Does Barry Bonds Deserve Hall of Fame Induction?

The 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame inductions took place over the last weekend in July in Cooperstown, NY. These inductions often spark debate over who continues to be left out. Names like Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds often come up. Bonds is struggling to get inducted despite being the home run king, as he holds the season and career home run records. Despite his connections to PED usage, and his reputation as a moody guy, does Barry Bonds deserve induction into the Hall of Fame?

This writer says no for reasons that I’ll expand on later in this article. First, though, IBonds deserves recognize the fact that Bonds is the home run king. With or without PEDs, it takes a high level of skill to make contact with a 90+ MPH fastball. As of today, Bonds is only one of three players ever to hit more than 700 home runs in his career. He’s one of two players to ever hit 70 home runs in a season. On top of that, he accumulated multiple MVP awards, batting titles, and Gold Gloves. So no one can say he’s not qualified for the Hall of Fame. That doesn’t mean he belongs there though.

Does Bonds Deserve More Consideration? His Past Says No.

Here’s my beef with Bonds. While it’s quite the feat that he hit 762 home runs in his career, the question I keep asking is “So what?” Were his home runs more significant than Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron’s? Ruth’s home runs brought people back to the ballpark in the wake of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Aaron showed a tremendous amount of perseverance in the fact of racial adversity while he chased Ruth’s record. What did Bonds’ home run chase do? You can argue that he broke Aaron’s record in the face of mounting criticism of his used of PEDs, but Bonds brought that criticism on himself. In my opinion, numbers aside, the inability to answer that question leaves a gaping hole in the argument to induct Bonds into the Hall of Fame.

The other issue I have with Bonds is his inability to be a team player. According to ESPN, during his time on the baseball team at Arizona State, Bonds was so despised by his teammates that all but two voted to kick him off the team after numerous altercations. Then there’s the arrogance Bonds displayed during his years with the Pittsburg Pirates and San Francisco Giants where fans, media, and even his teammates harbored a strong dislike for him. In my view, it reflects his inability to appreciate all those who contribute to the game. For Bonds, it was all about him.

Does Bonds Deserve To Be In The Hall? No, But Not Because Of PEDs

Bonds’ alleged PED use doesn’t turn me off to Bonds. In fact, last year I wrote an article arguing that Roger Clemens should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. As many know, Clemens allegedly used PEDs. Clemens was a fierce competitor too.

It is the idea that Bonds played in a world separate from one that contributes significance and meaning to the game that makes me argue against his induction. In Bonds’ world, all he cared about was accumulating as many homers as possible. It’s as if he cared about nothing other than personal gain. And for what? It’s clear he didn’t care about being a team player. So what was Bonds trying to accomplish?

For me, Bonds’ numbers aren’t enough to merit induction. To me, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about how the numbers impacted and contributed to the game. In my view, Bonds’ numbers were nothing more than self-serving efforts to quell his inner demons.

Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron are worth their weight in gold. In my view, Bonds is worth his weight in monopoly money. Bonds might have the numbers, but it’s not enough to buy his way into the Hall.

All You Need to Know For Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend

The National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend is coming up quickly. Six former players will be enshrined in Cooperstown on July 29th: Alan Trammel, Jack Morris, Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman. Whether you’re a regular attendee or a first timer, here’s a few things you should know about visiting Cooperstown during Hall of Fame Weekend.

Hotels and Parking During Hall of Fame Weekend

First thing’s first. If you haven’t booked a hotel room by now then you’re not going to get afame weekend room anywhere within a fifty mile radius of Cooperstown. At this point your best bet is either Utica, or Albany, NY. Hotels sell out months in advance, usually the month after the induction weekend, for the following year. Keep in mind there’s only 1,800 people in Cooperstown so hotels are limited. Since 40,000-50,000 people show up for the inductions it’s no wonder the hotels sell out fast. If you’re coming from out of town just for the day you can find parking along most side streets. Residents usually rent out their lawns for parking at $10-20 a day depending on how far away the events are. Be mindful though of where you can and can’t park as the town won’t hesitate to tow you!

Getting Autographs During Hall of Fame Weekend

Tons of Hall of Famers and former All-Stars come to Cooperstown each summer to see their former teammates get inducted, and celebrate the weekend. Many of them participate in autograph shows taking place throughout Cooperstown. The biggest autograph show is at Tunnicliff Inn on Pioneer Street. You can find a full lineup of who will be signing when and how much they charge at this website. Players like Ozzie Smith and Lou Whitaker will be at Seventh Inning Stretch on Main Street. You can find their information here. Then there’s Jack Berke Sports. He usually gets players like Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage (Jack is also a good guy!) You can find his information here. Of course, you can get lucky and run into former players throughout the town but in many cases they’ll be too busy to sign.

The ones you really should try and seek out are the former Negro League players, as well as the women who played in the All-American Girls Professional League (A League of Their Own). They usually show up too and charge very little for their autograph. You can find them set up along Main Street. They’re also a part of history that’s quickly disappearing, so make a point to talk to them!

Food and Attractions During Hall of Fame Weekend

You’ll have a lot of options for places to eat in Cooperstown during Hall of Fame Weekend.  Doubleday Cafe on Main Street is a great place to get a burger and their desserts are amazing (and huge!). Sal’s Pizzeria in Main Street is also good, and so is “Hey Getcha Hot Dog” on Pioneer Street. If you pop in to one of these places you won’t be disappointed, but keep in mind they’re busy and want to get people in and out. Don’t loiter in there, and don’t use their bathrooms without buying something. That’s just rude. If you like whiskey then check out Cooperstown Distillery on Main Street. If you love books as much as I do then you’re not only probably single like me, but you’ll love checking out Willis Monie Books on Main Street. They have a great assortment of baseball books. Finally, shoot on over to Milford and drink a few at Cooperstown Brewery!

Hall of Fame Inductions!

50-60 Hall of Famers show up to Cooperstown for the inductions each year. On Saturday night around 6 pm there’s a parade down Main Street in Cooperstown that includes most of Hall of Famers. Here you’ll get to see Frank Robinson, Greg Maddux, Rickey Henderson, and Cal Ripken Jr. You can waive to them and take their picture! As for the actual inductions, the Baseball Hall of Fame website states that “The Class of 2018 will be formally inducted and deliver speeches during the event beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 29 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown.”

I’ve seen many fans go out to Clark Sports Center on the Friday before the inductions and place lawn chairs on the grass to mark their spots. It sounds strange, but it’s an honor system that seems to work! So if you feel brave enough, take your lawn chairs out to the Clark Sports Center and leave it as close as you can to the stage where the speeches take. Trust me when I say it fills up VERY quickly. If you wait too long you’ll be almost a mile away from the stage and you won’t see much.

Have fun!

Sandy Koufax Was The Greatest Pitcher Ever

The debate over who the greatest pitcher ever was is as old as the game itself. Some say it’s Cy Young because of his 511 wins. Others say it’s Nolan Ryan because of his longevity. But while he’s well known to many, Sandy Koufax doesn’t get the full credit he deserves. That’s partly because he only had six strong seasons. But I argue that those were the greatest six seasons any pitcher has enjoyed in the game of baseball. That makes Koufax the greatest pitcher ever.

Let’s start with just a few of Koufax’s accolades. He was a six-time All-Star. The mangreatest pitcher ever threw FOUR no-hitters, including a perfect game. He was a two-time World Series MVP. He was the 1963 National League MVP when he pitched 11 shutouts. That’s just for starters. Let’s take a look at his actual numbers.

Koufax had 2,396 career strikeouts in just twelve seasons. After twelve years in the majors, Nolan Ryan had 2,686. That’s just 290 more than Koufax had after twelve years. So imagine if Koufax had played for twenty-seven seasons like Ryan did. In fact, while Ryan holds the single-season strikeout record with 383, that’s just ONE more than Koufax’s original record. In other words, only a pitcher like Nolan Ryan could top Koufax, and that’s just barely. While many will argue that Ryan is better, Ryan played twenty-seven seasons in the majors, longer than anyone else. Ryan also never won a Cy Young Award while Koufax won three. So if you put their best years side by side with each other, Koufax edges out Ryan not just quantitatively, but through sheer dominance in the regular and postseasons.

Koufax Was The Greatest Pitcher Ever

According to ESPN, Koufax would have finished a longer career with 334 wins, 4,377 strikeouts, and a 2.76 ERA. And that’s only if he’d played another eleven seasons. It’s hard to tell what he would have done if he’d gotten Tommy John surgery and continued to play (it wasn’t around yet).

There are those who say Koufax’s first six years keep him from standing as the greatest pitcher ever. They have a worthy argument. Koufax only won 36 games in his first six seasons, an average of six wins a season. He was wild on the mound during those first six years too. But how many pitchers can anyone point to and cite the dramatic turnaround Koufax had between 1960 and 1961?

Through strikeouts, dependability, and sheer dominance, Koufax was the greatest pitcher ever.

Louis Sockalexis: Baseball’s First Native American

Everyone knows that Jackie Robinson integrated the MLB in 1947. The film 42, as well as Ken Burns’ documentaries about Robinson, clearly illustrate the struggles that he endured in the face of white adversity. But few people know the story of Louis Sockalexis, baseball’s first Native American baseball player.

Sockalexis only played in 94 games with 395 plate appearances over thee seasons. Hissockalexis first season saw him hit .338 with three home runs, quite a feat at the time. Unfortunately, he succumbed to the dangers of alcoholism and his career quickly declined.

Sockalexis is often identified as the first Native American to play Major League Baseball. Others, however, credit Jim Toy, a catcher in the early American Association, as the first.  Chief Yellow Horse, who played in the 1920s, is also often cited as the first Native American to play professional baseball. So why does Sockalexis get the credit? Probably because of his role in another legend about the Cleveland Indians. Can you guess that connection?

Sockalexis’ Impact Lives On In Indians’ Name

In 1915 the Cleveland Naps got a new owner who wanted to change the team’s name. Cleveland baseball writer settled on the name “Indians” in tribute to Louis, who had died two years earlier of complications from alcoholism. While he only played a few years in the majors, his legacy lives in with the Tribe.

Only the biggest of baseball fans would have any idea of who Louis Sockalexis was. In some ways that’s understandable. He didn’t have to endure what Jackie Robinson did in 1947. He also didn’t play long enough to have any lasting impact. But some fans might argue that Louis’ impact on the games does live in through baseball.

If the Cleveland Indians make it to the World Series again anytime soon (and they just might), readers of this article should reflect on Sockalexis’ legacy.

Tamburro, Lynn Inducted in PawSox Hall of Fame

Fred Lynn and Mike Tamburro were inducted into the Pawtucket Red Sox Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 26th, at a ceremony at McCoy Stadium. Fans were overjoyed to see Tamburro and Lynn inducted into the third ever Pawtucket Red Sox Hall of Fame.

Tamburro, Lynn Inducted

Lynn played one year for the Pawtucket Red Sox in 1974. In 124 games Lynn hit .282 withlynn inducted 21 home runs and 68 RBIs. Lynn made his debut in Boston later that year but only played in 15 games and hit .419 with two home runs. Lynn went on to become the 1975 American League Rookie of the Year, and Most Valuable Player. That’s the same year the Boston Red Sox won the American League pennant before losing the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in seven games. The nine-time All-Star retired in 1990 with a .283 batting average, 306 home runs, and 1111 RBIs.

Lynn’s debut year in Boston was unprecedented. In addition to Rookie of the Year and MVP honors, Lynn became a rookie All-Star. He collected the first of four Gold Glove Awards. Lynn was also a ALCS MVP in 1982, and and a American League batting champion in 1979 with a .333 average.

Tamburro Joins the PawSox Hall of Fame

A 1974 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Tamburro has worked for the Pawtucket Red Sox since 1977. According to milb.com, Tamburro increased attendance from 70,000 fans in 1977 to 560,000 fans or more over a fifteen year stretch. The Pawtucket Red Sox also saw 600,000 or more fans come to McCoy Stadium between 2004 and 2009. Overall, over 18 million fans have come to ballgames at McCot Stadium during Tamburro’s time with the PawSox.

The Pawtucket Red Sox lost to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs 6-3 on Saturday night. Overall the PawSox split the four-game series with Lehigh. The PawSox travel to Norfolk, VA to play the Tides on Tuesday, May 29th for a three-game series.

Could the Baseball Hall of Fame Remove an Inductee?

In the wake of the recent decision to change the name of Yawkey Way back to Jersey Street, writers like me are wondering if the National Baseball Hall of Fame will follow a similar path. Hall of Famer Cap Anson, the first player to reach 3,000 hits (though that’s debatable), is largely responsible for segregation in baseball. Then there’s Hall of Famer George Weiss, who was general manager for the New York Yankees and New York Mets. According to the book Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee, Weiss allegedly once said out loud at a cocktail party that he “would never allow a black man to wear a Yankee uniform.” So it is possible that we might see the Hall of Fame remove inductees like Anson and Weiss? The short answer is no.

This notion is difficult to consider. On one hand, no one wants racists in the Hall of Fame.hall of fame remove On the other hand, do we risk erasing history? Many writers say no. “…without them we wouldn’t be able to understand history,” says baseball writer Don Tincher. “I’m not a big fan of destroying the past even if we don’t like it. We need to use things like that to teach others.”

“I think the HOF should simply be based on merit, how they played and performed in the game,” says Erik Sherman, author of Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond. “If we start going down a path of who was a model citizen and who was not, it becomes a slippery slope.”

It’s safe to assume that removing inductees from the Baseball Hall of Fame would quickly become a catastrophe. The Hall of Fame could remove Anson and Weiss. However, calls for the removal of other players would make all the inductees vulnerable, making the Hall of Fame a shrine of questionable morals instead of a shrine to baseball talent.

We Won’t See the Hall of Fame Remove Controversial Inductees, but The BBWAA Will Keep them Out

We likely won’t see the Hall of Fame remove inductees anytime soon. It’s fair to say though that there’s a few eligible former players who won’t make it in because of their inflammatory views and ideas. In the summer of 2015, Curt Schilling sent a tweet equating Muslim extremists with Nazi Germany. Schilling, a six-time All-Star and three-time World Series Champion, received 45% of the vote in 2016, thirty points fewer than needed for induction. While he received 51.2% this year, one cannot deny that Schilling’s inflammatory comments are hurting his chances for induction.

In my opinion, Schilling’s inability to get enough votes for induction reflects the Baseball Writers Association of America’s (BBWAA) belief that there is no more room for players with controversial views in the Hall of Fame. Many make the valid argument that consideration for induction should rely solely on their numbers and actions on the field. But where do you draw the line?

I’m not calling Schilling a bigot; I really don’t think he is. But it’s hard to look past his comments. Major League Baseball wants to promote and celebrate diversity and inclusion. With that said, I can’t see someone like Schilling getting inducted. The MLB doesn’t really have a say in who gets inducted each year. However, it’s clear that the induction of players whose views contradict Major League Baseball’s policy on diversity and inclusion could become a can of worms that the Hall of Fame and the MLB don’t want to open.

The Baseball Hall of Fame probably won’t go the way the City of Boston did with renaming Yawkey Way. It’s also unlikely we’ll see the Hall of Fame remove any players. But that doesn’t mean that the BBWAA and the Veterans Committee won’t scrutinize future candidates. Their opinions, regardless of whether they have anything to do with baseball or not, shouldn’t parallel someone like George Weiss’.