Thursday, January 9, 2014

Crime Story...

                        Well, as we all know, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame on January 8th, 2014.  There has been a lot of controversy about Maddux not being a unanimous pick, with 16 writers leaving him off, but the fact is, he's in.  The Astros' Craig Biggio just barely missed getting in, but should get in next year, which makes last year's snubs even more infuriating.  There's a complete logjam for candidates now...there obviously needs to be a change; if not for the way the voting is done, then for the voters themselves.

                I mean, seriously, does Dodger beat writer Ken Gurnick really deserve a vote?  Not only did he leave Maddux, Glavine and Thomas off the list, he left off EVERYONE who played during that era.  The only player he had going in was Jack Morris and his 3.90 ERA.  Maybe Morris deserves it, maybe he doesn't...point is, you can't blame every player from the "steroids era" as if they're guilty by osmosis.  Really, is this clown going to deny Pedro, Smoltz and The Big Unit next year?  It also says a lot about how much the voters in general are punishing the hitters-Thomas not withstanding- who played in the '90s and '00s.  In other words, if things go the way they probably will, 5 out of 6 HOF entries for this and next year will be pitchers, unless Biggio squeaks in.

     The only pitcher eligible for the Hall that has been linked to PEDs is of course, Roger Clemens. He, along with Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, Palmiero, and the two who were never proven-Piazza and Bagwell-will probably have to wait a long time to get in, if they do at all.  Maybe it's unfair, but I'm not here to debate that, mostly because that's all anybody ever seems to want do when the subject of the Hall of fame comes up. However, there still are some who are still in contention that I will talk about deserving induction.

                  Last year around this time, I wrote about Tim Raines, and how he should be a slam dunk candidate. He's still on the ballot, along with Lee Smith, Alan Tramell and Fred "Crime Dog" McGriff.  While they're aren't many closers in Cooperstown, Smith probably deserves it.  He was consistent- kind of like a pitching version of Eddie Murray- but he wasn't as dependable as say a Mariano Rivera, or had Cy Young seasons like Dennis Eckersley and Bruce Sutter.  That, coupled with the fact that he pitched for many teams, probably have caused him to be overlooked...oh, and he took forever to get to the mound...

            On the opposite end of the scale, Alan Trammell played his entire career with one team; the Detroit Tigers. His numbers were good for a shortstop in the '80s, but they suffered in comparison to the offensive minded shortstops of the following decade like Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Nomar Garciaparra and, to a lesser extent, Omar Visquel.  Trammel- much like fellow team mate Jack Morris- seems to be Veteran committee bound once he falls off the ballot. Also, there's Schilling and Mussina, who will both have to wait awhile, mostly because of the pitchers ahead of them.

         The one candidate who I think is completely being overlooked is McGriff.  First of all, he had a great nickname...Crime Dog...People under the age of thirty (and over the age of sixty) probably won't get the reference, but in the mid '80s, the was a cartoon dog named "McGruff."  He dressed like a detective from the '40s, and (naturally) had a rather gruff voice.  He urged kids to "take a bite out of crime", sometimes paired with a non cartoon teenage girl, who sang and danced about the evils of drug use, singing  "Users are losers and losers are users, so don't do drugs...don't do drugs..."

             Crime dog led both leagues in home runs, hit 493 total ( tied with Lou Gehrig all time), drove in over 1,600 runs, never was linked to PEDs, to my knowledge-he had that muscular, yet slender, Jim Rice build- yet only received %11.7 of the vote, which is a crime, in my opinion.  Sure, he played first, where you're supposed to produce, but so did Eddie Murray, who has very similar numbers.. .But then, Eddie hit the milestones that used to matter, in 3,000 hits and 500 homers, back before PEDs made things both confusing and infuriating, voting wise.

          In conclusion, let me just say I think Biggio, Raines and Piazza will get in within the next few years, and Smith-who is still walking in from the bullpen as we speak-will get in during a slow year, much like former team mate Andre Dawson.  As for McGriff...who knows...hopefully people will come to their senses...left off the ballot for years has been one player I think has been totally overlooked; catcher Ted Simmons, who made eight All star teams during his time with the Cardinals and Brewers.  My favorite story of Simmons is when he was catching the Cardinal's insane closer, Al "The Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky, a pitcher who would regularly stomp on the mound and intimidate hitters with his homicidal glare and fu manchu moustache.

                 Many people got a little tired of the Mad Hungarian's act, mostly umpires. This one time, however, four time batting champion Bill Matlock came to the plate, and decided to mimic Hrabosky's antics on the mound while at bat. He stepped out of the box, stomped around, made a big fuss, much to the amusement of the crowd and umpire.  Even Hrabosky seemed to enjoy it.  The one person who didn't was Ted Simmon's, who decked Matlock when he came back to the THERE's a competitor...

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