The Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2015 — #10: The Hall of Fame inducts a class for the ages

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We’re a few short days away from 2016 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2015. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were creatures of social media, fan chatter and the like. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.

The Hall of Fame has its problems. The voting is messed up and, thanks to a weird soup of subjective standards and some moralizing and/or myopic voters, many of the best players from the past quarter century remain on the outside looking in. For some people the Hall of Fame is broken. For some it’s becoming irrelevant. Last July, however, it inducted a humdinger of a class. Possibly the best since the inaugural class. Its members: Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez.

It was the first time since 1955 that four players were inducted. That year Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Dazzy Vance and Ted Lyons made it in. Nice, but only DiMaggio had the stature of the 2015 class. Before that, you’d have to go back to 1936, when Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson comprised baseball’s first group of Hall of Fame inductees.

Randy Johnson was a strikeout machine, but he was more than the sum of his Ks. Indeed, he may have been the greatest left-hander of all time. Pedro Martinez was Sandy Koufax, but only if Sandy Koufax pitched against crazy-good hitters in the most insane offensive era of all time. Meaning that, yeah, Pedro was BETTER than Koufax. Smoltz paired Cy Young starting with shut-down closing to give his career the sort of arc we haven’t seen since Dennis Eckersley retired. And, of course, Smoltz was the better starter and playoff pitcher to boot. Biggio combined fantastic on-base ability, great gap power and plus defense despite the fact that second base was not his natural position. Biggio, who came up as a catcher, still managed to play 20 years and collect 3,000 hits despite the fact that second basemen AND catchers have shorter careers than most position players.

Four players being inducted is rare indeed, but it was definitely necessary given the resumes of these four. In 2016 there are at least four who are as equally deserving in Ken Griffey, Jr., Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Tim Raines. Will we get four more? I doubt it — I think Raines will remain on the outside looking in and Bagwell may as well — but it sure would go a long way towards fixing the Hall of Fame’s lamentable oversight of a couple of decades of baseball history.

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”