Stuart Scott has passed away at age 49. Whatever you came to think of his performances or of ESPN, it cannot be argued that he was not incredibly talented, and not a legitimate innovator. He made the things he covered more enjoyable to watch and follow.
- It’s Hall of Fame week, with the results of the most recent voting – for the 2015 class – to be announced on Tuesday. The Tribune’s voters revealed their ballots, which make for a pretty representative look at what I expect we’ll see this week: first-timers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz show up on all five ballots. Other guys – Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling – get a mix of support. The PED guys will get very little support (Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are nowhere to be found on these five lists, let alone Sammy Sosa or Mark McGwire). And, in a big turnaround from recent years, I think Tim Raines gets a lot of support this year (he’s on all five Tribune ballots), and I think he comes incredibly close, even with the crowded ballot (and despite being at just 46% last year).
- The Baseball Prospectus crew voted for their Hall of Famers, and, as you might expect, guys like Tim Raines – who, rather incredibly, have trouble getting sufficient support from HOF voters – get in with ease. Alleged PED guys like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens also get in easily. Thus, you can tell from the results that the BP voters were not excluding guys for PED allegations … and Sammy Sosa still didn’t come close to receiving 75% of the vote. They must agree with me that, even if you set aside PEDs, Sosa’s career is probably just shy of Hall-worthy.
- Speaking of which, Mike Axisa took a look at Sosa’s candidacy at CBS, and came to the opposite conclusion: Sosa is worthy, and only the PED cloud keeps him out.
- The catchers-can’t-block-the-plate rule was the subject of constant scrutiny and controversy last year, and the offseason hasn’t made that go away. New Cubs manager Joe Maddon makes his position very clear in this National Post piece, suggesting that the rule wouldn’t have been put in place if it weren’t for Buster Posey – a young superstar – getting blasted in 2011. Maddon’s probably right about that (though I’d disagree with him that Posey was in a bad position on the play (you can see in the GIF there that Scott Cousins veered in from the baseline to initiate contact, unnecessarily, with Posey)). In any case, the rule isn’t entirely going away anytime soon, so it’ll just have to be tweaked.
- 10 possible storylines for 2015 from the Boston Globe – the Cubs one is what you’d expect, with folks waiting to see if the Cubs are turning the corner. And, another item on the list is seeing how good Kris Bryant can be. (The point for our purposes here is that it’s yet another non-Chicago media center focusing limited space (10 storylines for all of baseball) on the Cubs a full 20% of the slots. People care about the Cubs.)