Today is special for so many reasons. Tenth anniversary of the Varitek-A-Rod brawl and . . . the 50th birthday of the best hitter in at least the last half-century:
Note: on the day of that brawl, Bonds was an over-the-hill 40-year-old ballplayer who was hitting .362/.613/.769. And at that point of the season he was actually underperforming his full-season level of production, which was /362/.609/.812. Glad to see he got his power up over the last two months of the season.
In other news, three players are being inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday. Two of them were clearly inferior to Bonds and the third — Greg Maddux — may have been depending on whether you’re comparing them against the values of their hitting/pitching peers or whether you’re comparing them to each other (Maddux may have been the Bonds of pitchers for a time, but Bonds was objectively more valuable to the teams he played for). Oh, and at least one of the three managers being inducted into the Hall on Friday had a healthy assist from PED users to achieve what he achieved. The other two almost certainly benefitted as well.
Happy Birthday, Barry!!
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.