Tag Archives: Sammy Sosa

Sandberg Says Sosa Shouldn’t Go To Hall of Fame! But, Why Is Sandberg In The Hall??

24 Jun

Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg said in a recent sports radio interview that Sammy Sosa shouldn’t make the Hall of Fame due to Sosa’s use of performance enhancing drugs.  Sandberg made the point that baseball’s Hall  lists integrity as one of the voting criteria for election to Cooperstown.  Rightly, Sandberg feels that Sosa and others like him who cheated the game should not be rewarded with sporting immortality.

I could not agree more with Ryne Sandberg.  It was brave of him to say it.  I’m glad he said it.

Then, I got to thinking.  Why exactly is Ryne Sandberg in the Hall of Fame?

In parts of 16 seasons, Sandberg hit 282 home runs with 1,061 RBI, a .285 batting average and a .344 on base percentage.  Not horrible by any stretch.  In addition, he managed to win about 30 Gold Gloves.

Still, a lot of guys had offensive stats like him and didn’t make the Hall anywhere as easily as Ryno.  And some worked at much tougher positions that Sandberg.

Sandberg contemporary Lou Whitaker played second for Detroit for 19 seasons.  He didn’t win an MVP like Sandberg, but he did win a Rookie of The Year Award and won a World Series unlike Sandberg.  Whitaker hit 244 homers, knocked in 1,084 runs, batted .276 with a .363 on base percentage.  Whitaker didn’t win the 300 Gold Gloves that Sandberg managed to win in just 16 seasons, but he did win three as well as four Silver Sluggers as the AL’s second basemen with the most pop in his bat.

It’s no slam dunk that Whitaker has a better Hall case than Sandberg, but they’re clearly in the same range.  Yet, Sandberg got in relatively easily and Whitaker has never gotten a serious sniff from Cooperstown.

And you don’t have to go much further.  Take a look at Whitaker’s double play partner all those years in Detroit.  Alan Trammell’s stats include 185 homers, 1,003 RBI, .285 and .352.  And this was all in an era in which shortstops didn’t need to contribute much to the offense.  Yet, Trammell’s vote total seems to decline every year and didn’t start out with much Cooperstown support to begin with.

We all know Joe Torre as a future Hall of Famer due largely to his managerial success with the Yankees.  Yet, Torre’s stats as a player don’t look all that much different than Sandberg’s.  18 seasons, 252, 1185, .297 and .365.  Torre has never threatened to enter the Hall as a player.

Frankly, Sandberg’s career stats don’t even dwarf Ray Durham, who in 14 seasons put up 192, 875 along with a .277 batting average and .352 OBP.  Ray Durham was a respectable major leaguer but he’s rarely confused with a baseball immortal.  So, why are even his stats within shouting distance of Sandberg’s?

I guess there’s a few answers for that one.  Seems to me that Sandberg was undeniably talented.  He won a lot of gold gloves and was beloved in Chicago.  His really good years were on a different level than most of the other guys on this list and that helped his legend grow.  The one MVP year didn’t hurt him at all either.

It’s not that Sandberg wasn’t a good player.  He was.  Chicago knows their baseball.  And again, he did pile up Gold Glove Awards year after year.

It’s that Sandberg’s prime if you really look at it was too short to have merited getting into the Hall so quickly.

On Sandberg’s page of baseballreference.com his page sponsor’s quote is that Ryno was the best Cub the sponsor ever saw. 

Guess he never saw Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, or Billy Williams to name just a few…  And by the way, Santo’s not in the Hall of Fame.

PS – here’s a link to Ryne Sandberg’s stat page:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/sandbry01.shtml

Mike Golic Could Not Be More Wrong About Baseball & Steroids!

18 Jun

I was listening to ESPN’s Mike & Mike this morning and was shocked at the stuff coming out of Mike Golic’s mouth.  Truth be told, I’m a Golic fan.  I’ve generally appreciated his insights as a former player and respected his opinions.  Plus, he seems like a good guy.

This morning, Mike Golic sounded like an ignorant guy.  The topic was Sammy Sosa and performance enhancers in baseball.  Golic bought into the logic spouted by Bud Selig in an audio clip played by Mike & Mike.  In the clip, Bud makes the astounding claim that baseball took care of its steroid problem years ago.  Selig further goes on to site how under the new drug policy there have been very few positive drug tests.  He sounds annoyed that he’s got to answer Sammy Sosa questions, when after all everyone knows Bud has cleaned up the game.  And YEARS ago to boot!

Golic swallowed it all hook line and sinker.  Pretty naive for a big man…

Baseball, despite what’s its commissioner would have you believe, is still grappling with its performance enhancement issue.   Manny just tested positive.  Bonds and Clemens continue to have legal problems related to their alleged steroid usage.  In addition, Sosa’s positive test wasn’t all that long ago.  It was in 2004 if memory serves and he hasn’t spent the intervening five years publicizing it.  In fact, it’s been the opposite.  Sosa, a cheat who was caught corking red-handed, has always maintained that he never succeeded due to anything other than his own perseverance.  He claimed this two short weeks ago again and said that any claims otherwise would be swiftly and aggressively disputed.  Funny how he’s being so silent now.

The fact is, and Golic should know it, these things simply take time to come out.  People won’t admit it unless they’re really pressed or pandering for dollars like Jose Canseco.  As recently as 2004, over a hundred players were caught juicing.  Only two so far have been exposed – Sosa & A-Rod.  The other guys are all keeping quiet.

And if they caught over a hundred, how many others cycled off in time to avoid making the list?  The fact is that in all sports some athletes will always do whatever they can to get an edge.

Sure, there’s testing now and it’s tougher than many expected.  But, anything can be worked around and with scientists always hard at work to find that next profit center, you can be sure there are guys playing today who are using stuff baseball is just not testing for yet.

So, yes, there’s been progress.  But contrary to Selig & Golic, this isn’t over.  A new era has begun.  Baseball, which was for so long complicit in the takeover of its game by drug taking cheaters, has now been forced kicking and screaming to try to police the game and ensure a level playing field.

Welcome to the real world, Mike Golic…

WTF Is Baseball Going To Do About The Hall Of Fame Now? I’ve Got The Answer! (You’re Welcome!)

8 Feb

Baseball has some problems.  It may not be the biggest of its many challenges, but perhaps baseball’s most intriguing  problem right now is its Hall of Fame situation and I’ve got the answer.

Let’s rewind.  Remember when Mark McGwire captured America’s fascination by hitting home runs by the bushel?  Eventually, he even broke Roger Maris’ all time one season home run record.  Not only did he break it, but he and Sammy Sosa engaged in a riveting chase that brought many back to baseball.  McGwire was a class act the whole way.  He was terrific to Maris’ family.  While they might not have wished for Roger’s mark to be overtaken, the Maris Family couldn’t have asked for anyone to be more sensitive to them while doing it.

McGwire was a clear Hall of Famer.  He broke one of the game’s most cherished records with class.  He was going to end up among the top five or so home run guys of all time.  There was no doubt at the time that Big Mac was going to Cooperstown on the first ballot.  And from what we knew at the time, he deserved it.

Of course, it didn’t last long.  Soon enough we figured out that Big Mac was a big cheat.  Suddenly his treatment of the Maris Family didn’t feel so good anymore.  Then, to seal his fate, he struck out in front of Congress.  He looked foolish and very guilty.  Since then, Big Mac has basically been in hiding.

Since then, Big Mac has been no where near Cooperstown either.  In the few elections that McGwire has been eligible for, Hall of Fame voters have given him precious little support.  Based on the numbers alone, he should be in.  Now that we know that some portion of those amazing stats are artificial, baseball’s keepers of Cooperstown seem determined to keep Mark McGwire out.

Barry Bonds is currently having troubles with the Feds, who seem determined to get to the bottom of his steroid usage.  While not yet convicted, you’d be hard pressed to find too many people now who don’t think Barry cheated.  With one year out of the game, Bonds has to wait at least another four years before being eligible for the Hall.  Given the cloud he’s under and the reaction to McGwire’s candidacy, it’s not looking good for Barry to go in on the first ballot (which his numbers would merit) or perhaps forever.

Today, comes the revelation that the game’s best current hitter, A-Rod, tested positive for steroids back when he played for the Rangers.

So, in the next decade or so, baseball will be faced with what to do with Mark McGwire who was the closest thing to Babe Ruth in our time, Sammy Sosa who hit over 600 home runs,  Barry Bonds who broke Aaron’s career mark and now Alex Rodriguez who may yet pass Bonds.

That’s a problem, people.  How do you keep McGwire out but someday elect Bonds or Alex Rodriguez?  How can you have a Hall of Fame that doesn’t include those guys?  Who were truly the best clean players of this era?  We’ll never know and that’s yet another problem.

Here’s the solution.  Go the route of South Africa.  Baseball should establish a truth commission.  Players would be able to come before it and admit how they cheated.  Once they had done that, Hall of Fame voters would be instructed that they could not use allegations or rumor or even admitted abuse of steroids or HGH against those players.  Player who came clean would only be judged on what they did on the field, which would keep things simple.

If McGwire or Bonds or Sosa decided to tell the truth, than any one of them would only be judged on their numbers and gain easy access to Cooperstown.  If one of them refused to admit anything, that’s ok too.  It’s their choice after all.   But, voters would not be instructed to have to disregard allegations or rumors of cheating.

Players would have their fate in their own hands.  It would be up to them to decide if they thought coming clean would be worth the better shot at Cooperstown. 

Finally, Cooperstown should create an exhibit on baseball  in the ’90s and on that addresses steroids and HGH.  It should tell the full history of how guys like Sosa, Bonds and McGwire and even A-Rod ended up tainted by it.  It should note that we’ll never know what numbers are fully real and which are artificial, but that at least some of the game’s stars came clean when given the chance.

A-Rod Takes The Innocence Of A 42 Year Old Hetrosexual Male!

8 Feb

Yup, that’s me I’m referring to in the post headline.  I’m 42, male, hetro and have a pathological hatred for all things Yankee.  Yet, today A-Rod crushed my innocence.

How was this possible you ask?  Well, let’s start with Barry Bonds.  For some crazy reason, I bought that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa smashed Roger Maris’ season home run legitimately.  Looking at both of them, I thought they were freaks of nature who benefited from the advanced training methods available to today’s multi-millionaire athletes as well as from the decline of quality pitching.  McGwire and Sosa had always hit bunches of home runs so it didn’t seem so strange they not only passed but obliterated the mark that had taken so much out of Maris.  Plus, for whatever I think of McGwire and Sosa now, it must be said that they both handled the chase for Roger’s record with a great deal of charm and class.  I bought it all.

Barry Bonds is a different story.  Bonds was, of course, more talented than either Sosa or McGwire.  He just didn’t hit as many home runs as they did.  Until, that is, he began to in his mid thirties.  Suddenly, Bonds’ totals were skyrocketing.  No one in the whole history of the game had gone from really great to all time freaking amazing great in his mid thirties.  Usually, players slow down as they age.  Not Bonds.  Bonds was busy breaking McGwire’s home run record.  Something wasn’t right.  Players don’t do what Bonds did at his age without help.  They cheat.  It’s more than obvious that Bonds juiced.  The Feds may never nail him, but most of America could sleep at night if they were on a jury that convicted him of steroid abuse.  I hate statements like this upcoming one, but we all know he did it.

Bonds cheating to pass Hank Aaron on the all time home run list personally offended me.  Hank Aaron is a gracious man.  Bonds, despite his legion of apologists, is a sour personality who really doesn’t seem to appreciate what the game has given him.  Hank Aaron endured death threats and all kinds of racism during the quest to pass Babe Ruth.  Hank Aaron did it the right way.  He didn’t cheat and he overtook the Babe with dignity.

On the other hand, Bonds would let nothing slow him down on the way past Aaron.  He added steroids to his training regime to keep up with McGwire and Sosa.  Then, as he was closing in on Hammering Hank, it all started to fall apart.  We started to hear about how Barry Bonds had been cheating.  His home runs were artificial.  They were fueled by steroids.  Bonds, wouldn’t let the controversy get in his way.  He just kept  knocking them out of the park.  MLB was weak and did nothing.  Bud Selig held his nose and attended the game in which Barry cheated his way past Hank.

You have to give it to Barry.  Nowhere along the way did he crack.  Never did he express regret.  He somehow held it all together and just kept stepping on home plate.  Too bad such determination couldn’t have been applied to a better cause.

If Barry Bonds had any conscience or class at all, he could have made the ultimate gesture.  He could have stopped.  He could have given up the chase, admitted he’d cheated and realized he didn’t want to pass a quality human being like  Hank Aaron in such a tawdry way.  Barry Bonds could have turned it all around.  I would have been writing about how Bonds had made a mistake, come clean, and punished himself by giving up the chase.  For me, that would have been enough to say let’s forgive and forget.  For me, that would have been enough to say he belongs in Cooperstown, since after all he was a Hall of Fame caliber player way before the ‘roids.

Of course, all of that is a dream, a fantasy.  The world doesn’t work that way.  Today, Alex Rodriguez taught me that.  You see, despite my 42 years on this planet, I still like to believe in things.  I believed in Alex Rodriguez.

Sure, I hated seeing him go to the Yankees.  And certainly seeing him up close now that he plays in my home market, I’ve come to see that he has some personality issues too.  Yet, I never doubted that Alex was clean.

The guy started in the game so young and never seemed very big, yet the homers were always there.  I believed he was something special.  I believed he was the best hitter of his generation.  I even heard sports talk hosts and journalists stating that he was obviously not a steroid guy.  Like Bonds, he had us all fooled.

I believed.  As much as Bonds sitting atop the all time homer list gnaws at me, I was content in my anticipation of the clean living A-Rod passing Bonds’ cheating ass in the next few years barring injury or unexpected decline.  It was poetic justice.  I’ve taught my kids that the real home run champ is Hank Aaron.  I was looking forward to teaching them about how A-Rod took back the crown that Bonds had stolen and restored baseball’s reputation in the process.  It was going to be a great lesson about how you can achieve things the right way.

So, today we find out that A-Rod flunked a test in 2003 and was on at least two steroids while he played for the Texas Rangers.  I feel like a fool.  I feel let down.

What do I teach my children now?

Thanks, A-Fraud.  Now we know Joe Torre was right the whole time.  And my kids will learn a whole new lesson from you.

Bud Selig Finally Grows A Pair!

31 Mar

 

Baseball’s do nothing, see nothing commissioner is finally getting tough.  According to reports, Bud Selig is insisting that any players named in the Mitchell Report be punished somehow. 

Predictably, baseball’s player association is balking at any punishment for their members named in the steroid/HGH report.  This is, of course, what happens when a union becomes too big and successful.  It becomes tone deaf.  Their members are making millions on a game that depends on an even playing field and the union refuses to hold those that have tarnished the game and risked future prosperity for all members accountable.

But, this post isn’t about the union.  It’s about the other sad half of baseball’s pathetic leadership equation.  It’s all about Bud Selig.  Why is Mr. Selig digging his heels in now?

For Selig, this fight is all about Selig.  It’s about a legacy.  Think about it.  What is Selig’s legacy right now?  He’ll forever be the commissioner tied to the steroid era in baseball.  Sure, in many ways it’s been an extremely successful time.  At what cost is the question?  Steroids and HGH pose the biggest threat to the game right now, perhaps ever, and Selig is the one who turned a blind eye to their entrance into baseball’s mainstream.

Would you want that on your Hall of Fame plaque?  Selig doesn’t.  So, that’s why he’s clamping down now.  It’s protecting his legacy.  Nothing less and nothing more.

I only wish Selig had thought more about his legacy in the 1990s when cheaters like Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and finally Barry Bonds destroyed a record a decent man like Roger Maris went through so much to set.

Of course, the Maris record, amazing as it is, takes a back seat to the biggest record of them all.  Like Maris, Hank Aaron went through a ton of pressure and ugliness to set the all time homer mark only multiplied by racism on top of everything else.  Where was Selig when a gracious decent man’s honest accomplishments were surpassed by an arrogant cheater named Barry Bonds?  Keeping a low profile and trying to figure out how to dig baseball out of the whole he let it fall into.

Selig is a disgrace as a commissioner, but I guess that’s what you get when you hire a fellow owner to do a job that’s supposed to be all about doing what’s in the best interest of baseball.

Rice Undercooked by Hall of Fame & Other Horrible Puns

9 Jan

Go to fullsize imageLet’s get this out of the way first.  Congratulations to you Goose Gossage.  Well deserved and long overdue.  As a Red Sox fan growing up in the 70s, I hated you more than the Ayatollah Khomieni.  However, unlike my hatred of Iran’s former leader, my dislike of you was based on respect and a healthy dose of fear.  I knew if the Sox hadn’t put the game out of reach before you got in, that there was a very good chance I was going to sleep unhappy that night. 

Go to fullsize image

I remember my many Yankee fan friends (in between relentless taunting) hating Jim Rice for much the same reasons as I hated the Goose.  For a good ten years, Jim Rice was the dominant hitter in the AL.  I could spout numbers all day long, but the reality is with most HOFers you know it simply by your memories of the threat they presented to you as an opponent or how they delivered for you if you were lucky enough to have them on your side.  It’s the dreaded “it factor”.  It’s the same in politics, acting (mainstream or porn), and blogging.  You either have it or you don’t.  Jim Rice had it.  He was feared by opponents and came through for the BoSox faithful.

With any luck, the steroids story will continue to spin out of control (PS – Roger Clemens, time for a new team of advisers) and expose how inflated offensive numbers  became in the 90s and beyond.  Rice looks better and better the more you realize how many people above him on career statistic lists cheated to get there.

Let’s put it this way.  Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa all dwarf Rice on the career home run list.  Minus steroids (and in Palmeiro’s case even WITH the steroids), do you take any of the three before Jim Rice at his prime if you were starting a team today? 

Answer:  Only if you are an idiot.  In which case, you’d have a HOF vote and undoubtedly use it to deny Jim Rice his place in Cooperstown.