Having just finished up my fourth jury trial in the last seven weeks, the weight of the world is finally off my shoulders and I am able to rededicate myself to family, friends, and of course, baseball. With a trip to San Diego in the offing, and the funnest day of the year just around the corner, the timing is perfect.
Just a little over three weeks remain before our annual rite of spring, the Hot Stove League Draft. We have settled on Saturday, April 2, beginning at the traditional 1:00 p.m. start time. For those of you with short-term memory loss, meaning all of you, please remember that the offices of Pansing Hogan Ernst & Bachman have moved to 10250 Regency Circle, Suite 300, just on the other side of the Marriott Hotel from our old building. Tirebiter is threatening to go high-tech on us this year, and to tabulate our draft results on the computer to be displayed on the big screen before our very eyes. For those of you who refuse to be involved in anything resembling modern technology, we will have the usual box of crayons and butcher paper for you to record your draft picks. Remember, we are all males in our 40s, to whom change does not come easily.
This will be our 21st year of Hot Stove League play, and the 13th year of competition under the Bill James System with our full league membership. For those of you in the pitiable minority who have not yet seen your name etched upon The Cup (proudly sitting on my desk in my home office, by the way), remember that Time begins on Opening Day, and this season may be your time to grab glory by the tail and to bring home your first title. And UBob might back Karl Rove for president in 2008, too.
If any of you have not yet signed up on-line for this season, please see that you do so as soon as possible. With our Draft on April 2 and Opening Day on April 4, we donít have any margin for error in getting our league signed up and our teams registered.
Many of you have read Possumís diatribe (when does he find the time? Isnít there some stock exchange doing business 24/7?) about Ron Santo not being elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Even though I havenít made a studied review of Santoís qualifications, I tend to agree with Ted that Santo probably deserves to be in the Hall, at least as much as any other veteran who didnít make it in during the first go-round. Maybe the fact that he sounds like heís always hammered when doing Cubs broadcasts is being held against him by the Veterans Committee, although I expect that most of said Committee members are no strangers to the joys of inebriation.
Regarding the BBWA vote, resulting in the election of Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg to the Hall, while Boggsí 3000 hits made him a shoo-in, I was a little bit surprised that Sandberg made it in. He was a great second baseman who had some great seasons, but his career numbers over sixteen seasons (1318 R; 2386 H; 282 HR; 1061 RBI; .285 BA; .344 OBP; 344 SB; 761 BB) are not exactly jaw-dropping. One could argue that Ryno made it in as much because of his popularity as his career stats.
In this yearís Hall of Fame voting, after Sandberg, nobody else was really even all that close. Sandberg received 393 votes out of a possibility of 516 from the Baseball Writersí Association of America, or 76.2%, just over the 75% level needed for induction. The next highest was Bruce Sutter with 344 votes, or 66.7%, followed by Jim Rice with 307 votes (59.5%), Rich Gossage with 285 votes (55.2%), and Andre Dawson with 270 votes (52.3%).
Since usually at least one player gets voted into the Hall of Fame every year, and more often two, it is interesting to look at the 2005 candidates to see if there are any HOF locks from that group, and to think about how this might impact upon the chances of Bruce Sutter and Jim Rice of getting in next time around. Hereís the list of 2006 candidates:
Without looking at their statistics, I would say that only Orel Hershiser has any chance at all of getting in during his first year of eligibility. Dwight Gooden and Will Clark will probably get a fair number of votes, but probably nowhere near the 75% needed. Does this mean that Bruce Sutter and/or Jim Rice might make it into the Hall next year, practically by default? My bet is that at least one of them will make it, maybe both, but probably only Sutter.
What is the criteria for making it on the ballot anyway? I mean, Mickey Morandini? Walt Weiss? Mark Whiten? Come on, there has to be some minimum criteria for being on the ballot. Also, I thought you had to be retired five years to be eligible. Isnít Doug Jones still pitching long relief somewhere?
The year 2007 will be an entirely different story. With Tony Gwynn, Mark McGwire and Cal Ripken, Jr. on the ballot that year, we have three absolute leadpipe cinches for first ballot HOF induction. In addition to the big three, Harold Baines, Jose Canseco (popular man that he is) and Bret Saberhagen will all receive votes from many. As such, it looks to me like 2006 may be the last opportunity for Bruce Sutter, Jim Rice and company to have a shot at Cooperstown.
It looks like we are getting together for a pre-Draft lunch next Tuesday, March 15, 2005, at McKennaís on Pacific Street. Shall we say 11:45 a.m.? See you there.
Having just finished my fourth grueling jury trial in the last seven weeks, I am more than ready for some fun. At some point during the last week of my last trial, I looked in the mirror and noted that my face looked like a clenched fist . All work and no play makes Skipper a dull -- not to mention tired and crabby -- boy. But now that this marathon trial session is behind me, I can only look forward to more relaxing and sunnier days ahead with the promise of another fantastic Hot Stove League season with the boys. Canít wait.
See you all soon. Have a great month of March.
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