Here’s a fun Hall of Fame ballot: Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and … Lee Smith.
Had me until Lee Smith.
That’s from David Lariviere of Forbes, who refers to Smith as “the dominant reliever of his era.” Smith pitched from 1980 through 1997. That era, which saw the rise of the one-inning closer, included Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Dennis Eckersley and the early years of Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, among others.
I like Lee Smith a lot. But I don’t think he’s quite Hall of Fame worthy. And “dominant?” Well:
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Cubs manager Joe Maddon was once again ejected from an NLCS game, this time in Game 4.
In the top of the eighth inning, closer Wade Davis found himself in a bit of a pickle. He gave up a leadoff home run to Justin Turner, cutting the Cubs’ lead to 3-2. Davis then walked Yasiel Puig. He was able to get Andre Ethier to pop up, bringing up Curtis Granderson. Granderson worked the count 2-2, then fouled off a pitch. And then he appeared to swing through a curve that bounced in the dirt. Catcher Willson Contreras applied the tag for the out, but Granderson argued to home plate umpire Jim Wolf that he made slight contact with the ball, so it was a foul ball.
Wolf conferred with the other umpires. After a brief delay, the strikeout was overturned and Granderson was given new life in the batter’s box. Only… replays showed that Wolf got it right the first time.
Understandably, Maddon was livid. On the broadcast, one could see Maddon gesturing to the umpires to look at the replay on the video board behind the stands in left field. The argument fell on deaf ears and he was ejected. Thankfully for the Cubs, justice prevailed and Davis struck out Granderson on the next pitch.
It’ll be interesting to see if Maddon makes any political comparisons after the game. He likened the slide rule, the impetus behind his Game 1 ejection, to the soda tax.