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Sorry Dan Shaughnessy, Edgar Martinez was “feared”

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Remember back when Jim Rice was on the ballot for the Hall of Fame and his supporters liked to talk about how “feared” a hitter he was? If not, trust me, they did it all the time.

They sort of had to, you see, because there was an unsettling dissonance about Rice’s Hall of Fame case that they needed to resolve. For much of Rice’s career people thought of him as a Hall of Fame guy and talked about him as such. But later, when people took a fresh look back at his career, it really didn’t look all that strong for a Hall of Famer. So a lot of Rice voters decided to push the idea that Rice was the most “feared” hitter of his era and claim that that put his borderline-at-best case over the top.

Unlike some other baloney-filled, dissonance-resolving arguments like, say, Jack Morris “pitching to the score” (note: he didn’t), the “Jim Rice was feared” thing was hard to counter. There was no real evidence for it. He wasn’t intentionally walked a ton, but that’s not necessarily definitive of anything, as he often had strong hitters behind him. Mostly, though, it was hard to counter because even if you did analyze it objectively, anyone pushing the “fear” thing would simply reject the evidence and argue back from authority. Like Dan Shaughnessy famously did in this 2008 column after my friend Rob Neyer took issue with the “fear” narrative:

Guess you had to be there. Or maybe talk to some of the players and managers who were there. Rice was dominant. Rice was feared.

Whatever. Rice got in and no one died so everyone let it go.

Flash forward to today. The Boston Globe’s Hall voters all released their ballots and the rationale for their votes. The highlight: Shaughnessy has referenced “fear” again! This time, however, he did so to justify not voting for a player:

Edgar Martinez stays on the outside for me, and not because he was a DH. Just never thought of him as a dominant, feared hitter in his era.

Hmm. What happened to talking to the players and managers who were there, like Shaughnessy said we should do back in 2008? Seems he didn’t bother to do that this time and, instead, decided to just go with what he subjectively thought. That’s sort of . . . inconsistent. But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was too busy to ask around! So let’s help him out, shall we?

    • Ken Griffey Jr.: “He carried the team for a period of time. He was one of the most feared hitters in the game for 10-plus years.”
    • Paul Molitor: “He [Edgar] was one of the most feared right-handed hitters for a long time in this league. The amount of respect he has from peers speaks to the value of the offensive player he was.”
    • Pedro Martinez: “Believe it or not, the guy that I hated facing the most wasn’t a guy that really did well against me. It was actually a guy that didn’t do that well … The toughest guy I faced I think — with all due respect to all the players in the league — was Edgar Martinez.”
    • Randy Johnson: “Edgar Martinez is, hands down, the best hitter that I’ve ever seen. I’m glad I didn’t have to face him too much”
    • Mariano Rivera: “The toughest – and thank God he retired – Edgar Martinez. Oh my God. I think every pitcher will say that, because this man was tough.”

Sorry it’s only five examples, but I figured that since four of them are Hall of Famers and one of them will be, it’s a pretty decent set.

Whatever the case, as I said above, “fear” is a pretty dumb thing on which to base one’s Hall of Fame vote. But Dan Shaughnessy is a Spink Award winning journalist with decades of experience in the business, so far be it from me to tell him how he should exercise his right and his honor to cast Hall of Fame ballots. If he says fear matters, dadgummit, fear matters.

But Jeez, Dan. If you are gonna use a dumb basis, at least be consistently dumb, will ya? Or at least listen to what you said a few years ago and “maybe talk to some of the players and managers who were there.” Because they seem to have some opinions different than you do on the matter.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.

 

Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig had a brutal collision in right center field

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The score was tied in the top of the 10th inning in last night’s game between the Dodgers and the Cardinals. Yadier Molina was up to bat, facing Kenley Jansen and drove one to deep right center field.

Yasiel Puig was in full run for the ball as center fielder Joc Pederson ranged hard for it himself. Puig caught the ball, but not before slamming into Pederson. Both men went down, but Pederson went down harder, taking an elbow to the face from Puig before crashing head-first into the outfield wall.

Watch:

 

Pederson came out of the game, apparently bleeding from his head. There will be an update on his condition today.

UPDATE: Oops, there was an update last night: