Given that I’ve written approximately ten thousand Hall of Fame posts in the past three weeks, I have no leg to stand on, but something over at MLB.com today provides a good reminder for us not to get too worked up at tomorrow’s vote totals:
First, there were five. Cy Young, whose name graces the highest pitching award in baseball, didn’t make the cut. He didn’t even get 50 percent of the vote.
That was in 1936, when — in order of voting percentage — Ty Cobb (98.2), Babe Ruth (95.1), Honus Wagner (95.1), Christy Mathewson (90.7) and Walter Johnson (83.6) comprised the first class of National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, the very first players on Cooperstown’s hallowed roster.
Baseball history was a different beast then. Nostalgia wasn’t yet invented — George Lucas did that while filming “American Graffiti” over 35 years later — and the giants of the game’s history were mostly still alive and playing golf and stuff.
But it is worth noting that, even if we can get worked up over voting philosophy and sins of both omission and commission when it comes to the Hall of Fame, time usually makes these things seem less important. Cy Young eventually made the Hall of Fame and no one died because he got 50% of the vote in whatever voting procedure they happened to use in 1936. Likewise, no one’s vote totals tomorrow will cause a national crisis.
Which isn’t to say that the things I’ve been going on about aren’t important. They’re just of a more localized importance, temporally speaking. Most of the things with which we occupy our days are not important to the gaze of history.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.
Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.
Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.
It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”