Jay recaps the careers of the soon-to-be-HOF-inducted Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven.
The Hall of Fame induction weekend is upon us, and while I've taken issue with the way the institution is treating this year's recipients of the Frick, Spink, and O'Neil awards, I'm particularly excited to see this year’s class of BBWAA and Expansion Era Committee choices—Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, and Pat Gillick—honored. Having watched both Alomar and Blyleven excel with multiple teams over the years, it was both a privilege and a labor of love to advocate their election to Cooperstown.
It's the latest installment of our continuing turn-back-the-clock exercise, as we bring back past articles and arguments to remind you and us of what's changed, and what hasn't.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
Nearly seven years after it originally ran on April 8, 2004, MichaelWolverton's well-reasoned anti-earned-run diatribe remains persuasive. Stay tuned for our unveiling of a reworked pitching stat that should make Michael happy...
Taking a look at disaster starts from many different angles.
Going into Monday evening's game against the Blue Jays, the Yankees had every reason to feel good about themselves, having come from behind the night before to secure a stirring 10-inning victory over the Red Sox. With one more win (or a Red Sox loss) they would clinch a spot in the playoffs. Alas, by the third inning Monday night, it was clear the Yankees would be uncorking no champagne, as starter A.J. Burnett dug them a 7-0 hole by allowing two homers, seven hits, and seven runs while retiring just seven hitters. Had the Yankees been at home, Burnett would have been booed off the mound by the Bronx faithful, but as this was a road game, Yankees fans were left to hurl rotten tomatoes and blue epithets at their TVs.
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A look at the stylish left-hander's Hall of Fame chances through the prism of JAWS.
The other day I set out to write a piece covering the Hall of Fame cases of both Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine. Two thousand or so words in, I was neck deep into the Big Hurt's career, so I decided to spin the Glavine piece into a separate one. In parallel, Marc Normandin did a thorough job covering the ups and downs of Glavine's career, so rather than repeat what he's done, I'll skip to evaluating his Hall of Fame case and the context surrounding it.
Wrapping up the JAWS rankings for this year's Hall of Fame eligibles.
Finally, we come to the pitchers on the BBWAA ballot for the Hall of Fame, a mercifully short list this time around, featuring four holdovers and three newcomers. Among this group, Bert Blyleven is the standout, and while he's certainly no lock to gain election this time around, he jumped to nearly 62 percent in last year's vote, suggesting that the work done by statheads here and elsewhere to boost his candidacy is finally getting through to the voters.
Some players don't know where they want to go even after they get there, the WBC may end up with a short-roster Team USA, plus news and notes from around the major leagues.
The longer CC Sabathia mulled over the offer, the stronger the suspicions became. The Yankees offered the left-hander seven years and $140 million at the outset of free agency last month, but Sabathia was in no hurry to accept it, even though it soon became clear that no other clubs were even close to that amount; the Brewers had stopped at six years and $110 million in their attempt to retain the 28-year-old. The situation led to plenty of speculation that he wanted to play for anyone but the Yankees, and that Sabathia, a California kid who had spent his entire major league career in the Midwestern markets of Cleveland and Milwaukee, wanted no part of the hustle, bustle, and unrelenting microscope of New York.
The Rays' relief rebound ranks as the most profound pen improvement on record.
You wouldn't know it given the way that their bullpen pitched at times during the latter portion of the American League Championship Series, but the Rays likely wouldn't have reached this year's World Series without the remarkable turnaround achieved by that unit. By a couple of measures, the performance of the Tampa Bay bullpen qualifies as historically significant.
On catching the knuckleball, growing weary of Billy Martin, and the love of the game.
Butch Wynegar has experienced a lot within the game of baseball. A switch-hitting catcher, Wynegar was the youngest player in the American League in 1976 when he finished second to Mark Fidrych for the Rookie of the Year Award. He would go on to be a two-time All-Star over 13 big-league seasons, playing for legendary managers Gene Mauch, Billy Martin, and Lou Piniella, and catching some of the best pitchers of his era with the Twins, Yankees, and Angels. A coach and manager since hanging up his shin guards, Wynegar recently concluded his second season as the hitting coach for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
During my last chat, an innocent question about J.P. Ricciardi's endlessly mediocre tenure as the Toronto Blue Jays' general manager set me to thinking. There has always been something that seemed unusual about Ricciardi's teams, but not in the traditional way that we have of thinking about good teams or bad. The fact is, the Blue Jays have been neither good nor bad for a very long time; they've been treading water for time out of memory. Anyone who has tried treading water knows that there's only so long that you can do it. Even Michael Phelps would get tired bicycling his legs after a few hours, yet the Jays have been doing it for years, neither rising nor falling appreciably, but merely hovering in the same place, season after season.
Cork and rubber, not HGH and steroids, might be responsible for baseball's home run increases, which certainly aren't due to smaller park dimensions.
Amid the ongoing swirl of steroid stories this past week, I came across a bit of research that had me dusting off something I wrote three years ago. In 2005, I contributed a chapter to Will Carroll's The Juice (which arrived more or less on the eve of baseball's day in front of Congress in 2005), which analyzed some alternative explanations to the theory that steroids had been responsible for the home run increases which typified baseball after 1992. I examined the effects that expansion, interleague play, the changing strike zone, and new ballparks may have had on the rising homer rates, and wound up concluding at the time that none of them were likely to have driven the surge.