Tag Archives: Hall of Fame

Still enjoy waiting for baseball to begin

I don’t follow big-league baseball with nearly the fervor I did when I was a kid.

Free agency managed to wreck it for me in the late 1960s, allowing big leaguers to sell their talents to the highest bidder. Players have switched teams, causing some upset to those of us who long associated players with teams.

Mickey Mantle: New York Yankees; Ted Williams: Boston Red Sox; Stan Musial: St. Louis Cardinals.

Sure, some post-free agency players stayed with the same teams throughout their careers: Tony Gwynn: San Diego Padres; Cal Ripken: Baltimore Orioles; George Brett: Kansas City Royals.

All six of those guys are first-ballot Hall of Famers.

OK, now that I’ve stipulated that I don’t follow Major League Baseball the way I used to follow it, I remain anxious as we get ready for the first pitch to be tossed out. I still like old-fashioned hardball. It remains in my mind and heart the National Pastime.

I don’t await the start of pro basketball or pro football with this kind of anticipation. Pro hockey? Umm. Not even close.

Baseball is still a bit different for me.

I follow a couple of players more than the rest of ’em. By fave at the moment plays for the Los Angeles Angels: Albert Pujols, who’ll enter the Hall of Fame on the first ballot when his time comes up. Pujols is set to get his 3,000th hit this season. He’ll get his share of home runs to add to his ninth-best career total of 614. My hope is that he can put together at least one more career year to match the seasons he piled up in St. Louis before he decided to shop his skills around before he ended up in LA.

So, with that I’ll await the 2018 MLB season with some enthusiasm. I’m no longer a kid. Baseball no longer is quite the same as it was in those days.

They still play good hardball and, brother, they get paid lots of money to play a kid’s game.

Yes, they should ‘fear’ CTE

Terrell Davis used to be a great football player.

The newly inducted Hall of Fame running back for the Denver Broncos now says he lives in fear — along with other former football players — of a disease he might get later on in life. It’s called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Davis has reason to be very afraid.

The young man took a battering while carrying a football for the Broncos. He took many hits to the head, as did so many other professional football players. Indeed, studies have revealed recently that more than 80 percent of former NFL players are — or will be — afflicted by CTE, which ultimately diminishes cognitive ability.

“We’re concerned because we don’t know what the future holds. When I’m at home and I do something, if I forget something I have to stop to think, ‘Is this because I’m getting older or I’m just not using my brain, or is this an effect of playing football? I don’t know that.”

Read more about Davis’s comments here.

What does the NFL do about this? It already has taken steps to penalize players who hit other athletes on what they call “helmet-to-helmet contact.” The league has been forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to players afflicted by CTE.

The NFL is now dealing almost daily with reports of athletes becoming afflicted with CTE at various stages of its progression.

The term CTE only recently has become part of every-day language, sort of like HIV/AIDS and ALS have become over the years.

Do these grown men stop doing what they do? Do we make football an illegal activity? Must the NFL resort to retooling the game into a two-hand touch football game? No, no and no.

But I surely can understand the fear that Terrell Davis and other former football players are expressing as they advance in years toward elderly status.

I suppose it would be imperative that the NFL do all it can to (a) protect the players on the field with improvements in the equipment they wear and (b) spend whatever it takes to care for those who are permanently damaged by the sport they choose to play.

Rose in the Hall of Fame? No way

pete_rose_webstory

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is a man after my own heart.

He has told Pete Rose categorically this: No matter how great you were on the field of play, you do not deserve reinstatement in the game you dominated for so many years.

I totally agree with Manfred.

It’s been speculated that Manfred’s edict might open the door — if only slightly — for Rose to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I hope that isn’t the case, either. Most experts, though, say that Manfred’s decision slams the Hall of Fame door shut — forever.

Look, I am as big a baseball fan as any red-blooded American male. I used to love watching Rose play hardball. He got more out of his fairly limited natural athletic ability than any 10 players who ever donned a uniform. Rose played hard and he played to win.

Even in all-star games. Who can forget when he bowled catcher Ray Fosse over in the 1970 all-star game, injuring Fosse so severely that the Cleveland Indians star never recovered fully?

That said, he also violated one of MLB’s cardinal rules. He bet on the game. The rule book stipulates clearly: violation of the no-betting rule shall result in a lifetime ban from the game.

As others have noted, MLB instituted the rule as a reaction to the 1919 Chicago “Black Sox” betting scandal that has kept Shoeless Joe Jackson — another Hall of Fame-quality player — out of the Cooperstown, N.Y., shrine.

I also am acutely aware that the Hall of Fame is full of assorted scoundrels; they are drunks, racists, womanizers, drug users … you name it, they’ve done it and are still in the Hall of Fame.

The Grand Old Game doesn’t stipulate — in writing — that holding racist views or bar-hopping the night before a big game disqualifies you from having anything to do with the game.

It does with betting.

Pete Rose bet on baseball. As Manfred said, Rose “has not presented credible evidence of a reconfigured life either by an honest acceptance by him of his wrongdoing … or by a rigorous, self-aware and sustained program of avoidance by him of all the circumstances that led to his permanent eligibility in 1989.”

Greed, selfishness? Not with this superstar

I used to watch baseball religiously. I don’t do so much any longer.

Free agency kind of took a lot of the fun out of the game for me. Athletes are getting paid a lot of money to play a game. Many of them behave badly when they get those millions of bucks. They move around from team to team, looking to play for the outfit that offers them the most money.

Many others of them keep it all in perspective.

One player I do enjoy watching is a future Hall of Famer, Albert Pujols. Yes, Pujols looked for a fat contract after playing many years in St. Louis. He’s now a first baseman for the Los Angeles Angels. His best years likely are behind him.

He also has maintained his reputation as a thoroughly decent human being.

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/albert-pujols–touching-gesture-for-brother-of-dodgers-outfielder-joc-pederson-033106483.html

This link is about Pujols meeting a young man with Down syndrome, something about which Pujols has intimate knowledge: His eldest daughter, Isabella, also has the disease.

This story is heartwarming in the extreme and it illustrates that goodness does reside even inside ballplayers who often are tempted to look the other way when given a chance to demonstrate an act of kindness toward those who follow their athletic exploits.

Well done, Albert.

 

My vote on Pete Rose for Hall? No

Mike Downey has written a column for CNN.com in which he argues Pete Rose should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I now will write that Rose doesn’t belong there. Not ever.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/21/opinion/downey-pete-rose-hall-of-fame/index.html?hpt=hp_bn7

Pete Rose got more hits than anyone else in baseball history. He got more plate appearances and at-bats, too, than anyone else. He played in six World Series. He won three National League batting titles. He was a hell of a ballplayer.

He also broke a cardinal rule in baseball. It’s in the rulebook. The punishment is a lifetime ban from the game. Period. End of story.

Rose bet on baseball while he was still active in the game. He didn’t bet on his team to lose. Still, Downey knows that the rulebook is as clear as possible about betting on baseball. You bet on a game and get caught … you’re out!

Downey offers up the lame excuse that other baseball greats have gotten into the Hall of Fame while carousing late at night. Downey writes: “They say gambling is a sickness, an addiction, like liquor or drugs. They tell us gamblers need help. In the same breath, they tell us funny stories about the Hall of Fame baseball greats who bar-hopped all night, came to the park drunk, played with a hangover, hahaha, what a guy. Oh, that Babe. Oh, that Mickey.”

I get all that. The rulebook, though, doesn’t have a moral turpitude clause in it. Baseball players are allowed to be a lot of unflattering things: drunks, womanizers, racists. Men who fit all those descriptions are in the Hall of Fame.

Those who bet on the game? No can do.

Sorry, Pete. You were a great player. You got more out of your skills than almost anyone who ever swung a bat.

It’s that gambling thing that should keep you out of the Hall of Fame.

Rose in the Hall of Fame? No way

Gosh, I hate disagreeing with a pal of mine, but I can’t let this one go.

Lance Lahnert, sports editor of the Amarillo Globe-News, said in his weekly “My 2 Cents” column today that Pete Rose belongs in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Umm, I don’t believe so, Lance.

“I saw that Sports Illustrated put Pete Rose on its magazine cover since it’s been 25 years since his banning from baseball,” Lahnert writes. “It’s a tired issue if Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame or not. Rose didn’t bet on baseball as a player setting the all-time hit record. He belongs in the Hall of Fame as a player.”

There you have it. That’s what my buddy said about Rose.

Why do I disagree with him?

Well, for starters I’m kind of a fuddy-duddy about some things — such as rules and regulations. I believe they ought to be obeyed to the letter.

Big league baseball has this clause in its rulebook that says that betting on baseball shall result in a lifetime ban from the game. By definition that means the offender doesn’t qualify for the Hall of Fame, no matter how prodigious his statistics.

Rose’s stats are impressive, starting with him being the all-time career leader in base hits.

He had a stellar career with the Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies and Montreal Expos. I do no deny that he played the game with unbridled verve and enthusiasm that more than likely made up for whatever pure athletic skill he lacked. He was a gamer.

But while managing the Reds he bet on games involving his team. That darn rule book stipulates in black and white that betting on baseball games while being active in the game is a no-no. It doesn’t say that doing it as a manager but not a player somehow shades the infraction enough to allow Hall of Fame induction as a player; indeed, Rose compiled only a so-so record as a manager.

It pains me to insist that MLB continue to ban one of the game’s true stars from the Hall of Fame. However, the guy committed a major violation. The punishment is clear. He’s banned for life. Save the Hall of Fame for the players — and managers — who followed the rules.