I thought I was done with Jim Rice and Dwight Evans.
Lots of email this week on these guys, and I tried to answer a couple of them. But there isn't much left to say, and I'm closing the book after this mailbag. But we have some fun as the Jim Ed crowd makes some noise (but let's hope that they still have energy-- they'll need it to get Ellis Burks into Cooperstown).
Plus we look at George Washington Dungy, say goodbye to Jonathan Papelbon and I defend Bruce Springsteen, Pete Rose and Nelson de la Rosa.
To the bag we go... (and feel free to email away at firstname.lastname@example.org)
This was a joke, right? Michael Vick on the Patriots? Where? The best QB in the NFL with the best offense in the NFL. I’m pretty sure Belichick is not going to mess with that for Michael Vick. Why was this story written?
A: I don't ask for much here, David. I really don't. But can you at least read the column? Nowhere do I suggest that the Pats would ever sign Vick. It was a "what would the Pats do if they needed Vick?" column. We aren't solving a crime here, guys. Keep up.
You feel BB has earned the right to do whatever he wants? He’s a great coach, but if he signed Vick I’d have to find another team. I was fine with Spygate and I don’t mind that he’s not the world’s nicest guy, but signing Vick would be the worst. He’s the biggest scumbag on earth.
A: This is not going to be Round II of "Mailbag vs. PETA", but I'll take Leonard Little over Vick in the Scumbag Olympics every day of the week. Look, I'm not hiring Vick to babysit my daughter anytime soon, but I simply cannot come close to equating the death of one dog (or 50 dogs, for that matter_ to one human. Sorry, I've never seen it. That being said, I understand that others do feel that way and believe that Vick should have been put in prison for the rest of his life. And that would have been fine with me. And if Goodell had suspended Vick for life that would have been deserved as well. The guy did an awful thing and was fully aware that it was wrong. But if Vick goes I want Leonard Little and Donte Stallworth on the same bus. And let me get this straight one more time: Stallworth kills somebody and gets 24 days in prison. A guy steals Lance Armstrong's bike and gets a three-year jail sentence? One other thing: We all sort of hate Lance Armstrong now, right? I'm not just alone on this one, am I? And it's not just because he dated Paris Hilton and is best friends with Rick Reilly (okay--that is exactly why. And I really don't know which of the two more unforgivable).
Vick is a grown man and there is nothing illegal about going to a strip club. It's easy to knock Tony Dungy but it isn't his fault (and I think Dungy will be good on NBC).
A: That was sort of my point, Jamie. Vick is what he is. I suspect whatever is wrong with him is way past the point of being fixed (and I bet Vick thinks nothing is wrong).
Dungy is by all accounts a nice and caring man who believes deeply in his religion. My problem is not with him but with a fawning media. It never ends. Peter King yesterday:
"I think there couldn't be a more perfect mentor than Dungy, for this reason: He's not going to let Vick snow him. Dungy cannot lie."
Dungy cannot lie. DUNGY CANNOT LIE? Really? Come on, Pete. What else don't we know about Dungy? Does he have wooden teeth? How many times did it take him to toss that silver dollar across the Potomac River?
You listen to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen? Just to let you know, there has been music released in the last 25 years, and some of it is pretty good. Bob Dylan must be 120 years old at least. And I liked Springsteen in 1984 just like everyone else. And just like everyone else that had a brain I graduated junior high and moved on.
A: I have a feeling I know who wrote this email, so I won't go crazy here and totally take the bait. Again, I am a casual Dylan fan (I'll even cop to this: when I hear the word "Dylan" I first think of the son of Jack McKay) who understands what he has meant to American music. I admire but do not love.
Springsteen is different. That's my guy. Forget about the hits, we all know those. How about Backstreets? Atlantic City. Blinded by the Light. The River. Streets of Fire. Two Faces. Downbound Train. Jungleland. Okay, you jumped off after "Born in the USA". Lot of people did. And they've missed the last 25 years of music from the greatest singer-songwriter this country has ever produced, plain and simple. And as a live performer? Every time he takes the stage he's Pedro Martinez circa 2000. Look, Springsteen has been sitting shotgun next to me for the last quarter century, always with the right thing to say when I needed it. He's covered high school, cars, girls, being alone when you want to be alone and being alone when you don't want to be alone, marriage and fatherhood ("Living Proof"). Is Coldplay going to be pumping out quality music in, say, 2032? How about Beyonce? And this has to count for something: I've never been embarrassed to be a Springsteen fan. No terrible movie roles, no awful plastic surgery. No bizarre cult religion. This guy actually left a movie star (a sort of movie star -- she was the girl in "Fletch Lives") for a Jersey girl that I would have never rated over a 6.5 even at her absolute peak. And he still makes great music -- I'd put his "Magic" album in 2007 up against anything he's ever done.
I don’t necessarily disagree with what you are saying about Jim Rice vs Dwight Evans, but is “6-4-3” really fair? The Red Sox were never known for their speed. They had a bunch of big power hitters. Rice hit the ball so hard, a grounder would get to the infield quick; and on top of that, throw out runners because they were so slow.
Also, the 77 intentional walks may not seem like a lot, but again, don’t you think that may be due to the talent that surrounded him in the lineup? I mean, would you want to walk Rice to pitch to Fisk, for example?
Good job on the blog!!
A: All good and fair points, Joel, but I have to confess to something: I was sort of on the fence about Rice getting in before Sunday. Sure, there are more deserving players but he was not a black mark on Cooperstown by any measure. But after lying the weeds for a couple of weeks the pro-Jim Ed crowd got feisty this week. And now I'm sort of pissed that Rice got in. I'll admit it, they got to me. But at least they were all fair and measured takes. Like this one, for example...
Dear Douche-bag, the next Generation;
Your take on Evans is pathetic. His regular season stats always included playing every game in September when the Sox were eliminated, and feasting on AA call-up pitchers. Plus, do you know why he was so quoted? He made Curt on the car phone seem like a shut-in.
His first 7 years were wasted, period. You can't recover from that & make the HOF. They had to platoon him with Bernie Carbo some years for gods sake. He was also a management rat, constantly going up the back stars to the GM and the old man. The writers quoted him, but did not respect him. He epitomized spoiled Red Sox players who thought they were all stars.
As for arms, you are missing Dave Winfield and Cesar Geronimo of the Reds.
As for the Globe, you are correct for once. Even a trainee DB gets it right on occasion.
Cape Cod, Mass
A: You all understand that Jorge Posada is about as good a Hall of Fame choice as Jim Rice, right? We all get that? No? Not buying it?
Career OPS+: Rice 128, Posada 124
Career OBP: Rice .352, Posada .379
With almost exactly three thousand fewer at-bats Posada has walked 150 more times than Rice. Posada has five Silver Slugger Awards, Rice two. And are we counting postseason stuff? Because the two have combined to win three World Series. Oh, I know, playing an average left field (and that's kind) is much more valuable and difficult than catching for a decade and a half. But Posada will get about 40 votes his first year on the ballot and just fade away. And this is one of the 10-12 best catchers of all time. Is Jim Rice one of the 10-12 best LF of all time (or glorified DH or whatever it is he was)?
Boy did you strike a nerve with me! As a baby boomer who saw or listened to almost every game these two players played, instinctively, I valued Evans higher than Rice. With men on base, and needing a hit or even a key RBI, I hated having Rice at the plate.
The one comparison the article doesn't make is their GDP numbers. Every double play is a big inning virtually killed. Even among his fellow sluggers, Rice was among the worst. In 16 seasons he grounded into 315 DP's (vs. 382 homers) . Seven of his 15 seasons he hit into more DP's than he hit home runs! Evans hit 385 career home runs, hit into 223 DP's, and his season DP's never came close to his home run totals.
I especially loathed and dreaded the GDP's and strikeouts with men on base of Jim Ed.
Thanks for saying the politically incorrect, you are dead on target,
A: I actually thought the HOF ceremony on Sunday was great, but it was more than a little awkward when Bud Selig named all 464 eligible players not in the Hall of Fame that had a better career than Jim Rice. That was a strange hour and a half.
Maybe you should get a campaign going for Evans and use Rice’s induction as leverage. A campaign seems to be what got Jim Ed over the hump. However, I believe that Rice deserves to be in the HOF . Should have been in years ago and it is a shame that it took this long. That fact that Dewey got so few votes, however, is what is really shameful. Just to be in the league as long as he was as an everyday player speaks volumes.
You know what an amazing statistic about Rice is considering that he played his entire career with the Red Sox and half of those games at Fenway Park? He managed to achieve 30 doubles in a season only three times. That really amazes me considering that he was a right-handed power hitter.
A: No. 16 on Bud's list of Guys That Should Be in Over Rice? Dick Allen. Career OPS? Rice, .854 (148th all-time) Allen .912 (56th all-time). And OPS+ (adjusted for ballpark factors and league average)? Allen is 19th all-time at 156, tied with some guy named Mays and ahead of Aaron, DiMaggio and Mel Ott. Rice is at 128, tied for 177th all-time with Kent Hrbek and Ryan Klesko.
And how about the road stats?
Rice: 4150 at-bats, 174 HRs, 649 RBI, .277 BA., .330 OPB, .789 OPS
Allen: 3185 at-bats, 168 HRs, 540 RBI, .290 BA, .892 OPS
If I'm starting a campaign for a player to get into the Hall of Fame it would be Dick Allen well before Dwight Evans. Dewey is borderline at best, Allen should've been a first-ballot inductee.
(Of course, Dennis Johnson remains the biggest HOF omission in any of the four major sports. Now that Jim Ed got in can someone start the DJ to Springfield train? C'mon, Bob Ryan, get it done.)
That was the nerdiest baseball article I've ever read, in terms of
The only argument you have is that neither should be in......3 time all
stars CAN'T make the hall of fame!!!!! Period Period Period!!!!! Talk
about lowering the bar, geez....
A: No. 92 on Bud's list? Player A.
Player A: .303 batting average, .384 OBP, .880 OPS
Rice: .298 batting average, .352 OBP, .854 OPS
Player A: .333 playoff batting average, .547 slugging percentage
Rice: .225 playoff batting average, .366 slugging percentage
Player A is Will Clark. Who had exactly one year on the ballot (2006) before receiving just 23 votes, short of the five percent needed to stay on.
I'm sorry, until they make "forced opposing managers to urinate themselves out of fear" a statistic I'm stuck with "nerdy" stats such as on-base percentage and home/road splits. But that's it. No more Rice/Evans talk here. Time to move on.
Jim Rice: Great. Dwight Evans: Average. Rice won an MVP in 1978 and could've won two or three more. Dewey was good but not a Hall of Famer. Rice should have been elected years ago.
A: Okay, last one for real this time. Rice has one MVP, which is exactly the right total. He was the best player in baseball in 1978 and never was again. Evans could have won in either 1981 or 1987.
And I expect all the pro-Rice people to get on the Ellis Burks bandwagon when he appears on the ballot for the first time in 2010.
Slugging: Burks has a .510-.504 edge
OBP: Burks -- .363 to .352
OPS: Burks -- .874 to .854
One was a Gold Glove center fielder, one was not. One stole 180 bases in his career, one stole 58. And this isn't a Coors Field thing, either: Burks has better career road numbers in batting average, slugging (by 21 points) and OBP (by 22 points). But was he FEARED?
I enjoy your stuff (don't always agree with it, but at least you try and back up your thoughts with actual facts). Anyways, I've seen you mention a couple of times that Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. I agree, and was happy to see that Selig might do it. Do you think he'd get in on the first ballot?
A: Well, Bill Madden backtracked on that story, now it looks like Rose will never be as long as Selig is taking orders from the owners, I mean serving as commissioner. Too bad, because it's time, it really is. You don't have to let him back into baseball, not that he'd ever be hired as a manager or GM. Just allow him to be on the ballot.
You know what? I don't even think he'd get in. Such a polarizing figure, he'd never get 75 percent. And the Veterans Committee is a HUGELY political group, so he'd need some very friendly faces in the room. But it's been 20 years, and he has admitted his mistakes (probably not in the way we'd like, but he did it. Let's see if the steroid crew ever owns up). So at least give him a shot at it. And do it soon, Bud. This 2010 Hall of Fame vote needs a little juice, to be honest. Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin are the leading new candidates, and they won't be packing Main Street in Cooperstown if they get the call (but I do think that Bert Blyleven --the best eligible pitcher not in the HOF-- gets in).
One other mini-HOF controversy from the weekend: the question of whether or not ballots should be made public. Of course the answer is yes, and here's why: in four years Greg Maddux is going to eligible for induction. 355 wins, four Cy Youngs (nine top five finishes), 18 Gold Gloves. Not a whiff of controversy, by all accounts he played it clean. One of the, what, 10-15 best pitchers in history? Plus he is maybe the captain of the "You'll Never See Another Like Him" team. And guess what? Somehow he will not be a unanimous choice for the Hall. And I want to know who didn't vote for him, just like I want to know who the two people are that will vote for Kevin Millar or Matt Stairs. Just to know, that's all. Nobody needs to lose their right to vote, but exposure as a moron seems fair to me.
(And, sure, I prefaced Maddux with "by all accounts" before "played it clean" because you simply never know. But he'd top my list of guys that I'd be bummed to see on the list of 103. The rest of the top five?
2. Derek Jeter (makes no sense. He can hit .306 with 14 homers and still have the same appeal on Madison Ave.)
3. Pedro (would basically wipe out the two best seasons of my lifetime.)
4. Mariano Rivera (with each passing season I'm starting to think there is an argument to made for Rivera as the best pitcher of all time)
5. Nelson de la Rosa (I'm petrified that Canseco will call him out in his next book.)
I have listened to WEEI talk radio with great interest and amusement, especially in light of the upcoming MLB trade deadline. Two segments that have stuck with me:
Glen Ordway expounding on his belief that every professional athlete who talks to the press needs to study Tom Brady's approach to the media as he is "the master". (Glen has never been more right about anything. The reasons for that mastery are obvious...but that is a letter for another day.)
An irate Peter Shepard threatening to "blow up" any idiot who calls for the trade of Jonathan Papelbon.
In my mind these fit hand in hand. Papelbon has been a solid performer, has done nothing that I can recall to embarrass himself, the team, or the organization, and can be counted on when engaged in conversation to be entertaining and honest in his responses.
The problem that Pete is seeing - and that I must admit has changed my perception of Papelbon - was Jonathan's public use of the "M" word. (Money!) I am assuming many feel as I do, that in one conversation Papelbon went from part of "the Sox family" to somewhat of a mercenary, who is available to the highest bidder. Could that be the Sox? Sure. Does that help with this feeling of disappointment? No.
While I don't think any reasonable person or even a die hard Sox fan would think for a moment that Papelbon should play for less than a fair salary based on his track record and skill set, I also can say no one wants to hear any athlete say its about the money or even imply it. I would think these high profile athletes, both here and in any other major sports city, should know better especially in economic times like this. The public mention of the "M" word never produces a positive outcome or generates a good feeling with the fans. We all know the part money plays - no need to be reminding the fans, especially when you are under contract and no negotiations are underway.
Do you think Tom Brady would ever make that mistake?
A: I'll be honest, Mike, I wouldn't mind hearing an athlete say that it's all about the money. I really wouldn't. I don't care about anyone's motivation to work anywhere, I'm just not built that way. If Papelbon (or any athlete, for that matter) wants to play in Sioux City, Iowa for a dollar because he thinks they have the best Pizza Hut in America that's just swell. And if he wants to leave the Red Sox and play for the Twins for dollar a season more than the Red Sox are offering just because they are offering a dollar more? Swell by me. Who cares? And I'd admire him if he said at the press conference that money was the biggest factor. That would be something known as honesty. Doesn't really exist in the world of sports, but it does exist. And I do think that Papelbon will leave the Red Sox when he hits free agency. I don't think Theo and his crew value the closer position enough to spend 40-45 million dollars on it (and I agree with them on that. 14 mil a year for a guy to pitch 60-70 innings?). And there are teams out there that are willing to do just that. My best guess is that he'll be looking at a pretty significant difference in yearly salary. And so he'll leave. And if the Red Sox were offering exactly the same deal as every other team on the market I'd bet he'd stay. So wouldn't that mean it's about the money? And again, good for him. I mean, if you want Papelbon or any of these guys to just talk about how great Boston is --best fans in the world, I'll never leave, not just about the money, etc.--that's fine. But at least know that while they probably mean all that, they will bail if the money isn't close. And so would you and so would I. Every time.
In last week's mailbag, unprovoked, you took aim at a writer of the Boston Globe, Chad Finn. You write that you have a "sneaking feeling" about why Finn is critical of the station that signs your paychecks, WEEI. You make a baseless claim that he is on an "audition" for the new sports radio station (which you never explicitly mention). You try to defend your station by saying that he has - in capital letters - "zero credibility" to write objective articles because of this "sneaking feeling". Call me crazy, but I'm not the only one to think that WEEI is having somebody fairly low on the totem pole make a baseless accusation about the person who is merely pointing out the flaws of your station.
A: Before we get to the Finn stuff let me address something.
Just to be clear I am not "fairly low" on the WEEI totem pole. I'd kill for that. I'm actually "fairly low" on the WEEI.com totem pole. What does that mean? Well, if Cyn Donnelly was really busy and didn't have time to spray perfume on her letters to Bronson Arroyo or Kyle Snyder I had to do it . And when Joe Haggerty's hands cramp up from writing on Facebook and Twitter about each and every appearance he's going to make I step in and help out. And if all goes well (fingers crossed) maybe one day I'll get to move over to the radio side and make Staples runs to get Larry Johnson his tracing paper (tracing? I meant drawing, of course).
But Chad Finn? Well, if Rob Bradford wanted to "take a shot" at Finn he'd just do it. Believe me, he would never have someone else do it. And, as I wrote last week, Chad is a great writer and one of the reasons I still read the Globe. But as long as he's writing a media column he cannot be a radio personality. Won't work. I would still enjoy the blogging but the media stuff would, in fact, have no credibility. How could it? And I'd say (or write) the same thing if he were allowed on WEEI and ripped other stations. But he hasn't been on the radio (and maybe he'll never go on) so it doesn't matter.
I'm getting married in less than three weeks. As someone who has been down this road, can you tell me:
1. How much drinking is appropriate before the ceremony?
2. How much drinking is appropriate during the reception?
3. Between the exchange of vows, the first dance, the mother-son dance, and the cake-sharing photos, is there any way for a groom to avoid looking like a complete softy?
4. How soon after the wedding can you resume your normal sports-watching schedule?
A: Thanks for Playing, Dan.
(1) Without knowing what time the actual ceremony is (I'll guess three in the afternoon), I'd take it easy on the drinking. And that goes double for the night before as well -- I can attest to that. Not worth having a hangover on the biggest day of your life (pre-kids). I came really close to having one on my wedding day and was still only about 90 percent at kickoff (spent 2-4 AM the night before at Gentlemen's Quarters in Baldwin, NY trying desperately to find out the real name of a dancer known only as Embrace).
(2) Never go past a light buzz during the reception. Shouldn't be a problem -- you'll be busy taking pictures and shaking hands and speaking to a crapload of people you've most likely never met.
(3) No. You really can't win on this one. This is a day for the ladies, plain and simple. Just go along with it. I tried to get as much of the secondary stuff out, though, and that helped. No cake-sharing pictures, no head table, no garter belt removal. I think the only thing at my wedding that could even be looked at as slightly controversial was the choice of "All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You" as the mother-son first dance. In retrospect we should've gone with "In My Life" or "What a Wonderful World", but we are both big Heart fans. Live and learn, I guess.
(4) Well, I'm not proud of this, but as my wife of about eight hours took a shower in the hotel room after the reception I snuck a quick look to see how my fantasy baseball team did that night (July 3rd, 2002). And let me just put it like this: There is no better foreplay than a complete game shutout from Mark Mulder.
I'm out for now. I'll have a column up Monday. Feel free to email me at email@example.com