No Players Elected To the Baseball Hall of Fame

The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon that, for the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) failed to elect a single player, from the 2013 ballot, into the Baseball Hall of Fame. This causing a vast amount of controversy among the baseball world, as everyone seems to have a different opinion in regards to the voting results.

There are those who are glad that no players got in, there are those who are upset that no players got in, and then there are guys like me, who fall somewhere in between. I’m not all that upset that not a single player received the required 75% of the vote needed to get into the Hall of Fame, but, at the same time, I would’ve liked to have seen at least a couple of guys make it into the HOF, from the 2013 ballot.

But it is what it is; there’s always next year.

Bonds-Rocket-hofWhat it comes down to for me is the fact that this didn’t have to happen. Had the ‘Steroid Era’ never of occurred, the likes of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds would’ve been first ballot Hall of Famers, no question about it. Instead, they might not ever get in, as they only received 37.6% and 36.2% of the vote, respectively, this time around. For them to eventually get a plaque in the Hall of Fame, they will have to amass double the number of votes they did in this year’s vote, and I just don’t see that happening.

While they each have an additional 14 years of eligibility, I feel the voters have already made up their minds, for the most part. While a few members of the BBWAA might’ve merely held off in voting for Bonds and Clemens, in this their first year, just to prove a point, and might end up voting for them eventually, either you think Bonds and Clemens should get into the Hall of Fame or you think they shouldn’t. End of story.

But where does that leave the rest of the players from that era? Guys like Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling, who were never proven to have taken anything, but fall under the cloud of suspicion due to the era in which they played. Well, I see it like this:

They pretty much fall into the same category as those connected to PED use. Either the voters are going to vote for them, or they aren’t. There’s not much grey area here, as far as I can see, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the voters aren’t going on suspicion alone and just decided not to vote in Biggio, Piazza and Schilling this time around for one reason or another. For the sake of the Hall of Fame, I surely hope so. Leaving out Biggio, Piazza and Schilling would be a real shame.

The other main player I’d like to talk about, that many people feel should be a HOF’er, but didn’t make the cut yet again this year, is Jack Morris. Morris was a great player, but, in my mind, he’s not Hall of Fame worthy.

jack_morris-thumb-250x375-4861The thing that gets me the most when people try to make a case for Morris, is their tendency to use the intimidation factor as the reason they feel he deserves to get in; that you didn’t want to face Morris in any given situation. But it’s not the Hall of Intimidation, it’s the Hall of Fame. The place where the games’ all-time greats get enshrined to forever be seen by generations of baseball fans to come. To me, a career 3.90 ERA just doesn’t cut it. Thus, I agree with Morris not getting in–this being his 14th time on the ballot.

While the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot saw no players receiving the necessary number of votes needed to get elected, there are multiple players set to be added to the ballot in 2014 who are shoo-ins to get in on the first go around.

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas are three of the favorites to do just that, with some making the same case for guys like Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent. We’ll just have to wait to see, but no matter what happens, there are sure to be at least a few players who get into the Hall of Fame in 2014.

In addition to the near certainty that several players will be voted in in 2014, next year’s vote should tell the tale once and for all of whether or not Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens stand even a slight chance of ever getting into the Hall of Fame.

If their percentages jump a large amount–due to BBWAA members voting for them that didn’t in 2013–they might have a shot of getting in, several years down the road. If they fail to receive greater than a few more percentage points, however, I’d say it’s a lost cause for two of the best players to every play the game of Major League Baseball.

MLB Hall of Famers I’ve Seen In Person

With the 2013 Hall of Fame class set to be announced tomorrow at Noon, on MLB Network, I thought it would be fun to post a blog entry on all of the Hall of Fame players I’ve ever seen in person. If my memory serves me correctly, I’ve only encountered a total of nine members of the baseball Hall of Fame. Furthermore–an interesting point to make–every HOF encounter I can recall ever having has taken place within the past seven months.

I might be forgetting a player I saw in one of the earlier years of my life, but I’m fairly sure that the following are the only HOF players I’ve been lucky enough to see in person:

JOHNNY BENCH-JOE MORGAN

Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan were the first two members of the Hall of Fame that I can recall seeing. Admittedly, I was around 100 feet away from them, but it still counts, as we were all in the same live scenario at the same time. This particular interaction came on June 23, 2012, in Cincinnati, Ohio. (If you’d like to read all about the entire day–where I actually got to shake hands, and take pictures, with several Reds’ HOF’ers–feel free to check it out HERE.)

Basically, as far as Bench’s and Morgan’s purpose goes for being in ‘Cincy’, Sean Casey and Dan Driessen were at Great American Ballpark with the sole purpose being that they were getting officially inducted into the Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame. The Reds decided to bring back a couple dozen members of their HOF, and Morgan and Bench happened to be two of the players they brought out to the ballpark:

DSCN4717I realize it’s not the most flattering picture, but it’s the only one I took of the two of them together. In case you can’t tell, Johnny Bench is the one in the white shirt, putting on his jacket, and Joe Morgan is the one just to the left of him; also putting on his jacket.

The next six Hall of Fame encounters I’ve had came while on a trip out to Kansas City, Missouri, to the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby:

CAL RIPKEN JR.-TONY GWYNN

I ran into Cal Ripken Jr. at around 6:30 in the morning, on July 9, 2012, shortly after chatting with Ryan Howard. Ripken was surrounded by several media members at the time and was having a conversation with Manny Machado:

DSCN4809Cal Ripken Jr. is on the right. (Manny Machado is on the left.)

I could’ve (and should’ve) waited until Ripken was finished doing was he was doing and approached him to ask for an autograph, but, in addition to it being early in the morning–with me still being half asleep–I regretfully neglected to take a ball card of Ripken out to Kansas City. I still kick myself about it, but you can’t go back in time. Perhaps I’ll run into Ripken again sometime down the road, but if not, at least I’ll always have the memory of our encounter.

My Tony Gwynn sighting came just a few hours later, only a couple hundred feet away from where my Cal Ripken Jr. encounter had occurred. Gwynn was set to sign autographs for an endless line of fans–many of which had been in line for a couple of hours–and I, in anticipation of his arrival, positioned myself off to the side of the crowd, as I waited for Gwynn. I ended up standing there for what seemed like forever, as Gwynn didn’t show up until 45 minutes after his scheduled appearance time. I was tempted to leave about 30 minutes into the wait, but I’m glad I didn’t. The extra 15 minutes of patience allowed me to be able to add another HOF’er to the list, as well as get a picture:

DSCN4870A bit obvious which one is Tony Gwynn.

BARRY LARKIN-REGGIE JACKSON-HANK AARON-GEORGE BRETT

Barry Larkin would be the next Hall of Famer I would come across while out in Kansas City. Just to the right of where I took in most of the All-Star workout day’s batting practice, Larkin was hard at work, as an episode of ‘Baseball Tonight’ was being filmed. There’s not much more I can say about my Larkin sighting, so I’ll go ahead and leave you with a photo:

DSCN4899Barry Larkin is the one just to the left of Terry Francona.

Reggie Jackson has the most interesting story (in my mind) of any other HOF player I’ve ever seen in person. My first (notice I said *first*) sighting of Jackson came shortly before the start of the home run derby, when he made his way out onto the field to throw out the first pitch:

DSCN5026Reggie Jackson, folks.

It was great to see such a great player–one of only four to ever hit three home runs in a World Series game–in person, but little did I know, at the time, that this story would only get better from there. The next morning, I was sitting in the Kansas City airport terminal, when who walks by? Reggie Jackson. That’s right, Mr. October himself just so happened to be on the same flight (he was in first class) as I was. How cool is that?! It’ll be hard to ever top the encounter I had with Jackson out in KC, but you never know….

Jumping back to the day before I saw Jackson in the airport terminal–with it still being July 9th–the next Hall of Famer I spotted was Hank Aaron. It wasn’t the best sighting ever, as it took me at least 30 seconds to locate him, after he was shown on the center field jumbotron, and I ended up with only a 5 second, or so, sighting; leading to a blurry photo:

DSCN5038Hank Aaron is the one in the white shirt, above the MLB.com sign, with his hand in the air.

Aaron is arguably the best player I saw out in Kansas City; perhaps the best of all the HOF’ers I’ve ever seen in person.

The last HOF encounter I had, on my trip to Kansas City, was George Brett. I first spotted Brett down by the field when he made his was to the broadcasting table to do an interview/play-by-play type thing, during a portion of the derby. Brett wasn’t out for long, thus I don’t have anything all that interesting to talk about, but he was, however, out in the open long enough for me to take a photo:

DSCN5061George Brett is the guy in the white shirt.

RYNE SANDBERG

The most recent story I have of a face-to-face encounter with me and a Hall of Fame member occurred on July 18, 2012, in Durham, North Carolina. The Lehigh Valley Ironpigs were in town taking on the Durham Bulls and Sandberg just so happened to be managing the visiting Ironpigs. Unlike the eight HOF’ers I had seen before, I was actually successful in getting an autograph from Sandberg–two if you want to be technical:

DSCN5493

The autographs I was able to get from Ryne Sandberg. (The Sharpie was running out.)

It was easier than I thought it would be, as I found it unusually simple to work my way down by the dugout, and to my surprise, Sandberg signed for nearly ten minutes; so that certainly helped out as well. I forgot to bring along my camera to this particular game, so you’ll have to take my word for it that I met Sandberg. (I suppose the above autographs are proof enough.)

So there you have it. Those are the nine Hall of Famers that I can remember seeing in person. If Mark McGwire, Bernie Williams and/or Sandy Alomar end up having their names called tomorrow, when the 2013 Hall of Fame voting results are announced, I can add anywhere from one to three more names to the list, as I’ve seen all three players before.

I have a feeling, however, that I’ll be stuck at nine players until at least the 2014 vote.

How many MLB Hall of Famers have you seen in person? I’d love to hear your answer, with the story behind it (if there is one), in the comments section below.

Q and A With Kyle Gibson

Kyle Gibson was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1st round of the 2009 draft. Since the draft, things haven’t gone as planned for Gibson, as although his stats have been decent, he hasn’t been able to stay completely healthy; having to undergo Tommy John surgery in September of 2011.

As far as Gibson’s stats go, he’s certainly lived up, for the most part, to being a first round draft pick. The 2008 Team USA pitcher went 11-6 with a 2.96 ERA in his first professional season, in 2010. Good enough to earn him a promotion to AAA Rochester at the end of the year, after beginning the season with A+ Fort Myers.Gibson

Gibson’s stellar inaugural season didn’t translate into 2011, however, as although he was selected to participate in the All-Star Futures Game, at Chase Field, Gibson went 3-8 on the year, with a 4.18 ERA. To put it in simpler terms: That’s not very good. But Gibson’s poor pitching wasn’t entirely his fault. Gibson had an arm injury, which resulted in him having to have Tommy John surgery during the offseason. A surgery that would turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Gibson.

Post surgery, Gibson had a sudden boost in velocity, as his fastball rose from upper 80’s to lower 90’s, this past season. In Gibson’s most recent (partial) season, he went 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA; which is misleading due to the few innings in which he was able to pitch. As a result of the shortened season, Gibson traveled out to Arizona to participate in the Arizona Fall League, where he was selected to make the start for the Western Division in the 2012 A.F.L. Rising Stars Game–lasting two innings and giving up a couple of runs.

As long as things continue to go smoothly for Gibson, between now and the start of the season, barring any unpredicted setbacks, you can expect to see Gibson in the Major Leagues sometime during the upcoming 2013 season; if not on Opening Day. He certainly has the potential to get the call up out of Spring Training, and as such, is a guy everyone needs to keep a very close eye on in the coming months.

Kyle Gibson–top 10 prospect in the Twins organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?

I have always been involved and interested in baseball because my dad was. He was a high school baseball coach after he played a little bit of junior college baseball in his prime. He still likes to play in a mens senior league to this day. I believe that is why he would be my biggest influence on my love for the game up to this point.

2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?

I had a couple when I was growing up. My dad was a huge Nolan Ryan fan, so obviously I thought he was cool, but believe it or not, I used to play a little short stop in my younger/shorter/faster years, and at that time Barry Larkin was a favorite player of mine as well.

3.) You were drafted by the Twins in the 1st round of the 2009 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?

The process was a long and stressful process at times mainly because I found out I had a stress fracture in my right forearm about 4 days before the draft. That made everything a little more stressful than I imagined, but even with that said, it was a fun process and I learned a lot. My parents and I decided to stay home and invite some people over to the house to watch the draft, so I was sitting outside in our driveway under a tent with what ended up being a few more people than the “some” we had planned on inviting. Everyone was getting a little anxious because from everything we had heard there was no definite place I was going to get drafted. So as the picks went by we got a little more anxious, but when my name was called there was a loud cheer, and I still get chills thinking about that moment in my life.

4.) You had Tommy John surgery in September of 2011 and seemed to have an increase in velocity. Has that increase in velocity changed the way you go about pitching or did you keep the same basic approach?

It does not change the way I pitch too much, other than the fact that I now have a much different fastball and slider. I have needed to learn to trust my fastball a little more because it’s now consistently in the low 90’s where before I was more consistently 89. My slider has also gained some velocity and has sharpened up a bit, so I have needed to adjust to that as well.

5.) Is there any one stat that you pay attention to throughout the season? Or do you try to steer clear of them altogether?

I would say there are a couple stats that I like to look at, and those are walks and ground ball/fly ball ratio. I hate walking people, so that is why that is so important to me, and I also know that when I am at my best, I need to have the defense involved. The best way for me to do that is to get lots of ground balls and allow our infielders to do the rest.

6.) You made the start for the West division in the 2012 Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game. What was that experience like, in terms of going up against some of the best hitters that minor league baseball has to offer?

That experience was a lot of fun. Had I not given up a moonshot to the first batter I might have enjoyed it slightly more…..just kidding. It was a great opportunity, even though for only 2 innings, to square off against [Jarred] Cosart, who I have known for many years dating back to when he had committed to Missouri out of high school before the Phillies drafted and signed him. It was a lot of fun for all of us, and good to get that chance to pitch another time against the best the minors has to offer.

7.) What are your plans for the remainder of the offseason to help you prepare for 2013? What are your goals for 2013?

Since my regular season extended into my offseason more than usual, I am now starting to get back into the swing of things and throwing again. Workouts will get more intense as I make sure my arm and body are prepared for another long season. My goals have a lot to do with staying healthy, and hopefully making it up to the big club and having a positive impact on our chances of winning. Everyone wants to become a big leaguer, and I really hope I am able to do that this year.

8.) Favorite TV show?

‘Sports Center’ or ‘Duck Dynasty’.

9.) Favorite food?

Steak or Mozzi’s Pizza from Greenfield, Indiana where I grew up.

10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?

Always have fun. Baseball should be something that they enjoy doing. Work as hard as you possibly can. I always look back and know that I could have worked harder because I never really knew what it took to become a professional. So have no regrets and work as hard as you can, but have fun doing it!

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Big thanks to Kyle Gibson for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on twitter: @kgib44

2013 Hall of Fame Ballot; If I Had A Vote

Before I begin, let me first point out that of the 37 players on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, I’m only going to be discussing my thoughts on six of them: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa; with whether or not I believe they belong among the games’ all time greats in the Hall of Fame. Statistically, they’re all worthy of the Hall, however, because of their connection to performance enhancing drugs (PED’s), proven or suspected, it makes it one of the most difficult and controversial H.O.F. votes in years.

Having retired from Major League Baseball way back at the conclusion of the 2007 season, I’ve had a fairly long time to think about whether or not these select first year ballot players are worthy of a plaque in the Hall of Fame. But five years doesn’t seem long enough, as it’s now time to make a decision, and, even with hour after hour of debate, it’s still difficult to decide one way or another.

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To make it as clear as I possibly can, of how I went about deciding whether or not I believe the six previously listed players are HOF’ers, I’ve decided to give a general overview of the pros and cons I see to the three different options you have when going about this year’s Hall of Fame vote:

OPTION 1: LEAVE ALL OF THEM OUT

This seems absurd to me, but it’s an option nonetheless, so I had to include it. The only good thing about this is that by choosing to keep all six out of the Hall of Fame you ensure that no player that used PED’s gets inducted in. Since we aren’t 100 percent sure whether or not the suspected users did or didn’t use drugs, this is the safe route to take. However, it’s also the wrong route, in my opinion. Leaving out every single one of these players could possibly be keeping out a player who never allowed any drugs into their system whatsoever. While we aren’t sure if there even are any, it’s truly not fair to punish those who could have very well never broken the rules, just because you feel they might have. So, while this is in fact an option, it’s just not right to keep out so many great players.

OPTION 2: LET A PORTION OF THEM IN

Although a little more practical than option one, I still don’t feel this is what needs to be done. Sure, by keeping out the players who were connected to drug use while allowing in those who were merely suspected, you make it fair for the players who might’ve never done anything wrong. However, you could also be allowing a player into the H.O.F. who was just lucky enough to never get caught. That doesn’t seem right to me. Electing to take this option runs the risk of allowing in someone who used drugs, while keeping out someone who did the exact same thing but just so happened to get caught. We don’t know for sure who used and who didn’t, so I feel they should all share in the same fate. Either let them all in, or keep them all out; and you already know how I feel about leaving them all out.

OPTION 3: LET ALL OF THEM IN

This is the best possible option, in my opinion. Yes, I’m aware that by doing this you’re allowing in players who were connected to drug use, but I don’t see another way to truly make sure the great players of that era are allowed in, without holding a grudge against one side or the other. Letting them all in makes sure that you keep it fair for the suspected users while also keeping it fair for the players who were actually connected. Leaving them all out isn’t fair to those who didn’t use, and letting the ones who were suspected in while leaving the ones who were connected out doesn’t seem fair either. I know it might seem as if the players connected to drug use don’t deserve a fair vote, but the way I see it, they do.

Those who used drugs throughout the ‘Steroid Era’ certainly made things very complicated.

Up until a few days ago, I never would’ve gone with option three. I was fairly adamant that any player who was connected to drug use shouldn’t be allowed into the Hall of Fame. Those players cheated; plain and simple. However, the more I think about it, due to the lack of evidence against those players who were merely suspected of using a PED, in the end, I couldn’t go with my original mindset. baseball-hall-of-fame

Now, I’m sure many of you (perhaps all of you?) disagree with my take on the matter, but I hope you at least understand, to a point, where I’m coming from (if I haven’t already confused the heck out of you). Due to the poor drug testing policy throughout the late 1980’s up through the early 2000’s’, we will never know for sure exactly which players did, and which players didn’t, use performance enhancing drugs. Therefore, if I had a vote, I would vote for every one of them to get into the Hall of Fame.

There are some people who say that if you allow players into the Hall of Fame that are connected to (or suspected of) PED’s, that you should place them in a separate wing, or, at the very least, add an asterisk next to their name. I really don’t see the need. Any true baseball fan who makes the trek to Cooperstown–a few years from now or 100 years down the road–will know the history of the ‘Steroid Era’, if they’re honestly true fans. They’ll know what each player did or didn’t do, and they’ll each have their own feelings as to whether they feel each player belongs in the Hall of Fame. Let them decide how they feel for themselves.

In the end, Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Biggio, Piazza and Schilling are still some of the greatest players in the history of the game. Do I think any of them will get in this time around? Absolutely not. Do I think any of them will get in a few years down the road? I truly hope so. Keeping out this batch of players because of the unknown just wouldn’t be right. But then again, if you’ll look back at the history of Hall of Fame voting, the right thing hasn’t always been done.

Should Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Biggio, Piazza and Sosa ever be allowed into the Hall of Fame? Cast your vote (you can vote for as many players as you want):

If you wouldn’t let any in, leave a comment below with your reasoning.

Blogging Resolutions for 2013

Happy New Year, everyone!

I wasn’t planning on posting anything today, but everyone else seemed to be doing it, so I decided that I would join in on the fun.

The five main resolutions/goals I have for this blog in 2013 are as follows:

1. Blog at least once every 4 days:

This shouldn’t be too difficult, but it all comes down to whether or not I can keep one of my non-blogging resolutions for 2013: Stop procrastinating. I’m one of the biggest procrastinators I know, and often I find myself taking a few days to write a blog post that should take just a few hours. Last year there were a few times where I went a full two weeks in between new blog posts, and I don’t want to do that this year. If I can get a blog entry up at least once every 4 days, I’ll be a happy guy.

2. Publish 100 posts:

This ties back into resolution number one. If I can manage to blog once every 4 days, or so, it’ll come out to 91 total posts. So, if I have a few times this year where I go fewer than 4 days between entries, I should easily be able to accomplish 100 new blog posts. I suppose I’m starting off the right way–the first day of 2013, and I already have my first blog post. (Only 99 to go.)

3. Get 100,000 views:

This is a bit of a stretch. I only managed to amass 53,384 views this past year, so it would mean nearly doubling that, but I’m making it one of my resolutions nonetheless. If I can blog as often as I want to, I feel it’s not impossible, however, this is one of my 2013 blogging resolutions that’s out of my hands. I can control whether or not I blog as often as I want to, but I can’t control how many people actually visit my blog. The way I see it, however, more posts equals more views. Hopefully that holds true, and I can reach 100,000 views for the year.

4. Have my one day record for views passed:

As with resolution number three, this is ultimately out of my control. I have no way of knowing whether or not 893 people will decide to click the link to my blog on any one day this year to break the old one day record of 892 views, recorded back on April 4, 2012. With 365 chances to accomplish it, however, maybe it will happen. Only time will tell.

5. Reply to every comment that is left:

My final resolution is the easiest of them all. I feel I did a fairly decent job at it this past year, but as with anything, I could always do better. There were a few comments last year that I failed to reply to for whatever reason, and looking back I feel like I should’ve. (Sorry.) Since it only takes a few minutes a day, this resolution shouldn’t be a problem.

So there you have it. My top five blogging resolutions/goals for 2013.

At the end of the year, I’ll revisit this blog post and recap whether or not I was able to accomplish them all. As stated in my last blog post, I hope to make this my best year of blogging yet. If I can accomplish what I want to (and plan to), I feel it truly will be.