Call to the Hall

It seems like just yesterday I watched the news come in that my childhood baseball hero Mike Piazza would be inducted into the baseball hall of fame. Okay, it was just last season. It was pretty cool finally being at the point where you got to see players you grew up watching and admiring get into the Hall. As opposed to legends you only heard about but never got to actually see play. 

I remember as a kid, my dad pitching to me in my grandfather’s backyard. I was wearing my black Mike Piazza jersey tee and just belting “homers” over my sisters head. My Aunt watching from the upstairs window. “You gonna play for the Mets, ya?” she shouted in her Brooklyn Italian accent, and I truly believed I would. 

Being called into the Hall of Fame is one of baseball’s highest honors. And through the years there have been so many controversies regarding PED use and whether or not this should keep players out of the Hall. Much like the gambling situation with Pete Rose, I believe yes, this definitely disqualifies you from a spot there. There have been plenty of arguments and investigations made in the late 90s early 2000s on whether or not players had been using PEDs. The most famous of course being Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, and Mark McGwire. All whom have been kept out of the hall. Forget the fact that these guys would belt homers like they were hitting a whiffle ball, if you just looked at them on an aesthetic level, you could tell they seemed a bit….top heavy? 

I always thought he was an odd shape. Even for a muscular ball player. Sure, Mike Piazza had his accusations over the years as well, but I’m guessing the fact that they had no real hard proff against him like they did with Canseco and McGwire is what left little road blocks for him to be inducted the previous year. 

Canseco was furious upon hearing Jeff Bagwell as part of this years induction class. Raving and ranting about how Bagwell took his own share of PEDs at the time. But at this point, such information just makes Canseco come off as childish and hysterical.

But the real story of this year’s induction is Tim Raines. It was his final year on the ballot, and many thought the Hall of Fame would forever be lost to him. I love Tim Raines.  He’s the “Joe Everyman” of this ballot.

Raines put in nothing but hard work in a career that spanned from 1979 to 2000. Not many players can say that they’ve had that type of longevity in baseball. Raines came up around the time Ricky Henderson was blowing everyone’s minds so it was easy for him to be lost in his shadow. He wasn’t a home run hitter, he never reached a 3000 hit mark in his career, but he always put in the work for his team when it seemed to matter most. Stats show that Raines reached base about 38.5% of the time in his plate appearances throughout his career and scored more than a hundred runs of value as a base runner. 

Raines is the perfect opposite to what the steroid era of baseball was. Which is why in his last year it’s so great to see a player with his skill and work ethic to finally be recognized. I’ll take a guy like Raines over McGwire or Bonds any day. 

 

Joey Bats Returns to the Six.

Winter marches on and we’re now just 26 days from the start of spring training. Jose Bautista had originally rejected his qualifying offer from the Blue Jays to seek out a busy free agent market. At the start of the off season I genuinely couldn’t picture Bautista being sought out by another team. He’s coming off a year of injury that wasn’t his best, and to the free agent market, why take a chance on what could be a decline from here on out. That being said, I don’t think Bautista is finished quite yet. 

After coming off this past year that wasn’t his best,  I think it’s great that he ended up resigning in Toronto. For 1 year, he was able to snag at least $18 million which is just slightly more than what the qualifying offer was that he rejected. Much like Cespedes is for the Mets, Bautista is a power hitter that the Jays lineup definitely needs now that they’ve lost Encarnacion to the Indians. He’s been the face of the franchise for years now, so it seems fitting that he would stick around. Which means we get to see more bat flips and fights with Odor. Here’s to you Joey Bats!

New Year, Clean Slate.

It’s officially 2017 and just 33 sweet, sweet days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training! The Hot Stove has been relatively cool in these past few weeks with most of the major free agents on the market having already been signed. But lets take a look back at that list shall we?

Edwin Encarnacion – 3 year deal w/ Cleveland Indians

Yoenis Cespedes – 4 year deal w/ New York Mets

Justin Turner – 4 year deal w/ LA Dodgers

Kenley Jansen – (sources say) 5 year deal w/ LA Dodgers

Aroldis Chapman – 5 year deal w/ New York Yankees

Dexter Fowler – 5 year deal w/ St. Louis Cardinals

Wilson Ramos – 2 year deal w/ Tampa Bay Rays 

Mark Melancon – 4 year deal w/ San Francisco Giants 

Josh Reddick – 4 year deal w/ Houston Astros 

The Dexter Fowler signing is huge. The Cardinals and Cubs are bitter rivals and these two teams seem to constantly be trading and battling for the best players between the clubs in the past two off seasons. This deal reminded me of the Heyward deal the Cubs made the previous winter. Though I could see Fowler working out a bit better next year than Heyward did for the Cubs. Not like the Cubs really needed any help on offense last season, but you still want to make sure you get your money’s worth out of someone considered to a great player. 

I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but Chapman going back to the Yankees still makes no sense to me. The Yankees simply do not have the starting rotation in place yet to back up the skill set that Chapman brings to the table. Chapman was complaining that he felt Maddon simply over used him to get to the World Series and the Championship. You would think he had no idea the way the game works. Also, it must have been pretty tough to have assaulted your wife, barely serve a suspension, and then come back, play baseball, get paid, and get a World Series ring. Boo hoo. 

Free Agency aside, everyone is also gearing up for the World Baseball Classic. A time when all the countries of the world come together as their own teams so that the US can see which nation they would like to draft from next. In theory, the Classic is a great idea, but unless you’re the US, Japan, the Dominican Republic, or Puerto Rico, this competition is nothing but a ride on the struggle bus. Most of the players you want to see compete usually pass on this option to play considering they have a specific routine they follow in the offseason and would rather not risk injury playing in a glorified All Star game. 

Personally I think it would be more exciting, and probably a little fairer to the other countries, if instead of using their top talent, the US used their up and coming college ball players. We already know how the best in the major leagues are going to play. At the end of the day I usually find myself rooting for Japan. On occasion a stellar Japanese pitcher will be drafted to the majors but other than that they’re few and far between. I suppose I’ll root for my native Italy as well, but I think we all know that we won’t really see them going past those beginning stages. 

While the Classic isn’t exactly the baseball we want to see, it does give us a little something to hold on to aside from some of those spring training games. Just a few more weeks of winter.