Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 12, 2007
BASEBALL: The Sportswriters

You can't really top Bill Simmons' take on the writers:

Not content with simply dismissing McGwire's candidacy and moving on, they need to climb on their high horses and rip the guy to shreds. Of course, many of them would appear on any radio or TV show for 50 bucks and a free sandwich. We're supposed to believe they would refuse the chance to take a drug that would enable them to do their job twice as well and make 10 times as much money? Yeah, right.

+++

[R]eread Mike Lupica's gushing book, "Summer of '98." (Note: Lupica now argues that Big Mac doesn't belong in the Hall. He never says anything about returning the profits from his book, however.)

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:00 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I remember Lupica's book well. It was all about how he and his son connected over the '98 Yankees. I recall my oldest, who never cared much for sports, watching when Magwire hit 62.

Remember Dick Young? Yes I know he helped drive Seaver out of town, which is unforgivable itself. How many remember he was an alcoholic, yet had no problem tearing into Cleon Jones for some fueled escapades.

I've finally figured, an end to it all for me. If you used steroids before it was illegal in baseball, then the Commish, the Owners, the Players Association and the Fans all said, "Fine, we love the records." As to the claim it was illegal in the street, fine, let the Feds deal with that one. However, the players were plowed during Prohibition, and played drunk, they threw games, went into the stands and assaulted fans (that Ruth fella did that one). Assault was and is illegal, but not baseball illegal. Rose was declared ineligible for his betting on baseball, not his tax evasion. If Bonds is found "guilty" of amphetimine use, that is now against the rules and is to be dealt with. Does that mean Mays and his red juice makes him ineligible?

Doesn't make me right, but I am tired of the BS . HOF? Magwire in. Sosa and Palmeiro out (Palmeiro was never overwhelming to me, he just stayed on long enough for the marathon numbers).

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 12, 2007 1:39 PM

I think that anyone who expected baseball players to not take drugs that could make them better, richer, and more famous, when they were technically against the rules but there was no enforcement or testing whatsoever, needs to look in the mirror and ask themselves this question - "If the IRS did no enforcement at all, would I still pay my taxes?"

Posted by: Jerry at January 12, 2007 1:51 PM

In 16 seasons McGwire had 583 HR's, 1626 hits, 1414 RBI's, 1167 runs, 1596 strike outs and was a career .263 hitter.

Jim Rice had 382 Hr's, 2452 hits, 1451 RBI's, 1200 runs, 1400 strike outs and was a career .298 hitter. That is 826 more hits!

I am agnostic about Rice being voted into the HOF; however, other than juiced up homers, McGwire's numbers aren't HOF numbers.

Posted by: pchuck at January 12, 2007 3:33 PM

McGwire reached base safely by walk or hit by pitch 1392 times to Rice's 734, so he's +658 there on top of the 201 HR advantage. He hit into 147 double plays compared to Rice's 315. Overall, Rice made 6221 outs compared to McGwire's 4797.

Rice is a borderline case. McGwire is not.

Posted by: The Crank at January 12, 2007 3:41 PM

I can and have made arguments for Rice (no doubt if Jim Ed had played in the expansion, juiced ball era he would have made up those 200 HRs). However, I also believe that if you are making arguments for someone they probably don't belong in the HOF. Maguire should and undoubtedly will be in not just on the strength of his numbers but because he has that FAME quality to him. The season with him in Sosa, steroids or no, will live in infamy for decades. He had unique star power. If you were watching TV in the mid-late 90s and stumbled into a Mark Maguire at bat did you keep on changing channels? Hell no. You watched that guy hit. For 3-4 years at least he was one of THE must watch at bats in baseball. Coupled with very good numbers he is a must for the HOF.

Posted by: jim at January 12, 2007 5:31 PM

To me, any argument that leads to Pete Rose getting into the Hall of Fame is voided by the doctrine of absurd results.

Posted by: Keith L. at January 12, 2007 6:36 PM

Simmons is right. Didn't everyone just KNOW that McGwire and Sosa were roiding in 98 but kept quiet becuase it was so exciting? It was only when Bonds beat both of them that people said "we need to do something about steroids". Not that this is just a witch hunt to bring down Bonds. Nope. No siree.

Posted by: Duff Soviet Union at January 12, 2007 7:29 PM

I'm opposed to a nostalgia-based standard on cheating.

If Mac doesn't go in because he used steroids (assuming that's true), then anyone else who cheated in any way should face similar treatment. At the least, cheaters like Don Sutton should have this fact advertised.

At the Hall, the HOF President could introduce Sutton as "Don Sutton, master competitor, fine broadcaster, skilled spitballer."

Don't get me wrong-I like Don Sutton. But Steve Carlton didn't cheat. Nor did Seaver, as far as we know. If Mark's going to be singled out, then fair's fair. And maybe Roger Clemens shouldn't go in either, if it's proven he juiced.

Posted by: John Salmon at January 12, 2007 8:06 PM

Crank, you beat me to the Rice/Magwre argument. I'll add another point: Magwire did his thing while in Oakland and St. Louis. Now just what did Big Mac, a power hitter who hits lots of foul pops lose to the caverns of Oakland's foul territory, while Rice plied his trade in Fenway. Their numbers are superficially close; on close inspection, they aren't.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 13, 2007 8:36 AM

I agree with you & Crank Daryl. McGwire's a clear HOFer, while Rice falls just short.

But Rice's ballpark advantage is mitigated by McGwire's hitting era advantage. Even before the 90s, one of McGwire's best seasons came in '87, which was the hitting year before the hitting era began.

But Rice probably would've hit into more GIDPs in the 90s, with more baserunners in front of him.

Posted by: Mike at January 13, 2007 9:04 AM

Superficially close? Rice had 800 more hits and was a .298 career hitter while Mac was a .263 career hitter. They both played 16 seasons.

As I said, I don't really care that much about Rice getting in but I'm just saying Mac's numbers are not "clearly HOF" numbers.

Posted by: pchuck at January 13, 2007 9:17 AM

pchuck-

Since when are 583 HRs, a .394 lifetime OBP, 1400+ RBIs, 5 Top-7 MVP finishes, a ROY award, a Gold Glove, and a World Series ring not clearly HOF level???

Have the standards shifted at some point that I missed? Who else in MLB history has a resume like that, yet didn't make the Hall?

Posted by: Mike at January 13, 2007 9:55 AM

Who else in MLB history has a resume like that, yet didn't make the Hall?

A shorter career, but consider Albert Belle who fell off the ballot after getting little or no support this year.
381 homers, .295/.369/.565 (BA/OBP/SLG)
In four less seasons Belle had 147 more doubles than McGwire.
Belle has exactly 100 more hits.
Belle led league in total bases 3 times and was in the top ten 7 straight years.
McGwire was in the top ten 3 times.
In 61 postseason AB's Belle had 6 hr and 14 RBI
In 129 postseason AB's McGwire had 5 hr and 14 RBI

Not arguing for Belle over McGwire just remarking how ridiculous it is that he fell off the ballot by garnering less than 5% yet some fairly average (and vastly inferior) players hang around for 15 years.

I still think McGwire will get in the HoF in time. Best things he can do is nothing. Don't get angry. Don't lash out. Just let your advocates like LaRussa lobby on your behalf.

Posted by: largebill at January 13, 2007 11:07 AM

Large - I think your Belle argement stands with the likes of Garvey, John and Parker, but not with McGwire. In Alberts case, no ROY, no MVP and no ring equals no HOF. If he had been able to play a few more years he probably would have finished putting up the numbers to get in. History is littered with fine players, like Belle, whose careers have been cut short by injury and do not get HOF consideration.

Posted by: maddirishman at January 13, 2007 11:50 AM

Yesterday I went to baseball-reference.com and I actually compared Mac to Jim Rice and Albert Belle. Today, I've added Steve Garvey, Dave Parker, Dale Murphy, Harold Baines & Fred McGriff. Here are the stats:

Mark McGwire: 16 season

1626 hits
1414 RBI's
1167 runs
.263 lifetime average

Jim Rice: 16 seasons

2452 hits
1451 RBI's
1200 runs
.298 lifetime average

Albert Belle: 12 seasons

1726 hits
381 HR's
1234 RBI's
.295 lifetime average


Dale Murphy: 18 seasons

2111 Hits
398 HR's
1266 RBI's
.265 lifetime average

Steve Garvey: 19 season

2599 Hits
272 HR's
1308 RBI's
.294 lifetime average

Dave Parker: 19 seasons

2712 Hits
339 HR's
1493 RBI's
.290 lifetime average

Harold Baines: 22 seasons

2866 hits
1628 RBI's
384 HR's
.289 lifetime average

Fred McGriff: 19 seasons (not eligible yet retired 2004)

2490 hits
493 HR's
1550 RBI's
284 lifetime average
.377 OBP

Should these guys also be in the HOF? I think Mac's batting average and hits are not HOF numbers. I also think HR numbers are way overrated because you've got guys like Brady Anderson hitting 50 HR's in the Mac era.

Posted by: pchuck at January 13, 2007 3:47 PM

Pchuck - Why are you so hung up on batting average & sub-3000 hit totals?

McGwire's a better hitter than Rice by any measure except BA & total hits . . . and total GIDPs.

If you want to convince people that those two stats overcome advantages in HRs, BBs, OBP & SLG, then I fear you're playing to the wrong crowd here.

Posted by: Mike at January 13, 2007 3:57 PM

Fellas, I've said my bit on most of these guys here.

Posted by: The Crank at January 13, 2007 4:05 PM

I get what Simmons is saying about writers getting up on a moral high-horse but he goes on to explain why McGwire and Rose should in fact be inducted to the Hall. Here's the gist of his argument:
"Let's stop pretending that the Baseball Hall of Fame is a real-life fantasy world -- a place where we celebrate only the people and events we can all unanimously agree deserve to be celebrated -- and transform it into an institution that reflects both the good and bad of the sport. Wait -- wasn't that Cooperstown's mission all along? Shouldn't it be a place where someone who knows nothing about baseball can learn about its rich history? Isn't it a museum, after all?"

But the issue is not about the museum it's about the Hall of Fame where the rules for voting state:
"Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."

I find the argument put forth here, http://www.lohud.com/blogs/2007/01/few-thoughts-on-steroids-issue.html , much more compelling

Posted by: -ephi at January 14, 2007 12:07 AM
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