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Alex Cora…

…so I feel like I should comment on the whole cheating scandal going on in Major League Baseball.  Not only because it involves the Boston Red Sox.  But also because the New England Patriots have been known to ummmmm…push the envelope a time or three as well.  So I guess it is in the water here.  Or it’s prevalent around all leagues.  Either way…

The punishment has not come out against the Red Sox as of yet, so I am not really sure how I feel about them in particular.  Though the punishment has been levied against the Houston Astros already, they still seem to be the focus of the public somehow.  I’ll take that.

There is nothing really to write about the actual Red Sox team either.  Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom has spent the offseason basically exchanging bum/unproven relievers for…bum/unproven relievers.  And NOT cutting payroll, as he was apparently “mandated” to do.  He also got rid of some AAAA infielders and signed a backup catcher.  So there’s that.  Oh, and now he has to find a manager.  Seems pretty productive thus far, right?

So instead of wasting any words on Sam Travis, Bobby Poyner, Jeffrey Springs or Matt Hall, here are some completely random thoughts on the cheating coming out of my head, in no particular order.  And I am not even guaranteeing they will make any sense either:

*As written in an ESPN article, “Cora is described by commissioner Rob Manfred as being “involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs. Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players’ conduct.””

YIKES!!

Yeah, based on that, I can’t say I am surprised by the Sox firing him…oops, I mean, “agreed with Alex to mutually part ways…”  Sorry about that.

But what penalty can Cora expect?  Based on the year that former Astro manager A.J. Hinch received, is there a chance Cora gets banned for life?  Is it worse than what Pete Rose did to get him banned for life?

I may be the wrong guy to ask about Rose.  Truly an abhorrable (abhorrent?) individual, he bet on his own team while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds.  He may have not been the only one doing it, but he was dumb enough to get caught.  And, not to mention, dumb enough to do it in the first place.  Some may point out that he may have been showing confidence in his own team that day.  But he also likely tanked other days to assure the team was at its best the day he threw money down on them.  Or something like that.  In any event, despite being a colossal scumbag, Rose should be in the Hall of Fame as a player.  Since he would be far from the only scumbag in the Hall.

But I digress.  As for Cora…I don’t even know the answer.  It would seem kind of obvious that he would get more than Hinch.  But life?

I can’t go there unless I hear more damning evidence against him.  Perhaps that comes when the Red Sox investigation is complete.

*What does MLB do from here?  I mean, video is everywhere.  Some dude can take video from the 6th row and get valuable information, can’t he?  The Astro dude that was standing in plain view and recording in games against the Red Sox, Indians and who knows who else…was that even necessary?

I know the teams have some sort of video rooms in the back and all.  But even if they were eliminated, would that make a difference?

I’ve actually been wondering for years how on an NFL telecast in any year someone like Tony Romo, Troy Aikman or Cris Collinsworth say stuff early on like, “when we spoke to the quarterback and coaches on Friday, they told us they were going to do (this) to (combat the other team)”.  I mean, no one listens to the telecast and communicates that to the opposing sideline?  Yeah, it isn’t the whole game plan.  And maybe what was said was kind of obvious.  But still…

Video and recording devices are all around us.  How do you stop it?  I don’t know.  And I am not sure MLB does either.

*What about player suspensions?  Will we see any of those?

My guess is no.  For several reasons.  Are any of the reports going to single out any of the players?  Are there really any players that took advantage more than others?  Did some players frown upon it, but had no choice to go along with the plan due to pressure from their teammates/coaches (reports are that Hinch didn’t love what was going on and broke two monitors at some point.  But ultimately did nothing to stop it, so of course he is paying the price),

And above all, how can you suspend 25-40 players?

Perhaps heavy manager/GM penalties may discourage players from engaging in this practice going forward.  But can we count on that?

*And if they are going after General Managers, why not the owners?  I guess the draft picks and the 5 mil takes care of that part.

However, Marge Schott and George Steinbrenner faced some personal penalties years ago.  So who is to say the owners shouldn’t pay some sort of personal price here as well?

We know for these guys 5 mil is pocket change.

More questions than answers, I know.  But MLB is undoubtedly in the same spot.

And one thing is for sure, cheating is never going away…in any sport.

If it’s not video, it’s Apple watches, it’s performance enhancing drugs, it’s deflating footballs, or it’s something else.  And then something new will inevitably come along.

Sign stealing has been happening for years, in fact.  We all know that.  It’s just a little more high tech now.

So as the world becomes more complicated, busy and distracting…good luck to every sport for figuring all THAT out…

Cooperstown 2020…

The National Baseball Hall of Fame is due to announce their latest inductees a week from today so the Blowhard will lay his “vote” out here.  This years’ list appears to be pretty cut and dried to me.  Though you know that won’t be the case when we see the actual results.

We’ve already said our piece in many past columns on how we feel about the various versions of the committee’s formerly known as the Veteran’s Committee.  This old committee has been split up into several other “era” committees.  But they basically serve the same purpose.  To revisit previously overlooked candidates for the Hall of Fame.

Not sure they were actually “overlooked”, but you get my point.  Players are now given a second chance to enter the Hall (or 16th, 17th or 25th chances, if you will).

In my opinion, most of these guys don’t deserve induction.  They had their run on the ballot and didn’t get in initially.  No new “sabermetric” or other modern stat is going to change my mind.  You’re either a Hall of Famer or not.  That should be pretty easy to tell.  But apparently, I am in the minority.

This year, Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller were inducted through the Modern Era Committee.  Miller actually is a pretty good case with how he spearheaded many changes to baseball over the years he was involved in the game.  I won’t argue with his induction.  However, my columns deal with player elections.  I wouldn’t consider myself qualified enough to judge the merits of most executives, owners, umpires or anyone else in those positions.

Simmons?  Meh.  Dwight Evans was next on this years’ list.  He received 8 votes and needed 12.  Dewey was awesome and I loved the dude.  Yes, the uniform he wore had a lot to do with that (no, not his last year with the Orioles).  But absolutely not a Hall of Famer.  Along with Harold Baines, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Jack Morris and pretty much most of the players these Veteran-type committees enshrine.

Because of this nonsense…and guys like Mike Mussina and Edgar Martinez getting in on the regular vote…this article is getting harder and harder to do every year.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  The Baseball Hall of Fame does not exist anymore.  It has become the “Hall of Very Good”.

It’s not going to get any better either.

But let’s move on…for now anyway.

This year, there are 32 names on the official ballot.  Per usual, I added one write-in of my own.  Based on the various “Veteran’s Committee” voting in recent years, I could add guys like Rafael Palmeiro and Fred McGriff back to my ballot as well, seeing that they will probably get inducted by these committees in the future.  Well, Palmeiro once they let in all the steroid guys.  Which is inevitable.  Or should be anyway.

Elected:

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez-Every year the same song.  As human beings, completely vile.  Clemens and Bonds anyway.  Manny was just an idiot.  At seemingly most things besides hitting a baseball.  But I don’t know the guy, so I guess I shouldn’t say that.  But the multiple failed performance-enhancing drug tests may support my argument.

In any event, these were some of the better players in baseball, even without the ‘roids.  The first two may get in this year anyway as they got close to 60% (of the 75% needed) in last years’ voting.  Of course, we said that last year.  My feeling is that this year won’t be their year either.  8th year on the ballot.  I’m guessing they will have to wait until their 10th (and final) year on the ballot…at the earliest.  Manny was only at 22.8% in his third year.  He may actually have to wait for the Committee vote down the road.  There is no reason for these guys not to be in someday, however.  I’m sorry if that offends.  But it’s the truth.

Derek Jeter-I often wondered how Jetes would have fared had he been drafted and “developed” by an organization such as the San Diego Padres.  Or Pittsburgh Pirates.  Or Tampa Bay Rays.  You get the point.  He certainly benefited by landing with the New York Yankees.  And simply stated, that is why he is a Hall of Famer.  Now, that is not his “fault”, I get it.  But I have always thought he was overrated.  I thought if he was such a great team leader, he would have moved positions when Alex Rodriguez came to town.  A-Rod was a much better shortstop, without question.  The five Gold Gloves Jetes has are a joke.  I just found out, thanks to baseball-reference.com, that one of his “awards” as being named the 11th greatest “world leader” in 2014 by Fortune, among the Dalai Lama, Pope Francis and Warren Buffett, to name a few.  WHAT??!!  They may have rewritten that article if they gave things a little more thought.  Also, we wouldn’t even be talking about his smart positioning and great defensive play against Oakland if that knucklehead Jeremy Giambi slides into home.  Instead of for some reason going in standing up and therefore being tagged out.  I could go on, but I will not.  I will say that Jeter was a gamer, showed up to play every day and shined the brightest when the lights were also the brightest, the postseason.  Yes, he was regularly in the postseason and that did not hurt.  But he upped his game during those times, at least that is what I remember most about him.  THAT is what puts him in the Hall.  Not the stats that he accumulated due to longevity.

Pete Rose-Here’s my write-in again.  One of the biggest scumbags you will ever find.  But definitely a Hall of Famer.  He will be enshrined someday.  But after he is long gone from this Earth, I would imagine.  I just can’t imagine the all-time hits leader never getting in.  Betting on baseball is considered sacrilege by most fans I would say.  But I am sure he was not the only one who did it.  He was just the moron that got caught.  Does that make it right?  Nope, of course not.  And it’s particularly abhorrent when you are managing a team and make bets based on the performance of that team.  My defense is that the Hall is not filled with choir boys.  Yeah, flimsy, I get it.  But they were judged based on their performance on the field, not off it.  I understand the support for keeping Rose out.  I really do.  And I respect it.  I just don’t share that opinion.  Maybe I’m the idiot.  Wouldn’t be the first time I was accused of being that.  Certainly won’t be the last.  But I’m not changing my mind.

Fantastic careers, but falling a smidge short:

I actually don’t have any in this category this year.

Pretty damn good careers, but we can’t induct everyone:

(Editor’s note:  The notes for the first ten players in this category are essentially the same as previous years because, well, there was not a change of opinion about the player.  So why change the analysis?  Still should hold true, no?)

Curt Schilling-Think he will get in eventually too.  But again, not for me.  Not because of his mouth or politics or tweets or any of that stuff.  But because there were too many career ups and downs for my liking.  Despite all of his postseason heroics.  By the way, there are 18 pitchers in Major League Baseball history that have struck out 3,000 or more batters.  14 are in the Hall.  Clemens should be 15.  C.C. Sabathia passed 3k last year and just retired.  Not a Hall guy I don’t think for me, but the betting here is that he gets in fairly easily.  Justin Verlander also passed the threshold last year and will be in the Hall likely the minimum five years after he hangs them up.  Schill is 18.  This may change down the road anyway because guys strike out all the time now.  Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke are in the 2,600s right now themselves, so sometime in 2021, they will each get to 3,000, barring injury.  But up until now, it may kind of show that Schill actually belongs in the Hall?

Jeff Kent-His position of second base helps him here.  But he can probably thank the San Francisco years of batting cleanup behind Bonds for keeping him on the ballot every year.

Larry Walker-Colorado effect.  I don’t know why he keeps getting the support.  Why no love for Vinny Castilla, Dante Bichette or Andres Galarraga?  His numbers weren’t even as good as Baines’.  10th and final year on the ballot.  54.6% last year.  I wonder if he makes a big leap his last year?  Don’t rule that out.

Gary Sheffield-I never really didn’t think too hard with him.  There’s usually a reason a great talent bounces around and plays on 8 teams.  Didn’t we all see it coming when he came up with Milwaukee as a youngster, they asked him to play third base, he didn’t like it, and as a result fired balls into the stands on purpose?

Billy Wagner-I liked Wagner better than Trevor Hoffman.  But Hoffs pitched in almost 200 more games.  If Wags stuck around for a couple more years, would he have gotten Hoffman-type support?  It’s possible.  But he’s still not in the Hall for me.

Sammy Sosa-Same story, different year.  609 homers are nice.  But almost half of them (292) came in a 5 year stretch…of an 18-year career.  His .878 career OPS doesn’t even compare to Jim Thome or Vladimir Guerrero, who got in two years ago.  Nor do many of his other career totals.

Scott Rolen-Numbers were worse than I remembered and didn’t do a whole ton after age-31.  Rookie of the Year award, 7 All-Star Games and 8 Gold Gloves I suppose gets one some love.  The .158 average in 16 games (over 5 series) in the NLDS can’t possibly help though.  The rest of the postseason numbers don’t stick out either.  Nice player, no Hall though.

Andruw Jones-If Andruw retired after his age-29 season in 2006, he may have had a decent shot at the Hall.  As funny as that sounds.  Based on both his offensive and defensive prowess.  He didn’t, however, and sunk his chances with a pretty disastrous final 6 seasons.  “Disastrous” may actually be being kind.  Jones hit 92 homers in those 6 years, but did little else, but apparently stop doing ‘roids and get fat.  And I think stop caring, but I don’t know if I can prove that.

Omar Vizquel-Omar is going to get some serious love because “well, Ozzie Smith is in and Luis Aparicio is in and Vizquel’s numbers are comparable/better…”  And sure, he deserves consideration.  Absolutely a defensive whiz at shortstop, who got better offensively as his career progressed.  He may even get in someday, perhaps by the same groups who let in all these other non-Hall of Famers.  But I’m not buying in.  Here is another one though, that if he got to 3,000 hits, he may be in automatically.  He fell 123 short.  That he got even that close is due in part to the fact that he played until he was 75 years old.  Ok, slight exaggeration there, but Omar is just another decent player that is not a Hall of Famer.

Andy Pettitte-3.85 ERA and 1.351 WHIP for his career.  256 wins, but always seemingly on good teams.  We can call him Jack Morris if you want.  You know what that means…

Todd Helton-Figured I should write more this year than theColorado.  No.” from last year, Helton’s first year on the ballot.  Yes, I am penalizing him for the “Colorado effect” for sure.  But you can also see he accumulated most of his numbers in his 20s.  He played until he was 39.  In Colorado.  And did next to nothing in his 30s.  Yes, he had injury concerns that may have prohibited him from still dominating as he did earlier in his career.  But if you are going to make the Hall, with playing half your games in that home ballpark, you simply have to do a whole lot more.  It’s just not enough, Colorado or no Colorado.

Bobby Abreu-Better career than I remembered.  Close enough to 2,500 hits, 600 doubles and 300 homers.  .870 career OPS, thanks in part to the almost 1,500 walks he took.  But certainly not enough for induction.

Jason Giambi-Solid player for a long time.  .916 OPS is nice.  Over 2,000 hits.  440 homers.  Hard to believe any of these gets him in though.

Adam Dunn-Yeah, he probably shouldn’t even be in this category, to be honest.  I mean, .237 batting average after all.  But 462 homers gets you something I would say.  Dave Kingman, Part II?  Kind of.  Walked a ton to get his OPS to .854.  Actually retired at age 34, surprisingly enough.  Third all-time in strikeouts.  218 K’s behind Reggie Jackson for the career record.  If he played 2 more years (or one?), he would have shattered that.  Then could we call him an All-Time Great?

Are these guys seriously on a Hall of Fame ballot?:

Cliff Lee, Rafael Furcal, Eric Chavez, Josh Beckett, Brian Roberts, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Pena, Paul Konerko, Chone Figgins, Raul Ibanez, Brad Penny, J.J. Putz, Jose Valverde, Heath Bell-I have no recollection of Konerko hitting 439 career homers.  Beckett could very well have been in the Hall conversation if he took his career a little more seriously.  Or something like that.  He certainly had a lot of talent.  Lee “figured it out” a little too late in his career then was derailed by injury in the end.  Soriano may actually get some love, but none from me.  The rest?  Enjoy your year on the ballot for sure.  I would!

2019 MLB National League Awards

…same full disclosure as previous years:  The Blowhard watches a whole helluva more American League baseball than National League.  This is probably going to be short, but sweet!

Most Valuable Player:

  1. Christian Yelich, Milwaukee
  2. Cody Bellinger, LA Dodgers
  3. Anthony Rendon, Washington
  4. Ketel Marte, Arizona
  5. Nolan Arenado, Colorado
  6. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
  7. Pete Alonso, NY Mets
  8. Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati
  9. Juan Soto, Washington
  10. Josh Bell, Pittsburgh

Like Mike Trout in the American League, Yelich missed the majority of the last month with injury, while the closest competitor played the whole season.  But also like Trout, Yelich’s numbers were so sick when he played, he gets the nod for me.  Plus, he had less help than Bellinger in his lineup…and entire team for that matter…and that kind of cemented the pick for me.  Rendon also had a strong season, but he was a tick behind the other two.

Marte?  Talk about coming out of nowhere.  But he deserves the #4 spot.  Arenado once again gets penalized for his home park.  But perhaps I should reconsider after what DJ LeMahieu did in New York after leaving?  Not yet…

The rest of the guys had great seasons, so you can put them in any order you want.  Charlie Blackmon and maybe Trevor Story got penalized for Coors Field, as they could be top 10 as well.  Ronald Acuna Jr. almost went 40/40 and Bryce Harper ended up straightening out his season and ended up with decent numbers.  Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant from the Cubs, Jeff McNeil from the Mets.  Max Muncy…etc.  Some players put up some pretty good numbers, per usual.  Any of them could be in the bottom half of the top ten.  I’m going with the above.

Cy Young:

  1. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
  2. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LA Dodgers
  3. Max Scherzer, Washington
  4. Stephen Strasburg, Washington
  5. Jack Flaherty, St. Louis

Tougher than it looked here.  Ryu was dominant in the first half and would have been the easy choice had he not had a stretch of starts in the second half where he got shelled…then had to be rested a bit.  Max was Max, but he missed a handful of starts due to injury.  Jake’s numbers were actually pretty close to what they were in 2018 when he won the Cy.  Not having the sub-2.00 ERA may make people think otherwise, but take a look at the whole lot of them.  That pushed me to make him the choice in 2019 as well.

Strasburg had a bit of a high ERA of 3.32, but his overall numbers made me slot him in at #4, again, not including the postseason, where he was dominant and the World Series MVP.  But Flaherty, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray (seriously?), Mike Soroka and even a closer like Josh Hader or perhaps Kirby Yates could have filled out #4-5 as well.

Rookie of the Year:

  1. Pete Alonso, NY Mets
  2. Pete Alonso, NY Mets
  3. Pete Alonso, NY Mets

This one should be unanimous.  The kid hit 53 homers.  But if I had to take a #2 & #3, I take Soroka second and Dakota Hudson, starting pitcher for St. Louis 3rd.  Fernando Tatis Jr. is a finalist with Soroka in real life and no question he is a real talent.  Along with Keston Hiura of the Brewers.  But they both played 84 games, coincidentally.  And while their numbers were good, they weren’t “Yordan Alvarez good”.  So they both are a step behind.  Special mention here to Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson Mike here as well.  The “kid” finally makes the majors at age 28 and hits 21 bombs and has a .852 OPS in 411 plate appearances.  He is out of the top 5 in the Rookie of the Year voting for sure.  And he may hit .211 with 10 homers next year.  But it’s worth a shout out here anyway.

Manager of the Year:

  1. Craig Counsell, Milwaukee
  2. Mike Shildt, St. Louis
  3. Brian Snitker, Atlanta

Counsell seemed to do more with less this year, even though his team lost 7 more games than last season.  Yelich’s injury at the end didn’t help.  Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar fell off the face of the earth.  2018 #1 starter Jhoulys Chacin collapsed, was released and ended up starting bullpen games for the pitching depleted Red Sox in September.  The three-headed monster in the bullpen (Hader, Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress) was down to one this season…Hader.  Knebel missed the entire season with injury.  Jeffress was hurt a bit then sucked when he was healthy and he too was released.  Etc.  Seems like Counsell was the most deserving choice here.

Shildt got the Cards to the playoffs, despite guys like Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna and even Paul Goldschmidt taking a dip down in production.  Plus a few pitchers like Michael Wacha as well.  Snitker led a 7 win improvement while having some pitchers having good seasons in 2018 take a downturn in 2019.

Dave Roberts gets penalized for having a stacked team.  Dave Martinez led a 11 win improvement for the Nationals…and of course won the World Series.  But when looking at that roster, it makes you wonder if he could’ve done even better in the regular season.  Even after the team lost Harper.  I guess when you win the World Series, it matters not.  But I can’t vote with the postseason in mind, once again.

I actually thought of giving Mickey Callaway of the Mets some love for his 9 win improvement and keeping his team in the mix until close to the end, finishing 3 games out of the 2nd wild card spot.  But he is apparently a nut job and ended up getting fired at the end of the season.  So I guess maybe it wasn’t him that led the team to success?

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