Sports Outside the Beltway

Miguel Cabrera – Hall of Fame

In reference to an article by Clark Spence in the April 1st edition of on Miguel Cabrera, I wanted to take the deeper look. The good folks at have a database that lists the following players as ‘Most Similar’* of Cabrera for each of the three years he’s been in the league by age. Therefore, in his first season, at age 21, the player who had the most historically similar season to Miguel at age 21 was Hank Aaron in 1955.
At 21                  At 22                 At 23
Hank Aaron         Hank Aaron         Hank Aaron
Ruben Sierra       Frank Robinson   Orlando Cepeda
Sam Crawford     Orlando Cepeda   Frank Robinson
Dick Kokos         Tony Caligliaro      Joe Medwick
Mickey Mantle      Mickey Mantle      Mickey Mantle
Joe Medwick        Joe Medwick        Andruw Jones
Whitey Lockman  Hal Trosky           Ken Griffey, Jr.
Mike Tiernan       Ken Griffey, Jr.    Hal Trosky
Andruw Jones    Albert Pujols        Vladimir Guerrero
Greg Luzinski     Cesar Cedeno      Al Kaline

There are obviously a number of interesting ways you can begin to compare players of different eras, but believing the numbers as interpreted the most interesting dissimilarity between these players and Cabrera is that it appears Cabrera will play at 3B for a number of seasons. Of the top 10 prospects listed in the Marlins system by Baseball America only Chris Coghlan plays 3b. He was ranked 9th in the system in an article by Mike Berardino. Last year Coghlan split time between the Gulf Coast League Marlins (Rookie) and Jamestown (A) – he played 30 games and hit .297/.373/.372 with 0 HR. In three years at Univ. of Mississippi he played in 189 games, hit over .350 twice and hit 13 HR. Baseball America notes Coghlan playes “3b/2b” and he certainly does not seem to have the power stroke yet – if ever – to play the hot corner.

While Spence discusses the comparisons to other players hitting stats he does not mention any other player’s positions. Of the players above only Cepeda (1B), Trosky (1B), and Pujols (1B/3B) had a primary position that was not in the outfield. Of the 571 games Cabrera has appeared in he has played 348 in the outfield and 221 at 3B, he appeared as a designated hitter in 2 games as well. While defensive prowess is clearly not at the forefront of Spence’s article – the only mention of position made in the whole article is noting that Cabrera was an ‘18 year-old shortstop’ – it is interesting that there are no 3b to compare him with.

Other ‘slugging’ 3b like Mike Schmidt and George Brett had their breakout seasons after the age of 23. In 1974 at 24 Schmidt hit .282/.395/.546 with 36 HR; in 1979 at 24 Brett hit .312/.373/.532 with 22 HR.

It is worth noting that both Brett and Schmidt had played in the majors for a number of seasons before their ‘breakout’ years. If Cabrera is still in search of his ‘breakout’ it may be a season for the ages.

3b is changing. As SS has evolved from Ozzie Smith to Miguel Tejada, the other infield positions are also seeing power jumps. While Cabrera is certainly putting up numbers that would seem ‘hall worthy’ – a shift in the type of players at the position may change who and what is required for entrance.

*As is written on
Similarity scores are not my concept. Bill James introduced them nearly 15 years ago, and I lifted his methodology from his book The Politics of Glory (p. 86-106). To this there is a positional adjustment. Each position has a value, and you subtract the difference between the two players position. James just uses primary position, but I computed an average position for players who had more than one primary position.



Truth? You want the truth about Steroids?

You can’t handle the truth! But George Mitchell is going to try to find it, and handle it, and then present it to the public.

Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell is confident his investigation into steroid use in baseball will yield the truth of what went on, even though players aren’t rushing to cooperate.

Speaking in Augusta, Maine, Mitchell said his investigators have talked to hundreds of witnesses and reviewed thousands of documents. He said the investigation, while proceeding “at full steam,” is being slowed down because he does not have the power to subpoena witnesses or documents, making its work “extremely difficult.”

“I believe that despite my lack of subpoena power . . . that we’ll have a comprehensive report,” Mitchell said yesterday. “What the lack of subpoena power means is it will take longer, not that it will significantly alter the result.”

Mitchell’s probe is the attempt of Major League baseball to put the issue of steroids in the game to bed, for the last time. And if it gets up wanting a glass of water it’s grounded. Forever.

Mitchell not only lacks subpoena power. If he believes that his probe will get to the truth he lacks a firm grip on reality.

The truth of the steroids era will come out someday off in the future. When players feel like they can speak freely about what went on without damaging the collegial relationship of the clubhouse. People like Jim Bouton and Jose Canseco became pariahs in baseball. They broke the code. What’s the code, you ask?

Simple. What happens in our clubhouse stays in our clubhouse. Darn right, we’re not here to talk about the past. And we hope that our colleagues succeed, except when they are playing us. Let’s recall important words of wisdom for the mentor of Ebby Calvin “Nuke” Laloosh.

Learn your cliches. Study them.
Know them. They’re your friends.

Crash hands Nuke a small pad and pen.

Write this down.
“We gotta play ‘em one day at a


Of course. That’s the point.
“I’m just happy to be here and
hope I can help the ballclub.”


Write, write–”I just wanta give
It my best shot and, Good Lord
willing, things’ll work out.”


“…Good Lord willing, things’ll
work out.”

It’s not now, nor has it ever been about the truth. Mitchell’s probe will point to a few obvious examples, but without cooperation from players and the real power to get the truth out of people, (guarantees of immunity and subpoenas) no new ground will be broken. The complicit media will dutifully report this “truth” but it will not be over.

This scandal will hound baseball as Bonds chases Aaron through the summer. And it will come back with McGwire second time on the ballot. The announcement that executives will be drug tested won’t make this go away. The sunshine of true disclosure will disinfect the festering mess that plagues baseball. Don’t expect sunlight to break through the clouds of obfuscation anytime soon.


Padres Sign Marine Who Lost Finger in Iraq

The San Diego Padres are giving an injured Marine a chance.

A Marine who lost a finger on his left hand while serving in Iraq has agreed to terms with the San Diego Padres, the team said Monday. Right-hander Cooper Brannan will report to minor league spring training March 1. The 22-year-old injured his left hand during a second tour of duty in Iraq. Team spokesman George Stieren said Brannan lost his left pinky.


Stieren said Padres general manager Kevin Towers “was adamant that we were doing this because of his potential, not because it was a great story. “This was a legitimate baseball decision.”

It is a great story, though.



Super Bowl Predictions

At the beginning of the NFL season, I compiled a list of 2006 predictions from experts and from a panel of bloggers.

None of those surveyed hit a home run but some did reasonably well.

  • Nobody picked a Bears-Colts matchup in the Super Bowl.
  • Nobody picked the Bears to appear in, much less win, the Super Bowl.
  • Several of us picked the Colts to win the Super Bowl: “Experts” Pat Kirwan, Gil Brandt, Michael Wilbon and Adam Schefter and bloggers Mark Hasty and myself. Steven Taylor picked the Colts to appear in the Super Bowl and lose to the Dallas Cowboys.

The worst preseason picks:

  • ESPN’s team of experts picked the Carolina Panthers to beat the Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl. Neither team made the playoffs.
  • The worst blogger prognosticator was Bill Jempty, who had the Cincinnati Bengals beating the New York Giants. Again, neither team made the playoffs. The Panthers failed to make the playoffs and the Giants lost in the Wild Card round.
  • Honorable mention: expert Vic Caruci also picked the Carolina Panthers, who (as I may have mentioned) didn’t make the playoffs, to win the Super Bowl. He did not name their opponent.

It seems that the amateurs are about as good as the experts in predicting the outcome of long NFL seasons.

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Marlins Preview: Willis and Co.

The Florida Marlins are back, baby. And baby is the operative word. Weak, but bear with me. Heading into Spring Training the Marlins have the one of the youngest potential starting rotations in baseball. How young? Born January 12, 1982 Dontrelle Willis celebrates his 25th birthday today. Celebrating with D-Train today is Scott Olson, who turns 23 and may be the second oldest starter in the Marlins regular season rotation.
Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez are all but guaranteed spots. Johnson, 12-7 133 stikeouts 3.10 era in 2006, will not turn 23 until Jan 31. A product of the Marlins system, he was drafted by the Marlins in the 4th round of the 2002 draft. After three seasons in the minors he made his debut in September 2005. Johnson made 24 starts and pitched 157 innings in 2006 and was considered a Rookie of the Year candidate for most of the season.
Anibal Sanchez, who’s undeniable highlight of the season was his No Hitter Sept 6th vs. Arizona, started 17 games in 2006. He pitched 114.1 innings, striking out 72 and posting 2.83 era/1.19 WHIp. While the No-No was the highlight – his July 14th start at home to Houston was the start that set the tone for the season. After surrendering 11 earned runs in his two previous starts (vs. Bos and Was), Sanchez rattled off 21 solid innings against the Astros (7 IP 2 hits), Nationals (7 IP 1 hit) and Braves (7 IP 7 hits 1 run) earning 3 straight wins. Anibal turns 23 on February 27th.
The final spot in the rotation is anyone’s for the taking, but it will likely belong to Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco started 22 games for the Marlins in 2006 earning plaudits for solid work and an ability to transition to the starting role from the bullpen. In 140 innings he struck out 99 and walked 41, posting an 11-11 record and a 4.82 era. He may not have had a season like some, and in the Year of the Rookie Pitcher Ricky Nolasco managed to slip under most people’s radar. He just turned 24 in December.
Young hurler Yumeiro Petit is competing for work coming out of the bullpen. Appearing in 15 games last season for the Marlins he struggled. Pitching only 26.1 innings, Petit gave up 46 hits and 28 earned runs. While he did strike out 20, the fantastic potential he showed in the Mets farm system prior to the trade last offseason has not been evident in his short stint in the Majors.
While the Marlins did not make much noise at the end of the season, their record was far better than most expected. With a young core of pitchers already on the 40 man roster, and a solid talent base in the minor leagues, this staff looks to be set for next season and building towards an impressive future. Petit is the youngest of the current bunch. He will not turn 23 until after the 2007 World Series and has many hoping he lives up to early hype and becomes solid starter in 2008.

On the horizon:
Harvey Garcia (22) recorded 21 saves last season for Jupiter; he struckout 83 in 64.2 innings.

Thanks to


Sending a Message to McGwire

Dan Shaughnessy is a gifted writer. But the ink that spills from his pen in tinged with bile. It sells newspapers and is a matter of some controversy in Boston, where ever is heard a discouraging word and the writers a pessimistic all day. Some folks won’t read him. Some folks make sure they read his every column. There is always entertainment values, especially when there is moral grandstanding to be done. Today’s column touches on Hall of Fame balloting. It seems that Mr. Shaughnessy thinks a message was sent.

[T]he writers have done what Big Mac refused to do: They have spoken.

Jose Canseco admitted his transgressions when he sat before Congress. Rafael Palmeiro lied to us. Sammy Sosa hid behind the language barrier. Barry Bonds never was called to testify because of a case already pending. But McGwire sat there, all lawyered up, looking about 80 pounds smaller than in the days when he was hitting those tape-measure shots. He kept saying, “I’m not here to talk about the past.” And we’ve heard nothing from him since that day.

It was universally viewed as a confession. It eliminated any chance of a perjury charge (something Bonds yet may face), but it cost McGwire his reputation. Yesterday it cost him Cooperstown.

It tainted everything else about yesterday’s announcement, just as it will pollute Hall of Fame discussions from here into the next century. McGwire, the first of the Steroid Boys to come up for election, was humiliated in his first appearance on the ballot. And the worthy celebrations for Messrs. Ripken and Gwynn will be tainted by association with the first Steroid Sinner to get shot down by the electorate. Cal and Tony are going to get asked about McGwire every day from now until induction day. It’s unfair. They did nothing to deserve this.

Every Hall-eligible big league ballplayer with 500 home runs sailed into the Hall of Fame without argument. McGwire has 583 homers. And yesterday he received only 23 percent of votes cast (a candidate needs 75 percent for election).

The writers have spoken, eh? Rubbish. The sportswriters have scolded a baseball player who may have cheated and refused to vigorously defend himself when he was before Congress. In that sense, Mark McGwire represents a gray area in the great steroids debate among the reporters covering baseball. He is not overtly denying, like Barry Bonds. He is not confessing like Jason Giambi. He is not confessing, but claiming ignorance, like Gary Sheffield. He didn’t get caught like Rafael Palmeiro. Paraphrasing Cal Ripken, we are all just speculating about what McGwire did. Mr. Shaughnessy regards what McGwire did as a de facto confession. But we really have no idea.

In spite of the uncertainty, Mr. Shaughnessy has no doubt what it will take to get McGwire elected.

McGwire, meanwhile, is not going to get a plaque in Cooperstown until new information surfaces or he goes on a tour of contrition, begging forgiveness and telling kids not to do what he did in order to break some cherished records. We’ll never be able to quantify how much he was helped by cheating and, yes, it looks like many players were doing the same thing, but McGwire had the bad luck to get subpoenaed — and the bad advice to take the fifth.

Mr. Shaughnessy’s suggestion that Mark McGwire show fealty to the BBWAA and go “on a tour of contrition, [beg] forgiveness…” etc., is a ridiculously vain idea. After all, it’s McGwire tough luck that he got subpoenaed. So much for principle. If you have issue with what McGwire did, and you voted for Gaylord Perry to get into the Hall you are a flaming hypocrite. Perry wasn’t a first ballot inductee, and now, neither is McGwire. Big Mac’s reprieve may come sooner than some arrogant sportswriters think.

Once more we remind you that Hall voters are instructed to consider not only what players did on the field, but also character, integrity, sportsmanship, and contributions to the game. Football doesn’t worry about anything other than playing ability, which is why there’s no outcry to remove O.J. Simpson’s bust from Canton, Ohio.

Character counts and all that rot. Ahhh, this explains why noted racist Ty Cobb is still in the baseball Hall of Fame. And probably why spitballer Gaylord Perry, a cheater if you will, is in the Hall of Fame. And for that matter, Leo Durocher who pioneered the for its era high tech art of stealing signs through code in the fifties is in the Hall. The noble sounding rhetoric that “Hall voters are instructed to consider…character, integrity, sportsmanship…” is just that, talk. Hall voters shunned Mark McGwire this year because it was fashionable to display outrage this year. People voted for Jose Canseco and for Ken Caminiti this year. And people in droves will vote for Mark McGwire next year. The heat will be off the writers, who feel a peer pressure to make a statement.

Here’s more of Mr. Shaughnessy’s:

Based on what my eyes and ears told me March 17, 2005, I did not vote for McGwire. Still, it pains me to see him crushed in this manner. He was polite and cooperative in his dealings with teammates, fans, and media. And the home run race of 1998 was instrumental in bringing baseball back from the post-strike years after 1994. Who in Boston will forget McGwire’s exhibition at Fenway in the home run derby of 1999?

But that was when we were all innocent. Duped, really. McGwire put together his Hall résumé based on sheer home run power, and there’s every indication that his prowess was artificially enhanced. We don’t have to prove it in a court of law. This is a free voting system. And the voters yesterday came down against McGwire. With a vengeance.

The players whose careers have been aided by drugs have stained the game, that’s true. But the protestations of the innocence by sportswriters rings hollow. Sportswriters dug up that Mark McGwire used a supplement called Androstenedione that was legal until it was banned by the FDA. Sportswriters knew things were going on. Unlike fans they have access to players, to the clubhouse, to trainers and to team personnel. Most of all they have access to former employees who would be willing to talk, off the record, likely and give a scoop. That’s the job they do. They dig up stories and write about them. They discover information.

Methinks they doth protest too much. And those denials are merely to offset their failure. One of the largest sports stories out there, and they all missed it. Either that or they were complicit, willfully ignoring the reality that players were using drugs to obtain an edge on their peers. Unless the writers recognize that they are part of this story and begin to cover themselves and their role in the obfuscation of truth from fans, this will all be a staged kabuki theater of the absurd. The roles are simple, those left in the spotlight will be scolded by those in the chorus outside the bright lights. Mark McGwire is starring now. Barry Bonds is in the dressing room warming up for his six months stay in that spotlight.


Hanley Ramirez Hurts His Shoulder (Again)

Hanley Ramirez has strained his left shoulder during a botched slide in a Winter League game. Ramirez, playing for Licey Tigers in the Dominican Republic, is expected to return from this minor injury in time for spring training when the Marlins open camp. According to a variety of reports he has also contacted the Marlins front office about finishing the winter season in the Dominican. As the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, Marlins fans hope he can once again challange divisional rival Jose Reyes as the top SS in the National League.
In his first year with the Marlins organization Ramirez quickly captured the starting spot alongside Miguel Cabrera on the left of the Florida infield. He played 154 games at SS in 2006 and contributed with both his glove and his bat. Acquired with Anibal Sanchez and in the trade that saw Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell head to the Boston Red Sox, Hanley was easily the second most valuable player at his position last year in the National League. While Jose Reyes posted a line of .300/.354/.487 with 64 stolen bases and 19 HR, Hanley was nearly as impressive finishing the year with a line of .292/.353/.480, 17 HR and 51 stolen bases.
At only 23 years old Ramirez has a bright future ahead of him with the Marlins and fans can only hope that a variety of injuries do not lead to a decline in productivity. As reported by Joe Frisaro on

“Ramirez tweaked the same shoulder in mid May [2006], when he swung through a changeup in Atlanta. He sat for a couple days but never went on the diabled list.”

Alhough he missed little time in 2006, and appears to be healthy enough to continue for Licey, the Marlins front office will have to be concerned and hope that the niggling injuries do not evolve into something more dire.

In other news, now-journeyman infielder Aaron Boone has been signed to a one year deal in the vicinity of $1M by Fish GM Larry Beinfest. Where the 9 year vet will play is anyone’s guess, as he has played primarily at 3B for his career, a positon occupied by Miguel Cabrera. Perhaps most famous for hitting a game-winning homerun off of Tim Wakefield to clinch the 2003 ALCS for the Yankees, Boone also made NY headlines for injuring himself playing pick-up basketball shortly after the Marlins clinched their second World Series. As a result of the injuy Boone’s contract was voided, and he signed a new deal with the Indians.
Boone’s best option may be coming off the bench, pinch hitting and providing a righthanded bat. For his career Boone, turning 34 in March, has batted .264/.325/.429. He has hit 115 HR and stolen 105 bases, the bulk of which was done in his six plus seasons in Cincinatti. He has never played the outfield and is unlikely to beat out Cabrera (3B), Ramirez (SS) or Uggla (2B) for a starting role at any of the positions he has played in MLB.

Thanks, as always, to for fast and easy stats.


ShopRite LPGA pulls plug over scheduling conflict

From Golf World-

The ShopRite Classic, a fixture on the LPGA schedule for 21 years, has ended its ties with the tour in a dispute over when the tournament would be played. In a strongly worded statement released Wednesday that never mentioned LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens by name, tournament chairman Larry Harrison accused the tour of ignoring a commitment ShopRite Classic organizers say they had from previous tour leadership guaranteeing its date through 2008. The decision apparently ends an event that was one of the most popular among players because of its proximity to the Jersey Shore and the casinos of Atlantic City.

The standoff turned nasty in July when the tour slotted a new tournament in South Carolina — the Ginn Tribute — for June 1-3, one week before the McDonald’s LPGA Championship for 2007. Harrison says that week was promised to him. The tour disputes that claim and offered several other dates, none of which were acceptable to the ShopRite organizers. Last month, the LPGA discussed the 2007 schedule at a players’ meeting at the Long Drugs Challenge. On that draft schedule was an event listed only as “Atlantic City” slated for Labor Day weekend.

“In effect, there has been no true negotiation with the Tour, and no direct communication with the Tour commissioner or her staff throughout this process,” Harrison said in his statement. “Rather, the tour, through its outside legal counsel, has simply offered a few undesirable and/or unworkable dates, of which only one was even remotely acceptable.”

In a tersely worded statement Wednesday night, the LPGA challenged the accuracy of Harrison’s version of events and hinted at legal action. “Harrison’s statement is full of falsehoods and incorrect accounts,” the LPGA statement said. “We’ve directed our legal counsel to contact Mr. Harrison’s attorney and have him rescind the statement.”


“We went up against the men’s Open once before and it was a total disaster,” he said. “No gallery, no press.” July 4th weekend on the Jersey shore would be impossible because of the lack of reasonable hotel room rates for the players and the lack of availability of casinos for the two parties during the event. “And what kind of field would I get if we were between stops in California and Mexico?” Harrison asked.

The ShopRite Clasic is the second LPGA event to break its ties with the tour in a dispute over scheduling dates. The Wendy’s Championship for Children near Columbus, Ohio, an event since 1999, pulled out when its late-August date was given to the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore. The tour has also lost stops in Atlanta and Las Vegas this year, while adding the South Carolina event as well as stops in Alabama, Arkansas and Thailand.

“Putting together a schedule is like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube, when you think you have one side solved you turn it over and see that another piece is out of place,” LPGA chief operating officer Chris Higgs told Golf World when Wendy’s left the tour. “We have to consider what’s best for the tour overall and those decisions are not always going to make everyone happy. We don’t want to lose events, but we do need a certain level of cooperation.”

This is an utter fiasco but I wasn’t surprised by this news. It is just the latest in a long series of incidents involving tournament sponsors and LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens since she took over running the tour in 2005. The LPGA players need to see to Ms Bivens firing and soon. If not, there may not be a US Ladies pro golf tour in 5 or 10 years.

See Previously-

17-year old Kiran Matharu denied trip to LPGA Qualifying School
LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens has to go
LPGA + McDonald’s + The Golf Channel= A ‘Major’ Disaster


Doug Flutie for Hall of Fame?

A handful of sportswriters and talk show hosts have floated the idea of recently retired quarterback Doug Flutie for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There’s no doubt the Heisman winner deserves to be in the college hall–and he is–but did he really have a HOF pro career? Mark Kreidler thinks so.

Flutie had one startling, statistics-grabbing, championship-winning, scramble-matic career in pro football. He just didn’t do the best of it in the NFL.


When Flutie’s retirement was announced Monday, the Hall of Fame question came up pretty quick. It’s a fair thing to ask, in the sense that Flutie passed for more than 58,000 yards in his career and wound up with 369 touchdown throws. He also was named the top player in his league six times, and he played on three championship teams.

Alas, the league was the Canadian Football League. And even if I could construct an argument that Flutie dominated the CFL at a time when it was in one of its more impressive periods in terms of overall talent, what does that matter to you, drinker of (insert liquid here), official beverage of the National Football League?

More to the point, what does that mean in Canton-ese?

Only Warren Moon has made the Hall of Fame with a significant CFL blot on his résumé, and you get the feeling the voters this year sort of agreed not to hold that against him rather than actually considering it in his favor. In Flutie’s case, though, the opposite effect is in play: Doug’s best years undoubtedly came in Canada, and he was truly, almost transcendently, excellent during those years. What’s that worth?


One of the counterarguments you get in a conversation like this is the dreaded draw-the-line theory, as in, “If they let Flutie in for being a good CFL quarterback, where does the madness stop? Is Mark Grieb next, with his shimmering Arena Football League numbers?” It’s low-grade mumbling, of course, since there isn’t another case remotely similar to Flutie’s (unless you know of a sizzling hot NFL Europe player I’ve somehow been missing in my weekly updates). Beyond that, it’s a given that all leagues are not created equal, that there is no sister to the NFL anywhere, and that, generally speaking, the best football players on Earth are toiling in the Tagliabue Division. I’m guessing the Canton voters know that.


All told, he had a great ride. He did win titles. He was the MVP (or the Most Outstanding Player, as the CFL dubs it). He was, for years, The Man in his league, the best at what he did. He had legions of fans. He had avid followers. He confounded coaches, stirred up teammates, had an ego, threw touchdowns, made money — the whole deal. He lived a bunch of professional lifetimes in a single career.

While I think Flutie deserves serious consideration, he falls short (no pun intended) in my book. Warren Moon was, to me, a no-brainer. He had an excellent NFL career plus five CFL championships. Yes, I think the CFL should count as “bonus points” if you will. But it’s simply not a comparable league. (By the way, there is a Canadian Football Hall of Fame. Flutie deserves to be in it. He almost certainly will be on the first ballot once he’s eligible.)

Flutie was, at best, an average NFL quarterback. That’s the highest level of the pro game. Just as we don’t give the Heisman for dominance in Division III or consider Eddie Robinson on the same level at Bear Bryant, Joe Paterno, and Bobby Bowdon–or Pat Summit with Dean Smith–we shouldn’t consider dominance of a minor league as the major component for Hall enshrinement.

Would we put a real life Crash Davis into Cooperstown? I don’t think so.


Columnist: Bonds is Finished

ESPN senior national columnist Gene Wojciechowski thinks Barry Bond’s career is as good as over and his reputation permanently trashed.

In the end, there is only one question that needs to be asked:

Do you believe Barry Bonds, or the book?

If you believe Bonds, then you believe the third-leading home run hitter in the history of Major League Baseball is the victim of an unrelenting federal and media conspiracy designed to frame him for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

If you believe the excerpts of “Game of Shadows,” then you believe that

Bonds and his mind-boggling, bloated numbers of 1998-2004 (he missed most of last season with an injury) are a fraud.

I believe the book. I think Bonds is — or was — a human Walgreens, a grotesque and insulting example of better baseball through chemistry. And I think he should slither away, joining Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro in forced baseball exile.

Bonds is finished. He might play again, but there is only a chalk outline left around his integrity and home run totals. And the only way he gets into Cooperstown is if he spends the $14.50 for a Hall of Fame admission ticket.

There’s a possibility that Wojciechowski is right. I doubt it, however.

The problem is that this whole era is similarly tainted. We’re pretty sure Bonds used the juice but so did many other players without his stats. How do we know which ones are “frauds” and which are legit?

Further, how much of Bonds’ performance can be attributed to the clear and the cream? He was a three-time league MVP back when he was skinny. And, of course, his recent rash of injuries might be steroids related, helping even out the advantage. He missed almost an entire season, after all.

Like it or not, we’re likely going to have to live with Bonds surpassing Babe Ruth and going to Cooperstown. His health will likely keep him from getting to Hank Aaron.


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