Category Archives: podcast episode
Scott returns after a sixteen-month absence to bring listeners his 2015 hall of fame ballot. First, he allows his new co=hosts Kaleb and Korban introduce themselves. Kaleb and Korban are both millenials sitting in to share insights and learn from the lectures, but Korban takes a run at a Hall of Fame Ballot.
Scott then lists off his top-ten hall of fame-worthy players on the 2015 ballot. He initially complains about the 2013 no-winners fiasco, and then again complains about Craig Biggio missing induction in 2014 by 2 votes. Scott makes the argument that there are more than ten qualified potential Hall of Fame entrants, and calls for the Baseball Writers Association of America to do away with the maximum entry of ten.
Please bear with us as we re-start the podcast. i hope you like the new format, and we’ll be back next week to discuss a legendary player. Like the Baseball Experience podcast on Facebook, and follow @scotteiland on twitter. Also check out our sister podcast, Gaming at a Glance
Most baseball writers believe that Jack Morris will be elected into Baseball’s Hall of Fame and Museum in 2014, his final year of eligibility. Despite his lifetime 3.90 earned run average and otherwise pedestrian numbers (he does have 254 wins, but that’s more a function of his run support and rubber-armed ability to pitch deep into ballgames.). Stieb’s numbers, when you strip away circumstances beyond his control, are arguably superior to Morris’s, but there is no ground swell of support for his Hall of Fame induction. In his only year of eligibility (2004) Stieb only garnered 1.7% of the vote. Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Is HE, not Jack Morris, the best pitcher of the 1980s? Have a listen and make a judgment call!
Dave Stieb: Baseball Reference
Mopupduty: The Stieb-Morris Debate
Dave Stieb Squeezed out of a perfect game?
HuffPo: The Ryan Braun Suspension Timeline
Don Sutton looks, at first blush, like a no-doubt Baseball Hall of Famer. He won 324 games, struck out 3574 batters, and compiled 58 shutouts in his career. He never missed a start and, had the 1981 player’s strike not happened, would have pitched over 200 innings in 21 consecutive seasons. He NEVER missed a start. He struck out 207 batters as a rookie in 1966, and was a model of consistency that the Baseball Writers Association of America elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998 with 82 percent of the vote.
So why the controversy?
He was very, very good for a very long time, but rarely considered the best pitcher in baseball. He was an all star four times, and in the top five of the Cy Young Award voting five times, but never the winner or runner-up. He pitched in the Era of the Pitcher, also known as the “Second Dead Ball Era,” so while the numbers he posted seem outstanding, he was only 120th all time in Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement. He was very good. Was he good enough for the Hall? Listen to find out.
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Scott discusses the Hall of Fame case of Minnesota Twins center fielder Kirby Puckett (1960-2006). Puckett was the face of the Twins franchise during the mid eighties and early nineties, coinciding with the Twins World Series titles in 1987 and 1991 (both World Series rings, not coincidentally, were won in seven game series in which the Twins had home-field (or is it home-warehouse) advantage. Puckett became a more controversial figure after his 2001 Hall of Fame induction (elected with 82 percent of the vote), with allegations of physical and emotional spousal abuse and one allegation of sexual assault and false imprisonment sullied his then-sterling reputation.
What, then, to make of Kirby Puckett’s case for the Hall of Fame? Should he be in? Answer the poll below! For Scott’s take, download the episode. You can email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can post in the comments below, or you can like us on Facebook. Don’t forget to follow Scott on twitter @scotteiland!
Scott discusses the Hall of Fame case of Detroit Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker. Whitaker was never given serious consideration from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, getting only 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001, his only year of eligibility. Scott figures out possible reasons the BBWAA gave him the shaft, and makes a possibly-controversial call as to whether Lou should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Recently, there have been several incidents of questionable umpiring. Between Bo Porter taking a pitcher out of a game before he faced a batter and Angel Hernandez’s willful blindness disallowing a home run, the pundits in the baseball media have been discussing how to handle bad umpiring. In the Bo Porter/Astros case, the protest was rescinded after the Angels came back to beat them after Porter’s allowed illegal maneuver. This upset me, because I would have enjoyed the eventual resumption of the game after Commissioner Bud Selig (who, according to many Houstonians, has a history of hurting the team) upheld the protest. It also got me thinking about past protests, and the famous one involving FOUR Hall of Famers (George Brett, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Dave Winfield, and Gaylord Perry) from July 24, 1983.
Listen to the show for a breakdown of the 1983 Yankees, the strange place the franchise was in, and how the game affected the 1983 pennant chase. When you’re done, go to iTunes and review the show! Got a deeply-held grievance or comment? Leave it below or email email@example.com!
Rogers Hornsby (1896-1963) is one of the greatest players in the history of Major League Baseball. Thanks to Babe Ruth (who was the player who saved baseball after the destructive Black Sox Scandal) and Ty Cobb (another contemporary who is the only player to finish his career with a higher composite batting average), Hornsby is one of those players well known only to baseball junkies and historians. The brash, opinionated Texan was the best hitter in the 1920s not named Ruth or Cobb, and for a six year stretch (1920-1925) was absolutely unbelievable. He led the National League in batting in each one of those years, with averages of .370, .397, .401, .384, .424(!), and .403, an unheard-of run that will never happen again. He was also a power hitter, leading the NL in homers in 1922 with 42 (the second-place guy, Ray Grimes, hit only 21.) He regularly boasted OPS (on base average plus slugging percentage) numbers over 1.000. Because of a steep decline that occurred as the 1920s wore down (Hornsby had his share of injury problems), he finished his careeer with 2930 hits, seventy short of the almighty mark of 3000 hits. (more…)
Billy Williams was one of the best players in the National League in the 1960s and 1970s, but it’s possible many young fans have never heard his name. He was known as “Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams” and “Sweet Swingin Billy from Whistler (Alabama, his hometown)” and was a fixture in Cubs and Athletics lineups from 1959-1976, eighteen full seasons. His numbers were very, very good – Williams was among the league leaders in on base percentage and slugging average, was top five in Most Valuable Player voting twice, won the 1961 Rookie of the Year, and – most impressively – played in 1,117 consecutive games, then a National League record (later broken by Dodgers 1B Steve Garvey). He was steady and productive for most of his 18 seasons, but teams he played for only made it to the postseason once; when Williams was 37, he played for the Oakland Athletics club that faced the “Impossible Dream” Boston Red Sox juggernaut in the 1975 American League Championship Series (they were swept in three straight games.) I think he’s a Hall of Famer, and I’m surprised it took him six elections to make it (he retired in 1976, and was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987. There is a five-year waiting period for most Hall elections.)
Behold, the text of “Casey At the Bat”
The Outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that –
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.
But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.
But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.
From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they’d a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”
“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.
Casey at the Bat
(“Phin is Ernest Thayer, the Harvard-educated “One-poem poet” who crafted that beautiful read.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. My twitter is @scotteiland
Fred Merkle had a long, solid career in the early 20th century, playing primarily for the New York baseball Giants, led by manager John McGraw. A mistake, however, that he allegedly made in his rookie year (1908), unfortunately made his name synonymous with “bonehead” mistakes and baserunning errors.
He probably didn’t deserve the moniker that followed him for the balance of his playing career, but the nickname “Bonehead”. He went on to have a fantastic career, but the chaos surrounding his “mistake” haunted him.
Thanks to an algorithm I created on the fly, my wife Amy picked Harmon Killebrew of the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins as my Hall-of-Fame-or-not profile this week. Killebrew was the franchise player of the nomadic Minnesota Twins since before they moved to Minnesota. To best understand how a team came to move to Minnesota, you have to understand the following:
1. Major League Baseball awarded Minneapolis, Minnesota an expansion team in 1960.
2. Clark Griffith, nephew of the skinflint owner of the sad-sack Washington Senators, petitioned major league baseball to move the Senators to Minneapolis instead, awarding Washington an expansion franchise to immediately replace the departed club.
3. Major League Baseball actually allows this, and Griffith moves the club to Minneapolis to play in Metropolitan Stadium.
Incidentally, the new Washington Senators didn’t exactly thrive when the District was awarded an expansion franchise (also, ironically, named the Senators.) A decade of ineptitude and bad ownership by trucking executive Bob Short eventually led to the Senators being relocated to the Dallas Metroplex beginning in 1972. Major League Baseball would not return to the District until the broke, non-drawing Montreal Expos (who played for more than three decades in the decrepit warehouse known as Stade Olympique (or Olympic Stadium to all you anglophiles) moved to Washington and built a brand-new stadium in 2005.
That brings us to Killebrew, Minnesota’s first franchise icon. Killebrew was a slugger in the game’s “second dead-ball era” (see Jimmy Wynn’s episode for more on that.) A soft-spoken strongman from Payette, Idaho, Killebrew amassed 573 homers in the pitching-rich era of the mid-1960s, hitting towering home runs for the Twins under adverse circumstances. Killebrew, the 1969 American League Most Valuable Player, played on some truly terrible Twins ballclubs, winning just one pennant in his career in 1966. Nevertheless, he was one of the top fifteen home run hitters of all time, and deserves greater accolades than he receives today; the “east coast bias” is alive and well in the baseball media, and most younger fans have no idea who Harmon Killebrew was. He was UNDOUBTEDLY a Hall of Famer, but where does he rank among the following first basemen?
We also answer a fan mail question from Brad Haven: Does Will Clark belong in the Hall of Fame? I say no, because his numbers are not quite strong enough to overcome the fact that there are a LOT of first basemen in the Hall of Fame. Clark’s numbers are good, but nothing jumps off the page enough to make him get serious consideration. Since some numbers in his era of the mid 1990s may be a bit tainted, his exclusion from consideration after one year may be unfair, but ultimately he falls just short for me to vote him in.
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