2014 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot: Who gets your vote?

Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux: 355 wins, four Cy Young Awards. First ballot Hall of Famer?

The 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot was announced today, and as I wrote a couple years ago, there are few clear answers in Hall of Fame voting these days. This year presents an even tougher field to choose from than last year…all thanks to the “Steroid Era” and baseball writers’ reactions to it.

If you had a vote to cast, which players would you choose? Do you vote for suspected steroid users, or just those who appear clean? Do you vote for clear-cut Hall of Famers whose careers may have been tainted, or do you vote for marginal Hall of Famers whose performances were (as far as we know) never in question? Continue reading

The name on the front of the jersey

Jeter Rivera

Future Hall of Famers Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, Yankees throughout their careers…quite a rarity these days.

Gehrig. Feller. Williams. Musial. Banks. Stargell. Yastrzemski. Bench. Yount. Ripken. The list goes on and on. Many of baseball’s all-time greats never changed uniforms in their lengthy big league careers. Of course that’s a rarity now, which makes present-day Yankees greats Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter all the more unusual.

I grew up in an era when baseball was changing dramatically. In the 1970s, as the DH rule and free agency hit baseball, longtime stars suddenly started moving from team to team. I remember thinking how strange it was to see Catfish Hunter become a Yankee, but superstars changing uniforms quickly became the norm. Continue reading

Dave Parker: The Cobra’s on-field impact too easily forgotten

Dave Parker

Dave Parker was the star of the stars for the late-’70s Pirates.

Today’s sad news that former All-Star Dave Parker is battling Parkinson’s Disease stirred a host of childhood memories.

I grew up watching “The Cobra.” I was a mediocre right fielder in Little League right around the time Parker was winning batting titles and Gold Gloves patrolling right field in Pittsburgh. For years he was one of my favorite players, both in his truly electric prime as a legitimate five-tool talent with the “We Are Family” Pirates of the late 1970s and later, when he resurrected his career following baseball’s cocaine scandal of the 1980s that also claimed another hero of mine, Vida Blue.

As a West Coast native, I was never a Pirates fan, but they were a fun team to watch throughout much of the 1970s. The late ‘70s “Lumber Company” lineup of Willie Stargell and Bill Madlock and Omar Moreno and more was impressive to say the least, but to me the true superstar was always Parker. Continue reading

Puig: Astounding to date, but not a Hall of Famer just yet

Eric Young & Mike Piazza

Two future major leaguers, Eric Young and Mike Piazza, as Albuquerque Dukes in 1993.

Twenty years ago I had the good fortune of working in the front office of the old Albuquerque Dukes as Mike Piazza blazed his way through town on his way to the Dodgers and, I expect (steroid rumors aside), ultimately the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was a classic phenom – a late round draft pick taken primarily as a favor to Tommy Lasorda who blossomed into maybe the best-hitting catcher in baseball history.

However, I also remember Raul Mondesi, who had almost as meteoric a rise through the system and to the majors. He was yet another Dodgers product who became a Rookie of the Year, and yet another phenom. He had some very good years, but he never reached the greatness predicted for him when he arrived in the big leagues., and instead of a storied Dodgers career he ultimately wore the uniforms of seven different franchises. Continue reading

PEDs: Here We Go Again

Yes, here we go again…

Just as the Super Bowl approaches and baseball’s spring training follows closely afterward, sports news is being dominated not by positive, feel-good stories, but by a gaggle of new allegations against NFL and MLB stars for performance-enhancing drugs.

ARod

ARod won’t be doing much smiling anytime soon.

First came news from Miami that a suspected PED-dealing doctor’s files contained some big names. Once again we see Alex Rodriguez among the suspected cheaters. No surprise there. Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon, two players whose positive tests and subsequent suspensions made news last season, are also among those named…which certainly doesn’t bode well for the others on the list. Gio Gonzalez, suddenly a 21-game winner last year, and Nelson Cruz, the 2011 ALCS MVP, are also on the list. And, along with these guys, others appearing in the files included the University of Miami’s longtime strength and conditioning coach; a Cuban boxer; and a professional tennis player who has already been suspended from tennis for trafficking in HGH. Continue reading

Baseball’s “Steroid Era” still echoes in today’s news

Jason Giambi

Rockies veteran Jason Giambi

The news that grizzled veteran slugger Jason Giambi was interviewing for the Colorado Rockies managerial job – which coincided with the horrendous post-season fellow veteran slugger Alex Rodriguez has had with the New York Yankees – got me to thinking about Major League Baseball’s “Steroid Era” once again (of course, with the high-profile suspension of Melky Cabrera this season and the Ryan Braun controversy last winter, perhaps that era continues).

Jose Canseco

Nice shirt Jose!

As we rapidly approach the voting period for the 2013 Hall of Fame induction ceremonies (something I wrote about last October), we’ve seen a lot happen to some of the standout names from that “Steroid Era” in recent months: