Results tagged ‘ Sammy Sosa ’

The Exception?

manny-ramirez.jpgAlright…with Manny Ramirez retiring suddenly this past week to avoid a second suspension for failing a drug test, it begs the question: HOF?

Taking steroids out of the equation, this guy is a first-ballot HOF-er.  I would argue that he was the greatest righthander hitter in baseball from 1995-2008, and one of the greatest pure hitters in baseball history.  Sure, he was a complete spaz and couldn’t field a lick, but when you hit like that it doesn’t really matter.  During the mid-1990s he and Jim Thome provided potency to the Cleveland Indians, then he and David Ortiz teamed up as perhaps the most dominant 3-4 combination since Ruth-Gehrig.  Even his stint with the Dodgers (before the first suspension that signaled the end of his career) was incredible.

Some of the career stats: .312 BA, .411 OBP, .585 SLG, .996 OPS, 2,574 H, 555 HR, 1,831 RBI.

He was always a favorite player of mine (when not tormenting Twins pitching, of course) for just his pure hitting ability.  The guy didn’t give a lick about anything, but he was blessed with the ability to hit a baseball really, really hard with surprising frequency.

Of course, much like Andy Pettitte, the steroid issue will cloud Manny’s candidacy.  Like Pettitte and, say, A-Rod, Manny is a confirmed steroid user.  That being said, he didn’t make up ridiculous stories in his defense (e.g. Barry Bonds), didn’t become a jerk about it (e.g. Roger Clemens), didn’t refuse to speak about the past (e.g. Mark McGwire), didn’t blatently deny his usage (e.g. Rafael Palmeiro), and didn’t forget how to speak English when questioned (e.g. Sammy Sosa).  Basically, he just got caught and served his time.

My feeling on the matter right now is that I would put Manny in the Hall, but not after a few years of “punishment waiting” sitting on the ballot.  Perhaps I am being too sentimental and should be harder on the guy, but at least he didn’t deny, deny, deny and make baseball look like a bunch of guys trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

Time will tell.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Didn’t get to see the game today, but heard the happy news that the Twins won, AND Jim Thome hit another laser beam into the right field bleachers.

Just a few days ago, Thome hit #584 to pass this guy…

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…on the all-time list.

Now, he’s gunning for this guy (who finished at 586):

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Once Thome passes Frankie and sits at eighth all-time, that is “all” he’ll move up slot-wise on that list this season.  Alex Rodriguez currently has 604, while Sammy Sosa would be catchable at 609 if Thome were to play another season at his current production level.

For now, though, it’s just nice to have a power bat in the middle of the lineup with Morneau still getting too many headaches to risk a comeback.  Let’s just hope now that he can save his energy a bit for the playoffs and the Twins keep fending off the pesky White Sox.

Preview (81-57, 1st, 3.5 GA CWS): Brian Bannister (7-11, 5.95) vs. Francisco Liriano (12-7, 3.27)

A-Rod 600: Make Your Own Kind Of Judgement

Last week, Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th home run:

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Was there a big hoopla over an event that, 20 years ago, would have captivated the entire sport?  No, as long as you don’t count the number of at-bats it took him to finally blast-off again.

More interesting, though, is the lack of steroid-related snipings and gripings.  Where’s the outrage at “A-Roid” joining the same club as the Say Hey kid:

willie-mays-d2.jpg To me, this indicates what the future of the Steroid Era might hold.  Instead of the outrage that accompanied the feats of McGwire, Sosa, and Clemens, now baseball fans are taking a “make your own judgement” approach to the issue.  It used to be that we wanted to re-write the record books, but now we realize that the steroid issue is so pervasive that it cannot be successfully excised.  So, we make up our own minds as to who the record holders are.

I know who mine are:

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babe_crown.jpgNot a perfect system, by far, but perhaps it will have to suffice, like a scar reminding you of an old wound that will never quite heal.

Junior’s Circuit, No More

The other day, upon hearing that Ken Griffey Jr. had announced his retirement from Major League Baseball, I wanted to take a moment here to reflect on one of my favorite baseball players of all-time:

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Though I grew up a Minnesota Twins fan in the mid 1990s, those Twins teams didn’t exactly have the type of superstars that can captivate the imagination of a youngster (sorry Ron Coomer, Terry Steinbach, and Butch Huskey).  Thus, I naturally gravitated towards the best (with respect to Barry Bonds, a phrase I never thought I would write) player in baseball at the time: Ken Griffey Jr.

Junior could do it all: Hit for decent average (career .284 hitter), tremendous power (630 career dingers, back-to-back seasons of 56 jacks), steal some bases (particularly early in his career; 184 career), and track down balls in center field like Torii Hunter would later do for my favorite club.

In fact, when the big power/steroid boom of the late 1990s occurred, it was the Griffey/McGwire show before Sosa juiced up and changed everything in ’98.  Fortunately, Griffey has never seen the smear of performance-enhancing drugs touch his name.  He also has none of the tell-tale signs (huge musculature, sudden growth, etc.).

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Sadly, the career of KGJ took a down-turn after he signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 2000.  Though he was the darling of Seattle with the Mariners, I couldn’t blame him for wanting to play for his hometown Reds.  However, the Reds never challenged for any sort of title during the “Griffey Years”, and Griffey himself endured so many injuries it would have made Mickey Mantle flinch.  At one point, he was projected to “easily” surpass Hank Aaron’s home run record, and may very well of done it had not the injury bug bitten hard.

After a brief stint with the Chicago White Sox (that, despite good performance, never quite seemed right)…

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…it was nice to see Junior in an M’s uniform once again in the end:

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Perhaps the fondest memory I will take away from Ken Griffey Jr. the baseball player, though, is how as a child I sent him a letter asking for an autograph.  Some time later, I received a glossy 8X10 of Junior that had me nearly bouncing off the walls in excitement.  A first-ballot Hall of Famer in every sense of the word:

 

I Think I’m Gettin’ Old

Two hot topics circulating the baseball newswires (especially Baseball Tonight!) right now are really making me feel old…

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First is the notion that no team will sign Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez because he is too old and his skills are declining.  I remember that during Pudge’s prime, he was so good defensively that teams just stopped running against him altogether.  Plus, at least while in Texas, he was ALWAYS good for a .300 average (if not much higher) and 30 home runs.  All told, he could probably challenge the old notion of Johnny Bench being the greatest backstop of all time.  Now no teams want him?!  Heck, if Joe Mauer ever got hurt for an extended period of time, I would take Rodriguez in a heartbeat.

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Secondly, can you believe that Pedro Martinez is not on a major league baseball team right now?!  I know that his “heater” only tops out around 90 mph (if that) these days and his chances of making it through an entire season are slim, but c’mon…it’s Pedro!  An interesting conversation-starter that I like to pose to fellow baseball fans around my age (23) is this: If your team needed to win one game, which pitcher (in his prime) would you want on the mound: Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, or Pedro Martinez?  For me, the answer was always Pedro, as his late 1990s seasons were the stuff of legends.  As long as I live, I will never forget watching Pedro strike out Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire in the 1999 All-Star Game in his Carl Hubbell impersonation.

I guess what this means is that, if I were a GM, I would be the type that allows the old guys to hang on a bit too far past their prime.  But seriously…let’s say for a second that the Twins picked up Martinez on a whim.  In Game Seven of the hypothetical World Series, who would you want on the mound…him or Scott Baker (no disrespect to Scotty)?  I thought so.

The Ongoing Clemens Saga

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Not that I enjoy posting this sort of news on my blog, but the most recent development in the Roger Clemens vs. Brian McNamee case involves McNamee claiming that he injected Clemens multiple times (either in an apartment or right in the Yankee Stadium hot tub) during the 2001 with steroids and HGH.  Supposedly, the syringes McNamee handed over to the federal government some time ago even contain traces of Clemens’ DNA.

As I’ve said many times before, I think that Clemens is one of the most obviously guilty parties of the Steroid Era.  The only difference between him and pretty much all the others (McGwire, Sosa, etc.) is that Clemens (being a hothead his entire playing career) is fighting McNamee tooth and nail instead of just keeping quiet.  Thus, McNamee is now bringing out his big guns.

Of course, I don’t know what it says about McNamee’s character that he saved syringes that Clemens wanted him to discard, but this could be one of those situations where the ends justify the means.

The “Rocket” Fizzles!

roger_clemens_liar.jpgBesides all the fallout of the Alex Rodriguez steroid admission, which I will discuss on this blog in more detail in a later post, it was also recently announced that a federal judge dismissed basically all of Roger Clemens’ “defamation of character” lawsuit against former personal trainer Brian McNamee, who said in last year’s Mitchell Report that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.

For once, I think the U.S. justice system got things right!!  McNamee was promised federal immunity for his contributions to George Mitchell, and that is exactly what he is getting right now.  So, in essence, Clemens isn’t able to screw him over for just telling the truth.

As you will likely find out by reading my upcoming blog posts about steroids in major league baseball, I am a huge proponent of holding everyone (players, managers, trainers, commissioner Selig, etc.) accountable for the Steroid Era of 1994-2003.  Thus, I think that Clemens is getting EXACTLY what he deserves.  Whereas most players (Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, etc.) have completely disappeared following steroid accusations, Clemens (because he is a jerk…just ask Mike Piazza about that) decided to lie through his teeth and fight it tooth and nail.  So far, though, he’s not winning and I’m all for that.

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