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baseball hall of fameIt’s Hall of Fame weekend, with a record number of folks expected to attend festivities today and tomorrow in Cooperstown, New York. An incredible duo of trios receive induction this weekend, with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas going in on the players’ side, and Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, and Joe Torre going in on the managers’ side. The inductions and speeches come tomorrow.

  • Speaking of the Hall of Fame, the length of time on the ballot has shrunk from 15 years to 10, which is an excellent change (among many others not made, but probably should be (like more than 10 names per ballot, more restrictions on who gets to vote, more vehicles to publicly shame those who do ridiculous things like not voting for Greg Maddux)). I’m going to be a meatball for a moment, but here’s my take: If a guy hasn’t been voted in by year 10, he’s probably not HOF-worthy. There are obvious exceptions – especially for absurdly underappreciated guys like Ron Santo – but that’s what the committees thereafter are for. Grand sentiment changes about what kinds of players are Hall-worthy take longer than an additional five years anyway, and I’ll take that trade-off for seeing less of the marginal guys getting in in years 13/14/15 for reasons other than merit. Will this have some ancillary effects, like making it tougher for the steroid era guys to get in? Sure.* But I really don’t think the tail is wagging the dog here, and I believe the change is really just about clearing up the glut on the ballot. As with anything, though, this is just my initial reaction, and I’m open to being corrected anywhere that my position is ill-informed.
  • *And it’s not like the Hall can’t commission a special committee 20 years from now (or whenever sentiment shifts enough to common sense) to look back at the steroid era guys, and determine who should be in.
  • Jesse Rogers speaks with Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and Rick Renteria on how they offer advice to the youngsters coming up to the big team. They’re 24-years-old, but Rizzo and Castro are becoming clear leaders – probably by circumstance as much as choice. Don’t underestimate the importance of this stuff.
  • At least Mike Olt has a very good attitude about his trip back to Des Moines. As we’ve seen now time and again, contact issues are just about the only baseball problem that can completely eradicate a position player’s ability to contribute in the big leagues, irrespective of his other skills. For guys like Olt, Brett Jackson, and Junior Lake, they do so many things so well that they were able to reach the big leagues in spite of obviously deficient contact ability, but, if it’s bad enough, no combination of speed, power, defense, and athleticism can make up for a 40% strikeout rate, even in a bench role. I’m not quite yet giving up on any of those three (with the best hope, relatively speaking, probably for Lake), but something dramatic has to change if they’re going to be bench contributors in 2015 and beyond.
  • Tony Andracki writes about the snail’s pace of baseball games these days, which remains – to me – a significant issue for the sport going forward. I don’t mind a three-hour game. You don’t mind a three-hour game. But the next generation of fans and customers DO mind it, especially when the nature of the sport, itself, isn’t exactly non-stop action. I really wish we heard more about MLB recognizing and confronting this problem in a proactive way, rather than just hanging its hat on good attendance and TV revenues. You have to have a better eye toward the future – something MLB has never been particularly good at.
  • Ryan Sweeney raised his OPS 32 points yesterday with a homer and a single, which is good. The only problem is that it still stands below .600, at just .566. With a gaudy 25% line drive rate, and a mere 13.7% strikeout rate, you’d think he’d be faring a lot better. Might be a lot of hard luck this year for Sweeney. And I do distinctly recall a game earlier in the year where he hit three bullets on which three great plays were made – given the small sample, those three balls as hits would actually raise his batting average from .221 to .242 (just three hits!).
  • It would be weird if I got a print of this photo and hung it on my office wall, wouldn’t it? Probably a little. I’m still tempted:

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