So which cap does Dawson wear on his plaque?

Leave a comment

Dawson Red Sox.jpgUPDATE:  Still read the discussion below because it applies to other players too, but for the record, a few minutes ago MLB.com’s Hal Bodley walked into the Waldorf Astoria ballroom where they’ll have Andre Dawson’s press conference later today and noticed that they have a big portrait of him in an Expos uniform set up.  I’m guessing that’s the Hall’s way of saying what cap he’s gonna have on the plaque.

I ask because MLB.com has a story asking it.  To be honest, though, it seems pretty obvious.

Dawson played 1443 games in Montreal, 867 in Chicago, 121 in Florida and 196 in Boston.  I think we can eliminate Boston and Florida from the conversation, right?  That leaves the Expos and Cubs.

While his OPS and other rate stats are a hair higher in Chicago, he was a gold glove centerfielder for the Expos and a rightfielder for the Cubs (yes, he won two gold gloves for the Cubs too, but how much of that was inertia?).  His MVP came for the Cubs, but he had much, much more aggregate value in an Expos uniform.

Dawson, of course, left Montreal on fairly acrimonious terms, and is on record as saying that he would prefer a Cubs or even a Marlins cap who gave him a chance to play a bit longer, to adorn his plaque. That’s not his choice to make, however.  The players had the choice of what cap they’d wear until 2001.  At that point the Hall made the wise decision to take that choice away from them.  I say wise, because ultimately the Hall of Fame is a museum, and it’s a museum’s job to reflect history, not honor the personal preferences of the honoree.

Which doesn’t mean that more games or more aggregate value always trumps. Reggie Jackson was a better player for a greater number of years with the Athletics than the Yankees, yet he wears a Yankees cap on his plaque. I have no problem with this because, really, when his tale is being told, his exploits with the Yankees are the center of the story. Nolan Ryan has a Rangers cap. Sure, it’s subjective, but it just feels right, doesn’t it? And feel matters. How whack does the pic to the right of this post look? Do we really want history looking like that?

By the same token, Andre Dawson feels like an Expo and, in my mind at least, his plaque has to have an Expos cap.

Yordano Ventura and Jose Fernandez were two of the most promising arms in MLB

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 3: Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Baseball lost two incredible pitchers in the last four months, both to horrible and unforeseen tragedies. Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura were among the most talented and promising pitchers in MLB, two young arms that drew both accolades and criticism for their performance on the mound.

Ventura signed with the Royals in 2008, blazing through several tiers of their farm system before he was called up to replace an injured Danny Duffy in late 2013. He secured his rotation spot the following spring and finished a solid 2014 campaign with a 14-10 record, 3.20 ERA and 2.4 fWAR in 32 starts for the club. During the Royals’ World Series run later that year, Ventura dedicated his performance in Game 6 to Cardinals’ prospect Oscar Taveras, who was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic just two days earlier.

In four years with the Royals, Ventura pitched to a 38-31 record, 3.89 ERA and 6.5 fWAR. While his command and overall production rate waned, bottoming out in 2016 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.85 SO/BB rate, his dynamic pitch repertoire still kept him front and center in the Royals’ pitching staff. He brandished an electric fastball that, at its lowest point, hovered around 96.6 m.p.h. and, at its best, topped out around 102.6 m.p.h.

Like Ventura, Fernandez made an instant impression in the major league circuit. He earned Rookie of the Year distinctions in 2013 after delivering a 12-6 record, 2.19 ERA and 4.1 fWAR with the Marlins. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in his sophomore year, he recovered to take on a full workload in 2016 and stunned the league with a 16-8 record, 2.89 ERA, career-high 253 strikeouts and 6.1 fWAR.

Ventura developed a reputation for brushing back hitters, which escalated in some cases to volatile bench-clearing brawls. In 2015, he was ejected for three altercations in three consecutive games and served a seven-game suspension. Halfway through the 2016 season, he earned another eight-game suspension after plunking the Orioles’ Manny Machado in the back with a 99 m.p.h. heater. Some speculated that his aggressive behavior on the mound was excused — or, at least, made more palatable — by his talent and track record, while others called for a more heavy-handed approach from the league.

Fernandez, too, found himself at the center of speculation after reports emerged that painted the 24-year-old as a “clubhouse difficulty,” citing attitude problems that damaged relationships between the pitcher and Marlins players and staff. On the field, he was occasionally chastised for failing to adhere to some of baseball’s unwritten rules, most notably when he showed his elation after hitting his first career home run off of the Braves’ Mike Minor in 2013.

It’s impossible to predict where Fernandez and Ventura’s careers would have taken them. We mourn them not for their actions on the mound or their potential as star pitchers, however, but for their inherent value as people who were loved and respected by their families and teams. Major League Baseball will be worse off for their loss.

Yordano Ventura killed in an auto accident

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 2:  Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals jokes with teammates as he walks off the field after the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on June 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Getty Images
15 Comments

UPDATE, 12:07 p.m. EDT: The Royals have confirmed reports of Yordano Ventura’s death with an official statement. No further details pertaining to the accident have been divulged.

Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.

Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.

Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.

Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.