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Newz Forum: OTHER: Bruce Suter, Albert Belle, Darryl Strawberry plus more...

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posted on Jan, 17 2006 @ 12:54 PM
Bruce Suter is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. All of the folks who have moaned about the snub given to closers now have now changed the subject of their moaning. Now they complain about which closer was elected and the fact that only one of them was elected. Folks, calm down. This is a Hall of Fame we are talking about here not something or some institution that will find a cure for cancer or resolve the political/religious issues of the Middle East. If you just wait a few months, this will start up again and you can go to church and light candles in the hope that more relief pitchers get more votes.

Frankly, the thing that surprised me about the voting was that Albert Belle only got 8% of the votes. That is 'dangerously' close to the 5% level that a player must receive in order to stay on the ballot for next year. Albert Belle was barely someone who earned the label of 'domesticated' and certainly exhibited enough bad behavior to call into question whether or not he was 'civilized'. But he was a fine baseball player; in his ten full seasons in the major leagues, he averaged 36 home runs and 121 RBIs a year and that isn't awful. Would I vote for him if I had a vote? Probably not. But should he be on the border of being 'one and done' in the hall of fame voting like Mickey Morandini or Gary DiSarcina? No way!

A reader sent me a note saying that the Mets had hired Darryl Strawberry in some capacity. I did not go and check out the role he may have with the club but the reader went on to point out how good Strawberry was for the early part of his career before he became the poster child for self-destructive behaviors. Strawberry is a player who almost assuredly would have been a rapid inductee into the hall of fame had he played out his career at the level he played in his first five to seven seasons. It is politically correct to say that he wrestled with demons in his life so that when he behaved destructively it seems as if he was a victim. Or you could say he was weak and flawed. You make the call.

The LA Times ran a story recently focusing on the battle between MLB and various fantasy baseball leagues. MLB asserts that baseball statistics are intellectual property; and therefore, any and all fantasy leagues out there should have to buy a license from MLB to use those statistics as part of the fantasy play. As you can imagine, this has wound up in the court system and one league has asked for a judgment against MLB that would declare that MLB has no rights whatsoever to the statistics. Normally, I would read this and toss it off as a useless argument over nothing but egos; however, the statistics say that there is big money involved here.

I do not play fantasy sports; I spent about a year and a half doing so back in the late 1980s and found that it interfered with my enjoyment of watching some of the games. So I chose not to do it anymore. I know hundreds of people who do play fantasy sports and who derive great enjoyment from it; I have no reason to want to see them denied that enjoyment. But I had no idea that some fantasy leagues now offer prizes as high as $100K and that registration fees for leagues are in the range of $200M per year. Holy change purse, Batman! You're talking real money here.

So, are baseball stats historical facts which can be collected and used by anyone without paying for them or are they part of the statistical profile of individual athletes - and by agglomeration their teams - which would mean that people should have to pay in order to exploit them much the same way and advertiser needs to pay to use a players image? Frankly, I think MLB would win a pyrrhic victory here should it prevail. They may collect some fees from fantasy players, but they will alienate lots of fans and drive other revenues down. And if they win, will they require the Elias Sports Bureau (and their ilk) to buy licenses to provide information to news outlets that use the information to inform the public about the significance of game achievements? Wow.

Enough legal theorizing for today; my head is beginning to ache. However, I do note that Lynn Swann has decided to run for Governor of Pennsylvania where he would become the person most in charge of enforcing the laws of that Commonwealth should he win. Here is a question that could be an interesting essay question for a course in sociology/political science:

Which is the greater leap in terms of social status and prestige?

a. Going from sideline reporter asking inane questions of indifferent football coaches to Governor of Pennsylvania, or

b. Going from a pro rassler whose shtick was to dye his hair blond and wear a feather boa to Governor of Minnesota.

Too much has been made over the announcement that the NFL will not renew its 'partnership' with Levitra as the official erectile dysfunction medicine for the league - or whatever the placement of the NFL logo on such ads might have signified. Frankly, I think that the NFL had been signaling this move for several years now. Think about it; after the Janet Jackson 'event' which might have been arousing to some of the folks in the 12-year-old demographic had it been visible for a longer period of time, the NFL has changed its philosophy about halftime entertainment at the Super Bowl. First, it was Paul McCartney; now, it will be Mick Jagger; who's next, Perry Como? Clearly, the league is moving away from performers who might stir visceral and lustful feelings among the men watching the Super Bowl. Maybe these halftime shows portend a 'partnership' between the NFL and Depends?

If the NFL has any designs on targeting the 'geezer demographic', they might want to consider changing their schedule to move the Super Bowl back into January every year. In case you didn't know, January is National Oatmeal Month. (Blecch!) That could be attractive to 'Geezer Nation'; and then, to really get their attention the league could arrange for the winning team to dump a jug of Metamucil on the winning coach... Once again, you have all the evidence you need to conclude correctly that I did not spend any of my career doing marketing and promotions...

Finally, Tom FitzGerald had this item in his syndicated column, Open Season:

'Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells on rookie Demarcus Ware, who grew up in rural Alabama: 'That kid grew up so far out in the country he had to go toward town to hunt.' '

But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...


posted on Jan, 26 2006 @ 12:46 AM
Hmm, I didn't know there was an Albert Belle thread. I have quite a bit to say about this subject, and will do so after I've gotten some sleep. For now, I just want it high enough up on the baseball subjects list--or hopefully on the main list--that I can see it and comment on it when I wake up tomorrow.

My views about Belle are not common ones, but they're more than backed up. On the other hand, my views are not set in stone, because this is a very difficult, two-sided subject. It is, however, one which underscores the fact that we CANNOT make Hall of Fame decisions based on whom we like and whom we loathe.


posted on Jan, 27 2006 @ 01:20 AM
Oh, good.

I have hoped for SO LONG that I would get to write about Albert Belle some day, especially in the context of the Hall of Fame.

I once heard Bob Costas refer to Belle as "the game's most hated superstar since Ty Cobb." Well, Bobby, first of all, Hornsby was probably more hated than Cobb and played 9 years later, so lol to begin with. And second of all, Belle was hated largely because he was an angry black man whom the media singled out for censure, ridicule and condemnation.

In the Bay Area and the Sacramento Area, it's p.c. in many circles to say people hate Barry Bonds because he's black. Well, NO, they hate him because he's a world-class @sshole. A white guy like Bonds would get more slack, but only a little more slack. World-class jerks are world-class jerks, no matter what their skin color, and Bonds is a world-class jerk.

But Belle was singled out from Day One for condemnation. It became known he was a reforming alcoholic, so Cleveland "fans" ridiculed him about being "a drunk" and invited him over "after the game for a keg," or some such garbage He finally had enough and went into the stands after one of the jerks, and after that the dye was pretty well cast on him.

I'm going to tell y'all something I'm pretty sure I haven't told you before. I am a reformed alcoholic. A.A. says you're always supposed to say "recovering alcoholic," but I've never been to one of their meetings, probably couldn't have quit if I'd had to do it their way, and I knew after about 4 or 5 years that I had made it. It's now been almost 26 years [I'll accept applause] since my last drink.

But if I'd been in left field and one of the subhumans in the stands had been giving me grief about my life-or-death battle with alcoholism, I might well have done what Belle did: Fire a baseball at him.

It's worth noting MLB only suspended him 6 games for that. Ordinarily, that would get you more like 6 WEEKS, so they obviously understood how serious the fan's offense was, and thus how mitigated Belle's misconduct was.

But this was the second time Belle had gone after a fan. The first was some foul-mouthed racist who was piling racial slurs on him when he was playing for LSU.

Now, every man has a breaking point. Everyone seems to agree the baskeball player was ok for going into the stands to protect his wife from what looked like fan abuse. I agree with that, too. But I also agree that Belle had every right to react to racist taunting and, as someone who's been there myself, to someone who taunted him about his life-or-death struggle with a disease that kills far too many Americans every year: alcoholism.

Well, after that, it was all over for Belle with the hyenas in the media. Black, prone to strong anger outbursts, and easy to provoke if you hit the known buttons. Great press, no?

But, IF he was legit, he was one of the greatest hitters of all time. He set the franchise home run record at TWO of the original 16 franchises: the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. He had a season--and a shortened one, at that--in which he hit 50 or more doubles AND 50 or more HR's, an unprecedented feat. He hit over 100 RBI's in each of his last 9 seasons, including a staggering 152 in 1998 and 148 in 1996. He had a better career slugging average than Mays, Mantle or Aaron. He had 8 straight years of 30 or more HR's, including a 4-year stint which included 48, 49 and 50.

And THIS guy got 8% of the votes? W.T.F.!!

The sportswriters have worked hard to emasculate the Veterans Committee when it comes to voting for Hall of Fame candidates, citing the ridiculous way all of Frankie Frisch's former teammates got into the Hall via the Veterans' Committee. And they're right. Virtually all of Frisch's full-time teammates, from the Giants AND the Cards, got in when Frisch ran the Committee, and most of them don't belong within 100 miles of Cooperstown.

But look at the b.s. these sportswriters pull off.

Reread the stats set out above, and tell me how only 8% could vote for this guy. Either he was provably a cheat, in which case he shouldn't have been on the ballot at all, or a bunch of jack@sses who never played the game are letting their petty personal agendas affect who gets in the Hall of Fame. And I've got news for those punks:

The Hall of Fame isn't about who you little turds, who never played MLB for one second, do or don't personally like. Albert Belle is among the greatest hitters of the past 25 years. His fielding was BAD--as in, he made 1/3 again more errors than the average outfielder for his years--but as an outfielder, that only translates to 22 extra career errors, which doesn't make a dent in all the extra runs the guy's bat created.

As for the fact he "only" played ten full seasons? So what? That's one more than Hank Greenberg played, and MANY knowledgeable people list him as the 3rd greatest first baseman ever, with essentially everyone putting him in the Top 10 at first base. Ditto a lot of others who only played 9, 10, 11 or 12 full years.

The ONLY argument against Belle--and I admit it's a big one--is the corked bat incident from July of 1994, when Belle had a bat confiscated by umpires at the opposing manager's insistence. The umpires put it in their locker room. One of Belle's slimmest and most agile teammates managed to crawl through vents to get the bat and replace it with an obvious phony. Then they supposedly got ALL of Belle's bats out of the ballpark. The story is that one teammate said later, "All of Albert's bats were corked."

Obviously if that is true, the guy was a big-time cheat, but surely he broke several bats through the years. After that supposed incident, I'm sure umpires and opposing teams were looking at any bat he broke, and he never got caught with anything, though his best seasons were yet to come.

This is a guy who drove in 100+ runs and hit 30+ HR's like clockwork. He also scored 100+ runs in 5 of those seasons. His stats are just flat awesome in numerous places. The fact the media hate him is irrelevant. The fact many of us hate him is every bit as irrelevant. His stats absolutely put him in the Hall of Fame, unless his former teammates want to talk and incriminate him in a lot of bat corkage [sic
] or in steroid use.

The fact he got 8% of the votes is EXACTLY why the sportswriters cannot be the only ones who get to vote. They are not HONEST enough to be given that sole prerogative.



posted on Jan, 27 2006 @ 12:34 PM
On reading the 'corked bat' episode of Belle, if that is a reason as to why he recieved such a low vote, does that mean Sammy Sosa will find himself in the same position? Alot of sportsmen/women make mistakes throughout their careers without repercussions, so what would make Belle that much different?

After reading some about Belle, it seems he wasn't a popular figure in the media circles, due to the fact the he didn't participate in the 'giving' of interviews pre and post game. Is talking to the press an immediate pass into the hall of fame? Is it compulsary to talk to the press? Is it in his contract to give interviews? My guess is no.. For whatever reasons as to why he decided not to give interviews is his own personal choice, it doesn't give the press a reason to dislike a man. Maybe this is what cost him the 1995 MVP award, which he lost by just eight points to Mo Vaughn despite posting far superior numbers.

Former team-mate McElroy once said: "All he wanted, was respect."

Is that too much to ask for?

Another team-mate at the Orioles was Cal Ripken, who once had this to say about Belle: "He always wanted to be the best. His intensity at the plate was almost unparalleled. Even to see him at the end, trying to battle the injury, showed how much heart and commitment he has. He just doesn't give up. That's a quality you admire."

It seems to me that players had alot of respect for what Belle achieved, but are they alone?

There is alot of articles about how bad a man Belle was especially one by a ESPN writer, on how he was a cheat and a drunk. But to me it seems he was one of baseballs hardest-working players and most intense competitors. One reason i have read about as to why he recieved such a low vote is his career longevity, which is a legitimate point. Belle only had 10 productive seasons before being forced into retirement because of a hip condition at age 34 at the end of the 2000 season. But what a 10 seasons he had, his stats speak for themselves and they must have been something special for everyone to write so much about the man.

So for the sportwriters to pick who enters the hall of fame is totally wrong, like you pointed out BHN. They will have a biased opinion of Belle as they just didn't get along. Take a look at Kirby Puckett who made the Hall of Fame. He had a short career, but his peak value was high and everyone thought he was great guy. Turns out he's a nasty piece of work and his numbers pale compared to Belle's. So it just goes to show that these so called 'sportswriters' do get things wrong...

posted on Jan, 27 2006 @ 02:29 PM
This cr@p happens all the time. Compare the stats for Pedro Martinez and Barry Zito, in the year sportswriters fraudulently gave the Cy Young to Zito. As Pedro's "Adjusted ERA" and other stats show, he had one of the really great seasons for a pitcher: the Adjusted ERA was 196 and his WHIP (combined walks and hits per inning pitched) was 0.96. Zito couldn't touch either of those numbers--not within a mile--but he got the award because the sportswriters didn't/don't like him, and have only given him that award when there's simply no avoiding it.

The best career Adjusted ERA for a pitcher, not counting active pitchers, belongs of course to Lefty Grove, at 148. Pedro's is now at 166, light years better than Grove or anyone else, which means that starting with his first awesome year in Montreal in 1997, we've been privileged to watch a 9-year run of pitching of historic proportions. But you sure don't hear THAT from the media, do you?


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