Tag Archives: Steve Garvey

Does anyone on the Modern Era ballot deserve Hall enshrinement?

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Do any of the 10 nominees deserve enshrinement at Cooperstown in the 2020 Hall of Fame class?

 

Baseball’s Winter Meetings will get underway on Sunday, December 8 in San Diego. Perhaps the most important and interesting news on that first day will be the announcement of the results in voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame 2020 class by the Modern Era committee.

A brief explanation of the process which players and others now go through in being evaluated for a place at Cooperstown, New York in the museum which honors the game’s immortals.

Voting for players to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is conducted among eligible membership in the Baseball Writer’s Association of America.

Five years after they officially retire, and as long as they had 10 years of MLB service time, players are eligible for consideration. Any player who may die within such a five-year period is eligible six months after their passing.

If a player receives 75% support among the total ballots cast, they will be enshrined. If they fall short of that mark, players continue to be considered for up to 10 years. After that point, players can only get in by voting conducted by one of four special committees. The committee voting is also the vehicle by which umpires, executives, and other non-players can be enshrined.

Those committees are currently as follows: “Early Baseball” covering the period in the game prior to 1950. “Golden Days” covers the period 1950-69. “Modern Baseball” covers the 1970-87 period. “Today’s Game” covers the more recent 1988-present period.

Each committee does not vote each year, but instead on a schedule which is set up well in advance. This year is the “Modern Baseball” committee turn. Here is the upcoming schedule in future years:

Golden Days: December of 2020 for inclusion in the Class of 2021
Early Baseball: December of 2020 for inclusion in the Class of 2021
Today’s Game: December of 2021 for inclusion in the Class of 2022
Modern Baseball: December of 2022 for inclusion in the Class of 2023
Today’s Game: December of 2023 for inclusion in the Class of 2024
Modern Baseball: December of 2024 for inclusion in the Class of 2025
Golden Days: December of 2025 for inclusion in the Class of 2026

2020 Modern Era committee

There are 16 committee members who will be casting ballots this time around on the ‘Modern Era’ nominees.

Those 16 include six Hall of Famers who played during the era: George Brett, Rod Carew, Dennis Eckersley, Eddie Murray, Ozzie Smith, and Robin Yount.

Executives, writers, and other non-players on the committee this time around are: Sandy Alderson, Dave Dombrowski, David Glass, Walt Jocketty, Doug Melvin, Terry Ryan, Bill Center, Steve Hirdt, Jack O’Connell, and Tracy Ringolsby.

2020 Modern Era ballot nominees

There are nine players and one non-player on the ballot being considered by that committee.

The players are infielders Steve Garvey, Don Matthingly, and Lou Whitaker, outfielders Dwight Evans, Dale Murphy, and Dave Parker, catchers Thurman Munson and Ted Simmons, and pitcher Tommy John.

The non-player on the ballot this time around is labor leader Marvin Miller, the former head of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

A nominee must receive a vote from at least 12 of the 16 committee members (75%) in order to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of next summer’s class of 2020.

Any who fall short of that 75% mark will again be eligible for consideration three years from now when the Modern Era committee is again formed and votes for the Hall’s class of 2023.

Should any of this year’s nominees be enshrined?

If I were on the committee, six of the 10 men on this year’s ballot would receive my vote. Those six are Miller, Whitaker, John, Evans, Munson, and Simmons.

Miller should be a slam-dunk enshrinee. It was his work at the head of the MLBPA back during the late-1960’s through mid-1970’s period that shepherded the players out of the wilderness of the century-old “reserve clause” period and into modern free agency.

Whitaker’s 75.1 career WAR figure is 78th in Major League Baseball history. That is ahead of his long-time Detroit Tigers infield mate Alan Trammell, who was inducted two years ago. It is also ahead of such recent-era players as Reggie Jackson, Frank Thomas, and Jim Thome, as well as this year’s two regular ballot darlings, Derek Jeter and Larry Walker.

Those two were no-doubt, slam-dunk choices for me. The other four receive my support after more close scrutiny.

John is the southpaw for whom the infamous UCL surgery was named. He lost much of the 1974 and all of the 1975 seasons during his prime at ages 31-32 when he suffered the elbow injury that previously would have ended his career.

Undergoing the revolutionary surgery performed by Dr. Frank Jobe, John returned to become runner-up for the AL Cy Young Award twice and a three-time All-Star. Overall, he won 288 games and would have been an easy 300-game winner, and thus already in the Hall, had he not suffered the injury. That he not only underwent the procedure, but battled back from it so successfully, set a path for hundreds of hurlers in the decades to come.

Evans career 67.1 WAR mark ranks him higher than such recent era Hall of Famers as Craig Biggio, Andre Dawson, Roy Halladay, and Dave Winfield, as well as all-time greats Willie McCovey and Billy Williams. Evans banged 385 home runs, 483 doubles, and was perhaps the best defensive right fielder of his time, winning eight Gold Glove Awards.

Frankly, I’m partial to catchers, whose physical demands and in-game responsibilities dwarf other position players. I got to see pretty much the entire careers of both Munson and Simmons. Their stats hold up well when compared against most of the greatest backstops ever enshrined in the Hall.

A star with the New York Yankees of the 1970’s, Munson was a seven-time AL All-Star, a three-time AL Gold Glove Award winner, the 1970 AL Rookie of the Year, and the 1976 AL Most Valuable Player. He was just aged 32 when he died during an in-season crash of the private plane which he was piloting in early August 1979.

Simmons was an eight-time All-Star who played the prime years with the Cardinals (13) and Brewers (5) during a 21-year big-league career. He drove in 90+ runs on eight occasions and finished among his league’s top 10 players in batting average six times. His 193 hits in 1975 are the most of any catcher who caught at least 150 games in a season, and his 192 hits in 1973 rank second on that same list. Simmons ranks second in hits, doubles, and RBIs, and fifth in runs, among all players who caught in at least 50% of their appearances.

Those are the half-dozen players on this year’s Modern Era ballot who would receive my vote. Would love to hear which nominee, if any, would get your support. Just leave a comment below or on social media.

 

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For Phillies fans like me, there will always be only one Black Friday

The 101-win, star-crossed 1977 NL East Division champion Philadelphia Phillies

 

Across the United States today is known as “Black Friday”, perhaps the single busiest shop-in-person day of the entire year. You may not be aware that the term as popularly used actually originated here in Philadelphia.

In the early 1950’s, the Philadelphia Police Department began referring to the two days after Thanksgiving as ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Black Saturday’ in reference to crowds and congestion which had begun the Christmas shopping season.

On November 28, 1981, the Philadelphia Inquirer was the first to assign a financial aspect to the phrase. Typical accounting practices showed negative amounts in red ink and positive in black ink.

Many businesses would run at a loss for most of the year, and the holiday shopping season would put them “into the black”, thus the significance of the opening of that season was significant for retailers and others.

However, for myself and many other fans of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball club there is only one, true “Black Friday”, especially for those of us who experienced it first-hand.

The date was Friday, October 7, 1977. The place was Veteran’s Stadium in South Philadelphia. The occasion was Game 3 of the National League Championship Series between the host Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In those days, the League Championship Series in Major League Baseball was only a best-of-five affair. And there was no Division Series. If you came in first place in either the East or West Division, you went to the LCS and played for a shot at the World Series.

The Phillies had reached the postseason for the first time in 26 years the prior season. But that 1976 club was swept out of the NLCS by Cincinnati’s ‘Big Red Machine’, who would go on to capture their second straight World Series title.

In 1977, the Phillies used that sweep as motivation. A more mature and determined team set a then-franchise record by winning 101 games, the most by any team in the National League.

Capturing their second consecutive NL East Division crown, the Phillies faced a 98-win Dodgers squad. The two teams appeared evenly matched, having split their regular season meetings, each winning six times.

The NLCS began in the same manner. The Phillies rallied for a pair of runs in the 9th inning to take the opener at Dodger Stadium by a 7-5 score. The host Dodgers battled back, getting a grand slam from Dusty Baker in the bottom of the 4th inning to break a 1-1 tie, leading to a 7-1 series-tying victory in the second game.

So, Game 3 at Veteran’s Stadium was going to be pivotal. For the Phillies this appeared especially so, as they had lefty ace Steve Carlton scheduled to take the mound in Game 4 the following day.

Carlton would win his second of four career Cy Young Awards that year, and a Phillies win on Friday would mean that the Dodgers would have their season on the line against the best pitcher in the league.

Los Angeles struck first, scoring twice in the top of the 2nd inning off Phillies’ starting pitcher Larry Christenson. It could have been worse, but Dodgers catcher Steve Yeager was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

In their half of the inning, it would be the 63,719 fans in the stands at The Vet who would literally scream the Phillies into the lead.

Two singles and a walk against Dodgers starter Burt Hooton had the bases loaded with two outs, but it was Christenson at the plate. As the count worked full, the crowd began a deafening roar, and Hooton delivered ball four to cut the Phillies deficit to 2-1.

Sensing they had affected that outcome, the crowd continued to roar, getting louder with each pitch. Hooton appeared unnerved. He would walk each of the next two batters as well, forcing home two more runs to put the Phillies on top by 3-2.

It is fairly amazing then how that inning ended, with the Phillies all-star third baseman Mike Schmidt fouling out to the catcher on the very first pitch. Why under the circumstances the future Hall of Famer didn’t at least take one is hard to imagine.

The Dodgers got even in the top of the 4th inning when Baker singled home Ron Cey, who had led off the inning with a double against Christenson.

The game remained knotted at 3-3 into the bottom of the 8th inning. There, it appeared that the home team would put the game away thanks to uncharacteristically sloppy defense from the visitors.

Richie Hebner doubled to lead it off. He came around to score the go-ahead run when Garry Maddox followed with an RBI single, and Maddox chugged to third base on a throwing error by right fielder Reggie Smith. Then Bob Boone reached on an error by Cey, which allowed Maddox to score what appeared to be an insurance run.

The Phillies thus took a 5-3 lead into the top of the 9th inning. Manager Danny Ozark sent out Gene Garber to seal the deal. Protect the two-run lead, and the Phillies would go up two games to one with Carlton ready to send them on to the Fall Classic the next day.

Garber was one of a trio of relievers who Ozark called upon in such situations that season. He led the club with 19 saves, had a 2.35 ERA, and pitched in a team-high 64 games. Ron Reed delivered 15 saves over 60 games with a 2.75 ERA. Tug McGraw registered nine saves over 45 games with a 2.62 ERA.

A 29-year-old right-hander, Garber appeared well on his way to cruising through the frame by retiring the first two batters with no trouble. The Phillies were now just one out away from victory with nobody on base.

Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda, in his first full season at the helm, decided to send up Vic Davalillo to pinch-hit for Yeager. Garber got ahead of the 37-year-old with a quick strike.

Davalillo then surprised nearly everyone in the ballpark. The crafty veteran laid down a perfect drag  bunt on which Phillies second baseman Ted Sizemore had no play, and the Dodgers would bring the tying run to the plate.

In almost all such situations during the season – protecting a late, close lead – Ozark would have made a defensive substitution in left field, removing the big bat of Greg Luzinski in favor of the far more athletic Jerry Martin. For some reason, Ozark opted to leave Luzinski in this time. It was about to cost him dearly.

Lasorda must have figured that it worked once, let’s try it again. This time he sent up 39-year-old veteran Manny Mota to pinch-hit for the pitcher’s spot.

Mota lofted a fly ball to deep left. Luzinski drifted back to the wall and for a second it appeared that he would snare the final out in his glove. However, the ball popped out of his glove and off the wall. It is a play that Martin almost certainly would have made.

Then to add insult to injury, Luzinski’s throw back to the infield kicked away from Sizemore. This allowed Davalillo to score and sent Mota to third base as the tying run.

Crazy stuff already. But the insanity was about to ratchet up another notch. The next batter, Davey Lopes, laced a rocket that smashed off the glove of Schmidt at third base. The ball popped perfectly to shortstop Larry Bowa, who gunned a throw that appeared to get Lopes for the final out.

If replay existed at the time, the Phillies would likely have won the game, gone up 2-1 in the series, and history may have played out in completely different fashion. But there was no replay review in those days. The call by first base umpire Bruce Froemming stood.

The game was now tied at 5-5, the Dodgers had the go-ahead run on base, and the insanity was not finished. Garber tried to pick-off Lopes, threw the ball away, and Lopes moved into scoring position at second base. Bill Russell followed with a clean RBI single and somehow the Dodgers had miraculously turned sure defeat into a 6-5 lead.

With two out in the bottom of the 9th, Luzinski stepped to the plate as the potential tying run. Perhaps the failure of Ozark to make the defensive substitution in the top of the frame would now pay off with a game-tying “Bull Blast” home run?

No such luck. Luzinski was hit by a pitch instead. Now, finally, Ozark sent in Martin – as a pinch-runner. Dodgers reliever Mike Garman then retired Hebner on an easy grounder to first baseman Steve Garvey to end the ball game.

The Phillies had inconceivably blown what appeared to be a certain victory and in stunning fashion watched a series lead evaporate. On the misty Saturday that followed, it would not be Carlton, but instead another veteran lefty named Tommy John who would close out the series in the Dodgers favor.

That 6-5 loss to the Dodgers in Game 3 of the 1977 National League Championship Series became known almost immediately as “Black Friday”, and has remained so in Phillies lore down through the years.

If you are among the many who will venture out to some mall or shopping center on this Black Friday and come home frustrated after battling traffic and the crowds, just know one thing. You will never be more bitter or frustrated than we Phillies fans who experienced our Black Friday in October of 1977.

 

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Dodger Stadium the scene as top two teams in the NL do battle

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Phillies are at Dodger Stadium for the weekend

The Philadelphia Phillies (33-24) continue to lead the National League East Division standings by three full games despite dropping Friday night’s opener to the NL West leading Los Angeles Dodgers (39-19) by a 6-3 score.

The two teams will meet once again on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine, just four miles north of downtown Los Angeles.
For the Phillies it will be an attempt to get the series even, setting themselves up for an opportunity to win it on Sunday. The club has built their divisional lead on accomplishing just that – winning series. They have an 11-4-3 series record coming into this one
However, to accomplish that feat they will have to overcome the powerful Dodgers. Ranked as the top team in Major League Baseball at this stage of the season in our first MLB Power Rankings released this afternoon, the Dodgers have won the last two National League pennants and six consecutive NL West crowns. They currently lead their division by 8.5 games.
In that Friday night opener, the Dodgers spanked Phillies pitching with four home runs, one each from Max MuncyCorey SeagerJoc Pederson, and Enrique ‘Kiki’ Hernandez. It was part of a 12-hit attack. The Phillies were held to just five hits, and are going to have to somehow find more offense on Saturday night against a future Hall of Famer if they want a better result.


SATURDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES LINEUP

  1. Andrew McCutchen LF
  2. Jean Segura SS
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  5. J.T. Realmuto C
  6. Scott Kingery CF
  7. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  8. Maikel Franco 3B
  9. Jose Alvarez P

DODGERS LINEUP

  1. David Freese 1B
  2. Max Muncy 3B
  3. Chris Taylor LF
  4. Cody Bellinger RF
  5. Enrique Hernandez 2B
  6. Corey Seager SS
  7. Alex Verdugo CF
  8. Will Smith C
  9. Clayton Kershaw P

INJURY REPORT

PHILLIES: Zach Eflin joined an IL that seems to grow by at least one new Phillies arm with every passing week. The following relievers are there as well: David RobertsonTommy HunterPat NeshekEdubray RamosAdam Morgan, and Victor Arano. The latter may miss the rest of the season, while none of the others will be back for this road trip. Center fielder Roman Quinn also remains out, not likely to return for another week or so.
DODGERS: The Dodgers are missing three starting players from their everyday lineup: third baseman Justin Turner, catcher Austin Barnes, and center fielder A.J. Pollock. Turner is not actually on the IL, but instead is nursing hamstring tightness. At least at this point his availability is considered day-to-day. Lefty reliever Tony Cingrani also is on the IL with left shoulder soreness.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

  • Jose Alvarez: 0-1, 3.92 ERA, 1.452 WHIP, 24 hits allowed over 20.2 IP with a 15/6 K:BB
  • Well, MLB Network’s Brian Kenney will be happy with this one, at least. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler is going with ‘The Opener’ strategy. He will deploy Alvarez for the 1st inning, then turn the game over to someone such as 25-year-old lefty Cole Irvin. Alvarez could get a second frame if he can get through the first quickly and unscathed. Irvin would go for as long as he can keep the team in the game before having to turn it over to the rest of the bullpen. Assuming it goes off like this, it would be the first start for Alvarez since making six during his rookie campaign back in 2013 with the Detroit Tigers.
  • Clayton Kershaw: 5-0, 3.46 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, 47 hits allowed over 52 IP with a 49/9 K:BB ratio.
  • Perhaps the best all-around pitcher of the last decade, the 3x Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP has built himself a Hall of Fame career over a dozen big-league seasons.
  • After spending most of the season’s first three weeks on the Injured List, Kershaw has returned as his usual excellent self. Seven of his eight outings have been of the Quality Start variety, and he has pitched at least into the 6th inning in all of his starts this year.
  • Kershaw has gone 3-5 with a 3.07 ERA in 13 starts against the Phillies, averaging 9.99 K/9 and holding Phillies batters to a .216 average against him. The southpaw last faced the Phillies almost exactly one year ago, on May 31, 2018 at Dodger Stadium. He worked five innings, allowing one run while striking out five and issuing one walk.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • The Dodgers are 6-0-2 over their last eight series and will continue to try and extend that winning stretch with a victory in either or both of these final two games with the Phillies. They have now won 13 of their last 16 games, and their 23-7 record at Chavez Ravine is the best home record in baseball.
  • Los Angeles has taken 11 of their last 15 games against the Phillies, and also have won 11 of the last 15 played at Dodger Stadium between the two teams.
  • Prior to this Saturday night game, the Dodgers will hold their annual ‘Alumni Game’, with the first 40,000 fans receiving a special Steve Garvey bobblehead. This commemorates his induction into the Dodgers Legends of Baseball, sort of like the Phillies Wall of Fame. Garvey, Don Newcombe, and Fernando Valenzuela are being honored this year as the initial inductees to the group.
  • The Quality Start registered on Friday night by Kenta Maeda was the 16th by a Dodgers starter in their last 18 games.
  • Muncy’s home run last night was his 24th at home in his 100th career home game. That ties Mike Piazza for the second-most long balls by a Dodgers slugger over their first 100 home games, just one behind Cody Bellinger.

TICKET IQ PROGRAMMING INFORMATION


Day Baseball Vital to Game’s Popularity

The picture to the left comes from the 1984 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres. It shows Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell taking a lead, with Padres 1st baseman Steve Garvey holding him close.

In Game #4 of that World Series, Trammell, a borderline Hall of Famer whose case will continue to correctly be argued moving forward, hit a pair of homeruns to lead the Tigers to a 4-2 victory and a 3-1 lead in the series that they would win a day later. Well, actually they would win it a night later. And that would be end end of World Series day baseball.

That Game #4 in which Trammell homered twice had a starting time of 1:30pm EDT. It would be the last World Series game played completely in natural daylight. The following day’s Game #5 had a start time of 4:30pm EDT, but by the time the Tigers were celebrating their victory it would be dark. That would be the last World Series game played in natural daylight at all.

I say “in natural daylight” because Game #6 of the 1987 World Series between the Minnesota Twins and Saint Louis Cardinals was played during daytime, but the game was indoors at the Metrodome, and thus was not the beneficiary of a natural daylight atmosphere. Still, at least that game was played at a time when most kids could stay up and watch the entirety.

So it has been 30 years since baseball fans have enjoyed the beauty of the game in a championship setting played when it was most meant to be played, in daylight on a beautiful afternoon under a sun-soaked sky. It has been almost those same 30 since most kids have been able to stay up and watch on TV as a World Series victory celebration takes place.

These days, thanks to more playoff rounds, the World Series is generally played during the last week of October. The average daytime high temperature for that week in Detroit and Boston is in the upper-50’s, in Saint Louis it is the low-60’s, even in climate-friendly Los Angeles the average daytime high is around 70 degrees.

However, the night temperatures at the normal game time for each of those location is about 20 degrees cooler. As anyone who has ever played the game, or sat outside to watch a game, can attest, baseball was most certainly not meant to be ideally played in temperatures in the 30’s and 40’s. But because of television network contracts, that is what we usually get – the championship of our national pastime decided in conditions not normally seen all during the rest of the playing season.

Not only is the quality of the experience diminished for the fans in attendance, and the game itself often made more of a challenge for the players in these conditions, but that aspect of growing the game by allowing young fans to experience the thrill of watching a full World Series game has been lost to at least a couple of generations. Who let’s their 10-year old stay up until midnight to watch the World Series, unless perhaps it’s their hometown team playing?

There is nothing like the experience of sitting outside on a nice, sunny afternoon watching baseball. That experience would certainly be better on a Saturday afternoon in Detroit or Boston or Philadelphia than it would on a Saturday night during the last week of October. It is time for baseball to recognize this vital aspect of their game, and build it into the next television contract, if not amend the current deal.

There should always be at least one World Series game played during full daylight hours. A 2:30pm EDT start time for all World Series games played on Saturday should be the norm, built into those TV deals. There should also be an effort by MLB to ensure that during the regular season, there are at least a handful of weekday games played during daylight hours, ideally with at least one such game every single day.

Day baseball is when many young fans get introduced to the game. There are also many MLB fans who have shift work, and who cannot watch and follow games during night hours. Opening up more opportunities for these fans, even on a limited basis, should be a priority for the folks running the game.

There are billions of dollars involved in these television contracts these days. Having a few dozen of the involved games played during daylight hours by contract would certainly not affect those big deals in any truly measurable way. Meanwhile, the accompanying good will and outreach would be appreciated by many fans currently restricted.

Baseball was meant to be played during the daylight hours, under cloudless skies with the sun shining brightly, on a green grass. The realities of television, and fans ability to follow the majority of the season after work hours during evening and nights is the new reality. That is understandable. But MLB should always be looking for opportunities to embrace more that ideal of the day baseball experience for it’s fans.