Jan 08

I Voted For Piazza

I can’t remember when I’ve anticipated the Hall of Fame results like I do this year. I would be stunned if the noted cheaters on the ballot – Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa – get in, but honestly I am surprised to read how many writers included them.

Some say they voted on production, yet omitted baseball’s greatest hitting catcher in Mike Piazza. I do not understand this thinking.

I did not vote for Bonds, Clemens or Sosa, but I did vote for Piazza. The evidence against Bonds, Clemens and Sosa is evident, as it is against Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro.

That is not the case with Piazza, who never failed a drug test, did not appear on the Mitchell Report, and was never accused by a colleague on the record. There has been innuendo against Piazza from a several writers citing acne on his back. This is circumstantial evidence, and shaky at best.

If Piazza does not get in, and it is later discovered he cheated, then I will change my vote in the future. But, there currently is none, and I cast my ballot for him without hesitation.

May 18

David Wright Continues To Shine

National League fans have known for years how exciting a player David Wright can be. This weekend, Toronto gets to see the National League’s best third baseman, and arguably the best in the majors.

WRIGHT: On fire. (AP)

At least this year he has been. Another day, another key hit by Wright, who is in one of the hottest stretches of his career. His average is over .400 and his on-base percentage is over .500. Terry Collins wasn’t just blowing smoke when he compared Wright to Barry Bonds.

While Wright hasn’t hit with Bonds’ power, he is displaying the a similar plate presence and patience. Wright is laying off the down and outside pitch; he’s going the opposite way when he needs to; and he’s yanking the inside pitch down the line. And, when the pitch isn’t to his liking, he’s taking the walk.

Today, he had three of them in reaching base five times.

I watched a SNY special last night on the 50 greatest Mets. Wright was in the top ten, ahead of Jose Reyes. Before his career is over, and I’m betting he’ll finish it in Flushing, he could be second or third behind Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden.

 

Jan 10

Larkin one of the last non-controversial inductees?

Cincinnati shortstop Barry Larkin could be one of the last non-controversial Hall of Fame inductees. With 85 percent of the vote, he entered without the shadow of PEDs. For the near future, those on the ballot will have been linked to PEDs, or might have their induction chances enhanced because they will be going up against the scorned.

Larkin had a stellar career, one without suspicion. He was deserving in every sense.

In Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, we have our test cases for those linked to steroids for the Hall voters, of which I am one. If a player tests positive for steroids or other PEDs, or has been linked to the drugs, he won’t get my vote.

My thinking for guys under suspicion is to withhold my vote until there is more information. Is it fair? No, but I’d rather hold the vote and give it to the player later because once the vote is cast and he’s inducted it can’t be rescinded.

Next year’s ballot is disturbingly loaded with those accused of steroid use or suspected. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza among them.

For Bonds, Clemens and Piazza, it is argued they compiled Hall of Fame numbers before being linked to steroids. For Sosa, it is suggested the stretch of his career where his noteworthy stats were compiled was all steroid related. In addition, not only did Sosa cheat with drugs, but also used a corked bat.

The simple take on steroids is it enables a hitter to hit the ball further. In reality, the issue isn’t whether PEDs add an additional 50 feet to a fly ball, but the extra five that enables it to clear the wall.

Steroids enable the user to continue training during the long, hot days of summer when he otherwise might not. This continued training didn’t make the hitter stronger as much as it increases his bat speed, and this is what generates the power.

Some argue the player still has to hit the ball, which is true, but increased bat speed can turn a normal fly ball into one that barely clears the wall. It is an unfair advantage. It is cheating.

Some apologists for the steroid user claim baseball didn’t have a defined anti-drug policy until recently. While this is true, use without a doctor’s prescription is against the law. It doesn’t matter MLB didn’t have a policy in place at the time Bonds was torching National League pitching.

With the holdovers from this year’s ballot, coupled with those next year who are clean, the pickings are slim, both in terms of PEDs and career numbers, of those qualified who’ll get in as did Larkin.

I have not, and will not vote for a player connected to PEDs. It is cheating and I don’t believe that should be rewarded. Fans should watch games confident in the knowledge what they are seeing to real, but that isn’t the case with drugs.

Not only won’t they get my vote, but I believe their statistics should come with an asterisk they were compiled under suspicion of PED use. This should also be noted on their plaque if they get the necessary votes.

Under the present voting guidelines, I can’t see it any other way.

 

 

 

 

Jul 21

Today in Mets’ History: A tip of the hat to Beltran.

Thanks to Ray Sadecki for noting today might be Carlos Beltran’s last home game as a member of the Mets. Will they trade him before the trade deadline or extend this out until August? All indications are the Mets will move before July 31.

Ray asked for some reflections on the Beltran Era, and what sticks out most for me is him playing with a broken face after his outfield collision with Mike Cameron. Most outfielders would have packed it in, but Beltran kept on playing while others weren’t. Beltran played hurt, and he played hurt often. He is a gamer.

In 2006, he carried the Mets like the All-Star he was. I’ll never begrudge him for Adam Wainwright because it was a nasty pitch and who wouldn’t get caught on that?

From 2006-08, Beltran hit at least 27 homers with 112 RBI, but injuries sapped his production those two seasons. I’ll remember how the Mets rushed him back for a few more at-bats rather than undergo surgery immediately. It got to the point where Beltran had surgery on his own, causing him to be late for the 2010 season. That was on Omar Minaya.

I’ll always regard Beltran as a player capable of carrying a team on his back for a week or two, but not to the point where he’d shape a game like Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds. Then again, I’ll always remember Beltran as a clean player, one who was good to the game.

It’s a shame the Mets’ financial problems forced this position. If this had been handled better during the surgery issue and the Mets’ not caught with their pants down in the Ponzi scandal, then perhaps we’d be talking about an extension for him.

Beltran had a good career here when healthy. His career is over with the Mets, but there will an extension for him somewhere.

 

 

 

 

Jun 06

Today in Mets History: A typical mauling.

The Mets finally recognized the 1986 team this weekend. I’m bad, too. I should have had more on that dynamic team, also. I’ll rectify that beginning today.

DANNY HEEP: Remember him?

The 1986 Mets mauled opponents. They dominated. The steamrolled them. Such as on this date in Pittsburgh with a 10-4 rout that featured 15 hits.

The first four hitters in the order, Mookie Wilson, Wally Backman, Darryl Strawberry and Danny Heep went a combined 9-for-18 with seven runs scored.

The Mets hit only three homers that day – Rick Aguilera, Strawberry and Wilson – to move 20 gaves (35-15) over .500.

Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez were off that day.

Aguilera started and lasted 4.1 innings, and Roger McDowell worked 3.2 innings of relief to earn the victory.

On a side note, Barry Bonds went 0-for-5 for the Pirates.

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