both had ties to—both directly and indirectly—performance enhancing drugs and their place in the game. Unfortunately, the stories being talked about aren’t the only ways drugs are impacting the game.
Wednesday the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced it’s newest members—Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas—elected by the Baseball Writers of American Association (BBWAA). Amidst the election was one voter giving his vote to Deadspin, while another voter submitted a blank ballot and another voted just for Jack Morris. Each vote, or lack of vote, was some kind of personal statement or protest to the players of the Steroid Era and their place in the game.
As expected, the announcement of the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame class, set for a summer induction into Cooperstown, did not come without its fair share of drama this year. It has become a norm as new members of the Steroid Era reach their five-year eligibility threshold.
A trio of deserving stars of the 1990’s were selected on their first appearances on the ballot, joining Veteran Committee nominees and successful legendary managers Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, and Joe Torre. Pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, teammates for ten years with the Atlanta Braves under Cox from 1993 through 2002, and slugger Frank Thomas all exceeded the 429 votes (75%) needed for enshrinement.
Four former Indians were on the ballot for this season and only one will survive to move onto next year’s selection options. Neither of Richie Sexson and Sean Casey received votes on the 571 total ballots submitted. Jack Morris, who pitched his final Major League season with the Indians in 1994, fell 78 votes short in his 15th and final year of eligibility.
It is hard to argue the names of the players who were announced for the 2014 class of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. After a dark year for the game, in which no living players were enshrined in 2013, a very good group will take its rightful place in Cooperstown this summer.
Starting pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and slugger Frank Thomas are three of baseball’s brightest stars from the 1990s. Maddux is arguably one of the game’s top five to 10 pitchers ever, while Thomas is among the few big boppers of the final decade in the 20th century who collected awe-inspiring stats without the aid of pharmaceuticals. Glavine spent much of his career as a No. 2 starter only because he was in the same rotation as the great Maddux for many years. His 300 wins made him a lock for the Hall.
Lately many voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame have been disclosing their ballot as they cast them for the 2014 induction class. While I’m not a member of the BBWAA, I am a member of the Baseball Bloggers Association. I didn’t even have to stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night to have a vote in their election. And while the BBA has absolutely no impact on the actual election, I—like all voters—took the election very seriously and will now disclose my votes and rationale.
With the largest ballot in the history of the Baseball Hall of Fame, this is a tougher task than one would imagine. It isn’t as easy as just choosing a couple sure-fire selections. Then, add in a generation of steroid use and you have to make a decision on your feelings regarding PEDs before you get started.
My take on steroids has always been that players who have failed drug tests, been in the Mitchell Report and/or summoned to Congress should not be in the Hall of Fame. I reserve the right to change my mind some day, but today’s not that day. Those players are known to have cheated themselves and the game, plus cheating baseball and it’s fans of a lot of money they likely earned from PEDs, so putting them in the Hall of Fame doesn’t seem like their place. So, no Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa on my ballot. I actually think it’s possible Sosa and Palmeiro don’t get the necessary 5% of votes to remain on the ballot.
And even a better reason to keep the PED users out is that I think I can fill my ballot with clean guys. Reward those that probably did it the right way before rewarding those we know did it the wrong way.
At first glance, Lou Brissie’s major league career doesn’t look very impressive.
Brissie, whose seven-year career included three with the Indians, went 44-48 with a 4.07 career ERA, one All-Star Game appearance and no postseason experience.
But Brissie, who died last month at the age of 89, had an amazing career just by making it to the major leagues.
At the conclusion of each season, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance allows Did The Tribe Win Last Night? to cast a series of votes for their American League award winners. The DTTWLN committee of one chose me to determine our votes in …
To most Indians fans, the iconic feature of Progressive Field is the distinctive “toothbrush” light stanchions surrounding the field.
To Canadian artist S. Preston, they’re inspiration for a work of art.
Preston, now living in Southern California, has done computer-designed minimalist art of all 30 stadiums. The final series was released last week, and included the light towers that were unique in the Northern Hemisphere when the ballpark opened in 1994.
A summer trip to central North Carolina offers opportunities to watch plenty of Cleveland Indians minor leaguers in attractive, quirky settings, but, while there, fans can find plenty to do beyond the ballparks.
Trendy main meal, dessert, and brewery stops highlight the area among academia, history, and nature.
Known as the Piedmont, the central part of this state lies between the Appalachian Mountains in the west and the Atlantic Ocean’s beaches in the east. Fans visiting should consider staying in the Durham or Raleigh areas, both with numerous hotel options in the middle of the action.
The 2013 Major League Baseball Draft, or first year player draft, is just a week away; June 6 to be precise. All 30 Major League teams have been scrambling for some time to fill their draft boards and rank more than a thousand amateur players from the college and high school levels. Roughly 1250 players will be chosen in the 40 rounds covering three days of the draft. Most of these players are unknown by even the staunchest of baseball fans, and very few will every make it to the Major League level.
Most teams have started a trend of drafting more college players; over the last two drafts, 70.1% of those drafted were taken out of college. This is because it is much easier to project college players, and college players have a much greater chance of making it to the Major League level. Of all high schoolers taken in the draft, only 5.6% of them have made it to the big leagues. Of all college players taken, 10.6% of them have made the big show, nearly double that of high school players. For pitchers it is even tougher to make the climb out of high school. This draft is stacked with college pitchers projected to go very high, the vast majority of top high school players are hitters, not pitchers. Only a few high school pitchers are first round projections this year.