Mike Scioscia has gone back and forth between Joe Smith and Ernesto Frieri as closer this year — and had a fun little detour experimenting with Cam Bedrosian once last week — but now he’s back on Smith:
Makes sense as Smith has been better than Frieri. Still, it does sound like Scioscia is determined to give Frieri every opportunity — maybe too many opportunities — to get back to the closer’s role.
A lot of the times I’m sorta “meh” on who’s closing, but the Angels look like a playoff team at the moment — they lead the Wild Card race in the AL and are only four games back of the best team in baseball for the division lead — so ironing out the bullpen is going to be pretty important for them. It’s nice that they have a couple games cushion at the moment with which to do it.
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.