blyleven

Bert Blyleven: let the PED users in the Hall of Fame

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I wrote yesterday about how I reconcile PED use and the Hall of Fame.  I’ve written a lot about Bert Blyleven and the Hall of Fame. Say, how can those things go together?

Via the Jonah Keri Podcast, of course.  Jonah has been talking to some serious heavyweights this week, and the other day Blyleven gave Jonah a half hour of his time.  It’s all worth listening to, but I think the most interesting part is when they talk about steroid users and the Hall. Blyleven’s take? Let McGwire, Bonds and Clemens in. His rationale (more or less) is that a lot of guys were taking and they all didn’t become Hall of Famers, so why degrade the accomplishments of the ones who did? This is a rough approximation of my own stance: sure, guys used PEDs, but it’s not like that prevents us from distinguishing them from other players and recognizing their greatness. At least if we don’t take a blanket “no PED users in the Hall” approach.  Which I think is extremely problematic.

Not that Blyleven and I agree on everything.  He would change his mind on Bonds or Clemens if they were to be convicted in their respective criminal prosecutions. Hard to say if he thinks that’s because that would officially make them criminals and thus disqualify them on moral grounds or, alternatively, if it would merely remove some extant doubt from his mind about what they did while they played.  Bert is also part of the “release all the names” club which, as I have argued is simply wrong.

But however he comes down, it’s a good interview and a good window on how hard it is to figure out what to do with the Hall of Fame in the wake of the steroid era.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.