The Lions’ success is a blemish on Calvin Johnson’s HOF resume

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Published on : December 22, 2016

 

 

When Calvin Johnson retired at the end of last season, the prevailing theory was that the Detroit Lions were doomed. They were once again losing one of the most prolific offensive superstars ever to play the game. Instead of having a long storied career, Megatron decided to walk away from the game after just nine seasons. Shades of Barry Sanders had fans of the team up in arms. Once again a transcendent offensive weapon was choosing to hang it up early as opposed to continuing on with an organization that was heading nowhere.

 

Like many others, I was fearful that the loss of Calvin Johnson would negatively impact the team, and the offense specifically. I also had an opposing suspicion that losing the Megatron security blanket, could actually help advance Matthew Stafford’s progression as a quarterback. Through 14 games this season, it seems as though the latter turned out to be true. Stafford is in the midst of one of the best stretches of his career, and while a new offensive coordinator deserves a lot of credit for that, you can’t help but notice that he is spreading the ball around like never before. No longer does he have one of the best wide receivers in the game to lock in on, and it seems to have benefited the team in a big way. Does all of this hurt Calvin Johnson’s already much-disputed case for the Hall of Fame?

 

 He was great, but did the offense’s focus on him hinder the team as a whole?

 

Don’t get me wrong, I still think the unbelievable physical talent that Calvin Johnson brought to the NFL merits his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But with how the Detroit Lions have performed this season without him, I think his case has been hurt in a big way. After the team’s 1-3 start, it was easy to start pointing fingers, and some people surely looked to the void left by Johnson’s departure as a contributing factor. Since then, however, the team has gone on a complete tear, winning 8 of their last 10 games. The team sits at 9-5 and is on the verge of possibly winning their first division title since 1993.

 

This works against Calvin Johnson’s case for the Hall of Fame. Where people were pointing at his lack of longevity as the biggest mark against him, people will now also look at the team’s success this season in his absence when making a case against his induction. During Megatron’s nine seasons in Detroit the team only threatened for the division title once or twice, and now in his first season as a professional dancer, they have a two game lead with only three games to play.

 

 From football to Dancing with the Stars.

 

In five years, when the time comes to start considering the man known as Megatron for Canton people will surely point to this season as a reason for his exclusion. For reasons that are beyond me, it was already an uphill battle for Calvin Johnson. If the team should win the division, and somehow manage to win a playoff game, you can be almost certain that there will never be a bust of Megatron in Canton, Ohio.

 

Are the Lions a better team this year? Almost certainly. Does that have something to do with Calvin Johnson’s departure? There’s no way to tell for sure, but you better believe that people will paint it that way.

 

 


Calvin and Andre. Two Johnsons that should go to the Hall

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Published on : November 10, 2016

 

The NFL has lost two monster receivers in the last year. Calvin Johnson announced his retirement following last season. Victim of a mediocre franchise and a body that could no longer withstand the beating it had endured over 9 years as the focal point of the Lions offense. He decided the best thing for him and his family was to walk away from the game. Much like Barry Sanders a decade and a half earlier, he left fans in Detroit clamoring for more. But who are we to judge? It’s not like we were the ones risking being a cripple by the age of 40. His hands were mangled and he was in pain. It was too soon. He still had gas left in the tank. But he had to go.

 

Andre Johnson announced his retirement following week 8, in the middle of the his 14th NFL season. The longtime member of the Houston Texans walked away from the game after it became obvious that he couldn’t play at a high level anymore. He was released by the Texans following the 2014 season, spent last season with the Colts and was on the Tennessee Titans roster this season. He spent the entire season as a backup and hadn’t registered a catch since week 5. Clearly his time has passed, and unlike Calvin Johnson at the time of his retirement, he was no longer able to produce. He knew it was time to walk away.

 

 

With the retirement of both of these giants, the question has been asked if one or both of these guys belong in the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. I don’t really understand the argument against either. For a decade they were two of the most feared wideouts in football and defenses routinely were forced to game plan around them. In their respective primes they were borderline unstoppable. In my opinion both the Johnsons belong in the Hall of Fame.

 

Calvin only played for 9 seasons, and because of that he sits further down the list for most of the major receiving statistics. But did have the most yards ever in a season back in 2012 (1,964). He was the ONLY weapon on the Lions’ offense for years at a time, and gave the fans in Detroit a reason to watch. His nickname was Megatron because he constantly made plays that seemed inhuman. Calvin Johnson was a machine and changed the way people viewed the wide receiver position.

 

Andre has some things in his resume that Calvin lacks. He played for 14 seasons and and has 2 playoffs wins under his belt (2011 and 2012). His longevity shows that he was able to be an important part of the Texans offense for years, despite having worse quarterback play for most of his career. Andre never had quite the monster season that Megatron did in 2012, but he still averaged over 1,000 yards per season for his entire career. That’s impressive. He is also the only player in NFL history to have 60+ receptions in his first 8 seasons.

 

 

In the NFL of today, where defenses are able to game plan around specific players and try to minimize their impact, these two players were as impactful as any. They were famous for their big play ability and their knack for making eye-popping catches. One defender, two defenders or three. It didn’t matter. These two could make opposing cornerbacks look silly at any moment. It’s not Calvin’s fault that he doesn’t have a playoff win (he appeared in 2 game with the Lions in 2011 and 2014). It’s not his fault that he played in an era that actually puts value on player’s quality of life during and after football, as opposed to running these guys into an early grave. Megatron doesn’t have the longevity of players from past eras and he may not have the playoff resume, but for almost a decade he was transcendent. Andre might not have had quite the same aura of dominance, but he was damn sure dominant on the field. He didn’t have the bad ass nickname but he had the skills to be sure. He was every bit the receiver as the other Johnson.

 

Shouldn’t the Hall of Fame have something to do with the level of fame that the player achieved? In a league with 32 teams, not everyone gets to the playoffs and not everyone gets a Super Bowl. Neither of these two players has a championship ring but they had the fame and the reputation as guys not to be taken lightly or underestimated on the field. They both deserve to be in the Hall of Fame because for years, they were the best of the best. In 7 years, when it’s time to put their names into consideration, and their legend has had a chance to grow, I’m confident they will both be there.

 

 


Case of the Mondays: NFL Hall of Fame Game

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Published on : August 8, 2016

 

 

Are you ready for some football!?! Me too, but due to a lack proper planning on part of the NFL, we’re going to have to wait just a little bit longer to get it. If you’re anything like me then you couldn’t wait for the Hall of Fame Game yesterday. It’s just preseason but it’s still full contact, full speed, football action. And after so many months without our beloved pigskin, the masses are desperate for it. Well, thanks to poor field conditions (and planning), we were all denied that for which we have yearned for so many months. With about an hour until kickoff, the league canceled the game and took the air out of what was to be the grand conclusion of a great Hall of Fame induction weekend.

 

The game was set for the Green Bay Packers to face off against the Indianapolis Colts but alas, it was not meant to be. Even though we weren’t going to see Aaron Rodgers play in the first place we were still going to get some action. Most of the other starters would see very, very limited playing time but that doesn’t really matter. I WANT FOOTBALL AND I WANT IT NOW!

 

 These guys were there, but no one was playing.

 

To be totally serious, I’m low-key proud of the league, despite the logistical ineptitude, for the decision to cancel the game yesterday. It’s not something that happens often but the league actually put the players’ safety above all else. That’s right, the guys who still try to downplay the link between the game, concussions, and CTE, did what was best for the players. I’ll give you a second to digest that. Now that we are past that, it’s time to rag on them a little bit. Get your shit together, NFL. If you can’t get a field in Ohio to be safe, how can we trust you in London or Mexico City this season? We all know that you aren’t canceling a regular season game. Blame the Tim McGraw concert that was held on Friday all you want, but everyone knows this is on you.

 

The safety concerns at Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio stemmed from conditions of the playing surface on the field. This is the same stadium where Steelers kicker, Shaun Suisham tore his ACL last season while attempting to make a tackle. There were complaints about the conditions of the field for last year’s game and yet the NFL didn’t cancel the game. At least one player from that game takes issue with that fact.

 

 

You have to think that he has a point. After last years’ debacle the league replaced the old turf with the artificial playing surface from the New Orleans Saints’ home, the SuperDome. Yet, the issues persisted. Maybe just get a new field installed instead of borrowing a used one? Word from players was that the paint for the logo at centerfield and the endzones had congealed to the point that it was like tar and a cleat wouldn’t penetrate it. Another player was quoted as saying that it would have been like “playing on concrete.”

 

How on Earth does the league bungle setting up and painting a playing field? Have they not been hosting football games since 1920? It’s kind of sad that a league that is estimated to have $13 billion in revenue this year can’t get the field figured out. It’s bad enough that they are forcing these two teams to play a fifth preseason game, but to potentially put the teams in further danger by fumbling when it comes to the turf? That’s bush league.

 

 We know how you feel, buddy.

 

So this Case of the Mondays goes to the National Football League, and its attempt at the 2016 Hall of Fame Game. Aside from an estimated $4 million in lost revenue, the league lost a bit a little bit of respect from the fans in attendance and at home. While I applaud them for taking a stand on player safety, the respect gained from that move is surely lost when you consider that it never should have gone down like that. This is the most popular and powerful professional sports league in the country, and maybe even the world, yet they can’t figure out the playing field for the first game of the year.

 

Let’s all just be happy that they got their heads out of their own asses for long enough to cancel the game and stop some injuries before they happened. I’ll wait until Thursday for some football, but I damn sure ain’t happy about it!

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XX: Aroldis Chapman Arrives and Chris Sale Destroys)

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Published on : July 29, 2016

 

 

Man, I thought that with the trade deadline still a few days away, this week would end up being a snooze. But Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were officially inducted into the Hall of Fame, Aroldis Chapman was traded to the Chicago Cubs and Chris Sale joined the fashion police and went all Mark Fuhrman on some throwbacks. So let’s get in to it.

 

The first major shoe to drop before this year’s trade deadline was Aroldis Chapman going to the Cubs for Gleyber Torres (the #26 prospect in the Majors), Adam Warren, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford. And it may be giving up a lot, but it looks like Theo Epstein believes this is the year and is going all in. And Addison Russell also exists, is only 22 and doesn’t leave a lot of room for any potential shortstops in the Cubs’ farm system.

 

Chapman does come with some baggage, to say the least. Last December, he allegedly choked his girlfriend and then shot up his garage, although no charges were filed and he already served a 30-game suspension earlier in the year. And those allegations are horrible. But honestly, the better he does in Chicago, the more the Cubs’ fan base will be willing to let them slide and give the flamethrower a second chance to be a better person.

 

 

All of that aside, Chapman was the biggest name in the deadline talks. The Cubs acquiring him also means that the Nationals and Giants didn’t. And they didn’t have to give up Kyle Schwarber in the process of addressing their most glaring weakness. Chapman debuted at Wrigley Field on Wednesday and threw 103 mph, so I’m guessing most of the critics on the North Side will be willing to move foreword. It’s not ideal for me either, but I know that sometimes shitty people are great at baseball.

 

As far as Chris Sale goes, wow. He didn’t want to wear the infamously hideous 1976 collared throwbacks because he said they were uncomfortable so he took a pair of scissors and destroyed them. Those are the same jerseys, mind you, that the White Sox wore with fucking SHORTS for the first game of a doubleheader that same year. I’d guess they’re on every short list for the ugliest jerseys in baseball history. Although it’s amazing that it happened, Sale’s antics earned him a five-game internal suspension and sparked a sea of trade rumors with the Dodgers, Red Sox, Rangers, Blue Jays and virtually every other potential playoff team. And I’ll go ahead and say that it’s probably not even the weirdest clubhouse incident to happen to the White Sox in 2016. But this is the type of awesome scumbag baseball lore that will stick around for a long time.

 

chicago-white-sox 1976

 

Over the weekend, Griffey and Piazza were formally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. And that led a lot of baseball pundits to ask the yearly question of, “Which current players could retire and make the Hall of Fame right now?” And I always shake my head when guys like Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout and Buster Posey are even brought into the conversation. You have to play 10 years in the Majors to even be considered for the Hall of Fame, everybody. So that rules all of them out.

 

Then you have to assume that anybody with a PED suspension is also eliminated, which takes care of Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, whether or not they would have made it in otherwise. David Ortiz also tested positive in 2003. So unless views on steroid use softens in the next decade, those guys aren’t getting in either.

 

So, who would get in? Good question. Here are the 10 most-likely if everyone’s careers were over right now.

 

1. Albert Pujols

579 career Home Runs. 3 MVP Awards. I can just stop talking there. But I’ll also tell you that JAWS ranks him as the second-best first baseman of all-time. Definite.

 

2. Miguel Cabrera
2 MVP Awards. 2 HR titles. 4 batting titles. A triple crown. JAWS has him as the 11th best first-baseman of all time. Definite.

 

3. Ichiro Suzuki
He’s closing in on 3000 hits. An MVP Award. 2 batting titles. 10 Gold Gloves. Definite.

 

4. Adrian Beltre
427 HR. 2862 hits. JAWS ranks him as the 5th best third baseman of all time. Very Probable.

 

5. Carlos Beltran

I talked about him earlier this year. But 412 HR. 2554 hits. JAWS says he’s the 8th best center fielder of all time. Probable.

 

6. Joe Mauer
3 batting titles. An MVP award. JAWS ranks him as the 9th best catcher of all time. Maybe.

 

7. Robinson Cano
261 HR for a second-baseman. That’s 6th all-time. He’s also 20th in hits. And JAWS says he’s the 14th-best second baseman of all time. Probably Not.

 

8. Chase Utley
242 HR at second. That’s good for 10th all time. JAWS says he’s 11th-best at second base. Probably Not.

 

9. Joe Nathan
He’s 8th all-time in saves. JAWS says he’s the 18th-best reliever of all time. No.

 

10. Dustin Pedroia

He’s got an MVP award and 2 rings. JAWS says he’s the 21st-best second baseman of all time. No.

 

Okay. As you can see it’s pretty bleak. So I’ll give you the next 10 guys on my list, based on Bill James’ Hall of Fame Standards Ranking. And just note that a 50 is the average for a Hall of Famer.

 

CC Sabathia (42), Matt Holliday (42), Jimmy Rollins (42), Victor Martinez (38), David Wright (36), Troy Tulowitzki (36), Hanley Ramirez (36), Joey Votto (34), Jose Reyes (34), Brian McCann (33). By the way, Yadier Molina has a 26. So everyone can shut up about him.

 

Okay. Let’s go around the league.

 

The American League

It looks like the Blue Jays and Red Sox are going to make some more moves. And that the Rays will be unloading some pitching. But even with Chapman gone, the Yankees are still in the best position to benefit before the deadline. You could still argue that they’re not dead yet (6.5 back in the division, 4 back in the Wild Card), but Andrew Miller’s trade value went up even higher. And he’s the new #1 on everyone’s list. Well, except for the Cubs.

 

Miller

 

I think it’s funny that on Tuesday, Chris Tillman, Steven Wright and Danny Salazar all had bad outings, so people started asking who the AL Cy Young should be and if anyone even wanted it. ESPN’s Cy Young Predictor has Zach Britton, Tillman, Sale, Cole Hamels and Salazar in their top 5. Here’s mine.

 

1. Masahiro Tanaka    3.3 WAR    3.25 FIP    3.00 ERA
2. Aaron Sanchez       3.0 WAR    3.36 FIP    2.72 ERA
3. Corey Kluber          3.7 WAR    2.91 FIP    3.44 ERA
4. Jose Quintana        3.1 WAR    3.46 FIP    2.97 ERA
5. Danny Salazar        2.7 WAR    3.31 FIP    2.89 ERA

 

Also, Prince Fielder is out for the year. But I’m sure we’ll know a lot more about the state of teams like the Rangers and Indians and whoever else after Monday’s deadline. Saying anything else would just be wild speculation. Let’s move on.

 

The National League

It looks like the Nationals are losing faith in Jonathan Papelbon, so if Andrew Miller lands anywhere, Washington is just as good of a guess as any. The other main names still on the market in the NL are Jeremy Hellickson, Jonathan Lucroy, Jay Bruce, Carlos Gonzalez, Will Smith and Andrew Cashner. The Cubs could still go after a veteran bat. And the Dodgers want the entire Rays’ pitching staff, since they don’t have one of their own. Who’s ready for Monday?

 

Okay. That does it for this week. If you need more baseball, check me out on Comedians Talking Sports with Joe Kilgallon on iTunes. And in the meantime, Ichiro needs 3 hits and the Cubs’ Magic Number is 56.

 

 


Farewell, Tim Duncan

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Published on : July 13, 2016

 

 

Sometimes you have to recognize greatness. This is one of those times. Earlier this week, Tim Duncan announced his retirement from the NBA at the age of 40. He played 19 seasons, all with the San Antonio Spurs. He walks away as a 5-time Champion, 3-time Finals MVP, 2-time league MVP, and 15-time All-Star. The boy from St Croix who dreamed of being an Olympic swimmer before Hurricane Hugo destroyed the pool and dashed those hopes, leaves the game as the best power forward to ever grace a basketball court.

 

The Big Fundamental leaves the game as one of only three players to have 1,000 wins in his career and one of four players to rank in the top 15 in career points, rebounds and blocks. He played the game his way. The right way. Not always with a ton of flash, but always with class. As the Western Conference got younger and quicker and flashier around him, he continued to dominate. Even as he aged into his late-thirties.

 

 Will there ever be another quite like Tim Duncan?

 

His partnership with Gregg Popovich is one of the most successful player/coach relationships in the history of the NBA. Duncan believed in the system in San Antonio and led his teammates by the example he set on the court. And because of that, they were competitive every single year of his career. They never missed the playoffs while he was there, even as the cast around him changed. If that isn’t a testament to his talent and determination then I don’t know what is. While in San Antonio, he accumulated 157 wins, good for 2nd all time, and his 164 postseason double-doubles are the most in the history of the NBA.

 

But he never bragged about any of it. Never let the world know that he was the best at his position ever. Because he didn’t need to. Tim Duncan let his play do the talking. And because his game was so good, it spoke louder than any words ever could. He was as humble as any star athlete I’ve ever seen. He’s the kind of guy that any coach would love to have. No drama, no trash talk in the media, no stress. Just wins.

 

Tim Duncan is one of the few players that didn’t play in Detroit that I have an unending admiration for. As evidenced by his Finals MVP that year, he was one of the most important parts of the 2005 Spurs team that stole the back-to-back opportunity away from my beloved Pistons, and even though I harbored resentment against him for a while, I was at the same time awe-struck by him. His hardworking demeanor was the kind of thing we love in Detroit and I can’t help but be jealous that the Spurs got to have him all to themselves for all those years.

 

 I’m still sad about 2005, but I’ve got to give it up to Timmy.

 

Nothing lasts forever, though, and regardless of the fact that Tim Duncan helped lead the Spurs to a 67-15 record last season, the best in franchise history, it was time to move on to the next chapter. For him and for us. His 19 years with the same team is second only to Kobe Bryant’s 20 years with the Lakers, with one major difference. Tim was good for each and every one of them.

 

The Spurs organization should be thankful. Spurs fans should be thankful. NBA fans should be thankful. All sports fans should be thankful. Thankful for the fact that Tim Duncan was scared of sharks, and wouldn’t practice with his swim team in the ocean. If he had faced his fears we all would have missed out on a hall of fame beast of a power forward. Thank you Tim Duncan, for showing me that sometimes if you avoid your fears then the entire world wins. So long, number-21. You shall be missed.

 

 


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

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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

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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?

 

 


100 Greatest Joe’s in the History of Sports

Written by :
Published on : October 5, 2015

 

 

In honor of ScoreBoredSports’ 100th post we bring you a list of the 100 Greatest Joe’s in all of sports, past and present. This list will cover any variation of the name Joe. So names like Jo, Joey, Joseph, Jose are all fair game. Also accepted is any compound name using Joe and a hyphen. These ain’t your average Joe’s, these men and women dominate in their fields and have influence on the game. This isn’t just about who won the most, this is about who had control of the narrative. Don’t view this as a ranking but a guest list to the coolest party in town. Without further ado, here is your top 100 Joe’s.

 

100. Joey Harrington – NFL Quarterback

99. Joe Buck – NFL Announcer

98. Jose Calderon – NBA Point Guard

97. Big Joe Fauria – NFL Tight End

96. Joakim Noah – NBA Center

The hair, the intensity, what’s not to love? And yes, Joakim counts as a Joe.

 

95. Joe Johnson – NBA Shooting Guard/Small Forward

94. Joseph Young – NBA Guard

93. Jose Valverde – MLB Pitcher

92. Ronda Jo Miller – WNBA Forward

91. Jose Iglesias – MLB Short Stop

90. Shalrie Joseph – Soccer Defensive Midfielder

89. Jose Mourinho – Soccer Coach

This little Napoleon looks and is terrifying.

 

88. Joseph Randle – NFL Running Back

87. Joe Lombardi – NFL Offensive Cordinator

86. Joe Hart – Soccer Goalie

85. José María Olazábal – Golfer

84. J. C. Tretter (Joseph Carl) – NFL Center

83. Joe Bruin – UCLA Mascot

Only Mascot to make the list. This bear has real personality.

 

82. Joe Wieland – MLB Pitcher

81. Joe DeLoach – Sprinter

80. Josephine Chukwunonye – Tennis

79. Joey Votto – MLB First Base

78. Jose Canseco – MLB Outfielder

This hunk of beef. Remember when the ball bounced off his head for a Home Run? I do.

 

77. Joe Allen – Soccer Midfielder

76. Joseph Carr – Former President of the NFL

75. Joe DeLamielleure – NFL Guard

74. Joe Morgan MLB Manager

73. Joe Guyon – NFL Halfback

72. Joe Perry – NFL Fullback

71. Joe Lynch – Boxer

70. Joe Stydahar – NFL Tackle

69. Joe Haden – NFL Cornerback

One of the best CB’s in the league. He plays in Cleveland and doesn’t suck. That’s not easy.

 

68. Joe Maur – MLB Catcher/First Base

67. Joseph Fulks – NBA Small Forward

66. Joseph Lapchick – NBA Center

65. Jo Jo White – NBA Point Guard

64. Joe Vitale – NHL Center

63. Johnathan Joseph – NFL Cornerback

62. Joe Thornton  – NHL Center

I really don’t like this guy but his beard is epic, almost wizard status.

 

61. Joe Cronin – MLB Shortstop/Manager

60. Joe Malone – NHL Center

59. Joe Hall – NHL Defensemen

58. Joe Primeau – NHL Center

57. Joe Philbin – NFL Coach

56. Joe Nieuwendyk – NHL Center

55. Joe Garagiola – MLB Catcher

54. Joe Weatherly – NASCAR Driver

53. Joe Lee Johnson – NASCAR Driver

This guy drives faster and better than you. All while wearing white pants.

 

52. Joe Kelley – MLB Left Fielder/Manager

51. Jose Reyes – MLB Shortstop

50. Joe Tinker – MLB Shortstop

49. Joe Medwick – MLB Left Fielder

48. Joe Mihalic – NASCAR Driver

47. Joe Sewell – MLB Shortstop/Third Base

46. Jose Altuve – MLB Second Base

Of the many Venezuelan studs taking over baseball. Better learn Spanish, cause he is here to stay.

 

45. Joe Williams – NFL Running Back

44. Jose Mendez – Baseball Pitcher

43. Joe Gordon – MLB Second Base

42. Joseph Brennann – ABL (basketball) Guard

41. Joe Thomas – NFL Offensive Tackle

40. Joe Gibbs – NFL Coach

He has a Super Bowl ring with the Redskins and he don’t Gibb a damn.

 

39. Joe Gomez – Soccer Defender

38. Joe Choynski – Boxer

37. Barbados Joe Walcott – Boxer

36. Jersey Joe Walcott – Boxer

35. Joe Schmidt – NFL Linebacker

34. Joe Jellybean Bryant – NBA Player/Coach

33. Joe Calzaghe – Boxer

32. Joe Jeanette – Boxer

31. Jose Bautista – MLB Right Fielder

30. Joe Flacco – NFL Quarterback

Tall dude, cannon for an arm. I think he collects stamps. Seems chill.

 

29. Joe Jackson -MLB Left Fielder

28. Joe Newton – Track Coach

27. Joe Susan – NCAA Men’s Football Coach

26. Mary Joe Fernández – Tennis

25. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – Tennis

24. Jose Villareal – Soccer Midfielder/Striker

23. Fernando (Jose) Torres  – Soccer Striker

Just your average, down to earth, super rich, futbol star.

 

22. Jose Aldo – UFC Fighter

21. Jose Fernandez – MLB Pitcher

20. Joe Gans – Boxer

19. Jose Abreu – MLB First Base

18. Joe Gibbs – Owner Joe Gibbs racing

17. Bullet Joe Simpson – NHL Defender

16. Joe Theisman – NFL Quarterback

15. Joe McGinnity – MLB Pitcher

14. Joe Rogan – UFC Announcer

That’s right, Joe Rogan. Fear Factor, Bitch!

 

13. Joe Paterno – NCAA Men’s Football Coach

12. Joe Lopes – Skateboarder

11. Joe Dumars – NBA Guard

10. Joe Fraiser – Boxer

9. Flo-Jo – Sprinter

8. Joe Sakic – NHL Center

7. Joey Crawford – NBA Referee

How long has this guy been enforcing his will on the NBA?

 

6. Joe Torre – MLB Manager

5. Joe Namath – NFL Quarterback

4. Mean Joe Greene – NFL Defensive Tackle

3. Joe DiMaggio – MLB Center Fielder

2. Joe Louis – Boxer

1. Joe Montana – NFL Quarterback

Swipe right.

 

Honorable Mention: Trader Joes, Jose Cuervo, Joe Dirt, Bazooka Joe, Mighty Joe Young, GI Joe, Joseph and his fancy dreamcoat and our very own Joe Piel.

 

Also, I know I missed a bunch of deserving athletes. So in your nicest, indoor voice, please tell me about it in the comments. Thanks again for reading and here’s to another 100 posts! Cheers!

 

 

 


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