The Omaha Royals get a new name

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My old man worked for the National Weather Service for 40 years. Weathermen of his generation were mostly ex-military guys who fell into meteorology by accident, like becoming a bartender or something. Staring in the 70s, however, most of the young men who hired on with the NWS were guys who went and got their meteorology degree someplace. Becoming a weatherman these days is something someone does because they really love weather.

This shift from quasi-blue collar weathermen to educated professionals was probably a great thing for the NWS and the forecasting of weather.  The majority of meteorology grads I have met have been bright fellows, committed to their job. My dad certainly preferred supervising those eager young kids better than the irritable civil servants who were his own age. But there is definitely a profile for these guys, and that profile, for lack of a better term, is “total geek.” Weather geek, to be precise, who in the hierarchy of geekdom, should probably be placed somewhere between erotic fanfic writers and people who have Klingon wedding ceremonies. Nice guys, all of them, but they’re odd ducks.

Within that group of odd ducks, exists a smaller subculture: the storm chasers. My dad had a couple of them who worked for him back in the late 80s who I got to know pretty well. They would take all of their accrued vacation time in the spring, drive out to Texas or Oklahoma or someplace, and spend two or three weeks chasing after tornadoes, one hand on a camera, one hand on the wheel, all while hanging out the driver’s window with reckless abandon (note: way more of these dudes die in car wrecks than by getting sucked up by tornadoes).  I know that there is a  TV show about them now on the Discovery Channel, but remember this: producers of those kinds of shows try to find the most interesting people in that subculture to put on TV. The mass of them — and certainly the ones I knew back in the day — are just way too geeky for TV and, unless you knew them better, wouldn’t be the sorts of people you’d feel comfortable around for more than ten seconds.

I offer all of this because yesterday the franchise formerly known as the Omaha Royals — the Kansas City Royals’ Triple-A affiliate — changed their name. Ladies and gentlemen I give you . . .

Yep, this is happening. The Omaha Storm Chasers. Because I suppose it would be a step too far to name a team after furries.  According to MLB.com, this was the result of a fan vote.  Ya don’t say.

The best part of this will be when a team named after people who get a chubby off of cumulonimbus clouds, hail, lightning, torrential downpours and tornadoes has a game delayed because of a passing shower.

Jorge Posada highlights 16 one-and-done players on Hall of Fame ballot

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 24:  Jorge Posada addresses the media during a press conference to announces his retirement from the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on January 24, 2012 in the Bronx borough of  New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada received only 17 total votes (3.8 percent) on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot. Unfortunately, he is one of 16 players who fell short of the five percent vote threshold and is no longer eligible on the ballot. The other players are Magglio Ordonez (three votes, 0.7 percent), Edgar Renteria (two, 0.5 percent), Jason Varitek (two, 0.5 percent), Tim Wakefield (one, 0.2 percent), Casey Blake (zero), Pat Burrell (zero), Orlando Cabrera (zero), Mike Cameron (zero), J.D. Drew (zero), Carlos Guillen (zero), Derrek Lee (zero), Melvin Mora (zero), Arthur Rhodes (zero), Freddy Sanchez (zero), and Matt Stairs (zero).

Posada, 45, helped the Yankees win four World Series championships from 1998-2000 as well as 2009. He made the American League All-Star team five times, won five Silver Sluggers, and had a top-three AL MVP Award finish. Posada also hit 20 or more homers in eight seasons, finished with a career adjusted OPS (a.k.a. OPS+) of 121, and accrued 42.7 Wins Above Replacement in his 17-year career according to Baseball Reference.

While Posada’s OPS+ and WAR are lacking compared to other Hall of Famers — he was 18th of 34 eligible players in JAWS, Jay Jaffe’s WAR-based Hall of Fame metric — catchers simply have not put up the same kind of numbers that players at other positions have. That’s likely because catching is such a physically demanding position and often results in injuries and shortened careers. It is, perhaps, not an adjustment voters have thought to make when considering Posada’s eligibility.

Furthermore, Posada’s quick ouster is somewhat due to the crowded ballot. Most voters had a hard time figuring out which 10 players to vote for. Had Posada been on the ballot in a different era, writers likely would have found it easier to justify voting for him.

Posada joins Kenny Lofton in the “unjustly one-and-done” group.

Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez Elected to the Hall of Fame

1990:  Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos in action. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
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The 2017 induction class of the Baseball Hall of Fame was announced Wednesday evening and we have three inductees: Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez. Raines and Bagwell had to wait a good long while to get the call. Rodriguez is in on his first year of eligibility. But nowhere on the plaque will it say how long it took. All that matters now is that three of the greatest players of their respective generations finally have a place in Cooperstown.

Players must be named on 75% of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s ballots to get in. Raines was named on 86% of the ballots. Bagwell was named on 86.2%. Rodriguez was named on 76%. Non-inductees with significant vote totals include Trevor Hoffman at 74% and Vladimir Guerrero at  71.7%. The full results can be seen here.

Others not making the cut but still alive for next year, with vote totals in parenthesis: Edgar Martinez (58.6); Roger Clemens (54.1); Barry Bonds (53.8); Mike Mussina (51.8); Curt Schilling (45.0); Manny Ramirez (23.8); Larry Walker (21.9); Fred McGriff (21.7); Jeff Kent (16.7); Gary Sheffield (13.3%); Billy Wagner (10.2); and Sammy Sosa (8.6). Making his final appearance on the ballot was Lee Smith, who received 34.2% of the vote in his last year of eligibility. He will now be the business of the Veterans Committee.

Players who fell off the ballot due to not having the requisite 5% to stay on: Jorge Posada; Magglio Ordoñez; Edgar Renteria; Jason Varitek; Tim Wakefield; Casey Blake; Pat Burrell; Orlando Cabrera; Mike Cameron; J.D. Drew; Carlos Guillen; Derrek Lee; Melvin Mora; Arthur Rhodes; Freddy Sanchez; and Matt Stairs

We’ll have continued updates on today’s Hall of Fame vote throughout the evening and in the coming days. In the meantime, congratulations to this year’s inductees, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez!