Time to figure out how and when to go see ‘Spider-Man’ so I don’t get spoiled. SO HELP YOU IF YOU POST SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS OVER THE NEXT FIVE DAYS OR SO …
• Ken Rosenthal wonders why Sammy Sosa gets so little Hall of Fame support if David Ortiz is already looking like he’ll top 75% within a year or two – it’s a good read:
Why does David Ortiz get so much more support than Sammy Sosa? Exploring yet another Hall of Fame contradiction . . . and revealing my ballot. https://t.co/ybMaTihfI4
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 16, 2021
• It seems likely that, for voters who are making choices based on PED suppositions, there is a meaningful difference between Sosa and Ortiz: although both “tested positive” only within that 2003 survey that was absolutely not supposed to be used in this way (and was also reportedly fraught with data collection issues), the bulk of Sosa’s big league success took place before the league actually cracked down on PEDs. Ortiz’s success, by contrast, took place almost entirely within the testing era, and he never tested positive, despite putting up monster numbers even into his late-30s. (Rosenthal acknowledges this distinction, though it’s not the reason he votes for one and not the other – mostly it’s a strategic decision that he knows Sosa won’t get enough votes, and he wants to support another player who has a better chance.)
• You probably don’t *have* to get into all of that to make the case for Ortiz over Sosa, though. In a worse scoring environment, Ortiz became, by far, the better overall hitter than Sosa. And although Ortiz was mostly a DH, Sosa’s defense was pretty bad by the time he was putting up his best offensive numbers. Throw in Ortiz’s substantial postseason accomplishments, and, fair or not, I can see why he gets more support than Sosa.
• For me, on Sosa, I remain of the mind that you cannot punish the pre-2003 players for their PED use when the league CLEARLY had no interest in actually enforcing these rules, and indeed made guys like Sosa the face of the sport precisely because of the things they were (possibly, probably) doing on the backs of those substances. I may not like the cheating, and I definitely feel terrible for the clean players in that era, but it just seems to entirely ignore reality to act like we can suss out who cheated, who didn’t, who would’ve been a Hall of Famer even if they hadn’t cheated, and all that crap. Just look at the performance for the era, incorporate as much knowledge as possible, and make a decision on whether the player was truly among the elite of the elite for that era. That’s why I’ve been on the fence for so long with Sosa and the Hall, some years thinking it should happen, other years thinking he was actually statistically just short in his era. If I had a vote this year, I can see beating myself up a bit whichever direction I went. Not that it would matter, because he’s not going to get enough votes in this, his final year on the ballot.
• As expected, once the measure had cleared the committee level earlier in the week, the full City Council approved the new law allowing sportsbooks to open and operate at sports venues around Chicago. That means the long-announced DraftKings sportsbook coming to Wrigley Field can finally begin development. The goal is for it to be fully operational before the 2023 season begins. I would bet that the Cubs would love to have it open and operating by some point during the next football season in fall 2022, but I expect it’ll probably be difficult to finalize everything while the 2022 baseball season is going on; so mark March/April 2023 to hit up the experience.
• And about that experience, like I said earlier in the week, while I am personally excited for it, I know that there are strong opinions in a variety of directions when you talk about bringing sports betting directly to a sports stadium. That’s fine. But I think one thing we can all get on board with is that, *if* the book is going to generate significant extra revenue for the organization – as Tom Ricketts has said it would – then it will be fair game to hold the organizational accountable for using those revenues to contribute directly to baseball operations. That’s how I view this thing on two tracks: (1) I want to go and do it as a fan, and (2) this should mean more revenue available to baseball operations over the next decade+.
• The Reds’ ZiPS projections are out, and they’re actually pretty clearly better than the Cubs as each team is currently constructed. The difference, of course, is that the Cubs are expected to add from here, while the Reds might further unload from their useful players. Positionally, it’s a lot of meh outside of Jonathan India and Jesse Winker, but the rotation (Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Sonny Gray) is solid, and the bullpen projects extremely well (especially Lucas Sims and Art Warren, who project to be STUDS). They also have a ton of young pitchers who project to be better than league average in whatever their contributions (a vestige, no doubt, of a lot of early-round drafts and a pitching development infrastructure led by Kyle Boddy and DriveLine for a few years before he departed earlier this offseason). It’s possible we’re about to see the Reds churning out quality arm after quality arm for the next several years. I’ve probably underestimated that part of their organization.
• Never a bad time to remember this moment:
In honor of Gregory Polanco reportedly signing in Japan, may we all remember his greatest contribution to the baseball canon. pic.twitter.com/FdldK7WWi5
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 16, 2021
• Speaking of Polanco, what an incredible fall off, from top 20 prospect, a lock to be a star, to signing a super early extension that was ripped as way too team friendly, to managing just one good year at the plate, to seeing something go completely wrong with his swing (at just 27 years old), and now to having to head overseas to keep playing. Like Jonathan Singleton, whom we mentioned recently, Polanco is another good reminder: sometimes, you sign that early deal for life-changing money when you get a chance, and stop ripping players who choose to do it.
• More Ortiz-related fun, with an Anthony Rizzo cameo:
Newest PitchingNinja Video!
José Fernández vs. David Ortiz: Behind the At Bat
2016 All Star Game.
The Story Behind the At Bat.
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) December 15, 2021
• The Blackhawks won a wild and fun one last night:
Enhanced Box Score: Blackhawks 5, Capitals 4 — December 15, 2021https://t.co/qWJ9cqmu13
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) December 16, 2021
• I’ll just be over here hoping beyond hope:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) December 15, 2021