Garciaparra’s Place in History is Secure and Obscure

by ThomasWayne

Nomar Garciaparra officially announced his retirement from the National Pastime today, ending a  14 year career littered with some of the highest-statistical-highs and the lowest of statistical-lows.  His career can distinctively be broken down into two complete halves; the first half being a whiz-bang-kick-your-ass-offensive-assault on the game few have ever seen from a shortstop and the second a bumpy, uneven journey down the lonely road of limitations due to injury after injury.

Coming up with the Red Sox at the age of 22, the former College World Series hero would stake his claim as not only the best shortstop in the game, but arguably its best overall player for the better part of his first 7 seasons. During that time he won two AL Batting titles, had two seasons with an OPS over 1.000 and a single season of Slugging over .600, had 1231 hits (including 6 seasons over 190 hits), 174 dingers, was a 5-time All Star and finished in the top ten of AL MVP voting 5 times including a 2nd place finish in his second full season in 1998.

Then came the first of a string of injuries that would take him from the top of the game to an afterthought with an interesting name.

From 2004 to 2009 Garciaparra played over 100 games twice. His power was virtually gone, although he did hit 20 in 2006 while playing for the Dodgers, the one year in the second half of his career that even remotely compared to what he accomplished in the first.

To show you how damn good those first 7 to 8 seasons where, when you throw in the meager and statistically reduced 6 or 7 seasons at the end of his career (seasons that drag down his overall numbers) his career 162 game averages still look like this:

  • .313 Avg.
  • .361 OBP
  • .521 Slugging
  • .882 OPS
  • 26 Homers
  • 106 RBI
  • 105 Runs Scored
  • 197 Hits
  • 42 Doubles
  • 11 Stolen Bases
  • 63 Strikeouts

Inevitably someone (probably me) is going to ask whether or not Mr. Mia Hamm has a place in Cooperstown (yep, see, it was me).

In the large scheme of things I don’t think Garciaparra will get the discussion and debate some players do when that question is put to baseball fans and experts alike. While I have gone on the record numerous times in my belief that the Hall of Fame is overly exclusive, I understand the belief that if you let to many players in one day a truly undeserving, mediocre player will get in. I understand that belief, but I disagree with it mainly because the HOF already has several mediocre, undeserving players in it.

The highest career OPS at shortstop is Alex Rodriguez (.965). Number two, you ask? Nomar Garciaparra at .882. Honus Wagner had a career .858. Cal Ripken’s OPS is rather pedestrian at .788. The only shortstops with more homers than Garciaparra are ARod, Ripken, Ernie Banks and Robin Yount. I could go on and on with these types of examples…

But I digress. I’m not going to get on a rant about who or whom does or does not belong in the Hall of Fame. Instead, I will bring up a more than solid point that I think a lot of people miss when it comes to a  variety of Hall of Fame discussions.

Regardless of debate and regardless of how long he stays on the ballot or if he falls of rather soon, Nomar Garciaparra HAD talent more than worthy of a place in Cooperstown. I cannot stress this point enough, he most likely will never make the Hall of Fame, but he HAD HOF talent. Most ballplayers are talented, but very few can stake claim to Hall of Fame level talent whether they ever make the Hall of Fame or not.

Bill Mazeroski was an other-worldly defensive player. He was also, at best, a mediocre offensive player. He’s a career .260 hitter who never hit any higher than .283 and hit under .250 or less 6 times. The all time career historical average for the Majors is .262. His career OBP is less than .300 (yep, you are reading that correctly). His career Slugging is .367 giving him a career OPS of .667. He never scored any higher than 71 runs in any single season. He has more games played than hits. He hit one monumental, always-to-be-talked-about home run in 1960 to win the World Series. He’s in the Hall of Fame, but he clearly does not have Hall of Fame talent.

No matter how you shake it, Maz was a below average hitter, and yet he has a plaque people pay admission to see. For those who would say his great defense is why he is in the Hall of Fame please stand-up and make an argument for the Cooperstown inclusion of Dave Concepcion, Bert Campaneris, Tony Fernandez, Frank White, Bobby Richardson, Bobby Grich, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, and Barry Larkin among others. All were tremendous defensive players and at the very least Mazeroski’s less-than-average offensive equal, and in the case of Fernandez, Grich, Trammell, and Whitaker, are far and away better offensive players than Mazeroski.

Again, I digress.

Dwight Gooden; Hall of Fame talent. Darryl Strawberry; Hall of Fame talent. Bobby Bonds; Hall of Fame talent. Don Mattingly; Hall of Fame talent. None of these men are, or most likely ever will be, in the Hall of Fame. But they were just as great as those in Cooperstown, if for just a shorter amount of time.

This is where Garciaparra falls; a Hall of Fame talent who will not be in the Hall of Fame. Another truly exceptional player whose career was derailed by misfortune and outside forces. In the end, it is our loss that we did not get to see how truly phenomenal his numbers might have been.

While announcing his retirement from the game Garciaparra also announced he would be joining ESPN as an analyst and color-commentator for select Wednesday Night Baseball broadcasts, so in leaving the game, he rejoins the game. From this point on he will be just another face discussing our pastime to the masses.

His talent was so much more.

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107 Responses to “Garciaparra’s Place in History is Secure and Obscure”

  1. Lefty33 Says:

    To me his career was kind of like Raines.

    Big beginning then injuries took over and reduced him to a bit player.
    And just like Raines, Normar definitely has 0 chance at the Hall.

    His career was good, not even close to great.

    And before anyone else posts with the “what if” bullshit.
    There is no “what if”.

    Just like there are no HOF tiers yet people keep posting that player X is a lesser tier HOF player.

    His stats are his stats. Yes if would have stayed healthy his numbers may have been Jeter-esque if not better. But they are not and never will be.

    (Throw in to the mix that he did ‘Roids and that alone in the current climate is enough to disqualify him.)

  2. Jim Says:

    If Nomar’s career totals reflected his 162 game average of a player who spent 14 years in the the bigs then the HoF is a no brainer. But that’s not the case, with injuries limiting him to an average of 103 games a season. JD Drew is an iron man in comparison.

    Nomar is one of those guys who needed a few more solid seasons to secure a place in the Hall. He had a good career, mad a pile of cash, reportedly $78M and now will partake in the ESPN buffet. Not bad but not good enough to get you in the HoF.

    Nice touch that he wanted to retire as a Red Sox and the team worked it out with him.

  3. Raul Says:

    Nice article.

    The Hall of Fame is, or should be, more than just the plaques.

  4. Chuck Says:

    Amen, Lefty…

  5. jimmy vac Says:

    Nomar was a great hitter and a solid defensive shortstop. 2 batting titles(.257 and .372), two years 30 or more HR, 4 years of 100 or more RBIs,his numbers were incredible.. but as mentioned by others, he comes up short with the great seasons like mattingly and Oliva.. Mazerowski in the Hall is the saddest joke of them all.. there are a group of HOFers that got in because mutts like Frisch and Genhringer psuhed for them like George Kelly, Rick Ferrell,Dean,and some others..
    As much I like Mattingly (and I am a Met fan), the standards gotta be kept high, so if he gets in, great , if not that’s fine too.. Nomar had a great career and he was a shortstop , so down the line it may happen but not the shoo-in he appeared to be.. there was a time in the late 90s, he may have been the best of the trio
    of great ss with A-Rod and Jeter ..

  6. dennis Says:

    What happened to Nomar happened to Pete Reiser and to others players with great talnet who played baseball hars…and so well.

    what makes the HOF process so intereting…is that it s a political process, and unless someone has video game numbers and longevity) and is a clear cut first ballot choice….then it can be political.

    I never thought I owuld see the day that someone with more then 500 HRS and 3000 hits might not get in the HOF…but Eafael Palmeriro probably will be shut out.

    Why is Harold Baines nott in the HOF? Or so many others that we talk about? Some combination of factors affecting their careers or who is voting (baseball writers just like us on DC have their pets and prejudices) may determine a players chanves.

    I od beleive that pre eminent defensive players clearly recognized as the defenisve genius need ot be inthe HOF (Brooks, and Ozzie come to mind), and obth of these guys were.260s hitters. But to shut Ron Snato out, who hit more dingers and 26 less RBIs in 15 years then what Brooks did in 23 years?

    Mazeroski may have been the best at turning the double play who ever lived.But hut he was an average to mediocre hitter…and after eyars he had enough friends on the VC. Red Schoendienst, George Kell, had friends on the VC, its a political process….

    What if someone like Santo who has waited for more then 35 years..and he has the knowledge tha finally he is in,,,but has waited so long…does that diminish his glory? And there are players who died, never knowing that they would have plague, Joe Gordon comes to mind. I can make a case obth ways, Gorodn deserves the HOF and he doesnt….but I won t because hes gone.

    i htink the most fortunate guys are the frist ballot guys who ge tin their alte 40s or even younger, Mays and Aaron, Musial, Koufax, Nench, who still have decades to enjoy their status as HOF members…and reslish the trips in the summers ot Cooperstown,

    Maybe Nomar is lucky, he ll fall out of contention within the first few eyars and he wont have to dream and hope and suffer every year waiitng for the clal that never ocmes.

    Does Nomar deserve to be inte HOF? Does Tony Oliva? Does Don Mattingly? All the same, great plaers for a few years, lots of blank ink but un the end no magic numbers and not enough longevity. And thats why guys like Ted Williams and ken Griffey, Jr and even Al Kaline are great players because even with missing so mucch of their careers, they still have magic numbers.

  7. Brad Says:

    Another great, HOF talent struck down by injuries. I use the term Fred Lynn Syndrome, because Lynn was the most prominent such player when I first began following the game. A player who comes up, shows HOF talent for a little while, enough to make all the pundits and fans drool with what-if scenarios, then is reduced to mediocrity due to injury. Every one of us has a list of such players that stand out in our baseball memories, and those lists are usually surprisingly long.

    Talent is not as rare as people believe it is. What makes for the truly outstanding players, the ones who are in the Hall and actually deserve to be there, is a combination of talent, work ethic (not so rare) and opportunity (which we often have little control over). For Nomar, along with Fred Lynn and all the others before, in between, and who will be coming along later, opportunity was sucked away by injuries.

  8. Patrick Says:

    In the late 90’s, Ted Williams was asked what hitter reminds him most of himself. He said nobody reminded him of himself but he thought the two best hitters were Nomar and Scott Rolen.

    It just goes to show you, even Ted Williams can’t tell who will be great and who won’t. Good players but not even on the tier below the HOF.

  9. jimmy vac Says:

    Williams did predict Bench being in the Hall on an autographed baseball he signed for Bench in 1968. Too bad Williams did not get to swee Pujols.You cannot predict injuries.. the Dodgers had a concrete wall that Rieser ran into several times.. but at the same time, Mays never did because he knew or glanced where it was..
    Lynn just kept getting hurt.. I don’t think I have seen a better all around player at such a young age..I thought he would be a better version of Yaz..
    It is a shame that Santo is not in and I hope he lives to enjoy it..Santo was a better hitter than Robinson much more than Robinson may have been better with the glove… Erase the 1970 WS which gave him national attention.. does he get in the
    Hall? Probably not.. Why not Nettles.. better power numbers and similar OBP..

  10. Hossrex Says:

    Nomar Garciaparra and Corey Haim… both lost in the same day.

    Those Lost Boys sure had a License to Drive.

  11. Raul Says:

    To Hossrex:

    Corey Haim, Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Isaac Hayes, Patrick Swayze, Gerald Levert, Heath Ledger, Curt Cobain, Freddie Mercury, Joey Ramone, Bernie Mac, The Oxy Clean guy….etc

    So…is Keith Richards the Devil or not?

  12. Lefty33 Says:

    “So…is Keith Richards the Devil or not?”

    If he’s not, at least the Devil gave Keith a great deal.

  13. Hossrex Says:

    Raul: “Joey Ramone”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCK_7hrgQwU

    STEEL RESERVE! HIGH GRAVITY LAGER!

  14. Raul Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n34P5P2MuD4

  15. Chuck Says:

    I’m surprised Corey Haim actually lived to be 38. If you had said over/under 25 I would have bet the under.

    ESPNU just had a documentary about Len Bias.

    For you young guys..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Len_Bias

  16. jimmy vac Says:

    Does anybody think Keith Richard is still alive? it is a robotic cruise… there is an interview with him that concluded with him blowing a crapload of smoke from his nostrils.. Satan’s spawn indeed!!

  17. Raul Says:

    I was a young kid, but I know the story of Len Bias. Unfortunately I still can’t really grasp how good he was because I didn’t see him play, and highlight videos aren’t a real good way to judge a guy.

  18. Hartvig Says:

    I don’t understand the rational behind only letting players in the Hall who have enough “counting stats”: 300 wins, 3000 hits, 500 home runs, whatever cutoff you choose.

    For 7 seasons Garciaparra was arguably as good a shortshop as has ever been, excluding Wagner & ARod. For 7 seasons Ernie Banks was as good a shortstop as has ever been, with the same 2 exclusions. For the rest of his career he was comparable to Dan Driessen or Jason Thompson. No one I know says Ernie Banks doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame but would he really be that much less deserving if his career was 5 years shorter? I don’t get it. And the argument doesn’t end with Banks. Roy Campanella had 6 outstanding to great seasons, the rest of his career he was average at best. Andre Dawson had 6 seasons with an OPS+ over 120. Joe Morgan had maybe 9 seasons where he was significantly above average. Brooks Robinson had maybe 7 seasons where he was a slightly above average offensive force. Duke Snider was only a full time regular for 9 seasons. Very few players can sustain their game at a HOF level for more than a decade (Cy Young, Wagner, Ruth,Williams, Musial,Spahn and maybe a handful more). The rest are great for a decade or less. Some manage to stay around longer, sometimes as pretty good players, sometime not. But if they stick around long enough to accumulate the stats, they belong in the Hall of Fame but those who don’t, even those who were BETTER players in their prime, they don’t belong? I don’t get it. I don’t know exactly where the cutoff is, and I’m not sure if I was voting if I’d vote for Garciaparra but I think he at least deserves serious consideration. The vast majority of Hall of Famers are there because of what they did in the best 7 to 10 years of their careers. The rest is mostly padding.

  19. Hossrex Says:

    Hartvig: “The vast majority of Hall of Famers are there because of what they did in the best 7 to 10 years of their careers.”

    With a few notable exceptions (Koufax), I would agree that most hall of famers are there because of what they did in their best 7 to 10 years… but most of those players also have 10 other above average years to go along with those 7 to 10 stellar years.

    I like to think of myself as a “big hall” guy, but frankly Nomar would fall JUST short of my hall requirements.

  20. brautigan Says:

    Jimmy Vac: ” Mazerowski in the Hall is the saddest joke of them all”. As Joshua Loth Liebman once said, “dense, unenlightened people are notoriously confident that they have the monopoly on truth”.

    Generally, when one thinks of the best defensive second baseman of all time, Maz is the one referenced. Maz, whose glove looked like he borrowed it from a little leaguer, was FAMOUS for his defense, hence his selection to the Hall of FAME.

  21. Brad Says:

    There is a sad but true fact, which is that HOF election often depends on how much attention a player drew to himself. If Jim Rice had a Kirby Puckett smile, he would probably have gotten in a lot earlier. If Kirby had Jim Rice’s demeanor, he probably would still not be there. And, much of the attention a player gets is based on where he plays. How large the market is in which he plays. How high-profile his team is. Even among players today, Albert Pujols gets a lot of attention, and he should, but A-Rod seems to get much more media coverage. Is A-Rod really that much better than Prince Albert? I value Albert ahead of A-Rod, and many students of the game do, but A-Rod is in a high-profile market. Of course, both Abert and A-Rod will be elected in their first year (as long as A-Rod stays away from any more steroids), but for players with marginal HOF credentials, a team like the Cardinals or the Cubs vs. a team like the Yankees can make a world of difference. If Duke Snider had played his entire career in Cincinnati, would he still be in the hall? Maybe. If Dale Murphy had played his entire career for the Yankees, would he still be waiting? I doubt it.

    The World Series is another great venue for a player to draw attention to himself. If Brooks Robinson, as good as he was defensively, had not made it to the post season, where the analysts oohed and ahhed over his defense, would he be in the hall? If Maz had not hit the big home run in 1960, beating the Yanks, would he be in the hall? If the Cubs had not folded in ‘69, and went on to beat the Orioles, and Ron Santo had hit a couple homers, would he still be waiting?

  22. Cameron Says:

    Hossrex: “Nomar Garciaparra and Corey Haim… both lost in the same day.”

    …*checks the obituaries and gives a sigh of relief* Christ man, don’t do that to me. I scare easy. I thought Nomar was dead for a second.

  23. Patrick Says:

    Thankfully, I’m not old enough to have seen Maz play but if he was Ozzie Smith-like (without the back flip), then he belongs in the Hall.

    Brad is right, the HOF is a popularity contest with borderline players.

    Every time someone mentions Puckett, I think of how badly baseball has screwed Albert Belle. Belle has never been in trouble, no reports of drugs or cheating on his wife, he just doesn’t seem to need to make friends with people.

    If 7-10 years of being great equals the HOF, Belle surpasses that criteria.

    PS; Chasing down kids because they egged your house doesn’t count. Have you ever tried to wash dried egg off of your house or car? It sucks.

  24. Patrick Says:

    *Cameron, I had to look too….Baseball death sucks but not anything like death death.

    I’m sure I was busy working 12 hour days back then but I have to admit, I never heard of Corey Haim or the Lost Boys until yesterday.

    I had to look Corey up to reconcile his recent photo with the description “former heart throb”. Ouch.

  25. Chuck Says:

    “but most of those players also have 10 other above average years to go along with those 7-10 stellar years.”

    Exactly.

    Nomar did have five or six HOF caliber years, then fell off the baseball earth. He spent 7 of the next 8 years as either a reserve player or a semi-permanent resident of the DL.

    He played 14 years.

    He had less than 1000 runs scored.

    He had less than 1000 RBI.

    He had less than 2000 hits.

    He did steriods.

    The two batting titles will look real good hanging over the fireplace, but that’s it.

    Albert Belle had a short career with most every season being HOF worthy, he has a legitimate complaint for not getting in, or even getting more support than he did.

    Garciaparra should send flowers to anyone voting for him.

  26. Richard Says:

    Don Mattingly did not have HOF talent. He had a HOF work ethic, which led to his back problems, much like Larry Bird.

    Nomar was well on his way to the Hall, and fell out of favor with Red Sox fans the day Jeter dove into the stands and came up bloody, while Nomar sat on the bench with a strained something. Jeter went from Overrated to OverNomar with one play. Nomar was clearly the better talent, but Jeter had the endurance and the clutch play that makes a first-ballot, no doubt HOF.

    It’s funny that of the four AL All-Star shortstops in the late 90’s-early 00’s, of which Jeter was thought of as fourth-best (Tejada, A-Rod, and Nomar ahead of him), only Jeter remains a sure-fire First-ballot HOFer, with Arod clouded by steroids and the others by injuries and a decline in production.

    And I have thought for years that Graig Nettles should have been considered for the Hall, although he was not a HOFer, based on the uniqueness of his position and his defensive prowess. There are only 13 third baseman in the hall – 3 of them were Negro Leaguers, and only 6 of them were voted in by the BBWAA. The rest were Veterans Committee…the list:

    Jimmy Collins – VC
    Pie Traynor – BBWAA
    Home Run Baker – VC
    Judy Johnson – NLC
    Freddie Lindstrom – VC
    Eddie Matthews – BBWAA
    George Kell – VC
    Brooks Robinson – BBWAA
    Ray Dandridge – VC – Negro Leagues
    Mike Schmidt – BBWAA
    George Brett – BBWAA
    Wade Boggs – BBWAA
    Jud Wilson – SCNL

    Going by their primary positions, this is the breakdown by position:
    C- 16
    1B – 21
    2B – 19
    3B – 13
    SS – 23
    RF – 23
    CF – 24
    LF – 21
    P – 72
    DH – 1

    The one DH is Paul Molitor, who could be listed as a 3B, but played 1174 games at DH, and only 791 at 3B.

    Maybe the 14th-16th best 3B of all time should be in the Hall. Chipper Jones is one, maybe Santo and another?

  27. Richard Says:

    Oh, and I cried the day Len Bias died. I am a Celtic fan. He was amazing at Maryland, and it is one of three events that caused the long demise of the team in the early 90’s, along with the death of Reggie Lewis and the ping pong balls falling to San Antonio in the Duncan year. I will add the Chauncey Billups for Kenny Anderson trade, but by then, who cared?

  28. Doug B Says:

    roids are probably what drove this guy’s career.

    therefore Mr. Hamm has no chance for the hall IMO.

  29. Joe Says:

    What evidence does Chuck have that Nomar did steroids?

    Oh yeah, none, it’s just that Chuck has the ethics and morals of Marion Barry. What a piece of shit you are.

  30. Bill Parks Says:

    As a qualifier -I am a lifelong Yankee fan, I think Nomar is a HOFer. He should be compared to the other shortstops who have played the game and he is obviously one of the greatest with the bat who ever lived. I thought being a right-handed batter in Fenway might have been a hugh benefit for him but his home/away stas are fairly even. Will he get in? It will probably be hard. I am not a big believer in the HOF anyway. There are many HOFers who were solid, but not great, players, who were lucky to be injury free and play a long time and compile large stats because of that. I don’t think the HOF should be lifetime compiler awards. Great is great. If a man is considered in the conversation of “who is the best player” for 5 to 7 years why shouldn’t he be in Hall as opposed to a so-called “compiler”. Koufax made the Hall with only 6 good seasons, albeit 5 of which were incredible.

  31. Chuck Says:

    Question, Joe..

    Two others (Lefty in comment #1, and Doug in the comment above yours) mention Nomar and steriods, yet you chose only to compliment me?

    I mean, I appreciate the attention and all, but let’s give everybody the credit they deserve, OK?

  32. Raul Says:

    Wow.

    I insult many people, but hopefully I just keep it to insults on their words and ideas and thought processes.

    But Joe is way out of line.

  33. Lefty33 Says:

    Joe,

    Thanks for bringing such an intelligent post to the site.

    To repeat what Chuck said: He did steroids.

    Based on your astute first post it’s no wonder the steroid thing flies over your head.

  34. Chuck Says:

    Seems to be coming a common thread around here of late, Raul.

    Seems like the people in charge of monitoring the site for comments like that haven’t been, maybe the new site construction is taking all their time, but……

  35. Hartvig Says:

    It’s sad but maybe the site does need some sort of report button to bring comments like that to the attention of admin

  36. Shawn Says:

    Too much Joe, we all argue here, sometimes badly, but that’s crossing the line. Many people think Nomar did cut corners, no solid proof, but a lot of suspicion. I’m willing to give guys the benefit of doubt, but so far, I have been wrong almost every time. Athlete’s love to lie today.

  37. brautigan Says:

    Joe: “Just a little bit outside”

  38. Richard Says:

    Chuck seems to have a “fan” club…I think it’s the same guy, using different aliases. I don’t know if Nomar used roids, but he could’ve used them after 2004. He may not be a Hall of Famer, but one member of his family is.

  39. brautigan Says:

    Richard: No, no fan club. It’s just if you want to be a “Dick”, you’re going to get feedback.

    I don’t know if Nomar used steroids or hemorrhoids, and furthermore, I don’t care. What I DO remember is that he would go to Florida in the offseason and work out relentlessly and quite possibly, to the extent his body broke down.

  40. Patrick Says:

    Raul, I have to admit, when you called me a douchbag a year or two ago, I took it personal. At first anyway, but then I thought about it, and realized I only had douchbag-type words, ideas and thought processes.

    I felt a lot better about myself after I realized that. :-)

    Yeah Joe, that was out of line. I think sometimes a poster has a few too many whiskeys before they decide to write something. I’m not saying you must be drunk or something, but it can be a good excuse for a lot of things if you want to use it.

    Chuck, you should have a talk show. You’d be like the Rush Limbaugh/Bill Maher of baseball.

  41. dennis Says:

    I liked the ocmments made by Eichard Hartvig and Brautigam in this thread aobut different facots that affect HOF selection.

    There are of corise, the gods….the players who string season after season of high production, 10, 12, 15 ro more. Musial, Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Genrig…etc.
    A Rod has done it….and Pujols has been god like since his first season. That si the pantheon of position players, the first ballot choices with 93 or 95 or 98 percent od the BBWA votes.

    But there are not that many players like that. Some players are able to hang on and get to a magic number, great seasons earlier in their career, and a gradula decline….I htink Banks, Kaline, and Matthews fit in that group.

    If you think about players who have jsut a obut mroe then 3000 hits and I m excluding Clemente who died tragically after Number 3000, there is Kaline, Boggs, Brock, Carew, Palmeiro, Henderson and Biggio all who reached between 3007 and 3060 hits in their last year and then retired. I m assuming they wanted to make SURE that they got in the HOF ¿and who knows about Raffy…. And if Biggio had not playe dhis last two eyars, would he have been another Vada Pinson….a couple of extra years to get magic numbers…and it does influence voters.

    But there are some players who play the game with such personal fire…that in only 10 years, they make their presence felt…Jacie Robinson and Kirby Puckett ¿who played 12 years are examples.

    Maybe a rule of thumb si that if the difference between a player s peak and his downward spiral because of injuries is too muuch…there is no HOF for him, such as in the case of Garciaparra.

    I have oftne pointed the ompact of being a regular on a winning dynasty team, i htink its a big key toward HOF election. Jeter may not have been the equal of Nomar in his prime, but it s ahrd to refute osmeone who has to date….played on 7 pennant winners and 5 WS championships.

    Joe Morgan played for the Reds, i htink the ebst small man who eve rplayed baseball. And he had some terrific eyars for the Astros, before the Reds. But the Astrodome was a hard park to hit for distance…..but his numbers went up in Cincinnati because there was so much hitting talent on those teams. One of the shresest trades in baseblal history.

    Over all voting for the HOF is a fascianting process.

    As far as Albert belle..it wasnt just the writers, he had a hard time getting along with anyone. He could hit, granted…but when someone has serious personality issues, he has to have titanic numbers to be in the HOF. Cobb, Hornsby, T Williams have those numbers, Belle doesn t. His career was cut by injury and maybe the writers got their revenge.

    In 1966, Ted Williams in his induction speech said soemthing like.

    I want to thank the writers for voting for mne. I know I didn t have many friends among the knights of the keyboard.

    williams was realisitc, he knew why he hads been elected, because they douldnt deny him.

    Being anice guys certainly help, Brooks Robinson and Harmon Killebrew and Al Kaline and Ernie Banks were and are ambassadors for baseball. But it isnt enough to be a nice guy, Dale Murphy has never gotten moren 23 percent in 11 ballots. 398 HRS, but with a peak of maybe 7 years and 2 MVPs , a medicore LIFetime OBP and a .265 lifetime BA. As much as I admire Murphy as a person, hes not a HOFer.

    Its a fascinating poliitcal process…

  42. Pageup Says:

    Do you all remember that SI (?) photo of Nomar with his short off. Whoa, that dude was working out quite a bit. And I believe the Celts also drafted Joe Johnson two years after Billups and bagged him just as quick.

  43. Pageup Says:

    make that “his shirt off”!

  44. jimmy vac Says:

    Bratigan,
    I am enlightened enough to know there are guys that are not HOF but were alot better than MAZ starting with Davey Lopes, Alvin Dark, Dick Groat.. Ozzie Smith became a good offensive player who could steal bases.. The HOF is about the best ever or the best of an era and a guy who does not even have a lifetime OBP of .300 is HOF worthy..I do agree with you about guys workling out excessively. The first guy I remember tearing muscles was Reggie Jackson..he attributed it to his weightlifting as a football player. I was a pitcher and we were told not to lift weights… I think the answer is baseball players should train like boxers.. strong , loose, and flexible.. Nomar may have overdone it and started tearin muscles instead of straining them…

  45. Raul Says:

    Pat’s not a douchebag.

    Not yet anyway. :-)

  46. Patrick Says:

    I could have at least spelled it right. :-)

  47. mets maven Says:

    There was a time when you could have argued that three of the five greatest shortstops of all time were active players: Jeter, A Rod, and Garciaparra. Too bad about Nomar–he was as exciting to watch as the other two in his prime.

  48. brautigan Says:

    Jimmy Vac:

    My point is, Maz is in the hall for his glove alone. Lopes wasn’t that great of a defensive 2B, and Groat wasn’t a great fielding shortstop either (Gene Alley made a much better keystone combination with Maz than Groat). There is a feeling that Maz’s homerun in the 1960 series is what propels him into the hall, but that is simply silly. That is like saying Ozzie Smith is in the hall because of his homerun off Tom Niedenfuer in the ‘85 NL championship playoffs. (which by the way was somewhat of a miracle and I still have the audio recording of Vin Scully calling that “shot”).

  49. Doug B Says:

    I think that (Maz in for the ‘60 homer) would be like putting Joe Carter in the hall of fame for his famous shot. Which would be another travesty.

  50. jimmy vac Says:

    Braitgan,
    Maz may have been better with the glove, but Lopes could beat you in more ways
    Groat was a better all around player. I beleive Maz’s homer helped him get in the hall.. Ozzie would have been in regardless. Maz was a good player not HOF.. Lopes was a better layer not HOF… Do you think the Dodogers would have been better with Maz??
    i hated the Cards as a Mets fan, and when SMith hit that homer, I let out a primal scream ….

  51. brautigan Says:

    LOL, as a Cardinal fan, I have hated the Mets. The day Whitey traded Hernandez to the Mets still is a VERY dark day for me.

    My point is, the HOF has a few people included for being famous, not necessarily because they were the greatest. Look at Candy Cummings. Alleged inventor of the curve ball, which is why he was included in the Hall in 1939. Maz is in the Hall simply because he is considered the best fielding second baseman of all time.

  52. jimmy vac Says:

    Hossrex,
    We gotta agree to dsiagree. Those Cards-Mets series were intense but far too brief. I was happy as hell when Whitey traded Keith… it meant to me the new
    ownership wanted to win as much as the fans did. Those Card clubs were great..
    they were exciting and fun to watch except when it was your team.

  53. Richard Says:

    John Tudor was unquestionably the most underrated starter of the 80’s. He absolutely killed the Mets, along with Zane Smith, and you gotta wonder what would happen if he stayed healthy. He has alot of similarities to Chris Carpenter, both thrived in St. Louis, albeit when they could stay healthy, and both currently have 117 wins, 72 losses for Tudor, 74 for Carpenter. Check out his 1985 season, sick numbers.

  54. Hossrex Says:

    Jimmy: “We gotta agree to dsiagree.”

    I DISAGREE!

    Wait…

    I didn’t say anything about that.

  55. pmrtnz Says:

    I think nomar will make the veterans HOF. But many years from now when his peers get to vote. I think winnning those batting titles from the right side did it for him. Dimaggio was last to do that before Nomar.Also the hrs

  56. Mike Felber Says:

    Reasonable folks can disagree about much-I liked the formula that squared the importance of peak years, but total contributions mean something. but more if they are at least good years, not just adding #s. While OPS is a very meaningful stat, I would urge all comparing across era to add the “+”. if we do not adjust for at least era, it provides often a very distorted picture of who is how good. Nomar never approached the peak years of a Wagner even in his bailiwick, offense. I am closer to a small Ha;; guy, so find belle’s era adjusted #s & longevity a little lacking, & while I can understand honoring a transcendent glove at a key position, maz’s offense was so lacking that I find that political selection undeserved.

    Nomar was more very defined & fit than really huge-a Brady Anderson-like 190 lbs., 6% body fat guy. Sure he could have used, but even as many are disgraced, we must reserve judgment absent good evidence.

  57. Hossrex Says:

    I think the big surprise of the next 10 years will be how many “little” guys used steroids.

    If you aren’t a left fielder, or a first basemen… you just CAN’T get to Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire size, and still play the position. That however doesn’t mean a shortstop, or centerfielder wouldn’t want to maximize the muscle mass within a desired body type.

    All things being equal, I think all of us would have put Andy Pettitte in the “clean” category if we didn’t know better.

  58. Patrick Says:

    Pedro, Garciaparra’s back to back BA titles were impressive but it’s more of a statistical quirk that it was the first time that it’s happened in the AL since Joe DiMaggio. I don’t think that’s enough to warrant the HOF and not to pick on the steroid thing but it was 1999 and 2000, probably the pinnacle of steroid use. If Nomar wasn’t using, then he was truly unbelievable to be able to be better than all of those players who were.

    In addition to DiMaggio, both Al Simmons (30′-31′) and Nap Lajoie (1901-04, 4 years) won back to back in the AL and in the NL, Bill Madlock(74′-75′), Clemente(64′-65′), Tommy Davis (62′-63′), Rogers Hornsby(20′-25′, 6 years in a row and 7 out of 8) and Honus Wagner (1906-09, 4 years in a row and 7 out of 9).

    Mike, nice job getting “bailiwick” in there! Let me guess, you’re the guy who gets 20 out of 20 correct in the Reader’s Digest voculary test, right?…… You’re probably right about Belle in the long run but for him not to stay on the ballot is a travesty.

    Hossrex, I agree with your entire post. The steroid focus is unfairly on the stars who have big numbers but .240 hitters and 5.20 ERA pitchers doped too.

    Also, fans and HOF voters like to point out that there are a disproportionate amount of corner OF and 1B in the Hall but where else are you going to play a big LHer? Why should a guy like Fred McGriff’s HOF offensive production be diminished because he wasn’t eligible to play C,2B,SS or 3B? It’s actually ridiculous to put Luis Aparicio(.262/.311/.343, 82 OPS+) or Bill Mazerowski(.260/.299/.367 84 OPS+) in the HOF and keep McGriff types out.

    According to BR’s advanced fielding ratings, both Aparicio and Maz “saved” 148 runs each with their glove during there career. I’m not sure what the total is, but it’s safe to say that they were more than 148 runs worse than average on offense over their careers, so it’s not a stretch to say these two HOFers were BELOW average major league producers.

  59. Patrick Says:

    I guess an 8 followed by a ) is a happy face….

  60. Chuck Says:

    “It’s actually ridiculous to put Luis Aparicio (.262/.311/.343, 82 OPS+) or Bill Mazeroski (0260/.299/.367 84 OPS+) in the HOF and keep McGriff types out.”

    What’s the matter, Patrick? You decide to walk over to the sabermetric side of the fence and Shaun locked the gate behind you and now you can’t get back to the “good” side?

    Coming from some others, that comment would have gone right by me, it shocks me coming from you.

    I’m not saying either Maz or Aparcicio is an ovewhelming choice, I am saying the continual disgregard for the importance of defense in winning games is frustrating to say the least.

  61. Links 3-16-2010: Westmoreland, Lowrie, more ST notes, Nomar, our offense, the farm system « Red Sox Talk Says:

    [...] retire as a Red Sox. The act itself is kind of nice, and Nomar certainly has a great legacy as a player. If only he hadn’t gotten hurt! But it was hard to not feel some resentment at the way he [...]

  62. Raul Says:

    Chuck,

    How do you feel about Omar Vizquel?

  63. Patrick Says:

    Lol Chuck, Shaun and I couldn’t agree on the color of the sky. I’ve always felt that a McCovey, McGriff or Killebrew was vastly more valuable than a Mazerowski, Aparicio or Belanger.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t value the importance of defense, especially in those guys eras because scores were lower, and I’m note suggesting revoking Aparicio’s or Maz’s induction, I’m only saying that McGriff types are more valuable and their omission from the Hall is flat out wrong. I may have used that stupid Rtot fielding rating to illustrate my point in runs but me thinking 500 HR’s is more valuable than any amount of glove work has nothing to do with sabermetrics.

    I’m still and always will be on the “good” side.
    ____________

    Baseball trivia question of the day;

    Only 4 switch hitters have put up 10 seasons of at least 20 HR, who are they?

    Incidentally, Jorge Posada is currently sitting on 8, and would become the 5th with 2 more 20 HR seasons.

  64. Raul Says:

    Lance Berkman
    Mickey Mantle
    Chili Davis
    Eddie Murray

    That’s my guess, and I’m sticking to it.

  65. Mike Felber Says:

    Good posts Hoss & Patrick. I think that it is mistaken to label everything Saber as “bad”, & unwarranted to do so about individual arguments absent specific rebuttals. As I have said a # of ways, defense is more valuable in middle infield positions, but does not approach the value of proportionate offensive dominance. Otherwise Maz. would be 1 of the greatest players ever in total contributions, since his dominance at a crucial position was comparable to Ted Williams, rather than an unworthy HOFer.

    Yes, many who were not huge used-& it is at least harder to be so big & play most positions well. Though if they work on agility, a RF or 3b could manage it…I was just saying that there was no obvious signs for Nomar-though he did gain a large % of muscle weight, could have used, & there are steroids & precursor hormones that maximize strength while limiting bulk. True on Petite.

    Do you have artistic/non-commercial photographs you want to show Hoss? If you got ‘em out to NYC, I would be happy to put them in a local business for my arts festival.

  66. Chuck Says:

    Are the same people who want evidence Nomar used the same people who wanted evidence on McGwire?

    You don’t go home for the off-season a skinny 165 pound weakling and report to spring training five months later a ripped 195 pound, 3% body fat monster without alot of artificial help.

    I like Raul’s guess, although I’m removing Berkman and substituting Chipper. Has Berkman even played ten years?

    I think if Vizquel had retired a couple of years ago he would have been a HOF lock. Not first ballot, but he would have gotten in. His farewell tour as a utility infielder the past three seasons is going to hurt him in the long run.

    Patrick, defense is more of an individual stat, a second baseman is more important than a left fielder, etc.

    In the flow of the game, offensively each player has a different responsibility in each PA, if Aparicio is in the 8 hole and he comes to bat with the bases loaded and one out, his job in this particular circumstance is the same as Bill Melton’s would be if he were the cleanup hitter….drive in runs.

    He can’t bunt becaue the pitcher is on deck, he can’t slap the ball because a DP ends the inning, he has to try and drive something over the infield or down the line without trying to do something he can’t (hit a HR).

    So, yeah, in a way I agree with you the Killebrew types have more value, but how valuable would Killebrew be if HE was the shortstop?

  67. Patrick Says:

    Very close guys. If Chuck removed Davis and put in Chipper Jones than he would’ve had it.

    Mantle, Murray, Jones and Berkman. Berkman was the one I didn’t get (I said Reggie Smith). I didn’t realize Berkman played that long either. Chili Davis was a good guess though.

    I think it’s borderline amazing that Posada has a chance to join that group.

    True about Killebrew at SS but the same could be said for Maz being a cleanup hitter. Anyway Chuck, no worries, we basically agree on most things and definitely agree that different players have different duties that contribute to a winning team.

    The thing about lefties is they can’t play premium positions. They were ineligible at birth. It’s hard for me to diminish McGriff’s or McCovey’s worth because they’re left handed.

  68. Raul Says:

    I don’t know if Nomar Garciaparra was juicing, but I know that was a pretty big boy at Shortstop.

    He weighed damn near as much as Fred McGriff and John Olerud.

  69. Chuck Says:

    Baseball is a lefthanded game, however.

    The LH batter’s box is closer to first base, it’s easier for a LH outfielder to throw to each base, a LH firstbaseman is always facing the field of play when he stretches and his glove hand is closer to the fielder making the throw, a LH pitcher faces a runner on first when in the stretch position, it’s easier for a LH to pull the ball than a RH.

    If you’re a lefthanded kid and want to be a catcher or middle infielder you’re out of luck, otherwise you have the advantage.

    Does anyone think Steve Howe would have gotten so many chances if he was righthanded?

  70. Chuck Says:

    I first saw Garciaparra in the AFL, he was skinny as a stick and certainly didn’t standout as being capable of putting up the numbers he did.

    He was also a teammate of Michael Jordan, who was an embarrassingly bad baseball player.

  71. Patrick Says:

    I love how MJ proved to the world that baseball isn’t a game where you can just throw athleticism at it and expect to be sucessful.

  72. Raul Says:

    Dude,

    George Muresan played in the NBA. 90% of being an NBA player is just being tall.

    Brian Scalabrine, who I call the Great White Hype, is making 3.4 million dollars this year, and thus far has had an 8 year career!! Is Scalabrine a good player? He averages 3.3 points, 0.9 assists, and 2.1 rebounds per game – for this career.

    3.4 million dollars.
    You could feed Rwanda for a year with 3.4 million dollars.

  73. Mike Felber Says:

    A small point is I saw Garciaparra listed at 6%, not 3% body fat, & at 190 lbs. This is from memory of the SI cover story at his peak. 30 lbs. or so of pure muscle in an off season would be quite suspect: but did he really add that much muscle that quickly? Even Sosa, whose muscle mass changed more than anyone I recall, did not add that much in one fell swoop.

  74. Chuck Says:

    Chili Davis had ten 20 HR seasons; 84,87,88,89,91,93,94,95,96 & 97. He also had two 19 homer seasons..82 & 99.

    Nice, Raul…..

  75. Raul Says:

    Cool.

    Lucky guess for me. Honestly, I didn’t even think of Chipper Jones.

    Anyway, I just looked at baseball-reference right now….I didn’t realize what a nice career Chili Davis had. Really good. Not HOF, but I’m impressed.

  76. brautigan Says:

    I remember watching MJ play for the Scottsdale Scorpions in ‘94. The guy could play the outfield well, no question. But he had this huge, looping swing with the “Charlie Lau” release point with his bat. It had no power, which I thought was odd, since MJ obviously has skills. But, with that swing of his, it had more holes in it than swiss cheese and he was doomed. If only someone could have convinced him to use a short, compact swing and stay in the strike zone (but imagine trying to tell MJ how to do anything). I have to give him credit though. Here is a guy that hadn’t played significant organized ball and he still managed to do “ok” at the AA level. I played with a guy who was a super stud in high school, and in two years at the u of Oregon, he set all kinds of records. He did well in low A ball, and did well in high A ball. But when he got to AA, he put up similar numbers to MJ. So, who knows where MJ would have been talent wise if he would have played baseball from high school on? I don’t think he was that much of an embarrassment……..until you saw that swing. UGH.

  77. brautigan Says:

    Patrick:

    Let me guess: You never saw Mazeroski or Aparicio play?

  78. Chuck Says:

    I saw a game at Scottsdale Stadium, long fly down the left field line, Jordan turned the wrong way..twice, then proceeded to trip himself.

    He was terrible.

    Seems to me he could have found something better to do with himself during his suspension.

  79. Raul Says:

    LOL @ Chuck

    The image in my head is that of The Bad News Bears.

  80. Richard Says:

    Major sport stars that could play baseball, off the top of my head – Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, Brian Jordan, Danny Ainge, Scott Burrell, John Elway, Drew Henson…and Todd Helton played QB at Tennessee with Peyton Manning, and I believe Frank Thomas was a Tight End at Auburn; Kenny Lofton and Tony Gwynn played point guard at major colleges…I know I’m missing some.

  81. brautigan Says:

    Richard: Don’t forget, strong safety John Lynch (mainly of the Tampa Bay Bucs) was a stud pitcher at Stanford. And if memory serves, I think he was a first round draft pick, but chose football over baseball.

    Ok, I was wrong. From Wikipedia: “Lynch was drafted as a pitcher by the Florida Marlins the second round (66th overall) of the 1992 amateur draft. He threw the first pitch in the organization’s history as a member of the Erie Sailors, which was a 95 mph strike. His jersey is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He played two seasons in the minor leagues with the Sailors and Kane County Cougars, starting nine games and going 1–3 with a 2.36 earned run average.”

  82. brautigan Says:

    Chuck:

    The main thing I remember about fall league with MJ was we were waiting for the Scottsdale bus to come back from a game. And after dropping off the players, a few players were going to take the bus back to the team hotel. I remember this was a Sunday afternoon. MJ comes out of the Scottsdale locker room with his two boys. An autograph seeker approached MJ and asked for his autograph and he said “I don’t sign when my boys are with me”. Ok, I’m fine with that, and can respect that. However, there was a young mom there with her daughter in a funny looking contraption that was part wheel chair, and part guerney. When MJ came out of the locker room, her mom leaned over and said “there’s Michael Jordan” and the little girl obviously was excited and wriggled with exaggerated movement. MJ walked right past this little girl, who it became pretty apparent to me, she had severe cerebral palsy. Dude walked right past her, and totally ignored her. I mean, it was brutal. That has been the most upset I have been and my friends had to restrain me from walking onto the team bus to give that jackass a piece of my mind. I mean, I really wanted to tell him what a great example me must have made for his boys to ignore this little girl with obvious disabilities.

    To this day, that episode still pisses me off. I STILL want to confront him about that Sunday afternoon. (and i have to admit, I did have some satisfaction over his failure at the game of baseball)

  83. Raul Says:

    Well MJ is a douche, for sure.

    Braut, you aren’t the first person I’ve gotten a crappy MJ story from. I’ve heard several stories like yours. It’s sad and frustrating, to a degree.

  84. Patrick Says:

    Brautigan, actually, Aparicio was the starting SS for Baltimore at the first game I ever attended in 1967. He was a good player but he didn’t ever strike me as a HOFer, same with Maz but even more so. Granted, I saw both guys in their last 6 seasons, but Maz was only 30 years old the first time I saw him. I remember him being a very slow runner for a small guy.

    It’s nothing against them as players, but I don’t think anyone, not even Ozzie Smith, can make up with the glove the difference between a 500 HR guy and a .650 OPS guy.

  85. brautigan Says:

    Raul:

    If you can swing a golf club, MJ will be YOUR friend. Dude loves golf.

    Patrick:

    Please consider the on base and slugging averages of 1965-68. They weren’t real good.

  86. Mike Felber Says:

    Actually, while being tall helps, it is not nearly most of the deal-unless you are extremely tall. We all know how tiny the chances are to even make the professional leagues: the difference in the odds just between being “only” 6′10″ & 7′0″ is massive. The latter had a 1 in 4(!) chance to make it to the NBA.

    Maz made up the difference enough to be a fairly valuable player, just not enough to justify the hall. playing SS, a longer career, a less bad bat, & excellent thefts made Ozzy HOF worthy.

  87. Chuck Says:

    A few years ago, the NBA All-Star game was in Phoenix, the players stayed at the Biltmore, an old, historical five star hotel. The Legends game was part of it, too.

    This is a big hotel who really, really goes out of its way to protect it’s clients, but it’s still a PUBLIC place, there are houses and condos around, two golf courses, so people would still come and go as if it was a Motel 6.

    I had some business there, I pull into the lot, and I see Rick Barry and Bob Cousy and Darryl Dawkins and a bunch of other guys on the putting green or driving range. All of a sudden Jordan shows up with his band of flunkies, people around get all goofy and start taking pictures and stuff. He calls one of his guys over, who then disappears for a few minutes, coming back with some hotel security who start kicking people off the premises…for taking pictures.

    A few minutes later, about five police cars come in, and really clear everybody out, all the while Jordan is putting, by himself, acting as if nothing is going on around him. He didn’t talk to any of the other NBA people there, and no one came to him, either.

    Jerk-off.

  88. Chuck Says:

    I went to the Brewers/Cubs game in Surprise today…saw Bill James there.

    I followed him through the concourse to see if anyone would recognize him.

    No one did.

    Dude is alot taller than I thought.

  89. brautigan Says:

    James is a big guy. You wouldn’t think it by looking at his picture.

    He is an imposing fellow.

    How does Escobar look at Shortstop?

  90. Hossrex Says:

    Not that anyone here is really disagreeing… but I thought EVERYone knew Jordan was a jerk.

    I’m also surprised more people aren’t aware of the reason he took a two year vacation from basketball (Chuck mentioned it earlier).

    I wouldn’t recognize Bill James if he were in my bed with lipstick on.

  91. Hartvig Says:

    I’m a big hall guy & I don’t have any problem with Aparicio being in & Mazeroski is far from the worst pick ever. But Alan Trammell & Lou Whitaker sure belong if either of those guys do.

    I’ve met two 7 footers who played in the NBA- Brad Lohaus, who had some skills but played like he was 6 feet tall instead of 7. Didn’t seem to have the stamina or heart to bang the boards. He did play for parts of 11 season however. Les Jepsen played parts of a couple of seasons in the NBA plus several more in the CBA & Europe. He worked his butt off but just didn’t have the skills to be much of a player. Neither one would have gotten a second glance if they’d have been 2 or 3 inches shorter, however.

  92. Richard Says:

    In 1989 I was working in Boston as a Security Guard at the Garden and also at the front desk of a luxury Condo Building on the Wharf. When Joe Kleine was traded to the Celtics with Ed Pinckney for Danny Ainge (former Major Leaguer) and the aforementioned Brad Lohaus, he and his wife Ruth got a place in my building, and I also saw him at the Garden. He asked me to keep an eye on Ruth and his baby when he was out of town, and we built a repoire. He was 6′11”, and he was slower than the pedophile on Family Guy. If he was 2 inches shorter, he would’ve had a uniform on working right beside me with a square badge. Nicest family you’d ever meet, though.

    I also got to know Jason Lobo, brother of Rebecca, who played college ball at Delaware. If I remember correctly, he was 6′10 or 6′11, and could play some, but he was about as limber as a statue. My buddy Tony schooled him on the blacktop, and we all started calling him “Becca”.

    Sometimes, size does matter.

  93. Hartvig Says:

    Richard:- A few more multi-sport stars (post WWi & courtesy of Hossrex’s love muffin, Bill James): Alvin Dark Charlie Keller, Snuffy Stirnweiss, Sam Chapman, Vic Janowicz, Jackie Jensen, Bob Cerv, Moose Skowron, Ted Kluszewski, Bob Allison, Donn Clendenon, Bernie Allen, Dave Parker, Reggie Jackson, Kirk Gibson, Rick Leach and Vince Coleman (I think he played football anyways, or was it just his cousin or something?)- Football Gene Conley, Joe Adcock, Bill Sharman, Dick Groat, Dave DeBusschere, Bob Gibson, Frank Howard, Sandy Koufax,Dave Winfield, Davey Lopes- Basketball & Jackie Robinson- Track, Football & Basketball I left off the guys that were really obscure.

    I played all 4 sports in high school too. In rural North Dakota with less than 100 kids in the entire high school you kind of have to if you’re going to field a team.

  94. Hossrex Says:

    And thus… why “the big man” ruined basketball. I’ve said that dozens of times across dozens of forums… and I always hear shit for it.

    Yet… the big man ruined basketball.

    The only sport to have benefited even close would be football, in the degree that improved nutrition, and an ever expanded pool from which to draw players, have changed the game (and I wouldn’t put football particularly close to basketball on the spectrum).

    If you’re 7 foot tall, you can be an excellent basketball player, regardless of anything else. As someone else said, it’s about 1 in 4 (his number, not mine)… so I’m not saying EVERY gimpy 7 footer could make it, but with the right attitude and work ethic… I’d say any 7 foot tall man would be successful in the NBA.

    That’s the death of a sport.

    On a side note… when I was growing up in central California, Kareem was a big deal (GET IT! BIG!). He was 7 foot 2. Whenever we would go to the mall, the parking garage would say “limit 7 foot 2 inches”, and I would think “OH MY GOD! KAREEM IS *THAT* BIG!”

    It wasn’t until I was probably 11 or 12 that I realized the actual barrier where the sign was stood at about 9 foot, and it was just an overconservative precaution that represented the LOWEST parts of the interior of the garage.

    For the longest time I thought he was about nine feet tall.

  95. Hossrex Says:

    Hartvig: “courtesy of Hossrex’s love muffin, Bill James”

    lol…

    I knew I shouldn’t have said anything. Selena Roberts is going to be all over this.

  96. Raul Says:

    HA!! @ Selena Roberts

  97. Patrick Says:

    I could have guessed MJ was like that (an asshole) but I didn’t really know for sure. I stopped being a fan of his years ago when he was being interviewed and he said “no white man on the planet can guard me. I get in a feeding frenzy when I see a white guy come out to guard me.” Add racist to his profile.

    2 sport star, Dave DeBusschere would’ve knocked him on his ass and Jerry Lucas would’ve stepped on him. At least, I like to think so. I remember when guys didn’t have a clear flight path to the hoop. Air Jordan would’ve crashed and burned against the 70′ Knicks. Ask Elgin Baylor what it was like penetrating that defense.

    The all-time worst 7 footer, which also means the all-time worst professional athlete including bowling, with apologies to Tom Boerwinkle, was Boston Celtic Henry Finkle. Must be something about the “inkle”. When I was a kid, any time someone did something spastic on the basketball court, we’d call him Henry Finkle. Finkle couldn’t catch the ball without using 2 hands and his face.

    It must have sucked for Finkle. He tries to bust a move and 20,000 people laugh simultaneously.

    Red Auerbach; “Russell, go get that clown out of there!”

  98. Chuck Says:

    Chuck Aleksinas.

    Grew up near me, 6′10″ kid who ended up going to Kentucky then transferred to UCONN. Had a cup of coffee in the NBA with a couple of teams (Warriors?) before getting hurt. He got caught in traffic fighting for a rebound and ended up at the bottom of the pile with a dislocated shoulder.

    He started lifting weights for his rehab and when his career ended he kept going and became a competitive bodybuilder.

    He would come into my restaurant from time to time and not only had to duck to come in the door, he had to turn sideways too.

    Not the tallest guy I ever saw, but undoubtedly the biggest.

  99. Chuck Says:

    For you, Patrick…

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/5024

  100. Richard Says:

    Patrick,

    To this day, when somebody does something on the court un-athletically, we call it “pulling a Greg Kite”, my vote for biggest waste of a first round draft pick by a championship team. He has 1717 career points, and 1589 career fouls. In the Championship year of 85-86, in which the Celts were 67-15 and 40-1 at the Garden, Kite managed 83 points – and 81 fouls. He started as many games as HOF Bill Walton that year – 2. He made almost $6 Million during his career, and all because he was 6′11. He was the whitest athlete I ever saw, especially when they wore the road greens with dark socks.

  101. Patrick Says:

    Chuck, thanks for the RBI link…I’ll check it out further tonight.

    Richard, Greg Kite is a good one too. Think of Finkle as a stooped shouldered, emaciated, house of cards version of Greg Kite.

    Kite was the whitest player for awhile but Big Country Reeves may have supplanted him. Aw, shucks.

  102. Mike Felber Says:

    I gave the 1 in 4 7′er stat. Through all of his personality issues, I think it is wishful thinking that those teams or other eras would have stopped or significantly inhibited Jordon’s productivity. The only vaguery for me re; was he the best ever, is the greater break he got due to his stardom- “Jordon Rules”. But his drive, athleticism & ability to adopt like developing the outside shots & jumpers made him superior. Maybe James has the potential to be as good over a career. I look at efficient rating too: it measures everything a player ads or detracts on offense & defense. He & Wilt are at the top, but W.C. did not play w/guys quite as big & athletic, & he had the foul shooting flaw…

    Know who does SUPERBLY in this rating, & also in measures equivalent to added wins? Even though he had 2 years after college where he did not play in the NBA, & was a Big Man? That should be more than enough hints.

  103. Richard Says:

    David Robinson

  104. Chuck Says:

    Wilt would dominate today, probably more than when he played.

    What good is it to have a couple of “bigs” on your roster when most of them don’t have enough skills to bend over and tie their shoes, much less block a shot or set a pick?

  105. Chuck Says:

    Braut,

    I like Escobar, he’s a “true” shortstop in the sense he has the requisite tools, arm, quickness and speed. His glove is somewhat of a question mark, but all young Latin players are like that, eventually it will settle down.

    Ken Macha is noted as a station to station manager, so he won’t best utilize Escobar’s biggest offensive tool..his speed. He’s a beat the ball into the ground and run like hell guy who can steal but that’s not the Brewers’ game.

    He’s not my pick for ROY, Stephen Strasburg or Jason Heyward notwithstanding. He’ll be a good player, but I don’t think he’ll hit enough to be an All-Star.

  106. brautigan Says:

    1) I saw Bill Walton at the Further concert here in Portland on the 8th of March. I remember him playing like it was yesterday. It was a thing of beauty to watch him play the high post. It is a shame his feet could not have carried him further (ok, that was a bad pun, but totally unintended). But I also loved watching Wilt the Stilt play. He had an ugly free throw shot (underhand ala Rick Barry) but I think people forget how good of a passer Wilt was.

    2) I wonder if Macha will have a different philosophy now that he is no longer in Oakland? What do you think Chuck? If Escobar doesn’t have 30 stolen bases, then they are not using him effectively.

  107. Chuck Says:

    True story..you know those little teacup rides at Disneyland?

    Saw Bill Walton riding it.

    Braut, I only mention this because you’re a Portland guy.

    When I was working for the EL in Reading in ‘79, we would ride up to Lebanon and check out this 7 foot high school kid. At the time, the big high school star was a Virginia kid you may have heard of, Ralph Sampson. The coach at Lebanon High tried to put together a neutral site game between the two schools which never happened because Sampson’s coach knew this other kid would wipe the floor with him.

    He also had bad feet, but was one of the best big men I’ve ever seen, he could do EVERYTHING.

    His name was Sam Bowie.

    Braut, what are you hearing about the Portland franchise leaving and moving to Tucson? Big news here lately, especially at Padres camp.

    On Escobar…

    Not necessarily. I think if the Brewers lead him off they won’t be using him effectively. He just doesn’t have the patience. He’s a career .297/335 guy, so the sample size is big enough to get a read on him.

    His SB % isn’t that good, and with Braun, Fielder and Hart 3-4-5 there’s too much risk to give him the green light all the time.

    Personally, I’d hit him seven or eight and let him do his thing without impacting the next two guys, who suck to begin with.

    The guy’s 23 now, so what you see is what you get, with 8 speed on the scale he has to do better than 75% steal rate and .335 OBP.

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