Bud Selig: Marvin Miller should be in the Hall of Fame, Trump’s approach to media is wrong

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Howard Bryant of ESPN has a story up about Bud Selig, whom he interviewed in Tempe recently, where Selig teaches a course at the Arizona State University Law School. There are two notable nuggets in there and one bit of non-news that remains frustrating as all get-out about Selig.

Nugget 1: He thinks Marvin Miller should be in the Hall of Fame:

“A lot of people think it’s an unpopular opinion, but I think Marvin Miller belongs in the Hall of Fame too. There were so many battles … but if you make a significant contribution, you belong, and no matter how you felt about him, you cannot say Marvin Miller did not make a contribution,” Selig says of the longtime union executive.

If Selig has stumped for Miller in the past I am unaware of it and can find no reference to it. Notably, Selig was on the board of the Hall of Fame and had a strong voice in the formation of the various Veterans Committees who passed on Miller on multiple occasions. A lot of people, this author included, suspects that Selig and the members of the Hall of Fame board on which he once sat have a large amount of influence on the Veterans Committee vote. The execs friendly to MLB always tend to sail in, after all. One wonders if Selig had said this much about Miller in public in the past if things would’ve gone differently for him.

Nugget 2: Selig thinks that leaders should not treat the press as an enemy:

“Yes, we’ve had our disagreements, but I tell this to the students: You have a job to do, and I have a job to do,” Selig says. “I listen to Donald Trump again, and it’s discouraging, because this idea about [the media] being your enemy is just nonsense. We can have disagreements. It really is nonsense.”

Selig was never anything like Trump with respect to the media, but he was well-known, as Bryant notes, for calling up and haranguing reporters and columnists who pissed him off. Personally I think there is something cool about that — Selig cared, at least — but he was also well-known for engaging in a lot of reality-creation. One might call him an early adherent to the notion of “alternative facts.”

The non-news has to do with alternative facts too: as Bryant notes, Selig still believes that the owners and the league bear no responsibility for PEDs. Which, hey, if you want to believe that players were 100% responsible for taking PEDs, fine, I’ll give you that one for the sake of argument. More egregious is how he takes full credit for the advent of drug testing and enforcement, dismissing the notion that that public and Congressional pressure and a series of very public humiliations of the game forced his hand.

Everyone, to some degree, changes perspective about certain things in their 80s. Some things that once seemed important are no longer important and some things that one overlooked or disdained as a young man are now thought of in a different light.

But not everything, I suppose.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.