|Pedro Martinez: ‘Great honor’ to ‘embarrass’ PED users when playing||01.06.15 at 6:25 pm ET|
Playing in the era that he did, Pedro Martinez could look to make excuses for a few of the home runs he gave up, a few games he lost, etc.
After all, he did play in the height of the steroid era, but that isn’t who Martinez is — he embraced it and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way — and that is why Martinez was voted into the Hall of Fame Tuesday on his first year on the ballot.
Martinez received 91.1 percent of the votes (500 of the 549) and will be inducted along with Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio on July 26 in Cooperstown. He became one of 50 players ever to be inducted in their first-ballot and one of 16 first-ballot pitchers.
“I appreciate the fact that I had to face probably the toughest matchup out there, and guess what? I didn’t want it any other way,” Martinez said Tuesday at a press conference at Fenway Park. “I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wanted to beat the best. I wanted to be the best I could be every time I went out there. I wanted to embarrass the best team out there. I wanted to. I meant to. Sometimes they embarrassed me, but when I got a hold of them, I did embarrass them.
“Anytime I had an opportunity to embarrass any team in the big leagues, including the ones that used PEDs, it was a great honor to do it. The same way every homer I surrendered, every game I lost, I am proud of. I am proud that I did it in an era that the challenge was at the top.”
The right-hander was a three-time Cy Young Award winner and an eight-time All-Star. During his 18-year career he went 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA. His career .687 winning percentage ranks second among modern major leaguer’s since 1900. Among pitchers with at least 2,500 career innings in the majors, only Nolan Ryan (.204) has a lower opponent batting average than Martinez (.214).
Martinez said he had plenty of chances to go the “long way” and not be clean, but instead he chose to miss two or three starts a year, which sometimes came with criticism in the media. He said that is all worth it now.
“I went the long way, the way I had to go,” said Martinez. “The way that the integrity my mom and dad taught me to have, led me to. And when I said I kept it clean — I did it clean — I did it the only way I know. I didn’t believe in anybody’s choice to go out there and I wanted to do it clean. I had an opportunity more than once, [probably every day] to take the short path to a more successful year and escape the criticism from the media and being singled out for someone who is going to miss two or three outings a year. Yes, I chose to miss those three outings and now have the respect and appreciation guys are having for me today.”
|Three Thoughts on Hall of Fame Results||01.09.13 at 4:09 pm ET|
Three thoughts on the Hall of Fame results as a nation demands to know just one answer: Who voted for Aaron Sele?
1. The steroid guys ‘¦ Roger Clemens (37.6%) and Barry Bonds (36.2%) had significantly stronger first years on the ballot than Mark McGwire (23.5% in 2007) and Rafael Palmeiro (11.0% in 2011), which is I suppose is not a stunner, given where they rank in baseball history and the presumption that both were Hall of Famers before the PED stuff, as difficult as that is to prove. To that end Sammy Sosa — fair or not, defined as a product of steroids — received 12.5 percent this year, his first year of eligibility. McGwire had his worst year of support, receiving 16.9 percent, and Palmeiro his worst year, just 8.8 percent (very likely he’ll get less than the five percent needed to stay on the ballot next year). This is where the logic of voters simply eludes me — McGwire admitted he took steroids before his first year on the ballot, right? So if you voted for him at that point, what exactly has changed and why has his support slipped? It’ll be interesting to track Clemens and Bonds over the next couple of years and see if voters remain loyal or if they follow McGwire and Palmeiro. My guess? They’ll continue to slowly move up. Voters (not all of them, which is why I don’t think either will ever get to 75%) are going to get more and more comfortable voting in Clemens and Bonds, it’ll just feel safer than McGwire, Sosa and Palmeiro. And there is the one-year protest element at work here (which is of course dopey and proves nothing, either vote for them or don’t), expect both to have a fairly healthy jump next year.
2. There is zero statistical proof — none — that would lead you to conclude that Jack Morris was a better pitcher than Curt Schilling. ERA, winning percentage, ERA+, WHIP, strikeouts, Black Ink, WAR, postseason numbers — all Schilling and all Schilling handily. Seasons with an ERA under 3.30: Schilling eight, Morris three. Seasons with a WHIP under 1.10: Schilling eight, Morris none (Morris never had a season with a WHIP as good as Schilling’s career number of 1.14.) Actually, Morris has one edge — career wins (Morris 254, Schilling 216). That’s it — 38 wins. And evidently that mattered a great deal to the voters, since Morris finished with 385 votes (67.7%) to 221 (38.8%) for Schilling. Morris is really close to the 75 percent needed but has to deal with Greg Maddux (and it’s amazing to think he won’t get 100 percent of the votes, but statements need to be made) Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina all debuting on the ballot in 2014, the 15th and final year for Morris. This was a solid first year for Schilling, better than Morris did in five of his first six seasons and Bert Blyleven in his first seven years on the ballot, two recent borderline guys. Schilling’s finish this year does nothing to dissuade my belief that he will eventually (and deservedly) be elected.
3. Worst ballot? My choice would be Jill Painter of the Los Angeles Daily News. She voted for Biggio and Edgar Martinez (both should be in, Biggio will get in next year or 2015 but Martinez will not, which is really a shame. If Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame there has to be a spot for Martinez), Bernie Williams (not worthy, but not an embarrassment), Kenny Lofton (same as Williams) but somehow thought that Shawn Green earned a vote. Shawn Green. She did not vote for Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Alan Trammell, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza or Larry Walker but voted for Green. Oe of the reasons, she explained on Twitter, was that Green did a “ton for the Jewish community.” Also she pointed to his single-game total bases record, his one Gold Glove and the fact that he scored over 1,000 runs, which only 318 players in baseball history can claim (Green is only one run behind Gary Gaetti on the all-time list). How can you take her even semi-seriously after that? And I’m almost OK with the occasional token vote for a player someone might like personally, but can we at least make sure it’s only done if every eligible player clearly better is also on his/her ballot?
|Target Practice with the Indians||09.23.08 at 4:06 pm ET|
Following his loss to the Indians on Monday, Sox starter Josh Beckett was clearly frustrated with what he perceived as a tendency of Indians hitter Ryan Garko to lean out over the plate.
‘You hit two guys after you get two outs, then you walk in a run, and that ends up being the difference in the game,’ said Beckett. ‘I don’t think I had control difficulties. One guy (Garko) had (expletive) body armor on the whole (expletive) left side of his body. Get 1-2 on him and he leans over the (expletive) plate and it hits him in his (expletive) elbow pad. Whether or not he has a doctor’s note for it, I don’t know. I don’t think they enforce those rules. Some guys are just going to do that when you get 1-2. I don’t think that pitch was that far off the plate. It is what it is.’
Indians manager Eric Wedge, when asked today about Beckett’s comments, smirked and offered a lengthy pause.
“So what?” he chuckled.
What Beckett might not have realized is that he may have contributed to a piece of history. The Indians have been hit by pitches 99 times this year, a mark that, according to Akron Beacon Journal writer Sheldon Ocker, is one off the modern major-league record of 100 that was set by the 1997 Houston Astros. (Just guessing: Craig Biggio probably had something to do with that.
This fascinating website is nearly breathless with anticipation for the Indians’ little bit of history, which could take place during Cleveland’s current visit to Fenway Park. In the context of our times, as documented by the Hardball Times, it should come as little surprise that a team is chasing history with its hit batters. Hitters are currently taking one for the team at a rate unparalleled in modern baseball history.
As for the Indians accomplishment, the team does not appear ready to pop champagne corks should it surpass the ’97 Astros as the standard bearers for hit batsmen.
“That wasn’t one of my spring training goals,” mused Wedge. “We weren’t working on that on the back fields or anything.”
|Greatest second baseman ever?||08.31.08 at 9:22 am ET|
Okay, though Ozzie Guillen might be ready to confer that title on Dustin Pedroia, such a claim remains a bit of an exaggeration. Clearly, however, Guillen–the 1985 Rookie of the Year–has a soft spot in his heart for a player whose productivity defies his appearance. And Pedroia is doing just that, to the point where it is fair to ask what kind of historical standing his 2008 season enjoys. Pedroia is hitting .327 with 15 homers, 14 steals and 106 runs. That crowded stat line is rare for his position.
This list of second baseman who have hit .300 with 15 homers, 15 steals and 100 runs is both short and impressive: five Hall of Famers (Rogers Hornsby, Charlie Gehringer, Jackie Robinson, Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg), one likely Hall of Famer (Craig Biggio), one fringe Cooperstown candidate (Roberto Alomar) and a couple of perennial All-Stars (Alfonso Soriano, Chase Utley). Also noteworthy: presuming that he gets that steal and that his batting average doesn’t crater over the season’s final month, Pedroia will be younger (he turned 25 earlier this month) than any of those players when they achieved those four markers in a season.
This all comes as a shock to the scouts who considered Pedroia little more than a utility infielder of AAAA-player. Many who saw him at Arizona State dismissed him as a two-tool player, someone with a good glove who might hit for a passable average, but with no arm, no power and no speed. Even as he blitzed through the Red Sox minor-league system, scouts still had their doubts, as Pedroia’s Double-A manager recounts in this story: “There was a scout the other day in Baltimore, a guy who’s been doing it for a long time and saw (Pedroia) play in Triple-A, and had him in at best as a major-league backup who could not play shortstop. He had him as a utility guy.”
Now, Pedroia is finding ways to beat opponents in every phase of the game. He makes up for a lack of raw speed through great baserunning instincts; he hits for average; he hits for power; and his nightly diving plays have established him as one of the foremost defensive second baseman in the American League.
Claus posed a question, and I think it’s a good one: “Who else that looks like him does what he does?” Drop your thoughts either in the comments section or in an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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