Saturday, January 19, 2013

Earl Weaver 1930-2013

All you really need to know about the "Earl of Baltimore" is this:

  • His teams averaged 94 wins per 162 games managed over his career;
  • His teams won 318 games over a three-year span from 1969 through 1971; and
  • He influenced more managers and coaches than any of his contemporaries.

For those of us who grew up watching Earl Weaver's teams play, it's always been a high compliment to say a team is playing "Earl Weaver" baseball; or, as it was known at the time, "Oriole baseball."

Great starting pitching, a balanced lineup that includes many role players, defensive strength up the middle, and a tendency to hit timely, game-changing home runs-- that's the "Oriole Way," as Earl called it. Today we'll call it "Earl's Way," and to those who've been following the two-time World Champion San Francisco Giants lately, we'll leave it up to you as to whether you recognize the style of play we just described.

RIP Earl Weaver.    

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Same Time, Next Year

The original title of this screed, as conceived earlier in the week, was "Dethrone the BBWAA", an idea we still believe has merit.  The voting process for the Hall of Fame is hopelessly skewed in favor of self-righteous media types who never played the game, but who use their vote as a club to "get even" with everyone who ever "done them wrong" over the course of their stunted, alcohol-saturated lives. Bill James had a better idea, and outlined it in his least-known book, "The Politics of Glory" (reprinted as "Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?"). Anyone who cares about the Hall of Fame ought to read it.

Anyway, after considering some comments by Curt Schilling and a few others who seem to have actually taken the time to think about these things, we've backed off on our blanket condemnation. For now. For a year. One year, to let the Crusader Rabbits of the media make their point about the Steroid Era.  One year, as a blanket punishment for everyone who played from 1995-2005 or thereabouts. One year, to get the bile, if not the Beam, out of their systems and then get back to business, which is supposed to be recognizing the best ever to play this game-- warts, steroids, and all.

Schilling said, "I think as a player, a group, this is one of the first times that we've been publicly called out. I think it's fitting. ... If there was ever a ballot and a year to make a statement about what we didn't do as players -- which is we didn't actively push to get the game clean -- this is it."

We're willing to make peace with Schilling's comments.

The point has been made. One ballot. One year.

How about you, BBWAA?  See you next year. In Cooperstown.

* * *

As for the non-politically-motivated Hall of Fame voting, we're truly sorry to see Dale Murphy drop off the list after fifteen years.  Murphy wasn't an under-the-radar sabermetric favorite like Darrell Evans; he was one of the best and best-known players in baseball during his career, and this outcome is truly puzzling.  We trust the Veterans' Committee will set it right before Mr Murphy passes on... Jack Morris' omission is also a head-scratcher. These guys do realize that a 3.90 ERA has to be considered in context, don't they? And 254 wins is awfully hard to hide. Plus Morris was the top pitcher on two World Championship teams seven years apart. Thankfully, there's time left to rectify this one... The third case is that of Tim Raines. We'll presume nobody is holding a brief, decades-old drug issue against him and just figure they're still overlooking him, as was the case during his career when everything he did was done a little bit better by Rickey Henderson. Call it 'second-banana syndrome'...  Actually, if the BBWAA inquisitors had any real credibility left, they would have elected Murphy, Morris, and Raines only, thereby "sending a message" to the Steroid Era and showing they can still recognize a great ballplayer when they see one. Yeah, we know, we're askin' way too much.