Bill Conlin

Montville: Strip Bill Conlin of his Spink Award

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Over at Sports on Earth, Leigh Montville talks of the late Bill Conlin. The long-time Philadelphia columnist who, in the summer of 2011, was awarded the Spink Award by the Baseball Writers Association of America. And who, five months later, was publicly accused of molestation by seven members of his family.

Montville believes — and I am sure he is correct — that had the allegations against Conlin been public before the vote, the BBWAA would never have named him a Spink Award winner. He now argues that the BBWAA should strip him of the award:

These are the same people who have wrung their hands in the past few years, held their noses and refused to allow the all-time leading home run hitter, the all-time hits leader, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner and other assorted famous players into the building for assorted transgressions. If they had known about Conlin’s transgressions, there is little doubt that they also would not have allowed him to enter.

All they need now is a second chance. Change some bylaws. Bend some rules. Take a vote to rescind the 2011 vote. This is an arbitrary election, an arbitrary process. Miss America, for example, would have been dethroned in a heartbeat for much less serious charges. There does not have to be any due process. There does not have to be any statute of limitations.

I doubt they will. The BBWAA has debated the notion of stripping Ryan Braun of his MVP award after his PED test came to light. They’ve never once considered past Hall of Fame votes after negative information came to light about inductees. I couldn’t seriously see them entertaining the idea of stripping Conlin of the award now. To be honest, they’d probably prefer not to mention Conlin’s name ever again.

Not sure how I feel about it either way, to be honest. On the one hand Conlin is an utter disgrace and there is no such thing in my mind as too-strongly repudiating such a person. On the other hand, his induction happened and the precedent of the BBWAA going back into Hall of Fame voting — even if the Spink Award isn’t technically the same as the Hall of Fame — is kinda worrisome. There’s also the idea of not giving Conlin any more public consideration forever. Letting him fade into anonymity as fast as humanly possible.

Just an awful thing. But, as Montville’s column shows, one that is hard to shake from your consideration.

Josh Hamilton has knee surgery, out 2-3 months

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 24:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers in the dugout before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 24, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.

As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:

That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.

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)
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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.