2018 Baseball Hall of Fame

On Sunday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame will induct 6 more players to their fraternity.  Anyone that follows baseball knows that getting into the Hall of Fame is a great honor.  It could be argued that it the hardest Hall of Fame to get into of all the major sports.  However, that argument is for another day.  There are two players Alan Trammell and Jack Morris that were elected by the Modern Era Baseball Committee.  The Baseball Writers’ Association of America elected four other players including Vlad Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, and Jim Thome.  Let’s take a brief look at their careers and who has a chance to get elected next year.

Here is a great article that gives reasoning why each of these inductees should be in the Hall of Fame. I was able to see all of these players at some point of their careers and I wanted to share a few reasons that stick in my mind as to why they are deserving inductees.  Starting with Alan Trammell, he was the type of player that was more than capable but was never flashy.  He was just one of those guys that always seemed to get the job done. Trammell made it to the Majors at the age of 19, so clearly he had something special.  One statistic that I recently read about him puts him in elite company.  It is this: he was the first player to ever hit at least .340, 28 homers, 100 rbi while playing more than half of his games at SS.  It has only been done one other time and that was by A-Rod.  Jack Morris was a teammate of Alan Trammell and was also a modern era selection.  In looking at Morris’s raw statistics, many would not think he is worthy of the Hall of Fame.  Morris really made his case with postseason performances.  He won 2 games for the Tigers in 1984 in winning the World Series.  He also won 2 games for the Twins in winning the 1991 World Series.  Morris also quite possibly won the most famous game in World Series history, pitching a 10 inning shutout.

The next 4 guys earned over 75% of the vote from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.  Chipper Jones is one of the best 3rd basemen to ever play the game.  He played a huge role for the Braves during their awesome streak of playoff appearances.  He was able to compile massive numbers in the process and was a no doubt first ballot selection.  Vlad Guerrero made it in on his 2nd try.  His numbers are great but many argue they are not great enough.  He retired earlier than most great players do, so his numbers were not so large.  I think it is pretty simple with Vladdy, when you watched him you knew he was special and a certain Hall of Famer.  Jim Thome was also a first ballot player.  He is more typical of the modern day players with plenty of homers, walks, and strikeouts.  Thome ended up with massive numbers and even though he was basically a DH the numbers are just too massive to overlook.  Trevor Hoffman was able to get into the Hall of Fame on the strength of one of the better change-ups in the history of the game.  He was able to compile over 600 saves.  Look at the consistency there! You would have to average 40 saves for 15 straight seasons to get there.  That is an awesome number that is certainly worthy of the Hall of Fame.

In my opinion, all of these players are more than deserving of the recognition they are receiving this weekend.  I personally was able to see all of them play and some of them are fixtures in some of my great baseball memories.  Who will get inducted next year?  Mariano Rivera will be a no doubt selection, but it will get cloudy after that.  Andy Pettitte has a shot as does the late Roy Halladay.  Before I get ahead of myself thinking of next year, I want to enjoy this year’s celebration of all-time greats!

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

 

 

The All-Star Game!

The MLB All-Star game will take place on Tuesday in Washington DC.  MLB has really turned the All-Star break into quite the event.  Obviously the game is played, but you also have the always fun Home Run Derby on Monday.  On Sunday they play the futures game, which showcases the great young talent spread throughout the minor leagues.  I wanted to touch on the game itself along with the participants of the Home Run derby.  Who is the favorite to win the derby?  Who is playing in the futures game and how many will turn into future stars in the majors?

The Futures game will take place Sunday evening and it includes top prospects from all 30 Major League teams.  The format is pretty neat as the teams are split up as Team USA and Team World.  Here is a great article covering many of the prospects and their predicted arrival date in MLB will be.  Normally, I would spend most of the time discussing the Yankees prospects.  Unfortunately, I can’t really do that because only one is listed.  The article feels as if Justus Sheffield will be called up within the next month to help bolster the starting rotation.  Nothing like getting thrown into the fire!  I also noticed that names like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Bo Bichette are listed.  They sound familiar because they are children of former players. I also know that the Blue Jays have Vlad Guerrero Jr, the son of the great Vlad Guerrero.  It is not entirely foreign to see the children of players make it to the Majors, but here are three that seemingly have a chance to be great.

The Home Run Derby will be on Monday evening.  Here is a pretty neat article and graphic that will help you with the participants.  There are a few big time names in this list and a few names that you would not necessarily think should be in here.  The hometown favorite will be Bryce Harper.  He is having a down year, but he still has the potential to create alot of memories.  Another interesting name in the derby is Javy Baez.  He is very fun to watch and it would not surprise me if he put on a show.  Another Cub that is intriguing would be Kyle Schwarber.  He has a chance to be the guy that hits the 500 foot homers we all love to see.

The actual All-Star game will be played Tuesday evening.  The outcome of the game really does not matter anymore, but the game still has plenty of meaning to the fans.  Here are the rosters for each team. This article claims that the AL has plenty more high end stars. Not so fast though! The NL is winning interleague games so far this season, so who knows which league is better.  There are always players that get “snubbed” and here is a list with this years snubs.  Blake Snell was the hot name when it came to being snubbed but the article points out the rules of the voting and it makes the snub easier to understand.

So with all of that information, who will win the game?  To be honest, it does not really matter.  What I do know is that the All-Star break is great for your favorite team, allowing most of the players a well deserved break.  It showcases the great players around the league that we sometimes do not have a chance to regularly see play.  We also get to see mammoth homers in the Home Run Derby.  Who does not like watching great players hit homer after homer?  We also get to see the future of the game on Sunday evening with the Futures Game.  All of these events shine a bright light on the game and I will be watching!

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

The LeBron Saga Continues!

There is no denying LeBron James is on the list of greatest basketball players of all time.  Where he is on the list is debatable.  He may end up as the greatest of all time and he may just enter the top ten and that will have to be enough.  His statistics will end up placing him near the top of the argument, but sometimes people use winning as part of the argument. This article has him listed as the 2nd best and his career is not over.  What if people talk more about LeBron leaving his team for another so frequently?  Would it hurt his legacy any?  Let’s take a look at what might be in store for LeBron next stint.

Unless you are living in a cave, you most likely know that LeBron is now a member of the storied Los Angeles Lakers.  What does that mean to the other teams in the NBA?  The team most effected would be the Cavs.  Here is a nice article talking about a plan B for the Cavs.  The oddsmakers changes were very dramatic.  Clearly, they do not think much of the team without LeBron and that makes sense.  However, I do not think they will be that bad.  I think they will struggle at first and then they will find a groove and end up being decent with a shot of making the playoffs.

What does LeBron being a Laker mean?  The first thing is will he be a bigger presence for the franchise than the legend, Magic Johnson?  Will LeBron try to run the team as he reportedly did in Cleveland?  I do not see LeBron being able to bully Magic.  Will he be able to push around Luke Walton, his young coach?  I do not think it will be the same as Cleveland and Miami, but I would not be shocked if that is what happened.  First, let’s mention that the Lakers are now a playoff team with the arrival of James.  Is the team good enough to compete for a title? I do not think so.  The supporting cast is actually pretty decent, but they are not named Durant, Curry, Thompson, Cousins, and Green.  The Lakers did sign a few decent players to one year deals.  I think they will be competitive this year, but they are also building for the future.  They will have a ton of cap room for players next summer(Leonard?) and their young players will have another year of seasoning under their belts.  There are plenty of questions this move brings and here is a nice article covering it.

Can LeBron end up as an all time Laker great?  I do not see it being possible because he only has 3-5 years left in the tank.  If he managed to win a couple of titles in that span it is possible, but I do not think that will happen because of the gauntlet known as the Western Conference. The bigger thing to me is I wonder if LeBron is tarnishing his legacy by moving around so many times?  I personally think he is.  He will end up in LA for 4 years, Miami for 4 years, and will end up with 11 seasons as a Cav.  I typically see the all time greats and also associate them with their team.  Clearly, LeBron will always be a Cav in the eyes of most, but it does hurt him a little.

LeBron could end up being the greatest of all time and he certainly is in the discussion.  He has won plenty of games and has been in countless Finals Series.  He will end up leaving a massive legacy but how will he be viewed?  He may be viewed as a trailblazer, changing teams is well within his right as a free agent.  Many players fought for those rights and he is exercising the option to do so.  He may also be viewed as a mercenary of sorts.  Changing teams when it is best for him.  I am not sure the story is complete as he has a few more great years left in the tank and I can’t wait to see what is in store for him in LA!

—Victor Mandalawi