McGriff's career gets even better with age

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040717_mcgriff_vmed_2p.standard[1].jpgFred McGriff will be eligible for the Hall of Fame next year, and the folks in Tampa (his home town, and where he currently works) are already banging the drum for his induction.

His basic numbers are pretty good — 493 homers, 1,550 RBIs, a .284 average. Further research by Rays VP Rick Vaughn makes them look even better, noting that all eligible players with similar triple crown category numbers are in and that McGriff compares very favorably with other first baseman in the Hall, as well as those in his era.

As good as McGriff was — and he was very, very good — the mention of his name has never sparked the imagination of casual baseball fans. As a player, he was quiet and classy. He didn’t court trouble or attention. He didn’t win any MVP awards. He just smashed 30-35 home runs and drove in 100 runs every year for 19 seasons.

Over a 15-year stretch from 1988-2002, McGriff was sixth in home runs, trailing Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Ken Griffey Jr. Over the same stretch, only Bonds and Palmeiro drove in more runs.

And one more thing: Of the players mentioned above, only Griffey and McGriff have never been connected to steroids.

Whatever you think of juicing, it has become quite clear that Hall of Fame voters do care, and are prepared to punish anyone connected to steroids or suspected of using them. Just ask Mark McGwire.

So in contrast, will voters reward McGriff for a resume that is perceived to be clean? The Crime Dog tells the New York Times that he’s not sure it should matter:

“I think even without those guys being accused of this and that, my numbers stack up pretty good against those guys,” McGriff said. “It’s not like they were that much better. If you really start to look at the numbers, I was still right there.”

Well said, Fred.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.