After McGwire started talking you just knew this was coming:
If nothing else, Maris should at least have a spot in the Hall of Fame . . . Maris doesn’t have incredible career numbers — 275 homers and 851
RBIs in 12 seasons — but a few things stand out other than the 61
homers in ’61. Maris won consecutive American League MVP awards, in
1960 and ’61. He was a star performer on five consecutive
pennant-winning Yankee teams, 1960 through ’64. He appeared in seven
World Series, more than any other player in the 1960s. He won a Gold
Glove. He was a four-time All-Star, a two-time RBI champion. He had six
20-homer seasons and three 30-homer seasons. He drove in 100 runs three
Please. Roger Maris had two great seasons — although it’s worth noting that in both 1960 and 1961 Maris was not even the best player on his own team — a couple other good ones, and a lot of innocuousness in a short and otherwise pedestrian career. If you put him in the Hall of fame you are essentially saying that overall career value doesn’t matter, and then you’re inducting guys like Dwight Gooden, Fernando Valenzuela, Tony Conigliaro and Bob Horner. I think Magglio Ordonez has a better Hall of Fame case than Maris, and I won’t ever be in the induct-Magglio camp.
This is not to say that Roger Maris isn’t worthy of recognition. Indeed, he’s been recognized plenty, both in the museum portion of the Hall of Fame and by biographers, filmmakers and just about every Baby Boom-vintage sportswriter that grew up within 200 miles of New York.
But even those guys decided that he wasn’t worthy of a plaque, and just because someone screwed with his legacy after he died doesn’t make him any more worthy of the Hall of Fame than he was before.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.