We’re less than 10 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, yet Roy Oswalt is still looking for a home. We were bombarded with rumors of a potential deal with the Cardinals two weeks ago, but things have been relatively quiet recently.
The general assumption has been that Oswalt would prefer to sign with either the Cardinals or Rangers in order to be closer to Mississippi home and Missouri farmland, but Jayson Stark said yesterday on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight that the veteran right-hander won’t be joining Texas. The Phillies have kept tabs on the situation recently, but Stark also ruled them out as an option.
“He wanted to go to Texas. That’s not gonna happen. He wanted to go back to Philadelphia. That’s not gonna happen. He had some interest in the Reds. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. So his choices still come down to, I think, going to Boston, where they have a clear need but he doesn’t seem to want to play, and going to St. Louis, where all his friends say he would love to be. But to do that, he has to do it on their terms.”
So it’s likely down to the Cardinals or Red Sox. And maybe, just maybe, the Reds, though general manager Walt Jocketty insisted this week that he hasn’t had any contact with the player.
Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).
Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.
Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.
Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.