A few years ago Wade Boggs caused a stir when it was suggested that he had an agreement with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to have a Devil Rays cap featured on his Hall of Fame plaque. Either because of that — or by virtue of a grand coincidence — the Hall took the choice away from the players and decided that it, with an eye toward properly representing the players’ history it, and not the player, would make the final decision.
One caveat to that: the Hall still seeks player input, and the option of a blank cap remains on the table. One presumes this is so in the event that it truly is too difficult to assign one cap to a player given comparable historic legacies with multiple teams. Or, perhaps, if the player had a serious falling out with his most historically significant team at some point. Gotta have an out, right?
Well, two unexpected inductees have taken that out. From the Hall of Fames plaque announcement today:
In conjunction with the Hall of Fame, the six members of the class of 2014 have made their selections for the logo inclusion on their Hall of Fame plaque: Bobby Cox – Atlanta; Tom Glavine – Atlanta; Tony La Russa – no logo; Greg Maddux – no logo; Frank Thomas – Chicago White Sox; and Joe Torre –New York Yankees.
It seems pretty nuts to me that Maddux will not be in a Braves cap. While there are multiple ways to measure the value of a career, one must tread into the land of lunacy to come up with an argument that Maddux’s contributions to baseball as a Brave were rivaled by his contributions as a member of any of the other teams for which he played. Cubs included. Heck, add up his Cubs, Dodgers and Padres years and I bet you still don’t equal his Braves years.
La Russa may be a closer case — he did win a World Series and three pennants with the A’s — but two rings with the Cardinals and nearly twice as many wins in St. Louis than in Oakland suggest that he should be a Cardinal on his plaque.
I assume that the deciding factor in both cases was Maddux and La Russa not wanting to play favorites. And I suppose that’s awfully nice and diplomatic of them. But really, if the Hall of Fame is not going to give the inductee final say, I’m not certain it should be weighing their preferences all that heavily either. Especially when such preferences, with all respect to the feelings of these two guys, skew ahistorical.
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.
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.