GROUSE-A-THON

All right, look, now I’m angry and I’m not going to hold it in. My doctor says it’s not healthy to repress the feelings and the old arteries ain’t what they used to be anyway. The selections for the baseball Hall of Fame for 2018 have been made. Chipper Jones, sure, no problem. Jim Thome, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, and deserving, too. Vladimir Guerrero, I can dig it. The pollsters tell me I have eight or nine steady readers and each of you will no doubt remember my view of Trevor Hoffman. The guy was good. Won 61 games, lost 75. The catch is that he was a very special kind of relief pitcher, that is, a “closer”. He compiled a career earned run average of 2.87. That’s a lot better than a guy he is going into the hall with, Jack Morris, but Jack Morris was a real pitcher. Morris won 254 games and lost 186 in his eighteen big league seasons. He pitched 175 complete games without looking over his shoulder to see if help was on the way. Between 1982 and 1988 his season totals for innings pitched ranged from 235 to 293 and two thirds.He pitched the seventh game of the World Series in 1991 and shut out Atlanta, 1-0 in ten innings. Trevor Hoffman had a huge number of saves, 601. When that statistic came along, it represented finishing a victory after not giving up a lead and facing either the tying or winning run (potentially) with your first pitch or else finishing the game with at least three innings of work while holding any lead for whoever was the winning pitcher. Those were actually saves. What we have today is equivalent to the Deutsche mark after World War I. Expert commentators, and I’ll have some steam about that right after this, tell us that pitchers who “close” games  are so full of courage and poise that they would walk blindfold across an interstate highway if it paid as well. And, you know, not everyone could handle that.

Maybe Hoffman deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I’m not really arguing against that. However, if he gets 79.9% of the vote and Omar Vizquel gets 37%, something is wrong. These guys voting that way, I’m telling you, they never took grounders. Maybe he played for too many teams or something. I don’t get it. Ask any pitcher not named Jose Mesa who ever played on the same team with Vizquel if he deserved to make the hall. My goodness.

ESPN has been going steadily downhill as a network for at least 20 years, ever since they merged with Disney and began incorporating Mickey Mouse into professional sports, but they really threw a barf bag at us today. Alex Rodriguez, who replaced Pete Rose as the Criminal Studio Analyst at FOX, the Oliver North School of Ethics, will next season replace Aaron Boone in the booth for Sunday Night Baseball. Holy Toledo, I may have to start watching Game Of Thrones or something instead. This is tragic. Why couldn’t  he have been made manager of the Yankees instead? Heavens to Murgatroyd.

Finally, and then I’ll have a beer, the Commissioner made another lame attempt to “speed up” games, probably because pollsters told him that short attention span Americans have other things to do, not that there exists any shortage of those things right in the ballpark. Here is the answer, once again for your enjoyment: LIMIT THE ROSTERS TO TEN PITCHERS. Okay, we could compromise  and make it eleven if they would also increase the roster to 26 from 25. That’s it, problem solved. I think I feel better now.

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