The Hall of Fame announces its Veterans Committee nominees

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We are in an era when the BBWAA can’t get it together to elect any of nearly a dozen deserving candidates for the Hall of Fame through the usual channels, so the Veteran’s Committee nominees maybe take on more significance than usual these days.

And, given that the VC is, this year, dealing with the so-called “Expansion Era” candidates (i.e. those from 1973-present), if there is going to be an induction of anyone who still alive next summer, this is the election that matters.  Here are the candidates:

Dave Concepcion
Bobby Cox
Steve Garvey
Tommy John
Tony La Russa
Billy Martin
Marvin Miller
Dave Parker
Dan Quisenberry
Ted Simmons
George Steinbrenner
Joe Torre

I’ll get to what I think of all of those guys in a minute, but I do have to note that there are players from this era who dropped off the regular ballot way too fast and way before anyone really gave them a chance. Guys like Lou Whitaker, Dwight Evans and Bobby Grich. Why they’re not on here while dudes like Steve Garvey are is beyond me, but this is the ballot we have.

As for my personal choices:

  • Dave Concepcion: No. There were way better all-glove shortstops than him and being part of a winning team like the Big Red Machine shouldn’t get him extra points.
  • Bobby Cox: Sure. Knock him for only having one World Series ring, but if it’s true that the playoffs are a crap shoot and that a manager’s most important job is to put his team in a position to win and to keep an even keel, Cox has to go in. Plus: that Braves run of the 1990s and early 2000s was kicked off by moves Cox made while he was the Braves GM. Plus: he was a helluva a manager in Toronto and led them to winning seasons back when people thought the idea of a winning Blue Jays team was a pipe dream.
  • Steve Garvey: No. He has the “Fame” part down, but he was probably one of the more overrated players of the past 40 years.
  • Tommy John: You don’t get in for surgery being named after you. John has a decent shot on the mertis, though. But juse decent. Points for durability and longevity, but never really had the peak you expect from a Hall of Fame starter.
  • Tony La Russa: Yup. And twice on Sundays. Not my cup of tea aesthetically — I really loathe the degree to which we now have bullpen specialization, in large part due to La Russa himself — but the guy won like crazy and, whether you like it or not, his bullpen use did make a huge mark on the game of baseball.
  • Billy Martin: I go back and forth on him. He definitely made an impact, winning quickly in most places he went. And he won a couple of titles, of course. One wonders, however, if he didn’t ruin some pitching careers too. And he was a sour sonofabitch, of course, but I don’t care about that stuff. Lots of Hall of Famers were. I would vote for him simply because I’d love to hear the posthumous roasts he’d get for several weeks on either side of the induction ceremony.
  • Marvin Miller: Yes. I’ve written about this many times. The man changed baseball. Not just the business of it, but the game itself in terms of how teams are built and rosters populated. No one with the impact he had is out of the Hall of Fame. Many with far less impact are in.
  • Dave Parker: He’s better than a lot of guys already in, but do we compound mistakes made in the past with greater mistakes? Let’s spend the time on his campaign to get Jim Rice taken out, OK? OK, maybe not. But Parker had a peak that could have been Hall of Fame worthy, but he blew a hole in it with drugs and ineffectiveness. I don’t think his case recovered from that.
  • Dan Quisenberry: I feel like if Bruce Sutter is in Quisenberry deserves it. I also don’t feel like “well, Bruce Sutter is in!” is a great argument. Borderline.
  • Ted Simmons: The best catcher not named Piazza not in the Hall? Maybe he and Bill Freehan fight over that. I dunno. I think we need more catchers in the Hall. So many good ones unrepresented. Sure, I vote for Simmons.
  • George Steinbrenner: I think so. Owners are hard cases, but the guy did certainly make a mark. And presided over lots and lots of success. Much of it, to be fair, that was only possible by his being unable to meddle with it for a while. But he really did take advantage of baseball’s era of free agency in ways many other owners wouldn’t at the time, and he forced teams to be less conservative.
  • Joe Torre: Sure. Both because of managing and because of a fine, fine career as a player. And because I feel like we need to have Cox, La Russa and Torre on the same stage. We didn’t really appreciate it until it was over, but the late 70s through the mid-2000s were pretty much dominated by three of the best managers in baseball history. They should go in arm-in-arm-in-arm.

So. What say you?

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 3, Red Sox 2: The Red Sox could’ve clinched the AL East on the Yankees’ home field but their bullpen had different ideas. After Nate Eovaldi tossed six shutout innings, Brandon Workman and Ryan Brasier teamed up to cough up three runs, capped by a Neil Walker three-run homer in the seventh. To their credit, the Yankees tried to give up the lead in the ninth with some bad defense, but their effort fell just short. Aaron Judge made his return to the Yankees lineup and went 0-for-4, but he made a lot of contact and, to be honest, didn’t look too terrible for a guy who has been on the shelf four a couple of months.

Phillies 5, Mets 2: Philly mounted a sixth inning rally, scoring all five of their runs that inning, three of which crossed on Jorge Alfaro‘s three-run jack. After the game Gabe Kapler analyzed the homer thusly:

“It was quite evident from the very beginning that he was standing a little looser in the batter’s box and swinging with a little less, I guess, ferociousness . . . And the bat was whistling through the zone.”

Recently people have been debating whether or not overly-complicated advanced stats have alienated fans from the game. No one seems to want to ask whether post-hoc b.s. is doing so.

Pirates 2, Royals 1: Ryan Lavarnway hit a walkoff single in the 11th to give the Buccos the game. This has been your once every three or four years or so Ryan Lavarnway report. This is the second night in a row that a backup catcher has had a walkoff hit for the Pirates, with Jacob Stallings doing it on Monday. And we’re not talking your standard catcher caddy here. Lavarnway and Stallings are closer to “bullpen catcher” than “starting catcher” on the old depth chart.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 4: Toronto spotted Baltimore a 4-0 lead and still led 4-2 in the seventh. That’s when third baseman Steve Wilkerson made a two-run throwing error to tie the game, after which Lourdes Gurriel hit a two-run single to put the Jays up for good. Not fun thing: the O’s broke the record for their most losses in Baltimore, surpassing that 1988 team that began the year 0-21.  Fun thing: the Orioles had their team and player names spelled out in Braille and fans were given cards with Braille letters on them so they could spell out their favorite players. This was done in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the National Federation for the Blind moving its headquarters to Baltimore. Definitely not the usual ballpark promotion, but certainly more interesting than anything else the O’s have done this year:

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Indians 5, White Sox 3: Corey Kluber struck out eleven batsmen and allowed three runs over eight innings to pick up his 19th win. I’m gonna guess I have not used the word “batsmen” all year and I just wanted to do that there. OK, I checked. The last time I used the word “batsmen” was on August 4 of last year, describing the Nolan Ryan-Robin Ventura fight. The last time I used it in a recap was on July 13 of last year, in an “And That Happened: Classic” during the All-Star break. That was for 1903 games and I was purposely using over-the-top antiquated language, which I suppose “batsmen” is. Anyway: batsmen.

Twins 5, Tigers 3: Jake Odorizzi had his second strong performance in a row, allowing two runs on four hits while working into the seventh. Tyler Austin doubled and knocked in three and Chris Gimenez had two hits, including a homer. The Tigers lose their 90th game, making them the third team in the AL Central to do so. How you can have three such awful teams in one division in the age of an unbalanced schedule — and a second place Twins team that is also going to finish below .500 — yet have the division leader, Cleveland, still be the worst playoff team in the league is a hell of a trick.

Nationals 4, Marlins 2: Stephen Strasburg struck out 11 in six innings and Anthony Rendon knocked in a couple as the Nats take their seventh in their last ten. They’re six and a half out. One has to wonder what might’ve happened with this squad had they not intentionally blown up their bullpen over perceived character issues and decided to pack it in at the deadline. Because, folks, neither the Braves nor Phillies are particularly good.

Cardinals 8, Braves 1: This is what I’m talking about. That’s four losses in a row for the presumptive NL East champs. Paul DeJong hit a two-run homer and Yadier Molina hit a two-run single in the Cardinals’ four-run eighth inning, giving St. Louis its third straight win and padding its lead for the second Wild Card to a game and a half over Colorado.

Reds 3, Brewers 1: Milwaukee is in the first Wild Card slot, but they’re now only two games ahead of the Cardinals. In other news, it sure would be nice for their offense to wake up, eh? Here they scored two or fewer runs for the third time in four games and, not surprisingly, have dropped those three of four. Milwaukee got only three hits against five Cincinnati pitchers all dang game. Jose Peraza hit a two-run homer for the Redlegs.

Rays 4, Rangers 0: Blake Snell seems to be putting the finishing touches on a Cy Young season. Here he picked up his 20th win which, while not necessary in our more enlightened, pitcher-wins-aren’t-terribly-important age, is a nice grace note. More importantly he allowed only one hit over five shutout innings, reducing his ERA to 1.97 and putting him on pace to be the first American League pitcher with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title to finish below 2.00 since Pedro Martinez did it back in 2000. Chris Sale has a chance at that too, but he’s borderline right now on having enough innings. Willy Adames hit a two-run homer for the Rays.

Astros 7, Mariners 0: Five Houston pitchers, led by Josh James, combine for the five-hit shutout. Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-run homer. With the win, the Astros eliminated the Mariners in the race for the AL West title. Not that anyone was holding their breath here.

Cubs 9, Diamondbacks 1: Javier Baez and Daniel Murphy hit two-run homers and Mike Montgomery gave up only one run on four hits while striking out eight over six. After a week or so of sweating, the Cubs are now back three and a half games ahead of the Brewers in the Central. The Dbacks fall to six back as their depressing late season fade continues.

Angels 9, Athletics 7: Oakland led 4-1 entering the top of the sixth inning and boy howdy did the wheels fall off. Two pitchers combined to load the bases and then a third pitcher, Lou Trivino, came in to face Andrelton Simmons. Trivino induced what should’ve been the second out of the inning in the form of a foul popup, but an A’s fan had other ideas:

Which, oh man, that’s bad. I guess, in her defense, I’ll say that Piscotty seemed to be feeling that wall, looking down a bit, and may very not have caught that ball — that’s why, I suspect, the replay crew decided not to call fan interference — but it’s not like she knew that. She wanted a souvenir. With new life, Simmons smacked a two-run single to pull the Angels to within one and then, following a plunked batter which loaded the bases back up, Kaleb Cowart hit a grand slam to put the Angels up by three. Mike Trout hit his 35th homer of the year and stole his 24th base. Oakland loses yet another game of ground to the Yankees for home field advantage in the Wild Card game.

Dodgers 3, Rockies 2: Kyle Freeland and Clayton Kershaw figured to be a pitcher’s duel but, while it was low-scoring, neither ace looked particularly sharp. Chris Taylor‘s infield single in the fifth inning tied the game at two and the bats were silent for some time after that. Taylor’s dinger in the 11th ended things:

That gave the Dodgers a 3-2 win over their closest competition for the NL West crown, pushing their lead to one and a half games over Colorado. It may be safe to say that the Dodgers are, finally, playing their best baseball of the season.

OK, it’s definitely safe to say it.

Giants 5, Padres 4: Hunter Pence homered, doubled and drove in three and Chris Shaw hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the eighth to give the Giants the win. In so doing, it also guaranteed the Padres last place in the NL West.