Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Roberto Alomar

Claim to fame: Alomar might have been the best second baseman of his generation. In his prime, he was certainly the best all-around player at his position, a franchise cornerstone and an integral member of many playoff teams. An All Star 12 of his 17 seasons and a 10-time Gold Glove winner, Alomar batted .300 lifetime with 2,724 hits, 210 home runs, and 474 stolen bases and a career WAR of 63.5. While he declined his final three seasons and quit at 37 in March 2005, just shy of 3,000 hits, his Cooperstown case would be certain were it not for some onerous personal issues.

Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Alomar fell just shy this past January in his first year on the Cooperstown ballot for the Baseball Writers Association of America, receiving 73.7 percent of the vote. He’s on the ballot for the second time this year and will have 13 more tries should he again miss the 75 percent of the votes he needs for enshrinement.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? It’s going to be an interesting year for Hall voting. One can only guess how many candidates will fall short. My guess is Jeff Bagwell, Kevin Brown, Rafael Palmeiro, and Larry Walker all miss out, though Bagwell should get in soon, and I think Walker will eventually. Their numbers seen good enough, their images sufficiently clean, though players like them (All Stars whose careers were curtailed by injuries) rarely get in first ballot. Brown and Palmeiro’s best bet is the Veterans Committee. With the exception of Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens, I doubt the writers will enshrine any player connected to steroids.

Alomar is a different case. I think he may have the best shot of any recent player at being enshrined this year, and it’s hard to name another second baseman from his era who could do everything he could as well as he did. Craig Biggio couldn’t hit for the same average, Lou Whitaker couldn’t hit for the same power, and Jeff Kent couldn’t run as fast. In his prime, from 1992 through 2001, Alomar hit better than .300 nine of 10 years and batted above .320 five times. He also played effectively in the postseason, hitting .313 lifetime with 4 HR and 33 RBI in 58 games.

The question is if the writers are willing to look past some things. There’s the late career decline, his underwhelming lifetime OPS+ of 116, and his negative defensive WAR, a sign his glove may have been overrated. Then there’s the incident from 1996 where he spit on umpire John Hirschbeck during a game. Hirschbeck reportedly called Alomar last year to wish him good luck with the Hall of Fame voting, though I suspect some writers still ding him for the episode.

More significantly, two women have sued Alomar, claiming he was HIV-positive and had unprotected sex with them. It’s not for me to speculate whether Alomar is guilty or innocent, though if it’s true, Alomar wouldn’t be the first HIV-positive athlete in a Hall of Fame, thanks to Magic Johnson. That being said, Magic went about his disclosure in November 1991 in an entirely different manner, becoming an advocate and eventually, a champion over his affliction. No one’s perfect, of course, but right now, Alomar looks far from a champion.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? is a Tuesday feature here.

Others in this series: Al OliverAlbert BelleBert Blyleven, Billy Martin, Cecil TravisChipper JonesDan QuisenberryDave ParkerDon Mattingly, Don NewcombeGeorge SteinbrennerJack MorrisJoe CarterJohn SmoltzKeith HernandezLarry WalkerMaury WillsMel HarderPete Browning, Rafael Palmeiro, Rocky Colavito, Ron Guidry, Steve GarveyThurman MunsonTim Raines, Will Clark

A Card Collector’s Journey

I’m pleased to present this guest post from Gerry Garte, a regular contributor here.


Dwight Eisenhower was President when I first started collecting baseball cards. From year to year, I had the biggest stars of the day – Mantle, Mays, Berra, Banks, Aaron.  A small pack of Topps cards cost a nickel, gum included. My collection lived on a 25-cent weekly allowance, plus benefits.

Neighborhood guys and cousins had baseball cards. We’d trade players or flip for them. It was usually closest to a wall or curb wins. Leaners were great.

After Roger Maris hit an amazing 61 home runs in 1961, his card became prized. I had two. One of the neighbor boys offered to swap 12 marbles for my extra Maris. Transaction accepted. Funny thing, nearly 50 years later I still have the marbles.

The cards were a neat hobby, but like most kids, I never thought of their long-term value. Keeping a card in nice condition was not one of my concerns.

By age 16, baseball cards were like bicycles – left behind. So I yielded closet space. Long story short: None of the cards survived my high school years.

In the mid ‘80s, I went to a couple of sports card shows. It had been about 20 years since the early cards. I’d buy one or two cards at a time, spend maybe $10.

I met Enos Slaughter at a Raleigh, NC, show. He is a 1985 inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I got the gentleman’s autograph and was honored to be shaking the hand of a Hall of Famer.

My son, Benjamin, was born in 1991. When he was about 9, I introduced him to baseball card collecting. I was hoping he’d catch the bug as I had 40 years earlier. Turns out, the bug just winged him. But for the second time, it caught me flush.

After we had put together a great set of 1991 cards (year born), I took it from there.

Newly divorced, but with a steady job, I reverted to age 10. I decided – because I could– to buy all 587 cards in the 1961 Topps basic set — the great Maris year.

This time, I focused on the condition of the card. To ensure authenticity and condition, all cards were graded.  It helps avoid getting cheated.

The authentication services I trust most are PSA, SGC and BVG (Beckett). Their service determines if the card is fraudulent or has been tampered with — trimmed, re-colored, etc. Also, it renders a rating or grade for the physical condition and appearance of the card.

It took several years to complete the set. The journey was its own joy. I don’t know what it cost me, but two years later the set sold on eBay for enough to pay off the bills and buy the son a used Jeep. It was an investment in baseball history.

Three years later, I did it again. This time, I had a complete set of graded 1955 Bowmans (320 cards) auctioned off. The pay-off was smaller – due to condition, popularity and size — but the search was just as much fun.

In childhood, baseball had become imbedded. As an adult, seeing Major Leaguers from the ‘50s and ‘60s on baseball cards is a pleasant way of renewing memories and appreciating the game and life as it was.

As the country transitioned from Ike to JFK, I kept up with my world as best I could. I’d check the box scores daily. On Saturdays, after pick-up games at the schoolyard, I’d hurry home to catch Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese call the game of the week. I’d be engrossed, centered in front of the black-and-white TV set, with my baseball cards close by.


Email Gerry Garte at

Sometimes The Vote Is For Best Player, Sometimes Not

I’m pleased to present the latest guest post from Doug Bird, a Sunday contributor here.


Traditionally, the winners of baseball’s major post season awards are those who have played on winning teams. The voting for best position player, (MVP) and best pitcher, (CY Young), has usually been heavily influenced by the success, or failure, of the team for which an individual plays  The logic being that a particular team might not have enjoyed the success it did had it not been for the play of this individual. Conversely, no matter how important a player might be to a team with a losing record, that team would have had an unsuccessful season with or without him. Any player could have filled his role or so goes the argument. Both opinions are certainly valid.

The 2010 awards once again followed this trend-with one exception, an exception which bodes well for the future. Certainly, no one can really argue with the choices of Roy Halladay, Joey Votto, (well maybe Albert Pujols), and Josh Hamilton. All had excellent seasons and played for winning teams, all were key contributors to their teams’ success. All were team leaders and winning might have been very difficult if not impossible without them.

Roy Halladay gave the Phillies a tried and trusted staff ace, capable of a complete game victory every time he took the mound. He had accomplished this season after season with the Toronto Blue Jays but the Blue Jays continued in their frustrating lack of post season appearances. He was the best pitcher in the league and perhaps all of baseball stuck on a team which was not going to make the playoffs no matter how many games he won or how well he pitched. He was awarded the AL CY Young award in 2003 and the NL CY Young award in 2010. In 2003, the voters decided that he was the best pitcher in the league regardless of the lack of success his steam enjoyed that season, and in 2010, the voters were able to combine personal success and team success in giving him the award. His stats were simply too good to ignore using either criteria and he received all 32 first place votes.

Josh Hamilton was healthier than he had been in years previous, (he still missed almost a month of the season), and still had numbers which could not be ignored by the voting press. All facets of his game were well above average and the Texas Rangers rode on his back all the way to the playoffs. Yet, one could certainly argue, without the bat of Vlad Guerrero behind him,  would Hamilton have enjoyed the offensive numbers he did in 2010? But, MVPs shouldn’t be judged on hitting stats alone and the tremendous contributions made by Hamilton on defense and with his speed on the base paths made him certainly the best all around player in the league. Let’s not forget the swagger or presence a player such as Hamilton brings to the game either, one of those intangibles which don’t show up on the score card but make everyone else on the team that much better.

Joey Votto certainly had the stats to qualify for MVP in the NL but I suspect it was what he meant to the Cincinnati Reds who were a surprise NL central division winner. Their obvious weaknesses were clear in their being swept aside in round one of the NL playoffs.  The baseball writers were taken by surprise all season long by the Reds and felt obligated to come up with a reason.  A healthy and fierce competitor such as Scott Rolen and  the experience of Orlando Cabrera certainly made a difference in 2010 but the player the press settled on was the one who got Cincinnati over the top and gave the Reds the marquee player to get them over the top and into the playoffs. The only real slump the reds went through was the times Votto missed due to injuries. When Votto returned, the collective sigh of relief from players  and fans was audible. Sometimes, writers tire of giving the MVP award to the same player year after year. Albert Pujols is that best player in the NL year in and year out. Votto won his MVP award by being the best offensive player in the NL in 2010 from a strictly numbers consideration and having his best season when his team had its best in several seasons.

Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners was awarded the 2010 AL CY Young award because without him, Seattle would have been even more of an American League doormat than with him.  Writers voted him this award because they couldn’t believe any other pitcher could have enjoyed the success of Hernandez with a team as bad as the 2010 Mariners. The writers awarded Hernandez for his season long effort and perseverance. Any hope of any in season success for the Mariners rested solely on his shoulders. No other starter gave the team much of an opportunity to win games and Hernandez had to win games for his team without much support from his fellow players. He had to be perfect and then some. Other AL CY Young candidates at least had the luxury of playing for teams which could win even when they themselves were not sharp that start. Their teams could win games without them. Seattle could not.

The 2010 baseball award winners proved that  awards can be given out using different criteria for different players. But, that’s what can make them fun isn’t it.


Email Doug Bird at

For Your Consideration: Lefty O’Doul, Pitcher, Slugger, Manager and Baseball Good Will Ambassador

I’m pleased to present this guest post from Joe Guzzardi. I recently announced that I’m asking readers, other baseball writers, and anyone else interested to vote on the 50 best players not in the Hall of Fame. Today, Joe writes about one of the 300 players on the super ballot for this project. My SABR chapter has organized a letter-writing campaign to get Lefty O’Doul inducted to Cooperstown as an ambassador to the game. Joe suggests he may be worthy for much more.


As you work your way through Graham Womack’s list of 300 potential Hall of Fame inductees, those outstanding players who may merit induction, eventually you will come to candidate #204, Lefty O’Doul.

Once you do your O’Doul research, you’ll learn that he contributed in four different facets of baseball: pitching, slugging, managing and spreading good baseball will throughout the world.

After limited success (1-1, 4.40 ERA) as a pitcher for the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox from 1919-1923, O’ Doul developed a sore arm. The Red Sox sent O’Doul to the Pacific Coast League and converted him into a slugging outfielder who became one of the most outstanding hitters in baseball history.

Back with the New York Giants in 1928, O’ Doul hit .318 as a platoon player. Then, in 1929, O’Doul led the National League in batting with a .398 average, 254 hits, 32 home runs with 122 RBIs and 152 runs scored. O’Doul’s hits total broke Rogers Hornsby’s 1922 National League record which was eventually tied by Bill Terry in 1930.

Despite hitting .383 with 22 homers in 1930, O’Doul was traded to the Brooklyn Robins, now the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1932, he batted .368 for the Robins to win another league batting title. After a slow start in 1933, when he batted just .252 through 43 games, O’Doul was again traded, this time back to the Giants. He rallied to hit .306 during the balance of season, but played just one more year before his career ended in 1934.

That began the third phase of O’Doul’s career—the most successful manager in PCL history. O’Doul piloted the San Francisco Seals through 1951. After his stint with the Seals ended, O’Doul also managed the San Diego Padres, 1952-54; Oakland Oaks, 1955; Vancouver Mounties, 1956; and the Seattle Rainers, 1957. O’Doul ranks ninth on the all-time victory list for all minor league managers with a 2,094-1,970 record and, in 1945, was elected as the Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year.

While managing the Mounties O’Doul, age 59, went to bat against the Sacramento Solons during a regulation game. When the Solon manager Tommy Heath foolishly pulled in his outfielders, O’Doul knocked the ball into deep center field for a triple and later scored.

Among his hitting pupils during his many years managing were Joe and Dom DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.

O’Doul is not only a legend in San Francisco where his thriving restaurant is the oldest continuous sports bar in the country but also in Japan where he spent years organizing barnstorm baseball games that featured American All Stars like Lou Gehrig, Frankie Frisch, Al Simmons and Lefty Grove. Eventually, O’Doul helped oversee the construction of Tokyo’s Korakuen Stadium, Japan’s baseball mecca.

Will O’Doul, who died in 1969 at age 72, be one of your 50 choices for enshrinement? After all, O’Doul’s .349 career batting average is the fourth highest in baseball history. And in 2002, the Japanese Hall of Fame elected O’Doul as its only American member.

O’Doul is worthy. The question is whether he outshines the other candidates you’re evaluating.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at

Hall of Fame project FAQs

The Hall of Fame project I announced this week is going outstandingly. More than 60 people have said they’ll vote, and as I write these words on Friday evening, 12 people have already gone to the virtual polls including Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods (the first person to vote– two hours after I sent out the ballot), David Pinto of Baseball Musings, and Mark Simon, a researcher for ESPN New York. I’m excited to see where this thing goes, and I invite anyone who’s interested to email me for a ballot. Anyone is eligible to participate. For more information, go here.

I wanted to take a minute and address some questions. A few people have voiced common themes, and I wanted to offer clarification for any like-minded individuals who haven’t spoken up. I think it’s better to deal with these things sooner rather than later.

Here are some FAQs:

I don’t believe there are 50 players who belong in the Hall of Fame. Can I vote for 12? Please vote for 50. This isn’t going to be a list of 50 players who deserve induction, simply the 50 best who aren’t enshrined. If we wind up with 25 players who have no business near Cooperstown, so be it. I actually think it makes for more interesting writing.

Can I vote for current players? No. Please only vote for anyone who hasn’t played past 2005. We’re going with the same five-year waiting period the Baseball Writers Association of America observes for its Hall of Fame voting. Feel free, though, to vote for anyone who’s played before then. There are many 19th century ballplayers and obscure greats on my 300-player super ballot.

You didn’t include (so-and-so) on the ballot. May I vote for him? Absolutely, write-ins are welcome. So far, it’s been pointed out I forgot Tony Taylor, J.R. Richard, and Vic Power, and some of the submitted ballots have included other write-ins. It makes sense. More than 17,000 men have played in the majors and about 300 are in Cooperstown. I almost certainly forgot several deserving players.

Do players need to have played a certain number of years to qualify? No. While Cooperstown generally requires players to have at least 10 years service time for induction, there are no such constraints here. Bo Jackson, eat your heart out.

When do you need this by? Right now, the deadline is December 1 at 9 p.m. PST, but I’m considering extending voting by one week for an awesome reason I can’t disclose yet. But trust me, if it comes through, our project will get even better. More to follow.

Any player/Any era: Stan Musial

Claim to fame: There’s no better player to write about this Thanksgiving than a baseball legend who turned 90 on Sunday. In his 22 years with the St. Louis Cardinals, Stan Musial established himself as one of the most beloved players in baseball history. Even now, nearly 50 years after his Hall of Fame career ended in 1963, Musial remains an iconic figure. A public campaign for Musial led to an announcement on November 17 that he’ll receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the country.

In a sense, though, I think Musial is underrated. Sure, there’s the universal adoration in the baseball world and the celebration of his impressive stats, like his .331 lifetime batting average, .976 OPS or 3,630 hits, among the best numbers ever. Still, I don’t know if it’s understood that Musial had one of his best seasons– 1946 when he was National League MVP and led the Cardinals to a World Series title—in a year that favored pitchers. If we transport Musial and his .365 batting average that season to a great year for hitters, he might have hit .400.

Era he might have thrived in: It’s really not a question of what year Musial might have hit .400 in, but how many different ones would have allowed it. Here are five sure bets:
1. 1901 with the Philadelphia Athletics
2. 1925 with the St. Louis Browns
3. 1930 with the Philadelphia Phillies
4. 1936 with the Boston Red Sox
5. 1999 with the Colorado Rockies

Why: First, we have to look at what Musial lost in 1946. Baseball was returning from World War II, and even Musial, who played through most of the war, missed the 1945 season serving in the navy. Returns from long breaks generally favor pitchers, possibly due to timing issues that hitters encounter getting back into gear—just look at the gaudy pitching numbers every April and May. In 1946, this lasted for a season, with each National League team averaging 3.958 runs per game (by contrast, in 1930, the NL average was 5.684 runs.) World War II signaled the shift in baseball from the hitter-happy 1920s and ’30s to a game where less runs were scored, fewer players hit .380, and pitchers came to dominate.

Musial had another thing working against his numbers in 1946. While he played on a championship club, it hit a modest .265 with just three players over .300: Musial, Enos Slaughter, and Whitey Kurowski. Slaughter, like Musial, turned in a stellar season and later made Cooperstown, but in another era, Musial might have had a superior teammate to boost his average higher. After all, Babe Ruth had Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb had Harry Heilmann, and Willie Mays had Willie McCovey. In the arrangement here, Musial could be teammates with Napoleon Lajoie on the Athletics, George Sisler on the Browns, or Jimmie Foxx on the Red Sox, among other Hall of Famers.

If we plug Musial into any of these teams he thrives. Obscenely. With the help of the stat converter on, here are his stats from each club:

Real ’46 totals 156 624 124 228 50 20 16 103 7 73 .365 .434 .587
1901 Athletics 138 595 148 245 54 22 18 123 8 78 .412 .482 .667
1925 Browns 155 666 163 272 60 24 20 136 9 87 .408 .479 .661
1930 Phillies 155 686 182 292 64 26 21 152 9 93 .426 .497 .687
1936 Red Sox 155 684 180 290 64 26 21 150 9 93 .424 .495 .686
1999 Rockies 163 730 200 316 70 28 23 167 10 101 .433 .504 .700

(If the Colorado numbers make anyone wonder how well other all-time greats might have done with the ’99 Rockies, check out this post from July.)

There are probably many other teams Musial could have hit .400 on. He was a .400 hitter in everything except his era. In life, he’s been something more.

Any player/Any era is a Thursday feature here that looks at how a player might have done in an era besides his own.

Others in this series: Albert PujolsBarry Bonds, Bob CaruthersDom DiMaggioFritz MaiselGeorge CaseHarmon KillebrewHome Run Baker, Jack Clark, Jackie Robinson, Jimmy Wynn, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny FrederickJosh HamiltonKen Griffey Jr.Nate ColbertPete Rose, Rickey Henderson, Roberto Clemente, Sam Thompson, Sandy KoufaxShoeless Joe JacksonThe Meusel BrothersTy Cobb, Willie Mays

Bobby Knight Calls Dick Groat the “Best” Basketball Player

I’m pleased to present the latest guest post from regular contributor Joe Guzzardi on Dick Groat who, like Dave DeBusschere, Danny Ainge, and a few other people listed below was a baseball player who also played basketball. Or was it the other way around?


During last week’s pre-game analysis of the 2K Coaches vs. Cancer basketball tournament featuring the University of Maryland and the University of Pittsburgh, Bobby Knight provided ESPN’s color commentary.

After reviewing the strengths of the Terps and Panthers, Knight without prodding said about the Panthers’ broadcaster, “The best basketball player in Madison Square Garden is Dick Groat.” When Bobby Knight calls someone the “best basketball player” that’s serious flattery.

While the 70-year-old Knight didn’t say so the 80-year-old Groat, an All-American baseball and basketball player at Duke University, may have been one of his childhood heroes. In 1952, Groat won the U.P.I. National Player of the Year award after averaging more than 25 points per game. On the strength of his collegiate success, Groat was the fourth round draft choice of the Ft. Wayne (now Detroit) Pistons and averaged a respectable 12 points per game during his only season.

Groat is one of twelve athletes who played baseball and basketball professionally. The others are Chuck Connors, Gene Conley, Bill Sharman, Howie Schultz, Ron Reed, Danny Ainge, Frankie Baumholtz, Dave DeBusschere, Mark Hendrickson and Cotton Nash.

But also in 1952, straight off the Duke campus, Groat was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Branch Rickey. As much as the Pittsburgh native loved basketball, Groat’s dream had always been to play for the Pirates. Since summer is baseball season, basketball had to wait.

One of only a small number of players who never spent a day in the minor leagues, shortstop Groat was instantly productive (.284) for the horrible 1952 Pirates (42-112).

After a two year stint in the Army, Groat gave up his NBA career to focus on baseball. Gradually, as the Pirates added Bill Mazeroski, Roberto Clemente and pitchers Vernon Law, Bob Friend and El Roy Face developed, the Pirates worked their way up the National League standings.

By 1960, their World Series championship year, Groat was the Pirates’ captain, the National League’s batting champion and the Most Valuable Player. Although the Pirates expected to win several more titles, it was not to be. In 1961, the team fell to sixth place 75-79. Although the Pirates rallied to a 93-68 record in 1962, General Manager Joe Brown to the surprise of baseball insiders, traded three of his starting four infielders within the span of a week: first baseman Dick Stuart, third baseman Don Hoak and Groat.

The St. Louis Cardinals sent pitcher Don Cardwell to the Bucs for Groat. The trade favored Pirates. In his first season as a Cardinals, Groat hit .315. And in 1964, he led the Cards to the World Series title. Groat was also a two-time Cardinals’ All Star.

In his four years as a Pirates, Cardwell posted a 33-33 record with a 3.38 ERA.

Groat, who longed to one day manage the Pirates, was so disappointed by the trade that he broke off all ties with the team until 1990, the thirtieth anniversary of the 1960 upset of the New York Yankees.

Today, Groat is a regular around Pittsburgh. An outstanding golfer, an announcer for Pitt basketball and a frequent guest at Pirates’ events who never turns down autograph requests, Groat is an all-around great guy. As Knight called him, “a gentleman”.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Billy Martin

Claim to fame: The fiery manager of the Bronx Zoo New York Yankees in the 1970s, Martin also did well in stops at Minnesota, Detroit, Texas, and Oakland. He thrived wherever he went, having just three losing seasons in 19 years and going 1,253-1,013 overall. Despite this, he is remembered perhaps as much for his off-field antics, his many firings at the hands of George Steinbrenner (they even once did a commercial making light of it), and his alcohol-related death in 1989 at 61.

Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Martin is on this year’s Veterans Committee ballot, along with Steinbrenner and two of their best pitchers in those years, Ron Guidry and Tommy John. The committee will announce its voting results at the annual winter meetings in Orlando, Florida on December 6.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? My short answer is yes. Martin did well in too many stops, and his record should speak louder than his questionable character (on a side note, was it really terribly worse than many men already enshrined?) The same should be said of Dick Allen, Dave Parker, and Albert Belle, in my book. But then, controversial figures generally have a hard time getting into Cooperstown. I’d vote for all four of these men, but I don’t know how many other people would.

Traditionally, the committee, in its various forms over the years and the Hall of Fame in general prefers establishment-friendly candidates. It’s why I figured Whitey Herzog would get voted in last year after he, Martin, Danny Murtaugh, and Gene Mauch appeared on the ballot. It’s the same reason I think Steve Garvey will get in this year. When in doubt, Hall of Fame voting is generally conservative, particularly with the Veterans Committee in recent years, and I suppose arguments could be made for or against this.

All this being said, if Martin were to get into the Hall of Fame, he’d have a spot in one of its most exclusive wings. This summer, Herzog became just the 20th person enshrined as a manager. Men like Connie Mack, John McGraw, and Casey Stengel are there. Al Dark, Bill Rigney, Charlie Grimm and many others are not. There are so many solid managers not in Cooperstown that a few months back I suggested there be a hybrid wing for skippers who also played.

Technically, Martin could qualify for this too since he played 11 years in the majors, making the American League All Star team in 1956 and serving as one of Mickey Mantle’s running partners on the Yankees of the Stengel-glory-years 1950s. Still, I think Martin’s managerial credentials should be sufficient to earn him a plaque.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? is a Tuesday feature here.

Others in this series: Al OliverAlbert BelleBert BlylevenCecil TravisChipper JonesDan QuisenberryDave ParkerDon Mattingly, Don NewcombeGeorge SteinbrennerJack MorrisJoe CarterJohn SmoltzKeith HernandezLarry WalkerMaury WillsMel HarderPete Browning, Rafael Palmeiro, Rocky Colavito, Ron Guidry, Steve GarveyThurman MunsonTim Raines, Will Clark

Vote on the 50 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame

Anyone who reads this Web site regularly may know that I write about the Hall of Fame fairly often, at least on a weekly basis and that my first post on the subject was a list in May 2009 of the 10 best players not in Cooperstown. Since I wrote that post, I’ve found many, many more deserving players, and now, I’d like to expand to something bigger.

I want a list of the 50 greatest players who aren’t enshrined, and rather than simply base this on my opinion or career WAR rankings (or some other trendy stat that will be outdated in a few years), I want to try something different: I’d like this to be based on the votes of people who frequent this Web site and other baseball writers.

I’ll keep a master tally of all the votes and base rankings off of which players get the most votes. I want at least 50-100 people to vote. The more votes and the broader the range of voters, the better the players will be separated in the rankings. Anyone is eligible to vote, and I would be happy to link in the post to any fellow baseball writer who participates.

So here’s how this will work: I’m compiling a super ballot of 300 non-enshrined players that I intend to send out this evening  (write-in candidates welcome, too.) Voting will last until December 1 at 9 p.m. PST. I’ll post the results on December 3, ahead of the Veterans Committee’s announcement on December 6 of who it will be inducting in 2011 and the Baseball Writers Association of America’s announcement in January of its picks.

If anyone reading would like to participate, please send me an email at or leave a comment here and I will email a ballot this evening. And if anyone happens to read this after today, please feel free to reach out to me. As long as it’s before December 1, I have no problem providing a ballot.

Let the games begin

I’m pleased to present the latest guest from Doug Bird, who recently began contributing Sunday posts here. Today, Doug writes about an ever-fun offseason topic: trades and free agency.


No, not the real games, or maybe they are come to think of it.  It’s the offseason and that brings silly trade rumors, players crying about their lousy $15 million per season for four years offer, owners hiring the same old merry go round of managers and GMs and claiming that every player in their minor league system is a potential superstar.

Most writers for the more popular baseball publications are at it again-spreading ridiculous trade rumors as if they were talking about the upcoming fantasy baseball season or trading bubble gum cards with six year olds. Unfortunately, while  occupying their time with these “I have a column due today and I have to write something” stories, they often miss real and legitimate possibilities. They continually fall for the “no one is untouchable on this team if the right offer came along” feeds from various GMs and owners. Case in point this week: the Justin Upton trade rumor. Few teams wouldn’t want to have this star player as part of their roster and it is obvious to me that the Diamondbacks have no real interest in trading their best player. We hadn’t considered trading our best player but hey,  give me four or five of your top players and I think we can work something out.  If Arizona had put Upton on the market initially, perhaps these rumors would have some merit, but that was obviously not the case here.  Yes, Arizona need a lot of improvement  in most areas but giving away your future is not the way any competent GM would choose to go. No one is going to meet their demands but many columnists insist on quoting rival GMs complaining the demands for Upton are ridiculous.

We have players turning down huge contract offers, money which even in today’s inflated market are eye opening, with their agents comparing them to Babe Ruth in his prime. Of course, these players and agents are well aware that certain owners will pay these inflated contracts and have a history of massive overpayments.  These same owners  discover that trading these overvalued and under productive players two years from now is next to impossible without having to pay his salary as well.  Florida traded Dan Uggla, a good power hitter if nothing else, and a player who put up these numbers in a pitchers park, because of his salary demands, only to sign a mediocre catcher who had a career year in 2010 in a hitters park, (John Buck), to a contract even sillier. Adrian Beltre is once again asking for a multiyear contract and owners are, once again, listening and bidding on his services. Beltre is a very good player in a market where good third basemen are few and far between, but– and a very large but here– everyone from owners to the casual fan knows his history. Time and time again, Beltre puts in a lackadaisical effort, puts up poor numbers, until the walk year of his contract. He then becomes the player the owner hopes he would have been all those previous seasons. Yet, someone this offseason will give him what he wants.

The end of the 2010 season saw an unprecedented number of managerial openings.  Many of the old guard stepped down, making for a sad but interesting changing of the guard. Many years of baseball expertise and experience retired or fell by the wayside and it will be interesting to see if owners and GMs will give opportunities to long serving non major league managerial personnel or simply follow the old rule of hiring a name manager who had failed in other organizations. The Cubs hiring of Mike Quade and the Blue Jays hiring of John Farrell  are examples of how thing should be done. The Pirates hiring of Clint Hurdle and the Mariners hiring of Eric Wedge are merely more of the same. The Dodgers have hired a bench coach with no managerial experience and another former Yankee legend and the Mets can’t seem hire anyone. Everyone seems to want the fiery Bobby Valentine yet he doesn’t want any of them-but he wants to return to big league managing. Japan doesn’t have a big league team it seems just yet.

The GM meetings seem, every year, to be merely an excuse to garner a few days in the warm sunshine. No one wants to trade their minor league players who, judging by the teams own personnel decisions, aren’t ready for the majors or aren’t good enough. Yet few are willing to part with any of them for a genuine proven big leaguer. The publicity machines continually spit out features about this can’t miss and that can’t miss yet rarely are they deemed good enough for the bigs except in the worst organizations.

Spend big money on the farm system yet rarely use it or spend  even bigger money on free agents. I guess it’s a case of who blinks first-or who believes Scott Boras and who doesn’t.


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