December is list season. Usually end-of-year lists. But ESPN.com has decided to do an all-time list, asking their scores of baseball writers, editors and experts to rank the top 100 players of all time.
They’re calling it the Hall of 100, and it’s their stab at a Hall of Fame of sorts. The good news: the voters were explicitly instructed to ignore PEDs and character stuff. They were merely to go on on-the-field performance.
The bad news: (1) they’re releasing their rankings piecemeal, so as of today they’re still only through 26, with the top 25 coming tomorrow; and (2) based on rankings it appears that the old timers — 19th century players, deadballers and, most notably, the Negro Leaguers — are getting short shrift. Maybe understandable given that you tend to favor what you know, but still a bit of a disappointment.
The redeeming news: Twitter’s Old Hoss Radbourn has a running commentary of each pick, critiquing the player and/or ESPN’s rank. Such as this comment about Chipper Jones:
Or this one about Jackie Robinson:
Can’t read the rankings without the commentary, can’t have the commentary without the rankings. If ESPN was cool they’d put Hoss’ comments alongside their list.
Major League Baseball wants to give the United Kingdom a taste of America’s pastime when the Yankees and Red Sox visit next month. Based on the playing surface they’re going to use, however, they may as well have sent the Blue Jays and the Rays:
Major League Baseball has access to Olympic Stadium for 21 days before the games on June 29 and 30, the sport’s first regular-season contests in Europe, and just five days after to clear out. The league concluded that there was not enough time to install real grass.
Starting June 6, gravel will be placed over the covering protecting West Ham’s grass soccer pitch and the running track that is a legacy from the 2012 Olympics. The artificial turf baseball field, similar to modern surfaces used by a few big league clubs, will be installed atop that.
At least they will not use the old-style sliding pits/turf infield that you used to always see. That’ll all be dirt. There are comments in the article about how it’s a cost savings too since they’re going back next year and won’t have to bulldoze and re-grow grass. Aaron Boone and Xander Bogaerts were asked and they don’t seem to care since it’s similar to the surface they play on in Toronto or down in Florida against the Rays.
Still, this whole deal is not aimed at doing whatever is minimally necessary to pull off a ballgame. It’s supposed to be a showcase on a global stage in a world capital. I have no idea how anyone thinks that doing that on a surface everyone has decided is obsolete for baseball playing purposes unless the ballpark is either outdated or in an arid environment is a good idea.
It’s certainly not baseball putting its best foot forward. Major League Baseball could’ve avoided this by choosing a different venue or even building a temporary one like MLB has done on a few occasions in the past. That, I suppose, would limit the revenue-generation capacity of these games, however, that’s off the table in the Rob Manfred Era.
Yankees and Red Sox on turf. What a decision.