Cooperstown

Some Hall voters juke and dodge, but sometimes dumb is just dumb

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We’ve reached the “Hall of Fame voters getting defensive” portion of the Hall of Fame season.

First, Pedro Gomez — a guy with a rich history of intellectual dishonesty and out-and-out idiocy when it comes to Hall of Fame voting — tells you that (a) he doesn’t have to tell you why he’s keeping a 3000-hit dude off his Hall of Fame ballot; and (b) tells you to take your complaints up with the Hall of Fame:

and

Given what he’s said about Jeff Bagwell in the past, I’m guessing Gomez suspects Biggio of PEDs but is unwilling to publicly comment about it. I mean, it can’t be standards themselves. He voted for Jay Bell once for the Hall of Fame. For real. Still, it’s awesome that a guy with a huge platform at a major sports network so stridently states that you’re not entitled to his rationale when it comes to his own news and history-making acts.

As for the second tweet, Gomez needs to appreciate the difference between people who have “a problem with Hall of Fame voting” in general and people who have a problem with his Hall of Fame votes specifically. The process may be flawed, but that’s a separate topic. The people he’s fighting with on Twitter today just think his vote is dumb. No matter what you do to the process there will be dumb votes. You’re not any more immunized from criticism for them based on an appeal to the Hall of Fame than a politician is from his acts in office based on an appeal to the Constitution. I mean, how would that even look?

President Obama: I have decided to issue an executive order declaring Nickleback the Official Rock Band of the United States of America.

People: THAT’S AWFUL!!!

Obama: Anyone with a problem with my Nickleback as America’s Band order should contact the the next-convened Constitutional convention. They’re the ones who made and set the rules.

In other BBWAA defensiveness, we have Joe Strauss, who deflects criticism of Hall of Fame voters with this old canard:

You got us, Joe. People don’t criticize Hall of Fame votes because they want to see players they believe to be worthy given the sport’s highest honor. It’s all jealousy. Totally. It’s exactly like how, when Congress passes a law I disagree with, I’m not objecting to policy, I’m just jealous I’m not a congressman. And when I look at the incarceration rates in this country and think they’re appalling, I am really saying that I wish I was a cop. And when I see the outcome of a game turn on a blown call, it’s actually all about me wishing I was an umpire. My dissatisfaction about the outcome and the idiocy that got us there is totally irrelevant.

Sure, the process may be messed up and the Hall of Fame and BBWAA should probably examine it. But this punting to that structural problem I’m seeing from Gomez, Strauss and others ignores the fact that it’s possible to call dumb Hall of Fame votes dumb without either (a) demanding change to the system; or (b) being jealous. Sometimes, they’re just dumb and criticism is warranted.

We’re allowed to still do that, right?

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.