Tag Archives: Tommy John

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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NL’s Cy Young Award has gone to a Phillies hurler seven times

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Denny won the 1983 NL Cy Young Award for his performance with the Phillies that season

 

Major League Baseball continues the announcement of its 2019 awards on Wednesday evening. The top pitchers in both the National and American Leagues will be honored as the Cy Young Award winners are publicly revealed in a 6:00 pm EST broadcast on the MLB Network.

Those will be the more formally recognized awards as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. However, a few hours earlier, the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America) will announce the winners of voting from their membership.

The 2019 American League Cy Young Award finalists are teammates Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander of the AL champion Houston Astros and former Phillies pitcher Charlie Morton of the Tampa Bay Rays. Verlander previously won the award back in 2011 and is a three-time runner-up for the honors.

In the National League, the finalists are last year’s winner Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets, Korean southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and three-time winner Max Scherzer of the world champion Washington Nationals. Both Ryu and Cole are free agents this off-season.

My choices are Cole and deGrom. Those are the two men who received my IBWAA vote.

MLB first began recognizing the best pitcher in baseball with this formal award with the 1956 season. For the first 11 years, just one winner for all of Major League Baseball was honored.

Due to an overwhelming outpouring of fan requests, a winner was honored from both the National and American Leagues beginning with the 1957 season.

In 1969, the American League vote ended in a tie between Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers and Mike Cuellar of the Baltimore Orioles, and for the only time in the history of the award it was shared. Voting rules were changed as a result, with just one winner honored thereafter.

While the Cy is generally considered to be an honor for the top starting pitcher in the game, that is not a requirement. Mike Marshall of the Los Angeles Dodgers became the first reliever to take the honors in 1974, and eight other relievers have since won the award across the two leagues. The most recent was Eric Gagne of the Dodgers back in 2003.

Roger Clemens holds a record for having won the award seven times. A pair of former Phillies pitchers, Roy Halladay and Pedro Martinez, are among a group of a half-dozen hurlers to be honored with the Cy in both leagues at some point during their careers.

The late Baseball Hall of Famer and Phillies Wall of Famer Halladay is one of just four pitchers to take home a National League Cy Young Award while a member of the Fightin’ Phils pitching staff.

Halladay was the unanimous winner of the award after a historic 2010 season in which he threw a Perfect Game as well as just the second postseason no-hitter in MLB history. He registered an incredible 8.6 WAR value that year, winning 21 games and tossing 250.2 innings with nine complete games.

In 1983, right-hander John Denny captured the honors with the Phillies “Wheeze Kids” team that would go on to win the National League pennant. Denny received 20 of 24 first-place votes to finish as an easy winner.

That Cy followed a 19-win season during which he tossed 242.2 innings over 36 starts. Denny was also the NL’s Comeback Player of the Year in that first full season after coming to the Phillies from the Cleveland Indians in a September 1982 trade.

Four years later, the only Phillies relief pitcher to ever win the Cy took the honors in one of the closest votes ever. Steve Bedrosian saved 40 games for the team that year, exactly half of their total 1987 wins total. He worked 89 innings over 65 games, allowing 79 hits with 74 strikeouts and a 2.83 ERA.

“Bedrock” received just nine of 24 first-place votes, but came out the winner with 57 total voting points. That total edged out the 55 received by Rick Sutcliffe (four first-place) of the Chicago Cubs and 54 for Rick Reuschel (eight first-place), who split the season between the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.

Halladay, Denny, Bedrosian. Those are three of the seven times that a Phillies pitcher has taken the NL honors. As I said earlier, four pitchers have won the award while with the club. Which means that the fourth hurler would put four Cy Young Awards into his trophy case.

That hurler was, of course, lefty Steve Carlton. The greatest pitcher in Phillies franchise history, Carlton won the Cy for his performances on the mound in the 1972, 1977, 1980, and 1982 campaigns.

That first win in 1972 was one of the most impressive pitching performances in Major League Baseball history. In his first season after arriving from the Saint Louis Cardinals in a spring training trade for Rick Wise, Carlton was the unanimous winner of what has been ranked as the ninth-greatest Cy Young season in history.

The man who became alternately known as “Lefty” or “Super Steve” won 27 games with a putrid Phillies team that would win just 59 games. He made 41 starts with 30 complete games, numbers that are unheard of in today’s game. Carlton allowed just 257 hits over 346.1 innings with 310 strikeouts, registering a 1.97 ERA and 0.993 WHIP.

In 1977, Carlton won 23 games while tossing 283 innings over 36 starts. He registered 17 complete games and struck out 198 with a 2.64 ERA and 1.124 WHIP. That performance allowed him to receive 17 of 26 first-place votes and finish comfortably ahead of runner-up Tommy John of the Dodgers.

For his performance during the Phillies first-ever World Series-winning campaign in 1980, Carlton became just the third pitcher to ever win three Cy’s, joining Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver with that distinction.

That year, the lefty won 24 games, with 38 of his starts resulting in 13 complete games. He struck out 286 batters while allowing just 243 hits across 304 innings pitched. Carlton registered a 2.34 ERA and 1.095 WHIP, and received 23 of the 24 first-place votes as the runaway winner.

Two years later, Carlton became the first pitcher to ever win four career Cy Young Awards, and did so again in runaway fashion, receiving 20 of 24 first-place votes.

That season, Carlton won 23 games while making 38 starts, half of those resulting in complete games. He struck out 286 over 295.2 innings with a 1.147 WHIP for a Phillies team that would battle his old Saint Louis club for the NL East crown down to the last two weeks of the season before falling three games short.

Carlton and Halladay went on to become both Baseball Hall of Famers and Phillies Wall of Famers. Carlton’s 84.1 career WAR mark is the fifth-best in baseball history among left-handed pitchers, while Halladay’s 65.4 mark leaves him among the top 50 hurlers in the history of the game.

Denny had a nice career, winning 123 games over 13 big-league seasons, 37 of those with the Phillies over parts of four years. Bedrosian registered 184 career saves and 76 wins in a 14-year career.

At this time last season, Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola was a finalist for the award after winning 17 games and allowing just 149 hits over 212.1 innings across 33 starts with 224 strikeouts.

Will Nola some day become the fifth Phillies pitcher to capture an NL Cy Young Award? Perhaps Zach Eflin will elevate his game to that level. Or maybe the club will be able to lure Cole or Ryu this winter in free agency and find one of them taking the honors in some future season.

One thing is certain, as the 2011 Phillies who won a franchise record 102 regular season games while featuring a “Four Aces” rotation of Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt showed, starting pitching is the name of the game in Major League Baseball.

The Phillies need to upgrade their starting pitching rotation by landing a pair of new, proven arms in the free agent market this winter. If they do, the club should finally once again become a serious challenger for a postseason berth in 2020. And perhaps they’ll also get a Cy Young winner in the bargain.

 

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Jamie Moyer Signs Off

Jamey Moyer will not return to Comcast Sportsnet in 2015
The Phillies and Comcast SportsNet released a joint statement on Friday, letting fans know that 2014 Phillies television commentator, former pitcher, and area native son Jamie Moyer would not be returning to the broadcast booth next year.
The text of the statement included this closing: “Everyone at Comcast SportsNet and the Phillies thank Jamie for sharing his baseball expertise with our fans this season. We wish him and his family nothing but the best.”
Moyer was born in Sellersville, PA, about 25 miles north of Philadelphia. He attended Souderton Area High School, and then starred at Saint Joseph’s University. In 1984, Moyer set the Hawks school records for Wins, ERA, and Strikeouts. He has been inducted into the Saint Joe’s Baseball Hall of Fame and his jersey #10 was retired by the school.
Moyer was selected by the Chicago Cubs with their 6th round pick in the 1984 Draft, and was called up to the Major Leagues in 1986. Over a career that spanned parts of 25 seasons, Moyer fashioned a 226-214 record in over 4,000 innings pitched. He was an AL All-Star in 2003 with the Seattle Mariners, and 3x finished among the top 6 in AL Cy Young Award voting.
In August of 2006 at age 43, Moyer was traded to his hometown Philadelphia Phillies. Here he would go 56-40 over five seasons, including 16-7 as an integral part of the Fightin’ Phils 2008 World Series championship team. At age 48, Moyer underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2011 season. But he fought back to pitch one final year with Colorado in 2012.
After retirement, Moyer poured himself into work with his charitable entity, The Moyer Foundation, which helps children. He and wife Karen put much work into the fundraising and other events surrounding the work of the charity, and he is expected to use his time now both in working with TMF, as well as enjoying his family life. He and Karen have 8 children.
Moyer joined fellow former ’08 World Series hero Matt Stairs as broadcast booth rookies for the 2014 season. His performance as a color analyst graded out as uneven. But he was genuine and likeable, and it was widely felt that he could excel at the role if given a chance to grow and work with a strong play-by-play man. Now, Moyer will take those communication talents into the private sector and his personal life.
Part of the announcement included a statement from Moyer, which read in part as follows: “I thank Comcast SportsNet, the Phillies and, of course, the fans for letting me share my insights into the team this past season and wish the team success in the coming years.
We wish Jamie Moyer all the best of health and happiness. He will always be remembered as a hometown guy who came back to make good, and especially fondly for that key role he played in helping bring a world championship back to Philadelphia. You can follow Jamie on Twitter @jmo50Moyer, and the work of The Moyer Foundation @moyerfoundation.