Showing posts with label Tom Glavine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tom Glavine. Show all posts

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Arbiters of Justice

Yesterday's Hall of Fame announcement called into question once again a lot of the factors that go into the voting process. The Baseball Writer's Association, of course, is the group that has the final say as to who's in and who's out, and certainly, the three players that were voted in, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas, are all well worthy of the honor (in spite of the ill will most Mets fans harbor towards Glavine).

But once again, the argument revolves around who didn't get in, and central among the snubbed is Mike Piazza. Piazza's credentials don't need to be discussed. Neither do those for the similarly snubbed Craig Biggio or any of the others who probably should be taking their rightful place in Cooperstown's hallowed halls.

The issue obviously lies in the voting process, and how those 571 individuals choose to cast their votes. It becomes, then, a rather subjective process and a bias against certain players who might have rubbed one, or several, of those 571 the wrong way. Or, however many of those 571 that choose to vote based on some archaic principle that only makes sense to them. Invariably, we get stories like the ballot holder from Los Angeles who voted for Jack Morrisand nobody else. Of course, what ends up happening is that Craig Biggio, who should be a Hall of Famer whether you feel he's a compiler or not, falls 0.2% shy of election, and Mike Piazza falls 12.8% short.

Neither Biggio or Piazza has been specifically implicated of any wrongdoing. If anything's holding Biggio back, it's probably a general lack of splash in his career, although I do believe he is the career leader in being hit by pitches. Piazza's problem is basically guilt by association—though he's never failed a drug test and never been specifically implicated for steroid use, he's of that era so the suspicion will follow whether he's guilty or not. At this point, if you haven't gotten a smoking gun on Piazza, you're probably not going to, because there really aren't any guns left for the players of that era.

The case could certainly be made that other prominent players such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire don't deserve to be elected because there is greater evidence (or outright admission) of steroid use, and that it's their own fault that they used and their reputation therefore sullied. But it's my contention that these players were simply taking advantage of the system in place, and the fault doesn't lie on the players for doing so. Cheating in one form or another has existed in baseball forever, whether it's a pitcher loading up a baseball with vaseline or a steroid user. The fault lies with Bud Selig and the owners for allowing it to go on, because it would have been the easiest thing in the world to institute a testing system back in 1996 when the CBA was renewed. Owners tabled the issue (and the Players' Association was, I'm sure, more than happy to agree to it) in favor of allowing the players to juice up and create an offensive explosion to rekindle interest in the game. Not everybody partook, but, of course, those that did are now being treated as pariahs and more or less hung up on a cross as an example of what happens when you sully the reputation of the Grand Ole Game.

But why should they be made examples of when for all intents and purposes the behavior was encouraged?

And why, when reports and investigations have been made and released, should players that haven't been accused pay the price for the indiscretions of their peers?

The problem lies in the voting pool. The photo above is basically to illustrate what my impression is of a majority of the 571 vote-holding members of the BBWAA: Cranky Old Men who seem to believe that the true heroes of Baseball played sometime in between 1920 and 1968 and these new-era ballplayers are generally a bunch of rabble-rousers up to no damn good (To be fair, there's certainly charm to Andy Rooney but we'll just say the impression he presents is a close enough example of my point). They're not all like that; plenty of voters seem to have enough common sense to realize that every player is more or less a product of the era that they played, and if guys like Bonds et. al, are the best of the steroid era, then so be it. Many of them also probably also feel as though there are too many Andy Rooneys in a pool that holds too few Dan LeBatards, and so their only hope to affect a change in the system is to simply make a mockery of it.

The problem is that there's no good solution. Opening up the balloting to a larger pool, say, broadcasters, ends up creating even more subjectivity and probably a good deal of homerism. Revoking balloting rights probably wouldn't ever happen lest the BBWAA wants to have soiled Depends thrown at them. Perhaps opening up the vote to living Hall of Fame members is a possibility. I don't know. But unless some kind of change is made, you're going to have guys blacklisted from taking their worthy place in the Hall of Fame for no other reason than they had the poor fortune of playing in a certain era.

Monday, August 6, 2007

300!

It was a typical effort from Tom Glavine in Chicago on Sunday Night. In his 6 1/3 innings, he allowed 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk and 1 strikeout, and he also chipped in with an RBI single in the 2nd inning. His performance earned him his 10th victory of the season.

That 10th victory was the one we've been waiting for all season, and the one he's been waiting for his entire career. #300. And yes, the game was far from perfect. There's plenty to say about how the Mets left baserunners on in bucketloads once again, how the Bullpen (specifically Mota and Feliciano) nearly blew the lead for Glavine once again. But the Mets were not about to give it away on this night. You could sense the anticipation as the milestone drew closer and closer, and the shots of Glavine's overly-tanned wife and his overly-Milquetoast Father increased that in spite of the Mets shortcomings, they were not going to lose, and this night would belong to Tom Glavine.

It was indeed fitting that Glavine's mostly typical effort would earn him this milestone. He's done it his entire career, these impressively effortless performances. True, he can't go 8 or 9 innings anymore, and he was never going to blow anyone away. But he's made his career off of biting the corners, hitting his spots and making his pitches, and he has done that with precision for a long, long time. Always unflappable and always on top of his game at times when it was needed most. And that will define Tom Glavine's career.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mayhem and Milestones


It was unfortunate that I was unable to use my ticket for Tuesday Night's game, missing the One-Man Wrecking Crew that is John Maine unleash a new wrinkle to his game plan.

He hits, too.

El Guapo kept me apprised of the happenings via text message, so I was aware of Maine's first career HR shortly after it happened, though I didn't see it until later. Maine's shocking display of power was certainly welcome, although it was his efforts on the mound that served to nail down the victory on Tuesday night.

Wednesday night saw more strong pitching efforts, and a standout offensive performance from LoDuca as Glavine's 6 innings were enough to secure his 299th victory.

Both games saw the Mets build up early leads and keep the Pirates mostly off balance for the duration of both games, and for once, we've been treated to a couple of drama-free, cruising victories against a team that the Mets should be beating soundly. But more welcome than that is the fact that these have been sound victories where the team has been both hitting and pitching well at the same time, something that has been lacking overall over the past 2 months.

I made a lot about this week's games last week, while the Mets were busy piddling away in San Diego. These are games the Mets need to win, and win soundly. Against the hapless Pirates, a team that boasts a few young, talented players in Jason Bay, Freddy Sanchez and Tom Gorzelanny, but little else exciting. Washington is in next, and they're currently getting their clocks cleaned in Philadelphia. Kicking off a week in which the key phrase for the Mets is "Smash the Flea with the Sledgehammer," the Mets have come out running, and can look for the sweep later this afternoon behind Oliver Perez, off his fine outing last weekend in LA, certainly with a chip on his shoulder against the team that prematurely gave him away last season.

Philly and Atlanta are beating up on bad teams this week, too. Let's keep the pace.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

God Bless You, Charlie Manuel

The Mets finally got back there on the field and administered a one-game sweep of the Phils. So convincing and demoralizing was it that Charlie Manuel threatened to fight a Philly radio host.

Turns out ol' Red Devil has some fight in him, more than his team does at this point, seeing as how they went 0-13 with runners in scoring position.

Personally I don't think there's anything wrong with the Phils that a decent middle reliever won't solve, and one of those guys will either emerge or he won't. Why they didn't deal Leiber in the offseason for a good arm they could take a chance on—their version of Bannister-for-Burgos—is beyond me. I assume they tried and the deal wasn't there, but I don't know.

For the Mets, Tom Glavine battled all night to get a feel for his pitches. One of the announcers—I think it was Gary Cohen—expressed surprise that they didn't readjust the rotation to give Glavine a start in Florida instead, given his history of circulation problems and need for a lot of feel in his fingertips to get his pitches over where he wants them. That made some sense to me, but I think a big part of being the ace is being the guy to take the ball on nights like last night. And in the absence of one of those fireballing power guys in the rotation, the guy who needs no such dainty "feel" on his pitches and could fire 96 MPH fastballs unscathed through a tornado, who else would the Mets give last night's start to? Nah, let the old pro handle it and battle through.

I've really—however slowly—gained an appreciation for watching Glavine work. I think most of us greeted him with apprehension, even a little muted hostility, when he came over from the dark side. Like he might just be coming over to spy or sabotage from within. Most of his early results, especially against his former employers, only served to strengthen those feelings. He was never quite the epitome of the Annoying Robot Braves—that was always Maddux, of course—but he was right behind. The Vice Epitome. It took quite a while to even trust Glavine, let alone admire his work. And I'm sure there are plenty of Mets fans who haven't even reached the trust level yet.

Besides the ex-Brave factor and the poor start, Glavine actually has quite a bit more working against him when it comes to winning over your average Joey from Bayside and Vinnie from the Car Phone. He's blandly workmanlike on the mound and aloof off it, the polar opposite to the hyper-charismatic fan favorite Pedro. He hails from Massachusetts and has a whiff of the patrician New Englander about him. He's into hockey. There's something staunch and humorless about his Union-hood: when a sideline reporter breezily asked him, during the NHL strike, whether he'd like to go be a replacement player, he actually bristled at the obviously sore subject. Put simply, he's a serious man doing his job. Jose Reyes he ain't. Contrarian that I am, these are all the reasons I've come over the pro-Glavine camp so strongly (sometimes I think I'm the charter and only member of the pro-Glavine camp). I love the Mets, but I also love the anti-Met precisely because he's the anti-Met. I don't expect any of this to make any sense.

Glavine has jumped out to at 3-1 start and started quickly closing the gap to his 300th win, despite cold conditions and resulting walks. And I've started to enjoy watching him come back doggedly with changeup after changeup, bearing down until he gets the out he needs. It won't ever be as fun as watching, say, El Duque spin a start out of the well of his creative genius, inventing pitches, following whims, tossing in the occasional eephus, conducting a one-man orhecstra. It's something, though, seeing Glaving go about his business. Last night he got out of two-on, no-out situations in the fifth and sixth innings before the Mets had broken open their lead, in the fifth striking Utley and Howard out back to back. Maybe he was never a robot after all.

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UPDATE: Word this afternoon that the Phillies have made the bewildering move of sending ace Brett Myers to the pen to set up Flash Gordon. He'll be replaced in the rotation by Jon Leiber. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark calls it a desperation move (Insider req'd), and I have to agree. Quoth Stark:

The Phillies' Plan A last winter was for Myers to morph into Curt Schilling Jr. at the top of the rotation, and for Garcia to replace Jon Lieber in the rotation, and for Lieber then to get dealt for some reliable bullpen monster who could close when necessary.

But that plan derailed when the Phillies couldn't find a match for Lieber. And now the whole team has derailed, in part because its bullpen has had that train-wreck look since Day 1 of spring training.


I guess poor old Charlie Manuel really has gone batty.