George Steinbrenner, Marvin Miller, nine others on Veteran’s Committee Hall of Fame ballot

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The Hall of Fame Veteran’s Committee used to consider managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players every couple of years in one big lump.  Last summer they decided to break it up by era, with “Pre-Integration Era” candidates (1871-1946), “Golden Era” candidates (1947-1972) and “Expansion Era” candidates (starting in 1973) getting alternating consideration. They also decided that Expansion Era candidates go first, so they’re up this year, and today they announced the nominees:

Vida Blue
Dave Concepcion
Steve Garvey
Ron Guidry
Tommy John
Al Oliver
Ted Simmons
Rusty Staub
Billy Martin
Pat Gillick
Marvin Miller
George Steinbrenner

The name that will get all the press is Big Stein, and indeed, I think they started out with the Expansion Era specifically so they could vote him in in the year of his death.  As I’ve said before, I think Steinbrenner is a Hall of Famer. Yes, even though he was a sonofabitch. His impact on the game was tremendous, and his success as an owner — both on the baseball and business side of things — was pretty remarkable.  They don’t print money and make championship trophies for you just because you’re based in New York. Ask the Knicks. Ask the Mets.  Steinbrenner may have had some advantages at his disposal, but he exploited them, and it wasn’t easy work.

As for the others, I’m long on record as thinking Marvin Miller should be in the Hall. His impact was greater than Steinbrenner’s. Greater than almost every non-player already inducted. It’s a shame he wasn’t inducted years ago, though I don’t think it will matter. He likely gets snubbed again.

Billy Martin is a close call for me. Hell of a manager, but I can’t escape the notion that — from a purely baseball perspective — he did just as much harm as he did good.  Add in his personal baggage and he’s a tough sell.  I lean yes on some days and no on others.

I’d probably say no on all the players.  Tough call on a couple, but at the end of the day I don’t think Tommy John should get extra credit for having a surgery named after him, nor do I think most of the guys on that last were quite good enough.  Ted Simmons maybe. Crazy underrated. Whether he’s so underrated that we’re all missing a Hall of Famer I’m not sure.  I reserve the right to change my mind on this between now and the voting in December. I’m just riffing here.

About that voting: it will take place at the Winter Meetings next month, with the results announced on December 6th.  I’ll be there, my friends, and if the voting is too off base, rest assured, I’ll give some indignant looks to whatever Veteran’s Committee voters I see.

José Ramirez’s 17-pitch at-bat kickstarts Indians’ five-run comeback in ninth inning

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With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.

Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.

After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.