Mike Schmidt is the best third baseman to ever play the game of baseball. That does not make him qualified, however, to judge talent, it seems:
“Michael Young could retire tomorrow, and he would be a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame. He’s probably two Michael Young years away from being a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”
To be fair, I’m not sure if Schmidt is saying “he deserves to be a strong candidate” or “because Young is inexplicably thought of as being better than he is, he will be a strong candidate whether or not he is truly deserving.” If the latter, it’s pretty astute, because I think that Young will get a fair amount of Hall of Fame support. At least enough to last on the ballot for a few years. Unlike, say, Lou Whitaker, who is a better Hall of Fame candidate on the merits than Young is.
Beyond all of that, I don’t think Schmidt saying that Young is a Hall of Fame candidate is as silly as his comparing him to Derek Jeter:
“… he’s a little like Derek Jeter. Is he not? If he played in New York, imagine what people would be saying about Michael Young’s career. Somebody would have mentioned the Hall of Fame a long time ago.”
Maybe Young would have benefited from playing in New York, but Jeter would have been a Hall of Famer if he had played for the East Nowhere Blue Sox. I know people in Texas like to think of Young as “the Rangers Derek Jeter,” but that has never washed for me. Maybe there’s a core of truth to it regarding some perception of his intangibles or what have you, but Jeter is so clearly the superior player the comparison seems to obscure far more than it illuminates.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.