Two new columns, Curt Flood and Andrew McCutchen

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted here, which means a couple new Sporting News columns from me.

First, one that’s fairly innocuous. I wrote about Andrew McCutchen’s budding Hall of Fame case and if a trade might help it.

Second, I wrote about Curt Flood’s Hall of Fame case. Specifically, I think it’s a little overrated because of the historical misconceptions about Flood’s contributions to baseball’s labor movement, misconceptions that persist to this day.

Flood’s son has been pummeling me on Twitter since the story went live, accusing me of being paid to write a hit piece. I’d of course never take money from anywhere but a publication to write a journalistic story. But I’m curious to hear if anyone here agrees with the rest of what Flood’s son said.

2 Replies to “Two new columns, Curt Flood and Andrew McCutchen”

  1. In terms of making the HOF, I’m not sure if a trade would help Andrew McCutchen. It’s possible the Pirates will be forced to move him later as we get closer to the end of his contract extension, if both parties can’t agree.

    Dave Parker and Barry Bonds were different circumstances, both players had off field issues, and wanted to leave Pittsburgh. Parker had the drug problem in the early 80s, and never reached the heights he did as a Pirate. Bonds was a temperamental player, and was difficult person to deal with. It wasn’t surprising at all when the opportunity came to play with his father’s old team in San Francisco. By contrast, McCutchen has been a popular figure, and hasn’t been uncomfortable with being the face of the franchise.

  2. Imho, I think you may be underrating Flood’s contribution to abolishing the reserve clause and maybe his potential as an hof worthy ballplayer.
    Flood’s case was not so cut and dried as you might think. Flood nearly won his case 5’4, but for a few unfortunate decisions. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell was at the time in favor of Flood’s, which gave it that 5-4 edge. Powell thought felt he had to recuse himself because he owned stock in Anheuser-Busch and in the end with a deadlock at 4-4 and in the end Chief Justice Warren Berger switched his vote to against Flood and that left it at 5-3. Despite the decision, the Supreme Court noted that the antitrust exemption awarded to baseball was a meager one and was “anomaly” that was never extended to any other professional sport. It was this chink in the wall that Miller needed to continue his fight. There is no doubt that despite losing his case, Flood’s efforts brought a great deal of pressure on the owners and with the weakness of the antitrust exemption brought into the light it led to Miller and the union being able to bargain for binding arbitration on grievances. This was in effect a great help to the final fight by Messersmith and McNally. So Flood indeed played a role in bringing about the end of the reserve clause.
    We should also remember the enormous pressures that this suit put on Flood. Bob Gibson noted that Flood received about 5 death threats every day, not to mention other pressures financial and psychological. There were few advocates to step forward for Flood from baseball other than Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg. Flood was on his own for the most part. In effect the abuse he went through went a long way to take everything out of him as a person and due to that also ruined him from being able to continue the high level of play he had before he chose to take on the MLB.
    As far as Flood as a player, we’re left with a career only somewhat half-way over and it was a career with many of his best years played during one of the toughest eras for offensive production the game had seen. According to Bob Gibson, Flood sacrificed 15-20 points off of his batting average hitting behind Lou Brock. Flood worked the count often to two strikes to allow Brock the chance to steal. In this sense, Flood’s efforts as a team player do not appear on any stat sheet. Despite that Flood had as you note still hit .293. He left his career in his prime and went through tortures few men could bear.
    Imho, I think Curt deserves a place in the HOF.

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