SBS’ 500th Post: An Ode to the Number 500 in Sports

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Published on : October 22, 2016

 

 

For ScoreBoredSports 500th post, we honor the number 500 and see its mark on the world of sports. 500 is a mountain to climb for things like wins, goals, yards in a game but many of the greats have those milestone in their rear-view. Let’s dig through sports history books and see where the famous number presents itself.

 

Indy 500

The first thing that comes to mind. I’ll include Daytona and all other major 500 lap Sprint Cup races in this section. Racing wasn’t always on my sports radar but with age, I’ve come to appreciate the talent needed to drive a car over 200 mph for hundreds of laps. My old car can’t even go over 45 mph. NASCAR speed is almost shocking but it’s the control that’s truly impressive.

 

The term “.500”

In reference to a team’s winning percentage. Often in the context of over or under .500. AKA are you a winning or losing team. This metric is used in many pro games. It is the gold standard for coaches where W’s mean keeping a job. Over .500? Things are probably going pretty good.

 

500 yards passing in a game

 

Only 16 NFL QBs have pulled this off. From older names like Norm Van Brocklin to modern gun slingers like Matthew Stafford. As football goes more and more pass heavy, this club will stop being so exclusive. Then we’ll start talking about 600 yards passing in one game.

 

500 home run club

Babe Ruth was the first to hit 500 dingers and 26 others have matched the feat. Albert Pujols is the only active member of the 500 club. He sits at 591. Barry Bonds’ 762 home runs seems like an insane hill to climb for anyone.

 

The game “500”

You know the rules. Your one friend plays dealer and tosses a ball and calls out a point value. The rest of the players fight to catch the ball. You earn points with each catch. Hit 500 and you earn the right to be the dealer. Perfect game for when you didn’t really have the numbers for full teams of something else.

 

500 goals in NHL

 

Only 44 hockey players have this honor. Most of them Canadians. 500 is a huge mark but for reference, the all time leader in goals is Wayne Gretzky and he has 894. Gordie Howe is second on that list with 801. Suddenly, 500 doesn’t seem that wild.

 

500 wins

Coaches in almost every sport have broken this barrier. Often it is a college coach who stays at one program for two decades plus. There are too many to name but most of the greats you can think of are here. Just no NFL guys because of the much shorter schedule in terms of overall games.

 

500 goals in soccer

27 futbol gods have netted 500 or more GOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!! Scoring machines Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the only active players with over 500 goals. Who knows how many more these two will score before it’s all over.

 

 

Happy 500 everyone. To all the athletes with the insane records, we tip our caps to you. And to all the SBS family and all the loyal Bored-Agains, here is to the next 500 posts.

 

Half thousand.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode IV: Whose Number Should Every NL Team Retire Next?)

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Published on : March 22, 2016

 

During the upcoming 2016 season, Ken Griffey Jr., Pete Rose, Mike Piazza and Wade Boggs will have their numbers retired by the Mariners, Reds, Mets and Red Sox, respectively. And that got me thinking about which players should be next in line for those honors. So sit back, relax and enjoy while I go through all 30 teams and tell you who’s the most deserving. First, let’s do the National League.

 

Braves

 Time to retire #25

 

Retired Numbers: Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, Phil Niekro, Dale Murphy, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones.
The easy answer would be Andruw Jones. But once upon a time the Atlanta Braves used to be known as the Boston Beaneaters and their star pitcher was Kid Nichols, who was the youngest pitcher ever to win 300 games. Granted, I’m sure there’s not a lot of love out there for a guy who retired 110 years ago. But Warren Spahn never pitched in Atlanta either. And Eddie Mathews only played one season there. I could go on, but I feel you judging me. Fine. Have it your way. It’s Andruw Jones.

 

Brewers

Guess it’s gota be him

 

Retired Numbers: Hank Aaron, Rollie Fingers, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Bud Selig.
You leave me no choice, Brewers. It’s Ryan Braun. I don’t want it to be, but I can’t say it’s Ben Sheets or Cecil Cooper or Teddy Higuera. So either I close my eyes and pretend I don’t know about the PED issues or how the guy seems like a grade A asshole… or I can just wait until somebody like Orlando Arcia gets called up and becomes the shit. So I guess we wait.

 

Cardinals

 He is a machine.

 

Retired Numbers: Stan Musial, Dizzy Dean, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, August Busch Jr., Ken Boyer, Red Schoendienst, Enos Slaughter, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, Whitey Herzog, Tony La Russa, Rogers Hornsby.
It’s Albert Pujols. Did you think it wouldn’t be Albert Pujols? It seems like the Cardinals retire everybody’s number, so I’m kinda surprised they’ve never done Ted Simmons or Jim Edmonds or Ray Lankford or Ducky fucking Medwick. And maybe they’re coming. But Pujols was a monster in St. Louis and they gotta hang up #5. Until then, the other obvious answer is Cool Papa Bell of the St. Louis Stars. Everyone who has a statue outside Busch Stadium also has their number retired inside the stadium except George Sisler (who played for the St. Louis Browns, who are now the Baltimore Orioles) and Cool Papa. Let him in, guys.

 

Cubs

 Make it Dawson

 

Retired Numbers: Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg, Greg Maddux, Fergie Jenkins.
Cap Anson was a racist piece of garbage and basically the entire reason for baseball’s color line that lasted until Jackie Robinson. So it can’t be him. Ever. And I’m not sure Cubs fans would take kindly to “Sammy Sosa Appreciation Day” yet either. And the Cubs have no real sense of history from 1909 until 1969. So you’d get a lot of confused shrugs for Stan Hack or Gabby Hartnett. And anything involving ‘Tinker to Evers to Chance’ or Three Finger Brown reminds everyone of the Year That Shall Not Be Named. So your best bet here is honestly Andre Dawson or Mark Grace. The Nationals un-retired Dawson’s Expos number when the franchise moved to Washington. And I’m sure the Cubs would love to retire anything ’08 related, if you know what I mean. For Grace, just Google ‘Mark Grace slumpbuster’ to know why he’s a legendary figure on the broey North Side of Chicago. By the way, what if the only way the Curse of the Billy Goat can be broken is if Mark Grace finds Steve Bartman and/or some relative of Billy Sianis and has to sex with the fattest woman they know? Just putting that out there as the potential plot of Field of Dreams 2.

 

Diamondbacks

 Why do you hate Curt Schilling?

 

Retired Numbers: Luis Gonzalez, Randy Johnson.
So everybody must really hate Curt Schilling, huh? They could try to say that Gonzalez is their best position player in their short history and the Big Unit is their best pitcher. But c’mon. 2001. So unless you can sell me on Brandon Webb or waiting for Paul Goldschmidt, I just assume everyone there hates Schilling. Dude was co-MVP of the 2001 World Series. Why do you hate Curt Schilling???

 

Dodgers

How is #34 not retired yet?

 

Retired Numbers: Sandy Koufax, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Walter Alston, Jim Gilliam, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Don Drysdale, Tommy Lasorda, Don Sutton.
The Dodgers have never officially retired Fernando Valenzuela’s number, although his #34 has been out of circulation since his retirement. I think it’s about time. I mean, have you ever been to Dodger Stadium? I’d say about 1/3 of the people there are rocking El Toro’s jersey. And way more people would care about that than if it were say, Zack Wheat or Dazzy Vance, even though they were better players. Oh, and also there’s the whole history of Chavez Ravine and the Dodgers fucking owing him. And I don’t even need to talk about Clayton Kershaw or the rest of the 1988 team. You give that to Fernando.

 

Giants

 Will they ever forgive Barry?

 

Retired Numbers: Carl Hubbell, Mel Ott, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Bill Terry, Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry, Monte Irvin, Christy Mathewson, John McGraw.
Call me crazy, but I have this weird suspicion that it’s not going to be Barry Bonds any time soon. Even though he’s the best player in Major League history to not have his number retired by anybody. And I also don’t think there’d be much support for old timers like Roger Connor or George Davis. Or Travis Jackson and Ross Youngs, even though they’re both in the Hall of Fame and played their entire career with the Giants. So either the collective members of the even-year’d Giants teams of this decade retire (and that means Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner) or we forgive and embrace Barry. You know, whichever comes first.

 

Marlins

 Maybe Stanton, I guess?

 

Retired Numbers: Nobody.
Wow. I guess I agree with the Marlins, since the best player in their franchise history is probably Hanley Ramirez. And Andre Dawson and Mike Piazza are the only Hall of Famers to ever play there. You know, famous Marlin, Mike Piazza. So unless they go with Livan Hernandez from the 1997 team or Josh Beckett from the 2003 team, I guess they could honor Ichiro, should he get his 3000th hit with Miami. Or they could just wait for Giancarlo Stanton to keep being awesome when he’s not hurt. But this is a weird situation for them. This team has two World Series trophies and absolutely zero history.

 

Mets

 Do it for the Straw!

 

Retired Numbers: Casey Stengel, Gil Hodges, Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza.
Unofficially, the Mets have also retired the numbers of Gary Carter and Willie Mays. And I’m assuming they’ll eventually make those official. And they’ll probably eventually honor David Wright at some point as well. But you have no idea how bad I wish they’d do something for Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. I know, I know. But it’s not even that big of a stretch. Who’s better than those two guys in the history of the Mets that I haven’t already named? Jose Reyes? Please. The ’86 Mets have a special evil place in my heart and in their noses. I think they deserve to be honored.

 

Nationals

 But when will Bryce’s hair get its number retired?

 

Retired Numbers: Nobody.
When the Expos moved to D.C. in 2005, they un-retired the numbers for Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and Rusty Staub. So we know we can’t hold out for them or for guys like Steve Rogers, Tim Wallach or Vladimir Guerrero to get honored. But starting in 2005 also means the best player in their franchise history is Ryan Zimmerman. I mean, it will be Bryce Harper. But the Nationals need to take their own lead from outside their stadium (where they have statues of former Senators greats, Walter Johnson and Frank Howard, as well as Homestead Grays great, Josh Gibson) and hook it up inside. Start there. We can talk about Sam Rice and Goose Goslin and Buck Leonard later.

 

Padres

 It’s got to be Peavy

 

Retired Numbers: Steve Garvey, Randy Jones, Dave Winfield, Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman.
How happy am I that the Padres are using brown uniforms this year? Anyway, this is hard. Kevin Brown was silly in ’98, the last year they went to the World Series. But that was his only year on the team. So it has to be Jake Peavy. I mean, I don’t want it to be Jake Peavy. But I won’t condone any celebration of Andy Benes.

 

Phillies

 It should be Chase Utley

 

Retired Numbers: Robin Roberts, Richie Ashburn, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Jim Bunning, Pete Alexander, Chuck Klein.
They can’t slap an old timers thing next to Pete Alexander and Chuck Klein for Ed Delahanty or Sherry Magee? Fine. Then they’re going to have to do something for Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. If not also Ryan Howard and Chalie Manuel. See, children. There was a time not so long ago when the Philadelphia Phillies didn’t absolutely suck.

 

Pirates

 Give Arky his due!

 

Retired Numbers: Honus Wagner, Billy Meyer, Pie Traynor, Roberto Clemente, Danny Murtaugh, Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski, Ralph Kiner, Paul Waner.
Is there any good reason why the Pirates never retired Arky Vaughan’s number? Or Bob Friend’s? Or Max Carey’s? Or Babe Adams’? Or Fred Clarke’s? You know, other than Carey and Adams hating Clarke, and Clarke being bona fide clubhouse poison during the 1926 season. I looked that up. Anyway, the Pirates need to do a better job with honoring their long history. Because the next best pick is Skinny Barry Bonds until Andrew McCutchen stacks more on to his career numbers. Is the world ready to honor Skinny Barry Bonds?

 

Reds

 Bid McPhee!

 

Retired Numbers: Fred Hutchinson, Johnny Bench, Frank Robinson, Joe Morgan, Ted Kluszewski, Tony Perez, Sparky Anderson, Dave Concepcion, Barry Larkin, Pete Rose.
Bid McPhee! Come on! The guy is in the Hall of Fame after playing his entire career with the Cincinnati Reds. They even ripped off his handle bar mustache for their stupid logo. But somehow, they can’t honor the guy by name inside the ballpark. YOUR LOGO IS A BASEBALL DISGUISED AS BID McPHEE, CINCINNATI! Anyway, after Pete Rose, the only position players for the ’75-76 Big Red Machine to not have their numbers retired are the outfielders – George Foster, Cesar Geronimo and Ken Griffey Sr. And Foster is just as good a choice as anyone else. Except Big McPhee. They’re seriously killing me the with no Bid McPhee.

 

Rockies

What exactly are they waiting for?

 

Retired Numbers: Todd Helton.
I don’t know what they’re waiting for with Larry Walker. And it’s not like Troy Tulowitzki is coming back any time soon. So unless they’re also hung up on Walker’s home/road splits, they should pull the trigger or just give it to Ubaldo Jimenez for actually having one decent season pitching in the thin air of Denver in 2010.

 

 

That’s it for the NL, stay tuned for the American League!

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode I)

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Published on : February 27, 2016

 

 

Last week on Monday Night Raw, Shane McMahon made a shocking return to the WWE after a six year absence. And it was soon announced that he’d be facing the Undertaker inside ‘Hell in a Cell’ at WrestleMania 32. I wonder if maybe, just maybe, Theo Epstein happened to be watching. Because just three days later, Dexter Fowler’s surprise return to the Cubs was as close to a WWE-style swerve as an actual non-scripted sport can get. The only thing it was missing was cued-up entrance music (“My Way” by Fetty Wap, would have been perf) and his Cubs teammates chanting ‘holy shit’ and ‘this is awesome’ (clap clap clap clap clap) after the big reveal.

 

Until that very moment, the consensus foregone conclusion was that Fowler had signed with the Baltimore Orioles. It was speculated and anticipated for weeks by baseball’s talking head community until it evolved into a full-blown fact. Right up until the moment it wasn’t. And after receiving a text that just said “Fowler!” from my ‘Go Cubs’ iPhone message group, I was so confused and skeptical that I didn’t believe the news until I actually saw the video of a 6’5″ dude in street clothes who looked a lot like Dexter Fowler walking onto the field with a guy who looked a lot like Theo Epstein and being greeted by a group of guys in Cubs uniforms who looked exactly like the rest of the Chicago Cubs. It wouldn’t take long for a meme to go out on social media with Steve Harvey holding the Miss Universe card and saying, “DEXTER FOWLER HAS SIGNED WITH THE ORIOLES.”

 

 Fowler will be back with the Cubs.

 

And while I could talk about what the Fowler signing means for the 2016 Cubs (the best team in baseball on paper just got better, Jason Heyward can now move back to right field where he’s won three Gold Gloves and it creates an insanely flexible lineup depth with Fowler, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Ben Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber in the other outfield slots, etc.), it’s probably best to use this as further proof that conventional wisdom at the start of Spring Training doesn’t necessarily equate to actual regular season results. And everything we think we know about the 2016 season before it starts is probably just as true as the fact that Dexter Fowler is the new leadoff hitter for the Baltimore Orioles.

 

All that being said, I still can’t think of a reason why it won’t be the Cubs’ year in 2016. Yes, I’m still worried about the Cardinals. And I still think the Pirates are probably vastly underrated. And I know that saying, “Anything less than the World Series would be a huge disappointment” is a statement that is probably held equally true for the Mets and the Dodgers. And I know that the Nationals were the team that looked like the hands-down best-on-paper team last year. That is, of course, until they weren’t. But it’s still February as I type this. And hope still springs eternal. So as of right now, I’m a believer.

 

Around the League

 

The more I think about the 2016 Boston Red Sox and their high win projections, the more I have a problem with them. Pablo Sandoval showed up to Fort Myers looking like me after a cake bender. And if you combine that with Hanley Ramirez at first base, I don’t see why every team they face wouldn’t just put on a dead-ball-era bunt clinic until the Red Sox can figure their own shit out? But the good news for the Red Sox is that every team in their division has a really good reason why they won’t win either. The best one is that 5’8″ Marcus Stroman is going to become the the ace of the Blue Jays like he’s pitching’s Jose Altuve. And Jose Bautista’s contract looks like it’s already a distraction. As are the whispers that Troy Tulowitzki can’t hit outside of the thin air of Coors Field. And those two teams are the favorites in the division. If you add to that, the uncertainty of the rotation and age of the position players in New York, a possible 30-40 game suspension of Aroldis Chapman, a Tampa Bay Rays team that doesn’t score runs and an Orioles team that doesn’t prevent runs, it leaves me throwing up my hands and saying, “Let them eat cake.”

 

I’m increasingly curious to see Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios in Minnesota. Not to mention Miguel Sano and Byung-ho Park. That’s too much young talent to not pan out in a division where I’m totally ready to see something new and exciting happen. That could also occur if the White Sox can score runs and if the Indians can play defense. I just don’t want to see a scenario where these Kansas City Royals, who have the 13th-highest payroll in baseball and who will not be sneaking up on anyone this time around, can become the 1998-2001 Yankees or the 1988-1990 Bash Brother A’s. I can only take so many cuts to Happy George Brett in the owner’s box before I get sick of this double-tapered shit.

 

 Can the Royals really do it again?

 

My way-too-early AL MVP pick is going to be Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros. Especially now that they created the Chase Utley Slide Rule to protect him. Mike Trout is still probably going to be the best player in the league. But he’s going to get ‘LeBron Ruled’ out of the award until the Angels can put a decent lineup around him. The same probably goes for Josh Donaldson and even a returning Miguel Cabrera because nobody likes repeats. So that probably leaves us with Manny Machado, who probably won’t be in playoff contention and Correa who probably will. And my backup choice is obviously Dexter Fowler, the definite new right fielder for the Baltimore Orioles.

 

And while I haven’t decided on my pre-season NL MVP pick quite yet, I will say that if the Diamondbacks are really going to be in contention, then there’s no reason it won’t be Paul Goldschmidt. But you can’t rule out never-been-picked guys like Giancarlo Stanton (with his zero facial hair and his Barry Bonds) or whichever Cubs player hogs up the most attention in their historic season. Or it could even be whoever this Royce Harper guy is Dusty Baker keeps talking about. I’ll have to get back to you on that.

 

Well, we have actual Spring Training games next week. We’ll get to see Lucas Giolito and Julio Urias and Corey Seager and Byron Buxton and Joey Gallo and start forming actual thoughts about these teams as they move towards the regular season. I’ve given you my picks for World Series champion and AL MVP. And with just a little bit more information, I can form enough of an opinion to the wrong about the rest. Stay tuned.

 

 


Great Expectations: A Spring Training Preview

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Published on : February 23, 2016

 

Oh no. This is a really weird feeling for a Cubs fan to have. For the first time that I can ever remember, the Lovable Losers on the North Side of Chicago seem to be both the unanimous pick to win their division and also a trendy choice for the 2016 World Series. And on paper it even makes sense. Last year, they proved that their young squad was ahead of their projected timeline, won 97 games and then went deep into the playoffs until they ran into a freakishly overachieving Daniel Murphy and a young Mets pitching staff that seems to remind everyone of the nineties Atlanta Braves. And then they went out in the offseason and got the best healthy pitcher and the best position player from their hated Cardinal rivals, and also added a guy who led the majors in WAR in 2009. Oh, and the rest of their seemingly-all-rookie lineup from last year is back and probably better than ever and still way too young and dumb to comprehend how a jaded, cynical asshole like me can still hesitate to be bullish on the prospects of a Thousand Year Cubs Dynasty.

 

This has to be too good to be true, right? There’s too much pressure. The Cubs never follow up a good season with another good season. Look at 1985, 1990 and every other year since The Year That Shall Not Be Named. And Jake Arrieta has to regress. Because he just has to. And John Lackey is 137 years old. And their bullpen isn’t quite there. And Jason Heyward isn’t a natural center fielder. And because they’re the fucking Cubs. Right? Like, why should I get my hopes up just to have them crushed again and again like I have my whole life? Why? Well… Because of Theo Epstein. And because of Joe Maddon. And because of that offense. Oh, that offense. And Kris Bryant. And Addison Russell. And Kyle Schwarber. And Anthony Rizzo. And the fact that Heyward is actually younger than Anthony Rizzo. And the fact that Heyward could win a Gold Glove in center. And because Arrieta may have pitched an assload of innings last year, but he famously stays in excellent shape. And because of how great of a story it would be if they actually did do it. And because, on paper, the Cubs just so happen to have the best team in baseball by a decent margin. Oh no, indeed.

 

 

The Rest of the NL Central

The Cubs may have kicked their ass and stolen their girlfriend, but the Cardinals are still the Cardinals. You just kind of assume they’ll be playing in October, no matter what. But even with Adam Wainwright back, the mystique feels like it’s gone, with a bad offseason and Yadier Molina needing to grow another thumb. Maybe their insane luck will finally run out. I also thought that about the Alabama football team back in September. Not that I should talk about football in the same breath I talk about St. Louis. Anyway… Then there’s the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s not like they sucked last year either. But nobody likes to talk about them because they’ll probably just get to the Wild Card and lose again, if they do anything at all. And the only fun thing about that is if Sean Rodriguez goes HAM on another water cooler. This division will inevitably be drowned out by the tidal wave of Cubs expectations. And the Reds and Brewers have probably already
drowned in it.

 

The NL East

According to EVERYONE, the Mets have the greatest pitching staff of all time, ever. And, yes, it’s horrifying. Matt Harvey is another year removed from Tommy John surgery. Jacob deGrom is a floppy-haired pitching monster. Noah Syndergaard actually is Thor. Big fat Bartolo Colon doesn’t age. Steven Matz would be a #1 starter on every other non-Mets team. And Zack Wheeler will be back in July to seal the already-done deal. Plus, all of them except Colon are 19 years old or something. The only problem is that nobody knows what type of hangover these guys will have from all those innings they ate up against Kansas City in the World Series. Or if they’ll even stay healthy. But if they do all bounce back, holy shit. Plus, they re-signed Yoenis Cespedes, which all makes for an excellent case for them to go back to the World Series. No matter how much I hate that.

 

 

Overall this division is horrible. But Bryce Harper and the dysfunctional Nationals should contend. Even though Dusty Baker is their new manager. And nobody knows what to make of the Miami Marlins quite yet. Don Mattingly is their new manager. Barry Bonds is their new hitting coach. Giancarlo Stanton will be healthy. So will Jose Fernandez. But we’ll have to see what all that means, if anything. Or if those guys can even stay healthy in the first place. And anyone looking to make a bold prediction on the division a la the 2015 Cubs and Astros might want to keep their eye on the Atlanta Braves, who are building a monster farm team, even though they’ll most likely be just slightly less shitty than the Phillies in 2016.

 

The NL West

I hate to say it, but 2016 is an even year. So we can probably throw all the analytics out the window and just hand the San Francisco Giants their fourth world title seven years. Their pitching staff picked up two possibly-great/possibly-hugely-disappointing acquisitions in Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. And that could give them an edge in what everybody seems to think will be a three team race with the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks.

 

The Dodgers lost Zack Greinke. To the Diamondbacks. They also have a rookie manager in Dave Roberts. In a market that wore out Mattingly and sent him to Miami. They also didn’t do anything with their gigantic payroll in the offseason. And any time you need to rely on Yasiel Puig for anything other than drama, it’s a pretty scary predicament. But this is a deep team with a crazy-good farm system. And they’ll probably be in enough contention by the time the trade deadline rolls around to throw money at whatever problems they have (that don’t involve lack of team chemistry). Plus they still have Clayton Kershaw. At the end of the day, as a resident Angelino, I just want to see Vin Scully go out in style. And if that means the Dodgers have to be good for that to happen, I can accept that.

 

 

Yes, Arizona got Greinke. And Shelby Miller. And they still have unrecognizable superstar, Paul Goldschmidt and equally unrecognizable AJ Pollock. But their projections aren’t too high as of now because of a lack of offensive depth (sup, Yasmany Tomas?). And it seems more likely they could be this year’s Padres and/or White Sox. As for the 2016 Padres and Rockies, I’m not wasting my time. It is an even year, after all.

 

The AL East

Every team in the division not named the Baltimore Orioles seem to have a chance this year. But the overall consensus comes down to the rebounding Boston Red Sox and the reigning division champion Toronto Blue Jays. Personally, I don’t know how acquiring David Price and Craig Kimbrel turns a 78-win last place team into a division favorite, but that’s just how the east coast media bias works. But it will be fun to see how fat Pablo Sandoval is. And if Hanley Ramirez can play first base. And it’s also the swan song for Big Papi. Plus, David Price is actually really fucking good. So I don’t know.

 

 

The Blue Jays have the best offense in baseball. And reigning MVP, Josh Donaldson. And their offense might be even better than last year since Troy Tulowitzki never got comfortable in Toronto in 2015. They’ll just have to stay healthy. And hope somebody on their team can pitch. As for the Yankees, they’re really old. And look how that worked out for them last season. Plus, you never know about that staff. And as good as their bullpen looks right now, we still don’t know what’s going to happen with Aroldis Chapman’s domestic abuse suspension. And the Rays have Chris Archer and the rest of their great starting five, but they’ll basically need everybody else on the lineup to be awesome to compete. Oh, and also the Orioles are in this division too, I guess.

 

The AL Central

The Royals won the World Series last year, no big deal. And they were one Madison Bumgarner away from being back-to-back World Series champions. Yet for some reason, Baseball Prospectus has them projected to be in last place in the Central in 2016. What gives? Maybe you can’t project things like ‘putting the ball in play and its positive consequences’ or ‘playing with a chip on their shoulder’, but whatever they did the past two seasons worked, so I don’t know why it wouldn’t work again. They have the defense. They have the bullpen. It’s just so hard to make a good enough argument for or against a team with relatively zero stars, that’s this mediocre on paper, going to three straight Fall Classics.

 

 

The hot pick in the AL Central continues to be the Cleveland Indians because of an extremely good pitching staff. Add Francisco Lindor’s defense behind them and they could be a powerhouse. Or Michael Brantley could be hurt and their offense could struggle and they won’t have the money to make acquisitions at the trade deadline to compete. And while I have a soft spot for the Detroit Tigers, they’re also getting a little long in the tooth. They got Justin Upton to aid a pretty good, but aging offense. And they picked up Jordan Zimmermann and K-Rod to help out a healthy, but aging Justin Verlander-led group of arms. Health is the key here. And if they have it, they might compete. The White Sox might also compete, even though nobody outside of Bridgeport is talking about them. They got Todd Frazier. They have Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and a full season from Carlos Rodon. It’s just that everybody is distracted by the heat of a thousand suns ™ on the North Side. And the Twins have Miguel Sano, who is going to hit 40 dongs this year. Even though they were so terrible last year, that even when they were in first place for a while nobody bought it. If that makes any sense. Not that it should. Why would anything in this division make sense? I mean, Royals went to the World Series the past two years.

 

The AL West

Even though the Astros are the unanimous choice to win the division, everybody would rather talk about the Texas Rangers. Their 2015 playoff run was nothing short of a miracle. And now they’ll have full seasons from Cole Hamels and a healthy Yu Darvish. It’s just that nobody really expected the Astros to be where they were last season either. And now nobody expects them to regress. And the former hot choices in the division seem like yesterday’s newspaper. Mike Trout has no talent around him in Anaheim. Nobody wants to get fooled by the Mariners ever again. And the A’s need too much to get anything done.

 

 

So there you have it. Now you’re ready for the baseball season. And now you know why your team probably sucks and why you should switch allegiances to the Chicago Cubs. Or at least that’s how everything looks right now. Spring training, when nothing counts. And before the actual season comes with all its shitty reality to break hearts, launch new stars into the stratosphere and ruin every expectation, rendering long-winded predictions like the one I just spent way too long typing on a nice afternoon completely worthless. But hey, that’s baseball.

 

What else were we gonna talk about, Donald Trump?

 

 

 


6 Things I Learned From Watching the Baseball Hall of Fame Coverage

Written by :
Published on : January 9, 2016

 

 

Announcement Day for the Baseball Hall of Fame is one of my favorite days of the year. The kid in me loved seeing an impossibly aged, 46-year-old Ken Griffey Jr. – a guy who I idolized and whose posters were all over my bedroom walls growing up – get the official phone call from the Baseball Writers Association of America. I also loved seeing the elation of a guy like Mike Piazza, who had to wait years because of the dark cloud of PED speculation swirling over his head, finally getting in as well. But mostly, like I said in my last blog, the baseball nerd in me loved seeing guys like Bob Costas, Peter Gammons and other baseball writers and experts weigh in on the candidates and spark debates that I could watch all day. And so I did. I watched the pre-pre shows. I watched the four hours of coverage. I watched the post-coverage and the post-post coverage. I watched it all. And here’s what I learned.

 

1. Everyone But 3 Writers and Tom Seaver Wanted Griffey to Get 100% of the Ballots.

 

Ken Griffey Jr. was on 100% of the early ballots reported and everybody seemed really giddy about it because that’s never happened before. Not with Willie Mays. Not with Hank Aaron. Not with anybody. The highest vote total ever was actually Tom Seaver’s 98.84% in 1992. But when all of the ballots were finally in, Griffey ended up at 99.30%. Which means that three people didn’t vote for him. There are already all kinds of theories as to why that would be, and witch hunts for who those three people are, but my best guess would be that two people accidentally voted for David Eckstein and one person accidentally voted for Garret Anderson. The math works and so does the logic. Otherwise, holy shit.

 

Also, one thing that I found really interesting after Griffey and Piazza were elected, there were get-well wishes from Johnny Bench and Tom Seaver. And if you’re thinking, “How nice. Seaver congratulated the guy who surpassed his vote total and Bench congratulated the guy who surpassed him as the greatest hitting catcher of all-time,” then you’d be wrong. Bench congratulated Griffey, who grew up around Bench’s Big Red Machine because of his dad and Seaver congratulated Piazza because they were both on the Mets, decades apart. I mean, they could have said other stuff. But this is all they showed. And it’s way more fun to be catty.

 

Another fun moment was when they dug up Griffey’s first manager, Jim Lefebvre, to congratulate him. First of all, Lefebvre had no idea how the voting process worked and kept saying, “For this young man to get 100% of Hall of Famers to vote for him is truly a remarkable accomplishment.” And that’s just no. And second of all, Griffey seemed slightly confused and annoyed as to why he had to talk to Lefebvre to begin with. Plus the show’s host, Greg Amsinger, basically had to get a shepherd’s hook to shut Lefebvre up every time he was rambling. It really made no sense to have him there. Jim Lefebvre only managed the Mariners for three years. So Lou Piniella must have been too busy angrily tossing bases around on some Little League diamond or something to be bothered.

 

 

2. Griffey is Only the 4th Center Fielder to Be Elected Since Duke Snider.

Griffey

 

And that’s counting Robin Yount (who was a shortstop) and Andre Dawson (who, as a Cub’s fan, I consider a right fielder). So really, Ken Griffey Jr. and Kirby Puckett are the only center fielders since Willie, Mickey and the Duke to get elected to the Hall of Fame. That sounded like it had to be wrong, but it isn’t. And the weird thing is, since 1964 (the year Snider retired) nobody else has really been in the conversation. I mean, are you actually going to argue for Jimmy Wynn and Chet Lemon? Sure, this was used as more of a devil’s advocate argument for Jim Edmonds than anything. But Kenny Lofton was one-and-done on the ballots. So was Bernie Williams. And, unfortunately for him, so was Edmonds. The position is currently highly underrepresented as it is. But after Griffey, we’ll have to wait and see the fates of Andruw Jones, Carlos Beltran and Torii Hunter. And then probably just hope Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen can keep it up.

 

3. This is the Class of #1 and #1,390.

Piazza

 

Griffey was the first pick of the 1987 Draft. Mike Piazza was the 1,390th pick in the 1988 Draft. So that makes for a good story. Especially since Griffey was also the first number one overall to go to the Hall of Fame. Not Harold Baines in 1977, not Darryl Strawberry in 1980. Certainly not Shawon Dunston in 1982. But that feat will soon be equaled by Chipper Jones. Possibly A-Rod. Possibly Joe Mauer. And (dare I say) possibly David Price. Plus it gives hope to down-on-their-luck guys like Bryce Harper and Carlos Correa who nobody ever talks about like they’re any good.

 

4. Trevor Hoffman Will Get In. Because Mariano Rivera.

Hoffman

 

I want you to listen to me. Trevor Hoffman getting more votes than Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina is INSANE. Schilling pitched 3,261 innings in his career. Mussina pitched 3,562. On the other hand, the two new relievers to the list (Hoffman and Billy Wagner) only pitched 1,089 and 903. That’s not even close to the same thing. And don’t tell me how they were used was not their fault. If either Hoffman or Wagner were good enough to start, they would have. Clayton Kershaw isn’t a relief pitcher. You want him going seven instead of one. When John Smoltz started to suck, they sent him to the pen. When Kerry Wood started to suck, they also sent him to the pen. And then they were both somehow good again. Like, do you know what Curt Schilling would have done as a one inning relief man? He would have made everybody in question, Rivera included, look like fucking chump change. Rivera was a failed starter. Wagner was a failed starter. Hoffman was a failed shortstop who could throw hard for one inning. The logic of voting for Hoffman over any starter is so stupid to me. But since everyone blindly decided that Mariano Rivera (and his 1,283 innings) was this infallible super god, then we have to deem the #2 guy with almost the same respect. But the fact is, if Rivera was just slightly better, he could have been a mediocre #3 starter. Give me a break.

 

 

5. I Changed My Mind on Larry Walker and Fred McGriff.

McGriff

 

Larry Walker isn’t getting in, period. I think they said the lowest vote total anybody has gotten and still eventually been elected was Duke Snider’s 17%. Walker is currently sitting at 15.5% and wasn’t even covered in any of the discussions leading up to the announcement. And that’s because his home/road splits are bananas. No pun intended. So I guess I’ll have to give up on Walker for now. Your move, Todd Helton. On the other hand, I’ve come to the realization that the 1994 strike completely fucked Fred McGriff. And somehow that argument had never occurred to me. Maybe because I don’t like thinking about the strike. But McGriff is just seven home runs shy of an automatic Cooperstown bid. And through 113 games in 1994, he had 34. So yeah, he would have gotten seven more if they’d played the season out. So I’d switch my votes out for those two if we were ready to play the game all over.

 

 

6. There’s a Real Movement to Soften on Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Bonds

 

They’re different than the rest of the steroid guys, you see. And they might well be. So we’ll have to see if people are willing to forgive and forget over the next six years. Or if they’ll be banished to Mark McGwire/Rafael Palmeiro Island. And while we’re at it, there seems to be another real movement to let the BWAA vote on Pete Rose. Just to be clear, Shoeless Joe Jackson was on the first ever Hall of Fame ballot in 1936. He got two votes and was never back on. But Rose has never gotten that opportunity. And aren’t being banned from baseball and being in the Hall of Fame two different things?

 

 

Okay. That about wraps up my excitement from Hall of Fame Announcement Day. See you next year when Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines finally get in. And I complain even more about Trevor Hoffman.

 

 


My Pretend Ballot for the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame

Written by :
Published on : December 20, 2015

 

Well, it’s that time of year again. The Baseball Hall of Fame will be announcing its new inductees on January 6th and, until then, we’ll all get to argue with our idiot friends about why their favorite player, although actually pretty good, does not deserve immortality in Cooperstown. It’s also a time where idiots like me, who have no real business voicing their idiot opinions, get to do so nevertheless. So let’s take a look at this year’s ballot and let the arguments begin.

 

First, the Steroid Guys. Yes, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were absolutely bona fide Hall of Famers before their foray into performance-enhancing drugs. Yes, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire helped ‘save’ baseball in 1998. But I don’t think it’s quite time that we honor these men with shiny plaques. I think the best possible solution to the problem is to let their peers on the Veterans Committee deal with them. If their contemporaries vote the Steroid Guys in, there’s really nothing left to be said about it. But as for now, I won’t be voting for them in this hypothetical blog posting. So I’ll preemptively stamp NO on Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire and Gary Sheffield.

 

barry-smmy-mark

 

Secondly, I’m not that in to relief pitchers. I know, I know. I would probably vote for Mariano Rivera in the future, but for the most part, relief pitchers are just guys who aren’t good enough to start or go 7 innings. There are plenty of examples of that, including Rivera. Plus, a ‘save’ wasn’t even a thing until the sixties. And the actual amount of work most of them do is grotesquely minuscule compared to the starting pitchers on the ballot. I could go on, but I don’t do that here. Just know I’m also giving a NO to Lee Smith, Billy Wagner and Trevor Hoffman. That being said, let’s get started.

 

1. Mike Piazza

(on 69.9% of ballots in 2015)
The only thing that prohibited Piazza from being a first-ballot Hall of Famer (instead of a 5th, which he’ll likely be) is the vague assumption that he might have done steroids. Other than that, he’d be in. Piazza was the best catcher in baseball for most of the nineties and at least the best catcher in the National League from 1993-2002. During that time, he made 12 All-Star rosters and received MVP votes in 9 different seasons, including finishing second in 1996 and ’97 and third in 2000. Plus, his career numbers are comparable to Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk, Gabby Hartnett, Bill Dickey and Duke Snider. Not bad for a 62nd round draft pick. If you’re still not convinced because of Piazza’s steroid whispers, just consider that a) if he really did them, it’s amazing that we don’t know by now and b) how much fun it would be to picture Roger Clemens’ seething face watching Piazza’s induction speech from home.

My vote: YES.

 

2. Jeff Bagwell

 

(55.7%)
In a perfect world, Bagwell could have gone in with his Killer Bees teammate, Craig Biggio last year. For like, 15 years those guys WERE the Astros. But like Mike Piazza, Bagwell also has PED whispers. Nevertheless, his resume is fantastic. Bagwell was one of the best NL first basemen in the nineties, when there was especially tough competition to be that. He received MVP votes in 10 different seasons, including winning the award in 1994 and getting second two other times. Bagwell’s career numbers are similar to Frank Thomas and Willie Stargell. And JAWS has him ranked as the 6th best first baseman of all time. It goes Lou Gehrig, Albert Pujols, Jimmie Foxx, Cap Anson, Roger Connor and then Jeff Bagwell. Pretty impressive. Oh, and the Red Sox trading him to Houston for Larry Anderson is probably the second-worst trade in their team’s history. So there’s that too.

My vote: YES.

 

3. Tim Raines

(55.0%)
I know as a baseball nerd I’m supposed to say YES, but I just can’t find a good enough argument for the guy. Raines never came close to winning an MVP award. He played for 23 years, but doesn’t have any sure-thing milestone numbers other than stolen bases. And I feel like people have to do rhetorical gymnastics to portray him as anything other than a marginal pick. I really wish I could say YES, but I can’t. He’s an A+ Vince Coleman and a C+ Rickey Henderson. However, I will say that spending $40,000 on blow in 1982 does make him the Wade Boggs of Cocaine.

My Vote: (Regretful) NO.

 

4. Curt Schilling

 

(39.2%)
I would guess that Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez had to get in before most voters were willing to give Schilling a real chance. And it also probably didn’t help that Curt Schilling has always been a gigantic asshole to the press. Actually, Schilling is a Born Again, George W. Bush backing, Iraq War loving, homophobic Creationist. So I don’t think we’d get along too well either. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t an outstanding pitcher. Schilling finished second in Cy Young voting three different times, has over 3,000 career strikeouts and three World Series rings. You remember the Bloody Sock in 2004 and the outstanding 2001 performance with Randy Johnson that earned them Sports Illustrated‘s co-Sportsmen of the Year. I’d say Schilling is the 6th-best pitcher of my lifetime (behind Clemens, Greg Maddux, Johnson, Martinez and Mike Mussina). And although his career numbers are closer to Kevin Brown, Bob Welch and Orel Hershiser, I think his multiple postseason performances push him over the hump. Plus, homeboy was on the ’93 Phillies. That team deserves SOMEBODY in the Hall.

My vote: YES.

 

5. Edgar Martinez

(27.0%)
Two years ago, Frank Thomas proved that a true DH can make it into the Hall of Fame. But Edgar Martinez isn’t exactly the Big Hurt. Thomas has 521 career home runs and two MVP awards. Edgar has the career numbers of Will Clark and John Olerud. Yes, he held his own on teams with Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez and sometimes had seasons with higher WARs than both of them. And he’s the only DH to ever win a batting title (which is bizarre, if you think about it). But when the career totals are iffy, being a lowly DH makes it easier to say NO.

My vote: NO.

 

6. Alan Trammell

 

(25.1%)
Maybe some day in the future, the Vets Committee can make all of Detroit happy by inducting Trammell and Lou Whitaker into the Hall together. And the sports media can attempt to appreciate their 19 seasons together with the Tigers, where they completed more double plays than any other combo in history. But as of now, he ain’t gettin’ in. Trammell was good, but he wasn’t quite Robin Yount or Cal Ripken Jr. or Ozzie Smith or Barry Larkin (you know, Hall of Famers). He was on Magnum P.I. once though. And that will have to be his consolation prize.

My vote: NO.

 

7. Mike Mussina

(24.6%)
Now that all the top tier pitchers from his era are in the Hall of Fame (sans Clemens), I think it’s time to take a look at Mussina. I said that about Curt Schilling a little earlier, but Mussina was actually a better pitcher than Schilling. I also actually think he was better than John Smoltz. Mussina was one of the best pitchers in the AL for a decade. And although he never won a Cy Young, he received votes in 9 different seasons and should have won the award in 2001. Mussina won 270 games in his career, including 20 in his last season. His career numbers are comparable to Juan Marichal, Jim Palmer and Carl Hubbell. And he’s got 7 Gold Gloves to boot. Simply put, Mike Mussina is the best pitcher in the history of baseball who is not in the Hall of Fame. Sans Clemens.

My vote: YES.

 

8. Jeff Kent

 

(14.0%)
I honestly thought I’d be able to look at Kent’s power numbers and try to slide him into the YES column by comparing him to other second baseman. But Kent wasn’t quite Craig Biggio or Roberto Alomar or Ryne Sandberg or even Lou Whitaker. I don’t even think he’s as good of a candidate as Chase Utley. And if I really wanted to be mean, I’d say he also sucked at defense and didn’t deserve the MVP award he won in 2000. But I wouldn’t do that. The man went on the DL one time after “washing his truck” for Chrissakes and I wouldn’t want to kick a man with that kind of bad luck.

My vote: NO.

 

9. Fred McGriff

(12.9%)
After the Devil Rays released McGriff in 2004, nobody came calling. And the Crime Dog had to retire with 493 career home runs. That’s seven (SEVEN!) short of being an automatic selection for the Hall (sans the Steroid Guys). Think about how stupid that is. Because of that, I wish I could vote YES, but I still can’t. Sure, with 400 + home runs McGriff has similar career numbers to David Ortiz, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Billy Williams and Gary Sheffield. But he never finished higher than 4th in MVP voting, so the peaks aren’t really there. What would his Cooperstown plaque say, “6th-best first baseman of the nineties?” Because that’s kind of what he was. JAWS ranks him as the 29th-best first baseman of all time. Which is totally not helping. If he’d just gotten that call and hit seven more… Then I’d start a petition to get the cap on his plaque to sit high on top of his head and say, “Baseball World” like in the Tom Emanski Baseball Fundamentals commercials. But sadly, he’s still just seven short.

My vote: (Very regretful) NO.

 

10. Larry Walker

 

(11.8%)
Are players from the Colorado Rockies not allowed to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame? Just wondering. Because nobody who’s ever played for that team is in it. And that’s got to be the reason Walker is finishing so low in the vote totals. It’s not like Walker wasn’t good in Montreal. He just happened to be much better once he got to the high altitudes of Colorado. Or so it would seem. In Walker’s MVP season in 1997, he hit more home runs and had a higher OPS on the road than at home. And that was in the nineties, when Walker’s advanced stats were just as good as all of the Steroid Monsters. He has three batting titles and seven Gold Gloves. And the career stats of Miguel Cabrera, Duke Snider, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Mize, Vladimir Guerrero and Lance Berkman. And JAWS lists him as the 10th best right fielder of all time. It’s not like everybody in Denver is doing that.

My vote: YES.

 

11. Nomar Garciaparra

(5.5%)
Boy, things sure started out hot for No-Mah, didn’t they? It looked like he was going to be in the same conversation as A-Rod and Jeter for the great shortstops of his generation. But if career numbers matter, Garciaparra is well short of a Hall of Fame career. He’s the 12th-best shortstop of my lifetime. Even the previously-cursed Red Sox couldn’t win it all until he went to the Cubs (conspiracy!) in the middle of the 2004 season. At least he has Mia Hamm.

My vote: NO (MAH).

 

Okay. Time for the 1st ballot guys. And I have to say, most of them don’t even pass the sniff test. Like, I could analyze the pitching career of Mike Hampton, or tell you that JAWS has him as the 301st-best pitcher of all time. David Eckstein is the 112th-best shortstop of all time. Mike Sweeney is the 101st-best first basemen. And so forth and so on. Jason Kendall, Brad Ausmus and Randy Wynn never got a single vote for MVP or Cy Young throughout their entire careers. Not to say that they weren’t good players. These guys made All-Star rosters. But I’m just saying most are not really worth analyzing. Except for two. And they are…

 

12. Ken Griffey Jr.

 

YES. First ballot. 630 career home runs. An MVP award in 1997. 13 All-Star Games. 10 Gold Gloves (only trailing Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays as an outfielder.) And no known allegations of steroid use. He’s as automatic as it gets.

My vote: YES!!!

 

13. Jim Edmonds

While the 8 Gold Gloves are impressive (and like Griffey, holy shit did he make some bonkers catches – that ’97 catch at Kauffmann???), the offensive stats aren’t there. I’m curious if he gets the necessary votes to stay on the ballot. But he probably shouldn’t.

My vote: NO.

 

In summary, my picks are Piazza, Bagwell, Schilling, Mussina, Walker and Griffey. I’d assume it will be Griffey and Piazza this year. Or just Griffey. But we’ll obviously have to wait and see. The good news is, we can start all over in 2017 with Pudge Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero and Jorge Posada and so forth and so on. Because, after all, if you’re a baseball fan and an idiot like me, isn’t this part of the process the most fun anyway?

 

 


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